Thranduil, King of the Elves of Mirkwood

 

Thranduil has become one of my favorite Heroes to play in my Lord of the Rings Wood Elf armies.  In both game systems he is a strong combat leader, is a very attractive model, and just fits in perfectly with the themes of the armies.

 

In the Hobbit he was simply called the Elvenking, and he ruled the Sindarian Elves for more than 3000 years.  He claimed his inherited lands when his father died in the war of the Last Alliance, along with Gil-Galad and Elendil.  As such I have considered him on par with other such great and elder Elves as Elrond and Glorfindel.   I love the concepts of the Wood Elves as seasoned warriors standing against the darkness of Mirkwood and Legolas, son of Thranduil, is portrayed through the books (and even more so in the films) as a fearless, highly skilled warrior.  So it goes well that his father and king would be equally potent.

 

The Model

This is a great looking model by GW.  He has the basic elements of their Wood Elves but really stands out.  I normally prefer Heroes with a dynamic pose, and Thranduil is pretty static here, but in this case I think it works well.  He has his sword and staff at the ready and looks like he is either surveying a battlefield or else standing calmly while awaiting a charging foe to dispatch.  The detail is terrific all around the model and the face is very well done.

 

Thranduil in the Strategy Battle Game

The Elvenking is one of the best bargains for an Elf Hero in SBG.  Though he lacks his son's special shooting rule, he himself hits on a 2+.  This is the best accuracy in the game (not counting Legolas's "automatic hit" rule).  His two Attacks and Fight 6 means he will win the Fight more often than not, while a Defense 5, 2 Wounds and 3 Fate will keep him in the game a long time (his Enchanted Cloak helps protect him even more).

 

But one of his greatest advantages is his Circlet of Kings.  This allows you to call Aura of Dismay once per game for no cost, dramatically limiting an enemy's ability to charge you.  When timed right, the ability to charge a foe, then cripple their ability to counter charge you in return, can give you a significant edge for one turn and can often play a major role in deciding the victor.  The Circlet has been a big part in establishing the "Trixy Elves" reputation my Wood Elf force has developed in our local gaming group.

 

In close combat I like to team him up with a Sentinel and a couple normal WE warriors to make a potent kill team.  With his two attacks and an Elf Blade he can swing 2-handed giving a higher chance of scoring a Wound, while the other members of the team increase the chance of winning the Fight roll and adding some extra dice to the battle.  If they can get a surround situation on a foe (not too hard if you have at least three models and can maneuver) then he can actually be rolling 4 dice to Wound.  With 3 Might he an leverage the power of his team by calling an Heroic Combat and jumping the team over to assist with one or more other combats.

 

Thranduil in War of the Ring

In the WotR mass combat game Thranduil is at least, if not even more, potent than in SBG.  He is a very affordable Epic Hero and costs about 40% less than his famous son.   His Fight 7 / Resilience 3 makes him a very effective Dueling Hero on his own, but should the need arise he also has the Epic Strike special rule allowing him to boost this to Fight 10.   These same traits also makes him a great leader of his force, giving his Company a F7 (possibly F10).

 

Even more effective than that though is that he is one of only two Heroes with the Epic Shot special rule.  This allows him to deal D6 automatic hits to any enemy in his arc of sight that is within 12".  This is in addition to his Formation's normal shooting.  It also means automatic hits on a high defense Monster, Siege Engine or enemy Formation dug into defensible terrain.  Though you take your chances with a roll like this, and could wind up getting just a 1, I usually average 4 on an Epic Shot and that's worth it much of the time.  Followed up with a massive blast of arrows at close range and an enemy Formation can be significantly weakened prior to melee.

 

Thranduil is also a spell user in War of the Ring (though they missed giving him any magical abilities in Strategy Battle Game beyond his Circlet).  He is Mastery 2 in spell of the Wilderness and this is a nice bonus.  Call Winds and Entangle are decent spells of opportunity, but I usually find myself casting Nature's Wrath if there's a target close enough, followed by Call Winds if I'm going to be doing any shooting.  An extra die per Company is good for a free bonus, and I've gotten a lucky 6 a few times and that's really nice.  And if for any reason you don't nail the Focus roll after Nature's Wrath it's not like the follow-up spell was critical.

 

For my Wood Elf armies, Thranduil is usually a "must have" leader in either game system.