Battleshed Diaries

Tuesday 8 December 2015

The Ride of the Rohirrim

Last night, in the environs of Falkirk District, there was an epic battle between the Riders of Rohan and the evil forces of Harad, supported by three massive War Mûmakil - colossal war-beasts trained by the Mahud to trample their enemies into the dust!

Yes, I'd been roped into a 6-player game of Game Workshop's Lord of the Rings! Organised by one of the Falkirk club members, the Ride of the Rohirrim scenario (Return of the King) involved myself and two other players, Ian and Kenny, taking the reins of the Riders of Rohan tasked with crushing the advancing Haradrim mounted forces before their terrifying Mumakils could lumber onto the battlefield. That was the plan anyway.

Our Rohirrim riders, led by Éomer, were a mixture of lance, spear and archers which we quickly divided between ourselves in roughly equal proportions. As this scenario is part of the wider Battle of Pelennor Fields, the Rohirrim start the battle deep into the battlefield, heading off the Haradrim's advance forces as they arrive on the scene. The Rohirrim have two full turns before two of the Mumakils arrive, the third a turn later.

The Riders of Rohan en-circle the Haradrim advance force (top, right)
So all we had to do was swiftly cut-off and en-circle the Haradrim led by the enemy players, Andy, Dave and Stewart. How difficult could that be? Having never played this system I was reassured that it would be mostly just a case of manoeuvring and rolling dice to hit and wound. Even I could do that! Yes, but I was pretty sure that my notoriety of poor dice rolling hadn't yet permeated the Falkirk Club. They're fully aware now!
The Bad guys (click to enlarge)

The Good guys (click to enlarge)

My Rohirrim force, the majority of which were archers, and one of my fellow captains, Kenny with mostly lance and spear contingent, quickly got to work on the Haradrim from the first turn. The lancers charging straight in whilst I manoeuvred my archers into position, looking to pick off any enemy not yet engaged in melee. Except they just about all missed their targets! My oft-tried excuse of just 'ranging shots' didn't wash really!

The mounted riders soon in melee...
That said, Kenny was just as unfortunate, his Rohirrim taking a few early casualties without any impact on the enemy. Our third captain, Ian, in support nearby waiting for gaps to appear, could only look on in dismay at the impending disaster. The Riders of Rohan were supposed to be quickly shutting down the smaller enemy force but instead found themselves being pushed back!

The Rohirrim finding the battle much harder than expected
By the end of turn two the battered and bruised Rohirrim, their numbers dropping at an alarming rate, were still slugging it out when the menacing, ponderous thump... thump of and voluminous braying announced the arrival of the Mumakils.  At least, that's' what I imagined!

The Mûmakil arrive!
These Oliphant's, with their great bamboo and canvas war harnesses, each transporting a contingent of Haradrim archers, looked spectacular on the battlefield. 

Strangely, though, their arrival only seemed to help rally the Rohirrim as they struggled to contain the enemy. Whilst the remnants of the initial two Rohirrim contingents - including mine - were now all locked in a vicious melee, Ian split his force to bravely take on the beasts with his lancers and spears, under withering fire from the archers atop the Mûmakil.

It was all quite desperate stuff. The first two Mûmakil advanced on the melee and quickly started to ruthlessly swat and trample the forlorn Rohirrim with their gigantic, powerful feet and huge tusks. The enemy players, fully engaged in their 'evil' role-playing, didn't seemed to care whether they trampled or shot their own forces, as long as the Rohirrim fighters went down too!

By the time the third Mûmakil arrived on the scene, it was pretty much all down to just one Rohirrim  contingent to take on the Mûmakil, so battered and reduced were the rest of the Rohirrim force! One of the beasts did start to take some wounds - although some of this was caused by inaccurate Haradrim archers firing from the other Mûmakil! The beasts could take 10 wounds and this one was down to 2 by the end of the battle.

By now the threat from the initial Haradrim force was mostly spent, but at drastic cost to the Rohirrim. Dead and dying mounts and riders blotted the battlefield. With the Haradrim now sensing a cruel victory they spurned on the frantic Mûmakil to crush the remainder of the Rohirrim. The last valiant Rohirrim captain, Ian, wisely decided to save what was left of the Riders of Rohan and retreated from the battlefield.

This was a really enjoyable game, with six players and marshalled by our host Kevin McCusker. More details on his Double Six blog. Thanks Kevin! Other club members helped out, one becoming an impromptu roller of the 'Dice of Fate' when called upon to decide which forces took hits from haphazard shots into the swirling melee! 

Brilliant fun, all the more enhanced by Kevin's huge force of finely painted miniatures. I was privileged to see and use them!

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