Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In the clutches of Shelob - LOTR/Hobbit SBG - AAR

In the clutches of Shelob

Chris and I had a little free time the other night and manage to squeeze in a simple game of LOTR/Hobbit SBG...

With my folks visiting with us, from the UK at the moment, there hasn't been a lot of time for hobby activity or gaming, but we managed a little here.

We decided to give the 'In the clutches of Shelob' scenario a whirl, using the terrain I made for GoblinTown last year - it seemed perfectly suited...

We have played this once before, and its a tough game to win, for the forces of good. Will they fare any better this time around...

The scenario starts with Frodo isolated in the centre of the board. Shelob starts at a board edge in the centre. Sam starts in centre of the board edge, that is to the left of Shelob. Gollum can be placed anywhere on the board, but must be more than 12" from any other model.

Frodo has Sting and the mithril coat. Sam has the phial of Galadriel, which makes him cause Terror!

There are several special rules for the scenario - any hit by Sting automatically causes a wound on Shelob. Sam automatically passes all courage tests. If Frodo is killed, replace him with the casualty marker. If Sam gets into base contact with this he may take Sting for his own use. Shelob cannot use Will points to boost her courage tests, in this scenario.

The Good side wins if they can kill or drive off the evil forces. The Evil forces win if they kill both hobbits...

Good side starts in the first turn.

First Game:

One of the problems for the hobbits are the relative movement rates; the hobbits move 4", wheres Gollum is 6" and Shelob 10" per turn ... so there's little chance to out run the evil forces...

The lair of Shelob, high above the pass of Cirith Ungol

Frodo alone in the 'darkness'

Shelob begins to stalk her prey...

The villain Gollum brought his fish for a snack!

Sam to the rescue - will he arrive in time?

"Coming Mr Frodo!"

Sam comes dashing to the rescue, while Frodo heads off away from both Gollum and Shelob for now, but this is also taking him away from Sam...

Gollum quickly catches Frodo, with Shelob also bearing down on him...

Frodo survives this first fight with Gollum and runs off round the rock face. He then uses a Heroic move next turn to continue this move taking him out of LOS of Shelob for a turn to avoid her charge, but he's still heading away from Sam, who is struggling to catch up...

Frodo is finally cornered and trapped by Gollum and Shelob. He is quickly dispatched!

Frodo is stung and incapacitated
[The Frodo casualty marker I recently completed and it will be going towards my entries for Curt's Painting Challenge - accordingly, for the 'Casualties' bonus round.]

Shelob and Sam now turn their attention to Sam, who is trying to reach Frodo's body to recover Sting. They decide to surround him coming from two sides...

Sam resists Gollum's initial attention,but...

... cannot withstand Shelob...

Sam is defeated.
Game over.

That was a bit of a 'divide and conquer', with the Hobbits easily dealt with in turn...

We decided to try again, this time with Frodo and Sam trying to link up...

Second Game:

Same start positions, this time Frodo and Sam run towards each other...

Gollum stays further away for a turn or two this time but there is little chance keeping away from Shelob for long...

But Frodo survives the initial charge of Shelob and this allows Sam time to catch and start to intervene... Yay for Sam!

The hobbits are fighting for their lives, thrusting back the evil duo...

... and Sams phial of Galadriel is making the evil pair hesitant at times... Gollum fails to pass his courage check, but Shelob bears on down...

... and defeats the hobbits once more...

... the hobbits seem down and out for the count once more...

...but a mithril coat and fate points keep them alive for another round!

Sadly, what seems the inevitable, finally happens, and both hobbits fall, one after the other...

Game over, again.

I am not sure how the hobbits can win this scenario,... the key seems to be trying to charge Shelob, while avoiding Gollum, and not let her charge the hobbits. The hobbits only have one Attack each, as does Shelob but she has Monstrous Pounce, on the turn she charges, doubling her attacks, and then doubling again her chances to wound, on her knocked prone foes! And with the Venom rule, she gets to re-roll failed to-wound rolls!

Gollum also has two Attacks himself so he's a bit of a handful too...

The hobbits really need a bit of luck to try and win the fight and land a blow from Sting, that then automatically triggers Shelob, (due to her Huntress special rule) to have to take a courage test. If she fails this, she flees... but with a courage value of 4, she'll only fail on a roll of 5 or less ( on 2d6)... so even if wounded there's a fair chance she'll stick around...

If she is forced to flee, Gollum could then be dealt with in turn... but it all seems quite a tough ask to manage, for the poor little hobbits...

And as mentioned at the start the hobbits have a slow movement rate so staying away from trouble for long is impossible...

Maybe denser more tightly packed terrain that impedes Shelob's movement may help, but I already had more terrain on the board, than the example set up from the scenario's description...

Anyone have any success in this mission as the Hobbits?


  1. Very cool, Scott. I must say Shelob is quite impressive. Best, Dean

  2. Cracking stuff! Haven't had a chance to try out this scenario myself, unfortunately.

  3. Looks fantastic Scott! You can keep the bloody spider though!!!

    1. Not a model for arachnophobia sufferers I suspect!? ;-)

  4. Maybe have Frodo run toward Sam, but once Shelob gets within range, have Frodo charge Shelob? Stopping her from charging and maybe giving her a wound. Then Sam might reach next turn in order to help, or at least intervene with Gollum?

    1. We'll probably give this a whirl next time and see if the hobbits can get lucky...

  5. I think it is mostly just not a well thought out scenario (given their respective profiles). The stars have to align just so in order to get Shelob to flee in order for the halflings to have a chance.

    Or if you can manage to get Sam between Frodo and Shelob and hope she fails her courage tests to charge, gang up on Gollum before taking on the spider - but again, things have to work out just so for it to work.

    1. Yeah, I think stars aligning and a shed load of luck may give the hobbits a chance!

  6. Great write-up. I suggest re-writing the scenario, leaving Gollum out. Or, if he is included, it should be in a preliminary part of the scenario, where Frodo is following him deeper and deeper inside Shelob's lair until Gollum loses him. The actual battle should involve Frodo vs Shelob and then Sam vs Shelob, with the odds being against Frodo surviving to help him. That's what I plan to do, when my Fellowship campaign gets this far.

    1. Interesting, yes make it a phased fight - Deal with Shelob, then with Gollum in turn, as per the movie... which if I recall correctly is also how it happens in the book, though I don't specifically recall the fighting involving Gollum at this point...

  7. Great stuff Scott. Love the table!

    1. Thanks Craig, yes very versatile in a subterranean kind of way...

  8. Cracking looking game, but it does seem a little weighted in favour of the forces of evil. I thought Ross' idea sounding good above.

  9. Great report Scott! I like these scenarios replaying quintessential moments in the films. Pity it didn't evolve like it did in the movie resulting in the end of middle Earth and an invisible spider.

    In another note, the models are all fantastic.

    1. Thanks Steve, much appreciated. Yes one of those little imponderables... what ever did happen to Shelob? Is she still lurking up there guarding her realm... or did the Gondorians under Aragorn's leadership, go and root her out once and for all??? If she's still up there you've got to wonder what shes eating now - not so many orcs about to prey on routinely...

  10. I think this is one of the many "movie" scenarios GW made that don't actually play well.

    1. I admit they are not always the most balanced of scenarios!

  11. lovely as usual Scott. Not sure about how to play out the scenario, some good suggestions above. Not having the scenario to hand I don't know the restrictions on Frodo however couldn't he utilise the ring ( at significant risk being so close to the eye).
    I'd go with the movie version and play it as two scenarios with more scenery! I'm interested to see the rematch!

    1. Thanks Ste. Agreed.
      Actually that's one of the special rules I didn't mention - Frodo can't use the ring in this mission being too close to Mordor...

  12. As usual another well written pacey report with the action well explained without endless prattle about every dice throw. I love reading Batreps like this that put you in the action. Simple but effective terrain. Looks like it would work well for North West Frontier with wily Pathans stalking Brit scouting party or ambushing a relief column.
    Isn't skirmish level gaming a blast?

    1. Thanks Gav. Yeah this terrain I think is rather versatile :-)
      Most certainly - I think because of the intimacy of the skirmish level game, you some how feel more involved, rather than when pushing big units around...

  13. I’ve thought some more about this – even with Gollum out of the picture, the odds would still be hugely stacked against Sam. It needs something to reduce the amount that Shelob can charge (and get her monstrous mount / venom bonuses). Also, as you point out, rolling 5 or less on 2D6 for her to flee isn’t that likely (10/36, to be precise). The trick is to find a way to fix this which makes sense thematically. Here’s what I suggest:

    Phial of Galadriel: Shelob is terrified of the light of Eärendil. Its wielder causes terror and every time he charges Shelob, she loses a point of Courage (to a minimum of 1).

    That should make her less able to charge him and if he wounds her, more likely for her to fail her courage test. At the same time, it's not setting it up so he's likely to defeat her in the first round of combat.

    1. Thanks for your further thoughts on this Ross. I like what you have come up with. Perhaps a small addition could be a mechanism whereby Sam could lose the Phial, by dropping it as per movie - perhaps if he loses a round of combat with her - a test to see if he drops the phial? I would have said a Dexterity test, but this isn't D&D!

  14. In my copy of that scenario( in RoTK) there is no Gollum listed as a participant :(.

  15. Good report !
    .... but it's not a good game if the Hobbits can't win !!

    Nice pictures, nice figures and good terrain board !


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