Over recent weeks the 6 Inch Move team have become ever more enamoured with our sojourn into Tolkien’s fantasy realm. Servitob even went out and bought the movies! I believe that I’ve now played and seen enough games to start to really understand the flow and mechanics of the game and also the more noticeable differences between the two sides. While each faction within an alignment is distinct with a theme of their own the alignments themselves offer a different set of playstyles and challenges. What I have to commend the Sherriff for in this regard is the characterisation of the alignments. If someone gave you an edited list of some of the models I reckon that most people would be able to tell you if a model was good or evil just by looking at the numbers.
So, let’s have a look at what a War of the Ring profile means. There are 8 stats for each model profile, as well as a Type that defines whether a model is Infantry, Cavalry or a Monster. These are Movement, Fight, Strength, Defence, Attacks, Resilience, Courage and Might. Movement is quite self-explanatory, this number is how far in inches a company can move during the move phase. Fight is a numerical representation of a company’s combat prowess while Strength is a measure of how easy it is to cause a wound on an opponent. Defence represents things like armour and shields as well as the general toughness of something, you compare Strength against Defence to work out what you need to roll on a D6 to cause a hit. Attacks has two purposes in War of the Ring, firstly it represents the number of dice rolled for a shooting or close combat attack, secondly it is also a handy indicator of the number of wounds a company can take. Resilience is important because it defines how many hits a company can take before it takes a casualty, for infantry this is normally 1 and for Cavalry it is usually 2. Courage represents if a unit is likely to stand and fight or turn tail and run when faced with certain effects. Might is used to Heroes and is one of the defining aspects of the game, appropriate and timely use of Might can drastically change the game.
Not only are the units of differing sides of the Good/Evil divide different in their stat weightings but so are the Heroes. GW have done a really good job here of taking the stories that Tolkien wrote and translating them into a table top game. At first glance the main difference is that the Good side is filled with far more Epic Heroes and Legendary formations, after all, these are the good guys, the ones who will selflessly sacrifice themselves for the good of others. On the flip side the Evil alignment is supported by a veritable cornucopia of Monsters, from Trolls to Dragons, the forces of Sauron have the biggest and gribbliest beasties with which to bolster their lines.
All of this fits well within the mythos and gives armies themes, you will also find that the Good armies are often painted in bright primary colours, blues and reds and whites (OK, I know white isn’t technically a colour), even Gondor with their silver and black regalia have colour thrown in with the Knights of Dol Amroth. The evil sides are filled with dirty browns and greens, the only real difference here is the Fallen Realms list that has the golden armoured Easterlings, but then the balance here is that the reds are dark and black features heavily (again not a colour I know). We’re all still working on getting a fully painted army, other than Gribblin who is just about done with his 1000pts. I’m looking forward to the day when we roll out fully painted armies as it is going to transform the aesthetic of the games we play.
With the forces of Good being bolstered by so many Heroes it is no surprise then that your typical good army has access to a lot of Might. Might allows you to perform actions outside of the normal Priority that is rolled for at the start of each turn, also, Epic Heroes have Epic actions that they are allowed to call, there are a lot of different Epic actions and each Epic Hero has a list of the Epic actions they are allowed to call. Most of the Epic Heroes in the forces of Good have a Might of 3 or more, even some of the cheaper Heroes (sub 100pts) have a good store of Might. Many of the Heroes have special rules and abilities as well.
On the Evil side of things there are differences. Might is a lot harder to come by, to get comparable stores of it you would need to invest much more points in an Epic Hero. I can provide an example from my own Faction, the Fallen Realms, if I want an Epic Hero from my own faction with three points of Might I have to pay 165pts to get Amdur, yes he is a combat monster but Evil is generally bereft of the cheap utility heroes. This is countered through the threat that Monsters provide. The Nazgul also have very low Might but their special rules and the options for their use make them very effective, you have to think hard about using that single Might point with them. There is a temptation to take more Captains and increase the Might available to an evil army but this then restricts the number of troops you can take as they eat heavily into your budget.
One other factor that has played out rather obviously now is the lack of Courage for an evil force. With my Fallen Realms I have a couple of formations that cause Terror. So far no-one has failed a Terror test against anything of mine, Rohan, Elves and Gondor all have access to high Courage values with Inspiring Leaders. Faramir can also allow one formation per turn to automatically pass a Courage test. The Elves cause Terror and have high Courage themselves, this proved pretty conclusive against Servitob’s Uruk-Hai! Using Galadriel to debuff them by a single point or more neutered the charges of the Uruk-hai on numerous occasions. OK, Servitob’s dice had taken this game as an opportunity to go on vacation didn’t help the cause but all those tests with low Courage really came over decisively.
It really is interesting to see how the two alignments are characterised. The prevalence of Epic Heroes for the forces of Good bolsters the men and keeps them going when you’d expect them to fail, while the Evil forces will turn tail and flee when things don’t go their way, all very cinematic I am sure you’ll agree. Planning contingency for these kinds of events is one of the features of army building for this game as it is for many others, seeking to overcome your weaknesses while capitalising on strengths. I still have to face the Elves and a rematch against Carabus’ Gondor, there may even be a clash of evil sometime too to see how I fare against the Uruk-Hai. Will my courage hold against those Elves? I hope so, but I fear (pun intended) for my lowly Courage 3 Haradrim against all those Terror-causing hairdressers!