The Battle of Five Armies
From ‘The Hobbit’.
I’m going to be playing this Solo so the first thing to do is to establish the ‘general orders’ for each army. This involves looking at the tactical options and choosing the option that each army is going to take at the start of the battle.
The good side sets up with the army divided with the Elves their King and Gandalf on the western spur of the mountain and the Dwarves and men on the Eastern spur with Thorin in a fortified position in the centre north to the left of the River Running which divides the battlefield in two and can only be crossed at a ford roughly in the centre of the plain.
So the options for the good side are, 1. Stay where they are and let the enemy come to them or, 2. Move the Elves to and across the ford to prevent the enemy armies from consolidating and allow the good army to tackle each part of the Evil force in turn.
I decided to keep it simple and roll 1d6 on 1-3 they would stay where they were on 4-6 the Elves would take the ford.
The roll was 4, the Elves will start the game with the order TAKE THE FORD.
The only evil units that deploy at the start of the battle are the Wargs and Wolf Riders, the Evil infantry are deployed at the start of turn two following a roll of 1d6 with the number of units being deployed equal to the die roll together with a character.
Given the piecemeal deployment of the Evil infantry and that Bolg their general is described as ‘cunning’ I have decided that the Evil cavalry should cross the ford and move to the western side of the battlefield to cover the infantry deployment, so it looks like the ford will be the initial focus for the battle.
When running a solo game I try to manage each side according to the ‘general orders’ given, but during the course of a battle these orders may need to be changed, so at that point I’ll roll a die and on a 1-3 the orders don’t change and on 4-6 I issue new orders.
To help (or hinder) this process I rate each character with a modifier to the die roll thus:-
Gandalf, Elf King, Bolg – Solid +1or-1 to the die roll as required
Thorin, Goblin Shaman – impetuous +1 to the die roll
Bard, Dain – cautious -1 to the die roll
All others no modifier
So, to get the Men and Dwarves to move off the eastern spur I would need a new general order (take the Ford for example) and die roll of 5 or 6.
The initial deployments have been made, orders have been given, let battle commence.
The Evil Chieftain gave the order to take the ford and the entire line of Wargs and Riders moved towards their objective. The Chieftain tried a further order to move the Wolf Riders towards the ford but failed his command test – he can issue no more orders this turn! He then dashes to the head of the column to be ready to issue more orders next turn.
Gandalf, seeing the Wargs hesitate in their dash to the ford gives the order for the Elves to move out! The entire army moves forward as one and Gandalf attempts another order with a -1 to his command roll, the Elves move forward another 20cm. Gandalf tries another order this time at -3 (-1 for each previous order and -1 for the distance) a roll of 11 he failed. As Gandalf is the Good army General and has failed an order no other Good commanders can attempt any orders. The Elf king moves to the head of the formation while Gandalf moves to its right flank
As the Elves are not in range no shooting takes place.
The die roll for Evil reinforcements brings 4 units plus Bolg onto the table.
The first orders to be issued are by the Goblin Chieftain, he passes his command check an moves the entire column forward to the ford. He tries a second order to the Warg Riders – and fails – Bolg will not be pleased!
As Bolg is the army commander he can still issue orders and moves his force directly towards the Elves. He urges them forward again but his words seem to have got lost on the wind and they fail to move!
Only turn 2 and I’m considering a change to the General orders, with the Wolf Riders committed to crossing the ford and within attack range this turn the Good side stands a fair chance of inflicting some pain before Bolg can bring up the infantry. It would be a good idea to threaten the rear of the Warg column, even if they turn to face the Men and Dwarves I think they should be able to handle it, here goes.
Dain accepts the order change but Bard does not so, the Dwarves will move off the slope to threaten the Wargs, the men will stay where they are!
Dain tries to order the Dwarves forward but failing his command roll, no one moves!
The Elf king successfully orders the two units of Infantry forward, but fails in his attempt to order the charge!
Incredibly Gandalf fails his command roll and thus issues no orders at all!
At this point I realised that I should have rolled Thorin’s command roll to move him out of the Gate – unfortunately as Gandalf has failed his command roll no other Good commanders may attempt to give orders 🙁
The die roll for reinforcements is a 6! Effectively bringing on the rest of the army.
Only turn three and the Evil side may manage an early win, not only is the Good force split by the river but the Elves are split into three – thanks Gandalf! 😀
The first Evil commander to attempt an order is the Chieftain with the Wolf Riders, as they are within 20cm of the enemy it taken on a -1, a nine, failed bugger.
The Chieftain with the newly arrived infantry go next, a five, they move forward 20cm, he tries again and gets a seven, still good enough even with the -1, his third try fails.
Bolg easily passes his first test and moves his unit forward, he makes his second roll and they move forward again. He fails his third roll so the infantry stop and no more command can be issued.
Bolg moves forward to join his unit, the Chieftain does the sane and the Shaman moves his full move to close with the Wolf Riders and Wargs at the ford.
The Wolf riders are in range of the Elves and can shoot., only one hit.
As the entire Evil army is on the board I can make my ambush attacks, I chose one unit on each spur (only one now occupied) and launch 3 shooting attacks, I’ll aim at the Dwarves! Two hits not enough to remove a stand.
As all of the Evil forces are on the table I can roll for the Eagles or Beorn, I’ll choose the Eagles, now just need to roll a six! A two, who said the Eagles are coming!
Ok things don’t look peachy.
I’ll start the commad phase with trying to get Bard to accept the change of general orders, a one, I think describing Bard as cautious is an understatement! Think of all that gold man!
Next lets see if Dain will move, eleven, should I surrender now?
Lets see if Thorin will come down. Seven, yes!! He moves out of the Gate – lets see if he can get the Dwarves moving next turn.
Next Gandalf needs to issue one order to each of the archer units, both commands were successful and the two units formed a line of battle behind the Elf infantry facing Bolg and the goblin infantry, thus end the command phase.
Shooting, have two lots of shooting to resolve, the Elf archers are in range (just) of Bolg and his goblins but first the Wolf Riders get to shoot at the charging Elves!
One hit was caused as there is a following combat that hit is carried over.
The Elf line shoots at Bolg’s infantry and scores 3 hits enough to remove one stand – first blood!
In the combat The Elves managed to inflict four hits out of Seven and the Goblins responded with four out of four! Fortunately the Elves armour saved two hits giving a total of 4 to 3 to the Elves so both lose a stand but the Elves win the combat forcing the Wolf Riders to retreat 1cm, the Wolf rider unit directly behind the retreating unit moved aside the allow the retreat but didn’t become confused.
The Elves followed up and another round of combat was fought.
This time the Elves inflicted a massive 11 wounds while only suffering one unsaved wound themselves. The Elves win the combat and the Wolf Riders must retreat 10cm!
The entire Wolf Rider/Warg line was pushed back but no units became confused.
The Elves fell back in good order to a position slightly behind the line drawn by the Archers.
Well the Good side certainly seem to have made a recovery. I’ve no reinforcements left to come on so I’ll drop rocks on the Dwarves instead! Four hits and no saves, one stand removed (yes!).
I decided to change the general orders for the Wolf Riders and send them down to harry the Men and Dwarves should they decide the come down, a roll of six easily changed their orders and a roll of eleven left them standing still as their Chieftain failed his command roll!
A roll of four allowed the other Chieftain to move his infantry, and two consecutive rolls of four each allowed him the get them into combat with the Elf infantry!
A roll of seven allowed Bolg to move his formation forward minus the unit that had suffered a loss. A second successful roll allowed him to move one of the units into combat, but a failed next roll ended the command phase.
Shooting. The Elves inflicted 2 wounds.
The Goblins inflicted 4 unsaved wounds on the Elf Archers while receiving 3 themselves add that to the 2 wounds from shooting and the Goblins loose the combat 4 to 5.
So they lose one stand and retreat 1cm, while the Archers lose one stand.
The goblin infantry fared even worse inflicting no unsaved wounds and receiving 7 in return, so they loose 2 stands and retreat 7cm!.
The Elves decide to redress their lines ready for their own turn.
I get to roll for the Eagles or Beorn with a +1 to the die, I’ll go for Beorn. A one!
OK Bard get your ass moving!, nope failed again, stubborn as a mule!
Dain scores a 5 on his first command roll, hurrah! The Dwarves are moving, The Dwarves are moving. Not far it seems Dain’s second roll was a failure.
Gandalf successfully orders the Elf infantry to engage the goblin unit out front of the main Goblin line but the Elf king fails to move the Archers.
The Elf Archers let fly a hail of arrows towards the lone goblin stand in front of them but only manage to inflict one wound.
The Elves win the combat 6to1 and both the goblin stands are removed
Not going well at all, three units down and I really need to get those Wargs into the battle, also having failed to move up my commanders last turn everyone is out of position!
Success! The Wolf Rider Chieftain has moved two units towards the Dwarves, a second successful order sent them crashing into the Dwarves!
Bolg had the longest successful run of issuing commans so far – failing none he manoeuvred four infantry units into combat.
As Bard refuses to move I’ll drop some rocks on him, three hits with one save, no losses.
The Elf Archers only managed to score one hit.
The Wolf Riders slammed into the Dwarves causing 7 unsaved hits for only 2 in return,
The Dwarves lose 2 stands and retreat 5cm
The Goblins follow up but in the second round fail to hit while receiving one unsaved wound that together with the 2 wounds in the last round will loose them one stand and a retreat of 1cm.
The Wargs smashed into the Elven infantry inflicting six unsaved wounds while suffering three in return, the Elf unit is wiped out while the Wargs loose one stand and advance into the flank of the Elf Archers
In the centre Bolg inflicted four hits on the Elves under Gandalf but received six in return, the Elves loose one stand while the Goblins loose two and retreat 2cm.
On the left of the goblin line the Infantry and Wolf Riders inflicted 6 hits on the Elf Archers while taking four in return, so the Goblins loose one stand and the Elves lose two and that unit is wiped out.
Feeling victory at hand, one stand of Goblin infantry and two stands of Wolf Riders consolidated into two stands of Elf Archers. The Goblins inflicted 4 hits for three in return so the Elves loose one stand with one hit remaining and retreat 1cm and the stand of Goblin infantry is removed.
The Wolf Riders smelling blood followed up.
no images were found
The Wolf Riders score 3 more hits for none in return and it’s all over with a victory for the Goblins as with the loss of that stand the Good side has reached it’s break point of 4 units while the Goblins have only lost four complete units and four assorted stands.
The final positions
The Good side were rather hampered by Gandalf’s early command failure, the non arrival of either the Eagles or Beorn and Bard’s stubborn refusal to leave the relative safety of the slopes of the eastern spur of the mountain vowing to ‘fight to the last Elf!’
The Evil side had the advantage of having all of their force on the table at the start of the third turn, being able to manage their losses better due to larger numbers and in spite of an overall smaller army were able to bring superior numbers against the Elves.
Next time I play this I’ll include magic – that’ll be even more fun.
As far as the game system is concerned it ‘felt’ very good, I didn’t have that god-like control that other systems give, orders failed and left units open – great and when the end came it was quick.
All of the pictures from the session can be found here:
BTW the red markers used in the game were Gale Force Nine’s ‘Massive Wound Markers’ available from Maelstrom Games