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 ).

Hard To Kill or Not

Hard To Kill or Not?

A Discussion of the Hard To Kill Special Rule
and its Variations in War of the Rings


One of the interesting concepts introduced with the War of the Ring game system is the Hard To Kill special rule and the variations that extend from it ( Very Hard to Kill, Extremely Hard to Kill, etc. ).  This is a family of special rules that are only applied to "Monster" class models.  This includes the obvious Trolls, Ents, Ringwraiths on Fellbeasts, etc., but also some characters that are played similarly (Glorfindel, Dwarf King's Champion to name a couple).


On paper it sounds pretty reasonable.  Your model takes a number of hits based on his Defense.  Most (all?) of these models have  Resilience value of 2 or more so that means it takes two such "hits" to actually have the potential to do any damage.  For every accumulated strike you roll one die on a Hard To Kill table.  If the number is a 1 it does nothing.  If it's a 6 the model dies.  Anything else adds one or more Wound Counters to the model.  The next time you roll on the table, you add any Wound Counters already present to your roll so now you no longer have a chance of a 1 and you only need a 5 or better to kill.


So does this mean the model is really Hard To Kill?


In my experience, I'd say "no".  There are many ways to deal damage to a model.  Bow fire is relatively weak in War of the Ring but in large numbers it can be effective.  A Formation of Elves can be rolling 30+ dice per turn on shooting and with that many you are bound to get some 6/4 results.  In two such turns most H2K models will go down.  When you get into combat it's even worse.  A lot of the typical warriors could be hitting these models on a flat 6, or even a 5.  There are also several special rules and magic spells which deal damage at least as easily.  And all you really need is a single roll on the H2K table (basically just getting two hits in to account for the Resilience) and a lucky 6 and the model is dead.  If it's not a 6 right away you will just need a 5 or less with the second hit.


It is true that there are a lot of things going for the H2K models that should help protect them.  A Defense of 7 or 8 in most cases mean most models will need 6 or better to get a hit, and then the R2 means you need two such to get a roll as covered above.  Plus Monsters have a round base which means only one Company in a Formation may directly assault them while the rest are left to support.  If the monster made the charge then it probably didn't engage the Command Company so any Hero present won't be helping in many cases.  Plus most H2K models cause Terror, so there is a chance that the enemy Formation will fail and be reduced in its combat effectiveness.  Finally, Monsters strike before Infantry and Cavalry so when they do hit their damage will be applied to the enemy Formation before the number of attacking dice are calculated for the return strike.


I haven't played many games where I've been in control of H2K models but having been on the "receiving end" of them I will say that my experience says they often aren't worth their points in small and medium sized armies.  If you're playing over 2000 points and you can have a few in the force then it starts to get better.  But if you bring along just one Mordor Troll, for example, it's really throwing away the points in many cases.


To represent models that are even more potent, the game has the Very Hard To Kill (VH2K) special rule.  Here things start to get more acceptable.  This uses the same rule and table as H2K with the extra benefit that you subtract 1 from the die roll.  So you have almost no chance of loosing the model on the first roll, and can be reasonably safe for probably 3 turns of combat.  In this time most such models should be able to pay for themselves in damage dealt to an enemy force.  Many models at this level are Heroes as well, with a higher Defense and combat values, can At The Double and call Heroic Actions, all making them more potent.  They can Heroic Duel in addition giving them even more chance of overwhelming a foe.  But there is still the risk that the first penetrating hit may get a lucky 6 (natural 6 is an automatic re-roll on the table) and the follow-up die may be high enough to take them out.


Still, I am generally happy playing a VH2K model.  I have played both Treebeard and a Troll Chief in my armies and in each case they have proven their worth and have shown the difference a single -1 can make.


Going even further beyond, Dragons and some other models have the Extremely Hard to Kill ( XH2K ) rule which has a table all its own and requires even more wound accumulation before you can get a kill.  These play very well.  I went against a Balrog in a recent game and found a lot of effort was required to wear him down, as it should be for such a mighty foe.


And if that wasn't enough, the Mumukil have the Rediculously Hard to Kill ( RH2K ) rule and in most cases this really is.  The kill count on the Mumuk means you need to accumulate probably 8-10 rolls on the table to have a decent chance of killing it, and with R2 this means you need to get 16-20 hits through its heavy defense (another reason I love Legolas...Crippling Shot special rule to drop a model's resilience by 1 for the turn cuts in half the damage requirement).   This model really can stay on the board a long time and take the kind of damage you see in the films, though once that first wound gets through you start to get the risk of stampede and in some cases you find yourself wishing it would have died before it turned around and crashed right back through your own ranks...but that's another discussion all together.


So in summary, I would say H2K models are either nice fluff or potentially effective if you can bring 2-3 of them without compromising your army.  If you put serious points of leadership into one ( such as a Nazgul on Fellbeast, the Necromancer, or Glorfindel) then you need to work hard to protect it from being targeted.  Starting with the VH2K models you will find them having much better survivability on the table and can do what you expect of them in most cases before being lost.

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