I finally got a chance to get to my local Games Workshop and try a demo game for War of the Ring. Dave ran me through their standard demo game featuring Rohan vs Mordor with a couple allies for each army. I chose to play Rohan (woohoo!) – My army was:
Three Companies of Riders of Rohan (6 Models), Two Companies of Oathsworn Militia (16 Warriors of Rohan), One Company of Oathsworn Militia w/bows (8 Warriors of Rohan), Two Companies of Army of the Dead (16 Models), and 1 Ent. I was facing a similar army comprised of a Mordor Troll, 6 Haradrim Raiders, 24 Mordor Orcs with Hand weapons and 8 Mordor Orcs w/ Bows. Comparing across the stat-lines, I’m pretty sure the Good Models had a huge advantage. However, it didn’t really matter as it was just a Demo Game.
The mechanics of the game were pretty easy to pick-up. It will take some time to get used to separate Moving and “Charge” Phases of the turn. It will also take some time to get used to the new statlines for some of the models (especially the Rohirrim). I like the rules allowing the winner of the Priority Phase to chose whether they want priority or want to defer.
The rules for using archery were interesting in that depending on how far you were from your target, the strength of your weapon decreases. Makes sense I guess. Absent it seems were rules for volley fire. I made the mistake of trapping my archery formation behind my lines and had no line of site for the first turn. On the flip side, I lost a Rider of Rohan to archery from the lowly orcs.
The fun (for me) was the Charge phase. Your charging range is based on a random die roll + a static number based on your model type. So for instance, the cavalry can move up to 10 inches during the move phase and then they can charge D6+6 inches in charge phase. In addition, if you roll a 6 on your charge, you can get an “Unstoppable Charge” which gives some addition bonuses. Conversely, rolling a 1 means that your charge falls apart and you can’t move at all. Sigh. This happened a few times to me. I felt like I was rolling my friend Jeremy’s dice!. Anyway, back on topic… when I did get my first Cavalry charge into the Mordor Orc Formation, I was rolling 36 dice to wound – needing only 4s to cause the wounds. Needless to say, it was a bloody mess for the Orcs. The lost a bunch of models and then failed their courage test and became disorganized (never again to find organization). As I hope to ultimately have a Cavalry formations into the 40-50 model range, I think I’m going to have to invest in many, many, many more dice.
Wounding is slightly different in that your model has a “resiliency” statistic that must be overcome with wounds before it is removed from play. Resiliency isn’t cumulative through a turn either. Most infantry models are resiliency of 1 but cavalry is 2. That means that even though 3 wounds were caused, only 1 model was removed. In addition, that “extra” resiliency doesn’t carry over to the next phase or next turn. The wound is just wasted.
Combat with the monsters was very interesting. We got to a phase of the game where the Mordor Troll was facing off against the Ent. Although I had a superior stat line, I ended up whiffing on 4 rolls to wound (only needing 3s mind you!) while the Troll wounded me all four times. Monsters don’t have “wounds” per se. They are only wounded through rolls on the “Hard to Kill” or “Very Hard to Kill” table. That means every time you cause two wounds (corresponding to two resiliency) then you roll 1 dice on the Hard to Wound Table. Adding wound counters are some of the results that could occur on these tables. For every wound counter you have, you add one to your die roll on the Hard to Kill table. Eventually, you’ll net out the “6” that is required to kill him. So, back to my game… The troll managed cause two wounds and rolled on the Hard to Kill table. He rolled a “6” and instantly killed my Ent. Sheesh. Just for fun, I charged two Cavalry into the Troll and managed to secure 4 wounds. Two rolls on the Resiliency Table yielded 2 wound counters for him.
Our game ended after three turns. I’d eliminated all his orcs while he’d killed all my Warriors of Rohan on Foot, my Army of the Dead, and my Ent. All he had left was the Troll.
Obviously, we played a very simplified game. However, I can see how this would be fun. Having never really played a game based on “movement trays”, I was unsure how maneuverable the models would be. I wasn’t sure how much tactical knowledge would be useful. I can say, that I think there will still be a lot of tactical maneuvering in full fledge games. As LOTR players, we’ll need to get used to playing on 4×6 boards however!! I think adding in Heroes and Magic will make the game a lot more tactically challenging.
I’m very much looking forward to expanding my own Rohirrim to a full-fledge WotR army! I’ll also be expanding my Haradrim to represent an WotR army. Definitely two major projects for the summer!
For what its worth, Games Workshop has provided some downloads for Quick Start Rules. Check them out here: QuickStart Rules Downloads