Monday, January 16, 2012

AAR: Ambush! - A 15th century skirmish

A battle report using the Lord of the Rings ruleset depicting a 15th century peasant ambush deep in the Swedish forests.


The other day we tried out our late 15th century version of the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game for the first time. It was also the premiere for some new terrain. It was a blast!

The idea is to use the LotR rules system for games depicting combat of the late 15th century in Scandinavia. With a bit of creativity almost any LotR figure stats can be used (well maybe no fellbeasts…).  We will be using the excellent Perry 28mm War of the Roses range and a few other miniatures as well.

The background for this game was that rebellion stir in the county as different factions struggle for power. For this scenario a local knight had invited the sheriff and a bishop for negotiations on a remote location. Only for the rebel knight to spring a trap with his loyal peasant warriors.

For this trial run we used the Balin’s Tomb scenario with the sheriff and his retinue (Frodo and the rest of the Fellowship) set against the rebel knight (a cave troll!) and his peasant warriors (Moria goblins). According to the scenario rules the peasants will arrive randomly and continuously and they will win if they slay the Sheriff. If they kill two of the retinue the game is a draw. For the sheriff’s retinue to win they have to strike down the rebellious knight as the leaderless peasants then will run for the woods.

The opposing forces:

The sheriff and his retinue

The sheriff and his retinue (aka Frodo and the rest of the Fellowship)
From left to right:
Man at Arm (aka Gimli)
Veteran archer (aka Legolas)
Loyal Noble (aka Boromir)
Bishop (aka Gandalf)
Soldier (aka Pippin)
Sheriff (aka Frodo)
Soldier (aka Merry)
Page (aka Sam)
Veteran Captain (aka Aragorn)

The rebel knight and his peasant warriors:

The rebel knight and his peasant warriors (aka Cave troll and Moria goblins)
Knight on warhorse (aka Cave troll)
8 Peasants with halberds (aka Moria goblins with sword & shield)
8 Peasants with spears (aka Moria goblins with spear)
8 Peasants with crossbows (aka Moria goblins with short bows)


The initial set up.

Turn 1 and 2
(Peasant and Retinue priority respectively)
The game started with a group of peasants brandishing their halberds as they slowly but steadily advanced on the sheriff’s retinue while waiting for their numbers to grow. With yet another group, with spears this time, emerging from the forest they all closed ranks and advanced on the small retinue. The retinue’s archers let loose a couple of arrows but to no avail. 
The peasants advance on the the sherif's retinue.
The bishop stepped forward. With a booming voice he declared himself a man of peace and threatened his adversaries with eternal damnation if they laid their hands on a servant of God. The god-fearing peasants shock in their formation as two men broke and ran away and one knelt in prayer. 
"You will all suffer eternal purgatory for this treason!"
The peasant formation breaks as the god-fearing peasants hesitate before the prospect of damnation.

Turn 3
(Peasant priority)
With no more peasants arriving for the moment the rebel knight appeared on the scene urging his forces on. However, before the peasants could get stuck in the Veteran Captain, immediately followed by the Man at Arms and Bishop all charged into the broken peasant formation. Maybe the Bishop was not a man of peace after all…

The Man at Arm struggled surrounded by peasants looking for a weakness in his full plate armour. The Bishop and Captain faired a bit better but failed to kill any of the peasants swarming around them. The retinue’s archer had a clear shot to the rebel knight but his arrows glanced harmlessly of his shining armour.

“With me! Charge!” The retinue takes the initiative and get stuck in.

The peasants swarm around the Captain and Bishop.

Turn 4
(Retinue priority)
Slipping through the peasant lines the Man at Arm charged the rebel knight before he was able to gallop away towards the sheriff.  Having the momentum the Man at Arm killed one of the peasants coming to their leader’s aid but failed to wound the mounted knight.

Full plate vs full plate. The Man at Arms breaks through to the rebel knight.
The Bishop again proclaimed the deapths of hell waiting for the peasants and two lost their spirit for the fight and others reeled at the thought of purgatory. Still the peasants threatened to break through to the sheriff but the Veteran Captain quickly dispacthed his adversary to join the page and soldiers protecting their master.

The peasants are closing in on the sheriff…

… but the retinue fights them off and close ranks to protect their lord.

With a shout of warning the retinue’s archer let loose an ineffective volley of arrows towards the peasant crossbowmen suddenly appearing from behind the cottage.  A few of the peasant’s arrows found their target and one of the retinue’s soldiers fell to the ground, an arrow sprouting from his neck. One kill for the peasants!

“Look behind you!”
Too late…

Turn 5
(Peasant priority)
Seizing the initiative and going for the head of the serpent the loyal noble charged the rebel knight. With him followed the Veteran Captain who hacked a hapless peasant down on his way into contact with the now isolated knight facing three quality fighters.

"Get their leader!” The sheriff send his warriors after the rebel knight.

The rest of the retinue now dangerously low on good fighters bought some time as many of the peasants again moved back from the threatening words of the Bishop. Another volley from the peasant crossbowmen rained over the retinue’s soldiers and only fate saved the sheriff’s page from being killed.

The peasant firing squad.

In an epic fight the rebel knight finally couldn’t resist the three best fighters of the retinue who pulled him from his horse and knocked him senseless effectively ending the combat.

3 vs 1. Fair fight? Not at all.
The group of peasants who moments before had came into the forest clearing had no choice but to leaderless return into the dark forest waiting for another opportunity to strike at their oppressor.

The sheriff was safe. The retinue had won.

Safe! The sheriff never got his hands dirty.
It was a great game!

The miniatures and new table looked very nice together and the LotR rules proved to play well. As expected we made a few mistakes with the new rules. But we learned as we went along and also realized some of the tactical possibilities of the rule set. The scenario was a bit one sided though with only the retinue having access to heroic actions etc (and lots of it!). The Bishop in particular disrupted the peasant’s plans over and over again using his threats of damnation (“Sorcerous Blast!”). Maybe we will refrain from using “magic” in future battles as it doesn’t really fit our theme – even if we’ll continue to find a fitting “count as” for it. That, or at least limit some spells used. Others work fine though. "Terrifying Aura" might for example be very fitting for a priest – making his enemies hesitant to charge him.

The retinue got lucky with the Man at Arm being able to pin the rebel knight in place away from much of his peasant support. And when the other two top fighters of the retinue arrived - using heroic actions en masse - it was game over for the peasants. It was a close run thing though. In the final turn the page had to spend both his fate points to survive the crossbow bolts and rob the peasants of a well deserved draw.  Also, the peasants were momentarily short on men waiting for the next wave. The eight man strong reinforcement arriving on the last turn had no time to affect the outcome.

We'll see if the peasant rebels are more lucky next time. And if they can avenge – or maybe even save – their captured leader.


  1. Very nice AAR !!!

    Best regards dalauppror

  2. An excellent AAR!! Nice looking figures and terrain and welcome to the world of blog!!

  3. Great! Best of luck with you blog.

  4. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement!

  5. Nice blog and report! Beautiful use of the Perry WotR minis and very inventive use of the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game. I have heard of a good free set of rules called Brytenwalda that may suit your purposes better. Never played them but they look damn good.


  6. Nice AAR and great looking figures and terrain! Made me go out hunting for a copy of rules.

  7. Thanks! The LotR rules worked really well. We are trying to find the time for another battle.
    And the Brytenwalda rules looks interesting! Thanks alot for the tip! Talking of good rules; I have a slow burning project for using Sharp practice for the Scanian war (late 17th century). We'll see if it comes into fruition. Your log, Furt, is oh so inspiring for using that rule set.