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"War of the Ring VS. Warhammer Fantasy Battles." Topic

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2,376 hits since 7 Jun 2009
©1994-2016 Bill Armintrout
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SECURITY MINISTER CRITTER Inactive Member07 Jun 2009 9:26 p.m. PST

The Emperor's new post.

John Leahy08 Jun 2009 4:37 a.m. PST


Personal logo mrwigglesworth Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2009 5:41 a.m. PST


Griefbringer08 Jun 2009 5:58 a.m. PST


Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2009 8:24 a.m. PST

I could read it. Couldn't you?


Sterling Moose Inactive Member08 Jun 2009 1:36 p.m. PST

What? Where?

averheaghe Inactive Member09 Jun 2009 7:28 a.m. PST

War of the Ring could totaly kick Warhammers ass!

Psycho Rabbit09 Jun 2009 5:03 p.m. PST

I agree totally!

And lets not forget snarfengoober?


Sir Samuel Vimes Inactive Member09 Jun 2009 8:16 p.m. PST

From the moment I laid eyes on the LOTR miniatures line I wanted a "big battle" game format for them. The Skirmish rules are very nice, but the epic scale of some of the battles seen in the films, and described in the books, did not seem like something a skirmish game could cover. At long last, Games Workshop has released the mass combat system I have been waiting for.

I started playing GW products back in 1995 and have had an on again, off again relationship with them since. I feel Games Workshop produced some great games, but that most of these are in the back catalog, or live (un-live?) on as "specialist" lines.
Most of my mass battle gaming experience is in Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Considering the route I have taken to this game, I thought it may be of help to others contemplating giving the game a go if I were to lay out some of the main differences.

The Rule Book

War of the Ring is an "all in one" book in a way that nothing produced by Games Workshop since first edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader were. ALL the army lists are included and there is nothing else to purchase, no army book, no codex. Everything you need in terms of rules, scenarios, painting and terrain guides and even scenarios for great battles from Tolkien's tales is there. Heck, they even have a section on campaigns.

Why are we fighting?

The games are set up so that, unless you are playing a scenario, they will have one of three types of troop deployment and one or more victory conditions for each side. Unless otherwise stated, games last eight turns, baring the total annihilation or surrender of the opposing side. This may not seem like a big deal, but it means that, with a little thought and effort, you have a great frame work for making sure your battles don't become repetitive slugfests in the middle of the board, rather than evocative battles in Middle Earth.

The Turn

Turn Sequence is not "I go, you go". Each turn there is a priority (think initiative) roll. Once priority is set then each phase of the turn is done in priority order. Both sides get to move, both sides shoot, charge, fight in melee and so forth. The side with priority may chose to act first or second in any of these steps. "So what if you lose priority", you say. Well, that is where heroes come in to the mix.


In Warhammer Fantasy Battles, heroes are distinct from the troops in the force; they can run about the field doing more or less as they like. Heroes can be weighed down with magic items and in some cases are a one man, Elf, Dwarf, etc. army. This has been an issue in many editions of Warhammer, to the extent that some of them are, to this day, called "hero" hammer.

War of the Ring treats heroes more like magic items for your units of troops. Heroes range from "captains", E.g. "John Smith" of Rohan, to "Epic Heroes" on the order of Gandalf the White and The Witch King of Angmar. Heroes are placed in units of troops and generally enhance the courage and fighting of the troop they lead. Heroes also have a "might" score. Heroes have might points equal to the might score which can be spent to do a number of very cool things such as adding extra hits to a combat, adjusting dies rolls, or calling Heroic and / or Epic Actions which can greatly change the odds in the battle. One of the heroic types of action is to expend might in order to take the first action in a phase where you would normally have to go second; having lost the priority roll at the start of the turn. Heroes can still issue challenges to enemy heroes; this one of the few ways to rid yourself of a troublesome hero. Unlike Warhammer Fantasy Battle, there is not really a standard option to decline a challenge. Depending on the results of the challenge, this can also be a bad time for the rank and file, as heroes cut through swaths of lesser foes on the way to their intended targets. Heroes can chew through might points very quickly, but they are generally not a renewable resource in game, so using them well can be rather important to the game. Heroes can move from unit to unit to unit, provided the unit they are with is within twelve inches of the unit they intend to join. Heroes are on foot when joining troops on foot and mounted models when joining mounted troops. No ‘my kingdom for a horse" issues here. This does not apply to Ring Wraiths on Fell Beasts or The Balrog of Moria. These are huge and scary, stand alone, units all day, every day.

Army Building

The army building is still points based, but is both more fluid and less fussy than in Warhammer Fantasy battles. Units are purchased in companies in order to make formations. Monsters are a formation and a unit of one. Mounted troops are two to a company and foot troops are eight to a company. Out of a box of the plastic rangers I can build a formation of three companies of eight, a formation of two companies and another, stand alone, company formation or three, single company formations of eight each.

Most units can add a Captain, or other leader figure, for fifty points, a standard for thirty five, and a musician for fifteen. The first two are very worth taking in most cases while the musician adds one inch to movement and may, or may not, be worth it depending on your army and style of play. Fates and Fortunes are special items which can be purchased at a rate of one per 2000 points of the army build, or fraction thereof. The items range in cost from twenty five to one hundred and fifty points in cost. So, no tricking out your general with one hundred points of items here. It is a big change from how magic "buffs" are dealt with in Warhammer Fantasy Battles. It is in keeping with the feel of the game setting and I think helps to focus the attention on the troops involved

Compared to Warhammer Fantasy battle armies, the armies of middle earth are light on special rules, wonder units and magic items. "Legendary" formations exist and are not that far different from most regular units. Most of these have one or two special features and may include a "special" character model or two. Compared to special and rare troops in Warhammer Fantasy battles there is less "wow" factor on the surface. For a Warhammer player used to being told what the units, how to use them and why they are "cool" there is not a lot of hand holding in the War of the Rings army lists. I think this is in part because the army "fluff" and flavor comes from one of the most well known series of fantasy books and films in the world.

To Battle

Shooting can whittle units down, but most combat is decided in hand to hand. In War of the Ring, units fall back when taking hits from ranged attacks and they disengage slightly at the end of combats. This means that very successfully shooting can force an enemy to withdraw from your charge range but, on the other hand, the slight break in each melee means you can "charge" multiple times. None of the combats I have seen so far have bogged down. This may be because there is no armor save step. Hits are rolled for against the defense score of the target, which is a number based on its innate toughness and any armor, or shield which it may be using. Hits which wound are kills to resilience one troops and two hits will kill the average mounted trooper at resilience two. The loser is the side scoring less kills, or wounds, if fighting a monster unit. The loser takes a panic test and is either steadfast, wavering, or in a blind panic. Depending on the troop reaction, the losing side may have to take a courage test and, if the test is failed, lose further models or be wiped out entirely. Unlike in Warhammer Fantasy battles there is no need to worry about rolling for flee and pursuit. There is no continued retreat move each turn. A unit which has fallen to panic is disordered and cannot move or take other actions. They can fight back with one die per company and, even with dynamite die rolls; this is sort of like a kitten swinging at Godzilla. At the beginning of the next move phase they may attempt to rally by passing a courage test. Should they do so they may act normally. If not, well, it's back to feisty kitten country.
Combats in this game are quick and decisive.


The magic system is very different. I can't say yet, if it is overpowered, underpowered or just right, as I have not seen much of it used yet. I will say that a pretty striking point of difference is that each caster's first spell a turn goes off, without a roll, no matter the difficulty of the spell. Orc and Goblin armies can be teaming with "Shamans" which seems to be a rather artificial, as in "not found in the source material", way to make up for the fact that most Orcs and Goblins are quantity armies more than quality armies. The good armies have access to a few powerful casters such as Radagast, Gandalf (The White and The Grey), Galadriel and Elrond. For the heavy hitters of team evil you have The Ring Wraiths, Saruman and, depending on what age of middle earth you are playing, Sauron himself.

Closing Thoughts

I won't say if these are pros or cons; tastes vary in all things, especially gaming. War of the Rings is a faster game, but lacks the potential for tinkering at a unit by unit, character by character level afforded by Warhammer Fantasy Battles. I think that "beardy" play style and tweaking army lists are part of Warhammer Fantasy Battle in a way that just does not work with War of the Ring.
Then again, the whole turn sequence in War of the ring is very dynamic where the one in Warhammer is like a boxing match where the fighters stop moving once they are in arms reach of each other and just trade punches to the gut until one of them fall over. In War of the Ring, Heroes are potential game winners while still remaining very much part of the units they lead. In Warhammer Fantasy Battle they are able to stand on their own and whup some serious booty.

War of the ring is very much like its Lord of the Rings Source Material. Warhammer Fantasy is more like Lord of the Rings as directed by Michael Bay. Of course, it rests in your hands to decide what type of movie you like and what you want out of a game.

I hope this compare and contrast write up been of help to you.

lugal hdan10 Jun 2009 2:26 p.m. PST

Thanks, that was a very nice write up.

Personal logo CorpCommander Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2009 9:20 p.m. PST

Awesome writeup. I just got the game and have enjoyed reading the rules. I'm looking on Ebay for people dumping their armies. I can't wait to play.

cooey2ph28 Jan 2010 6:19 p.m. PST

Thanks Sir Samuel Vimes. Just might look into this set.

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