Sunday 31 October 2021

Flee Bree!

The Quest of the Ringbearer had reached the Prancing Pony in Bree. However, following a fairly typical night at a pub that involved befriending strangers, singing songs, vanishing into thin air and summoning dark forces, the hobbits now need to escape from Bree before the Black Riders arrive.

As the previous scenario had brought the hobbits to the rest point of Tom Bombadil's house, they would have their full supply of Might, Will and Fate points to help them escape from the Inn. They would begin in the centre of the board and aim to make it off the eastern table edge (left in the picture) whilst being pursued by four mounted Nazgul arriving from the west.

They would be helped by the fact that the Nazgul would be suffering from random movement (which Matt, who'd once again be controlling the baddies, loves as a rule) after they arrived until they spotted the party, they'd also be aided in their escape by Barliman Butterbur the landlord of the Prancing Pony, Harry Goatleaf the gatekeeper and a mysterious stranger known only as 'Strider'. 

I also decided to alter the scenario and add Bill the Pony to the good roster. This chase scenario appears in neither the book or the film and would bypass Bill joining the party, therefore I wanted to fix this narrative hole.

He's only a pony. It's not like he's going to be crucial to the hobbits' it...?

As ever, narrative scenarios begin with the good side having priority.  The party piled out the Inn, grabbed Bill and made their way eastwards as fast as the little legs of the hobbits would allow.

Meanwhile, Harry went to investigate the galloping noise approaching the gate...

The Black Riders burst into Bree. One of them rode down Harry, but failed to kill him, whilst the others advanced as far as they could into the village before random movement set in.

At the start of turn two it occurred to us that priority wasn't going to have a massive effect on proceedings as Strider's free point of Might each turn meant that they'd always be acting first when necessary due to Heroic Moves.

We'd also worked out that Frodo was extremely unlikely to failed a courage test and put the ring on as long as he had friends close at hand (he failed only a single test all game and the bonus for winning the last scenario meant he got to reroll that anyway).

The curse of random movement struck as two of the Ringwraiths went off in completely the wrong direction to search for the Ring.

However, one of the Black Riders made it to within range of the party and immediately spotted them.

The chase was on!

Whilst the hobbits made their way to the edge of Bree, Strider loitered nonchalantly behind the Inn in the world's most obvious ambush, however the leading Nazgul had no choice but to ride straight into it to try to transfix the Ringbearer. The attempt failed, but Frodo's precious store of Will was depleted.

The trap was sprung and Strider leapt forward to cut down his first Ringwraith of the evening.

Barliman also ran interference, by forcing another Rider to go around him.

However, the two Nazgul that had gone off in the wrong direction were approaching quickly round the other side of the Inn.

Spells were cast causing Frodo to lose a point of Courage, whilst a Black Dart struck into poor old Merry, bringing him down. If another hobbit fell, victory would be impossible for the good side.

However, priority went the way of the good guys and Strider leapt towards a second Black Rider, proving himself a mighty hero by driving it off in short order.

The other two Ringwraiths closed on the hobbits, but both Frodo and Pippin somehow succeeded in resisting their vile spells.

The hobbits 'dashed' towards safety, whilst Strider ran to the rescue. In a move that surprised everyone, including himself, Barliman overcame his terror and charged one of the Nazgul, whilst Bill proved somewhat annoying by getting in the way of the other.

Barliman lost his fight, but survived, whilst the Ringwraith that had pursued the hobbits once again failed to stop Frodo with a spell.

Despite winning priority, the Mightless Nazgul could do nothing as Sam called a Heroic Move and the hobbits disappeared from view.

Strider aldo called a Heroic Move and he and Barliman now charged the rear Ringwraith. Surprising everyone again, it was actually the innkeeper's strike that brought down the servant of Sauron.

With the hobbits gone, all that was left for the remaining Black Riders to do was attempt to kill Strider. A tough task at the best of times was made tougher when it was prevented from charging by Bill once again getting in the way (maybe a Pony can unbalance a scenario...). Bill was knocked down and wounded.

This allowed Strider, Barliman and Harry, who had been running across the board in pursuit the whole game, to close in for the kill.

Upon finally getting close enough to charge a Ringwraith, Harry thought better of it, but Strider and Barliman were more than enough to deliver the coup de gras.

Although this was a scenario that I enjoyed, I think Matt felt frustrated by the fact that he couldn't really get into the game. He was unlucky with his spells, but random movement at the beginning prevented him from ever using his numbers to his advantage which meant Strider was more than a match for any Nazgul he encountered. On top of this, Strider's free point of Might each turn meant that the Ringwraiths were often denied the charge.

To add insult to injury, Barliman and Harry have a lot of Will points between them for minor characters (especially when you consider that Merry and Pippin have only a single Fate points each) in order to fuel their abilities. However, this is what allowed Barliman to pass terror checks at the right time and slow down the pursuit.

Bill being another body I could throw in the way of the pursuers was perhaps a step to far because had the last Black Rider managed to get a charge into the hobbits, it would have got messy. I still think Frodo would have escaped, but the game might at least have been a draw.

This scenario might have been loaded against the evil side, but we now make our way to Weathertop, where historically things have gone a little better for the bad guys, especially as Frodo and Merry (voted Fool of a Took for getting shot) have had their points depleted. At least Strider (who is apparently really called 'Aragorn') got all his points back thanks to being the 'bravest companion' for dispatching three Ringwraiths. I did make the case for Barliman or Bill, but Matt felt that Strider had done all the heavy lifting.

The Quest of the Ringbearer goes ever on and on...

Thursday 28 October 2021

Hiss Majesty

Returning to Eternia from the Void (or the lead pile) thanks to the machinations of Kobra Khan, King Hiss is here to take back what's his.

King Hiss is probably the least known of He-Man's major enemies (after Skeletor and Hordak), mainly because he never appeared in either of the cartoon series in the 80s.

He did finally get some air time in the second series of the 2002 series, where he was the major villain, supplanting Skeletor both as an antagonist, but also as the occupant of Snake Mountain (which, unsurprisingly, was was the capital of the Snake Men).

King Hiss has the power to transform the top half of his body into a writhing mass of snakes, an ability which was extremely poorly conveyed in the original toy, where a plastic upper torso popped off to reveal a squished mass of snakes and meant that the toy was in no was posable.

When it came to painting, I kept things simple with a series of base colours coated with washes. MotU miniatures allow for this sort of simple approach as the original colour schemes were designed to be rendered in cheap plastic with limited painting required and so lack detail.

The only areas I consistently change are the weapons and equipment because these were always single colour plastic and I think a lurid green staff and a bright red shield might look a bit weird.

Having now done King Hiss and Kobra Khan, I might have to track down suitable miniatures for some of the other Snake Men. I'll probably hunt for proxies rather than wait for someone to make them as lots of fantasy ranges have serpent man races I should be able to use to create approximations of characters who are less than iconic in their appearance.

I've had a bit of a splurge on some miniatures for several different projects (40k, 7TV, LotR), so the acquired tally has taken its biggest hit in a while. However, I'm hoping to plough through some of these fairly quickly.

Acquired: 160
Painted: 180

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Elemental Evil

One of the things I'm really enjoying about the Orsa the Fearless feature pack is that it's making me examine the lead mountain in search of suitable miniatures to play the three scenarios.

In this case it's for two of the major threats from the final scenario: Skadi and Ofarr.

Skadi, the big bad of Orsa the Fearless, is straight from a long line of antagonist sorcerers in 1980's fantasy movies that includes Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian, Maax in Beastmaster and Queen Bavmorda in Willow. In fact, the official Skadi model bears more than a passing resemblance to Jean Marsh as Queen Bavmorda.

However, I've opted to use another Crooked Dice miniature, the gender swapped Mola Ram (from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) I picked up in the 7TV Pulp Kickstarter.

Mainly, this decision was fuelled by already owning the miniature, but also because when painted to match my Pulp cultists (the Ancient Order of Ahmabaddun) the miniature is more than suitable for epic barbarian fantasy and is vaguely reminiscent of a female Maax from Beastmaster.

Although Ofarr is meant to be a massive Ice Elemental, the fact that it's an Elemental took me back to my remaining unpainted miniatures for Descent.

The last Descent Elemental I painted was done just as a Fire Elemental, so I decided to have a go at mixing all four types on the same miniature as in the artwork from the game.

This was actually achieved fairly easily with contrast paints and washes over a white base. I just needed to be tidy as I went.

Fire: Casandora Yellow wash with a Ryza Rust drybrush.
Air: Apothecary White contrast paint.
Water: Drakenhof Nightshade wash.
Earth: Black Templar contrast paint with Administratum Grey drybrush.

They are an odd couple of miniatures, but they were both fairly straightforward to do.

Acquired: 132
Painted: 179

Sunday 17 October 2021


In case you weren't aware, I'm a bit cheap at times.

This is one of those times.

These are War Trolls (pack 3) from the Dark Alliance (definitely-not-knock-off-Tolkein) 1/72 fantasy range. I've had my eye on them for a while for possible use with MESBG.

They are softish plastic and I got four of them for less than a tenner. Being larger models, the details are fairly crisp and the resemblance to the Cave Troll in The Fellowship of the Ring is more than passing.

I've painted them mainly with washes over Corax White. A coat of Seraphim Sepia all over was followed by two coats of Agrax Earthshade over everywhere but the chest. Layer on I did a light drybrush of Ushabti Bone.

Being soft plastic, there is a deal of mould line removal to do and even then, several are noticeable (including the one I completely missed on this guy's arm), and the model in the image below is probably the worst of the bunch for this.

I'd been toying with getting these for a while, but I was tipped over the edge by then need to get four 'Jotun' for the second episode of Orsa the Fearless. Given the usual cost of larger models, this seemed like a good time to try them out.

In terms of scale, they are smaller than GW Cave Trolls, but would certainly work in that roll in a Moria army, or as Hill Trolls in an Angmar force. They are certainly large enough for 7TV purposes where the shortcomings of the models can be explained as low budget SFX.

They'll do.

Acquired: 132 (I threw away a broken model)
Painted: 177

Friday 15 October 2021

Lots of Places Have a North

In the Orsa the Fearless feature pack for 7TV, the action takes place in the frozen northern region of Valhannon, and the second scenario, Trollhold, features some of the ferocious denizens of the frozen mountains.

And so, in preparation I've painted two of them, a Ymir and a Polar Bear.

I know what you're thinking.

Well, it's like this...

I'd already decided that my collection of fantasy and historical miniatures and terrain doesn't really support the frozen North setting, but I do have an ancient Greek army which will suit a more Ray Harryhausen approach to the campaign. And so I decided to move my North a bit further South, and have the frozen lake become a swamp.

The Ymir are burrowing worms which automatically brought to mind my Plague Worms from the Descent expansion 'The Trollfens'.

I already had two of them painted from playing through a campaign and so I set about matching the paint job from 2018. didn't go as planned.

The main culprit for this was Carroburg Crimson wash, which, it turns out, is apparently not a suitable replacement for my empty bottle of Baal Red.

Having said that, it's not too much of a worry as Descent does actually need one of a group of monster to look different to be a master monster.

The other monster is also from Descent and is not, you'll be shocked to hear, a Polar Bear (although it is an aquatic predator, so it works for me). It is in fact a Merriod, or, as I like to call them, a Sharktopus.

In terms of painting, I really enjoyed doing this model. There's nothing clever going on, but the details on the sculpt really pop and I've tried to capture the colours of a great white.

Like the Plague Worms, I'd painted another Sharktopus three years ago, which is convenient given that the Orsa scenario needs two Polar Bears.

Again, the variation in the colour works for Descent, but this time it was deliberate.

I'm pleased to have not only painted a few more things for Orsa the Fearless but also cleared some of a previously overlooked backlog.

Acquired: 133
Painted: 173

Sunday 10 October 2021

The Great Watchtower

Although my Quest of the Ringbearer campaign has not yet left Bree, my eyes are on the road ahead and one of the most significant pieces of terrain I need to create.

Amon Sul. Weathertop. The location of the Witch King's failed attempt to bring Frodo under his spell with a knife in the dark.

This is a 3d print, very kindly done for me by Pete using a free file of the the interwebz. I'm reliably informed that printing it took around 87 hours.

It was actually printed in four sections which needed to be glued together and clamped whilst it set.

I'd actually done the base coat and drybrush before sticking it together for ease of getting things covered. I used a tester pot of emulsion (it's called 'Thunder' from Homebase) that I had in the shed fir the base coat, and then drybrushed with Corax White, which is always a very dry paint that I don't like to use for regular painting.

After that came the process of filling gaps. I used almost a whole pot of partially dried up liquid greenstuff. It's not a perfect seal, but it was a massive improvement.

After that, I went over the greenstuff with the same painting process to leave a perfectly useable, but somewhat dull ruined watchtower.

Then came the rather enjoyable process of adding lichen and flock to give the model an overgrown look. I used the materials I had lying around, and so it's arguably a bit green given that Aragorn and the Hobbits arrived their in mid-Autumn, but I like the contrast.

I also added a Ziterdes statue to one of the plinths, painted in the same way as the test. Ziterdes actually do a good foam not-Weathertop, which I considered buying, but the kind offer of printing from Pete made this not only less costly, but also something I have a greater sense of ownership and pride over.

The Ziterdes model is still, however, massively cheaper than the Forge World one, which seems awkward to actually use in the games I've seen.

All in all I'm absolutely delighted with my Weathertop. Not only is it somewhat movie accurate, Pete's also printed it to be exactly the right size for the scenario in the Quest of the Ringbearer.

There is plenty of space for movement and the hobbits have the option of heading up the stairs or trying to get fallen masonry between them and the Nazgul.

Finally, I feel that this piece has given me a bit more confidence about being able to make some other large terrain pieces look good in the future.

The Chamber of Mazarbul, the seeing seat of Amon Hen and Helm's Deep beckon.

Unfortunately for me, despite its size it doesn't change my tally massively. I'll let Gimli explain...

Acquired: 133
Painted: 171