GW's Lord of the Rings game has been totally reviled by the 'competitive' community (whatever that community is) and, curiously, by its own creator, GW, which has been forgetful and somewhat careless about it.
However, I want to stick up for this game. It is easy to apprehend (easier than both Warhammer Fantasy or Warhammer 40,000) and, unless you are playing some special characters, you can be ready to battle in a few minutes. The minis are great (at least they were, before Peter Jackson begun his Hobbit extravaganza and weird designs) and... well, you can play damn Lord of the Rings! That alone is enough for me! Though I know some people are using SAGA ruleset or others and alternative manufacturers, GW's LotR works fine for me.
I played this game maybe a couple of weeks ago, but I have not been able to post it until now! As my memories of the game are kinda sloppy, I'll just touch upon it. I hope it will be enough for you to get a glimpse of how it works. Please excuse the poor brushwork on the minis, it was made about ten-twelve years ago and I have not repainted them :(
|This will be our skirmish|
20 Orcs, 20 Uruk-hai and a Nazgûl were the forces of the Darkness, and the good guys were 20 mounted Rohirrim, Éomer and Aragorn. Don't remember how many points by side, but it was more or less balanced. LotR works fine at this skirmish level. GW at some moment decided to 'warhammerize' the game and to set massive armies via 'War of the Ring' rulebook, but honestly I must say I have never played that way. I'm OK with these small battles which can be handled without players needing a PhD to understand all the complexities of the game.
At the beginning of each turn, both players roll a die to determine who has the Initiative. Then that player moves, the oppsite moves, the first one shoots his bows/whatever, then the other one...
Rohirrim bravely marched against the enemy:
|Horns blowing. Forth Eorlingas!|
And then the bloodshed begun:
|Banners are just for the show, didn't want to add more rules. |
Uruks are not easily disbanded, so they stood still and tried to hold on their position:
|Stop the humans!|
Combats are quite easy: Each player rolls a dice per attack (as provided in each warrior's profile). The one with the higher result wins the combat and forces his enemy to fall back. Then he can try to hit him (rolling dice and checking charts, just as regular Warhammer). I pretty much like the concept of holding your position and keeping the enemy at bay. The most skilled warrior (or the outnumbering band) has more chances to win the combat, allowing that way to define the lines of the battle.
In the middle of the battlefield, we had the expected clash of the titans:
|Movie moment, you know|
Using special characters is the most complex thing of all the game, but even that is not a big deal. Characters have some special attributes regular warriors lack. They are 'Might', 'Will' and 'Fate'.
'Might' essentially allows the character to alter the results in die rolls; 'Will' enables him to throw or resist magical powers; and 'Fate' makes the character ignore a wound that would have normally killed him. So these special skills make the game experience more... cinematic.
So, while Rohirrim were knocking Uruks down...
|Even if they don't kill the enemy, cavalry troops make the enemies to bite the dust|
...Aragorn son of Arathorn just ended the Nazgûl's temporary form after an epic confrontation.
|Insert Nazgûl scream here|
But the surviving Uruks immediately went on Aragorn:
|Besides, their companions killed some Rohirrim|
And so the carnage went on and on...
|General view. Child on top left corner added for dramatic purposes|| |
|What a carnage|
The servants of the White Hand soon discovered that Aragorn was too badass for them.
|He's the leading role, we're but mere extras|
Having dispatched the Orcs of Mordor, the Rohirrim closed the pince on the Uruk-hai:
|Rohan violin music, you know|
Things were going insultingly easy for the good guys, so we decided to add some emotion:
|I thought of taking the Mûmak, but this made a little more sense in this context|
Things suddenly were quite more balanced. The Witch King is quite a rough enemy, with lots of 'Will' points (he is not idly called 'witch'), and the fell beast is also a dreadful creature.
|All the battle is now reduced to this|
I also like the close combat system because of its way of resolving combats. Not depending on the masse, as WHFB or even modern 40K, but on individual combat basis. It is always quite clear who makes what, not just an anonymous group.
In this case, the Witch King spelled some dark sorceries on Aragorn, but he evaded the results through a combination of 'Will' points and 'Might' modifiers. In return, he caused an injury to his terrible foe:
|The Rohirim come from the back to take over the Uruks|
In the most epic dice roll ever, Aragorn managed to kill the fell beast:
|Seriously, what were the chances?|
The Witch King fought then on foot, trying again to cast spells on the hero. Aragorn barely resisted, using and abusing all his Will and Might points, exhausting them. He made a last effort and finally killed the evil sorcerer (well, you know, not technically 'kill'; and not exactly a mere 'sorcerer'. But you know what I mean).
|Epic, so epic music on the background|
That was the end, a vibrant battle to the last man!
As you can see, the game is not balanced, it is just a translation of the movies to the board, with maybe excessive weight on the characters, specially Aragorn, which is some kind of unstoppable beast. Other characters are not so decisive and battles can be fought other way.
However, as I've said, I like the game system on the whole. Its simplicity compared with Warhammer allows me to play it with little preparation and the game itself is quite atmospherical. As I said at the beginning, it's a shame the creator of the game doesn't support its own creature. No need to say more.
Tomorrow I'm watching The Desolation of Smaug, so I'm currently on Middle Earth mood. Let's see what awaits us this time...