After an absence of a few months, Paul W and I pulled out our Elf and Orc armies for Middle-earth and set up another game loosely set in the First Age.
Paul has been really helpful with ideas for developing my Midgard battle rules (still in playtesting) and had pretty much memorised my Noldor army list and points values which made life much easier! I cobbled together a somewhat mixed Orc force with some help from my nine-year old son who had decided to join us for the evening’s game (and, probably not unrelated, a cheeseburger).
Left: Orcs and Elves scrap it out over the ancient watchtower.
I decided to put my scratchbuilt watchtower model in as the objective for the game, propped up on a rocky outcrop that would offer some advantages to anyone defending it. We placed a wood on the left flank, but otherwise the battlefield was clear The Orcs were led by a Balrog with a Werewolf, Troll and Orc Captain as lieutenants in command of Orc soldiers, archers and warg riders. The Elves had a goodly number of heroes with the usual mix of spearmen and archers and a sizeable wing of heavy and light cavalry.
The Orcs tried to rush forward towards the Elves but were hampered by some disorder in the ranks; this played into the manicured hands of the Noldor, who unleashed a couple of nasty volleys of arrows against the Werewolf and his Orcish guard, who were pretty much destroyed. The Werewolf survived without a scratch but decided to jump ship to a fresh unit.
The main Orcish advance didn’t go to plan, but the attack on the tower was much better. Paul got a Noldor spearmen unit in position which was shot at by the Orc scouts before taking a full-on charge from Akdar the Troll and his soldiers. This should have been a more even fight, but the Troll Captain crushed the Elves and drove the survivors back off the hill (with some assistance from Paul’s shocking dice rolling).
In the centre, though, Paul was rolling some awesome dice for Elven shooting which put some big holes in the Orc ranks.
The Elves eventually had to stand and fight, coming off worse across the line.
Over on the right flank, next to the watchtower, things got really interesting. Orgul the Swift led a couple of units of warg riders in an effort to hold up the Elves. Outnumbered two to one by enemy horsemen, Orgul opted to draw his scimitar and challenge the Noldor leader to single combat. Despite some heroic dice rolls, Orgul took a wound and then succumbed on the second blow to the Elven blade. Unsurprisingly, the remaining warg riders beat a hasty retreat.
Akdar continued to beat the Elves off the hill. With his trait Fearsome, Akdar’s opponents had to retreat double the usual distance after losing a melee. Unfortunately, the Orcs’ impressive advance took them off the other side of the hill and opened them up to a flank charge from the rearmost Elven cavalry. Ouch.
In this final turn, the Orcs lost several units in the centre and had their right flank pretty much rolled up. With the loss of Orgul the Swift, the army’s reputation dropped to 0 and they fled the field, Akdar trying to fight his way out as the sun set.
A good fun game as usual – I’ve tweaked a few areas of the rules recently which streamlined the action. As was my original intent in designing Midgard, we played a game with around 15 units and 4 heroes a side to a decisive conclusion in around two hours, including the heroics of a single combat. My son picked up the rules (and a pink inflatable flamingo) pretty quickly and didn’t object to getting beaten by the Elves! Win-win.