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Posts from the ‘terrain building’ Category


Frostgrave terrain on the table.

Winterwillow and Mooncrow have returned to the ruins of Frostgrave seeking treasure.

Winterwillow and Mooncrow have returned to the ruins of Frostgrave seeking treasure.


KublaCon2016 gave my friends and I a great opportunity to pool our terrain collections and play some Frostgrave.  I’m not going to go into a full battle report as there were a number of them and I don’t recall all the details.  I’m just delighted with how good the terrain and figures look on the table and not just my own stuff.  All my friends, at all skill levels, have made good looking warbands, imaginative terrain, and it all looks great together.


One of the battlefields ready for treasures to be deployed

One of the battlefields ready for treasures to be deployed


Brian M. has made some great walls and risers from insulation foam that is very versatile.

Love how our group's pieces all work well together. Really expands the collection at get togethers.

Love how our group’s pieces all work well together. Really expands the collection at get togethers.


The close ups are fun and make me want to work on some narrative photography at home.  Yet another way to play with painted toys.


Grabbing an early treasure.

Grabbing an early treasure.

Archers cover the crossroads shooting down a wizard but not before he summoned a demon.

Archers cover the crossroads shooting down a wizard but not before he summoned a demon.

"Looks clear. Send Lynx the thief up the ladder for a treasure and clear field of view.

“Looks clear. Send Lynx the thief up the ladder for a treasure and clear field of view.”

Lynx can see the demon being summoned in a far courtyard. This is just got a lot tougher.

Lynx can see the demon being summoned in a far courtyard. This is just got a lot tougher.

Not easy to get to but I'm thinking a teleport spell will help.

Not easy to get to but I’m thinking a teleport spell will help.

Another tough one to claim but exactly what I designed the terrain piece for.

Another tough one to claim but exactly what I designed the terrain piece for.


Lady Mooncrow and her Templer guard follow the hounds into the ruins.


I’ve got a few ideas of what I want to build next and I still have a couple of Matt’s unfinished houses to problem solve.  I do think I need to come up with some hill sized rubble piles as well as smaller ones for scatter.  In addition, I am still trying to figure out how to add more vertical height to the battlefields.  Then there is the Breeding Pits supplement that will introduce Gnolls and underground terrain due any day now.  Seems there will be any number of new projects to work on.


Taking aim, can just see the head of that apprentice upstairs.

Taking aim, can just see the head of that apprentice upstairs. Zap!



Frostgrave Terrain- Fourth Work In Progress


Finished the statue


Now I need a central fountain


The  statue painted up in minutes, no surprise there.  I used Games Workshop patina on all of the metal parts and highlighted in silver when it dried. Some staining, weathering on the stone work and it was done.  Now to get some fountains and troughs. Got to have cover from all those bow carrying underlings.



Not only is there room for miniatures but a player can access the space from two sides. Great sniper position as well.


I painted the interior of the stone building first.  Once this was done I could enclose it and finish off the roof, the interior of which I also prepainted.  Then it was a matter of working my way from one building to the next keeping my work neat to minimize clean up though some mess just made for nice distressing.  A wide, flat brush is a must for this with smaller flats for the trim.  The rougher masonry was painted with an old, beat up flat as were the shingles.


Colors coming along

Colors coming along


In addition to using different colors on the building fronts I tried to break up the colors of the interiors.  It may have no effect on the game but I like the look. It just gives it more of that lived in look or formerly lived in as the case may be.  The rubble was the most time consuming to paint because in addition to soaking up the paint there always seemed to be a part I missed.  Everything got a coat of a base color and highlighting though I still want to add more weathering in future.




If it didn’t become bridge or ladder then it’s rubble.


Careful, that last step is a doozy.


Not sure that decking looks safe to walk on.


I just love how the resin door adds fun detail. I’ll have to watch for more of those.


The rubble on the ground floor is mostly flat to accommodate the miniatures.


Not the healthiest looking grasses.


I finished the long row off with my own mix of flocking and tufts of brown grasses.  So far this is the piece I’m most excited about using in games.  It just has so many opportunities for cinematic moments and dramatic duels.  It also fills the last open space in my second “Frostheim” terrain box.  I’m either going to have to start a third box or reorganize what I have.  Who am I kidding? I’m going to reorganize into three boxes because I know how much more stuff I’m working on, like the columned ruins, and my modified Witchfate Tor.



The finished long row from the front.


The complete long row from behind.






Columned Ruins

Basic but very usable for multiple genre's.

Basic but very usable for multiple genre’s.


I have been going through my collection of unfinished terrain projects with an eye for things usable in Frostgrave.  With KublaCon coming up in Burlingame, CA at the end of May I have a self imposed deadline.  Among a number of things I came upon a set of resin columns with base and extra broken pieces.  I recall picking them up years ago at a convention flea market with the idea of adding them to my Tomb Kings Necropolis collection but they will really work with a number of different games.  I found some plywood ovals that looked close in size and thickness to the resin base big enough to glue a couple the broken column pieces to each.


The resin base I was trying to match.

The resin base I was trying to match.


The tiles on the original were of varying thickness so found a couple different sheets of rough cardboard and cut them into one inch squares to match.  I then coated a wood oval with Tacky Glue and started gluing them into place.


Had my cardboard squares of various thicknesses divided out and ready to go.

Had my cardboard squares of various thicknesses divided out and ready to go.


I didn’t worry too much about overlapping the edges as I was going to trim them later.  I tried to scatter the thicker ones randomly across the surface.



The base covered and glue drying

I left the bases to dry over night so they would be solid when I tried trimming them.



With the edges trimmed it is starting to look pretty good.


As always, sharp blades are essential so I changed mine regularly.  Once the bases were trimmed they were ready for details to be attached.  I am going call the piece the columns sit on a plinth just to avoid confusion in this post.  The original plinths looked like they had been cut from the extra thick foam core.  As I don’t have any of that I doubled up regular foam core and used light weight wall patch to seal the edges and add texture. Inspired by a friend’s experimentation with insulation foam I decided to use some of the blue stuff to make my scattered bricks.  Again, very sharp blades make all the difference between success and frustration.  As with the tiles I made pile of these as well as bigger pieces to play the part of large marble slabs.  These larger parts were also coated with wall patch for stone texture.



Bases ready to go with resin columns, broken parts, and plinths divided between them.


Blue foam makes nice blocks and rubble.


Tried for a mix of heights and details.


Really wanted them to block line of sight and movement.


Hmmm, all this bare foam will need brush on primer.


I really didn’t need to put in so much effort on the base when most of it ended up covered.


Looks ready for primer and paint.


With everything glued together it is time to paint them.  Since the propellants used in spray paint will dissolve styro foam and my airbrush isn’t set up yet I went with brush on primer.


Frostgrave Terrain- Third Work In Progress

I like the Wooden Wars soldier peeking from the third floor window.

I like the Wooden Wars soldier peeking from the third floor window.


I knew I’d regret not cutting out all the windows before I started gluing everything together and the tower proved me right.  Of course as an expected hassle it wasn’t too frustrating but, sadly, I have enough wisdom to know I’ll make that mistake again.  Oh well, chalk it up to spontaneity.  I did get to use a resin doorway I had picked up in a collection on eBay ages ago for the covered stairway.


Roof will have to wait.

Roof will have to wait.


Began building the covered stairway on the end of the pass through.  I think I can avoid building all the stairs though the area right at the top will show through the doorway so I will have to think of something before I glue the roof on.  That will have to wait until I’ve finished painting the interior so I still have some time to contemplate.  Added some walls and rubble to the back of the long row which really helped get it closer to painting.  Used up an old pack of “green stuff” to sculpt the stone arch.


Still need some roofs but it is ready for color.

Still need some roofs but it is ready for color.


Been making more ladders and bridges as well.  Little personal victory when I realized that two end bits of scrap could be turned around and turned into a broken board.


Watch your step

Watch your step


I’m sure that’s safe


Looks like it’s right off an old Hollywood set


Practically designed for soldiers to plummet from.

More Bridges drying

More Bridges drying


While working on the long row I finished painting the second building.  I would have added a great deal of rubble for looks but it would have interfered with the gaming uses which defeats the point really.  In the end I did add a little flock, as a compromise, to break up the surface of the floors.  Now it just looks like a well kept ruin.



Really have to get more of those Mordheim doorways


Just enough stairway left to get to the second floor.


Not too bad, all in all.


While cleaning out the closet I came upon a number of forgotten projects.  One is a bunch of resin columns and the other is an extra statue from the Gardens of Morr from Games Workshop whose original purpose I can’t recall.  Now it will join my terrain collection.


First coats of color

First coats of color but far from done.




Frostgrave Terrain- Second Work in Progress

Really glad I cut off the roof to insert another floor.

Really glad I cut off the roof to insert another floor. The deck is coming along nicely.


Once the third floor had been added I began working on the deck and exterior stairway in earnest.  Got in the new flooring quickly as well as the roof of the middle building.  The pass through on the far end got much of it’s exterior glued on and it’s floor in.  I know I’m going to regret not cutting open the windows on that building before I started gluing things together.  I want to build a covered stairway along it’s exterior side but that is still in the conceptual stages.  If I do it right I won’t have to actually make more stairs just the box they are inside.



Just enough flooring to move miniatures along.


Got the side and back of the pass-through attached so I could work on that floor as well.


Back view of the Long Row.


To break up the front of the tall building on the long row I used the same stirring sticks as the floors on the exterior.  Of course I thought of that after attaching the balcony (sniper’s nest) so had to work around that.



Going to be a great location to place a treasure token on.

Stairs installed along the

Stairs installed along the outside wall.


Okay, this end is just about ready for paint.


The First Building is done and sealed.  Heck, at the time of this writing it is already put away in the big plastic box in the garage with the bridges and ladders.



Nice result though the blank wall over the ground floor doorway might need a painting or sign or name…something.

Three usable levels though I should have added stairs. What? I like stairs.

Three usable levels though I should have added stairs. What? I like stairs.




Frostgrave Terrain- First Work in Progress


The Long Row gets timbers and a fancy plastic window. Looks like Banksy has been drawing stairs on the wall.


Here’s the opening stages of the one I call First Building.  Not very snappy, I know, but it is an accurate description.



Base coats done.


Such a calming blue interior.


The one I think of as Building Two simply because it was the second one I started working on.  Not sure why but the hole at the bottom of one of the walls didn’t work for me so I patched it up with some lightweight spackling compound.  One of the criteria for the first couple of buildings was that I wouldn’t have to do much construction and could go straight to painting.  As I was already spending the time patching a wall I didn’t see any harm in adding a little more detail but did compromise by making a partial stair.


Wall patched and broken stairs installed.

Wall patched and broken stairs installed.

The colors are inspired by one of the original cardboard Mordheim buildings.

The colors are inspired by one of the original cardboard Mordheim buildings in my collection.


The Long Row is going to take a lot of planning and work but I think it could become a wonderful piece and add verticality to our battle fields.  I started by rearranging some of the interior walls to make room for stairs, glued in foamcoare where the floors would be as well as gluing the entire thing to a piece of thin plywood.  Narrow, wooden coffee stirring sticks make wonderful flooring but have no strength so get glued on top of the foam core.  The ends of the planks extend past the edge of the foam core which will be painted in dark colors helping with the illusion.



Floor is glued in and drying as are the stairs.


Once the stairs dried they were glued in at the same time as the back wall section.


I use Tacky Glue for everything because it works on all the materials I’m using, the thickness greatly reduces oozing, and it cleans up with water.  It also remains a little flexible after it dries which I find adds durability to terrain pieces.  I used scraps, off cuts, and found items to build most everything but especially the bridges/ramps and ladders which are assembled largely from the scraps left from working on the buildings. One can never have too many of these items so I will be making many more of them in future.  I even have a short bridge AronBC made and gave me to add to the collection.  I put improvised railings here and there to look good and maybe reduce figures sliding off.  Think I’m going to have to glue some skulls and shields to some future constructions.




Two nine inch long bridges.


Twelve inch long bridge


A second twelve inch long bridge.


Some ladders plus a six inch bridge Aron gave me.


After struggling with how I would gable the roof to make a platform for the exterior stairs I planned to build I realized most of my problems would be solved if the end building was just another floor taller.  So I cut off the roof and glued in another floor.  Not only did this give me more height and two more windows to shoot out of but the end of the attic was screaming for a balcony.  You just can’t have too many odds and ends for figures to fire from or be shot off of in my opinion.


I decided the left side really needed another floor added.

I decided the left side really needed another floor added.


A wide flat brush combined with a wet palette makes short work of the bridges and ladders.  Good thing I’ve got plenty more scrap to build more.  We are going to need them.


BridgesDone2 BridgesDone1





Building a ruined city

Anyone looking for a game of Frostgrave?

Anyone looking for a game of Frostgrave?

My gaming group’s growing interest in Frostgrave was just the excuse I’ve needed to get back to building terrain, especially ruined city pieces.  Ever since the days of Mordheim I’ve loved not only the concept of warbands exploring the ruins of a fantasy city but also creating the pieces that will help illustrate said metropolis.  With plans to combine them, I had assembled the parts to both of Games Workshop’s Witchfate Tor and Ruined Tower models quite some time ago and then set them aside, other projects being prioritized.  In addition, a friend had given me a box full of partially assembled buildings that he and his kids had been working on until their interest drifted from Mordheim. There were some pieces that were really promising and I have pulled them out of the box more than once to contemplate what they might become.



Just about finished but needs some clean up.


Will make a nice terrain piece on it’s own.


This may end up the ultimate sniper’s roost.

I started by dusting off and cleaning up the tower sections I had set under the table after priming them black.  I began painting from the top because I figured the top section alone would make usable terrain while I worked my way down to the base.  I love these kits for the thickness of the walls, ease of assembly, full interiors, and wonderful details. This is really Games Workshop at their best and being such is covered in skulls.  Many of them I decided to paint as stone details but there are several places where they look cooler as real bone.  The alcove candles comes to mind.



Rusty but secure gate.


More windows for Ryan to hide archers behind.


I love how the broken floor pieces can be glued together to make a solid floor.


The two pieces stacked together are already offering height to the battlefield.  Four more floors and it will be perfect for the Silent Tower scenario.



Might still need more weathering when they are all done.


I like the red book in an alcove


Lots of battlefield potential already.


My friend and his kids were using foamcore, balsa wood, and some architectural details from Games Workshop to build their structures.  They were in early stages but had tons of potential.  I decided to start with the smaller, simpler ones as a sort of warm up.



Simple but the balcony really adds versatility.


Three floors is a great start


The Mordheim plastic door frame is a nice touch.


I like the wooden floor quite a bit but think the interior needs a little work.

I call this one the Long Row

I call this one the Long Row

I started drawing my own ideas onto the surface right away.

I started drawing my own ideas onto the surface right away.


There are a few more in the box I haven’t photographed yet but I will do so before I start cutting and gluing.  The piece that looks like the front of a small chapel is intriguing and the massive “Lodge” has my imagination spinning.  In addition I stumbled upon an old resin ruined columned temple I had forgotten about.  I better get cracking, KublaCon isn’t that far away.


Five candles means the fifth floor, right?

Five candles means the fifth floor, right?


Crusader Keep

Before and After

It is clear where the stain stops. That’s just the bare foam on the right side.


I received a classic Hudson and Allen Tower Keep not long ago and as I am attempting to only store new finished terrain decided to paint it right away.  I have one I painted years ago in dark greys so wanted to do something different with this one, maybe go lighter.  Necron99 was looking at it and noted that with the warm brown color the foam had turned over the years it really only needed a stain and highlight.  Since the color would make nice base for ivory or tan I decided to test his theory.


First stage done

First stage done


After washing the piece, I began with an even coat of Agrax Earthshade directly on the foam, over the entire surface.  Next I drybrushed with a tan going fairly thick since it was the base coat.


Tan drybrush complete.

Tan drybrush complete.


Stage three was a lighter drybrush of ivory.  The various textures sculpted into different stones really changes the tone of the color.


Three-Ivory drybrush

The details begin to “pop” with a layer of ivory.


I went with a dusting of white as the final highlight to really get the most out of the wonderful textures and details sculpted into the surface.


A dusting of white before taking on the details.

A dusting of white before taking on the details.


I painted the non stone details before using Secret Weapon Washes to weather the tower.


Now that looks like old stone.

Now that looks like old stone.


Well, there you go, Necron99 called it right.  Pretty quick work, all in all.  Might have to add this to the Frostgrave terrain box.


Better get some archers up here quick.

Better get some archers up here quick.


Dwarf Artillery Pieces




Since they are such a good price I had picked up two of Mantic Games’ Dwarf artillery pieces, planning to assemble one of each the Organ Gun and Cannon.  Once my friends and I started playing Kings of War I knew I needed to base them as complete units, besides, the Undead catapults had been so much fun to make and paint.  I started with the same wooden discs I had picked up for the Balefire bases I had made previously and the assembled miniatures to draw the outline of the siege works I wanted my dwarfs to be entrenched in.  I tried to plan for some of the extra bits like powder boxes and beer tankards.  I decided this project was the perfect opportunity to paint and use the ancient flame cannon and crew I’d been saving for years so added them to the queue.



The whole team fits with room for fortifications.


Love the extra bits and details Mantic include on the sprue.


Been looking for an excuse to paint this team for decades now. Good thing they are a perfect fit.


Look even better painted.


Drawing the outline of the siege works


While the machines and crews were being painted it was time to start building defensive positions.  Back in the day, dwarf armies had engineers that could build fortifications so I’ve always liked the idea of hiding my fragile artillery behind defensive works. Yet another project for using up the scraps and clutter on my desk is always a good thing.  I assembled the walls first out of bits of wood and glued planking down where the war machine would be seated.  When the walls were dry, I attached them to the base using cork to help hold them in place. This would also be the foundation for the piled up dirt.



Cork holds up the walls while it all dries.


Trying to keep the planking from looking too neat and even


Double checking that the wheels fit on the boards.


Once the glue had all dried I applied light weight spackling to fill in gaps and add texture.  Then the extra details were glued into place before priming everything white.



Thought the boots with leg bones would work well with the flame cannon considering how many times mine had exploded in the Warhammer days.


Got great hammers ready for trouble.


Lots of room for crewmen.


Cannon balls are the heads of straight pins pushed into the base


Then I painted them up and textured the bases with mixed flocking.  It was while they were drying a thought began forming in the back of my mind.


Ready for habitation

Ready for habitation


Ready for the base


Still needing crew


The units had been through the regular painting process and were waiting to take up residence in their new homes.  The flame cannon crew had been finished before I even started their base as I was so excited to have a reason to work on them.  I had cut the disc bases off of the feet of the miniatures so they could be glued directly to the base.


First the cannon and crew


Move it into place, Lads.

Move it into place, Lads.


Time for drills


Looks pretty good


Mashed the tops of the posts to make them look hammered into the ground


Ready to shoot enemies


Then the Organ Gun and crew were ready to take their posts


Our turn, Boys.

Our turn, Boys.


Like it was custom made


I think they deserve to count as in cover


Taking a range reading




First unit painted and the last base finished but finally it was time for the Flame Cannon crew to move their advanced weaponry into place, preferably without any explosions.


Carefully, carefully! That's volatile stuff.

Carefully, carefully! That ammo’s volatile stuff.


Those boots are what’s left of a clumsier crewman.


The barrel looks suitably singed


Can’t be too careful with these engineer guild contraptions


Looking forward to seeing what this does on the field


Now that I had one of each of the artillery pieces available to my army (the Driller and Behemoth are both Monsters) the earlier thought came to the front of my mind.  What about all the war machines I had already painted? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a couple of empty emplacements for pieces from my finished collection? So I built a couple more siege works with beer steins and weapons handy for any crewman I temporarily assign duty there.


We need to bring in the veteran crews.

We need to bring in the veteran crews.


Accidentally used slightly larger circles but that makes them more versatile.


Beer tankards handy because it is thirsty work.


Even room for figure bases.


Left space open in front as some of my old cannons are low to the ground


More cannon balls


Hmmmm, about the right size for a bombard now that I think about it


So once I saw the power of Indirect Fire used against me by the Kingdoms of Men I knew I was going to need some dwarf bombards of my own and rather than make more bases I think these two will be drafted into use.  Of course that means I have to get and paint some Mantic Jarrun Bombards.  I’m sure I will end up making more of these especially as Kings of War Second Edition recommends 50mm square bases for war machines.  Then again, my attention is already shifting toward Berserkers and Hordes of Bulwarkers so it might not be right away.


Nothing to see over here...

Nothing to see over here, not even sure whose boots those are…

Now go and paint some Bombards, Lad.

Now go and paint some Bombards, Lad.


My Journey to the Spring of Darga One Eye

Some of the most fun I have ever had wargaming involved a multiple year Warhammer campaign.  As I had chosen to run a Dwarf host and had a fair number of units already painted I wanted to work on some themed terrain pieces.  One of my favorite units is my “old school” Ironbreakers that look like knights and decided the first piece I would attempt would be the Sacred Spring of Darga One Eye (the legendary Slayer but more on Dwarf history another time) which these doughty templars seek.  Following is the tale of my own quest to find the spring, foibles and successes both as it really is all about the journey after all.

Guardians of the Spring
“When at first you don’t succeed…” is cliche’ because it is true.  How very frustrating setbacks can be so this is part of my attempt to focus on lessons learned rather than time and materials lost.  Taking a preformed, plastic play set (in this case a Trilobite habitat) and converting it to a water feature suitable for a war-games table seemed a simple matter of “Paint (see above) and Pour”.  Ah how naive and far away that view seems now.  The first lesson learned was that Games Workshop Water Effects ages on the shelf, badly.  The bottle I used was two years old, previously opened and partially used all of which added to the complications that beset me.  Following the directions it took over twice as long for the material to reach solidity and transparency.  That should have been a warning but I am ever so good at hoping for the best.

Ah, such potential...

Ah, such potential…

The next lesson to be gleaned from the chaff was that different brands of synthetic water effects DO NOT mix well.  Heck, you can’t even layer them.  Running low on Games Workshop Water Effects and patience I decided to use Woodland Scenics Water Effects for the remainder of the project as I had always had good results with it.  True to experience the WS’s material cured quickly and clearly with the luxury that it can be poured in deeper layers than the GW.  Unfortunately it also softened the original GW layer turning it white.  This would have been great for a chemical plant or murky swamp (make a note for later experiments) but undermined much of what I hoped to achieve.  I had hoped it would turn clear again but once the changed density of the under layer caused cracks in the upper it was time to pull it all out and try again.  Not surprising, it ripped up the layers of texture and paint requiring me to reseal, re-prime and repaint.  Sigh

First Fish(c)

Hmm, something not working right...

Hmm, something not working right…

After they were glued in and half submerged in Water Effects I liked the Sculpy fish I had created then painted less and less.  Initially force of habit had me using the standard beige clay and adding the silver body and blue details in paint after baking.  The more I looked at them the more they looked like balloons of cartoon fish, like something from a Japanese festival.  Since they had become permanent parts of the water material I dug out I was forced to redo them from scratch anyway.


I have discovered that using silver clay and focusing on the shape rather than details of a fish produces a much better result.  The lack of detail actually lends a sense of motion, which in turn adds to the illusion that these are real fish.


Ready to try pouring water effects, again.

I glued in a mix of grasses along the shallows but wanted to keep the plant life to a minimum as it would be an underground spring in many battles.  I also added more fish than the first run and an eel mostly because I was enjoying sculpting them so much

First pour for the second time.

First pour for the second time.

These close ups nicely show the depth of the water, plant life and even the submerged skeleton of the long deceased dragon slain by Darga.



When the water had reached proper depth it was time to add the spring and ripples.  After experimenting with numerous materials in the end the Liquitex Gloss Heavy Gel seemed the best suited for my bubbling water flow.   It sculpts nicely, holds a shape fairly well and dries completely clear plus being transparent, thick paint, it is easy to move around with a brush.  I am now tempted to get my old fountains and watering troughs out to add a little water using the gel medium but that direction lies madness.

Freshly applied ripples

Freshly applied ripples

An unfortunate and annoying air bubble near the base of the spring (at least I assume that’s what it is) was most distracting until I applied the ripples of gel over it thus rendering it invisible.  I used a putty knife to apply the gel to the surface of the “cone” and a well watered brush to shape it into flowing water.  I tried to keep the layers thin to guarantee quick drying as well as transparency.

The waterfall "dry"

The waterfall “dry”

As I am so very fond of the final deepwater effect I have kept the surface ripples to a minimum.  Despite setbacks and frustration I am actually looking toward stream and river sections with eddies and depth as my next water features.  Perhaps there is a masochistic streak in me after all.  Might be best to get to the Dwarven Brewery next.  It is, after all, why they were looking for the spring in the first place and it is half finished. Here are another couple shots of the proud dwarfs.

Guardians of the Spring

Thane Mingolshade and his command squad.

Thane Mingolshade and his command squad.