Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sneak Peak: The Horde of Isengard

Greetings from the Forge!

So, with the tournament coming up and all, I decided to release an update on how the army has progressed over the last few days. For those of you who have seen any of my previous battles with Tiberius when using my Isengard Tracker force, you know that the orcs were more or less only base-coated, and my Uruk-Hai were primarily only flesh-colored: everything else was black. In short, my army wasn't much to look at.

Over the past few days, I've been experimenting with several different techniques that should make my force more unique. The Uruk force is still undergoing some work, so I won't be posting much about them here, but the orc force is close to being “battle ready.” Most Isengard players prefer Uruk-Hai to orcs – I disagree. Below is the force en mass:

Don't mind the ork on the computer – he's part of a different project, :) These are the 24 orcs that make up the horde of Isengard. There are 8 spearmen with shields (more on that at the end), 8 warriors with hand weapons and shields (hereafter swordsmen), 4 orcs with bows, 3 orcs with two-handed weapons (2H weapons), and a banner bearer. Their leader, an Uruk Captain, is still being finished, and is off-screen.

Each of the weapon types is shown below, along with a description of each under the LOTR SBG rules, and how I plan to use them in my army:

From left to right, we have an orc with a 2H weapon, a swordsman, and a spearman. 2H weapons are -1 from their roll to win a fight (presumably because they are winding up for the crush, like this orc is), and are +1 to their roll to wound if they win the fight. Orcs tend to lose fights to elves and dwarves, since their fight value is only a 3 (compared to the Dwarf 4 and the Elf 5), so these 3 guys will probably fight with my Uruk warriors (with a fight value 4).

The swordsmen are all-purpose troops intended to provide additional shielding support and gap-filling. If a hero is causing a problem, tie him down with this guy and hope he lives, :) Sounds Napoleonic, but when you can get away with only paying 6 points for a shielding unit with fight value 3 – whistles...I'm sorry: at the end of the day, they're orcs...

The spearmen are the reason that I bought the orcs in the first place: Uruk trackers do not have spears. Spears allow a unit to support another unit, increasing his dice by one. When an Uruk-Hai is supported by an orc spearman, he basically gets to attack from further away at a higher fight value and strength value (4 and 4, instead of 3 and 3). Since you can give orc spearmen shields as well, you get the same defense value (5) and fighting stats for 25% less. And for the style of fighting that I run, this is key to breaking enemy lines and heroes.

For starters, because the orcs are supposed to be more of a rabble than a rank-and-file army (like the Uruk-Hai), they lend themselves more easily to greater variety in color and weaponry.  I experimented with various colors of flesh, too, the spectrum of which you will see in the next three pictures.

My orc force is broken up into three squadrons (That all ironically came out to 8 men...not planned that way...): the trackers, the retainers, and the night stalkers:

The Stalkers are one of my favorites, primarily because I played around with a lot of the flesh tones that I had available when building this list. The brown, decaying gray, light green, black, tan, and rotting pink for flesh in this force assists in diversifying an already disparate force (which is what I wanted). We have 4 swordsmen, two bowmen, and 2 spearman in this force. Two of these units have undergone some doctor work, which I'll discuss later; some of the others will also receives hoods, packs, satchels, and other accessories once I start my work with modeling putty (more on that in a future post).

Now for the retainers:

The retainers are among the most disparate in color and by far the least diversified in force. I was going for more of a “standard army” look for this squadron, so more of the armor and weaponry is of a gleaming steel look instead of the dull bronze look that you will see on most of the other orcs. I used a Warhammer Fantasy decal for the pick-ax soldier's shield, and played around with dabs of gold and bronze on his chainmail shirt to give it more of a worn and used look (better view coming up later). This force has two 2H weapons, 3 spearmen, a swordsman, a bowman, and a banner bearer. Banner bearers allow units within 3” of them to re-roll their dice to win the fight – very handy for orc armies.

Before moving on, I want to draw attention to the spearman in the red without the helmet: I experimented with a darker green for flesh coloring on this unit (usually I only use it for outfits): what do you think?

Finally, the Trackers:

Sorry for the blur (Hey, you try catching a perfect still shot of a group that's tracking down someone, :-P ). This force was my attempt at a “rag-tag” group, primarily intended to blend in with the countryside. They have almost no armor to speak of, and rely on a mix of 3 swordsmen, 3 spearmen, a bowman, and a 2H weapon (in case there's trouble). There's not much worth pointing out about this army, except for the second rank: the spearman on the far right is what the spearman on the left is supposed to look like. The left-hand spearman had a head swap with the center spearman, so that there will be distinction between the center spearman's double (in the retainer force). I thought the transformation went over very well, and actually got me an enlistment from Tiberius to switch the heads of one of my Uruks with one of his (more on that in a future post).
As I've mentioned throughout this post, several transformations have taken place. All of these started with the creation of my banner bearer, who was originally a 2H warrior:

You may remember these two from the Retainers picture. The one on the right is what the unit usually looks like. I took part of a coffee stirrer (I don't drink, so no big loss for me) and a scrap of leather that was lying around (because where else would an orc get a banner?), and super glued those to his arm. I then cut off his right hand with the “grim reaper” weapon, and gave it to this soldier:

I was then able to take his weapon, and give it to another orc – and this is the transformation that I like the most. I initially thought of leaving the sword straight up (like it is in the unit's original pose), but then I turned it, just to see what it would look like, and...

...I really liked what I saw! Talk about ferocious – I love these two orcs, :) The pose is already awesome (and Tiberius and I have had a few excursions where one of these orcs faces up against a dwarf in a similar pose – always fun), and turning the sword into more of a stabbing pose made it all the more threatening, and substantially more diverse from the original look of the model (on the right).
So, that's pretty much the orc side of my army list: I will be doing some touch-up painting, and am considering making shields for all of my spearmen (glue them to their backs, probably), but we'll see. Still looking for a good material to use there.

More updates soon -- as you can tell, I'm really looking forward to the tournament!

Watching the stars,

"They've picked up our trail -- let's move!" ~ Ugluk


  1. Very nice. I love the alterations. I have often been tempted to start an orc army because of the massive conversion potential they have.

    As for making shields, thin cardboard (like from a cereal box) coated in superglue (front and back) makes a decent substitute for plasticard

  2. Looks good Centaur,

    I like the varied color scheme for orcs (and the different colors for uniforms). Can't wait to face them in the tournament!

  3. Thin cardboard is what I'm thinking of using; the other advantage that it gives over a plastic base is that I can choose any design of shield that I want (crescent,round, square, kite...).

    As you mentioned, the potential is almost unlimited, :)

  4. Also as El Zorro mentions above the cheap porous card you get in cereal packets now soaks up super glue making a type of fibre glass end product. And if you dampen the card you can make it convex or pre-shape it. Let it dry or even bake it a little to dry. Then paint he super glue on.I have done this twice.. worked well.
    Also you can laminate ribs or edge thickness onto the shield.. or even a large symbol. Although I would probably draw the line at trying to make a Goblin shield this way though... too corrugated.

    1. Good to know - I'll test around with a few ideas. I'm thinking of re-visiting my orcs, as I'm debating adding more orcs to the mix to flesh out the team, so I'll have lots of new models to convert. We'll see, :)