Saturday, August 22, 2015

Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit at Call to Arms!

Pull up a pew, grab yourself a tipple and settle yourself back to a  recount of tales of daring do!...

The weekend of 15th/16th August 2015 saw my son, Chris, and I venture south to Wellington for the Warlords annual Call to Arms event.

It was great to have The Lord of the Rings, or as it has become known now, The Hobbit, Strategy Battle Game, back as a tournament game at the event.

This years event would be a singles event, 800 points per army, using a player pack used with some experience from prior events.

Forces were to be selected from recent army books from 2012 onwards, and lists from the Hobbit releases.

Missions however were different and were more akin to the older style missions where deployments for most missions were measured 10" in from your board edge.

At 800 points, I had finally decided to take a simple to run, straight forward Mordor list;

Gothmog on Warg would lead 12 Morannon Orcs.
Backing up this warband was a Shaman, with banner-bearer and 11 orcs with spears.
Shagrat then led a warband with a front row or Mordor uruks backed by more orcs with spears.
Finally to give me some mobility, an Orc Captain on warg would lead 12 Warg Riders.

The tactics would be simple - solid well led infantry core, with a Shaman casting channelled Fury, would keep the horde moving, and resisting some hurt, and scary things wouldnt worry us! Try and use weight of numbers to crush the opponent, applied at the best time possible. Warg Cavalry would threaten flanks and give mobility to surround the foe.

I had considered also going 'all-mounted Rohan', but was concerned at those de-horsing spells like Natures Wrath  and Panic Steed that could neuter my effectiveness... plus I hadn't got round to painting up my dismounts for Rohan Royal guard, nor completed the outriders I wanted to add.

I also thought about going with a Lothlorien, Woodland Realm alliance, but elves can need a little finesse to get the best out of them sometimes ... and it had been a while since I had used them ... plus I am not a fan of blue on blue engagements... so Mordor, being Mordor, would be happy to kick anyone's butt! ;-)

For Chris, we agreed that a Gondor force would be a good solid list to use, without too many bells and whistles and special rules to get wrapped up in, so...

Boromir Captain of the White Tower with Banner, would lead a warband of Warriors of Minas Tirith, backed up by Damrod leading 12 Rangers with spears and bows.
Beregond would lead another Warrior warband with spears and swords. whilst Faramir would set aside his ranger garb and don armour to lead his knights into battle, for some cavalry support; 6 knights and a mounted banner.

Chris would be using similar tactics to mine, a solid infantry core, backed by spears and effective shooting from the rangers for ranged missile attack, assisted by flanking cavalry.


Game one I was drawn against Nathan Smith, Manager GW Wellington. I have known Nathan for some time via the shop, but this would be my first time playing him. Nathan was fielding a well converted Mirkwood spider list, lead by a Spider Queen and joined by an allied Shelob! This was not an army to face for arachnophobes!

The mission was Meeting Engagement!
Deployments as below...

This was a cagey affair...initially... I was wary of what this many spiders would achieve... they're a bit like glass cannons ... hit hard, but are 'squishy'...

I advanced in to the centre keeping my numbers together as the spiders swarmed to my flanks...

Eventually the warg riders and spiders on my left started mixing it up, so I moved the rest of my force to the left to deal with half of the spider threat before the others could move across and surround me.

"Hold the Line!"

I managed to get ascendancy on the left... though Gothmog had had a fright when he got paralyzed and fell from his warg, luckily shrugging off the effects at the end of the turn, but the warg legged it!

Shelob who had been probing for a weakness finally charged forward with the other flank spiders joining in. Shagrat counter attacked Shelob leading a mob of orcs who manged to surround her.

The fight was swift and brutal and mighty Shelob was dispatched!

The game finished shortly after... resulting in a minor victory to me, scoring 15-5 over Nathan.

I really enjoyed this game, and Nathan was great fun to play against, and his spider army was a delight to see.


Game Two, would be against James Ryder, GW Auckland Manager, who had brought down Smaug!...and a 'generic' Ringwraith, to  make up the points.

Smaug was a sight to behold. The first such to feature in NZ... and very nicely hand painted by James. And set off on a great display board.

Now we all know Smaug is an absolute beast! But as in many games, where mission parameters can vary, its not always about killing your foe, but sometimes about manoeuvre or holding separated objective markers... these are where a single large model can be out pointed and mitigated to an extent... so what mission did I draw against mighty Smaug? Conquest of Champions!

Yep, I had to kill more of James's force than he did of mine to win! Yeah right, that was never going to happen.

Having been instructed in the various abilities and special rules of Smaug, we set to...

Well I got across the board, weathering dragon fire and spells as I did so... I eventually managed to get Gothmog and a party of orcs into Smaug, called a heroic strike with Gothmog in the hope of beating Smaugs fight skill and having a vague change to winning a round of combat, but I rolled a one for my Strike, so that wasn't going to happen...

Chomp, whack, scream, barge chomp again, and there was little left of my force. the next wave just able to rinse and repeat... I did manage a consolation prize when Shagrat finally caught up with the wraith and killed him for a point, but by then Smaug had killed about 30 orcs, so that was that...

Major loss, 0-20 to James.

As much as it was great to see Smaug there, reality was I was mostly playing against him in name only... the model being largely too big to put on the board without constantly knocking over terrain or other models. So I was playing against a grey oval flat base to represent where Smaug was...

Sadly not the best experience. No faulting James though... it was just best practical way to 'use' him in the game.

I couldn't help conclude Smaug is really a scenario piece, or display piece, rather than a routine gaming / tournament piece. James' model had taken a couple of knocks too and would need some TLC after the show, to re-fix a tail section etc etc.  ... not sure I would want to be having to keep making repairs to a $650NZ model!

But thanks again to James for bringing Smaug down from Auckland for us all to see. A sight to behold! Cheers mate!


After game two had ended we had the beauty pageant...

The Gondorians I painted up for Chris to use...

My Mordor horde...

Luke's Elven Heroes...

Matt's White Council...

Peter's Easterlings...

Nathan's Mirkwood Spiders....

... and of course James' Smaug...

...and finally Declan's Dwarves..

A great variety of forces on display and in use in the tournament and all painted to a high standard. A joy to behold! And tough to pick one the winner.

In the end my vote went to Peter's Easterlings... good to see a good size themed army painted up nicely and with a great many individual conversions that are not immediately apparent, but echo the work that has gone into getting the force assembled. Well done.


Game three and last on Saturday I was drawn against Declan, a fine young man, who was running Dwarves. Dain led the main warband, with Balin and Thorin each leading another. For some magical support, Gandalf the Grey was along for the ride, and for a little sneaky support Alfrid had been convinced to join in this expedition!

The mission was Take and Hold. A marker was placed in the centre of the board. At the end of the battle, each model within 3" of it would score a point.
Each army started with their leader and his warband on table. The rest were off as reserves, with reserves arriving from any side dependent on roll of a dice...

Reserves would be allowed to charge, on the turn they arrive...

Gothmog lead the charge to the objective with the morannons following. Opposite him Dain lead on the dwarves...

Then the fun began... Declan won priority, moved Dain and his warband forward...and then started rolling for reserves... Declan rolled 3-4s for all reserves meaning I could select which side they came on... Gandalf came on from Declan's board edge, Thorin on my right, Balin on my left and Alfrid from my side. With the two allied heroes being independent warbands they were isolated in this mission....

I then moved up Gothmog and the orcs, and started rolling for reserves. This was one of those times when winning priority was not helpful as it allowed me some adjustment to what Declan had other words, depending of where my troops showed up I could charge on as I pleased or not.

Gandalf was immediately caught from behind by the Shamans spear armed orcs!

Balin was left unmolested and with a long walk to the centre...

Shagrat and his warband charged the flank of Thorins warband and Alfrid found himself immediately surrounded by warg riders...

Gandalf managed to survive the orc ambush, but Alfrid was slain and Thorins warband took an initial mauling.
This seemed to set the scene for the remainder of the battle... Thorins warband found themselves in increasing pressure from the combination of Shagrat and the wargs...

In the centre the leaders squared off, as Gandalf ran to get to the safety of the dwarves warband with the orcs hard on his heals.

Thorins warband steadily succumbed to the outnumbering orcs and wargs...

The fight had now started in the centre and spare wargs were peeling off from the flank, where their numbers were no longer needed, to start the fight for the objective marker.

Thorin soon found himself surrounded but fought on bravely...

 Now Dains warband is under pressure with Orcs to front and rear and wargs joining in... Gandalf tried to disrupt the formation casting Sorcerous Blast.

The last troopers with Thorin are taken care of, leaving Thorin to survive another turn...

More pressure in the centre as Balin desperately tried to arrive on time...

Finally Thorin stands alone...

... and falls...

Balin has arrived and now the central fight breaks up... buts it too late.
The dwarves have broken with the orcs firmly in control of the objective.

I found it a very enjoyable game, and Declan battled on manfully, though I feel the tide turned against him very early on from which he didnt really have much chance of recovering from... once the numbers went against him...

Major Victory to Mordor, 20-0.


So after the first day I was on two wins and a loss... not a bad start.

Sunday was scheduled for more of the same.

Game Four was against Luke Henning; GW Manager from the Lower Hutt store.

Luke was fielding an Elven hero list with Elrond, and his sons Elladan and Elrohir both on horse, Erestor, Glorfindel, Haldir, Rumil, and Legolas.

8 models against 52... but those eight Elves were pretty powerful, so could they hold out and win the mission , which was ... Reconnoitre!

Sadly for Luke this was going to be a tough ask. The mission is a scouting mission, or in my case a reconnaissance in force!

Both armies had to get as many of their troops off the opposite board edge past their enemy. The player to get the most models off, wins.

Lukes thin line of 8 models would have to stop 52 models rushing past the elves...

How things started off...

Gothmog lead the main mob through the centre opposed by Glorfindel and Rumil, Shagrat is to my left, resisted by Legolas and Haldir. and the wargs head up my right, headed off by Elrond and his sons and Erestor.

Obviously the wargs and their speed are Lukes biggest threat and Elrond was looking to Natures Wrath my cavalry to slow them down...

The game predictably boiled down to me charging across the board as much as I could, using Heroic Marches to increase my speed. The Warg cavalry was largely dismounted by spells but most of the dismounted wargs stuck around increasing the number of models the elves had to deal with.

Towards the end...

At the end, Shagrat and Gothmog lead their warbands off the table... Luke just mistimed his run, and missed getting any models off the table, with one of the twins on horse just falling short despite calling a Heroic March.

The result a major win to Mordor, 20-0.

It was an enjoyable game, despite its odd nature and the brief skirmishes went mostly in the elves favour, I just didnt want to commit numbers to any fights, preferring to leave just a few models tying up the elven heroes as the rest of my hordes ran past..


Game Five, and I am facing another 'Elven' Hero List. This time its Matthew Ridgley, a local Wellingtonian, who has done wonders generating interest in the game again, and setting up the New Zealand Hobbit League on Facebook. Matt fielded his White Council ( Galadriel, Elrond, Arwen and Saruman and Glorfindel), assisted by Elladan and Elrohir on foot. OK Saruman is not an Elf but you get the gist!? ;-)

The mission this time was Clash Of Pickets. This is much like a straight up fight mission, but you only have half your force on the board to start on your table edge with the rest of your force to come on as reinforcements, from dice roll determined board edges.

The victor would win by killing the enemy army leader and breaking the opposing army.

Matt deployed his White Council centrally and I opposed him with Gothmog backed up my the Shaman and spears.

As it turned out our reserves all came on our own board edges, so the elves hunkered down beside their wooded copse and awaited the Orcish onslaught...

This was going to be a numbers game, pure and simple. Basically I will try and surround and overwhelm the elven heroes, weather their spells, like Natures Wrath, and watch them burn through their Might, Will and Fate points. I'd obviously pick on the weaker heroes first; Arwen and Galadriel with their lower defence values...

And so charging across the board I went. The twins held the wood, and most of the warg riders looked to outflank this, and reduce their exposure to Nature Wrath spells from Elrond and Arwen... My infantry pretty much went straight up the middle.

The shamans Fury spell negated most of the terror liability the orcs had charging the Legendary elves, so I was able to swarm the heroes with numbers, having first weathered a couple of Natures Wrath spells...

Saruman kept himself out of trouble, ducking and diving and finding some cover in the woods. Arwen and Galadriel were shielded somewhat by Elrond and Glorfindel up front, but the orc numbers were too great and flanking wargs got round the back and got into Arwen.

Elladan and Elrohir engaged the wargs circling the wood, trying to stop them flanking the council, with more numbers....

Arwen was quickly in trouble and was the first to go down under the weight of orcs. Galadriel shortly followed.

Saruman kept ducking  and diving, chased into the woods by the orcs.

Glorfindel and Elrond kept their face stern and bore the brunt of Gothmog and Shagrat and a world of orcs! Elladan and Elrohir were sucking it up too, both surrounded by orcs and wargs.

Eventually Gorfindel dealt to Gothmog... but was soon after slain himself! Then one of the elven twins fell...

Now this is when Hero-mob breakpoint-stuff got a bit interesting,...

Matt had started out with 7 models... break point is 50%... so half of 7 is 3.5, but this rounds UP to 4. And for an army to be BELOW its break point it has to have lost MORE than that number of models. So to break an  army of 7 models, I have kill 5, not 4... got it?

My head got it , but my heart was looking at the side lines and seeing 4 dead elves and looking back at the game and seeing 3 live elves, and it was was telling my brain, but we've killed more than he's got left in the game man!    Yep, suck it up bro, and move on...

OK, I've still got a ton of orcs, the elves are all out of might will and fate and are totally surrounded, and bleeding out wounded, and the last elven twin has just gone nuts so his D has just dropped...

Saruman is still ducking and diving,... I've given him a fat lip but cant nail him down...

Each scrap has 3 elf dice with no might left and and I've got at least double that if not more per fight (orcs spears are great yo!). So long as the elves dont roll a six and I can, then I win...

...a couple of rounds go by, and both elves roll a six, and I cant win even with a six due to their higher fight skill... and each round I bleed out more orcs...getting closer to my own break point...

Finally, they both fluff it and both roll 5 max, all I have to do is roll a single 6 on a heap of dice... twice... just to kill one elf hero... and I fluff it, ...twice over... about 30 dice go down and I dont get a single six....AAAAARRRRGGHHHH! (that was audible in the gaming hall too...)

...and I broke, losing more than 50% of my orcs... and lose the game... major loss....0-20!


Fair play to Matt it was a hugely enjoyable game, and went according to plan... except the dice forgot to read the game plan before hand!... thems the breaks...!


Game 6, against my son Chris and his Gondorian force.

Coming off game 5, and I was still buzzing... Chris had just had a game against James and Smaug and had taken the expected mauling, like everyone else had... and as he'd been playing and looking imploringly at me with a "what do I do, Dad" look in his eyes... all I could say was, write it off, and look forward to the next game...

And that game was against me!

And that seemed the best end to the weekend... by last game I think everyone has just about had it... but we set to like we meant business...

Final game was to Kill a King... to win outright you had to kill the enemy leader and break the opposing the army...

Chris and I set up alternating warbands as we did so... we both went for the central infantry mass, with cavalry to opposite flanks.

I knew Chris would sit tight and shoot me up on the way across... I wanted to get my wargs round to his rear as quick as possible to deal with the archers, but Beregonds warband was in the way... in the end I vacillated a bit, and ended up deciding on a slow march across the board and have my wargs switch flanks to deal with Faramirs cavalry who could hurt my infantry flank as it advanced across the board...

Chris played a bit of cat and mouse with said cavalry... moving up, threatening then jinking back out of harms way... eventually... my wargs got relocated and the cavalry started mixing it up, but those turns to relocated had seen many orcs die to ranger archery. Gothmog joined the wargs and Shagrat lead the infantry assault in the centre...

Over several turns I beat down the cavalry and dispatched Faramir, whilst Shagrat marched headlong into the Gondor line. Boromir soon made himself known and he was in my back field burning might along the way and chasing down my shaman and banner... Shagrat had also more or less broken through and was into the soft rangers  with wargs starting to relocate from the victory on the flank and finally getting round to the rear of the Gondor line. Beregond had joined the fray and was rolling up the other orc flank...

It was all a grand mess but we were having fun... but time was ticking by and most other games had ended  and we were just about the last still playing in the hall, and with wifeypoos arriving with the chariot to take us home, we decided to call it...

Neither of us were near break point and our "kings" were not likely to fall anytime soon, so we called it a draw... 10-10.

And with that the weekend was over and the final results tallied up...


As the results were read off and awards awarded, Nathan Smith won a bunch on prizes for his Spider army, well deserved... then Chris was awarded Best Sportsmanship! High honour indeed!

Then I was awarded Best Painted, and was announced 3rd place overall. Well I was well chuffed with that result!

Luke Henning came second with his Elven Hero force and no surprises, James with his Smaug the Magnificent came first overall, and won the Butcher award!

What a brilliant weekend. Great guys to play with all round and many thanks to Alan Borthwick for running the show!

Big thanks to the other players for joining in and especially to the GW managers who all elected to join our little comp... that certainly speaks volumes to me about the potential appeal of this game.

All I can say is, if you have the chance, give LOTR/Hobbit a try... and if you have a stash of old LOTR models hidden somewhere, break them out and get using them again... its a cracking game and the player base, as it is, is still as passionate as ever...


  1. An epic double trilogy in it's own right! Some great shots of the games too. Best painted! Well deserved!

  2. Sounds like a brilliant and suitably epic weekend! Congrats to you and the boy on your awards!

  3. Great report! And congratulations on your prizes!

    And that Smaug is really a beast. In double sense!

  4. Great looking games - fabulous figures and terrain all-around. And the awards icing on the cake.

  5. I am not gonna lie, that spider force looks amazing! Isn't it a bit gamey to put regular spiders on much larger bases? Seems to give a big advantage for control zone. Anyway, looks like a great time and makes me miss my LOTR days.

    1. Hey Robert... I think it actually hinders the spiders if anything... they're on a larger base like a monster but dontget any of the monster special rules... it also means they cant so easily crowd you with numbers, but you can get more onto them ... Nathan made the force I believe before the new Mirkwood spider models were released, converting them up from regular spiders using bits of citadel tree kit and of course 60mm monster bases. The neat trick to the Mirkwood spider force is that you dont need heroes to lead warbands of them... same goes for Fell Wargs...

  6. Great looking armies and glad to see you blogging again.

    hope the new venture is going well.

  7. Fantastic sounding and looking time there Scott. Congrat's to you and the young fella!

  8. Congratulations! Great to see such nicely painted armies!

  9. Excellent report Scott. That Smaug is pretty impressive, but your force fully deserved best painted.

  10. Sounds like a fantastic day good show with the orcs Scott!

  11. Sounds like everyone played with the right spirit, shame I missed it. Not surprised Chris got best sport, he's a credit to both you and Tracy.
    I thought the hero armies a bit weird, I have my doubts as to how well they work in a battle style game, scenarios would be fine but the break point issue is a perfect example of how the victory rules seem to break down.
    Luckily both players sounded like good sports who just wanted to play with their favorite toys.

  12. Great write up Scott. Good to see Lotr is getting some love still. Pitty all hero lists and giant monsters seem to still be allowed in tournaments (its what put me off the game from a tournament perspective) great game and I still enjoy busting it out for a casual game once in a while. Glad you and your son had a great time.

  13. Fantastic report. Congrats on the placing but what a great bunch of games with fully painted armies. If I was based in NZ I would so be in on this. looks like way too much fun.

  14. Genial Scott! muchas felicidades por los premios. Gran torneo sin duda, me hubiera encantado estar alli!

    Un saludo!

  15. Junior getting Best Sportsman, that is you getting Best Parent! Well done to the whole family!
    I have to get back to my LOTR figures, they have been sitting on my desk for far too long while all sorts of other stuff cuts ahead of them.

  16. Wow! Smaug looks even more impressive on the gaming table.

  17. Dear Scott, firstly bravo to you and Chris - fabulous results! Secondly please accept my apologies as I seem to have missed a good many posts of late. I am suffering some sort of meltdown with my reading list; people just seem to disappear. I notice that I am still down as following, but I am just not seeing your posts and hence miss them. This seems to be happening to a number of veritable blogs that I follow, including Paul and the man cave, blogs that have followed for years. It is all very strange, not to mention very frustrating! Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I haven't abandoned your fabulous blog, still very much around just not necessarily informed! Best wishes, Michael.

    1. Many thanks Michael.
      I must admit, time constraints lately have reduced the amount of time I have to blog surf and leave comments as normal... it took me a week to get this report written up....
      I am also finding oddities in my blog feed too... either blogs falling off the list I normally get feed from , or other garbage blogs I am now getting somehow even though I have never subscribed to them... and I cant find how to unsubscribe to them as they dont appear to have a root source I can find in my blog set up.. most frustrating!

  18. Congratulations to you both! Great to see some more diversity in the CTA competitions and you guys doing well and having a good time. Back next year with 12 competitors?

    1. Many thanks! Yes good to see LOTR back. I realise its halcion days are long ago, but it remains a great little system for skirmish play, for those who like the mythos... and even if GW pulls the plus on its support for the game, players can still keep playing with the figures they already own. It wont die if we keep playing it :)
      12 players next year? Yep, I'll be dragging you, Brett , Bryan and Ste along, kicking and screaming if I have to! ;-)

  19. Excellent write-up Scott. Great to hear you are still doing well and helping to keep the hobby alive! Nothing like a little father-son time throwing down the dice.

  20. Epic blog post! Great write up and pics Scott! and congrats to all! When I'm away from the blogosphere, yours is one of blogs I miss most of all. So few LOTR players locally that those projects always seem to be kept off the painting desk. Just met a little gaming group though that might give new life to my collection. :)

  21. Hey Scott, finally had time to read this post in it's entirety. Absolutely great stuff, and awesome commentary. Hopefully we will get a rematch in sometime soon, and I'll not have an all-Hero army this time around. I don't usually play them, but it was great fun and an incredible challenge to give it a shot. They're not easy to pull off.

    Best painted was more than deserved, and Chris getting Best Sport must have been the icing on the cake. Unfortunately we didn't get a game in, but he seems like a great kid.

    Bring on CTA2016!

  22. I have to say, after having my interest pulled towards many different things this has inspired me to get back into the hobby!


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