Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Building a War of the Ring Army

I was going to write this big thing called "Free Market Hagiography" in which I talk in religious studies terms about how free market fundamentalists have lost their faith, are re-mythologizing capitalism (should it be a big "C"?), and rather than blame the priesthood, blame worshipers who lack faith and doctrinal understanding (poor people who bought homes). But that's not why people read my blog, so lets talk about how I came up with my War of the Ring army list.

War of the Ring is the new miniature battle game that comes out April 4th. It uses the exiting line of Lord of the Rings minis, which to date, has been attached to a skirmish rule set that nobody plays, but everybody seems to have tried. The first step in creating an army list is figuring out point values. GW is rather coy about this. They don't want to scare people off, so they suggest starting with a small skirmish force, maybe 500 points or so, but you could play epic battles too, up to 9000+ points. After getting a consensus online, it seems like point value for a starting army are around whatever your group play now for existing GW games. I've decided on a point value of 1500 points.

Do I want good guys or bad guys? Some people are immediately captured by the models or movie scenes from one side or another. Talking to people at the store, the elven archers at Helm's Deep are inspiring, or perhaps the dwarves that get overlooked in the movies. For me, there was nothing more stunning than the mumaks (giant elephants), which made the horse lords nearly pee themselves. So I would play evil, and it would start with giant elephants. Sweet!

The Decree of Rarity
says I can't have more rare units or formations than common. A formation is all the same units bunched together. I went with 3 mumaks, which meant I had to pick three common formations. Originally I was thinking of doing Mahud raiders, those half naked guys on camels. I was foiled in my desire to use camels as rough riders in my 40K Tallarn army, so this is where I would get my revenge. Alas, they're not only rare units, but they're metal. Metal is the gotcha in War of the Ring, as the models are hugely expensive and tend to sneak up on you in price. I was careful building this army and only about 20% of my cost comes from blisters.

Rather than go with camel riders, I went with riders that matched my mumak crew, Haradrim raiders on horseback. Here's where I made another decision about my army; it would be entirely mounted. Mounted units in War of the Ring smoke everybody, plus there are fewer models to paint, another strategy with this army. A unit of Haradrim footmen is 25 points, the same as horsemen, but footmen companies are 8 men, while horsemen are 2. The second principle of this army is that all my front line troops would have bows, so I gave the raiders those as my main option.

With 3 rare formations and 1 common formation, I decided to pick a leader before going further. It was only after reading the website that I realized Suladan was supposed to lead the Haradrim, but by then I had found a little sidebar called "The Shadows of the Nazgul." I could have a Nazgul lead my army! The Dark Marshall was an obvious choice, because he was not only an awesome leader, but would allow me more horsemen as common choices, Morgul knights. He can also be mounted. Best of all, another theme developed, Terror! The mumaks caused terror, as do the Morgul knights and the Nazgul. This would be an elite terror army.

Finally, for the last formation, I went with Khandish mercenary raiders. Expert horsemen who can shoot while moving. I originally went with some Kataphrakt knights, but it didn't fit the theme as well. These are my filler troops, so rather than using my max company strategy, I went with only four companies.

Key Army Elements:

  • Everyone is mounted. The mumaks have a rather random movement rate, so the army will likely pace themselves at their speed. I mostly do this because I want an "elite" army (less painting). There are 25 horsemen, 3 mumak and 39 mumak crewmen.
  • Everyone (almost) can shoot. Everyone except the Nazgul and Morgul knight bodyguards can shoot.
  • Terror is the theme. The horsemen in the middle don't cause terror, but they're fluff wise motivated by those in front (mumak) and those in back (nazgul and knights). For fluff purposes it felt a bit like a commissar driven army.
In case you're wondering, this comes out to about $500 retail before I start min-maxing boxes and blisters for the exact unit sizes. Another good method is to use what you already have. At home I've got a formation of beautifully painted Gondor riders, but I don't want to base my army around them.

QTY Type Name Points Total
1 Epic Hero Ringwraith: The Dark Marshall 125 125

1 Common Morgul Knight Regiment Cmd
35 35
Morgul Knight Commander 50 50
Banner Bearer 35 35

3 Common Morgul Knight Regiment 35 105

1 Common Haradrim Raider Warband Cmd 25 25
Haradrim Chieftain 50 50
Banner Bearer 35 35
Bows 5 5
3 Common Haradrim Raider Warband 25 75
Bows 5 15

1 Common Khandish Merc Raiders Cmd
25 25
Khandish Chieftain 50 50
Banner Bearer 35 35
3 Common Khandish Mercenary Raiders 25 75

3 Rare War Mumak of Harad 250 750
13 Mumak Crew each

Total Points



  1. "I was going to write this big thing cal led "Free Market Hagiography" ... But that's not why people read my blog, so lets talk about how I came up with my War of the Ring army list."

    I'm not so sure people wouldn't be very interested in your Free Market Hagiography article too.

  2. I edited it about four or five times after I posted it to fix errors in the army list (or things I said that didn't match the point values, etc.).

  3. *yawn*... What was that? Free Market Hagiography? Now THAT sound interesting!

  4. Where do you get the points values? Do you have the book already?

    I'm building a Minas Tirith army. So far I'm going from the template given on the website:

    4 Companies of Warriors (hand weapons and shields)

    2 Companies of Archers

    To this I'd like to add some Knights, and possibly some captains and flag-bearers. And more Warriors. Possibly Gandalf the White or Aragorn.


  5. We've got a store copy of the book with point values. It's out on display in the store.

  6. Aww crap. I guess I'll have to wait then.


  7. Josh -

    Gondor Warriors with Hand weapon & Shield are 25pts per "company".

    Gondor Archers are 30 pts per "company".

    The first company in a formation may have a Captain (+50 for either of these unit types), Banner (+35 for either of these unit types), and horn (+15 for either of these unit types).

    Gondor foot troops are "Common" and may have 1-6 companies per formation.

    While one of the things in the rules reads as though you may only have one formation of a given type, the sample army lists for scenario games that they include have multiple formations of the same troop type (i.e. two formations of Gondor Swordsmen, each with six companies).

    Hope that helps.

  8. The armies with the "Quick Start" scenario are about 250 points.

  9. Cool, thanks Joe. That helps alot. I'll start a thread on this game on the Forum.


  10. i am doing ways of the dead, so i will have... arnor rangers, army of the dead, riders of the dead, wood elves (not sure why), and the three hunters as allies