Rats… and Orcs!

Step by step… a little closer each day. Here we have some rats I bought from the same fellow I bought the dogs and wolves from in my previous blog post, as well as some Orcs from eBay.

The rats, both the swarms and the larger plague rats, only required some minor changes to suit our table.

Whilst we have no rules for rat swarms, or specifically plague infected rats, we do have some house rules from Battles in Wilderland. We also intend to add giant rats to some Goblin forces as it seems in keeping with their bat allies.

The Orcs come from various EBay auctionsand whilst already painted by the previous owners I decided to consommé modifications to more suit our table.

As you can see I did some greenstuff sculpting and weapon changes to try to create additional diversity. I also changed their bases from grey dominant to brown dominant to better match our other bases.

I had some trouble again with the Army Painter matt spray clear coat, even though it was a new can. I think the weather affected it, giving them more of a satin finish than matt. I tried putting on some brush applied matt clear coat but was too enthusiastic with it and ended up with light grey pools of dried clear coat in the recesses. So I put a thinned down black wash over them in the end. You can get away with a lot when it comes to Orcs compared to painting Elves.

Sadly we are still waiting for Hagglethorn Hollow. We have no idea when it will be delivered so my wife and I agreed to start our Battle Companies campaign without it. I still have a couple of batches to paint, more Orcs and Ruffians, before our first game but not long now. I hope to put battle reports from our campaign on this blog in the future so keep an eye out for that.

Testing my patience…

As if the current global crisis is not distracting me enough from my painting, this last lot has really tested the limits of my patience. Seems I did something wrong with the final clear coat matt spray… which resulted in several attempts to fix it. Basically each mini needed its own separate fix, so it was very time consuming.

First up, another GW Fantasy High Elf cavalry figure repaint. I basically ended up repainting the whole thing in the end, but kept the horse color the previous owner had rather than try to paint white over it. I gave it a couple small differences to create some individuality from the other High Elf cavalry but in general it follows the same overall scheme.

Next another bit of scatter terrain ruins… most likely going to end up on eBay at some point and a Mantic Elf casualty done as a Black Numenorean. I am still undecided on this idea.

And then we have some dogs and wolves that I bought from a fellow on the Lead Adventure Forum for a very reasonable price. Wyrmalla is a decent person to do business with. I did some minor tweaks to the painting and bases.

The dogs are on 25mm bases and the wolves are on 32mm bases.

There are also these two dogs from him which had leather harnesses so I added baggage to the leather straps.

Rules to use the dogs will come from Battle Companies, although we may need a house rule for the baggage dogs. The rules for the wolves will come from the house rules in Battles in Wilderland.

In other news, we watched The Two Popes…

… which I rather surprisingly enjoyed. I recommend it if you like slow, character driven films and want a glimpse inside the Vatican.

You… you… Ruffian!

With the troubling times we live in right now I have struggled to concentrate on my painting. However, I finally managed to finish this lot. First up is the well my wife did.

Next, some minis to use as ruffians for our Battle Companies campaign. I see them as your average bandits, out for themselves.

I tried to go with muted earth tones but avoid looking too much like rangers. It was more difficult than I expected. The Perry Miniatures fellow in grey clothes is “Fancy Jack”, a scoundrel on the run from Minas Tirth. I added things like holes in their clothes, some patched, and keys to represent the manacles they are supposed to have.

I also had some minis that were supposed to become ruffians that I think just turned out as villagers.

The villager on the right reminds me and my wife of our friend Werner… and his larp character Merias… so now we have Merias in our Middle Earth Game!

I also decided to do another casualty. I really struggled to decide what colors to paint him, originally starting with Dol Amroth, but decided in the end o paint him in generic browns. Most likely some random sellsword or adventurer.

In the various EBay auctions I have won have been some minis that came as a surprise… like the Mantic Elves I got as part of an undead collection. My wife is not a fan of them and did not want them for her Elven forces…

… so I cut off the ears and made this one a Black Numenorean. My wife thinks it works but I am undecided.

And I made this fellow…

He started as a D&D half-Orc I think. The head looked too small for the body, so I cut it off and replaced it with one from my bits box. I repainted the blue cloak in a rust red… I was trying to go for a medieval fantasy version of the Brotherhood of Steel Paladin Danse from Fallout 4 if he had been played by Charlton Heston. Not sure I got what I was aiming for. Likely this one will be either sold on or gifted to someone.

In other news we finished Season 4 of Altered Carbon. It finished better than I expected as I drifted a bit midseason. Poe completely stole the show for me.

We also finished season 1 of Picard. I was incredibly disappointed. Not as bad as Star Trek Discovery but bad. It felt like amateurish fan fiction writing with a mismanaged special effects budget. Some decent acting but there is only so much even Patrick Stewart can do with terrible writing.

I have despaired of late over the state of two of my favorite IP’s, Star Trek and Star Wars. It got to the point I thought my nostalgia for older versions of these shows was ruining my ability to enjoy new stories but seeing the first two episodes of The Mandalorian has shown me that doing at least Star Wars justice is possible. The show so far is brilliant, everything I wanted it to be.

Fire Kathleen Kennedy! I have spoken.

Even more scatter!

So this last week I have been working on even more scatter terrain won in EBay auctions. One small bit eventually turned into what is basically a tiny diorama.

It started out with a roughly made resin person in a sleeping bag. I put it on a spare base I had, something from a GW giant’s sprue bits auction. Cutting the corners of the base to round them off a bit created a slightly more natural appearance I thought.

Then I added the bird… the red of the woodpecker brought some color to the piece. Then the tree. Then the blade tucked into the bedroll. I may have overdone it.

Next up is a Goblin tent… won in an auction but I think made by Scotia Grendel. I decided to go with a light tan color… perhaps not my best decision in hindsight but I guess it works.

I added the spear and axe at the entrance… and the small rat at the back. I thought about removing the skulls to make it look a bit more generic but was not confident I could remove them without causing damage to the rest of the piece. Resin has a habit of cracking and shattering more than you expect.

We won some small bits I decided not to base….

…. so I could do things like put them into wagons, buildings, ships and carts.

One piece, the rucksack, blankets, etc came with the sleeper mentioned above. I added the canteen and dagger whilst putting it on a 25mm base. The strap for the canteen is greenstuff. The canteen itself from GW Imperial spare bits.

I also went back and did a little additional work on our doghouse piece, adding his favorite bone and a water bowl.

Thanks to help from our friend Tom in the UK we have been able to compete in auctions in the UK that normally we would miss out on because they do not ship to Germany. Because of his help we won a couple of great research bundles….

Playing catch up reading lots of old material that may technically out of date in some ways but great inspiration nonetheless. The journey books were not as great a resource as I was hoping for scenarios we could rewrite for our Battle Companies but considering what we paid still well worth reading to get up to speed on the history of Strategy Battle Game.

We also won….

… the complete DeAgostini Collection of Battle Games magazines for a remarkably low price. Even shipping was much, much less than we expected thanks to Tom’s research. Whilst they did not come with the minis they had originally there is still plenty of information to sift through.

Speaking of information, there is a remarkable interview with Rick Priestly, the guy behind the original Games Workshop Lord of the Rings project as well as Warhammer…. a legend in game design in my opinion, that is well worth watching. His comment about 8% license fee and the corporate decisions on managing the IP at GW are fascinating.

I also want to recommend Jack Sarge’s blog… his painting has been inspirational to me.



A broad selection of scatter and some animals… or monsters… your call. I started out pretty motivated on this lot but it became a bit of a chore to get them done. Several instances of going back to rework something I was not happy with.

First, I have these textured 20mm bases I won as part of a larger bits auction. Too small for most purposes I tried to be creative, even going so far as to put them on very thin Warlord Games plastic 25mm bases… thinking it would save me time in the long run since they were made already textured. But they are rather tall… and that made them look like small hills compared to most minis I tried putting on them. So instead I tried some trees.

I had this crazy idea to take a bird bit from a Celtic helmet and instead use it as an actual bird… I think it came out pretty neat.

Then a fruit tree.

Next up a bit of a water feature of sorts…

My wife did the resin water. Not sure if I like the lantern because I have seen conflicting advice on how to do flames… yellow base to red tips and red base to yellow tips.

Next up some camp setting pieces that were a gift from my friend Tom. Thanks Tom! Hopefully you like how I painted them, mate. I chose not to base them because I wanted to be able to conceal things under them. I even took the time to paint the inside canvas material.

I have experimented with a bunch of Mantic pieces. Some I like better than others.

This Dwarf casualty looks a bit too World of Warcraft for both me and my wife, so not sure if we will be using it.

The Elven cat I decided to paint up like a cougar.

The dog… I am not sure is Mantic.

And finally some spiders. I went back and reworked the bigger one. The smaller ones are parts from an old Citadel terrain basing kit put on 25mm bases… to be spiderlings for the Spider Queen I intend to do at some point so we can play the Battles in Wilderland campaign. I was trying to go for a bit of a Wolf Spider look… I did not quite get it but I hate spiders and could only tolerate so much time both researching this and painting them. I made the mistake of watching a clip from the new Doctor Who with a giant spider that has been giving me nightmares.

Today I stumbled onto the trailer for the new Tom Hanks war movie Greyhound. Looks pretty good to me although rather melodramatic. It definitely had a Saving Private Ryan vibe.


Sticks and stones…

I was surprised how much GW LOTR scatter terrain ruins we have accumulated in various bits auctions and decided to get a bunch done. I tried to make them different enough that they would not look like repeated pieces with exactly the same design.

My wife does not seem convinced we need so many repeats of the same pieces so some of these may end up being sold on or given as gifts.

Speaking of my wonderful wife, she did me the favor of having printed and bound the work of Shaun Wymer, “Battles in Wilderland”.

I love this book! Shaun’s work is inspirational and it has me hungry for more like it. Basically he has integrated GW’s SBG with Cubicle 7’s The One Ring RPG to create an excellent set of house rules and scenarios.

Whilst I came across his work on Facebook back when I was on there, you can find a link on DC Hobbit League to the PDF.


A bit of everything…

A diverse bunch of things finished the past couple of days.

Some grim terrain… my wife preferred it before I added the grim aspects but I figured we could do with some bits to darken the atmosphere of some places. I see this on the edge of Mirkwood for example.

The stump is a resin figure base I won already part painted in an auction of similar bits. I just completed it and it formed the foundation of the piece. I then found a soft plastic tree bit in a junk box and hung the skeleton from it. That piece was part of a GW giant bits sprue…. as was the Chaos Rune inscribed stone, which I cut from a giant’s club. The bones were removed from one of the dryads I did for my wife, as was the arrow from another dryad, and I had the idea to put them together like this. The rat was a rather obvious choice.

Next up more scatter terrain.

Another resin stump, this time with a skull from the bits box.

And then a casualty marker…

My wife is not a fan of such pieces but I think they lend gravitas to the table.

And now an attempt to have a giant spider on the cheap…

…. I am not sure it works. It is a bit small for that 40mm base. It is one of the older GW WHFB spiders and it is not terribly dynamic in its pose. That said, I am a bit of an arachnophobe so it was challenging to pain it nonetheless. I will try a second one with some modification to the front legs, so we will see how that comes out.

Some hounds… I would have preferred winning ones without armor but that is part of buying in auctions on a budget. These came unpainted and I struggled a bit to come up with colors I liked. I did not want to get into a complicated German Shepard design for example.

A Wood Elf for my wife, sort of a proof of concept. I won some GW fantasy Wood Elves like this and modified the original paintwork to look more inline with our current design to see if my wife liked them or not. It passed the test.

I also took a mini missing it’s arm that I could not identify and repaired it from my bits box with a Gripping Beast arm.

I asked for help ID’ing the mini on the Lead Adventure forum and was kindly informed it was a GW Ithilien Ranger horn blower from the metal command blister. For now it is just a regular Ranger for my wife.

And I did go back and do a rework on an Isengard standard bearer…

I made some cuts in the banner to make it look more ragged and used a water slide decal from GW 40k Dark Eldar.

And finally, perhaps a bit contentious…. some minis we plan to use as Pelargir marines. Yes, I know, they look like Roman Republican marines. My wife is not fully convinced yet either.

Part of my vision for our project is a bit Saxons versus Samurai, Celts versus Spartans, Rus versus Persians…. given our use of proxy minis. I try to find things that fit as well as Saxons for Rohan. So Samurai as Khand for example.

Pelargir marines use throwing spears in one modded computer game I know of… and the clothing works well aboard ships…

If Peter Jackson can add Medieval plate armor to a world steeped in Dark Ages Technology and imagery surely we can get away with these marines….

Let me know what you think in the comments!

In other news we started watching season 2 of Altered Carbon. Good casting choices except for the Protectorate Colonel however we are struggling to get into it as much as we were in season 1. The writing just seems a bit off. But it is certainly better than Picard!

If you go down to the woods today…

With quite a bit more work than I expected some more miniatures finished for my wife.

My wife likes Faramir much better than Boromir and she loves horses so I thought it important to get these done. The horse was won in auction already painted the way I like. Just added some small details like the eyes and metal fittings on the bridle. Then I added some things to the base to spice it up a bit.

The mounted Faramir was one I got in a junk bits auction, missing his sword. I simply added a new one and painted the mini up. A relatively quick job with black primer, gun metal drybrushing and minor detail work. The sculpt on his face is not great nor easy to paint well but I think it came out ok.

Faramir on foot is a piece I finished awhile back but I went back and redid the trim on his clothes to match what I did on the mounted Faramir. I messed up my original design concept but just when with the messy, almost random appearing scrawl. Sometimes you need to embrace mistakes and try to make something cool out of them. My wife liked the result of this mistake.

Next up was me trying to be clever. My wife is pretty good about getting things into our vision of Middle Earth. She came up with the idea of “dragon men” south of Far Harad so that I could use GW lizardmen and she liked my suggestion for her to use GW dryads with Wood Elf Sentinel stats. She mentioned she liked the GW gryph-hounds but sadly that they were a step too far from her vision of Middle Earth. So I tried to come up with a way for us to have a gryph-hound in Arda….

I thought in a land where what are fantastical creatures to us exist, surely they have fictional creations of their own.

And I finished some more Dryads… which turned out to be a lot more work than I was expecting. I won these already painted. I planned on rebasing them, giving them a quick wash and being done… but my wife was not keen on the painting style of the original owner who went with very sharp contrasts in highlighting rather than using washes.

One mini I completely repainted, the others were heavily drybrushed and washed with several different washes.

I really thought it was all wasted effort until I finished them. The birch was just not coming out the way I wanted, looking more like stone than wood. The washes were coming out too glossy, the colors going too dark and murky.

But as I got closer to finishing I started to get more optimistic. Changing the eyes to orange helped. The foliage on the bases helped as did the matt clear coat.

I was optimistic enough to try foliage on the tops of some of them. My wife really likes the small painted leaves, so she does not normally like added foliage since it can obscure or conflict with the painted leaves. So I only put foliage on those where this would be limited. In the end both of us were pleased with the results.

My wife has a vision of a mystical forest that she wants to create and we are slowly getting there.

Trees are people too…

Despite having a list of things I really should be finishing for our Battle Companies campaign I was inspired to work on some scatter terrain and some Dryads.

The Dryads will surprise some folks because they may seem non-Tolkien… but he does make a passing reference to them and my wife thinks they fit our vision of Arda. So I have been trying get them inexpensively in EBay auctions with some success.

She likes these sculpts in particular from Games Workshop. This batch came already painted by the previous owner. I just changed the eyes to orange, changed the wood sprite from red to green, gave them some washes and rebased them.

Then I also did some scatter terrain. The first is one that has been waiting a long time to finish. A year ago my wife made the stone out of some putty and I finally got around to basing it.

Next up is a little statue I made out of spare bits. The plinth was cast out of plaster and was in a big bag of plaster cast bits… Th dragon was a small plastic bit, either a standard top or Bretonnian helmet top.

Then some ruins. I tried to decorate them differently enough that they do not look like clones.

Then some barrels. A mix of plastic and plaster.

Then I did some plastic GW ruins statues, again trying to decorate them in a way that makes them look less like identical repeats of the same piece.

And then I took a large third party Chaos base and tried to make it into scatter terrain. I imagine it is a set of rune stones around a dark underground entrance with the chains going down to a ladder for accessing the surface from the depths.

We won three of these in auction. I am not sure yet what I will do with the other two, I may sell them on. But if you have a suggestion please leave a comment with your idea.

I also went back and reworked some pieces to add grass to the sides of the bases. I am not sure if I really like this look or my original brown painted sides. What do you think?

My wife finished her first river section. She would have been done sooner but she had to go back and redo the resin water after I sprayed Matt clear coat over the piece in a not very well thought out plan to make the piece more robust. Lesson learned, you can not just go put gloss clear coat over matt clear coated resin water. Doh!

The only bit I did on this piece beyond the spray coating was the pheasant. My wife picked out the mini but asked me to paint it. Overall I think she has done an amazing job on it. We decided not to bevel the edges of the piece but instead make pieces to put up against the edge with a beveled outer edge.

In other news I finished another Harrington book…. Echoes of Honor. A great read. Brilliant story with a moving conclusion to the imprisonment plot line. Highly recommended reading.

We are halfway through Picard season 1 and I keep thinking I would rather be watching a good Honor Harrington tv series. The fifth episode of Picard was very disappointing. Predictable and unnecessarily violent. The opening scene was like some sort of torture gore porn rather than Star Trek. Picard’s alias persona was beyond ridiculous. DS9 could have easily had a similar scene but I doubt it would have been as clumsy. Really becoming disappointed in the show.

But what do you think of Picard? Let me know in the comments!

The flowers of Elven chivalry… and more…

So a few things finished. Some new pieces and some reworking on old pieces to make some improvements.

My wife surprised me with choosing Lothlorien for her Battle Company instead of Rohan so I had to paint up a couple of pieces for her to start with. She intends to paint her own minis for her Company but that is going to take a bit of time given all her on going projects and limited free time.

I took the time to work on some other Lothlorien minis for future use…

The Captain and Sentinel are metal GW pieces. The other Wood Elf is from some other maker, I do not know who. I did some modifications to the weapons to try to get a bit more of a LOTR movie look, changed some of the colors from what the previous owner chose, added some washes and rebased it. I thought my wife might want to use this one but she is not a fan of the 80’s style sculpt, particularly the face. I like the nostalgic aspect of the sculpt.

Next up a figure that I think is from Heroquest… it looked a lot like Arnie as Conan, which my wife was not a fan of so I tried to make it look more in keeping with how I am going to make our Dunlendings look, which will be a strange mix of various fantasy barbarian influences.

I really thought the shield suited the mini quite nicely. The joy of an extensive bits box.

Next is an Elven marker stone as an objective marker but can be random scatter terrain as well.

I asked my wife what color of flowers she wanted. She thought red too cliche and I thought white would make the stone look more grey… so we agreed on peach. I think it works.

And finally we have a bunch of Rohan reworks. Some of our earliest pieces, from when we thought the minis would do double duty between the Fantasy Middle Earth SBG and the historical game Saga.

Rohan conversions of Gripping Beast Dark Ages Warriors

Since the first narrative scenario in Battle Companies is against Ruffians in Bree I have been working on some converted Ruffians. It made me realize I would have liked our converted warriors of Rohan to be more distinctively Rohan. In hindsight I wish I had given all the unarmored Dark Ages warriors at least helmets to suggest they were in fact armored. Hindsight is 20/20. Cloaks would have been nice but between expense and hassle adding them at this late stage I settled on adding some axes and sheathed swords to their belts.

Lots of earth tones with at least a touch of green on each one but not exactly a uniformed green look. We will not be sticking strictly to GW paint schemes.

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