The games were really fast paced, simple and fun. The skirmish rules really focussed on individuals, which was a little hard to get our heads round after all the focus on units in the other games, but easy to get to grips with.
The first battle was the hardest, as it was the very first time either of us had used the rules at all! 3 Nazgul had to sneak past 9 Dunedain. Sounds like an easy win when you think of the Nazgul against mere men … but these were no mere men but the descendants of the Numenoreans, each counting as a minor hero in their own right.
The battle didn’t go well for the Nazgul. Though they seemed almost unkillable by the feeble men, the magic system came as a bit of a shock. Using Will for the Nazgul eventually kills them, and I actually annihilated 2 of the 3 Nazgul by overusing magic, giving victory to the enemy! Tricksy scenario to win – I think the fact you can break the defenders means that you need to keep the nazgul together and actually kill Rangers rather than try to sneak by. Worth playing to get a grip on the rules – Alan did a much better job on focussing on the objectives, which helped him trap my men, while I was experimenting too much.
Definitely win for the forces of good here though!
This was more of a standup fight! 9 Nazgul against 9 Rangers! 6 rangers started on the field, and nazgul arrived 1-3 at a time. The Rangers set up a defensive line half way across the board, and fell back slowly firing bows, till entering a final line. The nazgul hid behind a rock till all nine had arrived, and charged in bulk, using much less magic!
Things were very different here – though the nine proved very resilient to the Rangers, the Rangers abilities as heros with fate and will points to resist magic kept them in the fight, keeping the Nazgul hordes back. Minor mistakes were made – might points allow you to modify dice rolls, and weren’t really used to full advantage.
At the very crux of the battle, the line of Rangers was broken by a couple of sneaky spells, compelling two of them to break away from the main line and letting the Nazgul dash through.
We replayed the second battle, swapping sides, and it was a totally different experience. Alan charged Nazgul forward as they arrived from different locations all over the board, and I moved forward very aggressively to hit them as hard as possible before they could build their numbers.
I had it a bit easier than Leonidas – I was reminded about Might points, and managed to wipe out several Nazgul by bow fire before overwhelming enough stragglers to meet the victory conditions!
The Nazgul sneaking across the north of the board were destroyed, before all nine rangers massed like a wolfpack in the centre to crush into the remaining black robed wraiths in close combat. It was harder for the nazgul, every ranger they killed formed a new line to block them at the edge of the table, while the rangers just needed to jump two of the remaining 6 Nazgul to win.
Interesting battle both ways, and very fun! Both went right to the wire!
This mission wasn’t as fun (though would be a great one to try single player!). All of the Nazgul are acting as sentries, so they either stand still (roll of a 1), move depending on which side has priority (2-5, also the number of inches moved), or move normally (6). If they end a turn within 4 inches of a good character, or get attacked or hit by bow fire, they then move normally. The hobbits need to pass a courage test or fall under the control of the evil player.
Alan played this very smart, and kept the hobbits well away from the Nazgul. As it turned out, the hobbits and elves just walked down the centre of the board and walked off! The Nazgul never got close enough to really start the scenario playing normally!
Accurate to the books, and I think it’d have been fun if we weren’t so pressed to get in some decent games – felt like a bit of a waste of time the way it panned out!
Battle 4 – the Buckleberry Ferry
We didn’t want to spend the time on the setup for this, as we didn’t have an adequate ferry setup easily to hand, so we skipped to battle 5 – the Barrow Wights!
Battle 5 – The Barrows
This was played out on the morning of our departure, and wasn’t finished!
The hobbits have to sneak through the barrows and escape the other side. If they fail a courage test, they are moved by the evil wights. If the wights are near barrows, they cast spells for free, and have to paralyse and sacrifice 2 hobbits to win (or get frodo). Once the hobbits have seen a barrow wight, they can call tom bombadil for help.
Poor Sam kept failing courage rolls, but the plucky hobbit managed to hold off two barrow wights long enough to call Tom Bombadil for help. However, the other hobbits who were running to leave the barrows ran into the other two Barrow Wights, while Sam’s opponents put everything they had into delaying Tom.
Merry was sacrificed, while Pippin was being dragged to another barrow! Unfortunately we ran out of time at that point – immoral victory to evil for sacrificing the most annoying hobbit, but Tom would probably have saved Pippin and seen the others to safety, so a probably tactical win for Good.
Definitely the most enjoyable game, which felt it could have gone either way at any point!
LotR was brilliant fun to play, moving quick and letting us get 5 games in the same time we’d spent on a single 2000pt game of Warhammer 40k, and needing less space. Definitely one to keep trying!