Friday, June 17, 2016

Battle Games in Middle-Earth #6 Overview

The spring has turned into summer since I last posted words here and we’ve said farewell to the rain and cold that stymies our efforts to prime and seal the painted warriors of Middle-Earth. Despite the lack of scribed words and posted reports, there’s in truth more SBG gaming happening around these parts than ever before. My efforts to beat the bushes for people interested in the SBG has borne fruit and my Facebook feed is richer than ever with Middle-Earth miniature news, thanks to my discovery of the GBHL. So, in celebration of this increased gaming activity, let’s continue our examination of Battle Games in Middle-Earth.

Battle Games in Middle-Earth #6 greets us with the stoic visage of Aragon staring at us giant-like from beyond the ramparts of Helm’s Deep. Right away, we know we’re in for some Strider-centric action this issue. The enclosed miniature model, selected from the “Heroes of Helm’s Deep” boxed set and depicting Aragorn rushing into battle clad in his chainmail hauberk, confirms our suspicions.

As always, the issue begins with the “Guide to Middle-Earth” section. Issue #6 is focused on Aragorn, Hero of Helm’s Deep. It recounts his journey from a Ranger in the wild to the fateful council in Rivendell to his efforts to defend the Ringbearer and rescue Merry and Pippin from the clutches of Saruman’s Uruk-hai. The article ends by setting us up for the rest of the issue, discussing Aragorn’s apparent death and subsequent arrival at Helm’s Deep at the cusp of the Battle for the Hornburg.

“Playing the Game” offers up a new wrinkle in the movement rules: climbing, jumping, and falling. Having mastered the basics of movement and the role terrain plays on model movement in the game in previous issues, BGiME #6 provides rules for moving miniatures up, down, over, and across terrain, obstacles, and barriers. It describes the differences between barriers and difficult terrain, presents rules and charts for determining a model’s success in scaling or leaping across obstacles, and the consequences of falling from heights. Thanks to these new rules, tabletop battles are no longer limited to two dimensions. The section closes with notes on how barriers affect trapped models in the Fight phase and gives the reader rules for concealing warriors by laying them prone behind terrain and how to determine if the enemy spots them.

The “Battle Game” chapter includes a new and interesting scenario, “Defend the Ruin!” This scenario depicts a classic “what if?” situation: Could Aragorn stop a band of brutal Uruk-hai intent on sneaking into the Glittering Caves and massacring the women and children of Rohan? Not only is this a challenging scenario for the players, it also features the first time limit on a game we’ve so far seen in BGiME. The Evil player has just ten rounds to find the secret entrance to the Glittering Caves and get his Uruk-hai inside before Rohan reinforcements come to Aragorn’s aid. Given that neither Good nor Evil player knows the location of the secret entrance at the start of the game, and that Aragorn must stop or slow down five brutal orcs to achieve victory, this scenario isn’t easy for either side to score a decisive victory. In typical fashion, we’ll look at “Defend the Ruins!” in more depth in a later post.

“Painting Workshop” describes techniques and offers useful tips for painting our new Aragorn model. Much of the information is material we’ve seen before, but the concept of customizing miniature bases is introduced with a “top tip” instructing the reader to adorn Aragorn’s base with a small stone painted in appropriate gray tones. Anyone who has done excessive base modeling for their figures knows that this is the first small step towards a gentle madness!

Issue #6 ends with the “Modelling Workshop” section and it’s an excellent one. This chapter is filled with detailed instructions on constructing ruins of far better quality and appearance than the simple one from issue #2. Using basic, inexpensive materials such as thick cardboard and Spackle, the reader can craft impressive-looking, yet crumbling relics from a previous time in Middle-Earth. These ruins make fantastic terrain, barriers to be breached or defended, or objectives to be taken or held. I was personally inspired to make six ruins for my table after reading this chapter and they all look fantastic.

The issue closes with the usual sneak peek at the next magazine’s contents. We see that we have a sprue of Rohan Warriors headed our way in issue #7, as well as new rules for defending barriers, tips on building walls and fences, and a scenario pitting Rohan against rampaging Uruk-hai. Sounds like a great issue! We’ll cover it in the weeks ahead. Until then, let’s take a further look at the fun stuff in Battle Games in Middle-Earth #6.

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