The Ruins of Annis Minnor
For a long while now I've been wanting to do some wargaming set in Middle-Earth. I looked at various rules, probably the most obvious would have been Games Workshop's Lord of the Rings Strategy Game. However I wanted something a little more flexible than this. We (my brother and I) weren't going to base the games on the films, but rather go back to the books.
In the end I chose Ganesha Games' Song of Blades and Heroes. It is a skirmish game, which means we wouldn't need to paint up too many miniatures to start it. It is also very flexible and would allow us to portray anything we wanted from Middle-Earth. It's also a fast-paced, heroic type game, which feels right to me.
I came up with some scenario rules and they can be found here:
My erstwhile opponent, Edward, took two Elves, three humans, and a dwarf, and they deployed around the watchtower. My nefarious evil doers, remained a secret to him, instead I deployed ten numbered counters in the woods at the north end of the table.
Two of the good guys, headed over to the Tomb of Ennadin, a risky strategy as although it could contain a Numenorean Blade, it was equally as likely to be hiding Baashab, one of Shelob's cousin's, who if she was revealed would probably kill any close by and go rampaging across the table.
I made a cautious advance through the woods, in hindsight this wasn't a good idea. Although it meant I kept my troops hidden, it wasted some time, and dawn was coming.
Edward's gamble paid off, and entering the ancient tomb he found the elven blade, undulled by time.
My troops revealed themselves as they emerged from the woods. A force of Orcs on the left flank, containing a boss and a big fella, some say half orc, along with two archers with poisoned arrows, a normal warrior and a Warg Rider. In the centre of the table I had a group of Wildmen, one boss and four warriors. Everyone in my band, except the bosses, the big orc and the warg rider, had the Rabble rule, which meant they only had to loose a combat to be taken out of action. Add this to the fact that the dwarf had lethal:orc and it was going to be a close fight.
However just as the two sides closed in, the first rays of light appeared in the east. Oops, I thought (or possibly a different word) maybe I shouldn't have put my orcs so close to the table edge. One by one my orcs fled into the woods, living to fight another day, but leaving their wildmen allies in the lurch. One solitary Orc archer didn't make it quite to the edge and, although he returned to the fray, he soon fell to dwarven steel.
In the centre of the table of of the wildmen returned a portion of honour to my cowardly band, two elves charged him but he knocked them both to the ground and put his spear through one before the other got up and knocked him out.
My other wildmen didn't fare very well. The band being below half strength that vacillated between getting stuck in and legging it. In the end the good guys swept across the table, the last wildman fell before he could make it to the safety of the woods.
This is the first time in a while that I've fought a battle were every miniature has been painted, the table has been fully flocked and the scenery has all been finished. It makes a big difference to the feel of the game, and I'm going to make efforts in the respect in the future.
The battle was entertaining, having a narrative always helps, although it was a little disappointing that half my band didn't get to fight. I hadn't really appreciated how far low quality troops will flee when forced to make a moral check. I plan to play plenty more games using the Song of Blades and Heroes rules and their variants in the future and I will bear this in mind.