Feeling the drain after a tense week at university, I organised a Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game (I know, not the greatest name) with a few friends, using a scenario adapted from Charles Grant’s Programmed Wargames Scenarios.
The idea behind the game was that the Good Guys had to secure a river crossing and hold it against a larger evil army until reinforcements could reach them and beat the enemy off. I commanded the Forces of Evil, Darkness and Mondays and my two mates shared command of the Forces of Goodness. Our battlefield had a river running across it, with a bridge in the middle of the table, with a wooden hut next to the bridge. There were a few hills and copses of trees, but these had little impact on the battle.
The game started with two columns of orcs approaching the bridge from two corners of the table, the Witch King in the lead of the larger column. This proved to be a terrible mistake because on the very first turn, he was targeted by the five Rangers, who wounded the Witch King with some nice die rolling. I had to spend ALL THREE Fate points to heal this wound, leaving my Witch King with absolutely no way to survive if he got wounded again. First turn of the game, and my strongest soldier was already at death’s door.
After that, I kept the Witch King carefully behind my Orcish archers, who hurried forwards to get into range of the bridge, where the Rangers of Ithilien were pounding my troll to death (those rangers were good shots!). By the time the Orcs were in range, the Rangers retreated to the wooden hut, a defensive position which proved impossible to penetrate, no matter how I flooded the windows with arrows.
As the Uruks approached, Gimli left the hut and stood on the bridge, blocking their passage across the river. Here, I hatched a cunning plan. Keeping the Witch King hulking down behind suitable cannon fodder, I used his magical powers to compel Gimli to wander off the bridge and onto my side of the river, where he was promptly surrounded by two Uruks, two Uruk captains and a gigantic troll, and clobbered to death. Now, I could pour the minions of Evil, Darkness and Mondays across that accursed bridge!
As I tried to figure out how to storm that mini Rourke’s Drift of a wooden hut and get the rest of the Uruk-Hai across the river, first Legolas then Gandalf arrived on the good guys’ table edge. I foolishly hid the wounded Witch king behind my wounded troll to protect him from Legolas’ sniper fire. This backfired when Gandalf promptly gave the troll a huge sorcererous blast, sending him flying back 6 inches, knocking three Uruk Hai and my witch king to the ground with the impact. The troll was fine; the Uruks were fine, but the Witch king was killed as the blundering oaf of a troll crashed into him. Ding dong, the wicked witch was dead!
The next turn, Legolas killed the troll with a single arrow. At that point, we had to call it quits. Evil had lost the troll, the witch king and a few Uruk Hai (approximately 260 points, ~40% of the entire force) and killed Gimli, 2 rangers and 3 riders of Rohan (using my warg riders, in a side skirmish I haven’t mentioned), which was worth approximately 150 points (25% of their army). Yet the Uruks had crossed the river in force, and it would be hard to tell whether the later Good reinforcements, with Gandalf and Legolas in tow, could defeat so many Uruks or or not.
So we called it a Pyrrhic victory for a very battered Evil side, although if we kept playing I think the game would have been anyone’s guess.
It was a very amusing game; with my witch king and troll’s sufferings (and my annihilation of the stout Gimli) being perhaps the greatest highlights. I made the same mistake as the ‘real’ Witch-King- I assumed no man could kill me!
But a troll is no man…