On Friday afternoon I had just submitted my university assignment on the fall of the Roman republic (I’m really enjoying it!) and therefore decided to play a Lord of the Rings skirmish game.
I don’t normally play skirmish games, and I have played very few Lord of the Rings games. This time I decided to use a set of Viking skirmish rules I found on the net called Age of Blood. I adapted the troop statistics to create some Elves, orcs and three big ugly trolls and had at it!
Mordor fielded an army of 20 orcs with a mixture of weapons- spears, axes, swords, bows and broad axes, with a bit of armour but very weak morale. I felt this made a good balance between the huge armies of poor-quality orcs that Tolkien describes, without making it a boring slugfest where the bad guys can’t win a fight and can’t run out of reinforcements either. I also gave them three big nasty trolls to stiffen them up a bit.
The Elves fielded four spearmen, two archers, two horsemen and an Elf-lord, Lord Tirgalon. This meant they were outnumbered by about 2-1, which worked out well because the Elves are such good troops.
Things didn’t start out too good for the Elves. Threading their way through clumps of orcs, the excellent Elvish cavalry decided to ride down some of the solitary orc-archers standing behind the main force. Only one of them managed to kill their feeble orc! Meanwhile, on the hill, one Elvish archer is wounded by an arrow, while another orc maims an Elvish spearman.
The Elvish superweapon, Lord Tirgalon, is stuck in a savage brawl with a troll and not making any progress…
The trolls get busy. One charges into the rear of an Elvish horseman, while another lumbers up near to the hill. Three other orcs charge the rear of the second horseman (left of picture), and kill him. All this is pretty bad for the Elves.
Meanwhile, on the hill…
The orcs play a fate card (random event/bonus) which means that the unwounded Elf shoots his very last arrow. Unfortunately, that “last arrow” happens to be a special black arrow, which hits the nearby troll straight between the eyes! One troll down, two to go!
Fighting trolls is scary. Lord Tirgalon fails THREE morale tests (induced by fighting a scary beast like a troll). He uses all three of his valour points to reroll these failures, and FINALLY passes. Then, in a spectacular piece of broad-axemanship (this hulking elf’s favourite weapon), he kills the orc and the troll in one stroke! Another two orcs die on the northern side of the hill.
And it’s all over! The Elves have secured the hill and now rush forwards. Although one spearman is killed in a last act of defiance it’s really too much for the orcs, who break and run. Fortunately for them, only Lord Tirgalon and the cavalry manage to give chase, killing just one orc and the final troll. All other orcs leave the field (this happens over several turns).
Summary: The Elves chose a pretty poor starting position, but were able to remedy this before the orcs arrived. At first it was touch and go, but Lord Tirgalon’s amazing axe-play, and the lucky shooting, wiped out the nearest trolls, and the orcs faded away like butter in summer.
The rules worked really well; it felt very LOTR-ish and it was great fun. I think I will develop a system to keep a clearer record of each model’s statistics (it wasn’t that laborious really) but overall, I liked the unit characteristics and the game balance. Definitely going to play this again.
Elves: 1 spearman and 1 cavalryman out of 11 elves.
Orcs: 13 orcs and 3 trolls out of a force of 23 orcs and trolls.
Model of the day: Lord Tirgalon killed two orcs, a troll and the orc-captain, definitely giving him “model of the match” award. The elf archer who killed the troll with a truly memorable roll on his last arrow gets runner-up for his most cinematic performance.
Josh “They Have A Cave Troll” Letchford
PS: The pictures are from BattleChronicler, a nifty program which allows you to create electronic battle reports for your wargames. In fact, I played the whole game on this program on my computer, without the need to paint a single figure… handy! It’s free, but only works on windows (fine with me!).