My first time playing a Games Workshop game. Kind of*


It was the make up date for the Second Saturday for the Scrum Club. On the agenda was Lord of the Rings skirmish game by Games Workshop. This was a game run by Josh O’Connor, using the LOTR skirmish rules as written.

I played Merry (L) and Josh played Pippin (r). They didn’t have the cool Western blades from the Barrow Downs, per the books. Nor the Elven cloaks, as we aren’t into Lorien yet.

Steve played Aragorn, Joe played Frodo, Zach, Rich and Francisco played Nazguls. We were all heroic level characters that were head and shoulders above the regular schlub troops in this game system. Our job was to start touching the Prancing Pony and make it through a break in the hedge and off into the fields beyond.

I stayed close to Aragorn the first couple of turns to take advantage of his move bonus.

There were Nazgul at all the compass points and covering the retreat. Rather than cross over the bridge and bumping into a ringwraith, I opted to dive in the river and cross it. In my wake, Pippin and Rich’s Zombie went hand to hand and Rich actually lost. On the bridge, Aragorn, Frodo and Sam jumped one ringwraith, even though they were at a disadvantage due to the Fear Aura nazguls project. No matter, they too, lost the melee and had to retreat back, allowing the fellowship to circle around and keep heading for a gap in the shrubs.

Here’s the thing.. when you roll a 1 when swimming, you drown. I rolled a 1 which seemed like a capricious and unwarranted random way to go. Fortunately I had 1 fate point to burn so I escaped it .. that time.
Hey, you weren’t that tough after all…

Due to the combat system, which seems simple.. being 1D6 based and fairly straightforward, we couldn’t seem to wound the Nazgul, but we could knock them backward. So we did that. Gradually Aragorn could block the Nazgul giving Frodo and Sam a clear path to the gap in the hedge, and they took it. Victory for the good guys.

We tried the next scenario in the short campaign, which was Aragorn and hobbits versus a bunch of brigands on the road.

The Second game was kind of rushed. This time the bad guys were groups of displaced persons, aka bandits, trying to capture people for loot and ransom.

Another “Run for the exit” kind of scenario.

This was another one of those “you have to exit the map to win” scenarios. The only difference was we start in the center of the map and the terrain was more favorable..

oh, and we didn’t have to deal with these schmucks.

We pretty much got stuck into the good guys and Frodo managed to slip on the ring and escape them through the brush. I was a brigand player for this one.

Verdict

Honestly.. hmmm.. This was my absolute first time I’ve ever played using a big shiny Games Workshop game system, which I’ve avoided, somehow, for all my life up until this moment. Two things struck me. It seems like a very simple system but my God, people get into disputes over the simplest-seeming rules. We had to stop constantly and read long passages from the rulebook explaining this or that nuance of a very simple system, constantly during play. That took me out of the narrative, which was a very simple “run from the bad guys” kind of thing, and God knows I know all about the subject matter and have since I was ten. It seemed very rules-lawyery to me. Secondly. The scenario really could have been played by two people easy. I felt a little extraneous during the entire exercise. As Merry, the most exciting thing I managed to do was nearly drown. As the Bad Guys, I hardly touched the figures during the entire second part. I found that overall, it didn’t hold my interest. I’d be willing to give it another try at some point, possibly with more troops in a bigger “battle” scenario, but as a multi-player game for individual characters it was really slow. No offense meant to Josh who put in a great effort, it’s just the rules for me seem very dense for such a simple tactical situation.

‘* This isn’t entirely true. I have played GW before, now that I think on it. I played some games of Mordheim someone else ran, a long time ago, as well as a couple games of Man o’ War, back in the short period of time it was released commercially. However, of the big three– Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40K, and Lord of the Rings, this was my first experience.

3 comments

  1. The real problem, Walt, is that the LOTR system was set up to be simpler than their standard rules (hoping for sales to non-gamers, the LOTR were sold in bookstores like D&D was at the time hoping to expand sales in non-game stores) and the original sets I had were all meant to be 2 player head to head so seperating out characters doesn’t always work (spreads the gaming components too thin). I think adding rules came in as they expanded the miniature line and were used to justify purchasing more/different minis.

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