Well, the dwarves have been painted, my brother has also been busy in the last couple of weeks, expanding his Haradrim army.
I'm still feeling sick as a dog, but couldn't say no to a game, it's been a few weeks since the last one!
The War of the Ring is over... Peace has settled over much of the lands of Middle Earth... Gimli has heard tale of a group of dwarves far to the South, dwarves that had caused much mischief among the Harad people. He travels to thank them for their efforts, as well as to establish trade with the unique metals, minerals and gems found in the south.
Finding their leader, Etako Ironfist, out on an expedition, Gimli introduces himself and before long is feeling right at home. These dwarves are different, but still dwarves! While banqueting, word comes in of a Haradrim War Mumak that has been out terrorising outlying villagers. Springing into action, Gimli leads a doughty group of brave warriors out!
Dwarven force: Gimli, 8 warriors with shield, 7 with 2-H, 7 with bow, 1 banner, 7 rangers with bow, 6 rangers with 2-H, 6 rangers with throwing axes.
Haradrim force: War Mumak with foul temperament, gnarled hide and rocks. 6 watchers of karna, 4 with swords, 2 with bows, 4 archers, 7 spearmen and a captain as commander of the Mumak.
First person to reduce the other side by 3/4 wins.
The dwarves emerge from their tunnels and charge on towards death and glory!
The first few turns were just running towards each other.
My brother has recently purchased a mumak (duh) and The Betrayer as well as some more troops. Because we'd never played with magic before, or with a mumak we decided to just play with one today and the other next time we fight. So it's only a 500 point match, but we were both playing with all new figures and rules - please forgive any stupid mistakes or bad tactical blunders that we made.
Below is an overview of Turn 4. My warriors are all charging forward on the left, with the archers in amongst the rocky spires. On the right my rangers advance towards his Watchers.
I can't emphasise enough just how cool and imposing that Mumak is. I mean, it's just massive! Here's a view from the eyeline of my archers, the Mumak is a board away and still looms over everything.
Here's a view from behind the Mumak, looking down (way down) on the warriors, who have spread into a wide semi-circle with shields in the front.
Three of the Haradrim archers atop the howdah draw back their bows and let fly, two arrows thwack into a heavy dwarven shield, one arrow punches through the shield, the arrowhead coming to a halt just a hairsbreadth from the surprised dwarves eye. (He rolled a 6 then a 3, needed a 4 on the second roll, phew, thank you high defence!)
Three of the dwarven warriors with bows are in range of the mighty beast, aiming high at the Haradrim they launch their arrows. One arrow thunks home, but misses vital organs. The Haradrim just shakes his spear and yells obscenities about dwarven parentage towards the distant archer.
All seven dwarven rangers draw back their longbows and let fly at the Watchers of Karna. Black robes hiding them in the shadows, it is not enough! 2 Watchers fall with arrows in their chests.
Turn 5: Priority Haradrim.
The Mumak storms forward, commander urging it onwards. It comes right up to the dwarves, not quite close enough to trample on them. The dwarves, urged on by Gimli, scream battle cries as they hurl themselves towards the gargantuan beast. One dwarf is too terrified to join in and just stands, smitten with fear as his comrades bravely charge in.
The Haradrim atop the howdah lift large stones and throw them to the ground. All that gravitational potential energy turns into lethal kinetic energy as the rocks accelerate towards the dwarven skulls below. 9 rocks are thrown, three thud to the ground just inches from the dwarves, 6 hit home. Fortunately dwarves have helmets on (they wear them while riding bicycles too - very safety conscious - apart from the whole charging towards mumak thing). 3 dwarves are crushed to death with sickening thuds as rocks hit home.
The archers and rangers catch the Haradrim atop the howdah with a withering crossfire. One man dies, one very lucky arrow shot snaps several connecting cables, reducing the structural integrity of the howdah itself. Now it's time to get up close and personal, Gimli and his melee troops roar and swing their axes with mighty muscles.
They dart in amongst the tusks, trunk and massive feet, strike hard, then duck back. Unfortunately a blow that would have struck a lesser beast is repelled by the gnarled hide of this particular Mumak.
Turn 6: Priority Dwarves.
A heroic move is called by the Mumak Commander, Gimli counters with a call of his own. The dice are rolled, the Haradrim wins! The Mumak lets loose a mighty trumpet as it prepares to march over the brave dwarven troops. Only Gimli stands between the massive oliphaunt and certain doom!
The Mumak strikes Gimli twice with massive blows from each of the main tusks, fortune smiles on Gimli once and as he is knocked to the ground by one tusk, the other whistles past just inches from his head. Still alive, he has single handedly stopped the Mumak in its tracks! The rest of the dwarves cheer and charge back in to battle, no cowards this time, Olin (the coward from last turn) is super eager to prove his worth this time.
Meanwhile, six of the rangers charge towards the Watchers of Karna, hurling their throwing axes with intensity! Having skipped breakfast that morning, however, the results were less than impressive. The Watchers of Karna, usually dour and serious, laugh out loud as throwing axes clatter haft first into the ground and surrounding walls.
The bow crossfire from the warriors and rangers again sends 14 arrows hurtling into the howdah, one arrow finds a target in a Haradrim eye, as he falls screaming from the howdah he narrowly avoids crushing a dwarf! The dwarf mutters something about the splatteriness of squishy humans. Somewhat discouraged by the buzzing arrows, the seven rocks thrown from the howdah all miss targets below as the Haradrim are too busy ducking to find proper targets.
The dwarves, fuelled by Gimli's heroic stance to save them all, strike fearsome blows against the legs of the Mumak. A massive two handed blow from Gimli, with the use of some might, and another from a colleague cause two wounds to the massive beast. It's eyes roll back in its head as blood splatters over the ground, the commander atop the great beast yells commands in the harsh language of the southerners and manages to quell the beast's panic, though it seems more angry than ever!
Below is an overview of the board at turn 6.
Turn 7: Priority Haradrim.
Again Gimli and the Mumak commander call heroic moves, again the Mumak wins! This time it swivels away from Gimli the brave and stalwart hero and it bears down on seven dwarven warriors (thereafter nicknaming the one closest to the carnage 'snow white'). Seven brave dwarves are trampled to pulp beneath the massive legs of the beast!
The dwarves attack again! Launching themselves against the evil beast they swear to avenge the deaths of their comrades. On the other side of the battlefield, rangers are climbing the ruined walls and bearing down on the remaining four Watchers.
Two of the Watchers fire arrows, at such short range they both thunk into a ranger's chest. The hardy dwarf shrugs off the attacks at first, but then he has difficulty breathing and soon after his eyes roll back into his head, his tongue lolls out and he falls dead, poisoned by the tip of the evil men's arrows.
Retaliating, six throwing axes whirl through the air and thwack meatily home, two Watchers fall dead with axes splitting gashes into their bodies.
Another 14 dwarven arrows flash through the air towards the Haradrim. Although seven arrows hit home, none do any permanent damage. Two Haradrim are wounded in the arms and legs and the howdah collects more pincushioning, but nothing fatal.
Even with the arrows whistling past their heads, the Haradrim throw rocks down once more onto the dwarves, this time they slay the standard bearer and his nearby companion. With blood and dwarven internal organs splattered over the backs of the attacking dwarves, they slip and the melee action goes against them. Even with their mighty armour and sturdy dwarven built shields, three of them fall to the goring tusks and wildly thrashing trunk of the mighty beast.
The battle from a distance... So many poor, crushed, dwarven bodies. We were constantly amazed by the size comparison, how tiny the dwarves looked next to the mumak! So cool!
Turn 8: Priority Dwarves. Gimli and the last dwarven warrior beat a tactical retreat, heading back to regroup with the rangers. The 2-handed rangers swarm over the last two Watchers of Karna, axes gleaming. The archers spread out and back off, just in case.
The Mumak tramples towards the warrior archers, smashing through stone formations as though they were paper tissue.
Rocks hurtle from the Haradrim, but the bumpy ride from the rock formation smashing causes them to all fall wide of their targets. Steadying themselves, the archers all let fly once more, this time striking true and killing two of the Haradrim atop the howdah. The dwarves cheer as the falling men scream to their deaths.
The Watchers of Karna show why they are such feared close combat specialists. Blades whirling, they parry aside the two handed axes of the dwarves, one of whom falls beneath the bladed whirlwind.
At the end of Turn 8 it is still anybody's game! The tough as nails dwarven close combat experts have been decimated, can the archers hit enough to take out the rest of the howdah dwellers? Here's a fun shot of one of the tactically withdrawing dwarves...
Turn 9: Priority Dwarves.
Throwing axes at the ready, the rangers charge into combat with the Watchers, launching whirling axes as they come, again they all miss, the black robes of the Watchers blurring their profiles as they dodge as though dancing.
The warrior archers back further away from the Mumak, the ranger archers bear forward to keep the beast in range.
The Mumak reverses direction and heads back towards the rangers!
The bows are still in range, and the warriors unleash a swarm of arrows at the rear end of the mighty Mumak. Another lucky shot unravels more ropes from the howdah and two more warriors are spitted, falling to their deaths.
The rangers, shocked by the suddenly looming Mumak all fire wildly and although several arrows strike the Mumak and the howdah, no real damage is done. With the weaker ropes and all of the arrows fired so far, the howdah sways and the Haradrim on top keep getting splinters! It only serves to enrage them further. If the dwarves could launch lemon juice at them the battle would surely be over quickly.
On the side, three dwarves take on a Watcher, who ducks, whirls, and stabs outwards, spitting one dwarf through his ample guts and killing him. Four dwarves take on his compatriot and the battle is so evenly matched that only a bare slip of the dice allow the Watcher to win the fight, but too closely to allow him to manage a wound.
Turn 10: Priority Dwarves. A close range launching of throwing axes allow the rangers to finish off the last two Watchers, although deadly in close combat, they fall far too easily to ranged attacks.
One brave dwarf knows that he needs to throw himself in the path of the Mumak, Gimli style, to save the ranger archers from certain doom. The Mumak senses his approach and blares its mighty trumpet right in his face. Terrified, he cannot take any further step towards it.
The Mumak then strides forward, trampling a ranger beneath its feet, though the rest managed to back away further.
Rocks thrown from the howdah manage to slay two more dwarves, including the one who was terrified, at least he won't have to live with his cowardly failure. Always look on the bright side. The Mumak's rapid motion has carried it away from the warrior archers, whose short bows don't have the range to do any damage. The rangers, scared though they are, are rallied by Gimli and five arrows flash up, killing two more Haradrim!
If the Haradrim lose one more man they lose the battle. The dwarves are one from breaking.
Turn 11: Priority Haradrim. The Mumak tramples over two more rangers, crushing their valiant bodies to pulp and leaving the archers with only the commander as a target, high above the battlefield. They shoot, but the commander has better armour and laughs at the arrows that thwack into the platform around him. The dwarven force is now broken.
Although the Harad force was broken some time ago, the Mumak and guys in the howdah don't have to roll, feeling nigh invincible!
Turn 12: Priority Dwarves. Four dwarves decide that news of this incident must reach Etako at any cost and head off to bear the report to him (not running cowardly away, honest).
The Mumak bears down towards the remaining dwarves, skittish of the lava, the commander skilfully brings the Mumak to rock throwing distance.
Four throwing axes from rangers thunk into the mighty legs of the beast, sticking and drawing blood, but not enough for the Mumak to even notice! Gimli hurls his throwing axe also, but again, the impact of such a small weapon fails to cause a serious wound.
One rock smashes a dwarf, bowling him screaming into the lava where he disappears in a cloud of smoke and steam. The three remaining archers know that it's all up to them, the game will be over if they can't kill one more Haradrim warrior. They take aim carefully, while the attention is on the mass of rangers near the lava.
The arrows fly through the air, their aim is true! Another Haradrim falls to his death, splashing into the lava and splattering burning chunks of magma onto the nearby rangers, setting a few cloaks on fire!
Although a close call, a minor victory for the dwarves!
Gimli leads the remaining rangers home, full of tales of the fight against the mighty Mumak.
Such a close, close game. If I hadn't taken so many archers I would have had no chance whatsoever. It was much faster than most of our games, my brother only really had to move a couple of pieces per turn!
I've learned that close combat with a Mumak is not a bright idea! Still, my stumpy little legs mean that the melee troops are really there to try and hold it in place while the archers try to shoot the men on top. We also weren't 100% sure about how line of sight works for shooting up at the howdah. We ended up just deciding that if he could shoot at me, I could shoot at him.
Gimli's solo stopping of the Mumak trample, way back near the beginning of the game, probably stopped me from losing, my guys were so bunched up at that stage of the game that a trample past Gimli would've killed a whole mess of dwarves!
The dwarves are so different from the goblins. Their archers actually hit and kill stuff. They're so tough, really high defences were good against arrows and close combat guys, but nothing can really protect you against a Mumak!
Next match we'll probably have a go with The Betrayer to learn a little about how magic works.