I have long struggled against the Beige Wizard and now another of the locals is building up his army. We played 1200pts, Shield walls, and for VPs... if it came to that. The venue for the game was the Cavs (which longtime readers will recognise from the carpet!). Ray took The Beige Wizard himself, Lurtz, Thrydan, a Troll, some Berserkers, a unit of Wargs (not in pic - deployed to the left), some sappers, a unit of Uruks with Shields, more Uruks with Crossbows, Uruks with Pikes and then a whole lot of Ruffians (where have I seen those figs before?). I had Gondor from an earlier generation, led by Thorongil (Aragorn), Saruman the White, Deorwine from Rohan, two units of Knights, two units of Warriors with shields (one of six and one of four), a unit of Rangers, a small unit of bow and a unit of the Axe-men of Lossarnach. How did the brave warriors of Gondor fare vs the rising evil of Orthanc?
I write to you, Lord Ecthelion, to convey an account of Gondor's engagement with some Great-Orcs near the Misty Mountains. No doubt displeased with the incursions of these rabble, disturbing the peace of his researches, Saruman consented to aid the mysterious Thorongil in bringing the filth to heel. The twain acted swiftly, charging companies of our warriors directly into a woodland, held by some of the Great-Orc crossbowmen. Meanwhile, Deorwine, the Rohirrish captain of the cavalry on this occasion, marched the center forward, first went the foot, and the cavalry followed. Ever independent, our Rangers took up position in an abandoned house to screen the flanks of our forces.
As you and I have come to expect from Thorongil (and mind not your son Denethor's evident jealousy, my Lord), the initial assault on the enemy was quickly brought to a successful conclusion. Saruman took over command of that wing (or should I say, 'ceased suffering Thorongil's advice', as he puts it) and the long-legged wanderer disappeared momentarily. I was mystified as to why at this point, but he and Saruman had been up to something all night and I could only assume some cunning stratagem was afoot.
Meanwhile, the enemy forces lined themselves up to receive Deorwine's cavalry charge in the center. They appeared to have gathered all manner of rif-raf from the lesser men of the hill country and we could spy the tall shape of a Troll lurking behind their lines. We thought at first that the loss of crossbow had accounted for all their ability to shoot us from afar, but eventually the mannish rif-raf found their bows and their blunt arrows clattered ineffectually from our warrior's shields.
Then I saw it - Deorwine signaled with a loud bugle call and the infantry at our center was revealed to be in fact wooden and cloth frames, stuffed with straw. It was a ruse! Where then were our soldiers? Aha! I could see them rising up from the broken ground to the enemy rear. They must have been stealthily positioned there by Thorongil. The Gondorian strategy was revealed - Deorwine would crush the center with two wings of cavalry and Thorongil would be the anvil. Amidst the confusion wrought by this shift in the battle, a fireball roared from the woods and immolated the braying Troll.
Like a trapped animal, the enemy forces fought back hard. The pike to our right tried catching our own warriors in the rear as screaming Orc Berserkers, led by some man in a wolf-pelt, tore toward them. Fortunately, our men had the initiative and managed to both charge the Berserkers first - before they had time to work themselves into full frenzy - and escape the clutches of the enemy Pike. Deorwine took our cavalry forward but the horses of one wing shied at the solid line if hairy and unkempt men. One wing of trained cavalry from our fiefdoms was enough to scatter scores of the smelly creatures, though. Sadly, the enemy Berserkers defeated our warriors, sending them reeling back in disorder.
This swing in the momentum of battle was brought to an abrupt halt two events: Saruman led the Axe-men of Lossarnach in a daring assault on the rear of the Great-Ork pike and our Rangers eliminated the enemy Wargs, that had been threatening to close their jaws on our left flank. The way was now clear and Deorwine sounded the horns and charged through the gap he had created in the enemy lines. Seeing the grimy tan-coloured robes of the enemy general ahead, he sacrificed himself in order to ensure the success of his men.
Then, Thorongil was beguiled by the cunning words of this robed charlatan. Deorwine's men were left to fight the Orcs alone. At first it appeared that the momentum of the charge would fracture the enemy line but they appeared to have some brutal captain, who laid about with mighty blows. The broken bodies of horse and rider fell to left and right and without the needed aid from the Gondorian anvil, the assault faltered. The one bright point was the success of the remaining Gondorian Knights in finishing the ruffians in the middle and Saruman's almost careless dispatch of the enemy pike.
Determined that Deorwine's sacrifice not be in vain, Thorongil gave a great cry, shook off his befuddled state and this time waded into the enemy rear. He drew his mighty half-handed sword and clove a bloody path toward the enemy general. In his fury, he slew many Great-Orcs and, at the end, the Beige charlatan fell - surrounded by the ruins of his army. Victory was ours my Lord - a crushing triumph for Gondor!
Cheers for the game Ray. I see you are planning some conversion work on those Pikemen. I've got some Uruk Pike on the way via TM as well and they will all be re-purposed into something more useful. It was a good, fun game and nice to shake off that troublesome losing streak I was in danger of developing against you!
Thanks for reading.