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The Demise of Grishnâkh

Treebeard saving the Hobbits

Treebeard saving the Hobbits

It has been a while, but the weekly games of WotR and model wrangling continues apace. Here is the Treebeard I started back in 2011. I wanted to recreate the scene from The Two towers, where Treebeard crushes Grishnâkh and saves Merry and Pippin. And all on the standard 55mm base that Treebeard comes on.

The picture highlights the main areas that needed modification. The standard Treebeard model is very nice, but I needed something far more dramatic. Let’s go through the changes as listed:

1. Pippin is scooped up in the film, out of danger. The Pippin and Merry models already are ‘sitting’ and in the original model sit on a branch just behind the ent’s head. So I just carefully bent the fingers around to grip Pip, but enough so we can see the hobbit in between the branch like fingers.

2. The Arm needed a slight bend especially as the rest of the model was having its centre of balance changed. Any bending I did with pliers, after covering the metal with card to stop damage to the metal.

3. The foliage and stub branches were pinned and attached to the trunk/body. The whole body was angled backwards somewhat by a bend at the ‘waist’. This was to allow some extra clearance for the left leg over Grishnâkh. I had to keep returning to this to give me precious extra millimetres.

4. The Left leg. This needed the most work. First the ‘foot’ had to be cleaned. There was a lot of extra metal around the tendrils of the foot to help the model stand. This needed to be cut away with a craft knife and cleaned with a needle file. The aim here was to make the foot look like it had the root like tendrils draping down. This was possible without any extra green stuff work using the existing metal sculpted material, and shaping and bending it. Secondly the leg is very straight in the original model. I had to decide where the ‘knee’ was to apply a bend in the leg. I had to look carefully at the dvd of the movie to make a choice. It isn’t clear from the angle of this photo but I had to make a significant leg bend but not make it too defined, after all ents, like trees don’t bend easily. I tweaked to teh angle of the leg at the ‘hip’ anything to give me more height without making the leg too much like a… bending leg.

5. Erm.. well there isn’t a 5 in the picture… But the Left arm was left pretty much as it was originally.

6. The Grishnâkh figure needed almost as much work as Treebeard. It doesn’t look like it, as he is just a fraction of the overall diorama, but it required hacking him apart and drastic reassembly to get the pose I needed. The head was painstakingly cut off (I only now have a razor saw, it took 30 minutes with a craft knife to decapitate the orc), and pinned and rotated to look more to the left as he hears something behind him. The arm had to be bent slightly, anf the sword.. well the sword was just completely the wrong way round. The model holds it upright in his fist as if to thrust. In the movie at this point the sword is held as if to make an overhand stabbing motion of poor Merry. The sword was cut off, drilled, and repinned the way iI needed and as in the film.

7. Similarly a lot of work was required to sever his body in two at the waist. Again to make him twist to the left at the moment Treebeard moves to stomp. The torso was rotated maybe only 15 degrees but it was enough to make it more dynamic and true to the film, as well as allow the right arm and hand to look as if it was resting on the ground supporting him. Finally as Grishnâkh is kneeling, the metal slotfiller was cut off and the feet cleaned and the legs bent so he would approximate a kneeling position.

8. Whew, positioning Merry by a rock to make sense of his semi sitting pose was almost child’s play.

The base was textures with resin filler. I found after working on my Cave Drake that the resin bodyfiller (nasty stuff to use by the way, lots of ventilation and keep the hardener safe out of reach) made nice rough soil textures. I mix it up and just leave it, un til it is starting to harden and become thick. i then hurry to apply it. If timed right it makes a coarse ground texture that would take an age to sculpt directly. Added some rocks and ballast for ground textures.. and the basic conversion is done.

I have had him half painted for a couple of years now, but I shall finish him soon, and have a great, dynamic Treebeard that is both a diorama as well as usable in games of WotR (and the baby brother SBG).

Cave Trolls #7, 8 and 9

Cave Trolls 7 8 and 9
Cave Trolls 7 8 and 9

Here are the final three Cave Trolls I currently posess, that are assembled and painted. Two more I had painted and prepped to a similar standard I sold on eBay recently. Another is converted to a Drummer figure (more on that soon) and another is ready to be assembled, but is currently minus a head, so I will either have to cast a replacement from resin or find an alternative.

Anyway, more on these three from left to right:

Cave Troll 7: Equipped with a large hammer from a plastic Isengard/Mordor Troll set. The body was again moved more face-on (as the usual is the troll is twisting to the left quite alarmingly) and a new belly button drilled to make the new position appear more natural and also so he doesnt look like he has a wayward navel. The head was repositioned to look forward and the left arm raised a bit.

Cave Troll 8 (centre):  I like this a lot. He was posed to stand on a rock and to do this a flat area was carved on the rock so the glue would make a good contact and the right foot was filed and bent also to make good contact with the base. The base also had the flagstone effect using wall-plaster as detailed previously. The pose itself is otherwise standard but the head has been raised and pinned and the gap filled with Green Stuff. Overall a few simple changes have quite a significant impact (compare with cave trolls #1 and #2 previously)

Cave Troll 9: Some work again to open the right hand ready to hold a rock by drilling and using covered needle-nose pliers to bend back the fingers after cutting each free from the ‘fist’ pose. A spare trident from these conversions was pinned and added to the left hand and the chain on arm and chest was filed and cut away carefully. Like #8 he is standing on something. In this case a dead Gimli model… (more on my penchant for peperring bases of large models with bodies of dead Gimlis soon 😉 ) 

In these battles we are trying some novel ideas out. I am currently working on a nice conversion/mini diorama of Treebeard meeting Merry and Pippin (details in a post soon), plus having several other ents I though it would be fun to take an ent army against my youngest’s tried and tested 750 pt Misty Mountains Battlehost.

Ents: Treebeard and 4 ents. Technically this isn’t a legal army as Forgotten Kingdoms troops can only be taken as allies (i.e no more than 25% of the points total) but this was a fun ‘what-if’ scenario.

Misty Mountains: Battlehost. 7 companies goblin archers, 7 companies goblin shield with 1x goblin drum, 2 Cave Trolls. Epics: Durbûrz, Drûzhag the Beastcaller.

Initial Deployment

Initial Deployment

Deployment: The Ents won and set up first, the overall battlefield and deployments can be seen in this picture.

Turn 1

Turn1

Turn 1. With the Priority the ents decide to make haste to the right and tackle the shield-wall head-on. Drûzhag and Durbûrz and the goblin drum are in that formation and destroying it quickly is the key. Treebeard manages to At the Double! and closes trying to use his mobility to flank the goblins. The goblins unusually play awaiting game – as their mobility is often key to their success (move 9″ due to the drum, and pathfinder(master) means terrain is no barrier, and At the Double!means up to 18″ move). Unsurprisingly Treebeard takes 20 shots from the archers (8 from 1 company and 12 from supprt) and is targetted by Drûzhag’s spells. He weathers them thanks to his tough-as-nails Defence 10, and takes only 1 wound for his troubles.

Turn 2

Turn 2

Turn 2. The ents win priority again and close in Treebeard charges the goblin formation after surviving more spells. Spells of Ruin are especially effective against ents but Treebeard has a bit of luck. He takes out a company from the fury of his atatck and thrown weapons. The archers manage to wound the trailing ent but he is undaunted. The attacks on the trolls are inconclusive. Each taking a wound. You will notice extra spearmen and wargs suddenly in play. Drûzhag and Durbûrz each spend a point of Might to summon allies. Drûzhag has this as a special ability, and having only warg models thats all we normally summon in these games. Durbûrz is granted a similar ability to summon 2-4 spearmen companies as part of the Battlehost’s special rules. The spearmen fail to move this turn but the wargs charge in and wound the right-most ent.

Turn 3

Turn 3

Turn 3. A turn of manou-evring and complic-ation. The goblins summon more spear-men and wargs. With Priority the ents try to flank the main goblin format-ion at the same time as moving out of archer range. the archers take a full move towards the action on the right but are out of range this turn. Thrown stones weaken both warg formations. Both are down to one company when it comes to the charge. The ents all charge in except for that ent in the middle, he is charged by a single company of wargs and takes 4 wounds! He is still standing and with a sweep of his branches teh wargs are no more. The trolls too are dispatched. However Treebeard and his fellow ent, despite many attacks due to their overwhelming fight difference over the weak goblins, seem to roll more 1s and 2s (they need 3s to score casualties). Devastatingly the sheer number of goblin attacks finally make  dint on Treebeard and they wound him and Durbûrz uses another point of Might to ensure his destruction. Durbûrz and Drûzhag were hoping to use their Epic Cowardice to move to a safe distance but no strong Misty Mountain formations were close enough.

Turn 4

Turn 4

Turn 4. The last wargs who were dis-ordered and unable to move are dis-patched by thrown weapons. Durbûrz’s spells dont slow the two ents charging the main goblin formation. This time (finally) the goblins are terrified but still get enough attacks to get a lucky hit and take out another ent. The Goblins decide not to summon more allies hoping to use the remaining Might points in combats if necessary to help kill ents.

Turn 5. The 3 remaining ents mop up the right half of the board. Two get out of archer fire range and charge the goblins again taking a minor wound from the Spells. The other ent uses stones and a charge to remove more spearmen companies. One single company is disordered and can’t move, these are almost ignored for the remaining turns and destroyed by passing ents throwing rocks in subsequent turns.  At the end of the turn on paper the ents should win, but that is a lot of goblins to kill still, goblins with bows… and all the ents have wounds.

Turn 6

Turn 6

Turn 6. The ents keep out of the goblins range and use the building as cover to get closer. One ent so far almost unscathed decides to move to the goblins flank and having lost priority moves after the archers meaning he can keep out of their field of fire and charge them. He takes out over a company single handed, but is slain.

Turn 7+

Turn 7+

Turn 7+. the two ents stalk the archers and eventually round the building but the archers are disordered and unable to move shoot or charge… It’s clearly one-sided now as the ents can close with ease and with Courage 2 the goblins keep getting either terrified or disordered and unable to strike effectively.

Conclusion: This was a close run thing even after the demise of the main goblin host.  Treebeard didnt use any Might points or special abilities, and the ents in the midle ofthe game were afflicted for 3 turns ina  row of rolling many many 1s and 2s in combat. The small size ent army meant they could focus all their energy on the main goblin host and avoid the archers for the most part.#

Drûzhag used his spells of Ruin to best effect even if the ents are harder to kill than cave trolls. (A finding we have when playing Misty Mountains formations against spellcasters or archers – cave trolls have to be played carefully in order to close to fight hand-to-hand). In particular Exsicate causes d6 Str 6 hits against an ent and with focus 2… he would have been crazy not to launch it each turn. Bolt of Fire is more effective overall and every turn he was able to launch both spells against the rampaging tree-herds.

Cave Trolls #5 and #6

Cave Trols #5 and #6
Cave Trolls #5 and #6

I am starting to do more in the way of coversions by this stage as can be seen in this pic. In the first I have taken a standard spear throwing troll and moved his arm down lower using green stuff to smooth the transition. Cutting a spare large plastic club from my bits-box he now looks armed with a metal banded shillelagh and certainly different from the standard troll-look

The second was reposed a little all over, taking a standard metal hammer troll and moving both arms a little. The head and body are also moved from the usual positions making his body look more ‘face-on’ than the usual pose and the head more forward too. (pinned head and the gap filled with green stuff witha  few slight score marks for creases when painted this looks very effective). You will notice that he looks to be unarmed. This was achieved by cutting off the hammer shaft (and used on #4 as in yesterday’s post) and then carefully drilling though the hand and then careful use of a sharp craft-knife to cut away each finger to open the hand up. The point of this is to arm him with a rock, as their attack is thrown weapons – which usually means stooping for a hefty rock to hurl and nearby foes.

I quite like the second troll. Cutting open the hand took some work to do and then in miling down the metal fingers to look more ‘real’ but was worth it. However, Mike, the manager from Plymouth’s GW store on seeing it was impressed but fell about laughing calling him ‘kung-fu troll’.

Cave Trolls #3 and #4

Here are two more of the dim-witted ‘lads’. The one on the left is a plastic cave troll from the Mines of Moria Box Set, and in a standard pose. It is actually my

Cave Trolls #3 and #4
Cave Trolls #3 and #4

son’s troll but I painted him up as part of the batch painting process. He came already assembled with some ‘gaps’ but I did little to him to ‘make good’ besides cleaning off excess flashing

The second troll is metal (like all the others I have so far). I used the wall-plaster-as-flat-rocks method I outlined yesterday on his base. This involved getting a large flat piece of the plaster larger than the base, and breaking it up into smaller peices, but keeping the parts together in the same arrangement, so when glued onto the base it appears like a cracked surface, the edges of adjacent stones matching up.

Additionally, I gave his pose a few minor tweaks, repositioned his head and using a ‘spare’ hammer and shaft, drilling and pinning it to his right hand do give him a cool-looking double headed hammer weapon. It’s probably impractical but looks fearsome.

As promised, cave trolls. I already had about 7 of these in various states of (dis)repair lying about, and then acquired some more in various lots on eBay. Two I had made an attemt to assemble a few years ago, but didn’t pin them or glue them right. But as I was building up the Misty Mountain faction for my youngest to use, I thought it was about time to get them in battle readiness. If I was assembling and painting 2 I may as well do 10… right? Well, simplicity was the idea originally, but after 4 of them I decided to start experimenting and converting them in various ways.

Anyway, let’s start at the basics. The first four I assembled and pinned and glued and painted were all pretty ‘standard’.

Here are two of them, one with a spear and one with a hammer. I pinned every joint thoroughly this time with a thick wire and using 2 part epoxy glue. Then filling any joins with Green Stuff. (Yes I finally have Green Stuff and not Milliput).

2 Trolls in Standard Poses
2 Cave Trolls in Standard Poses

I developed a nice simple painting scheme which was a base coat of dark grey over back and legs and a sandstone on the chest and ‘exposed’ portions. Following this with a dark brown wash to pick out the creases and depths, then lighter coats drybrushed over the top to succhessively pick out the deails. The loincloth was similar except in brown a black wash and the metal bits picked out with a fine brush and dark silver.

The bases i started developing more complex patterns. To start with I made half the base of the usual ballast painted black and highlighted in grey. But for detail I used bits of plaster. The plaster was coming away from a wall here, its fine  but the wall has ‘blown’ so the plaster has cracked and come away from the wall in large thin chunks. I turn these around so the smooth finished and painted side from decorating is face down on the base, which means the more interesting and ‘rock like’ side that had come away from the wall was on top. I glued on the bits of plaster to look like flat stones and then painted them brown. they look quite effective

Isengard vs Morgûl Knights

Tuesday Night – Veteren’s Night at GW Truro. Tonight was a 750 point match of Mike’s (GW Plymouth manager on cover) Mordor Morgûl Knights vs one of my standard 750 point Isengard lists in a War of the Ring match.

Mordor: 9 Companies of Morgûl Knights, in 3 formations of 3 Companies. Each had a captain and a banner bearer. They were led by The Dark Marshall (hence making them all common formations and therefore legal), and 75 points on a the xxxx Fate.

Isengard: 8 Companies of Uruk-Hai Phalanxes, armed with pikes, in 2 formations of 4 companies with 1 banner bearer. 1 company of Beserkers, 1 company of ‘disposable’ Isengard Orcs, and led by Saruman and Thryden Wolfsbane.

Initial Deployment

Initial Deployment

Usually I would have one phalanx formation and one shield warband, but facing just cavalry I decided to stick with pikes. The board was 4 ft x 4ft and fairly flat, with a large central building at an angle and two smaller ruins slightly on my half of the board, which meant that there were two ‘choke points’ around that central building the one on the right smaller than the one on the right. Isengard set up first with Saruman and the banner Phalanx on the left, the orcs in the defensible ruin right next to them, the other phalanx lead by Thryden on the right and the beserkers in the centre. Mordor set up two formations including the dark marshall on the left to face Saruman and charge down the wider gap, and the other on the left to charge down the smaller gap.

Turn 1. With Priority the phalanxes moved to block the gaps, this meant it would be hard for the cavalry to flank them to try and negate the advantage of the pikes which removes any charge bonuses which cavalry depend on. Sarruman’s formation failed an At the Double! test and he was out of range to cast any offensive spells of Ruin, so he  managed to cast 2 spells using his free Epic Action to buff up his formation’s courage and lower the Courage of the Knights facing him without the Dark Marshall. The beserkers sneaked forward to occupy the central defensive terrain (building) In response the Knights surged forward on both flanks and hovered about 9 inches away from the phalanxes preparing to charge. The Dark Marshall cast his spells firstly Sunder Spirit to counterspell the Courage boost on Saruman’s phalanx. Then rolled a 6 on Visions of Woe, meaning Saruman’s ‘lads’ would have to take a Courage Test on only 1 die and with a penalty. Even with base Courage 6 for Saruman this looked nasty, and while I rarely use Will of Iron, I did in this case burning one of Saruman’s 3 Might points to negate the spell, and succeeded. Whew!  With no archers or artillery it was straight into the charge phase. On the Left both formations of Knights failed to get past Saruman’s Tapestry of Lies ability and unable to charge. On the right they had more luck, they charged, and although lost their +6dice/company charge bonus, they had an unstoppable charge and Thryden’s formation failed their Terror test. Also having charged, their lances had an additional +1 to hit. Carnage ensued and the Knights destroyed 9 Uruks and lost 1 Knight. Thryden’s lot panicked, were disordered failed a Courage Test and 3 more Uruk’s fled the scene. Ouch!

Turn 2

Turn 2

Turn 2. Isengard managed to win priority. This was Saruman’s chance. Surging forward the phalanx closed with the two formations of Knights. This time damage was paramount so after calling Epic Ruination (+2 Str on all Spells of Ruin) Saruman smote his staff on the ground and caused a mighty ground-shaking Tremor. Of course not being targetted, but an area of effect spell, the Dark Marshall and the Knight Captains were unable to use Will of Iron to negate it. The result was 1 company lost from each of the two formations. He followed this with Bolt of Fire against the Dark Marshall’s formation, who used his sole Might point to try a Will of Iron to resist. He failed and Saruman himself used a point of Might to change one roll on the hits to ensure 3 Knights died, the formation was destroyed, and the Dark Marshall fled back to his Dark Master in Barad-Dûr. Shatter Shields weakens the other nearby formation of Knights for the fight phase. In the centre the Beserkers leave the building.  On the Right Thryden regains control and the phalanx shuffles to fill the gap between the ruins. In response the Knights both fall back a few inches, but are unable to get beyond the magic 8 inches to almost put them out of reach of an infantry charge yet within range of the cavalry charge. Both Uruk phalanxes manage to charge. Saruman’s lads lose a couple more Uruks but the counterattack wiped out the Knights, Saruman using his last Might point to ensure the victory. Thryden manages to weaken the knights a little more but loses 3 more Uruks. But the Knight Captain managed to call a Heroic Duel and defeated Thryden. Too late I realised I should have called Epic Strike to boost his Fight to 10 for the advantage. In fact he should also have done this on Turn 1 to negate failing that Terror test. However, overall the phalanx loses the fight and are disordered but despite losing their leader (Thryden) no more Uruk-Hai flee at least.

Turn 3. It’s looking one-sided now. The Beserkers move round to start coming up on the Knights from behind. Saruman is just in range to Epic Move himself to the formation formerly lead by the now deceased Thryden Wolfsbane. He gets them back into Order (useful Courage 6 he has) and starts his spell casting. Starting with Shatter Shields to increase their vulnerability he rolls a 6 and the shields are now destroyed for the rest of the game (which is close to ending now). Then unleashes another Tremor again, which can’t be countered by Will of Iron and with a roll of 6, its suddenly 8 Str 10 hits on the shieldless Knights… Needing 3’s to score hits the Knights are soon shaken to pieces and obliterated…

Summary. OK, the Knights were always going to have a hard time versus a pike army. However the turning point was Saruman’s magic again and managing to eliminate the Dark Marshall very early on. His spells of Ruin make him a one man artillery unit, however as 1/3 of the cost of the force you expect him to pull his weight. I think some bad luck also affected the Knights on the left. On the right they did far better with the luck going against the Uruks more, not helped by my not using Thryden to his best and spending Might points on Epic Strike which might have turned the tide better. Also I don’t think Mike used his Fate or forgot about it… I’ll ask him next week.

Overall it was fun, even if seeming a bit one-sided. Mike did say everyone at his Plymouth store seems to have Isengard so he faces it all the time. I said it is far rarer at Truro, but another time I’ll take a Misty Mountains force to give him some variety.