Thursday, September 27, 2018


Hi all,

More Middle Earth, as I seem to be on a kick with this game.  My Rohan Battle Company has expanded faster than I can keep up with painting, so to while away the time in between, I've started up a Mordor (i.e., orc) BC in lieu.

A different set of Boyz than usual.

They were surprisingly challenging to paint, in that the palette one usually sees with orcs (at least in ME) is rather drab.  Getting a range of distinct colours on the models, while keeping them relatively desaturated, was tougher than I anticipated.  It kind of brought home the extent to which I rely on colour to define models on the table.


By the time this goes up, I'll have had some games with them, but it should prove an interesting shift from Rohan.  The latter are an extremely balanced / all-round force in game, while orcs seem to rely more on combat and numbers.  Time will tell what suits my play style better.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Shield Maiden, shields of the maiden

Hi all,

Some more Rohan figures finished up, including my first hero, Eowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan.



Eowyn is one of my favorite characters in LotR; her stand against the Witch King is the stuff of sagas.  In the LotR SBG, she serves as a cheap hero with decent might, i.e., a force magnifier, rather than a beatstick in herself.

In addition to Eowyn, I also finished up another five warriors of Rohan.  This brings me to an even dozen.  As I write this, that's enough to fill out my first "warband" for the army (each hero "unlocks" up to 12 regular warriors), but early previews of the new edition suggest that how armies are structured may have changed.



The box set is due to release Sept. 1, so I should have my hands on some riders, as well as some orkish opposition, soon enough.  In the meantime, we've got a Battle Companies campaign up and running, so hopefully I'll post some AARs soon.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Battle Company Battles

Hi all,

Got in our first round of Middle Earth SBG / Battle Companies games the other night, and to be honest, had a blast.  At this scale of play (6-12 models), games resolve quickly, and in the space of 4 hours or so, I got in at least 5 games, with plenty of time for breaks and chatting.  The night culminated with a massive 3 on 3 battle, which we lost by the narrowest of margins.

My opening game was against a War Riders list, which proved . . . interesting.  Wargs count as cavalry in the game, and have the added advantage of being mounts with a combat profile - which means they make their riders more effective, and have a chance to stick around if the rider gets killed.  I know cavalry can be really effective in this game (especially against infantry in the open), but this was my first taste of what that meant in practice.

Wargs and riders.  I had to get past them to win.

The archers have the right idea.  Get up high, and shoot them.

I would have deployed in the ruins if I could, but it wasn't an option.  Not everyone made it to cover - Wargs are fast!

In the end, I did my best to use terrain.  Once I discovered how powerful the Wargs were (they're stronger, fight better, and move faster than my Rohirrim infantry), I got as many of my guys up on the ruins as possible.  Ordinarily, this would have provided ideal protection, as cavalry can't climb, but we ruled that the wargs could on a 6 - we wanted a game after all.  I rethought my position after the wargs rolled a ridiculous number of 6es, and my poor warband was more or less gobbled up!

The recovery table for Battle Companies is, however, reasonably forgiving, and my warband emerged relatively unscathed (one character picked up an "Old Wound" that means they have a chance to miss subsequent games).  Moreover, I rolled really well on reinforcements, and managed to have a full-fledged Rider with mount join my warband.

No harm done.  Derhelm the rider joins the Woldwatchers.

My next game was against an Easterling warband, my opponent in the first game I played.  This gang is emerging as a bit of a nemesis, in that in that original game, they wiped me out (I've been pretty lucky with recovery rolls so far).  This time, however, things were different ;)

I think this round did a fair bit to cement for me some of the distinct features of how the game works.  First, terrain matters, and you can interact with it extensively.  Cover, elevation, climbing, jumping etc.all have meaningful mechanics, and risks that prompt meaningful choices.  Second, while there's skill in the game, and there's plenty you can do to influence outcomes, said outcomes are based on a limited pool of dice, and so can't be controlled.  Unexpected things can happen, and even the strongest model is at risk.  This means that while Hero models are really powerful and influential, they're never invulnerable.

Easterlings, about to have a bad time.

An even cavalry fight (post spearing of the second rider) and I get to fight with numbers and cover?  Yes please!

Dernhelm (really the Eowyn model) vs. the Easterling

Second to last turn?  I hold the hill, and am winning the battle at the ruins.

In my game against the Easterlngs, the goal was to take the hill (which my opponents held at the start of the game).  I had, however, an advantage in missile fire, and set up in the cover of the ruin, which goaded him into attacking me, and leaving his archer to hold the hill.  A bit of luck (I killed one of his riders with a bow on the way in). and the advantage of numbers let me take out his attack, and my counter attack took the hill.  Victory to Rohan!

I got in a few more games, but the highlight of the evening was teh big 3x3 game we played, my Rohan, and a couple of Gondor / Fiefdoms (gondor light), versus Wargs, Uruks, and Easterlings.

Rohan at bottom.

That's a lot of bad guys . . . 

Archers prepare.

Just before the clash

This is where it got ugly - the two Rohirrim on the left are about to go down under a swarm of uruks.

The game broke down into two sections, with most of my warband and a Gondorian knight trying to hold off the orcs and easterlings while my archers and the Gondorians tried to eliminate the Wargs.  The game was pretty much hanging in the balance when we called it (shop was closing), but there had been some brilliant moments, including when Tinbold, my new character (warriors can become promoted to heroes) sniped an orc leader, my left flank collapsing under the sheer ferocity of the uruk charge, and the Gondorian knight holding off a ridiculous number of easterlings and uruks for something like three turns.  We lost by one model, but I think that if the game went on, we'd have turned it around.

I've wanted to play LotR for ages, and I'm delighted both by the relaunch, and the surge of interest locally.  We had a solid turnout, and there were several other people either hovering or who have models and looked interested in joining in.  Pre-order on the new box / rules is Saturday, and I'm hoping to see more of this game in the future.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Special edition

Hi all,

I was one of the lucky million or so who jumped on the first Bones kickstarter - the one that went crazy and broke all records for everything, everywhere ;)  My rationale, at the time, was that it would give me a big pile of minis I could dole out to the kids as they got older.  Lo and behold, of late both the Cub and Puddin' have taken an interest, and been trolling through the big box of goodness for projects.


Cub was so chuffed with his latest work he asked me to do a blog post on it.  He took a shine to the griffon model that had been included in the set.  As he was painting it, however, he also started cooking up a back story, and soon enough, had another figure on the go as well.


The idea, evidently, is that the wizard is a shapechanger, and so both the griffon and the wizard are the same person.  Not sure if you can see in the picture, but the eyes on both are painted the same - which I thought was a rather nifty.  Used the same colour palette for both too, which was a nice touch.


Puddin's been painting as well - a mod to one of her My Little Ponies, and a bunch of mice (actually, giant rat models, but I hadn't the heart to tell her).  Moreover, the Cub has taken an interest in Middle Earth SBG Battle Companies, so we'll be heading down together to GW to get in some games.  Looking forward to it.  My long-term plans for inter-generational geekiness are finally coming to fruit  ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


Hi all,

Finished up some more bases for the Spartans, in this case, allied hoplites.

Front rank hoplites.  Leader is converted from a guy holding a sword.

Packed a couple extra figs on the front.  These guys are less disciplined than Spartans.

Impetus Unit Type:  FP
Base Size:  8cm x 3cm
Manufacturer:  OG15mm

In contrast to the rest of the Spartan army, these guys are Old Glory, part of the big batch of OG15 figs I picked up a while back.  I've painted up some of these before, as Lykian hoplites in my Antigonid list.  In contrast to that first batch, however, with this gang I stuck with a more restrained palette, and limited myself to the same colour scheme as on the Spartans themselves.  Shields are a mix of city and personal icons, and I repeated a few from the Lykians, including the octopus, because it's fun.  With this lot done, all that's left for the Spartans are skirmishers and light troops - the beginning of the end (or possibly vice versa) is in sight!

Rear rank.

Rear rank rear.  Which seems redundant, somehow.

These guys will serve as allied hoplites in my Spartan list.  In Impetus, and to be honest most rulesets, "pure" Spartan lists are actually pretty rare, in that most have mandatory non-Spartan hoplites (not just periokoi or armed helots, but non-lacedemonian hoplites).  This does, as has been pointed out to me (see Ross' comments on my Spartan cavalry post), reflect the historical record, but raises the question of why have a dedicated Spartan list at all?

Sword and Spear handles this with a generic "later hoplite" list, in which is included the option to take "Spartan" hoplites as a core choice, but the Spartan hoplite profile is identical to that of "elite hoplites", which are non-core.  So, Spartan armies are basically just hoplite armies with elite hoplites as the core of the force, which makes sense at one level, but also has me chewing over a larger set of ideas about rules and lists.

All together.

Hopefully an angle the opponent never sees.

Like a fair number of people out there, I came to historical gaming via fantasy / sci-fi games, where predetermined lists intended to allow for balanced pick-up games were the norm.  I've found, over the years, however, that I am increasingly drawn to rulesets with more flexibility in army selection, or which are based on scenario-based play, even to the extreme of the Warlord / Black Book rulesets, where you can pretty much do what you want.  What seems to be really grabbing me these days are "what if" scenarios for historicals, things that might have plausibly or possible happened, even if we don't know that the did.  Given how most historical "army lists" are based on a fairly narrow interpretation of the few things we know about ancient battles, they can become a little restrictive for this purpose.

A rule system that offers some guidelines on what might have been available, but leaves room for players to decide what to take (and what factors to consider when deciding what to take) is probably the sweet sport for me right now.  There is, of course, nothing stopping me from doing this with pretty much any set of rules out there, but I've definitely noticed that I'm becoming aware of what "stock" rulesets allow and discourage.  Don't know if that means I'm maturing as a gamer, or just becoming an old crank ;)


Thursday, August 16, 2018

An unexpected project . . .

Hi all,

I have been a fan of the Lord of the Rings since I was younger than my son is now; the first thing I ever bought with money from my very first job as a kid was a copy of the LotR trilogy at the small bookshop down the road from where I lived.  I am an unrepentant fanboy of the Peter Jackson films, despite their omissions and liberties, and so it's a bit of a mystery to me that I've never gotten on board with the miniatures game.

Newest addition to the ranks of the painted, a Rohan Battle Company.

I actually quite like the range of figures, and have in the past owned and painted a few, but have never seen to have enough at the right time and place, i.e., when I'm around other people with an interest in the game.  Recently, however, the release of Battle Companies (skirmish campaign rules - think LotR Mordheim), the announcement of a relaunch box set (Pelennor Fields), and the discovery that there's at least a few people in the local community with an interest in (and models for) the game seem to have opened up some opportunities.

Each BC starts with three "promoted" heroes, who I've marked with piping on their robes.

I even manage a trial game the other night, a 4-way free for all in which I played Isengard, and my natural tendency towards evil cunning and foul play won me the game ;)  I promptly went home, and painted up this lot, a starting battle company for Rohan.

The figs are true 25mm, and much closer to human proportion than the GW norm.

These figs, I've had in the drawers of shame for some time - predating the move out here, anyways.  I also had some other bits and bobs, but seem to have unloaded them over the years.  I still have a few characters, and enough foot troops to play both Battle Companies, and a warband (i.e., unit) for the larger game, assuming the basic structure holds with the relaunch.  The box set will give me enough for a couple of small armies, and once I get that painted, we'll see where to go next.

Given these are older, monopose figs, they're quite dynamic.

It's worth remembering that these figures are mono-pose plastic from a good 15-20 years ago.  Although they're showing their age compared to some of the stuff GW is putting out now, they're still decent sculpts, and it was a blast finally getting them painted up.    There's plans to get a campaign up and running in the next couple of weeks, which has me very excited as well.  It's also given me an excuse to go back and look over the movies again, although granted, it doesn't take much prompting ;)

The red cloaks are a bit unusual for Rohan, but I wanted something to contrast a little, and I like painting red ;)

I'm hoping to get in a game with this lot some time in the coming week, ideally the beginning of a campaign, but in the meantime, have been painting what I have.  Also digging through the inter-tubes for whatever info on the game I can find.


Friday, August 10, 2018

Persians. Not the cats.

Hi all,

Finished up a toe in the water for a possible later Achaemenid Persian list.

Feeling so-so on these guys.  Some worked, I think, some less so

Impetus Unit Type:  FL
Base Size:  8cm x 4cm
Manufacturer:  Old Glory 15mm

These are Kardakes, and were an interesting paint for a couple of different reasons.  First, the unit type is one of the most confusing and contested that appear in Achaemenid lists, and one that effectively illustrates some of the foibles to which ancient games (and gamers) are susceptible.  Second, they represented an effort on my part to produce the odd combination of both "colourful" and "muted" in their clothing.

Same with the shields.  The pseudo-Achaemenid crest I "borrowed" from Madaxeman.

The thing about ancients is, we really don't know an awful lot about them, which means there's a tendency to both over-emphasize the "correctness" of what we do know, and a tendency to wildly extrapolate from the same.  You see this a fair bit in army lists.  Achaemenid lists are generally broken up into two eras, early and late, with the former representing the armies that fought against the greek hoplites at Platea or Thermopylae, and the latter against Alexander at Issuus or Gaugamela.  Lists from both eras are extrapolated from not very detailed, if roughly contemporary documents, and often from the work done by the WRG in the 70s.  The thing is, those two periods are something like 150 years apart, and in between, the Persians did a heck of a lot of fighting, against other neighbors than the greeks, each other, and who know what all else.  But because we really only know a little bit about them, mostly from greeks, and from periods where greeks paid attention and sources survived, this is where wargamers tend to focus, and even, I think, obsess.

Basing works, though.

Which takes us to the Kardakes.  There's a few references to these guys, and they're confusing.  We know they made up a chunk of Persian forces in a couple of battles, we know they formed an identifiably distinct group to which the "Kardakes" label meaningfully applied, we know they were in the line of battle next to mercenary hoplites, and that Greek / Macedoniann horse were able to break through their lines.  That's about it.  From that people extrapolate that they were armed with hoplite panoply, armed like peltats, that they were a distinct class of troops, that they were a distinct culture group, and so on.  And oh, do they argue, with fervor, vigor, and spite.  After much perusing of both source material and derived opinion (as well as some consultation with my personal expert on Persians, JJM), I decided the hell with it, and painted up the figures I have.

I picked up these guys up as part of the same swap that got me into ancients, and got me started on my Antigonids.  They're OG15 Kardakes, which only come as this kind of light foot / peltast type, so that's what I'm running them as.  Kardakes as light infantry in vaguely Persian dress is certainly plausible, so why not?  I'll have a few units of them in the projected list, along with lots of cavalry, etc. (one of the things that distinguishes "late" from "early" persian lists tends to be the de-emphasis on foot bow in favour of masses of cavalry).  My plan is to loosely base my force around the Persians that fought at Cunaxa, so nominally "later" Persians, but not the ones that fought against the Macedonians.  It also gives me as close to a blank slate as one gets, in that we know there were a chunk of mercenary hoplites, some greek peltasts, a good chunk of Paphlagonian cavalry, and lots and lots of Persians and levies, both on horse and on foot.  The vaguely designated "Persian" contingent covers a pretty wide sweep, and give room in the list for plenty of choice.