Well Met and Welcome to Tactical Middle-Earth!

This site is designed to provide me with a dynamic and easily updated platform for recording and sharing my thoughts, experiences and efforts in the hobby of gaming, specifically in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth.  For now most of this will revolve around the Lord of the Rings (LotR) games produced by Games Workshop.  This includes the Strategy Battle Game (SBG) for small scale matches and the War of the Rings (WotR) for representing massive battles.

Across the bottom you'll see several categories of articles and entries.  Many of them are places for me to share my work in painting and building armies as well as a section for me to share my thoughts and experiences with the game play, rule systems and tactics and provide some battle reports from games I've played. There is also a section dedicated to aspects of Sun Tzu's Art of War and how I have looked to adopt some of those principles to my game play.

Again, most of this will be from the perspective of GW's Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game or Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring systems, but I'm a wargame / role playing game player going back about 30 years and so there may be some "historical" information as well as future expansions here from my interests in other game systems.

For those that followed Tactical Middle Earth back when I was running on TWiki you will see I'm still in the process of porting over the older content.  Additionally the layout has changed as I've moved from a wiki format to a CMS platform ( /geekspeak off ).

SBG - First White Council - 500pts

The First White Council, 500 points

Strategy Battle Game Army - Elvish Kingodms


This army represents a small portion of the large combat forces that may have been present during the White Council's first assault on Dol Guldur around TA 2063, while the events of the Hobbit were taking place not far away.  This force is a good representation of my SBG Wood Elf armies and is a companion example to go with my First While Council - 1500pts War of the Ring army.


Wood Elves were my first army of Good that I built.  I selected mostly them based on my interest in the Elves of Mirkwood and their struggles against the darkness of Dol Guldur, but also for some gaming reasons.  This included the fact that many of our local gamers already had High Elf / Rivendell armies featuring heavy armored warriors, so it let me play Elves while remaining relatively unique in our group.  Additionally, my largest Evil army at that time was my force of Isengard which were also on the heavy-armored side of things.  So the non-armored Wood Elves gave a whole new challenge for me.  I also liked a lot of the game options for them, including the Spears which allowed me to use the Shielding rule, and their deadly Throwing Daggers which could effectively boost their (short) ranged firepower well above most armies and could be leveraged during different phases of the turn.  The models were also new at the time, just having been released with the Fall of the Necromancer book.


Having been spoiled by playing the tough Uruk Hai for so long it took me a little while to figure out the tactics needed to really maximize the Wood Elves.  When I first started I was really concerned with their fragility, as my Uruks could only be wounded on 5 or 6 most of the time, but the Mirkwood Elves only had a Defense of 3.  After a few games though I really got comfortable with how to play them and now play them as the fearless warriors they are in the stories.


I'll be adding an article soon to detail some of my WE tactics for the Strategy Battle Game but here are a few key points.  First, as long as you win the Fight roll, it doesn't matter if you have a Defense of 3.  So the critical part of surviving with this force is to win the Fight and Wood Elf Spears are a key part of this.  If you get them in combat or supporting you get an extra die as any other spear model in the game.  If you are solo against one or more foes, then you can use the special rule of the Spears to Shield, meaning you can roll two dice but if you win you can't strike any blows (you're putting all your effort to protecting yourself).  The Elves have some of the highest Fight values in the game so if you can roll two or more dice then you have a good chance of beating, or at least getting a tie in which case your Fight will probably give you the win.


The other strong benefit of the WEs are their Throwing Daggers.  In SBG ranged fire can be pretty effective.  Wood Elves have Strength 3 bows and are also Strength 3 themselves, so their daggers can hit as hard as their bows can, though only with a 6" range.  They can also be thrown after a full move, where bows only allow shooting if you move half or less.  This allows the daggers to be used to cover a retreat or advance, for example.  But the daggers can also be thrown on the Charge just before engaging the target model.  As they hit about 50% of the time and have equal chance of causing a Wound as the model does in melee, this means you have a pretty good chance of injuring your target before you are even in melee.  If you kill that model you can either abort the rest of your charge or else switch to another valid enemy.


So basic principles when building a Wood Elf army for me are (1) maximize bows, (2) most melee warriors should have Spears and (3) pack in a reasonable number of Daggers.  This army represents those principles while expanding a little more.


Thranduil, King of the Mirkwood Elves is the leader of this army.  He has the best armor for any Wood Elf, a high stat line with very good Might/Will/Fate values and a Shoot value even better than his son (though Legolas has some special rules his father lacks).  He also wears the Circlet of Kings which can give a major tactical advantage once per game if used right.  He is joined by Galadriel, Protectress of Lothlorien.  This is Galadriel in her War Aspect form and lacks the magical powers usually seen in the game.  Instead she is a combat powerhouse that I've often sent one-on-one against Mordor Trolls and can cut through regular troops with ease.  But one of her greatest advantages is the special rule that forces a -1 Courage modifier against all enemy models within a certain range.  Often in SBG the games come down to each side breaking at around the same point and so Courage tests can be critical.  As most Evil armies already have low Courage, that additional penalty will often cause enemy troops to scatter like rats.  But in addition to this, Galadriel is a terrific companion to the Sentinel.


The Wood Elf Sentinels (I play at least 1 and sometimes 2 in a 500pt game) is a good combat model already.  It has a bow and can strike two attacks in melee and an Elf Cloak to help keep it safe. But its greatest power comes from the special Songs that it can sing which have a magical effect.  My favorite by far forces a single enemy model to pass a Courage test or allow you to move it up to a full move.  This can be done even if it's already moved that turn and is limited only in that you cannot move it into combat or force it to injure itself (no jumping off cliffs, for example).  With Galadriel near by to force that Courage test at -1 it's even more potent. It's great to break up a formation, block an enemy's movement options, separate some supporting models, or send a pesky (but cowardly!) Troll scampering off in the opposite direction until you're ready to face it on your terms.


It's important to have as many standard warriors as well to keep your numbers up, and here's where the relatively cheap Wood Elves help shine.  With two major Heroes and an elite Sentinel already using up about half of the army's points, it's nice that the warriors can still be piled on.  This army includes 9 warriors with Bows.  Combined with Thranduil and the Sentinel that's 11 shots per turn and the ability to Volley Fire.  It also has 9 warriors with Elf Blades and Throwing Daggers.  I touched on the importance and tactical versitility of the daggers earlier.  The Elf Blades help address the last weak point of the Wood Elves...Strength.  With so many Evil forces having a high Defense it's important to be able to crack through their armor and Strength 3 just doesn't cut it much of the time.  The Elf Blades allow these warriors to fight as normal 1-handed weapons when it's important to win the Fight, but if working in teams with other models then one or more could elect to swing their Blade as a 2-handed weapon to get a bonus to Wound.  Finally, I'm able to round out the force with 11 Wood Elves with Spears.


The total army costs 499 points, includes 32 models, 11 bows plus 9 more dagger shots.


Thranduil, King of the Mirkwood Elves

Galadriel, Protectress of Lothlorien

Wood Elf Sentinels x1

Wood Elf Warrior with bow x9

Wood Elf Warrior with Spear x11

Wood Elf Warrior with Elf Blade and Throwing Daggers x9

Featured Armies

Lord of the Rings - Strategy Battle Game

To compliment my War of the Ring force, and provide some contrast in armies between the two game systems, here is a 500 point army of Mirkwood Elves that I have played often in SBG.


SBG - First White Council - 500pts

Lord of the Rings - War of the Ring

First up will be one of my forces of Wood Elves from Thranduil's Halls in dark Mirkwood.


WotR - First While Council - 1500pts

Featured News

Battle Report!

Dain's Last Stand


In June we had a fantastic, fun, large scale game at Elite Hobbies in Dover.  We played the scenario Dain's Last Stand from GW's War of the Ring rule set, featuring five players, about 3000 points per side, and a couple hundred models.

Dains Last Stand - 18Jun11