A Morning Skirmish

A Narrative Battle-report

the elves march
The elves march through the village

Early in the morning the pickets saw it – smoke. The group of volunteers had been mustered by the young elven noble Celendaer upon hearing of a band of orcs that had descended from the mountains and was raiding and plundering the hill-men of the souther slopes. Accompanied by these volunteers, a band of mounted retainers and his cousin Beleg he had marched north – eager for adventure and filled with altruistic righteousness.

The orcs have already burnt two barns

In any case, adventure would find them. The smoke was from two barns razed by mountain-orcs. At the same time the elves passed a nearby village, the orcs formed a crude battle-line, ready for battle. Either overconfident or filled with blood-lust, a band of orcs mounted on great wolves rushed ahead of their peers on their own initiative, ignoring their leaders orders.

This impetuous act left them unsupported by their peers

Seeing the approaching foe, the elves deployed into their own line, the cavalry moving to the right flank and the infantry forming up in the fields past the village. The green volunteers felt dread as they observed the approaching foe – these elves were for the most part untested youths, and the march north had felt more like an afternoon stroll and camping trip than a prelude to battle.

Poor cows

The wolf-riders were now far beyond earshot of their leader, and continued charging forwards on their own accord. They were now close – close enough to toss their javelins at their foes. These harmlessly bounced off the elven shield wall. The orcish infantry desperately tried to catch up to their reckless kinsmen.

The volunteers show their mettle

Seeing their foe in front of them and unwilling to sit and take further missiles, the elvish spears charged. This countercharge caught the orcs completely by surprise – their attempts to stem the onslaught by pelting them yet more missiles failed completely. They where caught, far from any support and too shocked to withdraw. The few that were not slain fled in disorder.

The orc foot was too late

The orcs were stunned to see the ease with which their riders dispatched – not a single elf had fallen! Rage filled their hearts, but mixed in with this rage was also fear – fear and doubt. The elves were surprised to see the ease with which they had defeated their first foe and were filled with confidence – in any case the main forces were now face to face – the battle was about to begin in earnest.

The forces meet

As the sun rose over the sides of the valley the lines crashed together. The orc warlord and his retinue joined one of the orc units and led them in a charge against the elven horse, hoping to avoid being charged themselves. This, however, meant that the other unit hesitated – remembering the fate that had just befallen their fellows, and instead received the elven infantries charge.

The duel between Beleg and the orc leader

The elven infantry surged forwards – still high on their previous victory, they fell upon the orcs with fury and utterly crushed them, driving the few survivors from the field. The elven horse, however, took a great deal of damage – while relatively few elves were killed, many were wounded or lost their horses. Beleg who had been leading the riders single-handedly turned the situation. Spotting the orc leader he challenged and slew him – splitting his unhelmeted head in twain.

the remaining orcs flee in disarray

With their leader slain and their right flank annihilated, the orcs broke and fled for their lives, back towards the mountains whence they came. With a great deal of their number wounded, the elvish horse did not pursue and the orcs, who were lightly armoured and had abandoned their weapons swiftly disappeared into the hills. The engagement was over: it was an overwhelming victory for the elves!

This battle was intended to introduce a friend of mine – commanding the elves – to wargaming in general and fantastic battles in specific. She had played a couple of games of age of Sigmar in the past, but did not have good memories of it – I suspect her foes where more focused on winning rather than teaching. That said she had expressed interest in my narrative campaign project, so I decided her first engagement should be an introduction to the rules.

As such the scenario was simple – her character was an altruist who had gathered a force upon hearing about the plundering of their human neighbours to the north. They had marched a day north and camped. On the following morning, upon spotting smoke, they advanced in column up the road.

As such the elves would start in this formation, with the orcs set up on the other side of the board. Terrain was kept simple – the farmhouses were impassable, the stream as well as the ground beyond it was rough ground and the hills were, well, hills. the rest of the terrain was purely decorative.

Despite my rotten luck as the orc player (my wargs impetuously advancing after deployment to beyond my command range, and then advancing again) it was great for teaching the command mechanics and the importance of command range! We both had a great time, and i’m looking forwards to the next battle.

My first 10 mm orcs

So, as mentioned in the previous post, I’ve decided to start working on 10mm armies representing forces from the works of Tolkien.

Marching along the great road

These are my first ten stands of orcs – they will represent less disciplined orc forces, so rabble, war bands, maybe “wild” orcs. They are from Pendraken’s warband range – It will be interesting to see how the scale compares to figures from Eureka, Magister Millitum and Copplestone Castings, I suspect they are too big to pass as Snaga.

Our heroes advance upon their hapless foe

These were great fun to paint – Since they are just orcs, and there will be a lot of them on the board at any one time, I felt more comfortable experimenting and being bold with them. I played a lot with the citadel contrast range (I’m hoping these will make the elves a cinch to paint) – They are the first figures I’ve used them on.

Boldy retreating from scary Noldor

In the books, orc skin tones are described as “swarth” and “sallow”, so many of these orcs have dark skin or yellowish skin (made by using contrast flesh tones over yellow base coats). I have however also decided to, inspired by the movies, add some more exotic skin colours, like blue, green, red, pale and even purple. These have earned the figures the nickname “skittles orcs” by my friends.

Next I’m hoping to get started on some elvish foes for the orcs to face.

Making drystone walls for my 10mm wargaming miniatures

I have recently gotten into 10mm wargaming and invested in two forces (from pendraken’s warband range). I chose this scale for the following reasons:

  1. The figures are cheap. For a relatively low price (compared to larger scales) you can get a respectable force. Many of my friends are interested in wargaming, they are intimidated by the cost of, say, a Warhammer army. This way I can own several armies my friends can play with.
  2. Because of the smaller scale and less detail, I have an easier time speed painting them. I can crank out large forces of 10mm figures quickly (for me).
  3. I require far less table space for gaming, and this means I can easily carry anything I need with me.

My first terrain project has been drystone field walls, mainly inspired by my travels in northern Portugal.

Step one:

I started by cutting out a series of bases for the walls out of an old egg carton. I painted the underside black and the top side brown – cheap craft paints are best for this, no point wasting expensive paints. I varied the length of these walls, with the smallest being 5cm long and the longest 12cm. The edges are cut into points, so that I can but them up against each other in any angle I like, eliminating the need for corner pieces.

Painted bases

Step two:

Next I started making the actual walls. To do this I used thin brush on superglue. Little by little I glued small rocks (more like gravel) onto the base, using tweezers. This is time consuming and fiddly, but I find it oddly relaxing, and I find the result looks good. I like to vary the size of the gravel used, and adding small pebbles.

One way of saving time and adding some colour is to have part of the wall be hedges. To do this I simply glued on some clump foliage here and there to break up the stonework.

In order to make the rather flimsy egg carton card straight and not bowed, keep the areas not yet worked on weighed down.

I’m using the flock box to keep the card flat

Step three:

So, my next step was adding ground cover. First I gave the exposed card a thick layer of PVA glue, and then a layer of my ground covering – dirt from the garden that had been sterilised in the oven and sieved.

When this is dry, I added my homemade flock and I cut pieces off gamer grass tufts. To seal it I sprayed on a mixture of pva glue, a drop of dish soap and water.

A completed wall with a 10mm Pendraken goblin for scale

In my next post I’ll write about adding fun details to vary the walls.