"Get a fire going!"
And so the mixed company of orcs and uruks, pause in their forced march back to Isengard with their prize of two hobbits for Saruman.
But the smell of man-flesh fills their nostrils, as the Riders of Rohan close in, keen to remove this vile orc desecration from the lands of the Riddermark...
Last night Ste and I met up at the KWC , with a plan to play out the scenario; The Wrath of Rohan. There are a few versions of this, but we went with the version from the Two Towers Journey book.
We didn't quite have the exact model requirement so went with a points match version as close as we could manage on the night, with models available.
The scenario is played on a 48" x 48" board, with one heavily forested board edge representing the edge for Fangorn Forest. The evil forces are arrayed within 12" of a central campfire, with the captured hobbits Merry and Pippin within 6" of it.
The Riders of Rohan must split their force in half and come on from both opposing board edges, perpendicular to the forested edge, and are deployed within 6" of their board edges.
For the good side to win they must get the hobbits into Fangorn forest, and kill ALL the orcs and uruks.
The evil side must try and maintain 'control' of the hobbits and reduce the riders to 25% of their starting strength, thus routing them...
If neither side achieves their goals, the game is a draw.
The orcs cannot 'kill' the Hobbits, only capture them, thus 'controlling' them. The exception to this is Grishnahk who may kill the hobbits in melee, as he doesn't mind taking dead hobbits back to Isengard!
Ste had 24 asst. uruk scouts, 10 asst. orcs and 8 uruk warriors with shield led by Ugluk and Grishnahk.
I had 6 Rohan Royal Guard and 18 Riders of Rohan, led by Eomer ( the only unpainted model on the board - and held together with blu-tac - oh the shame!) and a Rohan captain (proxied by Theodred).
Technically I shouldn't really have had the Royal Guard, as at this point in the story Eomer is a bit of a loose cannon, and the Guard would have been at Meduseld guarding Theoden in his torpor. But I have been furiously painting these guys over the last couple of weeks and just finished them the night before the game (barring varnish and basing), so wanted to try them out... this was balanced by Ste taking a few uruk 'tanks' with heavy armour and shield...
Ste set up a wide circular perimeter, with his Uruks not sure where exactly I would come on. I decided to set the hobbits up naturally as close to the forest as possible and then placed the Riders close to the woods on both sides, hoping to bust through to the hobbits and assist their break out...
I had thought about deploying further away and keeping the evil forces at arms length doing the shoot and scoot tactic, whittling down their numbers before engaging, but this takes a while to bring results and we didn't have all night to play, so a hard in your face battle was going to be the order of the day - lets get stuck in and kill stuff!
After a couple of turns it was all on, blood and chaos flying! Might points were burned by both sides early trying to get the jump on the other side - the Riders obviously wanting to move to get their charge bonuses, the orcs hoping to shut these down at close range.
|The early fighting...|
The early fights saw the Riders target the more squishy uruk scouts and orcs, hoping to kill these lower defense foes, then try and bring numbers to bear on the tough uruk 'tanks' later on... and this tactic seemed to pay off as the game progressed.
|Lets make a break for it!|
|Over there into Fangorn!|
Grishnakh was looking to cause trouble as well, but Eomer managed to shut him down fairly early on and again the large surrounding bases of the cavalry, put a cramp on his style, trapping him too...
|Charge! Arrgh! 'Neigh', snarl, growl, arrgh!!!|
The weaker defense evil forces steadily fell to the charging horsemen... throwing spears from the guard flew through the air but rarely found their mark... the bows of the Riders also rendered useless as they were all quickly engaged in melee, round after round...
|Yar! Kill them all, don't let any escape!|
But the horsemen didn't have it all their own way, and riders were hacked by the crude weapons of the orcs, from their mounts...
|Eomer traps Grishnahk|
But steadily and surely the orc numbers were reduced, allowing the greater numbers of riders to then isolate and close down the uruk 'tanks'... bringing these down in turn...
|Orc archers try and restrain the escaping hobbits...|
By now Ste was trying that classic orc tactic of shooting into combats! The first volley, shot the mount from under a rider, but also killed the orc he was engaged with. Two more volleys succeeded in only killing the orcs in the fights where the arrows found a mark...
|Dealing with the uruk 'tanks'|
But the riders were closing in with the remaining orcs in charge range, leaving the centrally positioned orc archers nervously looking over their shoulders, to both sides... predictably many of these legged it...
To add to the orc archers misery, when two orc archers chased after the escaping hobbits, they killed one of the orcs and pushed back the other!
|Run for it Pip, we're nearly there!|
Though in the end Ste just didn't have the numbers anymore to really contest the fight and was looking for a bit of luck, hanging on to the hope of a higher Fight skill uruk rolling high enough to win a fight against surrounding horsemen and strike one down with his high strength, before he was mullered....
|Final positions - the hobbits exit stage right...|
But Rohan kept it's nerve and their greater numbers won out, with the last of the uruks surrounded and cut down... and the hobbits had sneaked away in the gloom, into the forest of Fangorn... soon now to start the next phase of their adventure with Treebeard!
|We've made it Pip!|
This was a very enjoyable game, and after a nervous start for me, things settled down and steadily seemed to go Rohan's way...
I was very concerned at the early combats, as the Uruks can quickly spoil Rohans day due to the uruks usually better Fight Skill and decent strength. But the Uruks dispersed deployment meant they couldn't get all their numbers to bear early on. This allowed the Horsemen to hit the initial uruks more or less one for one, and with a cavalry charge giving me double dice, Rohan started to win the combats, with the resulting knock downs and quadruple strikes... Still I fluffed several rolls, with 4 dice needing any 5 and failing... but as orcs or uruks dropped each turn it freed up more horsemen to start trapping and ganging up on the remaining orcs in the line....
My only disappointment was the fairly useless throwing spears, even when used by the Guard... all game they only managed to kill one uruk with a thrown spear... Oh to have lances instead, but that wasn't the way Rohan fought...
My thanks again to Ste for venturing up early from Wellington on a week night for a game, much appreciated. And we managed to play at a fairly rapid rate to get a definite result bang on closing time at the club... and home before I turned into a pumpkin!
As an aside, my son has been learning about differing mythologies recently at school, and most recently has been studying Norse mythology and the battle of Ragnarok. I loved this at school too, and for similar reasons to him, as its so intertwined with and similar to Tolkien's mythology... He is now suitably enthused and wanting to play a titanic battle of our own - predictably requiring every model we have in a huge weekend long battle! Wish me luck! ;-)