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Modelling the Campaign
The Closing Battles of the War of the Ring Campaign

Building the Campaign Map:

Building the campaign map was not as monstrous a task as I had first thought. It followed many of the principles of building any other type of terrain, with one major difference being that nearly all types of landscape would have to be represented: forests, hills, mountains, rivers, and roads. Furthermore, scale was important as well, which added a whole extra layer of design considerations.


Building this 3D map for the campaign was a lot of work, but not as much as it could have been!

The first thing I did was trace a grid over a photocopy of the part of a map of Middle Earth that I was planning to reporoduce. I traced a scaled up version of the same grid onto a 60cm by 60cm (2' by 2') piece of 1.5cm (1/2") pink insulation foam. Using the grids I reporoduced the map section onto the styrofoam board including elevation lines, forests, rivers, and everything.


Mount Mindolluin

I then created the Mount Mindolluin (the mountain that Minas Tirith is attached to) and the Mountains of Shadow surrounding Mordor using terraced layers of the same pink foam. For each layer I did some suitable cutting to make the edges jagged to look as though they were somewhat mountainous. Once the mountains were on, I did the hills in a similar way, except instead of using the pink insulation foam, I used foamcore instead (as they shouldn't be as high as the mountains!). Once the hills and mountains were in place, I used a sharp hobby knife to cut grooves where the rivers would be. I made sure the grooves were not too deep, as this map is quite a small scale afterall! Finally I used the rounded end of a large paintbrush to make indentations for roads. Once this was complete the entire map was primed black.

I went back to the mountains, and some of the hills at this point and glued down some Woodland Scenics medium and fine ballast (I use the black stuff because then I don't have to base coat it!) one the terraces and around the edges. This adds some texture to the mountains and makes them look a bit more realistic. Once the glue was dried I painted the mountains by layering lighter and lighter shades of gray onto the black. For Mount Mindolluin I went very light, whereas for the Mountains of Shadow I tried to keep them much darker.


Druadan Forest

Moving on to the forests I used Woodland Scenics Medium Green Clump Foliage to represent the tree filled canopy. Putting a liberal amount of Ross All Purpose White Glue onto the flattest side of each piece of foliage and stuck it down to where the forests should be. The biggest job of course was Druadan Forest, as I had to put down enough to cover most of the balck undercoat. I also threw some sparse clumps in Northern Ithilien for good measure.


River Erui

I finished the rivers by first adding some Woodland Scenics medium and fine ballast on their shores to help them stand out a little bit more. I then painted the shores (once the glue was dry) by layering up from dark browns to lighter ones. I finished the rivers by layering up from dark blues to lighter blues. Finally, to give the rivers that glossy glow I used a bottle of (horribly smelling) clear nail polish... I wouldn't recommend it now that I have used it as it is unacceptably smelly... If you do use it however, be sure to cover the pink foam completely, or the nail polish will disolve it (making things even more smelly! Indeed, do this part outside and away from open flames and young children!)

I painted the roads brown and highlighted with lighter brown, and then finished the map by putting down tonnes of Woodland Scenics fine turf in the green grass colour. This turned out excellently! This fine turf doesn't really work for miniature basing (in my opinion) as it is too fine, but for this scale of terrain, it looks great! Now the 3D map is finished and we can start playing! ... well, not quite...


Modeling the Cities, Towns, and Towers:

Along with the campaign map itself, players need to represent their cities, towns, and towers in some way as well. It is certainly acceptable to use paper tokens to do this, but it is more fun to model little structures; theey also look great on the campaign map as well!

The first thing that needed to be done for this project were the two infamous cities that played major roles in the closing battles of the War of the Ring. Minas Tirith and Minas Morgul. For the scale of this map, we decided to base everything on round bases that were 25mm (or close enough anyway). The reason for this was primarily because we had tonnes, but also because it fit the size of the map.


Minas Tirith in all its glory. It is shown next to a
Warrior of Minas Tirith for scale purposes.

Minas Tirith was the first city to be produced... It went through several attempts, but finally it came together well enough to be presentable... In the future however, I think that this project would be best done with modeling putty and a skilled modeller, as the foam and cardboard concoction wasn't as good as it promised to be. In any case, the spur of the city (the part of the mountain that splits it down the middle) was made using pink styrofoam and a sharp hobby knife. It was difficult to get this right... The walls were made using thin card, and the buildings and towers were made using skillfully cut styrofoam. Finally the Tower of Ecthelion was made using the top of a fancy-schmancy tooth pick that I picked up at some unknown restaurant (I think I eat out too much).

With the experience of Minas Tirith far behind, Minas Morgul went much more smoothly. The walls and towers (those pointy tings on the walls that sorta look like pie slices, those are towers aren't they?) were carved out of pink styrofoam. Since the basic shapes are pretty simple and don't have many curves, this was pretty straight forward. The tower of Minas Morgul was, ironically, made from the same type of fancy toothpick that was used in the construction of Minas Tirith. Now with the two cities complete, there were ready to stand guard over each other during the closing battles of the War of the Ring!


The two cities eye each other with suspicion!

The final nefarious structure that needed to be built was the Tower of Cirith Ungol. I realized when I was making this tower that it was very unlikely to be attacked during the campaign, but since it is a cool tower, and it was possible that it would be attacked (as Denethor did think that the One Ring was somewhere around there) I made it none-the-less. It was made by first making a simple rocky, mountainous base, and then carving the tower out of pink styrofoam. This was easy, and even though it took a few tries to get it, they were quick so it was nowhere near the headache that was Minas Tirith.


The Tower of Cirith Ungol

For this campaign that was nearly all the structures we needed at the outset. There were two more things yet to made made however... Although they were not nearly as well known as the others, they were certainly at least as important! They were the Gondorian towns. Now lets face it, those huge cities, men in bright armour, and machines of war are nothing without the people; the people are the ones that pay for the army, their armour, weapons, food, boot polish, snot rags, and hey, they even provide their children to go off and fight! Quite the burden to bear... So with that in mind I set out to put together a few farm-looking towns.

The Gondorian towns were put together using the standard materials: pink styrofoam and a 25mm base. I used the 25mm Warmaser/Battle of Five Armies round bases as their thin profile looks a bit better (in my opinion anyway). I first made the houses out of pink styrofoam and glued them down (use white glue for this, trust me). Then I took a sharp hobby knife an cut in little farmers fields. Once this was done I painted the house and the fields and put down some of the same fine turf listed above. I was quite happy with the way they turned out!


The two towns in action... "Oh no, a giant man is coming to crush us!"

Now that the 3D map and all of the required cities, towers, and towns are complete we are ready to play! ... well, not quite...


Modeling the Armies:

The final thing to do for this 3D campaign was the armies themselves; these little figs would be used to represent the warriors of both Mordor and Gondor, and would really be the focus of the campaign itself. At this point I was really beginning to understand how much work a 3D campaign system was to put together...


Gandalf and Pippen are ready
for some Campaign action!

I started with Gondor because I had to start somewhere. I decided at this point to fork some ca$h and pick up the Battle of Five Armies game from Games Workshop. It was going to cost a lot of money, but I figured I would play it as well as use the figs for my 3D map campaigning. So once I had it, I began to go through the figs and decide which ones would represent which armies in the campaign.

The easiest to choose was the Gandalf and Bilbo fig. Surely this would be perfect to represent Gandalf and Peregrin! Of course, it was Gandalf the Grey, but to be honest, that is my favorite Gandalf anyway so I didn't mind. This was also great because I didn't have to paint Gandalf differently than the Battle of Five Armies game required, so it worked perfectly. Once this one was painted and based, I was on my way!

The second easiest choice was the Battle of Five Armies Orc leader figure. This would perfectly represent Gothmog's horde that laid siege to Osgiliath! It would also not require me to paint it any differently than the Battle of Five Armies game required. So after basing and painting, I was ready to go onto making the next army.




Gothmog: He is mean and tough alright!

The last fig that I was able to use for this campaign was the Brand figure. I looked at it and thought that it would make a great Faramir, flanked by a couple of rangers who were carrying a banner of Gondor during the battle for Osgiliath. I had to pause for a second though, as the Battle of Five Armies game would be quite confused if Brand arrived on the battlefield carrying a banner of Gondor... but then I figured what the heck, why couldn't two non-associated cultures of men use the tree as their symbol? Once that was painted I had a good look through the rest of the figs in the Battle of Five Armies. After some time I realized that I probably couldn't use any of them to represent the armies I needed to in the campaign... The only possible exception were the orcs mounted on wolves. These could easily be used to represent both the Easterling army and the Witch King's horde in a pinch, but I wanted to have those be more true to their representation and so I put the Battle of Five Armies away... $85 and only three armies for the campaign. Ouch.


Faramir leads his men...

Looking back I realize I should have gone to the other fantasy 10mm ranges for my figures. There are many, not the least of which are Game Figures Incorporated and Games Workshop. With these companies it would be cheap and easy to buy single blisters to represent your armies, as opposed to forking mega-bucks for a game that you will never play only to get three usable figs out of it!


Armies of Minas Tirith Overshadowed by
their Strategy Battle Game counterpart.

So now I had to do some real work. I had to figure out how I would represent Gondorians, Haradrim, Easterlings, and the Witch King... My search lead me to Game Figures Incorporated. They make a number of fantasy and historical 10mm figs. Not only that, but unlike most 10mm figs, theirs come seperately based allowing me to put them on any base I wanted to! Finally, unlike most companies that make 10mm figs, their figs did not contain lead!

The first choice I made here were the Gondorians. I chose to represent them with some Roman legionairs standing. The figs worked pretty much right out of the box, except that I had to file off their shield bosses. I could also base them however I liked, allowing me to use the same style of figs to represent different armies by the way they are arranged on the base! After some painting and glueing and sanding (but not in that order) I had a couple of Gondorian armies for the 3D campaign map!


The Haradrim army
is ready to go!

While perusing through the Game Figures Incorporated stuff I also saw some nifty looking elephants that were meant to represent Carthaginian units during the Punic Wars. Well, since I had to represent some Haradrim, I figured why not whip up a Mumakil! I had to do some real converting work on this elephant, but it worked out in the end! While paying close attention to the Games Workshop Mumak, I drilled holes in the tiny elephant where I figured the supports would be for the Mumakil's structure. Once they were glued in place I used some greenstuff to add the cloth, painted it all up and blammo, I had a cool looking Mumak to represent the Haradrim army!

Now all that was left was the figs that would represent the Witch King's horde and the Easterling army. For the Witch King's horde, I had to somehow represent the Witch King himself astride a fell beast. Anything else would just be too anti-climactic! The problem is of course finding a suitable fig... Certainly GW has some 10mm dragons from their Warmaster line, but none of them really fit the Lord of the Rings world that well...


The Witch King, 6mm scale in green.

So naturally I set about sculpting a tiny, 6mm scale Witch King mounted on a Fell Beast. It was fun and didn't really take that long (a couple of hours spread over a few days). I used paper for the wing shape as I have yet to even try to represent such a thin surface with greenstuff and I wasn't in the mood to start at this point. Also, it didn't matter if some paper was included as I wasn't planning to cast the fig or anything. I used GW's 28mm model as a starting point for this one :)


The Easterling Army

Finally, for the Easterlings I simply used the same Imperial Romans that I used for the Gondorians. I was thinking about using some trojans, as their helmets were similar, but realized that it would be a lot of work to convert them and so just used what I already had. I painted them to look like Easterlings using gold and dark red as well. I also decided to put an Easterling flag on the base to further seperate them from their Gondorian counterparts.

So now all of the 3D map components are ready to start to play the campaign... Wow... It was a lot of work and I recommend that it is split up amongst a number of players if at all possible :) Of course there are still some things to sort out... Supply trains still need to be done, as well as all of the terrain surrounding the campaign itself, such as the 28mm version of Minas Tirith... But still, we can cross that bridge when we come to it!