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"Do you use "historically accurate" middle earth armies ?" Topic

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Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2012 4:00 a.m. PST

Do you try to make your LOTR (and other middle earth eras)armies conform to the "historical truth" of the books or are you more "anything goes ?".

Sabertooth games in their skirmish game, for example, didn't rule out having Isulder and Aragorn in the same army even though they'd lived centuries apart.

1) Historical

2) In the spirit of possibilities so might have some dwarves or hobbits in the defence of Arnor, but not characters who were already dead/hadn't been born yet.

3) Anything goes

I feel it must be clear that the question is only applicable to people who game Middle Earth.

nickinsomerset02 Aug 2012 4:19 a.m. PST

It's all fantasy so a few daleks and Panzer IVs could be used if folks wanted!

However my chaps are based on the Novel so "historically accurate"

Tally Ho!

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2012 4:22 a.m. PST

I think daleks and Panzer Ivs would break the internal consistency of the games.

Totally fine in an open "anything fropm anywhere" fantasy game.

Mal Wright Fezian02 Aug 2012 4:28 a.m. PST

Oh for goodness sakes how can there be anything 'Historical' about a fantasy game!!!

It reminds me of a bloke who bored the butt of me for half an hour one day trying to discuss the correct green for an ogre. I tried to be polite and endure it. In the end I got fed up and told him to use khaki green as it was the closest to bullBleeped text he could get.

religon02 Aug 2012 4:35 a.m. PST

I have played a number of ways.

Most skirmish has been based on the narrative.

I have played a few LOTR SBG warband-style point games that were composed of characters that were inconsistent with the narrative.

For mass combat, I don't restrict action to the narrative. I do try to keep it plausible.

MajorB02 Aug 2012 4:37 a.m. PST

Of course. All my armies are historically accurate. grin

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2012 4:52 a.m. PST

odd you should ask..

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2012 4:55 a.m. PST

Oh for goodness sakes how can there be anything 'Historical' about a fantasy game!!!

That's why historical was in quotes – it's shorthand for "consistent with the narrative as laid out in the original novels of Tolkien". The longhand wouldn't fit in the title box.

If in a fantasy game you choose to game a particular story (say, The Lord of the Rings) then there is an internal logic – people who died 500 years ago are highly unlikely to walk through the door. Allowing that to happen is somewhat akin to having Napoleon bring his armies to help out in The Crimea – yet several LOTR rulesets do allow this kind of thing.

Personally I find this silly – how can Aragorn fight in The Battles of the Last Alliance when he has yet to be concieved ? But that's my view. Other people are fine with it.

Dave Jackson02 Aug 2012 4:55 a.m. PST

Reminds me of being at Gencon quite a few years ago now, and overhearing a couple of funny things:

1) Two teens talking…one telling the other he had spent his summer doing some historical research on his Orcs…

2) Watching a fantasy naval game being put on by the then "19th Century Miniatures (the two Steves) an elf force and the other an Orc force….and overhearing two teens (different than above), decry the game because "don't they know Orcs hate water…"

It is to laugh…

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2012 4:56 a.m. PST

odd you should ask..

because ……. ?

fairoaks02402 Aug 2012 5:12 a.m. PST


Frederick Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2012 5:14 a.m. PST

Well, "historical" and "fantasy" seem to be mutually exclusive, but when we game LOTR we stick to what I would regard as "traditional" armies" (i.e. dwarves that can ally with humans, elves, etc.)

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2012 5:48 a.m. PST

because I am working on some "historical" figures..

Mick in Switzerland02 Aug 2012 6:05 a.m. PST

1. Historical – Tolkien is its own kind of history. Just like real history it has different versions and contradictions.

I do try to follow the books & films. I would not have Isildur in the same army as Aragorn…but I would allow a regiment of elves at Helm's Deep.

Rapier Miniatures02 Aug 2012 6:10 a.m. PST

Historical, so only 1 Elf at Helms Deep…

Dynaman878902 Aug 2012 6:26 a.m. PST

A gamer playing a game of LOTR is always historically accurate, he always plays exactly what he means to…

Patrick Sexton Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2012 7:13 a.m. PST

One with a dash of two.

Yesthatphil02 Aug 2012 7:34 a.m. PST

No I don't do fantasy. What would be the point?

I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings books as a teenager … but they are literature, and the only accurate vision is the one that was in Tolkein's head. And in the heads of each individual reader.

richarDISNEY02 Aug 2012 7:45 a.m. PST


Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2012 7:59 a.m. PST

but they are literature, and the only accurate vision is the one that was in Tolkein's head. And in the heads of each individual reader.

Right but we know from the books that the Uruk-Hai did not exist until the 3rd age. So, someone gaming the 1st age would be contradicitng the books to use Uruk-hai. I suppose what I'm driving at (and it does seem rather uphill in low gear) is why would someone want to game midle earth and then change everything about the setting ? Have characters, monsters, species which did not exist at the same time fighting against each other. Why not just play a generic D&D type game instead?

I'm not saying "no what ifs" there are some wonderful what-ifs that can be spun off from the books but Aragorn in the 1st age is as sensible a what-if as Napoleon has laser cannon at Waterloo.

IMO, only IMO (it seems).

I'd vote 2, BTW. So, only 1 elf at Helms Deep ('cos the book says so) but the long fall of Arnor could see all sorts of odd allies (but not people who hadn't been born – so no Frodo for example).

Dynaman878902 Aug 2012 8:31 a.m. PST

> why would someone want to game midle earth and then change everything about the setting

We have a hobby where vikings are regularly pitted against samurai and samurai against Roman legions (was going to write more, but that pretty much says it all)

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2012 8:59 a.m. PST

Well, there is that maybe I am being too much of a purist then.

Although – within those non-historical matchups the armies would be expected to be historical – so not a mixture of Republican Roman cavalry, Early Imperial legions and late Roman skirmishing troops. The army would have to be (more or less) consistent.

tauwarlord19602 Aug 2012 9:12 a.m. PST

In the original books, I heard that plate armor (the stuff that Gondor wears in the movies) doesnt exist

Awkward if true….

Dynaman878902 Aug 2012 9:51 a.m. PST

> Awkward if true….

Yeah, but the books have Tom Bombadil, fair trade if you ask me…

Paint it Pink02 Aug 2012 10:35 a.m. PST

Quote: "Unlike some people, I feel under no obligation to pretend that only one set of beliefs are true, and that any others beliefs are mistaken; or that I know better than people themselves what is right for them to use. The point is precisely for all people to decide for themselves."

Little Big Wars02 Aug 2012 10:41 a.m. PST

Pass… dwarves without gunpowder are an abomination. Now going by the movie version of Saruman's Industrial Revolution and the consequences of that could be pretty cool.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2012 10:46 a.m. PST

Well, there is that maybe I am being too much of a purist then.

Perish the thought! I tend to be quite the purist when it comes to Tolkien-related gaming myself.

TheCount02 Aug 2012 12:05 p.m. PST

I'll confess the same but like some adaptability in just about everything I do, so a '2'.

Any other (less thorough) fantasy setting and I'd go for a '3' but Middle Earth has had me gripped for almost 40 years.

Regards, TC.

Timbo W02 Aug 2012 12:35 p.m. PST

For games set in Middle Earth I try to make them 'consistent' with the books (not the films!). But am just as happy using the smae figures in a 'Generic Fantasy' setting.

Oddly gaming Middle Earth battles is much like Ancients. Most battles we know absolutely nothing about apart from who won but occasionally you get a detailed story.

Wolfprophet02 Aug 2012 1:28 p.m. PST

Sort of. My Rohan force does has a larger cavalry content to it than infantry… but I do also have all the heroes plus a few generic captains and often field most of those heroes together, which wouldn't appropriately represent the force at all times.

Yesthatphil02 Aug 2012 3:31 p.m. PST

Gaming Middle Earth is nothing like Ancients.

Jamesonsafari02 Aug 2012 3:52 p.m. PST

I'm with you 20th Maine. As much of 1 as can be gleaned from the BOOKS (the movies are fun, but noncanonical to this furry toed purist) with a decent leavening of 2 to make it gameable.

But my friends are all in the 3 camp (Dwarves with steam tanks and gunpowder, orcs riding giant war turtles etc.)so I don't attempt to game Middle Earth as much as each rereading of the Silmarillion makes me want too.

Timbo W02 Aug 2012 4:00 p.m. PST

I don't agree Yesthatphil -

much of it is exactly the same as Ancients, you can even play it with WRG Ancients rules if you can find their old 'Lidless Eye' supplement, and HoTT is just DBA on steroids.


Well if you must know, all my old Heritage Rhorririm morphed into a Feudal Spanish army ca 1000 A.D.
All my dwarves became an Anglo Danish army.

So 4 none of the above!

Landorl02 Aug 2012 5:49 p.m. PST

Tolkien's history of Middle Earth is very well laid out and detailed, so yes, you can have a historically accurate fantasy game.

Just because something is "fantasy" doesn't mean that there can't be boundries.

I like to play historically accurate Middle Earth games. I don't mind some minor "what if" situations, but when you play situations that could never happen, then you are simply playing making up your own game.

platypus01au02 Aug 2012 10:22 p.m. PST

When I was a kid of about 16, I used to play Tolkien Orcs and plastic Ancient Britons vs Elves, Gondor and plastic Romans using the Milgamex Ancient Warfare rules. As long as the points added up, it was fine. We had fun.

At 17 I got a girlfriend and it all stopped!

Now at 50 I'd probably worry about the genre and would like to play in the spirit of the books, but I'd not be telling 16 year old me that I was wrong. But 17 year old me, I'd like to tell him a thing or two!


Thomas Nissvik02 Aug 2012 11:02 p.m. PST

I intend to play using an adapted version of Dux Britanniarum and I intend to use my GW LOTR figures and I intend to be "inspired by" in the way Hollywood uses the term, as in "inspired by actual events". So that would be a 2.5 then. Or possibly a 4.

Yesthatphil03 Aug 2012 1:02 a.m. PST

I don't agree Yesthatphil -

much of it is exactly the same as Ancients, you can even play it with WRG Ancients rules if you can find their old 'Lidless Eye' supplement, and HoTT is just DBA on steroids.

Not much of a debate if all you're going to do is disagree with someone who has just not agreed with you! grin

I think you are trying to say that some people use the same game mechanisms to play the game. I couldn't disagree with that. But it doesn't make it a patch on 'Ancients' … a historical period of wargaming based on things that actually happened, as opposed to an unverifiable frolic based on the abuse of a much loved work of fiction.

Whilst the many carpers delight in pointing out that much of the detail of ancient warfare is niether known nor knowable, the possibility is there: the experiment in representing it is based in an exploration of real events and an intelligent attempt to piece together fragments of the past.

With the missing fragments of ancient warefare there is no sense in which 'an author' deliberately intended you _not to know something – which is very real possibility when constructing a game around a work of literary fiction where the author has neither sanctioned nor contributed to the excercise.

Chalk and cheese.

'Ancients', indeed has far more in common with e.g. mid 20th century historical wargames than with fantasy games that happen to copy its game mechanisms.

Yesthatphil03 Aug 2012 1:20 a.m. PST

Although within those non-historical matchups the armies would be expected to be historical so not a mixture of Republican Roman cavalry, Early Imperial legions and late Roman skirmishing troops. The army would have to be (more or less) consistent.

Precisely. And in the context of 'a best guess'.

It is a perfectly debateable point whether creating a sham battle between 2 internally consistent historical armies _is a historical wargame. But the methodology is clear and intelligible enough despite the fact that the ill-informed delight in supposing it to be a soft target for cheap shots ('ha, ha! Assyrians against Romans! Another fantasy battle!')…

It is also worth saying that, actually, in the mainstream of ancients play, most tournaments narrow the possibilities down much more than they did, say, 30 years ago (in which era most of TMP's common currency seems rooted) so many of the internally consistent sham battles are within the 'what if' rather than generic context. And that a huge proportion are centred on historical battles. Very few ancients demos at shows are other than real battles reconstructed, and the Society of Ancients has been encouraging this through its BattleDays …

I have never understood why anyone would imagine pitting 1942 Germans against 1943 Russians was any more 'historical' than pitting Achaemenid Persians against Republican Romans … In neither case did the two armies ever meet, and the battle is not historical.

However all 4 armies can be worthy additions to a collection of historical armies and models, and compatible military systems can enable satisfying if generic sham battles to be fought between both pairings.


Jamesonsafari03 Aug 2012 2:34 a.m. PST

I would view a game set in Middle Earth as another medium for enjoyment. Just as the books, movies, graphic posters, BBC radio play, collectible figurines and graphic novels are other mediums.

Man is just asking other players of games set in Tolkien's world how they go about things. Much like one could ask an ancient gamer:
1. only historical battles and OBs
2. in the spirit of possibilities (so historically plausible what if scenarios)
3. anything goes (Romans vs. Samurai etc)

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2012 2:49 a.m. PST

Phil – big battles not so different from Ancients – which I guess is why The Society Of Ancients had several articles on Tolkien in the early days – right up to a vote to ban "non-historical" fantasy was passed with the narrowest margin. Games based on the Trojan Wars were still allowed (historical fantasy).

And also why WRG Ancients 4th edition had a fantasy appendix covering Dragons, mumakil, orcs….

Yesthatphil04 Aug 2012 5:28 a.m. PST

@ Jamesonsafari and 20thmaine …

Yes, I completely get the points … I'm just indicating, with some of my reasons, why I dissent from the view (popular on TMP, but by no means universal in wargaming) that historical and fantasy wargaming are just flip sides of the same coin, and that Tolkienesque fantasy is, broadly, ancient/medieval.

I take the point about the Trojan Wars, though I would dispute the classification 'historical fantasy': though we know that the accounts in Homer are mostly myth and romance, amongst the ancients, many, Alexander included, viewed them as instructive tales of real events.

As historical wargamers we have a choice of exploring the wars of that period on different levels. The same applies to other romantic traditions … say, Icelandic Sagas or Arthurian myths …


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