Wednesday, November 9, 2011

War of the Rings Houserules: 2011 Edition I

There has been some really good discussion this year about how certain units are poorly treated by the WOTR rules. After following this closely, I've updated my ongoing house-rules in light of what I think are the better suggestions out there to address these issues. As always, these rules aim to be just the 'low hanging fruit'. Not everything that could be made better is addressed here and the focus is on making global changes where-ever possible and only changing a specific unit when it is really out of whack.

New to the list this year are changes to how Monsters work to try and make 'Hard to Kill' and 'Very hard to Kill' Monsters less of a case of false advertising. I have also adjusted a number of units that had no option to move at the double (which proved to really hamper already expensive options) to be able to do so and I have made Spirit troops a little tougher. This year's version of the 'Ard Boyz' also had a good idea in one of their scenarios so I have switched 'Will of Iron' back to being a 4+ but now any hero that still has at least one might point remaining can do this for free. A small change (call it 'Editor's Prerogative') was to tone down one spell that I have found too silly.

Here is this year's handy one-page rules mod. Enjoy and any and all comments welcome here on on the Onering thread for this doc. These can all fit easily on a single, one-side, A4 sheet. 

General Rules
Will of Iron, change to roll for free, on a 4+, whenever a hero has at least one might point left..
Units with the ‘Counselors’ rule, may not benefit from might from another unit with that rule.
Overlord cannot be used to allow a formation without a hero to call heroic actions.
Inspiring Leader cannot be used to boost courage vs Spirit Grasp
All Monsters and formations with 'we stand alone' may attempt move at the double.
Gorgoroth Orc Horde: Only hero purchased as part of the Battlehost may join during a game.
Epic Actions
Epic Strike: change to give the hero his base fight + 2 only in duels (ie this will lift it back up from 0, if used). It operates normally otherwise.
Epic Charge: change to incorporate the features of a heroic charge
Epic Rampage: hits for the purposes of this rule, cannot be rolled again on 1s to hit.

Crossbows: Disallow the ability of ‘heroic shoot’ to permit them to shoot after moving.
Throwing weapons: ignore note in shooting text about being unable to shoot if you move more than half. If used within 3”of defensible terrain, they are always able to hit troops inside.
Pikes: can fight counting full attacks from second rank when allocating hits to the front.
Heavy infantry with shields, set a price floor:
1.    No def 6 (including shield) troops below 25pts in cost, 30 pts if they have crossbows/berserkers/pikes/special charge ability etc
2.    No def 7 (including shield) troops below 30pts in cost, 35 pts if they have crossbows/berserkers/pikes/special charge ability etc
Banner    15pts; Hornblower/Drummer    10pts; Taskmaster    20pts; Goblin Drum    40pts
Captain    40pts; Shaman/Stormcaller    75pts

Spirits: All spirit formations count as Defense 7.

Monsters: 'Hard to Kill' Monsters deduct 1 from all rolls on their table (the same as the former VH2K) and 'Very Hard to Kill' Monsters now use the following instead of the old table:
D6 result (+ wound counters) - 1-2: Nothing, 3-5: 1 wound, 6-8: 2 wounds, 9: Dead.
On any natural 6, you apply that result and roll again for free.

Nazgul now Mastery 2 base and Winged Nazgul in the battlehost now count as 'Hard to Kill':
The Witch-king of Angmar    Remains Mastery 3, Gains ‘No Man may Kill Me’ (each hit in a duel is negated on a 4+) – except vs female heroes. His special ability works in rear arc.
The Betrayer    Rerolls for just for his company.
Khamul the Easterling    Save changes to only negate hits, and not reflect them onto other units. 
The Knight of Umbar    Boosts apply only to him and his company.

Fallen Realms - Corsair Arbalesters, the Pavise shield only grants a defense bonus for shooting and spells, and grants no defense bonus in melee.

Elves - Longbows, change to add ability to always ignore shields; Elven Glaives, change to add new priority: infantry with glaives strike before other infantry, cavalry with glaives strike before other cavalry.

Rohan - change to give all cavalry in the list the benefit of the Lances rule.

AngmarBuhrdur becomes 'Hard to Kill' (ie he does not benefit from the new VH2K table)

Spells: 'Wings of Terror' now just allows unit to act as if it has a drummer/hornblower and banner, and always pass rolls to move at double. 'Strength From Corruption' may only be targeted at a unit with the Caster's own army.


  1. Though I have yet to convince my main playing opponent to adopt these rules (and we both play Angmar!), I've always liked the gist of what you were doing.

    What always made me scratch my head though is the across-the-board application of the lance rule to the Riders of Rohan--not saying they shouldn't be better (though they've TOTALLY rolled me in the past without needing the lance rule). Is there perhaps another way to even the playing field with Rohan without simply making them the Knights of Minas Rohan?

    Also, I heartily agree that Angmar's spirit soldiers are underpowered according to the points cost they retain, but everything defense 7 is....I don't know--I have no doubts that it fixes problems, I just wonder if it might be fixing it to eagerly. I'v felt that the sucky-ness of the spirits was not that they died/were banished too easily; I always felt they were underwhelming: they never felt like they were in their element; they excelled at nothing--I guess I mean they never hit hard enough.

    With Spirits, I really (REALLY) like the suggestion that Spirit Grasp attacks the models' base Courage...regardless of which hero was leading the formation (or close by it). They would certainly be deadlier if heroes, when dealing with Spirit Grasp, could only pass their Courage value on to the other models in their company--but NOT their formation. (Which you could then make Gandalf EXTRA cool and show how the Elven Ring of Fire was SO good by allowing Gandalf the Grey to pass his Courage on to his whole formation...just some thoughts).

    I'm a bit more of a fan of making battles feel like there could be a good back story to them (even if just a one-off pick-up game); consequently, I really liked the idea behind Fates & Fortunes (sadly, I think they ended up being just more ways to math out a list and make it work in a very specific way--but more on that at a later time...perhaps one of my posts on my blog.)

    Following that line of thought, I think it'd be pretty neat to introduce a Fate titled something like "Apex of Sauron's Power" which would give each Ringwraith a +1 Mastery (the catch being the Fate would be EXPENSIVE...and not usable in tournaments).

    I thought perhaps a similar Fate doing the same thing for spirits to make them +2 Defense--but have that +2 Defense be linked to a model or army general (so long as that model lives etc etc). maybe make the same Fate have the Spirits attack the base Courage of models, ignoring the Courage of any other models leading the formation or company?

    So...with this quick reply has now totally turned into an essay, I think I'll end it here. (I think I'll copy and paste it up on the OneRing thread as well.)

    Thanks for giving me so much food for thought!

  2. I meant to clarify about the "Sauron's Apex of Power" idea--I think there is a time and a place for the Ringwraiths to be ABSOLUTELY terrifying to face, just not every time you face them; it should only happen in the biggest batles (signifying that Sauron has grown powerful enough and bold enough to throw all his chips on the it were).

  3. There's just 2 things I disagree about. Firstly, I think WoI should still cost might, or it'd be: someone cast a spell on me that doesn't do much at all (say Sunder Spirit on a unit of Elves), well lets WoI it anyway, since it doesn't cost me anything. Part of the fun is that you have to think really hard about which spells to resist.

    Second, why can't heroes join battlehosts? OK, Khamul, Betrayer, Dwimmerlaik, Gorgoroth Orc Horde is sick, but you can't punish everyone for that. Say, when you have the Fighting Uruk-Hai list, you want to be able to put more then just Saruman in there, because the larger part of your main formations will be in here. Same goes for Theodens Guard, The Ecthelion Guard (or something like that), and many others.

    For the rest, it looks good.

  4. Cheers for the feedback, Annatar.

    I'll ponder some more re: the battlehosts - you may be right about it being an over-reaction to the pointlessness of the Gorgoroth Horde.

    Re: the WOI, I can see the argument but the reality is that spells are something that all casters get to throw at least one of every turn, more if they pass the dicerolls. Whereas WOI used to cost something that was finite and cost approx 25pts. It just wasn't a balanced trade.

    Coupled with this, there is a heck of a lot of magic in WOTR and this basically halves the lot of it, as long as a hero with might is there.

    So yes a choice is gone (but choices already slow the spell casting a little too much) but I don't feel that the choice was one that contributed to good gameplay. Still YMMV.

  5. WOI makes sense now, you're right about the contrast between cost of magic and resisiting.

  6. Hi Annatar, had a look at your blog and like your stuff - very fun. I've put you on the blogroll.