Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Hunt Begins - Fellowship of the Ring

Having been warned not to travel to London unless it was absolutely essential - the small matter of the Olympics being expected to clog up the city's transport network - I've been able to get a bit of war gaming done in the quiet of the Sussex gloom. It was an opportunity this week to see if I can jump-start an epic campaign of Lord of the Rings.

"To tell you the truth, I believe that hitherto - hitherto, mark you - he has entirely overlooked the existence of hobbits. You should be thankful. But your safety has passed. He does not need you - he has many more useful servants - but he won't forget you again. And hobbits as miserable slaves would please him far more than hobbits happy and free. There is such a thing as malice and revenge."

Gandalf - The Shadow of the Past (The Fellowship of the Ring)

I'm using the excellent Fellowship of the Ring campaign supplement from Games Workshop, specifically the first scenario, The Hunt Begins. In this game, a trio of Black Riders try to get into the Shire to seek out Baggins and the One Ring, but a small and determined posse of Dunedain ambush them. The wraiths must cross the board and at least two must escape into the Shire lands. Each turn they are attacked in H2H, they lose Will. One of them is the Witch King himself, with 10 Will, while the other two have seven.

A trio of shadowy figures try to sneak into the Shire!

I played this with Kelvin, using the usual Lord of the Rings rules. Having played a large Zulu War game with similar mechanics last week, which took us seven hours - including set up - this one was remarkably quick, being completed in an hour. It is a small game, mind you, but it did demonstrate how much faster this game plays when you have less than a dozen actives per side. It further reinforces my decision to use War of the Ring for bigger battles (i.e. more than 30-40 figures per side).

But they are spotted! Rangers lie in wait for intruders.

This is a tough mission for the Nazgul. Speed is of the essence. They do have some useful supernatural powers, like Compel and Cry of the Nazgul, and their high Defence scores make it very hard for the rangers to stop them, but the Good player only needs to keep attacking them to wear down their Will scores and force them to dissipate. Good Priority rolls are needed if the Evil player is to succeed.

The Witch King makes a break for it.

With no Might scores to speak of in this scenario, the Nazgul are particularly vulnerable. They are far from Mordor and the watchful Eye of their master. Hence, they can be worn down.

One down, two to go. The Dunedain close in.

My impression of this scenario is that the Evil player needs to think carefully about where to start off his Nazgul. Kelvin clumped two of his together, which made it easier for me to focus six rangers on them, working in concert. Archery was - as ever - relatively useless. The Dunedain also managed to score a kill on one of the wraiths on the final turn of the game, while the other two simply ran out of Will. Four Dunedain were slain.

Game over! More time is bought for Frodo and Sam.

With the Nazgul now on the loose in the Shire, there is still a chance for the rangers to hunt them down. Next up: the Trust of Arnor!


  1. I don't think my placement was too bad, to be honest. What defeated me was a combination of losing the priority for most of the game and your rangers being resistant to the Nazgul fear effect. As such I couldn't disengage from combat and so the Dark Riders -- or Ramblers in this case -- got bogged down, with inevitable results.

  2. I love how fast this game plays at this level.