Thursday, September 21, 2017

BGiME #7: Walls and Fences

What’s the point in having an issue dedicated to teaching the rules regarding defending walls if you don’t have some walls to defend? 

Issue #7 provides easy-to-follow directions for building walls and fences for your game table. The materials are cheap, the skill level is low (if not fool-proof, as we’ll see), and the result is as many obstacles as you could desire for your games. 

The walls are made from 6” sections of thick card glued together and topped with thin card. When you pay attention to what you’re doing, it works just fine. When you’re attention to detail is lacking, things go a little awry. When building one of my walls, I wasn’t precise in my cutting and that left a bump in the top of the wall. When I topped the wall with section of thin card, the result was a less than even finish. Not horrible, but a little more care on my part would have resulted in a better terrain.

The fences are made from balsa wood glued to a section of thin card. The uprights are placed first, then once the glue has dried, the crossbars are attached. A lot of dry brushing later and some flocking, and you’ve got yourself 6” of cheap fencing that looks fantastic. I’ll likely keep using my Pegasus Hobbies stone walls instead of these scratch built ones, but the fences have and will continue to see a lot of use in games.

That finishes off our look at issues #7. The issue’s promo blurb for #8 tells us we can look forward to new rules for missile weapons, a Legolas metal miniature, and techniques for making woods and forests. If this was back during Battle Games in Middle-earth’s original run, we’d have all that in two weeks. But I’ve got some painting and scratch-building to do, so we’ll get to issue #8 as soon as I can.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

BGiME #7: Repel the Marauders! Part 2

This scenario was run a second time two weeks ago. A friend and I play miniature wargames every Tuesday night at a FLGS and I thought it time to brush the dust off my Lord of the Rings SBG models and get caught up with this blog. I’ve proposed that the first game night of each month be dedicated to the SBG and Dave readily agreed. That should keep me up to date on my painting, building, and working my way through this series.

While the models used in this game are the same as the previous one, you’ll notice the terrain has enjoyed a slight upgrade. The buildings are my Rohan-style houses I built a few months back. We’ll cover those more in a future discussion about "Battle Games in Middle-earth."

The Warriors of Rohan rush to man the walls around their village.

The Uruk-hai slowly advance across the Riddermark.

The scent of man-flesh hangs heavy in the air, driving the servants of the White Hand forward!

A high view of the battle about to commence.

"They are upon us, men!"

The Uruk-hai have scaled the fences!

Battle rages along the length of the walls.

Rohan holds back some of the Uruk-hai, but for how long?

Pikeman surge forward to push back the Men of Rohan.

The battle reaches a fevered pitch!

Rohan begins to falter.

Two Uruk-hai engage a single Warrior of Rohan.

The melee swirls around the verge of the village as Rohan is overwhelmed.

The last Man of Rohan perishes under Uruk-hai numbers.

The battle begins anew!

The Servants of the White Hand spread their forces about the village boundary.

Archers conceal themselves behind the rocks.

An early hole in Rohan's defenses is discovered!

A solitary Uruk-hai holds his own...briefly.

The hole is closed and the Uruk-hai are pushed back!

As Rohan begins to fail, I discover I didn't take more photos.
Rohan lost both matches this time around. In retrospect, I'm to blame. I failed to refresh myself with this issue of BGiME and was using the rules for Courage and broken forces, something that hadn't been introduced to the readers of the magazine yet. So instead of Rohan being able to fight to the last man without issue, I was having them make Courage tests to remain on the field after they had been "broken" (lost more than 50% of their force). That might have made a difference in the battles.

Even without the Courage rules in play, this scenario is a tough one for Rohan. The Uruk-hai are one of the meanest forces in the original SBG. They are heavily armored, have high Fight score, and are strong, making them tough opponents. Without cavalry to back them up or similarly armored or better fighters on Rohan's side, the odds were stacked against the forces of Good. It will be interesting to see how Rohan fares in a few issues when they gain Heroes to help them and horses to ride. Stay tuned for that in upcoming posts.

Next up: making walls and fences.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

BGiME #7: Repel the Marauders! Part 1

A horde of Uruk-hai bears down upon a Rohan settlement. Can its brave defenders hold them off long enough for the rest of the village to flee? That is the premise of this scenario, designed to recreate one of the many minor skirmishes that occurred in Rohan leading up to the Battle of Helm’s Deep. It also puts the newly-learned rules for defending barriers to good use. How does Rohan fare against the Uruk-hai? Let’s find out:

I’ve played through this scenario four times at two different occasions. Once was a couple of years back when I was organizing a short-lived SBG group, and the second was just a couple weeks ago. These images are from the first pair of games:

The start of the battle. Uruk-hai are positioned behind the hill, while Rohan holds the wall.

The Uruk-hai advance!

"They can't hit me if they can't see me!"

The heavy Uruk-hai armor shrugs off Rohan's arrows as they clamber over the hill.

"Hold the wall, men!"

"I smell man-flesh!"

The battle is joined. Rohan holds for now, but the Uruk-hai seek to climb and unprotected fence.

"These crossbows are pretty sweet!"

A view from the ruins.

Uruk-hai breech!

"Fight for your lives!"

"I can pick those men off from here. I don't mind if I shoot a few friendlies if I miss. I'm Evil, after all!"
I'm going on hazy memory here, but I believe Rohan won one battle and lost the other. This is a tough fight for Good. The Uruk-hai have stronger armor and a higher Fight value. Only the walls keep this from being an utter cake-walk for Evil. Once the Uruk-hai breech the walls, Good has a rough time holding them off. I think Good only won because the players running Evil in that game made some inexperienced decisions, allowing my partner and I to capitalize on their mistakes and squeeze out a win.

The second and more recent play of this scenario will be covered in the next post.

Friday, September 15, 2017

BGiME #7: Painting Warriors of Rohan

This issue gives us our first Good warriors from the Third Age, a force that features prominently in both The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Packaged with this issue when it was released as 12 Warriors of Rohan. These dozen models provide a solid core to build a Rohan army around and will be further augmented with warriors and heroes in future issues.

I took a few liberties with the painting instructions included in this issue. I wanted a deeper green for the Rohan cloaks and engaged in some minor highlighting and detailing. The results are what you see below.

I painted these before I started shading the bases. Previously, I textured them with sand, but I've discovered that adding a brown wash or Earthshade really improves the final result. Overall, however, these models are pretty good and are more than adequate for tabletop standard. 

Next up: Rohan vs. the Uruk-hai!

Battle Games in Middle-earth #7 Overview

After an overlong quiescence, it’s time to get back to working my way through the Battle Games in Middle-earth series. We pick things up with issue #7 and the introduction to the forces of Rohan.

The issue’s “Guide to Middle-earth” introduces us to the Rohirrim and the situation in Rohan. Given the clash between Rohan and Isengard is both one of the major battles of the War of the Ring and the main focus of an entire movie, it’s sensible to focus on the fight between Rohan and the Uruk-hai early in the Battle Games in Middle-earth series. Both Rohan and Isengard will see larger coverage in the issues ahead. The two pages following this issue’s “Guide” offer a sneak preview of future issues’ topics—including rules for various weapons, special fighting rules for Heroes, cavalry, a battle report of an actual game, new painting techniques, instructions for modelling trees and buildings, and look at the upcoming models to be included in these issues. Boromir, an Uruk-hai Captain, and Riders of Rohan are all headed our way!

“Playing the Game” covers rules for defending barriers, which will come in handy when Rohan decides to hold Helm’s Deep against Saruman. In short, any model standing on one side of a crossable obstacle, be it a wall, a ditch, a fence, or so forth, has a great advantage over any other model trying to cross it. The defending model is never moved back 1” if it loses a Fight roll, and it can Fight against multiple models in one-on-one battles if it’s holding the barrier. Models trying to strike a defender have to make in-the-way rolls if they win the Fight, meaning that each roll to wound has a 50% chance of hitting the barrier rather than the defender. In all cases, the best way to deal with a model defending a barrier is to send someone over it at an unprotected point and attack the defender from behind. This not only has a better chance of wounding the model, it might also move him away from the obstacle, allowing allied models to cross over.

Up next is this issue’s “Battle Game” section. The scenario is “Repel the Marauders!” and as can be imagined, it puts the rules for defending barricades to the test. The scenario pits a group of Rohan warriors against marauding Uruk-hai intent of killing defenseless Rohan villagers. The Rohirrim warriors must hold the walls and fences surrounding the village from the merciless servants of the White Hand long enough for the villagers to flee. 

The “Painting Workshop” provides the reader with a guide on how to paint this issue’s included models: 12 Warriors of Rohan. These models balance out the Uruk-hai we received back in issue #4 and, like the Uruk-hai, will serve as the core of a growing Good force for the reader’s collection of minis. Given the Warriors uniform color and limited palette, getting these guys ready for the gaming table should be a cinch. 

The issue closes out as always with the “Modelling Workshop” section. It should come as no surprise that walls and fences are the topic of this issue’s workshop. Instructions are provided for creating stone walls and wooden fences. A total of four of each will be needed for the “Repel the Marauders!” scenario, but with balsa wood and thick card as the main materials, making them will be both easy and cheap.

The final page of this issue takes a look ahead at the next installment of BGiME. We’ve got a Legolas model coming our way, making our collection of Fellowship minis a third of the way finished, rules for ranged weapons such as crossbows and throwing axes, a scenario where Legolas fights Moria goblins to rescue Frodo, and instructions for creating trees and forests on your tabletop. If you like elves, this sounds like the issue for you!

Friday, July 7, 2017

BGiME #6: “Defend the Ruins!”

Looking back over the previous entries, I see I never posted the actual play—or as they call it over at Spillforeningen the Fellowship STF, “the post-battle bat-rep breakdown”—of issue #6's Battle Game. There’s been a lot of water under the Brandywine Bridge since we played this, but I have pictures and a faint memory of what went on. This battle sees Aragorn facing off against a group of Uruk-hai who are trying to find a secret entrance into Helm’s Deep. If Aragorn can hold them off for ten rounds, Good automatically wins. If the Uruk-hai find the secret entrance before then, the number of Saruman’s servants who enter the tunnel dictate whether Good or Evil triumphs, or it’s a draw.

We played this one a few times, as it was a short scenario. I recall one battle saw the Uruk-hai gang up on Aragorn and take him down, while another had Aragorn running willie-nillie, cutting down the Uruk-hai before they could locate the entrance. It proved to be a balanced, if not especially long battle game.

The field of battle. Aragorn stands alone against five Uruk-hai!

The Uruk-hai advance and Aragon chooses his first opponent.

An Uruk-hai stalks the ruins, seeking the hidden entrance into Helm's Deep.

Aragorn rushes to stop his enemies from searching the ruins.

Get 'em! Three Uruk-hai face off against Strider.

"You'll not get past me, filth!"
That rounds out coverage of issue #6 of Battle Games in Middle-earth. We’ll pick up with issue #7 in a day or two. Thanks for stopping by!