It’s fair to say that Paul W and I are enjoying playing big battles again at the moment. This week’s excursion took us back to the Second Age of Middle-earth with a scenario inspired by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. As Gil-Galad and the Noldor march south towards Mordor, their path has been blocked by an Orc host: they need to break through as quickly as possible!
Left: full-on Orc vs Elf scrappage. Orc army by me, Elves by Paul W
We were, once again, playing my own Midgard rules. The scenario was ‘Take the High Ground’ which was inspired by the Battle of Hastings; in this case, the Orcs had the advantage of the hill (a 4 foot long slope under the cloth, hopefully visible in the pics) but had one quarter of their forces arriving late to the party. The Noldor, meanwhile, had to get up there and take the position in short order. There were three salient points (marked by standing stones) on the crest of the hill which would grant extra Reputation (the factor in Midgard by which battles are won and lost) each turn after Turn 3 in order to emphasize the importance of the slope.
Having placed a solid double line of Orc warriors on the hill, reinforced by some Trolls at centre right, the Elves went for a mixed formation of spearmen and archers in the centre and cavalry on both flanks. Predictable so far!
I decided to break the routine by sending a forlorn hope of Orcs down the hill on both flanks to meet the Noldor riders. This wasn’t executed with quite the alacrity I was hoping for (the Orcs were lacking decent quality Heroes to keep them moving) but it did force the Elves to raise a few eyebrows.
Thus the battle began to break off into three zones, with the Elves peeling off troops to the right and left to deal with the Orcs racing, sorry, limping towards them.
My lucky Orcs on the right managed a charge against Celeborn and his elf cavalry, doing surprisingly well and holding their ground. Unfortunately for them, Celeborn’s trait was to be able to rally a destroyed section; as a result, the renewed Noldor escaped destruction and drove the Orcs back. Boo!
And then it was time for the centres to clash! I pushed my Orcs forwards to take the fight to the Elves and we had a fair old melee raging across the crest of the hill. The Orcs held on despite heavy casualties from the Elven onslaught; with the advantage of the hill plus extra units in support, they were able to weather the storm – for the time being, at least.
With luck on our side, the forlorn hope of Orcs on the right actually wounded Celeborn (he was lucky to survive, having rolled a double one, but had a spare Might Point to help save himself). However, it was clear that a gap was about to open up with the approaching demise of the front line of Orcs, so Akdar sent in the Trolls. I’d been holding these back to avoid the inevitable hail of Elven arrows but hopefully now they could do some damage!
At this point, we had reached Turn 4, which meant that the Orc late arrivals turned up. A random roll indicated that they were going to arrive on the Orcish left flank, hopefully just in time to save it from the Elf flank attack.
By now, the Orc centre was taking serious casualties and Reputation was teetering. The Wargs tore into the Elf cavalry, but more was needed. Orc Commander Orgul the Swift rode up to the crest of the hill and pitched into combat against Elrond’s Elves. Midgard is designed for heroic deeds and so I chose to challenge Lord Elrond to single combat. Paul accepted and the fight was on!
Elrond was a tougher Hero than Orgul, but I threw in both of Orgul’s Might Points in an effort to take down the Noldor Lord in the first round – sadly to no avail, as Elrond won the round and wounded the Orc captain, gaining a point of Reputation. However, the next round luck was with me and the Heroes drew, sparks flying from their blades – both gaining Reputation this time for their heroic display. The final round was too much though – both Orgul and Elrond wounded each other – with Orgul dying as a result. It could have gone either way!
Now the Elves had the upper hand and pressed the Orcs in the centre. With Orc Reputation at zero, I had to hold on to at least one of the salient points to continue the game. The Trolls rushed up but took heavy casualties in their melee with the Elves and were left with a single model in the unit holding the ridge. Unfortunately for him, he was facing two Elven units with bows who took him down in the final shooting phase of the turn. The Orcs fled, hotly pursued by the surviving Elf cavalry: victory to Lord Elrond!
This was a really tight game with plenty of opportunities for both sides to win it. I had probably been quite impetuous in rushing my Orcs down the slope and could perhaps have changed the outcome in holding back, but where’s the fun in that? Orcs gotta Orc! I was pleased with the scenario and the latest rules tweaks are working well. More soon.