Middle Earth SBG – Heroes of Rohan

A commission I was working on last year for a host of characters, beginning with some of Rohans finest.

First up is the new Eowyn & Merry set. Games Workshop is knocking it out the park with thier plastic characters and these are no exception. The detail and dynamism is phenomenal.

Deorwine and Elfhelm are again some phenomenal models. Elfhelm in particular has a fantastic pose, the momentum carried through him and his horse, with the throw poised to release. Really one of my alltime favourite models.

Finally we have the bearer of the royal standard, Gamling. This is an old school metal miniature and it does show. Whilst i enjoyed this figure for the most part the banner was hell. It’s really hard to paint patterns in such a wavy area and sometimes the texture of the metal can be a little funny. I just hope that it still looks suitably impressive.

Next up is a wee bit more Rohan and a fair chunk of Mordor…

Middle Earth SBG – Playing the Forces of Fangorn

“To land of gloom with tramp of doom, with roll of drum, we come, we come “

The sound of crunching bone, crushing feet, of stone and wood torn asunder, marks that the Ents of Fangorn are marching once more, and with doom they come. With many a poignant quote, this review is to highlight the army of Fangorn’s pros and cons in the battle for Middle Earth.

Let’s not deceive, its a small army. Two entries…and that’s it. The Ents are comprised of very little, both list and model wise, but each of those things offers a lot. A single Ent is capable of ripping through a warband while possessing the ability to deal with those pesky heroes at the same time. First off we will start with the one and only Hero [literally,i’m not being poetic]; Treebeard.

Tree?!’m am no tree, I am an Ent”.

 Treebeard is the only hero choice this army has but he is a Hero of Legend. Sure, he may be your only option, but he does have a lot of abilities to make up for it. I will cover the Brutal Power attacks later, as general skills across the whole army, so this bit will be about the man, I mean tree, I mean Ent.

He’s expensive. No denying it. And with the option of taking two tag alongs by the name of Merry and Pippin, he does round off at a nice number of points, but he’s not cheap. Why you ask? Well, with a fight value of 8, that pretty much means any other hero fighting him needs to boost their fight value with a Heroic, or watch helplessly when Treebeard rolls a natural 6. But the 8’s don’t stop there. Oh no. Treebeard has many 8’s across his stat line, meaning it’s hard to wound him, and he hits harder than a troll.

He comes with the normal Might and Fate you’d expect from a Hero of Legend, but also has as much Will as some of the mighty wizards across this land. Mixed with the Army bonus, which I will also cover later, Treebeard is reasonably resisted to magic.

we have agreed, you are not Orcs”.

But by far, the addition of the two Hobbits in this edition sets Treebeard well above the rest of his fellow treemen. For one, they are half the points in the Fangorn army list as they are in the Fellowship list while retaining all their stats line and wargear options. They are resistant to magic and best of all, can throw stones up to 8 inches while mounted safely upon the shoulder of Treebeard, without any modifiers should the lumbering giant move. This is quite handy for pelting the heads of any supporting spearmen attacking Treebeard as the hobbits are not engaged in the fight, nor are the spearmen.

They can dismount and move around freely, and remount by simply moving back into base contact with Treebeard. As to why you would want to get two such small and squishy characters down from their safe location, well, its a double edge sword. While grounded they can take objectives and hold ground but can be easily targeted or charged which they can’t be while mounted. Equally they can be placed to surround an opponent Treebeard has charged, or used as a counter charge should your opponent have charged him. If placed correctly, they not only trap your opponent but also add two more dice to your Duel roll, taking it to a total of 5 attacks, with 10 rolls to wound should you win. [okay, 4 of those will be at S2, lets not kid ourselves too much, but then again 6 attacks with Rend is going to ruin someone’s day]. If Treebeard fails to win the fight, your opponent will probably go for the softer target so it’s a risky move.

The only other entry for this army is the bog standing, I mean bog standard Ent. Pun aside, facing off against any Ent would be harrowing fight for even the most stalwart of warriors. With a stat line very similar to Treebeard, these high strength, high defence monsters also boast a fight value worthy of any champion. They move the same speed as any normal foot soldier and can hurl stones up to 18 inches at the highest strength the game goes to. Although they aren’t the greatest shots, and given the option of crushing one opponent with a giant rock, or bludgeoning anyone silly enough to be in base contact with you, I know which one I’d go with. Although, its still an option if used at the right moment. I’d still go with plan B. Why? Because Bludgeon really is a rule that is unique to the Ents, and only the Ents.

Its a new Brutal Power Attack that enables the Ents to pick up one of your opponents and use him to bash the brains in of anyone else in the fight. Perfect for those moments when an entire warband of goblins has surrounded your Ent, and 3 basic attacks is just not enough to get the job done, bludgeon enables the Ents to quickly reduce an opponents warband’s numbers in seconds. This means surrounding the Ent in an attempt to trap him can quickly back fire, so it will make your opponent think twice when charging you. If they even make it into combat, let’s not forget that Ent’s cause Terror so there is a chance they might not even get the charge in the first place.

Let’s not stray too far from the Brutal Power Attacks, as its these abilities that truly make the Ents a force to reckon with. Basically, the whole army can Rend, Hurl, Barge [and Bludgeon!] every time they win a fight. There is nothing like Barging all those annoying shield walls and bodyguards back 3 inches so you can step in and immediately fight your opponents Captain or Hero, who thought he was safe behind his men. Another good use for Barge is to push the banner bearer away from the fight, denying it’s bonus before plowing into weaken troops. And if that banner is too far away to push back, have you thought about Hurling some hapless swordsman at him instead, knocking down everyone else on the way? And last but not least is Rend. Most heroes have high defence values, but as you roll to wound against strength instead of defence with Rend, it’s the perfect choice for taking out multi wound characters. Additional, you can use combinations of these powers if positioned well. Push your opponent around, use the first Ent to Barge models into trapping predicaments for the next Ent to get double attacks on, or Hurl into crowded ranks for maximum effect, especially if only engaged with a single model. Oh the choices! Choose wisely, they are game changing moments [as well as being great gaming memories to share for years! Like the time Treebeard hurled an Orc Captain clear off the walkways of Lake Town into freezing water, killing him instantly. Good luck rolling for Fate from the bottom of the ocean.

Don’t be hasty” 

Not only the motto of the Army bonus, but a sound piece of advice if thinking of taking any allies with Fangorn, because as far as Army bonuses go, its a good one and worth keeping, but there is a hitch. “Side? I am on nobody’s side, as nobody is one my side.” Which is true, because Fangorn is convenient or yellow allies with everyone. They have no green allies and would therefore lose their army bonus if allying with another army. It’s a tough choice and one I would not take lightly. I’ll tell you why.

Fearless, for starters! Wow. Fearless mixed with Terror. Ouch. It means Trolls are scared of Ents, but Ents aren’t scared of them. Lose more than 50% of your army, who cares! The Ents aren’t going to run away. Why? Well, it’s time for another quote to clear that up. “Come, my friends. The Ents are going to war. It is likely that we go to our doom. The last march of the Ents.”[wipes tear away]. Need I say more.

If that’s not good enough, how about impervious to any magical power or special ability that prevents them moving, or moving them around? No longer can your opponent Transfix or Command an Ent, or affect their movement in any way [with the exception of losing a duel of course]. That’s quite a game changer since the last edition of the game.

Furthermore, Nature’s Wrath and Wrath of Bruinen no longer has any effect on them. That’s a lot of magic that has suddenly lost its shazam over the rampaging relentless trees, with additional salt being added by Treebeard’s high Will value.

That’s quite an army bonus, or three really. It will make any Fangorn player think again before slapping down some beefcake Hero from another list to “complete” his army. Not only does this stop any power creep from mixing armies, but like above, its true to the form, the feel, of the Ents, which is one of the reasons I love this game.

But enough with the pros, its time to hear the hard truths. The cons. The Ents will be out numbered 99% of the time. Due to the high points cost of even a single Ent, you will not have many, and can guarantee points left over unless playing certain combinations like 550, 800 or 1400. Ents are slow, many armies will move around them, or try to avoid the Ents at times, box you them in. Even though Ents have a high defence, they are not invulnerable. Other monsters or models that get +1 to wound [and there is a lot that can], can easily ruin your day and make Ents easy prey given the number of models you will have in your army. Lets not forget a siege weapon will kill one with a single wound. They do not have any banners, so no rerolls in Duels, and Treebeard is the only model in your army that has any Might to boost a dice roll when needed.

All in all, Fangorn is a tricky but an enjoyable army to use. Great for fun themed games against mates producing many of those great gaming moments i mentioned earlier, but you may struggle at tournaments in certain circumstances due to the problem of points. You need to use those Brutal Power Attacks to your advantage at all times. Although the current model range is a bit limited, it may get more should Fangorn ever get an update to their army, but for now, Treebeard and his merry band of walking trees are facing down the rise of evil alone. Especially if you want that awesome Army bonus. 

Written by Benjamin Morgan