Saturday, August 28, 2010

Evils of the North

A great many evil creatures run in the wilds of Eriador, that now dwell in the lands that was once the Kingdom of Arnor.

Buhrdur, a great cave troll captain, leads trolls and orcs in battles with the Rangers of the North, and the Elves of Rivendell.

Packs of wargs also bring terror to the remaining peoples of the north, the howl of the wolf is ever heard in the wilds of Eriador. Here a great chieftain of wargs has slain a ranger and feasts on his body.

Spectres also emerge from the dank marshes and pools, that have swallowed the graves of the fallen in battle. Dread spirits sent by the Witch King of Angmar, animate and maintain these spectral rotting corpes, to lure the unwary to their doom, or waylay travelers in the wild lands.

A spectre of an elven warrior

A spectre of the armies of men under Elendil from time of the battle of the Last Alliance.

A spectre of an orc soldier.

Heroes of the North

Heroes of the Northern Lands

After the fall of the Northern Kingdon of Arnor, few remnants of the Dunedain were left to guard it.

After suffering a great loss of men, as Elendil lead their armies to battle against Sauron at the Battle of the Last Alliance, the northern Kingdom of Arnor, fell prey to more catastrophe.

As no king returned to claim lordship, the kingdom broke down into three factions; Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhurdaur. These territories fought each other in civil war to contest the right to rule.

And so it was the kingdom was further weakened... and became ripe for conquest by the armies of the Witch King of Angmar.

To finally seal their doom, a great plague swept the lands, which left virtually none left to populate the lands. The Northern Kingdom was destroyed... but for a handful of survivors, succored by Elrond of Rivendell. Here in Imladris the line of kings was maintained through the centuries...

Arathorn, actually Arathorn II, father of Aragorn. He was slain fighting trolls and orcs, with the Rangers of Arnor in Eriador, when Aragorn was only two years old.

Halbarad, Dunedain, Captain of Rangers and the Grey Company, at the time of the War of the Ring.

Halbarad, bearing the banner of Arwen Evenstar.

Elladan and Elrohir, sons of Elrond of Rivendell, and brothers to Arwen. They fought ever to defend the lands around Rivendell, and joined the Grey Company of rangers that joined with Aragorn and the forces of Rohan, arriving after the Battle of Helms Deep. They and the Grey Company traveled with Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, through the Dimholt, and joined with the Armies of the Dead, defeated the Corsairs of Umbar and used their ships to arrive in the nick of time at the Battle of the Pelenor Field, and saved Minas Tirith from downfall.

Elves of the Wood

Elves of the Wood

The elves of King Thranduil's Woodland Realm in the north of Mirkwood, that was once known as Greenwood the Great, are ever ready to defend their kingdom against the malice of Sauron.

When Sauron's spirit returned after his defeat at the Battle of the Last Alliance, the location he chose was an ancient ruin, possibly left over from the time of Morgoth, his master. A great hill, possibly an extinct volcano, in the south west corner of the Greenwood, became known as Dol Guldor, the Hill of Sorcery. Here it was that Sauron was known as the Necromancer.

The brave wood elves of King Thranduil, father of Legolas, battle against the evil spreading through their beloved forest realm.

Three valiant companies of Wood Elves...

..armed with spear...


... and elven longbow.

And above is the Elven command group with Captain, Banner and 3 Sentinels.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Dragons !


They have enthralled mankind for centuries, and are known in one shape, form or another to most cultures on the earth.

To my mind, arguably one of the best known by name is probably Smaug, from J.R.R.Tolkien's The Hobbit. A wonderful introduction and scene setter for the later trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.

I first read The Hobbit as a young teen-ager, and haven't really ever looked back since. I for one am eagerly awaiting the cinematic release of the movie! I really hope they do the story justice and the visual effects of Smaug are second to none.

Well, here's my verison of Smaug, thanks to GW's Dragon model from their Lord of the Rings range.

A handsome beast he is too, and quite a hefty all metal kit requiring the usually drilling, pinning, gluing and puttying, before we can get onto painting him.

Here he is in all his magnificence.

And of course to complete, the title roll of the story; Bilbo Baggins. Here perhaps we see him reminiscing about his journey with the dwarves so many years ago.

"Look out for the dragon Bilbo!"

"Dragon!? Nonsense, there hasn't been a dragon in these parts for a thousand years...."

Dear old Bilbo, and his most troublesome ring!

German StuG G Platoon - Flames of War

To add some armour support to my Flames of War FestungsKompanie (Fortress Company), I have added a StuG G platoon, to represent elements of Kampfgruppe Meyer, which was the mobile reserve of 352 InfanterieDivision, defending the Normandy Beaches.

To form this formation I will be using them as two platoons; one of 2 StuGs, the other of 3.

The StuGs have the regular StuK 40 gun, and are equipped with Schurzen armour plates to their sides, which help protect the side of the vehicle from light anti-tanks weapons.

I have only added the black crosses to the platoon and have left off other insignia, as this allows them a greater flexibility in future uses. I have mounted the crosses on the hull of the tank, as I was given a tip from a poster to the FoW forum who believed they were never added to the schurzen. I did several google image searches of StuGs and have not found one of a real tank which disputes this theory!

The StuG or Sturmgeschütz to give it, its full name, was classed as an assault gun and also a tank destroyer, helping infantry to advance and knocking out enemy armour it encountered. Its low silhouette, also made it perfect for concealing in terrain and lying in wait in ambush.

It was probably Germany's most produced armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) of the war with around 7500 produced, and saw action in most theatres.

Here's my StuG's:

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

British Armoured Platoon - Sherman tanks and Firefly VC

I recently bought the Flames of War, Late War British Guards Armoured Sherman platoon boxed set, to give my commando troop a little armoured support.

They were assembled with Araldite 2 part epoxy glue, undercoated black with GW spray, then sprayed with Battlefront's Late War British armoured spray paint. After this all the detailing of stowage and tracks etc. was painted.

Then came the tricky bit - the decals. How to apply them best, and exactly where!?

The bit of "how" was not so difficult; I painted the areas where decals were to go with Humbrol decal fix, and let this dry. Then added decals (after trimming them with scalpel hobby knife) by water-slide method. Then applied FOW/Vallejo decal softener, allowed to dry and then applied another layer of decal fix. Then tanks were varnished in Polyurethane gloss, and finally Vallejo matt-varnish.

Oh, I also glued in the rare-earth magnets to hold the turrets safely in place. These were a bit fiddly and it was tricky getting them right way up. Get them the wrong way round and they repel, not attract!

The interesting bit was learning where to put all the decals.

The boxed set pictures nicely showed the places where the Guards Division symbol, white eye on a blue shield, and AoS or Arms of Service number, the 53, denoting Armoured, went.

After several explorations through the helpful files on the FoW website, and asking many questions to the knowledgeable forum folks, I managed to work out that the allied star marking went on rear engine deck, which I was fairly sure of anyway.

Next came the tactical signs (tacsigns) These are often depicted as various coloured hollow shapes; triangles, diamonds, squares or circles. These normally go on the sides of the turret. However the Guards followed the convention of applying these markings to the hull sides. Also they normally filled in the hollow shape with black, and added a numeral to it. So I had figured out where to put the black squares, with blue edging.

Lastly I added the WD or war department markings; a white number, preceded by a "T" (for tank). I had often seen these on the sides of tanks in pictures, but some confusion occurred here, as one forum poster suggested this may have been a radio call sign that may be added to rear of turret. So I ended up putting one on side of hull and one on rear of turret. At least that way I know which turret goes with which tank and I don't get any magnet repulsions!

So here we have the platoon:

And here's a very handy reference from the FoW website.

The Guards Armoured division took part in may battles through Normandy and onwards, perhaps most famously portrayed in the movie "A bridge too far", with Michael Caine, as Vandeleur, leading the tanks of XXX Corps as the "garden" part of Operation Market Garden.

A good reference is here, again on the FoW site:

Guards Armoured

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I have long had an interest in WWII. This was probably brought about by growing up as a child in the 70's, watching war movies on TV and playing with air-fix toy soldiers. My father also has an interest in the period and he most likely influenced me in this too. He was born in '41, so has few recollections of the war, but recalls looking up in the sky as a child and seeing aircraft flying over head.
During his working career he served as a fireman in the north east of England, and told me tales of a colleague the fireman nicknamed "the vicar", as he was an older chap than they, had a round bald head, and always wore the old grandad style shirts with the straight round collar, much like a vicars dog-collar, hence the nickname.
"The Vicar" served in the war as a tank crewman in Normandy, and he told the firemen tales of going up against the Jerry panzers. These tales my father passed on to me.

One such mentioned how the tank he was in, suffered a hit from the side, to the front of the tank. They were able to continue though, and when they later inspected the tank, they found that the shot had torn off both the front towing shackles.

Another such tale recounted how they were forced at one time to take shelter from a bombardment, under their tank. But despite being sheltered under the tank, they found that they still had to maintain a "press-up position", to avoid being hit by shrapnel fragments flying under the tank!

All stirring stuff to a young mind!

But other than playing toy soldiers as most kids too, this never really evolved into a war-game with rules as such, and having become a war-gamer in later years, the period still did not attract me as by then I had been swayed by other influences, including Tolkien.

However a couple of years ago, having come across the Flames of War (FOW) war-games rules by Battlefront, here in New Zealand, I felt I should give it a go as it seemed to be a game lots of folks were playing, and since it was made locally, I should support it, which contrasts with most other miniatures which seem to be made in the UK or USA.

Having made my decision, to play the game, I decided to go with a British commando force, which would be small and tough (which would keep the cost down of assembling a new army to see how it went) and they'd be elite troops so hopefully quite effective.

I assembled a small force of these, and managed a couple of games with local folks, but again this fizzled out, and other periods swayed my attention.

Now much later, my own young son, Christopher now six and half years, has "found" WWII. In part from the computer game Axis and Allies, but also from shows such as Band of Brothers, movies like Kelly's Heroes, and of course all the WWII documentaries on SKY's History channel.

So I decided to look at gaming WWII again, but this time in house with my son. So out came the commandos, which got a dusting off, but then the realization that I'm going to have to get some troops to fight against them!

Having also decided that as a part of WWII, I was most interested in the North West European theatre from Normandy onwards, so Late War, in terms of FOW. The main reason being that by this time most of the armies would be using their best equipment, including the big Jerry tanks...

An inquiry to the FOW forum, elicited the answer that a FestungsKompanie boxed set would be a good way to go, to face off against the commandos and that's where I start here!

So we have a grenadier company, that would have manned the defenses of Normandy, Rommel's Atlantic Wall of Fortress Europe.

I am going theme this force, around the various German forces defending Normandy, which, with a few tweaks could include the 352 infantry division (confident veteran) at Omaha. The 352 also contained elements of the 726 infantry division also at Omaha. 716 infantry division will do for defending Gold, Juno and Sword Beaches against the British. Both 726 & 716 rated confident trained.
There are also the options to represent Kampfgruppe Meyer, the immediate mobile reserve in Normandy, featuring StuG G assault guns and Marder IIIM's.

Flames of War: 716 Briefing

In the meantime I have also made contact with folk over at the Upper Hutt club, who have several FOW players, and I have lined up some "training" games with them, which I am looking forward to, to help me better learn the game.

So far I have managed the Company Commander, 2iC, and panzershrek team, and two full platoons.

Company Commander, 2iC and Panzershrek team. Command teams have been upgraded to SMG panzerknacker.

First Platoon, all teams classed as MG team, (as the coastal units had been issued a greater number of machineguns than regular grenadiers), so that means ROF 3, per team. Again the command team has been upgraded to SMG Panzerknacker.
The platoon itself comprises a total of 30 men; 3 in the command team, then 3 sections of nine men, split into 4 and 5 man teams respectively as per the force list in FOW's Bloody Omaha supplement.

Second platoon, equipped as first.

I have also constructed a small house as a terrain piece made from regular cardboard, and thin card, and some sand textured paint.

The roof lifts off allowing placement of an infantry team inside...

5/5/10 update:
Added a few extras :-
3 Goliath Radio-controlled demolition charges, 3 sniper teams, 3 light mortar teams and the puppchen cannon.

Update 28/5/10:

These are the optional 8cm G42 Stummelwerfer mortars that can be part of company HQ.

Here's the two tank turret bunkers, and four open tobruk MG42 bunkers.

And here's the whole company, comprising HQ, snipers, HQ mortar and Anti-tank options, tank turret and open MG42 bunkers, and three grenadier platoons each with their Goliath. Backing the company up are my StuG G assault guns, which I have just finished painting (they still need their decals adding and varnishing done. I'll show these better in a late blog post).

I have a Mortar platoon, HMG platoon and PaK40 platoon to add to this force. I'd also like to add some anti-aircraft protection, artillery - maybe 10.5cm howitzers, and eventually some heavy tanks. This will then give me more options to field this force.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Many years ago, before I emigrated to New Zealand, I was a keen Warmaster player.

Warmaster is a game by Games-Workshop, which follows their fantasy world of Warhammer. However the scale of the game differs to Warhammer, in that the figures are scaled at 10mm in size, and are multi-based, on what might be called "elements"

A typical "unit" of infantry or cavalry would comprise three elements together, and up to four units could be combined to form a brigade. Monsters, artillery and commanders were singly

Units and brigades are moved by a series of commands issued by the army General, or sub-ordinate heroes. Initiative moves also play a part at close ranges.

I thoroughly enjoyed this game, but found it did not have much of a following when I arrived in NZ, and still sadly does not appear to do so. Consequently my army has largely remained moth-balled.

Here's a link to the Warmaster Archive page where some of the photos of my elven army are stored. Not the greatest of pics but remember these guys are only 10mm tall!

Warmaster pics archive

I also have a substantial Orc and Goblin army, as yet to be photographed.

You can find out more about Warmaster by visiting the Games Workshop main website and following their link to Specialist Games. ( I would add a direct link here but GW updates their site so frequently, plus you have to go through their country portal entry that such links usually don't work!)

Interestingly, it would appear many of the mechanics and ideas of the warmaster rules set have been incorporated into the recent Black Powder rules. I still await my first go with these intriguing rules.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Misty Mountains

The Misty Mountains.

Once under the snow capped peaks of the Misty Mountains the Dwarven City of the Dwarrowdelf, known as Khazad-Dum, was a seat of great power and wealth for the dwarves. A golden time followed in their trade and dealings with the Elves in Eregion, where the great elven smiths of old wrought the Rings of Power.

But that time is long gone...

Sauron in his rage with the elves, destroyed Eregion. The dwarves, content to shut themselves in the safety of their mountain fortress, delved too deeply for the prize of mithril, and so awoke a dread demon from the ancient world, a Balrog of Morgoth, who laid waste to their dwarven realm.

Fell creatures made the abandoned dwarven halls their home, and the mountains filled with goblins, happy to plunder the wreck of the abandoned dwarven kingdom.

The forces of the Misty mountains can draw on a solid core of goblin soldiery. Not the greatest warriors in Middle-Earth, but in great numbers, can smother and enemy force.

Durburz, the goblin king, leads his warriors to battle, aided by a shaman, and the boom of the massive goblins drums. Not the greatest friend of Durbruz, Druzhag the Beast-caller, summons forth all manner of fell creatures to fight alongside the goblins hordes, including giant spiders, monstrous bats, and wild wargs.

The goblins also bring with their armies, huge cave trolls that lend brute strength to the goblins attack.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Angmar- Realm of the WitchKing

Angmar - ancient realm of the Witch-King of old.

At the time of the weakened state of Arnor, after it had sent it's troops south to the Battle of the Last Alliance, the Witch-King came to Angmar to raise an army to bring death and destruction to Arnor.

For some time, Arnor, bereft of true kingship, dissolved into three smaller kingdoms; Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur. These three fought each other, for the right to claim the throne. Ever do the forces of evil, grin to see friend fight friend, and in their further weakened state, Angmar struck, destroying each kingdom in turn and laying waste to the northern realm of Arnor.

Drawing on orcs, barbarians, trolls and all manner of evil creatures and spirits, the WitchKing forged his forces to wreak havoc on the world of men.

The backbone of any evil forces are the multitudinous orcs, lead by brutal captains and taskmasters, and following their banners to war to the beat of the drum.

Banners still bearing the red eye of Sauron.

Shamen also come forth in the orc battalions, to bolster their courage and lay waste to their enemies.

All manner of fell creatures come to the call of the WitchKing; including monstrous bats, giant spiders, and evil wild wargs...

Other fell demons come forth to join the fray. Ghulavar the Terror of Arnor, is one such dread demon, with a lust for blood, and fangs and claws to rend and tear flesh from the living. A nightmare of another world.

Monstrous trolls will also head the call of the Witch-King bringing brute strength to the fight.

Fell spirits also obey the summons, chilling the soul, and paralyzing with fear, the brave souls man enough to oppose the forces of Angmar.

Here a evil Shade, a twisting swirl of ghostly forms, lends its terror to Angmar.

And Wights; spirits that have inhabited to kingly bodies of men in the tombs under their barrows, come forth to chill the soul.

I have more I wish to add to this force, including spectres and ghostly legion, which I hope to complete for a subsequent blog post update.

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