Monday, 22 January 2018

Castellans of Dol Guldur

Here's a couple of servants of evil that I recently fished out of my lead pile. These guys were produced for The Lord of the Rings: Fall of the Necromancer supplement that came out many years ago. Basically, these guys are like budget Nazgul - just empty suits of armour, held together by Sauron's power. I love the models. I love the concept. I did not love painting them. Like painting Nazgul, these guys are just kind of dull when it comes to the brush. Silver and black with little detail to provide colour breaks.

Still, I'm glad to have them done and in my collection as they really are cool figures.

Now that The Hobbit movies have come out and given a new vision of Dol Guldur, complete with new Nazgul, I don't know if these guys have any place in the official game. Oh well, I liked The Fall of the Necromancer's take on Dol Guldur better than the one in the movie anyway.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Middle-Earth SBG – Battle Companies

Long-time readers will be aware of my fondness for Games Workshop’s The Lord of the Rings, Strategy Battle Game, both as a game system and as a miniatures line. However, after a rebranding to The Hobbit SBG failed to catch the public interest, the whole line was allowed to languish, with both books and miniatures becoming increasingly out of stock.

Then, with the recent resurgence of Games Workshop came a few glimmers of interest in the SBG. A few new figures appeared – as expensive Forge World resins, it’s true, but new figures none-the-less. Then, just before Christmas, GW released a new book, under a new branding – Middle Earth, Strategy Battle Game: Battle Companies. While the core of this book is drawn from a series of White Dwarf articles that appeared over a decade ago, the work, as a whole, is something brand new. And, in truth, I really like it.

This book takes a new approach to the SBG, starting from a position of 'fun first, balance and tight rules second'. It will probably come as a surprise to no one who has played Frostgrave, that this is my default approach to gaming! In Battle Companies, you start with a small group of warriors, based around one of the core army lists, and over the course of numerous scenarios, you can grow your battle company in both skill and size. Okay, there is still very much an element of using the game to drive minis sales, but to some level this must be accepted and forgiven if we want the company to survive.

What is really great about this book is the number and variety of basic scenarios (12!), and, even better, the additional 5 scenarios that compose the narrative campaign. In these scenarios you can earn special rewards like having a wandering elf joining your battle company (or giant spider for you evil battle companies out there!).

The only major drawback with this book is that you can’t actually play the game without at least 2 other books – some of which might be hard to obtain (Or, like me, you can plan to cheat and just use the out-of-date, but still wonderful, Big Blue Rulebook!).

As for myself, I’m already thinking I might do a full ‘Lamedon’ Battle Company, based on the ‘Gondor Fiefdom’ rules. I’ve already got a couple of warriors and a potential archer I could use…

Friday, 19 January 2018


I was so pleased with the two warriors of Lamedon that I painted last week, I took the colour scheme I used for them and carried it straight into the next figure I painted. This archer is one of the ‘female crewmen’ that Bobby Jackson sculpted for Ghost Archipelago. I cut her off her integral base using a hobby saw. I was surprised how easy and effective this was, and I will certainly be using the technique for future figures.

I really took my time painting her, because I was enjoying it so much. For me, this figure has the perfect level of detail – lots of distinct little areas, but nothing so small that I couldn’t see it or hit it with a brush.

I’m not completely sold on the brown trousers. Perhaps I should have gone with a lighter colour there, but otherwise, I’m extremely pleased with the results. She’ll be joining my Ghost Archipelago crew, but, should Lamedon come under dire threat, she can always join in the defence!

Did I mention how thrilled I am to have Bobby Jackson sculpting some figures for Frostgrave and Ghost Archipelago? Well, I am! 

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Ghost Archipelago: Lost Colossus

Look what just arrived in the post! It’s my advance author copy of Lost Colossus, the first supplement for Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago which is due out in March. It is always a slightly magical moment for a writer when you first see your work as a proper book, all beautifully designed, and integrated with artwork and photography. (How awesome is that cover artwork by Dmitry Burmak!)

So, what is Lost Colossus? Essentially, it is a big, ten-scenario campaign for Ghost Archipelago, similar in many ways to Thaw of the Lich Lord for Frostgrave. That said, I think Lost Colossus actually has a stronger narrative drive, aided by the fact that the scenarios are linked mechanically as well as through the narrative.

The book also includes a few new specialist crew members to hire as well as the obligatory new treasures and new monsters. Probably my favourite part of the new book is the short section on snake-men, which gives them their own brand of magic, including new spells.

Anyway, I’m sure there will be more news about this in the next month or so, including new miniatures that will be available at the same time. Did someone say plastic snake-men?

Wednesday, 10 January 2018


Earlier this week, I got frustrated with my painting. I had been pressuring myself to get some stuff done, and it was taking all of the fun out of it. So, instead, I threw 80% of my lead pile into a box and stuck the box at the top of my closet. Out of sight, out of mind, I hope.

Of the remaining figures, I selected just two to put on top of my painting table - a pair of warriors of Lamedon from The Lord of the Rings range. I had painted the third figure in the pack nearly a year ago, but for some reason never got back round to these two.

With only these two figures to focus on, I was astounded by how quickly (and how enjoyably) I blasted through them. I had one minor set-back, when I realized I was out of white paint, the colour I had been intending for their cloaks, but I just painted them red instead. Actually, I think the red looks better. The original guy with the white cloak can be an officer or chosen man or something.

Having finished up these proud warriors, I have selected just three more figures to stare at me from the painting table. Hopefully, I will have just as much fun working on them.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

No Complaints

It is the time of year when everyone asks if you have any resolutions. In the past, I have been more into writing a list of goals (which I invariably fail to achieve) than in setting resolutions, but decided I would start this year with one. I am resolved to stop complaining.

I don't know if I complain more than average, or if people consider me a complainer, but too often I hear myself letting out a little moan, and I've got three reasons it is time to stop.

1. I have nothing to complain about. Currently, I have a nice house, a healthy family, enough money that I don't have to worry about it day-to-day, professional success, etc. The more good that is in my life, the more any complaint I could make just sounds petty.

2. There is almost nothing as boring as listening to someone complain. To modify a famous phrase, 'Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought boring than to open your mouth and prove it.'

3. The older I get, the more convinced I am that we construct a large portion of our own reality with our thoughts and speech. Thus, the more I complain, the more real I make those complaints. Why would I want to do that? Better to talk about my great wife, great kids, great job, etc.

I am sure I will fail at this resolution from time to time. Perhaps I will fail every day, but, I think as long as I keep it in mind, I will at least complain less, and that will be victory enough.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Spellcaster Update

Just a quick update. First a big thank you to everyone who has purchased Issue 2. The issue spent several days at the top of RPGNow's best-sellers list, and has picked up a 'Popular Silver Pick' award.

The good news is, the Print-on-Demand version is now available. I got my proof copy in the mail yesterday, and I've got to say it looks pretty good. Okay, it's not up to the standards of traditional printing, but it is a very satisfying, perfect bound, little booklet.

On the downside, our battles with Kindle continue. We think we are closing in on a solution, but I am still hesitant to give a specific date for this.

Anyone been killed by a dragon yet?