Wednesday, November 26, 2014

To the Death: Angmar vs Minas Tirith

Somewhere in the wilds of Enedwaith, the Great South Road crosses a small river in the midst of a ruined settlement. The ancient bridge still spans the river, if barely, its stones slowly collapsing and wearing away from long disuse. It is here that two armies have finally come into contact. Over the past several days, an army from far northern Angmar had been raiding and marauding. Now, they are returning to Angmar with plunder and prisoners. Commanding the forces of evil is the gaunt, bestial Gulavhar, the Terror of Arnor. An army of Gondor, commanded by Aragorn, King Elesar of Minas Tirith, has been in hot pursuit. Through hard marching and better familiarity with the terrain, they have managed to place themselves in the path of the evil ones, forcing them to battle in order to make good their escape.

Army Lists
Aragorn, King Elessar /w Armrd horse
1x Knight of Minas Tirith /w Banner
11x Knights of Minas Tirith

Faramir, Captain of Gondor /w Hvy Armr & Shield
1x Guard of the Foutnain Court /w Banner
11x Osgiliath Veterans (Warriors of Minas Tirith) /w Spears

12x Rangers of Gondor

Gulavhar, the Terror of Arnor
1x Orc Warrior /w Banner
1x Cave Troll
5x Orc Warriors /w Shields
5x Orc Warriors /w Shields & Spears

Urblog (Orc Captain) /w Shield
5x Orc Warriors /w Shields
5x Orc Warriors /w Shields & Spears

Wulfgar, Captain of Carn Dum (Dunlending Chieftain) /w Two Handed Axe
4x Warriors of Carn Dum (Dunlending Warriors) /w Bows
6x Warriors of Carn Dum (Dunlending Warriors) /w Shields
2x Warriors of Carn Dum (Dunlending Warriors) /w Two Handed Axes

Zorzagar (Barrow Wight)
4x Spectres
4x Orc Trackers
2x Orc Warriors /w Shields
2x Orc Warriors /w Shields & Spears

The Angmarim took positions occupying the ruins on either side of the river. Urblog and his orcs on the ground floor of a ruin on the east bank.

Wulfgar, the Chieftain of the men of Carn Dum in the force deployed his archers and some warriors atop Urblog's ruin, his remaining warriors down below.

Zorzagar the barrow wight and his spectres and orcs took positions in a structure on the west bank, several of the orc trackers moving to the upper floor.

Faramir and Damrod, with both of their respective warbands of infantry lined the west bank to the north, near a shallow ford.

King Elesar himself, at the head of a company of Knights of Minas Tirith moved in near the east edge of the battlefield near a hedge and small clump of trees.

Finally, Gulavhar himself with his warband placed themselves behind Urblog's warband, forming a line to cover the right flank.

Here are two views of the battlefield following the deployment phase:

Turn 1 - Evil
In the opening moves of the battle, the forces of Evil are the first to act. Urblog, Wulfgar and Gulavhar's warbands surge out of the ruins they occupied, taking up positions in front and to the side.

Zorzagar's warband stayed in place in their own ruin, waiting to see what their opposing numbers would do.

An Osgiliath Veteran and a Ranger of Gondor advanced to occupy the ruin across the decaying street from Zorzagar, while the rest of their company began the process of fording the river.

With shouts of "Elendil!" and "For Gondor!" Aragorn led his knights in a thunderous charge, crossing the intervening space quickly to crash into the evil forces before them.

Black feathered arrows shot forth from the bows of the evil archers, and shafts from two of the warriors of Carn Dum strike down a knight, as well as the mount of a second, sending the knight rolling in the dirt. The trackers fire at the ranger and the veteran nearest them, but the darts skip off the stones of the ruin ineffectively.

The sounds of battle resound around the ruin as the knights and orcs struggle for mastery. Just in front of Aragorn, the charge of one knight carries him strait onto the point of an orc spear, while a second is smashed from his saddle by the blow of a heavy pick. A few paces away however, a warrior of Carn Dum is ridden down by a lance wielding knight.

In front of the ruin, the exchange is much the opposite. Here, two orcs find themselves impaled upon the lances of the knights, while a single knight is falls under the blade of an orcish scimitar.

Turn 2 - Evil
At the beginning of turn 2, this is the state of the battlefield:

Maintaining their grasp on the initiative, the evil force is disconcerted when Aragorn shouts "With Me!" spending his free might point and hurling his men back into the fray before they could be counter-charged. Neither Gulavhar nor his captains decided to contest the charge, but Gulavhar's eyes glinted with bestial malevolence and he took to wing before settling on a Knight of Minas Tirith.

On the opposite side of the river, surrounded by flickering, beguiling lights, a Spectre lured the Osgiliath Veteran from behind the ruin and out into the street, to be pounced on by orcish warriors as they charged forward. The ranger was similarly distracted, though he wandered off to one side, behind a crumbling fragment of wall.

This turn there were no victims of archery, the shots either being unavailable or wildly off-target. On the west bank, the Osgiliath Veteran falls with a shriek to the silent blade of the Spectre.

On the easten bank, Gulavhar with a casualness belied by the blazing of his eyes snatches a knight from his saddle and hurls the man into the mounted banner bearer. The banner bearer is unhorsed, but survives the collision, while the knight is not so lucky.

Nearby, a knight is slain by the savage axe blows of a pair of Warriors of Carn Dum, while a pair of orcs fall before the vengeful knights. King Elessar is sorely beset by orcs, and is forced to spend a point of Might to avoid defeat, though he is unable to cause any injury to the foul creatures. At the front of the ruin, near the bridge the battle is inconclusive, with neither side able to cause any casualties.

Turn 3 - Evil
Turn three opens with Evil remaining in control of priority, and Aragorn again calls a Heroic Move with his free Might point, using it to charge into combat with Gulavhar himself, while the remaining knights engage the orcs.

Before the ruin, the orcs and men of Carn Dum rush to attack the mounted warriors of Gondor, pushed on by shouted commands from Wulfgar.

On the west bank of the river, the orcs continue to cross the street as a solid block of veterans led by Faramir march to meet them. Corpse lights flickering, one of the spectres again succedes in luring the ranger into his reach.

Further to the north, the rangers have nearly completed their ford of the river, most of their number now standing solidly on dry ground.

At the end of the turns movement phase, the board looks like this:

With a snarl and a hiss, a tracker looses an arrow which strikes down an Osgiliath Veteran.

Atop the ruin on the eastern side of the river, the archers of Carn Dum release a deadly shower of arrows, striking down no less than three of the rangers of Gondor.

On the ground below, Aragorn declares a Heroic Fight against Gulavhar, but the King of Gondor is chagrined as the ancient creature turns the tables on him. The terrible claws cause two wounds, and Aragorn is forced to spend all three of his Fate points to prevent one of them. Only a few paces away, a knights becomes a victim of crude orcish weapons and falls to the ground with a despairing wail. One of his fellows, assailed by an incredible combination of seven orcs and evil men, sends them all sprawling to the ground in an amazing display of martial prowess, cutting down a two handed axe man in the process.

The horseless knight defeats his warrior of Carn Dum opponent, but is unable to land a finishing blow. A comrade is not as fortunate, a Warrior of Carn Dum dealing a terrible blow with his axe, sending the knight flying lifeless from his saddle.

To the west, the beguiled ranger managed to shake off his bemusement soon enough to avoid the chill blade of the specter and deliver his own counterstroke, though it fails to harm the undead.

Turn 4 - Good
The forces of Good finally wrests priority away from evil and continue their assault with renewed vigor. Aragorn charges back into battle with Gulavhar and the Cave Troll, while one of the Knights of Minas Tirith charges a prone Warrior of Carn Dum.

The un-horsed knight begins to retreat back to the company of Damrod's rangers, while the remaining knight gallops around the hedge to attack a pair of orcs. Wulfgar leads his warriors along with some orcs to the bridge, intent on coming to the aid of his allies on the western bank of the river.

The archers perched atop the ruin loose another volley of arrows, but this time none find their mark.

On the west bank, Faramir leads his veterans charging into the ranks of the Angmarim.

Faramir stands tall against the looming specter of a Numenorean, and his blade ends the creatures unnatural existence. A second specter is slain by a veteran, while a third defeats his ranger opponent but a timely duck saves the man from harm.

With Anduril blazing in the sunshine, the King of Gondor ducks Gulavhar's slashing claws and dodges the massive hammerblow of the troll. A massive overhand blow, and the troll collapses in a pool of black blood. (A tied roll of the dice saw Aragorn win the duel and cause and insta-kill the troll). One of the knights defeats the orcs opposing him, but the creatures narrowly avoid his lance. Urblog takes some small measure of revenge, and sinks his pick into the helmet of the other knight with a sickening crunch.

Turn four ends, and this is the state of the board:

Turn 5 - Good
With the good force keeping their grip on priority, Gulavhar calls a Heroic Move, snarling "With Me!" to all of his cronies in range. With fell shouts and screams, they charge King Elessar and the banner bearer.

The remaining Knight of Minas Tirith charges Urblog, preventing him from joining in the fight. Urblog turns to this new opponent, snarling with hate and raising his dripping pick.

Across the river, a ranger shrinks away from a specter, his courage deserting him. A veteran mutters something about nancy-boy forest tree-huggers and charges the undead, spear raised. Faramir steps past the withered husk of the specter he had slain and rushes to engage Zorzagar before the wight could retreat to the river.

Wulfgar leads frantically leads his warriors across the rickety bridge, trying to shore up Zorzagar's front.

The Rangers of Gondor let fly with a volley of arrows, and one of the men of Carn Dum crossing the bridge falls, clutching at his knee.

The warriors of Carn Dum atop the ruin return fire, and two more rangers sink to the earth with black feathered arrows protruding from their bodies.

Aragorn is sorely pressed by Gulavhar and the orcs, but reaches deep into his inner self and defeats his enemies (with the help of a Might point) and Gulavhar staggers back, the blood of three wounds seeping from his gaunt frame. The nearby banner bearer is defeated but he parries the blows aimed at his way and the standard of Gondor waves defiantly in the breeze.

Urblog's snarl turns to a shriek as he stiffens on the lance of the knight, his pick falling from nerveless fingers.

Faramir steps left just as Zorzagar's ancient blade slices the air where he had stood. A quick strike sends the wights sword hand flying, and a sharp thrust extinguishes the baleful glow of the wights eyes.

Behind Faramir, the butchery continues, with a pair of orcs and a veteran spilling their life blood on the ground. One veteran is defeated by a specter, but a hastily raised shield saves the man from injury.

Turn 6 - Good
Keeping their momentum going, the good army presses their attack. Despite being nearly surrounded, Aragorn sees his chance and engages Gulavhar again.

To the west their is a slight hiccup as Faramir and the Guard of the Fountain Court banner bearer find themselves unable to charge the specters. The first rank of Wulfgar's warriors cross the bridge and hurl themselves against the men of Gondor.

Back across the river, a ranger drops to the earth with an arrow in his chest. In a flurry of strikes, Aragorn finishes off Gulavhar as well as two orcs. The banner bearer and the knight are both defeated, but both survive unhurt.

Back to the west, an elvish specter throws back four veterans and cuts down one of their number. The other remaining specter is slain, while a ranger falls to the axe and spear of a warrior of Carn Dum and an orc.

After totaling the casualties of the turn, Good is now Broken!

Turn 7 - Evil
Finally regaining priority, the forces of evil prepare for what is to come. Wulfgar is deeply concerned at the casualties the army has sustained, and feels the loss of Gulavhar most keenly. Trying t orally his own spirits, he leads his warband against the Gondorians, charging Faramir himself. Aragorn easily passes his courage check and uses his free Might point to declare a Heroic Move, and he and the knight and standard bearer throw themselves back into the fray.

One of Damrod's rangers, his spirit overcome, retreats from the battlefield. Cursing, Damrod swiftly draws and releases an arrow that strikes one of the archers atop the ruin, the evil man nearly falling from the parapet.

One of the trackers perched in the western ruin slays the Guard of the Fountain Court, his banner fluttering to the ground.

Two of Damrod's rangers, following their leaders example shoot down two orcs at the end of Wulfgar's column.

The remaining specter strikes down a veteran in the shadow of the trackers ruin. The man's heavy armor proving no defense against the spectral blade.

Another veteran falls with a gaping rent in his armor, victim to a Carn Dum axeman. An orc is speared by a veteran and Wulfgar is driven back by Faramir, just barely avoiding the seeking blade.

With no apparent end to his rampage, Aragorn dispatches a further two orcs, their feeble attempts at defense proving useless. The knight and banner bearer are again defeated, but blood again eludes the orcs and no casualties are caused.

Turn 8 - Evil
Here is the relative state of the board at the beginning of turn 8:

With Evil again in control of priority, Aragorn again spends a free Might point to declare a Heroic Move, charging again into the rapidly diminishing orcs.

The dismounted knight runs away as he notices the archers from the north drawing their bows. Another ranger drops an orc with a well placed arrow, firing from a small ruin on the east bank.

The banner bearer, finally overcomes his enemy and clubs the orc to death with his banner. The orcish standard bearer is knocked to the ground but survives while an orcish spearman falls to the knights lance. Aragorn negligently slays two more orcs, clearly becoming bored.

Wulfgar stumbles back, blood seeping from a deep wound from Faramir's sword, only Fate preventing his complete destruction. Elsewhere on the west bank however, the fight goes against the Gondorians with two veterans falling to the specter and orcs.

The evil army is now Broken!

Turn 9 - Evil
As the evil army begins their move, a Carn Dum bowman, the orcish standard bearer and two orc warriors desert their posts.

A tracker perched precariously upon a ruined column shoots a ranger, the man pitching forward to splash face first into the waters of the river.

On the east bank, Aragorn and the knight eliminate the last warriors opposing them.

To the west, a veteran skewers an orc and Wulfgar is again driven back by Faramir, though this time he is unhurt.

Turn 10 - Evil
The board at the beginning of turn ten:

With the beginning of turn ten, the spirit of the evil army is truly broken, and two trackers, one Carn Dum archer, two warriors of Carn Dum, an or spearman and the final specter all flee in the face of the determined men of the west. With these final casualties tallied, the bloodletting finally ends, the forces of Good weary and bloodied but triumphant on the field and Wulfgar and his few remaining followers left to retreat back to the north as best they could.

Game Ends

Victory Points
Good: 8      Evil: 4

As expected, a real meatgrinder. What I had not expected however, was disapointing end of Gulavhar, killed off barely over halfway into the battle. I think it would have been better to keep him quite far away from Aragorn (whom I now have a healthy respect for). And speaking of Aragorn, a wood chipper comes to mind when I think of what he did to my army :P

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