One ring to rule...

Middle-Earth Army Lists for DBM

by Luke Ueda-Sarson

LDS in Dwarven Runes

Version 4.8 (14 May 2006; superceding v4.7 of 22 November 2002)

Lists included:
  1. Sindar (Grey-Elves) including Ossiriand, Lorien and Mirkwood
  2. Khazad (Dwarves)
  3. Angband - the forces of Morgoth
  4. Noldor (Deep-Elves) including Nargothrond and Lindon, but not Gondolin
  5. Gondolin
  6. Easterlings - including the Wainriders, Khand and the Balchoth
  7. Goblins (Orcs)
  8. Mordor - the forces of Sauron
  9. Harad and the Southron Kingdoms
  10. Numenor - including Arnor and Gondor before the end of the second Age
  11. Dunlendings and Woodmen
  12. Northmen of Rhovanion
  13. Gondor in the third age
  14. Arnor and its successors, Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur
  15. Angmar - the forces of the Witch King
  16. Rohan and early Eotheod
  17. Dale and later northern Rhovanion
  18. Orthanc - the forces of Saruman the White

Middle-Earth image-map Noldor Gondolin Gondolin Numenor Sindar Angband Arnorr Angmar Gobins Khazad Dale Northmen Dunlendings Orthanc Rohan Gondor Mordor Easterlings Harad Shire Eregion Moria Lorien Dol Guldur Khand Woodmen Nargothrond Thargelion Thargelion Dwarves Thargelion Gap Himring Dorthonion Mithrim Nevrast Rivendell Mirkwood

These lists are arranged in chronological order, but because of the peculiar dating difficulties associated with the First Age in particular, exact starting and terminating dates for each list have not been given. The Second Age is herein abbreviated 2A, and the Third Age 3A.

As Tolkien wrote his works over a considerable number of years, there are often large conceptual differences between the ideas he presented as first conceived, as published, and as he intended them to be in the future. Following his son when editing the Silmarillion, I have taken into account only the (latest) published versions, rather than trying to guess future items. Conversely, when a fuller, but earlier version of a work exists, I have ignored it in favour of an extent, but briefer and later published work, in any details that in any way conflict with the later version, since such later works are both more developed, consistent and realistic.

For instance, the military organisation of Gondolin, as outlined in Unfinished Tales, is much later, more developed and realistic, though less detailed and finished, than that presented in 'The Fall of Gondolin' written in Tolkien's youth, which would see Noldor armed with clubs and slings among other things, clearly in opposition to later ideas about the Noldor being technically advanced. Likewise, the 12 volumes of the History of Middle-Earth are not used as evidence for these lists - they add little to the published works in terms of army list details, since they are mostly concerend wth the development of the narrative, developments which were, after all, discarded.

The lists are designed to work with the DBM rules as they stand, without modification. The only real requirement that the DBM historical rules are lacking as far as Middle-Earth goes is rules for dealing with aerial forces. Having said that, aerial forces were not in fact a common component of Mddle-Earth armies. In the lists, aerial foces are listed as Irr LH (S) so that they can be used against 'normal' opponents without special rules. If you want to use a more realistic set of rules to cover aerial forces (and such aerial forces should not be allowed in competition-style battles), then click here for my suggestions.

There are no lists included for the likes of the Teleri of Alqualonde, or the forces of Aman during the War of Wrath. Little information is presented about them and in any case they do not belong to 'Middle-Earth', which being a translation of Endor specifically excludes Aman (Numeneorean forces are included, since all the wars they fought were in Middle-earth, where they established their military bases).

All references to dismounting near war-wagons should be taken to mean war-wagons on hills only, in line with the v2 (historical) army lists and v3.0 rules.

Prior to 4.8 of these lists, trolls, balrogs and ettens were double-based with Irr Ps (O). They are double-based with Irr Bd (O) due to the changes in the rules introduced with DBM version 3.1.

I have included my notes on army-list justifications:

  1. Sindar army list notes
  2. Khazad army list notes
  3. Angband army list notes
  4. Noldor army list notes
  5. Gondolin army list notes
  6. Easterlings army list notes
  7. Goblins army list notes
  8. Mordor army list notes
  9. Harad army list notes
  10. Numenor army list notes
  11. Dunlendings army list notes
  12. Northmen army list notes
  13. Gondor army list notes
  14. Arnor army list notes
  15. Angmar army list notes
  16. Rohan army list notes
  17. Dale army list notes
  18. Orthanc army list notes
These can also be reached from within each army list.

Page references within these notes refer to the Unwin paperback editions: The Hobbit (Hob), The Fellowship of the Ring (FotR), The Two Towers (TT), The Return of the King (RotK), The Silmarillion (Sil), and Unfinished tales (UT), all from the 1983 reprints.

While these lists are designed with the standard DBM rules in mind, you might like to try a little experimentation. In particular, a dragon isn't really exactly like a towered elephant. A better representationwould be something like El (S), except with a shooting range out 200p and not be killed by light troops by merely being beaten, but having to be doubled. I would also suggest that Bd get a + 1 tactical factor against them as they were at their most vulnerable to being stabbed from below, and their armour wasn't fully proof against the best axes. Another approach might be to count a dragon as some sort of WWg (S) that could contact any enemy, in the same way that WWg (X) can.

Similarly, Ents aren't quite like El (O) - I would modify them so that they don't take a -2 CF in RGo or DGo, but that they count as (I) against Bd.

If you feel elements with 'heroes' amongst the troops aren't heroic enough for your tastes, I suggest the following: a heroic element adds another +1 tactical factor in ALL situations, and counts as an extra 2 element equivalents for all purposes except determining the sizes of commands for deployment purposes. Any heroic element destoys any other heroic element, regradless of type, if it beats it in close combat. An heroic element costs an extra 50% of the normal element cost, PLUS another 3 AP more. E.g. an heroic Irr Kn (F) sub-general costs 27 AP, and not 19. Personally, I feel heroic qualities are adequately represented by the standard general's +1, and the occasional 6-1 combat result, but others will disagree.

Why aren't Orcs Wb?

People just keep asking me. Well, because in Tolkien, goblins/Orcs do not engage in an 'impetuous and ferocious collective charge to sweep away enemy foot' that the rules demand troops classified as Wb do. They just aren't brave, willing, or even plain large enough to do it. See the Goblins army list notes for more on this, and also the passage (UT, 362) describing how Goblins are unsuited to fighting shield-walls, which in DBM Wb are the ideal troop for!

Why aren't Elves Ax?

James Anderson says according to my lists "[they] suffered heavily in open battle...[but] excelled at forest warfare", yet I then populate their list with troop types that fight better in the open than in woods. Why not use Irr Ax(O) or (S)? It seems that this troop type, in combination with fewer Bd and Sp, would reflect Sindarin battlefield behavior/characteristics better than the list as published.

My reply: I think I've confused you with 'open battle'. I mean 'open battle' to mean not a skirmish, or not a seige, or not an ambush, etc, and NOT a 'battle IN the open'.

Most historical societies that excelled in forest warfare - such Amazonian Indians, have troop types that are not very good in DBM for 'open battles' (which is what DBM is all about), even those battles fought in close terrain like their native forests - Bw (I) in their case, just like many Sindar, since their style of warfare isn't dictated by the needs of open battles, but by ambushes, skirmishes, and the like.

Tolkien's Sindar are never described as skirmishers for instance, unless bow-armed, and anyway, they just don't have what it takes to be Ax.

For instance, at the Battle of the Five Armies, it's Bard, a man, who commands those who scale the rocky heights (although admittedly some elves were there too) - if the Elves were Ax in DBM, we'd expect them to be doing the job.

Also, when the Sindar advanced without orders at Dagorlad at the end of the 2rd age, they were defeated because they had little armour. An Irr Sp element that follows up recoiling or breaking-off enemy can be tempted to advance without orders, whereas Ax won't. The Sindar spearmen behaved similarly at the Battle of the Five Armies.

I would also note that Reg Bd (O), such as 1st age Sindar are, are just a good a troop type in a Wd as Ax (O) Orcs are, so can hardly be claimed to be badly-off (and Ax (O) are the better Orcs!)

Why isn't there a list for the Hobbits of the Shire?

Because they never put together an 'army' large enough to qualify as a DBM-sized force. DBM is De Bellis Multitudinis: 'Of massed warfare', and The Bullroarer defeating a few hundred Goblins with a few hundred Hobbits is just a minor skirmish in the long annals in the history of Middle-Earth... (however, see here for HotT Hobbit lists)

Similarly, Ents never engaged in an open-battle on their own account: they fought (in their one documented case) in conjunction with Elves in the 1st age, and are thus represented as an allied contingent in the Sindarin list; the only actions they undertook when fighting in the 3rd age against Saruman without the Rohirrim being present were confined to beseiging Isengard - and DBM isn't about seige warfare, but battles, so again, they are just limited to being an allied contingent in the Rohan list..

Likewise while the Eagles never fought any 'battles' on their own account, they could turn up in battles aiding other armies, hence the Eagle allied contingents allowed.

So there you are! Anyone else with similar questions should feel free to ask me.

Finally, here are some pictures of some of my Middle-Earth troops in 15mm scale...

There are now commercials sets of rules coming out for fantasy games based on the DBx family of rules, one such is DBF-Dragons, their web-site can be found here.

"Isildur's" web site has pictures of his Gonodrian forces amongst other things of interest for Middle-earth wargamers.

See here for my Middle-Earth army lists for Hordes of the Things.

This page last modified 14 May 2006.

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