Last Third of the Battle of Five Armies:

On the west side of the Running River we pick up the action on Turn 11 where we left of a month ago.  The Warg Riders are in sorry shape, having lost 2/3rds of their command, still they fight on as their morale is linked to the entire Goblin Horde.  They regroup and charge into their hated Elvin foe, as Thranduil’s army attempts to abandon their position in order to rally to the King Under the Mountain.  This is not exactly the smartest tactical move, as the remaining Elves were in a good position on a ridge, waiting to release a maelstrom of missile fire on the Goblins should they advance against their well defended position.  The rules attempt to follow “The Hobbit,” however, and dictate that when Thorin ventures out of his mountain fortress, that the allied armies will rally to his side for a heroic Last Stand.  Facing off against a still formidable force of Blog’s Guards and assorted other unsavory forces of EVIL, the Elves don’t make it very far before they are pinned down on the west side of the Running River, unable to cross it and defend their new allies.  Of course, by confronting so many Goblins, they are helping their allies all the same. 

In the center, Dale’s Men regroup in order to once again cross over to the west side as they are already protecting the Dwarven King, and wish to renew their battles with Bolg’s Nasties. 

Perhaps the most fluid and interesting part of the battle takes place on the East side of the river, where the Dwarves have rallied around their cousin Thorin, hoping to share in the spoils of the Dragon Smaug’s Horde, they have no missiles themselves being armed with Mattox, so these well armored veterans of the Goblin Wars charge fearlessly into teeth of the Goblin Archers, who for the most part continue to turn tail and run, as they had done against the limited Dwarven assault previously in the battle.  This time, the Dwarves give it everything they’ve got, besetting the hapless archers with their full might.  The archers route back through their elite forces as usual.  The Goblin Leader unable to rally so many cowardly hordes. 

Meanwhile, the Eagles continue their onslaught against the Goblins entering the fray from above the Lonely Mountain.  They are almost unstoppable, but the Goblins do manage to put of a staunch defense and even manage to hold out with a couple units left attacking down the western spur until the end of the battle.

On turn 13, Beorn finally shows up from the south and makes a direct charge for Bolg; he can’t get to him in one turn, however, and one of Bolg’s Guard units heads off the mighty werebear and manages to engage him until the end of the battle.  This is a good thing for Bolg, as he is a powerful Goblin but really no match for Beorn (being 2 combat classes lower). 

Meanwhile back on the eastern side of the river, the Dwarves have attempted to continue their route of the Goblin foe, but they are stopped against the elite goblins that have been reinforcing the panicked archers.  These goblins are tough and there are about 400 of them.  By the end of the game, they manage to destroy the fist Dwarven unit taking Thorin Oakenshield with them to their graves!  His death was glorious, and many a good song will be written about the gregarious King Under the Mountain who wished to share his treasure with his friends: The Free Peoples of Middle Earth (these songs always give the benefit of the doubt to departed hero).   

As the last turn comes to a close, the allied armies fight astoundingly well, scoring kill after kill against the goblins!  In the end, they have managed to kill exactly ½ the Goblin total force, demoralizing the goblins and giving the Free Peoples a victory as the remaining Goblins, Wargs and wolves flee in terror as they believe all is lost. 

 What I like about this result is that it went all the way to the last turn in order to determine the victory, i.e., the game was nearly a draw.  I thought the balance was good as well, but the Goblin players thought they were doomed from the start.  I don’t agree with that assessment, however, and will make a few rules improvements based on the results, but I don’t believe the game was substantially unbalanced.  There were scads of ½ dead allied units at the end, and the Elves getting close to their demoralization level which would have allowed the Master’s of EVIL to concentrate all their forces against the remaining men and dwarves.  I intend to play the scenario again shortly with these few rules improvements and a different group of gamers.  In any case, all the players had a good time and that’s the important thing.  The players especially enjoyed arguing about the game’s flaws, and why one side was doomed from the start – but miniature gamers enjoy arguing (over anything from bad luck, to stupid rules to cock dice) so the play test was a big success.

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One Response to Last Third of the Battle of Five Armies:

  1. Cameron says:

    Excellent, Destro!  I wish I was closer to join in the festivities!!

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