Thursday, February 27, 2014

Buckleberry Ferry - LOTR/Hobbit SBG - AAR

The next game in our Fellowship of the Ring campaign; Scenario 4 -  Buckleberry Ferry...

The hobbits have escaped the attentions of the Wraiths in the woodlands of the Shire, thanks to Gildor's help... However, Gildor and his company are heading west to the Grey Havens, and the hobbits are heading east, and sadly they must part and go their separate ways...

Once more the hobbits are alone in the rural lands of the Shire... having left the Greenhill Country and the woods of WoodyEnd behind, they find themselves in the relatively open lands of The Marish. The river known to the hobbits as the Brandywine, lies ahead of them... They must cross the river to reach the relative safety of Buckland, beyond...

But fell shrieks pierce the air, and an evil presence closes in once more...

Buckleberry Ferry, across the Brandywine...
A peaceful riverside scene, yet danger stalks these fair lands, and mischief and malice will be afoot this night!

[Interestingly, this scene was shot roughly 7kms (as the Nazgûl flies!), from where I work. ... on private land, the family having to sign the usual confidentiality clauses etc., at the time, but their kids were apparently thrilled at all these folk in costumes in their garden each night, as you would expect!]

This scenario pits the 4 Hobbits against 3 Ringwraiths, who are at minimum power, as per previous scenarios...

Tree positions tweaked and deployment zones marked out...
The hobbits are deployed in the 2nd from left vertical band, just to the right of the large rock. Then, one Ringwraith is deployed in the vertical band running through the woodland. The last two wraiths are deployed touching the western (left side) board edge....

Chris deploys the hobbits as a group just on the large wooded hill, hoping this route may screen their approach towards the ferry crossing. One wraith deploys between them and that very place. The last two are behind and to either side of the gaggle of brave hobbits!

However, in this scenario, the wraiths don't know exactly where the hobbits are, and are impeded by the current daylight conditions. So the Ringwraiths are governed by the 'Sentries rules' for movement, and the hobbits gain the benefit of having 'relative' elven cloaks due to the adverse effect of sunlight on the wraiths.

Good side goes first for the first turn AND they get to move the wraiths..., as expected, out of the way...

To win, Frodo must cross the river and escape off the Eastern board edge. Evil wins if Frodo is slain....

The forces deploy, the brave hobbits start to climb the wooded hill, evil shrieks filling their ears and unnerving them to say the least... but for now they have not been spotted, and are safe...

The hobbits crest the hill approaching the wooded top, as the wraiths wander off hissing and sniffing the air, yet heading away from their quarry...

The hobbits press on, through the concealing woods on the hill top, overlooking the river below, the sunlight glinting off its glass like surface...

...but one of the wraiths has sensed something, and moves towards them...

Frodo, realising danger is getting nearer, urges his fellow hobbits on as quickly as possible (heroic move!)...

But finally the wraith notices their break from cover, and lets out a fell cry, alerting its foul brethren... This cry momentarily chilling Frodo's heart! (Sap Will!). The wraith, sensing the four hobbits ahead, waits for its brethren to catch up, to surround the terrified hobbits. Until then, it moves to cover their approach to the ferry, and their escape to the east bank...

Wraith blocks approach to ferry

The wraith continues to play the waiting game, knowing time is on its side, as aid draws near. The hobbits aren't going anywhere... or are they!?

The hobbits, realising the game is up, their way of escape is blocked, decide to try and steady their hobbit misgivings, and head down to the river bank. They will swim the Brandywine!

Frodo, Merry and Pippin, brave the cool waters, but Sams nerve fails him and he stays nervously on the riverbank, eyeing the flowing waters in front of him ...

The hobbits swim for it!

The wraith is surprised and perplexed by this turn of events. Its quarry is getting away! Yet it dare not enter the waters of the Brandywine...more correctly named, the Baranduin. And though a long way to the sea from here, it provides a direct link to the realm of Ulmo; Valar of the Seas and Oceans! The wraith dare not enter that realm!

So if it may not enter the waterway, it will force its victim back through a strength of will... Frodo finds himself swimming back towards the wraith, caught under its influence... (Compel!)

Sam has finally mastered his courage and swims out towards Frodo, but Pippins nerve fails him and he swims back to the riverbank. Merry, with great fortitude, has reached the far bank, and crossed the tall hedge... not realising the worsening situation of his friends... as more wraiths close in...

In an act of supreme bravery, verging on the suicidal, Pippin readies to sacrifice himself to allow his friends to escape...he charges the nearest wraith! Frodo and Sam are still foundering in the steadily chilling water of the Baranduin... Merry, seeing the welcoming twinkling lights of Buckland ahead, presses on, not realising the dire straights his friends are in!

Brave Pippin charges a wraith!

Pippin fights bravely, but cannot best the wraith and ducks at the last second as the wraiths blade hisses through the air above his head...( Wraith rolled a 3, a 4 would have killed Pippin!).

The cries of Pippin do not go unheeded, and Sam and Frodo cannot bear to abandon Pippin to his fate. They swim back to the riverbank and climb out to confront the vile threat.

Merry too, suddenly senses the danger his fiends are in and heads back to help, cursing as he realises the distance between them, he must swim the Brandywine again!

Frodo, Sam and Pippin fight desperately. Yet the wraiths only seem interested in Frodo and do all they can to get past Sam and Pippin. But they steadfastly hold their ground, drawing the wraiths off Frodo... Horrified at what he sees happening on the far bank, Merry stops and stares in dumbfounded silence for a moment, rooted to the spot! (Failed courage check to enter the river). Somehow the hobbits survive the swirling melee...

Rousing himself, Merry jumps once more into the now frigid waters, and drives himself onwards, his tired limbs feeling leaden and uncooperative... The wraiths again do all they can to get at Frodo, and are virtually oblivious to the other hobbits... what is it that attracts them so, to poor Frodo? And yet with extreme bravery the little hobbits fight on against the wraiths, neither side able to land a telling blow... but surely the wraiths cannot be held off indefinitely...

... and then, the inevitable happens, with a gasp, Pippin slumps to the ground, pierced by a wraiths blade! Stunned by this injury to their kin, and the shrieks and cries of combat engulfing them, Frodo and Sam fail to notice the sound of splashing in the river behind them, has ceased. The weak cries of Merry go unnoticed as fatigue gets the better of him and his head dips below the surface, for the last time...

Pippin falls to the wraiths... and Merry drowns!

Yet exertion is not only affecting the hobbits, and one wraith dissipates into the breeze, its mournful cry hanging on the air for a moment...

The wraiths are nearing exhaustion, yet the hobbits are battered and bruised too... can they hang on in the face of their dread enemy?

Swords and knives flail the air once more, the hobbits ducking and diving for all their worth...

... and yet the Valar, at last, must have smiled upon the bravery of these two stouthearted hobbits, as the despairing banished wails of the last two wraiths rent the air, their forms melting to nothingness...

The victorious hobbits!

Frodo and Sam emerge from their ordeal victorious, yet at great cost, with the loss of two of their kin... there is no feeling of celebration...

... still, the Ring moves ever closer to its ultimate doom!


I have to say this was a thrilling game for both us! At one point I reckon I have got it all covered, Frodo has no Will remaining, and I have cut off their escape to the ferry, with more wraiths approaching, strength in numbers and all that, they're just hobbits after all...

Then Chris takes a direction I never thought of - swim the river! I am not sure the difficulty he realised this may cause him, but I explained it all, and he still went for it.

It did present an interesting option for me, Transfix Frodo in the river! - Would he drown automatically? A read through of the spell, and I felt not, he'd probably just tread water, so I Compelled him back to the bank instead... It became rather amusing watching the hobbits foundering in the water, swimming back and forth as they passed or failed courage checks or got Compelled!

Had Frodo drowned in the river, it would have had major issues for the campaign on the whole, as the Ring would have been lost in yet another river! Thankfully it didn't happen.

But in the end the hobbits showed their worth, and when I thought I had them, again my dice failed me... despite winning most of the fight rolls, I then couldn't roll a 4 to cause a wound and when I did, Chris passed the required Fate roll. Chris won a few fight rolls, but wounding a wraith needed a 6 followed by a 5! A tough ask!

It really came down to the wire, Frodo and Sam were out of Fate and and just waiting for the next telling blow to land, but it never came! 

Pippin went down fighting manfully (hobbitfully!), doing what he had to do, keeping some of the heat off Frodo. I suppose in these scenarios, if one is brutally honest, Pippin and Merry are just 'meat shields' for Frodo... and yet I always remember the first time I played  LOTR with Chris, many years ago when he was young (er), and we played Balin's tomb - and Pippin got killed - poor Chris burst into tears and took an age to console - "its just a game - we can play again, he's OK!"... ;-)

Poor Merry! Failed a swim roll in the middle of the river and had no Might points to change the roll... falling to the curse of 'anything but a one!'...

Great game!

Oh, I didn't use Cry of the Nazgûl again! I might remember it one of these days!

We'll just have to assume Merry bobs back to the surface further down stream and is hauled ashore by Farmer Maggot and given a bowl of hot broth! No doubt Pippin had only suffered a 'flesh wound' and had just fainted from the experience! ;-)

On to the next scenario, and the Fog on the Barrow Downs awaits!

Till then gentle reader...


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, I made it some time ago... good to to see it finally get an in game use - though the hobbits didnt 'use' it! Oh well, maybe next time!

  2. An excellent exciting game ! and nice terrain layout !

  3. Great report Scott. Games like this highlight how brilliant SBG is. I love how the story unfolds in every battle. Thanks for posting these.

  4. Great looking set up and terrain, Scott.

  5. Cracking looking table and enjoyed the report.

  6. a thrilling game !!
    it's an important chapter in the LoTR and I've never imagined that they could swim !
    (you know that the Harfoot Hobbits dislike water ! )

    I like the table and the scenic elements !

    1. Indeed, especially considering Frodo's parents; Drogo and Primula, both drowned in a boating accident! I guess that explains why the Hobbits must also take a courage check to try and swim in the game...
      Glad you enjoyed the report!

  7. Am I a bad person for rooting for the Ring Wraiths? I love your table.

  8. That, sir, is an awesome batrep.

    I'm slowly rebuilding my LotR stuff and will collect some of The Hobbit supplies as well. Though I'm not angry in the least, I blame you in no small part. Thank you :)

    1. Thank you most kindly!
      LOL, good to hear, and long may it continue!

  9. Great game report. Looks like it was lots of fun with great drama.

  10. Great game and read Scott, well done.

  11. Nice write up mate. On our run through of the scenario it never occurred to either of us to ignore the ferry and swim for it - good lateral thinking by your boy there. I did like the cinematic element of Merry not seeing his friends weren't with him and then going back, good storytelling!
    Also glad to see you inserted the little bit at the end of "its only a flesh wound". Merry will have to do some quick talking to get out of Farmer Maggots clutches - new scenario maybe?

    1. Thanks Ste - yep that move caught me flat footed...
      I agree, then game simply lends itself to such story telling, making it all the more enjoyable - and writing the report fun too (Perhaps there is a suppressed writer inside me trying to get out?)

      I am sure I saw a scenario somewhere that featured Farmer Maggot but I cant find it now..., I may have to try and come up with something...

  12. A great report Scott, swimming Hobbits eh - the cunning devils!

  13. Very enjoyable AAR Scott with a nice board for support!


  14. Love all of these reports!
    You've inspired me to get some of the scenario terrain made up too, small pieces like the ferry look fun!

    I find your green game mat to be so appealing, is it a green felt mat spray painted? Simple but pops


    1. Hi many thanks :)
      The base cloth is indeed a piece of green felt, which I then spray up with a mix of brown green and yellow aerosol sprays from plastikote in a mottled pattern.


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