Well, I spent my President's Day teaching Lord of the Rings to Rob (link to his blog). We used the armies I've been building for my teaching games with some small changes (basically the good force had fewer Rangers, and more regular warriors.
We ran a random scenario from the Legions of Middle-Earth book, generating 'The High Ground'. In this scenario, there is a large hill in the middle of the table, and at the end of ten turns, whoever has the most models on said hill wins the game. Tied rolls for priority cause all the models on the hill to be knocked down, which would certainly make it the center of action (and bloody with all the trapped models, hopefully!).
I used a large block of Minas Tirith Warriors with shields backed by spearment to advance straight to the hill, with Minas Tirith Knights on my left to hammer the first things they came across, with Rangers providing some covering fire. Rob sent his Troll and Orc Warriors to attack the hill supported by the Nazgul.
I didn't take any pictures, since I don't like disrupting teaching games with them, but Rob won a minor victory. Brave Faramir and his knights got stalled in the middle of Orc Warriors, who with Nazgul support eventually brought them down. The Troll took the hill, but got gradually worn down by Minas Tirith Warriors.
On the start of turn 9, both of our armies reached the half model threshold, and the break checks started. I was left with only Damrod to rally the troops, and between his 3 Courage and Nazgul's menacing presence, meant he beat it from the field, followed by large sections of my army. His Nazgul passed his Courage test easily, keeping the majority of the Orcs fighting. At the end of the game, there was a single Minas Tirith Warrior on the hill, opposed by the Nazgul, Shagrat, an about 8 Orc Warriors.
Overall it was a good game, with plenty of back and forth action. I may change the setup a little for a more balanced game, toning down the Nazgul (who didn't have much to do throughout the game) and adding more Orcs to give the evil army some more staying power. Not sure what to do with the good guys yet. I think they may need another cheap hero. Regardless, the two armies get the job done for now.
With this, Rob has some knowledge of the rules, and me and him are intending to build some terrain and start moving through the Fellowship of the Ring scenarios. Those playthroughs will definitely have pictures!
For further hobby updates, I picked up both the Forces of Warmachine: Cygnar book, as well as the Beastmen book. The Cygnar book is fantastic- full color, plenty of information about the Cygnar military organization and history, as well as theme armies for every warcaster. I don't own enough Cygnar things to start playing them, but I like the way the books look, and can't wait to see the Cryx one (months from now....). The new Cygnar toys look to be FANTASTIC as well. The Cyclone looks like it will be worth taking in most lists (TWO BIG GATLING GUNS!), and Kara Sloan looks like she may be competitive.
The Beastmen book... I'm not sure. I can see that it's definitely for 8th edition (due to some of the wording), but I don't know how good it's going to be, since I don't know anything about 8th edition. For 7th, however, it seems to be really ineffective- the magic lore they have is poor, the monsters are overpriced, and the magic items as a whole are mediocre to terrible with few exceptions. However, I've not seen the army used yet, so I guess I could be surprised. Definitely disappointed, however. It IS a step up over what they have currently though.
I haven't made much progress painting thus far this month, either, since I was missing some of the paints I needed, and haven't made it to the GW yet. Hopefully I'll get back on track there later this week!