Friday 3 March 2023

MESBG with Kids

It's weird that for all my dislike of GW and general espousal of indie games, its LoTR product is my most-played, most-collected and most-painted game.

I do like LoTR in general; currently my 7-year-old has asked to be read LoTR like his sister (having enjoyed The Hobbit) and the rules are pretty kid-friendly. In addition, I have the OOP Wild West, Pirate, Gladiator and Viking spin-off rules which means once they get the basics down pat, we can enjoy a fair bit of variety.

While my son and daughter painted vikings today, I found more LotR minis hidden away; 24 Elves of the Last Alliance (we watched the opening scene together today)... 6 Men of the Last Alliance, as well as a few loose Uruks. 

This brings the LoTR painted total to 73 for 2023. I'm even considering new purchases: Victrix Vikings I reckon would make good Dunlendings, the one faction (along with Khand) I do not own from the original movies. My son is pushing for an Oliphaunt but at $150AUD I think he's optimistic...

Today my kids played a scenario; a bunch of Uruk scouts had raided a village. The kids each controlled a force of a dozen Wood Elves; their mission was to chase off an equivalent force of Uruks to rescue any villagers hiding in their huts.

Entering from opposite sides of the board, my daughter was unlucky in exchanging bow fire losing several elves for a single orc, retreating into a forest. My son pushed forward impetuously using the superior Fight score to quickly slice up the orcs in the huts on his side of the board. I also had to police my kids rather liberal movement distances (they viewed the movement tape measure more a 'guideline' that should be ignored if it stopped them from doing cool stuff...)

Eventually the orcs broke and my kids gleefully chased them off the board. My son discovered an elf he forgot behind a tree and we/they decided the elf had peed his pants and had hidden in embarrassment.

I've always thought the LoTR rules were the way forward for GW, as they do a lot of things right, while being fairly old-school and familiar. 

*The turn being broken into A Move, B Move, A Shoot, B Shoot makes the action more fluid than IGOUGO.

*It allows formations to kinda happen organically while each model is free to move individually

*The who-fights-who/pushback minigame make melee actually kinda interesting

*Might-Will-Fate allows you to change the activation order as well as giving a layer of resource management, allowing heroes to be actual leaders

*Relatively simple stats and easy to remember rules and mechanics (though MESBG does add in a bit more stuff than the original, usually cinematic but also unnecessary)

*Works well with scenarios, and can be used with points system as well

A switch to d10, and changing the priority roll-off each turn to a more nuanced way to determine initiative would probably be my first changes, along with abolishing the wound table for some method where you don't need to look it up (I kinda remember the rolls required anyway, but when showing the game to the kids I realized how old-school looking up tables are...).

I can certainly recommend LoTR as an intro wargame; my kids quickly grasped the rules (I avoided using heroes/monsters to keep things simple) and my daughter now wants to play Legends of the Old West (as she sees I own a all-cowgirl warband...)


  1. Fun! I didn't like these rules when they first came out, but they grew on me over time. One of my biggest heroes was that certain units were immune to others (Balrog and Sauron couldn't be hurt by str 2 attacks). Now I use a d20 and add fight value to the rolls. Wounds are dealt on a 12+ , +1 to roll for each point of str, -1 for each point of targets defense. Any rolls of a 20 automatically succeed.

  2. I always preferred LoTR over 40K/WFB, but no one was ever interested. I think I was also in my Infinity+Force on Force+15mm stage as well.

    Bought a few big job lots off ebay between movies (averaged at 50c/model, $3 metal/horse) which were so numerous I was always scared to start. Thanks to COVID/floods, I reckon I've done ~500 in the last few years.

    I also thought fight+dice (like oldschool 40k) seems best (also - extra attacks seem to powerful) only I went d10 not d20. Funny you should mention you method as I do something similar in my homebrew rules - 6+ on d10, with attacker and defender stats modifying...

    ...But I'm keeping with the original rules so my kids are familiar with it; they are keen to play LoTR-spinoffs for cowbays and pirates...