Sunday, October 5, 2014
So in 2001, I was in the local mall and noticed a painted Fellowship in the store window and asked the sales clerk if he was willing to sell the painted minis as I thought they would look nice in a glass case in my war room. The clerk would not sell the painted figures, but twisted my arm into buying the Fellowship of the Ring box starter set, along with the Fellowship box and the starter paint set. I'm not sure of I regret or rejoice in this decision.
I painted my Fellowship, Goblins, Elves and Warriors of Men as they were then called and even bought some of the metal orcs. I solo played the first few scenarios of the first rulebook, and was reluctantly impressed. It was a good skirmish game, something I never really cared for in my wargaming experience. When I went to the local historical game days, I found that the same people who were playing Napoleonics and SYW were also playing the Strategy Battle Game (SBG). But when I went to the local Games Workshop store, nobody was interested in playing SBG as the teen and twenty somethings were more interested in Warhammer Fantasy and 40K. The people who I played SBG with were my age or older who remember the Glory Years of high fantasy of the 1970s and 80s when AD&D was king and films like Conan the Barbarian with Arnold Schwarzenegger graced the screen.
So when GW's War of the Ring (WOTR) came out, it was the natural progression for me to evolve into mass battles in Middle Earth. But, there were a few things about the system that for me, were not Tolkien. Alessio Cavatore and Rick Priestly, the original creators of SBG, were no longer with GW and did not design WOTR. Alessio (a big AD&D player) even said in an interview that SBG would always be a skirmish system and he had no desire of developing a mass battles game. The designers of WOTR, Matt Ward and Jeremy Vetock, were from the Warhammer department at GW and not part of the original SBG design team. What they did was incorporate the SBG stat lines to some new ideas they were working on for Warhammer Fantasy. WOTR was in essence a Beta for Warhammer Fantasy 8th Edition.
Now I do enjoy WOTR or else I wouldn't be playing, but I have found that most of all the things I find wrong with the system come from Warhammer Fantasy.
Here are some things that in my personal opinion should not be in WOTR:
Orc Shamans - Orcs can cast spells? What? Where is that in Tolkien? They are supposed to be the cannon fodder weaker servants of the Dark Lord. Warhammer Fantasy incorporates a lot of magic and the shaman comes directly from Fantasy. Magic is supposed to be subtle in Middle Earth, or else Gandalf, Elrond, and Galdriel could have easily marched into Mordor, destroyed Saruman and his armies and the One Ring along with it. The shamans give to much magic ability to the evil side, and I don't use them in my games.
Dwarf Rangers - This is the ultimate oxymoron. A ranger is one who patrols the borders and forests and lives off the land. Tolkein's dwarves delved deep in the mountains mining gold and precious gems. I will never field dwarf rangers.
Isengard Trolls - GW insists on giving every evil army a monster of some sort. Since Tolkein never mentions Saruman employing monsters, GW took it upon themselves to add trolls to the Isengard army. I prefer every army being unique and using the strategy and tactics of their inherent units to defeat overwhelming odds. For me, Isengard trolls are right out.
King's Champion - Again the need for monster type in an army and another mechanic from Warhammer that has no place in Middle Earth. You mean to tell me that Durin or Thror need someone to fight their battles for them?
Vault Warden - Aside from not being mentioned in Tolkein, the cost of the models themselves make it unrealistic to have a player field one company let alone two in a formation.
Named Ringwraiths - Giving each ringwraith an additional special ability makes them too powerful for their cost and can make lower point games unplayable. This is because Warhammer has the Gods of Chaos and the desire of each to have their own special ability. I play that each ringwraith has the generic stat line and knows all the Spells of Dismay and Darkness with a Mastery level of 3. The only difference for the Witch King is Might 3. Yes, I know Tolkein mentions Khamul the Easteriling, but this doesn't mean each ringwraith has to be named and have a special ability.
Epic Heroes - Warhammer is all about Lords and Heroes and is big part of the game. Tolkein's Middle Earth had it's share of heroes, but not entire armies made out of them. Yes each formation should get a captain, which coming from a historical gamer background makes sense to me. But, if a "power gamer" bring the Nine are Abroad, Sauron, trolls, and just a few orc formations, the Kingdoms of Men will never have a chance. I have a house rule of one Epic Hero for every 1000 points. This way you can field plenty of formations to eat up hits of the powerful epic heroes such as Sauron.
Tolkein's Middle Earth is a very rich gaming environment and I disagree with many Warhammer players that the universe is too limited. Much like historical gaming, it requires a little research into what Tolkein wrote to get a feel for battles in Middle Earth. I guess this is why more historical gamers are attracted to SBG and WOTR than Warhammer players who they feel that they are limited and can not make up their own narratives without worrying about not following cannon material.
I think there is room for both types of players, and I have nothing against anyone who plays both systems. But there is a divide between the Warhammer side of GW and the Middle Earth side and it is rare to find someone who plays both. This is why I prefer to play WOTR at historical gaming circles and stay clear of Games Workshop stores and events.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
|The initial set up.|
Rohan won priority for Turn 1 and quickly moved the Oathsworn Bowmen into the woods to take advantage of the defensible terrain. The rest of the army moved up alongside them to keep the army in line. Isengard then moved Vrashu's Talons and the Uruk-Hai Scout Bowmen up on the hill and pushed the wargs along the left side to exploit Rohan's right flank. Vrashku's Hunters anchored the right flank by moving into the woods.
|Beginning of Turn 2.|
On Turn 2 Rohan moved the Dismounted Outriders into the building and moved up the rest of the infantry. Isengard pushed up the Uruk-Hai in the center and moved up the wargs on the left. The Shoot Phase began causing casulties on both sides with the Rohan Bowmen in the woods losing a company. Since the Isengard player retained priority, they charged the Oathsworn Militia with Lurtz and his Uruk hai Warband. Lurtz declared a Heroic Duel and easily killed the Rohan Captain. The ensuing Fight Phase proved inconclusive with both sides taking casualties and Rohan rolling a Steadfast result on the Panic test.
|Uguk leads the Uruk-hai against the Oathsworn Militia.|
On Turn 3, Ugluk's Raiders came out of the woods on their right flank to block the Rohan Royal Guard from charging the Uruk-Hai Phalanx who was already opposed by Grimbold's Helmlingas. Ugluk's Raiders lost the fight and became disordered on the Panic test. Lurtz and his Uruk-Hai charged the Oathsworn Militia taking out two companies who then became disordered on the Panic test.
|Ugluk's Raiders lost the fight and went disordered.|
|The Uruk-hai bezerkers flank Grimbold's Helmlingas.|
On Turn 5, the Uruk Hai Bezerkers charged the Royal Knights suffering three casualties, but killing the other Royal Knight Company. The Uruk-Hai Phalanx charged Grimbold's Helmlingas taking them down to one company.
On Turn 6, Eomer thought it would be best for him to move to the Oathsworn Militia formation and regroup with Grimbold and the remaining Royal Knight company. The Oathsworn Bowmen on the Rohan left flank decided to move to reinforce the center. The Uruk-Hai scouts charged the woods defeating the remaining Oathsworn Bwomen company. On the far right of the Rohan army, Sharku's Hunters engaged in a series of fights with Elfhelm's Riders, with Elfhelm killing Sharku in a Heroic Duel, but Elfhelm and the rest of his riders were killed in the ensuing fight.
Om Turn 7, Ugluks Raiders took refuge on the woods, so the remnants of Erkenbrand's Riders decided not to pursue and headed across the field to assist Eomer. The Royal Guard charged Ugluk's Raiders in the woods, but lost the combat due to the defensive terrain bonus.
|The remnants of Erkenbrand's Rider's move to finish the Uruk-hai.|
|Eomer charges what's left of Sharku's Hunters.|
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
For those who are just coming upon this blog, The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game or SBG is a skirmish level game initially intended to re-create the journey of the Fellowship of the Ring and the attempt to destroy The One Ring. SBG was re-branded when Games Workshop renewed the license to produce miniatures for The Hobbit movie trilogy which follows Thorin and Company in their quest to retake Erebor. The Hobbit SBG is compatible with the profiles from Lord of the Rings (LOTR) SBG and has gained popularity for points match and tournament style play that came about with the army books released in 2012.
War of the Ring was designed to fight the large scale battles of Middle Earth. Gamers became frustrated using a skirmish game to fight battles with large armies such as The Battle of Dagorlad or Pelennor Fields, so Games Workshop finally released a mass battles system in 2009. War of the Ring or WoTR modified the profiles from SBG with simple mechanics for the larger amount of models. Infantry companies were based on special movement trays with eight infantry models to a tray and two cavalry models.
But only three years after its release and the rising cost of metal, Games Workshop decided to take their product in a new direction with the introduction of finecast resin to replace metal blister packs. The plastic models were repackaged from 24 or 20 model infantry boxes to 12 or 10 model boxes to coincide with the SBG warband rules. Two years later, Games Workshop decided to drop support for War of the Ring and no longer carries the core rules or infantry movement trays.
For many of us, it took a few years to collect armies large enough to play War of the Ring. Now that we have the models and are comfortable with the rules system, it is up to us to continue the game through the online community. I will be documenting my collecting, building, painting, as well as providing battle reports.
For me, the near term for WoTR will be to fight a map campaign with several other gamers of Isengard's invasion of Rohan in the opening campaign of the War of the Ring. Once the Rohan campaign is over, the next goal will be to continue with Mordor's invasion of Gondor. There are future goals such as fighting the Second Age Wars of the Elves and Sauron and the early Third Age War of the Dwarves and Orcs.
For now, join me as Saruman is building an army worthy of Mordor and Theodred, son of King Theoden has heard of an evil taking hold at the ancient fortress of Isengard