October 31, 2014 by brennon
The miniatures for The Lord of the Rings by Games Workshop are becoming harder and harder to come by these days through their own store and eBay hunting has become the avenue most have taken to getting a hold of older miniatures. There is one thing that is in plentiful supply when it comes to tabletop gaming in Middle-Earth however and that’s terrain. There are a wealth of options out there for people looking to re-create Tolkien’s world on the tabletop and here are just a few examples…
The Official Route
The first port of call for me was to check out the Games Workshop website and see what the official offerings were. As you might imagine the dedicated and themed terrain for the game is fairly lacklustre with the Ruins of Osgiliath and Goblin Town Walkways sets being the only options.
That’s not to say that these offerings are bad ones but it’s not exactly giving you many options. By the time of the Third Age in Middle-Earth most of the old Gondorian and Numenorean strongholds will have fallen into ruin and so actually picking up the kit for the statues and wall sections would be great for adding a bit of age old history to an area of the board but it isn’t exactly brimming with options.
The Goblin Town Walkways are a slightly more interesting option for you terrain wise. You could of course use them for a board set deep in the Misty Mountains but they’d make great walkways and such for Laketown and maybe even a Mordor mining site (Shadows of Mordor anyone?) based behind the Black Gate itself if you wanted to customise them.
There’s certainly a few things you can do with these kits from Games Workshop but I can’t help but think that it would have been awesome to see them do a bit more considering the wealth of different locations that people could visit on the tabletop. Mix that with most of Games Workshop’s terrain being outstanding quality and relatively cheap too and you could have been on to a winner.
Taking A Different Path
The other option of course is to check out some offerings from further afield. The first location that came to mind when I was thinking about making scenery for Middle-Earth was Bree and it so happens that there is a company that we love making terrain perfect for that.
4Ground have recently released their Fabled Realms collection that is perfect for re-creating the back alleys and rainy streets of Bree. The buildings have the fantasy charm you’d associate with this town located near the deadly Lone Lands and yet also has the historically British feel to it that works so well. The buildings are warped and interested in places giving it that mercantile and cobbled together feel. Perfect for a hub of activity.
If you fancy being a bit more over the top with your building of Bree there are also the offerings from Tabletop World that would act as superb centrepieces for the gaming table. The above Coaching Inn for example just screams ‘Prancing Pony’ at me (not something you hear everyday) when I look at it. I could imagine a race through the streets as Merry tries to escape from the Ringwraiths on his ill advised night time stroll.
The next stop on their journey, and indeed most tabletop gamers first introduction to the world of Lord of the Rings: The Strategy Battle Game was Weathertop. Once again there’s no real official model for this but if you fancy being a bit adventurous then you could go ahead and get yourself some Hirst Art Moulds and start working on this Ruined Tower from them. It has the perfect look of Amon Sul.
Going further afield the lands of Rohan are ripe for adventuring and fighting and so it will come as some comfort that pretty much any Dark Age terrain works perfectly for this area considering the influence of the Anglo-Saxons on this part of Middle-Earth. Both 4Ground and Stronghold Terrain make great looking Dark Age period housing that would be great for the horse lords of Rohan and you might even be able to make your very own Meduseld (Theoden’s Hall) if you found the right building.
The more recent movies in The Hobbit trilogy have all been leading up to the Battle of Five Armies and of course Smaug burning down Laketown. I imagine a lot of people would love to try and re-create some of that fighting, maybe even Legolas and Tauriel versus the Hunter Orcs and Bolg from Desolation of Smaug, and so you’ll be needing some fitting houses.
Thankfully once again there are some pretty perfect options for people looking to do just that. Ziterdes are a German company and have been working on some great looking buildings that fit the Laketown theme and would be great to skirmish around. They’ve also produced the rather impressive Dwarf Fortress which could well be the front of Erebor itself.
If you’re looking to play your games a little further afield in the likes of Haradwaith and Khand for example then you might want to go a bit more exotic with your buildings and get something more Arabic and indeed Far Eastern inspired from companies like Crescent Root (just remove the guys with guns and any modern additions!). Woods like Fangorn and such are simple enough since you can get trees anywhere or make your own using our handy tutorial on Hobby Labs!
Orcs and Elves could be a bit of a problem but ranges like Battlefield in a Box with their Bestial Huts and even the Elven Tower might be a good stopping point for a quick fantasy looking board where the Elven power may have waned. Of course their Essentials range is also perfect for making the wilderlands of Middle-Earth so I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up their rivers, rocks and trees.
Doing A Little DIY
Buying terrain isn’t the only option however and as we mentioned just now, you could make it yourself. My first port of call for this was some of the old rulebooks and sourcebooks for the game which had great sections in the back showing you how to make certain types of terrain from the entire of Helm’s Deep to something as small as stone walls and standing stones.
If you’d like to be a little bit more adventurous then you can check out this site, Lord of the Rings Scenery Builder. They have done some epic projects and even provided little tutorials to help you with making your own. I particularly like the titanic Argonath and the steps leading up into the heart of Moria.
When it comes down to it there are a lot of different options that might not be readily apparent when it comes to making Middle-Earth terrain. Because the world is rooted in a deep sense of history thanks to Tolkien you can draw from a lot of different places to make your gaming boards pop. While places of the Elves might be very high fantasy the rest of Middle-Earth is very in keeping with the Medieval and Dark Age eras of history in Europe so you should be fine.
If you’ve made any amazing Middle-Earth terrain I want to see it so please let me know in the comments!