My Midgard rules are still in play testing prior to publication (at some point in the future but no date yet). After several weeks of Dark Ages battles, I wanted to return to a playing a fantasy scenario including a dragon – in this case, Glaurung, the wingless wyrm from Tolkien’s Silmarillion. (The model is a Schleich toy that I converted and painted last year – see here).
Hence regular opponent Paul W and I lined up our Orcs and Noldor for a straight-up fight somewhere in the First Age of Middle-earth. Forces were 400 points per side (the Hammerhead Battle of Dunnichen game was 300, by comparison) allowing the Orcs the following troops: 3 Heroes, Glaurung, 10 units of Orc soldiers, 5 units of Orc scouts plus one each of Wargs, Warg riders and Trolls. I didn’t do an exact count of the Elves (I’m not sure Orcs can count beyond ten anyway) but they were outnumbered, taking spearmen, archers and heavy cavalry with Glorfindel and Celeborn among the leaders.
Wary of the hail of arrows that had greeted Glaurung in his first game (Paul had sportingly reduced his archery quota in the interests of play testing), I put a line of Orcs in front of the dragon in a effort to distract the pointy-eared bow fans. I eschewed my usual tactic of ‘charge them in the face’ (copyright @ Tom WD) and opted for a slower advance that wouldn’t burn up my Heroes’ limited Mighty Deeds (the key leadership mechanism in Midgard). However, I went aggressive on the left flank, sending all five units of Orc scouts up to harass the two units of Elves in position there.
The Elves consolidated their position by unleashing a hail of arrows prior to throwing everything in to a frontal attack in the centre and on my right wing. Glaurung suffered a slight wound that raised the Reputation of the Elves but the Orcs held firm despite taking multiple casualties. Learning from past experiences, I had held all my Orc commanders back in the second line (getting your head removed by an Elf in Turn 2 inhibits your ability to lead, I have found).
Although the Orc line was taking serious punishment, I was able to launch a counter attack in Turn 3 that restored the morale of Angband. Glaurung unleashed a blast of fire that fried some Noldor in front of him but suffered a wound in the melee with the Orcs and Elves just in front of him. This not only weakened him but also made him less predictable (in Midgard, he has the ‘Aloof’ trait which means that he cannot be influenced by friendly Heroes) which cost me badly in the next turn. Having dispatched the Elves in front of him, I was unable to get the great wyrm into a charge that would have helped to destroy more Noldor at this critical phase of the game. Annoying but fair!
Meanwhile, on the right flank, Elf cavalry were causing severe damage to my Orcs, held up only by a heroic unit of Trolls that just would not break!
I was forced to throw in my reserve of Wargs and Warg riders, which resulted in the only single combat of the game – Glorfindel taking on my Warg rider captain. Two rounds of Orcishly poor dice rolls later and my Hero was toast. Ah well.
It was now all to play for as we went into Turn 5. What had looked like an even match in Turn 3 now turned into an Orcish rout as the Elves pulled it out of the bag. Several units of Orcs broke and fled, followed by a devastating final round of shooting that took out Glaurung (I like to think that he turned and fled to come back for another day).
Great fun and one of the closest games I’ve played for a while!