Sunday, 11 June 2023

LoTR: 3D Prints

A quick post to show a few 3D printed LoTR I tried. With many 'bread and butter' troops becoming Forg$world or simply out of stock, or at best a few stiff poses of 20-year-old design... why not?

Goblin Blackshields. 4 for $14AUD (3.50ea) vs $140 for 16 ($9ea).  They fit well thematically (two normal gobbos to the right). 

Goblin shamans ($8ea) vs 2 for $50 ($25ea); and a maruader ($11 vs $49). I think the STL are Davale games?
An elf mage ($8) vs a set of 3 command for $55 ($18ea). This one has a home-made staff as the original was dropped and it sprayed arm and staff fragments explosively, everywhere across my shed.

Verdict: Yes, I''ll buy more. Being 3-4x cheaper makes those command units and heroes finally 'reasonably' affordable. The price means even a rare unit or one you'll probably seldom use is worth picking up. It always felt crazy paying the same price for 2-3 minis as it did for a plastic 24-pack.

For Battle Companies being able to buy them in small quantities is a bonus (i.e. I may only need 3-4 Blackshield goblins rather than 16 - and if I need more, I can buy what I need).

The poses are better than the early-2000s GW stuff and the detail is better as well.

Here an original GW dwarf warrior is sandwiched between two 3D printed ones.

The downside: My 3D printed models were fragile. Obviously not all such printed minis are made from the same stuff, but of the ones I had, I broke several while painting them (OK, I did drop one, but plastic or metal would have been fine) and one came broken in transit despite being beautifully and carefully wrapped. 

Verdict: Since my 7-year-old plays with me, I doubt I would use them for rank-and-file (and the cost saving vs bulk plastics isn't noticeable anyway). For heroes, small unique units or anything from Forg$World, they are definitely worth it. A dragon for $30? 3 trolls for $40? Yes please.

I'll be getting more as I've held off buying Easterling mages/knights/cultists and various corsairs until now (and I've seen some not-Black Numenoreans which incredibly are still unavailable by official means) but finally I can expand my forces without sacrificing a kidney.

This is a half-finished game with my son, where his men of Gondor are exploring ruins. A bit Space-Hulk-y, I roll each turn (and also whenever he explores a building) to see if orcs 'spawn in' on a random table edge out of LoS. He has explore - then dice roll - in each room find relics from the ruins of Osgiliath and escape before being swarmed. 

We play in a very narrative and cinematic way, with rolls of '1' or '6' always having an accompanying comments: 'the orc narrowly missed shooting his own foot' and 'the axe knocked his head clean off and it rolled across the room.' 

However, I do appreciate a 'points' system. It makes it simple to roughly balance forces so he he is likely to win but not too obviously - in a competitive sense, points systems are always broken at a fundamental level - but for an easy 'rule-of-thumb' balance of a homebrew scenario they are great.


Due to the first 4 random reinforcement dice rolls always coming up on one table edge, my son was swarmed from one direction... we'll see if he survives to claim his loot. Hopefully his Dol Amroth hero can swing the fight after some one-sided dice rolling saw his superior archers cut down by a bunch of orc bows rolling 6s...

For someone who is usually a major critic of GW rules, I must say I've always enjoyed LoTR - for me it hits a sweet spot of familiarity, simplicity, and common-sense with enough decisions to be interesting. Quick but somewhat engaging activation (A move-B move-A shoot-B shoot), some resource management (might-will-fate), allowing minis to move independently - but actually allowing/rewarding some formations; interesting heroes, having some decisions/tactics in melee, as well as catering to warbands of 10 to 50 or so. While ME:SBG has certainly complicated the old LOTR:SBG rules, it still has a reasonable balance of special rules vs stats and simple mechanics. I was impressed that my son correctly predicted, when jumping off a wall, that: a '1' would be bad (fall), 2-5 would be OK, and 6 would see him merrily sprint off - based on consistency with other, similar rules.

As a bonus, they have a solid background in 'the' OG fantasy book and the best-ever movie trilogy (no, Star Wars does not count).


  1. There are resins (ane resin mixes) which hold up better in gameplay. But then you'll have to do your own printing on your own printer. Maybe start by asking the people you currently get your minis from what resin they are using.

  2. I've started collecting some LotR plastics because I'm toying with the idea of using Song of Blades & Heroes to play (really small) skirmishes between the Fellowship and some baddies, starting with Moria encounters. This is the first time I've seen LotR plastics and... they are awful, aren't they?

    The Fellowship in particular is terrible. Aragorn has a weird head entangled with his bow. Some swords and kit are "protruded" from the body, since they are the same piece as the body. Legolas is not looking in the direction he's aiming. And so many more flaws.

    That said, they look adequate as boardgame/playing pieces. The Moria goblins are my favorites (as they were in the movies, too!).

    1. They were OK - for 20 years ago. But they are selling an ancient mould for premium 2023 prices. They are so awful compared to the equivalent AoS or 40K sculpts.

      To compound this, the few 'remoulds' have often been moved to forgeworld and the prices pushed even higher. Some sculpts proportions have changed too (Galadhrim Guard) so they are kinda different to the other models, which were all sculpted by Perry brothers and thus also (conveniently) match their historical minis (good for proxies).

      There is a small softcover A3 "blue book" of the older LoTR:SBG I recommend; it may help 'stat up' your models for SoBH (which I played a lot ~10 years ago but have moved away from) and actually works perfectly fine for 5v5 or 50v50.

    2. Wow -- 20 years ago! I didn't pause to think how old they were. I still consider the LotR movies "recent"... I think this is what getting old truly means.

      I'm planning easy play scenarios with my little one in mind. She's still too young to truly grasp rules of any kind, but soon... She's already asking me if I'm working on "a new game" whenever she sees me random garbage to kitbash terrain.

    3. Fellowship is 2001! The movies have held up incredibly well, and as they avoid the bad CGI of the Hobbit they should be classics for many years to come.

      I do recommend the LoTR rules though (old A3 blue book, not new one). They are a good entry to wargaming is they use many 40K-ish mechanics shared by many rules. $10 secondhand?

      Also we have its cousin rules Legends of the Old West (cowboys), High Seas (pirates), as well as vikings, medieval, samurai and gladiators versions.

      I find it really easy to teach to my 7 year old.
      Melee? Roll a dice, highest wins. Tie? Best fighter wins.
      Shoot? Roll a 4+ to hit, unless you are a specially good or bad shot.
      Damage? Compare strength to defence. Usually 4+. Shields and armour increase to 5+ ....or 6+ if both.
      Move? It's 6" unless you are short.
      Random situation? d6. 1= bad, 2-5 normal, 6 = good
      Who goes first? Roll a dice. You move, I move, you shoot, I shoot.

      Heroes even have might (stamina), will (magic) and fate (health) that kinda correspond to videogames. Monsters or magic? - yup we have rules for this.

      ....I like rules I can summarise easily....

      Another useful rule set is Savage Worlds. Not quite as kid friendly, but a great jumping off point for RPG-wargame hybrids as the ideas of more skill = bigger dice size, and beat a 4+ to do stuff is easy and logical....