A battle report using the Lord of the Rings ruleset depicting a 15th century rescue attempt deep in the Swedish forests.
Time for another installment of our late 15th century version of the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.
The realm is in turmoil as different factions struggle for power. Last time (as seen here) the rebels' ambush was thrown back by the Sheriff’s retinue and the Rebel Knight was captured. A disaster for the peasants.
The backstory for this game is that the Sheriff is now taking the Rebel Knight back to the city for some gruelsome questioning on what other nobles that are supporting the rebels. Not being out of the woods just yet (literally!) the peasants launch another attack to save their leader and kill the hated Sheriff.
The scenario is inspired from one previously found on the GW webpage with the Fellowhip having to cross the table while attacked by Moria goblins. However, as all of the GW scenarios were removed before the relaunch of LotR SBG and we failed to document it we couldn’t recollect any details! So we came up with this: For this scenario the Sheriff and his retinue (aka Frodo and the rest of the Fellowship - except for Pippin who got killed in the previous game) were set against a Rebel Leader (orc captain) and a horde of peasant warriors (Moria goblins). The captured Rebel Knight was put on a wagon and was treated as a mobile barrier moving up to 6” per turn. Also, we limited the use of the Bishop's (aka Gandalf's) spell casting abilities to Terrifying Aura, and granted him a single use of Sorcerous Blast (“I’m a man of God!”) during the game.
For the retinue to win they had to cross the landscape and get through the opening at the end of the fence into the open area of the farmstead. The peasants, except for a group that begins on the table, will arrive in groups of five each turn (including using previous casualties) from a randomly selected point of entry and they will win if they slay their hated enemy: the Sheriff. If they kill two other members of the retinue the game is a draw.
The opposing forces:
The sheriff and retinue
|The Sheriff and his retinue with the captured rebel knight|
From left to right:
Veteran Captain (aka Aragorn)
Bishop (aka Gandalf)
Soldier (aka Merry)
The captured Rebel Knight on wagon
Veteran Archer (aka Legolas)
Page (aka Sam)
Sheriff (aka Frodo)
Loyal Noble (aka Boromir)
Man at Arm (aka Gimli)
The peasant leader and peasant warriors:
|The Pesant Leader and Musician|
|The Peasant Warrior Horde|
Peasant Leader (aka Orc Captain)
10 Peasants with halberds (aka Moria goblins with sword & shield)
10 Peasants with spears (aka Moria goblins with spear)
10 Peasants with crossbows (aka Moria goblins with short bows)
The initial set up
|The table is set. The pieces are not moving. Yet.|
|Initial deployment. |
The retinue's exit marked in red and the peasant random (using a D6) entry points in white.
Turn 1 to 5
(Priority going back and forth)
The game started with a group of peasants and their leader holding the farm as the retinue arrived on the scene. The Sheriff no doubt thinking that they would easily brush aside the opposition ordered an advance down the slope along the fence while mocking the captured Rebel Knight for his friends futile attempt to rescue him.
|The peasants gathered at the farmstead.|
|"Friends of yours, rebel? Blocking our way? How touching! |
A petty that you will have to watch them die."
Small groups of peasant crossbowmen then arrived from the forest and the hill respectively only to be followed by more peasants armed with halberds and spears.
|The trap is sprung as peasant reinforcements starts to arrive...|
|...coming from all directions.|
As tension built up some of the crossbowmen let loose arrows but to no avail. Instead, the Veteran Archer returned fire and first kill went to the retinue as a farmer fell with his neck pierced. As the opposing forces both advanced arrows flew through the air. The Veteran Captain killed a crossbowman with an aimed shot only moments after a crossbow bolt harmlessly glanced of the Soldiers helmet.
|As the forces close arrows start to fly.|
The peasants now having closed in flung a gate open and threatened the flank of the retinue. Seeing the danger both the Veteran Captain and Veteran Archer killed one peasant each with their bows and arrows. The returning fire from the peasants missed their mark.
|"Watch out!" The peasant breaks the gate open.|
|The retinue is all but surounded.|
With a yell the Veteran Captain siezed the initiative and called for action. The Loyal Noble moved to block the open gate with his mere presence. Feeling hesitant to charge the tall and heavily armed Loyal Noble the peasants attacked the Veteran Archer instead, stabbing him with their polearms over the fence. Fighting several enemies at once only faith saved him from being seriously harmed. The peasants, having difficulties of getting clear shots, continued to shot crossbow bolts at the retinue with little or no effect.
|"Come on if you dare!" The Loyal Noble doesn't fear a few peasants...|
|...but the peasants go for an easier target instead.|
The retinue was now very close to the packed ranks of peasant warriors blocking the road to the farmstead. The experienced Veteran Captain again led the retinue to action before the peasants had time to react. The Bishop stepped forward and revealed his bishop insignia and threatened the God fearing peasants with eternal damnation if they opposed him. Two of the peasants fled the scene and yet another three fell to their knees praying, causing their formation to break.
|"I am a man of peace! Oppose me and suffer eternal damnation!"|
|The Man at Arm charges the peasant leader |
when the peasant formation breaks.
The Man at Arm took the opportunity to get stuck in but as it turned out bit off more than he could chew as only luck saved him from harm. The crossbowmen now close to their targets rained arrows over the retinue. One crossbow bolt came close to hurting the Sheriff but faith saved him. The Loyal Noble and Veteran Captain cut a bloody swathe though the peasants killing three. But in the meantime the young Page found himself alone on the wrong side of the wagon and had to fight four assailants. Again only fortune saved the retinue from loss.
|The Page is having a hard time being alone on the |
wrong side of the wagon as the fight intensifies.
The forces were now fully engaged in close combat and yet more peasants were arriving all the time. With guidance from the Veteran Captain the retinue kept the initiative. He quickly dispatched one peasant and then moved on to help the Page to kill yet another as the latter moved away from his exposed position. Beside them the Man at Arm started to get the momentum up and killed one of his three attackers. The Rebel Leader got over his doubts and attacked the man who claimed to be "of peace" but got surprised as the Bishop's sword found a weak spot in the rebel's somewhat outdated armour.
|"A man of peace? We will see about that!" |
The Peasant Leader and the Bishop duels.
The Loyal Noble defending the rear of the retinue got a bleeding wound as he tried to hold four peasants at bay. As the crossbowmen targeted the Sheriff in his bright yellow tunic and blue cloak he yet again was saved by faith alone. However, the feeling was that his luck was now all spent and from now on he had to depend on the skill of his retainers and his own pale flesh.
|"Ouch!" Not even the mighty Loyal Noble can hold |
hordes of peasants off forever without consequenses.
As in previous turns the retinue kept the initiative with help from the Veteran Captain. They were slowly fighting their way through the fenced choke point that the peasants were using for their ambush. Crossbow bolts again flew harmlessly through the air looking for the Sheriff. The Bishop was saved by divine intervention from getting hurt while fighing a peasant halberdier. The Page was not as lucky. Having called in his favors from above already, he suffered a wound from fighting multiple enemies across the wagon. The Veteran Captain attacked the Peasant Leader and through a show of might cut him down unceremoniously. Both the Man at Arm and the Loyal Noble followed his example and killed some of their opponents.
|The fight rages on across the wagon as the peasants struggle |
to stop the transport with their captured leader.
|The Rebel Leader is dispatched by the Veteran Captain. |
Being a leader of a rebellion is indeed a hazardous occupation...
|Late arrivals. Maybe too late?|
With the Veteran Captain momentarily out of steam the Loyal Noble though it good to keep the retinue one step ahead. Not having a very tactical sense however he yelled “with me!” and charged off into a group of peasants on the hillside of the wagon leaving the inexperienced Soldier as a very exposed rearguard.
|The Loyal Noble charges off leaving the rear (literally!) of the retinue exposed.|
The very capable fighters, the Loyal Noble and Man at Arm, killed more of their opponents. They would have been needed elsewhere however as the retinue was now under serious pressure. The Sheriff was hit by an arrow but it failed to cause him a wound. Furthermore, only strong faith saved the Bishop from suffering a wound fighting two men across the fence. The Veteran Archer was equally lucky with faith as he was fighting off two peasants. And just as it looked like the abandoned rearguard Soldier was going to be cut down faith intervened and saved him from certain death. But only just. With a final effort the Veteran Captain together with the Sheriff cut down two peasants blocking the way. The road to the farmstead was now open and only a sprint away!
With the peasants previously blocking the way cut down and the peasant reinforcements not yet being able to make their presence fully felt the retinue dashed for the relative safety of the farmstead. They got the wagon though the opening in the fence. All but a few of them had escaped the ambush’s choke point and the remaining retainers had a good chance of getting there within mere moments. The Veteran Captain moved to block the peasants latest reinforcements.
|The retinue is breaking free and have almost |
entered the relative safety of the farmstead.
The Sheriff moved ahead into the farm area feeling lucky to have narrowly escaped the treacherous peasants’ cowardly ambush. But on the brink of success disaster struck! As like many times during the battle the peasants yet again aimed for their hated oppressor. Two crossbow bolts found their way through the turmoil and over the fence and struck the Sheriff in the chest. Both arrows penetrated his frail body. The Sheriff was out.
|Hey, Sheriff! Look this way!|
|Two wounds remaining. Two hits. Last chance. |
Needing 5 or more to wound...
|The Sheriff lying dead. In the "safety" of the farmstead. |
Next to the captured Rebel Knight. The irony.
The Sheriff was dead! The peasants had won!
Yet another great game!
This time is was more of an even match. We downgraded the Bishop (aka "Gandalf") and increased the peasants numbers. For awhile it looked like the retinue would be bogged down in an endless combat. When the battle was over almost all of the retinue had their fate points spent and some were wounded. Also, might points were beginning to run low. With the Sheriff getting killed only one turn before all of the retinue probably would have managed to escape into the farm area also proves what a tight game it was. Just as it should be!
Before this battle we finished some more peasants and also the wagon for the captured rebel knight. The latter had not a very big impact on the game but it is one of those things that helps you get into the story as you play. We also made some new terrain. A few more houses as well as loads of fences. They provided the “Nordic” atmosphere that we were after. Even though we made a lot, the feeling is that we could have used even more! :-)
Next time we will probably leave out the Fellowship and try out a more "normal" match up using the latest version of LotR SBG with a more balanced number of characters, on both sides. We will see how that goes.
Thanks for reading.