Journeys in Middle-Earth (or preparing for 7TV Fantasy)

A couple of years back my long standing gaming buddies bought me a copy of the Lord of the Rings Journeys In Middle-Earth by Fantasy Flight Games for my birthday. I have since been (very occasionally) working through painting the miniatures in this app-driven board game. My aim was always to have a fully painted set of miniatures before giving the game a go, however the pandemic has rather extended that timescale.

Journeys in Middle-Earth.

So I have not actually dived into the rules much, but as you have probably guessed the minis caught my attention. The nature of the games publisher’s licence agreement means that rather being based on the movie likenesses the miniatures are based on original art. This gives them in my opinion a more generic feel and opens up more possibilities outside the boxed game.

With 7TV Fantasy coming soon, I decided to look at painting up some of the character miniatures for use in a ‘high fantasy’ setting. Most of the following figures were painted with a mix of tranditional acrylics alongside contrast paints.

First up we have the main Hobbit himeself – Bilbo Baggins. I decided to add a splash of colour here giving him a deep red waistcoat, but to tie together with the rest of the band I went for a green cloak (see the other pictures below).

Bilbo – where it all began!

Next, the King returns, it is Aragorn in his ‘Strider’ guise. Again I have concentrated on greens here to tie him in with the other characters. I’ve gone for a darker more weathered skin colour to reflect his time out in the wilderness as a ranger.

Strider.

I’ve gone for more earthy and warm tones for Gimli. A lot of use of my favourite contrast paint, Snakebite Leather, for the armour.

Gimli.

Again I have tied the group togehter using green for the cloak.

Next up is Legolas…

Legolas.

And finally we have a new character introduced for the game, Beravor, a Dunedain ranger.

Beravor.

I appear to have missed out one character from the core game that I need to find out and finish, Elena the Elven bard.

The miniatures are all approximately in the standard 28 to 32mm scale and are going to mix well with other models which bodes well for using them in 7TV Fantasy. As one piece miniatures they were easy to prepare and paint (all the minis above were undercoated in white). There was very little clean up required and for board game miniatures very few cases of ‘bendy sword syndrome’.

I’m looking forward to painting up the rest of the miniatures from the box and who knows (7TV Fantasy aside) I might even get to field them in a game of Journeys in Middle Earth at some point in the future.

Revisiting Star Wars Legion

Earlier in the year I got really invested in Legion, the tabletop miniatures game in the Star Wars universe, published by Fantasy Flight Games. Having spent some time assembling and painting minis, I immediately got distracted (as all good hobby butterflys do) by terrain and re-utilising old toys for the tabletop.  A couple of vintage Kenner / Palitory AT-ATs were purchased from eBay (and then resold as I say sense), as were some Rebel Transports, a U-Wing and various other bits and pieces.

Then as often happens I just didn’t get to play the game.  I had a learning game with my good friend and gaming compadre, Mr.Hawkins, back in the Spring and then nothing.  This was partly due to the distraction of other shiny things, and partly because my best chance of getting a game was at my local club.  Due to other commitments I wasn’t able to get down and I missed most of the monthly meetings over the summer.

However this last Sunday I was finally able to Legion to the tabletop for a couple of games at Matlock and Dales WRG (at the request of another member who similarly had sat on the game for quite a while without actually playing).

I’m no good at reviews, but will say this (and have said so before); it’s a good game.  A very good game.  Bearing striking similarities to other Star Wars games in the Fantasy Flight catalogue (lots of tokens and cards, custom dice, the ‘surge’ mechanic), it seems to have ironed out some of the inconsistencies and clunkiness of games like Armada and Imperial Assault.  Adding to the mix an alternative unit activation mechanic and innovative and intuitive command and control element, this puts it above many similar games I have had experience of in the past. My opponent and I did get quite a few things wrong in the early rounds, but this wasn’t really noticed and didn’t interupt the cinematic flow of the game (I was making a lot of ‘pew pew’ sound effects in my head).

In getting ready for the game I wanted to just share a couple of hints and tips, both on the painting and army construction side of things.

While I had got at least a basecoat down on most of my miniatures (the contents of two core boxes and a handful of expansions), there were a few I had not yet touched.  It wouldn’t be realistic to get everthing done in time for the game (real life is quite hectic at the moment), but I at least wanted to be avoid playing with any completely unpainted models.

Therefore I concentrated on detailing up all the Imperial Stormtroopers I had previously undercoated white, adding in some basic detail and making them tabletop ready (with the intention of going back and finishing them off to a higher standard later).  Here, the humble toothpick was my friend.  Rather than rely on a brush and a steady hand to pick out the black details on helmets and armour and to minimise the chances of despoling that trademark white with any overbrushing I found toothpicks gave me the control and steadyness I needed (but maybe not the patience!).  This was particularly useful when doing helmet eye lenses and something I will try out for painting eyes in general moving forward.

legion 2
Small detail on the Stormtroopers applied using a toothpick. Note Revell TIE Fighter model kit as scenery (yes I know wrong era, but it does have working sound!)

My next job was to paint up the only fully unpainted squad I had not yet tackled, the Rebel Fleet Troopers.  These are the guys who valiantly get slaughtered by Darth Vader at the begining of the very first Star Wars film (and of course we now know this fight continued on from the end of Rogue One).  As figures go, I think these are some of the nicest that have been released so far.  Very characterful sculpts and true to the films.  I’d picked these guys up at UK Games Expo back in June, assembled them and then, well, got distracted…

Rebel Fleet Troopers (Star Wars)
While they didn’t do too well on screen, they were pretty rock solid on the tabletop!

Taking a very methodical approach I blocked out each colour (having applied a grey undercoat).  Following a production line approach of doing all of one colour across the squad before returning to the first and adding the next hue I was able to get these guys done in only a couple of hours.  I left the dark grey undercoat showing through for the mainly black coloured vests and let Army Painter washes do the rest.

The squad leader is based on Captain Antilles from the film and follows a different scheme.  The intention with these is that I will go back and do some proper basing and highlighting at a later date.

antilles
“If this is a consular ship, where is the ambassador?”

I have to say I’m not a huge fan of painting armies or even squads (I much prefer to do more individual character models): however the fact I was actually going to able to field these in a game was a real motivator.

The Rebel Fleet Troopers proved to be a really solid choice in play (and are my new favourites), having almost taken down Vader in the first game.  Some form of sweet revenge for their on screen performance perhaps?

Using Tabletop Admiral
Preparation and list building using Tabletop Admiral

I also just wanted to give a quick mention to the Tabletop Admiral online army building application for Legion.  I used this to quickly knock up the forces the night before the game allowing me to sort out cards, tokens and minis quickly beforehand and enabling us to setup quickly on the day.  If you are a player of Imperial Assault or Runewars this also might be of interest to you.

Sandstorm Palace
My next distraction – Star Wars style buildings in MDF. Please note that no Play Doh was required for construction!