My brother and I got the new rulebooks, and this was our first proper game under the new warbands system. Right off the bat I can tell you that I really enjoyed it, I think it's faster, more coherent, makes sense to me and, most importantly, I like the (for want of a better word) cinematography of it, lots of special characters with their followers.
Anyway, my brother put on a few special surprises for me!
He's painted and based his whole Harad army now! (See previous post and updates on his website: (http://paulslotrminis.blogspot.com.au/) He's also put together a special board, using some of his and some of mine together! You'll see pics of that in just a minute =)
Firstly, just what is happening...
Near the foot of a blasted mountainscape a river wends its way peacefully through an ancient battleground. The dead have long ago decayed away leaving behind little to show what had once occurred here. Goblins are scattered all through the mountains and the Shaman of one band, Shar'lok, has felt a strange calling to this specific location.
The Betrayer, meanwhile, has long felt an ancient presence in the idyllic locale and has had to spend some of his great will to bend Suladan to his cause, leading a small force through the desert wastes to come to this far off location.
And why? Because there are ancient artifacts of power around, left behind by the warriors of the past. Not only that, but an old, stone bridge emanates some sort of power, who knows what secrets can be found!
The game type is Domination. That means you get points for holding five specific locations on the map, center and in the other four quadrants essentially. You also get points for breaking the enemy before you are and for wounding the enemy leader.
The new game system (apart from changing some profiles) is really cool, your army is made up of warbands, each warband is a leader and up to twelve troops. You place each warband down at the beginning of the game by rolling a die. On a 1-3 you have to set up near the middle of the board on your side, on a 4-6 you can set up anywhere on your side. This made the game SO much quicker! We were done in 6 turns! (And I had 90 goblins to move every turn!)
Let's introduce the Haradrim Host (more details on my brother's blog).
Here's the Betrayer's warband.
The Hasharin's warband.
Some captain guy's warband - name your captains!
Some other captain's warband.
And Suladan's raider warband.
And in the other corner... (well, spread all over the map due to how many there were)...
Durburz the Goblin King and his drummers and companion goblins (each non-bow warband was full of 50/50 spears and sword and shield guys.
Kar'cha's warband - all archers.
Nar'po's warband - all archers.
And, just behind Durburz, Shar'lok's warband.
So here was the first awesome surprise for me when I got to my brother's place. The board was set up half with his nice green terrain and half with my murky moria terrain! How cool is that! A river divided the board so that you couldn't see the join so much. There are two bridges and two fords to cross it, so it wasn't a massive blockage.
Notice how close we get to start, that halved the game time (the boring half) allowing us to have action right from turn 1!
And what action we had! The Betrayer spoke his dark, sibilant language and tried to transfix Varnik, who used his mighty willpower (all one point of it) to resist the evil magic. He still couldn't take out the Watcher of Karna who opposed him. Meanwhile, next to him, some upstart goblin blocked a Watcher's sword while his goblin spear backup lanced forwards, skewering the evil man.
And after jumping the river, a goblin with sword and shield also managed to better a black-clad man blocking with his shield as he stabbed luckily forward with his sword. Two spear wielding goblins died with arrows in their throats from the Warriors of Karna (upgraded Haradrim warriors that are better with a bow).
Suladan led a charge across the ford and immediately set upon the goblins there, slaying two beneath the flashing horse hooves of his mighty steed. The raider next to him took on six goblins (three shields, three backup spears) and wounded Jornik the goblin captain, knocking the others to the ground!
Goblin archers, far to the back of the battlefield launched 26 arrows in volley fires, three Haradrim spearmen fell to the black-shafted deluge.
On Turn 2 both Suladan and Jornik call heroic moves, shouting "with me! with me!" The goblins skitter to their feet first and launch themselves at the humans. Unfortunately for them, Suladan and the other raider are much too powerful on their mighty steeds. Suladan slays Jornik and a speargoblin.
For some reason I didn't take many photos (or the ones I did didn't turn out very well). Suladan transfixed Varnik, but he didn't die even with the flashing blades of the Watcher of Karna at his throat. The archers were fairly ineffective too.
At the beginning of the next turn, both armies surge toward one another... I had literally twice as many figures! My goal was to surge across the river and head towards the back two objectives while holding lots of guys on the bridge. Near the end my two swarms of 13 archers could pop down and secure my two objectives.
Varnik takes revenge by slamming his shield into the face of the Watcher, while the speargoblin behind him darts forward and punctures the man's throat. The slippery blood spray must be responsible for the goblins next to him also defeating and slaying another Watcher. The Haradrim bowfire claims two more goblins near the bridge.
Durburz charges at the Harad Chieftain, who uses two might to tie the fight. Durburz wins the roll off, misses all his fate saves and dies at the hands of the Goblin King (does anybody else think of Bowie in moments like these?). Next to him one of his goblin brethren dies with a Harad spear in his guts.
Mur'baj and his remaining followers (the others have been picked off by bowshot) take down a raider, bringing him crashing down amidst kicking hooves.
And since I just painted him, here's another shot =)
In the most hilarious moment (for me) of the game, the Hasharin is brought low by goblin archers! The human shield in front of him was slain, then he was hit and wounded twice and failed all of his fate rolls! It was clearly meant to be! I dread to think what would have happened if he'd made it up the hill to fight my bow armed goblins!
Suladan, of course, continues his deadly rampage, charging into and slaying three more goblins to add to his trophy belt - he's a complete killing machine against goblins!
End of Turn 3 board shot, note that most of the objectives are empty - save the bridge!
Mur'baj heads off to one of the back objectives, but so do a swarm of bow armed Warriors of Karna, their bowfire takes out one of the goblin's followers.
The Betrayer attempts to transfix Durburz, but the mighty goblin king uses all his will (and some might) to resist the evil spell, then goes on to claim another human! Although it's not saying much, he's a lot better than other goblins at killing humans! Thanks to the goblin ability to jump, crossing the river in a swarm is pretty easy =)
Although hidden behind Durburz, Shar'lok's Fury spell keeps the goblins going, no need for courage worries and a 6 on a wound means that they just keep fighting on. Of course, it never happened, but hey, it's the principle of the thing. My guys just weren't dying in the right locations to maximise the spell!
The Harad men, sensing that the battle can't go on forever, make a stand in front of the mystical artifacts. Beset upon by goblin archers from in front and creeping green skinned sneaks from behind, how long will they last?
Suladan has created a bridgehead allowing three raiders to rampage across the river, five goblins fall to their swords and warspears!
One of the lagging raiders is swarmed by goblins who had jumped the river... He only just barely died, trapped by six goblins he was slain on the final die, having deflected eleven other blows!
Turn 5 and at the bridge, Varnik uses his might to help him take down a spearman, while his eager companions take down another, clearing the immediate vicinity of humans.
Suladan and his raiders head up the hill towards the archers, killing as they come. The thirteen archers manage to shoot one horse =)
Responsible for many a re-roll and soon to play a large part in a mass Haradrim exodus, the goblin drummers have kept the beat the whole game long!
Durburz uses his last point of might to slay another human and under the watchful gaze of his shaman and his king a swordgoblin takes out another man.
The goblins (somehow) continue to roll really well against the humans, keeping up a 1 to 1 ratio in ordinary fights. Suladan himself is the only real powerhouse! My dice were just rolling sooooo well today!
The Betrayer has planted himself on an objective, and the ever shrinking goblin band, arrows whistling past their ears, are on their way...
Suladan, Suladan, Suladan, will the blood never sate your desire for dead goblins?
Turn 6: The Harad force is broken. The Chieftain flees, though some of his men stay to fight.
At the bridge, too, some flee, others die to goblin swords and spears...
Three of the four here fled, the other was in combat against a goblin. 13 arrows later both he and the goblin lay dead, both full of goblin arrows. Hey, what can I say, wrong place, wrong time and I'm a bad guy =)
In amongst cowardly behaviour and bravery stands one Warrior of Karna who fends off FIVE goblin attacks!
Suladan is de-horsed by arrows, though (again) several goblins almost die to friendly fire. Suladan's band has charged up the hill against superior goblin numbers to hold them back from the objective... will the tactic work?
Yes! The tactic does work - the game finishes with the board looking like it does below...
Thanks to the bravery of a single Harad soldier who fought off FIVE goblins and survived, the bridge is contested, 1 point to the goblins. Suladan's charge has left only one human at that objective, 3 points to Harad. The friendly, but deadly fire of the goblins has left that objective clear, 3 points to the goblins. The two back objectives have solitary humans (well, one ringwraith and one human), 3 points each to the Harad army. The goblin army is unbroken (actually would have needed almost 20 more dead goblins just to break them) so they get another 3 points.
End result - Harad tactical victory! 9 points to 7!
The losers feel awfully triumphant - given another turn or two... but that's how the game works! Gotta keep your eyes on the victory points! Here are the surviving goblins... just a few =)
And a closer shot of the bridge and captains.
And here are the men who claim victory - and the spoils! Somewhat few in number, but large in gloating =)
Well, I'm tired and, though brief, that's all you are going to get from me tonight! Hope you enjoyed the pictures and the battle. I really enjoyed the faster action of the new system and am looking forward to our next game together!