Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Trolltooth Wars: Strongarms and Legionaries

As has now become a traditional part in the preparations for BOYL, I was extremely rushed in finishing things off for the big weekend (despite having had a year to get ready!) and not everything was 100% finished in the end! Added to that was the dearth of blog posts charting each unit or army I had finished as I was busy furiously painting.

In my defence I would cite the pressures of my job - the Summer term in particular is horribly busy in terms of SATs tests and all the follow up and analysis, report writing and all the other pleasures of wrapping up another academic year. Added to that was our preparations (lots of sorting out, tidying up and redecorating!) for selling up in York and moving out to the wilds of Cumbria later in the year...

Anyhow, enough prevaricating!

I spent some time searching for suitable minis to represent the Strongarm mercenaries. Somehow a lot of the old Citadel Men-at-Arms and Fighters I already had didn't feel right - too tied in to a particular period or pseudo-historical vibe. The same went for War of the Roses era Perry or Front Rank stuff - too recognisable as something from the real world.

I needed something with a whiff of Allansia - some fantasy style henchmen. Hmm, where would I find an abundance of henchmen who weren't directly inspired by a specific historical period...

So I went on a mission to gather together 36 Advance Heroquest henchmen!

In addition to the plastic monopose glory of the henchmen I wanted to include some lead to represent characters and a little variation in pose.

Happily I had some D&D Player Characters that were kindly donated to me quite some time ago so it was nice to finally get them on the table. The Strongarm Sergeant here is represented by the higher level character from the Fighter with long sword set. I was also rather pleased with how the design of the mini fitted right in with the AHQ henchmen.

Having scratched my head over what to put on his shield (finished post BOYL 2015!), I finally decided that an advertisement for his services would be apt!

He'll certainly make a great unit champion for when I use these chaps as mercenaries or professional soldiers for my Empire army - when I get round to painting the rest of it.

The mid-level Fighter with Long Sword makes a good Corporal for this mercenary band and I decided to paint the Fighting Fantasy dagger logo for his shield design.

The henchmen had a range of designs on their shields - the Fighting Fantasy logo or what I thought made a good "strong arm" - a design I pinched from the old Arcane Armorials. I chose white and black on a coloured background as a bit of a time saving device. The other henchmen had a variety of Marauder shields with designs scuplted on them - another way of shortening the amount of time needed to paint 36 shields!

Of course the company escorting the Cunnelwort caravan weren't all mercenaries and I was keen to include some of Zharradan Marr's Human legionaries. We learn from Donnag Kannu's nervous excuses to his Master that the expedition was orignially entirely made up of Marr's legionaries. On their long journey back from the Sardath river and the Fenlands they had been searching for the elusive Cunnelwort, they were set upon by Dark Elves in the Forest of Night. The Strongarm Mercenaries were hired to replace the losses sustained in this and other skirmishes encountered on the way home.

I also wanted to have mounted as well as foot troops as there are mentions of Hill Goblins leaping on to unsuspecting Humans and toppling them from their horses in the ambush - not to mention Foulblade's notable procurement of a mount.

I also wanted a Legionary Captain and Corporal, who will feature in the Human legionary Regiment in Marr's army for the climactic Battle for the Trolltooth Pass. Again my D&D  Player pack minis came in handy here!

I felt the Paladins looked a little creepy for good guys and thought that there armour had a kind of legionary feel - although I think I might have set myself quite a challenge to find suitable minis to represent the basic legionaries to fit in with them for the rest of the unit!

As numbered medallions were a little small to model and paint, I figured that the famous numbers that are given to each of Marr's legionaries could be painted on their shields. But which numbers to pick?

As I was flicking through Creature of Havoc for inspiration last night, it occurred to me that the numbers from certain entries in the game book might be quite fun - look them up if you have a copy and see if you can work out why I chose them. Clue - it might have something to do with what usually happens to my minis on the table!

Having reread the relevant chapters in The Trolltooth Wars, perhaps I should have used the number 85 - the number on the medallion the young Hill Goblin shows Foulblade after the ambush has taken place!
 For the horsemen, I wanted some models that had a hint of evil about them, but that could be used in other general games as well. Zharradan Marr's set up is a curious one in that from the outside it doesn't seem as out and out evil as Balthus Dire's Citadel of Chaos in the Craggenrock - a huge black tower that even the local Chaotics seem to fear! Marr has a much more ambiguous base of operations that includes the training grounds for his legionaries, the village of Coven which supplies his living forces with food and supplies (presumably unaware of who their true master is) and beneath all this is Marr's subterranean lair.

Mounted Legionary Captain (Barding finished post BOYL!)
I get the impression that his legionaries aren't necessarily out and out bad guys and that perhaps some may even be ignorant of who they are actually working for. Of course to sign up to fight alongside Goblins, Lizardmen, Gorians, Craggeracks and Rhino Men would take a certain kind of man - hence my search for some minis that looked like they could be ne'er-do-wells!

Ral Partha came up trumps as usual and they are fast becoming a favourite source of fantasy miniatures for me. I went with their Severyan Winged Hussars from the Schwarse Auge range - I don't know much about this setting but loved the look of the minis, who might even pass for Kislev Winged Lancers for Warhammer games.

No caravan would be complete without the wagons and 4 Ground came to the rescue. Their range of laser cut wagons is excellent - if a little fragile at times!

Again D&D player packs provided the mini for the ill-fated Donnag Kannu - this time the Assassin. Unfortunately I forgot to cobble together a mounted version for the cinematic chase scene between him and Foulblade so he had to make do with driving his wagon like a madman!

The drawhorses and wagon team came from Front Rank - a great little set and now I have a baggage train for all kinds of scenarios!


  1. Replies
    1. Ah yes - the root of all things righteous and beautiful!

  2. Absolutely gorgeous stuff. Really breathtaking.

  3. Fantastic stuff. Thanks for sharing the sourcing and the thought patterns behind your plan.

    1. My pleasure Dave - glad the strange wanderings that go on inside my head are of interest to some folk out there!

  4. Cracking painting...I love mono-pose units and Ral Partha are also a favourite of mine....right from the late 70's onwards...and so cheap from RP Europe too!!

    1. Thanks Springisfield - I must admit I do find a certain Zen like peace when painting monopose stuff and they do look great ranked up on the table!

      There'll be more Ral Partha purchases in the future when I need minis for the Lizardman regiment, Human legionaries and some of the Gribblies I need...

  5. Very nicew, love the winged lancers. How did I miss this?

    1. Cheers Erny - We were pretty swift in starting this early on Friday afternoon - it may have been wrapped up by the time you arrived?

      Think I might need another 5 to make a better sized unit when I get round to doing my Empire army.

  6. Amazing stuff! Great choices of models and I love all the fighting fantasy references; creature of havoc is one of my favourites! I often scan them to find illustrations as inspiration for banners and shields. Quick question; I too have the 4ground hooped wagons, but how did you attach the horses?

    1. Thanks Stuart - must do more of that myself. Loads of great inspiration in those books.

      As for the wagons - I think I made a simple yoke or cross bar out of a piece of the wooden sprue and used that to attach it to the horses' harnesses.

  7. I've not had the pleasure of reading the FF novels however your battle reports and work in progress posts are bringing the feel of the story to life. Looking forward to more.

    1. Most kind of you to say! I need to get on and paint some zombies so we can play the next instalment.