Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Second Battle of Ashak Rise

Back to Ashak Rise today for a re-fight of the same scenario, this time with Ben playing the Severed Hand orcs and me playing the dwarves. Readers of the previous blog will know that I had tweaked the power level of the dwarves down a little. I decided to keep the road movement rule in, however, and feel that its presence is justified. I also decided to let Borrin Fimbull keep his magic +1 axe...

As before, the wolves rushed the bridge, followed by the orcs. Ben kept his archers to the rear, maintaining a regular volley fire on the dwarves, but to little effect, as they are tough blighters. I think one dwarf fell to volley fire in the entire game.

Because of a crucial Priority roll early in the game, the orcs managed to get a foothold on the bridge, with only one dwarf blocking it. The other dwarves who were on the wrong side of the river pitched in, and kept the orcs occupied, while more dwarves rushed to the battle from the south bank. Like Kelvin, I deployed Borrin in the house, and he quickly began loading gold onto the mules. Unlike Kelvin, I committed Snorrin to the bridge as I could see the orcs were going to get across. Snorrin and one dwarf tried to hold them, but both were eventually slain. Things started to fragment quickly after that.

One dwarf tried to escape along the road with a mule, carrying two bags of gold, but the wolves caught him. He managed to kill one of them, but the other kept him busy long enough for the orcs to catch him and surround him. His poor mule was brought down by the wolves.

Borrin managed to load two more bags of gold and begin his escape, but four wolves caught him and his mule. The mule was savaged to death, but Borrin killed three or four wolves single-handedly. He was then surrounded by orcs. Standing over his bag of gold, he went on to kill three orcs too. Ben was using his spearmen to give him extra attacks, but they also acted to trap the front rank of orcs, stopping them from retreating and giving Borrin extra attacks.

Borrin was going nowhere. Winning Priority again, he attacked Hagar Sheol, the orc leader, who had now pitched in. He won that fight too, and down went Hagar for the second time, again at the hands of Borrin.

Meanwhile, another dwarf survivor managed to sneak into the hut by climbing through a back window, having been holding orcs and wolves off with his crossbow. He grabbed a bag of gold and escaped out the front door while the orcs were distracted with Borrin. However, he was spotted and attacked by three orcs and a wolf, and died fighting. Borrin finally succumbed to the orcs, the last of the dwarfs to die.

Overall, a much more balanced game in terms of feel, but possibly not as close as the Kelvin v Ric match up, as it did not come down to a duel between the remaining leaders. The orcs lost seven wolves and five warriors, but killed all the dwarves, including Borrin and Snorrin, AND recovered all the gold. BUT, they lost their chieftain again, which is a significant development, as it means no Hagar Sheol at Orc's Drift. The orcs were still eight away from break point, so still relatively in control of the game.

Where I differed tactically from Kelvin was my decision to commit Snorrin to the bridge, and indeed to leave only two dwarves moving gold bags. Dwarves are slow, and it meant the others simply did not have time or opportunity to drop back to defend the hut once Snorrin was down and the wolves were tearing along the road. Had there been a third dwarf committed to the hut, it might have changed things.

I again noticed that casualties from shooting were few and far between. Most of the losses came from melee, which seems much more deadly in Lord of the Rings. Having said that, the dwarves are 4+ with their crossbows, and the orcs are 5+ - no shooty wood elves here. Because the dwarves can only move or shoot - not both - as the dwarf player you do end up agonising over what to do with the six crossbows. I'm idly wondering whether to add a couple of dwarf archers to the mix instead of the guys with two handed weapons.

Two handed weapons: these turned out to be something of a liability I felt. Time and again dwarves lost tied rolls they should have won because of their superior Fight skills, due to the -1 penalty for two handed weapons. This really cost them at the bridge in the early stages, where three of their number fell. I was never able to form the wall across the bridge which Kelvin was able to do, and was swept off the bridge in a couple of turns. It did not become the bottle neck I hoped it would. A bad Priority roll and lack of any leaders at the bridge were also to blame.

All in all, another entertaining afternoon. I'll give this one more go and then average the scores to see how many Severed Hand make it to Orc's Drift. But it looks like Hagar Sheol will not be there, even if he survives the last game.


  1. Even though my result was different, I was also not impressed with the two-handed weapons. I'd drop them, as they don't seem to add anything, at least not in that scenario.

    One wonders what kind of wargamey monster we've created in Ben!

  2. The two-handed weapons are a bit of a handicap for the dwarves, and probably compensate for their Def 6. In a one-on-one it makes them more dangerous, but if they're surrounded by three, four or five opponents, as is often the case in this battle, they become more of a handicap. The wolves are actually quite dangerous, and take the brunt of the fighting, hence their heavy losses in both games to date. Perhaps they should have their own break point?

  3. Hmm yes, giving the wolves their own break point might be appropriate, as they do seem like a separate force at times.

  4. The wolves had a courage rating, boosted by their dog handler. Should this have been used? Great fun yet again Stuart! :)

  5. No. The entire force has a break point once 50% are KIA. I counted orcs and wolves the same. Once you past 20 KIA, they start checking Courage every round. Those who fail, rout automatically. Hence, many of Ric's orcs high-tailed it. The dwarves have this waived so long as the gold is on the table (special scenario rule). If the wolves are counted separately, then their break point would be independent, once five wolves are killed. Not sure if this is a bit unfair on the orc player though.