The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game/Tactics/Minas Tirith
Why Play Minas Tirith
Because Minas Tirith is one of the most complete LotR armies in the game, has some amazing models. These are your army if you want to be the Jack of all Trades army who have excellent defense values and AMAZING models. If anything these guys are kind of like your space marine analogues in that they are easy enough to paint, sturdier than your average man, and are the standard example of a 'good guy' in LotR.
- Almost universally high Defense values
- Incredibly versatile on the tabletop
- Multiple amazing heroes
- Has the ability to drop a metric TON of infantry down
- despite low costs very strong statlines, able to pretty easily be as choppy and courageous as elves
- not the best in any one field
- Certain troops can be really expensive
All Gondor units increase their courage by 1, making most units courage 4 and Osgiliath Veterans Courage 5! this also gives heroes +1 courage making them even more resistant to terror.
- Aragorn, King Elessar: Much like his other versions, Aragorn is as great as ever. Now toting a Defense of 7, Anduril base, and the option to take an Armoured horse He's still the beatstick he always is, plus he counts as a 6" banner. However, much like his other renditions, he is super expensive, nearly bordering on unplayable. At his current cost he shouldn't really be brought to any fight lower than 700 points, and even then you have some cheaper options rolling around.
- Faramir, Captain of Gondor: One of those previously mentioned 'cheaper options.' To put it simply Faramir is amazing. at 80 points base and with a metric ton of upgrade options, Faramir can fill any role you need without issue. Factor in his slightly above standard statline and you have an amazing hero that will pull his weight, if not more, in any game you bring him in. With heavy armour, a shield, and a lance+horse you have a character who can smash through infantry, and still cost less than 100 points total. Generally speaking, if you want a solid (but cheap) hero, he's the go-to option. Be careful if you bring his daddy along as if you do, he has to charge an enemy unit if he is able to do so. Although this may not sound like much, if you are outnumbered and playing a defensive technique, his daddy issues will probably ruin your plan.
- Gandalf the White: One of the strongest supporting heroes in the game, with a flexible range of magical powers meaning that he will always be useful in nearly every situation - notable powers are Banishment, which lets you one-shot Ringwraiths; Sorcerous Blast to knock holes in the enemy lines; and of course the ever-awesome Blinding Light, which can hold your shieldwall safe from arrows or protect your cavalry on their way to the enemy. Add in base 6 Will points (plus a free one each turn from his Staff of Power), 3 Might, 3 Fate (which you can reroll thanks to the Elven ring that he carries around) and 2 attacks (3 if you charge whilst riding Shadowfax) that hit at strength 5, everyone’s favourite Jesus allegory is always a fantastic choice. It’s a shame that even all this doesn’t quite justify the fact that he’s 220 fucking points (without the horse). Save for larger games, then.
- Peregrin, Guard of the Citadel: haha. no. Funnily enough, he's a defence 4 hobbit who's not even the cheapest hero available to you. to add insult to injury, he's an independent hero, meaning he can't even be brought to add on more troops.
- Boromir, Captain of the White Tower: The other super beat-stick character Minas Tirith can take. With almost as many options as Faramir, a solid Fight value and Defense of up to 7, he can and should be in your front line making a mess. What really puts him above other fighter heroes is his stupidly high Might value of 6, and the Horn of Gondor, which when you're outnumbered, can cause you to flat win the duel roll. It's worth noting that he can take the Banner of Minas Tirith, which is a 6" Banner that boosts his and friendly warriors fight value. Careful though, according to the FAQ, you can't take him alongside Aragorn, King Elessar and still hold on to your faction bonus or ability to ally.
- Madril, Captain of Ithilien:Here is where we get silly. Madril is a cheap ranger hero with an okay stat line, but it's his "Master of Ambush" rule that really makes him great. In short, he gives you a bonus to any and all rolls for reserves, so long as he is on the board. This includes rolls that happen later in the same turn, so if you want your men to come in on your terms, he's the guy to bring.
- Damrod, Ranger of Ithilien: Damrod is a weird case. he has the absolute bog standard stat line with nothing really marking him out from the other heroes. that is until you see his laughable point cost of 25 points, i.e. one of the cheapest heroes on the good side of the isle, and he's almost an auto-include just for allowing you to put down more models.
- Denethor, Steward of Gondor: Denethor, like Damrod, is a weird case. he has an okay stat line, a high Courage, but no Might or fate. And while he may be 35 points, he has a special rule that risks him going acting as an evil model for a turn. He's able to bring along a metric ton of troops and if Boromir is in the same list, he no longer suffers from his madness special rule until Boromir falls. Remember though, if you bring Denethor, he HAS to be your general unless you have Aragorn. NO EXCEPTIONS.
- Irolas: Average stat line but where he currently shines (his rules are currently beta) is his ability to shield (even though he doesn't have one) and if he wins the fight, he gets to make one attack allowing you to slowly chip away at enemy troops when he's surrounded
- Beregond: That one cool guy who said "fuck the rules" and saves our home-boy Faramir. With an Elf bow like the other citadel gaurd and the bodyguard rule, Beregrond acts as a solid support character, and much like Damrod, is below 30 points for that horde of silver men that you know you want to bring.
- Ingold: Rules are currently beta but his special rule makes the generic captain and a whole bunch of other heroes redundant. Despite having stats on par with a generic captain, he has one extra might point and D7 (making him D8 with shieldwall) all for 10 points more than a captain. But, his special rule is where he shines. All troops around him do not back away when they lose a fight, the enemy does! Although this may not seem like much, it will allow you to keep your front line in formation (keep the shieldwall!). Also if you attack over a wall and lose, congratulations, you now defend the wall! Sadly as per FAQ Ingold still counts as trapped if he can't theoretically back away- so no pike formation without ever being trapped.
- Húrin the Tall: hero of valor, 3 might, F5 with heroic strike, a master-forged 2h sword, and a horse at only 90 points, this guy is looking strong right out the gates. better yet, he's fearless within 3" of elessar or denethor AND gets to reroll a d6 for his duel roll, meaning with Aragorn's banner rule he's got at least 4 shots to score a 6. top it off, as long as he's alive the enemy doesn't count for slaying your leader. If you're bringing Aragorn, he's a no-brainer.
- Cirion, Lieutenant of Amon Barad: Cirion is basically a no-name lordling who is best described as a Captain of Minas Tirith who really wants to charge monsters. with his Courage 6 for the sake of charging things that cause terror, he seems like a good answer, until you remember he's only Strength 4 with no other special rules.
- Knight of the White Tower:the first of the 'generic' heroes, and boy does he set a high standard. with 2 attacks, a high fight, and standard defense, he doesn't seem all that much, until you notice the rules for using his sword 2 handed, which cause each wound inflicted to double to 2 wounds, making him great at taking out non-hero monsters. He's basically everything Cirion wanted to be. Plus, if he gets a natural 6 when using the two handed weapon it stays as a 6!
- Captain of Minas Tirith: The base option for our heroes. at 50 points with options for shields (autoinclude), bows, a lance and a horse, he can fill any roll you need him to. Made almost completely redundant by Ingold.
- King of Men: A Captain +1. Seriously. he's a captain with 1 more fight, 1 more courage, and 1 more might and will, with the same options available to him. Be careful if you decide to take him as if you do, you cannot take any named heroes, limiting you to more Kings, captains and the Knights of the White tower
- Warrior of Minas Tirith: your bread and butter unit. Criminally cheap Defense 6 units that have the Shieldwall special rule and with plenty of options to make them a bit more mobile they can easily pull their own weight and hold the line against some of the strongest enemy units.
- Ranger of Gondor: Just like Warriors of Minas Tirith, these guys are there to fill a similar slot, albeit a more shooty variety, and with lower defence. It's worth noting that they are one of our 2 non-hero options that hit on 3's for shooting.
- Citadel Guard: These guys are simply great. While they lack the option to bring a shield, they have a respectable fight 4, and access to elf bows, which is HUGE for gondor. With access to Strength 3 shooting, and spears to give their fight value to the tougher dudes in front of them, they are probably your best option for your second line of troops, and near the only option for you shooting with them only being 1 point more expensive than your other shooting options. They also come with the ability to take horses for a more mobile shooting platform, and have the body guard rule for when you want to ignore courage. Their only real weakness is in the fact you can't give these guys shields plus you have to decide between bows or spears. But, these guys mounted with spears cannot support other mounted units in close combat.
- Guard of the Fountain Court: If the citadel Guard is out second line of elite troops, these guys are your front line. With Defense 7 once you take a shield and spears base for 11 points, AND the same bodyguard rule as citadel guard, the only reason to not take some of these guys is if you're building a Fluff list. While fight 4 is lackluster, they more than make up for it with basically being impossible to kill via shooting and laughing at your opponent when he realises that your front line is as tough as his heroes.
- Osgiliath Veteran: a point more than warriors of MT, they lose shieldwall but get +1C in return. seems shitty until you get to their 'loyal to the captains' special rule which gives them +1 Fight within 6" of Boromir or Faramir. they're ok, a little gimmicky but F5 near Boromir with his banner is fun. probably better off with fountain guard in general, though.
- Knight of Minas Tirith: Basically a Warrior on a horse with a lance. just like the warrior he can take a shield for Defense 6. If you want faster Warriors to run with a horse hero, these are your first choice.
- Citadel Guard: Read the above.
- Battlecry Trebuchet: Who needs rings of power when you can launch a 90Kg stone over 300 meters? at 110 points, you get a terrifying weapon that absolutely devastate whatever it hits, and even does a fair bit of damage to things standing to close to its target. With a slew of upgrades, it's a really fun weapon to use in larger games, however it is too expensive for lower point matches.
- Avenger Bolt Thrower: Who knew that Minas Tirith had Maxim Guns? At 50 points, you will be grabbing swift reload for 20 points so you roll 2D6 and choose the highest for shooting. Siege vet gives it a might point. Oh, and it no longer scatters. You read that right, its shots no longer scatter making this weapon a S7 sniper that will be causing wounds on a 3+ on all but the toughest enemy models. This machine is now a must have and if you feel like being mean in your next tournament, take 2 of them.
The Dead of Dunharrow
The Kingdom of Khazad-Dum
The Misty Mountains
The Wanderers in the Wild
Army of Thror
Garrison of Dale
The White Council
Army of Laketown
Survivors of Laketown
Iron Hills Dwarves
Building your Army
Much like the other armies in the game, starting a Minas Tirith army is cheap: a box of warriors and your choice of hero ends up costing $40 and sitting at around 200 points depending on your choices, and from there your options are endless. the next steps for a generic force would be getting a few bow armed citadel guard and Guards of the Fountain Court to start diving into the more elite units, if not another box of Warriors of Minas Tirith. It's worth noting that the bow-armed Warriors from the box are not the best and while they are a decent starting point, should probably be phased out relatively quickly.
Where to begin with Minas Tirith? Firstly, do not forget Shieldwall. This special rule gives you a reason to take Warriors of Minas Tirith to game other than for fluff. The D7 wall is tough to smash through for all but the luckiest of attacks and is one of the two anvils that you can create for the age-old 'hammer anvil tactic'
In all seriousness, when looking through the Minas Tirith list you will notice that you have a huge number of heroes to pick from. Although this may seem great, it is only great on paper. Minas Tirith suffers from option paralysis. That being, nearly every single hero is great in some way that can make a huge difference in almost any game, but ultimately, you will struggle to actually make your list.
The most common tactic for Gondor is the one mentioned earlier, the Hammer Anvil tactic. This is where your front line holds the enemy in place and keeps them in place while something else in your army destroys the enemies flank and then swings around to flank/rear charge your enemy, securing a hard won victory. If you are going to use this tactic, two of your troop choices shine for the frontline of your anvil. These troops are the Warriors of Minas Tirith and the Fountain Guard. Fountain Guard are slightly more expensive BUT oh boy are they worth it. Keep the Hero they are bodyguarding alive and they can charge and hold down units that cause terror while only falling to the luckiest of strikes. Even better, their fight is captain level so they will be winning the majority of fights and striking to kill. Although their strength is average, they should be able to do some damage before the hammer swings around. If you feel like being mean, bring Boromir Captain of the White Tower with the banner to lead them. Their fight goes up to elf level meaning you will be winning or drawing fights against nearly 75% of all units in this game system while Boromir can draw against a Troll. The other group of troops you can take for the anvil is Warriors of Minas Tirith. The Shieldwall special rule means that so long as they are together they are D7 but their fight is very average. To fix this, have them supported by Citidel Guard who are slightly cheaper than Fountain Court but they do have a lower defense, and no option for a shield. If you decide to take Warriors of Minas Tirith for your line, be sure to bring Ingold to lead them. His special rule means that even if you lose you're standing still (great for holding objectives) while you have to do less tricks to keep your Shieldwall for so long. Now for your hammer, unless you have allies, it will be Knights of Minas Tirith as you want to get into combat ASAP. A good leader for them is Faramir due to the number of options he has, while another choice is potentially Boromir with the banner. Making your Knights F4 means that they'll be able to effectively win most fights while Boromir will ensure that any troll or monster on the flank is quickly dealt with.
The other tactic that can be used, depending on how many friends you feel like losing, is the 'Shooting Anvil' tactic. This being, in your 'Anvil' insert 2 or even 3 Avenger Bolt Throwers, sit back, and shoot your enemy to oblivion. Then, as the enemy gets close, pull them out of the line and set them to the side with some 'elite' troops to protect them along with a hero that cannot be ignored. Your opponent will be forced to decide between destroying the Bolt Throwers or your anvil. The Bolt Throwers should last long enough for the anvil to come to assistance or your enemy will completely ignore them and have its rear shot to bits. Three Avengers and a few troops to look after them will cost around 300 points and a hero will put it up to 380ish points, making it very worthwhile. Furthermore remember, siege engines deploy touching the board edge so you should get 3-5 turns of decent shooting out of them, averaging around 6 kills per turn. Although this may not seem like much, over 3 turns you could cause 18 odd casualties. This number, in a game system where numbers count and most armies average between 30-50 models, means you can break your enemy before they get into combat with you. This tactic, however, is not workable in games where you need to grab an objective or where troops randomly enter the board.
A point of weakness with Gondor. If you're going up against a magic heavy army, you will struggle. Many heroes of Minas Tirith only have a single point of Will, so it won't take much for your opponent to start paralyzing your heroes or knocking down your entire front line with Tremour or Sorcerous Blast. A solution to this is Pippin as he has the resistant to magic special rule, meaning that you will always be getting a single dice to resist the effects of the spell if Pippin is in range of it (It may not seem like much, but with his Elven Cloak Pippin can be good to hold an objective in terrain behind your main line in other games) Denethor is also a good source of cheap Will.
However, one of the best things about Minas Tirith is their army has a counter to nearly everything. Facing an opponent with lots of shooting? Gandalf the White and blinding light. Enemy outnumbers you? Avenger Bolt Throwers/Trebuchet. Playing a scenario where reinforcements are a thing? Madril will get them to the field. Want to go crazy with a kickass hero but you don't want your opponent to gain victory points in case you roll really badly once? Denethor is the solution. Assaulting an enemy who is defending barricades? Ingold will lead the way. The enemy army is scary? Anything with bodyguard. The only problem with this is that you cannot cater your list to every enemy army that you go up against in a tournament, but you can build the jack of all trades lists as follows:
1. Grab a kickass general. Aragorn, Boromir and Gandalf are fantastic choices. Each can bring a ton of troops and each of them can tear through enemy troops like there is no tomorrow (Gandalf is a slight exception to this) meaning that you will have a decent chance of winning games where hero-kill count is important.
2. Grab a good supporting Hero. If you want to bring more troops, grab Denethor who is cheap and can bring a bunch of men (great hero too when Boromir is brought as well) if you want to ensure that your enemy doesn't get victory points for killing your kickass hero? Denethor and/or Húrin (bringing both is a massive troll move, however) Keep Denethor back or if you have Boromir, keep him nearby and if either (or both) falls run Húrin away and laugh as your opponent realizes that they get 0 points for killing your general. Bringing Denethor however, means you will struggle to win general kill count games. Want another decent hero to lead your knights into battle? Faramir is the way to go due to the number of options he has and due to his decent stat line.
3. Grab Madril. Most tournaments will have a scenario where reinforcements are a thing. Madril ensures a 2/3 chance of bringing your troops in on the same board edge. Get a 1? Keep it. Get a 2? 1 might or put it down to 1. Get a 3? It's now a 4. This may seem like a waste but remember he also has Woodland Creature, so he can grab an objective and go hide where you need him too while being able to protect himself better than Pippin. Although it may be only 1 game in the tournament, that 1 game can be the difference between coming in the top 3 or the top 10 (and there is nothing better than surrounding an enemy Warband or two while the rest of the enemy army is off the board or on the other side of it)
4. Take a Avenger Bolt Thrower. This sniper will kill many heroes who are leading the front line while also dealing damage to enemy monsters who will mess up your battle line. Want to lose friends? Take 2. Want to get kicked out of the gaming club/tournament? Bring 3 and ensure you have a lot of spare crewmen.
5. Your anvil must either be Fountain Guard or Warriors of Minas Tirith. Either one is good enough. Osgilith Veterans are only good for themed lists, although their loyal to their captain special rule is pretty good, they don't have shieldwall neither do they gain any bouns from fighting in ruins (which considering the fact that they have been fighting in a ruined city, its a surprise that they don't get any special bonus)
6. When deciding what others heroes to take, cater them and their warband to a specific role. Monster and hero hunting? Knight of the White Tower and some Fountain Guard (Aragon and Boromir may be fantastic, but don't think they're immune. Rend will mess them up and they are arrow/magic magnets) Strike with him, ensure the monster is trapped and laugh as it falls. Want a character who can take on units with Blades of the Dead? Cirion. Army bonus combined with his special rule means blades of the dead is wounding on a 6. Want a hero to lead the assault on fortified positions/hold a position/shieldwall? Ingold is the way to go. Want a sacrifice hero who will draw attention and win most fights? Irolas will win most fights and will probably do a few kills and generally annoy and hold the enemy up.
7. Do. Not. Think. You. Can. Run. A. All. Hero. Army. List. This isn't Thorins Company where their special rules actually means that you are a 12 dwarf (and one hobbit and wizard) army. You will need troops to hold the line and fire weapons of war. Fill up your warbands to at least half their capacity and don't be afraid to max out a few warbands. If you have 100 odd points to spare, grab Damrod or Beregond. If Damrod, grab what you are lacking. If Beregond, give him a horse and some knights (or citidel guardsmen on horses) Only grab a couple of extra heroes if you are lacking in them and if you have enough bodies for the meat grinder.
If you follow this army building guide, you should have fun with it and win a few games. Remember though, if you're playing a friendly game, want to win best painted or want it to be like the movies, make a themed army list. You can easily do this and many people will enjoy playing against you. Most importantly, have fun, thats the real point of the game.