Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Watcher in the Water - LOTR/Hobbit storied battle report

Having survived the attack by the pack of wargs in the wilds of wilderland, the Fellowship must still pass the Misty Mountains to head eastwards, and on towards Mordor...

Now, having failed to scale their lofty summits and freezing conditions, they are beaten back... leaving them two choices, pass through the Gap of Rohan at the southern end of the Misty Mountains, or take the journey under the mountains, through Khazad Dum.

The gap of Rohan would take the ring far too close to Isengard, where the traitor Saruman and his growing orc and uruk-hai force dwell...

And so, with the encouragement of Gimli, Khazad Dum seems the best option. Also, Balin lead an expedition there years ago to reclaim the realm for the dwarves and re-open the mines... so a warm welcome should be waiting for them; "Malt beer, red meat off the bone..."

But Gandalf is not so sure, what else did the dwarves awaken in the depths of Khazad Dum?...

The Fellowship follow the cliff face, looking for the likely area of the doorway, the Doors of Durin... but dwarf doors are invisible, blending seamlessly into the rock face...

Not until the moon shines, does the doorway way become obvious, its outline gleaming, as the Ithildin reflects the moonlight...

"The Doors of Durin, speak Friend, and enter!" Gandalf however cannot remember the opening words... all the spells he knows are to no avail...

As they wait for Gandalf to open the doors, Pippin and Merry explore their surroundings, passing the time throwing stones in the pool... not realising what they may disturb in its depths...

"Do not disturb the water!" cautions Aragorn... then heads back to see how getting the doors open is going...

"Speak friend and enter"... its a riddle, muses Frodo... "Whats the Elvish word for Friend?"

"Mellon", states Gandalf, and with a great rumble, the huge doors open outwards, revealing the pitch dark gloom of the mines ahead...

And so our scenario starts...

Finally with the doors open... the way forward for the Fellowship, is clear...

When suddenly there is a cry from Frodo, and he is pulled from the doors, back to the edge of the dark pool, as a loathsome writhing tentacle grabs his foot.

 The Fellowship come rushing to his aid, Merry and Pippin both close enough to hack at the tentacle, with their short swords, as more tentacles break the surface of the water and rush towards them...The blows from the brave hobbits cause the tentacle to recoil briefly, dropping Frodo in the process!

Quickly before they are over whelmed, they turn tail and run for the Doors, before more writhing slimy tentacles can make a grab for them again...

Chased every step of the way, they sprint back for the Doors , watching their footing as they go...

...now would not be a good time to trip and fall...

With a cry from Gandalf, "Into the Mines!" , Gimli, Legolas and Gandalf dash into the gloom, as Aragorn and Boromir, flank the doors, seeing the hobbits safely in first...

...and in the nick of time they are safely inside, the crash of rock and stone behind them, signalling the doom of the doors, torn down by the writhing mass, the stone lintel collapsing under the assault....

Their way behind them blocked, they have but one choice, the long dark of Moria! A four day crossing to the other side...


A couple of staged shots, if the beast had hauled itself from the water...


Its actually a quirky little scenario. The Fellowship must get at least 5 of their number into the mines to win the fight. They start with 5 at the door, with Frodo captured by a tentacle at the pool edge and the hobbits near Frodo. 

By the letter of the scenario, you could just run the five Fellowship members into the mine, and technically win the game, leaving Frodo dangling in the air. A technical victory certainly but not terrible ethical!

So when Chris spotted this, I found it a little hard not pointing out that I had not just spent the last Gods know how many weeks making this thing, for the game to be over in 1 minute! I think he got the message ;-) ...

So off we went. The initial game, saw Pippin a little slow in his footwork, and having got Frodo out of the starting grasp of the tentacles was himself grabbed and pulled into the water, where he was crushed and drowned... (D3 Auto Str 8 hits will do that to you!). Not wanting to share Pippins fate, the rest of the Fellowship legged it and that was it....

We played it again, as above, and this time with a little more careful measuring, placement and fancy foot work, the Fellowship managed to evade the tentacles by the skin of their teeth, and made it to the mines...

... However, that was using the new Hobbit rules, which includes the Heroic action; Heroic march, which allows an extra 3" movement per hero affected so even the hobbits managed to out pace the tentacles, but it was close.

Without that new heroic action, things would have been very different... The Watchers tentacles at first glance don't seem all that bad, but you cant kill them only drive them off temporarily, and if they win a round of combat they instantly drag that hero back towards the pool and inflict D3 automatic str 8 hits on the hero, each round until released or killed.

I think if we had played this with the original One Ring SBG rules, there would have been a great many burps and bubbles of indigestion rising from the pool!

As it is, the newer Hobbit rules allowed us to play it cinematically pretty much matching the movie for frantic pace!

We'll have to try it again sometime with the Watcher model instead and see how that goes...


  1. Seeing the board with figures makes it even better. Strange scenario!? Surely one of five must be Frodo to enter the Mines!? Looking at the board in use, made me think it would be a good table to game out Balin's re-conquest/defence of Moria. Dwarf's trying to break in, Orcs rushing out and then the Watcher rising from the murky depths!

    1. Many thanks Mark. Its certainly quirky, or should that be strongly themed to play out one way... run!
      I think it would come down to whether you have to play to the end of a turn before seeing who wins the game... but if the Fellowship make no attempt to rescue Frodo, he's doomed for sure as he starts enveloped so will be getting those D3 Str8 hits, if the tentacles isn't engaged in combat that turn, where upon it auto drops whoever its holding if charged or wounded...
      Yep it will certainly be good for some orc/goblin vs dwarf scrapping, but if you have the Watcher appearing behind the Dwarfs too, it could get painful in a hurry!

  2. Cinematic is certainly the word for those wonderful pictures!

  3. You certainly capture it well. Great stuff once more Scott.

  4. You'll have to play it again to make sure the Watcher proper gets a run mate.

    1. Yep, I want to see how the new stats for the Watcher would play out...

  5. I've never played the scenario. After reading your excellent report, I think I may give it a go this weekend. Unfortunately, my play area will definitely pale in comparison.

    Thanks for the fun battle report!

    1. I'd be interested to see what you make of it, as to me it just seems to be a race to survive. If the Fellowship try to hang around to fight it out, they will ultimately lose, as the tentacles themselves can't be killed... so it would become a matter of time before they are eaten one by one... I was also playing nice in deployment, I could have made it a lot more more difficult by deploying the tentacle holding Frodo further from the other Fellowship members... see, who's a nice Dad then!? ;-)

  6. Fantastic post Scott! Its wonderful to see your work come to life like this after watching you put it all together over the past months. Well done indeed!

  7. Wow !
    The movie retold. Simply awesome board and a perfect AAR. Really enjoyable.

    Did you use Liquitex for the pond?


    1. Thank you Stefan :-)
      Yes that was my first trial with the Liquitex, though it was over several layers of EnvirotexLite, so that builds the depth better, than in the sea scape..

  8. Having watched the creation of the board, it is great to see it put to use! And with a lovely AAR at that!

  9. I've got a version of the scenario somewhere, I thought you had to get five fellowship off the board, but the five must include the ringbearer...

    1. Its doesn't actually specifically say Frodo has to escape, just that he mustn't die (then Evil wins)... so technically if 5 fellowship members make it through the doors, and Frodo is somewhere alive on the board, Good wins...

  10. Great terrain and figures Scott, talented fella!

  11. Wonderful looking table Scott and a really great AAR!


  12. Your story telling gets better and better, great cinematic replay of that scene. The water effect looks fab, however the victory conditions are standard GW nonsense. How can Good win if Frodo doesn't make it through the doors of Durin with the rest of the Fellowship. Hmmm
    Its one of the key aspects I keep trying to get across to the members of our club that have an interest in LoTR SBG/Hobbit and that is the story telling aspect. I like how you are tweaking how the games are played to ensure that your son gets caught up in how the story develops rather than "must win at all costs".
    Great to see the board in action, I echo MarkG's comment above, it would be brilliant to see some home-brew scenarios with your themed boards!


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