The Five Istari, part three

Easter came and passed, at least for us here in old Svedala where the main celebration was during the Saturday, not the Sunday. I had no visits from the little witches that usually come and give Easter-cards and expect candy and/or money. Which was okay with me because last years witches had made such poor cards I did almost not want to give them anything.
     I went away on the Long Friday and met some friends, got home in the evening and celebrated the Saturday with a couple of other people - it was a very calm and almost frugal weekend. But today, when I was alone I went all out: Kebab for breakfast! Bam, 1400kCal! Dinner: 0,3 kg of candy! Bam, 1200kCal! Evening dinner (what about second breakfast?): Salmon and potatoe, 700kCal! The "other" was sodas and some other things, around 300 extra kCals. A grand total of around 3600kCal. Aaah, that's the way you celebrate the upcoming rich year with good harvests and general fertility: By eating what our good Lord provide us.

I could just spend the hours between food (too tired by the downing after the initial sugar-rush) reading an American debutant's multicultural mess of a novel. But it was unexpectedly good. Teju, I believe his name is.
      And the last few hours of the day I spent on phase three on the Istari. Normally, there are three phases in my modeling. But these are going to get FIVE phases! What? Five phases?! Yes. I will actually try to up my game somewhat.

Flash Gordon's staff look like shit, I'll try to have it redone by next weekend.

Thanks to these images I see clearly what needs to be done. Except for the faces which need a lot of love, some more work on the Blue Wizards' staffs, there are numerous little pieces of sand here and there that needs removing and then repainting. The shield and book MUST get some treatment, but I'm getting lazy, so we'll see what happens there.

Have a good upcoming weekend good people! Go with Christ, bro'!

PS) Almost forgot: I did get a nice little April's Fool joke off. On a certain aviator that I know. I think mr FoB might want to know the details, yes? Let me hear if that is the case...

PPS) Jamie of Rough War (of the Ring) posted a wishlist that I really enjoyed. Go visit if you haven't found his place on the web yet. He sometimes posts very good battle reports. Something I will try to do in the future... well, at least post a battle report, not necessarily a good one :J

New Podhammer episode!

Is it true or just an evil April 1st joke?! The time stamp says it was produced late February... so I guess it is not a joke then.

Podhammer episode 96... Jeff von Podhammer seems to be out of the picture, but Kendall and someone else is there, I think he is called Kent Fury. So it is sort of the same thing.

Mantic have listed some of their upcoming releases that were planned in their Kickstarter-project. The things I am looking forward to are:

- Undead Mummies. Just want to see how they made them...
- Undead Werewolves - for the Angmar army.
- Basilean High Priest. Again, just a pure interest in the looks of this model. Feels like the humans can be really hit or miss with Mantic behind the wheel.
- Basilean Girly Fighters, or whatever they're called. If they could, perhaps, be used for some sort of Haradrim-project. This is something I have no base for, I am just judging by the name. If they are armoured, then forget it. But most often, female models are half naked = easy to convert.


The Council of Wizardry, part two!

Part two with an exclamation mark!
    Basecoating is done. Some washes have been applied... I foresee waaay too much painting on this project before it looks how I want it. Not to mention how to finish the tray to make it look how I wanted it originally. An enjoyable project, nevertheless.

A shattered shield and a book was the two symbols I settled with.
    Naurandir is the rock-guy. I am experimenting with some red pattern on his clothes, but the model doesn't work as well with my shaky free-handing as I had expected. Red will be the spot-colour for this project, but applied extremely conservative. White will appear on most of the models, in some form... the shield might get a red paintjob... it's either that or a simple orc-metal colour.

The original inspiration:

Who's the unnamed sixth wizard though?

A llama-egg to celebrate the biggest mish-mash holiday ever made in Western Society: Easter! And with a llama-egg, I think we've topped it...


The Council of Wizardry - Part One

As I have felt a little burnt after renovating the whole Rhûn army (and not yet 100% done), I had first intended to fix up my very high-theme Edheldu army only to find it was totally fine - most of the elves still need a lick of paint, but as a whole, the project is done as it is. Since I was already in a wood-theme state of mind I finally began the project of The Council of Wizardry, featuring Alatar and Pallando! Naurandír and Sûlrandir, as the rulebook calls them.
    I am a big fan of gene/meme-parallells and of symbolism and such, so I gave this project a whole lot of different hints of the dynamics of the group. This is something that felt important since the five models are quite different and can't really be tied together with a unified paint-scheme.

In the middle naturally we have Saruman. He has an owl behind him - for the obvious knowledge-symbol, but also to put him closer to Radagast, which stands to his left, or our right.
    Radagast is surrounded by birds and have the only leafed branch on the whole tray. In front of him we have Naurandir which I decided was going to be a little different from the other blue wizard (whom is profficient in lightning and skies and such) - his blue colour will be tied to minerals and rocks instead and that's why he wears clothes that somewhat ties him in with the dwarves. Geographically, I find it okay as well. Some of the dwarves are quite eastwardly placed, so... He holds a staff which will made to be looking like diabas.
   And so on... in the front middle I will put two, maybe three artifacts that tie in to either their mission, purpose or just some sort of decoration... we'll see...

If the beards and staffs won't tie the project together, I hope all my thinking/planning and symbolism will help it cohere.

An instructive image to finish it off:

Find one wrong with the picture above. One wrong that also coincide with something in Naurandir's proximity. Don't have the patience to look? I'll tell you, the Bone(r) Dragon (which was pulled from HoMM3 because of the disturbing "detail") and the stones in front of Naurandir (top image) looks alike... I am not sure if I will have to redo it to avoid people thinking "Oh, one of the wizards is summoning penises" instead of: "Wow, awesome wizards without penises sticking out of the ground!"
    With penises firmly out of the way, I have a question: What on earth is this thing refering to? Is it about the actual button [F4] that is never used, or is it something wholly different?

Nevertheless, it looks cute and funny...
   See you in a while! Have a fine Easter!


Costs of a hobby...

... this hobby, in particular. It's now been around 10 years since I started with Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game. An elegant system with beutiful models - models that were and still are of normal proportions. The models have since crept up in size to perhaps better fit in with Warhammer and/or Warhammer 40 000, or just because people like larger models because they are a tad easier to paint. I know not and care not.
      No, that's wrong, I do care: Because I just got me a missent and abused parcel (sent via the idiotic Swedish Post, lovingly AKA "Posten") which contained, amongst other things, two blisters: One with an Arnor Command and the other with a High Elf Command. The Arnor-guys are huuuuge in comparison - even though both are metal... Still, it is not an issue, just a little note.
     So, where am I going with this? Here goes: The costs over the year have been stable, despite all the ridiculous price rises, and I realized that my way of buying have been a sound way to go about: I have bought things I necessarily didn't "needed" or wanted particularily much at the time just because they have been on sale. It doesn't happen often, mind you, when it comes to GW-stuff - unless you go onto the web-auction places, but that's a whole other dimension for a not-so-good-with-internet person like me.

Costs between late 2002 and early 2013 were around 34 000 SEK. That's around 320 GBP a year. A reasonable sum, if I may say. So, what did I get for all those money-dollars? Around one thousand and nine-hundred-eighty-something models of which cirka 1300 are painted... probably more. I have also found the wonderful world of podcasting, through the World's End Radio episode about War of the Ring. Now I am listening to the awful show the Blacksun, the nice ramblings of Neil Shuck and still secretly hope that Podhammer will return.
     I can't say that I have made any new friends, but that wasn't my intention, I have plenty of those as it is, but I have made some nice acquintances (acquisition and acquintance are two words that are difficult to spell) through some forums and this blog.

All in all, I must say that this is a hobby well worth the costs. All the joy of creation and building and fixing, I can't think of a cheaper hobby compared to what I've gotten - especially the Mantic Undead Army, which I bought two boxes of (220 models total from those two boxes) and the Mahdist Ansars from Perry Miniatures.
    I have even bought a couple of WHFB/WH40K boxes. I can't bring myself to throw the bits I know will never get used, so I am going to give them to someone in need at some forum or other. Can't imagine anyone reading here wanting this:

It really is a bunch of crap-bits, but again, I can't bring myself to throw it away...

Next up: Updated army-pictures of Rhûn and the start of the finish of the Edheldu army!


Review of Warriors of Dale...

... from Games Workshop. This will be a short one.

Sprue: Since this box was bought just a few weeks after the release, the sprue is in excellent condition. Not as good as some other boxes, but still, not especially much cleaning of mouldline to be done. 4/5 - not a five because there were some notable mouldlines at parts of their cloaks.
Bits & Spareparts: LotR-standard, meaning no or almost no extra bits. 2/5.
Design: This is mainly a question of taste. I really like it - especially considering Dale's placement in Middle-Earth. In many ways how Russian forces in south have inspired, and been inspired by southern countries - FoB will likely correct me here but here goes: The indo-heritage in Persia, which in turn spread and were co-bred with arabian and Russian designs in armour and weapons, made the Russians like a perfect mixture of Western and Eastern culture. I guess there were some Chinese influences in the farthest of the Fatherland...
     Which brings me to the only small problem I have with GW's design of some of the not-so-well descripted Middle-Earthen Eastern cultures: They tend to take a little too much from existing Earth-cultures... though these particular models do not suffer particularly much from it, the point is still valid. And I still like these guys a lot. For a general gamer I'll give these 3/5, but for me they are a stunning 5/5 in design.

Models: They have some boring poses, some okay and some allright; which means: None stood out especially much. In many ways, they are similar to the Rangers of Middle-Earth... 3/5.

Price: Ridiculous. Ten warriors for 250 SEK, app. 30 EUR... 1/5.

Point of interest: Pointy hats that look funny (in a good way) and shields that look ugly (in a bad way). The shields are too small - perhaps in an effort to make them look more sailor-like, where a buckler was the biggest you got back in the days. Before shields were left altogether - which actually happened before the cannons ruled the seas... But that's another story.
   The last point of interest was this card:

Good, points values are stated in this sheet. Bad, because it would've been nicer to have it in the rulebook, but thats GeeDubb for you.

That's all for today, see you!

EDIT: Forgot to tally the score: 11 of 25. That might sound low, and rightly so, because of the price.
R-tard-EDIT 2: Score was 14 of 25.


Reworking Rhûn - Phase three

As phase three has begun, I am slowly starting to look at the next project, which in all likelyhood will be the Edheldu/Lorien/Wood Elf army...
     Renovation of the Easterling and Khand army have progressed well within the time frame I decided on. This little post will help me to stay on track and finish all the little extras and details still missing on every formation slash regiment.

Quite obvious what's needs be doing here: The trays... and some less obvious decoration of the swordsmen's bases.

The same Easterling swordsmen regiment again, but in the acceptable company of a formation of Easterling archers. They are kept as they are for two reasons:

1) They are needed for the legal composition of the army (lots of charioteers that are rare and as we all know, the ratio of common versus rare/legendary needs to be balanced).
2) There are enough of half-assed converted Easterling archers in this army as it is...

Of the two smallish formations above I have only sort-of finished painting the swordsmen. I don't think there's enough energy left in me to repaint the archers... We'll see where it ends with that one...

A bunch of Easterling cataphracts. I need to make four new trays and put some battle-related things on these, basecoat and sand and paint and etc... And when that's done I'll finally start repainting the cataphracts themselves.

Khandish contingent. The one-company formation of Khandish warriors are used as a common filler to allow for more charioteers to be legally fielded. Some decoration of [charioteer] large bases are left to be done - as well as painting some sort of simple symbol on ALL the banners!

Easterling phalanx. Shown before... nothing new to say about them except they miss three guys to be a full three company formation that I want. Oh, the dude holding the lion need a little chain to control the beast! Mustn't forget that one!

Khandish horsemen. These need some spicing up. And they trays will get some extra love. Notice the Easterling helmet, a good little detail methinks, but I'm running out of bits - I don't want to spam the trays with the same types of shields and a bunch of ivory tusks, so currently I am filing on some ideas regarding this.
      And lastly, our good friend Crazy King in good company of Amdûr and two banner bearers. Their bannes are for some reason flying in two different directions. Idiotic.
     As mr FoB and I exchanged some thoughts on this I am determined to really try to make something nice on the three main banners in this army. I will really have to plan it, otherwise it'll just turn out shait...

That's all for this Friday. Hopefully I'll finish most of this project (except the cataphract trays) tomorrow and can post something on it. See you!


Easterling Phalanx, phase II

Here we have a little Easterling phalanx consisting of 20 warrior models on 25 mm bases and 1 base with a lion and a handler (also a warrior). Of the 20 warrior models we have ALL the command for the whole Rhûn army so the feeling of a spear-wall isn't as strong as it could be. Command consists of: Two banner bearers (which I suppose is illegal in WotR - two BB's in one formation), one captain, a drummer, Amdûr, War Priest and some not-so-well converted archers into spearmen. The command were added for show. In-game I might use a musician and a captain (at a slightly lower points cost than the original WotR-rules).

Painting: They need a little wash and then some highlighting of the armour. The banners need a lot of work before done. The trays were hastily basecoated and sanded so I could get the formation up - they will be treated the same way as the bases:

1) Sand.
2) Painted with slightly diluted Citadel Bleached Bone.
3) Highlighted with Citadel Ceramite White.
4) A wash of highly diluted Coat d'Arms Barbarian Leather.
5) Let dry.
6) A wash of even more diluted Coat d'Arms 102 Black.

They will get some of the rather tall dead grass I have and perhaps some sticks and other dead vegetation. Colour-clicks will consist of wargear of fallen enemy warriors.

Some verdigris may be added to the armour. Not sure about this yet.
     When all of the above have been done, phase three is done and I will continue with either the cataphracts or the swordsmen...

Hazy Clump Foliage & Easterlings

As Friday is growing old, the Easterlings are growing bored of my slow speed. The "progress" on these models have been unusually slow. What's been done then? Well, since I've been waiting for my polyurethane to arrive from continental Europe I haven't been able to start working on the trays since the intention is to make my own holed trays, like the official ones, but for a fraction of the cost and double the enjoyment. Other than waiting I did a mock-up of the command tray for the backbone formation of the Grand Army of the Crazy King of Rhûn:

The dude which holds his fist and carries an ugly DIY-spear will be the main handler. The War Priest will not be on the lion's base - he's a placeholder. The banner bearer with a bare head I am pleased with and Amdûr as well - he got himself a little piece of ivory on his base.

I dread the moment when the rest of the army will be repainted. Red on black undercoat isn't a great idea. So what I've been doing is painting the really heavy Ceramite White (from Citadel) on the raised areas of the fabric on the models and then just washed it with undiluted Blood Red from CdA! It might just be that I've happened to put some extra water in the container, because I have nothing bad to say about CdA - Coat d'Arm's colours are great.

In other news I've been working and getting annoyed at my neighbours, as usual.
     One of the neighbours (actually one of the guys involved in the alledged shooting here a few months ago) lost something in the stairs yesterday. It was actually a bag of clump foliage! It smells quite strong however, so when a friend said he'd gladly buy it (for an unexpectedly substantial sum of money) I was really pleased. I had no idea he was interested in terrain...

My neighbour's clump foliage...

Anyway, some thanks should go out to some of the inspirational hobbyists out there. I didn't make this piece below:

This lion-thing is a filler for a High Elf WHFB-army. When looking for miniature lions this one was found. Can't remember where, but I do remember I hadn't strayed that far from LotR-related blogs, so if the creator recognize this, thank you for the inspiration.
       Other things that are related to this whole project:

Luckily, mr Delkore printed his name on his images, so my thanks goes to you.
    I can also present an extremely humble beginning of the war-automaton that a war priest will steer with some magic rock or something like it. I will use basically the same technique as when sculpting the Great Beast of Gorgoroth: A core of something easily moldable that doesn't need drying or curing. A thin basic layer of Super Sculpey and then a second layer of Super Sculpey to bulk it up slightly. After those stages, the model should have its basic shapes done enough so sculpting with kneadatite can be done without too much of a hassle.

Have a nice weekend fellow hobbyists, gamers and etceteras.


28 mm lions, the continuation

Shaved off the man-made parts on the WHFB-lion and now it looks more suited for my purposes.

Added some green stuff on the warg-lion. The images here does it no good - it looks quite alright in real life. The voters have decided on which one to use as a unit upgrade for one of the Easterling formations:

WHFB-lion: 2
Warg-conversion-lion: 2

Which means I'll use both. I was going to use my vote to weigh the decision to either end, but decided to go with the people's vote instead. The smaller conversion will be used in the formation and the WHFB-lion will be used as either a separate beast or a filler with two handlers, on a 40 mm base - it will be crowded but it could potentially look quite alright...

That's all for today, I bid you farewell gentlemen!


General blog-update

It is Saturday, I've just finished a heavy meal and some playing of Drakborgen with a friend. Just thought I'd give a minor update for my own benefit, to remind what needs be doing in the world of War of the Ring and the Strategy Battle Game.

Firstly, welcome to the sidebar:

- The Dilettante Gamer. A highly interesting blog that seems quite young? I have especially enjoyed the Song of Fire and Ice-stuff. And of course the creator's humble description of himself: "A typical middle-age white guy who enjoys beer... "
- 50 mm Game Room by Danisnotatree and Steveisatree. Don't be fooled by the "50mm" in the title - there are a lot for us 28'ers there. A wide bredth of stuff.
- Wargaming with Barks. Another blog with lots of different well done things. Highly entertaining.

There are more on the list to add, but we'll settle for these three for this week...

Secondly, I couldn't resist the stupidly expensive Men of Dale, they should arrive the end of next week or the week thereafter. I can't even say I am ashamed of myself.
    Thertiary, I have read four novels about Ciaphas Cain. 40-kayers might know this character. He's like a watered down Horatio Hornblower in space, which means he is likeable but just likeable because the character isn't deep enough for me. Still, his characteristics are straight and simple but the repetition of them are a bit like "this is a very important part of the Commisar's person and you must know it to... " etc. This is not a review so I stop myself here.
     Fourthiary, the Men of Dale are accompanied by some other things that hopefully will be on its way soon inch'allah, in particular some more goblins. I have a tonne of gobbos to fix up... They will be done before the end of this year, mark my words!
     Fifth: I have made some promises here and there to do this and that within the hobby, so I will trawl through the old blog and see exactly what. I suspect I made a comment on Rough WotR about my reworking of the WotR-rules, and on another blog boasted about playing more SBG... so that's something to work with; more SBG, more WotR and revisit the rules-project.

Sixth: Find a secure file-host that aren't filled with virus-commercials so I can upload some nice PDF's collected over the years. No IP-infringing or copyright-messing things, though.

And so, the final and seventh thing before rest and the last cup of java:

Thank you FoB, el Zorro and others for your feedback when working with the (now) highly enjoyable Easterling/Rhûn project. I want to crowbar in something like this:

Of course not as over-the-top as the one closest to this text, but somewhere in-between. And now you think: What on earth is he on about?
     The inspiration comes again from MERP: A story about a half-orc with skills in magic somewhere in Middle-Earth (can't remember where) and his special elite breed of orcs (could've been named Scara-hai?). This half-orc or half-troll had a special "offering" cauldron, some sort of "unsound" stone or rock - not totally  unlike the seeing-stones of Númenor, the palantirs, with the big differences of: One, the half orc had to meditate and "sink" into the stone with his mind and then he could take control of this wolf-like stone creature and secondly, he was sort of part of the wolf-golem on the battlefield and could take some minor damage if the stone-creature was "mortally" wounded.
    The players of this adventure had to stop him and his sect and destroy the shrine etc. But this whole golem-thing was interesting. I shall see how I can work it in with the Easterling war-priests... This one I will not give any rules but just make for pure enjoyment. And I have always had a soft spot for sphinxes...


Easterling conversions

First of all: Thanks once again for your input and comments. This week's golden star goes to Scott for his knowledge of Middle-Earth and Tolkien.
    It is also highly encouraging to see all new follower's of the blog. There is work going on to update the sidebar with links - the hope is that I will soon learn to "follow" blogs and then be able to publish their latest updates like on many other blogs. This is a very good way to publish links, methinks...

     Renovation on the Easterlings continue. Today, I have a question for you. I am almost 100% certain that a lion will be used in one of the formations as an upgrade - some ideas for rules exist, but none are decided on. The question is: Of the two lions below, one is a conversion of a warg that need a little more work and repainting, and the other is a WHFB pulling-lion from a High elf chariot. The WHFB lion is huge but it looks better - especially when some trimming of exaggerated details have been executed. Which one should I use?

As you can see I have replaced the three ugly banners with some larger and more flowing ones. Depicted above are, from left to right, an Easterling kataphract banner bearer, a cliff lion (WIP), Amdûr (conversion from an Easterling archer), Easterling banner bearer (DIY), another banner bearer (obvious conversion) and lastly an Easterling captain (made from an Easterling kataphract rider). In front of them lays a WHFB-lion.

I should also mention that the painting is in its early state.

Above we have two phalangists: One with an original shield and the other with a super sculpey shield which shrunk... They look better now after some very sublime repositioning of their arms. After them comes what I believe I intended to be a War Priest and lastly a little drummer.
    I saw another blogger that had made a little drummer boy. I am toying with the idea of working some slaves into this army. Why not use a half-dressed male model as a drummer? I must read up on Easterling culture before continuing with this...

The whole gang. The command models are not as decorated as GW's originals. I like mine as they are.
     And the box of Easterlings waiting to be dealt with. How, I do not know. And where to fit them, I know neither...

My work space looks rather un-cleaned with all the spots of colour... but I am in good company
    In other self-related news I can informe you that the goblin project has been put on hold, it is mainly an issue of space. I found this goblin king look-a-like on a video-gaming blog...

And this extremely annyoing image (it's an advertisement) of today's society was (sympthomatically) screened next to it:

Oh, how I miss the 80's and early 90's commerical. Google topped it all off with this mess:

Image mirrored and slightly altered to avoid (c)-issues.


Tom Meier's Elven Cavalry

As promised, some images of Tom Meier's finely sculpted elf cavalry. He did three different types of elves - I cannot remember their exact naming, but they were something along the lines of " ... of the Moon"; "of the Sun"; and "of the Star"... or something like it. I'll come back on this at a later date.
      When WotR was first released, I mainly focused on getting armies barely ready for the tabletop. Uncharacteristically I gave these knights some extra effort but with my, at the time, very limited skills with the brush, they ended up looking plainly basecoated, despite the hours put in.
       The riders will benefit greatly from the rework coming up. I have since originally painting these, gotten slightly better at painting and it will be interesting to see the difference. Because my painting do them no particular good, I have taken the liberty to attach another little picture at the bottom of this post. No information on the creator is available at this moment.

You know the childhood-feeling when you get something anticipated and highly wanted? These moments are rare in our age since we have our own money etc. But with these Elvish knights, the feeling of "Wow" and "yes, finally!" was significant. It was a real treat to open the box (which I in fact never did, a bloggin-colleague of mine, mr FoB, actually did - but it was a treat to visit him and remove the bubble-wrap etc).

I did not paint this fine object below! It is included to show the potential of Tom Meier's very fine sculpting. The studio nullhorizon.com took a long hiatus (that eventually turned into cyber-death) so I wasn't able to track down the person who did this one:

Time to go, see you in a few days!


On the creation of new units for Middle-Earth

As I'm currently not in my tiny apartment in the ”culturally enriched” part of town I live in I have few possibilities to engage in hobby-related activities. I didn't bring me anything else than 10 daemonettes which I bought as a rare indulgence before Christmas 2012.
       Still, I wanted to make something for the blog: Presenting you with a schizomaniac's rant about canon and creation in Middle-Earth. I am satisfied with this piece of text, even though it is somewhat incoherent – but you should have seen the first version, wow, was I worried about my mental health. But now it is tidied up and ready for reading. Ahem:

They kind of stuck with the canon...
Many of us have certainly already thought about this matter: The canon and the respect for J.R.R. Tolkiens work. Much have been said about this, by myself and probably also by you and certainly by a whole slew of other persons over the years. However, in the wargaming part of the Lord of the Rings-world, there's a healthy relaxed attitude - with many exceptions, yes, yes -  of not taking these kinds of things too seriously – especially when compared to historical wargaming [1]. While I generally agree with this take on things, I still want to say some things on the subject.
       Our hobby is in many ways the tip of the spear when it comes to the aesthetics of mr Tolkien's creatures and inhabitants of Middle-Earth, or Arda as a whole. The imagery in our specific hobby – the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, War of the Ring and The Hobbit – are an interpretation of the movies which in turn were made by hundreds of other individual interpretations of the texts. These were in turn guided by the leaders of the production whom in turn were inspired by a great deal of other things, for example other fantasy worlds and movies as well as cultures from our own world. For example (the following are GW-design decisions) the Khandish horsemen, which looks very much like the Korean late 16th century horse-archers; or the use of the word mahûd for the badly dressed blow-pipe wielding warriors of Far Harad...

For my part, it is mainly the books about the One Ring that allow me to really get immersed into the fantasy world of Middle-Earth. The movies didn't. But the game have that ability – this extra filter of interpretation of an interpretation really makes the game something original. Or at least more personal. Misunderstand me right here: Our gaming world is ”just” greatly inspired by Tolkien's work, it is not an absolute representation of any of the books. Because of this, I and many with me, have tolerated a great deal of strange things from Games Workshop – without of course always liking it and sometimes just barely accepted it, like the orc shamans and some over the top high-fantasy design decisions like the first Knights of Dol Amroth.
        These are naturally just minor bumps on the road of design and as the years have gone by it is humbling how well, as a whole, Games Workshop have done with the things that didn't show up in the movies. Or even the fact that they didn't mistreat the line totally, which was something I at least was fearing. They kind of stuck with the canon. And that's the point here: They kind of stuck with it. The creators of the movies, and then Games Workshop, imbued it with a part of their own culture and thinking – however limited by contracts and copyrights and IP-related issues... and so, making something more special and original, even if many models – most, in fact – are designed wholly from the movies. The general feeling of the game is, in my opinion, something totally different from both the movies and the books. As it should.

This leads me to the conclusion that our hobby is open for change. Small changes. And that it will allow me to expand this new inspired world. But how far can one go?

Personal ideas in regards to ”kind of sticking with the canon”
So, how far can one go when beating up the canon when you're creating your own creatures and designing your own things for Middle-Earth? How far am I stretching Arda's spirit when I am introducing things like a Crazy King of Rhûn and a Water Spawn into my games? Quite far, I say – especially when it comes to the creatures of light. When designing those of darkness, I always remember Morgoth's lair: It had so many unspecified more or less living things that one could indeed create a whole line of new creatures and critters of darkness.
        Though, one must remember that there are some sort of restraint in Tolkien's world however filled with dragons and demons it might be, and I am no longer sure how to look at this... it would be nice to be able to create new and crazy things at will – but if one goes to far, it will no longer be something from Middle-Earth – no matter how much Sindarin one uses when naming the new creation, or how much explaining fluff is written. No, one need some sort of "taste" of Middle Earth.
        But still, is this the only condition one need to meet? Good taste? And how to define good taste in a world of orcs and elves?
        Is a High Elf dragon too much? Yes it is. But if you were to motivate it with a not so convoluted background story, give it kind eyes (if that's even possible) and paint it up in some light colours, then yes, welcome to Middle-Earth little dragon, even if the parallells to Warhammer would be quite close and the superficial way to ”make it good” would earn you no price in either creativity or design.
       The gigantic swans pulling some sort of sky-wagon mentioned in Silmarillion [2] are just plain stupid, but still part of the canon. Would I tolerate a model? Yes, of course, it is written in the great tomes by mr Tolkien and as I am writing this I am now honestly considering making my own just because I think the goodguys still have too few large creatures and contraptions. Add the feeling and some of the aestethical ideas of the Panzer Bear from the matiné The Golden Watch with the descriptions of said swans and voila! Presto, vulgar Swan Sky Wagon. With some kewl elves riding it. Sort of tasteless, but highly entertaining.
        To continue on this, there never were a description of something like ”the Guard of Orthanc”[3] which were armed with maces and throwing spears, but I would personally accept the idea since it is not over the top – and not especially controversial, even if it never were mentioned in any of the books. Furthermore, the goblins are said [4] to be fond of cogweels and mechanical contraptions and I could even allow myself to make some high-fantasy-weird steampunk thingie and still feel it would not necessarily be out of bounds (think Warcraft III!). So, what is then unacceptable? And where to draw the line? Where do Games Workshop draw the line? With Ogres? Ogres are mentioned [5] somewhere or another in the texts, so why not? Ghouls? Mentioned [6] in the canon and thusly ”green”. Ghouls and ogres, sky-chariots pulled by giant swans... mechanical goblin beasts...
        With the above both omnious and as well as hopeful lines, I can only end with: Is it so that Middle-Earth is something better, and perhaps more noble and subtle than the worlds of other fantasy authors? Maybe, Middle-Earth is in my opinion a place of morale and kindness and not a cesspool of spilled guts and dirt and killing and people not giving a crap about each other. Is this then making it a rigid world, a world that hampers the creativity of our hobby? I think not, I believe you can expand it sufficiently without having to go the way of other fantasy world, taking the easy way of more gore, skulls, dirt and violence.

And it is probably here one would like to draw the line when brainstorming something new for our hobby: Even when brainstorming a creature for the badguys, I try to keep it somewhat family-friendly. Not necessarily because kids are going to see the creation, but for the simple reason that the canon is somewhat cleaner, despite its occassional darkness, evil and cutting of throats...
         This is merely an attempt to capture what I think is the spirit of Tolkien's world when ”translated” into a wargame. I found it truly challenging to try to find the core of what I am feeling when playing these games, what makes the immersion happen...

So, I would like to end with an ironic and not purposefully humorous statement made by unknown in our hobby's early days at a certain forum [7] – even if I sometimes suspect that this is the true reason I like the wargaming in Middle-Earth (as presented by Games Workshop) so much:

When creating something for Middle-Earth, try to stick with normal sized hands, weapons, muscles and breasts...

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With this I shall abruptly end and follow up this little text with part two of Large Creatures and Contraptions for Lord of the Rings as soon as possible.
     Readers might have noticed I switched to a darker text because my eyes were protesting when I proof-read the text. Dark text on dark background might not be optimal, but it is much better than white text on dark background for a majority of people. Google says so...
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1] It is of course in the nature of historical wargaming and besides, the minuteae [9] is one of the enjoyable parts of said hobby.
2] At least I think it was in Silmarillion. I do not have access to my library at the moment.
3] Name partially stolen from a PDF published by a BrandyBarrel of Total War-forum.
4] In my badly translated version of The Hobbit, ”Bilbo – en Hobs äventyr” printed in 1976. I think... let me come back on this one...
5] IIRC, the word ogre was just used as a description of a troll or something similar, but if you really like to press blood out of a stone and read the bible like the devil reads it, you could argue that ogres are a part of Middle-Earth, from that statement.
6] This is one I am not certain of. I am however certain that Mithril Miniatures or a company like it, did make some ghouls for LotR – and whilst this is not an evidence of anything, it suggests that ghouls have been mentioned. Again, grasping for straws here, just to make my point.
7] A forum that was resurrected and now lives it days as an ungodly abomination! But in all seriousness, the quote could've just as easily come from a blog, can't remember where...
8] Five gold stars are hereby presented to me for my highly uninformative footnotes/annotations.
9] Unclear spelling...