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Author Topic: GW LOTR rulesets...  (Read 2815 times)

Offline Timbor

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GW LOTR rulesets...
« on: March 20, 2015, 04:10:18 PM »
A quick question for you fine gentlemen!

I have heard many people comment on how well-made the GW LoTR rulesets were.  How do the different rules compare to one another?  Someone offered me the two towers rules, but I most often hear people mention the war or the ring rulesets.  What's the difference?
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Offline robh

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Re: GW LOTR rulesets...
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2015, 05:12:43 PM »
I suggest you make a coffee, grab a few cookies and spend a while reading the history of the multitude of versions:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings_Strategy_Battle_Game

The Strategy Battle rules are the skirmish sets, "The War of the Ring" set is the mass battle one.

The 2 big blue books are extremely lovely tomes, very well made and full of amazing miniatures and art.  Helps that they are also superb sets of rules.

Offline Momotaro

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Re: GW LOTR rulesets...
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2015, 06:05:01 PM »
Starting in the present, for the Strategy Battle Game, the current ruleset is The Hobbit.  Still in print but expensive - you may be able to pick it up second hand somewhere.  As the latest version of the rules, it does the best job of laying them out and introducing proper clarity and definitions.  It introduces some new rules to spice up your games - big monsters have some powerful abilities and weapon types get different special effects.

It's a little lacking in the stats department - it has model stats for the first Hobbit film and base stats with no points or special abilities for all the LotR models (quite a big deal).

Full rules for the LotR models are in the five army books GW put out in 2012.  At the moment, only two of them are in print.  They are:  Kingdoms of Men; The Free Peoples (elves, dwarves and hobbits); Mordor; Moria and Angmar and The Fallen Kingdoms (Isengard, Easterlings and Haradrim).  These collect and correct all the earlier supplement stats into the appropriate armies.

Going back in time, The big blue hardback rulebook (with the picture of the Ring on the front) has an ok range of stats but is older and doesn't really have the fully fleshed out armies of the later books.  Still perfectly playable though.  The mini rulebook from The Mines of Moria box is a mini version of this.  Many of the supplements are designed for this version of the rules and can be found second hand (Khazad-dum, Gondor in Flames, Shadow in the East, Mordor, Harad, Fall of the Necromancer all supplemental to this version).

Legions of Middle-Earth comes in about here too - the first attempt to introduce army composition rules and "standard" scenarios (those are reprinted in the current books).

Both of these are cleaned up versions of the older The Return of the King rulebook, which is lacking dwarves entirely (not in the movies...).  RotK has the first set of siege rules for LotR, and a goodly set of scenarios.  The supplements for this were Siege of Gondor, Pelennor Fields, Scouring of the Shire and Shadow and Flame (which introduced the dwarves).  With the exception of Scouring of the Shire, which is a lovely small-scale supplement, all the others were superceded by the later books.  

Two Towers is also perfectly playable - it's missing the rules for sieges, and the stat list is even shorter, but it's fine.  You'll get good games with this one, and it still works with all the supplements.  Again, a decent list of scenarios.

Fellowship of the Ring may be looking a bit dated now, and the stats list is a bit thin.  Some of the scenarios are notoriously daft - 240 goblins required for the Last Alliance one...

Honestly, all the books are recognisably the same game.  As you get to newer books, there's definite power creep, but the forces have a wider range of options and definite playstyles, and get nicely balanced.  The older books have a pleasing simplicity to them though - good guys vs bad guys!

War of the Ring is a separate mass battle game with broadly similar stats.  It has great core mechanics, solid army lists, a ton of great scenarios... and in the eyes of many is ruined by really sloppy and unclear rules writing, and overpowered special abilities and magic.  Also, the armies get BIG - I'm not sure anyone has ever owned enough goblins to play a Moria list, for example.  Still, the kernel of something great hides in there.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2015, 08:55:54 PM by Momotaro »

Offline Jagannath

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Re: GW LOTR rulesets...
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2015, 11:28:26 AM »
^that's a great reply.

I use the big blue book and the army books for almost any fantasy fans you can imagine, simply proxying Stars from various troop types. They're honestly the best rules for small - medium skirmishes. I find they bog down beyond 30ish minis per side.

Online LeadAsbestos

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Re: GW LOTR rulesets...
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2015, 01:00:20 PM »
Tim, I'll send you the Fellowship book if you want it. Fun game, and a perfect intro for playing the sort of small skirmish the movie had. No sieges or Grond, just heroes and troops slugging it out.

Offline affun

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Re: GW LOTR rulesets...
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2015, 01:14:49 PM »

[...]

Both of these are cleaned up versions of the older The Return of the King rulebook, which is lacking dwarves entirely (not in the movies...).  RotK has the first set of siege rules for LotR, and a goodly set of scenarios.  The supplements for this were Siege of Gondor, Pelennor Fields, Scouring of the Shire and Shadow and Flame (which introduced the dwarves).  With the exception of Scouring of the Shire, which is a lovely small-scale supplement, all the others were superceded by the later books. 

Two Towers is also perfectly playable - it's missing the rules for sieges, and the stat list is even shorter, but it's fine.  You'll get good games with this one, and it still works with all the supplements.  Again, a decent list of scenarios.

A great post; I will just correct that the siege rules actually are in the Two Towers book (seeing as Helms Deep, and the gameboard GW's terrain team made for it) played quite a huge role in that.
Also, if I remember correctly, a lot of the dwarf stats actually are in the Return of the King book, since GW at that time had extended its license, and they included a couple of scenarios for the broader war of the ring "beyond the camera"

Personally, I think the game got really good (with a couple of nice tweaks) at the Return of the King - Preferably, I'd go for the One Ring book, but it can be a bit hard to get. The Hobbit adds some extra crunch, but I don't quite appreciate it, since a lot of it seems to just unnecessarily introduce additional dice rolling (Namely, the weapon rules: Was that really needed?), which seems a GW design philosophy: "Rolling dice is FUN! Buckets of Dice!!!".
The rules for monsters in the Hobbit do look good, but theres been too much powercreep in the stats, in my opinion, leading to some quite ridiculous profiles.

It's been entirely too long since I had a game of LoTR SBG.

« Last Edit: March 21, 2015, 10:31:16 PM by affun »

Offline Momotaro

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Re: GW LOTR rulesets...
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2015, 07:52:53 PM »
Thanks for the corrections; it's been a decade since I owned the old boxed set rulebooks  :D

I have mixed feelings about the direction the game took.  The current warband system (1 hero per 12 infantry/6 cavalry, maximum 1/3 bows for most armies) works, but there's so much the game can do.  The rules work for really small engagements between heroes and are perfect for campaigns.  The supplements often do a decent job of bringing this out over the "tournament rules" mentality.

For large-scale battles, there's a decent system in the Legends of the Old West supplement The Alamo (also out of print) that builds on the LotR rules, but uses units for movement, attacks and Courage tests.  Honestly nothing you couldn't write yourself though.

Offline affun

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Re: GW LOTR rulesets...
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2015, 10:51:28 PM »
I completely agree with you.
I also really enjoyhow, though not explicitly, modular the game is. Their points cost formula is pretty easy to figure out, and theres so many different profiles in the game, that you can stat up or 'counts-as' pretty much anything. I've used the game for both actual LotR, historical War of the Roses, and my own generic 'large' 28mm fantasy project - Which has had a revival with Open Combat, and so might actually get used for LoTR SBG again.

In theory, I still have the RotK-rulebook somewhere, but I can't seem to find it in my pile of boxes  ::)

Offline Timbor

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Re: GW LOTR rulesets...
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2015, 03:12:23 AM »
Thanks for the rundown guys!  ;) They really put out a lot of books for this stuff then.  I am going to pick up the two towers rulebook from a guy I am trading with and will take a look.  It sounds like I should be able to make up my own games using just the profiles in there, and if I want to get more creative, I could look at sourcing some other supplements?

Offline affun

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Re: GW LOTR rulesets...
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2015, 08:43:25 AM »
Definitely. :)

I have a white dwarf somewhere where they sum up the rules changes in RotK, which I could propably write down and pm to you. As I remember it, it made the game just that tiny bit more robust and slick, though the game is for all intents and purposes fine and very much playable in its Two Towers incarnation. (I know, since I did  :D
The Supplements are mostly scenarios and profiles, along with some background stuff. If you snoop around online there's also some .pdfs and articles that GW provided for free (Back when they actually had a pretty good hobby section to their website) still floating around.

Offline Momotaro

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Re: GW LOTR rulesets...
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2015, 01:03:01 PM »
What affun said :)

Also search for Battle Companies - a free supplement with scenarios and campaign progression rules for small warbands of a dozen or fewer models.

Hang on...

https://battlecompanies.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/battle-companies-february-2014.pdf

Up to date with Hobbit movie warbands now and looking VERY smart.

Finally... before they purged their new website, GW had a pile of free stat and special ability sheets for the game.  Including stats for films 1 and 3 of the Hobbit.  Drop me a line and I'll get them to you as a ZIPped email or by Dropbox or something.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2015, 01:13:40 PM by Momotaro »

 

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