Friday Grab Bag #7: The Smeagol Edition

October 20, 2017

After finally scoring some suitable models for Nazgul, I still am looking for a Smeagol figure.  I suppose a 15mm something would do.  My son thought a toad looking figure would work.  At that point he’d only seen the Rankin and Bass hobbit and Return of the King.  As well, a goblin figure would work nicely.  Whatever I decide on, the figure should be hobbit sized or perhaps slightly larger, should be relatively unarmed and should have minimal, raggedy clothing.

I need to make some more terrain bits.  Mostly card models of ruins will do, but maybe some dungeon models too.  I have EZ Dungeons and the Halls of the Mountain King from Fat Dragon.  Both work well for LotR but are also can be used for just about any fantasy or even pulp setting.

I’ve found a few old GW Fellowship of the Ring scenarios online.  These will be ideal for Frostgrave or any other low level skirmish game for that matter as they are solid “chase” scenarios.  One thing I am looking for is scenarios that follow the path from the book, The Hobbit.   I think that a Smaug scenario would probably not be terribly interesting.  In the halls, the scenario would play out with literally just 2 figures: a dragon and a hobbit.  Sounds kind of dull.  The spider encounter would probably be pretty fun. Maybe Bilbo has to kill a certain number of spiders before he can free his companions.  My son and I played out the Troll encounter.  A battle report was in a previous post.  I’m not sure what to do about the Elf encounter either.  It involves the Dwarves and Bilbo escaping the Wood Elf stronghold.  I suppose I can change it up a bit and make it a little more high adventure.

I think the end-game will be the Battle of Five Armies.  From the book if you please!  This would be a scenario where the enemy keeps coming until certain events happen and ultimately ends when the Eagles arrive.  I think Dragon Rampant will make an excellent set to play the battle out with.

I’m planning on doing a little show and tell session.  I only need to get some time to actually take some pictures.  I finished up all my ACW cavalry and also have a slew of Orcs that I just finished painting.  Hopefully this weekend.  Until then…


Well, That Didn’t Take Long

September 28, 2017

In just two days, maybe 4 hours of work, the Nazgul are done.  I painted them in shifts, the foot first, the mounted second and the fell beast with rider third.  All were primed black followed by a coat of black paint and a light dry brushing of shadow gray.  Te metal parts are iron silver and the bones are bleached bone.


Nazgul mounted give chase. The front figure is a Witch King figure.

Frankie the Frank is going to have a tough time with this guy.

A scene from Weathertop? Nazgul attack the Hobbits near an old ruin.

It was an excellent find for me really and I am quite pleased with the figures.  $30 or so is not “cheap” but these figures fill a necessary niche for LotR battles.

To Mordor I will Take You

September 25, 2017

While browsing the “interwebs” for…well…anything, I stumbled upon a post about Black Raven Foundry wraiths and the lament that they were closer to 1/72 scale than 15mm.  What’s this you say?  The third picture in his post tells the whole story.  The Germanic warrior is, according to PSR, is 24mm tall.  So, last Thursday, I took a chance and made a purchase.  One bag of wraiths and another bag with the fell beast and Witch-King was ordered.  I figured the mounted and the witch king would size up too small.  Boy how wrong I was.

A selection posed with a MiniArt Mounted germanic Warrior, a HaT Frankish warrior and a Caesar Miniatures adventurer knight.

Not exactly perfect but here is a look at the figures for scale.

I am quite happy with the footmen and their size.  They are perhaps 23mm tall and seem to fit well with other figures.  I am pleasantly surprised with the mounted and how good they look against the mounted warrior.  Understand that MiniArt Germanic Warriors were a bit robust and slightly larger than the other 1/72 ranges.  So, though the “nightmares” are slightly smaller, in all likelihood, they will match with many other ranges.   I’d been looking for suitable wraith figures for my LotR collection.  Those interested can find them here and here.  A bag of each will run you about $30 with postage.  Expected delivery in the US is probably about a week or less.

Lord of the Rings Siege

October 10, 2016

My son and I have been having fun with a LotR siege game.  The game pits a small force of 12 elves and a hero against 2 bands of 12 Orcs as well as an Ogre and a small band of goblin archers.  If a band of Orcs are eliminated or routed, the  a new band comes to battle on the next turn.  The ogre and archers are removed from the game if they are killed.  The Orc force also has 4 ladders to scale the wall with.  The Elves must hold until turn 15, when another force of Elves arrives, ending the unlimited supply of Orcs.  At this point, the battle will be fought until turn 20 or until one side is completely routed.

Special rules.

  1. It takes a full turn to climb a ladder.
  2. The assaulting player may make an attack at the top if it survives a free shot by a defending character, assuming one is waiting for him at the top of the ladder
  3. If the assaulting character hits the defender (whether the defender saves or not) he may push his way onto the rampart.
  4. Ogres may attack the door and will batter it down on a ‘1’.
  5. Defenders may topple a ladder.  On a 3 the ladder is toppled.  This number is 1 less for each character on the ladder.
  6. If a ladder is toppled, the bottom character simply jumps down unhurt.  The top character must make a save or die.

Jack managed to eliminate my archers by turn 2.  They did, however, kill one of the elves with a lucky shot.  The Ogre managed to get to the door but was unable to bash it down before getting hit by a hail of arrows.  The ladders were placed on the wall and the Orcs managed to force their way up at one point on the front.  Then, the unthinkable happened.  It was bedtime.  Here are some pictures of the initial assault as well as the action at the end of turn 5.

Forces of evil approach the keep.

Forces of evil approach the keep.

A view from the Elven side.  One Orc has pushed his way onto the rampart.

A view from the Elven side. One Orc has pushed his way onto the rampart.

A view from the front.  The Orcs are scampering up the ladders.

A view from the front. The Orcs are scampering up the ladders.

A view from the side of the castle.  One of the ladder crews was frozen by Gandalf.  They come back next turn.

A view from the side of the castle. One of the ladder crews was frozen by Gandalf. They come back next turn.

The castle is by Toshach Miniatures.  It is a free 10mm paper model that was enlarged to 1/72 scale.  The images were high resolution so enlarging them did not lose any of the clarity.  Great little model.  The ladders came from Fat Dragon Games Siege Engines set.  The images here are seamless so I was able to simply add several lengths together and reduced them to 75%.  I then cut two notches so I could hang miniatures on the ladders to make them look like they were scaling the wall.  This set is a must have if you want some cheap siege engines including a siege tower and a covered battering ram.  I recommend printing them at 75% or maybe even a little less.

Blimey! If it don’t look like Mutton Tomorrow!

February 22, 2016

Jack and I got in our first Hobbit Scenario since the painting of some very nice Splintered Light Miniatures Dwarves.  (Post later on these)  The scenario deals with the three trolls, Tom, Bert and William from the first encounter in the book.  The scenario is written for Jack’s rules of war but could easily be balanced for any game.


The game map is relatively small.  A 2X2 board should suffice for most games.  The trolls are in a clearing in the hills or mountains.  The clearing is enclosed on all sides save one entrance that is exactly 2 trolls wide.  The party of dwarves are placed near the entrance and the trolls are placed within charge distance of the party.  The trolls get the first move.

Special Rules

The trolls cannot be killed.  However, they can be knocked out for D6 turns if they take 3 hits.

If a dwarf gets hit, they are also not killed.  Rather they are put “in the bag.”

Bilbo may not be attacked unless he is the last character out of the bag.  He may distract one troll on a 4 or less and the troll not making his magic save of 2 or less.  If successfully distracted, the troll can do nothing that turn.  Characters engaged with him in combat may freely disengage.  If a distracted troll is attacked, he may not strike back but may move again in his turn.  Distraction only lasts for 1 turn.

Each turn that there are no active trolls (distracted or knocked down) a single dwarf may escape from the bag.

Trolls get 2 attacks and hit on a 3 or less.  Their thick skin also allows them to save on a 3 or less.

The dwarves are relatively unarmored at this point in the story.  They hit and save with only a 2 or less.

The game lasts up to 15 turns.  Gandalf may arrive early.  At the end of turn 12 roll a die.  Gandalf arrives on a 6.  At the end of turn 13 he arrives on a 5+.  At the end of turn 14 he arrives on a 4+.  The game ends at the end of turn 15.  The Dwarf player must end the game by saying, “The dawn will take you all!”

How it played

Our game was a hedged in field about 1’X1′.  There was a mound in the middle of the field that was the location of the bag.  There was also a fire elemental that served as a campfire.  I did not have an actual camp fire.  The Trolls charged in but one was effectively blocked by the other two.  They managed to take 2 dwarves down.  Jack tried to distract but for two turns he was pretty unlucky in that department.  The trolls, effectively grabbed more than half the party by turn 5.  Things were not looking good.  Jack expressed his dismay.  I told him that maybe it was a mistake to split the party between the two trolls.  So, he managed to distract 1 of the trolls he was fighting. He then moved all of those guys to the other troll.  In a couple of turns he managed to knock that one down, then the second,  and finally the third.  When the third fell, they all were on the same number of turns to return…3 turns.  So we fast forwarded and allowed 3 dwarves to escape from the bag.  The trolls now were in position so that all 3 could attack and started making short work of the party.  Things were looking bad.  The game finally ended on turn 14.  Gandalf arrive and famously proclaimed, “The dawn will take you all!”

We sort of made it up as we went.  When Jack was complaining about the difficulty of the game.  So we lowered the turn count to 12 turns.  Then when he knocked all the trolls down, we decided that some of the dwarves could escape.  Finally, since the battle was going to be a tight one, I decided that Gandalf could potentially arrive on turn 12 and so forth.  It ran smoothly and we both had a great time.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Jack’s Rules of War

October 14, 2015

The skirmish game my son and I have been playing.  Apparently easy enough for 7 year olds to understand.  Enjoy!

Hold for 20 turns.  The forces of good must hold off hordes of Orcs until day break.

Hold for 20 turns. The forces of good must hold off hordes of Orcs until day break.


How tall is Beorn?

September 28, 2015

How tall is Beorn from the Hobbit? The book does not explicitly say but we can figure out the rough height of the bear-man in human form.

Step 1: A point of reference. Beorn wore a tunic that hung to the top of his knee.  “As for Bilbo he could easily have trotted through his legs without ducking his head to miss the fringe of the man’s brown tunic.” (From Queer Lodgings) So we know that Bilbo was knee high to Beorn.

Step 2: How tall is Bilbo? We assume Bilbo is of average height. A hobbit, according to the book The Hobbit is “about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves.“ (From An Unexpected Party) This is a somewhat sticky point because in the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien changes things up and makes the average Hobbit about 3 feet 6 inches. For our purposes, it’s better not to mix and match. So we shall stick with the size from The Hobbit. Now, a medieval man is about 5 feet 8 inches tall or 68 inches. A WWII man, fortunately, is also about 5 feet 8 inches tall. So we don’t actually have to know what “man” Tolkien was referring to. We can safely assume Bilbo is about 34 inches tall. So the distance from the ground to the top of Beorn’s knee is also 34 inches..

Step 3: Compare to a real world person. The distance to the top of my knee is 24 inches. We an figure out the multiplier to increase my height to figure out how tall Beorn is, assuming he has my height proportions. 34 / 22 = 1.416666667. My height is 72 inches. 72 X 1.416666667 = 102 inches. That works out to 8.5 feet. I’d conjecture that Beorn is somewhere between 8 and 9 feet tall….in human form.

Step 4: (Optional) If you are looking for a miniature, you simply need to apply the multiplier above to the size of your “man” size in mm. For instance, my figures are about 24mm tall. So 24 X 1.416666667 = 34mm. Fudging that, most modern 28mm figures could fit the bill as they are usually 31mm+ tall.

As for Beorn in bear form, he was described as follows: “He came alone, and in bear’s shape; and he seemed to have grown almost to giant-size in his wrath. The roar of his voice was like drums and guns; and he tossed wolves and goblins from his path like straws and feathers.” Any werebear that is at least twice the height of your man sized miniatures should do. Mine is the Dwarf Werebear from Dungeons and Dragons miniatures but since I’ve done my research, I am kind of sorry I did not get something a bit bigger.

Left to right: Boromir, Foundr Viking (Beorn in human form maybe?), Bilbo, Beorn in Bear form

Left to right: Boromir, Foundry Viking (Beorn in human form maybe?), Bilbo, Beorn in Bear form.

My Beorn holds an ax which is not really an accurate description but it is a great looking miniature and will work nicely with the rest of my figures.  I’ll be looking at some of Reaper’s offerings for Beorn in human form as their figures are on the large size.  The one I found in my collection is a bit undersized.