Thursday 31 October 2019


Of all the many creatures living in the hidden and dark places of Nordverden, these beasts are the strangest. Practically blind, they rely on sharp hearing and a keen sense of smell to detect their prey, then simply gobble them up in one bite. The goblins learned long ago that these creatures and their ravenous appetite are to be avoided at all cost. Incredibly, a few crazy goblins actively seek them out, having discovered that the beasts' sensitive hearing makes them afraid of loud noises, they use makeshift instruments that gives them some rudimentary control. Such herders and their bizarre flock are highly prized by goblin generals for the destruction they can wreak on a battlefield. The fact that a handful of goblins may be eaten along the way is a price well worth paying. 

These are, of course, night goblin squigs and herders - at least that's what they were called in the days of Warhammer. The new(ish) plastic kits are very much in the tradition of the older metal figures. When they were released a couple of years ago, it was like travelling back to the early 90s. So while my goblin warband is predominantly metal, I am happy to include these newer plastics, which seem more Middlehammer to me than the original metals they were based on, if that makes sense.

On the painting, I knew I did not want the traditional orange, instead I went for the exact opposite with a bright blue skin. I started them with a neutral buff colour for their under bellies, then stippled on green and then blue. Then I dotted on random stripes and lines in various inks (blue, red, purple) before finally glazing with a very diluted blue/purple mix. The end result is a very vibrant blue green effect, which contrasts really well with the lips and gums. The beady little eyes were really easy to do - over a grey base I added a spot of black mixed with a gloss varnish. I am really happy with the way they turned out.

The herders are both playing makeshift musical instruments. The kit includes two options, one musician and one prodder. I hacked the latter body so I could use both sets of music makers. They need to make lots of noise to keep those hungry beasts on the move, a proddy stick just isn't going to have the same effect!

In game terms, there are stats for Gobble Dogs in the goblin warband which are uncannily close to the original squig herds. Funny that. In Dragon Rampant I could probably nominate them as berserk troops. I am unsure how they would be played in Saga, not sure they would fit into that game. If anybody has any ideas, let me know in the comments please.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Cave Bear

Cave bears are quite common in the mountains and forests around  the dwarf keep of Oakenheim. Down the years, dwarfs and bears have learned to respect and tolerate each other. Dwarf rangers in particular have fostered a mutual understanding. They leave out salted honey cakes and small bowls of beer for the beasts; in return the bears have an excellent sense of smell and will often roar a warning if goblins or wolves are in the vicinity. Sometimes, the bears will even appear during a battle, helping the dwarfs in their never ending struggle against the goblins and their horrible allies.

I picked up this bear model at a local show, I cannot remember the manufacturer but it seemed to be the right scale to fit into my collection. The sculpt is okay I guess, it looks reasonably like a bear, though I did have to remove a lot of flash and extensive mould lines. The pose is a bit strange, I think it would have been better rearing on hind legs and just looking down and forward at it's smaller foes. If I am honest, I cannot really recommend it, so it's just as well I cannot remember the manufacturer.

In gaming terms it will be particularly useful in games of Erehwon. Beasts and monsters can be included in most armies and there is already a profile for the cave bear, so I can just slot it into an army. Strictly speaking, any army can use any monster, but for me it seems most fitting in a dwarf force. I cannot imagine goblins and bears getting along at all - then again goblins don't really get along with any creatures, including themselves.

One other reason to buy the figure was as a present for my wife. It's her birthday and she is quite a fan of bears, usually the fluffy teddy bear type, but I am ever hopeful of bringing her over to the much cooler hobby of toy soldiers.

There's only one thing left to say. Happy Bear Day.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Mordor Orc Archers

I picked these up online recently, in a GW made to order week for some old Lord of the Rings metals. Let me get a grumble out of the way first - I do wish they would run the made to order for longer periods than one week.There was a good number of items I would have liked which all came up together, if you have a limited budget like me it would be impossible to get all of them in one week. With the funds I had I bought the Mordor orcs and some dwarfs.

Back in the day, when Lord of the Rings was first released (2001?), I was a Warhammer player - I played that one game and that one game only, so while I quite liked the range at the time it was not on my radar. Nowadays my tastes have changed and my gaming worlds have expanded to encompass Mordor, Rohan, and many others. I have picked up a few plastics from forum sales mostly, but the long out of production metals are quite hard to obtain for a reasonable price. So I was pretty happy when these orcs were made available (subject to the above grumble).

I thought they would add some variety to the plastic archer poses, but in truth they are all quite similar - I guess this is fairly inevitable in archers. Still, as luck would have it, the number of the unit is now up to 12, which is ideal for games of Dragon Rampant and Saga.

It felt a bit wrong speedpainting them, I would usually lavish time on figures that were hard to come by and relatively expensive - £3 per figure is expensive in my book. However, having painted the plastics up in one way, it would be foolish to paint up the newcomers in a different way, so I blasted through them in a couple of hours. The end result blends in and is good enough for gaming I think. More Mordor orcs to come at some point, though it could well be next year before I get a time slot.

Saturday 12 October 2019

Rohan In Flames

Orcs bearing the red eye have been seen wandering the furthest fringes of the Eastfold. How they managed to cross the river undetected is a mystery, but they must be stopped, driven back and destroyed. A couple of remote farms have already been pillaged and now they are making their way westward to bigger settlements. A small contingent of Rohan troops have set up defences to try to hold them back, a messenger rushing west to raise the alarm and muster reinforcements. 

This was a clash we played in Matt's dungeon using Dragon Rampant rules, which is designed for smaller games than ours, so we add a few tweaks to make it workable. When a unit fails to activate, the player turn usually ends, but we allow three failures before passing over to the opponent. This allows the ten or so units per side to be involved in most turns, turning a scrappy stop-start skirmish into something a little bit more epic.

Orcs trample crops as they press forward

They close in on the hastily erected defences

The bulk of the orcs push forward on the right

Reinforcements arrive for Rohan

The troll slaughters the archers in his path and lumbers on, orcs pouring into the gap in the defences

Fierce fighting in the farmstead sees the brave Rohan defenders slowly pushed back

The troll is peppered with arrows from all directions and staggers around in confusion

Orcs torch a farm building and are then thrown into the conflagration by enraged defenders!

Another building goes up in flames before the orcs are finally pushed back

A most enjoyable battle, Dragon Rampant really works well in games like this. The orcs made most progress on the right flank, the troll punched through the light defences easily enough, but then was the sole target for a lot of Rohan archers. More orcs tried to follow through but were hampered by rough terrain and harassing archery. In the centre, a single unit of Rohan defenders did well to hold out for so long, finally falling back as the orc leader and his troops rushed over the barricades. With the central farm undefended, it was soon roaring in flames. On the left flank, a unit of warg riders and a couple of light orc units struggled to push back a fairly meagre force of Rohan archers. As their numbers depleted, the orcs finally lost impetus and pulled back from the attack.

Two out of five building were destroyed, so technically it was probably the forces of  Rohan that won the day. But the orcs are many and slunk back into the marshlands, no doubt planning to return and wreak havoc again another day. It might be interesting to fight the next battle using a different ruleset, to see how they compare, maybe Erehwon or perhaps Saga. It would certainly be interesting to continue the tale.

Coming Soon? The Orcs Strike Back

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Cave Goblins

The cave goblins are among the smallest of their kind. Living underground in almost perpetual darkness, with little to eat but mushrooms and the occasional insect or unfortunate comrade, they tend to be small, scrawny and undernourished. In isolation, they are rarely a danger, but in numbers they can be dangerous foe. When forced to the surface by their bigger kindred, they huddle in packs, preferring spears or bows, in order to attack their enemy at range - then run away and hide if the boss is not around to stop them.

When I first started collecting the goblins, my eye was on the standard goblins released in the early 1990's, which was when I started playing Warhammer. When I saw these night goblins on a forum sale, they were not my first choice, but I didn't want to look the gift horse in the mouth so I snapped them up despite my dislike of duplicate poses. These are mainly night goblins from around 1992, with the two slightly bigger models being common goblins from the same era. The shields are a selection of spare bits from various sources.

They have been really pesky little things, painting them has been difficult. I knew I did not want them in black robes with green skin in the traditional manner - it's been done by so many others. I also knew I wanted to have some variation in the skin tones, hoping that this might detract from the identical poses. My main inspiration was to paint the hoods red, after reading about the redcap from folk tales. After many stops and starts, I finally got them to this stage. The shields are mostly painted in leather hide shades, which helps to tie them together but without being too uniform.

In game terms, they are destined to play as levy troops in Saga (twelve per unit), or as light infantry in Rampant (twelve per unit), or in games of Erewhon (up to ten per unit). I expect them to cause very little damage to the enemy and then run away, any better performance than that is a real bonus.

I have the next goblin unit assembled and ready to be primed. This time, I have a much clearer idea on a palette and should blast through them quickly. So the next batch should come bounding (maybe lumbering) into view much quicker.
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