Siege of Minas Tirith/Battle of Pelennor Fields

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Siege of Minas Tirith/Battle of Pelennor Fields

Postby febber » Sun Sep 28, 2008 11:32 pm

On Saturday 9-27-08 at Hurricon veteran LOTR gamers played one of the largest scenarios battles you are likely to run across. Thanks to John Adams' incredible collection of troops and scenery, roughly 400 models clashed to determine the fate of Gondor's capital. We played from 9 am to 6 pm with only a short lunch break to see if Mordor would prevail or whether Gondor would survive.

In my role as the Witch King, I led the forces of evil along with Alexander Adams and a novice gamer against Dave Ward, Eric Adams, Elicio Cassini and another newcomer. Thanks to the hotel not following thru on my wake-up call request, I ran down to the table just as we were starting the battle, and thus didn't get a chance to overlook the initial setup for evil. But there were certainly a lot of us to take on the Gondorians.

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The Battle Commences

I've probably played more seige battles than most of the guys at the table put together, and it showed early on. Gondor made 2 major mistakes early for which they paid dearly. First, cinematic though it was, Gandalf's appearance on the wall over the main gate was not wise given the presence of the WitchKing and 2 other Ringwraiths on fellbeasts. On the very first turn, Gandalf was subject to a torrent of dark magic which sapped his will and broke his staff, rendering him totally useless as a spell caster. Yet Gandalf, with his fate and might, remains a formidable commander, and I immediately set out to destroy him to eliminate his heroic movements and to gain an immediate victory point for the scenario. Within a couple turns I had scored the kill thanks to 2 wraiths, but the success was not without cost. Two of my wraiths got pinned down due to my inability to win a heroic movement, with Dave draining their will by keeping them in combat. Dave also killed the WitchKing's beast with his nasty Citadel Guard archers, making my commander an expensive pedestrian. The other wraiths did at least succeed in killing most of the troops that attacked them, eliminating some of the archery harassing the battering ram crews.

The other mistake Good made was to concentrate their trebuchet fire on the approaching siege towers. Greedy at the prospect of taking down a tower full of orcs, the Gondorians failed to take advantage of their first turn priority for counter-battery fire. Thus, when the troll-loaded Mordor catapults fired on the first turn, both trebuchets were severely damaged and their crews decimated. Within two turns both had been knocked out, while our catapults rained death the entire game.

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The Defenders Could Not Look Past the Siege Towers to the More Immediate Threat Facing Them

By this point Dave and his team were completely demoralized, thinking they were about to be wiped out. But I knew something they did not. In setting the rosters, John had given Mordor only about a 50% advantage in infantry and minor heroes. And the special rules and roster given Rohan meant that when they arrived, they would wipe the field clean of everything in short order. They were stunned when I told them they were going to win the battle, but I turned out to be far more prophetic than I had hoped.

When the towers and ladders arrived, Gondor was 2 defenders deep on every entry point, with CG and Osgiliath veterans (fight value 4 anywhere on the board) among them. Worse still, our setup had not placed our captains in mass in the leading ranks. In fact, our set-up was a disaster, with banners and key troops and heroes all over the place instead of the top of the towers where they needed to be. The result was a slaughter as orcs charged up the ladders and out of the towers only to be greeted with a wall of Gondorian steel. To make the game feasible, we played that if an orc fighting from the tower ramp defeated a Gondorian, the Gondorian had to retreat and the orc could advance. But on the few occasions that happened, the orcs were immediately swarmed, and being trapped, quickly slaughtered. While I was making progress on the main gate, my comrades on either side were finding their armies cut to ribbons.

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Sturdy Gondorian Defenders Stymie the Initial Assaults, as Citadel Guard Archers Pour Deadly Enfilading Fire into the Orc Ranks.

With the assault failing before us, we reorganized, got our captains up into the fight, and in a surprise move I sent Gothmog, who was to lead the gate breakthrough force, up the ladder to carve an opening. The Gothmog gambit stunned the Gondorians, and they were momentarily thrown back as orcs poured up behind Gothmog, but Dave had sent the Swan Knights including Imrahil up to the top in reserve, and Imrahil made his way to turn the tide.

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Mordor Finally Gains Footholds on The Wall, But Gondor is Not Beaten

The special rules for the scenario required Mordor to withdraw our fellbeasts as soon as Rohan arrived. I was desperate to take down Imrahil before that happened -- I knew full well what was likely to happen if Imrahil was allow to defend the wall unmolested by magic -- but my wraiths failed me. Having been drained by Dave's tactic of tying me up, I couldn't risk more than 1 will point per cast for sap will and my early transfixs, and none of them came off. As Rohan arrived, my weakest wraith burned his last 2 will points on a transfix cast, managing a 6 as I charged Gothmog and a Morannon captain into the Prince. But realizing that my wraiths would trouble him no more, Dave cast all 3 will into the defence, rolled a 6 and shook off the spell. Gothmog was fortunate that he only took 1 wound in the ensuing combat, which he was able to save with a fate save.

With the battles on the wall rejoined, our Haradrim had arrived. The decimation of our assault force required us to pull one of our 2 Mumaks off as a fast siege tower, while 2 trolls, the other Mumak and 20 Serpent Riders awaited the Charge of Rohan. In the past, we have always used too few Rohirrim for this scenario, resulting in their army being wiped out. Not today. John had packed a Rohan army with Theoden, Eomer, Gamling, Eowyn, 2 captains, a lot of Royal Guard and 4 total banners including Gamling's. All told, there were over 40 riders. But the secret weapon was Grimbold, whose profile was included F6 S5 A3 W2 M3 F2 - an absolute tank. Worse yet for Mordor, John implemented the following special rules to account for Rohan's charge out of the sun. 1- every Rohan model got a +1 bonus to FV; Rohan was considered protected by blinding light; Rohan did not need to take terror checks against anything but the wraiths. And the coup de gras - the Horns of Rohan - on the turn Rohan arrived, every orc and Easterling had to take a break test. Fortunately we had managed to place our captains well, but we did lose a few figures to fright at sound of the approaching Rohirrim.

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The Wall of Rohirrim Arrives to Make Safe the City

Just as Rohan arrived I broke through the front gate, pouring 4 trolls into the city along with supporting orcs. But the Mordor and Easterling units had now reached their break point, and our army began to unravel just when victory seemed like a faint possibility. On the second turn of checks, Gothmog, of all models, rolled snake eyes and was gone. The battle to gain control of the central wall section was now lost. The trolls had trouble early killing figures, and in an act of desperation to break Gondor, we unloaded our catapults into the fray in the courtyard, killing friend and foe alike - but got a lot more foes than friends.

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Gondor's Guard Stands Strong Against The Troll Assault

We were in hard fights in each of the 3 wall areas and the courtyard when Rohan began its charge. It would seem that a Mumak, a fellbeast, 2 trolls and 20 Serpent Rriders would be a good match for Rohan, but it didn't turn out that way. Thanks to the special rules, they won fight after fight and the poor defense of the Serpent Riders resulted in withering casualties. And the only real mistake I made during the entire day -- not putting a wall of Serpent Riders to shield the mumak -- proved fatal as Eric charged his wall of heroes at the beast as his unengaged Rohirrim poured arrows into the Haradrim in the howdah. I had taken a gamble to sucker Eric in, but it backfired, as Eric won 3 consecutive heroic move rolloffs, pinning and chopping the mumak. When I finally won a rolloff, Grimbold stopped the beast in its tracks and it only inflicted 3 kills on the trample. Grimbold finally struck the killing blow as the beast suffered its 10 wound and toppled to the ground, killing all but 1 soldier in it and leaving both the heroes crippled. Farther down the line, the Rohirrim passed check after check and swarmed the fellbeast, cutting it down also. Only the trolls were holding ground, inflicting a few casualties.

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Rohan Proves More Than a Match for the Best Mordor Can Offer

In the ultimate humiliation of Mordor by Rohan, a single rider charged, defeated and slew the Witch King, who was running to the battle on foot. When the 2 trolls finally failed courage checks, Evils' entire right flank collapsed as Rohan poured towards the city gates.

The last chance to gain a victory point -- breaking Gondor -- slipped away as the trolls in the courtyard assault began failing courage checks.

So the battle ended a resounding victory for the Men of the West by a score of 5-1. Mordor gained 1 VP for killing Gandalf, but Gondor scored points for eliminating Gothmog, the Witch King, one point for eliminating over 50% of the initial Mordor/Easterling assault force, and two points for contesting at least one wall section on each half of the gate (Mordor had to totally clear a section to gain a point, Gondor needed merely to contest it).

Had the game gone on a couple more turns, the Good allies would have easily achieved an automatic victory by eliminating 75% of the combined Evil army. Conversely, while many men of Gondor and Rohan had sacrificed their lives, neither force had reached 50% casualties, and indeed Rohan had only lost a quarter of their number.

Heroes and Goats

For Good, Imrahil and Grimbold were deadly, but the real heroes were the rank and file men of Gondor and Rohan who put a major league butt-whipping on their counterparts. Nobody really dropped the ball on the Good side -- Gandalf had no chance against the assault I brought against him, but even his death was costly to my forces.

For evil, the absolute run-away heroes of the game were our catapult teams. The two batteries single-handedly eliminated all 4 Gondorian seige engines, inflicted almost a third of the total Gondorian casualties by their fire, and moreover those casualties in key spots opened the door for the limited success Mordor achieved on the walls.

By contrast, goats were plentiful on the evil side. Gothmog's disgraceful panic and flight from the battlefield sealed the Gondorian victory on the walls, and the Mumak was little more than a practice dummy for Grimbold and his colleagues. The 20 Serpent Riders inflicted a grand total of 1 casualty on Rohan -- and were in turn reduced by 75% of their numbers.

All told, after 8+ hours of fighting, Middle Earth history repeated itself as the army of Mordor was devastated by the heroism of the Men of the West.
Last edited by febber on Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:53 am, edited 3 times in total.
All-time LOTR Grand/National Tournament Record: 92-18-45 (W-L-D), 63 major victories
21 awards in 35 events inc. 5x Best Overall; 2x 2nd Overall (w/o Best General); 9x Best General
2007 National Circuit Champion
2008 National Circuit Champion
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Postby BrentS » Mon Sep 29, 2008 8:04 am

Great report Frank! Sounds like it was a good event all around. It sounds like a good day to be a Horselord!

The models and terrain looked great. Do the Seige towers belong to John? Can you provide some more individual pictures of them? They look outstanding.

I'm curious on how your group settled on the profile for Grimbold. He certainly did look like a tank. Did you consider using that profile for Eomer instead and giving Grimbold something like Eomer's profile. It seems a shame that the most powerful Rohan warrior wasn't Eomer.



P.S. We are going have to get you a travel alarm clock. Too many close calls on arriving at these events :wink:
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Postby knitemare » Mon Sep 29, 2008 8:14 am

I'm also very interested in the technical aspects of the siege towers. They look fantastic!
It's only about painting now.
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Postby febber » Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:30 am

I'll check with John, but these may be Fantasy siege towers. The wall sections are two of the old Fantasy sets, while the city terrain was from Pegasus. Here's a view of the back side of a tower.

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Last edited by febber on Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
All-time LOTR Grand/National Tournament Record: 92-18-45 (W-L-D), 63 major victories
21 awards in 35 events inc. 5x Best Overall; 2x 2nd Overall (w/o Best General); 9x Best General
2007 National Circuit Champion
2008 National Circuit Champion
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Postby febber » Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:00 am

BrentS wrote:I'm curious on how your group settled on the profile for Grimbold. He certainly did look like a tank. Did you consider using that profile for Eomer instead and giving Grimbold something like Eomer's profile. It seems a shame that the most powerful Rohan warrior wasn't Eomer.


John came up with it due to the glaring absence of an uber combat hero on the Rohan side. He figured it was better to make a new profile for an undeveloped character than change an existing one. I for one would like to see the eventual Rohan book create an alternate profile for Eomer, at least to represent him as King in the 4th Age when he and his buddy Aragorn go stomping around Rhun kicking butt.
All-time LOTR Grand/National Tournament Record: 92-18-45 (W-L-D), 63 major victories
21 awards in 35 events inc. 5x Best Overall; 2x 2nd Overall (w/o Best General); 9x Best General
2007 National Circuit Champion
2008 National Circuit Champion
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febber
 
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Postby BrentS » Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:30 am

febber wrote:
John came up with it due to the glaring absence of an uber combat hero on the Rohan side. He figured it was better to make a new profile for an undeveloped character than change an existing one. I for one would like to see the eventual Rohan book create an alternate profile for Eomer, at least to represent him as King in the 4th Age when he and his buddy Aragorn go stomping around Rhun kicking butt.


I totally win you on this one. Rohan needs a Kingly profile! I'm sure Helm Hammerhand will be nice but I need a 3rd Age King too.
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