Thursday, October 14, 2010

Middle Earth Musings

As you might have guessed by reading this blog (someone does read this, right?), I flit from one project to another, based on the weather, or what I have read online, or pretty pictures I have seen. I have been in a Middle Earth sort of mood lately, partly due to reading the Lord of the Rings to my wife and offspring at bedtime, and partly due to a cousin naming his new daughter after someone in the Silmarillion. (yes, seriously) Both activities led to reading about the world on Wikipediea, which has a good deal of information from the books and the histories of Middle Earth, published by Christopher Tolkien.

Thinking about Middle Earth always makes me think about the grand battles, and playing them on the tabletop. Battles such as Pelennor Feilds, the Five Armies, Osgiliath, and the Hornburg are huge cinematic struggles, even without there being a movie made. With grand battles, it makes sense to go small scale for figures, and with LotR it makes sense to look at 10mm because of the Battle of Five Armies box, which has a huge number of regiments perfect for use in other battles as well. Once you are talking 10mm, then Warmaster or some variant comes into play as well, which is excellent, since I have three versions of those rules, and like them enough for a game.

The difficulty with doing battles from the Lord of the Rings is of course that most of them are not even matches, there are either huge massive numbers of baddies, or a moral break on the part of the enemy that causes them to flee, or good guys riding up to save the day, or all of those. Several battles are essentially sieges, or battles around the relief of a siege. "Bathtubing" [a most excellent term which comes from naval gamers] the major battles is necessary, and in most cases I think one regiment for 1000 men is probably sufficient. That is a figure ratio around 1:30, which is not too bad, and well suited I think to Warmaster. However, even this leads to around 55 evil regiments at Pelennor Feilds, two of those comprised of mûmikil (as well as Grond and siege equipment). Careful scenario building will be necessary though, to make sure that each battle is not a repeat of the book, and that the "good" side has a chance of achieving objectives. Point based "even" meeting battles might be a way to go, but that is a lot more work than just setting up a scenario based on the books.

Figurewise I am actually pretty well situated for once, since I have the Battle of Five Armies box, and it has eight regiments of Orcs alone, and a total of 16 "evil" regiments. I have a small Rohan force made up of Copplestone "Horse tribe" figures and the good and evil hero packs as well. Of course that leaves only 42 more regiments to go for Pelennor Fields... most of those are Haradrim and Rhûn Easterlings. The humans, both good and evil, will be sourced from historical armies, which should be easy enough. Great Hall Miniatures will be of help here, since they sell both Magister Militum and Old Glory figures, both of which should be excellent for this purpose (and cost effective!)

So anyway, that is the distraction de jure, the reoccurring dream of massive 10mm Middle Earth. I just have to stave off dreams of refighting the War of Wrath, and Balrogs riding on Dragons...