The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game
Middle Earth: the Strategy Battle Game, A.K.A. The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, A.K.A. The Hobbit: Strategy Battle Game, AKA Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game is GW's third-biggest game, based on, you guessed it, The Lord of the Rings. It has a skirmish-style character reminiscent of 40k, but it turns into one hell of a clusterfuck and it slows down a lot in large scale games if you're not careful (remember this is a skirmish game with you making decisions on each individual model at times). It can be played at under 400-500 points for a quick fun game, but playing at around 800 points will let you bring some of the big toys (such as Monsters or Wizards), without weakening your main battle line.
Back in 2001 (you may feel old now), the famous kiwi director Peter Jackson did what was thought for decades to be impossible: turning J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings books into movies. Ending up as a 10+ hour long behemoth of a trilogy, it made more money than a battle barge filled with Slaaneshi whores. GW, having a keen nose for when someone makes more money than they do, approached New Line Cinema (the film studio behind the movies), Italian publisher Deagostini (famous for publishing collector's items and DIY kits, subscription-based and once piece at a time over the span of years), and Tolkien's heirs in one of the biggest crack-conspiracies this side of Snowflame: make that shit into a tabletop strategy game. The principal writer of this game was a certain Matthew Ward, who started out at GW as a writer of LOTR, and would later go on to gain great infamy as a Spiritual Liege in the 40K universe.
So back in the day of 3rd edition and 6th edition, the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game took the world by force. What's surprising is that there's a lot of plastic to go around, and you used to get a shit ton of dudes (20-24 models compared to 40k's 10-16 per basic troop choice) in the boxed set. Yes, there's quite some metal and finecast to go around, but it's surprisingly cheap to make yourself a LotR SBG army. One obvious downside is there isn't much customization with the LOTR miniatures, but that's the trade-off for not having to sell your liver to get into this game.
With the Hobbit movies dragging everyone's fat asses to the cinemas this game looks like it's making a comeback! With new rules being published by GW again, and GW and FW both putting out more models as a new edition aptly called "Middle Earth: the Strategy Battle Game" was released. If you've been hankering to play any of those cool-ass armies, now's probably a good time to get started.
Really? Fine. It's Lord of the Rings. Everything and everywhere from the Battle of the Last Alliance to the Scouring of the Shire. That's about it. Well and all of GW and Peter Jackson's fetish stuff. It should be noted that there is A LOT more stuff in this game than appeared in the movies, and in some cases liberties has even been taken with the lore for the sake of cool shit like unique Nazgûl.
Also, yes, there is a model for Tom Bombadil. He's sort-of OP as fuck but also not really.
Army building in LotR SBG is pretty easy. Choose an Army to select all your Heroes and Warriors from, each army will also have a juicy Army Bonus if your force isn't using certain allies. Start with a Hero and give him a retinue of (usually) about 12 Warriors. Rinse. Repeat. Certain Heroes can't have warbands and are taken as solo models, some are Minor Heroes who can only take up to 6 warriors, whilst others are Legendary, taking up to 18 (Sauron and the Goblin King can take up to 24 but they're special). Each warband is treated as a group for deployment but become individual models after that. Note that you don't have to completely fill out a Hero's group before you move on to another. Once you have all your Heroes (and their respective warbands) choose one to be your army's Leader; your Leader must have the highest Heroic Tier in your army, and if there are multiple heroes with the top tier than you can choose which to take as your Leader. Most lists can only have 1 in 3 models with bows, but several lists have special rules that change this (the Serpent Horde and Azog's Hunters have a 1 in 2 ratio while Riders of Rohan don't count towards the limit).
You can also ally multiple armies together, so long as they share being Good or Evil. Each army must have separate warbands (so no Bilbo leading a dozen Ents) and have their own Bow Limit. Different armies will have different ally statuses with one another which are found on an Ally Matrix. There are three types of alliance: Historic Alliances, which represent actually alliances that happened in either the books or films (eg. Lothlorien and Rohan), in this case both armies keep their Army Bonus. Convenient Allies are alliances that COULD have happened but didn't (eg. Isengard and Far Harad), in which both armies lose their Army Bonus but nothing more. Last you have Impossible Allies which represent alliances that couldn't have happened (eg. Angmar and Sharkey's Rogues), in this case you not only lose your Army Bonus but each allied forces has it's own break limit and can't benefit from another allies Stand Fast! or banner.
The supplements have added another way to make an army with Legendary Legions. These are more restricted army lists that are built to represent particular armies in Middle Earth's history (eg. Faramir's rangers of Ithilen, or Théoden's forces defending Helm's Deep). In return you get some special army bonuses that make your army feel more fluffy as well as perform better on the board. Unfortunately not all armies have Legendary Legions available to them (as of writing there are only three supplements available) but as more supplements come out this will probably change. They also can't take allies.
The game plays more like 40k's kill team than like WFB: you have models that can move freely from each other, mounted on the same 25/40mm bases 40k uses. The game has four phases: Priority, Movement, Shooting and Combat.
The turn structure in this game is radically different then either of GW's other 2 big systems in that the players don't take turns, but they instead play phase to phase. This turn determines who goes first: each player rolls a D6, the winner goes first. The guy with priority moves his models first, then the other player moves all of his. This system of alternating phases continues through the shoot phase. The player with Priority also decides which combats happen first and who fights whom in the case of multiple models in a single combat. This is rolled again every turn. The only thing that alters this order is if certain models, usually Heroes, use Heroic Actions (which will be talked about more later).
Sometimes certain events for the mission/effects on models take place during this phase as well.
Nearly everything moves 6" in this game: Dwarves and Goblins go 5" (explaining why Thorin and co get captured by Elves but Goblins can't catch them), Hobbits go 4", Cavalry usually goes 10", and various Monsters and fliers go different speeds. Movement is halved in difficult terrain, though certain models are immune to this through a few special rules. Certain kinds of movement (climbing, jumping and so on) require dice rolls: 1 is a failure , 2-5 is regular success and the gap/ledge is crossed but the model can't move any farther that turn, a 6 is a success and the gap/ledge is crossed and the model can continue moving up to its move value.
Charging takes place in this phase as well and uses your regular speed: if you're not charging you are to remain 1" from the enemy. Throwing weapons can be used even if you charge, and you stop 1" away from target to use them: if you kill your target you may freely charge another target within your remaining movement.
Most kinds of magic are cast in this phase as well: spend a Will point (more on this later) and roll a D6 against a spell's value: if it's equal or higher than the number the spell is cast.
If you want to shoot, you get to move up to half of your regular movement, rounded down before you shoot. With crossbows and rock-throwing you can't move at all. Shooting is against a static number on your profile, which is unmodified by range or cover. If you do move, you suffer a -1 penalty to your To Hit roll. Models fire one by one, determining who wants to shoot, seeing if the target's in range, rolling To Hit, rolling To Wound all individually. The target may roll any saves it has (rare in SBG), and continue. Cover isn't abstract in this game; if you're in a wood and you want to be in cover you must be behind a tree. Cover saves work by forcing the shooter to make "In the Way" tests for each object that obstructs the target. Evil models can shoot into combat but the Good guys won't risk their own models. Then again they don't bring along meat shields like the baddies do.
Compared to 40k and WFB, shooting is terrible in SBG. Most ranged weapons are only strength 2 or 3, and when you have to roll against a Defence (toughness) 6 you're not going to do that much damage. In this game, it's all about quantity over quality when it comes to shooting. Still funny when your ballista sends a model flying off the objective just before the game ends in the few scenarios that use objectives.
This is where the game gets nasty. Combat is determined by rolling a D6 for every point of Attack you have. The highest roll wins: draws are determined by the Fight value a model has. If the Fight values are the same, roll another d6: on a 1-3 the 'Evil' guy wins, on a 4-6 the 'Good' guy wins. If a model is beaten in combat it is pushed back 1", if it is not killed it stays there. REMEMBER, YOU MUST BACK AWAY ONE FULL INCH IF YOU CAN (FAIR PLAY PLEASE). If you win, you again roll dice equal to your attack: if you meet the To Wound roll (very often a 5+ unless when faced with tough enemies or if your army sucks) the target dies, no overkill. Heroes can influence the outcome via the expenditure of "Might," by buffing the roll by 1 per point of Might expended. Some Heroes can also boost their own Fight value with Might using "Heroic Strike" - useful for if you're fighting characters with the same Fight value as your Hero, allowing you to win draws.
Now, since wounding your targets requires rather high rolls (5+ and 6+), few models tend to die each turn. Games would take a long time if not for for the Break Point rule: the moment more than 50% of your army is dead, your army is broken and models must pass a Courage test before movement. The test is 2D6 + a model's Courage: if this is equal to 10 or higher you pass. If not, that model flees the board. They have to take this test every turn once your army is broken, but if a Hero makes their roll, every non-Hero within 6" of him automatically passes, which especially in armies with low Courage can be a game-saver.
Types of Weapons
Much like both versions of Warhammer, the Middle-Earth: SBG has multiple weapon types to choose from. Typically you use whatever the model is physically armed with, however the big difference is that a "hand weapon" (which most models have) MUST be used as what kind of weapon it's modeled as. In addition, weapons get Special Strikes depending on what they are. These usually involve a certain trade-off such as increased Strength for decreased Defense, or re-rolling 1's at the chance of taking a hit.
Swords/Daggers: If you have a higher Fight value than your opponent you can opt to drop your Fight value by D3 (to a minimum of 1), but get to re-roll 1's To Wound, which can be really useful on stronger models, however you want to be supported by a spear in case you draw on your combat rolls. If you have a lower Fight value than your opponent you can still get the ability to re-roll 1's To Wound, but if you lose the Duel roll you take an additional Strength 2 hit.
Axes/Picks: You can opt to use a Piercing Strike, meaning you reduce your Defence by D3 if you lose the fight, but get 1 extra Strength of you win, for when you can use your Strength to match an opponent's Defence or go two points above it, since both of those allow you to get a more favourable To Wound roll.
Hammers/Maces/Mauls: These give you a chance to knock your opponent prone (which applies a whole slew of penalties) if you win, at the cost of not being able to swing at them.
Clubs/Staffs: Instead of killing you guy you're fighting, you have a chance to the shit out of him and reduce his combat stats through his next combat phase.
Flails/Scourges/Whips: Flails are an odd case; you drop your Fight value to 1, but you get to smack everyone in base contact with you if you manage to win the roll-off.
Spears: These let models support an ally while they are in base contact with them, typically giving them an extra attack, as well as letting you use whichever Fight value is higher in the case of a draw.
Pikes: These do the same as spears, but can support a guy who's already supporting an ally.
Lances: A model with a lance adds 1 to it's To Wound roll on the turn it charges, unless it charged on difficult terrain. If the unit is dismounted they lose the lance.
Two-Handed Weapons: Two-handed weapons are special for two reasons: firstly you get to benefit from all the Special Strikes that one-handed weapons have, unlike spears and pikes. Their second feature is they give you a +1 bonus on your To Wound roll at the cost of -1 to your Duel roll. The increased damage is really nice, but you will have a much harder time getting to utilize said damage.
Hand-And-A-Half Weapons: These give you the option to use them as a two-handed weapon or a one-handed weapon while fighting.
Elven Made Weapons: When the duel is a draw these tip the balance in your favour; for Good forces, instead of a 4-6 win on a roll of you're now winning on 3-6. For Evil it goes from a 1-3 to 1-4 to win. If both models in a Duel are using Elven weapons then neither side receives the bonus.
Master Forged Weapons: If you're using one of these then there's no -1 penalty to the Duel roll for using a two-handed weapon.
Bows: You got a lot of different bows that are specific to each army list, each one with different ranges to hit and Strength to hit with. Elf Bows are relatively popular as they are the most widely available bow for Elf armies that have good range and strength.
Crossbows: Bows with an extra kick, the downside is if they've moved at all they can't fire, unlike bows which the wielder can move up to half their movement and fire at a penalty.
Throwing Weapons: This includes throwing spears, they have the shortest range but make up for it with Strength 3 and the ability to throw it even if they moved more than half their movement. Throwing weapons can be also be used when charging a unit, a good way to soften up a unit before getting in a fight.
Blowpipe: The first thing to take a note of, although they are short range, blowpipes do not count towards the army's Bow Limit. This can give you the options of building a very ranged-centric army, and all blowpipes benefit from the poisoned weapons special rule (re-roll 1's To Wound) and use the same Movement and firing rules as bows.
Slingshot: The weakest missile weapon on the list, you can fire with it twice if you haven't moved, other than that it follows the bow rules regarding moving and shooting.
Banners: You should always take at least one of these. Any Duel within 3" of a banner gives you one D6 to re-roll; this can be done before or after you opponent has rolled their dice to see who wins the duel. Re-rolls must be done before using any might points. Banners cannot be taken into affect if the model is prone so try to keep him safe with a few other units; if at any time your banner carrier is slain, you can pass it to one friendly model that is the in base contact (and not in a fight).
Shields: Shields allow you to use the "Shielding" rule (no surprise there) which let you double your Attacks at the cost of not being able to swing at your opponent if you win. They also increase your Defence by 1 so long as the models carrying them don't have a bow, crossbow, two-handed weapon or pike. The Shielding rule is useful for having your mob units fighting heroes - it gives you more chances to win the fight in exchange for not being able to wound them, and it's great if you're in a situation where you can't make Strikes even if you win the roll.
War Drum: These give your troops the extra push into getting them into combat or securing objectives just that little bit faster. As long as they have the same keywords and are within 12" of a drummer, Infantry move an additional 3" and Cavalry (or flying units) move an extra 5". However, any unit that has been affected by a war drum cannot charge in that turn.
War Horns: If you choose to equip one or more of you units with a war horn, all of your models get +1 to their Courage. Though it may not seem much of difference you will quickly notice how much they can help when you start failing your Courage checks by 1.
Elven Cloaks: Your units get the Stalk Unseen rule; if your model is partially concealed by a piece of terrain then they cannot be seen, denying your enemy from targeting them with shooting, using Magic and special rules if they are more than 6" away from your equipped model.
Your heroes possess special stats, namely Might, Will and Fate. These start with fixed numbers and cannot be regained during battle, aside from a few special rules.
- Might can increase any roll related to a Hero by one point or call Heroic Actions, be it in the movement, shooting or combat phases. Aragorn is notable for having a free point every turn, allowing him to curb stomp pretty much anything thrown at him, especially if he's armed with Andúril. Heroic Actions break priority and are useful if you decide your hero needs to be balls-out awesome that turn. Might, when used correctly, can decide games, but most heroes only get 2-3 points of it so you need to use it carefully.
- Will is used to cast and resist spells and to modify Courage tests. You can use as many as you like to try and cast a spell, though one good roll suffices to cast. Most powerful Wizards (Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel) can use a free point of Will per turn. The Ringwraiths are special in that they start with a LOT of Will (7 in their weakest form, up to 20 for the Witch-king at full power) but lose a point every time they fight in combat and simply disappear if they run out to represent their ethereal, wraith-like nature.
- Fate are one-use saves: on a 4+ you ignore a wound. Sauron equipped with the One Ring has a 2+ save, as if killing him wasn't difficult enough already. Note that Fate Points can be modified by expending Might.
Games of TLotR SBG always take place between two armies: Good and Evil, no exceptions. There is, luckily enough, more than enough flavour to go around divided between the forces, and some very loose rules for allies within each side. For clarification: If both armies are Good or Evil, you just decide who wins ties on 1-3, and who wins on 4-6.
Forces of Good
- Arnor: the last defenders of the northern kingdom. very reliant on their heroes and army bonus and a pretty limited selection of models, but nonetheless some VERY strong combinations and sturdy basic troops.
- The Shire:. Hobbits! Hobbits everywhere! The closest thing the good guys will ever have to meat-shields, Hobbits are slow and barely strong enough to hurt each other, let alone the enemy. They have some amusing heroes (Frodo's post-dropping-the-Ring-into-Mount-Doom form makes for some hilarious trolling) and are surprisingly accurate with their pebble toss attack. LotR SBG is a game where numbers REALLY count as combats are done on a model-by-model basis and having multiple guys in a fight can swing it against even the best in the business, not to mention the fact that they are a really nice filler for other factions: allied to another list (such as Elves) they can be tournament winners. However, you could buy Apple for less than a full army of these guys as they're just so few points, even their most expensive (read: the least cheap) heroes cost less than goblin heroes.
- The Fellowship: A good source of powerful heroes, but they shouldn't all be taken at once if you want to keep friends or play a reasonably point-priced game.
- Rivendell: The High Elves will fuck your shit up. Highly skilled warriors, some of the deadliest heroes in the game, and Cavalry that makes you roll for Anal Circumference. Their obvious downside is their high cost.
- Lothlórien: Though not as tough as their High Elven cousins, the Wood Elves specialise in pissing you off with invisible bows. They have the deadliest archers on the side of Good, they are just as deadly in combat as their High Elven cousins, at the cost of less access to extremely powerful Heroes.
- The Rangers: Dangerous folk they are, until they actually hit the tabletop that is. It's a cool army list and an interesting take at an all Hero army, but while a full list of bow-wielding 2 Attack hunters seems neat, they lack the killing power - and more importantly the durability and model count - other forces bring. They are notable for being absolutely broken in Battle Companies.
- Rohan: Anglo-Saxon Cavalry. If you play Rohan and you don't field your entire army on horseback, you're doing it wrong. You NEED Théoden to make this army work, but when it does man oh man can they cause some pain.
- Minas Tirith: one of the largest armies in the game in terms of options, with highly competitive options laced throughout. Tough, reliable troops with fantastic Heroes, their only downside is some lower Fight values than other Good armies, though there's a multitude of ways to get around that.
- Fiefdoms: A bunch of filthy rural hillmen and badass knights from various small territories who come to Gondor's aid in the third book. They have tons of very specialized warriors that could easily win you the game if you can keep them alive and stabbing the right targets, and Fieldoms have some of the best Good Heroes (Imrahil, Forlong) for competitively low points costs, although they do tend to fall apart quickly if their Heroes die. They would probably be one of the most played armies if most of their models weren't expensive.
- The Kingdom of Khazad-dûm: The Dwarves in LotR are tough. Nearly impossible To Wound with ranged weapons and only killable in combat with lucky hits or Monsters, prepare for long drawn-out battles against Durin's Folk. Costed somewhere in between the Gondorians and the High Elves, Dwarves have the ability to outlast most of their enemies. Fun to note is that though they have become the arch-blueprint of what it means to be a Dwarf, they themselves have models that use swords and bows.
- Númenor Basically one type of warrior and a few Heroes. Warriors of Númenor are pretty much warriors of Minas Tirith that sold their heavy armour for Strength 4. Only named Heroes are Elendil (an absolute war machine) and Isildur (who's also great). Anarion is also mentioned in a rule so he might be added eventually, but for now your only other options are Númenórean Captains.
- Wildmen of Drúadan: Why? No, seriously, why? They have two choices. A named hero with a standard captain profile and a poisoned blowpipe and hates Orcs, Uruk-hai, and Goblins, and a Warrior model who's just like the Hero but with worse stats. Effectiveness aside WHO EVEN ASKED FOR THESE GUYS TO BE INCLUDED?
- The Wanderers in the Wild: These are the Heroes not fitting in with the other armies, including a few Dwarves, as well as Tom Bombadil & Goldberry.
- Fangorn: The good guys source of giant walking monsters, Treebeard and the other Ents are here to smash and stomp their way through anything in front of them with highly Strength, high Defence, three Wounds per model, and Strength 10 ranged attacks. Fortunately you won't have to face more than 3-6 at any one time.
- Misty Mountains: Just a flock of Giant Eagles, fast and powerful but almost always going to be outnumbered.
- Thorin's Company: Like the Fellowship, but with the adventuring party from The Hobbit instead. Can field a truly large amount of powerful but cheap Heroes, and also Bilbo. He gets all the perks of the One Ring (invisibility) with none of the downsides, because Sauron is still in his recovery phase.
- Radagast's Alliance: Eagles, again. Literally even their Army Bonus is the same, though they can now take Radagast (obviously) who's one of the most effective spell casters in the game; and Beorn who's an absolute monster but costs 200 points so use him wisely.
- Army of Thrór: Units are pretty much the same as Kazad-dûm's base warriors but they can take spears in stead of bows. They also have one of the Best Dwarf units in the game both in rules and design.
- Garrison of Dale: Pretty good archers with Elf bows, and they have access to a Windlance.
- The White Council: All of the Wizards. Crazy amounts of magic. Also Galadriel. Holy shit Galadriel. Too bad they only have about ten attacks even in a thousand point army; best used so you can ally in spell casters to other Good armies.
- Thranduil's Hall: Counter's the Elves main weakness by being absolute trolls against horde armies. Has plastic elites but finecast regular Warriors so have fun buying that.
- Army of Laketown: Let's be honest, the only reason you'd buy these is Bard the Bowman and Stephen Fry (now in resin).
- Survivors of Laketown: Your army of angry fisherman, now Bard is the Leader of his people and you get Gandalf and Bilbo too. Your Militia aren't as good at fighting as your Guardsmen are, but they are braver. It works out well as it's easier to buff the Fight value with this army's Heroes than it is to raise Courage in the Army of Laketown.
- Iron Hills Dwarves: Lead by Dain Ironfoot, these Dwarves ride goats & boars into battle, they bring very high Defence, crossbows and siege engines that fire "the old twirly whirlies".
- Erebor Reclaimed: You have all the dwarves from Thorin's company (No Gandalf or Bilbo) but now they've got all the best armour and weapons Erebor's armoury has to offer. They can also get Dain, Iron Hills warriors and Goat Riders.
Forces of Evil
- Moria: Your prime source for Goblins: though not very tough, brave or strong, you will drown your enemies in a green(ish) tide. Don't forget to open up a can or two of trollolo on your enemies; they're not very expensive if you use a few. Remember: heroes can be as cheap as 35 points, so use this. Also includes the Balrog and Dragons, both of whom are incredibly powerful and hard to kill.
- Isengard: Where Hobbits are taken to. The Uruk-Hai are a force to be reckoned with: with Strength 4 they can punch lesser men to death with ease. Their crossbows make them the shootiest force on the evil team, capable of outshooting Elven armies in a straight fight, although the Elves still have the advantage of greater range and maneuverability (damn knife ears). They also have a ton of pikes. Also includes Dunland and Warg Riders.
- Mordor: While not impractically weak like the Moria goblins, Orcs are still weaker than most good warriors and rely on numbers to win the day, unless you start to use the different breeds of Orcs of course. The Morannon Orcs are stronger and better armored, the Mordor Uruk-Hai are as strong and bold as their Isengard cousins, and the dreaded Black Guard of Barad-Dûr can slay lesser Heroes with ease. Not to be overlooked are the Black Men of Númenor, who are a Terror-causing and disciplined, albeit pricey, choice. This list has some brilliant Heroes, including the Mouth of Sauron (who got butchered in the extended run of Return of the King), Gothmog (he lead the siege on Minas Tirith), Shagrat of Minas Morgul and the Nazgûl. Oh baby the Nazgul. You want the named versions, which are pricy but worth it.
- Barad Dur: Supposed to be Mordor in the second age, so basically a shitty Mordor list. You can take Orc Warriors, Black Numenoreans, trolls and Nazgûl but not much else. You're not playing Barad Dur because of its warriors though; you're playing because it's the only army that has Sauron in it. The big man himself costs a whopping 400 points but easily has the second best stat line and the best spells in the game and is practically invincible. Don't be surprised if people flat out refuse to play you if you bring him.
- The Eastern Kingdoms: You might remember these as the guys from the second movie. They are tough, disciplined and have some pretty strong characters, including the Dragon Knights and War Priests who use their outlandish weapons and styles to overcome their enemies. The others, the men of Khand, are basically Mongols. They can also use pikes and shields at once.
- Harad: There are more than a few reasons to take these lists. One: they have Suladân and the Serpent Horde, lightly-armoured warriors with poisoned bows, horses and a lot of friends (exactly the opposite of you once you play a fully competitive Harad list). Two: Watchers of Karna and Serpent Guard spam. Three: the War-Mûmak of Harad (war elephants), who was for a long time the biggest non-terrain model GW has ever made outside of Forge World.
- Far-Harad: Camel cavalry, half-trolls and blowpipes a plenty for these guys, don't worry they still get to bring Mûmakil.
- Umbar: The pirates of Middle-Earth, the Corsairs of Umbar are your range specialists, they can outshoot most other armies with their long range and high damage weapons, and they aren't that bad close up either since they include the dreaded Corsair Reaver.
- Angmar: Gets all kinds of undead. Mix these in to make their opponent's Warriors die, but they are going to get the tables turned on them without support. Enter Cave Trolls and the gloriously cheap and expendable Orcs, and it contains the Shade.
- Sharkey's Rogues: Saruman and Wormtongue with a gang of ruffians and slavers, not many options but fun if you ever wanted to recreate the Scouring of the Shire.
- The Nazgûl of Dol Guldur: The Necromancer and all his Ringwraiths in armoured spirit form. you also get the Keeper of the Dungeons that Galadriel obliterated. You can also take Gundabad and Orc hunters with them but if you want them then you're better off playing one of Azog's armies.
- Azog's Hunters: Orcs, but with twice the attacks. Also has the ability to bring the most bows any Orc force could bring. They have some surprisingly good named captains as well.
- Azog's Legion: Fancy running an army of Orcs who have a bone to pick with Elves and Dwarves? well this is the army for you. Not only will you have heavy Orc Infantry but also access to Goblin Mercenaries, Bats, Ogres, Trolls and Trolls with catapults to really ruin the Good guy's day.
- Goblin Town: For people that find Moria Goblins too elite. Compared to their Moria cousins they trade armor for free spears (but only if they're supporting goblins from the same hood). The hilarious goblin scribe effectively gives you an infinite supply of goblins, which is handy when you have the Goblin King using them as ammo. Their army bonus also lets you take six extra warriors in each warband allowing for even MORE hoards.
- The Trolls: The three idiots who got themselves turned to stone. They are fun to play with in some scenarios and have a few tricks to win fights without even killing the enemy.
- Smaug: Kiss your money, possessions and kidneys goodbye. In model form he's the size of a small dog and almost costs as much, but he's awesome, so much so he's banned from a lot of tournaments even ones hosted at Warhammer world. 700 fucking points.
Taking Allies can be a good thing if your army lacks something that another is more specialised in, but you need to be careful with who you take because you could lose that Army Bonus for not only your army but also your allies. Unless of course that doesn't remotely bother you then feel free to go nuts.
Historical Allies: This allows your forces to keep their Army Bonus. You'll have to take a Hero of Fortitude or lower from each different ally you include.
Convenient Allies: Your army and allies both lose their Army Bonus, however, you can still call heroic actions for either force.
Impossible Allies: All the penalties from Convenient Allies carry on except this time units can't benefit from banners or Heroic Actions or Stand Fast! if they're allied in from another force.
Here's the tactics pages that we have so far:
|Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game Tactics|
|Forces of Good|
|Forces of Evil|
The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game has its own charm over 40k and WFB, mainly due to its setting and smaller scale. Games can turn into mobs pretty fast, but using standard scenarios included in the rules go a long way to prevent that with their specific Victory Conditions. The game also has narrative scenarios, which allow you to recreate parts of the books/movies, such as Balin's Tomb or Weathertop. The new starter set has scenarios to recreate the charge of the Rohirrim outside Minas Tirith and Théoden's fight with the Witch-king. The Battle of Pelennor Fields box set is ideal to learn nearly a metric ton of rules of the game as the content includes characters to master: Heroic Actions, magic, Monsters, Special Strikes, Terror, Cavalry... and so on. The way the turns are played can be off-putting at first to some, but the game can be a lot of fun especially if you have Howard Shore blasting in the background. Try to play the scenarios in the booklet of the starter set while listening to the OST of The Return of the King, you know what I mean...
Books and supplements
- Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game/Rulebook
- Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game/Armies of The lord of the rings
- Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game/Armies of The hobbit
- Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game/Gondor at war
- Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game/Battle companies
- Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game/Scouring of the Shire
- Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game/War in Rohan
- Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game/Matched play guide
- Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game/Quest of the ringbearer
One of the fun aspects of this game is that allows you to have 3 styles of gaming experiences:
- Narrative play: Very funny, well written and sometimes a bit unbalanced in order to recreate the iconic moments you love from the movies or books on the tabletop, for example: Faramir with his heavy armour riding a horse before having a shower of arrows.
- Matched play: The most played one, with awesome tournaments across the world and focused on balance issues, so the meta can adapt depending on the overused/underused profiles/armies.
- Open play: Here you can play your own scenarios, with the models you want without penalties (ex: Elessar with Elendil... why not?) And you can create your own profiles for models you have or have not been released yet (Anarion?)
And even more, you can create your own profiles for Heroes or Warriors that you find a bit lackluster or overpowered compared to what you saw in the movies or the books.