The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game/Tactics/Mordor
Why Play Mordor?
Because you always enjoyed pulling the wings off flies as a child and some people just enjoy watching the world burn… Also flying ghosts.
- Sensationally powerful heroes who can be taken in different combinations to fulfil virtually any tactical situation. Will always be a competitive choice.
- Orcs (and their lives) are cheap. Spend them quickly
- Best magic offence in the game
- Decent variety of monsters at your beck and call, some of which have might to back up their brawn
- Low courage for the majority of your army means that a broken Mordor fOrce is usually a defeated Mordor fOrce. This is somewhat mitigated by the army bonus, although when things start to go wrong they will often carry on that way.
- Those competitive heroes? Prepare to pay a fortune for them in points
- Basic Orc does very little very well besides exist in large numbers
Our enemy is ready, his full strength gathered: Whilst you have more models on the board than your opponent, friendly Mordor Warrior models gain +1 Courage and may re-roll 1s to Wound when making Strikes.
As this is a conditional bonus, that can change every time something dies, this bonus really pushes you in the direction of the horde style of army to make sure you have more models in play. The +1 courage helps against terror and a few spells, but won't usually come into play for breaking. The re-roll is great on your trolls though. If you want a more elite style "Mordor" army play Barad-dûr instead, as you aren't reliant on numbers.
- Nazgul/Ringwraiths: One of the most versatile units in the game, there is a Nazgul for every occasion. Each individual entry is covered here, but they all share common rules and features which will be covered first:
- All Nazgul cause terror
- Despite their high defence, Ringwraiths are not durable, with only a single wound each, best to avoid contact and stock up on their fate points
- All Ringwraiths must spend 1 point of will at the end of every fight phase that they are involved in, and disappear from the battlefield if their will reaches 0. Be very careful of this, as a canny opponent will likely manoeuvre your guys into protracted fights that will sap their usefulness and eventually kill them
- Any model wearing the ring does not become invisible to the Ringwraiths as they do to others, and fighting against the ring bearer does not oblige the Ringwraith to spend will to fight
- All Ringwraiths can choose a Horse, armoured horse, fell beat or armoured fell beast for their mount. All are good choices, with the Fell Beast variants really boosting the combat potential of the wraiths.
- All Ringwraiths are spellcasters and can seriously mess with an opponents fOrce through incapacitating their enemies or causing direct damage with their Black Dart spell.
Ø The Witch King: Leader of the Ringwraiths has by far the most number of options. Base cost of 70 points will buy you a potent spellcaster with a reserve of 10 will points. Should never be used in combat in this state as a single bad dice roll can mess you about horribly. You can purchase extra Might, will and fate for 5 pts each making a maxed out Witch-King 150 points. All mounts are effective choices for him and his other close combat options are also decent choices too – the Crown of Morgul bumps his attacks to 3, the Morgul Blade will allow him to kill multi wound enemies with a single unsaved wound and the two handed flail gives him a bit of extra kick in combat. A thoroughly solid leader for Mordor, but though needs to be given as to what exactly he is to be used for, and then tailoring appropriately
Ø 'Vanilla' Ringwraiths: you can include up to eight generic Ringwraiths in your army (although they can can be fielded alongside the named wraiths the number can never be more than 9 for obvious reasons). 55 points base buys you 7 will points to case spells and 110 buys you two might and fate and seven more will. Not really potent enough to become combat heroes unless mounted on a fell beast, their strength lies in disruption and spellcasting rather than outright power.
Ø Khamul the Easterling: Second of the Nine, Khamul is a combat oriented Ringwraith. Causes terror and has to spend 1 will per combat turn as per the others, but recovers one will for every unsaved wound he causes. Can also spend 1 will to increase his fight, strength or attacks for a fight. His spellcasting is actually pretty poor compared to the other wraiths, but he has a comparatively low point cost of 120 points. Needs to be used aggressively, but can be very effective in the centre of a battle with the correct support.
Ø The Betrayer: Harad's Ringwraith comes with 2 extra will than a fully upgraded 'vanilla' wraith, can re-roll wounds in close combat and allows models with the 'poisoned' special rule to re-roll wounds of 1 and 2 if they are within 6" of him. Good support choice and 120 points means that he is ahead of the vanilla wraiths simply because of his special abilities. Naturally compliments other Harad models.
Ø The Dark Marshall: Another 120 point named wraith, has a fight value of 6 (one above usual) and the ability to function as a banner to all evil warriors within 6". A solid, if unspectacular, choice.
Ø The Dwimmerlaik: The Ringwraith most hated in Rohan, comes with no might points to assist him in difficult situations but has a powerful ability to double the cost of every might, will and fate point spent within 12" on the roll of a 4+. Decidedly not a combat guy, but great at harassing enemy heroes and neutralising powerful abilities like Aragorn's 'Mighty Hero' rule.
Ø The Knight of Umbar: One of the more powerful combat oriented Ringwraiths, three might points and the ability to ignore the fight phase loss of will for every fight that he wins. He can also elect to use the base Fights, strength or attack values (or any combination of these)of his opponent instead of his own. Add in two more will points than standard and a decent array of spells and The Knight is a superb choice and a steal at 120 points
Ø The Shadow lord: Two more will points than a standard wraith and the ability to make shooting within 6" of him hit only on a 6. Makes the Shadow Lord another solid but unremarkable choice. Best used to harry you opponent and keep you own troops alive.
Ø The Tainted: One less might and fate point than standard, the Tainted also denies the stand fast and heroic action benefit for all warriors within 6" both yours and your opponents. Can also cause additional wounds to models in base contact on a 6. Not the most competitive choice, but situationally powerful
Ø The Undying: No fate, but 20 will points make up for it quite nicely. Can spend those same points as fate points and regains one will point for every magical power cast within 6". Another good choice, can be very effective but would be best used as accompanying another spellcaster or cadre of Orc shamans.
- The Mouth of Sauron: A pretty 'meh' lieutenant character with a captain stat line, low might and fate, and a small collection of support magic spells. Can take an armoured horse, and fully upgraded comes in at a fairly reasonable 75pts. Good for a nice cheap leader, but don't expect him to move mountains.
- Gothmog, Lieutenant of Sauron: The Orc equivalent of Aragorn, Gothmog lead the armies of Mordor after the Witch-Kings defeat. Has a stat line virtually identical to Aragorn's, and possesses a similar ability in 'Master of Battle'. A damn good choice to lead any Mordor faction, mounting him on a Warg and giving him a shield will allow him to be even more effective. An extremely effective choice.
- Gothmog’s Enforcer: Basic Morannon Captain profile (but with strength 4), and can bring as many troops, but you only want to bring him along if you are going to take Gothmog. While this guy is within 3 of his boss, Gothmog can use his Will Points to declare a Heroic move instead of his own. A decent trade on saving will Points for Gothmog to use for other things.
- Guritz, Master of Reserves: Finally, skully has a model and a statline! And he ain't half bad. He has the exact statline as a morannon captain but comes with a two-handed pick and sword. He's the guy you want to bring if you have a reserve force. While on the field all your warbands in reserve can modify their reinforcement roll by +1 or -1. If Guritz and his warband is put in reserve then this bonus only affects his warband. In a Scenario to see where your warbands are deployed you can again modify the dice roll by +1 or -1.
- Goroth, Captain of the Morannon : Your hard hitting Captain equipped with a two handed mace. Being strength 5 and having the burly special rule he should make short work of even heavy armoured infantry. What makes Goroth really worth taking is his special rule Come here maggot, this allows him to use a friendly Mordor Orc as shield on a +2 as long as they are withing 1 from him. However, he can only use this when the wound caused would have killed him, still this makes him pretty survivable.
- Shelob: A cheap monstrous creature for the armies of Mordor, Shelob is a very situational creature. Charging as a monstrous mount, she can knock down cavalry models and gains an extra attack when charging, she also causes terror and can move her full distance whatever is in her way. However, her paltry 1 attack with no might and a chance to run away after every wound renders her a mediocre choice at best. 90 pts is nice and cheap for a monster, but there are far better ways to spend your cash.
- Shagrat, Captain of Cirith Ungol: A Mordor Uruk-hai with attitude, Shagrat is a fine leader for any Mordor warband. 3 attacks, wounds, might, will and fate combined with a strength of 5 and Wargear which knocks opponents to the ground make the war leader to be a formidable opponent for any good army. Well worth the points
- Grishnakh, Orc captain: Offers only a single point of might and backstabber as an advantage over a standard Orc captain. 45 points cost, however, is worth It for the might points and the stand fast alone.
- Gorbag, Orc Captain: For ten points more than an orc captain you get three might, +1 courage and +1 fight and attack when outnumbered in a fight. Well worth considering.
- Zagdush: This here is your suicide Captain, get him into combat as soon as you can, his special rule reckless fighter allows to up his strength by +1 but also takes -1 on his defence until the end of the efight phase. With 3 attacks at strength 5 he should be able to get at least one wound in (which is usually enough wounds needed to kill anything less than a hero).
- Kardush the Firecaller: A 60pt Orc shaman that can fire a strength 6 fireball instead of transfixing an enemy. Can also be sacrificed at the start of any priority phase to restore D6 will to a Ringwraith within 6". Natural accomplice to The Undying, his single wound makes him a bit of a gamble, but could be a game winner in the right place.
- Orc captain: Standard captain stat line but with low courage of 3. Wins out over named characters in the versatility of the choices available to it. Can be given an Orc bow, Warg or shield, or indeed an combination of the three. Comes with 2 might points which can be very useful in the right places. Cheap at 40 points, useful when you're on a points budget
- Orc Shaman: A 50pt wizard that seems tailor made to sort out the main weakness of the Mordor armies – low courage. Cast their signature 'Fury' spell and all Orcs within 6" pass courage tests automatically and ignore wounds on a 6 (5+ if channelled). His spear also allows him to support Orcs from the middle of a phalanx. An extremely useful character.
- Morannon Orc Captain: For 45 points at defence 6 and strength 5 is a worthwhile investment. Fewer options than an ordinary Orc captain, but a great combat choice
- Captain of the Black Guard: Morannon Orcs on steroids and encased in really really good armour. Defence 7 as standard and courage 6 as long as Sauron or a Ringwraith is alive makes him hard as nails and painful to fight. Not as cheap as other servants however, and the difference between D6 and D7 isn't vast.
- Black Guard Drummer: A 45 point 1 wound model which can improve the move stats of his fellow Uruk-hai for a turn. Although they can't charge. Not really worth it, spend the points on something else.
- Orc Drummer: Same as the Black Guard drummer, but worse if you can imagine it. Cheaper at 40 points, but still not very good.
- Back Númenórean Marshal: A captain of Minas Tirith (stat wise) that causes terror. He's okay, but there are better choices in the Mordor army.
- Mordor Uruk-Hai Captain: High fight, two might points, strength 5 and the ability to tailor to your own tastes for a base cost of 50pts is worth consideration for your army. Orc bow would probably be a waste of points as his S5 is wasted. Needs to be in the thick of the fighting to make his points back, but would be quite capable of doing so if used properly.
- Mordor Orc Taskmaster: Same stats as an ordinary Orc captain, but comes equipped with a 2" range throwing weapon, his strength comes with his ability to grant free heroic actions to allied heroes within 6" on a 4+. 60pts is a little pricey and you will probably get more mileage out of a Morannon Orc captain, but situationally okay. If you use him, remember to play this at full volume
- Mordor troll Chieftain: Very dangerous terror causing monster with three S7 attacks and a high defence. A steal at 140 points, begin your recruitment drive today.
- Great Beast of Gorgoroth: Mount with 10 Orc passengers (1 captain with spear, 10 bows) in its howdah. Does not count for the purposes of bow armed models, allowing you to cram in more shots. Has two Str6 trample hits when moving and will win a great many fights against even the elite of your opponents army. Plus, when it dies you get the Orc passengers to play with (assuming they survive the fall of course). 150 points is a steal when you consider that the Orc warriors and commander are about 100 points by themselves.
- Orc Warrior: Moderately naff foot troops, their main strength lies in the number of feet that they can put on the ground. Low courage, fight and defence means that these guys are not going to be around for very long but the sheer number of dice that they can roll make them a dangerous threat. Can also be a surprisingly effective speed bump when a blob is paired with an Orc shaman.
- Orc Tracker: Worse in combat than other Orcs and with an extremely low defence of 3, the Orc trackers are a slightly better shot with a 4+ value. These are some of the most cost effective shooting evil players have access to. They're more cost effective than crossbow Uruk-hai and Harad with poisoned arrows. Don't bother with normal Orcs with bows or giving these Wargs, just sit them back and pick off a few things.
- Morannon Orc: Basically an ordinary Orc warrior but with S4 instead of S3 and heavy armour. This makes a big difference to their effectiveness and when paired with a suitable hero, these guys are the primary choice for a front line troop in your games, as they come in cheaper than Mordor Uruk-hai, and can support each other with spears.
- Morgul Stalker: A 15pt one wound Orc doesn't look good, but an elf cloak will keep the guy alive, and two attacks each at strength 4 is enough to give pause. Higher courage of 3 is also useful. Situationally useful, but don't count on them to win the game for you.
- Mordor Uruk-hai: Versatile and strong, Mordor Uruk Hai are a decent choice for a core fOrce to hammer your enemy or a bodyguard for a hero. Reasonably versatile in their choices, but Orc bows are a waste of points on these guys as their higher courage and strength is wasted if they camp out in the back field shooting. Less brilliant now that they aren't your only source of warrior S4.
- Black Númenórean: The men of Mordor swing between very good and very bad. Regrettably, these guys are very bad. Costing 9pts a piece their low strength and lack of options is a pretty bad feature. They do nothing that the Morgul knights do not do far better and even their terror is less effective for guys on foot than the knights. Good as bodyguards for the Mouth of Sauron or a Ringwraith, but then so are Mordor Uruk Hai or Morannon Orcs, who can do more damage.
- Black Guard of Barad Dur: A S5, D6 Uruk-hai with a higher than normal courage. Getting on for the cost of two fully equipped Orc warriors and their options are severely limited. Highly effective and the best bodyguard/escort unit that you have. Well worth the points cost
- Warg Rider: The reason why you don't want to take Wargs for Orc trackers are the Warg riders themselves. Evil cavalry extraordinaire, the Wargs are brutal, hard hitting and versatile. Low courage and rider defence is bad, but again they are cheaper than their good side equivalents. These are a very good buy with throwing spears and shields, coming to 13 points in total. This paired with the changes to thrown weapons and charges, really makes them quite nasty. Pair up with Gothmog, a captain or a shaman mounted on a Warg for additional lolz
- Morgul Knight: Another Gondor analogue, this time using the Knights of Dol Amroth. Their heavy armour and shields give them a good survivability and 18 points prices them competitively as well. Causing terror is a boon, and the ability to take a war horn is great as it makes your cowardly Orcs less likely to turn tail. Damn good and well worth the points
- Mordor Troll: High strength, high defence, high fight and three attacks. Now with a full compliment of different weapon upgrades, all hand-and-a-half weapons as well! You get to choose between a hammer, a club and a sword. The bonus from the sword is greatly diminished with the army bonus. Hammer would seem the best, as knocking the target prone is always good. Worth including at least one in every force, although don't bother with the drum upgrade. It's awful.
- Mordor Siege Bow: A good source of high strength shots, but with vulnerable crew and less damage output than the catapult, I'm afraid that the siege bow just doesn't cut the mustard. The 5+ shoot is what really kills it, as its conceivable that some unlucky dice means that it could miss every single shot it has in the game and never cause a problem for your enemy. And 50 points before upgrades is a tad pricey for that.
- Mordor War Catapult: Everything the siege bow isn't. Very expensive and highly effective against everything on the battlefield. If the troll is in base contact with catapult, you can re-roll to hit and scatter rolls. With 4+ shoot and Str10 you'll most likely kill what you point it at.
Mordor Has some decent ally choices to fill up a few gaps in the army. As of ME:SBG, Alliances are based off history and the chronological order of things, rather than the sides they could have fought on. This is why Mordor and Barad-Dûr are impossible allies. The Siege of Barad-Dûr took place during the Last Alliance whilst the Mordor list presented in Armies of The Lord of the Rings represents Mordor as it was during the War of the Ring, about 3000 years apart.
·The Easterlings – Some of the toughest cavalry in the game. At D7 thanks to shield wall, these are very hard to move if they maintain their formations.
·The Serpent Horde – ELEPHANTS
·Corsairs of Umbar –
·Dark Denizens of Mirkwood –
·Far Harad –
·Variags of Khand –
·Azog's Hunter –
·Azog's Legion –
·Dark Powers of Dol Guldor –
·Desolator of the North –
·Goblin Town –
·Sharkey's Rogues –
·The Trolls –
Removed in Armies of The Lord of the Rings
· Sauron – The head honcho himself, The Dark Lord Sauron comes as standard with one of the best stat lines in the game. Fight of 9 will ensure that in a practical sense he will win any fight that he is involved in, strength 8 will mean he wounds whatever he fights and defence 10 will protect him even if he loses. 375 points base, with 'The One Ring' available for an additional 75. Causes Terror and reduces the courage of good models by one point for 18". Comes with 6 will points and can spend another one every turn without reducing his will, which allows him to make use of a barrage of magical powers against opponents. His 'unstoppable' rule also allows him to swing his mace in a arc that strikes all models in base contact, all models with speaks and all models with pikes once, which makes up for his lacklustre 3 attacks base. You need to throw Sauron in to the middle of a fight in order to make up for his massive points investment, but used correctly, he should be able to beat anything the good side throws at him.
oAlways upgrade with 'The One Ring', as this allows him to recover his last wound on a 2+ and carry on fighting. Without this upgrade, Sauron actually has no fate points.
·Gollum – Perhaps the most important character in the story of the Lord of the Rings, Gollum comes with a selection of unusual abilities, chief amongst which is his points cost of 0. He can only be included in fOrces where opponents have fielded the ring bearer. He is always deployed last and close to the ring bearer. To represent the split in Gollum's personality, he is always controlled by the side which has priority and cannot be harmed while the ring bearer is still alive. Gollum really is a storytelling character and isn't a viable choice for competitive armies
·Shagrat, Captain of Cirith Ungol – The 'New coke' version of Shagrat (even thought this one was first) boasts no advantages over a standard Mordor Uruk-hai captain besides an additional point of might. Nice and cheap at 55 points however, and strength 5 is strength 5
·Castellan of Dol Guldur – 40 point Ringwraiths without the spellcasting and no stand fast for allied warriors. Can be equipped with a Morgul blade and are cheap enough to be a cheap character assassin. Again, rather situational but potentially quite useful
·Spider Queen – High strength and low defence monster with no fate. Her ability to summon bases of broodling swarms by spending will can help her out of a sticky situation and she is altogether a better choice than Shelob. A good monster to include
·Dragon – 250 point monster that can decimate enemy armies. A plethora of special rules mean that the Dragon will be devastating to the armies of good, by causing terror, resisting magic, lowering enemy courage and knocking everything to the floor. Can be upgraded with up to two abilities that allow it to fly, breathe fire, cast magic or raise its defence for 50 points each. Fire and magic are dependant upon the will points of the dragon and as these are in fairly limited supply then its going to be situational at best, although the sheer damage of the fire attack is scary for enemies. Tough hide will raise the defence to Sauron levels of durability so its worth investing in. Beware of leaving the dragon unsupported however, as a courage test after every wound suffered combined with a lacklustre courage of 4 leaves him vulnerable to a lucky first shot
·Cave Drake – A less durable dragon which has the ability to lash out at any models which corner it, can move through terrain without penalty and can eat multi wound man sized targets causing them instant death. Effective choice for 175 points, but not quite as out and out destructive as a dragon
·The Necromancer – Representing Sauron during his time at Dol Guldur during the timeline of The Hobbit, the Necromancer is a 250 point single wound model, with all of the vulnerabilities that that situation entails. He has the same vulnerabilities as the Ringwraiths (one attack, has to spend will in a fight phase, disappears when no will remains) but can use his massive will stock of 25 points as fate points if needed. He redeems himself by auto-killing any multi wound models who lose combat to him and by buffing Orcs to almost the same level as warriors of Minas Tirith. A thematic and passable option, but there are better ways to spend your points, cannot do anything that two named Ringwraiths can't do.
·Giant Spider – Multi wound, high strength models that re rolls 1s when wounding and can move over all terrain? At 20pts? Hell yeah!
·Spectre – 15 points for your version of the army of the dead, wounds against opponents courage instead of defence and can fOrce courage tests on opponents which allow the evil player to move them instead of the good. Useful for moving heroes out of stand fast range, opening fortress doors, denying shooting etc. They're okay, but only buy them if you have nothing else to spend the points on.