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Friday, February 19, 2010

The Lord of the Rings: Raid along The Old Forest Road

During the War of the Ring, there were many battles and skirmishes that have not been as widely researched or detailed as the famous battles chronicled in the Lord of the Rings. One such small battle took place at the village of Cale Running along the Old Forest Road between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood Forest. During the War of the Ring, the small settlement of men are attacked by forces of Evil including orcs, Uruk-hai and a fearsome troll. Not all was lost however; the elves of Mirkwood Forest came to the rescue. Would history repeat itself.

In this battle report, using the First Edition of The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, the Forces of Evil ("Bwah Hah Hah!") will be led by myself and Honorable Son #4 will lead the men and elves.

First, the Forces of Evil ("Bwah Hah Hah!"):

Leading the starting line-up for the Dark Lord's Legion of Doom are the triumverant of Shagrat, Uruk-hai captain leading the Uruk-hai from the Tower of Cirith Ungol; Gorbag, Orc captain who hates Shagrat's guts; and the infamous Knack, newly promoted captain in the Dark Lord's forces.

In a frame shot from DLNN (Dark Lord News Network) The Orc Captains pose before the big battle, from left to right, Gorbag, Shagrat and Knack.

The Uruk-hai have 2 Uruks with two-handed weapons, 4 Uruks with hand weapons and shields and one Uruk with a banner. In hand-to-hand combat, two-handed weapons have a -1 to hit; but, if you hit, allows you a +1 to wound. If a combat is within 3 inches of a friendly banner, you can re-roll one die from the combat.

Looking stylish in their bad boy black on black uniforms, the Uruk-hai get ready to enter the field of competition.
The regular Orcs (see cannon fodder in the dictionary) consist of 10 spearmen, 10 orcs with hand weapons and shields, 4 orcs with two-handed weapons and 4 orcs with bows.
Knack with banner bearer lead the orcs out from the visiting locker room.

As the leader of the Forces of Evil ("Bwah Hah Hah!"), I would be remiss in not bringing along my favorite figure, Tom the Troll. The Forces of Good do not like Tom the Troll.
Tom the Troll in the backfield.

Honorable Son #4 (age 12) will lead the Forces of Good. Most of the Elves were painted by him and I think he did a great job!

First the Men:

Leading the men defending the village of Cale Running is . . . uh, well, they don't have a captain. The men all have hand weapons, shields and throwing spears.

As the home team, the men of Cale Running quickly barricade the main road into the village to keep the nasty uglies out.

Co-Captains for the Elves will be Delrond in heavy armor and armed with an Elvish blade and Legoflamb, captain of the archery team. Elvish blades can be used as two-handed weapons or as a regular weapon.

Legoflamb, Captain of the Archery team is on the left with Delrond on the right.
Individually for man-sized creatures in the game, the Elves are the best warriors one-on-one. The elves in heavy armor will have 11 with bows and elvish blades, 8 with elvish blades, 3 with spears and shields and one banner.

The Elves: Tough Hombres to go against.

In addition, there are 6 Wood Elves with bows, elvish blades and a banner.
The wood elves at the edge of Mirkwood Forest. Yes, there are palm trees in Mirkwood Forest.

The Village of Cale Running is represented by one farm house and various walls and hedges surronding the house. In the rear is a plowed field which is rough ground and beyond that the edge of Mirkwood Forest. The men have placed various barricades around the village to help with the defense. In addition, there is a small hill to the north of the village. The orcs will attack from the east and the men or elves must hold on to the village by the end of Turn 10.

In the rules, usually the Good forces move first and this game will not be an exception. In subsequent turns, the opponents will roll one die for "priority" to see who gets to move first, shoot and fight. Heroes have the option of changing the order through heroic actions.
Combat happens when figures are in base to base contact; whoever rules the highest die wins. If a tie, the figure with the highest fighting skill wins; if both have the same skill roll another die: 1, 2, 3 the evil wins or a 4, 5, or 6 the good guys win. The loser of the combat moves back one inch and then there is a another die roll to see if the loser takes a wound. The score needed is based on the strength of the winner vs. the defense rating of the loser. If the loser gets trapped, i.e., can't move back, then the winner gets double hits. Most figures can only take one wound and are removed once "dead". Heroes and larger creatures usually have two or more wounds.
Spearman in the second rank can also give you an extra attack. And now to battle!

Turn 1: The majority of the elves on their left flank emerge from Mirk wood forest while the elves without armor emerge from on the right flank led by both captains! Hmmmm, the Evil player thinks, could this be some trick?

Meanwhile, the men prepare for the inevitable assault and look nervously over their shoulders as they wonder when the elves will show up. Barricades, walls, etc. give defenders an advantage. If they lose a combat, they do not have to retreat.

The orcs and the troll are pointed in the right direction and the leaders yell "GO!" The elves, though out of normal bow range, decide to use mass volley fire scoring a lucky hit on Tom the Troll and wounding him. Tom says ouch. Meanwhile, in the village, one of the orcs cuts down a man with his two-handed axe and leaps over the barrier. Here is where the banner helped: I was able to re-roll the combat roll which allowed my orc to the win the combat. With the +1 to wound, he easily eliminated the unlucky warrior.
Gorbag leads his forces from the rear as the giant orc with the two-handed axe smashes through the barrier.
Turn 2: The evil forces move first and the Uruks move to the left of the village with archer support and Tom the Troll. As the junior captain, Knack "volunteers" to lead his "volunteers" agains the large elf force on their right. The elves continue their volley fire and wound Tom the Troll again (yikes, he hasn't fought yet and only has one wound left!). Another man is killed by the orc with the big axe. So far so good for the evil team.
Turn 3: Evil moves first again as the leader of the Forces of Good starts to look nervous. Tom the Troll decides he is tired of being an arrow magnet and moves closer to the village to block the arrows. He doesn't quite move fast enough and is hit by 7, count them 8, arrows. Fortunately for Tom, none of the arrows penetrate Tom's armor. (To quote Honorable Son #4, " I have never seen so many ones and twos on dice before in my life.") However, the other orcs start taking casualties from archery as two of them fall and one orc is killed by the men in combat. However, another valiant man is dispatched.

Tom starts running as fast as he can toward the village.

Turn 4: Evil moves first again as the Elvish commander has a look of despair on his face. Knack's orcs are protected perfectly behind strong hedges which protect them from the arrows and Shagrat's Uruk's get ready to charge.

Note: With bow fire, since the orcs are protected by the hedges, any hits on the orcs also have to be checked to see if they hit the orcs or the hedges - love that cover.

The hedges do the trick, protecting the orcs. Tom the Troll, also protected by the walls and building decides it's time to "get some back." He leisurely leans over, picks up a rock, and throws it at the elves. Scratch one elf.

The men launch a counterattack and kill two orcs. Some turn, waiting for the inevitable assault from Tom the Troll.
Turn 5: The Forces of Evil win the priority again! Not a whole lotta action this turn. The elves start positioning themselves to assualt Gorbag's orcs while Shagrat orders the charge on the left. One valiant Uruk is killed by an arrow while one of Gorbag's boys also is felled by an arrow. Tom the Troll smacks a man out of the way.

Tom swats one of the men out of the way . . .

. . .while Orc bow fire is totally useless.
Turn 6: The Forces of Good win the priority . . . however, Shagrat declares a heroic movement and moves into contact with the Elf Archery team led by the Delrond and Legolamb. As a result, the elves can't shoot!

Time for fun boys!
The Elves on the Evil right flank get ready to move when suddenly, Gorbag yells "Follow Me!" and they charge the surprised elves (another heroic move). Yep, looking good for the legions of doom . . .

Gorbag's boys catch the elves by surprise.
. . . and then those no good elves killed by troll. Yes, the valiant Tom got hit by another arrow and was out of the fight. The Uruks take out 1 elf and Shagrat is wounded fighting Delrond; however, he uses his Fate point to escape injury as it was "only a flesh wound." Gorbag and the other elves exchange blows with no casualties.
Turn 7 (also know as grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory): The Forces of Good win the priority and Delrond takes no chances and counteracts any heroic moves on Shagrat's part and yells "Follow Me!" and surronds the Uruks.

The Uruk's get surrounded . . .

. . . big time!

With the Uruks surrounded, they lose their nerve and lose all of the combats. Since they are surrounded, they can't move back and the elves get double hits. To make a long story short, only Shagrat survives. Meanwhile, Gorbag loses 4 orcs amongst the hedges and Knack's forces get pushed back by the men.

Turn 8: Evil wins the priority. The evil forces are now below half strength and ever orc has to test their courage. Shagrat and Gorbag, seeing which way the wind was blowing, decide to skedaddle to the rear along with all of the orcs except the brave (or foolish) Kanck and 4 other orcs. As my jaws drops in disbelief, I decide to concide the village to the men and elves.

Run Away!!!

A good game! The evil side seem to be winning the game thought the tide slowly shifted as the elvish archers got into good firing positions to take advantage of the open fields of fire. I knew the orcs were going to lose when I goofed and had two open flanks which Honorable Son #4 took advantage of with a heroic move. Having two heroes to fight the Uruks didn't hurt either.

In hindsight, I should have kept my orcs as one force and stormed the village and then hopefully fight off any counterattacks. Honorable Son #4, though frustrated initially with the lack of progress and the dwindling force of men, held tough and eventually forced the minions of evil to run away screaming like little girls.

Again - a good game!

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