A Middle-Earth Brawl

Sometimes I get the itch to break out a golden oldie. Today, that was GW’s Hobbit Strategy Battle Game ruleset. Years ago, I played LotR SBG regularly with a terrific group of gamers in San Antonio. I haven’t had a game since then, though. To help me scratch the itch, two local friends came over and claimed a couple of commands. That doesn’t sound quite right, but…

I set up a simple scenario that featured a large band of orcs, led by a ringwraith and his lackies, attacking a small village. The village militia, not wanting their homes burned down, turned out to repulse the raid. Nearby, a small band of rangers led by Aragorn that had been stalking the ringwraith decided this was their time to strike.

Each player took a different faction (human militia, rangers, orc) and received different objectives. The orcs scored points for burning down buildings and killing leaders. The militia scored by keeping buildings standing and breaking the enemy force. The rangers scored for killing the ringwraith and orc captains. The forces involved were large for SBG at around a thousand points for the orcs, and combined thousand points for the men.

Eschewing subtlety, the orc commander rushed his force forward right down the center in a giant tidal wave of smelly evil. A giant scrum emerged in the center of the table. Unbelievable dice rolling and the decision to front-load the orc captains at point of attack led the town militia to collapse fairly rapidly. On the orcs right, the rangers burst out of a large forest to wipe out a small contingent of warg riders and pose a major threat to the flank.

The orcs isolated the militia’s right flank, cut down the militia captains, and surrounded the remaining men. In the center, the militia’s leader rallied a defense and joined in with the rangers to dent the orcs’ right flank.

Defenders Pocketed

Surrounded! (and doomed)

Seeing an opportunity, Aragorn plunged in to the brawl chasing the ringwraith. In a brutal round of combat (three attacks, three hits, three 6’s to wound), Aragorn smashed the enemy general.

We had to call the game soon afterward. The forces of men were a model away from breaking while the orcs still had around 15 models to go. However, in a classic wargamer move, the orc player opted to kill everything on the board instead of fulfilling his objectives. As a result, the forces of men decisively won in terms of victory points. Their keys to victory? Kill the ringwraith and die slowly.

Aragorn and Ringwraith 2

Aragorn (foreground) winding up to smash the ringwraith



This was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I always have a good time with the SBG rules. If I play the scenario again, I’ll shrink the forces to emphasize heroes, and maybe give each hero a particular task to accomplish. I should probably touch those orcs up at some point too. I bought them as a pre-painted lot off eBay. They look pretty good at gaming distance, except for a few of their bases.


German Sdkfz 251 Halftracks

Four more models rolled off the assembly line and into the motor pool this week. These halftracks are from Battlefront’s new plastic range. I strongly recommend them! The pieces fit together beautifully with very minimal cleaning up after removal from the sprue. The set came with passenger and crew figures, plus an option for fitting a machinegun on the rear of the vehicles. The box set also contained a great decal sheet, which my halftracks are sporting. I added some stowage from Battlefront (marketed, appropriately, as German halftrack stowage, and available through special order). My only complaint is that the passenger figures are so bulky that sitting them across from one another is a serious challenge. Don’t plan on loading your halftracks up with a full complement of troops.
German Halftrack Sdkfz 251 Group Shot 2 (1024x549)

I more or less followed Mig’s Painting Wargame Tanks guide. I can’t recommend the book enough. It is a little lacking in the description department, but it lays out some useful techniques and contains tons of fantastic pictures. I typically don’t weather my AFVs as much as Mig does, but I went a little (too) crazy with the wear and tear on these halftracks. It is hard to stop once you get going!

I used the Plastic Soldier Company’s excellent late war German armor spray as a basecoat. I highlighted edges and raised areas with VJ Buff next, then broke out the airbrush for the camouflage. The airbrush is not my favorite tool…I usually spend 5 minutes painting and 30 minutes cleaning and packing. Still, I think I achieved my best result yet with it, so I’m happy. I used Mig’s brown wash for yellow vehicles, painted up some details, applied a light coating of light earth pigments to the tracks and plates, and voila!