Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Troll Hunt

Well, the chocolate eggs have all been scoffed, so another treasure hunt of sorts had to be arranged. Littlun wanted to play a tabletop game after several runs through of the boardgame Game of Life. I wasn't prepped to run a game, so suggested he just grabbed his to-be-painted Gondor warband and I would arrange a foe for him to attack. I decided upon a troll hunt as that would provide a different kind of challenge for him. I dug out one of my very old trolls (I don't have any official LotR miniatures painted to play that role yet) - and battle was joined.

This was to be an eight turn game, with the Gondor player winning by killing the troll and the troll player winning merely by surviving the eight turns. We both played as the troll; me first so he could see how to kind of play it in readiness for when he took his turn as the troll.

In the first game, I played the hill-troll that was to be hunted down as it was stealing too much livestock and killing too many farmers and their families. A small warband of Gondor troops (leader, 3 archers, 2 swordsmen and 4 spearmen) was despatched to carry out the task.

The troll was positioned approximately in the centre of the board and the Gondor troops would arrive from three different directions to trap him in the village (as shown in the first image above - the small band approaching from the "top" of the board have been cut for some unknown reason).

As soon as the troll saw the advancing men, he stooped down and picked up a convenient rock and launched it straight at the leader of the patrol, hitting him square between the eyes (he failed his Fate roll too).

Seeing the hated man-thing drop to the floor, the troll pushed his advantage and charged the Gondorians, felling another swordsman in short order. The remaining two spearmen circled round to join their comrades in making for a larger attacking force.

After a couple of lost combats, the troll began to give ground to the Gondorian troops (who all seemed to keep passing their Courage tests to charge the brute). The archers were able to sneak in the occasional shot, which usually missed, but after the first hit from an arrow, the wounds began to mount up on the outnumbered troll.

The battle lasted five turns with victory going to the men of Gondor. I did play the troll in a simplistic/reactive way, and I think things would have gone differently if I had put some thought into his tactics - maybe next time?

Anyway, this buoyed my son into wanting to switch sides and play the troll.

This time, he played the troll a bit safer than I did by trying to avoid my archers. However, my first turn saw a very flukey shot that caused a wound on the troll (two in the way rolls, the shot and then the wound roll were all successful). The troll responded by throwing a rock and killing a Gondorian swordsman. He moved the troll away from line of sight of the archers, so I had to redeploy them and simultaneously use my sword and shield bearing troops to herd the troll towards the farmhouse where I would hopefully be able to block him in. Unfortunately, the tables turned and the troll trapped another of my archers who had crossed the fence in order to get the drop on the troll coming round the corner. Six out of six attack rolls were successful in turning my archer into strawberry jam. Luckily, this slowed the troll enough so that my patrol could hem him in and cause him a second wound - from another archer who had just managed to get line of sight when there was a pause in the combat.

The troll then won the subsequent combat and was able to leg it round the corner of the farmhouse with the Gondorian patrol in hot pursuit, only to hop over the fence and be shot right away by the archer who was well-placed to do so!

These were a couple of fast-paced, fun games that both of us enjoyed. They both only lasted 5 out of the allotted 8 turns, and we both lost 2 warriors of Gondor in achieving our objectives. So, a draw all round.

I think the sides were evenly matched, and if the troll were played with a bit more nous then it might prove a little more tricky for the Men of the West to defeat him. The men need the troll to come to them so that they do not ned to roll for Courage, and the troll needs to pick the men off in small groups. They were both interesting games though, and I think we both learned a few tactical limitations and advantages for both style of play.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Orcs Repainted and Re-based

After the battle on Sunday, I decided to spend my free time on Monday completing the six orcs that were showcased last time and to attempt to complete another six orcs.

Here are the six orcs that were almost there on Sunday - I have tidied just a little more of the paint work and then added some flock to their bases to help improve their look and to mark them out as done...

Orc Elites (leader plus two handed warriors)...

Orcs with shields and scimitars...

And, hot on their heels are six more orc warriors. Again, I just tidied the pre-existing paint work by standardising the colours and getting everything back "within the lines" as far as I could. They are still very basic paint jobs and I will not be shading, highlighting or doing any other fancy work for these. They are just very basic figures for use on the tabletop and for my son to just generally play with...

Orcs with spears...

Orc archers...

And finally, here's a shot of them all together...

These took maybe three or four hours in total to complete. I am happy with how they have turned out considering how they looked beforehand. My son is very pleased with what he has seen so far, and he has the added bonus that he will see them completed next time he comes over.

I also took a look in my son's figures boxes yesterday and noticed that he has maybe another dozen or so orcs that need bringing up to this standard. Unfortunately, many of them are damaged, so this may take a little while to get around to - maybe later this week I will get them all out onto the table and patch them up where I can - maybe cannibilising some to complete others?

Orcs vs. Gondor III

The kids came over this weekend, so I was able to test out my new game mats and complete the third Lord of the Rings battle against my youngest. He decided he wanted to use his orcs and Gondor warriors again. When I showed him the re-painted miniatures (not all are finished so far, but 6 are almost there and the other ten or so have been started - see previous post, Orc Repaints) he was over the moon and asked when I could get his Gondor troops to the same level of completeness. I mentioned that I would try to finish off his orcs by the time I see him again in a couple of weeks and then we can talk about his Gondor troops.

Anyway, this battle was to be the decider. I had a few little odds and ends to tie up around the house before we could get started, so I asked him to set up the table again. He quickly grabbed the green felt table mat and plonked a few items of scenery onto it. He then placed both sets of our troops how he wanted them. Here is the initial set up - Gondor moving in from the left and the orcs from the right.

After the two close-fought battles from a couple of weeks ago, we decided to pool the survivors, tweak the rosters a little, and fight a final set piece...


Baramir - Gondor captain (Battle Companies stats)
3x archers
3x warriors with hand weapon and shield
3x warriors with spear and shield

The orcs...

Balgor - orc captain (Battle Companies stats)
5x orc archers
3x orcs with hand weapon and shield
2x orcs with two-handed weapons
5x orcs with spear

The numbers are a little skewed in favour of the orcs, but I wanted to see how well the Gondor troops could fight when outnumbered, and what tactics might best be utilised to deal with superior enemy forces.

Balgor looked up from watching the flames that were cooking his field rabbit and spotted a couple of small bands of battered orc warriors approaching through the scattered trees and bushes. He barked a greeting and asked why both Grashnik's and Griknash's boys were leaderless. The defeated orcs looked down at their feet as they mumbled that they were ambushed by man patrols from the big city. They stated that they gave a good account of themselves, as many of the man-things had fallen too, but if they were joined by Balgor and his small, but tough, band they could easily over power the remnants of the Gondorian patrols before they could return to their city. Balgor quickly summed up the situation; sixteen orc warriors arned to the teeth versus the remnants of two beaten up Gondor patrols. This should be an easy victory. Knowing which direction the men were headed, Balgor knew exactly where to meet them in battle to bring his advantages to bear.

Baramir looked up from his contemplation after burying his fellow warriors and noticed that the remains of Foromir's patrol had just come into view. He hailed them and asked for a report. Although they had won their skirmish, they were sad to report the loss of their captain. They mentioned that they had tracked the remnants of the orc warband that they had defeated to a clearing where it was noticed that they had joined forces with a few other warband remnants. They reported that there were maybe as many as fifteen or sixteen orcs; a warband that would need to be destroyed if the good farmers of Gondor were to sleep easier in their beds that night. Guessing where the orcs would head in order to set up an ambush, Baramir decided to go pell mell and try to head them off at a small hamlet that would act as a good ambush point for the orcs.

The men and orcs spotted each other at either end of the abandoned settlement and each leader barked out their orders. The men split into two wings; the right wing was heavily armed and made straight for the biggest band of orcs that were protecting their archers, and the left wing archers moved to outflank the orcs with support from a heavily armed warrior with a spear and shield. Balgor was not to be outdone after he realised that his ambush ruse had been anticipated and decided to split his forces. He led a handful of his toughest warriors to meet the Gondorian archery threat and ordered the rest of the warriors to protect the five orc archers who were climbing the nearest hill for a good vantage point for shooting.

An archery contest began to take place as the heavily armed warriors on both sides faced off against each other. The Gondorian archers shot down an orc with a heavy two-handed weapon to the left but then one of the Gondor swordmen fell to the right (1 dead orc/1 dead Gondor).

Spurred on by their previous tactics, Baramir led his men into the thick of the combat. Outnumbered, the stout men of Gondor fought for the honour of those that had died on the previous two encounters. Two orcs with scimitars and shields were felled but the brave captain of Gondor narrowly avoided a grievous wound (passed his Fate roll). The men pushed their advantage as the orc forces on the right flank began to waiver (3 orcs/1 Gondor).

Back on the left flank, the Gondorian archery claimed another heavily armed orc warrior, but these small victories were suddenly overshadowed as the retreating orcs on the right flank felled an over-eager Baramir; the fates would not save him this time. The death of their leader halted the Gondorian advance and spurred the orcs into a final push back before their retreat and regroup. One more Gondorian swordsman fell, leaving the right flank severely depleted (4 O/3 G).

Seeing the death of their leader and how hard pushed the right flank was, the archers and their spear support man headed back towards the main battle fray, firing their bows at the enemy as they went. Unfortunately, the concentrated fire-power of the five orcs on the small ridge was too much for the Gondorian skirmishers and one of their number fell. The renewed combat at the base of the hillock led to two more Gondorian deaths in return for just one orc warrior slayed. The men of Gondor, leaderless and losing men too quickly to the well-planned and fought orc ambush, decided to make a break for it, but managed to strike down another orc that was in their way (5 O/6 G).

As a final parting shot, the Gondorian archers managed to kill one last orc spear wielder to at least salvage a little honour after being so decisively beaten.

Victory was for the orcs today. Their loss of face from the previous two defeats had been avanged and the hated man-things had finally been defeated. They would feast on man-flesh tonight, and tomorrow take their pick of the farmers and their live stock.

The break point in Turn 7 came as a welcome respite for the hard pushed Men of the West. The battle started well for them, but the orcs turned out to be tougher this time round. The five archers on the hill top certainly kept the men's heads down and limited to a small degree what tactics could be carried out. The loss of their leader so early also seemed to foretell the patrol's doom. Still, four men (2 archers and 2 spearmen) got away to tell the tale and perhaps they can get back to their commanders to organise a retaliatory attack on Balgor and his boys (10 survivors - Balgor, 5 archers, 3 spearorcs, 1 orc with scimitar and shield). This was also the first time we started to use the advanced stats - we decided to use fate rolls, which helped both of the leaders escape death on on eoccasion each. I will continue using Fate from now on, and perhaps introduce Might in a few games' time, as this stat takes a little more to master adequately.

I will take a quick look at the Battle Companies rules over the next few days and try to make Balgor's mob into a coherent fighting force. I will then make up a fresh Gondorian (or maybe Rohan?) Battle Company to fight against them. However, littlun would like to use his Easterlings, so we may fight with those next time. I will see what he wants to do.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Orc Repaints

During the course of the two battles a couple of weeks ago my youngest son commented on the broken miniatures in his orc collection. I mentioned that they were OK for now and allowed us to play our games, but I could see that he wanted me to fix them up for him.

All of his Lord of the Rings minitaures were bought second-hand from eBay and are certainly in need of a spruce up. After he had sorted out the orcs for our next game (hopefully due this weekend) I noticed that he had three that were actually broken and the rest really need some painting TLC.

I took a look at trying to fix the three broken orcs; two archers with the tops of their bows broken and a spearman (spearorc?) with a missing arm! I managed to find the top of one of the bows but I am not sure how to progress with the other two at the moment - my bits box may contain some parts I can scavenge.

Anyway, as the light has been improving with the coming of spring, I also decided to take it upon myself to re-do the bases of all of his orcs to at least get them to look like a coherent unit. I matched one of the basing techniques that seemed to look the best, and got all sixteen (including the three broken ones) to the same level of neatness.

Unfortunately, in my mind, this would not do and I began to look at the poor paintjobs. They were not the best in world, so I decided to begin tidying them up too. I wasn't going to do a full re-paint on them, so just stuck with getting the disparate sets of figures into a single, coherent look.

I managed to finish six of them today and will complete the rest next week. They don't look too bad considering they are just a basic block colouring in to cover up where the previous owners had "gone over the lines". I didn't do a full fix on them, so there are still lots of the original "wrong" bits, and I won't be shading or highlighting them, nor will I be varnishing them, but I may put a little bit more effort into the bases. I think littlun will be pleased with these...

The shields were also a bit of a mess, so I just shaded them a very dark grey and free hand painted an Eye of Sauron on two of them. It was a one-time attempt with no touching up - hopefully I have emulated what an orc paint job would be well enough.

I am not a great fan of green orcs, but as some were painted a kind of green and some a kind of dark red, I just went over them roughly with a similar colour.

I daresay he will ask me to do this for each of his small armies (he has about 120 or so second hand figures). It will keep me out of mischief at least until I can summon the muse to get on with my own lead and plastic miniature mountains.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Felt Battlemats

After the loss of so much of my scenery a few years back, I thought I would look at purchasing some stop-gap items to make the table look a little better for forthcoming games. After looking back at the last couple of battle reports, I thought that the first thing I needed to get was a battlemat.

With a battlemat as a purchase in mind I perused the websites of all the main suppliers of tailor-made solutions. There are some really lovely pieces out there, but they are well out of my price range as I am currently on a very limited budget.

So, I thought to look at haberdashery stores for my inspiration. For a mere £6.71 or so per item (plus £7.95 postage, which was actually very reasonable coming to the UK from Europe), I managed to find a German company online ( https://www.myfabrics.co.uk/felt.html ) that supplies 3mm thick felt that is 90mm wide but can be cut to size in 10mm measurements (minimum of 50mm). Thus, I was able to buy three 90mm x 90mm sheets of fairly sturdy felt that fit almost exactly onto my dining table (when not extended out). I decided to go for Dark Green, Grass Green and Slate Grey...

Forest and wildlands (Dark Green)...

This sheet will be used for battles in the wilderness; the dark forests of the Great Weald of Doggerland, the grasslands of Rohan and many others.

Cultivated and grasslands (Grass Green)...

This sheet will be used for battles in more cultivated areas; The Shire, parts of Gondor and more civilised areas on habitation.

Hills, mountains and cold wastelands (Slate Grey)...

This sheet will be used for battles in Frostgrave or hilly/mountainous regions.

All three are actually very nice colours in the flesh and work well for what I need them for.

I will hopefully be playing a game or two this coming weekend, so will let you know how well the different mats fare.