i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, i’m very impressed by the sculpting on these little dudes. i feel that makers of action figures could learn a lot from whoever did the sculpting of the Lord of the Rings models, ’cause i can actually tell the difference between Aragorn and Boromir, despite the fact that they’re both beardy guys. This impresses me.
It’s been a bit of a learning curve with the painting, though, as the techniques i use for this are completely different to the techniques i use on canvas. For a start, the amount of paint you use is different – obviously due to the size of the canvas, ’cause i like mine about three foot square, and here’s twenty-five millimetres of plastic, but even taking that into account, i have to use a hell of a lot less on the brush than i think. As little as possible is key – sometimes you put as little as possible on and then you still take some of it off to get the effect you want.
i’m still learning a lot about how the colours go together, and what layers well on top of other things. When i was doing the armour on the Goblins, i thought i should put something on to basecoat it, and i didn’t need to; the metallic paint covered it completely, but when i did the skin tones… that definitely needed a basecoat. With Gimli, i thought what i was going to put on him was this pale purple with darker purples, and the pale purple… did not turn out how i thought it was going to. It looks a bit grey, and… bleugh. But i’m wondering, if i layer some of the top-coat purples Von’s got on it, whether it’ll look better? We’ll see.
i didn’t want to just paint my dudes the same as is on the front of the box, or in the film, because if there’s a terrible incident in a GW one day and everyone’s models are mixed together, i want to be able to go “That’s my Legolas.” i feel it’s just really boring – if you were to end up playing a Good vs Good match (it might happen), i wouldn’t want to play it and have my Legolas look the same as the three other Legolasses on the board, because that’s boring, and i consider the painting to be part of the hobby. It doesn’t have to be, but for me it is, and so i want to have had an interesting time painting things, and i want to have thought about… well, i disagreed with some of the colour choices in the film.
Peter Jackson probably had deep thoughts, and i respect that, but i have different thoughts. i kind of wanted my Legolas and Gimli to match each other a little bit, because i ship them, and i wanted my Boromir to have more of a paler colour scheme to go with the shiny White City and the White Tree that are his heraldric… things. In the film, none of his kit is white, it’s all yellow and red and such – i’ve done him with a white surcoat over a darker… whatever he wears underneath the surcoat. He looks like that in flashbacks, and i think i sort of preferred that. With the Hobbits, for all that i said the sculpting was good, the Hobbits are all still very similar, and so i wanted to make them as visually obviously different as possible, and so i’ve given them Hogwarts colours. Don’t judge me.
With the Goblins, i looked at their armour and thought it looked quite Roman, and i like how together and martial they look, compared to the Fellowship. They’re all definitely belonging to the same army, and it looks to be a pretty good army; they look like they could defeat Dwarves. In the film they look a bit rag-tag, and it’s kind of almost impossible to believe that these people could stand against half a thousand Gimlis. Looking at my little plastic army, i can believe that these guys could stand against a Dwarf army, because they look like they’re regimented, like their armour goes together, like they’ve thought about their armour and weapons. They’re in a uniform, they’ve had some training. Even the pairing up of the shield and spear (for supporting attacks) is thought out, and very sound, tactically. i only have 24, so i can’t exactly form a tortoise or a rhombus or whatever other shapes you can form if you have a whole legion, but i could see a guy with a shield and a guy with a spear behind him and a line of archers behind them being an effective enemy force…
i’ve not got them on the tabletop yet, but i’ve looked over the rules. i’m going to have to play with them before i truly get them in my head. The reason i wanted to play Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle… Battle… Strategy… was because, despite the complexity of the name, the rules look to be straightforward. i remember trying Warmachine, and that did not seem inanyway straightforward. So Lord of the Rings seemed far kinder to someone who is not perhaps the best with the NUMBERS and the remembering of turns and who fires first and how the NUMBERS interact with the other NUMBERS.
i want to finish painting them, obviously, and then there’s the starter games in the booklet – that are on the very smallest edge of the learning curve, and then gradually curve up – which i would quite like to go through with Von. i’d really like to go into a Workshop, or a gaming club, and play some guys i don’t know. Which is bizarre, because i’ve never felt like that ever before. i’ve not really owned an army before, but i’ve been around gamers for ninety per cent of my life. It’s bizarre Lord of the Rings is the one that captured my attention at all, possibly because it’s something i know outside the game, so i have a relationship with these characters already, but also it just seems simpler and easier to interact with than 40K and Fantasy have always seemed.
i feel that Von has been greatly instrumental in me wanting to play the Hobby. Other guys who i’ve been friends with who’ve played it have not ever wanted me to join in with this. They’ve always been sort of shocked when i’ve shown an interest, and then they’ve been… sort of… not really happy to describe it in any depth, or say “Here’s how you play it”. They’ve been a bit weirded out that i’ve stood there and said “Well, how does that happen?” and they’ve said “It just happens right?” And it’s strange that there should be such a boy/girl divide when i was such a boy-type nerd, and you’d think there’d be some real kudos for inviting a girl in, all “This is my girl-shaped friend, she plays the hobby, we’re going to play the hobby now with the girl”, but there wasn’t any of that.
Whereas Von’s been happy to discuss tactics and backstory and painting issues with me if i’ve shown an interest, and he’s just seen it as another conversation that we can have, and he’s said “Hey d’you want to play a quick game of this, just to try this particular one out?” – which really floored me when he first said it with the Warmachine, ’cause i hadn’t even thought it myself. i’d been so used to not taking part, despite having lived with or near or on gamers since i was in primary school. i almost didn’t know how to respond to that, but i’m glad i said “Yeah, go on, let’s try it”, even if Warmachine was a little bit beyond me in terms of the mechanics and the NUMBERS. Having gone “Oh, right, this is how it actually works, i don’t like this particular game but i’m happy to try others now” was definitely the right move.
Blackheart, too, was perfectly happy to play when Von was up to his eyeballs in work and i said i fancied a game and both he and Von were happy to say “This is how it works, this is where the numbers go, this is maybe a tactic you could try” [even though it turned out to be a fool’s errand – ed.], and they were also happy for me to say “How does this work?” and “Can i try this bullshit tactic?”, and i’d discover for myself why it worked, or didn’t work.
After i’d picked up a little bit of the Knowledge, it’s reassured me that i can understand this and i can play this and i can happily go into a Gaming Shop and pick up a game with a randomer and inform them that “Hey i’m a n00b, but if you’re happy to play with me then i’m happy to play with you”, and it’s not going to be a complete “a wild Girl has come into the shop, we use Creeper Stare, it’s SUPER EFFECTIVE” situation.
There was a girl working in Dark Sphere, and there were some birds playing in the GW in Covent Garden, and i saw plenty of birds in the shop in Wolverhampton, so i know that ladies can be in the shops and things can happen involving the ladies, even if i’m still a little bit sore that the guy in GW Covent Garden was looking at Von as the buyer of the Mines of Moria set and talking to Von and he had to say “It’s her birthday present, it’s for the lady, she buys the hobby now”… ’cause i was the one that picked it off the shelf and i was the one holding it, so it still seems a bit weird that he thought it was for Von and didn’t judge me on my desire to play hobby first and foremost, and my girlfriend-of-a-gamer nature second.
i am still working on that Ultimate Feminist Evil Lord of the Rings Army (TM), and i suspect after i’ve played a couple of games and worked out how it fits together i might have some more thoughts on who is going in that army, although it may just end up being a MASH of all the female characters in Lord of the Rings, with the exception of Eowyn, because i have… mixed feelings about her, as a person, and also i think she’s possibly a Character That Everyone Goes For. i don’t know, i haven’t played against a lot of Lord of the Rings armies, but i suspect that if they included a female character, 90% of them would include Eowyn. i’d like to go for the slightly more esoteric ones. Like Gimli.