Thursday, June 22, 2023

War of the Ring - Revised Rules and Army Lists

Well, I think I may (almost) be done.  At this point I've put years of effort into revising and updating the War of the Ring rules.  Either by looking at completely alternate systems, playing the original system, or working to modernize the original system.  Small games, big games, and everything in between.

The objective has always been for me to get to the point that I can play mass battle games using my Lord of the Rings miniatures collection - but using a system that is fun and moves the game along.  I think I've finally arrived at that destination, minus what are likely some typos and minor fixes (hard to spot these after starring at the text for so long).

Anyways ... as always, I share this with the broader community in the spirit of friendship.  I did this all for my own group and enjoyment of the game, but I hope others may also at least find it interesting.

This post is a little long.  What will you find below?

First the download links for the rules and army lists.  You should somewhat be familiar with the concepts in the original War of the Ring rules (easily Googled if you want to find a PDF download of the original rules).  That being said, experienced gamers should be able to "get it" based on the rules reference I have below.  Army lists also included below.

Second are screenshots of the rules and army lists - just as a preview of the downloadable files.

Lastly, for those who are interested, I share some thoughts around the big changes and improvements I made.  There are many, but this will at least give you an idea of what I was trying to accomplish.

File Downloads

Rules: download
Army Lists: download

Image Previews

The revised rules are included on 6 pages (3 double-sided pages for reference).  Pictures of those pages below as a preview.

As for the army lists - they are now much expanded from previous versions, covering essentially all the major factions and formations.  Pictures below just show the main tables for each army list.  The opposite page for each army list covers all the special rules listed for each formation.

Design Background and Thoughts

If you've read this far, great job!  Below I share some thoughts around the design and changes I made from the original War of the Ring rules.  The primary objective being to modernize the rules and make them more streamlined/consolidated.

Army Building

There is no limit to the number of core formations included in an army.  There cannot be more rare formations than core formations in an army.  Only one of each legendary formation may be included in an army.  Epic heroes can be included, so long as they are not duplicated on the battlefield, with the exception of generic epic heroes such as Orc Shamans.


I've not included point values.  You can use the basic point values from the original book if you like.  Adding a points based system requires significant effort.  More importantly, it is better to balance opposing armies based on the scenario, objectives, and terrain advantages/disadvantages (all these factors greatly undermine point systems in wargaming).

I cover my thoughts on point systems in more detail here, in my post on building better scenarios:

Companies and Formations

You may notice many things are divisible by 3.  Infantry bases have 6 figures, 6 attacks, and 6 wounds.  Cavalry bases have 3 figures, 3 attacks, 3 wounds (resilience 2).  Games Workshop sells many packs of models in increments of 3s and 6s (at least the most expensive packs).  This cuts down on wasted (expensive) models.  More importantly, this provides a better synergy between infantry and cavalry companies in the game.

The original system used 8 figures per infantry company, and 2 per cavalry company.  Monsters and flying monsters use 60mm round bases, just like the original rules.  Epic characters are based separately, not being represented in the companies.  They are just place next to a unit and are assumed to be in the command company.

Infantry formations are 3, 6, or 9 companies strong.  Cavalry companies are 4 or 6 companies strong.

Profiles and Consolidation

A large challenge in the original system was all the easily missed rules, and basic information that was located in different sections of the rules.  For example, specific wargear modifies the profiles values, such as two-handed weapons that decreases the formations Fight value by one, but provides a +1 on to hit rolls.  Often the profile didn't reflect reality based on wargear or other special rules for the formation.

Many of the changes I've made are in the name of consolidating information needed to play into one place.  All applicable information for a formation is reflected in my army list profiles.  Everything you need to know is on one double sided page for any army: all formations, epic heroes, and all special rules.

Fight and Shoot values are no longer values but now reflect a bonus number of dice provided to each company in a formation that is shooting or fighting directly.  No lookups or referencing additional tables.

How many dice does a company add when supporting?  That is listed in the formations profile (Sup).

Command Companies

Command such as champions, banners and musicians are removed as an option.  Formations Courage is increased based on any champion they could have had in the old system.  Banners and musicians don't have any special benefits - anything applicable is already integrated into the profiles or special rules.


Common and rare formations generally don't have any Might to spend, unless an Epic Hero joins the formation.  This helps cut down on in game administration and speeds up the game.

Heroic Actions

Completely overhauled to simplify things.  There are basic heroic actions that all heroes can call, and advanced heroic actions that can be called if listed for specific heroes.  No back and forth to slow down the game.  Call an action or not.


Also completely overhauled and greatly simplified.  Spellcasters all have access to a basic spell list.  Certain spellcasters may have additional spells listed in their profile.  In the priority phase, each Spellcaster generates their level (1, 2 or 3) in dice they can use to cast spells.  Unused dice go away at the end of the turn.  Spells are cast on a value of 4, 5, or 6.  This means a level 1 spellcaster could attempt to use a single die to cast a spell needing  a 6, but it is more likely a lower complexity spell will be cast to increase the chance of success.  A level 3 spellcaster could attempt to cast three different spells using 1 die each, 1 spell using 3 dice, or 2 


There you have it.  A ton of work and playtesting has gone into this so far.  Not saying it is perfect by any stretch - but this is working for me and my group really well.