Monday, 19 January 2015

Ambush At Amon Hen scenario

I'm currently mulling over an idea for a four player game - with an umpire - of The Lord of the Rings (Strategy Battle Game). This features the climactic scene at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring - both the film and the book - in which the Fellowship is broken by a surprise attack by orcs, Boromir is slain, and Frodo and Sam begin their journey to Mordor. The game would use my larger 7.5ft by 5.5ft mat, which makes it a bit bigger than many games of Lord of the Rings.

The key here is to make it a multi-player game, but one that involves more than just two teams. While the players will be both Good and Evil, they will also have their own objectives to fulfil. Hence, there should be scope for an individual player to succeed as the overall winner.

The ambush at Amon Hen is actually quite an interesting example of a situation that occurs in the book where there are multiple agendas. For example, Boromir tries to steal the ring from Frodo, while Frodo himself is intent on sneaking away on his own to Mordor. In the book, although the details only really emerge in The Two Towers, the ambushing orcs are actually divided into two camps, those loyal to Saruman and those sent by Mordor. This is a joint operation that really only falls apart later, on the road back to Isengard.

Thus, we have an initial composition of four player factions:

  1. Boromir, Merry and Pippin
  2. Frodo, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli
  3. Isengard Uruks (led by Lurtz)
  4. Mordor Orcs
Each faction could be vested with its own objectives in this scenario. I group Boromir together with Merry and Pippin largely because this sets up his solo confrontation with the orcs. However, while mulling this over, I stumbled on the idea of another interesting mechanic that the Good players could use, namely that they decide in advance which of the four hobbit models is Frodo.

Recall, if you will that Frodo goes off to think alone, and is approached by Boromir, who then tries to steal the ring from him. Aragorn notices the Gondor man is missing, and the other members of the Fellowship collectively set out to look for them. Thus, they are all spread out across the hillside when the orcs arrive.

The members of the Fellowship start the game in randomly allocated positions, including Frodo. The Good players SECRETLY determine which hobbit is Frodo, thus the Evil players have no idea which hobbit is the Ringbearer. Each Good player takes control of two hobbits. I will probably have their stats on index cards so that they can be easily and secretly referred to in the course of the game.

While the orcs were under orders to take the ring to Isengard, it might make it more interesting if the Mordor orcs have other ideas - namely, to take the ring to Mordor, if they can find it first. On one level they are cooperating, but really, they want to steal off the table with as many hobbits as they can.

This should be a relatively short scenario, playable in a single evening.

The Boromir Conundrum

The wild card in the deck here is Boromir. While he does try to sieze the ring, the question is whether this treachery within the Fellowship should be incorporated into the game? Perhaps only if there is a fifth player, who can take on Boromir. His objective would be to steal the Ring. If he fails to do so before 'x' number of turns have expired - or the orcs are within line of sight - he comes to his senses, and his original objectives change to saving the Ringbearer. It might be a little boring to have control of only one figure, however...

That's really it in a nutshell. I will need to work out how many orcs the Evil players require, probably based on the points values of the remaining members of the Fellowship - without Gandalf, of course!


  1. This looks interesting, and great fun to play. Sign me up!

  2. me too

    not sure on Boromir either - after all it was his heroics which bought Frodo and Sam time to escape across the river!

    but sounds interesting - though given my circumstances (Ania on the verge of labour) I reckon I am out of the count at the moment! ACK!

  3. I've worked out the points values for the respective factions, and may be short of a few Mordor orcs. I have enough Isengard uruks, so any left over may have to be loaned to the Mordor team. Grishnakh is worth about 60 points, while Lurtz is 70 points, and Aragorn is over 200 points if you give him Anduril! So the Mordor team alone, with Grishnakh and no banner, needs about 45 orcs.

  4. Something I was thinking of running at the game con here is SoCal - Strategicon. I am running the Bridge at Khazad-Dum at the February Con (Presidents Day weekend) but just one day, Saturday. I will be updating my blog about it, hopefully soon. I like your idea on the Orcs/Uruk-Hai not knowing which is the ring bearer and thus having to catch them all (Poki-Hobbits!)