Death in the Riddermark: Orcs vs Rohirrim in Middle-earth

This game came about as a result of two Petes: Pete D had requested a game of Midgard Heroic Battles, and Pete J had been busy building a Rohan mounted force, so it seemed only right to put the two together for the first game at the pub of 2023.

I quickly threw together a straightforward Middle-earth scenario – Orcs invading the Riddermark in the Third Age – and we got things underway. (Apologies if the photos are a little dark – I’d like to say it’s the smoke of burning Rohan homesteads, but actually the pub lighting wasn’t too bright last night).

The Two Petes took command of the army of Rohan, featuring a force of light and medium cavalry commanded by some familiar faces and with a mysterious unnamed wizard. Although some of our El Cid outings have involved a lot of cavalry, I think this was the first time we’d fielded a fully-mounted force. Pete J has been steadily creating unit trays for all his GW LOTR miniatures which are looking marvellous.

Riders of Rohan with move unit trays (GW LOTR minis)

I brought my usual host of Orcs, with a couple of units of Warg riders, a Troll Captain and a Nazgul riding a Fell Beast.

The game opened with the traditional single combat, with Eomer inviting the Orcs to ‘get orf my laand’ (poor Rohan accent there, sorry). Azdak, Captain of Trolls, came at him with his (very) big club but did no more than wound the Hero before getting decked by his legendary weapon.

Only slightly deterred, the Orcs hurled themselves forward at the Rohirrim. After failing a stack of command tests, this was revised to a fractured advance in the centre. The Two Petes actually had a PLAN (unsporting or what!) and split their force to try to get round the Orcish flanks.

The Dark Lord contemplates a change of wallpaper

This actually worked exceptionally well, with the speed of the riders and disorganisation of the Orcs adding to the overall effect of battlefield chaos. The Orcs in the centre were missing Akdar to tell them what to do.

Rohan light cavalry rode up to the front lines and caused mayhem with some spectacular (beginner’s luck, obvs) shooting from Pete D. Then Pete J did the same on the other flank!

Orcs getting peppered with arrers

At this point, I abandoned my ‘sensible’ plan to have the Nazgul lurking on the ground just behind the line where he could help control the Orcs, and sent him out on a swooping attack against Eomer and his personal guard. This was definitely the Orcish high water mark of the game, as the hooded menace and his pet tore apart Eomer’s horsemen and flew off scot-free. Unfortunately, Eomer survived the carnage and rode off to join some of his other mates.

The Nazgul goes after Eomer and his guard (centre)

The pressure from the riders on the flanks continued as one of my Warg units got destroyed by a pair of Rohirrim light cavalry and the arrows just kept pouring in. By now, the Orcs had been forced to turn to face, creating a most interesting formation (resembling Cannae, as Pete D dryly noted).

Orcs inadvertently adopt the ‘Cannae’ formation as they try to hold the flanks and push forwards in the centre
Close quarters with Wargs and Rohirrim

Some Orc counter-charges followed, but they were disjointed and badly-led. This was an obvious opportunity for one of my Orc Captains to challenge a lower-ranked Rohan commander to single combat, only for me to realise that he bore a worrying resemblance to Viggo Mortensen! He rolled dice like him too, quickly rendering my Orc an ex-Orc.

The Nazgul went off on another swooping attack which went spectacularly badly – he chewed up a unit of Rohirrim, but the Fell Beast took a belly full of spears as he passed over and was driven back.

General sorcerous trouble as the unnamed wizard holds off the Orcs with fire and flame

This left him vulnerable to the attentions of the unnamed wizard, who blasted the struggling creature with smoke and flame. Although surviving the assault, the beast failed its command test and fled the battlefield, taking the servant of Sauron with him.

Despite the Orcish collapse, the game was an absolute hoot in great company. It was excellent to watch Pete D picking up the mechanics so quickly and very enjoyable to see Pete J’s Rohirrim out on the table.

11 thoughts on “Death in the Riddermark: Orcs vs Rohirrim in Middle-earth

  1. Great looking game . I might have to investigate these tiles as I’ve got a large collection of Lord of the Rings figures and found War of the Ring from GW a bit unplayable and “magically- overpowered”. Cheers Carlo

    Liked by 1 person

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