After my last LotR report noted the impressive winning streak the forces of Good are on in my gaming group (regardless of who plays them), a friend declared that if we would give him 500 points of Evil he would end the streak. I took up the challenge with the men of Minas Tirith. Would the streak of Good wins end here?
LotR or WotR battle report:
I decided to come up with the best list I could featuring Boromir and his broken father Denethor. The resulting force consisted of 4 warbands: Damrod leading 11 Rangers of Gondor; Cirion leading 12 Warriors of Minas Tirith including a banner; Denethor (the overall force leader, naturally) supervised by 3 Guardians of the Fountain Court, a Minas Tirith Warrior, and a hornblower; and finally Boromir. This was the Fellowship version of Boromir, who is probably the game's greatest combination of lethality and vulnerability -- 3 attacks and 6 Might mean he can put together incredible feats of combat derring-do, but 1 Will and 0 Fate leave him open to a quick death if he is ambushed, especially with magic.
My friend fielded a balanced Moria list with plenty of goblin melee troops and archers stiffened (and quickened) by 4 deadly giant spiders, a bat swarm, and a cave troll. Leadership was provided by a Ashrak the shaman, a goblin captain, and the goblin King Durburz, their overall leader.
We rolled a Reconnoitre scenario: the two forces started on opposite sides of the board and would get the most victory points by exiting troops off the far edge -- likely encountering the enemy on the way, of course. Points can also be awarded for killing the enemy leader or breaking the opposing force's morale while remaining unbroken yourself. The board had plentiful but evenly spread terrain, including ruins, ponds, and rocky hills.
Both forces began spread fairly widely across the field so as to prevent enemy warbands from running past them for easy exits/victory points. My plan was to use Boromir and a few Minas Tirith Warriors to block and possibly engage Durburz and his formidable warband (which had most of the monsters) on the left flank while the rest of the army moved center-right to engage and defeat the weaker goblin forces there. I figured Boromir was expendable (not being the army leader), so it would be fine if he ended up overwhelmed while holding up the most capable enemy warband so the bulk of the Gondorian troops (and General Dad) won out elsewhere and possibly exited some troops for the win.
As the two armies approached each other the archers in either side sent volleys of arrows toward each other. The Rangers, having better range with their bows, got off more shots than the goblins, but the nasty little varmints had good fortune with their missiles and a few warriors fell on each side. On the center-right the goblin archers, some goblin melee fighters, and two giant spiders barred the way for Cirion's warriors, the Ranger bowmen, and Denethor's retinue. When battle was joined, the giant spiders proved to be fearsome. Even surrounded by a forest of enemy swords and shields, they won every fight and slew many a Gondorian. But the goblins fighting alongside them fought poorly against the more skilled and better armored Gondorians, led by Denethor himself, who personally slew a number of goblins.
As the battle raged and casualties mounted on both sides, it became clear that neither would be able to exit anyone off the board edges: the results of the fighting would determine the winner. And things were tilting toward Good in the struggle in the center.
On the left, Boromir and his few men had been engaged in a dancing contest with the monstrous creatures in Durburz's crew, neither side willing to rush forward to engage the other. But when the troll and Durburz himself moved toward the center to shore up the failing goblins there, Boromir knew he had to commit himself, and he and his men charged forward. Instantly, Durburz's crew turned back and fell upon them. In a fierce fight Boromir lost about half his men to attacks from spiders, bats, and goblins. But Boromir himself did better, fighting off Durburz and nearly slaying him (only exhaustion of all the king's Might and Fate saved the goblin leader).
Thanks to the collapsing goblins on the center-right, the morale of the Evil forces now broke. Held in line by Ashrak's Fury spell, the dwindling goblins in the center-right continued to fight. But roughly half of Durburz's troops -- including the Cave Troll -- suddenly decided they wanted no part of this battle any more and fled. Boromir seized the opportunity and launched a blistering attack on Durburz himself, and slew the king. And with that the game came to an end.
Challenge defeated: the win streak for Good continues!
This was another game that presented interesting challenges. Both lists were strong ones. One might have thought that, thanks to the superior speed of the spiders and bats, Evil had an edge in this scenario -- they could try to sprint these creatures off the board, and Good would probably only have a few bowshot attempts to stop them. But this would be perilous indeed for Evil to try, since these monsters (along with the troll) were the most effective fighters in the evil list, and running them off the board would put the remainder at a terrible risk. My foe opted not to try this -- he had built the list for fighting, and didn't want to throw that away.
The Gondor list had a nice mix of numbers, troop quality, and lots of leaders and Might. Nazgul with their Will- & Courage- sapping, plus transfixing, would have been the doom of Denethor and Boromir, but happily for Good none were present. This made the list pretty tough to beat. Denethor almost lost his marbles a couple of times (which means my foe would have been able to control him for those turns and attack the Gondorians with him!), but had enough Will to keep his broken mind together.