Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Gondor Campaign: Turn 5

The Forces of Good won priority for Turn 5 of the Gondor Campaign.  With Osgiliath lost, Gondor had to dig in and prepare for the eventual attack on Minas Tirith.  But Denethor first needed to send word to The Fiefdoms of his situation.  He decided to send his two formations of Knights of Minas Tirith to link up with Prince Imrahil and his forces of Dol Amroth in Lossarnach.  This way, all of Gondor's heavy cavalry would be in one force to counterattack if need be.  But the Forces of Evil saw this as an opportunity.  When it came their turn to move, the forces of Barad Dur and Minas Morgul decided to delay their assault on Minas Tirith and led a combined attack on Lossarnach trapping Prince Imrahil.  Elsewhere, two formations on Rohan Outriders went forth to scout out the crossings of the Anduin at Cair Andros and came across the Dwimmerlaik and the remnants of the orc archers who had retreated from Minas Tirith.  They were joined by a formation of orc trackers and warg riders armed with bows in what would be a skirmish amongst the ruined fortifications.

At Cair Andros, the Rohan Outriders dismounted and obsconded several rafts from fearful bargemen and crossed the River Anduin.  The orcs positioned themselves behind several ruins and did their best to pick off the Outriders who were out in the open.  But the Dwimmeralik had no fear of the Outriders superior shooting attacks and charged into the dismounted riders.  Although they had better chances to hit, the ruins being in the way of the orcs meant they were much harder to hit for the Outriders.  The Outriders eventually went down to their break point, forcing them to jump back into their rafts and retreat to the other side of the river and over into Druadan Forest.

Dismounted Rohan Outriders cross into Cair Andros to scout out the ruined fortifications.
At Lossarnach, Prince Imrahil's force saw Sauron's armies crossing the River Erui.  His only hope would be to send the Knights of Minas Tirth to the crossings as a screening force and hold out long enough for his best forces, The Swan Knights of Dol Amroth and his Men-at-Arms to retreat to Pelegir.  But Imrahil backed himself into a corner.  When the knights went forth to the crossings, The Undying and The Shadow Lord swept upon them on their fell beasts and due to their Spirit Grasp, the knight's Courage 3 could not hold against a Winged Nazgul's Strength 6 since they only needed 3s to hit.  The Winged Nazgul also cast Sunder Spirit against the knights further reducing their Courage.

Knights Minas Tirith try and screen a tactical retreat.
With the Crossing of the Erui clear, Khamul led his Easterling force forward.  The Warriors of Pelegir tried to halt his advance, but were no match for Khamul's spells.  The Dark Marshal and the Undying led a flanking force, destroying the Pelegir archers that took refuge in a small village.

The Dark Marshal and The Undying lead a flanking attack on The Fiefdoms force.
The Witch King saw Imrahil trapped and flew across the field in order to slay the Fiefdom Prince.  But Imrahil was not afraid and called an Epic Challenge on The Winged Nazgul.  Not being able to do anything but charge Imrahil and his Swan Knights of Dol Amroth, The Witch King charged forward to meet the challenge.  Imrahil then called an Epic Strike raising his Fight value to 10 and won the Heroic Duel by a margin of three.  The first two rolls caused two automatic hits which meant as a Winged Nazgul, a roll on the Hard to Kill table was needed.  A roll of a four on the Hard to Kill table meant that the Witch King suffered two wound counters.  The next roll was a six which meant 2D3 automatic hits.  Four more hits were scored which meant two more rolls on the Hard to Kill table.  The first roll was a three which became a five because of the two wound counters giving The Witch King two more wound counters.  The final roll was a one which always results in no effect. Prince Imrahil had almost obtained a slain result banishing The Witch King and removing him from the campaign.  But The Winged Nazgul was driven back D3" for each wound counter and was unable to fight in the ensuing Fight phase.

But Imrahil had been flanked by The Dark Marshal.  What was worse, Khamul the Easterling called a Heroic fight and having defeated the Dol Amroth Men-at-Arms, was able to charge his Easterlings and fight again and also charged into the flank of the Swan Knights.  With each company of the Swan Knights formation fighting in the flank at -3 dice, the Swan Knights lost three companies and only causing a single casualty in the Easterling Cohort.

In the end, the Swan Knights were reduced to three companies, with
the Witch King barely escaping Prince Imrahil's Epic Challenge.
Having reached their break point, The Fiefdom forces scattered with the remaining three companies of Swan Knights fleeing to Pelegir and Prince Imrahil taking the remaining Men-at-Arms company to Minas Tirith to inform Denethor of the loss.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Gondor Campiagn: Turns 3 & 4

Turn 3

Having being defeated in South Ithilien, Faramir decided to hold the crossings of the River Anduin at Osgiliath in order to buy some more time and allow reinforcements to arrive at Minas Tirith.  With Evil having priority this turn, the army of Minas Morgul led by Gothmog could try and take Osgiliath now or wait to link up with the army of Barad Dur the following turn.  Evil decided to wait and the Army of Barad Dur moved into North Ithilien while the Witch King led another host our of Minas Morgul into South Ithilien.  Meanwhile, the Southrons heard their master's call and started to gather an army in Far Harad led by The Betrayer.  The Knight of Umbar also called upon the Corsairs to man their ships and started sailing for the Gondor coast.  All the forces of Good could do was wait and hope for reinforcements.

Turn 4

Evil once again won priority and sent a raiding party of two formations of orc archers with two companies each from Druadan Forest to Minas Tirith top scout out the fortifications.  Meanwhile, the combined armies of Barad Dur and Minas Morgul descended upon Osgiliath.  In the south, the Southrons mustered in Near Harad with Suladan The Serpent Lord and were joined by the Corsairs of Umbar in West Harondor. 

Forlong the Fat raised two companies of Axemen of Lossarnach and now joined with a formation of warriors of Pelagir and another of archers, decided to go Osgiliath and hope to prevent the Evil force from crossing.  But would he be too late?

Faramir was defending and knew the best he could do was hold out as long as he could before being overrun.  He sent his Archers of Minas Tirith to cover one crossing from a stone building and kept the Rangers of Ithilien waiting on ambush in another.  But with no one protecting the bridge, the forces of Evil were able to use At the Double moves to quickly move to the other side.  The Rangers of Ithilien were pounding by boulders being hurled by Mordor War catapults.  A few shots hit one of the Winged Nazgul forcing them to retreat to the other side of the river.  But the Rangers were overrun by a formation of Mordor Orcs.  The Archers of Minas Tirith also were able to pick off some of the enemy, but these were Morranon Orcs of a tougher breed.  The Morranon Orcs quickly swarming the building they were in killing wevery last one.

But where was Forlong?  Faramir had to do something and led a formation of Warriors of Minas Tirith against a Troll charge.  The warriors took out of few orcs and one of the trolls, but numbers were too much for them.

Forlong and his small force finally arrived but it was too late.  he sent a formation of archer up into a towers to try and get a few lucky shots, but none landed.  Finally Forlong led his Axemen in a charge against an orc formation but was soon flanked by a troll charge.  Forlong fell alone with all of his axemen.  All was lost, Faramir was able to flee Osgiliath with a formation of archers and a few warriors from Pelargir.

Meanwhile, Denethor, Steward of Gondor, was not going to let a few pesky orcs seal him off.  He sent all of his available archers outside of the fortresss to skirmish with the orcs.  The orcs were outmatched in a shootout against the superior Blackroot Vale archers and fled back across the Anduin to Cair Andros.  A small victory for Gondor in what was soon to become a much larger war.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gondor Campaign - Turns 1 & 2: The Battle of South Ithilien

This post covers the first two turns of our Gondor Campaign.  The campaign starts where Faramir meets Frodo in Ithilien and decides to set him free so along with Sam and Gollum they can attempt to infiltrate into Mordor to destroy the One Ring.  Meanwhile Sauron's forces are gathering, but first must secure the crossings of the Anduin at Cair Andros and Osgiliath.  The Evil forces have moved out of Mordor and are moving towards Gondor.

Turn 1

The Good side gets priority for the first turn.  Faramir, learning that Sauron's forces are on the move decides to leave South Ithilien with the Rangers of Ithilien and move back into Osgiliath to reinforce the garrison there.  He also calls for the Rangers of Gondor in North Ithilien to pull back to Osgiliath as well.  The Dark Marshal moves out his garrison from Minas Morgul and divides his forces into North and South Ithilien, leaving Shagrat's Tower Guard in Cirith Ungol.  In Barad Dur, the Shadow Lord moves his forces into Dagorlad as a host of Easterlings move out of South Rhun and into the Ash Mountains

Turn 2

Evil wins priority for Turn 2 and decides to wait for more forces to arrive before attempting to take Osgiliath.  The Shadow Lord moves into North Ithilien poised to take Cair Andros or maybe help the forces from Minas Morgul assault Osgiliath.  But seeing that The Dark Marshal has split his forces, Faramir decides to launch a pre-emptive strike, hoping to take as many orc formations as possible and possibly kill the Dark Marshal.

Here are the forces in South Ithilien:

Evil; 1,160 points

The Dark Marshal
4 x Co Mordor Orc Warband w/shields; Captain, Banner, Orc Drummer
4 x Co Mordor Orc Warband w/shields; Captain, Banner Bearer, Taskmasker
4 x Co Mordor Orc Warband w/two-handed weapons; Captain, Banner Bearer
4 x Co Mordor Orc Warband w/two-handed weapons; Captain, Banner Bearer
1 x Siege Bow Battery
1 x Siege Bow Battery
Good: 1,045 points
2 x Guards of the Fountain Court; Captain
2 x Rangers of Ithilien w/Madril & Damrod
4 x Co Minas Tirith Warriors w/Captain & Banner Bearer
4 x Co Minas Tirith Warriors w/Captain & Banner Bearer
2 x Co Minas Archers
2 x Co Minas Archers
2 x Co Osgiliath Veterans

Evil set up first since they are the defender.  The forces of Mordor decided to hold back hiding behind wood and difficult terrain, but putting the two siege ballistae up on a hill to rain down shots from the high ground.  On the first turn, the Gondor shooting attacks were unable to reach the orc formations and the Dark Marshal as a Winged Nazgul was able to fly back and forth casting magic. 

On the second turn, Faramir decided to move out of the defensive terrain they were in and get close enough to the evil force to be in range of shooting attacks.  The plan failed as the two siege ballistae on the hilltop were able to fire 48" out and pummel the formations of Minas Tirith warriors.  The Winged Nazgul conducted swooping attacks over the formations in the open and since he had Spirit Grasp was successful against the Courage 3 of the Minas Tirith Warriors.

The Rangers of Ithilein attempted to get into a position to shoot at the Winged Nazgul but after successive swooping attacks, could not get their target within their 24" range.  The two formations of Minas Tirith Warriors were able to charge at two of the orc formations, but the Winged Nazgul was already behind them and charged into their rear.  One brave captain of Minas Tirth attempted a Heroic Duel against Gothmog, but with his Master of Battle special rule, also called a Heroic Duel and after a roll off was able to call his first, killing the captain and much of the formation along with him.

Boromir retreated to the formation of Guard of the Fountain Court, but they were caught in a swoop attack by the Winged Nazgul and then the following turn were charged their rear leaving half of the of the last company remaining, forcing them to flee the field along with Faramir due to Hope is Lost!

The Good forces were down to 30% original strength by the end of turn 6, making the battle an Evil victory.  The remaining Gondor forces retreated back into Osgiliath having suffered terrible loses.  Evil won prioty for Turn 3 and have the opportunity to follow up on their victory. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gondor Campaign

So having successfully completed the Rohan Campiagn, (well at least successful for Isengard) we decided to change theaters and gear up for a Gondor Campaign.  The campaign essentially starts when the forces of Minas Morgul strike out at Osigiliath to secure a crossing of the Anduin as Sauron's minions gather for an assault on Minas  Tirith.  This time we decided to go for twelve turns as opposed to eight as this campaign is much larger than the Rohan Campaign and covers more space and more armies.  The original idea was just to center around Osgilath, Minas Tirith/Pelennor Fields, and then leave open the possibility for an assault on the Black Gate, but the Gondor theater was much more than that.  The final version of the campaign includes the Corsairs of Umbar being able to raid along the coast allowing the possibility of a second front to open up if that is what the Evil players choses.  We also included the Easterlings and a few Variags of Khand so we had to increase the number of Fiefdom and Rohan formations to make some sort of balance.  We might have bitten off more than we could chew with the final army lists, but it has allowed us to set goals to get through our painting backlog.

Much of the concepts from the Rohan Campaign will be the same.  Each side starts out with a small amount of forces and gradually gets reinforcements until half way through the campaign, where they have exhausted all resources and must fight to death with what they have.  The armies were again based on what I personally believed they would have from going through the books and then reading countless articles and opinions on theoretical composition of the armies.  I had to make this fit the models that Games Workshop produced making it representative of the armies.  This works best for these map styles campaigns since just giving a force a points value wouldn't work.  If you just use points, then the armies of the Fiefdoms would be 1,000 points of Knights of Minas Tirith and Mordor would be all Mordor Uruk-hai.  Instead, each army consists of common formations of Mordor and Morannon orcs and Warriors of Minas Tirith with only one of each of the legendary and rare formations.  The army list was also limited to what our group owned collectively since most of the miniatures are too expensive for mass battles games nowadays or out of production.  I also threw in Frodo and Sam being led around the map by Gollum.

We also wanted to incorporate skirmishes, field battles and sieges.  Like the Rohan Campaign, we plan to use Strategy Battle Game for skirmishes and War of the Ring for field battles.  I determined the cut off for what would be a skirmish and what would be a field battle was 700 points on a side.  My experience is 700 points is about as large of a game of SBG that is playable and 700 points of War of the Ring is probably the minimum for a playable game.  For sieges, we would use the same cut off between War of the Ring and Strategy Battle Game, but used the SBG siege rules modified for War of the Ring.  Because of the size and magnitude of the campaign, most games would be War of the Ring.

The object of the campaign is for Evil to control Minas Tirith and for the Good side to take Barad Dur or destroy the One Ring by the end of Turn 12.  If neither side achieved their objective, the result would be a draw and Middle Earth would be left in the same uncertain situation it was in before the War of the Ring.  In keeping with the narrative, Evil was given the additional objective of capturing and holding Osgiliath along with Minas Tirith.  This way Evil just didn't bypass Osgiliath as it was the key strategic crossing point to get the armies of Minas Morgul and the Southrons across the Anduin.  I also made it that it would be next to impossible for Good to defeat the armies of Evil and just walk into Mordor and take Barad Dur, leaving their hope for victory in Frodo getting to Mount Doom and destroying the ring.

The way Frodo and the ring will work is that Frodo, Sam, and Gollum will start out in South Ithilien with Faramir and his rangers.  From then on, the three will move as one formation and their movement will be kept hidden from the Evil side.  Their location will be revealed to the Evil players at the end of turns 4, 8, and 12, so Evil can try and guess what area they are in.  To record where they are, we just use a sealed envelope for each turn.  The trio has the ability to perform a "reaction" move out of an area in the event an Evil force moves into it.  They have the opportunity to fight a skirmish along with any other Good forces in the area that turn, but are not allowed to take part in a field battle and instead must perform a reaction move.  But every time Frodo makes a reaction move he is -1 Courage for the rest of the campaign.  If Frodo is unable to perform a reaction move because all the adjacent areas have an Evil force in them, Frodo is trapped and either fights a skirmish if possible or surrenders the ring.   If he surrenders the ring, Sauron appears in Barad Dur the following turn.  This way, the Evil player must decide how many formations it wants to dedicate to hunt for the ring and how many they want to dedicate to taking Minas Tirith. If Frodo makes it to Gorgoroth, he is attacked by Gollum and essentially the Taming of Sméagol scenario from from The Two Towers SBG Journey Book plays out.  If Sam and Frodo defeat Gollum, Frodo makes a Courage test minus any modifiers for making a reaction move earlier in the campaign, and if passes he destroys the ring.   If he fails or Gollum defeats Sam and Frodo, again Sauron would appear at Barad Dur the beginning of the next turn.  So Evil doesn't necessarily win if Sauron gets the ring, but now he is a playable Legendary formation in full form and the forces of Good have to kill him outright.

Modified campaign map from War of he Ring boardgame.

Again we will  be using the map from the War of the Ring board game.  The map isn't perfect, but it is better than actually drawing a map of Middle Earth using a CAD program.  I then came up with a tactical map for each area that shows what terrain will be on the board when we play the battles and on what section of the board each side will enter on.  One issue that arose is that I had the area of Osgiliath to be a city map board, but the strategic map went all the way to Druadan Forest which would mean the only way to cross the Anduin would be at Osgiliath.  I wanted to include Cair Andros in the campaign as it was the other avenue of approach for Mordor to attack Minas Tirith, and was the route Aragorn led the forces of the West to the Black gate.  So I divided Osgiliath into two areas, the southern one being the city of Osgiliath and the northern one to represent the island of Cair Andros.

Tactical map terrain layout for South Ithilien
South Ithilien on the tabletop.

The objectives of the campaign are difficult for both sides and both Good and Evil are presented with challenges that they must overcome if they want to win the campaign.  I will be updating the blog with monthly battle reports as the campaign progresses.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rohan Campaign Turns 7 & 8 - At the Gates of Edoras

Having defeated the defenders of Helms Deep, Saruman set his eyes on the Rohan capital of Edoras.  Gandalf, Théoden, and Aragorn were all his prisoner and only Deorwine, Captain of the Royal Guard, was left to garrison Edoras.  Having won priority in Turn 7, Saruman and his army moved into Westemnet, almost guaranteeing that he would reach Edoras by Turn 8.  Treebeard and his three remaining huorns moved into the Folde so they could come to Deorwine's defense.

With no battle being fought in Turn 7, priority was rolled for Turn 8, the final turn in the campaign.  The Evil side again won priority and moved the Isengard army into Edoras.  Deorwine stood on the the ramparts of Edoras and looked out at the mass army of uruk-hai before him.  With only two companies of Royal Guard, Deorwine surrendered Edoras to Saruman without a fight.  Treebeard seeing this, moved into Eastemnet so he could save the huorns and return to Fangorn to go into a long tree slumber.  There will be no dawn for man.

Thus concludes our War of the Ring "mini-campaign".  Our goal was to see how a campaign system would work using both War of the Ring and Strategy Battle Game systems with fixed army lists and scheduled reinforcements.  Points wise, the total numbers of formations and Epic Heroes combined were almost even, with a slight nod to the Good side, since they had so many Epic Heroes compared to the number of their formations.  This actually was an advantage for the Evil side, since with only three Epic Heroes to the Good side's nine, the Evil point values were in formations of orcs and uruk-hai which would ultimately wear down the Rohan army.  Even with formation killing heroes such as Gimli and Aragorn, they quickly used up their Might on Epic or Heroic actions in battles and were not enough to take down the larger number of Evil formations by the end of a gaming session.

The one advantage that the Good had was in their cavalry superiority, but they used their formations piece-meal, and never massed all of their cavalry formations into one area to be used as a counterattack.  The forces of Good did very well in the First Battle of the Fords of Isen even though they were forced to fight a battle regardless since Evil had priority the first campaign turn. But following up on their success, the Good side chose to send Erkendbrand's Riders, two formations of Outriders and keep Elfhelm's Riders in the Fords of Isen to fight the whole of the Isengard army in Turn 3.  If the Good side kept what formations they had in Turn 2 at the Fords of Isen and moved all the infantry formations into Helms Deep and kept all the cavalry formations in either Eastemnet or Edoras, they could have been able to counter-strike at the Isengard army along with the ents and then follow through all the way to Isengard.

The Good side also could have placed just one formation of Oathsworn Militia in Edoras along with Eowyn to meet the requirement of having to keep one formation and one Epic Hero in the capital.  This would have put all of the best infantry formations and Epic Heroes at Helms Deep in order to wear down the Isengard army on the walls and hope to last eight game turns forcing Isengard to withdraw.  The next turn, Isengard would most assuredly try and assault Helms Deep again and the Good could have had all of their cavalry and ents arrive as reinforcements to fight an already depleted Isengard army.  If the Good side had been successful in this and taken the Isengard army down to 30 percent, Isengard would have no choice but to retreat to Orthanc and hope to prevent a Good victory.  But as in any wargame, much came down to die rolls.  The Evil side were able to capitalize when they won priority and send two formations of uruk-hai into Westemnet twice and pin the ents into a SBG skirmish battle not allowing them to move out of the area. 

If I had to change anything, I would have probably given Isengard a Troll Captain and two Isengard Trolls instead of so many uruk-hai formations.  I know I have criticized GW's Isengard Troll since Tolkien makes not mention of them in his writings, but the campaign came down to who could kill more companies than the other side, and trading 350 points of uruk companies for three trolls could have changed the dynamics.  Isengard having trolls in this regard makes the game more balanced.

But the campaign was overall balanced, the Good side won two battles, lost three and two were a draw, and the evil side won three, lost two and two were a draw.  The game did come down to the final turn, and it was the fact that Isengard had an overwhelming number of companies at the end of the campaign being the reason the Good side decided not even to fight a battle on Turn 8 and concede.

The next mini-campaign will be a Mordor-Gondor campaign, following Mordor's invasion of Gondor in order to take Minas Tirith which we will do some time in the Fall.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Rohan Campaign Turn 6 - Back to Helm's Deep

Saruman crossed the Isen with his host from Orthanc.  His forces reeling from their defeat in Westemnet told that the ents were moving to reinforce Helms Deep.  Saruman knew if he could delay their advance, the remaining forces at Helms Deep would be helpless.  Having won the initiative, he sent two companies of Uruk-hai with pikes to pin the ents in Westemnet so he could lead the rest of his army into Helms Deep.

The ents were few in number having suffered heavy loses from the battle last turn.  Treebeard had only five huorns and one other ent to face the two companies of Uruk-hai.  Since this was a skirmish, the Uruks were able to increase their attacks on the ents with the length of their pikes.  Although many Uruks fell, they were able to kill the remaining ent and three huorns forcing Treebeard to retreat into Eastemnet.

The Uruk-hai use their pikes to increase their attacks against the huorns.
The defeat of the ents allowed Saruman to assault the fortress of the Hornburg at Helms Deep unimpeded.  He lead a formation of Uruk-hai crossbows along with Vrasku's Talons and Thrydan Wolfsbane and his Dunlending archers close enough to the walls to rain shooting attacks on the Rohan defenders.

Knowing this could be their final hour, Gandalf deployed with a formation of dismounted Rohan Outriders to cause as many casualties as they could with shooting attacks as well as use Immobilize spells against the Uruk-hai ram.  Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas fielded as The Three Hunters so they could both use shooting attacks against the approaching Uruks, as well as charge into close combat if the fortress was breached.  Eomer and Theodred fielded with Erkenbrand's Riders and the remaining formation of Oathsworn Militia while Théoden held The Keep with a company of Oathsworn Bowmen.
Isengard prepares to assault The Hornburg.
Although the dismounted Outriders were able to cause some casualties, Saruman casted Bolts of Fire onto their formation ultimately destroying them.  With no formation protecting the gates.  Saurman sent four formations of Uruk-hai warriors to take their ladders to the Deeping Wall, and with no one standing in their way, were able to move along the walls to take the gate.  The ram ultimately smashed the gate and the Uruks piled into the fortress.

The ram finally is able to smash the gate.
Theodred and Erkenbrand moved to the gate to prevent the Uruks from reaching The Keep, but ultimately were defeated in close combat.  The Three Hunters attempted to hit the Uruks in the flank, but both Legolas and Gimli were killed leaving Aragorn to face the Uruks alone. 

With Legolas dead, only two hunters remain to fight a formation of Uruk-hai warriors. Soon Gimli would also fall.
Eomer moved his last company into The Keep to help Theoden.  But Saruman moved into the fortress and cast a Tremor spell against The Keep, killing all those inside.  Helms Deep had fallen and all the remaining survivors surrendered and were taken prisoner.

The ram smashes The Keep door as Saruman casts a Tremor spell.
Now that he was in possession of Helms Deep, all Saruman needed to do was take Edoras and Rohan would be his.