Friday, October 24, 2008

"The Road to Mordor" - GW's Lord Of The Rings Strategy Battle Game

I guess in some ways, I have gone back to my roots, and decided to feed my soul, with my original gaming love; J.R.R.Tolkiens Lord of the Rings. I have always been a massive fan of Middle-Earth, loved the books, the movies and watched with interest as the figures started being produced by GW. However at the time I was skeptical of the skirmish level rules and ignored the game, but couldn't help buy the odd set of figures, to paint just for for enjoyment, although these were put in the back of the cupboard for when I had more time.

However, having really enjoyed the pirate gaming with Legends of the High Seas, a rules variety of the LOTR SBG, it opened my eyes to gaming Lord of the Rings. Also the fact that my young son (5 yrs old) has really got into Lord of the Rings, watching the movies and playing the games with me, that it really reinforced my decision to switch to and prioritize my painting efforts for this game and rules set for the foreseeable future. With encouragement, I will always have an opponent for games in the my own home, until he gets a girlfriend at least, that it is ;-)

One great bonus to gaming, painting the figures and modeling this genre, is the amount of support material and depth this project will have. The extended version of the movie DVD sets provide masses of amount of inspiration for painting and modeling, indeed seeing things like the city of Minas Tirith model produced just opens a hobbyists eyes wide with glee :-).

Plus the website support from GW's own and the huge fan base of websites out there can be truly inspirational.

I was working on the Balrog model over this weekend, and was left thinking what a shame such an awesome model, is only featured in one relatively small scenario as the party escape across the Bridge of Khazad-Dum. Then I was watching the Appendices of the Return of the King movie DVD, and there was discussed the siege of Gondolin, where the Elven city is attacked by Morgoths army of orcs lead by Balrogs and Dragons. Even though I had read the Silmarillion & Unfinished Tales, the full nature of these events had slipped my mind. Although these events may have taken place some ~6000 years prior to the events in the Lord of the Rings tale itself, it just shows what depth of material is available to enjoy with this game, "period" and system.

Another bonus with the prospect of gaming such an event with these rules is that although we delving into pure fantasy with demons and dragons being involved, I feel the games mechanics seem to play well enough to handle it without over powerful magic taking hold, as I often found in my time long ago playing Warhammer. Magic is clearly involved in this game, but it is not over the top in effect, which I prefer.

As another point of note, I already have the perfect accompanying music to paint to; the soundtracks to the three movies. Bliss! :-)

I think what I may also do is completely theme the games room as Middle-Earth, with suitable pictures, maps and decoration. An ongoing project, but one I feel I will not lose interest in.

I think as Bilbo put, "I think I'm going to enjoy this..." :-)

Here's what I have managed to get painted so far:-

First, the Fellowship of the Ring:

Frodo Baggins, nephew of Bilbo Baggins, and Ring-bearer in the Lord of the Rings.

Samwise Gamgee, valiant bodyguard [cough!] gardener to Mr Frodo Baggins.

Peregrin Took, known as Pippin.

Merriadoc Brandybuck, known as Merry.

Gandalf the Wizard, one of the Istari (and Maiar). Also known by many names to the folk of Middle-Earth; the Grey Pilgrim, and Mithrandir to name a couple.

Face close-up as it is hidden by his hat in above picture.

Aragorn, son of Arathorn, here in his guise as Strider the ranger of the north.

Legolas, Elf of the woodland realm of Mirkwood.

Gimli, son of Gloin, valiant dwarf warrior.

Boromir, valiant warrior of Gondor, son of Denethor the Steward of Gondor.

And some of the Evil forces arrayed against the Fellowship;

A leader of the Fighting Uruk-hai, fearsome orc warriors.

Another Uruk, leading the forces from Isenguard.

An Uruk soldier, (a plastic figure)

Another plastic Uruk.

A mounted Ringwraith, also known as the Blackriders... of the Nine Nazgul. This was a multi-part kit, with the model cast in two halves split vertically through the length of the horses body. The sword was also and extra piece.

A moria goblin archer... ( a little tricky to get this guy fully focussed as his pose is quite leaned over)

... and another.

Mighty Cave troll from the mines of Moria. A multi-part metal kit requiring, gluing and pinning, and some use of greenstuff putty to fill joins. A very imposing figure, easily twice the height of a man sized figure. My son Christopher's favourite so far, at least until I get the Balrog finished!

Close up of face detail.

Cave trolls back skin texture.

More to come; I am busy working on the Balrog!
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