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Getting into "Middle-Earth: SBG" at the Dawn of a New Age

Let me personally welcome you to the wonderful hobby of Middle-Earth: Strategy Battle Game by Games Workshop!

My name is Da Kommizzar, but you can call me "DK", and this article is on like "Donkey Kong"!

How to Use this Article

Aragorn by clownshoe
Aragorn by clownshoe

This article is made in the assumption that you know what Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game is and you have a basic understanding that you move models around a board in a tabletop wargame. If you are an esteemed veteran of many Throne of Skull Lord of the Rings (LOTR) events then this article isn't really for you. Additionally, if you have a massive head-knowledge of tabletop wargaming and can easily comprehend unit profiles at the mere wink of an eye, this is probably not for you either. This article is intended for players who want to get into the hobby. This article will not necessarily teach you how to play or be a competitive player, this will only help guide you through your first few dates.

First Face of SBG for Beginners

Okay, as a new player there are some facts to life in SBG that you need to know before people start telling you what is good and what is "cry-sad-mad-bad".

The First Face of SBG is how awesome Lord of the Rings are and how beautiful most of the models are. You are just starting out and learning. if there are model(s) that you think are super cool, PLAY THEM. It doesn't matter if "they aren't worth it at point value X", you think they are darned cool and that is enough reason to play them! Sure you might lose to "try-hard ninjas", but you can sit comfortably knowing that that was the reason and that you are still learning and exploring the right way.

Deceptively Simple, Obviously Fun, and Learning the Game

This game is constantly recognized as being a simple, but well balanced game. It is probably the most well-balanced games that Games Workshop had decided to conceive. With that, it is also very easy to pick up in two thirty minute games. Game one will teach you basic mechanics and Game two introduces you to heroes. This is purely natural and takes only the most basic instruction from the "teacher". I have taught plenty of players how to play and all you have to do is simply play. Everything falls into place for you! Perhaps this is because the game works on an overlapping turn system, but probably also because everything is in manageable chunks.

The best piece of advice I can give you is this: Find someone nearby to learn how to play the game with, new or old, and experiment. Make mistakes, lose a whole lot, but keep having fun and learning. Do not get caught up in what the forums are saying is "good" or "bad". Do what you think is cool and right, if it doesn't work then you have learned! If you can use some of their models, even better, but be respectful of their property!

If you are looking for additional help, check out GBHL Podcast on Youtube! They are a renowned group with an excellent video for those learning the game:[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkgHoUIK4l4]

Wait, what do I need even? Where do I get it? Aaargh!

Mumak by Brush Stroke
Mumak by Brush Stroke

Every player is going to need a copy of the current Strategy Battle Game rulebook. Supposedly coming out at the end of 2016 will be an update, but getting one now (pre 2017) and playing for the next few months is well worth it. If you are reading this after the release of Middle Earth: SBG.. get that! As for the rest? Check this list out.

All of the items above can be acquired from your Local Friendly Game Shop (more or less). If they do not have what you are looking for, check out Games Workshop. If you are on a budget, Ebay and a hobby knife are your best friends. Some crafty conversions and fifty US Dollars can get you a working army in no time. Who needs fancy pre-made captains when you can make a cheap warrior fancy yourself!?

DCHL is an American, I think, Strategy Battle Game (SBG) group. Here is a link to a list of videos for how to buy armies for under 100 dollars (from Games Workshop). https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeIywh8H3Kc4WD5OoJSq8r2xZSsvT4gRW

Picking a Faction

Different people have different approaches to this. Some look for aesthetic, others lore, others still look for tabletop superiority.


The look, the feel... something about those models just screams "Cool!". Whatever floats your boat on the appearance of whatever faction has done its job. I say? Play them, if you like how they look then you will like painting them and playing with them. Besides, who need food for the next few weeks of college? Not you anymore, you got models!


The background, the story....something about their history makes you starry-eyed and dreaming of your own chance to take to the field of battle alongside them. Yeah, they are awesome. Yes, you should play them. Do it.... DO IT.

Tabletop Superiority

Their math, stats, and general prowess on the battlefield however they are best used. If you like winning and care less for what they are then play Isengard or the Shire or something. They are pretty dope and with them you will get all the ladies. BUT what you will find is that due to how balanced this game is, you will be hard pressed to find a "terribad" faction or a "ridicugood" faction. There are factions that have very efficient models like the Woses or even the Hobbits, but they still have their weaknesses. People that play this game generally care more about doing stuff with their armies than their armies doing stuff.

This approach takes more digging and more book-keeping than the first two, so be prepared to have to know the game before you know the game!


You have played a few games, understand what M/W/F stands for, and have realized that maybe fielding nothing but Isildur and Aragorn was not such a great tactical option after all. Now you are ready to dig a little deeper. After all the jam sessions to the soundtrack while gloriously winning, or losing, you have decided you want to get a little "serious" and kick face in at a tournament. Well, welcome to DakkaDakka! You can find all the in-depth tactical discussion of salt and salvation within the SBG hobby right here. You want tactics, advice, or the recipe to a try-hard army? They, and their beautiful faces, will be more than happy to get discussing.

Here you go, this is the link to the Lord of the Rings side of DakkaDakka. There are other forums out there, but come on.... We're Dakka!

*Formerly known as Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game and Currently Hobbit The Unexpected Journey: Strategy Battle Game.


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