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The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game

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The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game (abbreviated to LotR SBG or LOTRSBG) is a tabletop miniature wargame produced by Games Workshop. It is based on The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, and the book that inspired it, written by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The game was initially released in 2001 to coincide in with the movie The Fellowship of the Ring. New box sets with updated rules were also released for The Two Towers and The Return of the King movies. Later, beginning with the Shadow and Flame supplement, Games Workshop began to add content that was featured in the original book but not in the film adaptations: eg. Tom Bombadil, Radagast and Glorfindel. Games Workshop has also expanded its license with original material on areas such as Harad and Khand, with mixed reactions. The most recent complete edition of the rules, often called The One Rulebook to Rule them All, was released by Games Workshop in September 2005, while a compact edition entitled The Mines of Moria was also released.

In early 2009 Games Workshop also released an expansion to the original game called War of the Ring which, according to the company, allows players to emulate the large battles included in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings by streamlining the game system.

This expansion differs from the main game in a several ways. Firstly War of the Ring uses a larger number of models but the models are placed on movement trays with two cavalry models or eight infantry models on each. This allows for much easier and quicker movement of large numbers of models at once. These are called "companies". Larger creatures such as Ents and Trolls are treated as separate models and do not use movement trays. Combat within the game is also treated differently. In the original game players both roll dice to determine who wins the fight and then the victor rolls to see how much damage is done. In War of the Ring only dice to determine damage are rolled. Also in War of the Ring heroes are treated more like upgrades for their company rather than individual models like in Strategy Battle Game.

In addition to gaming, The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game includes other common elements of the miniature wargaming hobby. These include the collecting, painting and conversion of miniature figures used in play, as well as the modelling of gaming terrain from scratch. These aspects of the hobby are covered in Games Workshop's monthly White Dwarf and on various gaming websites, as well as formerly in the fortnightly Battle Games in Middle-earth.




In the 1980s, Games Workshop produced a range of miniatures for The Lord of the Rings, using original character designs based on fantasy art popular of the time. This was the first range of Lord of the Rings miniatures that Citadel created, taking over from Grenadier Miniatures in 1985, before the license passed to Mithril Miniatures around 1987. The earliest releases were semi-solid base, having a small solid base; later releases were slot based.

Current licensing

The current Lord of the Rings range stems from Games Workshop's rights from Middle-earth Enterprises to produce a skirmish war game based on the films, and also on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books, in the 25mm miniature scale.[1] (The rights to produce a role playing game version of the films were sold to another firm, Decipher, Inc.) They also have the rights to produce a Battle of Five Armies game called "The Hobbit: Strategy Battle Game", using smaller miniatures to enact larger battles (more akin to the Warmaster system).[2] Under this separate license, the game was done using a 10 mm scale for the normal warriors, and a larger "heroic" scale for the named characters.

Games Workshop has not acquired the rights to The Silmarillion, which is still the exclusive property of the Tolkien Estate, but has the right to develop its own derivative intellectual property to fill in the gaps in Tolkien's legendarium. This is particularly true of Harad, which has a range of invented places (such as "Kârna", "Badharkân", "Hidâr", "Nâfarat", "Abrakân", and "Dhâran-sar"[3]) and characters (such as the Hasharin[3] and "Dalamyr, Fleetmaster of Umbar"[4]).

Overview of Rulesets

The Shadow and Flame Supplement - the first Games Workshop supplement to feature content that was not in the films.

The rules for Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game are in their fourth edition. The first three editions of the rulebooks were released with the Lord of the Rings films, but Games Workshop used the magazine White Dwarf and various supplements to "go beyond what is presented in the films of The Lord of the Rings and delve into the rich material of J. R. R. Tolkien's books."[5] The current edition, The One Rulebook to Rule them All, contains the entire set of rules updated and presented in a single large volume, including those of previous supplements. The three older editions are to be re-released in updated supplements, while the compact Mines of Moria edition contains the updated rules only for what was shown in the films.

For materials done under the previous iteration of the rules, there exist errata and FAQ files, to ensure potential rules conflicts between editions are resolved universally.

In addition to the official rulesets, Games Workshop has also encouraged the writing of unofficial "house rules" by wargamers:
"We encourage fellow hobbyists to invent rules that work for them. There is no need to stick precisely to the published rules. However, if you are thinking about making your own Codex [eg.] for your Space Marine chapter (in addition to following the other guidelines in this policy), please avoid making it look official as this may confuse gamers and amount to a challenge to our trademarks. Also, do not copy our official publications or documents."</ref> As such, there have been a number of unofficial fan supplements and other supplementary material on the internet; the most notable of which was The Age of the King, made by The One Ring. Although some of its subject matter was later covered by official rulesets,[6] it is still considered "the benchmark against which all others are measured". In many cases, supplements are written for areas where Games Workshop's licence does not extend, such as The Silmarillion.[7]

Legions of Middle-earth - an army building book.

Legions of Middle-earth

In 2006, Games Workshop released the new expansion entitled "Legions of Middle-earth", centering around theming and army building. It is not a supplement or rulebook, as it contains no rules; instead, it provides army lists for players to theme their forces around, and scenarios which are designed to work in conjunction with them. However, Games Workshop also released supplement summaries online in conjunction with Legions of Middle-earth, so effectively a player only requires Legions of Middle-earth and the main Rulebook in order to use the rules of the supplements.[8] According to one review, the army lists would transform the game "from what has essentially been a scenario-based game that appealed mostly to collectors to a genuine tournament-compatible game system," although in this it "could have been a little bit more restrictive." Interestingly, some of the miniatures for the point values listed have not yet been released; in this way, the book was not to become obsolete with future releases for some time.


Books and magazines

See also White Dwarf

See Also


  1. "Note that these figures are 25 mm and not the 28 mm figures that are more popular today"; Painting the Lord of the Rings Mines of Moria Game, as of 2007-07-17.
  2. Games Workshop Online Store 2005-12-16, as of 2007-06-16.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Battle of the Pelennor Fields Supplement
  4. Legions of Middle-earth
  5. Alessio Cavatore, Shadow and Flame, page 3 (2003).
  6. Compare with Games Workshop's A Shadow in the East Supplement
  7. Supplements have been made depicting the Fall of Gondolin, [1] [2] based on The Silmarillion and The Book of Lost Tales respectively, as well as about the Kinslaying at Alqualondë and the War of Wrath. [3]
  8. With the exception that the summaries do give access to a model's basic wargear, available "Magic" or the Movement rate.