A Most Gentlemanly Vice: Pipe Smoking like a Hobbit!

“Longbottom Leaf! The finest weed in the Southfarthing.”

A fine gift of Baccy on my Birthday, enjoyed with good company!

I’ve been an avid Pipe-smoker since I was but 23. After a rough exit from College, where I had to give up on a promising chance at a career I would have loved due to a medical emergency. I was forlorn, bitter, and very disappointed in myself. My anxiety was at an all time high, to the point where I couldn’t walk around outside without the sheer panic making me go back inside again. It was a dark time.

But, I decided I needed a new hobby. Something fun, a vice that wasn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things. I found a local tobacconist, just a mere 45 minutes walk away. And something inside me, definitely inspired by Tolkien, wanted to get a Pipe. It took everything I had to make that walk, but I got there.

Look at what you’ve done old man! Still, the Good Professor steered me into a great hobby, so I can’t be too mad.

A gruff gentleman, probably in his late 50s, was running this small hole in the wall tobacco shop. I asked “Do you have any Tobacco pipes?” He replied, “I don’t sell bongs here.” I asked again “I want a tobacco pipe, a wood one.” He replied. “You can’t smoke weed out of those either.” On my final legs, I said “I want a tobacco pipe. To smoke Tobacco out of it.”. His eyes finally lit up!

“My boy, I haven’t had a customer ask for one of those in 10 years, and certainly not someone so young. My apologies. Here, I have one pipe left.” It was an old Lorenzo pipe. I bought it, and armed with some Colts tobacco, a tamp tool, and some matches…I started a hobby that in many ways pre-dates my renewed interest in Tabletop Wargaming.

Of and on for the next six years, it became a part of my identity. When my peers at Canada’s Wonderland’s Special Maintenance Department would smoke Exports, DuMauriers, and the occasional cigarillo, out came the pipe. When a senior Security Guard would pull out his fancy cigars, out came me with my pipe to smoke with him and outdo his pretentiousness with my, weapons grade pretentiousness.

The pipe was put aside when I began to date someone who was anti-smoking, and I was able to cut a deal where I could smoke very infrequently only at events and parties. The pipe outlasted her. When I moved from the city to the country, it came along.

My friend Ty smoked Cigars though, and the pipe was but on the back burner. We enjoyed many fine Cuban cigars on the beach, in better times. But before long, out came the pipe. Before a friends wedding, we stopped and grabbed supplies. Fancy cigars, and a fresh tin of Dunhill Ready Rubbed. This was in 2020, before the pandemic. We had plans of a beautiful spring and summer of wargaming and smoking. This never got to happen.

Covid put a damper on that, and I barely got to see my friend in-between lockdowns, quarantines, shutdowns, etc. Until this last weekend, where being vaccinated allowed for small outdoor gatherings. My Birthday weekend, in fact. I had burned through all my Ready Rubbed between weekly smoking, my friends wedding, etc.

My friend had brought a kingly gift; I had done research into Tolkien’s favourite tobacco blend, Capstan Original Flake(blue), and he had grabbed me a tin of it. I had bought him his first real tobacco pipe last year but he wanted to wait until I could give it to him personally to smoke it.

Capstan Original Flake - Pipes and Cigars
Tolkien’s Favorite out of all the myriad of tobacco he smoked.

And so began my birthday weekend, full of smoking, sushi, burgers, and good cheer!

Two friends, long apart. Together again, to kill our lungs.
Happy with my gift to him, Ty smokes his new pipe!
I had never seen tobacco cut like this before…but I now drastically prefer it.
Ty still had some of his Cigars left….but by the end of the day we both declared Pipe Smoking had won the day.

Of course, all good things must come to an end. So he left back for the city, promising to come visit as soon as able to do this again.

Having found the Capstan a fine smoke, I’m going to go looking for a few more tins. Being in a contemplative mood about my age, and working through that in a healthy way for my mind, I began to smoke on my deck or back porch. Taking in nature, listening to Howard Shore’s Shire theme as I just sit back, relax, and let everything melt away.

Taking in the sights of rural Ontario, right on the coast of Lake Huron. I’ll get some pictures by the bridge later!
And in my backyard, a lovely, lived in space.

Then I went a bit silly with the Prisma filters and took some fancy pictures.

It’s a pretty photo edit of a pretty place!

It’s been a great weekend, and a lovely introduction to my 30s.

There will be some more Wargaming content coming soon, focused primarily on VBCW and Battletech! So stay tuned for that.

But for now, I must go. Happy War-gaming where-ever you are, and have a beautiful week!

Where there’s a Whip, there’s a Way: The Hosts of Mordor March!

250 models…I should probably start painting some.

Four ‘heroes’ for the Hosts of the Dark Lord.

My Mordor army has been a part of my collection since at least 2003. It started off small, just a small force of Mordor Orcs that came in the Return of the King starter box. But over the years it has ballooned massively, especially with the addition of Morannon Orcs over the years, both independently and with the addition of the Pelennor Fields boxset when that came out.

However, the painting side of things has been dragged out for almost as long. Few models had been painted, and none of those based. This was a situation that had to be rectified if I wanted to ever play them properly.

I chose to start with painting one entirely new model, the Orc Taskmaster, and three models I touched up slightly and based.

So with this playing in the background…

Oh yeah, so this exists. God bless the 1980’s!

So without further fluff, lets take a peek.

First up, a Mordor Orc Captain. This model is long OOP, and is a fantastic sculpt, chock full of great detail.
Pardon my hands, but the light doesn’t catch the face all too well otherwise. I love the scavenged Minas Tirith armour, and the gruesome severed head on the belt.
The shield is also a great touch, and yep, that is another severed head. This model has more character then a lot of the more recent FW captains!
Another OOP model, a Morannon ‘Orc’ Captain. I found this model looked more like an Uruk Hai, which another blogger(long since forgotten unfortunately) also had done. He is still being fielded as an Orc Captain though.
The nice, spiny armour takes a wash really well. I didn’t touch up this model much, it was pretty good to start with.
Some detail I hand-painted years ago, which I kept.
Its Skully! The name the character has is Guritz, but he will forever be Skully in my mind. This is literally the third iteration of the model I have, and the only one that was made specifically to represent the Movie character.
Lots of great detail on this FW model, but that isn’t altogether too surprising.
The first entirely new model I painted today, an Orc Taskmaster. This is a metal model, and I believe he is still available, albeit it in Finecast.
This guy definitely has eaten well in Mordor. Meat perhaps is back on the menu?
This model is based of the Orc ‘inspector’ that almost finds Frodo and Sam in Return of the King. I didn’t take too long trying to copy the film version, and just went with colours that I felt worked really well.

Not too much work, but a nice fun distraction. I’m looking forward to painting more, but I’m avoiding burnout as best as possible so no masses of the same thing being painted days on end.

Just a short post today, I hope you enjoyed the read! Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and have a great day!

Lord of the Iron Hills: Dain Ironfoot for Middle Earth!

“I always found Thorin the more reasonable of the two…”

Dain on his so-called ‘Rocket Sausage’ and on foot. They are both mean models, but fun to paint!

Dain Ironfoot! What a character. In the books he is a typically stoic dwarven lord, coming to his cousins aid during the bloodless Siege of the Lonely Mountain. But, despite my many issues with the Hobbit film trilogy, casting Billy Connolly was inspired. He added a certain roguish charm to the character, perhaps a little too bloodthirsty, but certainly memorable.

When I bought my Iron Hills many years ago, Dain Ironfoot was a major purchase. He is an expensive ‘Character Series’ model, and came in a special box and everything. With such a pedigree, a certain hesitance came when it was time to paint him. One does not want to mess up a very expensive and gorgeous model. And he is indeed riddled with small detail, all cast in sharp relief.

But, I’m slowly learning that painting doesn’t have to be to anybody’s standard but my own, and given the massive momentum I have going painting my Iron Hills, Dain Ironfoot was going to have to be painted. While I have my preferred version of him now that I have the ‘Old’ Dain, King Under the Mountain, painting this Lord of the Iron Hills version will give me many options when I go to play.

Lets see how I got on!

First up, the mounted version. I painted the boar first, and almost messed up right away by painting it light brown! Luckily I saw a picture from the movie and course corrected right away.
I painted his snout a brighter colour then a lot of people, just to add a lot of contrast.
His saddle is full of beautiful embossed detail.
I can’t harp on enough about how cool the saddle is!
In contrast, the body was actually easier. I made sure to paint his beard ‘tusks’ nice and bright. They are a stand out feature of his face.
His base is rather simple, but I added a flower tuft for some visual interest.
From the front, a view my opponents will hopefully see a lot. He’s not perfect, but I’m happy with him.

Now his foot model actually looks a lot like the actor, so I had to work really hard to maintain that detail. He wasn’t particularly difficult to paint to my very firmly tabletop standard, with the exception of the face.

On foot, Dain is almost just as dangerous. He has discarded his helmet.
I’m pretty bad at highlighting, but I highlighted as best I can on his face. The ‘tusks’ remain present and had to be nice and bright.
His back was a dawdle though, simply being a very nicely detailed but easy to paint fur cloak.
His warhammer I painted red, but I found painting the detail on it beyond the skills of my shaky hands, so I left it that colour. I still think it looks cool!

With this centerpiece model done, that simply leaves 15 Iron Hill Dwarves. 3 of those are the separate pack they sell with optional shields, meant to be used as dismounts for the Goat Riders. I was planning on fielding them as spear-dwarves, but a look at my army list told me that I was distinctly lacking in speed. A single set of 3 Goat Riders would actually help me with objectives, so I’m holding those 3 dwarves in reserve as dismounts now. Of course, with the Goat Riders being quite dear in price, that will have to wait for a little bit.

12 Iron Hills Warriors is not an insurmountable obstacle to paint, and so I will press on and get them done in short order. I cannot wait to paint King Dain, and will feature that when he gets done as soon as I can! I’ve seen some beautiful models painted already, so lots of inspiration in the wild for me to draw from.

And with that, a lazy Saturday’s painting is done! I hope you like him, and if you have an critiques I’m all ears. Happy War-gaming wherever you are. Yanâd Durinul!

Du Bekar! Yet more Dwarves for Middle Earth!

To Arms! The Iron Hills army grows!

14 more Durin’s Folk for the Battle of Dale. Its all coming together…

I’ve been a very busy hobbit today. As I don’t have much to do during Lockdown, I decided to get another Iron Hills warband done!

I’ve talked at length before about the Iron Hills models, but I must say if your a newcomer here; One, great models with loads of detail that I’m definitely underselling with my paint job, and Two….don’t glue the shields on! By Durin don’t! It makes them monumentally harder to paint. But, a little perseverance goes a long way, and I slogged through and got them done.

Lets take a closer look!

A mighty block of shields indeed! Not much will want to charge this head-on!
As before, nothing too fancy. The shields honestly paint themselves with a wash.
With this many spearmen(spear-dwarves?) I’m definitely set. I could use more mattocks and crossbows…
They look pretty decent, but again a more experienced hand could probably elevate these models. Still, I’m happy with them and that is what matters.
A lot of similar poses, but differing the beard colour helps. It does mean they rank up quite nicely…
This Captain doesn’t want to remain in the shieldwall, he wants to get stuck in!
A simple cloak marks his rank, along with his helmet. Other then that not much distinguishes them from the rank and file armour wise, which I like. This is a professional army.
The banner has…interesting embossed detail. I definitely prefer the other design, but this looks okay too.
And with a shield he can stand in the ranks and not break Shieldwall, which is nice.

Another 14 Dwarves done, which means I have 28 battle-ready! And boy, do they look the business when all ranked up together!

Add in a block of mattocks and crossbows and this will be a nasty force to fight, even more so then it already is!

I almost wish they were on square bases to rank even closer together…

Now, this morning I posted a product review of the new ‘Old’ King Dain that will be leading the force, alongside his son Thorin III. But I wasn’t pleased with the good kings base, being just a boring 25mm base. So I fixed that in the most traditional way possible; I stuck him on a rock!

A small rock will paint up to be a much bigger rock. Sure, King Dain is a bigger target now, but he leads from the front, even at his venerable age.

This caps off a very busy hobbying day for me, with helping my friend get his blog off the ground and my review this morning. But I think I have earned a break…I say as I eye the rest of the ever-shrinking pile of unpainted dwarves…

I’m in the home stretch now!

There is always more hobbying to be done, and I cannot yet rest upon my laurels until this batch is done! One final effort, but I may leave younger Dain for a day all by himself. He is a very nice model.

Anyways, that is the last of what I got for today! I hope you enjoyed the read! Leave a comment if you liked what you saw, or have any criticism. Happy War-gaming wherever you are on this good (Middle) Earth of ours, and have a great day!

The King Under The Mountain: A Review of King Dain from Forgeworld!

The Ironfoot King, prepared to stand against Sauron and his minions!

Saying ‘no’ to Sauron in style! Lots of gold armour in my future…

It has been a while since I have done a product review. I generally shy away from them. But I haven’t seen much said about these models online yet and they were released not that long ago, so for once I am ahead of the curve!

This set includes King Dain Ironfoot and his son Thorin III Stonehelm. They are in that great Forgeworld resin, which I must say having worked on their kits for a while it has improved drastically. It cuts like butter, and is fantastic to work on. But some caution is needed to not cut away important detail!

They had little flashing, but it was there. Easily cleaned up with a hobby knife! No warping, but given the small size of the parts that was to be expected. Extremely clean casts with no fuzzy detail. As we would hope given the price!

Great looking models, and easily built too!

The kit comes with a few parts, but nothing too difficult to put together. The armour detail is great, taking notes from both the Iron Hills and Erebor. King Dain still has his signature ‘tusks’ in his beard, a really nice touch! His warhammer has been replaced with Barazantathul, his famous Red Axe, which pleases me to no end. It is a lovely throwback to the original King Dain model from the early 2000s. For reference, this was his old model…

Dwarf Lords Dain & Balin | Miniset.net - Miniatures Collectors Guide
King Dain on the Left. While the new model has an entirely new look, he did have an axe! I’m glad its back!

Thorin III looks great too, with a really detailed shield. I probably shouldn’t have glued the shield on, but unlike the Iron Hills warriors, I can still reach behind to paint it. His pick looked a bit thick in the photos Games Workshop put out, but looks a lot better ‘in hand’.

Still has his ‘tusks’! A lovely fur cloak adds a hint of class, but his armour reminds you that he is a Dwarf King, ready to defend his hold.
Excellent, crisp detail on the cloak!
Thorin III looks great, and while I got the set primarily to get King Dain, this model will definitely see use as well!
And the detail on the armour is fantastic. A lot of hints of both Iron Hills and Erebor in its design.

All in all, I am quite happy with these models! My friend is lending me a can of Retributor Armour Spray, which will give these dwarves the gold armour they need. But that will mean waiting a month….which given how cool these models are might mean I paint them sooner!

There is no scale creep, and they fit amongst the Iron Hills warriors I have really well! I might need another warband for Thorin to lead, probably with crossbows and mattocks to add a bit of variety to my list.

Looking just right compared to the warriors they will be leading into battle!

I can’t wait to field them in a game soon! My project to do the Battle of Dale is that much closer to being done with the addition of these two models. I really hope they bring out a King Brand to go with the Dale models…

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed/got what you needed from this review. I will post again soon when they are painted! But for now, Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!

Captain of the Guard: Irolas for the Middle Earth SBG!

“It is as Lord Denethor predicted! Long has he forseen this doom!”

Captain of the Tower Guard, ready to defend the Steward of Gondor, no matter the cost.

Most of the models I paint for the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game originate from the books, but not all of them. This is one of those examples. Irolas, the Captain of the Citadel Guard is one part Film creation, and other part Games Workshop fitting the character into a role that needed filling. Beregond, the main Tower Guard soldier in the books, didn’t make it into the film, which is unfortunate because his relationship with Pippin is so wholesome.

While Beregond exists as a model, and I will get to him, Irolas is a beautiful Forgeworld sculpt. He comes as part of a two-pack with a re-sculpted and updated Denethor model, and was the part of that pack I was most excited to paint. His stoic pose perfectly matches the older metal Citadel Guardsmen, and he will look great leading 12 of them in my games.

The yellow trim is something you see a lot of on the Games Workshop Citadel Guard, a pragmatic adaptation of film embroidery to something more easily applied to a model. I might get a paint pen down the road to add a little detail to the trim down the road, but as it stands I do not have a small enough brush nor the fine motor control to do so as of yet.

He wasn’t an especially difficult model to paint, with the exception of his face. I decided to give him a bit of stubble, and that took a little while to achieve. Again I eschewed painting eyes, but his face seemed to repel the wash and it took a while for it to finally settle.

Lets take a closer look!

The yellow trim was tricky to paint with my shaky hands, but I gave it my best shot.
His armour was done much the same as I would do any of my Minas Tirith warriors, and was nothing too special. Much of the model is enveloped in a nice cloak, so I focused my attention on that and the face.
While not intentional, I do like the ‘tired’ look he has. Denethor can be a handful! As well, I like to imagine that Irolas is losing sleep because of the great battle that will soon take place, and is running a bit ragged at this point out of fear and doubt. *I have since touched up his glove.
Some simple shading brought out the depth in the cloak, and the yellow trim gives it a bit of pop.

Irolas was a fun model, painted in a few hours while chatting with friends online. I have managed to convince one of my friends to play, and I’m looking forward to getting some games in post-lockdown. Between my Minas Tirith and Iron Hills armies I have a tough, dependable force no matter which I choose. I might restart work on my Mordor force to have an opposing force ready, or start on my Easterlings.

Well, that is all I have more today. A nice short and sweet post! I’ll have more for you in the coming days. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and have a great day!

An Old Dream, Long Remembered: Childhood Goals in Dark Times

A new, grand goal.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
-JRR Tolkien

Fair warning, this is minis lite: This is something I plan to do, not currently have ready! It reads more like an essay. This is the beginnings, the first steps…the first stones that start an avalanche. It’s not going to be for all of you! And that’s okay. Its a bit depressing too, at first.

It has been a rough year for all of us. Between Covid, Lockdowns, Quarantines, Restrictions, one could get tired of it all. I can be tough to cope.

Frodo Baggins' entire backstory explained
Buckle up Frodo, you got a long way to go!

For myself, especially, and for the first and last time I’ll mention on this blog, it has been a particularly close run thing. My mental health has taken serious blows, and it brought myself closer to the brink then I’d like to admit. Let me be perfectly blunt. I’m happy to be alive. I’ve come out of the darkness with a pretty renewed sense of purpose, drive, and motivation to not let the little things pass-me-by.

J. R. R. Tolkien quote: I will not say, do not weep, for not all...
Sometimes a hard-lesson is the only way to learn what matters.

In the midst of all of this, Games Workshop quietly announced Quest for the Ringbearer, a supplement for the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game. Having received my copy yesterday, I finally got a chance to sit down, and read it. A pretty good supplement, barring some minor spelling errors and potential rules gaffes. The campaign is akin to the journeybooks of old, but updated for the most current ruleset and party to some of the more balanced versions of the included scenarios I’ve seen.

Middle-earth SBG - Dunlendings - Page 34 - Forum - DakkaDakka | Roll the  dice to see if I'm getting drunk.
Finally, worthy tomes exist to replace these great but long since out of print epics

If it was just that, I’d have been happy, but included were a couple additional treats; a full fantasy Fellowship campaign modification, and most crucially to me, an up to date way to fight ALL of the Fellowships battles using all currently released books. This is something brand new, and very exciting!

War Comes to Rohan™! - Warhammer Community
This, and the Gondor at War book, complete the whole Trilogy of epic content.

Indeed, it brings me back to a childhood dream of a much younger version of me, twinkles in his eyes and full of naivety as I fought battles across my living room floor. I wanted to do the books AND the movies justice, nailing the feel of both. A full Fellowship playthrough, with bespoke terrain, painted armies, and good company.

I dreamed in my youth of taking the Fellowship, all parts of it, across Middle-Earth on an adventure to end an age.

For the first time in living memory, I have both the drive and willpower to see it through. I have the collection my thirteen year old self couldn’t even dream of owning. I have many good friends willing to go on an adventure, lending me their Sword, Bow, or Axe to the cause. From Bag-End to Mount Doom, from Rivendell to Rohan and Gondor, to the Black Gate itself.

I'm Going On An Adventure! | Know Your Meme
Adventures are better with friends!

It fills me with joy and excitement, something that can be difficult to muster in this age of uncertainty. It could take years for me to complete such an undertaking. It could see missteps, mistakes. But yet my excitement holds true. I work best with a goal, however distant, in mind.

The man I have become these last few years isn’t the one I thought I’d be, better or for worse. But for the kid I was, that happy go lucky pre-teen who broke the seal on the Return of the King Starter Box back in 2003….I’ll follow Frodo and Aragorn’s journeys across Middle Earth. A dream, now a future.

Image for post
And its WORTH fighting for.

I hope you good folks out there can forgive a man getting a few things off his chest, and finding hope in the smaller things in life. I don’t like to dwell on such unhappy, if motivational topics, and your regularly scheduled dose of wargaming content will continue on Wednesday evening! But in the mean time, Happy Wargaming where-ever you might be, and may you find some inspiration in the strangest places!