Thursday, September 10, 2009

War of the Ring Game

I got an unexpected call from my gaming buddy Mark last night asking if I wanted to have a game of Games Workshop's War of the Ring game today. I was suprised because we had just played the Aliens game last week. For those who don't know, War of the Ring (WOTR) is a game of massed battle for 25mm miniatures set in JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth. The way the game is designed you can play a battle involving potentially hundreds of mini's in a day. Miniatures are grouped together in companies which in turn are organized into formations and there are individual mini's representing Epic heros (like Aragorn, Boromir, a Nazgul, or Gothmog) and monsters (like trolls and Balrogs). The formations move, shoot at another if armed with missile weapons, charge and if succesful, fight other formations. Combat is resolved through the roll of dice, often lots of them. WOTR is very much a "Buckets o' Dice" game. There can also be magic used in the game depending on who is fighting.

Today's game involved me playing a force of Orcs, Easterlings, a Troll and Haradrim against a mixed force of Elves and Gondorians. The leader of my force was Gothmog while the good guys had Boromir and Faramir. There were about 60 figures on each side. I had two companies of Easterlings, 6 companies of Orc warriors, 4 companies of Orc archers, 2 companies of Haradrim archers, 3 companies of Haradrim cavalry, 4 companies of Warg riders (lead by Gothmog). IIRC I was facing 3 companies of Wood elves, 6 companies of Knights of Minas Tirith, 2 Companies of Citadel Guard Archers, 2 companies of Warriors of Minas Tirith Archers, and 6 companies of Warriors of Minas Tirith with Faramir and Boromir.

The board was set up with a few patches of forest and some rock outcroppings. We set up along the long edges of a fairly narrow table. I won Priority for the first turn and moved my forces forward. My troll moved into cover and what units could moved "At the Double. I made the mistake of moving my units of archers a full move which meant the couldn't shoot the 1st turn. The table was narrow enough that they would have had targets right away. It would have been a good thing to try and whittle down some of his archery units, as he used them quite effectivly in his part of the shoot phase, knocking my Warg riders down to a company and a half and reducing the Haradrim cav down to one company. I was able to shoot with my Haradrim cav, taking out a total of one Minas Tirith warrior.

The narrowness of the table allowed units to close quickly into charge range. My remaining Warg Riders charged a unit of archers and were in turn charged by some Knights. The Easterlings charged the Warriors of Minas Tirith lead by Faramir. Mark called a Heroic Duel using Might, but I managed to tie him on the roll meaning nothing happened. The combat went well for me,and I destroyed a company of MT warriors, for the loss of something like four Easterlings. My Warg riders did some damage to the archer unit, and then were wiped out by the Knights charging them in the flank, despite Gothmog's use of Epic Defence. This, unfortunately, took out Gothmog, a rather high value unit.

The game was slowed down because we are still learning it and there is a lot of page flipping and rule checking. Some of the rules don't really jibe with reality, but it is a game not a simulation. Admittedly some of the rules are a bit, well, gamey, like companies using defensable terrain as a teleporter to move faster than they should. Some of the rules don't make sense and GW has yet to produce a FAQ to answer the questions that have come up. Also, one of the best resources for the game, The Last Alliance website has vanished into the ether. It's important,when tweaking a rules set, not to go too far and mess up the intent of the designers, which was to make a reasonably fast playing mass battle game. Abstractions have to be made.

The game went downhill for Evil in the second turn, with more units getting shot up by archery and the formation of Easterlings being destroyed after an epic struggle in the middle of the board. The Troll was taken out by Boromir after damaging a unit of Citadel Guard. His mighty blow was pretty darn mighty. By the third turn it was pretty much game over, with three companies of orcs getting run over by some Knights and being utterly destroyed. I still had a fightable force, but it would have been tough going against the Sons of the Steward and only one remaining hero. We had to call the game at that point anyways as Mark had to head home and I had to pick up Matthew from school. Despite taking a bashing it was still a fun game, and things will only improve as we master the game rules and work out some house rules to cover the quirks. Here are some pictures from early in the game.

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