We don’t seem to be getting tired of Middle-earth at the moment, and indeed, I’m currently re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring for the first time since I was a teenager. However, last week Pete and I decided to plump for the First Age of Middle-earth again as I’d just finished Finrod Felagund and his Elf riders. As a newly-painted unit, I wasn’t expecting much out of the first game, so best to get it out of the way…
The scenario was very loosely inspired by events around Dagor Bragollach, the ‘Battle of Sudden Flame’ mentioned in the Silmarillion. In F.A. 455, Morgoth broke the siege of Angband with a counter attack led by the (wingless) dragon, Glaurung, and Finrod Felagund of Nargothrond was one of the Noldor lords who rode out to oppose the enemy. In Tolkien lore, Finrod was cut off and nearly killed at the Fen of Serech, but I wanted to try out a scenario with even forces and enemy baggage trains to loot. We decided that the Orcs had a number of captives that – along with Glaurung – would be the target of the Elven attack; in turn, the Elves had a small tented camp that could be raided if the Orcs broke through.
Rules, as ever, were my own Midgard Heroic Battles (due to be published by Reisswitz Press – as soon as we have actual news on release dates, you will hear it here).
As it happened, we ended up with a slightly shorter table at the club than I would have liked (5′ wide rather than 6′), so flanking opportunities were somewhat reduced, but in all honesty, my Elves were so focused on taking down Glaurung that we forgot all about rescuing the prisoners! Funny how a large mini dominates your mind as well as the gaming table.
Pete deployed with Glaurung smack bang in the centre of the Orc host, ready to scorch the Noldor with his breath of fire. I went for a chequerboard formation of alternating archers and spearmen, with both heavy cavalry units held back in reserve, and horse archers on the wings. Though I knew that Finrod was unlikely to survive the battle, I didn’t want him running right into the fiery jaws of death on Turn One!
The Orcs went for an all-out advance, which didn’t go too well for them – their best captains were leading from the front, but the rear line failed command test after command test (next time, a Balrog in the back line should whip them into shape). The Orcs on the left flank, however, seemed rather keener and were closer to my Elves than I would have liked.
I let fly with as many arrows as I could, but failed to force Glauring back; then I overcooked it by sending Aegnor – the best archer in my force – into combat in search of some short-term glory. He survived, but ended up embroiled in melee for multiple turns rather than trying to stick an arrow down Glaurung’s throat, as I had planned.
Both sides took some casualties from arrows, but eventually Glaurung got within range and let rip, burning up a unit of Noldor archers and forcing them back. Pete had made some ‘Walls of Flame’ for a spell effect and these came in handy for showing the dragon fire on the table.
There was scarce time for the Elves to draw breath before the warg riders charged and the whole front line became a general melee. On the right flank, an honourable mention is due to the Orc horde unit who beat my elite Noldor twice in a row and forced them back!
Leaving his brother to fend for himself, force commander Finrod unleashed the Noldor riders on the Orcs, crushing two units in short succession.
Glaurung had, by now, charged the Elven archers. Despite being wiped out, they heroically wounded the dragon.
This left the way clear for the counter-punch, delivered by Finrod’s brother Angrod. Surging into battle and calling upon every glamour known to Elf or Gnome, the Noldor rolled impeccably, broke the wingless wyrm and sent him into flight with just a few Elves crushed underfoot. Luck of the dice!
With the destruction of another warg unit, the Orcs were left with no reputation in their goblet and forced to scurry back to Morgoth, who will doubtless wheel out some Balrogs and tell them to get back to work!
It was an interesting game though without any single combats, for once – I think Pete and I were so focused on taking down/ getting Glaurung that it felt like an unnecessary risk! I had gained reputation early in the game by getting the first charges in, and the Orcs were unlucky to lose Glaurung so soon, but overall it was a solid victory for the Noldor.
Three cheers for Finrod Felagund and the newly-painted unit, still alive at the end of the game! 🙂
I’m expecting to take similar forces to the Midgard games that I’ll be running at the BIG Winter Wonderlard event next month (Feb 18th at Bristol Independent Gaming), but Glaurung will be taking a break as I’m not sure he’d be a fair intro to the game for new players!
3 thoughts on “Sudden Flame in Middle-earth: Glaurung vs the Noldor”
This looks like a real barn burner of a game. I love the table with the blasted field and sparse terrain, perfect for a big battle. I’m inspired. I’m guessing Romans vs. Gauls next time around, or maybe Celts, with a special appearance by the inimitable Boadicea. Could be bloody as Hell, let’s hope.
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Spectacular game and a newly painted unit actually survived its first game
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Beautiful looking game! Hurrah for Finrod!
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