Middle Earth SBG – Playing the Forces of Fangorn

“To land of gloom with tramp of doom, with roll of drum, we come, we come “

The sound of crunching bone, crushing feet, of stone and wood torn asunder, marks that the Ents of Fangorn are marching once more, and with doom they come. With many a poignant quote, this review is to highlight the army of Fangorn’s pros and cons in the battle for Middle Earth.

Let’s not deceive, its a small army. Two entries…and that’s it. The Ents are comprised of very little, both list and model wise, but each of those things offers a lot. A single Ent is capable of ripping through a warband while possessing the ability to deal with those pesky heroes at the same time. First off we will start with the one and only Hero [literally,i’m not being poetic]; Treebeard.

Tree?!’m am no tree, I am an Ent”.

 Treebeard is the only hero choice this army has but he is a Hero of Legend. Sure, he may be your only option, but he does have a lot of abilities to make up for it. I will cover the Brutal Power attacks later, as general skills across the whole army, so this bit will be about the man, I mean tree, I mean Ent.

He’s expensive. No denying it. And with the option of taking two tag alongs by the name of Merry and Pippin, he does round off at a nice number of points, but he’s not cheap. Why you ask? Well, with a fight value of 8, that pretty much means any other hero fighting him needs to boost their fight value with a Heroic, or watch helplessly when Treebeard rolls a natural 6. But the 8’s don’t stop there. Oh no. Treebeard has many 8’s across his stat line, meaning it’s hard to wound him, and he hits harder than a troll.

He comes with the normal Might and Fate you’d expect from a Hero of Legend, but also has as much Will as some of the mighty wizards across this land. Mixed with the Army bonus, which I will also cover later, Treebeard is reasonably resisted to magic.

we have agreed, you are not Orcs”.

But by far, the addition of the two Hobbits in this edition sets Treebeard well above the rest of his fellow treemen. For one, they are half the points in the Fangorn army list as they are in the Fellowship list while retaining all their stats line and wargear options. They are resistant to magic and best of all, can throw stones up to 8 inches while mounted safely upon the shoulder of Treebeard, without any modifiers should the lumbering giant move. This is quite handy for pelting the heads of any supporting spearmen attacking Treebeard as the hobbits are not engaged in the fight, nor are the spearmen.

They can dismount and move around freely, and remount by simply moving back into base contact with Treebeard. As to why you would want to get two such small and squishy characters down from their safe location, well, its a double edge sword. While grounded they can take objectives and hold ground but can be easily targeted or charged which they can’t be while mounted. Equally they can be placed to surround an opponent Treebeard has charged, or used as a counter charge should your opponent have charged him. If placed correctly, they not only trap your opponent but also add two more dice to your Duel roll, taking it to a total of 5 attacks, with 10 rolls to wound should you win. [okay, 4 of those will be at S2, lets not kid ourselves too much, but then again 6 attacks with Rend is going to ruin someone’s day]. If Treebeard fails to win the fight, your opponent will probably go for the softer target so it’s a risky move.

The only other entry for this army is the bog standing, I mean bog standard Ent. Pun aside, facing off against any Ent would be harrowing fight for even the most stalwart of warriors. With a stat line very similar to Treebeard, these high strength, high defence monsters also boast a fight value worthy of any champion. They move the same speed as any normal foot soldier and can hurl stones up to 18 inches at the highest strength the game goes to. Although they aren’t the greatest shots, and given the option of crushing one opponent with a giant rock, or bludgeoning anyone silly enough to be in base contact with you, I know which one I’d go with. Although, its still an option if used at the right moment. I’d still go with plan B. Why? Because Bludgeon really is a rule that is unique to the Ents, and only the Ents.

Its a new Brutal Power Attack that enables the Ents to pick up one of your opponents and use him to bash the brains in of anyone else in the fight. Perfect for those moments when an entire warband of goblins has surrounded your Ent, and 3 basic attacks is just not enough to get the job done, bludgeon enables the Ents to quickly reduce an opponents warband’s numbers in seconds. This means surrounding the Ent in an attempt to trap him can quickly back fire, so it will make your opponent think twice when charging you. If they even make it into combat, let’s not forget that Ent’s cause Terror so there is a chance they might not even get the charge in the first place.

Let’s not stray too far from the Brutal Power Attacks, as its these abilities that truly make the Ents a force to reckon with. Basically, the whole army can Rend, Hurl, Barge [and Bludgeon!] every time they win a fight. There is nothing like Barging all those annoying shield walls and bodyguards back 3 inches so you can step in and immediately fight your opponents Captain or Hero, who thought he was safe behind his men. Another good use for Barge is to push the banner bearer away from the fight, denying it’s bonus before plowing into weaken troops. And if that banner is too far away to push back, have you thought about Hurling some hapless swordsman at him instead, knocking down everyone else on the way? And last but not least is Rend. Most heroes have high defence values, but as you roll to wound against strength instead of defence with Rend, it’s the perfect choice for taking out multi wound characters. Additional, you can use combinations of these powers if positioned well. Push your opponent around, use the first Ent to Barge models into trapping predicaments for the next Ent to get double attacks on, or Hurl into crowded ranks for maximum effect, especially if only engaged with a single model. Oh the choices! Choose wisely, they are game changing moments [as well as being great gaming memories to share for years! Like the time Treebeard hurled an Orc Captain clear off the walkways of Lake Town into freezing water, killing him instantly. Good luck rolling for Fate from the bottom of the ocean.

Don’t be hasty” 

Not only the motto of the Army bonus, but a sound piece of advice if thinking of taking any allies with Fangorn, because as far as Army bonuses go, its a good one and worth keeping, but there is a hitch. “Side? I am on nobody’s side, as nobody is one my side.” Which is true, because Fangorn is convenient or yellow allies with everyone. They have no green allies and would therefore lose their army bonus if allying with another army. It’s a tough choice and one I would not take lightly. I’ll tell you why.

Fearless, for starters! Wow. Fearless mixed with Terror. Ouch. It means Trolls are scared of Ents, but Ents aren’t scared of them. Lose more than 50% of your army, who cares! The Ents aren’t going to run away. Why? Well, it’s time for another quote to clear that up. “Come, my friends. The Ents are going to war. It is likely that we go to our doom. The last march of the Ents.”[wipes tear away]. Need I say more.

If that’s not good enough, how about impervious to any magical power or special ability that prevents them moving, or moving them around? No longer can your opponent Transfix or Command an Ent, or affect their movement in any way [with the exception of losing a duel of course]. That’s quite a game changer since the last edition of the game.

Furthermore, Nature’s Wrath and Wrath of Bruinen no longer has any effect on them. That’s a lot of magic that has suddenly lost its shazam over the rampaging relentless trees, with additional salt being added by Treebeard’s high Will value.

That’s quite an army bonus, or three really. It will make any Fangorn player think again before slapping down some beefcake Hero from another list to “complete” his army. Not only does this stop any power creep from mixing armies, but like above, its true to the form, the feel, of the Ents, which is one of the reasons I love this game.

But enough with the pros, its time to hear the hard truths. The cons. The Ents will be out numbered 99% of the time. Due to the high points cost of even a single Ent, you will not have many, and can guarantee points left over unless playing certain combinations like 550, 800 or 1400. Ents are slow, many armies will move around them, or try to avoid the Ents at times, box you them in. Even though Ents have a high defence, they are not invulnerable. Other monsters or models that get +1 to wound [and there is a lot that can], can easily ruin your day and make Ents easy prey given the number of models you will have in your army. Lets not forget a siege weapon will kill one with a single wound. They do not have any banners, so no rerolls in Duels, and Treebeard is the only model in your army that has any Might to boost a dice roll when needed.

All in all, Fangorn is a tricky but an enjoyable army to use. Great for fun themed games against mates producing many of those great gaming moments i mentioned earlier, but you may struggle at tournaments in certain circumstances due to the problem of points. You need to use those Brutal Power Attacks to your advantage at all times. Although the current model range is a bit limited, it may get more should Fangorn ever get an update to their army, but for now, Treebeard and his merry band of walking trees are facing down the rise of evil alone. Especially if you want that awesome Army bonus. 

Written by Benjamin Morgan


A Year in Pictures 2018

Well it’s been a long year and I have been spotty at best with keeping up with this, hence the delay in getting it out there.

I set out to keep track of how many models I paint in a year, not with a specific goal in mind or as a figure to beat, but to just have a look at the numbers. So without further ado my painted figure count for 2018 was…


Not a bad number to be honest, but this year I think I’ll break it down even more. I want to look at how many figures I paint for each game that comes my way, board game, tabletop, or anything else that may happen. This is one ofthe things I’ll be adding to my painting goals for the year, which I’ll talk about soon.

Anyway, enough rambling, here’s the 175 models I painted this year…

Middle Earth SBG – The March of the Ents Begins!

A friend has chosen the mighty Ents of Fangorn for his good army and I’ve been tasked with painting them up! So far it looks like a great oppertunity to flex my painting muscles with lot’s of variety, both painting and model wise, coming along with the job.

Since there’s a fairly limited range in place for the Middle Earth Ent model range, he’s chosen to pick up a few from the Warhammer range. It’s these two Wood Elf Treemen that I’ll be starting with. One which is almost finished…

And one who I’m just getting started on…

They look just the part for Middle Earth and I’m really looking forward to the rest of this project.

Middle Earth SBG – The Witch King Summons Allies!

With the drop of the new Armies of the Hobbit book, it’s time to get the Witch King and the spectral Castellans onto the table!

I used the Witch King on Fellbeast flaming sword arm to add that wee bit of extra flair to him. The plan is to paint this up as spectral blue fire, something I will likely carry over to the other wraiths and the Castellans…

A fairly expensive reinforcement, and with a limit to their fighting time, these horrific spirits also offer a massive level of survivability, as they can use their Will as Fate.  Also, Morgul Blades for 5 points? Yes please!

I’ll be painting these up much like the wraiths, keeping to the ghostly, ancient appearance to tie them into the rest of the Dol Guldur, and the touch of blue to tie them into the force as a whole.

A Month in Pictures – November!

November began with the first few models of my White Council force, Gandalf and Elrond. I really enjoyed cracking into these as it was my first real attempt at a textured highlight. It was also the first time I really felt like I’d acheived the effect I wanted with the swords, and I’m really proud of the result on both.

The only new addition to the Azog’s Legion were the Mirkwood Spiders. A fun addition and something i’ve been loving using in games.

And last but not least I painted up 8 figures for a painting guide in this months issue of Tabletop Gaming Magazine.

I want to get a lot more done in December and round out my first year doing this with a good number 🙂

Models Painted: 13

Total painted in 2018: 164

Middle Earth SBG – A Misadventure with Recasts!

This post is all about a recent encounter with some recast Forge World miniatures, but also to serve as a bit of a warning to those looking to pick up cheaper figures and what to look for to spot a fake.

I’ve worked with a lot of Forge World over the years, regularly shopping with them when I was playing 40k and now that I’ve jumped back into LOTR. Their quality has been nothing but excellent and my more recent purchases have done nothing but reaffirm this. My Azog’s Legion models have been some of the best quality models I’ve worked with. I truly believe that the price tag attached is worth the quality product you receive.

Which leads us onto recasts. There’s 2 primary reasons I will never work on a recast model.

  1. The quality is generally sub par
  2. It does nothing to support the hobby

Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail.

I managed to take a few images of the miniatures, mainly so the buyer could tackle the situation with the seller, and these show just how bad the quality is and some of the tell tale signs of a recast.

On the whole they may look very similar to the FW casts but the detail is considerably lacking, small details being particularly affected. There’s also always a slight texture to the surfaces that you don’t find on FW minis.

As pointed out by some readers it is important to note that these are not always clear indicators of a recast. Resin does vary wildly in colour and casting issues can be experienced, even when buying from Forge World.

Here’s some things to look out for to spot illegitimate products…

  • Colour Variation. FW resin tends to be quite light, where as most recasts will tend to be dark. This is not always the case.
  • Weight and texture. After working with FW resin for a while you’ll gain a feel for it’s weight and texture. Recasts will always feel ‘off’, especially the texture. This is quite hard to describe and I think it’s only because I’ve experienced low quality resin recasts. The quality difference makes it very obvious, but with a better quality recast these issues may not be apparent.
  • Paperwork. FW products now either come in a clamshell, or a box with a certificate. These are both clear signs it’s a legitimate product.

As stated above these are in no way sure fire ways of detecting a recast and the most assured way to receive the genuine product is to buy direct from the maker. Be they Forge World or any of the many smaller studios.

That’s enough to put me off recasts, but I realise others may not be too concerned with the quality of the miniature as they would just like to get the monster on the table. This leads on to my second point, recasts do not support the hobby, they damage it.

Recasters sit outside the hobby, taking but not giving back. By hobby I mean everything, from the original artists who drew up the concepts, to the sculpter, to the casters, to the painters, to the studio staff who work on images and packaging, through to shops (FLGS’s and others), right through to us, the consumers and anyone else inbetween who helps these great products to be released. None of those involved get any credit from a purchase made from a recaster. In fact an inferior product is released into the wild and can mislead others as to what to expect from something legitamate.

A common argument used to justify using recasters is that a company like Games Workshop can afford it, they have been doing very well recently, and for the most part you would be right, they can. But it will still have a domino effect on those involved in the process and at the end of the day, theft is still theft no matter how much money the victim has.

This doesn’t even touch upon what this can do to small businesses, who cannot afford to lose sales to recasters. They can have a product lines sales decimated, with no real way to tackle the issue. This can and will put artists and small studios out of business.

Another argument is the price, which I have already touched upon. You are buying a cheaper product but you are also buying an inferior product. Forge World are one of the best miniature producers in the world so why buy a cheap knock off when you can have the real thing. It’s also worth noting that you get a hell of a lot of after care with Forge World, top notch customer service will sort any issues you have. Issues with a recast? You may be in with a fight to sort anything out.

I do understand why some people will choose to go down the recast route, I just know it’s not right by my standards and I will not support it. It does nothing to grow or even support the hobby and at the end of the day that’s what we all want, a great hobby that grows and expands, stays fresh and exciting. So buy legit, don’t buy recast.

Middle Earth SBG – Monsters of Gundabad

They’ve finally arrived! Azog’s Legion is receiving an epic reinforcement in the form of several hulking beasts, the Trolls and Ogres of Gundabad…

That’s most of what I need for the Legion sorted and already having got in a few games I can confirm 2 things. They are pretty good at smashing things and they don’t get along well with ents! My first game with them they got smashed immediately by some of the woody bastards!

Next up was some new ogres. I enthusiastically stuck these together before thinking about the fact I may want to change them a bit, but after a few hours and some green stuff I ended up with these…

I’m really pleased with how they turned out, especially the skulls, and I think it adds a great amount of character to them. It does mean they don’t link all that well to the ones I’ve got, so I’m going to add some tattoos to all of them in the end.

As you can imagine this amount of monstrous reinforcement pleases me greatly and I can’t wait to get stuck in with these and the Dol Guldur!

As you can imagine I’m really stoked to get painting these. Not only are they massive but the detail is incredible!