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.

Build me an army worthy of Mordor...

"Build me an army worthy of Mordor!" commanded Sauron, and the traitor Saruman does just this. Working from a stock of goblins and orcs he breeds a larger, fiercer orc warrior, able to tolerate daylight and travel great distances at need, and still fight. Thus Uruk-Hai of Isengard have come to Middle-Earth, to destroy the race of men.

Saruman the White, also known as Curunir to the elves. Once the greatest of the Istari; Maiar sent down by the Valar in the guise of old men, as wizards, to help the fair races of Middle-Earth in their ongoing battle with Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor. Saruman, over many years, centuries indeed, comes to feel the battle against Sauron, cannot be won, and thus over time, and also through using the Palantir of Orthanc, he is seduced into joining forces with Sauron.

Saruman and Grima Wormtongue inspect their troops, with encouragment from an Uruk-Hai shaman.

The Fighting Uruk-Hai, clad in heavy harness of war and wielding long pikes. Although Tolkien never specifically mentions pikes in his descriptions of the Uruk-Hai, Peter Jackson and and his team, came up with the idea, as it seemed logical based on their immediate foes; The Rohirrim, a mainly mounted force of cavalry. History tells us that the horse was countered with the pike, and thus pikes would be the ideal weapons to defeat Rohan in open battle.

However, the forces of Rohan retreat from this threat to the fortress of Helms Deep. Here normal soldiery wielding swords and shields, will contribute ably to the fight. PJ's designers also hypothesized that a long pike might also be useful in such a siege, being able to "hook" the defenders from the walls, and allow a ladder assault to be easier for the Uruks. I know of no historical precedent for this, but it makes for great theatre...

Regular orcs of Isengard also pour forth from the pits below Orthanc, and swell the ranks. Here led by a captain, drummer, taskmaster with whip and banner bearing the White-Hand of Saruman.
To help scale the walls of Helms Deep, an Uruk-Hai siege assault ballista, hurls its huge missiles to erect tall scaling ladders against the Hornburg. Again more ideas from PJ, but it makes for great drama during the siege.

Warg riders, lend speed and mobility to the attack of Isengard, acting as forward scouts, and engaging the flanks of the enemy during the crossing of the Isen, and hastening the demise of the Westfold and retreat from the River Isen.

Wild Isengard berserkers lead the assault up the scaling ladders, to bring death and destruction with their huge and fearsome two-handed swords. Driven to a berserk rage, their helmets are first filled with the blood of their enemies before the helm is placed on their heads, dripping blood down their bodies and filling their nostrils with the scent of their enemies. Truly fearsome warriors.

A great troll of Isengard. This is again not in the explicit canon of Tolkien, nor is it one of PJ's inventions. It appears, from what I can tell, to have been driven by the desires of the gaming fraternity, who wanted a troll to add to Isengards forces. I believe Tolkien always wanted others to develop further his world of Middle-Earth and the creatures therein, and stories there-from. As such, I feel it is within the bounds of possibility, that Saruman could have bent the will of trolls, simple creatures at best, to his command. The voice of Saruman was all powerful...

I still have many more units to add to this force, including Uruk-Hai scouts, crossbowmen, and Dunlendings.

I will hope to update this blog post in due course.

Rangers of Middle-Earth

The Rangers are, as you would imagine, soldiers trained to function in the rural environment, frequently far from base camps, and making the best use of cover and concealment, to attack their foes with surprise.
If a small size enemy force can be destroyed without too much difficulty, this will be achieved. Larger enemy forces are probably engaged with hit and run guerrilla style tactics. Inflict what casualties you can and then melt away into the terrain.

The rangers are typically formed from the ranks of men, from the twin kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.

Arnors forces are hugely weakened from earlier days and their main duties lie in defense of areas like the Shire and Bree, whose inhabitants pay them scant regard. But they do it non the less. Frequently working from Rivendell, Aragorn, like his father before him; Arathorn, have fought the malice of Angmar and the wilds of the Trollshaws and Ettenmoors, keeping the lands as safe as they can in these troubled times.

In Gondor, the rangers patrol Ithilien and constantly attack and harry the movements of the forces of Mordor and those who would march to his banner in alliance.
Here, the young Captain Faramir leads his brave men against the orcs and Haradrim who would take this land from Gondor. Working from the hide-away of Henneth Anun, he keeps Ithilien a debatable land, neither under the full control of Mordor or Gondor.

I was fortunate enough to pick up a box of rangers second hand. Only one figure missing, and a couple of broken weapons were readily fixed. The missing man did not prove a problem, as at 23 strong, it neatly allows the addition of a Captain to lead them. For Arnor, Aragorn nicely fits the role in the picture above. For Gondor, Faramir completes the battalion, as below.

Whilst GW has varied the painted colour schemes in its examples of the two groups of rangers, I see no need to do this as I feel the camouflage colors would be universal in the effect. From my understanding, Tolkien likens the terrain in and around the Shire as to northern Europe, whilst Gondor, appears to have a more Mediterranean feel. Either way I think the colours I have painted them will work nicely for either deployment.

Some close ups:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Music that makes the paint flow...

A little diversion to my more normal blog posting:

Reading a fellow gamers blog recently had me thinking about favourite music to paint to. Obviously being a huge fan of Tolkien, and having spent about the last two years painting GW's LOTR figs, I have nearly always had the one of the three movie soundtracks playing in the background, and indeed when having a game too. I can happily paint for hours with this music in my ears.

Of all the pieces from the movies, the one track I love above all is "Concerning Hobbits", from the Fellowship of the Ring. From the warbling wind instruments, to the strings and harp, and patter patter of the drums, quite simply, it always moves me, as I remember the scenes of Hobbition, and brings a smile to my face.

Beautifully shown here:


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Corsairs of Umbar Ship

Black sails off the southern coast of Gondor have long heralded woe from the marauding Corsairs of Umbar!

I started construction on this project quite some time ago, but as usual, many other projects distract along the way...
You can see the full thread here at One-Ring

Here, Khardush the Firecaller leads a horde of orcs up the coast to raid Gondor's soft underbelly.

And here my swarthy pirate crew from an earlier blog post, finally find a ship to man. Perhaps not your average 18th century sloop, but perhaps an interesting twist on a Barbary Coast raider. No Cannons as yet I'm afraid, but I do have a couple of deck size ballistas I can add, once I suitably repaint them.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Weathertop - Amon Sul.

Above is a picture of the Amon Sul, or Weathertop ruin I constructed by following the guide in the Fellowship of the Ring Journey Book , from GW.
I tweaked it a bit, added bigger arched ruined sections, and added a brick exterior finished by etching a clad layer of polyfilla. Loborious work, but the result is worth it.

You can see the whole process here:

Amon Sul is the great watch tower that was roughly at the junction of the three ancient realms of the greater Kingdom of Arnor; Cardolan, Arthedain and Rhudaur. As these rival kingdoms fought and weakened each other, they were eventually all destroyed in subsequent wars with the armies of the Witch King of Angmar, the leader of all the nine Ringwraiths. During this final conflict the tower of Amon Sul was thrown down, and only its weather beaten ruin remained in the time of Frodo and the Ring.

It is here that Frodo, is mortally wounded by Witch King of Angmar with a Morgul blade, and it is only by a desperate fight led by Aragorn that the wraiths are thrown back long enough for an escape to be made, and a desperate flight to the Ford of Bruinen ensues. Finally Frodo is brought to the healing hands of Elrond in Rivendell, and his life is saved, though he will always bear the scar and memory of the wound.

Found some old WIP shots:

Although I changed it after this to make the 'archways' rather than the small broken column stumps...

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