Friday, August 15, 2014

The search for Thrain... The Hobbit - Battle Report

It was a dark and stormy night, lightning flashed across the sky... and that was just the weather in Wellington!

Conditions were not much better in the blighted northern regions of Middle-Earth, an icy blast blew down from the north across the fells, bordering the ancient realm of Angmar of old...

Yet here it was that Thorin and a company of stout hearted dwarves from Ered Luin, found themselves, tracking a rumour that Thrain, Thorin's father, had been seen wandering the wilds, in his deranged state...

The northward march of the dwarven company had not gone unnoticed... evil hearted creatures, ever ready to serve the dark powers, had observed their passing, and a murder of crows had been seen overhead of their march...

So it was that as Thorin's company reached the ruins of an ancient settlement, evil forces were lying in wait.

Bhurdur, a great troll chieftain of the northern wastes, on learning of the approaching dwarven column, had gathered his warband around him. He would make sure Thorin would rue the day he dared march north to Angmar!


In an effort to raise local awareness and interest in the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit skirmish game, I made contact with the good folks down at the Wellington Warlords, to see if there was much local interest for the game. A positive response was forth coming and Andrew Van Olphen, kindly offered to make the trek north from Wellington to Kapiti, on a week night, to help show the game with me at the local club, Kapiti Wargames Club...

To keep the theme topical with the current Hobbit movies hitting the cinema, Andrew decided to bring a company of dwarves, lead by Thorin, in a 'pre-Hobbit' setting... I would play an evil force, and the themed idea of the search for Thrain would work well. Knowing Thorin would be marching from Ered Luin, evil forces of the north would be logical to call into play and so I decided to take an Angmar force.

We decided to play a 600pt game. Big enough for some varied troop choices, and playable to conclusion in an evening, at a leisurely place, where we'd be chatting about the game with onlookers as we played.

Andrew brought two warbands of doughty dwarven warriors including Khazad guard, Iron guard and warriors led by Thorin and a dwarf captain. Their raven crested banner fluttering alongside them in the breeze... Another dwarf captain led a warband of dwarven rangers.

Andrew also brought some wonderful Galeforce9 gothic ruins that would look perfect as ruins of Angmar...

For my Angmar force, I wanted to try out again, the new Monster brutal power attacks of the Hobbit rules, and decided to bring a pair of cave trolls, lead by Bhurdur; a Cave troll hero. so it would be monstrous brute strength in play, rather than the assorted spooks of Angmar...

Dwarves are notoriously hard as nails, so high strength and/or two-handed weapons would be needed to crack them open! So I took a bunch of orcs with two-handed weapons backed up by plenty of spear support. The new Hobbit rules have amended supporting spears, allowing them to support any allied model.

To lead part of my orc rabble I also took an Orc Shaman, mounted on a warg, the idea being to cast Fury, to bolster my weak orc courage and negate some casualties. An orc banner bearer would encourage all forward. To give my force some mobility, I also included some warg riders led by an orc captain.

To keep things simple we decided to play a straight up scrap and chose 'To the Death' as a scenario. I won the initial roll off, chose sides and started deploying...


Players alternate warband deployment, and I positioned Bhurdur and his trolls and orcs centrally up front to start.

Andrew countered with a dwarf warband angled back centrally. My Shaman and his orcs then went down behind the trolls to support their progress.

Andrew placed Thorin's warband off on his right flank.

 I positioned my warg riders on my right flank, which Andrew countered with his Rangers...

To war!

I won the roll off for initial priority, and started my advance... The Warg riders saw the dwarf rangers ahead of them in the open and charged forward... hoping for an easy victory over the lesser armoured dwarves...

The trolls began their rumble forward, backed up by the Shamans warband, who cast a Channelled Fury! That would mean any orc casualties would be negated on a roll of 5+.

Andrew stoically advanced his dwarves forward, the central dwarves meeting the trolls head on. Thorin's warband advanced from the flank but were still too far away to attack. Dwarven shooting stung the hide of the hammer wielding troll on the end of the line, causing 2 wounds!

Then combat ensued... The troll at the end of the line picked up a dwarf and hurled him along the length of the dwarf engaged battleline causing mayhem, but only one casualty. However this disarray allowed the rest of the evil line to batter the prone dwarves...

The warg riders and rangers proved to be a match for each other, and they fought on over the course of the battle, the dwarf armour keeping them in the game and the warg rider cavalry charges countering somewhat the outnumbering dwarves...

Thorin's warband soon got into the fray but the line of orc axemen backed by spears held... keeping the dwarves at bay, while the trolls continued to batter the central dwarf warband... having enjoyed a game of dwarf skittles, the trolls then started seeing what would happen if you got hold of a dwarf's arms and legs and pulled... Rending dwarves became the order of the day...

Towards the end of the game, Thorin started to make his presence felt and used heroic combats to break his way round the end of the orc line, trying to get to the orc Shaman, and take him out of the game...

The warg riders and rangers had just about fought each other to stand still, with neither really getting the upper hand, over the other...

In the centre the trolls continued to bowl, rend  and pummel the dwarves... it was brutal!

As the time grew short, the battle drew to a close. Thorin had won past the end of the orc line and reached his target charging into the orc shaman... but in doing so he had used up his reserves of Might, and the Orc shaman, though losing the fight was able to survive and break away.

The last turn would probably decide it... Evil won priority and there were no Might points left to challenge this... The remaining warg riders charged the remnants of the rangers, and finally got the upper hand, felling several dwarves on the flank... In the centre, Bhurdur decided it was time to go mano-a-mano with Thorin, and the way was cleared for a charge. The flank orc line continued to hold and reduce the dwarf attackers, and the central trolls looked to deal to the remaining central dwarf warband; their banner and a lone dwarf stood there...

The trolls and orcs surrounded them and their end was grisly, though songs will be sung in dwarven halls at the valor they showed that fateful day! The raven banner sadly lost on the bleak battlefield...

Bhurdur crashed into Thorin, and more orcs piled in to Thorin's flank, and he was sorely tested. With no might left to either side, the greater number of evil warriors backed up by their banner held sway and Thorin was bested, the great troll reaching down, lifting Thorin off his feet to pull him apart, but at the last moment his grip slipped (Fate intervened!), and he fell back to the ground, though in a severely beaten state...

Thorin survived, just, with one wound remaining...


And that ended our demonstration game...

We had both had a lot of fun, and enjoyed the 'cinematic' gameplay the new Hobbit rules allow, and despite being on the receiving end of three brutish trolls, Andrew battled on gamely throughout.

The orcs had lost a large part of their force, the Shamans Channelled Fury had failed to save any souls, but the orcs force remained unbroken at the end. Their foul banner still flew in the stiff breeze, and their monstrous leader Bhurdur remained unharmed..

The dwarves had suffered a heavy toll, their numbers at the end falling below break point, their Raven banner was lost, and their leader Thorin grievously wounded.

Songs of valor and bravery would ever recount this day in dwarven halls, and the name of Bhurdur would be added to the tomes of the dwarves, a grudge would most certainly be kept and revenge one day rightly sought!

We totted up the victory points all this meant, and a score of 8-0 was held in favour of the forces of evil.

But rest assured, the dwarves will have their revenge one day!


I'd like to thank Andrew again who braved horrible weather for a drive out for an evenings game and for bringing a wonderfully painted army to display, and some great terrain to set the scene. Andrew also brought more of his painted armies to show off including some wonderful customised Dol Amroth troops, and some great Easterlings. I am certainly looking forward to some more games with Andrew.

Also thanks to Kapiti Wargames Club for hosting us, and making us welcome. Lets hope we might have rekindled a little interest in the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit game, in the local area. We'll certainly be happy to play there again...


  1. Nice to finally met you Scott and good to see LOTR getting some time at the club. I know that myself and one other member at least are no considering doing LOTRs armies, i of course will be doing Wood Elves

    1. Thanks Rex, and you mate, good to put a face to a name :-) That's great news :-) Thanks again!

  2. Awesome Scott! I know I've said it before but I'm so happy that you're back into LotR SBG. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Scott :) Happy to please and fully enjoying MiddleEarth myself too!

  3. Looks like it was a great game. Sorry I couldn't make it. My son and youngest daughter are both down with the flu, and we are 2 hands short at work too. Absolutely swamped. Only left the surgery at 7 last night.

    1. No worries Herman, I fully understand. Hope to catch up with you next time :)

  4. Sounds like an epic game.
    Well narrated, Scott !

  5. Looks like a great demo game.

  6. Looks like you had a lot of fun. Three trolls!!!

    1. Indeed. Three trolls, worked well :-) No spell casters to nerf them either so they had pretty much free reign...

  7. Great report and photos Scott! Very nice looking game!

  8. looks like an epic game with well-painted armies to display. hope you succeed in drumming up interest.

    you certainly make me want to start up again on my hill troll conversions...

    1. Thanks mate, please do, I'd love to see what you do :-)

  9. Great AAR and a very nice looking game!


  10. What an Epic battle! great looking game and report Scott :)

  11. Brilliant! It's amazing how a few nice scenic items can transform a board. Memo to self!

    A great game with a phalanx of trolls and dwarf tossing thrown in (i).

    Pirate is on his way!

    1. Yes indeed, a few nice bits of terrain really set the scene :-)
      It was a lot of fun and the new rules certainly lend that cinematic feel - monsters now have the chance to bust through those battle-lines as they should be able to...

      Many thanks , I look forward to his arrival :-)

  12. Amazing looking game as always, Scott. Really conveys a "bigger than life" feel. Best, Dean

    1. Thanks Dean, you certainly get that 'bigger than life' feel with trolls lumbering around the board :-)

  13. Great game, great report. It's good to hear that there are people actively promoting the game in NZ - as of Saturday you'll be getting another

    1. Thanks Ste, doing what we can :-)
      Can't wait to add you to the ranks of the NZ based players :-)

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