Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Shire List, Part 2: Heroes Post 1 of 2

Dear Reader,

Greetings again!  I was out for the past week visiting family, and am just now getting caught up on all of my projects.  Spending 20 hours on a plane does wonders for gathering your thoughts on a list, and what follows is my assessment of the heroes available for Shire teams.  I'll begin with the hobbit heroes, and then move on to the non-hobbit (and more exciting) heroes available to you.  Before launching into that discussion, though, something should be repeated from my last post:

You play with Shire lists to play with heroes.

Yeah, you all saw that coming, :)  If you've ever wanted to field a hero-heavy force, go with one of the Eriador civs: Shire or Grey Company.  Unlike the Grey Company, though, your selection of F6, S4, D5-6 heroes is extremely limited, so you'll be working with a smaller (no pun intended), less sustainable crew in a Shire army.  That being said, you can cover all of the bases using a Shire list for dirt cheap, and that will be the focus of this post.

1.  Frodo of the Nine Fingers

Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
There are two Frodos in the Lord of the Rings Miniatures: Frodo Baggins, who is part of the Fellowship List, and Frodo of the Nine Fingers, who is part of the Shire List.  Technically both are available for Shire lists under Warbands, but only Frodo of the Nine Fingers is available in an LOME Shire list.  That's good, though, as a generally a general will likely prefer Frodo of the Nine Fingers in a Shire list over Frodo Baggins anyway.

I say this because of the roles they play in an army.  Frodo Baggins is a low-level combat hero: he sports F3 S3 D6 when using Sting and a Mithril Coat with 1 attack for striking wounds for 100 points.  Most Shire players, looking at the cost, begin to ask the question, "Why should I field 1 Frodo at 100 points that can strike with 1 wound each turn instead of investing in, say, 4 Dunedain, who have a better stat line, possess a range attack, and may be more survivable?"  Honestly, that's a good question: I honestly do not know why you would opt for Frodo Baggins over 4 Dunedain, who are contributing 4 wounds at S4 and F4 into combats.  In a Fellowship list, he makes sense: Frodo provides you with the option of tagging basic infantry to free up your power heroes (like Aragorn, Boromir, and Gimli) to engage in critical fights on the battlefield.  In a Shire force, though, Frodo Baggins would be 100 points to cover what 2-3 Shirriffs could cover, which is a huge waste of points.

Frodo of the Nine Fingers, however, costs 65 points (so a shy bit more than 2 Dunedain), and while he cannot strike wounds, you field this Frodo for his support role to the team: he is the only banner available for a Shire list.  Being able to re-roll poor die rolls when fielding a primarily F3 D3 army is extremely important, so the role he fills for the army is much stronger (even if he is a weaker combat hero).

Only two upgrades are available for Frodo: an elven cloak and a pony.  Personally, I'd definitely be open to the elven cloak (as it will help to protect him as he supports the troops), and I could see the benefit of purchasing the pony if for no other reason than to have a banner with 8" movement.  Since he cannot strike wounds, though, I'm a bit cautious on mounting your only D6 hobbit if he cannot gain an extra attack on the charge, especially as he and his pony would attract a lot of archer fire.  With only 1 Fate point (compared to 2 Fate for Merry and Pippin and 3 Fate for Sam) and 2 wounds at D6, I'm not overly excited about placing my banner in that position.

Another thing worth remembering about Frodo is that he is the only hobbit with 3 Will points.  He makes for an excellent spell resister.  Using Frodo to eat up spells (especially area-of-effect spells) so that your Dunedain and other heroes don't have to is extremely helpful.  It's also helpful if his Courage 6 is anchoring your army in regards to calling a "Stand Fast!" as the extra Will points can ensure that your army sticks around for a while.

2.  Samwise the Brave

Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
Samwise Gamgee is an interesting hobbit for the mix, as he is both better and weaker than his compatriots in different categories.  Like Frodo, Merry, and Pippin, he boasts a F3/3+ profile, and like Frodo and Pippin he may be upgraded with an elven cloak for 10 points or a pony for 5 points.  He is the only hobbit that can reach S3, but is also only D3 (compared to Pippin's D4, Merry's possible D5, and Frodo's D6).  With an extra wound, Might, Will, and Fate point above Merry and Pippin, though, he's not a bad hero for 50 points.

I'm personally not sold on Samwise the Brave, primarily because I see more firepower and use coming out of Farmer Maggot and his dogs for the same number of points, but that's personal preference.  If you're looking for a low-level combat hero to accent your heavy firepower from Aragorn and the Dunedain, go with Sam.

3.  Peregrin, Captain of the Shire
Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
Pippin is a unique case in the foursome.  He lacks the defensive stats of Merry and Frodo, as well as the offensive power stats of Sam.  This makes him the least attractive option of the four from a stat line perspective.  As I've mentioned before, though, that's one of the tricks to running a Shire list: you have to get your mind past the stats to reach the strategy.  Pippin's worth is not in his stat line.

On the point of his stat line, though, it is worth noting that he received a boost in the recent Free Peoples Sourcebook, as they recreated a new profile for him in Peregrin, Captain of the Shire, as opposed to Peregrin, Guard of the Citadel.  Since the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook's debut, the new Pippin still boasts a 1/1/2 fighting profile in regards to Might/Will/Fate, but now has 2A and 2 wounds instead of 1 in both categories for only 5 points more at base cost.  While still at D4 and only F3, this makes him much more sustainable in close combat.

As I mentioned in my last post, Pippin allows you to pay 1 point more for your archers to increase them to F3.  Pippin is a tactical hero, much like Frodo: while Frodo gives your low-rolling front line a chance at redemption through banner support, Pippin provides a static buff to your archers to make them more viable in close combat, should they be flanked or outmaneuvered by your opponent.  Unlike Frodo, however, if Pippin dies, your archers are still F3.  This is a big bonus that a commander should keep in mind.

4.  Meriadoc, Captain of the Shire
Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
Merry is the "James Bond" of the crew, providing a wide variety of roles and options for the team, based on what you need.  Like the others, he can be equipped with an elven cloak and a pony, but he also has access to the Horn of the Riddermark (for 20 points) and a shield (for 5 points).  The horn acts like a normal horn (adding +1 Courage to all hobbits so long as Merry is alive), which is helpful in keeping your forces in the field and allowing you to charge terror units.

Like Pippin, Merry also received an upgrade in the Free Peoples Sourcebook from the Knight of the Riddermark version in the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook.  He now has 2A and 2 wounds, and now has a base cost of 30.  Merry's real strength, though, comes from the shield upgrade (which, by the way, I'd always recommend you buy).  At D5, Merry is not only on-par with most basic infantry is his defensive stats, but is also the only hobbit that can shield.  Since all hobbits only have 1 attack (unless they are charging on a pony), with the only exception to that rule being Pippin, Merry has the ability to roll not one, not two, but four dice in combat if needed.  This makes Merry a bunker: he can guard a critical point or weak hero from unexpected attack.  Couple that with 1 Might and 2 Fate, and you have a hero that can hold a zone for a few rounds until your heavy hitters can dispatch the foes.

As mentioned in the last post, Merry also allows you to buff your Battlin' Brandybucks, making them S3 instead of S2.  Unlike Pippin, however, the buff is on a F1 model, which has its drawbacks.  That being said, considering that it raises the cost of the model to a measly 4 points, I think it's worth it to have a few S3 guys in close combat, especially against a D5 army.  As you can see, Merry meets almost every role for a hero (save combat firepower), and I'm convinced that, at only 30-75 points, every Shire army should field Merry.


The four hobbits do an amazing job covering each other - you have three army buffers, a tank, and a low-level combat hero.  Again, the stat line is not great; for all of these heroes you will receive more bang for your buck from a Dunedain (who will likely cost less as well).  But the additional bonuses that they provide help to meet critical roles for your force.

In my next post (which will likely be out within the next few days), I'll highlight the niche-roll hobbit heroes, as well as the non-halfling heroes at your disposal with this list.  I'm really looking forward to discussing it with you all, so stay tuned for more!

Watching the stars,


"Will they follow me?" ~ High King Peter
"To the death." ~ Oreius

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shire List, Part 1: Warriors

Dear Reader,

Greetings from the Forge!  As you saw in my last post, Operation Tuckborough is nearing completion, and I'm really excited about some new possibilities for new boards!  In this post, I want to begin laying out some of the strategy and tactics for effectively using a Shire list in combat.  Over the course of the next few posts, I'll be detailing the warriors in the army (which will occur in this post), the heroes you can field (the next few posts), and a short discussion on tactics and deployment strategies for your forces to wrap up the discussion.

Before discussing the three Hobbit units in the army, though, I'd like to note that I've spent some time searching the blogosphere for any other tips and hints in regards to strategy with this force, and so far all of my searches (including searches in other languages) have come up with only one thread on Warseer from 2007, and in that article there was hardly any discussion on the importance or role of the units in your army.  So this is a discussion that has not been discussed very much by the gaming community at large.  I propose that this is due to three contributing factors.

1.  The list is limited: with only three units and a handful of heroes, they have the feel of the Grey Company in regards to options, but have overall weaker heroes, and their heroes do not play nearly as many roles for a team as they do for GC.  Thus, once you've discussed the army in a thread, there are few other stones to turn over in a future discussion.

2.  Hobbit warriors do not come in plastic blisters.  This means that in order for someone to play hobbits, they need to spend $45 USD just to obtain 12 warriors - which, understandably, most players would prefer to spend on 20 Uruk-Hai, 24 Rohan warriors, and so forth.  Naturally, players who do not invest in a civ are less likely to discuss/suggest input to that list, as they don't know the feel of the units from a firsthand perspective.  But perhaps most telling of all...

3.  The Shire list is just not exciting.  You get to use Gandalf, Aragorn, some Dunedain, and a ton of S2 D3 models.  And all of the cool models can be used by other civs that are much more exciting to use, more survivable in combat, and tactically superior to a Shire force.  In short, I cannot blame people for not being naturally attracted to purchase and play with - let alone write articles on - this civ.  Even in the Warseer article mentioned above, the guys who play Shire play them as a novelty list; it excites their interest as hobbyists, not as competitive players.

In this post, I hope to break the stigma against this list: it has limitations, especially for those who look purely at army stats for their strategy.  For those of us who spend as much time (possibly more) working with terrain, I think "there is more to [these hobbits] than meets the eye," to quote the Wizard.  I agree with most of what is written in the Warseer thread, though I hope to expand on it in this post, and add a unique twist at how to view the units available in this list.  So, with no further ado, let's look at the Shire list.


All hobbits share two special rules which offer unique advantages to a Shire army.  First, you receive the "Throw Stones" rule for free on all of your hobbit models (including heroes), allowing you to use a S1 throwing weapon at 8", fired like a crossbow (so the model spends the move phase standing still to pick up the stone, and then may throw it in the Shoot Phase).  S1 doesn't sound like much - it wounds D4 models on 6s, and D6 models on 6/4s.  Two thoughts on this: 1) it's free - it would be overpowered if it did anything more, :P  But also: 2) this means that 100% of your force could throw rocks on a given turn, which means that statistically, even with only 16 hobbit melee warriors + 4 heroes (let's say, Merry, Pippin, Frodo, and Farmer Maggot, which are the ones I'm interested in), you are throwing 20 rocks in a given round, which, at a 3+ Shoot Value, means you are landing roughly 14 hits in a given round solely from rocks (not including normal archery), which, on 6s, will statistically contribute 2 kills - perhaps more - every round.

Now, at 8" range, this is not sustainable: you won't be able to whittle down a force like a set of archers can, since you cannot do the "three-inch scoot" like a number of Elves I know, nor can you gain more distance on your opponents following the first round of shooting.  But if you've ever had the great misfortune of gaining priority, creating a solid battle line, and then having your opponent tag a few of the guys in that line (and thus leaving the majority of your force unable to contribute to combat), at least you have a chance to contribute to combats by removing spear support from the fight.  Again, not a huge advantage, but worth remembering as a general.

Second, hobbits all gain the "Resistant to Magic" special rule.  This means that a Shire force is ideal for facing spellcasters, especially those who do not gain free Will points each turn that would prefer to cast spells on large blocks of spear-supported ranks that have no Will points to resist a Nature's Wrath, for example.  If you're not facing a spellcaster, yes: you just lost one of your advantages in your match.  But in the event that you play against an opponent like Tiberius who loves magic, you have built-in magic protection for your whole team.  Not too shabby.

1.  Hobbit Militia

Hobbit militia, at 3 points per model, are the cheapest units in the game, and for good reason.  With an extremely weak fighting profile (F1, S2 normally, and D3), they will be wounded on 4s by most units in melee combat, and on 4s by S3 and S4 archery (which makes up about half of the archery fielded by guys in our gaming group; I'd be curious to see whether this is common in other parts of the world as well).

Per the new Meriadoc, Knight of the Mark profile, Hobbit militia can now be upgraded to Battlin' Brandybucks for 1 point, which increases their Strength Value from S2 to S3, giving them the competence in close combat strength that is standard for basic infantry.  And, for only 4 points/model, it's not bad.  As you can see from the picture above, I only use four of them in my force, so that I can complement a shirriff or two in a combat, but won't lose too many of my S3 models in a given fight if the dice go south.  Hobbit militia should be used as an addendum to your force, and not as rank-and-file infantry, primarily because they are F1, and will likely lose a fight if they are involved in combat alone.

2.  Hobbit Archers

I've mentioned Hobbit archers before in a past post on the Grey Company, as they used to be included in the Arnor lists.  Hobbit archers offer a ranged option for your force.  Per the update in the Free Peoples Sourcebook, they use bows (S2 damage at 24", as opposed to the old short bows - BIG fan of the new change, :) ), and with a 3+ Shoot Value, they perform decently for S2 archers (and usually cheaper).

If your force fields Peregrin, Guard of the Citadel, you can also pay 1 pt/model to upgrade your archers to Tookish Archers, changing their FV from F2 to F3.  This is useful if you're facing goblins or other F3 civs, as it will make your archers more sustainable in close combat.  Throw in the fact that the unarmed rule that used to be attached to hobbit archers has been removed, and these guys provide decent archers for only 5 points.  At the same cost of goblin archers, you have a D3 archer (instead of D4) who is twice as likely to hit his target as his goblin counterpart at range (a longer range, I might add), with a higher Courage value in case you dip below your break point.  In melee combat, a Tookish Archer is more likely to win combat than a goblin archer, but he is only S2 if he wins (as opposed to S3, though both would be wounding each other on 5s).  Just avoid close combat as much as possible, relying on F3 as a ditch effort to save your force, and you have a decent archer corps.

It is worth noting that hobbit archers break my quintessential rule in regards to archery that I have mentioned on multiple occasions on this blog - namely, that when you read "archer" you should really read "swordsman."  In the case of hobbit archers, when you read "archer," you should read "please keep me out of combat if you want me to do any good for the team whatsoever."

You also have the option of paying 20 pts to add a horn to your archers, increasing the Courage value of all hobbits in the army (heroes and warriors) by +1 (Note: this does not improve the Courage value of Aragorn, Gandalf, or Dunedain).  This bonus does not stack, so buying more than one horn will never bring a hobbit warrior's Courage above 4, or a hero's Courage by more than 1.  The only other character that can take a horn in the list is Merry, and between the two, I'd personally be more open to giving the horn to an archer rather than Merry if for no other reason than it draws unnecessary fire to your only D5 hobbit hero by sacking more points into him (more on that in the hobbit hero post).

3.  Hobbit Shirriffs

Hobbit Shirriffs are reminiscent of the constables of Britain, armed with sturdy cudgels and donned in the traditional traveler suits and garb of the bounders.  At F3, Shirriffs are the most reliable rank-and-file infantry in this list.  They are still D3 and only S2, so the only stat that makes them more resilient than their counterparts is the fact that they are always F3, will tie against basic infantry, and will win ties against goblin warriors, spectres, and barrow wights.  At 4 pts/model, that's not too shabby.  What is more, they are a better use of points against D6 infantry, as they wound their opponents on the same roll as a traditional S3 warrior, though they will also always be wounded on 4s by a D6 model.  So, against D5 armies, they will prove to be inefficient, though your Battlin' Brandybucks will hit their stride against those opponents.

This is one of the strengths of the list: your models will cover for each other.  The trick - and hence the substance of the tactics post which will be Part IV of this series - is getting the right units into the right combats without your opponent blocking you out, :)


Now, before concluding this post, it is worth mentioning a general rule of thumb for your when constructing a Shire list:

You play with a Shire list to play with heroes.

With these three units as your only selections for non-heroes, don't be surprised if your army looks terrible on the stats.  Save your points to invest in heroes.  In my force, I've invested in 12 Shirriffs (48 pts), 4 Brandybucks (16 pts), and 8 Tooks (40 pts), which is just over 100 points.  This leaves me with 499 points to spend on heroes - which goes a long way when you have a wide variety of heroes at your disposal, as you will see in the next two posts.  Until then, you'll find me,

Watching the stars,


"I watch the stars, for it is mine to watch." ~ Glenstorm, Prince Caspian

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Terrain Update: Operation Tuckborough

Dear Reader,

As I mentioned in my last post, I was nearing completion on a number of Shire-related terrain projects, and I wanted to update you all with a progress report from the Forge!  I also received my new Armored Merry and Pippin in the mail from eBay, so I will showcase them in this update as well.  I've been looking around at other ideas for Shire boards online, and so far I've only seen one on Warseer to date, so if you have any other ideas on things that would be fun to add to the board, let me know!  With no further ado, a few projects I've been working on...

1.  Hobbit Smials

I am now up to three hobbit smials, and I'm pretty content with that.  I don't think I'll make any more, though I want to experiment with a "Great Smial" that would be larger than the others.  We'll see if I actually do it.  The smial above was my first smial, and appeared in a scenery update for the TMAT GT 2013 back in March.  It's pretty basic, and is also the largest smial in my collection.  I thought of updating it with some of the other modifications I've done to my two new smials, but I wanted to keep this guy as the "Mark 1" model, clearly delineating him from my "Mark II" models to track my progress over time.

You also have a chance here to see my new Armored Merry model fully decked out and awesome.  I'll be doing a tactics post soon on the four hobbits, which you should use in an army and why, etc., so you'll see this guy again.

Hobbit dwellings not only allow you to experiment with brighter color schemes (especially for doors), but also allows you to practice making some of the more refined things in life, like picket fences!  The fence pieces are made from cut up coffee stirrers (big surprise, right?  I use these things for everything), and then painted white (in my case, I went with the White Scar White by Citadel).  I'm still deciding whether I want to do more of them around my other hobbit holes, as I want to experiment with square yards, but the time/effort it takes to build them is dragging me away from it.  I like the look of it, though, so I'll likely do it for the final cut on the smials.  Hobbit homes also give you a chance to experiment with other things, like...

Sorry for the blur on this one!
Window sills!  These were made in the same way as the smials: take a piece of foam, cut it into the shape you want, and then spackle over it.  Allow it to dry, then sand down five of the six sides (with one of the long sides going unsanded).  Base coat and then use some of the spackle coming up from the unsanded side for the flowers by painting it a different color and viola!  Window sills!

The windows were even easier.  Glue coffee stirrer shards to the smial, paint over them, and then fill in the "panes" with a Russ Grey (a grayish-bluish color) under a base coat white (in my case, I used White Scar White from Citadel) to give it a tinted look.  If I do make any more smials, I'd also like to experiment with circular windows, which would be harder.

You can also see my new Pippin model in this photo (sorry it's a bit blurry!).  The model itself doesn't have a Gondorian Tree on it, but I wanted to put one on him because 1) it's consistent with the Gondorian armor scheme, and 2) I like it, :)  Here's another version of the same style hobbit smial:

For this guy, the owner went with a unified color scheme for the door and window paint job.  I will likely not do this for all of my hobbit smials, as I want there to be a good amount of color on each.  But it's fun to do every now and then.  While I use Maggot and his dogs for the scale photo here, this will likely not be Maggot's home, as I want to actually build a partial farm near a house for his place (as I have a bit of a farmer streak in me, and I'd really like to build one), though that one may not be a smial.  It will likely be more of a house than a hobbit hole, but since I enjoy building these, we'll see.

2.  Marketplace

Here's the starting image for the grounds of the marketplace.  If your IT Department gets a shipment of computers in, be sure to ask them about hawking the excess packing material that they are planning on throwing away.  Not only does it provide you with a lot of foam (which you can use for smials, bridges, packing protection for models in boxes, water for the base of the town well pictured above, and other building projects), but it also provides you with a number of oddly shaped pieces of cardboard, like this one.  It's also free building materials, by the way, so I'm a fan, :)  More on this technique when we get to Brandywine Bridge.

No marketplace is complete without something to fill it in, so I built a few trade stands:

Pretty basic: for the one on the left, I glued coffee stirrers to cardboard from a Pop Tarts box (because if you have tons of Pop Tarts boxes lying around, you might as well use them; if you don't, go out and buy some.  You'll thank me later, :) ), with other coffee stirrers inserted into slots in the cardboard to form the legs.  Support with more coffee stirrers, and you're good!

For the one on the right, I experimented with some modeling putty on the corners, as I wanted a trade stand that had a complete top instead of a slotted top.  I also curved the roof slightly when I glued the stirrers down, adding a bit of character to it.  Both of these changes required me to experiment with a new way of attaching the stirrers.

I'm still working on a cloth-based top (for an awning-based trade stand), but the design is proving difficult (as it lacks the structural integrity of a rigid, strong roof).  Hopefully there will be more on that one in my next terrain update.

3.  Pipeweed House

So, it wouldn't be the Shire if we didn't use pipeweed! :)  Naturally, every community needs a place to stuff and dry pipeweed for sale, especially if there is a marketplace nearby, and this is the Pipeweed House for this community.  I used the same building materials for this building: foam, spackle, and coffee stirrers.  My plan after the roof is finished is to take Pop Tarts box cardboard (because that's the other building material I have in no short supply, :P ), score the cardboard with a knife, and then glue it onto the sides for imitation wood siding.  The new thing I tried with this building that I have never done before was...

Shingles!  I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but I really like the stirrers - you can literally do almost anything with them! :)  I hope you like it - I won't be shingling another roof in a long time, as 1) it depleted my reserves of coffee stirrers, and 2) it took a long. time. to do (read: most of a Saturday, Sunday, and Monday cutting the stirrers, gluing them in place, and adding spackling to fill in the gaps underneath, and it's still not done, :-/ ).  Getting excited about doing another one will be hard, :P  I like it, though, and it's different from the other buildings I've made.  It adds a good amount of character and color to the marketplace, so I'm excited about it!  I'm still trying to decide if I should do a deck and patio outside of the pipeweed house for a delivery station, but the jury is still out on that one.  Is that something that you'd like to see?

4.  Brandywine Bridge

Funny thing: I've had the building supplies for this for over a year, and try as I might, I could never find a way to use them.  Then I was riding through the Shire in Lord of the Rings Online one day, and I was like, "Hm, you know: it wouldn't be all that hard to build a bridge.  All we'd need is..."  ...And would you know it, the pieces were out of my desk as I was thinking about it, and I could already see this structure coming together in my mind.  I started with two keyboard packing pieces, and a massive piece of foam:

I then cut up the packing pieces for the siding of the bridge to make it more bridge-like, and to bring it to the right scale for the models:

I then cut the foam into a strip that was 6" wide (for a pretty good-sized bridge that is both accessible and competitive for 25mm and 40mm bases) and about 9.5" long for the center of the bridge.  Then I spackled the sides of the foam (to make it easier to glue to the side pieces) and the top and shorter ends for the top surface and for easier gluing to the other foam pieces that will constitute the ramps to the top of the bridge.  After letting it dry for a few hours (just to make sure it had the right firmness and consistency), the end result was this:

I then did a similar procedure for the two ramps, which will lead up to the main bridge piece:

My plan is to add masking tape strips to these to serve as cobblestones right before I do the painting.  I'll show you all the result of that in the next update.  Once the spackling has dried, glue everything together:

...And we're ready to paint!  At 14" long, with two open arches that are 4" wide and 2" high, the bridge could be useful for a massive water feature, a small water feature, or as part of an urban combat scene.  The finished product will be shown in a future post, :)

Still on the to-do list to finish Operation Tuckborough is scenery for filling in the marketplace (barrels, primarily), the awning market stands mentioned earlier, and the final stages of Brandywine Bridge, the completion of the pipeweed house, as well as a special project which I hope to reveal soon, so stay tuned for the final update in the next few weeks!

Watching the stars,


"I set myself against what is lurking in this forest, Bane - yes, with humans alongside me if I must." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lords of Battle: The White Council vs. Easterlings

With the summer drawing to a close, Glenstorm and I got together for a quick game. We've fought all of each others armies on multiple occasions, but Glenstorm recently added a band of Easterlings to his collection. During the beginning of the summer, I wrote a post on Arwen and needed an excuse to give some of her strategy tips a try. So...this game will be between my White Council list and Glenstorm's new Easterlings. Here are the forces:

The Protectors of the Roads: 600 points

Glorfindel with Armor of Gondolin - 140 points
Arwen with Asfaloth - 70 points
Legolas with armor - 95 points
Celeborn with Heavy armor and Elven blade - 145 points
Radagast the Brown - 150 points

5 units, 1 Elf bow, 13 Might, 3 casters
The Jaws of the Dragon: 600 points

Khamul the Easterling on armored horse - 135 points
2 Dragon Knights - 140 points
3 Captains with shields and Easterling halberds - 165 points
1 War Priest - 60 points
2 Easterling Captains with shields - 100 points

9 units, no bows, 17 Might, 2 casters

The scenario we will be playing is a Lords of Battle game on a board that is 48" x 48". We will play until one side is reduced to 25% of its starting force (usually, you play until 50% and then see if the game suddenly ends, but we're playing an all-hero game, the nearly-bitter end!). After the end of that turn, points are scored:

  • 1 point for breaking the enemy force OR 3 points for breaking the enemy force and not being broken; and
  • 1 point for each Wound and Fate point suffered by an enemy unit.
  • Special rule: if a hero is killed, a hero from the winning side in the same fight may regain a Might point previously spent in the battle.

The map is set up as follows: my WIP Dwarf walls cordon off the northwest corner, while scattered pieces of terrain obscure archery shots into the rest of the map. There are several bridges, market centers, rocks, and an outpost covering the rest of the map. The Protectors of the Roads (hereafter Good) won the roll off and have chosen to select their corner (the northwest corner), ceding priority to the Jaws of the Dragon (hereafter Evil) for the first turn.

Strategy for Tiberius: Running with 5 heroes (three of whom are D3 or D5) is risky against an army of nearly twice my size and D6+. Normally, I wouldn't fear captain units - I've got 1 hero with Fight 5 and the rest have Fight 6 or Fight 7. Today's match, though, involves Khamul, who isn't a great spell-caster, but does cast spells nonetheless. As a result, even a Fight 4 captain can be dangerous when he wounds on 5s. I need to isolate the captains into different fights, endure Khamul's barrage of spells, and keep Legolas and Radagast out of combat.

Strategy for Glenstorm: Taking down this force with a handful of F5 power heroes and about a half-dozen basic captains is going to be hard.  Really hard.  Since Tiberius is running a Celeborn who is only D6, my plan is to use Bladewrath on Khamul, cast Transfix before ramming into Celeborn, trust to 2 Might points to win the fight and knock him over, and then wound on 4s.  Even if I can only take down the Fate points on him, putting him on the ground should allow me to surround and kill him off early, which not only removes one of the tanks for his force, but also eliminates one of the casters.  I'll tie down Glorfindel with captains, and then use my Drag Knights to kill off the low defense, low attack heroes in the list (Arwen and Radagast).  Once they're down, taking down Legolas should be easy (as he won't be in melee range for a while).

Turn 1: (Priority - Evil)

The teams advance against each other. Radagast, learning from his bout against the Grey Company a while back, casts Terrifying Aura on himself now (free + 0/6W).

Turn 2: (P - Good)
And the armies keep on moving. Arwen has swept up the courtyard and makes it to the wall, waiting to spring a surprise.

Turn 3: (P - Good)

No pictures - everyone keeps moving and Legolas didn't have any shots available, thanks to the rocks. Next turn...

Turn 4: (P - Good)

MELEE!!!!! In the Move phase, the War Priest begins by casting Bladewrath on Khamul (1/3W). Khamul choses to charge Celeborn, passing his Courage test, and casts Transfix on Celeborn (2/12W). Celeborn manages to resist the spell and basically decides he's not casting Immobilize this game (2/3W, 1/3M). Nothing happened in the Shoot phase, but in the Fight phase, Khamul decided to improve his attacks by 1 (3/12W), but loses the fight (Celeborn: 3/3M). Khamul escapes without a wound, though (4/12W).

Turn 5: (P - Good)

No picture of the Move phase, but a lot happened: Khamul (himself only) and Radagast (pretty much everyone with him) both call Heroic Moves (Khamul 1/2M, Radagast 1/3M). Khamul wins the roll-off and charges Celeborn, passing his Courage test, and attempts to cast Transfix, but fails (5/12W). Radagast moves next, casting Panic Steed on Khamul (free + 0/6W), but Khamul handily resists the spell (7/12W). Arwen moves towards the other wall and casts Nature's Wrath with a single dice (1/3W) and Khamul chooses to resist for his team (8/12W).

The War Priest moves a bit closer to Khamul and casts Bladewrath again on his leader (2/3W). Two of the captains nearby charge Glorfindel and pass their courage tests, pinning him in the doorway (right where I wanted to be, actually).
In the Shoot phase, Legolas gets an auto-hit on an Easterling captain and wounds him. He passes his Fate roll, but Legolas is pleased with the first point scored in the game.
Sorry, no pic. Khamul improves his attacks again (9/12W), Celeborn wins the fight by default, but manages to score no wounds on Khamul (10/12W) (the good news for me is, with 2 Will points left, there's only going to be 1 more action by the great war leader) (This is really bad: I've just paid 135 points for a model that has so far scored me no points.  What you get when you play with a combat nazgul, :P ).

In the other fight, the Captain with halberd drops his shield in order to attack with his two-handed weapon (wow, that was unexpected). The Captain with the halberd gets no help from his friends and pays both his Might points (2/2M) to promote his highest dice to a 6. Glorfindel still wins the fight (1/3M), and deals 1 wound to the Captain with the halberd, who fails his Fate point (1/1F, 1/2H).
Score: Good 3, Evil 0.

Turn 6: (P - Evil)

Pictures are scarce when the game moves quickly - sorry for this and in the future. Khamul casts Transfix on Celeborn with his last available Will point (11/12W), but Celeborn resists the spell with the last of his Will points (3/3W). The War Priest nearby casts his final Will point on the Dragon Knight fighting Celeborn (3/3W). Arwen respond by spending her last Will points to cast Nature's wrath, but fails to cast it even with her Might point in hand (3/3W). So, she charges the Dragon Knight because Celeborn's position in the doorway prevents her from getting to any other targets.

In order to help Arwen out (and to break the chain of casters using all their Will points), Radagast immobilizes the Dragon Knight fighting Arwen (free + 0/6W), who cannot resist the spell as Dragon Knights have no Will points (didn't know that one...huh).

The fights are generally uninteresting: Glorfindel wins but can't wound anybody. Arwen wins, doesn't knock down the Dragon Knight thanks to his special rule, and after not knocking him down fails to wound him. Celeborn, though, lost his fight to the captain with a halberd (who also dropped his shield) and took 1 Wound, burning through all his Fate points and STILL taking the wound (3/3F, 1/3H) (OOOUUUCCCHHH!!!).
Score: Good 3, Evil 4. And just like that, the game is no longer favoring Good...gotta love Lords of Battle.

Turn 7: (P - Evil)

At the beginning of this Move phase, both Arwen (1/1M) and the War Priest (1/1M) called Heroic Moves. The War priest won out and Arwen was charged, ending her Heroic Move before it happened. Two Easterling captains moved through the small postern gates in order to threaten the softer units behind Glorfindel, but the Dragon Guard that meant to charge Glorfindel failed his courage test, making the fight at the gate much easier for the Elf hero. To make matters worse, Radagast immoiblized the Captain fighting Glorfindel (free + 0/6W) and the captain failed to resist the spell (1/1W).
In the Shoot phase, Legolas shot all three shots into the Captain with halberd and killed him (2/2H).
In the Fight phase, there was lots of action - Arwen was unfortunately killed by her opponents (2/2H) (the Dragon Knight regained 1 Might), but so was the captain fighting Glorfindel, after failing his Fate save (1/1F, 2/2H). Celeborn also wounded the Captain he was fighting, who failed his Fate save (1/1F, 1/2H).
Score: Good 8, Evil 7.

Turn 8: (P - Evil)
On (yet another) turn where Evil got priority, Radagast called a Heroic Move (2/3M). Unchallenged, and with everyone from the army of Good able to benefit, the White Council maxed out their options. The Dragon Knight near Celeborn was immobilized by Radagast (free + 0/6W - great thing about Radagast is he rarely needs to pay more than his free Will point to cast anything). Glorfindel found that he could avoid the control zone of the Dragon Knight near him and charge Khamul, rolling a 2 on his Courage test and was forced to pay Will points to pass it (2/3W). Legolas pushed up a bit, but was not charged by any of the Easterlings.
Legolas wound Drag Knight (1/2H)
In the Shoot phase, Legolas aimed at the immobilized Dragon Knight (no Will and no Fate is a bad combination against this team) and managed to score 1 wound (1/2H) (yeah...that's no fun, :-/ ). In the Fight phase, Glorfindel beat Khamul but (as Celeborn did before him) managed to score no wounds. Khamul did, however, lose the last of his Will points (12/12W), and so was removed from the game as a casualty, scoring Good 1 point for his Wound and 2 points for his unspent Fate points (3 points off of a failed Celeborn killed the captain with halberd that he was fighting after he failed his Fate point (1/1F, 2/2H). But of all the fights that happened, Radagast stole the lime-light: he defeated his foes with his single attack (3/3M, 1/2M for Dragon Knight) and managed to wound the Dragon Knight he was facing (1/2H).
Score: Good 14, Evil 7.

Turn 9: (P - Evil - again?)

Captain tags Celeborn (1/2M, 1/1W)

In the Move phase, Celeleborn was tagged by a Captain (boo), Legolas was tagged by a Dragon Knight, and Radagast was cornered (but not trapped). Glorfindel, who had raced away from the action to kill Khamul, was unable to see anyone and so ran as far as he could but wasn't allowed to charge anyone. In the Fight that ensued, Celeborn lost to the Captain who shielded and Legolas killed the Dragon Knight he was facing (2/2H). But this round, it was again Radagast who stole the stage: Radagast lost the fight this time and suffered 3 wounds and successfully saved ONE of them (3/3F, 2/3H).
Score: Good 15, Evil 12. With the death of the Dragon Knight, the Easterling force was broken. As mentioned above, this would normally start the countdown to the end of the game, but we're playing to 25% of starting size. To get to this point, the Easterlings need to be reduced to 2 units and the White Council needs to be reduced to 1 unit.

Turn 10: (P - Evil)
In the Move phase, you can see that the Easterling War priest fled the field (boo). The Dragon Knight attempted to charge Radagast, but narrowly failed his test. The two remaining captains charged the wizard (1/1W used by one of them), but one was pinned by Celeborn and the other broke off to fight Glorfindel. Legolas side-stepped a little and took aim at the Dragon Knight (2/3M), killing him in the Shoot phase (2/2H). In the fights that followed, the only point of interest is that Celeborn managed to wound the Captain he and Radagast were fighting and the wound was saved by the Captain's Fate point (1/1F).
Score: Good 20, Evil 12. Game ends because Evil is at 22%.

Good scored 20 points for Fate and wounds.
Evil scored 12 points for Fate and wounds.
Good scored 3 points for breaking the enemy and not being broken.
Evil scored 0 points for breaking the enemy.

Final score: Good 23, Evil 12. Minor victory for Good.


Assessment by Tiberius:

I remarked to Glenstorm before we began that this game was probably going to end quickly, with a decisive overwhelm by one side or the other. I turned out to be wrong: yes, I only lost 1 hero, but Radagast was 1 wound from death, Celeborn would have been transfixed against multiple foes if Khamul had rolled 1 point higher on his final Transfix roll, and Glorfindel was kept to only dealing a few wounds to his foes. Not a great game overall. The teams were pretty evenly matched, I thought. With the help of an additional Ringwraith (65-80 points ought to do the trick) to keep Khamul from having to waste Will casting spells, the battle could have easily gone the other way. As always, a pleasure playing against my first convert to the game.

Assessment by Glenstorm: 

Wow, that was harder than I thought, :)  Not winning that opening fight with Khamul was brutal, as it not only cost me 1 of 3 Bladewraths I can cast in a game, but it also cost me my horse and lost me my only chance to get my Will store back up (which meant I just spent 135 points gaining no points for victory, and later coughed up 3 points to the White Council for losing Khamul).  The truth is, though, I lost the game because Tiberius played very well, and he hedged his bets much better than I did.  I was really blessed to get priority as often as I did, as he would have had a lot more Might points to spend if he had won priority more often.  Well fought, bro.

Stellar unit for Tiberius: Celeborn with Elven blade and heavy armor. I give the award to Celeborn a lot - and for good reason. He's about the same price as Glorfindel and lacks the Fight 7 and "Resistant to Magic" special rule, but he makes for a dependable assistant killer for your army. In games without spell-casters, his Immobilize spell is deadly (what can be better than having a 3 Attack Fight 6 hero than to be able to turn the Troll he's fighting into a 1 Attack Fight 1 wuss?). In today's game, though, he held off a wave of Easterling captains and scored nearly as many points as Legolas did.

Stellar unit for Glenstorm: Dragon Knights, hands down.  The only model to get a kill in this game was my Easterling Captain with Shield, but I don't want to highlight that model (as that was all that they contributed).  I'm going with the Dragon Knights on this one for a few reasons.  First, they were the consistent firepower that wore down his heroes (and got Arwen in range of death for the captain), and presented a target that had to be fought on a given turn by one of his tanks.  When they were not engaged by a tank, they were able to engage weak combat heroes like Radagast and Arwen, and almost killed both of them.  Add onto that the fact that they have no Will points, meaning that they are prime targets for magic, and I was very impressed with their performance.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Conversion: Mounted Rangers of the North

Dear Reader,

Slight pause on Operation Tuckborough: I was clearing space on my desk so that I'll have the necessary space to work on Brandywine Bridge (which is going to be over 16" long; I'm pretty stoked, :) ), so I decided to attempt a model that I've thought about using for my Grey Company army, but the Perry brothers have not made yet: mounted Rangers of the North!  When doing my research on the conversion, I found two examples of people who had converted RotN into mounted models, one using a plastic model, and one using a metal RotN model.  I wanted two different poses, and decided to strike out on my own for this project.

In this post, I want to show the conversion process, and in the next post I'll highlight a bit about tactics and utility in an army (along with two other Ranger of the North conversions I'm working on, and the other 8 Rangers of Arnor I've added to my crew).

In terms of materials, I highly recommend using a razor saw, as they make slicing through the plastic at the center extremely easy and was more dexterous and maneuverable than it looked at first sight.  Other than that, I used a mercury-based super glue made my Mercury Adhesives, two Riders of Rohan, and two Rangers of Middle Earth.

Choosing the Riders of Rohan was pretty simple: I wanted two poses that would work well on the ground, and specifically two poses that would be in melee combat, as archers don't get a lot of pictures in battle reports, and I like having my converted poses pop up in battle reports (as craftsmanship is a bigger pride for me than victories).  I had plans in the works to turn one of the Riders of Rohan with spear into a banner, so he was already off the table, as were the two archer poses.  I settled on the other spearman and the axeman because I thought that their poses would work better for a foot soldier than the swordsman pose, and in retrospect I think that slicing him would have been extremely hard because of the angles, so I'm glad I didn't, :)  Looking at the ranger models that come in the Rangers of Middle Earth set, I settled on two of the sword poses that I thought would make for good poses for riders, and would provide legs that could work well for Rohan warriors.  The other two sword poses will be used in my next set of conversions for Rangers of the North, so stay tuned to this site for those conversions.

To begin, I sawed the models in half, being careful to match my cut (more or less) with the pommel of the saddle (as that would be present on a footman if it ends up on the top half of the Rider of Rohan, which would look odd) and the quiver and bow on the back.  Since all four models boasted a quiver and bow on the back, having part of a quiver not attached to your actual quiver would be somewhat awkward on a model.  So as best I could, I just opted to take the quiver with the guy.  The end result looked like this:

You can see here the riders and rangers, as well as the two horses
that the rangers will ride.  They were happy not to be cut in half, :)
After that, I matched up the rangers and riders to figure out which sets of legs I wanted to use with which model, and trimmed the bases/tops so that they would match well with each other.  The result:

Pretty basic, very straightforward.  I was surprised by how well they fit each other!
With that done, it was a simple matter of basing, and the Rohan Warriors came out like this:

I really like how they turned out.  The spearman is looking (and facing) toward the ground because of the angle of the cuts, but honestly I don't mind that all that much, 1) because I fight a good number of goblin and dwarf armies, so he might be more realistic than his compatriots, and 2) the pose is still very believable, so I don't mind the pose.  The axemen turned out very well, I thought.

With these two additions, my Rohan infantry force is now up to 51 models (including 18 spears, 17 swords, and 16 bows) + 1 banner + 6 Rohan Royal Guards.  Add in 12 Riders of Rohan and a handful of heroes, and I'm pretty excited about my force.  More on the paint jobs on these guys in a future post.  The rangers turned out like this:

Pretty nice, right?  I love how both poses turned out!
And here's a side shot before painting:

I've always wondered what the right-hand ranger's left hand was doing
in the original model: now I know!

And here's the final product after painting:

So, anyway, something I've been working on for the last 24 hours, :)  I'm pretty excited about them!  More on how to use them in a future post, but I'll say for now that I was originally completely against mounting these guys, but am now very much in favor of it for a hero or two in a game.  I'm hoping to have a post up soon on Operation Tuckborough, hopefully by the end of the week, that will show the progress report on my Shire terrain.  The smials are done (well, except for determining whether I want to do gardens in the yards; we'll see), the pipeweed house for the marketplace is close to being done, as are a number of the merchant stands.  Next up: Brandywine Bridge.  Until next time, you'll find me...

Watching the stars,


"We watch the skies for the great tides of evil or change that are sometimes marked there." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Monday, August 5, 2013

Conversion Projects: Knights of Dol Amroth and Warriors of Arnor

Hey Reader!

Greetings again from the Forge!  The boys over here at the How have been pretty busy clearing space on the workstation so that there's enough room to work on the terrain projects I promised in my last post.  To clear space on my desk, I finished up some long-term projects from a purchase I made several months ago, namely, what to do with a pack lot of over 30 Numenorian Warriors I purchased off eBay.  In line with Tavros' decision to convert swordsmen into Knights of Dol Amroth, I followed suit and crafted a number of Dol Amroth Knights as well, and I also came up with a creative use for all of those spearmen that came with them.

1.  Knights of Dol Amroth

Tavros posted back in February about converting Numenorian Swordsmen into Knights of Dol Amroth, and I basically followed his lead in regards to how to build my knights.  Instead of using cardstock for the wings, though, I simply used some modeling putty (faster and easier), pressed it into the shape I wanted, and then painted over them to finish the helmets.  Five of my warriors were already painted when they arrived, so I painted up the rest of the warriors to match them.

Both Tavros and Games Workshop went for a brighter, "white knight" look for their models - I opted for more of a "hidden guard," dark scheme for mine, though I still used the traditional Gondorian Blue (in my case, Kantor Blue) for the trim.  Other than that, not much that's exciting about these guys.  My plan, if I ever use a Fiefdoms army list, is to use Imrahil and Angbor the Fearless (who I showcased in a past post), with Imrahil and his knights serving as the D6 F4 "shield," while Angbor and the Clansmen of Lamedon will form the firepower side of the list (in addition to C5 units for charging terror models), with a handful of blackroot vale archers for ranged attack/anti-monster options.  We'll see how those turn out.

2.  Warriors of Arnor

Zorro pointed me to a very insightful article on how to convert Warriors of Minas Tirith into Warriors of Arnor, which is a *much* cheaper way of obtaining Warriors of Arnor than purchasing the models from GW.  Since I had a stack of Numenorian Spearman on-hand, though (and they could not become Knights of Dol Amroth), and in part because I wanted to convert all of my Warriors of Minas Tirith into Osgiliath Veterans (which you can see here, though I've done some work to them since then; more about that in a future post), I opted to make the conversion using Numenorian Spearmen instead.  The result was this:

It's actually a very easy conversion.  First, take your Numenorian Spearman, and, if he is a metal figure, press the wings together to form a point.  Then take some modeling putty, twist it into a twined long strand, and then fold it around the head.  If you are converting a plastic swordsman (like the two on the end), you can simply add putty to the helmet to create the dome of the helmet.  After that, almost everything is the desired paintjob.  I've been thinking about the possibility of adding green stuff for chainmail, but I'm still making up my mind on that.

In my tactical post on the Grey Company units at the beginning of the year, I mentioned that I'm wary of Warriors of Arnor, as they are an inefficient use of points in a game.  This is one of the reasons that I'm glad I only built eight Warriors of Arnor: I'm highly skeptical I'll ever use more than that (if that) in a given game.  What this means for me as a Grey Company player, though, is that I now own all of the units and heroes from the Arnor civ other than Arathorn, which will give me more opportunities to experiment with the Arnor list.  We'll see what these guys do in the future, :)

3.  Update on Operation Tuckborough

So far, I've shaped the foam for two more hobbit smials, and have done the latice work for two of the storefront stands for the marketplace.  I'm also in the process of cutting up a piece of computer packing cardboard into what will become the marketplace, so I hope to update you all on those projects by next weekend.

In the meantime, I have a few more projects on my desk that need to be cleared away, including a few more ranger conversions, so I'll keep you all posted on how that goes.  My general rule of thumb is that I don't buy more models until I paint/finish converting the models I currently have, so finishing up the projects on my desk also moves me closer to buying the hobbit archers, hobbit militia, and hobbit heroes that I need to finish my list.  Currently I'm thinking of adding 4-4-4 of the archer-shirriff-militia core to the army, and then adding in Merry and Pippin in armor (there's a good bid going on eBay right now, so I'm on a schedule, :P ) to finish the hobbit side of the list.  I'll then round out the points with my choice of heavy-hitting heroes like Aragorn, Gandalf, and Dunedain to bring me up to 600 points.  Until we meet again, you'll know where to find me,

Watching the stars,


"I watch the stars, for it is mine to watch, as it is your's, Badger, to remember." ~ Glenstorm, Prince Caspian

Friday, August 2, 2013

Something a bit more refined...

Dear Reader,

Welcome to August!  This month, I'm hoping to finish up a number of painting projects (and two more seasons of White Collar), including, as I hinted at in my last post, a number of civs and models I've never used on this space before, so stay tuned for further discussion on those models!  In this post, I want to highlight models that are, in my humble opinion, the most underrated models in the game, and a set of warriors that I am hoping to bring to the TMAT Grand Tournament in March, primarily for kicks and giggles, if not for style and class.  Per the title of this post, the army featured below is a bit more...refined...than the armies I traditionally run in that tournament. :)  For your delectation and delight, I present to you, the beginning of an army and a number of terrain projects that I'll be working on in August:

Yes indeed!  I've seen some guys online attempt to use this civ, and everyone has always razzed it for its lack of firepower, defensive abilities, movement, and strength, but I intend to use the next few weeks to highlight some of the amazing things you can do with a straight-up Shire list from LOME, or with a Warbands scheme (primarily as an addendum to another list, though you can run it as the core of an army).

I'll discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and tactics of the list in future posts, but for now I want to highlight where my army is at, and what I hope to add to it in the coming months as I prepare for March.  So, to begin our tour... [cues "Track 2: Concerning Hobbits" on Youtube]


Farmer Maggot and Grip, Fang, and Wolf

You can see the old farmer and his dogs here; I attempted to remain as close to the books as possible (though, I openly admit, I take some literary license, like most painters).  I have always really liked these models, and as a major fan of two-handed weapons, I was more than happy to invest in the only model in the Shire list that sports one.  I am currently negotiating purchasing Merry and Pippin from Zorro, so I hope to add them to the list as well in the future (though I've also heavily considered buying the armored versions on eBay, as they look amazing).  I'm still up in the air regarding Frodo; he counts as a banner for hobbits (and if you follow this site at all, you know how much I love banners), though he cannot attack and is a lot of points for a hero that will provide no firepower whatsoever in a list that already has problems with firepower, so the jury is still out on him.  More thoughts in a future post regarding those purchases.

Hobbit Archers

I've mentioned these guys in a previous post on the Grey Company, and for good reason: I love hobbit archers.  Not only are they the cheapest archers in the game, but they sport a better set of equipment and options than the other archers in their class (Orc trackers and Goblin archers).  What is more, Pippin allows you to upgrade hobbit archers into Tookish Archers, boosting them from F2 to F3 for 1 point (5 points total).  This is especially helpful if you intend to use them as an addendum to a force through a Warbands scheme, as you can get a very cheap volley line for the forces of Good (which is usually not an option for them).

I mentioned some of the weaknesses and strengths of these units in the Grey Company post above, but I'll be expanding on my thoughts on them in a Shire list-specific post in the future.  They work more or less the same, though the presence of Pippin helps a bit in their durability in close combat.

Hobbit Shirriffs

Modeled after the constables in England, Tolkien describes the Bounders in multiple places in his works.  I toyed around with converting some of the cudgels into axes (and I may still do that), but the more I think about it, the more my Tolkien purist strain comes out, and I forego the conversion.  I'm hoping to boost their numbers for the tournament, as they will form the backbone of my infantry line (which, I know: everyone's laughing at the weak backbone of this force, but wait until my future posts, okay? ;) ).  I'm also hoping to pair them up with hobbit militia, which I do not own yet, as Merry allows you to upgrade hobbit militia to Battling Brandybucks, which are S3 instead of the typical hobbit S2.  I'm still deciding, though, if a 4 point F1 S3 D3 unit is worth the investment (especially as they are impossible to find outside of GW or a private vendor), so we'll see.

Now, I know what everyone is saying: "Centaur, your army is going to get wasted at the tournament!"  A few thoughts on that:

1) I came in 6th with an Isengard force before - losing a tournament is not new to me.  That's okay: I'm building this force primarily to have fun, and it will be a lot of fun to use.

2) The list has its moments.  Think about it: if nothing else, can you imagine a force that has every model (except Grip, Fang, and Wolf) equipped with throwing weapons that is also magic resistant?  Granted, the throwing weapons are S1 and fire like a crossbow, but watch out mages: this army will not be your typical cup of afternoon tea!

3) It's a gag team: everyone knows that.  If I take this team to a tournament, I don't expect to win every match.  That being said, if I end up doing well...there's no doubt that there was some skill in the victory, and it shows the dedication, time, and commitment to the hobby that an artisan like me prizes.  Plus, you never know if some tall men with gray eyes and fell appearances - who just so happen to be part of the Shire list - may perchance show up, :)

In terms of terrain projects, I have thoughts and sketches in the works for three more hobbit smials, a marketplace, and the Brandywine Bridge in case we have a water feature on the map, so we'll see how those go.  The idea is that we'd be able to actually have a battle in a hobbit town when we're done, which I think would be incredible!  So, until my next update, may your hobbying move ever forward!

Watching the stars,


"Lie back on the floor," said Firenze in a calm voice, "and observe the heavens.  Here is written, for those who can see, the fortune of our races." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix