Friday, 14 June 2019

Old Schooling: Lord of the Rings Style!!


It only recently occurred to me that Legends of the Old west and Legends of the High seas, two fantastic skirmish games form the old Warhammer Historical stable, were actually younger than the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle game. I knew that they shared a rules engine, but for some reason I had assumed the Legends games had come first and that LOTRSBG (as I won't be calling it) had been a derivation of them. Other way round it seems.

This came about because I had a couple of enjoyable games of cowboys and mexicans, using the Legends of the old west rules, at the club last weekend and I realised that I'd never really given Lord of the Rings a go.





GW originally held the Lord of the Rings license in the 80's and released figures between 85 and 87 (taking over from Grenadier and losing out to Mithril). The last release were the fiendishly hard to find, Jes Goodwin Uruk Hai range which were released almost immediately before the license disappeared. I assume that these figures were initially meant to be sold to players of Middle Earth Role Playing game (MERP) which was published by I.C.E (Iron Crown Enterprises) and licensed in the UK by GW (incidentally, I.C.E. held the license for LOTR games until 1999 when they lost it, presumably as part of the licensing agreements around the filming of Peter Jacksons version of the books. I.C.E subsequently declared bankruptcy in 2000).


In the two years that they held the license, GW produced a reasonably sized range of figures covering all the major characters and races in the books, producing several different versions of some of the main characters and, in some cases, only single figures for very numerous middle earth races. A lot of these figures were rolled into the main GW ranges after '87 and some just disappeared off into obscurity as another odd little footnote in GW's past. 

But then...

I heard about Battle Companies.

Now,  I may be teaching my Granny to suck eggs here, but battle companies is an expansion to the main LOTR battle game and allows you to put together a small warband and lead it through a campaign (of the sort you will be familiar with if you've ever played Mordhiem or Necromunda) building up and improving your warband over time as you win battles and gain followers. 

If ever there was a set of rules perfect for showcasing the old ME range of figures then these are it. 


I'll give you a couple of examples

The Fiefdoms Battle company starts with 5 Figures, A Knight of Dol Amroth, 2 Dol Amroth men at arms and two Blackroot vale archers. The Knight of Dol Amroth is easy as there is a dedicated figure  for him. Use a couple of the versions of Boromir (there are plenty!) as the men at arms and the Ithilien rangers as the archers. Sorted.

The Durin's Folk Battle company starts with 6 figures, all dwarves unsurprisingly. There are 3 Dwarves in the ME33 set, there's a Thorin and at least 3 Gimli's to choose from. Easy.


As for the bad guys...

The Mordor Orcs Battle company starts with 9 Orcs. ME42 (orcs of the White Hand), ME51 (orcs of the Red Eye) and maybe ME43 or ME44 (half orcs or Uruk Hai) and you've got yourself a warband.

The Warg Riders Battle company starts of with two Warg Riders and 3 Wargs. Now, there is only one Warg rider model in the range but this is where the classic oldhammer ingenuity comes in. Convert one of the Snagga Goblins (ME74) to ride a warg and pick up some stray metal citadel wolves and there is your warband.


And I think that last warband illustrates the point that you probably won't be able to make a warband out of the figures exclusively from the ME range. A bit of lateral thinking, conversion and smart model substitution may be required in order to get the warband you need but since when has that ever put us off before? The ME range is a ridiculously close fit to the main citadel range to the point where you can swap between them with no one batting an eye lid (unlike the current ranges).

So. I'm going to spent a couple of months sniffing around Ebay and collecting bargains. I'm going look in drawers and dusty boxes and work out what i've already got, and I'm going to cajole as many of mates as I can to do the same so that we can do a little battle companies campaign while smoking pipes and telling stories of great heroism. And if i'm right, a new version of battle companies is just around the corner so that we'll be hitting the new school with old school at exactly the right moment.



27 comments:

  1. You're a bastard Colin, I told you what would happen if you did a blog post and now I'm elbow deep in boxes looking at the orc situation!

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  2. Great idea. I have never played the LOTR game but love the Legends of the old west ruleset and still play it now. It's great when old mini's get a run out under a new rule set.

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    Replies
    1. What warband have you got hidden in your drawers? Fnar fnar!

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  3. I'm ready to go with my Misty Mountain patrol!

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  4. Interesting idea. I could well get behind this with a Rohan group perhaps - is there a Rohan faction? Painting up a small selection of 6-9 figures is hugely appealing!

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    1. Certainly is a Rohan faction and there are two versions of the Rohan riders sets each with a mounted and a foot figure.

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    2. There's like 36 factions in Battle Companies, it's got all your bases covered!

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  5. I fell in love with these figures when they first came out, over and above anything else GW made at the time. Probably due to playing MERP, but to me they are what I envision when reading Lord of the Rings, not the films. I think I'll have a rummage to see if I've got any lying about.

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  6. I'm one of those who hadn't heard of Battle Companies. Sounds like just my cup of tea.

    I'm pretty sure I've got some white hand orcs in a box somewhere...

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    Replies
    1. Round up the warband and lay waste to the lands of man!

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  7. Those figures and prices bring back fond memories!

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  8. I played LOTR plenty and prefer the two younger cousins, mainly as they added some additional rules which made the gameplay a bit better. That combat system is the problem though - fine in gun games, but in a combat one it gets a bit repetitive rolling for a 6!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, we did have a long drawn out final duel that took an age for someone to die....

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  9. Yes! I love Middle-earth Strategy Battle Game (as it is now officially titled, and is a proper mouthful to say). Battle Companies is awesome! It's initially what drew me to the game, I was interested in trying out Legends of the Old West when I learned it was based on the LotR game, some googling found a fan-made edition of Battle Companies. And now today it's on it's second official edition of the Battle Companies rules.

    Going oldhammer is awesome! I know it's not proper oldhammer, but there are loads of good sculpts in the metal range of the licensed film versions, I particularly like the metal morder orcs.

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  10. Also, the new edition of battle companies has been out for several weeks now. You will, however need the rulebook and the Armies of Lord of the Rings/Hobbit books to play.

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    1. Yeah I found this out to my shame after posting, I should really do my own research instead of listening to the words of fools!

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    2. You could always play with the older books, and you can still find the free fan-made Battle Companies on the interwebz

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    3. I've 'seen' (wink, wink) a copy of the new book so i'm a happy little lamb

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    4. Let me know if you need to "see" any others (wink)

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  11. Also going to plug my battle company here, as my blog is on wordpress and not connected to my blogger account :)

    https://wyrdstonesandtacklezones.com/2019/05/30/under-the-brush-heirs-of-gondolin/

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    1. The fact that Wordpress and Blogger don't really cooperate is really annoying.

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