Author: greycompanyrangers

Path to Hobbitcon: Shadow of Mordor – Get back in line you Maggots!

sof mordorDon’t get me wrong. I almost respect Ratbag. Who else has gone so far with so little?”
– Brûz the Chopper

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Welcome back to part two of my Shadow of Mordor posts in preparation of HobbitCon. For those unaware, HobbitCon is one of the two day events that works on an escalation system, bringing 400 points and then an addition 300 (700 total). Since my last post, I’ve been roped in to playing two days…. So I’ll have to look at another 300 points down the track.

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It’s been quite a busy couple of weeks with real life, painting and my new toys (may have got involved with A Song of Ice and Fire tabletop game and some 3d printing.) but I have made some progress on the Middle Earth front.

When I first started this project I had expected to grow tiresome and frustrated in converting up unique Orcs after the first few. Instead It has motivated me in creating, reimaginating, and finishing this army…..  However I currently have the problem…. I can’t seem to stop converting Orc .

The process.

So to begin I gathered up a heap of parts and bits from my bits box (well places) of games workshop models. However as AoS or 40k tend to be a little big for middle earth, I did manage to find a few bits and bobs. The parts include:

~ A mixture of warriors of Middle earth – for this project I have used Hardrim, Gondor and Mordor Orcs. These models were a mixture of broken, poorly painted and dating back to the original release sets.

~ Hunter Orc Riders – generous in spare heads and parts

~ Gundabad Orc upgrade kit from Forgeworld

~Age of sigmar/fantasy undead – A range of parts from the skeleton,black guard, and mainly hex wraith sprues

~ Spare parts and tools- general things found around including easterlings, greenstuff and paper clips.

~ Some additional Aos parts, mainly from beast men, and goblins.

The Parade.

As of typing I have created 25 unique Orcs for this force, giving me a few reinforcements to add later or just to nit pick at what weapons I want.  To make things easier I’ll display them in groups and comment about each section.

Put some muscle into it!

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When creating a rabble of Orcs, I wanted to include a variety, so in doing so I wanted some two handed weapons. So without further adieu, I present 3/4 of them.

From left to right-

1) A standard Orc spear with a swap from a gundibad berserker weapon.

2) Normal crewman off the Mordor siege bow.

3) Two handed/spear model with a weapon head swap to an Easterling halberd.

Just poke them with the pointy end!

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Any good Mordor army needs a few spearmen, and with rerolling 1s when outnumbering the enemy force there even better.

L to R:

1) Haradrim warrior with a hunter Orc head swap and Mordor orc spear tip. A little green stuff fur to keep it together.

2) A simple Mordor Orc with a borrowed Gondor spear.

3) Another Haradrim with a Mordor Orc head swap and Easterling halberd

4) A Mordor Orc with an Easterling cavalry arm.

5) A standard Mordor Orc . Possibly my favourite Orc model.

Swords and shields lads!

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Need something to charge the enemy.

L to R:

1) A Minas Tirith Archer with a leg swap from a Mordor Orc spearman, Mordor Orc sword arm and a spare gundibad Orc arm.

2) A Mordor Orc with a head swap. The face has been carefully trimmed above the nose. Both parts have been flattened out before glueing. Green stuff as required.

3) A Gondor Warrior with a head (Hunter Orc) and Gundabad weapon swap.

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L to R:

1 and 2) Mordor Orc with a Hunter Orc hand swap

3) Orc with a Gundabad weapon and a hex wraith arm

4) A Mordor archer with a hunter weapon arm, and minas tirith shield arm and some random goodies in his backpack.

Let lose the Caragors!

For those unaware Caragors are a much larger versions of Wargs, and live exclusively in Mordor.

For this project I wanted to create the war riders and their dismount together so they would look similar in appearance.

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1) The model has been created using a simple Hunter Orc with a Gundabad back banner. The foot version was a little more involved as there is no furry chieftain like top on the foot models. Instead I have had to cut a Hunter Orc in half, glue the chest and then add arms from both sprue.

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2) A simple Hunter Orc with a Gundabad head swap.

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3) Much like my head swap before., I’ve simply cut a hunter Orc head above the nose, thinned it and the helmet out and glued it on.

What’s to come? 

Well for the keen eyed, you will notice I’ve only posted 15 or so Orcs up. That leaves another 10 unique Orc to display for the next blog. At the moment I’ve begun to paint, and started some minor things on my characters. So finish off, I’ll see you next week and enjoy the post credit pics.

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Masters 2018 Day 2 – ‘Go Big or Go Home’

Last minute addendum: Minutes before I was to publish this Kylie publicly announced she would be stepping down from running Masters and handing the torch over to our own Adam Jenkinson. So I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the work that Kylie has done in establishing and running this event over the past 5 years, and the way in which its helped act as a touchstone to keep the national community together. I missed out on the first one but have attended every one since, and without exception they produce heavy competition, great terrain and some of the best missions and tournament structures I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. There’s now another event I can expect to play you in, I’m sure you will be gaining the title yourself sooner if not later.


Welcome to back to Andrew’s adventures at Masters! If you haven’t already, be sure to go back and read the previous two components to this series for this year. At the end of day one I was staring down the barrel of a very grim position in the standings, but it was a new day. It’d take a little luck and other match ups going my way to reach the podium, but far more than anything it required 3 big wins and nothing less. All the missions today mirror those of yesterday, by some coincidence they were played in the same order. Lets find out how that went shall we?


Game 4 – Pillage and Burn vs Matthew Todd

Azog with The White Warg
4 Hunter Orcs
1 Hunter Orc with 2H weapon
5 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow
1 Hunter Orc with Banner

Fimbul with Fell warg
4 Hunter Orcs
4 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow

Narzug with Fell warg
3 Hunter Orcs
4 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow
1 Hunter Orc with War horn and Orc bow

Yazneg with Fell warg, Lance
3 Hunter Orcs
1 Hunter Orc with 2H weapon
4 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow

Hunter Orc Captain with Fell Warg

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Matt was piloting a list he’d used to great success at Clash earlier this year with the Hunter Orcs. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying their presentation took a slight boost as well as he was borrowing Jeremy’s models. If I wasn’t rotating through the cavalry Hunter Orcs was an army I was considering myself. They can cut through any army like butter with Strength 4 and 2 Attacks on every model. Pitting that against the cloth armour of my army, if I ever got locked down I would be annihilated. If I could get a good round of charges off however, I could potentially do the same with the Serpent Riders charging in with higher fight value, lances and banner support to rip through them. The presence of 5 heroes made me hesitant to consider that plan straight up however, as there was lots of might and fight value kicking around between them. They also had more bowfire than I did. My advantage lay in my mobility and the flying monsters, I had to use it to spread Matt out as much as possible and then hit the more isolated targets.

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We were playing Pillage and Burn, as per the first mission the previous day. I placed two objectives behind the river, which should slow Matt down considerably, and reasoned I was fine with sacrificing one because I could get it back later. I had to spread him out until I found an opportunity to pounce, and that would require some bait.

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The opening went off very smoothly. The Knight of Umbar successfully compelled Narzug (far right above) out of the lines and subsequently eviscerated him turn 1. Matt elected not to send his other heroes in that direction which I though may have been a possibility, keeping them centralised. He wasn’t spreading yet. The rest of my force scooted back slightly, the horses all standing mid stream as we exchanged bowfire. The dice were hot this game, and Hunter Orcs steadily dropped to the poisonous arrows of the raiders

Matt continued to advance onto my objective the following turn and I saw an opening. The Betrayer and Suladan both charged forward, the Betrayer with an excellent hurling line available that would dismount Azog and Yazneg as well dealing considerable damage and preventing Matt from destroying my objective this turn. At the same time, the Knight of Umbar threatened the far flank, and it was very much in my mind at this point that he could simply ignore the fight and fly straight to the back of the board where Matt’s objectives lay.

It was then that the Betrayer would betray me for the 3rd time! He lost combat against a single Hunter Orc, and suddenly the game turns on its head on a single dice roll. Not only are Matt’s heroes still mounted, but he’s taken no casualties, he can destroy the objective this turn and Betrayer is exposed and on his own. I then painstakingly ran through my options, Suladan retreating with his own Heroic Combat, and accepted that the Betrayers fate would come down to a 50-50 Heroic Move contest next turn.

On this occasion, I got lucky, as the dice take so they give. Suladan was forced to dismount to pull off the heroic move, and my might reserves were down to one on both him and the Betrayer, but they got out with their lives.

It was a grim blow, but the Knight of Umbar was still active, and he surged up the flank, demanding a response. Matt diverted some hunter orcs but only one hero to tie him off, and my eyes lit up, as I could potentially isolate and destroy Fimbul like I had Narzug and call a heroic combat off him to fly well beyond reach onto his objectives.

This ploy ended up succeeded, but not without some pure class from Matt. I was just short of killing him and in danger of being locked down, when he unprompted reminded me to roll a hit for thrown rider, which dealt the killing blow. I said it at the time and Matt if you’re reading here it is again, that may have cost you in the match, but you won the real game in that moment.

With that success the Knight of Umbar was free to roam the backboard, looting and pillaging as he went. At the same time I wheeled around my force for a death and glory charge. Either I would burst through and end the game before he could reach my objectives by killing everything, or by losing everything. With the objectives piling up on my side as the Betrayer bailed on the fight to join the Knight, the sooner the game could end the better.

My heroic sacrifice proved enough, and all 6 objectives ended on my side of the board, bought with blood and horse meat. One big win down, two to go. I’d beaten one of my podium picks, and there were more coming in the future.


 

Game 5 Race to the Prize vs David Leonard

Suladȃn the Serpent Lord, Horse (Army Leader) -100
5 Serpent Guards -40
5 Black Númenórean, Venomblade Knights -50
2 Serpent Riders -26 -216 -216

The Betrayer, Fell Beast -170
5 Serpent Guards -40
5 Black Númenóreans, Venomblade Knights -50
1 Haradrim Warrior, Spear and Banner -32
1 Haradrim Warrior, Spear -07 -299 -515

Haradrim Chieftain, Spear -46
12 Haradrim Warriors – Bow -84 -130 -645

Haradrim Chieftain, Spear -46
4 Haradrim Warriors, Bow -28
7 Haradrim Warriors, Spear -49
1 Haradrim Warriors, Spear and Banner -32 -155 -800

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It was time for the Harad civil war! Perhaps a debate over the merits of horses… David had brought a horde harad force, with a monstrous amount of bows and a large body count. Much like Henry’s Gondor, I could not let them get into the center unopposed. Unlike Henry’s army however, David’s didn’t have as many threatening heroes and they were much more lightly armored. His single wraith wouldn’t be able to contend with both of mine if they apprehended it simultaneously.

The deployment for this scenario ultimately played a heavy role in the outcome of this game. I drew upon my Might reserves to ensure that my army came on cohesively, with the exception of Suladan, who was fashionably late (rolled a one two times in a row). I’m a big advocate of the idea that you should be spending as much might as necessary to deploy how you want to. David however opted to split his force, the elites including the Betrayer coming on from the opposite edge whilst the Chieftans entered from my side. I think David’s plan was to get some early rounds of heavy bow fire on me and buy the time necessary to get half of his force on the objective.

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I was more than happy to take this outcome however. It mean I’d be able to take out half his force without much resistant, coming out very much ahead in the trade and not quite break him to risk the game ending, giving me all the time in the world to slam into the second half and cut through and take the objective by killing everything whilst flanking from the sides.

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The bowfire did some damage, but not enough to unduly concern me, and men of Harad began to be knocked down left right and centre from calvary charges and Fell Beast hurls. Over the course of a few turns they were well and truly routed from the field, the chieftains having some magic thrown at them to contain them and allow the slaughter to continue.

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Meanwhile the other half of Davids force was desperately rushing towards the center, but I’d made sure to keep units out of the fight on intercept duty, ready to slow and delay them. A plucky Serpent Rider dismounted and grabbed the artifact from the central objective and even succeeded in killing a Black Numenorean before going down, much to my chagrin. With that model dead, if I killed everything the Chieftans had brought on, David would break and begin to run away, possibly reducing himself to 25% before I could contest the objective. I thus made a very conscious decision to go non lethal with the fellbeast as the only model that could, getting the Betrayer to barge so as to avoid strking blows, leaving a single model shaking his fist as the thunder of hooves faded from his hearing.

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With the line reassembled and feeling confident, the cavalry charged once more into the centre, looking to break the remaining footmen and cause them to flee enmasse. In the final turns, everything was committed, so it came as a great surprise when David was one model from the game ending, that we had a final turn afterwards, because I didn’t kill a single model in around of combat. This led to a most memorable and amusing sequence of events. The Betrayer had spent almost all his will the previous turn killing the Knight of Umbar assuming it was the last turn, so my Suladan called a heroic move intending to charge him and have him fade out of existence by running out of will. Suladan then failed his courage test to charge despite having three will available with a snake eyes, courtesy of the Betrayer’s Harbinger of Evil. My heroic move having failed, David then picks up the dice and makes a courage test for his Betrayer for broken. He fails it by one, courtesy of my own Betrayer’s Harbinger of Evil. In the ultimate fulfillment of his purpose, the Betrayer had now betrayed himself. David opted to take the noble way out and spent his last will to pass that test and then fade out of existence rather than flee the battlefield, granting me the leader kill and prompting more Harad to flee the battlefield, sealing his fate.

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Another big win! At the same time Jeremy had fallen to the hands of Henry, meaning that there was now no one undefeated. I’d have to leave it to fate and Henry’s final opponent to topple him, but with Jeremy losing I felt I had a decent chance of reaching the podium if I could take any kind of win in the last game. A mindset that ultimately, might end up hurting me!


Game 6 – Random Encounter vs Jeremy Shannon

Gundabad Orc Captain with Shield;
8 Gundabad Berserker
1 Gundabad Berserker with Two-handed pick;
3 War Bat

Gundabad Orc Captain with Shield;
4 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Spear; Shield;
5 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Shield;
1 Troll Brute

Gundabad Orc Captain with Shield;
4 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Spear; Shield;
5 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Shield;
1 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Shield; Banner;
1 Gundabad Troll

 

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Jeremys list was unsurprisingly gorgeous, but it had only 3 generic captains for its heroes. I am always in admiration for how he manages to eke the most out of anything that is put in front of him. My missions were to keep my heroes alive, kill his and capture his objectives. What I realized was, with the ability to fire off black darts at his heroes, is that I could do this absolutely no risk and not take fights of any kind. Being so close, I tunneled on purely getting a win to end up on the podium which meant no risk taking and no fighting.

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That doesn’t make for a particularly engaging game, and there isn’t that much to take photos of either. Hence I wasn’t taking many in this final game and there isn’t that much to talk about either. I spent 8 of the 10 turn limit skirting around, shooting bowfire that was predominantly ineffective and firing black darts off at his heroes before Jeremy cunningly concealed them inside a tower I couldn’t reach. With the benefit of hindsight, as soon as the two surviving captains took shelter in the corner, I should have charged straight up the middle to annihilate his army on the objectives as I could get guaranteed heroic moves and charges off every turn and should be able to isolate and take down the rolls. But I did not. I was so afraid of losing I forgot to try and win, which was the opposite of how I’d been playing up until that point. It also wan’t very fun. The Knight of Umbar was in a tentative position at one point and I did commit a charge on the 9th turn, but it was too late for the outcome I was looking for. I took the small win I was guaranteed, knowing it could possibly get me on the podium. It wasn’t a big win though, and thinking back now as I type this the opportunity for one was starting me in the face on turn 6. I didn’t discover until after that game that I was only 10 points behind on the leader board, and in my head as I heard this I knew I’d blown a chance of possibly taking the whole thing!


 

The final podium was :

1. Jeremy

2. Me (!)

3. Henry

I’d come 2nd, and only 5 points behind Jeremy! If I’d been told that on the end of day 1, I’d have been rather cautious about believing it. If I’d been told I’d actually had a chance to win it, I would have hardly believed it. It comes of course, at the cost of my podium predictions, as I’d played and beaten all 3 members featuring on mine. It was not quite the Green Dragon Podcast sweep with my defeat to Kylie,  but it was a respectable haul.

Part of me wishes I could play the last game again, but if wishes were fishes there’d be no room for the water. Best way to learn is to do something wrong. Melbourne ends its title drought, with a hearty congratulations to Jeremy as this years Master, a title well deserved, his involvement in the game is second to none. A thank you also to Joshua for lending me one of his fellbeasts, and to Kylie for a spare magnet when the Betrayer opted to yet again play to the name and lose his. Tim was most generous in hosting Ben and I over the weekend and driving us all over Melbourne, it was most appreciated Tim! Ben unanimously won best sports again (because of course he did, he’s such a swell guy) and we posted something for the first time in a few years (I am such a product of my generation) as we sent home our winnings to avoid extra baggage costs and airport security potentially objecting to pointed trophies.

I was really pleased with the aesthetic of my force in the end as well, my mumaks and remaining infantry are going to get a similar paint job at some point as well. Let this stand as a good example of why you shouldn’t give up after a poor start. Each day and indeed each game is a new one! Ultimately it was close but no cigar, I will be back next year.

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If you’re in Sydney or the surrounding areas, I am running Hobbitcon on the 11th and 12th of August at the Hall of Heroes, Campbelltown. There are single day options if you can’t make both days, and if it’s an incentive given my recent run of form at home you won’t have to play me!

Thanks for reading!

Andrew C

 

 

Masters 2018 – Day 1 ‘The Betrayer’

As the dust settles in the wake of Masters on a Monday afternoon I am currently sitting in Melbourne Airport waiting for a delayed flight whilst writing the opening to this blog. It had several contributing factors that made it a memorable and challenging event…

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My force for the event

My journey began at an unreasonably early hour on Friday morning with a pre dawn trip to the airport, flying south from Sydney from Melbourne. Upon landing I was met by the wonderful Tim Wright, who was most generous in housing us and chauffeuring us around for the weekend. I spent most of Friday in the company of Tim and Caleb, gradually painting all the finishing touches to my force to make it conform to the standards I’ve begun to set myself against and generally being massive nerds. In the evening we were joined by Ben Galea, a friend of mine I’d introduced to the game making his first interstate trip.
The weather in classic Melbourne fashion was far too cold on Saturday morning for a soft Sydneysider like myself. The usual meet and greets were had, some people I’d not seen in a year or more. The turnout this year was mediocre, but it was incredibly stacked. Looking around, I thought that there would be no hiding or free rides for anyone this year. Your likelihood of versing a top quality player in each round was considerable. I’d also be remiss not to mention the quality of all the armies that were present. It was exceptionally high,  and choosing a best painted army from the field was a demanding test. If you want a rundown on my army and my thoughts going into the event check out my previous blog entry.


Round 1: Pillage and Burn vs Nick Gentile

Aragorn – Horse, Armour, Bow

Legolas – Horse, Armour

Gimli

Eomer, Marshal of the Riddermark – Horse, Shield, Throwing Spear

1 Rider of Rohan – Banner

5 Riders of Rohan

2 Rohan Royal Guard – Throwing Spears, Horse

Captain of Rohan -Horse, Heavy Armour, Shield, Throwing Spear

8 Riders of Rohan

Pillage and Burn is a mission with 6 objectives, 3 in each deployment zone. When they are destroyed they are then placed on the other half of the board. You gain points for each objective on your side of the board at the end of the game.
My first opponent was Nick. Nick had brought an army both thematic and strong, with the 3 Hunters mounted up to join Eomer and the Rohirrm. Nick and I had a moment when we looked at each other and laughed, as two all mounted armies our initial tactics on this mission had assumed we’d be playing against a force less mobile than ourselves, which was now out the window. My goal was to be aggressive and threatening with the Ringwraiths, in the hope  that he would give ground to me for fear of being dismounted en-masse courtesy of their charges and hurls. In practice, this indeed proved to be the case.

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I deployed directly on the centre line, whilst Nick ceded his front most objective to deploy out of range, no doubt hoping to reclaim it later from my half. I was able to catch out a wayward rider on the flank with magic on the fist turn, and the fell beasts hurtled forward, swiftly slaying him and allowing the Betrayer to heroic combat into a rider on the end of Nicks force.

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This was a massive early play, if I was able to throw this rider I would knock over all his friends and dismount the majority of his force including the 3 Hunters, inflicting some serious damage and granting me an overwhelming mobility advantage for the rest an overwhelming mobility advantage for the rest of the game. It was then that the Betrayer would betray me for the first time. With a 3 highest, he failed to win the combat and stood entirely exposed in front of Nicks untouched army. Not good. A very tense contested heroic move was triggered next turn and I was very fortunate to win the 50-50 roll off and allow the Betrayer to very sheepishly fly off and rejoin the rest of my army, freshly out of might.

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The plucky rider to the right of shot prepares to repel a Nazgul on Fellbeast

At the same time in the centre I had successfully pillaged one objective and on the other flank Suladan over the next couple of turns would venture into a wood to destroy another, Bow fire being exchanged across the board all the while.  In this time Nick swung his army towards Suladans flank, the bulk of my force with the Wraiths in tow in hot pursuit. Combat broke out with myself taking the worst of it. Suladan was unhorsed and his warriors were falling around him.

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I was not entirely unhappy with this outcome however, as should I be reduced to 25% of my starting force the game would end with me holding 5 objectives. It would be a delicate  balancing act between getting to that point without giving Nick openings to break through and look to reclaim the objectives I’ve pillaged.

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Suladan managed to extricate himself from the melee as the wraiths arrived and began  unleashing a torrent of debilitating magic onto Nicks heroes. Legolas was singled out and received the full attention of both of them, successfully killing him  in a single turn of combat.

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Legolas had been threatening to use his deadly shot to snipe the wraiths off their mounts all game, a dangerous proposition with an auto hit and 3 might in reserve so I was very pleased to remove him from play. Aragorn, enraged by the loss of Legolas, left a path of destruction in his wake as he sped towards the wraiths, breaking me in the process. After slaying Legolas, I was able to successfully destroy Nicks third and final objective, securing all 6 on my side of the board. In the dying moments Aragorn dueled the Knight of Umbar to a standstill, unable to inflict any wounds on him.

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Positions on the final turn

My strategy had worked more or less as planned, I was able to leverage the threat of my fliers to seize the initiative and Nick was never in a position to take it back. Contesting me face to face would have been fraught with risk, but it may have been the option that would render the greatest opportunity to break through and get to grips with my objectives. Nick was as always friendly, charming and handsome.


Round 2 – Race to the Prize vs Henry Kerr

Race to the prize is a mission in which nothing starts on the board, but instead randomly deploys  along the table edges, with the objective being to capture the centre and hold it come the end of the game.

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Boromir Captain of the White Tower – Horse, Lance, Shield

5 Knights with Shield

1 Knight with Shield and Banner.

Faramir – armored horse, lance shield

6 Warriors of Minas Tirith – Shield

5 Guard of the Fountain Court- Shield

1 Guard of the Fountain Court- Shield and Banner.

Beregond with horse

5 Warriors of Minas Tirith – Shield

1 Warrior of Minas Tirith – Shield, Warhorn

6 Rangers of Gondor -Spear

Madril

6 Rangers of Gondor -Spear

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Mr Kerr had brought a very solid all-rounder Gondor force with good defense, good shooting, good numbers and good heroes. The only advantages I held were my mobility and my hitting power on the charge. If he got the bulk of his army to the centre and hunkered down I would really struggle to push him off it. I would thus need to intercept him on the way.

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Henry’s army was split across two adjacent board edges, and after some consideration I elected not to spend might to alter his deployment and allowed the Knight of Umbar to be deployed between the two groups whilst the remainder of my force came on from the a third side. I had a couple of reasons for this choice. He was in no immediate danger on the first turn and could get an uncontested charge off. It could also draw in Henry’s forces and pull him away from the objective or possibly allow me to sandwich half of his force from both sides should he choose to ignore him.

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Henry opted for the former, and combat swiftly broke out. Some fairly shoddy rolling drew out the Knights might reserves far earlier than I was happy with, but they inflicted decent damage on the first warband they encountered.

Boromir and Faramir began to enclose, and as the Betrayer drew near a fuilsade of magic was thrown Boromirs way, as he spent 4 of magic was thrown Boromirs way, as he spent 4 might and 3 will without seeing combat, before being dismounted as one of his men was hurled at him. Happy with this draining of resources, the Knight of Umbar bailed, leaving the riders in his warband to their fate. Henry’s hornblower had been clearly chosen for some higher purpose as he spent several turns fleeing from the Knight of Umbar to the tune of the Benny Hills theme song, avoiding spells, jumping over walls, throwing his companions into harms way until the Knight of Umbar was forced to withdraw.

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The lines of battle then reset, as I stood on the objective against what was still a very sizable and heavily armoured army. I’d neutered Boromir but hasn’t actually wounded him and we spent a couple of turns exchanging arrow fire as he advanced towards me. I came out much the worst for wear, and I could not afford to lose models in the same manner that Henry could. I thus needed to charge before he reached the centre and either run him down, or, what was looking more likely at this point, reduce myself to 25% and end the game before he could reach it and without letting my lines completely collapse and allow him to surge through.

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As my hand was thus forced, I did not  have the most optimal of charges and I made a minor error keeping Boromir from being jumped on which with the margin I was playing with I could not afford to do. The Knight of Umbar failed to win combat on the first turn and Betrayer on the second. I was dismounting models to be able to use the warspears to support them and getting them coverage to give them decent odds of success but as sometimes happens, the dice were not being particularly kind.

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Whilst lots of models were knocked prone, my charges were yielding very few kills and were being slain swiftly in turn. Suladan was cut down by Faramir in one round and the floodgates opened. The wraiths both lost combat and were destroyed. My riders were alas too brave and they stayed long enough for Henry to swarm all over the objective for the win.

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I am in two minds about that game. Part of me feels I played fairly well but got a little unlucky, and another that because I lost I needed to be more assertive and aggressive than I was. Probably both are true. Henry played well and made solid decisions to lead him to the win. I remember playing him whilst he was still a teenager four years ago, he has improved his game wonderfully. With a loss this early this was certainly a setback.


Round 3 Random Encounter vs Kylie Stevenson

Random Encounter is, as the name suggests, random. You are assigned 3 of a possible 6 sets of objectives for the game, from killing enemy hero’s to capturing their objectives.
Kylie may have been the filler army, but I knew full well and welcomed the fact that she was not going to play like one.

Warband 1:

Mahud King, with Camel, Warspear, Shield, Blowpipe

8 Mahud Raiders with Warspear and Blowpipe

 

Warband 2:

Mahud Chieftain with Shield and Blowpipe

5 Mahud Warriors with Spear and Blowpipe

5 Mahud Warriors with Blowpipe

1 Mahud warrior with Banner, Spear and Blowpipe

1 Warrior of Abrakhan with Warhorn and spear

 

Warband 3:

Haradrim Taskmaster

4 Mahud warriors with spear and Blowpipe

4 Half trolls of Far Harad

2 Half Trolls of Far Harad with Two-handed Weapons

 

Warband 4:

Ringwraith on horse with 2 Might, 10 will, 2 Fate

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Kylie sent her camels marching straight up the middle of the board and I readied to receive the charge, knowing that the fell beasts should be able to quickly dismount them and I could then pick them off before supporting infantry arrived. The impact charges of the impales did damage, but the Betrayer was in prime position to dismount them all with a hurl as the ringwraiths exchanged resource drains at each other.

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The Betrayer then betrays me for the second time in the same fashion,  losing combat against a single model on the charge with help. This was even grimmer than game one, because I’d copped the impaler hits in the knowledge there should be no more of them coming afterwards, but they could now immediately do more damage.

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And with that streak of luck damage they did, happily winning the subsequent roll offs again and skewering Haradrim on the charge with the impaler rule. The Betrayer was promptly slaughtered for his efforts, along with most of my army as Suladan came in to salvage my position.

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In the meantime the  Knight of Umbar was atop a roof battling over an objective and slowly killing a Mahud chieftain but was stalled out longer than I would like, scoring a solitary wound on 6 dice needing 4s. At the same time Suladan failed to slay the Mahud King, costing both of those heroes an extra turns effort, allowing the unchecked camels enough time to break me without reprisal.

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I was eventually able to kill all of Kylie heroes, but my courage checks to stick around were poor and the game would end 3 models before I was able to break the Mahud and possibly cause them to flew en masse because of their atrocious courage values combined with harbinger of evil and lack of hero stand fasts.

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Discussing the game, Kylie said she won the game off those 3 rounds of impaler charges and she was fortunate to get them, I was making good decisions but sometimes things simply go against you. I was inclined to agree, more so than the previous game failure at pivotal moments outside the reach of my might reserves were very very costly. But sometimes that’s just the way the game goes.

This was now two losses in a row putting me at a negative win rate for the day. I was disappointed, but not giving up. I said a couple of times and thought many more ‘3 big wins. Just need 3 big wins tomorrow’. The population of the event was small enough I could have the chance to play those leading the pack in the latter half of tomorrow if I could smash my first game, and if I could beat them as I go then I could drag them down with me. Having them lose games to other people would help, and was certainly a possibility given the strength of the field, but that was out of my hands. I’d just have to focus on myself. I would also need to have a serious talk with the Betrayer so he would start betraying my opponents and not me.


Everyone enjoyed a communal dinner at the local pub, and we returned to the venue for scenarios. Some people played Battle Companies, whilst Jeremy most kindly supplied the models to let me and Ben play ‘The Last Stand’ Scenario from the There and Back Again sourcebook. Very cool scenario, Bofur took over the troll brute, and it was just enough to allow Good to survive the 10 turns they needed against the endless recycled horde of orcs. Despite playing Evil, I was cheering for the Good side to win, but wanted to make sure they worked for it. Ben received some sound tutelage and sage advice under Kylies wing.

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Come back for day 2. Can I recover from this kind of debilitating blow? Two ways to find out; feverishly check this blog everyday until I publish it, or come and ask me in person. The best way to do that would be to come to Hobbitcon! 11th and 12th of August at Hall of Heroes Campbelltown, one and two day options!

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Thanks for reading!

Andrew C

P.S. We’ve got two Andrew’s posting here now so I’ve had to start signing off as Andrew C, feels a little strange… But its probably worth it if it gets Hobby Machine divulging his secrets.

Path To HobbitCon : Shadow of Mordor

Hello and welcome to my first Blog post for The Grey Company. My name is Adam and I have been a wargamer since the start of the century dabbing in everything from 40k, Fantasy/AoS, Bolt Action, Star Wars and a few others. However, despite my on-and-off-again relationship… Lord of the Rings / Hobbit / Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game has been my favourite system since 2012.

Since then, I’ve managed to complete a number of armies, won a few tournaments and painting awards, made a lot of terrain, run a few events in New South Wales … and more importantly, made many friends along the way. 

Last year, along with two fellow gamers, I helped organise and run a new tournament in Sydney, called HobbitCon. This year, whilst still helping setup the event… I have decided step away from the hands-on T.O role – pay my entry fee and try my luck with the other players competing. 

So what is HobbitCon?

HobbitCon is an exciting and social weekend that aim’s to bring together Middle Earth’s keenest players from across NSW and elsewhere in Australia. The event will be held at Hall of Heroes in Campbelltown on the 11th and 12th August, operating with both one or two day options for players wanting to attend.  More information can be found at the venue’s website or Facebook page.

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So what make HobbitCon unique? It is an escalation tournament, giving the players the chance to create and run two different forces over two days –  400 points on day one and then progress to 700 points on day two. This gives the players the opportunity to theme forces that represent a particular series of battles or journeys from the books, films or even…  non-canonical video games!

I have decided to build a 400 point list of Mordor’s finest scum and villainry for the first day’s proceedings.

So Why Mordor?

After many years of collecting and painting different forces,  it came to my attention that my Mordor collection had not been feeling the love like my other forces. Furthermore, with the forthcoming (and hugely exciting) boxset release Games Workshop, and their stated focus on Battle of Pelannor Fields and the war between Gondor and Mordor, what better time to start.

The List

After much consideration, I had decided to start a new and essentially unique force based off Monolith Production‘s hugely successful Shadow of  Mordor and Shadow of War games.

The Warchief

Ratbag: The charismatic and cunning orc captain that helps Talion on his quest.. and in return Talion helps becomes a Warchief of Mordor.  Ratbag will be represented by the Gorbag model and stat line.

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Warband Leaders

Ranger: Ranger is an Olog-Hai, a sub species of troll that inhabit the regions of middle earth. Ranger however is a unique case and works with Ratbag in gaining power in Mordor. Despite their unique relationship and issues, they make a formidable team. Ranger will be based on a Gundabad ogre or troll using a Mordor Troll chieftain rules.

SoW_Ranger

Narghaash, the cruel Orc Captain

Narghaash is essentially an Orc Captain mounted on a warg. He simply follows the rules for an orc captain. 

The Warriors:

15 Orc Warriors: A mixture of warriors, rabble and slaves lead by Ratbag.
5 Orc Trackers: Ratbag’s scouts and pathfinders who will outshoot every opponent.
3 Warg Riders: Narghaash’s warg riders, ready to outflank and cause mayhem.

So there is the 400 point list that I plan to complete by August 11th (along with some new terrain). Next post I hope to reveal the start of my force with some wargs and Orc rabble.

Stay tuned

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Hobby Machine’s Courage of Numenor blog

Or, How to Call a Bluff

Hello everyone! Welcome to my first blog post for the Grey Company. I’ve been meaning to provide a recap of Clash of the Titans from February, however, due to a lack of recording the results of my games, a hazy day 2 thanks to the Baron*, and more projects popping up, I … well, … haven’t.

Quick introduction, I am Hobby Machine, I have been playing the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game – and its Hobbit successor – since 2002. I only got into the tournament scene fairly recently and have enjoyed decent success on the hobby side of things, winning Best Painted in Courage of Numenor, Mother of all Battles (MOAB), Hobbitcon and three of my last four Clash of the Titans events (and coming 2nd to Jeremy Shannon in my first ever Clash ’14). I earned the nickname after working on several armies at once, and presenting them in custom display boards.

What I love most about this hobby is the feeling of taking an existing force or faction, and making them yours through conversions, force organisation or just a unique paint scheme. Each army I put on the table – no matter that faction – has a story, and through similar conversion techniques and shared paint recipes (for universal things like human flesh, silver armour, etc.) can be identified as mine. Normally, my armies can be identified from a group by asking a very simple question, “Is there a Gondor force?”

Courage of Numenor

Courage of Numenor is a single-day 400 point tournament for Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game (as it shall soon be christened) held once a year in the South West region of Sydney. The low points cost is a boon not only to hobbyists wanting to start a new force (or adapt to a new style of play), but also to those who don’t want to worry about their enemy plopping down a dirty great big red dragon in front of them. It’s also a great tournament to try out new scenarios or amendments to the “Standard Six”.

For this occasion, I wanted to challenge myself. Last year I went with a Gondor infantry horde list, with Denethor, Beregond and Damrod leading as many warriors as I could muster. I quickly found out that the lack of Might on the board meant that I was losing priority/first move to cavalry elements and getting out manoeuvred and run down, or enemy heroes who were much better than fighting than a Ranger, a Guard of the Citadel or a mentally unstable geriatric would quickly mince through my shield walls. Time for something new.

Our very own Andrew Colman is on a hot streak of running all-mounted lists, and running them very well (as chronicled here) so I decided to run an all-mounted Gondor list! Now, I’ve never played an all-mounted list before, but I am always up for a challenge, so I immediately thought of a list that would combine everything great about Gondor into 400 points.

Step 1 – Leader. Ever since 1995 I have had a favourite actor. Ever since 2000 I have had a favourite book series, and a favourite book within that series, and within that book I have had a favourite character. When I found out that my favourite actor was playing my favourite character in the film adaptation of my favourite series I was overjoyed. Later, when I discovered this hobby and began to play with the figures, I found that the games designers had translated that character into one of the most powerful heroes of the game, with a special piece of equipment that combined with his stats made him a beast of a unit. Gondor’s first son, Boromir. I have played him in almost every iteration and possible equipment combination. All except one. At such a low points cost, I need a hero that can be both aggressive and supportive, to make sure that my small number of units can stay in the fight and bring their lances to bear upon the foe. I need him to bring his fancy tablecloth.

Step 2 – Theme. Even more important to me because it influences not only my force selection, but the paint scheme and conversion bits as well. I decided that this unit was going to be Boromir’s veterans and his bodyguards. Each Knight was going to have a shield that matched Boromir’s from the Fellowship of the Ring.

Step 3 – Warriors. As I’m going all-mounted Gondor, my force selection is rather limited. My troop options are Knights of Minas Tirith and giving Citadel Guards horses. I decided to go with a roughly even mix of the two, with the front line of five Knights backed up by 5 Guards with spears on horse. I threw three Longbows in there as well for objective-based scenarios and for getting horses out from under heroes.

Mustering the Force

Now that I have a theme in my head, it’s time to gather the pieces together. Thankfully, the wonderful plastic kits make conversions a dream. I had converted some mounted Citadel Guards with Longbows in the past, so I simply repeated the process here.

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Mounted Citadel Guards with (L to R): Longbow and Spear x2, Spear x3

For the Longbow-armed Guard, I used Warrior of Minas Tirith bowmen and Knights of Minas Tirith, I cut both models at the belt and glued the bowman to the Knight’s legs. For the more complicated poses of bowmen where the bow is attached to the legs, I cut the bow off at the wrist, and attached a clean one from another model once I’d joined the torso to the legs. The spear armed Citadel Guard were even easier, just attaching a Warrior of Minas Tirith spearman arm (that come separately anyway) to the body of a Knight of Minas Tirith (who don’t have their weapon arm attached).

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The cloaks were the tricky bits. With the exception of the leftmost Guard, all of them were done using the Hobby Machine Super Glue Method™. First, assemble the model as usual, then trace a cloak from a foot Guard model onto artists paper to get the size right. Then cut them all out and soak them in water so that they will be very flexible and be able to make the same of flowing fabric. Then glue the cloak to the model using superglue. While it is there, push it to shape, then – stay with me here – coat the entire cloak in superglue. Not too thick or it will form drops at the ends, but enough to cover the surface of the cloak. Once this dries, it will harden the paper, sealing in the shape and making the actual sculpting process easier.

Once the cloaks are completely dry, you can start putting green stuff (or your preferred modelling putty) on and start sculpting. I started with the upper portion of the cloaks, to help keep the cloak attached to the model and covering the seam where the paper leads onto the model itself. When sculpting cloaks it’s important to remember how the folds bunch up tightly near the shoulders, and then open up wider near the bottom. Think of them as giant M’s. The tool I use is a metal kitchen skewer, and the best advice I can give you is to be patient, remember you can always add to the green stuff – it’s much harder to remove excess once it’s cured, and always wet your sculpting tools. Nothing worse than dragging the putty and causing tears in your cloth (unless you’re making orc tunics, in which case, go for it but you’re going to have a bad time getting green stuff off your tools).

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The full force, assembly in progress. An example of my previous Mounted Citadel Guard is in the back row

The Knights were relatively simple conversions, I simply used Instant Mold to press-mold Fellowship Boromir’s iconic shield. Since I am left-handed, I wanted to include a left-handed conversion. I took a Warrior of Minas Tirith bowman, did a torso swap like with the Citadel Guard, then cut and turned the head to be facing the other direction, repositioned the right arm (which was the ‘released arrow’ pose) to be carrying a shield and added a lance where the bow was. Done.

And now that the warriors were assembled, I could treat myself to Big Bad Bozza’s conversion. When he carries the Banner of Minas Tirith, he doesn’t receive any defensive bonus from carrying a shield, so I went through the process of removing the shield – and left arm – from the foot model. Thankfully, Boromir, Captain of the White Tower is resin so the process is much easier than if it would have been in metal. I cut away the shield, Horn of Gondor and left arm from the shoulder plates down using clippers (be very careful with resin. Clippers can remove more than you intended and can send very sharp fragments flying at you. Safety first at all times, goggles minimum) and a stanley knife. I then carefully carved off the cord that the horn was attached to. Then I carved the resin around the breastplate on his left side, and his tunic.

Whenever I put Boromir on the table, I want to make sure he bears as close a resemblance to Sean Bean as possible. That means using the best sculpt of Boromir in terms of actor likeness, Fellowship Boromir. I cut off the head and the horn arm from Fellowship Boromir on foot, and attached them to the resin model. Pinning is a great idea, but not necessary for these areas.

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Assembling the foot model. Something’s missing…

Since the spare Banner of Minas Tirith I had was metal, that definitely needed to be pinned, so using a spare outstretched Knight of Minas Tirith banner arm, I pinned both it and the banner to Boromir. I also wanted to fix the triple-jointed banner arm that the mounted model has. That was a bit more involved. I used the Mounted Banner Bearer of Minas Tirith’s right arm, cutting off the banner (but still leaving it attached to the model’s head) and using pliers, crushing the remaining pole bit above the hand into a pin shape, to sit the resin banner on top.

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The banner on the mounted Boromir is just dry-fitted at this stage

I made sure not to glue the banner to Boromir until after I had finished painting both. At this stage, the assembly is complete!

Painting the Army

This army was going to be something special, and needed a fittingly special paint scheme. You might be curious as to why I sub-titled this article How to Call a Bluff. A fellow hobbyist, Michael, had been singing the praises of transfers/decals after a very successful Adepticon in the United States where he walked away with the Best Painted award for his 30K Ultramarines. He and I were getting into a friendly banter about what was better, freehand or transfers, so I told him I was going to put my money where my mouth was and feature freehand extensively in my force. Thankfully, the Banner of Minas Tirith is going to be a fine centrepiece to my army, and I made sure to include as many freehand details on each model as possible.

My plan was, since it was called the Banner of Minas Tirith, it needed to feature Minas Tirith on it! It just makes sense. So, what I did was trace around the banner onto a piece of paper, then after looking through Google Images for a picture of Minas Tirith, copied the outline of the city onto the paper to get the right scale before painting the mini itself.

There’s a great article in the old White Dwarf issue 362 where it shows you a few techniques to get great freehand, and those tips are what I put into practice with painting the freehand on this force.

  • Always thin your paints, it makes linework so much easier and if you need to fill in an area, use multiple thin coats
  • When painting in freehand, always plan it out on paper first, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches later.
  • If your design is complex, us a series of dots on the extremities of the design to help you map out the shape, then simply paint the points onto the miniature and join the dots.
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All the detail on the banner is freehand, that should settle the bet!

I paid particular attention to the horses in this force as well, since it was my first all-mounted list and horses are a big part of that. I loved researching the different breeds of horse, the markings, mane colours and patterns, etc. Taking that little bit of extra care with the horses really helps add to the look of the overall model.

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With each Knight’s pennant, I took care to make them mini Banners of Minas Tirith, giving them the same colour palette and adding the same freehand pattern that is on the banner itself. (I don’t know what the pointy bits of the Banner of Minas Tirith are called.) I also painted a pair of sea bird wings on the shields for another focal point.

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Here are some photos of the finished army in action on the day. My results were 2-2, which I’m not unhappy with, considering it was my first time taking all-cav. Against Andreas’s Gondor infantry horde, I fared rather poorly, and my dice rolls weren’t very helpful. Still, with Hobbitcon around the corner I have plenty of time to get more practice games in and maybe someday even be as good as Master Colman! (yeah right)

Also as a bonus, I took home Best Painted! So many wonderful forces there including Andrew’s all-mounted Harad, Andreas’ red Gondor force and Eric’s four-clan Khand chariots.

 

 

 

*Baron in this case being the main ingredient by volume of the drinks I was being served by Bone’ead, one of the original NSW strategy battle gamers, and the Tournament Organiser for Clash of the Titans for many years

The Road to Masters 2018

It’s that time of the year and Middle Earth Masters in Melbourne fast approaches once more.

Let’s have a look back at how the past 12 months since the last Masters have gone. For anyone that I’ve played or spoken to you’ll know that I made a resolution after last year that my feet would not be soiled by touching the ground again and I would play where my heart lies, in all cavalry armies. I’ve been sticking to that resolution!

At a rough count, I’ve painted 152 models in that time across 4 armies. Painting mounted armies inevitably doubles your workload with a foot dismount added to every model you want to take, on top of the fact that mounted models in my own experience take between 3 and 4 times as long to paint as an infantry model from start to finish. It has the marvelous benefit of significantly reducing the backlog however, and I’ve made some substantial strides in reducing it to a manageable level, whilst keep new purchases to a minimum until it gets thinned out. The standard of my painting is now at a level much higher than it was a few years ago and has started to get some notice for painting votes and awards which is most gratifying.

Tournament wise, it has gone exceedingly well. Seemingly everything I touch turns to gold, with a win at every event I’ve attended. Good strategy with some luck when I need it has given me a considerable run of form. Many an army has been trampled underfoot by the glory of a cavalry charge.

Courage of Numenor (Campbelltown, Sydney) (3-0) Mounted Gondor

Wrath and Ruin (Castle Hill, Sydney) (3-1) Morgul Knights

Clash of the Titans (Cherrybrook, Sydney) (6-0) Rohan (Good) / Warg Riders (Evil)

Warhammer Wollongong (Wollongong) (3-0) Morgul Knights

Sail onto Brighter Shores (Castle Hill, Sydney) (4-1) Rivendell Knights

Courage of Numenor (Campbelltown, Sydney) (4-0) Mounted Harad

An overall record of 23-2 in games played translating to 6 consecutive tournament wins on the trot! The cabinet is getting a little full! I am delighted with my resolution to become the Horselord, playing cavalry is so much fun and gives you so much empowerment when it comes to decision making and seizing control of a game. With this kind of form in the run up I am undoubtedly setting myself up for massive failure in which I will crash and burn horrendously!

As a result of all this, it will thus come as no surprise that I will be not just flying south for Masters 2018, but riding.

I had at this point actually succeeded, with exception of a few extras and hero models, in painting up almost every mounted model I own. For the first time in over a year I was in unexplored territory again, as up until then I’d simply drafted the lists based on what was next on the painting list and drawn from that. I was free to dip into the spoils of tournament wins and redeem them on something that I had foot models for, but no mounted equivalents. Games Workshop had a bargain deal a while back for 3 Mumaks, shaving roughly $100 AUD off the price, which I purchased on what was admittedly something of an impulse (and looking back, was the last thing I grabbed before I introduced the no new toys until you paint what you’ve got rule! In hindsight, might have been correlated). They came with 36 Haradrim, and looking around at some of the increasing difficulty and expense of the OOP alternatives I was eyeing like Khand and Mahud, it was the most logical choice.

So I’ve ventured south into the desert for this one:

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The Knight of Umbar – Fellbeast
3 Serpent Riders
2 Haradrim Raiders – Bow, Warspear
1 Haradrim Raider – Bow, Banner

The Betrayer – Fellbeast
3 Serpent Riders
3 Haradrim Raiders – Bow, Warspear

Suladan the Serpent Lord – Horse, Bow
2 Serpent Riders
3 Haradrim Raiders – Bow, Warspear

Haradrim Chieftan – Horse, Warspear
2 Serpent Riders
2 Haradrim Raiders – Bow

36087169_10155670202415838_413976933995380736_n.jpgI debuted half of this list at Courage of Numenor. Hits hard, can’t take the hits back.

It’s a very hard hitting list, with some dangerous shooting power because they can manoeuvre for shots with the punch of the Betrayer supporting, and heavy close combat output with 2 fell beasts, a 3 attack character and lances with enhanced poison across the board. It is not however, very durable. The army is Defence 4. Cloth and wicker armour is not the greatest of protections! Half of it is also Fight 3, which is not great for a cavalry force that wants to get quick guaranteed combat wins and move on. The army appropriately needs to embody the serpent; hit hard, hard fast, let the poison flow before their prey has a chance to respond.

It has some dangerous matchups in F4 S4 armies – Iron Hills and Isengard present a serious threat that can match them in fights, kill them exceedingly rapidly and die relatively slowly. Elves are also a real nuisance in shutting down the Fellbeasts and stalling out the cavalry charges.

I know some people don’t like double Fellbeasts, which is fair enough, but aside from the competitive strength (which still needs to be executed well) it purely just cuts down on the volume of models I have to paint, which is a real Godsend. The excellent Joshua Colman has generously agreed to lend me a second one for the weekend.

I’ve painted half the required models for Courage of Numenor last weekend. I’ve opted for a black and beige-white colour scheme for the raiders, swapping out the black for turquoise on the Serpent elites to give them a bit more pop. Serpent guard and riders are OOP, so I’ve been converting them with Numenorean heads and making them the only models with the back banners, which is enough combined with the colour scheme to distinguish them on the table.  It’s been an enjoyable departure of the greens, greys and browns of the past few forces that preceded it. It was also nice to get a few comments and messages about them after the event. I now need to seriously get cracking on the other half!

 

Predictions:

Last years winner, Locky Rigg, won’t be in attendance, so that frees up some space on the podium, and improves the home state of Victoria’s chances of claiming a big interstate title, which despite being always in contention on the podium they surprisingly actually have not done since Masters 2015. That being said, my predictions are remarkably similar to last years:

My top 3 are:

  1. David Leonard – Believe it or not, he was equal first before tiebreakers last year and won all 6 games the year before, but came out in 2nd place on both occasions. Third time in a row I’m tipping him to take it, third times the charm right?
  2. Jeremy Shannon – We will undoubtedly narrowly miss playing each other once again, though playing me probably won’t hurt his chances of winning from everything I’ve seen and heard via the Green Dragon Podcast.
  3. Matthew Todd – Really consistent player and someone that’s beaten me solidly in our last two encounters, whilst nipping at my heels in the events that I did not play him.

A full local podium on this occasion, if ever there was a chance to bring home the bacon this is it for the Melbournians! I put David and Matthew in the same positions last year, and they ended up 2nd and 3rd respectively and I correctly identified all 3 podium members so there’s some kind of track record there.

I am of course doing a disservice to all the other excellent players who will be there and consequently wipe the table against me for not mentioning them, but there are only so many spaces on a podium and you don’t have the burden of expectation to weigh you down!

I’d like to conclude by promoting Hobbitcon, now in its 2nd year! 11th and 12th of August, escalation, one and two day options, interesting goodies,  and since I’m helping run it, you don’t have to play me! Come and play!

Thanks for reading!
Andrew C

The Inspiration for my Bolt Action Cancon Force: The Battle of Rots 1944

By Ian Underwood

Cancon is held annually in Canberra over the Australia Day weekend in January and is Australia’s largest gaming convention. This year’s Bolt Action event will be the largest tournament of its type held in Australia, having sold out 70 places a month before kick off. I attended Cancon for the first time last year and had a great time, so to be honest this is pretty exciting and in this post I discuss the force I’m taking and the historical inspiration behind it.

Cancon will be the second consecutive Bolt Action event where I’ll be taking a post-D-day Royal Marine Commando force. I attended MOAB in Sydney late last year with a force based on the amphibious assault of the Dutch island of Walcharen (see the earlier post here). Playing that elite, highly mobile force ended up being little beyond my experience level, and so for this tournament, I’ve gone for a more a generic army build…  but like all my recent Bolt Action forces, this one takes its inspiration from an actual historical engagement or action.

In this case the force is inspired by the desperate assault on the twin village of Rots and Le Hamel, in the Mue Valley to the North-West of Caen on the 11th June involving primarily 46 RM Commando and Canadian Shermans from the Fort Garry Horse

The Battle For Rots

“They fought like lions on both sides, so that the dead lay corpse by corpse. We searched every house, every courtyard to avoid ambush. And here is the confirmation of how ferocious last night’s battle must have been. The Commandos lie dead in rows beside the dead SS. Grenades are scattered all over the road and in the porches of houses. Here we see a Commando and an SS man, literally dead in each other’s arms, having slaughtered each other. There, a German and a Canadian tank have engaged each other to destruction, and are still smouldering, and from each blackened turret hangs the charred corpse of a machine gunner.”  – Regimental History, Régiment de la Chaudière.

On the 8th of June, two days after the Normandy landings, the elite 12th SS Panzer-Division ‘Hitlerjugend’ counter-attacked the Canadian positions to the North-West of Caen in an attempt to break the Allied bridgehead. After heavy and desperate fighting the the German’s were repulsed and the counter-attack stalled. The Canadians now however,  were left with a number of exposed forward positions in a salient around the towns of Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse and Norrey-en-Bessin.

Over the next few days, using the town of Rots as their base, the 1st Battalion of the 12th SS launched several assaults on both towns. Again the Canadians desperately repulsed the attackers. In one attack on Norrey-en-Bessin on the 9th June, seven Panthers were destroyed in a mad four minutes when they unwittingly presented their flanks to three troops of Shermans – including several Fireflys, who were arriving to reinforce the beleaguered defenders of the town.

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Troops from the 12th SS Panzer-Division drive thru the town of Rots after an attack on Norrey-en-Bessin, June 9th, 1944. The fatigue is evident.

These engagements showed the true character of the Canadian troops as they threw back virtually everything the men of the 12th SS ‘Hitlerjugend’ could hurl at them. Sadly it also brought out the true character of the 12th SS, as it was during this 3-day period that elements of the 12th SS captured over 60 men of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles in the neighbouring town of Putot-en-Bessin and later executed 45 them in the grounds of the Château d’Audrieu, where some officers were headquartered.

It also should be noted that the 12th SS were responsible for the April 1944 massacre of 86 Frenchmen from the village of Ascq during the division’s relocation to Normandy. They were also were responsible for the massacre of 18 Canadians soldiers in the grounds of the Abbaye d’Ardenne on the day after the actual D-Day landings.

The 12th SS were highly motivated fanatics who had, by their own standards, under performed in the battle of Normandy so far. They would be later criticised heavily by the German high command and no doubt would have been smarting from their lack of battlefield success.

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The Commando’s route down the Mue Valley and the twin assault on Rots and Le Hamel. Note the precarious position of the villages of Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse and Norrey-en-Bessin – which received much attention from the 12th SS  from their base at Rots.

The Assault on Rots

On the 11th June, 46 Commando was attached to the Canadian 8th Infantry Brigade and given the task of clearing the 12th SS from the Mue Valley, culminating in an assault on their stronghold in the twin villages of Rots and Le Hamel. Clearing the valley was a necessary prerequisite to the advance on Cheux, and securing of the town of Carpiquet and the adjacent airfield.

For this assault they would be supported by a Squadron of Shermans from the Canadian Fort Garry Horse, a troop of Royal Marine Centaurs, 25 pounders and a machine gun company.

The attack started with A & B troop (a commando troop is roughly 65 men) advancing on Rots whilst S & Y Troop attacked Le Hamel. The SS had situated 5 machine gun nests 100 yards in front of the village. Major Lee of 46 Commando takes up the narrative.

“They held their fire until Y and S Troops were 100 yards away and then let fly. Without hesitation the assaulting troops went in, firing their rifles, Brens and tommy guns from the hip. There were two hedgerow obstacles to cross, one of which was lightly wired, but the attack went on. While we were crossing the last obstacle, 30 yards from the enemy machine guns, the Bosche flung their grenades and turned and ran for the defended houses in the village. 

The Commandos then were engaged in fierce street fighting for two hours, the enemy were, according to Major Lee.

“well camouflaged, and obviously very well trained. They darted about from house to house, changing their positions all of the time. Except on one occasion when confronted by a Sherman they showed no inclination to surrender. Their moral was obviously very high.”

Eventually Le Hamel was taken with with two 88mm Guns captured. A & B Troops meanwhile, assaulted Rots – where the higher concentration of SS grenadiers and Panthers were located.  Desperate fighting ensued, a tank on tank battle was taking place in the main street – with the Shermans coming off the worse. At one point B troop was engaged from both flanks and the rear, taking heavy casualties until it was relieved by X and Z Troop and a Sherman Firefly.  

Eventually at 8 o’clock that evening the village was secured. The Canadians had lost six Shermans, whilst two SS Panthers had been destroyed. The Commando’s advance of 7 miles had outstripped that of friendly units on their flanks and they were ordered to pull back for the night.

The following morning,  a company from the Quebec-raised Le Régiment de la Chaudière reinforced the Commandos and the Fort Garry Shermans and managed to secure the whole area. The ‘Chauds’ buried 122 SS men in Rots, while the 46 Commando reported 17 killed, 9 wounded and 35 missing. 

Major General Keller of Commanding 3rd Canadian Infantry Division later wrote to the Royal Marine’s Brigadier Leicester.

“…I must ask you to congratulate for me Lieut-Colonel Hardy and his 46 Commandos, for their thorough dealing with the enemy in and along the river line (Rots and Rosel): my R. de Chauds buried 122 Bosch done in by your chaps.

Be assured we appreciate all this and will deem it an honour to be fighting alongside and preferably with the Royal Marine Commandos”.

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The Bolt Action Force

As discussed above my actual Bolt Action force is a fairly standard army build with 4 squads of infantry and two vehicles. My regular infantry squads represent the Canadian Le Régiment de la Chaudière who reinforced the Commandos. Their cheaper cost also allows me to fit in a fourth infantry squad, which at 1000 points (I’m told) is pretty essential for a novice player.  

There were no Daimler armoured cars at the Battle for Rots, but I had one new in a box and and so it was painted up and joins the fray alongside the Royal Marine Centaur tank.

1000 Points

First Lieutenant (Veteran)

8 Man Commando Section #1
3 SMG / 1 Vickers K Gun

8 Man Commando Section #2
3 SMG / 1 Vickers K Gun

8 Man Infantry Section (Regular) #1
1 SMG / 1 Bren Gun

8 Man Infantry Section (Regular) #2
1 SMG / 1 Bren Gun

Medium Mortar (Regular)
Observer

PIAT Team (Regular)

Centaur Close Support Tank (Regular)

Daimler Armoured Car (Regular)

Free Forward Observer (Regular)

National Characteristic: Up and At ‘Em.

Hopefully these guys will perform admirably, like their real life counterparts. We’ll see what the tournament brings.

 

 

 

A Guide to playing Rivendell Knights

By Andrew Colman

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The Greatest Cavalry in Middle Earth

I wrote this guide in the wake of the Australian Masters in 2016 and placed it on the Australian SBG Facebook, and it recently occurred to me that it would be an excellent idea to reproduce on the blog complete with pretty pictures. Some minor profile and lists changes since that time but it is all still relevant and useful information, so here it is!

Rivendell Knights have become some of my favourite models in the game, both aesthetically and gameplay wise. I’ve been playing them for the last 6 months, and they’ve netted me a 3rd in the prequel to Clash, 2nd at The Silmarilli and 1st at Masters. They require a decent level of understanding of the game to utilise effectively, as they can be unforgiving if you make mistakes, but in exchange they give you a very strong ability to dictate the game with good decision making. I like to compare them to Apache Gunships or Panzer tanks. Heavily armed, very mobile, capable of dealing massive damage, but will struggle if tied in down into a grinding fight against superior numbers.

A small note of caution. Rivendell Knights played ‘optimally’ can be frustrating to play against in a casual game against some people, but others like the challenge. As always, know your opponent and what will make for a fun game. If you’re doing well in tournaments with them with this particular playstyle, you’ll quickly be seeded against like-minded competitive players.

Profile and Wargear

Their profiles are that of a High Elf – F5/3+, D6, C5 are the standout attributes, but where the Knights really shine is in their wargear. Elf Bows offer you some of the best shooting in the game, lances provide all important killing power for your charges, Elf blades give you the capacity to duel most heroes with a decent chance of winning, whilst for more one point shields (which you should always try and take) give you the all-important D6 and the ability to shield on foot. All this equipment turns our Knights into walking Swiss army knives and gives you the flexibility to let the Knights assume multiple roles on the battlefield.

It is also worth noting both of their special rules, Woodland Creature and Expert Rider. Woodland Creature is incredibly important, it will allow you to win shooting wars, outflank your opponent, protect you from fliers and create a large zone of control in which your opponent does not have access to you whilst you have access to them. Expert Rider gives you D6 on horseback whilst having both shield and bow. Don’t forget this bonus will only apply when on horseback, so your dismounted models are not only less mobile but more vulnerable.

List Building and Allies

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The Elves can call upon the aid of the most powerful beings in Middle Earth

The heroes you decide to use with the Knights will ultimately determine a decent proportion of your playstyle because they are so flexible, but some basic principles will remain the same. Elrond’s Household is a very small army list, equivalent to Numenor with 2 named heroes, a captain and one troop choice. Something to note is the FAQ released after the list was published which allows models from the Elrond’s Household list to ignore the bow limit (would be otherwise impossible to play them). Editors note: Since then we’ve seen experimental rules that include Knights as a troop choice in a high elf force, that will most likely be officially published at some point. You can’t run a whole army of them, so they will provide a supporting role to an infantry force but you have a much greater diversity of heroes to lead their warband. Exciting times!)

Elrond- Elrond offers everything; He is an excellent leader choice with high defence, terror and rerollable fate saves, he is an S tier combat hero with his 3 Attacks and horse, and he offers some magic in the form of Natures Wrath and the situationally useful Renew. He can also lead Knights himself, unlike some of the ally choices I will run through later, which with the expense of these models does come into play. Whilst he is an excellent choice, I have not run him much because I think there are even better options.

Lindir: In some ways Lindir is an upgrade for Elrond, as I can’t justify taking him if Elrond is not on the table. He is cheaper than most of the other options on this list, sacrificing combat stats for presence in the magic department. Magic is one of the best ways to deal with Rivendell Knights so having a tool to deny that with a bubble of magic resistance is a nice option, but one that I don’t think can be relied upon. Enemy Spell casters should be willing to spend enough resources that one dice resists are difficult to pull off, but it can make them hesitate or use an excess. Potentially unlimited Natures Wrath’s from Elrond are very dangerous, but come with a couple of caveats. The two deploy in separate warbands so it may sometimes take time to link them up, and it can be tricky to ensure multiple turns of Wrath if you want Elrond in combat as well. Devastating if successful however.

Rivendell Knight Captain: The best Captain profile in the game. Access to a lance allows him killing power equal to some of the big 3 attack heroes in a way. Fight 6 and an Elven blade has him beating the vast majority of heroes. An Elf bow gives you another shot in your force and the option to snipe priority targets using might to wound. He can also importantly, lead the Knights, giving you a substantially cheaper option than Elrond.

A pure Elrond’s Household list is excellent, and you’ll probably have a higher model count than with some of the additional suggestions I’m going to make below (most of them are expensive!). What these suggestion do provide is even greater tactical flexibility in one or another, and the ability to specialise in a particular playstyle by honing a given strength and taking advantage of point’s efficiency.

Wizards: All 3 wizards mounted are useful to a Rivendell Knight army, able to lock down or move an important component of your opponent’s army either away from the battle or into a vulnerable position you can punish. Gandalf more or less guarantees you will win a shooting war in the open with blinding light, even against Harad or Grey Company. The extra movement from Shadowfax in both Grey and White versions is also useful. White in particular is very costly, but useful if you know there’s a high chance of encountering enemy wizards. Radaghast on sleigh or eagle also doubles as an excellent combat choice, and is anathema to enemy cavalry that can potentially tie you down. Whilst not on eagle he will also enjoy Woodland creature. Aura of Dismay is also great for preventing you from being surrounded and bogged down. Again, you do pay the price in points though. Saruman is the best choice as a pure caster standpoint. A +2 immobilise on a free point of will is both consistent and a real thorn in the side of your opponent, while the 18” range of both his immobilise and command mean that you can catch your opponent off guard, and if you position well, allows him to exert control over the entire battlefield simultaneously. He is also the cheapest option of the three, coming in a measly 160 points on horse. It is important to note that Gandalf and Saruman don’t have woodland creature, so you need to exercise some caution maneuvering in and around these with your army so they don’t get caught out or left behind.

Arwen: She is a good thematic alternative to gain access to a much cheaper Natures Wrath than Elrond. Disappointingly she can’t lead Knight’s herself (get on it GW!) and her actual killing power is mediocre, but she is still F6 with an Elven Blade and becomes a dangerous duelist with a Knight or two by her side with lances.

Legolas (both versions): Legolas is the ultimate sniper and arguably one of, if not the best models in the game for his points. Point him at big heroes horses, Casters, banners, horns, drums, and squishy heroes and watch them evaporate with the application of a Might or two. His upgraded younger self is more expensive, but offers you a three attack hero and F7 with an Elven blade in addition to his sniping potential. (Future Andrew note: Megolas is no more, having been written out of the profiles. Standard Legolas is still more than up to the task though.)

Gilgalad, Glorfindel, Aragorn: All three of these choices more or less fulfil the same role with minor differences; to charge into the enemy and output major damage. Glorfindel is a very nice leader choice with the Armour of Gondolin, Aragorn lacks woodland creature but has the incredibly useful Mighty Hero, while Gilgalad effectively has a permanent lance. Your classic beatsticks.

The Twins: They lack the raw hitting power of some of the other combat choices on this list with only two attacks base on horse , but they more than make up for it in versatility; You gain access to 6 might for a cheap cost and they can take bows. That’s 6 might you can potentially drop into taking out important targets before combat, or calling heroic moves/combats. They can also be in two places at once! If you do manage to lose one of them, you’ve effectively lost both them of courtesy of their unbreakable bond, so you do need to exercise some care, but I’ve only lost one of them on two occasions over sixteen games, so it is usually avoidable.

Rangers of the North: An interesting alternative, RotN are roughly comparable to the knights themselves in points. You lose the lance but gain Strength 4, lose a fight value and the Elf Bow/ Blade, but in return you gain an extra warband drop and a Might/Will/Fight. The extra warbands can be really useful in deployment in ensuring you can avoid dangerous elements of an opponent’s army or can commit your strengths to a flank without answer. It also offers a cheap way to shepherd a few knights with a potential heroic move sitting behind them and a little protection from magic. You effectively sacrifice raw stats for utility.

Boromir of Gondor:  A more unorthodox choice, but effective if you want a hand grenade to throw at your opponent for a relatively cheap cost. He’s an excellent throw away unit that doesn’t depend on the synergy of your overall army.

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My List:

The List I ran at Masters was:

Saruman the White (Army Leader) – Horse 160

Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of Mirkwood-Horse 135

Elladan and Elrohir – Horses, Elven Bows 170

Rivendell Knight Captain – Shield 90

9 Rivendell Knights- Shield 198

1 Rivendell Knight – Shield, Banner 47

This is almost exactly the same as the list I ran at Clash, the only difference being I sacrificed a Knight and Heavy Armour on the Twins to include the upgraded version of Legolas over the regular.

The reasoning behind this composition was a combination of point’s efficiency and role section. All 5 of these heroes are probably amongst the most the best value for points you can get. There are four F6+ heroes all with Elven Blades and plenty of might, so you can comfortably duel any selection of heroes. There is also crucially 11 might that can be dropped in shooting. If something needs to be killed, you have nice odds of killing it. Taking Megolas gives access to a three attack hero in the cheapest way compared to my original list. Saruman, although he lacks Woodland Creature, offers you incredible control over the battlefield with his range and “guaranteed” castings.
What the list excels at is removing lynch points in an enemy army with magic and shooting, while making it very difficult for your opponent to pick a single threat to deal with because you have so many. What’s important to note is that every hero with the exception of the captain is D5. Importantly, I don’t actually care, because the way you play this army means they should never be put in a position where that defence is going to really matter. They shouldn’t be getting shot, they shouldn’t be taking combats they can’t reasonably win and against rends and black darts their defence is irrelevant anyway. The Knights themselves offer excellent shooting support and numbers for objectives and combats.

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Deployment and Movement:

Some of the principles here will apply to mounted forces in general, some to my list in particular, but they are all important so I will run through all of them.

When placing objectives, try to always place them as spread as possible, and in opposite corners of the board (literally 6” from the board edges). The more you can split and spread your opponent the more opportunities you offer yourself to use your superior mobility. A smart opponent will try and do the opposite by placing them as close together as possible to each other and the central objective.

When you deploy your warbands, try to assess what in your force you do and don’t want to face or be in range of. For example, Saruman wants to stay away from Wraiths with Sap Will, while Legolas wants to snipe the horses off big heroes. In many cases if you want avoid facing an opponent’s shooting or get close to objectives quickly, deploy your heroes one by one then commit all the Knights to a flank and have your heroes regroup on them quickly to overwhelm one part of the battlefield. You always want to hold local superiority on the battlefield you are fighting, you should never have to fight your opponents whole army at once, mobility is key.

The “safety zone” for cavalry against infantry is 12” when those infantry have yet to move. 6” in that turn, 6” and a heroic move in the next, whilst against cavalry it is 20”. It becomes less when terrain is incorporated, so remember to factor those in. Obviously also compensate if your opponent declares a march. Generally speaking you want to be able to shoot as much as possible, so being as far back as you can is usually ideal. Don’t be trapped however, as you deploy and move have a plan of escape, whether that be breaking through a pocket of their army, travelling through terrain etc. Rivers and forests are your biggest friends that you really want to utilise to run rings around the enemy. Unless you can create a kill funnel with your heroes at the front, (who wants to fight a line of F6 Elven heroes??) try and avoid tight corridors if you have the option of remaining in the open safely.

If your opponent has casters, be very careful in checking their ranges – 18” spell range for something on foot, 22” for mounts. When they are inevitably within range, pay extra care to potential compels. Fellbeasts can charge a model 17” away at the start of the turn. Heroes can also charge into compelled models and heroic combat off them into your lines. When you’re measuring all these distances, it helps to be very clear what your intentions are to your opponent when you move out of range of spells or charges, especially when it’s only by half an inch. If you are concerned about magic, generally speaking you want to have your heroes at the front to body block models who can’t resist, and also so they can’t get blasted into them.

As the cavalry force, you want to try and lose every priority before combat- your safety range is shorter, and your opponent cannot react to your already greater mobility, or react to your moves on the turn your charge. Because of this, sometimes you find yourself having to commit earlier than you would plan because sometimes you cannot guarantee losing priority again and the opportunity for an uninterrupted charge again. This is a question of risk taking that doesn’t really have a guaranteed answer, but I generally like to take unanswered charges when I’ve got less than two turns of movement behind me for them to make. As you play with the force you’ll gain a feel for when is the right time to commit.

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Shooting

The knights will pretty much always win a shooting war against anything that isn’t grey company or covered by blinding light, because you only ever have to take the shooting wars you should win. Move and deploy so that you only have to face a portion of their archery with your army, or none at all courtesy of terrain and distance. Woods are your friends. You usually need fives to kill enemy archers with elven bows, whilst hopefully they have to make two in the way rolls for a forest and a horse, and then require sixes to wound if they aren’t crossbows (and why are you letting crossbows that have to sit still shoot you?). Don’t also be above calling a heroic shoot or accuracy in the first round of shooting to ensure you gain the early advantage if you need it. If you are engaged in a shooting war, your heroes should be relegated to the second rank to avoid losing their mounts, and in the case of my list, because they all have lower defence than my regular troops. Leave two gaps the size of cavalry bases in your line to allow them into combat without being boxed in by your own knights. Save the shots of your heroes until last if possible, its better not to use might if you don’t have to. Earlier shooting can knock out interceding models or remove the target you’re aiming for.

Your priority targets generally speaking are magic users, heroes’ horses, monsters and troops with D5 or less.

If you have a wizard whilst you shoot use him for disruption – blast and knock models back into others so they can’t shoot. Compel models in front of archers so they obscure line of sight, forcing evil models to take an extra way and potentially kill their own model, or prevent good models from shooting altogether. Compel otherwise safe models in a zone of fire and unleash on them. This is especially useful against banners and the like, especially with Legolas around.

If you are up against models with elven cloaks, try and shoot models behind them. The elven cloaks will become in the ways and suddenly sprouting arrows.

Dismounts in a shooting war become your dedicated archers and objective holders. Against S2 bows, have them as your frontline shooters, but against S3 bows, put them in the back row as they are now only D5 on foot. Spending heroes might in shooting big heroes, banners etc is highly recommended. Obviously you want to retain reserves of might for combat, but every nasty thing you shoot down is one you don’t have to fight in combat.

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Combat (The Blitzkrieg):

By this point, you’ve hopefully knocked out some portion of your opponent’s army, but this won’t always be the case. As discussed earlier, always try and charge on a turn that you lose priority to get an uninterrupted charge. I have on multiple occasions called heroics with every hero in the first turn of combat. It is the last opportunity to do damage with your opponent reacting, make it count.

One option is to have heroes buddy up with knights as they do their heroics for adding killing power with the lances.

Another option is the “Bolging”, as Jeremy would call it. Call heroic combats and threaten to run into enemy heroes forcing them to spend might striking, at which point you simply ignore them and chew up more troops.

Compelling a model forward and surrounding them, then calling a heroic combat to get in range and take your opponent by surprise is another option as well.

Another option is what I like to term the “Heroic Retreat”, or cycle charges. Charge in, call heroic combats, then when you move again withdraw out of your opponents range. You’ve killed enemy models and they can’t catch you with heroic moves on the next turn. Rinse and repeat as desired.

Don’t commit your entire line of Knights in the first wave of charges. Keep some 6” away from the fight. Thus on the second turn of combat when the inevitable heroic roll off occurs, no matter if you win or lose you still have access to charge bonuses and lances in the second wave.

Ensure your banner covers as many combats as possible, particularly those for your heroes. It really makes a big difference when you hold the fight value advantage, improving your odds of rolling the unbeatable six.

Lances are deadly! In my list the Knight Captain has the most killing power in some situations because of it. Don’t forget they will still work against enemy cavalry and monsters so long as you still charge. With “guaranteed” wins, going two handed feinting with an elven blade is actually more effective than the lance because you can reroll ones as well as well as the +1 to wound.

Fighting against you in woods or rivers is horrific for most opponents. Woods are very convenient, but rivers are downright deadly. If you knock down models in the river with your charges or sorcerous blasts, they have to take swim tests! Especially nasty against solid infantry lines with heavy armour and shields, you’ll drown half of those you knock down.

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Objectives and winning games:

It’s entirely possible to still lose games despite killing double or triple the models of your opponents if you neglect the objective of the mission you are playing. Pay attention to your opponents break and 25% points, you should be playing your movements around those. Against low courage armies you can scatter and capture objectives just before or after they break if you make sure to knock out shamans and immobilise or charge heroes. Against higher courage force you will need to commit to a narrower margin. Work out an average of how many will die/run a turn and give yourself two turns grace to obtain objectives. Try to time it so that there is one model more to break or reach 25% at the end of a turn to effectively give yourself an extra turn than what you otherwise have. I have deliberately chose not to shoot, or shielded or gone two handed feinting to make it harder to win and kill models if I don’t want a model count point reached.

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Dismounting:

If you want to really catch your opponent off guard and slip through a gap your cavalry can’t make, dismount! You gain an additional inch of movement for effectively free as well, because you place the dismounted model in base contact with the mounted model then remove the mounted model. There’s a decent element of risk in sacrificing your mobility and killing power, but it can really throw a spanner in the works when you charge that pesky banner or caster that your opponent thought was safe. It’s also sometime necessary if you want to enter buildings or very tight pockets of terrain.

Dealing with flying units:

Hide in woods if you can, don’t let fellbeasts compel you out, try and shoot the living daylights out of them when they come within range (as the opponent it’s generally a good idea to hold the Fliers back until the infantry are in range so they can absorb fire and support them). Try and get multiple heroes into them, abuse elven blades and multiple strikes to make sure you shut them down or they can rip your army apart single handed with hurls. If it’s an eagle, immobilise ASAP every turn or run a hero into it, it only has two attacks. If it’s Gully, introduce him to Legolas. A single knight on the charge will pummel a bat swarm, two will definitely kill it. Against a Dragon, if possible see if you can simply break the army, otherwise same ideas as a Fell Beast.

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How to beat Rivendell Knights

So I’ve just spent three and a half thousand words explaining how to win games with Rivendell Knights, it’s probably appropriate to spend some time talking about how to beat them. In the hands of a good player, they are very very powerful, but they still have vulnerabilities and poor matchups. If you are matched up against them, you need to mitigate their ability to dictate the game and force them into making difficult risky decisions. They will struggle and probably crumble if you force them into prolonged combat. Rush them and get into their face to deny as much shooting as possible, call marches as necessary. Keep your threats at the back, allow lowly warriors to soak up missile fire and initial charges. Don’t be against making a staggered conga line of in the ways for them if necessary, even if it looks slightly ridiculous. Be careful of blasts if you do this.  Monstrous Cavalry, Magic and Blinding Light are all effective answers to Rivendell Knights as well. It’s also vital that you play to the mission as well- use your numbers to hold objectives, and if you see the opportunity, deliberately suicide your troops and end the game.

Elven cloaks are also tricky for because it places them in charge range if they want to charge or shoot themselves. Woses and Mirkwood Rangers in some numbers are solid (albeit squishy) counters.

Actual game time is also a factor; they have to kill things and clear areas of the board to win, and although you don’t have that many models to move it still takes some time to achieve this. This does NOT mean you should deliberately stall out a game by taking 10 minutes to think about your next move. Rather stall through your gameplay; make them have to take an extra turn moving , deploy your men in multiple rings so it’ll take them more turns of combat to get through them. This can help chew up the time you need to win. Unless you have a specific composition this should be your last resort, the vast majority of games should be finishing within a time limit.

 

Conclusion:

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading through all of my ramblings on Rivendell Knights. It’s a bit longer than I initially anticipated! Hopefully it’ll prove useful in your games with or against them. If this causes us to see more Rivendell Knights on the table I’d be delighted (until I have to play them myself!), they are really lovely models that you can do so much with painting wise and they teach you a lot about how to play the game.

Thanks again for reading!

Andrew

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Titles and Adulation Worthy of the Greatest Riders in Middle Earth!

Andrew’s Hobby Adventures and the Road to Clash

By Andrew Colman

As 2017 draws to a close, I thought it would be appropriate to put down a record of my hobby adventures since Masters in July, and the rapidly approaching road to Clash.

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It’s been a successful few months from a tournament standpoint

In the latter half of this year I’ve enjoyed a return to the all cavalry forces I love so dearly with wins at Courage of Numenor and Wrath & Ruin (for the 4th year in a row!) using Knights of Minas Tirith and Morgul Knights respectively. Playing a mounted army gives me such a sense of empowerment, you can dictate the game from start to finish and the onus is on you to maintain your advantage. It demands good play, and rewards it. I’ve gotten to flex my hobby muscles, in technical painting ability, style, display board and conversions. It was satisfying to see how my skills have developed, and the receipt of my first ever painting award at Wrath and Ruin felt like a real validation of that. I’m now hungry for more, but it is a seriously competitive field of very talented people. I also helped run my first ever event at Hobbitcon alongside Adam and fellow blogger Ian. I’ve been at enough tournaments by now that some of the processes felt very natural, but it was good to experience it from the other side of the fence, there’s some substantial planning involved in the endeavor. Some TO’s may groan at being asked obscure rules questions, but I lapped them up. Hobbitcon will be returning next year in some form, but I am also eyeing up doing a Battle Companies event with the upcoming release of the new book.

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My first ever painting award. I was over the moon about it

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Titleholder 4 years in a row!

Speaking of Battle Companies, I’ve been enjoying several campaigns of it using a fan made supplement with my friend Ben. I introduced him to the game around 6 months ago and he has dived into it voraciously. We are fellow board game players and he was one of the many people who had a Mines of Moria set in the cupboard, so it was an enthusiastic jump from cards and tokens to miniatures. Battle Companies is a great mechanism to learn the game  and the skirmish principles at its core. Weapon choices, matchups, movement, utilising terrain and obstacles, might management etc are all magnified. It quickly exposes you to lots of different armies and their unique characteristics and style. So far I’ve used a Gondor and Minas Morgul company, both of which have been thoroughly enjoyable and produced lots of memorable characters and stories (My Gondor Leader earned the title of Slayer after he killed two trolls in consectutive turns with one arm!) . I’m looking forward to the official supplement eagerly.

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The scribbling’s of my Gondor Battle Company. They’d gotten quite potent by retirement

Clash of the Titans 2018 is fast approaching, and with it I’m looking to continue thinning out my formidable backlog. I’ve made a commitment to myself not to purchase more toy soldiers until I’ve more or less defeated my backlog in a meaningful way (optimism I know!). My eye turns to the next mounted armies on my list. I’ve intended to do a Rohan army for a very long time, and indeed Infantry Rohan with throwing spears has been my go-to casual army. The recent introduction of the army bonuses used at Throne of Skulls that have been adapted in many of our events here solidifying my first choice into a definite lock in. At the moment, the list I’m looking at looks like this:
Eomer – Horse, Shield

4 Westfold Redshields

1 Westfold Redshield – Banner

 

Erkenbrand – Horse

4 Westfold Redshields

 

Eowyn-Horse

4 Westfold Redshields

1 Rohan Outrider

 

Captain of Rohan – Heavy Armour, Shield, Horse

5 Westfold Redshields

 

23 Models, 10 Might

 

It’s a solid competitive list, but it retains a good theme and I’ve consciously avoided taking Sons of Eorl. F4, S4 and bowfire everywhere means you’ll be beating almost all evil armies where it counts, and the multiple F5 heroes are a good answer to a more elite evil force. I’ve popped an outrider in there as a scout, hopefully should be useful to grab an objective in the endgame.

I’m quite excited to use Eowyn in a dress, the model is wonderful and I’m quite pleased with the mounted conversion I’ve created. I’m planning to convert the captain to represent Elfhelm, the Captain whom Eoywn travelled with in disguise, with  an elf helmet.

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It would be nice to see a little more female representation in the models in our game, the sculpts they receive are fabulous.

At the time of writing I’ve completed the 17 dismounts for my warriors sans basing, shields and other miscellaneous touch ups. I’ve adopted a rather unconventional painting technique with them, but I’m quite pleased with it. I painted their cloth and cloaks with progressive shades of grey with the usual stages of highlights, and once they were done gave them a solid green wash. This gives them an excellent weathered, rugged look that’s a pretty strong departure from the bright greens of my previous Rohan paintjobs. It also allows my heroes to stand out more with the regal green cloaks and makes them easier to spot on the table. I’ve sprinkled a solid number of conversions amongst them as well, predominantly head and arm swaps, being inspired by Jade Johnsson’s Rohan conversions at Wrath and Ruin, where he converted every model in the army. It’s on to the horses and riders! I’ve also embarked on a most ambitious and impractical display board for them. I’ll keep it under wraps for the time being but suffice to say I had to get in touch with Michael to find out what the dimension limitations were.

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Really pleased with how these are progressing, especially the faces and eyes. A real improvement from some of my past attempts.

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A peek into Andrew’s conversion chopshop.

My evil army is more of an enigma at this stage. The most forefront option is some form of warg army. I’ve composed several variants:

A pure Isengard army with Saruman

Saruman -Horse

6 Warg Riders – Shield

 

Sharku- Warg, Shield

6 Warg Riders – Shield

 

Orc Captain – Warg, Shield

5 Warg Riders – Shield

 

Grima Wormtongue

 

21 Models, 8 Might, Isengard Army Bonus

 

An Isengard army with Crebain represented by allying in a Wild Warg chieftan and batswarms

Thrydan Wolfsbane – Horse

8 Warg Riders – Shield

 

Sharku – Warg, Shield

8 Warg Riders – Shield

1 Warg Rider – Banner

 

Wild Warg Cheiftan

2 Batswarms (Crebain conversions)

 

22 Models, 7 Might

 

A Mordor rendition with a Ringwraith

Ringwraith 2/9/1 – Horse

3 Trackers – Warg

6 Warg Riders – 1 Banner

1 Morgul Knight – War Horn (I envisage him as the conduit by which the Wraith gives their orders rather than dealing with the orcs directly)

 

Orc Captain – Warg, Shield

3 Trackers – Warg

5 Warg Riders

 

Orc Captain – Warg, Shield

3 Trackers – Warg

5 Warg Riders

 

29 Models, 6 Might, Barad-dur or Modor Army Bonus (I am also toying with the idea of dropping the horn and a few wargs for Shelob)

 

I like different things about each of these lists, picking one is proving difficult. If you prefer one over the others I’d love to hear your thoughts. One thing I am a little concerned for is organising all the dismounts for the warg army, as a fair number of the wargs could end up dismounted, and I’d really like to avoid purchasing more models if at all possible. I currently have 14 Warg Riders and 12 Hunter Orcs on Wargs. I’m planning to do some chopping and green stuffing to turn them into a homogeneous force. The Hunter Orcs though, do not detach from the fell wargs, its a single piece of plastic, so I’d need to get separate models for the dismounted wargs (sneaky GW making you buy more models). I’d like to avoid that if I could but I may not have a choice. The Warg Riders I’ll look to simply avoid gluing to their mounts for ease of use, or perhaps magnetise, time dependent.

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If the Warg Riders fall through due to lack of time, I’ve got two back options. The first is the Morgul Knights I helmed at Wrath and Ruin, very nicely painted with a fabulous display board. They may not fare as well however in pure good vs evil matchups because of the diminshed strength of their terror and F4 against matchups more likely to have high fight value and courage. The other is the Necromancer with 4 of the new Wraiths. I’ve been itching to try them since they came out, I even did conversions for them all and run them as castellans before they even had profiles when the movie first released. It seems to be a very unique playstyle they promote, but it looks potent in the right hands. If not now I will most certainly be bringing it at some point in the future.

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So eager to use them I had them before they even existed!

In non Middle Earth news, I’ll heading down to Canberra for Cancon in January with fellow SBG friends Ian and Adam to play my second tournament of Bolt Action (and spread the word of SBG of course). Considering my existing backlog and plans for Clash in February and my unfamiliarity with the system still, I’m not game to start another army yet so the British will be marching forth again.

Looking ahead to the future, Masters will this year most likely be held in Sydney, so I will be looking to avenge myself on last year to become the first repeat title holder with the home turf advantage. Potential list building is already ticking away in the back of my mind…

 

The Oliphaunt In The SBG Room… Where Are All Of The New Players going to come from?

By Ian Underwood

There’s a lot to worry about at the moment – the world is going to hell in a hand basket, but for me there’s a more pressing issue, and one that’s been rattling around my head for the last few months…. “where are all of the new Lord Of The Rings/Hobbit SBG players going to come from?”.

Despite all of the awesomeness issuing forth from the Middle Earth team at Forgeworld – both in miniatures and in the teasing of forthcoming projects… the community here in Australia is…to be honest, in a bit of a slump. Decline would be too strong a word, but in terms of tournament attendances and in general traffic and chatter on the local Facebook group… things are a little quiet.

People who’ve been in the hobby for far longer than me will attest that over the game’s sixteen year lifespan, interest has always waxed and waned, and that this is completely natural. I agree.

One only has to look at the boom/bust and rebirth cycles of GW’s other two games systems to see that we’re not alone in that regard….but at least with 40k and Age of Sigmar, Games Workshop is actively seeking to recruit new blood into the hobby. Each store’s demo tables are invitingly positioned towards the front of the store…and the manager will jump at the opportunity to guide a prospective new player through a round or two… and the starter sets are always close at hand.  Standard GW operating procedure for sure, no complaints there… but my original question still remains… where are OUR new players going to come from?

OK, lets break it down and start stating the bleeding obvious.

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Happy times… a bit of 2002 SBG nostalgia to warm the heart.

Presence

Lets face it, in Australia at least, our hobby has virtually no presence in the wider gaming community.

We already know that all Middle Earth products have been removed from Games Workshop/Warhammer stores. When I first took my (then) ten year old son into my local GW store for a test run, there were three demo tables – The Island Of Blood Fantasy set, the Assault on Blackreach 40k set and the good old Mines of Moria set. Halcyon days indeed!  By the time we’d both jumped into the hobby the Escape From Goblin Town starter set was out and most stores were rocking not just a demo table with the box set, but also the three trolls and maybe even some of the new plastic eagles as well!

The rulebooks, sourcebooks and both model ranges were stocked…and all was right with the world.  Contrast that with now… and imagine a similar young kid going into a GW store for a test run… Age of Sigmar or 40k please!

Its no better from yer friendly local gaming store (FLGS). Long before GW bricks and mortar pulled the plug on Middle Earth, the blue and brown boxes disappeared from virtually all FLGSs as well. Whilst there’s solid financial reasons why indie game stores don’t like stocking GW’s non-core products… the fact remains anybody entering a decent FLGS will be inundated by a huge array of miniature gaming stock… but nothing from our game. I’m going to talk about competition later on… but suffice to say, at retail its an SBG wasteland.

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Osgiliath inspired diorama photographed by the author at London’s Oxford St Games Workshop in 2013.

A year ago I would have struggled to tell you what level of presence LOTR/Hobbit SBG enjoyed within the wider tabletop gaming community. The only game I played was this one and the only gamers I spent time with were fellow SBGers. Sure, some of them were also active in other communities – mostly the other two GW systems and X-Wing/Armada – which was what all the hip young things were playing at the time…. but I was gaming in a somewhat closed community.

However, last year that all changed… as I broadened my gaming palette and started playing Warlord‘s excellent WW2 game Bolt Action (its OK SBGers its written by our own Alessio Cavatore & Rick Priestly!). This year I’ve attended a few Bolt Action tournaments and  have even taken the step of attending a few nights at what is easily Sydney’s most active gaming club –  A Company of Dice.

Even though there are number of gaming clubs in Sydney, I mention Company of Dice by name because (by tabletop gaming standards at least!) they’re a seriously dynamic community.  They play everything… No, I mean they play EVERYTHING…  from Napoleonics & Ancients to 40k, Kings of War, X-Wing/Armada, Blood & Plunder and of course LOTS of Bolt Action,  I’ve even seen battle reports on their Facebook group of some weird pre-historic game with Neanderthals and Woolly Mammoths!  In short they’re a serious bunch of gamers… .good guys all… you put a miniature on a table and roll some dice, and they’re in…

BUT… no one there plays the LOTR/Hobbit, and in the clubs two years of existence… never have. In the 12 months or so I’ve been lurking on their Facebook group, I’ve seen literally hundreds of WIP posts and read loads of threads where they’ve all gotten excited by this new release… or that new game…. BUT never once has the Hobbit or LOTR ever even been mentioned…neither positively or negatively. Its an invisible game to most of them…and we as a community are likewise invisible.

But here’s the interesting thing… once I mentioned over the proverbial Bolt Action table (usually as my force was being routed by someone half my age… well nothing new there!), that actually… my main game was the Lord Of The Rings (it sounds better than calling it the Hobbit to non-SBGers)… you start to get some pretty encouraging replies…. “Man, I used to love playing LOTR… but didn’t think anyone still played anymore” or  “We used to play LOTR but stopped playing because we couldn’t find anyone to play with”…. and “I’ll be up for a game sometime for sure!”

The outlook for future games in Middle Earth at the club is pretty encouraging, but the point remains, once we step outside the ‘Shire’ and adventure in the wider gaming community – its a bit of a shock as to how small a profile our game actually has.

Competition

Now, I’m really going to state the bleeding obvious here… the ol’ tabletop gaming market is a pretty crowded one… actually scratch that. Its an INSANELY crowded market.

I’ve heard it mentioned a number of times that tabletop gaming is in its renaissance, and I agree, Its a great time to be a gamer… but with all this competition, a lot of game systems are bound to lose out.

Think back to what the wargaming competition was when LOTR SBG was launched in 2001. If we discount historicals, it was almost entirely the other Games Workshop systems, 40k, Warhammer Fantasy and Mordheim. Perhaps throw a bit of Battletech in the mix…and that was it!

Think of the competiton for the tabletop gamer’s dollar now… its frightening!

Just for kicks – here’s a list of games & game systems that we are directly fighting for table space at the moment.  Some are huge juggernauts, whilst others are more niche and others are just launching or forthcoming… but all crowd the market.

I’m not including anything historical, steampunk or weird war/alt history in this list although those have their following, or even skirmish level historicals like Saga, Test Of Honour, Lion Rampant and Blood & Plunder, which are are growing in popularity and mine a similar market to SBG.

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Battle of the Logos… The fantasy market is a very crowded one.

 

Fantasy

  • Age of Sigmar (Obviously)… it has its detractors but still front and centre in GW stores and is clawing back market share,
  • Warhammer / Oldhammer – Still loved and played by many, if not purchased much anymore.
  • Frostgrave – Osprey’s skirmish level game has been a surprise hit with classy minis and excellent gameplay.
  • Oathmark – Frostgrave’s mass battle system has good pedigree and will launch next year but minis are already out and look more than decent..
  • Judgement – Australian produced MOBA inspired 54mm battle arena game. Kicking lots of goals with super stunning minis. Launched this year.
  • Kings of War – The obvious successor to Warhammer for massed battles.  Seems to be on the ascendent. Ruleset by Alessio Cavatore.
  • Hordes/Warmchine – Shows no sign of  losing its large market share, and still a huge slice of the fantasy/steampunk gaming pie.
  • Malifaux –  Unique card-driven miniature game is more of a competitor to SBG than you probably think.
  • Bushido – Oriental Fantasy/Feudal/Samurai game from GCT Studios. On its 37th wave of release, so somebody’s buying it.
  • A Song of Ice & Fire – A huge kickstarter that was backed in a few days and now sits at $1.6 Million pledged. Based on the books rather than the HBO series.
  • Joan of Arc – Time Of legends – An even bigger kickstarter that has been backed to the tune of $2.15 Million. Essentially a boardgame with piles of great miniatures.
  • Dungeons & Dragons – Officially titled ‘Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures’, these unpainted minis from Whiz Kids are based on classic D&D aesthetics… and were the third highest selling miniature range in the US this year!
  • The Ninth Age – Free ‘open source’ ruleset written essentially for disenfranchised Warhammer players. Jury’s out as to whether it will sink or swim.
  • ‘Fantares’ –  Debuted recently at the Warlord 10th Birthday event – this is Rick Priestly‘s pet project. A fantasy ruleset written for all and any miniatures and based on the D10 dice ‘Gates of Antares’ game mechanic… probably will see the light of day next year as rule set only. First reports are it plays VERY well.

So in fantasy alone, there is a lot of complete games, rulesets and some damn impressive Kickstarters that SBG is directly fighting for oxygen with… but its gets trickier when you consider the other games that, like SBG before it, license third party intellectual property for their setting and characters.

Its fair to say that LOTR in 2001 set the bar extraordinarily high for games in this category, but recently this market has become very crowded, very quickly.  As above, some of these games have become juggernauts and some are very niche (and quite a few, for whatever reason fail to gain a foothold, or can’t sustain the royalties of the I.P. holder)… but all appeal to a certain slice of the geek market – one that wants to play in the narrative setting of a much loved film/TV/comic franchise.

A quick list of the top licensed tabletop games would have to include the Knight Models Batman & DC Universe Miniature Games & their soon to be released Harry Potter Miniature Game. Mantic‘s Walking Dead and Warlord Games‘ Doctor WhoThe sector is also a graveyard of near misses and failures. Recent retirees from this cut throat market include Alessio Cavatore’s Terminator Genisys (excellent game/average film), Judge Dread and Knight Model’s Marvel Universe Miniature Game.

Combining Sci-Fi and one of the biggest intellectual properties of all time, Fantasy Flight‘s Star War’s Legion will be HUGE.  I’m about 30 years beyond my Star Wars obsession, but surely I’m not the only SBG gamer to see the hype explode online about this game and not be excited… and in fact have their heart sink a little. It won’t just suck oxygen away from all other systems – its will, for a while at least create a vacuum!

SWlegion

Star Wars Legion will create a vacuum when its launches late 2017. Just what SBG needs… more competition.

Sci-Fi gaming is too massive a market to list all all the games , but its worth noting that X-Wing and 40k are the two biggest games in the miniatures sector globally. Add in Star Wars Armada, Infinity, Gates of Antares and Dropzone & Dropship Commander and its a pretty crowded market…. oh and did I mention Star Wars Legion at all?

So its pretty obvious that its an insanely competitive market out there…. and I haven’t even touched on boardgames and collectible card games….. and where can you buy our LOTR and Hobbit products again?

BUT, its not all doom and gloom, there are some positives.

The Good News…

The fight is not lost. As a community we have still a few strings to our bow. Namely…

We have a GREAT product.

We love our game, and know implicitly that its an excellent, polished & above all very balanced rule set. It possesses a deceptively deep level of tactical sophistication, and for a 16 years old game system, holds up incredibly well when compared to the next gen of games and their more ‘evolved’ game mechanics.

The miniatures are fantastic.  The older LOTR figures hold up extremely well, with the Perry Brothers sculpts in particular having stood the test of time.  The newer, Hobbit miniatures – especially the plastics are likewise pretty fine. Granted there’s a few odd heads amongst some of the finecast characters – but its still a nice range.

As expected, the Forgeworld era miniatures are spectacular and should impress any gamer.

We have an awesome community.

We don’t need to be told, but we are an awesome gaming community. To be truthful most gaming communities are more than decent – but we pride ourselves on being among the best. We’re friendly, inclusive and encouraging of newcomers to the game.

We host charity events, lodge and ferry around visiting interstate players and our marquee tournaments are friendly, casual affairs – even when players bring their A-game to the table. Win-at-all-costs lists and play styles are shunned, and to be fair are hardly ever encountered in our Middle Earth.

Community matters – we shouldn’t understate this. When I was casting my eye around for another game to pick up 18 months or so ago, I almost jumped into 30k/Horus Heresy on the strength of the three fellow gamers who independently raved about how great the community was.  In the end I chose Bolt Action for reasons of cost and familiarity with the historical setting….. and luckily found an equally awesome community to adopt…. about the point remains – gamers talk, and the kind of community that we have is a selling point that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Middle Earth is the BEST.

That’s kind of a rubbish heading… but seriously, do I really need to explain why Tolkien‘s vast legendarium and the cinematic vision of Peter Jackson and the WETA workshop team make for an awesome game setting for toy soldiers?

Visually, WETA’s artists and designers knocked it out of the park with the aesthetics of both trilogies and Tolkien’s work has an emotional depth born of not just a lifetime of study in the stories and mythology of Dark Age Europe but also of the sorrow and pain of serving in, and surviving the Great War.

The breaking news that Amazon has bought the rights to produce a LOTR prequel series for a reported $200-250 million will only add to the existing universe of Middle Earth. Its doubtful we’ll see Games Workshop produce miniatures from this series as the intellectual property for the Amazon series belongs to a different set of rights holders than the Hobbit & LOTR films & books – but there’s no doubt, that like the Shadow Of Mordor game series before it – the Amazon series will inspire armies and army lists built from the existing range.

A strapping game system alone however, does not in itself guarantee a game’s success. Players crave narrative depth, which is why GW has spent so much time and effort creating the dark future for 40K, and why Warlord is commissioning writers for a series of Gates of Antares novels.

We take it for granted, but Middle Earth is arguably the greatest fictional setting for any miniatures game out there. We win this one!

A Guaranteed Future for SBG

It wasn’t that long ago when a recurring question on SBG forums and FB groups was “What will happen if GW drops the game”… now a year later we have a dedicated 5 man Middle Earth team attached to Forgeworld producing amazing miniatures and on a 5 year mission finish the Hobbit range and reinvigorate the LOTR range. New miniatures, new rules, new supplements and a Middle Earth team that actively engages with the global community and even occasionally competes in the British tournament scene. What could be sweeter.

In short, the game has a future with presumably options to extend beyond the five contracted years if desired. This is actually a huge selling point.

A Legion of Former-Players exists out there.

SBG in its glory days was a hugely successful game that helped put Games Workshop where it is now financially. The story goes, that when the range was launched back in 2001, they sold what they had projected to sell in the first year… in the first month!

The game also enjoyed a serious second bounce when the Battle Games In Middle Earth fortnightly series kicked off in 2005 by publisher De Agostini. Due to popularity, this series of magazines and models sold in newsagents was extended several times and ran for 91 issues (that’s over three and a half years!).

SO, there are a LOT of former players out there, and I’m guessing many of them will have sepia-toned memories of teenage battles in Middle Earth with poorly painted minis. And I’m guessing there’s still armies of early LOTR minis sitting in figure cases across the country under beds or in garages waiting to do battle again.

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Battle Games In Middle Earth ran for 91 issues – over three and a half years and gave the hobby a serious second bounce.

So Where To From Here.

Recruit and be visible.

Quite simply, we need to recruit. Its obvious that our community needs players to replace those who naturally fall away or lose interest in the game. In the past, the heavy lifting in this regard was left to Games Workshop, but there are no more demo tables in the stores and no product on the walls. That just leaves us….

We need to be more visible in the general gaming community. Play games at home by all means, but be mindful… that every time you take a game to either a gaming store or wargaming club you’re helping dispel the myth that the game is dead. Two enthusiastic players with lovely miniatures and terrain battling it across the table top in a public gaming space will do more to spread awareness in the game than just about anything!

It was good to see both Brisbane and Perth recently host SBG tournaments at larger gaming conventions. I’m sure I’m not the only one to check out the other games systems (“De Bellis Antiquitatis – what an earth is that!”) – being run at these large events when I register online and later when I wander around the tables.  Its awesome having an SBG presence at these events.

Unfortunately, the last two attempts to re-establish SBG at MOAB (Mother Of All Battles) in Sydney have been underwhelmingly attended affairs and it was decided to give it a miss this year and put our collective efforts in HobbitCon. Sometimes, there is just too much entrenched competition for tournament spots… but in general, its great to show our colours at these events.

We need to be our own P.R. company.

At MOAB recently in Sydney, my other Grey Company correspondent, Andrew Colman and I attended the Bolt Action tournament. On the first day we both wore Tolkien themed tops and Andrew used his Rohan dice. His first game was, (by pure chance) against a former LOTR player and one of the main organisers of the Company Of Dice club. By the end of the second day of MOAB a couple of the club members had vowed to pick up, or return to the game and were surprisingly enthused about giving it a try… and I can confirm that an Easterling army has recently been purchased.

Next January at CanCon in Canberra, Andrew, Adam and I (the three of us who ran HobbitCon this year) will be attending the Bolt Action event in some kind of LOTR inspired, eBay-purchased, team t-shirt. We’ll hopefully raise some eyebrows and start a few conversations as we plummet down the Bolt Action rankings… but its in these conversations we may find someone willing to share in OUR adventure…

As tokenistic as the team shirt will be – we’ll at least have metaphorically removed our ring of power and become more visible amongst our gaming peers.

In summary, we need to be less passive about our hobby. We have a great game and are a great community… and have some pretty exciting new releases coming before Christmas.

The best thing to happen to the hobby was the creation of the Australian Facebook group a number of years ago. It brought us together as a community. We need now to make the next step….

Get out and play some games and rub shoulders with other gamers. Join a club or start frequenting a gaming space… be loud and proud. A little SBG evangelism won’t go astray.

For my part, next year I’ll be helping to run an SBG ‘boot camp’ at the Company Of Dice and will have a new shiny Battle Companies book to show off.  I’m actually pretty confident of the Sydney community experiencing a bounce in members next year.

HobbitCon 2018 is looking good, and I’ll see a bunch of you at Clash Of The Titans before that. Get out there and get your freak flag!

“The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there”Gandalf