Thursday, 17 August 2017

X !

I was flicking through some of the older posts in the blog, looking for something from days gone by, when I suddenly realised that I have been writing this nonsense for ten years! A little bit more in fact, as I started blogging in June 2008. A little celebration is surely in order, so help yourself to a slice of cake.

I will be marking the occasion by trawling back and showcasing some of my hobby highlights from the last decade. I will get the first of these celebrations on the blog over the weekend.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Dwarf Gunners revisited

Remember these movement trays? I picked them up from warbases some time ago. The slots are 2p sized and the little holes fit a 5mm magnet. I finally got round to adding the magnets. Super glue didn't seem to work as the fit was quite loose, so I used a little green stuff on the bottom of the tray.

I originally bought them in this 2x2 configuration because I thought most of the time I would be playing with either 4 or 8 figures to suit Saga gaming, or 12 figures to suit Dragon Rampant. Now that I know they work, I have ordered some more, but at size 3x2.

When loaded up with figures they look rather nice. I should really stick with one basing style across all my armies, then I could use one set of trays for multiple forces. However, I do like to change the bases for each project  - the dwarfs have a rocky, mountainous look for example.

The hold of the magnets on the coins is really strong. I can hold these upside down and they hold fast, even the metal figure in the centre. Though not too strong so it's impossible to remove them from the tray! So I can pop them out for skirmish games, or leave them ranked up when required.

A couple of close ups, I was pretty pleased with the way these turned out. Must get back to the dwarfs some time.....

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Eomer and Rohirrim

Spurred on by my recent quick paint job on the Mordor snaga, I had a look through the part-painted projects, hoping to find something that would be easy to complete. You probably know how this goes - you start a project, get a few models/units painted with great enthusiasm, then it tails off and you start something else. Then something else again, and again, until you have several projects in various stages of (non) completion. Eventually, there comes a time to return to that almost finished job. Today it was time for Eomer to finally ride forth!

There were three models to complete here and they were about 90% done. I just had to finish a few details, mostly Eomer's red leather armour, and then tackle the dreaded banner. Having forced myself to practise on freehand recently, the design came quite easily, though matching it on each side of the flag was a challenge. I think it turned out okay in the end. Not bad for an hour's work on a dreary Sunday afternoon.

The Rohan force now contains two units of six knights, ideal for Dragon Rampant. In Saga games they would probably be used as elite units, so three units of four. Along with two/three units of infantry, there's just about enough for gaming with these figures now. Every time I paint some of my Lord of the Rings collection I like them more and more.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Mordor Snaga

Snaga is a term used by orcs for lesser of their own kind, or slaves. They are usually smaller, less able to wield a weapon in combat and often equipped with bows. I wanted some in my Mordor force, but not the standard bow armed orc models. There's not much chance of me getting the old metal models, so I went with some Moria goblins. In Tolkien's world, orcs and goblins are all the same species, there's no real distinction, not even a size thing. So while they are officially goblins, they pass as orc snaga in my eyes.

There's twelve in the unit, so they can be used in both Dragon Rampant and Saga games. Unfortunately there's not much variety in the poses - though arguably all bowmen look the same when loosing their arrows. I didn't want to spend much time on them - I picked up these on ebay already painted and just painted over them. It's cheating I know, but they were very cheap and it saved me some time. More reinforcements for my Mordor force on the way.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Mordor Orcs

The host of Mordor

A few days ago I played a game with this force and thought it was high time I photographed them. It's something I had painted a few years back but have seldom had the opportunity to use on the field of battle. It could be used, of course, in Lord of the Rings strategy battle, or War of the Ring, or even Saga, but for the most recent game we played Dragon Rampant. Units are allocated to one of about a dozen profiles, some can be given upgrades or fantastic traits.

Morannon Orcs - offensive heavy foot

The backbone of the army was two units of Morannon orcs, which I fielded as heavy foot. These are not the best infantry in the game, but are pretty competent. Foot troops tend to be statted in a defensive way in the ruleset, so I gave these units the offensive upgrade, which makes them effective on the charge. I gave each unit a banner to further differentiate them from the common rabble - this is purely a visual thing and has no effect in the game rules. One of the units contained the force leader, Dagalur, seen on the left in the photo below.

Leader's unit

There was also a couple of units of lowly orcs, which I designated as light foot. These troops are reasonable enough, especially if they "form ranks you maggots", or form a shield wall in Dragon Rampant terminology. This makes them a static but very effective defensive unit.

Orc rabble - light foot

"Form ranks, you maggots"

The cheapest unit on the battlefield were these scouts. Useless in combat, they are quite mobile and can be very annoying if they can get themselves into terrain from which they can shower the enemy with arrows. Fun Fact - if you give them the cowardly downgrade, they become zero points!

"stick em with arrers lads"

There's nothing small or cowardly about the Mordor Troll. I fielded him as a greater warbeast with a fear upgrade, though this turned out to be quite poor in truth. For some reason I cannot fathom, greater warbeasts are absolutely rubbish at defending themselves. In future games I would probably go for heavy horse with some upgrades to make him scary and perhaps more effective in combat.

Hammer time

Finally, for some fast moving action I added a unit of warg riders, which I fielded as heavy horse. Again, not the best mounted troops in the game, but not the worst either, which seems about right to me. 

Warg riders - heavy "horse"

Dragon Rampant is a nice, fast game with easy to learn rules and ideal for a relaxed gaming session. The profiles for the most part make sense, with one or two oddities (hello greater warbeast). I reckon it wouldn't take too much effort to conjure up some traits for each race to further differentiate them on the battlefield and add a little more flavour. All in all though, it's a decent little game.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Ambush in Anorien

Anorien is a region in the north of Gondor in Middle Earth, just to the south of Rohan. This skirmish took place some time before the epic events related in the Lord of the Rings. Brothers Boromir and Faramir are still young men and were returning from patrol, having heard rumour of orc movements. After several weeks of fruitless search, they were on their way back to Gondor, when they were ambushed crossing a marshy area on the border of  Druadan Forest. A small force of orcs appeared from the trees just as the Gondorians were picking their way through the treacherous marches.

It's been a while since I played a game, so we settled on Dragon Rampant for a nice, relaxed evening of dice rolling. Matt suggested Lord of the Rings and I dusted down my Mordor force. The ambush scenario fitted the bill - the Gondor troops have to traverse down the length of the table, getting as many units off table as possible, while the orcs simply have to stop them by routing them.

The orcs came on in ragged fashion and slowly formed a defensive line between the marsh and the woods. The Gondorians moved up in a more ordered way, but it was a long way to go. On the eastern flank, Faramir rode forward on his horse, a huge troll in his path. The troll charged, Faramir spurred his horse on to meet his doom. Both combatants reeled back injured from the clash. But the odds were always in favour of Faramir and eventually he was able to cut down the mighty beast (note to self, greater warbeasts are not actually that great). In a similar clash, Gondorian knights smashed into orcs, but the orcs were unyielding (hmmm, it's not like this in the film).

On the western flank, orcs again formed ranks to block any Gondorian advance, with orc archers sneaking into the marshes and letting off an occasional volley of black fletched arrows. Howls in the distance heralded the appearance of warg riders from the woods. The Gondorians marched forward slowly, their archers taking a toll on the orcs but unable to force them back.

Knights and orc clashed on the eastern flnk many times. Eventually the Gondorians hacked down their foes, but at great cost. Faramir lay wounded and was carried away by the lone surviving knight, brother Boromir following on behind. He had spent much of the battle commanding the foot troops but then left them to their fate (always had my suspicions about his heroism).

A determined attack from the orcs resulted in the slaughter of one Gondor foot unit and slowly the survivors were cornered in the boggy ground. Picked off by arrow fire, abandoned by their leader, then charged by brutal Morannon orcs, they left only unmarked graves in the marshy ground. It was a sad day for Gondor, one long forgotten by the tale tellers.

It was a hard task for the Gondor force to break through, hampered by marsh lands and a determined defensive line. Knights can be very lethal in combat but difficult to control - they just about managed to punch through on the eastern flank. From my side of the battlefield I had an easier task - form a defensive line and then wait for the enemy to come on to infantry who are much better in defense. I felt that Boromir was far too cautious, blowing his horn to command troops but not once drawing his sword. If he had stood by his men and swung his sword, that may well have been decisive enough to force back the orcs. 

A thoroughly enjoyable evening of dice rolling, hopefully it will not be too long before we can play again. Faramir will no doubt heal his wounds and maybe Boromir will pluck up the courage to hunt down his tormentors and restore his cowardly reputation good name?
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