During this year Throne of Skulls new army bonuses will be playtested by the players. Those bonuses are supposed to encourage players to use single list armies but, while the idea is good, the execution could have been done better. We playtested some of the new lists in several point matches and this is what we think about it. Due to lack of models, we won't be able to playtest Mahud, Dead Men of Dunharrow and Wildmen, but is possible that we'll just use proxies anyway. This post will be updated as soon as new armies are tested.
Minas Tirith (+1 to Courage)
This bonus changes depending on the way this army is played. Since more than half of the units I played with had the Bodyguard rule, I hardly felt it in a couple of games. However it allowed me to keep Denethor in line for the whole game, which is not bad in high points game and is extremely important when going Full Horde. What really made a difference was the option to field Gandalf the White, which gave the list the always needed spellcaster able to lead troops. Although, it must be said that Gandalf the White is a pitiful and overcosted unit and a player could do just as well by using Saruman the Wise and Damrod (a combo that's 30 points cheaper than Gandalf) or even give up the Immobilize altogether in favor of Galadriel, lady of light: if you have a Boromir impervious to immobilize and whatever, you may just kill anything without needing to immobilize it first. I hope that they just add Banishment to Gandalf's spell list, he's supposed to scare Nazguls away but, right now, he poses little to no threat to them. Until then, the bonus is average.
Barad-Dur (+1 to wound rolls when outnumbering the opponent)
The Barad Dur list loses Morannons, Black Guards, Uruks and named Nazgul aside the Witchking. But this bonus keeps the killing power high despite those losses. First, consider that this list allows to horde up very easily while still using heavy hitters like Mordor Trolls. Second and most important, this bonus is cumulative with Two-Handed weapons and piercing strike: on average, you can expect a orc equipped with two-handed axe to be able to wound D7 on 3+! And if you are using this list you are probably playing it as a horde so you'll have tons of orcs. To make a long story short, we found out that when the bonus kicks in, it kills. The players just needs to create the right advantage.
One thing we did not understand is if the bonus also cover spearmen, but so far we ruled against it. We decided that to outnumber a unit you have to put two or more units in base contact with it.
This bonus is really good.
Mordor (+1 to courage and re-rerolling 1s to wound)
Let's start saying what we all know: Mordor is the perfect army. While most bonus are supposed to encourage players to play a single list, those who use Mordor need no other bonus than what the list itself can offer. Giving the list not one, but two bonuses it's overkill. The courage boost removes or mitigates the one weakness of this army (on a side note: boosting Shelob to courage 5 with her 6 will points means that she'll never run away. NEVER. Trust me.)
Allowing to reroll 1s on top of that is just too much. Unlike feints, this bonus applies to every unit; Trolls, Fell Beast, Black Guards...and unlike the other list who gains this kind of bonus (Khazad-Dum) Mordor has a good number of units above S4, units that don't really need any more killing power.
Again, this bonus is overkill.
Kingdom of Khazad-Dum (rerolling 1s to wound)
It depends on the points you're playing at. If you are playing in small games (up to 500 points, let's say). The bonus it's a nice addition. Nothing special mind you, nothing game changing. If you are playing in higher points match, you're not gonna care for this bonus. Like, at all. This bonus does nothing to compensate for any of the weaknesses this army has and it's always better to just field one or two allied warbands with spears. It should be noted that, for this bonus to kick in, you cannot field Gimli, the only hero your opponent won't be able to immobilize at 12" away and a great hero for his points cost, nor Dain. In other words, your army is actually getting weaker!!
This bonus is Borderline Useless.
Moria (Friendly Moria Goblins get +1 to Fight if their opponent is trapped)
This bonus suffers from a poor choice of words. Fist, isn't the opponent trapped after the dice are rolled, not before? Whatever, you may say, just change "is trapped" with "would be trapped" (that's how we played). Still, what happens if you are fighting multiple opponents and turns out that only one of them is trapped? Do the fight value still increase if the other one can back away easily? Or, maybe, the fight increases but you can only strike towards the trapped model?
Plus, the bonus refers to "Moria Goblins". Not "goblins" but Moria Goblins. Due to this wording, this bonus is worthless anytime you're fighting a model with F4, unless there are also Bats and/or captains involved.
This bonus is confusing.
Arnor (Models within 6" of Arvedui pass every courage test they have to take)
A very thematic bonus that's effective as well considering the low courage of the Warriors of Arnor (which will drop to a pitiful 1 if a Nazgul is around). There's one problem though: Arvedui has 2 wounds, D6 and no fate. Even if you are carefully hiding him behind two lines of warriors and pick only fights he's bound to win, there's only so much you can do to protect him. Of course, you can put Malbeth near him to give him a chance, and at his point you will have a 6" bubble of Channeled Fury...but what do you with the rest of your army? 6" is not much, expecially if the game requires control of different objectives.
Armies with strong ranged units will get rid of Arvedui quite quickly (Hello, Vrasku!) and he'll be the top target for Nazguls as well.
In a battle against Angmar, this rule allowed troops around Arvedui to charge Wights, Wraiths and even lowly orcs that they would not have been able to charge otherwise due to Angmar special rule. However, D6 and 2 wounds only took him so far and once he died my opponent basically directed the fight phase as he pleased (3" is not much? Consider how big the base of a Fellbeast is). Consider also the fact that, for this rule to be effective against units with the Terror special rule, Arvedui has to be unconfortably close to the enemy lines.
I'd increase the range to 12" or even make it cover the whole battlefield but let's face it: a rule that's bound to a model (expecially a very fragile one) it's not gonna do any good in the later stage of the game.
Angmar (Angmar Orcs within 3" of a hero that it's also a spirit will gain the terror special rule)
Angmar has 9 heroes in its list. Of those nine, six are spirits. With the exception of Gulavhar and The Tainted, which I never actually saw in a competitive match, the remaining four heroic spirits are extremely effective units. Having a Nazgul on horse or fellbeast behind a line of orcs will mostly likely give you almost full control of the fights unless your opponent has plenty of high courage models (elves) or, even worst (or better, depending on the point of view) models with Bodyguard.
It's thematic, effective, but situational.
Arnor fell the moment Arvedui went down with the warriors basically unable to pick a fight of my choice, but Rohan pressed forward nonetheless (Erkenbrand's horn) and so did Minas Tirith (Citadel Guards and Guards of the Fountain Court made the difference and the +1 to courage actually helped).
Basically, it depends on the army you're playing against, ranging from extremely effective to almost useless.
Siamo Dikey e Shagrat, e facciamo parte del Gruppo di Gioco della Sicilia Orientale dedicato al gioco " Middle-Earth: Strategy Battle Game" prodotto dalla games workshop, che è la proprietaria del marchio registrato.