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.

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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!

Middle Earth SBG – What’s Next for Azog’s Legion?

I want to look into expanding my Azog’s Legion army by the way of allies. With ‘Master of Battle’ being such a strong addition to Azog I knew I needed to look at green allies. That kind of thematic link being something I look for in a force anyway. That meant Azog’s Hunters or the Dark Powers of Dol Guldur.

If you’ve been reading my recent Middle Earth SBG posts you’ll know I have a history with Dol Guldur and it didn’t take me long to look in their direction, especially with those tasty Nazgul models. This was my nine from around 8 years ago, no longer with me unfortunately…

So the first port of call was a few of the Nine to start them off. After looking through the profiles and what came in each pack I settled on this lot…

The Slayer of Men was on the radar straight away. +1 to wound is always a great boon, especially on someone I wanted leading some troops. The Dark Headsman made the cut partly because of the awesome sculpt, but a nice special rule for that chance of killing a juicy target helped too. With the Witch King coming along too, I was sold. +1 Might is another no brainer over some of the other rules the Nine offer and for the captain like purpose I would like to use them for.

You’ll notice the Witchking is missing his sword, just awaiting a peice so I can do a small conversion on him.

With some ‘captains’ to lead some Dol Guldur warbands I also wanted some unique units to go with them. Whilst I could easily throw in some Gundabad Orcs, an advantage that makes this list a natural ally, I wanted something I couldn’t get anywhere else. This inevitabally led me down a nostalgia path once again…

That’s right, Spiders. Alongside my Necromancer force I used to collect a force of giant spiders led by the Spiderqueen. I said I didn’t want to repeat my past armies, but here we are.

These should give me a nice wee boost in choices and offer some different tactical options. I’ll take a look at that once I’ve had a few games with them.

Nxt up will be some more reinforcements for Azog’s Legion, not allies, but some of the big guys!

Middle Earth SBG – Playing Azog’s Legion!

I’ve got my first 800pts finished and painted up and I’ve really been enjoying the games I’ve been having with them, especially the variety of units I can get on the table. I wanted to offer a look at what I’ve discovered about them.

Overall I’ve found the army very good but also fairly well balanced. So far nothing seems overcosted nor undercosted, although I know there is a debate about whether the ‘Master of Battle’ bonus should be on a 4+.

I also found that they never really felt outclassed, well except by Sauron, always able to meet challenges with at least one part of the force. This flexibility is what I love most about the force. Azog’s Legion is really a jack of all trades, but master of none.

Army 800pts.jpg

Gundabad Orcs

Gundabad Orc Warband

The Gundabad orcs offer a solid backbone to your army. An average statline but a good defence brings them in line with most other armies ‘better than usual’ troops.

They won’t wow you on the table top but they’ll certainly do their part.

Pros

  • Solid defence of 6 when equipped with shields. Great against elf bows and the like
  • Ancient Enemies: Rerolling 1s to wound against dwarves and elves is amazing
  • Cheap, reliable captains
  • Strength 4

Cons

  • Average fight value of 3
  • Only source of banners for the army
  • Low courage

Gundabad Beserkers

Beserkers Complete.jpg

Solid linebreakers, but I think they really excel at flanking and outmaneuvering. Some middling stats stop them from being outstanding but this is reflected well in their cost and rules.

Pros

  • 8″ move allows for flexibility and an increased threat range
  • Ancient Enemies
  • 6+ save against wounds
  • High courage

Cons

  • More reliable with support, which can lessen the movement advantages
  • Fairly average stats

Goblin Mercenaries

Goblins Complete.jpg

Offering a nice tactical choice with their ‘Mercenary Ambush’ special rule, which allows them to show up within a terrain peice from turn 2 onwards they do however feel a little expensive. The captain racks up at the same points as the Gundabad orcs equivalent meaning paying for the ability even if you don’t use it. Still a nice cheap addition to an army and you do get a lot of joy when they manage to kill things.

Pros

  • ‘Mercenary Ambush’ ability
  • Very cheap
  • ‘Chittering Horde’ allows them to support one another

Cons

  • ‘Mercenary Ambush’ comes at a cost
  • Mediocre stats, it is still a goblin after all

Troll Brute

Troll Brute Side 1.jpg

I love this guy. The brute causes a s10 hit on every model it touches during movement. If the model dies he can keep moving. And squashing. That is until he fails to wound and charges the survivor.

The first few games I failed miserably, forever rolling 1s and 2s and squishing nothing, but once he gets rolling he can make a mess of enemy lines. Just watch out for wizards. Compel and Command cast on him at the wrong time can have him walking over your own force!

Pros

  • Excellent squashing abilities
  • Terror and Fearless
  • Access to Brutal Power Attacks, especially Barge
  • 4 wounds

Cons

  • Relatively low defence
  • Susceptible to spellcasters
  • Low Fight

Gundabad Ogres

IMG_20181104_103712_203.jpg

The ogres are a weird addition to the force, offering a brutal but easily overwhelmed linebreaker. Much like the Beserkers they have an 8″ move, making them unusually speedy. The ‘Relentless Advance’ rule adds even more flexability. They can charge through thier own troops, orcs, goblins and warbats. Theres a good chance it will kill them, but getting the ogre into a key combat can be worth it.

Backed up by some solid stats and a relatively cheap cost I would highly recommend adding them into your force.

Pros

  • 8″ movement
  • Solid stat line. 3 wounds, 3 attacks, fight 5.
  • Brutal Power Attacks
  • ‘Relentless Advance’

Cons

  • Low defence
  • Easily swarmed

Azog the Despoiler

Azog Final Complete.jpg

Azog is a beast, an absolute beast! He has an outstanding stat line, alongside some brutal special rules meaning he is quite easily one of the best combat based characters in the game. On the White Warg he is a force to be reckoned with. Being able to share their store of Might, Will and Fate they have access to an impressive 6, 4 and 2. This combined with the army special rule, giving Azog ‘Master of Battle’, tools him up to deal with a good amount of the major threats coming your way.

Whilst he’s impressive wielded as a hammer, smashing aside rank and file, I reckon he should be your scalpel. Direct him towards any mid level character and he will end them in short order. Even some of the more prominent characters will fear Azog charging down on them if he has a good amount of Might left.

I should also point out I haven’t used the flail yet so haven’t factored that in.

Pros

  • Wounds heroes on a 3+
  • Might out the wazoo
  • Movement and charge bonus of the warg
  • 12″ Standfast that affects other orc heroes. With the right positioning you can cause a ripple through your force once broken that keeps everbody in the fight. Considering the low average courage across the army this is a huge boon.
  • Master of Battle. I can do what you can do better.

Cons

  • Aim for the warg
  • Susceptible to magic
  • Low Fate
  • Struggles against well armoured infantry

Bolg, War bats, Troll Catapults and Gundabad Trolls

The only ones that I haven’t played with as yet. The war bats and the catapult because there are no models yet and I’d rather wait for official ones. The trolls and Bolg because I haven’t picked them up…..yet.

And that’s my thoughts so far on Azog’s Legion, but I will be looking to get reinforcements as well as some allies in the very near future. More on that soon. In the meantime let me know what you think and if I missed anything.

All of my guides and articles will continue to be free and open for use by anyone, but if you did find this guide helpful please support me with a donation, so I can continue to make great tutorials like this one!

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Middle Earth SBG – Choosing My Army!

Jumping back into Lord of the Rings meant once again picking an army to collect. I should point out before I continue that evil is my bag. It didnt even cross my mind that my main force would be a good one. I like my monsters and gribblies too much.

Back in the day I had a fairly sizable Dol Guldur army with a Necromancer led contingent and a Spider Queen force and before that a large Mordor force. I wasn’t looking to revisit any of these and wanted to try something new. I painted a lot for those armies and wanted to get a completely fresh start, although I may revisit these forces in a few months.

All this meant looking away from the Lord of the Rings forces and adventuring into the fairly unfamiliar territory of The Hobbit. I had not kept up with model or rules releases for this, so really had no idea what was out there for it. I had seen the films when they were released, but needed a refresher alongside a read of the Hobbit armies PDF. So got the extended editions out and got my geek on.

Following this epic viewing (I really enjoyed the trilogy. Flawed films but still an awesome adventure)and reading session, I knew exactly what I wanted to collect, both good and evil forces.

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Gundabad.jpg

I knew I wanted a hoard of orcs, gribblies and massive trolls, led by the big bad himself, Azog. Even though he doesn’t really stick to the Tolkein lore I loved this character. Just a good and proper villain. It really helped that he also came with a great selection of gribblies of all shapes and sizes. As I said earlier this is is right up my street.

Galadrielguldur.jpg

I also loved the Dol Guldur fight between the White Council and the Necromancer and fell in love with the White Council. I love this whole story line and the characters involved. It also meant a small collection of key characters, so not much to collect and a great opportunity to really give them some painting love.

whiteCouncil3.png

Not to mention a mate has a 1000pt army consisting of the Necromancer, the Nine and the Dungeon Master. It’s going to be an epic and beautifully themed game when we get a chance to play it.

I did expect it to take longer for me to get stuck into both forces, but I’ve already painted 800pts of Azog’s Legion alongside 2 members of the White Council. Check them out below…

A Month in Pictures – October

This month saw a huge boost to my numbers, mainly because I got stuck into my own Middle Earth SBG force, Azog’s Legion. It’s been a while since I’ve had that level of enthusiasm for a project of my own and it’s a joy to have it back. So much so that I have managed to paint up a full 800pt force! Just a unit of Gundabad Orcs and I’ll have 1000pts. Next up will be some allies and the start of my good force.

I also painted up a few of the Nighthaunt models from Soul Wars for a guide in this months issue of Tabletop Gaming magazine. This gave me the oppertunity to try a few different schemes. Of all of them the monochrome was definately my favourite.

Models Painted: 46

Total painted in 2018: 151