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?

Thursday 27 July 2017

Two weeks later.....

It's two weeks since my last update and I really wanted to have this unit finished by now. However, as you can see in the photo, it's only just started. I blame too much work and home DIY projects. I did get a decent session in, painting on the robes, which I then roughly drybrushed over with some grey, then applied some inks for shading, and some matte varnish to remove the inky shine. And then just today I quickly painted the metal areas. That's it, just two painting sessions in two weeks.

I chose the cool colours of the robes as a change to my usual approach of going for a realistic, muted palette. I just wanted to try something a bit different. Recently I have been admiring different painters' work on the web and one thing that attracts me is the vibrant command of colours that many have. It's something I am working on myself in my own way. I had a stark reminder of my adherence to realism when I pulled out some Mordor orcs today, in preparation for a game over the weekend. The palette is so dull and murky, realistic perhaps but uninspiring. I will get some pictures in the game and post them over the weekend. Hopefully I will get some painting done too.....

Thursday 13 July 2017


Kulgin Bachensteiner has sought answers all his long life. From the deep, dank forests of RukenWood he journeyed across the Hard Hills to StoneGrave Moor. Here it was that he discovered the long lost cairns and barrows of an ancient civilisation. Within these cold tombs he sought not the tarnished treasure and ancient gems, but dark knowledge........

It's cheesy I know, but somehow it's fitting for a model like this. It's probably some kind of unholy sacrilege to criticise these much-loved classic figures, but I have always found the undead range to have that clunky, 1980's vibe. I did toy with the idea of removing the ridiculously large skull head and sword blade, but in the end decided to go full on nostalgia and just paint it up as it stands.

Painting the necromancer was a reward to myself for completing the zombies. However, as I have no real love for the model, it was a rush job completed in a couple of sessions. It's not my best work, but it's good enough and keeps the momentum going on the Undead project.

Here's a shot of Kulgin surrounded by his mindless minions. As I had my camera set up I took the opportunity to reshoot the zombies, the butcher and the ghouls.

Sunday 9 July 2017

Barrow Guardians WIP

A little progress on the Undead force. These are the Barrow Guardians of StoneGrave Moor. They are the elite troops, the one unit that might actually cause some damage on the battlefield. Originally I had intended just eight models for two Saga points, but decided that three points gave me more options and makes sense from a Dragon Rampant viewpoint - units of elites are six strong in that system.

They are built from plastic Army of the Dead figures from the Lord of the Rings range. A few have weapons from the plastic GW skeletons, plastic shields from Gripping Beast Saxons, plus a few other bits here and there. Nothing amazing or ground-breaking, but they do fit the bill nicely.

Sunday 2 July 2017


Two dozen zombies speed painted. These are predominantly plastic figures, mostly mantic with some GW bits. There's also some Wargames Factory historical bits from their Saxon range. The two main characters in the centre of the front row are metal figures from the now defunct Rackham Confrontation series. It's tempting to spend a little more time on these two "leaders" but I am trying to whizz through these figures so will call them done for now.

My aim is to use these figures in several systems. In Fantastic Saga they are Undead levy troops, so two units of twelve - theoretically they could be split into smaller units but I would probably field them big as they are very poor and need the numbers. They would also be similarly used in Dragon Rampant. They could also be ranked up on magnetic movement trays to play mass battle games.

After just over a month I am pretty pleased to have painted up four points of my Undead Saga force - these two points of levy and the previously painted butcher and ghouls. I am continuing with the fleshy elements - some fliers and a necromancer are in my sights. Then I will move on to the bony bits - I have already started the rather tedious task of building a legion of skeletons. Onwards we shuffle!
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