Friday, July 2, 2010

Drums in the Deep - Harad vs Moria Battle Report

Well, as the previous post showed, I've been busy for the last week or so painting up a Balrog in secret - ready to surprise my brother!

We'd picked the scenario last week - Take and Hold. 500 points. That wasn't ideal for a Balrog only army, but what the heck! My initial force before getting the Balrog was going to involve Vault Wardens just swarming over the objective and holding fast to win by sheer indomitableness. But I have a new toy! Must use it!

Moria tactics:

So the plan is, with only a 500 point game, to have the balrog and as many goblins as I can take! You have to have a leader, so I’ve chosen a goblin captain with shield and then added 12 goblins with shields to the mix.
The plan is to kill as many guys as possible with the balrog (duh) and to get the goblins to the objective where they can just stand there and shield to try and stay alive for as long as possible.

My worries are that the balrog won’t enter the game until late (due to the reinforcements rule). Also you win judging by the number of models near the objective, so with so few models that could be a problem. On the plus side, the balrog reduces courage of nearby opponents, so if I can break his force they’ll flee more quickly =)

I’m hoping to be up against the Harad with their lower courage. Boromir and his friends could be tougher. Boromir has might, the Balrog doesn’t. So he could make some ouchies. Then again, last time he played he rolled lots of ones =)

Harad tactics:

I decided not to field the Mumak on this one, as we have a 500 point limit today, and that’s almost all of the points! Instead I’m going in hard with my heroes, followed by the watchers, three raiders, and fourteen infantry. My plan is to keep the Betrayer and archers together where possible, back and away from his forces, while my other units engage the enemy. Using the Betrayer’s enhanced poison arrow ability, I hope to pick off some people with the archers, while casting spells with the Betrayer from a distance.

Whichever side of the objective has the least of his units, is probably where I will try to gather any archers and the Betrayer, and then put the rest of my forces between the objective and his forces. It will likely end up a mass melee in the middle of the map, but I’m hoping the Hasharin and Suladan can work together to stay alive and thin down the enemy to breaking point.

All I need is to have more people near the objective when the game ends to win, so if I can keep the archers and betrayer out of harm’s way, but near the objective, I can move them in if I think there’s a chance that the game could end at the end of the round, to bolster the number of units at the objective.

Anyway, onto the battle!

Deep in the mountains, the Betrayer learns that an ancient gemstone was buried with a dwarven King of old. The gem has the potential to be worked into a powerful talisman and his master desires it. Whispering in evil, sibilant tones into Suladan's ear, the King is bewitched into heading with his retinue into the deeps...

The underworld is full of tunnels and dark spaces that confuse and bewilder even the sharpest minds. As a result the party is scattered, though they still know where they are headed for as they can hear the Betrayer's voice in their heads at all times, driving them onwards. Suddenly the narrow tunnels open up into a large cavern, so big that the glow from the pools of lava does not even reach the ceiling!

They are not alone. Skittering, chittering noises indicate the presence of goblins. There, in the center of the cavern is a tomb, a nearby chest glows with an eerie green light. 

This scenario relies on random rolling to get your troops onto the table. You roll and if you roll badly they don't even get onto the board! Otherwise if you're lucky you get to choose where they come in from. And if you're sort of lucky they get on the board, but at a position chosen by your opponent. 

I had priority so my 6 goblins that rolled well came in one group. Unfortunately my brother rolled well too and, in a great move, though unexpected, brought his troops in behind mine! It's just so normal to automatically deploy on opposite sides of the table that I was totally unprepared! The only caveat is that you're not allowed to charge into combat on your first move.

The Betrayer knows that his master's bidding is more important than any mere goblin infestation and urges Binky straight towards the center of the cavern.

Turn 2 - Priority Haradrim.

The goblins are attacked from behind in short order. They turn and seeing the larger humans there instead of striking back just do all that they can to stay alive, keeping their shields raised at all times and hunkering down to minimise their target profile.

The goblins mainly manage to deflect all of the incoming attacks, though with their total focus on defense they don't have an opportunity to strike back. Against the Hasharin, no amount of skill with a shield can save you, using a mighty leap attack, the Hasharin somersaults over their heads and slashes two goblin throats, spilling green blood with skill, poise and ease.

The Betrayer urges Binky to full speed and is at the objective swiftly. The green gem is quickly obtained from the chest...

As soon as the lid of the chest opens a strange wind seems to blow through the cavern. The goblins all screech in terror, but the Haradrim think that it is their human blades that have scared the greenlings. 

All too soon a red glow fills one end of the cavern and a terrifying roar can be heard, followed by ponderous, heavy footsteps. A miasma of pure terror, at odds even with that emitted by the Betrayer flows across the cavern floor and amidst a cloud of black and sparks of red a terrible sight emerges from a tunnel.

Seeing that this game could suddenly be over far earlier than I thought, I use my precious commander point of might to influence the Balrog's pathetic roll and he enters the board at a point chosen by my brother. Our house rules give you a point of might to be used on any die roll if you win a previous game, 3 points for a major victory, 2 points for a minor victory, 1 point otherwise. The last game was a draw so we each have a point for this game.

The Balrog raises a hand and a fiery, flaming whip flares into existance, flicks out, and wraps around a Harad spearman, his screams are cut short as his body is incinerated into ash with a tug from the Balrog. Bob, the spearman next in line, yells for help!

Amidst the ruins a goblin captain leads three troops into the cavern, drawn by the sounds of fighting and hoping to get some loot!

More goblins emerge from the other side and head towards a Harad bowman.

Turn 3: Priority Goblins.

The besieged goblins run towards the center of the map, hoping that the men won't follow them towards the Balrog. One says to the first one to move "you want us to move closer to that thing?"

They race around a rocky outcrop and find themselves suddenly within sight of Suladan the Serpent King. "You, my friend, are a genius." The goblin says. Suladan charges right at them from one side, the Hasharin, watchers and troops attack from behind.

Suladan's horse rears and smashes through the goblin's shield, trampling the green body into the ground into a gory green mess. The Hasharin spins, slices and dices, disemboweling another goblin. Two watchers and a spearman gang up on another, who manages to block two of the incoming attacks, but dies to a stab in his left side while defending his right. Another watcher and spearman similarly dispatch their opponent.

Suddenly the goblins are close to breaking point (with only 14 models, he only needed to kill 7 and that's 6 down already!)

There is a brief moment of goblin glory as the captain leads his lads forward, swarming over a watcher and overwhelming the human with numerous stabs. The captain leans down over the dead man and takes his long dagger - which was bigger than his own short-sword. The loot is good indeed!

The goblins near the hill all run for it, scampering up the slopes and turning to face the Haradrim, raising their shields defiantly now that they have the height advantage. The human archers let fly, but the goblins hide behind their shields and let the arrows ricochet harmlessly away. One of the goblins manages to fend off the human spear, next to him two spearman gang up on one goblin and between them manage to slip past the wildly defending goblin, stabbing him in the thigh and then spitting him through the chest when he jerks in pain. 

The Betrayer turns towards Bob and points towards the Balrog. In his head Bob hears whispers of how slow and painful his death will be if he doesn't do his duty. Bob turns to face the Balrog, a quick and painful death is probably better than a slow and painful death, though research in this area is obviously hard to come by. Getting the post death surveys completed is the real pain.

The Balrog summons another fiery lash, but Bob dodges away from it. Roaring in fury, the mighty beast summons a massive flaming sword and advances on Bob. The whispers of the Betrayer echoing through his head, promising sweet rewards for success and hideous punishments for failure cause Bob to become a whirling dervish. The Hasharin sees Bob move and decides to hire him for Hasharin training. If he survives.

He does!

In what can only be called "pulling a Boromir", the Balrog is beaten back by Bob. To add insult to injury, the goblin army is broken and at the end of the round the fateful die is rolled...

It's a 1!

The game is over!

Major Victory Harad!

So for all of you out there thinking that sometimes SBG games go for too long, they don't always! And people who say that the Balrog/Mumak/Dragons/Boromir/Aragorn etc. are too tough to win against. Just don't play to the death! This really showed that a scenario can really make for some fun and interesting plays!

Of course, we'd spent more time setting up, getting the game together etc. than playing at this point so we decided to play it out to the death just for fun - but the Major Victory and associated commander points would remain with my brother.

Rest of the game summary:

The goblin captain led his boys on to kill two more spearmen, then saw what was going on, grabbed some more loot and led his men away to argue over who got what.

The goblins on the hill were reduced to one brave goblin that held off for about four turns before running away down a tiny tunnel that was too small for anyone to chase after him, fending off about six Harad as he went.

Suicide Bob ended up finding out about the quick and painful death, but so far we haven't got the completed survey back from him.

From then on it was "stacks on" with the Balrog. The Betrayer cast a few spells, and reduced the courage of the Balrog once, but it managed to resist all other attempts to transfix, sap will etc. The Betrayer eventually left his minions fighting and, laughing in his hissing/coughing fit sort of way, disappeared with the glowing gem.

Suladan and the Hasharin both wounded the Balrog sorely, once the Harad surrounded the mighty creature. (In one combat there were about 36 rolls to wound!) There were enough men so that even when many of them failed their courage rolls (Balrogs are terrifying enemies!) there were usually enough to keep it trapped and taking double strikes.

It took until Turn 17, but in the end the Balrog won out, with three wounds remaining. The hard part turned out to be rolling 6s to win combats, the "curse of Boromir" was well and truly with the Balrog, who only actually won a few combats. Fortunately winning even a few combats makes for a lot of dead humans.

After game Harad:

I was surprised by a massive and deadly opponent in this one! A balrog has been added to my brother’s army! As luck would have it, all I had to do was kill 7 goblins, and make sure I had someone next to the objective, and if the game ended, I would win. It was a quick battle, but the Balrog made for some great photos! We continued on just for fun, after the scenario ended, and his Balrog really slaughtered my remaining Harad forces.

I think my ‘Goblin of the Aftermatch’ award is for a lone goblin who stood atop a hill and fought off tons of Haradrim turn after turn.

My ‘Spearman of the Match’ award is for the lone spearman, who pushed back the Balrog with his roll of 6!

After game Moria:

Woohoo! My Balrog is awesome. Sure, I may have lost. A lot. Totally thrashed actually. But I got to cause some flaming death as well! (When we kept playing after I'd already totally, completely lost.)

Thanks again for my brother's camera and photography - and especially for playing again, I know lots of you don't have good regular combats, so I know I'm lucky.

I guess it is sort of important to try and match your troops to your scenario! Instead of the 50 troops I would normally field in a goblin army, having 14 made for WAY faster turns. This was like "speed SBG", it took longer to roll the dice to see who would come onto the board than it did to play each turn!

If my Balrog had rolled to come onto the board with my initial lot of goblins the game may have turned out completely differently, but that's the way the dice talk sometimes! Part of what makes it a great, fun game in my opinion, where would the fun be if you knew what was going to happen - I have the DVDs for that!

Bob did a fantastic job repelling the mighty Balrog, so he should get lots of credit, but really, my brother just plain out-played me today. Bringing troops in behind my goblins, getting straight to the objective and charging Suladan in to box in my exposed goblins all contributed to a sound thrashing of me.

Of course, now he will know the fear that comes from knowing that your opponent has a monstrous beast. Now instead of me always worried about the Mumak, he'll be worried about a Balrog turning up.

And you just know that some time, some place, that there will be a Clash of the Titans between the Mumak and Balrog. So stay tuned =)


  1. I must admit this week I was a little confused following the battle (Binky?, Bob?) but none the less good fun reading about it. Can't wait for the Clash of the Titans.

  2. bob is ledgendary i have that exact same model and he repelled 6 knights of minas tirith and prince imrahil

  3. If you make a you tube channel it would be epic! keep up the cool battle reports :)