Baruk Khazâd: Iron Hills for Middle Earth!

Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!

This is from March 2018: Almost a lifetime ago it feels. Its about time I got some paint on them!

‘I do not think that any would come,’ he answered. ‘They have no need to ride to war; war already marches on their own lands.’-Legolas, Return of the King.

Back 2018 I made a massive push to play the then Hobbit Strategy Battle Game with my friends. It was tough going; 40k was wildly popular and almost without rival at my local clubhouse, and it was a fantasy game competing with Age of Sigmar, another juggernaut. Of course, in my reckless optimism, I acquired a large force of Iron Hills Dwarves, probably the strongest army in the game at the time.

That wasn’t the reason I collected them; while I have many opinions about the Peter Jackson Hobbit Trilogy(not many of them particularly nice…)I did love the dwarves. We never got to see that many during Lord of the Rings and seeing them in battle was a nice contrast to the prim and proper elves. Dain brought a decently sized force to the Battle of Five Armies, and while they differed drastically from the book depiction…I have a fondness for spears in large numbers.

At the time, I justified it by saying I could always field it as the dwarves present at the later Battle of Dale in the Third Age, where they fought a downright massive host of Easterlings from Rhun. This battle was in the book appendices, and was simply titanic in terms of forces involved, and almost none of them Orcs. I never expected in a million years that Games Workshop would actually cover the battle again(they did in the original Return of the King book), and with models to go with it. They did have an ‘old’ Dain Ironfoot, but his son Thorin III Stonehelm was simply a renamed generic Hero, as was King Brand of Dale.

So, of course the mad-lads behind the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game went and did it.

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Oh yeah, Old Dain is back! And his slightly goofy looking son as well!

This had the (probably intended by GW) effect of reviving my interest in Middle Earth again. While as of writing these models are part of a modified Erebor Reclaimed army-list, I have no doubt that that we will see either a bespoke army-list or an expanded one for this massive battle. It is heavily implied that we will see an expansion either just on this battle or in a compendium of battles that Sauron launched against the West, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for King Brand.

Now where does that leave me for army building? Well, I have enough Orcs to probably fill a bathtub, and enough Easterlings to fight skirmish level games. The Iron Hills army stands at 43 models including 2 banners and 2 captains. The Ballista, while very cool, isn’t in the Erebor Reclaimed list and must(for now) sit this battle out. I decided as a palette cleanse before I start assembling my horde of Bolt Action Soviets, to get some painting done, and selected 12 models and 2 command!

Lets see how I got on!

A small force, but a very playable one! More will come!

Now these are truly beautiful models. At 81 Canadian dollars for every 12, I certainly hope so! I was hesitant to paint them for the longest time, especially because resin can be hard to strip paint off of it had gone badly. But, I’ve learned to accept that I will not always paint ‘amazing’ models compared to the standards of others, but I can always shoot for my personal quality. So with that caution thrown aside, I got started.

The Warriors were particularly annoying, as past me had made the lazy decision to assemble them fully then paint. What a mistake that was! The shields and faces were very difficult to do.

A simple paint scheme for these doughty dwarves. Some gold accents, copied from film, and brown undertunics, which can barely be seen here.
The wash really came alive and helped me feel better about how I was getting along. They really don’t look too shabby, and are definitely tabletop quality.
There is something to be said about a good shield, and these are indeed good looking shields!
Easy too. The detail is in sharp relief and took the paint and subsequent wash really well.
Arrayed together as a single warband, and the sea of spears really comes to life. This is a shield-wall few will want to mess with!

With the Warriors done, I moved onto the banner and Captain. These were actually a bit easier, as the shield was not blocking too much of their bodies. The banner was a tough nut to crack as I had not a single idea on how I wanted to do it beforehand. Luckily, a chat with my more artistically inclined(if not particularly verbose) sister led to the result. “Add more colour” she said, and honestly the addition of sky blue and red made it pop just enough that I am happy with it.

A Captain of the Iron Hills is no slouch in combat, and with his spear, can contribute to the fighting line.
A dirty but striking red cloak makes him stand out on the battlefield.
The banner! It’s simple but its enough that I’m happy with it. I have a far more complex banner in the works for the next warband.
And the back! Not much to say other then hey, its the back!

That was this warband completed, and a solid chunk of points too! I’m going off a 750pt to 1000pt limit as my initial goal. With new(old actually, ha!) Dain replacing his pig-riding, bloody crazy version leading the main force, with two wings led by either his son or the able Captains.

Which leaves…

Ho boy, I got loads to go. At least I can rule out piggy and the Ballista.

With the new ‘Old’ Dain and his son on his way, I am eagerly awaiting the supplement that will accompany him. Luckily, they have published rules to use in the mean time, most of which have been pinched from his original form back in 2003. His son, Thorin III, is a different beast entirely, and while not a beefcake, can be used as an interesting strategic tool with his subsect of abilities allowing him to change the flow of the battle.

I should, unless they add some stuff, be able to field the army upon release of the supplement without much in the way of work, if I keep hammering out dwarves 14 at a time. That is the plan anyways, and judging by the fact it took me 3 years to get this lot even near the painting table, plans can be easily go awry.

In any event, I rewarded myself as a Hobbit would do…

A bit of the Old Toby, and a lovely evening chill.

Anyways, that is all I had for today. I hope you enjoyed this drastic shift in topics(not all those wander are lost after all!)

Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and remember what Tom Bombadil said: “Be Bold, but Wary! Keep up your merry hears, and ride to meet your fortune!”

Medic! And a sneak peek at next months big project!

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40k Battlefield Medicine; Or, how getting killed in one go is probably better then getting that in your arm!

Another day, another Vostroyan done. This medic is for my command squad, and while the medics aren’t terribly useful he looks fantastic, and thus has a place in my army. He is younger then most of the other veterans in the command team, and his mustache has yet to grey with age. I might revisit him in the future, add a few more details, but when one has 80+ Guardsmen to finish, that’s a problem for later. I’m finding the vostroyans actually fairly easy to paint, as the amount of sharp detail in the cast takes really well to shades.

The plan is once I get to the Infantry Squads is to do them in batches of 5, that way it should only take 2 days per squad. I’ve never batch painted before starting on my kill team, so I’m fairly new to it as a concept, but after getting the Catachans fully painted and played them, it felt GOOD. Playing with a painted squad was awesome, and now imagining a whole army has really been a shot in the arm motivation wise.

But, the Vostroyans are by no means the only project I’m working on. The Vostroyans have been my focus for the past half-year…the big project has been something I’ve been working toward since I was 12!

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This scene still gives me goosebumps.

40k was not my gateway drug into war-gaming. That honor lies with the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game! As a young boy watching these movies was life-changing, and the game was actually surprisingly popular with kids my age in my hometown. A trip to a Games Workshop got me the Warriors of the Last Alliance box( my confusion as to why there was all these “Space Marines” and “Empire State Troops” all over was hilarious in hindsight), but honestly I had no idea what I was doing until my folks got me the Return of the King starter box.

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Many a good time was had in this box of wonders!

To my 12 year old self, being able to fight the battles of Osgilliath and Minas Tirith was an experience I’ll never really forget, despite getting half the rules wrong. Many a battle was fought on the living room floor, and many an Orc was badly painted. I even got a box set, I forget its name, but it had a massive amount of Good forces, and it felt to me like my own little mustering of the Free Peoples.

It was the beginning of a journey that still continues to this day, despite my focus shifting away from it as popularity of the game ebbed and finding people who played it became harder and harder. 40k took hold after it became apparent that people had forgotten all about the good ole LOTR SBG. Soon, Guardsmen replaced Warriors of Minas Tirith, and that which should not have been forgotten…was lost.

I made one very good decision during this dark time, when it seemed GW had forgotten us. I kept everything. 40k Armies came and went, but my little(but growing!) stash of Lord of the Rings models lay just out of sight, occasionally coming out for a quick jaunt in Balins Tomb, but the big battles of yesteryear were a distant memory. As more models disappeared from the webstore, my trips to ebay to find recruits for what I thought was a dying game was a weekly habit.

But, unknown to me, there were some that resisted. Things like the Great British Hobbit League kept the torch alive. Eventually, I found out that I was not alone! And with the Hobbit on the horizon, everything looked great!

Then came bitterness. It started well, new plastic kits! A good starter box! But, it came at a cost; Finecast. Casts that were amazing in metal became flash ridden, horribly fragile miniatures. Swords that once could be bent simply snapped off. All at a massive mark-up in price. It helped that the movies weren’t as good, and I felt less need to keep up.

I, along with many other people awaited the inevitable. A long wait, with an answer we already knew. The game was dead.

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But like the quest of the Ring, from such dark times did hope arise! Forge World, Games Workshop boutique line took up the torch, and while the Lord of the Rings left shelves, new miniatures were coming out again. But, it was still only for the Hobbit, and I could feel little excitement for it.

Then, something happened that this blogger did not expect; Games Workshop announced that the The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game was to be rebranded as The Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game! Battle Companies, a mini-game from the past akin to Kill-Team, re-emerged. Hope was kindled.

And yet, no-one expected what was announced next, least of all me.

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Middle Earth is back, baby. New plastic heroes, rereleasing old OOP(out of production) models, and the hated repack of 24 man troop boxes into 12 is being undone. I haven’t felt excitement like this since watching Return of the King for the first time. And, my childhood dream of fighting the Battle of the Pelennor Fields comes ever closer to being a reality. I’m ready, my full strength gathered. Men of Rohan, of Gondor, waiting patiently for the paint brush. Hordes of Orcs and Uruks in their serried ranks await the same.

At around the same time this was announced, I decided that if I was going to do this, it would be a movie style refight, as opposed to the book. And for that, I needed the Army of the Dead. Ebay saved the day here.

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“The way is shut. It was made by those who were dead. And the dead keep it.” (Also, whoever painted this army, daaaaaaang did they do a good job. No bath of Simple Green for these boys.)

The cost was insignificant; people sell the banner alone for outrageous amounts of money on eBay. and with more Army of the Dead then I’ll ever possibly need, all that remains is the noble Rohirrim, the beleaguered garrison of Minas Tirith and the vile Orcs and their allies. Of course, it won’t be a full scale refight, even my collection pales in comparison to what would be required to do it justice. But even a small part of the battle would be the culmination of a life’s dream.

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“Is it time? Time at last?” Yes, my lads, it is.

So, in closing, don’t worry there will be still loads and loads of 40k content; My friend is working a pace at his Tank Company and he has given me permission to share it with the internet. My Vostroyans will be worked on at a steady rate as well. This just means they’ll have to share with Gondorians, Men of Rohan, and Orcs. Many, many orcs.

Instead of my usual sign off, I leave you with this

“Theres some good in this world Mr.Frodo, and its worth painting for”-Samwise Gamgee