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 Post subject: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2017 7:30 pm 
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I think it was on one of the DC Hobbit League Second Breakfast videos the author mentioned putting together an army tier list. I think that's a great idea. I come from a Blood Bowl background and there's a commonly accepted Team Tier list that separates out the teams best for beginners and those that are more challenging, I think there's three tiers in total.

What about a tier list for SBG? I want to get into the Hobbit hobby, but I can't decide which army I want to play. Initially I was thinking Eregion/Rivendell but lately I've been thinking about how cool the models are for Thranduil's Halls and Azog's Hunters. Knowing if I was getting into an army that was difficult to play or not would help in my decision.

Then again, I'm terribly indecisive :)
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 1:04 pm 
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I agree it would be a good idea, my experience is not that extensive otherwise I would give it a go.

My advice is always the same when starting armies however, always go for the models that you think look the coolest !

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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 6:33 pm 
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A good player could use pretty much any faction and do well. A bad player could use the best faction and do terribly. I don't see any point in doing this, as it is not so much what faction is being used, but all the choices the player using it makes. There is a large selection of heroes and troops for pretty much all armies, so it is not so simple as to say that some are good and some are bad
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 9:07 pm 
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LordElrond wrote:
A good player could use pretty much any faction and do well. A bad player could use the best faction and do terribly. I don't see any point in doing this, as it is not so much what faction is being used, but all the choices the player using it makes. There is a large selection of heroes and troops for pretty much all armies, so it is not so simple as to say that some are good and some are bad


Are there any guides to tactics?
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 9:08 pm 
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Scib wrote:
I agree it would be a good idea, my experience is not that extensive otherwise I would give it a go.

My advice is always the same when starting armies however, always go for the models that you think look the coolest !


Lol, yeah but there are so many i think are cool!
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 9:48 am 
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When speaking of Tiers, one tends to mean how powerful a force is, not how easy it would be for a beginner - as those are not the same. While it would make sense that a strong list would suit somebody just starting out, while only an experienced player should try to do well with a weaker one, some of the strongest forces only reach the top tables in the hands of a good player, where other armies can do well in the hands of a new player, but aren't quite impressive enough to win tournaments regardless of who uses them. Although I don't subscribe to the idea that the list used is much less important than the player's skill, overall quality is a complicated combination of the two, in addition to which some armies would much better fit a particular person's playstyle.

As for your particular situation, I would normally just choose the army of which you like the look and theme, then ask for advice on the exact things to get as some heroes or troops may be easier to get to grips with. High Elven infantry is very solid (high Fight and Defence), but in terms of models not the easiest to start with (expensive Finecast rank and file), while the cavalry is more difficult to use but very strong as well. Mirkwood's in a somewhat similar boat, where the best troops to have many of are Finecast, as you'll want Palace Guard only in limited numbers while the Rangers are again more difficult to use well. Hunter Orcs could be a good place to start, providing a horde of strong melee fighters, but with optional decent archery, cavalry and later on a chance to learn to use strong but expensive heroes. Over time, you can choose to expand into Azog's Legions with armoured troops and monsters, at which point you can also use bits of both for a Dol Guldur force.
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 2:17 am 
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Coenus Scaldingus wrote:
When speaking of Tiers, one tends to mean how powerful a force is, not how easy it would be for a beginner - as those are not the same. While it would make sense that a strong list would suit somebody just starting out, while only an experienced player should try to do well with a weaker one, some of the strongest forces only reach the top tables in the hands of a good player, where other armies can do well in the hands of a new player, but aren't quite impressive enough to win tournaments regardless of who uses them. Although I don't subscribe to the idea that the list used is much less important than the player's skill, overall quality is a complicated combination of the two, in addition to which some armies would much better fit a particular person's playstyle.

As for your particular situation, I would normally just choose the army of which you like the look and theme, then ask for advice on the exact things to get as some heroes or troops may be easier to get to grips with. High Elven infantry is very solid (high Fight and Defence), but in terms of models not the easiest to start with (expensive Finecast rank and file), while the cavalry is more difficult to use but very strong as well. Mirkwood's in a somewhat similar boat, where the best troops to have many of are Finecast, as you'll want Palace Guard only in limited numbers while the Rangers are again more difficult to use well. Hunter Orcs could be a good place to start, providing a horde of strong melee fighters, but with optional decent archery, cavalry and later on a chance to learn to use strong but expensive heroes. Over time, you can choose to expand into Azog's Legions with armoured troops and monsters, at which point you can also use bits of both for a Dol Guldur force.


Those are the three factions I've been thinking about the most, actually! What about a Lothlorien army? Seems easier to collect, but strategy might be harder to get down?
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 8:14 am 
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Lothlórien's a decent faction as well I'd say, as somebody who started in the same place all those years ago!
Regular Wood Elves are as good at fighting and shooting as any other Elf, and although they're substantially more squishy, you'll have more of them on the table. Never went big on Galadhrim myself, but higher Defence and some model diversity are always good. The Knights mostly suffer from the fact that few heroes in the list can be mounted and lead them, but a few are a nice addition, as will a handful of Guards. Heroes are nice and diverse as well, with great mid-level heroes and magic support. Many of the elements of other Elven forces, but indeed easier to collect with cheaper plastic figures for most troops. The low points cost and magic definitely makes them one of the stronger factions as well.
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 6:19 pm 
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Cavalry are pretty unforgiving of errors. Charging they're great. If charged or shot, they're hosed.

Does that mean a beginner should avoid cavalry so as to have easier games? Does that mean a beginner should embrace cavalry so that they can master it?

Uruk-Hai infantry are pretty forgiving. All mounted Rohan is maybe the polar opposite. I might suggest either to different beginners.

Tiers, as the term is used in Warhammer Fantasy or Bloodbowl, aren't super applicable to LotR. The faction are much more similar to each other and much more balanced. There really aren't any forces that are categorically stronger than others. People have done very well in tournaments with four model forces of only heroes, but people have also done very well with vast Hobbit swarms.

Scenarios also make a big difference. I don't play Bloodbowel, but in WHFB the prevalence of the straight up battleline as the default means that armies slightly better at that can turn that into a big advantage. In SBG there are *lots* of scenarios, and tournaments and fashion switch them up pretty frequently. A large army does well in Reconnoiter (each model past the enemy lines is a VP) but terribly in Lords of Battle (each model wounded is a VP).

The way Fight value works also creates weird circles of advantage (like Rock - Paper - Scissors) rather than hierarchies. Are elves great? F5 is expensive. Against F4 Uruk-Hai it is great. Against F2 Goblins it is a waste of points and you'd be better off with significantly cheaper F3 men. But the F3 men get stomped by the F4 Uruk-Hai. You can't arrange those power relationships in a hierarchy.
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 7:11 pm 
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It is difficult to sort armies in tiers but if we must make it, there would be only 2 or 3 tiers.The reason for this is that the tier 1 armies would be the ones that have a large list of models and some of them make nice combos. Combos can be made in many ways and most of them are learned by getting experience in the game.

So, as correctly mentioned above I would suggest you to gain info by watching games, reading batreps and buying something that would anyway like to play. Please don't listen if someone tells you that a certain army is OP, he would probably be wrong because there are many good armies. Depends mostly on the player. For example the fell beast army is a usual winner on tournaments but needs a lot of experience to be handled. Get basic staff and you will find what you can handle well.

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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 2:14 am 
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I think Valadorn is right about how one might go about making a tier system for SBG. I think we could look at Total War: Warhammer for a framework with the army lists that could have the most versatility of builds, direct combat strength, and lower points cost being in the top tier and working down to the ones that are niche one trick ponies. I don't think a power ranking would be purely based on tournament wins which has a large amount to do with the players, terrain, and other variables. But rather how easily each army list could built a list to meet an given number of situations. A rough outline would be something like this.

Tier 1: Iron Hills, Lothlorien, Azog's Legion, Mordor, Isenguard, Erebor Reclaimed, and Harad/Umbar

Tier 2: Gondor, Arnor, Rivendell and Eregion, Moria, Goblin Town, Thranduil's Halls Survivor's of Laketown, Rivendell Knights, Smaug the Golden and Rohan

Tier 3: the Shire, Angmar, Fiefdoms, Rhun, Durin's Folk, Numenor, Dale, Laketown Guard, and the White Council

Tier 4: Denizens of Mirkwood and Wonders in the Wild

Now we could argue the nitty-gritty of what goes where till the cows come home and it would probably would still come down to what each person values in an army based on their experiences. I do think that it the argument for how one might construct a tiered scale is one with some merit. It seems odd that most everyone here would be so quick to dismiss the idea because of this stigma about SBG being above it. I will agree that it does not have a great deal of utility beyond the fun of assigning tiers since variables beyond the math of each army list are what often decide a match. But tiers of power among the army lists is certainly not a notion from which SBG is exempt because of some special balancing. Some army lists offer a wider array of tactical options than others which gives them an edge that can, in turn, snowball into a superiority. Or does someone wish to argue that Dale or the Fiefdoms have as much to offer a player (not necessarily less chance of winning mind you but les options on how to do it) as Mordor and Isenguard?

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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 3:21 am 
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Thanks for giving it a go Wan Shi Tong. I realize there are lots of variables but I think model availability, monetary cost and learning curve are best to take into consideration for new players like me.
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 7:35 am 
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metalface13 wrote:
Thanks for giving it a go Wan Shi Tong. I realize there are lots of variables but I think model availability, monetary cost and learning curve are best to take into consideration for new players like me.


if we consider availabity and monetary cost, then I think the LOTR range is the best to start. Units and heroes are cheaper than their Hobbit counterparts and easier to find on ebay. Of course, elité unites are always more expensive but, with exception of Uruk crossbowmen, usually there are no more than 4-8.
Isengard can be a good place to start. It has a solid infantry with good Fight value as well as strenght and defence (and if you look on ebay, they are basically throwing away hordes of uruks in heavy armor). Against most good forces, Isengard can take a beating and strike harder in return.
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 2:05 am 
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I am glad to see my mention of a tier list on "Second Breakfast" has sparked so much discussion! I've been trying my best to gather my thoughts on the matter and put them into a video, but I've hit a couple road blocks when it comes to how I divide each tier and how I qualify each army.

The first issue is whether or not we account for allies. When thinking of how I would rank armies, I instinctively placed Rivendell knights in the A tier, but when I thought about it more I realized that they are B or even C tier without a wizard allied in. A wizard makes a natural ally for Rivendell knights and you will never see a top table knight army without one. So, the question becomes whether or not I should account for the possibility of a wizard when ranking Rivendell knights power. In a world where everyone took pure faction armies, a pure faction tier list might be useful. For better or for worse that is not the current state of the meta. I am beginning to zero in on my tier list and have decided to account for minor allies when I rank them. When I say "minor allies" I mean allies that, when placed on the table next to your opponents force, would not make you laugh. I know that that is rather subjective, but its the best I can come up with. Moreover, I think allies need to be less than 25% of the force and regularly played with the force in the meta.

The second issue is how to order the tiers. While I am still working on a solution to that, I've almost finished ordering my thoughts on the matter and will probably put out a video soon.

Operating under a "best, good, alright, bad" tier system, like the one Wan Shi Tong is using, I would probably pick similar rankings to him. The only exception that jumps out is that "the Shire" should probably be higher than C-tier. They can be an incredibly formidable force, if played correctly.
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 2:47 pm 
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I think going pure faction is the best way to go, you just can't account for all the variations people could do in combining the factions. The "minor allies" makes sense though, for example Rivendell Knights with Eregion/Rivendell. There really isn't much to the Rivendell Knights to count as a standalone army but they totally fit in fluff-wise with the High Elves.

I think three tiers is simple enough.
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 Post subject: Re: Army Tiers?
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 6:47 pm 
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I think you are making a mistake by reckoning with allies Cole. It would seem to me that allies would be a factor, like terrain or player skill, that should be ignored in order to make a judgment based on each factions own merits. They aren't always going to be present so they will act like an outlier in statistics and throw your scale off. Don't turn your idea about army tiers into a commentary on how well you've seen them do in tournaments, it is a different ball game.

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