Friday, May 10, 2019

Gearing up for more GW Lord of the Rings

A post in which we talk about doing more LOTR.
and I complain about not having anytime for fun.

Wargaming Compass Points to Middle Earth for Awhile

With an enjoyable and successful game of Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game under my belt, now seems like a good time to fall down this hobbit hole.  There are several projects that I want to do, and it's a nice break from the normal most serious historical gaming.

Plus, looking ahead, it looks like the first Wargame convention that I will be able to attend is near the end of July called "Intergalactic Conquest."  This is the 'midsummer conquest' convention that I attended last year with a name change and a sci-fy theme.  LOTR is about as -fy- as I get.  But for the first time in forever I could actually host a game that fits the theme.
(when you have a little girl in your house, the songs from Disney's Frozen are never far away)

Right now I'm thinking of putting on a series of linked games from the Gondor at War supplement but we'll have to see how much stuff I get done first.  It's a good time to start with about 3 months till wargame convention weekend.  Depending on what else happens in life, this means I could get as many as 5 miniatures painted.  Or maybe more.  depends if I do highlights.

Alternatively I could just put on 1 or 2 larger style battle games set in LOTR lands.  Either from the scenario book or just make something up.

Lets' Get Painting

Painting up LOTR miniatures heralds my glorious return to painting 28mm.  I think it's been about 2 years since I painted anything 28mm as I've been focusing on 18mm ACW and 1/1200 ships.

28mm seem pretty huge in comparison, so on the upside, painting the details should be pretty easy.
On the downside there are more details to paint, and I have to remember how to paint faces.
-that last statement was misleading, because it implies that I knew how to paint faces in the first place.  I will say this though: a nicely detailed 28mm miniature makes me want to paint it the best that I can, with extra time and effort, as opposed to those tiny 18mm figures that just get the bare minimum.

First project: let's paint all the those black-primed models from the last game, because they'll be used in the next game if I follow the sequence in Gondor at War (and why wouldn't I).

  To warm up and shake out the kinks of my rusty 28mm painting skills, I painted up some Rangers of Gondor.

"we are not ninja's, we are rangers."
  "but you look like ninjas?"
  "We are rangers!  Karate chop to your face!"

I swear, these guys just look like woodland themed ninjas.

Feeling that went well, I turned my attention to the heroes.  I painted up the Madril model

"I swear my name is Madril."
"but you don't look like Madril"
"Silence I say!

No it's not the actual proper Madril model, this is a model of some guy called Duinhir.  But I don't have the proper Madril model so this guy will have to fill in.  No one will notice anyway.
and even if they do?  This is not for a tournament where everything needs to be WYSIWYG.  I have no problem proxying one fictional character with another fictional character, especially when it's not an iconic character.
Do you know who Madril was from the movies?  I doubt it.

It was this guy

He's best friends with Faramir.  In the movies he tells Faramir that if he lets the hobbits go, his "life will be forfeit."  Nothing every comes of it though.  And Speaking of Faramir...

A lot of my LOTR collection are old models painted a long time ago, some almost 10 years ago, and my painting has improved just a little bit since then.  Least I think so.  While it's probably not worth my time to repaint all of the old models, I did want a better painted Faramir, one of my favorite characters. I had this miniature of Faramir in the lead mountain (of DOOM).  I've always thought this pose of drawing the sword for battle was the best, out of the all the available Faramir poses.

I also touched up my Boromir who guess stars in the next scenario.  Though he's supposed to be carrying a banner, so I'm gonna have to print one up and attach it to him somehow.  There's a plan in place but no time yet.

Now all of the good side is at least painted from the previous scenario (Defense of Osgiliath) and the next two scenarios (Retaking of Osgiliath and the Fall of Osgilaith).  Good side: DONEZO.

I might redo the bases on the older troops so that everyone matches and looks more uniform, and to be more cohesive with the the stone pattern in the wargame mat I'm using for my Osgiliath and Minas Tirith from Cigar Box miniatures.  But rebasing is SUCH a chore...

But first I want to complete the evil side, as it had some bare black primer miniatures as well.

I painted up these two Orc Captains.
Not much to say.  There they are, all painted like.

 and the next scenario requires a TROLL.  
This model has sat in a drawer for years in nothing but black primer.  In fact, it's so old that it's actually made of metal and not plastic.  I guess it was time to finally paint it as it's waited long enough in it's dark troll hole.

Step 2: Terrain Snowball

The Osgiliath ruins are coming along well, but the table still looks a little empty in places.

from last game, a pic of the board

especially if I'm going for that 'cramped, ruins all around us' feel.  I'm gonna need some more walls, some pieces of scatter, and more buildings.

To get the snowball rolling, I took to the garage and unleashed the super sexiness of power tools.  I made sure to tell the wife what I was doing so she could come and gaze upon me with wonder and longing.  She snapped this picture of me while trying not to laugh...

Drink in the sexiness.

After a short amount of time, (because power tools make working faster), I had stack of bases in various sizes for later.

Maybe you've heard of a debt snowball? Well the idea of a terrain snowball is the same.  Start with the smallest base and make it into a terrain item of some sort.  When it's done move onto the next larger base, and so on.

Other Feats of manhood that I accomplished lately..

bought a lawnmower and tamed the wild grass

This is the air gap for the dishwasher.  Witness how it's NOT shooting water all over the counter, that's because I fixed it.  I didn't know what an air gap was until just recently.

installed baby gates so son #2 doesn't get out of his designated area without permission  from the overseeing parents.

Enough Foolishness with the Pictures.

Fine.  Back to the hobbying:

The only snags with making terrain from the Hirst Arts molds is that the process is kinda messy.  Dust and small bits of plaster gets everywhere and it takes a lot of space on the hobby table, and by a lot of space I mean aaallll of the space.   So once a terrain project is started it has to be finished before something else can be started.  Therefore the terrain projects have to be manageable and able to be completed in a somewhat reasonable time-frame.

Step 3: The so-called Plan:

I'll be engaging in an exciting cycle of: painting miniatures, make terrain pieces, and trying to squeeze in playing a game or two.  Rinse and repeat. Fairly standard thinking on my part and a statement made by every blog ever. Utterly conventional.  I was never accused of being an original thinker.

We'll see how it goes.  Right now life is conspiring against me and forcing me to attend to important matters but that's how it is sometimes.  These important maters include Son#2 first birthday, wife#1 birthday, mother's day, a whole slew of chores, and traveling down to southern California and spending about a week and half down there getting my father's house ready for sale (the house that I grew up in). 

Hopefully I'll be able to carve out some more time for relaxation and gaming in the upcoming months.  🙂

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Gondor at War Review

Continuing on my journey through middle earth, today we review Games Workshop's "Gondor at War" MESBG supplement. 

Time to lock in my share of the sweet sweet LoTR blog readership.
This might be of limited use to anyone else...

The Board is set, the Pieces are Moving. 

The book says it’s a supplement that focuses on the events in the War of the Ring that happen within the realm of Gondor.  So think about the battlefields, characters, and dramatic stuff that happens at the tail end of the Two Towers and throughout The Return of the King.  It mostly contains a bunch of narrative scenarios that aim to recreate these moments, which is exactly why I bought it in the first place.  

Side discussion: narrative vs army list.  
There’s basically two ways to play LoTR. The more usual one is the army list / competitive way that is very familiar to everyone.  You make your army list up to a point total and your opponent does the same, each looking for the killer combination.  You then both play some random scenario from the list of official random scenarios.  While there’s nothing wrong with all that, I did  it for years and years when I started wargaming, these days this style of play doesn’t hold much interest for me.  

The other style of play is called Narrative, in which you play specially written scenarios that aim to recreate parts of the books and movies. So naturally the army list is just made up of who was in that part of the narrative and the scenarios usually have some special rules as well.  This is what appeals to me bc you recreate the iconic scenes with the characters you love and just feels way more ‘Lord of the Rings.”   I think this style also appeals to my historical gaming core; just like historical gaming where you are reliving history based on the historical record you’re basically playing out the history of Middle Earth.  It’s just that the history is all fictional. But all history is fictional to some extent.  (Whoa, Deep Thoughts)

Now I could write these scenarios myself but that would require a lot of thought and effort.  That’s why I buy scenario books, they do that work for me.  So that’s what I am looking for in the Gondor at War book.  

What’s in the book?

First up is a 2 page history of Gondor.  Like most potted histories, if you knew nothing of LoTR then this would be a good beginning primer.  However, since most people who would buy this book I’m going to assume at least saw the movies and/or read the books, it’s nothing you didn’t already know and does not go into satisfying detail. 

Next up we have a ton of narrative scenarios , the heart of the book really.  There are 29 scenarios in this book which is a huge number. 
It’d be a little tedious to describe each one, but safe to say that there are a large variety of scenarios that focus on the events of The War of the Ring that happen within the realm of Gondor. Just what it says on the back cover, so there’s some truth in advertising.  

OK, FINE.  Let's list the scenarios anyway..with my added short description and opinions..
Movie quotes as well, because if you're like me and seen the movies about a 1000 times that's what you think of...

Defense of Osgiliath
-Faramir and friends try to hold the ruins from an endless fire hose of orcs.  I've played this one.  It's fun.  It's not in the movies and the books mention it as already happened.  

Retaking of Osgiliath
-Boromir and Faramir reclaim the ruins from the orcs.  "This city was once the jewel of our kingdom!"  The aftermath of the battle is in the extended cut of the movie.  You do have the extended cut don't you?  Because 3 hours is not long enough...

Ambush in Ithilien
-Faramir and rangers shoot at Mumaks.  This part is in the movie of The Two Towers.  While not part of the scenario, I would definately place Frodo, Sam, and Golum on the table to watch the action.  "War will make corpses of us all."

Raiding of Pelargir
-Fiefdom troops from LAMEdon fight corsairs.

Fall of Osgiliath
-Gothmog and grunts take the ruins.  Great scene in the movie.  'Fall back to Minas Tirith!'
Frodo has moved on by this point.

The White Rider
-Faramir and friends flee Osgiliath pursured by Ringwraiths on fellbeasts.  Gandalf the White rides out to help.  It's a short scene in the movie where Gandalf scares away the Wraiths with his super staff spotlight.

Faramir’s Charge
-Faramir charges with cavalry back to Osgiliath and gets shot to pieces.  It's not even a remotely fair scenario and says so.

The Battle for Pelargir
-Grey company, more fiefdoms, and the Dead storm the coastal city to fight the corsairs.

Atop the Walls
-Gandalf the White, Pippin and others fend off the endless hordes of orcs spewing from siege towers. This is a clever scenario and does NOT need siege towers or a complete set of walls.  it's a very small table and is just the top of the walls in one small area.  "Guard of the citadel indeed."

The Gate is Breached
-Hordes of Mordor come streaming through the gate while Gandalf the White and others try to hold the courtyard.  "No matter what comes through that door, you will stand your ground."

The Streets of Minas Tirith
-Pippin on one side, Gandalf on the other; Pip has to reach Gandalf to warn him about Denethor loosing his marbles but in between them the battle rages...

The Witch-King’s arrival*
-minigame; Gandalf versus the Witch-King.  "your staff is broken."

Charge of the Rohirrim
-Theoden and everyone who can ride a horse charge into the Morannon Orcs.  "Ride for Ruin and the world's ending!"  (best line EVER!)

Denethor’s Madness
-Gandalf, Pippin, and Beregond try to stop Denethor from burning Faramir alive.  "Stop this madness!"  The movie doesn't have Beregond.

War Beasts from the South
-Rohan versus 3 mumaks.  "Reform the line!  Take them head on!" (worst plan EVER)

The Horse and the Serpent
-Not in the movie, but in the books.  Theoden and friends battle the Serpent horde.

Death of a King
-The Witch-King and Theoden surrounded by troops are on a collision course.

Final Fate of the Witch-King*
-minigame: Eowyn and Merry versus the ridiculously sized flail.  "I will kill you if you touch him."   or "I am no man."

The Ride of the Fiefdoms
-Not in the movies but in the books.  Imrahil rides out with friends in support of Rohan (no Rohan are in this scenario).

The Grief of Eomer
-Eomer is surrounded and mad with grief (have you ever been mad with grief?  I have) and Imrahil comes to save him or is it too late?

Defend the Gate
-While Imrahil is out in the fields goofing around, a small band guards the gate for re-entry from hordes and Mumaks.

The Docks of Harlond
-The 3 hunters and the Dead get off the boats and surprise the Morannon Orcs.  "There's knife work here."  There's an alternate OOB for the good side to make it like the book versus the movie.

Death of Gothmog
-Aragorn and Gimli have to wade through orcs to get to Gothmog before he gets to Eowyn.
This looks like a fun scenario.

That Still Only Counts as One!*
Minigame: Legolas kills a whole Mumak by himself by jumping around.  Then slides down the trunk all super cool like.  I SOOO wish I was Legolas.

The Dead Arrive
-The army of the dead attacks the Mumaks.

The Battle of Pelennor Fields
-I think this is a reprint of the scenario in the Armies of Middle Earth book, maybe expanded just a bit.  It has everybody.

The Black Gate (left hill, right hill)
-3 scenarios really.  1 for how it's depicted in the movies and 2 for in the book.  

*3 of the scenarios are probably better described as ‘mini games’.   These represent famous duels between characters like Eowyn and the Witch King.  They’re not miniature wargames, but they use a deck of cards or alternate rules to resolve.  I would guess they take about 10 mins to play tops.  I support this decision, because  if you used the normal MESBG rules to fight a duel between the Witch King, Eowyn and Pippin, then it would be very boring and one sided.  So while there are 29 scenarios it's more like 26 scenarios total.

OK, SO maybe that wasn't so tedious to list all the scenarios.  Hopefully that gives a good idea of each of the scenarios but not give the whole thing away.

Each scenario is basically 2 pages long.  The first page is the fluff and sets the context for the scenario and basically describes 'what's going on here.'  If you read this part in a voice like you were trying out to be a narrator for an audio book, the prose is kinda fun.  I'm trying to say that it's written very dramatically. There also always a a large dramatic picture.  The next page has a map, a small paragraph describing the terrain suggested for the scenario (in pretty vague terms, but that’s understandable), a paragraph about starting positions, victory conditions and special rules.  Each scenario has special rules.  Lastly there are OOBs for each side dictating which characters / miniatures are needed to play.  All of these are easy to follow and make setting up the scenarios straight forward.  

I only found 1 big mistake; in the  Streets of Minas Tirith scenario the evil side OOB  has 3 trolls listed in it, but in the paragraph for starting positions it makes no mention of trolls but does so specifically for everything else in the scenario.   So either the trolls in the evil OOB are a cut and paste error or the scenario writer forgot to mention where/how to deploy them.  I can guess where the trolls are supposed to go; there are 3 trolls and the Mordor forces are split into 3 groups and deployed into 3 different deployment areas so I'm guessing 1 troll goes in each.

I have heard that a lot of these scenarios are just slightly tweaked versions of previously published scenarios in journey books and/or older LOTR sourcebooks.  This might be true. I suppose if one had a large collection of these books then buying GaW would be redundant.  I don't have a big collection of the old books and most of those are out of print now and hard to find.  These were all new scenarios to me.

Now, let’s talk a little more about what miniatures are needed to play.  Obviously, because of the book covers the Battle of the Pelennor Fields  / Siege of Minas Tirith, it has every faction that was at the battle....Which is all of them.
Probably a smart move by GWs part bc it makes the book more accessible to people no matter what armies they happen to have laying around.

What I like is that none of the scenario OOBs are too outrageous.  Most top out at around 40 miniatures per side, many with less than that.  Yes, if you wanted to play ALL of these scenarios it would be very expensive to have all the models.  So like most scenario books, in reality there are only a select number of scenarios that are doable with your collection.  This strikes me as no different than when I purchase, say ACW scenario books, which out of like 10 scenarios only 2-3 are immediately doable, the others requiring more troops than I have, or more cavalry, cannons, special terrain,  etc..

The OOBs tell you exactly what to field, there's none of this take Hero X and Hero Y and 300 points worth of soldiers.  Also the OOBs don't use elite troops.  It's basic troops plus heroes.  So there's no Rohan royal guard, no Gondor Guardians of the Fountain Court, no Mordor Black Guard or Numorians...

I'll try to give examples of the more extreme OOB requirements, but what is considered extreme is very subjective.  People who have large / diverse collections might not think so...
-one scenario requires 3 ringwraths on fellbeasts (i dunno, I had 2 of these lying around in my modest collection)
-one scenario requires 3 trolls (again I dunno, I had two in my lead pile)
- a few scenarios require 2 War Mumaks (these are $100 models) and one requires 3.
I don't have these, so I won't be playing those scenarios anytime soon.  Though I guess if you were someone who played Harad you might have 1 or 2.
(or be like Jay who has 5..)

In my case, given some recent purchases, out of the 26 scenarios (29 - 3 minigames) I have the required models for 6 of them.  That's not a terrible ratio, and it's not like I had a huge collection of LOTR figures lying around.

What I also like is that the force lists repeat themselves in the scenarios.  What I mean to say is, there seem to be some 'core' forces and these are used in multiple scenarios with just some fringe changes here and there.

For example: A core force of 36 Mordor Orcs, 12 with shield and sword, 12 with spear, 6 with bow, 6 with 2handed is used in 3 different scenarios.  Only the special characters change from scenario to scenario.
Perhaps 'core configuration' is a better term.  But there are several of them across the factions.

Special Characters also appear in many scenarios.  For example in any scenario featuring Morannon Orcs there is usually a Gothmog, Gothmog's Enforcer (I guess he doesn't have a name), Gurtiz, or a Goroth.  Why do all Morannon orc names start with G?  We may never know.

That is NOT to say that there are no 1 off OOBs.  There are miniatures that only appear in 1 scenario.

Gah, Special Characters are Expensive!

Don't I know it.  I just spent over $100 at Forge World for a total of 9 miniatures.
9 miniatures; $100.  That's $15 a miniature.  I even winced when I typed that.
(I only did it because I had a tax return with some money marked for 'frivolous expenditures.'  And I didn't tell the wife how much they were.)  This is a GW game isn't it?  We all know that GW is expensive.

Now, I think that part of the fun of LOTR is using miniatures that are recognizable from the the movies / books, and obviously some characters are more iconic than others.  And the special characters seems to be where GW will make all it's money.  Most of the scenarios use a special character or two (or three or four).

This is also a good time to mention a few things about Proxies, substitutions, and amendments.  Namely to say that if you are playing narrative scenarios then what do you care about WYSIWYG or following the OOB exactly.  Take the core of the scenario and make it work for your collection.
Some examples from myself:
In GaW, Faramir is always in his ranger version (light armor and bow).  There's even a scenario were he is mounted as a ranger and that model doesn't even exist.  Despite having 5 Faramir models, I don't have a ranger version, so I'm going to substitute Faramir with heavy armor instead.
(though it didn't do him any good in the first scenario...see This AAR)

Madril is in 3 scenarios, but I don't have one of those miniatures either.  So to proxy I'll be using a Duinhir miniature I have laying around.

You get the idea.

Campaign System (Kinda)

After all the scenarios comes the campaign system, but honestly the word campaign is a little too strong.  What it basically describes is how the winner of 1 scenario will get a bonus in the next scenario (or how the loser will have a weakness).  It is NOT that if a character dies in 1 scenario he (or she) can't be used in the next.  The force list for each scenario is fixed so casualties in one scenario do not matter in the next.

That soiunds like I dislike it, I actually like what it does, I just wouldn't call it a campaign.  It's more like 'linking' the scenarios to provide a little bit more narrative and the additional rules don't seem overpowering.  How each scenario affects the next makes sense as well, and makes going through the scenarios just a little more interesting.  

What's next in the book?

I'm only gonna briefly mention the next half of the book, because it's mostly stuff that I minimally care about.
the next section has a bunch of summaries of each faction mentioned in the narrative scenarios.  It's basically a 2 page advertisement of how awesome each faction is, how each can knock blocks off with their socks off. 

GW has a long history of making everything sound like it's the best ever.  This is where they do it in this book.  
I had a roommate like this once.  "man, these are like the ultimate chicken nuggets ever."  

It's here where the book starts to transition from narrative play to competitive / army list play.  

But importantly for me; It also has the stats for any of the special characters mentioned in this book's scenarios that are not in other big army list book.

The next bit is a small collection of army lists called "legendary legions" (these are like, the best ever man) which are just what I said; army lists for the competitive player.  I read them once just to see what they were about, but I honestly haven't looked at time since.  They seem cool but I couldn't tell you for sure.

It's not that I mind that the army lists are included in the book.  It doesn't seem like there was enough there to warrant it's own separate publication, or maybe GW just wanted the book to have something for everyone.  But if you were just buying GaW  so you could have the stats for the special characters / heroes and the legion lists for competitive play then you definitely got ripped off.  Because the majority of the book is not for you.

However, I might be a minority type of player that's only interested in narrative play; could be that the majority of MESBG players are interested in both styles.  

And last but not least: At the back of the book are bunch of pictures of miniatures painted up really well.  I assume these are included to 
1) add to the page count
2) serve as a paint guide
3) make me feel bad about my average painting skills.

So... Overall and in Summation

I bought it for the narrative scenarios and I think the content delivers in spades.  You hear the word 'thematic' thrown around a lot in MESBG circles, and I'd say that the narrative scenarios are especially thematic and worth the price of the book.  I'm already planning the next 4 months of my life and hobby time around doing more LOTR gaming because of this book.  I'm pleased I purchased it.  

The book also has a high production value and is pretty to look at.  Even my wife said one night "that's a pretty book."  

I hope someone will find this useful.  I wrote it because a blogger's gotta blog, and because when I typed into google "GW Gondor at War review" not a whole lot popped up.
Who knows, maybe GW will send me a box of miniatures of something... (Army of the Dead please!)

I also wrote it because because despite being a mild mannered hobbyist and miniature wargamer at heart, I haven't had any wargaming or hobby time in all of April.
Fittingly, I wasn't mild mannered either.

Thanks for reading.  Till next time. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Defense of Osgiliath AAR and other Lord of the Rings stuff

Hello again.

Here is a post in which we discuss the sinister siren song of GW's Lord of the Rings and have a game of Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game.  This might be a long post.

"STOP Buying Lord of the Rings Stuff"

is what I told myself.  "At least, stop buying stuff until you play the stupid game once.  Because if you keep buying stuff and then play and end up not liking it, you are wasting your money."

The last time I played LOTR had to be back sometime in 2014 ish.  I remember liking the game a lot for awhile, but eventually becoming disenchanted with the list building, scenarios, and over powered magic system.  Looking back, I think I was more tired of the tournament scene than the game mechanics themselves.   But I do love the Lord of the Rings and the miniature collection survived all the purges of getting rid of stuff that I wasn't using.  But mostly it all just sat in a box in the back of the garage, covered in cobwebs, labeled in faded Sharpie "someday, somehow, I'll get back into LOTR."

Around September last year, GW launched their new version of LOTR with the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game.  It sounded great, and I purchased the books, as discussed in this blog post HERE.  (the post is called 'Lord of the Ka-Ching' which I still find Hi-larious.)

After reading the rules and watching youtube videos, I got all excited and made this LOTR ruin that I finished last January (Can be seen  HERE).

And that's when I told myself "Stop."
Play the actual  game once or twice, make sure you like it, before investing more into it.  Especially because it's a GW game and you know that it's gonna cost an arm and a leg and more besides. 

So Then I bought Some More Lord of the Rings Stuff

You all saw it coming.  Wargamers have feeble minds and we are in good company.

First I bought the Gondor at War supplement.  Seemed like a no brainer bc I had a gift certificate to the Warstore from Christmas just waiting to be used and my LOTR miniature collection focuses on Gondor and Mordor.

This turned out to be a mistake.  Not because the book is terrible, but because the book is AWESOME!

The thing is full of really fun scenarios that focus on recreating iconic parts from the movies and books (mostly from Return of the King) which is exactly what I want to do....
Also, a lot of the scenarios are doable with my current collection, or become doable with only a modest investment in time and money.  A lot of the scenarios are set in Osgiliath or inside Minas Tirrith which fits my terrain made from Hirst Arts and is again, exactly what I want.
There might be a fuller review in the works for a future blog post, but it looks like an excellent LOTR resource.  But unfortunately it proved to be a major catalyst to my excitement and lead to buying..

yes, the carpet is indeed that ugly...

Missing from my collection (but not anymore!), and needed for some scenarios were Morannon Orcs (which are just like regular orcs except stronger and with better I guess not like regular orcs after all.).  A nice fellow on TMP was selling two boxes for half price.  These were snatched up as 'a deal too good to be missed.'   First miniature purchase of the year.

Having these guys made more scenarios possible, especially scenes from the movies that take place in Osgiliath and Minas Tirrith.  Which lead to buying..

I mean, IF I was gonna do battles inside the White City and the ruins of the former capitol of Gondor, then I NEEDED a suitable wargame mat.  RIGHT?  I think this Cigar Box "Dungeon Floor" mat will do the trick.  I got the 6 x 4 Plus version.

It's all coming along nicely now, no need to buy anything else for awhile.  Remember you're supposed to play the game before buying anything else.  Did you just say tax return?

Special characters from Forge World.  Also very much needed.

The wife and I were surprised to get a tax return this year, which we weren't expecting, because I just said it came as a surprise.  I'm an excellent blogger with a powerful command of the English language.  While the majority went to responsible behaviors a slice was selected for frivolous purchases, which resulted in me ordering these special characters, naturally.

To recap:
After I told myself to stop buying stuff I then proceeded to buy a book, a wargame mat, 2 boxes of plastic miniatures (48 total), and 4 blisters of expensive resin miniatures (9 total).  I am the epitome of self control.

Will somebody save me from myself, and play me LOTR so I can clear my conscience?!!

Defense of Osigiliath AAR        (get on with the game already)

Enter, from stage left, my good buddy Dai, to the sounds of wailing guitars and exploding smoke bombs, like a WWE superstar.  Back when we played Blood Eagle Dai said he would like to try out LoTR.  We finally got out act together and he came over for a game...

The "Defense of Osgiliath" is the first scenario from the Gondor at War supplement.  In which Faramir (one of my favorite characters) and some side kicks try to defend the ruins of Osgiliath from an endless tide of orcs.  I think this happens around the time that Gandalf starts to figure out that Bilbo's ring is actually the One Ring, and is out looking for Gollum.  

For the initiated; Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game is a lot about how the Heroes lead their troops and use their special abilities, very similar in concept to Too Fat Lardies game design.  So an AAR is mostly about what the heroes are doing.  I'll try to keep the descriptions of things kinda generic so that everyone can follow along.  

I don't want to rewrite the whole scenario, but here are the basics: 
4 x 4 table covered in ruins.  The game lasts 10 turns.  
There are 3 objectives; one in the middle of the table, and 2 more to each side, making a line through the center.  
The forces of good consist of 12 Warriors of Minas Tirrith, the guys in heavy armor, and 12 Rangers of Gondor, the guys who prowl around in the woods and wear cloaks.  Lead by Faramir (a medium power hero), his buddy Madril (a slightly less medium power hero), and Damrod (who is a very minor hero, really just barely one step above a redshirt, I mean cannon-fodder, I mean brave but common soldiers).

Picture of the general table set up, with the miniatures milling around till action is called.

Other side...

The forces of evil consist of 36 orcs lead by 3 nameless Orc Captains.  They didn't get any speaking lines in the movies I guess.  All 3 are a little less powerful than Madril.  

Victory conditions:  The forces of evil have to capture / destroy  ALL THREE objectives by the end of 10 turns.  To capture or destroy an objective a bad guy just has to be in contact with it for a fight phase.  The good side has to keep Faramir alive and hold just ONE of the objectives.  Sounds easy enough.. but wait!

I thought this pic was very atmospheric.

Special rules:
The Orcs have endless numbers!  At the end of the evil player's move phase, roll a D6 for each dead orc; on a 4+ that Orc is returned to the evil deployment zone. The 3 Orc Captains don't respawn,

Faramir has to charge if able to, because he knows that his father will be mad at him if he yields the ruins and he is fueled by a desire to not be yelled most sons.  But he may spend a point of Will in order to control himself and think rationally (to not charge).

I gave Dai the evil side as befits his character and personality.

Good guys deploy 6" from center objective

Side Discussion: Unpainted Miniatures!
Shame and indeed horror, this post features unpainted minis (GASP)  I was too busy finishing the ships featured in the last post to paint all the troops for this scenario.  I make no apologies. (DOUBLE GASP)  This is a blog post, not a magazine article.  This is a home game, not a gaming convention.  There's nothing wrong with playing with unpainted miniatures, especially when trying things out.  

Evil deployment

And now,  a series of pics in which I will try to summarize the action..

Orcs quickly come streaming in the center and on the right.
I try to shoot as many as possible with my bows, but typical LOTR shooting, it's pretty crap.

Damrod and a small force of rangers put up a tolkien (get it??) resistance on the right objective
 as Orcs come running through the ruins

Faramir is out front by the center objective, trying to hold back the Orc wave
He is burning through his might and fate points

The right objective falls and Damrod begins a retreat back to the center objective.

Dai has focus much of his orcs on the center and right objective
but on the left side now, Orcs are seen coming through the ruins

fighting in the center and right rages on! 

I send some men out to hold the left objective.  I could just let it go and just concentrate on holding he middle
but I figure that the orcs I distract / delay on the left, the less that can attack the center.

The center objective is really only being defended by having my figures stand on it.
Faramir is down to 1 wound and no might or fate. I think about pulling him back
but that's not what heroes do!

I surround the left objective with 3 guys
3 men taking on 7 orcs, so I guess that means my plan is working?

Faramir falls victim to a nameless orc with an axe.
Of course he is not dead-dead.  Just mostly dead.
He'll be back in the next scenario.
But this does not look good for the good guys.  Now even if I manage to keep an objective
the best I can do is a draw.  play for the tie!

Hold that left objective!
by standing right on top of it!

Orcs sweeping in on the center objective.. Madril goes down as well.

Orcs take the left objective.

It all comes down to Darmod, the least of my heroes and now has his chance at fame.
Almost everyone is dead, at the start of turn 9,
Damrod stands on the last objective, surrounded by Orcs.
Can he hold out for 1 turn?
(odds are not good)

On the beginning of the 10th turn there are no good models left to defend the last objective, unless the plan was to hide it under their corpses.  So Dai pulls out a win on the very last turn.
Victory to the Evil side!

Osgiliath is fallen, and Faramir is in Deep-deep-dodo with his father.  He's gonna be mad...

"What did Faramir do now?" 

Post Game Thoughts

Ok, that is a very interesting and fun scenario and I enjoyed it. In truth the game was closer than the pics make it look.  The scenario has a very cool dynamic where the good side is playing with diminishing strength (every lost model hurts) while the evil side must apply constant pressure (and losses do not matter!).  While all my models died, it means that I had them in the right place in order to contest the objectives.  At least that's what I'll tell myself.  

Good news!  I really like the Lord of the Rings rules, or should I say the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game (what a mouthful).  It plays well and is fun.

Bad news!  I really like MESBG (I wasn't going to type it all out again).  This will lead to craziness.

This post has gone on for long enough.
Thanks for reading.

(EDIT: no one noticed that I misspelled Osgiliath the whole corrected.  It's a made up word anyway!)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

French 80 and British 74 Ships

After the marathon game of Post Captain last January I was reminded that there were more ships to paint.... and now they're finished!

What a story!  what a twist ending!  What an obvious conclusion! 

Or is it....

Paint What You Want Play (Or Alternatively: The Stronger motivation)

In general, the best way to motivate painting is to play games.  I know for myself the more games played means the more painting done.  This is because I'm a 'paint to play' gamer.  I've never bought or painted a figure just cause I thought it was cool and be fun to paint.  Each figure is meant for the game table to be gamed with (no matter how long that may take...sometimes a looong while. lol).

After the Gaming Weekend (as posted in Jan) of AoS and ACW, while motivation was high for those genres some ACW infantry and  ships were placed on the paint table.  Speaking for myself, this is something that often happens, that the selection of hobby projects is influenced by what I played last.  However, sometimes momentum for these projects can sag when the mind starts to look forward to the next game.  I get some cognitive dissonance if I am painting for one genre while planning to play another.  I'm excited for the next thing and want to prepare for that.  I also think that this happens to a lot of wargamers, which is why so many miniature projects get half started or languish in varies stages of completion.  Wargamers get distracted by the next thing on the horizon and don't finish what they start.  because we are bad people.  No, it's that:

We are more motivated to paint for future games than from past ones.
Just something that I noticed.

So it took a little self discipline to finish these ships as I was thinking about other things, mainly Lord of the Rings, but more on that in a future post.  Try not to hold your breath in anticipation.  But I am glad that I stuck to it because now the fleet has grown by 2 more ships.  And I have that sense of completion of a project finished.  Cue the contented sigh.

Plus, I really like the way they came out. 

French 80 gun SOL

First up, I present to you a French 80 gun Ship of the Line.  I've been needing one these for awhile. 
This ship would represent the Bucentaure, which was the same design as the French Formidable, which is the French Admiral's Flagship in the Battle of Cape Ortegal Scenario.
The future scenario can be seen in a past blog post HERE.  (how was that for a mind bender?)

A very proud pennant in this pic! 

I think the more correct paint scheme for the Bucentaure would be just plain yellow sides, but honestly there is just so little info on how the ships were actually painted. It just doesn't seem to be a thing that mattered much.  I can kinda understand, as it's not like a ships color mattered in her identification.  And as I tend to use the ships interchangeably (unless it's a specific model of a famous ship), I tend to just go for nice looking paint schemes. 

it's required that at least one photo has my fingers in it, just to show the scale. 

The Stern came out looking pretty.

For this ship I added some Red on the gunwale and upper deck. 

British 74 gun SOL

Adding to the numbers of the British, here is another 74 gun 3rd rate.  The backbone and work horse of any Napoleonic Age of Sail fleet. 

A blue strip on this one, just because it looks sexy.

This ship was not made to model any ship in particular, just a generic 74.

Rigging everywhere! 

Now sail off to the world at large!  Or at least into the storage bin.

Last year's goal for AoS was to have 8 ships, and now that goal is reached albeit 3 months late.  There will certainly be more ships in the future.  For now, 4 ships a side is a good amount for a 4 player game using Post Captain (2 ships each).  Goal achieved!

I award myself the "yay me" for achieving the goal
and for my self discipline.

Aftermath and Future Seeing.

Unlike my usual habit of being focuses on a few projects, lately I've been doing a little bit on several fronts at once.  This has left me feeling a little scattered and disorganized, and the current state of the hobby desk reflects this...

What a mess! 

Time to organize!  Recent purchases have to found a home, paints put in the rack, game supplies back on the shelves, vacuum the floor to get all the little bits and pieces that have fallen like snowflakes before Son #2 (now almost a year old) finds them and puts them in his mouth.  Maybe a little soap and water to combat the smell. 

As always, thanks for taking the time to read this blog.  Be back soon.