…or some more Second Age scrappage from the gaming table.
Paul W and I notched up another test game of my Midgard rules this week with his Elves commanded by Glorfindel versus my Orc host under Akdar, Captain of Trolls.
While the basic flow of the rules is pretty much sorted, we were spending some time fine-tuning the different traits that give character to the troops. I also laid out a large area of woods, rocks and swamp to force some of the fighting into rough terrain.
The Elves turned out to be the attackers (clearly oppressing the Orcs who had been minding their own business) and the two battle lines were deployed. With the advantage of numbers, I decided on a cunning plan involving (a) an Orcish flank attack through the woods on the right and (b) hiding the shock unit of Trolls from Elven archery behind a screen of feckless Orcs. What could go wrong?
The game opened with a mass Orcish advance in the centre where every single Orc actually did what they were told (for once.) This left the Elves facing what looked like an organised attack, so using their drilled trait, the main Elven line smartly stepped back and held off combat for another turn. As the Orcs finally came into range, Paul’s dice failed him big time and what should have been a withering hail of arrows turned out to be a paltry trickle of shafts. The Orcs laughed this off and charged in.
However, the Elf swordsmen and spears took chunks out of the Orcs, staggering the advance. The archer units on the ends of the line finally got their eye in – one of my Warg rider units was wiped out by Egalmoth and his archers in a single round of bowfire.
The bold Orc attack in the woods looked threatening and then stalled due to poor leadership – caught with their units halfway out of the trees, the Orcs were charged by Glorfindel’s heavy Elf cavalry. Badly mauled, they fell back into the trees and didn’t play much more of a part in the battle.
As the front line of Orcs buckled, Akdar brought up his trump card – a unit of Trolls which cleaved its way through the Elves. Challenged by Glorfindel to single combat, he accepted – both suffered a wound before Akdar dealt the decisive blow and battered the unfortunate Elf into the ground (despite Glorfindel being a fairly buff character, Paul’s dice rolling at this point was shocking ). I was quietly thinking of Fingon vs Gothmog at this point!
However, this brief moment of Orcish hope was not to last. Although the battered Elven line was just holding the centre, they were winning on the flanks. Ecthelion stepped up with his Elf warriors who finished off the Troll bodyguard, Akdar falling to a chance blow. This was enough to break the Orcs’ Reputation and they fell back in disarray towards Angband, pursued all the way by Glorfindel’s vengeful riders.
I was really pleased with how the rough terrain rules had worked (albeit to the disadvantage of my Orcs) – although it can restrict movement, the main effect was in loss of command and control. The different character traits were also used to good effect, especially by the Elves. Paul and I had a useful discussion afterwards about single combats and, as ever, I added a few notes about clarifications to add to the ongoing manuscript for Midgard.