(or just scroll down for photos
We are on the very brink of Gamesworkshop releasing a new version of one of the best selling table top games of all time, The Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game, which is being rebranded as The Hobbit:SBG (something to do with a film coming out soon, apparently).
Some of us donâ€™t know much about it, some of us donâ€™t care, and others are passionate about the system. Whichever category you fit in to, in the run up to the massive launch of The Hobbit: Strategy Battle Game I am going to publish a series of Seven articles about what has changed in the system since it was first launched. Six of these will be battle reports, focusing on the â€˜Sourcebooksâ€™ that launched earlier this year and the impact they had on the game.
LOTR:SBG has changed significantly from the â€˜5 Uruk-hai chase 2 hobbits and Aragorn through the forestâ€™ type of games that marked its original release, scaling up over time to support games which frequently have over 100 independently movable models on the table. The Sourcebook scenarios turbo-charged the game, changing it from a game with a slow start involving distant volleying archers before proper combat and charges began into a fast paced game with cavalry smashing into the enemy lines within a turn or two of the gameâ€™s start, and almost all matches starting with simultaneous Heroic Moves by both armies as the jockeying for first movement has become more and more urgent.
As an avid 40K player, the key features of LOTR that appeal to me and make it different are Heroes with Might, Fate and Will who start the game almost unbeatable but actually tire before your eyes, the way Cavalry works â€“incredible on the charge, but almost worthless if bogged down- and the personality the game is given by unnamed heroes who can turn the tide of battle with the perfectly timed use of their single might point.
But enough words, the best way to get people who love wargames and models interested is with pretty pictures!
Here is a photographic report of the recent 2v2 game from the TGA club here in Western Australia, and ironically it's the only report not using the new Sourcebook Tournament scenarios. A version of this was posted previously, but it's not hard to see why I chose it as a taster; Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you
THE BATTLE FOR HELMS DEEP
Terrain by Steve 'Onyx' (see it in the flesh at TGA)
Photos and captions by Battle-brother Maracthor and Bruce, jazzed up by Matt.
Gandalf: "The board is set, the pieces are moving. We come to it at last, the great battle of our time."
Saruman: A new power is rising. Its victory is at hand. This night the land will be stained with the blood of Rohan. March to Helm's Deep. Leave none alive.
The Defenders rally to the Wall as Evil approaches.
Theoden: A great host, you say?
Aragorn: All Isengard is emptied.
Theoden: How many?
Aragorn: Ten thousand strong -at least.
Theoden: Ten thousand?!!
Aragorn: It is an army bred for a single purpose: to destroy the world of men. They will be here by nightfall.
Theoden: Let them come.
The assault on the gate begins as the rams and Trolls advance.
Gimli: What's happening out there?
Legolas: Shall I describe it to you?
Legolas: Or would you like me to find you a box?
The Uruk-hai advance on the Wall with ladders and Ballista but the Good Heroes keep throwing the Uruk-hai back
Through Saruman's dark machinations, the culvert is blown open
Into the breach!
Theoden: Look at my men. Their courage hangs by a thread. If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end, as to be worthy of remembrance.
The gate is broken....
But the Stormcaller calls down Nature's Wrath, throwing the attackers to the ground.
The assault on the breach is fiercely defended by Celeborn and his elven host.
Gandalf: Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east.
The lines are trampled - Uruk-hai; stuck between a rock and a bad ass!
The Uruk-hai gain the wall and sweep into the Citadel from both sides
Gimli smites down the Troll, "It counts as 10, damn you, Elf! I'll have no pointy-ear outscoring me! "
Gimli, Celeborn and his Elves storm out from the breach
Death looms for Theoden as the Trolls cut through the defenders....
Until Aragorn storms through the door from the Deeping Wall and bravely pushes back the Trolls
Aragorn "Show them no mercy... for you shall receive none!"
Things are looking grim for the forces of Good as Boromir, Eowyn and Rumil fall; so Gandalf tries a new tactic
Round 20 (7 hours): Theoden, Gandalf and Aragorn survive and hold back the tide of Evil
Legolas looks at Gimli and laughs, "it still only counts as 1!"
Gone but not Forgotten!
"The battle for Helm's Deep is over; the battle for Middle-earth is about to begin".
Details from players:
In the course of this battle, Aragorn carved through 20-30 models and 1 troll killed almost 2 full warbands!
Legolas beat gimli 10-7 in kills.
Evil suffered around 50% casulties.
The Game was played for 7 hours, and went for 20 Turns (Unlike 40K/Fantasy, LOTR does not have a turn limit)
* Evil was 2-3 models away from being broken
* Isengard had blown up the Deeping Wall by Turn 5, smashed in the gate by Turn 7 but had a lot of trouble putting models on the walls via the scaling ladders, due to the Good Heroes. It wasn't until about Turn 12 that finally there was a beachhead in one location. The battle was hard fought at key choke points. Both Aragorn and Theoden were fighting for their lives in the Hornburg (the main keep) at the end of the game, with Uruk-Hai and Trolls still coming at them.
* Aragorn exhausted - he had no Might, no Fate and was wounded. He was definitely the 'man of the match' though, singlehandedly defending the top of a scaling ladder against all comers, then heading with Legolas to save Theoden and killing a Troll which had massacred at least 15 models on the way into the keep.
* Theoden had also exhausted his Might and Fate, and yet managed to survive being trapped 4 times!
* Gandalf had Shadowfax shot out from under him with an Assault Ballista which passed 4 (!!!) in-the-way checks.
* Gandalf ran away and hid rather than be slain. He was 2mm away from being engaged by a Berserker, and 4 Uruk-Hai with Crossbows were also lining up a bead on him. Gandalf was also wounded and had exhausted his Fate.
* Legolas survived being trapped with only 1 Wound remaining. He outscored Gimli by something like 12 to 3 (yes, we had a die for Legolas and a die for Gimli so that they could 'keep score' of their kills). Legolas even tried to shoot one of Gimli's opponents early on so that Gimli couldn't get ahead. (yes, we had three Good generals - and one played Gimli, one played Aragorn and one played Legolas - great stuff!)
* After the Deeping Wall was breached, Celeborn and the elves plugged the gap and slaughtered all of the Berserkers and Uruk-Hai who tried to get into the interior. Celeborn gave a legendary performance in this scenario. The Elves actually 'broke out' of Helm's Deep but didn't quite manage to join forces with Gandalf/Boromir's cavalry reinforcements.
* Eowyn, Rumil and poor Boromir were slain in combat
Cinematic Gaming. And that is reason 1 of 7 to give it a try.