Forces of Good

Wood Elf Warriors

 

When I had a nice size and variety to my first SBG army, Uruk-Hai, orcs and others in the service of the White Hand of Saruman, I began to consider and look for a Good army to do next.  I loved Tolkien's Elves but at the time the High Elves of Rivendell were really the only option.  We already had a couple local players that used them as their primary Good force and I was coming down off of a high Fight/Defense army already ( the Uruk-Hai ) and did not want to get into another that played so similar.  I had a few Rohan models and absolutely loved Rohan from both the books and films, but was intimidated getting into a primarily cavalry force at that stage.  We had one other Rohan player that used the army to great effect and was also an amazing painter (John H., I'm talking about you if you ever read this!) and he set the bar for both aspects higher than I was ready to tackle for an army I had a lot of love of.  

Luckily for me, right around this time GW released the Fall of the Necromancer sourcebook and models.  Mirkwood, Dol Guldur and the halls of the wood Elves had been my favorite "side stories" in Lord of the Rings ever since I started discovering all the collected information through the texts and appendices.  And now we had an official supplement and new models to really build on this.I immediately dove into the new forces.  Over time I picked up a few boxes of the plastic Wood Elf Warriors ( 24 models for $24 ... I miss those days ), a couple commands and the White Council set.

One of my first challenges was a paint theme.  I wanted to be sure that the force looked "unified" without looking "uniform".  Armies such as Gondor, High Elves and even Saruman's fighting Uruk-Hai all look pretty uniform in basically the same armor.  But for forces such as Rangers, Rohan, Haradrim and of course the Wood Elves it's more of a collection of individuals fighting together than a formal uniform army.  What I settled on was a pallet of specific shades of green, brown and gray which I would then mix in different ways on the various layers of the model.

As you can see, the models in the image above and below are the exact same pose.  The primary difference is in how the basic color combos were intermixed and the final details (trim, weapons, etc.) were completed.

Regardless if you have just one or two warbands from SBG, or dozens of models for a large WotR force this has brought some variety to the army and sanity to the painting process.

 Wood Elves in the Hobbit Strategy Battle Game

I have found my Wood Elves to be one of the most fun forces I've played in the Strategy Battle Game. My first couple games suffered some heavy losses but after that I became very proficient with them.  They earned a reputation of being my "Trixie Elves" on the table for all the various challenges they could deal to my opponents.  I also took a force of them to Games Workshop's Games Day in Baltimore, MD back in 2011.  I scored second on Victory Points but, sadly, GW was barely supporting LotR any more at that point and only recognized first place for any of their categories for the game.

I believe the flexibility of the Wood Elves is one of their greatest advantages.  This starts with a solid profile and is enhanced by their wargear options.

One of their most interesting and unique options are the Wood Elf Spears

This is an amazingly versatile weapon.  First, like most Spears, it allows you to support another friendly model.  This simply means if you move a model equipped with a spear into base contact with another friendly model that is part of a combat, the spear model can add one attack (at it's own Fight and Strength) without actually joining the fight.  This can even be done when supporting a model using a Two-Handed attack (more on this later). 

But the special advantage of Wood Elf Spears is that they can also be used defensively by allowing the model to use the Shielding special rule.  Doing this means you can roll two dice to try to win the duel but if you win you cannot deal any strikes...you are focusing on simply blocking your enemy's attacks. With the Wood Elf's high Fight value of 5, simply casting two dice gives you a great chance of winning the dual against nearly all enemy warriors and even many Evil heroes.  Sure, you won't be striking to wound but you also won't be getting hit yourself.  And with only a 3 Defense that's a BIG deal.

To my knowledge this is the only wargear in the game that has this dual role of acting as both a spear or a shield depending on your needs.  I have found this so useful that I typically equip up to half of my melee troops with these.  I have had multiple situations in nearly every game I've played with this force where a Wood Elf on his own has been able to deny an objective, block a route or simply delay part of an enemy advance just by spending a few turns shielding.  In time friends may arrive and allow him to take up the offense again. 

The Elven Blade is another favorite of mine, especially with some of the changes introduced in the updated Hobbit Strategy Battle Game.  It may be used as either a 1-Handed (no modifiers) or 2-Handed weapon ( -1 on your dual roll, but +1 to Wound ), but now it also gives an advantage when doing a roll-off for a tied dual.  Typically a tie is decided by a single die, 1-3 Evil wins, 4-6 Good wins.  If you are armed with an Elven Blade this becomes 1-2 Evil, 3-6 Good.  All this helps contribute to your force winning the Fight which is how you win games.  And this bonus to the roll-off does not change if you decide to use the weapon 2-Handed.  This makes it a little less risky to choose to fight 2-Handed...you may suffer a -1 but if you did tie at least you still have an advantage in the roll-off.

And of course...the Elven Bow.  If ever there was a single image of Elvish combat abilities it would probably be their bow.  With a 24" range the Elf Bow can shoot as long as a crossbow, allowing you to engage your enemy often before they can shoot you.  And of course the Elves have some of the best Shoot values in the game increasing your chance to hit.  Their Strength 3 attack is just as likely to cause a wound as they are in melee.  In the earlier days of SBG this was actually pretty effective though ongoing profile-creep has increased the Defense of many foe where 6s are needed to wound now.  Even still, with their accuracy you can usually deliver enough hits to have good odds of getting some Wounds. 

The Throwing Daggers are the last option that I often include to some degree in my force.  There is no reason to give them to any armed with a bow of course, and I rarely equip spear-armed models with daggers since they often fill a second-line role.  But for the models armed with Elven Blades, the daggers can be effective, allowing you the potential to score a wound on charge or serve as a short-ranged attack if you are still a little back from your foe.

Under the updated Hobbit SBG system, they have added even more options.  There is now a list for Thranduil's Halls that includes Wood Elves with armor (one point more, of course) and adds a new weapon option, the Elvish Glaive.  I have not tried this in a game yet but it appears to combine the Elvish Blade and Wood Elf Spear into a single weapon.  This gives you amazing flexibility on the table.  If you have the tactical advantage you can fight one or two handed...if you are at risk you can shield. 

 Wood Elves in the War of the Ring

To be added

 

 

Treebeard

 

The Mighty Ent

Treebeard was a favorite character of mine from reading the Lord of the Rings.  I wasn't very thrilled to see the way he was represented in the 1978 version of the film, but Peter Jackson did a great job solidifying his portrayal in its glory when he gave us The Two Towers and Return of the King.  So when I started playing the LotR Strategy Battle Game he was a "must have" for me.  I have also started using him as an ally for my War of the Ring Elf armies as well.

I have a couple more Ents in progress and have considered an Ent Army for WotR, but am not yet sure about that investment in time and money yet considering the relative weakness of Hard To Kill models in that game system.  Treebeard, however, has the Very Hard To Kill special rule and I've found that far more reasonable.

 

In both game systems, Treebeard is the lead Hero for any Ent forces.  He has good movement, is very strong with multiple attacks and has a high defense to help him stand up to his foes.  He can throw stones for ranged combat and is one of the most accurate "monsters" when doing so, but really comes into his own in close combat.  In WotR I was able to take out several companies of Goblins on a single charge and, as monsters deal their damage before their enemies can strike back, there was little left of the Goblin force to threaten him.

 

 

In War of the Ring he also has the ambusher special ability allowing him to hide in a defensible formation of trees until you are ready to spring him, should a good opportunity present itself when you are deploying your force.  He also has Might and a very high Fight value, nearly equivalent of a Hero calling an Epic Strike, making him potent for Duels (you can deal significant damage to a Formation with the Duel, then hit it with the Charge and potentially shatter it completely).  When playing multiple Ents in WotR he also has a special rule where any other Ents within 6" of him when he calls an Heroic Charge can also make an Heroic Charge for free, even if they have not Might.

 

I deviated a bit from the Games Workshop recommended color pallet and assembly when building my model.  First, I left off the two Hobbit models that were intended to be Merry and Pippin ridding him to war against Isengard.  I have other plans for those models and wanted Treebeard to be more neutral in appearance regarding when he's played.  I also wanted him to have a slightly different pose to help set him apart.  So I bent his legs (this is NOT an easy task with a thick metal model) to give him more of a stride and repositioned his arms appropriately to match the movement.  I also went with a more brownish color base than is typically used on the model.

 

 

Finally, I made a custom base for him.  Typically he's played on a flat circle base with some earth and flock.  To give him a little extra height and enhance his dynamic pose I built up his base with greenstuff and stones before adding texture, paint and underbrush.

 

Galadriel, Protectress of Lothlorien

Galadriel is a truly iconic character from the books and films.  She is an elder even among Elves, having lived since before the First Age itself.  She is counted among the most powerful, knowledgeable and beautiful of all elves, perhaps even the mightiest still living after the passing of Gil-Galad.  She bears Nenya, the Ring of Water, one of the three Rings of Power granted to the Elves.

She is most often thought of as a powerful sorceress and indeed she is usually played as such in the Strategy Battle Game and War of the Ring game.  In fact, that was the only way to play her in SBG until Games Workshop released the Fall of the Necromancer supplement and introduced this new version.

 As the Protectress of Lothlorien, Galadriel gives up most of her magical powers in favor of significant combat skill and leadership.

 

 I went with a different direction than GW and most on line examples I've seen when painting this version of Galadriel.  Most of them have tried to duplicate the ghostly appearance she takes on in the film adaptation when she is talking to Frodo at her Mirror.

 Instead, I painted her in "normal" garb and appearance but tried to highlight the combat orientation of this version.  I did so by taking an Elf Blade from a plastic Wood Elf and placing it in her hand.  I elected to do this in her left hand because her right hand is in position to show off her Ring of Power and the left is in a rather useless position otherwise.

 I believe I'm going to try to redo this model in the near future though now that my skills have advanced somewhat.  I would like to get a more elegant sword for her, perhaps the one wielded by the Arwen model and do some better work on her hand (maybe even sculpt a new hand).  It would also give me a chance to enhance the paint job a bit.  I'm not disappointed with the job I've done, but I could do a bit better now.

 

Thranduil

 

King of the Elves of Mirkwood

 

Thranduil has become one of my favorite Heroes to play in my Lord of the Rings Wood Elf armies.  In both game systems he is a strong combat leader, is a very attractive model, and just fits in perfectly with the themes of the armies.

 

In the Hobbit he was simply called the Elvenking, and he ruled the Sindarian Elves for more than 3000 years.  He claimed his inherited lands when his father died in the war of the Last Alliance, along with Gil-Galad and Elendil.  As such I have considered him on par with other such great and elder Elves as Elrond and Glorfindel.   I love the concepts of the Wood Elves as seasoned warriors standing against the darkness of Mirkwood and Legolas, son of Thranduil, is portrayed through the books (and even more so in the films) as a fearless, highly skilled warrior.  So it goes well that his father and king would be equally potent.

 

This is a great looking model by GW.  He has the basic elements of their Wood Elves but really stands out.  I normally prefer Heroes with a dynamic pose, and Thranduil is pretty static here, but in this case I think it works well.  He has his sword and staff at the ready and looks like he is either surveying a battlefield or else standing calmly while awaiting a charging foe to dispatch.  The detail is terrific all around the model and the face is very well done.