Friday, November 9, 2018

New Rules - Part III: Angmar and Moria

Good morning gamers,

In our first post, we discussed some of the rules changes that I thought were good/not-so-good with the new rules set. We then looked at Mordor to see a few different lists you can run with their army bonuses (and whether keeping the army bonuses are worth it). Today we're going to look at the armies that used to be included in the Moria and Angmar warbands book (which are conveniently still Moria and Angmar), but both of these army lists have been reviewed already on Mik's Veni Vidi Vici blog, so take a look at that for other takes by great players of the hobby.

Unlike Mordor, Moria and Angmar rely heavily on the old army structures that we found in the Legions of Middle-Earth book. As such, there are some big changes for Moria (less so for Angmar) from the Warbands book (one of which I don't like), but ultimately I think it drifted towards where it always should have been.

1) The New Lists: Moria and Angmar

Back in the Legions days, there were two Moria lists - the "Moria" army list and the "Dwellers Below" army list (which was basically generic Goblin heroes, Wild Warg Chieftains, Moria Goblin Warriors, Wild Wargs, Bat Swarms, and Giant Spiders). Between the two lists, you could ally with basically anyone, but if you wanted Durburz in your army (he was the only named hero back then), you needed to run Moria proper (not the other one). In the new version, they've basically eliminated the second list altogether, distributing the wild beasts of Middle-Earth in the Angmar list (for Wargs) and the Dark Denizens of Mirkwood list (for spiders), though thanks to Druzhag the Beastcaller you can include bats, spiders, and wargs in your army (Ashrak also allows you to get spiders), so if you WANT those creatures, you can still get them.

Not much to say about Angmar - they've remained mostly unchanged from release to release. The one major change that I found is this: back in the Legions era, Spectres were D5. In Warbands, they were D6. Now they're D5 again. Coupled with the fact that spears don't augment the front-line guy like they used to in Legions, Spectres have become a lot less powerful than they used to be. Still, they are Terror-causing warriors who can move low-Courage models with ease wherever they want, so having a few in your army isn't bad (though having a lot is probably a waste).

2) The Army Bonuses: Terrifying Orcs vs. Trap Them All!

Both Angmar and Moria have good army bonuses - not necessary to keep them, but they're very helpful. Angmar's bonus is simple: any Angmar Orcs you have in your army that are near a Spirit hero cause Terror. Since Arnor has always had terrible Courage, this is a very powerful army bonus thematically. From a competitive standpoint, I can tell you that it's frustrating when your army of Dwarves (or even Elves!) fails to charge an Orc shield wall, since those who do charge are probably going to be flanked by the Orcs you failed to tie down. Since many of the Spirit Heroes for Angmar also have the Harbinger of Evil special rule, even high-Courage models can have problems charging your dirt-cheap grunts.

Moria, on the other hand, has a good rule if you like your filthy little Goblins: any Moria Goblin in a fight with a Trapped model gets +1 Fight value. In our tournaments here at TMAT, we have yet to have a tournament where Rohan didn't show up (and I don't foresee that happening any time soon). Since Rohan is primarily Fight 3 (though mounted units near Theoden now have an easier time getting a higher Fight value), Moria was always left at a disadvantage having such a low Fight value. With Stab requiring you to take a S2 hit if you lose the fight, having a lower Fight value is still not a great thing, but this new army bonus allows Goblin armies to be able to compete against average models (and sometimes above-average models as we'll see later), making them not only competitive but very dangerous to fight.

The trick is actually trapping figures - after the battle lines get messy, this is less of an issue, but when you're first starting out, it can be rough getting units trapped (especially if you only have 5-6" move). Back in the day, Wild Wargs were cheap units with a lot of speed, allowing you to trap units with ease. With only Bat Swarms and Warg Marauders in the Moria list as high-speed models (both 30+ points per model), I expect heroes like Druzhag the Beastcaller will be far more interesting models to bring along so that you can keep your army bonus AND trap people more easily.

With that, let's get to the lists.

3) The Lists: Angmar

The big question facing Angmar players today (from my prespective) is this: how many Orcs do I bring? Angmar has always been able to spam units effectively (Orcs are only 6-7 points each, after all), but they've always done so with average units (on both the Fight value, Strength, and Defense fronts) who have below-average Courage. Today, we'll be looking at two lists - one that maximizes on numbers and one that maximizes on monsters (though you'll never get away from spamming warriors, I think).

List #1: Terror of the North
The Witch-King of Angmar with Crown of Morgul, 3M/11W/2F - 125
3 Barrow-Wights - 150
19 Angmar Orc Warriors with shields - 114
19 Angmar Orc Warriors with shields and spears - 133
8 Angmar Orc Warriors with Orc Bows - 48
5 Angmar Orc Warriors with two-handed axes - 30

If you read our last post on Mordor, you know that this version of the Witch-King is not particularly strong - he's designed more for casting and presiding over the retreat than the is at killing things (if you want him to kill more, give him a horse). Still, we've tried here to maximize our models and I think we've done it - 55 models is a lot of guys! What this list lacks (and what the Spirit Heroes for Angmar as a whole lack) is Might points - you've only got the 3 on the Witch-King. As such, counter-calling Heroic Moves is going to be hard, requiring your team to bear the brunt of whatever your opponent wants to do. Still, with 3 chances to Paralyze in a given turn from the Barrow-Wights (and an expected 7-8 successful Paralyzes in a given game), taking you the enemy power heroes ought not be that difficult.

We've also chosen to bring some archers along - I do this mostly because if you're going to have someone standing still on an objective, he might as well be able to shoot at someone. Still, you could forego this and bring more two-handers instead - wouldn't be a bad choice. Regardless of whether the bows are a good idea or not, your battle line will be causing Terror - with 19 fighting pairs, you can put 5 spears and 5 shields in each Barrow-Wight formation with 2 Bows in support (to claim objectives, harass, whatever). All told, this will be a terrifying army to fight and your opponent will be hard-pressed to break you if he doesn't bring archery (as charging all your Orcs is going to be very, VERY difficult).

List #2: Monsters of the North
Buhrdur - 110
Wild Warg Chieftain - 80
3 Cave Trolls with Hand-and-a-Half Hammers - 240
1 Orc Warrior with two-handed axe - 6
2 Wild Wargs - 14

Convenient Ally: Moria
Cave Drake - 150

Ok, so you don't NEED a Cave Drake in this army. This kind of list, however, doesn't require the army bonus at all - it only has 1 Orc! What you get, however, is a team of 6 deadly monsters with a handful of backup guys to absorb scatter fire from siege engines. All three heroes (Buhrdur, Wild Warg Chieftain, and Cave Drake) all have a single point of Fate, making siege engine fire very threatening. If you can get your army into combat, though, you're all but unstoppable - three Cave Trolls supported by three power monster heroes means lots of Barging, Hurling, and Rending (not to mention swallowing whole with the Cave Drake) depending on the disposition of your opponent.

This, however is the key - once again, you're limited in the Might that you have (though you have 6 Might in this list, instead of 3 in the previous). 6 Might, while good, doesn't go very far if you plan on winning fights against F6 opponents (against grunts you should be fine, though history has taught me that occasionally the grunts best your highest die). Still, this list is far more fun and very resilient (they'll have to cut down some of your monsters to break you, after all).

4) The Lists: Moria

Moria saw far more changes than Angmar - and some of them, I'll be honest, I didn't like. Let's begin with Prowlers. Prowlers in LOME were a nice spice to add to your team - they came with two-handed axes and Backstabbers - great for adding into a fight as the third model that trapped someone. In Warbands, these guys got better because while you could get two-handed axes, you could instead get shields, making them reliable F3/4+, D5, throwing weapon infantry. They were wonderful. In the new rules, they not only lost the ability to get shields, but they also lost their hand weapon - they now have to use their two-handed axe as a two-handed axe. While I still think they're good to use (spear-supporting two-handers keeps them viable), most of what I feel is regret for that change.

The other regret is the loss of Wild Wargs - with their army bonus requiring you to trap models, the first time the lines engage (when the lines are pretty), it's hard with a slow team to trap people. While you can get Wild Wargs if you take Druzhag the Beastcaller, it's pretty hard to trap people with just Bat Swarms and Warg Marauders (both coming in at 35pts each). It's not a big change (and is better thematically with Moria proper), but still... I could also complain about Blackshields becoming S3 C3 instead of S4 C2, but I never ran them anyway, so I won't. :)

We talked in a previous post about Moria Goblin Shamans (Fury is sadder now), but the other hero to fall sightly from glory is Groblog. In the Warbands era, Groblog leading a ton of Shamans was powerful - your Goblins aren't fleeing and they get a 5+ Fury save without a Heroic Channel. Life is good. Groblog's rule has migrated away from augmenting Fury to providing a possible boost each Fight phase to the Fight Value of the Moria Goblins nearby. This is a very different rule - and lends itself to a very different playing style. Groblog will now be near the front (whereas before I always kept him near the back), allowing your Goblins a better chance at tying Fight Values with better troops (and those Prowlers can get up to F5 if they're fighting someone who's Trapped).

On to some good changes - the Balrog, for example. The Balrog was never worth it - in LOME he was in the Monsters of Middle-Earth team, meaning you needed to ally him in to your army at a whopping 400 points. Ouch. In Warbands, he got moved to Moria but was an Independent Hero, so you still had to bring along a few more heroes (and he was still 400 points). Now, he not only got a price reduce and more rules, but he can lead 18 Goblins, making his whole warband come in at 440 pts with basic Goblins - not bad all things considered. Without Might or Fate, he's still vulnerable but definitely worth it (especially if you like throwing weapons as much as I do). Other models that saw good changes include Warg Marauders (they're more cavalry-like now), but let's get into the lists, shall we?

List #1: Shadow and Flame (and Goblins)
Balrog - 350
2 Moria Goblin Captains with shields - 80
17 Moria Goblin Warriors with shields - 45
17 Moria Goblin Warriors with spears - 75

Okay, I'll be honest - I just wanted to run the Balrog, alright???? For having more than half your points wrapped up in a single model, this army gets to a good size. Naturally, we could substitute him out for 2 Cave Drakes for less points, but we would quickly run out of warrior space. If you do run the double-Cave-Drake build, you can run Warg Marauders or Bat Swarms (since you have more points to work with and fewer warrior slots). Ultimately, we already used a Cave Drake today, so I didn't feel like adding another one. :)

List #2: Troll Horde
1 Moria Goblin Captain with shield - 40
1 Moria Goblin Shaman - 45
9 Moria Goblin Warriors with shields - 45
1 Cave Troll with Hand-and-a-Half Hammer - 80

Convenient Ally: The Trolls
Bill the Troll - 150
Bert the Troll - 110
Tom the Troll - 130

So this list is very different: it runs 4 Trolls - three of whom have Might points. This is not that different from the Angmar list we viewed earlier - in fact, the key difference is the amount of siege engine scatter shot you have to work with. We've taken the Shaman (Fury being sad, I know) because no one has good Courage - no one is going to stay and fight if our Goblins die). Ergo, we need our army to stay together as best it can (and this is my proposed way of doing it).

I know what you're thinking - where's the Goblin Horde?!?!?!?! Okay, we're only reviewing two armies here, so like in the last post, you get a bonus list:

Bonus List: The Denizens of Moria
Durburz, The Goblin King of Moria - 70
Groblog - 50
1 Moria Goblin Captain with shield - 40
1 Moria Blackshield Captain - 45
10 Moria Goblin Warriors with shields - 50
20 Moria Goblin Warriors with spears - 100
10 Moria Goblin Prowlers - 70
1 Moria Goblin Drum - 75
1 Cave Troll with Hand-and-a-Half Hammer - 80

So maybe I should have dropped the Drum for another Cave Troll - let me just say that right away. Since I've covered Trolls so much already in this post, I don't feel like I need any more here. Instead, we're glorifying the Goblins - they're all more Courageous given the Drum (and we get banner rerolls). The Prowlers and Warriors with shields are evenly split - we want firepower! The heroes provided much needed resilience (Durburz), augmented combat skill (Groblog), and Heroic Marches (the captains). All told, with 51 total models, this is a fitting horde!

There's lots more we could talk about Moria and Angmar, but this shall suffice for now. Next up are the Fallen Realms, so watch this space and happy hobbying!


  1. You forgot my favorite Moria list: 1 dragon (Tough Hide, Wings) + 3 cave trolls! XD

    But seriously, great post - I'm actually really looking forward to my revamp to the Halloween Army with the new Angmar army bonus. Should be exciting.

    1. Yeah, that list was too much like the Angmar-Moria alliance I had (Cave Drakes are great). Unlike that list, you have a Dragon, which can give you a great anti-siege-engine capability - something my Angmar-Moria list doesn't have.

  2. The irony of Angmar is that it’s a terror-based list that will struggle on paper with other terror lists since Angmar doesn’t have access to Fury. :-P Definitely work-arounds with compels from the Nazgul and pseudo-compels from Spectres, but their Shaman (and the force in general) is definitely of the debuff variety. :)

    1. So true - you do get decent courage out of Spectres and Barrow-Wights, not that you want those guys charging alone. Still, if you bring enough of them (I've run up to 10 before), you can spear-support with your terrifying Orcs to lend more numbers to the fight. As for Compel, only your Ringwraith heroes have access to it - and without Fury, the Tainted is a wildcard as an ally. If your remaining choices are the Witch-King or the Dwimmerlaik, only one of those guys has Might (so casting Compel is still a risky business).

      And heaven fore-fend that you should be facing a Terror army with Harbinger. :)