Sunday, 23 March 2014

A side trip to Middle Earth

Well, this is something new! We'd never played a Lord of the Rings game at the Hamilton Road Gaming Group - at least, not since I'd been part of the crowd. So a week ago Saturday, Orcs, Uruk-hai, Southrons, Elves, Men of Gondor, and Dwarves of the North took the field. No magic was used and there were not "heroes" either. That, of course changes the complexion of the game. The GW LOTR game is heavily hero- dependant and to play without them makes for an interesting game, although it becomes a straight-forward hammering of one side on the other. In the books (so call me a stickler for what Professor Tolkein wrote), heroes are important, but the fighting is done my just plain folks for the most part.


Steven, Rob, and Kevin captained the Good side while Andy, Martin, and I led the vile legions of the Dark Lord.

Mordor orcs... which I had the joy of commanding
Men of Gondor with knights of Dol Amroth included.
Rangers of Ithilien. These are Rob's figures.
Captains of Gondor
Uruk-hai pikes who proved tougher than most.
 The Evil side moved in a general advance which was met my the Good side holding fast for the most part. The Rangers shot up my Southron unit and then started on the orcs next to them. For my part on the left of the Evil line, I felt it was best to press on through the arrow storm rather than return fire for the most part. At lot depended on which side got the initiative. It usually wasn't me and my side.

My Mordor orcs and the Uruk-hai of Isengard take the advance.
More Uruks
The Rangers begin to advance and lap around my far left.
The surviving Southrons and their captain take a stand against the Rangers.
"Sure are a lot of them, aren't there?"
The two side met in the middle with some archers from Gondor firing overhead at the back ranks of the Evils. Through a quirk in the rules a second supporting rank gives support to the front rank BUT is not considered to be "in combat" so they are legitimate target for archers. (A third rank actively supports if they third is pike armed.) Since the Good folk had more bows than us Evilers, they kept up a hot fire over the head of their troops and our first rank. This meant we kept taking casualties fore AND aft. Since individual figures can be targeted, the early firing of the Good folk keyed on our archers.

Gondor presses home the fight at sword's point.
The Mordor orcs take on their weak chins and prominent noses.
The orcs did somewhat better against the dwarves.
The Uruk-hai standard and pikes.
The Mordor orc standard in the unit opposing the dwarves.
The melee gets worse in the stream. That's my last Southron there with the standard.
The Rangers break through! Only a handful of orc arches are there to oppose them!
By the end of the battle, my flank had collapsed and Steven ran rough-shod over what was left. Martin and Kevin were at almost a standstill on the right between the orcs and the dwarves. In the centre, Andy had smashed the Gondor centre and was pushing them back. However... we Evilers had taken enough casualties to require a morale throw... which we failed. A morale throw for each and every orc or Uruk was to be taken and the forces began to melt away. So we called it a drawn battle since our over-all morale had failed but the centre of the Free People's army had been shredded and shredded badly. We lost on morale; they lost on the strategic situation.
Here's the issue - without heroes, the game becomes a slugging match until someone fails morale. At that point, the battle field situation makes no difference at all. With heroes, the armies are little more than supporting cast.
Personally, I'm not sold on the game system, but I'd play it again. (Could you call it "Warhammer Light"? Less calories, less taste, less time required, less options to be considered.)

The Rangers move quickly to take advantage of the collapse of the Evil left flank.
"See this sign? It means 'Stop'! I've got a cease-and-desist order here somewhere..."
The Mordor orc captain attempts to hold the entire Gondor advance by himself.
Uh... no.
A broader view of the same fight.
"Arr! We beez 'holdin' 'em back, just uss'ens! We can do it!"


  1. A visual feast of LOTR goodness. I played the GW rules a lot when my son was younger and found them ok for skirmish game - I actually liked the treatment of heroes in those rules. I have GW's War of the Ring for larger scale actions but have never tried it. Still have a LOT of LOTR figures in my collection, too.

  2. I'm glad you liked the look of the game. It was impressive. I'd play the system again and I agree with you - it works better as a skirmish game. All the figs we brought - rangers and warriors of Gondor - were Rob's.