Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Summer Workbench: Mordor

Good afternoon gamers,

As I mentioned in a previous post, I did a lot of hobbying this summer, but due to purchasing a condo and moving, I didn't get a lot of time to post on the blog. This summer, I focused on two projects for the most part (besides purging my terrain collection before the move): Mordor Orcs (and their Ringwraith handlers) and Rivendell Elves (and some of their High Elf lords). Both of these lists will be getting a post on some of the strategies I've developed while learning how they play, and today's post will be focusing on Mordor.

The army is mostly composed of Mordor Orcs (not Morannons, more on that in a bit), but there are some Trackers and Spectres too to bring out the model count. I also own some Wild Wargs, which thanks to the new sourcebooks can be brought with a Mordor list (or Angmar under the old LOME rules). A few thoughts on why this collection of models...

1) Purpose of the Army: Magic

I have five other conventional armies: one of them fields light elite troops (Wood Elves), heavy elite troops (Dwarves), an army with a mixture of heavy and light troops (Isengard), a hero-oriented army with a mix of heavy and light troops (High Elves), and a spam, cheap, terrible troop list with LOTS of monsters (Moria). Since Mordor Orcs are pretty average (only slightly better than Goblins), I didn't want my army to repeat my Goblin strategy. I also haven't gone with Morannon Orcs - too much like my Uruk army. Orcs will never be like Elves or Dwarves, but what makes them a unique for my collection is that they are actually average. This makes them cheaper than my other units (not as cheap as Goblins, though), freeing up space for heroes (or elite troops) to do the one thing that made me fall in love with Ringwraiths as an independent army list: cast magic.

Our dedicated readers know that the three things I love the most about LOTR SBG are as follows: magic, throwing weapons, and heroic combats. Spectres are cheap "magic" additions, in that they basically have an inexpensive quasi-Compel capability (no reduction to fighting power, but movement and rooting capabilities are present). When you pair that with Ringwraiths (who make passing Courage tests harder), you can manage how many foes are waiting in the front lines (or supporting the front lines) quite well. After you break the foe, your Ringwraiths will make sure the army flees quickly. How, though, do you break them with primarily just Orcs?...

2) Purpose of the Heroes: Magic and Warrior-Empowerment

The heroes in this army need to be able to add to the killing output of the army. While the Witch King or Khamul can certainly kill their fair share, you can also assist with killing potential by making your other units more effective. For this, you can use The Dark Marshal or The Shadow Lord, but you can also use the Shade.

Since the Shade basically gives banner/two-handed weapon penalties to every foe nearby, your grunt troops become a whole lot stronger. For only 100 points, this can pay HUGE dividends if you have enough Orcs - even make using two-handed weapons valuable, since your foe has the same penalty you have (but without the bonus to wounding).

But you can also get cheap Ringwraiths to deal with enemy heroes - ensuring that the primary killing pieces of the enemy do nothing while your grunts do their carnage. Just a few turns (3-5 generally) of inactivity by a "vanilla" Ringwraith (unnamed, probably with 7-9 Will) can make a huge difference in the longevity of your army and how quickly you get those foes to breaking point. If you're interested in what you can do with the magical capabilities of Ringwraiths, we have a great tactica post on how to use their spells, so we're not going to go into it here (you can also see our three-part series about the "Riders In Black" here, here, and here).

3) Purpose of the Warriors: Magic and Body-Count

As I mentioned above, your units are average - not terrible, but average. With Defense 4-5 on your Mordor Orcs, you're not terrible at resisting damage, but you are (again, theme!) average. Without any additional help, this formation of Orcs is going to take a beating from the Dwarves: most will shield to get the same number of dice, but one can double-team OR pull off a spearman, which is going to hurt. Don't even get me started on how that archery shoot is going to go... Nothing short of Mordor Uruks are going to work against this traditional Dwarf battle line on their own, but...
...change your line-up to have your D6 spectres are in the front and your D5 Orcs protect your D3 archers and you have a serious advantage. I like to put a few Orcs on the end of the battle line so that they can shield in case my spearmen get wrapped around. Ideally, of course, you'd want a few "two-handers" floating around so that they can help the spearmen (or front-liners) whack through their guys in the front. The spectres not only have the valued D6, but also wound on Courage value, so if you can just win the fight, you can wound this Dwarf battle line on 4s (if you have a Ringwraith present, see note above on Ringwraiths helping spectres). Add in the bonus from the Shade and the support from the spearman and you've got a good thing going!

4) Looking Forward

Honestly, I'm not looking to add to much to this list - the origin was an all-ringwraith army and I started collecting Orcs (and later spectres) to protect the ringwraiths. I'm still trying to decide whether to invest in Warg Riders and if I do, they can be used in either this army or my Isengard force. On the whole, I'm happy with the army right now, but I'll keep you all posted if more models come. Also, since I'm using an Angmar hero to flesh things out, I could take my Cave Troll with these guys too...so if I really feel like the Witch King needs some back-up, I'll look to him to help. On the whole, though, I don't like trolls - no Will = big pincushion at best or magical stupor at worst.

Next time, we're looking at High Elves, so stay tuned and happy hobbying!

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