Friday, April 20, 2012

Battle Report - Take the Hill - Dwarves vs Goblins

Battle Report - Take the Hill - Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game - Dwarves vs Goblins.

Okay, this is a big one. Stickyfingersss at The One Ring was the first person to post about the Oasis song titles in the previous battle report so I figured he should get some reward for encouraging my poor attempt at jokes. I asked if he had a request for a battle and he did - a big dwarves vs goblins fight with lots of terrain.

So that's what we set out to do. With warbands I am limited to not getting all my dwarves out (I need to get some more leaders) but I could come up with 1425 points (I thought it was only 1300 points, but then I remembered a giant eagle =)

I have to apologise for the photos, they're still pretty good, but I wasn't using my normal camera and wasn't 100% sure what I was doing with the stand-in camera. In any case, get yourself a drink and settle in for about 75 odd pictures!

We decided to play the battle for the hill. Victory points for having men on top of the hill when the game ends. It ends when one side breaks and a 1 or 2 is rolled. The catch - it's super gusty with wind and if priority is rolled and is a tie the winds gust up a lot. No archery that turn and (we included the old rule) all figures on the hill are blown to the ground! So much fun!

Anyway, on with the show...

Some of the caverns below the surface of Middle Earth are massive, this one is no exception. A sink-hole really, it is like a huge bubble just underground. It meets the surface at a roughly circular hole that allows a single shaft of light to pierce down into the cave. The light shines on the tomb of a particularly noble dwarf, Etako V. Buried with a rare Lavastone that had been mined far deeper, the jewel has been calling for centuries now, calling in a language inaudible to dwarven, human or elven ear, but compelling to those ears of a darker, more sinister nature.

Barukshathur the great eagle had flown down through the sinkhole to notice a new eruption of lava on the cavern floor. Sensing a great evil awakening he took flight and gave Etako VII the news. Combining forces with Brynmor, Boggle and three other dwarven kings, Thrar, Skodi and Rorin they reach the hill in darkness. A heart-stopping drumbeat starts up and suddenly the dwarves notice that they are beset upon by a legion of goblins, and something more ancient and far more terrifying!

Thanks to the new system, rather than having to slog for five turns to get to the center, most of our warbands started off there already! Straight into the action!

On the hilltop Brynmor with vault wardens and two goblin warbands, led by Mur'baj and Varnik.

Durburz, goblin king, drums and Shar'lok (the shaman) are just to the east of the hill.

Etako and his khazad guard are to the north of the hill vs Lurnik the goblin captain and his band.

Thrar, dwarven king, and his band of rangers steel themselves in the face of...

A balrog, giant spiders and a swarm of giant bats.

Board overview before the game starts... North is to the top, hill is in the centre, south is down where the Balrog is. You can see (or maybe not) two groups of 12 archers each (Kar'cha and Nar'po leading) on the eastern goblin side and in the ruined building near the eagle on the western side is a group of 12 dwarven archers led by Rorin. Skodi leads a group of Khazad guard on the southern flank of the hill. Boggle (shieldbearer) leads a group of shielded dwarves and Iron Guard just to the west of the hill.

Turn 1 priority goblins. 

In a hail of arrows, no fewer than twenty six goblin arrows are launched every turn from the volleying goblins. This turn a single dwarven ranger falls. In retaliation the dwarven warrior archers unleash a volley of their own, half as many arrows, but still they bring down a goblin spear bearer.

On the top of the hill the melee is entered into without delay! Brynmor uses his might in an effort to slay the goblin captain, Jornik, but his shovel clangs from the goblin shield, leaving the green skin shaken but unharmed. 

A dwarven warrior with shield dodges aside as a goblin sword thrusts at him, then he ducks under the spearthrust and hews his axe down into goblin flesh, spilling the first blood on the hill. 

As the Vault Wardens stoically block attack after attack, one goblin trips over his backup spear, tumbles forward, lets go of his sword... only to have the sword tip lance through the small slit in a Vault Warden shield and slay the surprised dwarf beyond! (so many 6s in a row!)

North: Etako swings forward with his axe, causing the goblin captain, Lurnik, to dodge back, then as the goblin swings his own blade forward his head is met by the massive uppercut of the Ironfist Gauntlet. Although the captain uses all his might and calls upon all his luck, nothing can save his brains from being splattered all over the ground.

The slippery mess of goblin brain makes this fight deadly dangerous, a goblin falls to the massive swing of a two handed axe in the expert hands of a Khazad Guard, but a noble dwarven warrior slips and is savaged by a goblin warrior and his spear support.

South: Skodi faces off against Varnik, it's no contest really, the goblin captain's shield is battered aside by the mighty dwarf and his two handed axe, the massive blow breaking several goblin ribs. The snapping sound of his captain's wound causes a momentary fear in the goblin fighting next to him, just the opening a stalwart Khazad Guard needs to chop the legs our from under him and bury a massive axe in the goblin's chest.

Balrog Advance...

As the Balrog and his monstrous entourage approach, throwing axes and arrows flit through the air. By some amazing dwarven skill, three axes smack into the huge evil creature and flames spurt through the air as three wounds are inflicted! The roar emanating from the balrog is heard and felt throughout the cavern.

Back up on the hill, hearing the shouts from their fellow rangers about their axe-throwing prowess, the Iron Guard pull back their own muscular arms and let fly, slaying two goblins near the tomb, including the spear support for a goblin that had leapt around the back of a Vault Warden team. The massive Vault Warden spear skewers the goblin, who had been expecting the help from his spear support only to slip in the blood splattered from the throwing axe wound.

Turn 2, priority goblins, the Balrog advances, while giant spiders spread out and skitter, leaping effortlessly among the rocky crags to engage dwarven rangers. A flock of giant bats hurls itself at the dwarven king, Thrar.

Turn 2 sees battle all over the hill, Barukshathur stands out above the ruins, feathers catching rays of light from far above.

In the north, Etako and his dwarves are hard pressed by the goblins and amidst the fierce battle the ring of metal on metal is loud. Shields and armour holds against all attacks, save for one goblin who falls to a Khazad Guard's enormous axe.

Barukshathur soars over the top of the northern melee to land and engage a few goblin stragglers, but their nimbleness keeps them safe from his razor sharp talons and beak... for now.

Atop the hill there is a similar brawl happening, with no blood spilt. Brynmor hacks viciously at the goblin captain, Jornik, who calls on all the mighty manoeuvres and lucky stars he has to remain, somehow, alive.

Four goblin archers have perched themselves on the hill and somehow manage to send black shafts into the lightly armoured (relatively) body of an Iron Guard. The goblins on this western side of the hill take heart and outperform themselves under the eyes of Mur'baj their leader, two more dwarves falling to rusty goblin weapons.

The southern melee is similarly bloodless, the cavern echoing with the ring of many parry attempts and shield blocks this turn. Only far down near the lava is any real blood spilt, the balrog, enraged at the throwing axe wounds, which still spurt small streams of fire, slaughters two rangers, trampling them with steam rising from their corpses. The spiders fare not so well, one falling and two others being wounded. The bats do their job, confounding Thrar and stopping him from helping in the battle against the balrog.

 Turn 3 started with some awesome goblin shooting, the goblin archers kill four dwarves! The balrog lost its fight, but there were no wounds. Thrar hit the bats for two wounds, scything through the thin membranous wings with ease. The green spider is defeated, and the carcass is kicked into the lava, disappearing with a flash of flame that momentarily blinds the other combatants, no further wounds are caused in this area.

Turn 3 atop the hill Jornik with his spear support manages to overwhelm Brynmor's defence for long enough to stab the mithril-clad dwarf in a weak joint, luck eludes the dwarf and the stab hits deep, drawing out a gush of blood. Goblins have crawled all over the tomb and around the back of the dwarven warband, splitting up vault warden teams. The chaos leads to another vault warden shield going down, to a stab in the back. Three other goblins fall to a mixture of throwing axes and sharp dwarven steel.

In the south Varnik dies, a Khazad Guard lopping the goblin captain's head clean off. Skodi uses a mighty strike to slay a goblin while next to him a lucky goblin pair manage to infiltrate a Khazad Guard's defences and slay him with a serrated goblin spear.

Here you can see the three arrow covered dwarven corpses amidst the ruined building, no more volley firing for the dwarves!

Turn 4 begins with goblin priority again! The balrog slaying three brave dwarves, immolating their charred corpses amidst the flaring lava flows. Thrar is continually plagued by the bats, but manages to kill another off, leaving one flying rat remaining.

Durburz, the goblin king assaults Brynmor as the hill is well and truly being overrun by the green-skinned goblins, dwarves are being pushed back all over the hill and the banner itself is under attack. Brynmor, sensing that the tide of battle is flowing the wrong way, lets out a mighty roar and redoubles his assault, battering back the goblin king, Jornik and their attendant spear wielding goblins and goes on to bury Lemya in Jornik's chest, knocking the wind from him and cracking several ribs. The rest of the battle on the hill flows with little blood shed as the cavern air goes unnaturally still.

To the north, Barukshathur is beset by seven goblins, all eager to add giant eagle feathers to their outfits. The great eagle is too skilled to fall to mere goblins, however and scythes through them, scattering them back and slaying one with a slash of a talon. 

In the south, Skodi racks up another goblin kill, and another dies to a two handed axe next to him, though a Khazad guard falls to a concerted goblin assault.

The orange backed spider is hacked to pieces, chitin flying through the air as rangers use their axes against it. The yellow backed spider, poison dribbling from its fangs, pounces atop two rangers, wrapping them in silken bonds to digest later before it moves on towards a new target.

On the western edge of the hill, Boggle and his troops begin to feel concern as the hill looks more and more full of goblins, including one impudent warrior standing atop the revered tomb!

At the end of turn 4 we were both ready to hand the game over to the goblins, but also wanted to see just how much they'd win by, so we played on.

Turn 5, two dwarven rangers manage to hold off the balrog, fending the massive blows off with their weapons and quick reflexes, diving to avoid the flaming whip and dodging to get out of the way of the sword. The yellow spider faces off against another plucky ranger, who manages to block the many legs of the massive, poisonous beast. 

Thrar finally defeats the last bat, leaving him ready next turn to get back into the main fight.

I may not have mentioned it until now, but on turn five, after the cavern's unnatural stillness, a mighty cyclonic blast of wind spirals down from the surface (priority tie). All stand still for a moment...

Before the massive winds buffet all atop the hill to sprawl on the ground. The dwarves pull themselves together first (for the first time in the game the dwarves get priority).

With dazzling aerial maneuvering, Barukshathur flies over the goblins who had been attacking it and swipes down atop Shar'lok the shaman, picking the goblin up... and up... and up... and dropping him to fall screaming down with a splat on the hard rocks. 

Brynmor and Durburz both call heroic moves to try and get to their feet first... the tiebreaker goes to Brynmor who sweeps up to his feet first to plant a good thwacking on the goblin king, but not heavily enough to draw any blood. 

Etako uses a mighty left hook with the Ironfist Gauntlet to smash another goblin, sending the body flying backwards, lifelessly. 

At the end of the turn the casualties on both sides are starting to mount ever higher (you can see them on the side of the table) there are roughly equal numbers on both sides, which is bad news for the less numerous dwarven army.

  Turn 6, priority goblin (five turns out of six now). The balrog sweeps over the two rangers, their hectic struggle ends in flames and blood. The yellow backed spider overwhelms the ranger it was facing, mandibles clicking in eager feasting. 

Thrar smashes the brown spider to a pulp, wishing he could clean his weapon of the green ichor dripping from it. 

The dwarves suffer greatly on the hilltop. With goblins swarming everywhere, more dwarves die around the hero Brynmor... who roars defiance at his assailants, Durburz, Jornik and four other goblins pile into the dwarf, who cannot save himself among the green tide and falls with numerous stab wounds. The hill essentially belongs to the goblins!

Heedless of the casualties mounting on the battlefield Etako's Ironfist shatters into lifelessness yet another goblin, though his stalwart right hand dwarf falls to a goblin spear.

Atop the hill all is not completely lost, the vault wardens fight back, two goblins dying to well kept weaponry.

On the western hill, however, goblin archers are taking their toll, three dwarves dying with arrows piercing their bodies.

At the end of turn 6 the dwarves are broken, but the game continues nonetheless. I really appreciate the sportsmanship of my brother. We play for fun and for the story and adventure of it all, so even when the battle is one-sided we still really enjoy ourselves! I hope you out there reading this are as lucky as I am in your opponents!

Turn 7, priority goes to the goblins (AGAIN!?!) The yellow spider is wounded, but alive, the dwarven ranger's weapon now covered in goo.

The balrog faces off against Thrar, after having slain so many of his warband, it is the dwarven king's turn to retaliate. Unfortunately for the dwarf, this ancient evil is overwhelmingly powerful. It is all the dwarf can do to stand strong against the flaming monstrosity. The flaming whip encircles him, but fortunately the mithril mail holds! No such luck against the massive sword, which bites deep, sending the smell of scorched dwarf flesh to the nostrils of all nearby. (Thrar had to use all his might and fate not to die!)

Atop the hill something has changed, the death of Brynmor has enraged the dwarves. As Boggle clambers up the hill the nearby dwarves echo his battlecry and assault. Four goblin warriors fall amidst the flashing feathers and stalwart blades and a Vault Warden smashes Mur'baj with his shield, stunning the goblin captain for long enough for the dwarf to swing around the shield with his axe, beheading him!

Etako too, continues to prove victorious, another goblin pulverised to his fist while a Khazad Guard slays another.

With Mur'baj dead, among so many other goblins, the balance of power on the hill may be shifting.

In the south, Skodi and his warband have almost eliminated the goblins near them too!

At the end of turn 7 the die is cast... the game continues! With the number of casualties suddenly skyrocketing on the goblin side perhaps the game is not as one sided as originally thought!

On turn 8 the goblins win priority (I know, it's completely ludicrous). The balrog again faces off against the Dwarven King, Thrar, ending his reign in a splash of lava and flame. 

The spider also finishes off the disheartened dwarf ranger by (funnily enough) slashing open the dwarfs chest and snipping out the heart to slurp between its mandibles as a mid-battle snack. Okay, maybe it wasn't that funny. I guess you just had to be there. And be evil.

Durburz summons up his willpower (yes, he failed his courage test) and charges the great eagle, knowing that he needs to slay the feathered foe to regain momentum on the hill. The move is ill-fated, however as Barukshathur is no goblin-fodder - the talons scythe through the goblin king's armour, though fate is with him enough to save him from serious injury.

Etako and his band continue the fight, the tempo has shifted and they can feel it, the goblins can too and their nervousness shows, three goblins falling beneath axe and fist.

Atop the hill, the plucky Vault Warden takes on the other goblin captain, Jornik, and slays him too! Reinforcements are here and dwarves clamber up over the rocks to join the fight.

At the end of turn 8 the goblins are a broken force! The dice are rolled, the game continues!

In turn 9 the mighty balrog heads up towards the hill, the clang and clash of battle calling it from the delicious warmth of the lava pools and dwarven blood.

And guess what... it's a tie for priority! Atop the hill all are blown to the rocky, bloody ground as the wind whips up again! It also means that the dwarves actually get to go first (for only the second time in the match).

Durburz, beset upon by the great eagle and a Vault Warden with a spear uses a surge of his mighty prowess to beat them back and stand up. The other goblins nearby are not so fortunate, in one fell swoop of dwarven fervour seven goblins die atop the hill! Boggle and his Iron Guard are well and truly in the mix now. Thanks to the shieldbearer and his valiant years of service, honour and integrity the dwarves fear nothing and their courage is emboldened. Not so for the archer band, Rorin flees with four of his troops as goblin arrows continue to fall around them and the might of the balrog can be seen flaming ever closer. (Thank you goblin drums, the minus to dwarven courage is very helpful!) 

Another goblin is slaughtered as it desecrates the tomb.

Etako is chilled to his bone by the sheer number of dwarven deaths that will be upon his head. He musters his willpower to continue the fight though. (He rolled snake eyes for his break test, but had all of his will left - fortunately!)

Skodi and his brethren are fearful of the balrog's approach, but fight on against the last couple of goblins.

The spider is already amidst their group, though the Khazad Guard closest to his king fends off the hideous beast.

At the end of turn 9 the goblins are still winning, but their casualties have skyrocketed. The die is rolled, the game continues yet again! Oh no! One more turn like the last one and the goblins will have failed in their attempt to take the hill!

In turn 10 the dwarves actually win priority, for the first time in the game (not counting the ties)!

Atop the hill the dwarves slaughter all opposition. Durburz dies to Barukshathur, five other goblins perish to dwarven blades. 

Turn 11 Etako and Skodi finish off the last of the warbands they fought against, leaving Etako free to head up the hill and Skodi to turn against the balrog.

But that battle will have to wait for another day... the goblins flee, with their king and heroic captains defeated and the hill completely in control of the dwarven force. The balrog, bloodlust sated, heads off back down deep tunnels to the depths of the earth. The dwarves have won!

With over one hundred models to begin with, the goblins were not left with many! The archers took a great tally over the course of the game and never suffered a loss. Apart from them, well, you can see!

The dwarves hung in there, with ferocious tenacity. The shield bearer, Boggle, really helped save their bacon with his courage enhancing rule completely rocking in this game!

But let's hear it for Etako and Skodi who fought like the dwarven heroes of old. The Vault Wardens were similarly sterling, they were up on that hill fighting every single turn for the entire game and most of them lived to tell the story! Awesome dwarven defence!

It's past my bedtime because this took ages to put together, but my short summary is:
What an AWESOME game!
So much fun! I can't believe that the dwarves won, but somehow I hoped they would! What a come-back! From the very unlucky priority rolls came the very lucky game-ending rolls that kept them in the fight until they finally outnumbered the goblins.

We often find that the dwarven defence takes a while to be really noticeable, but in a long game they really do shine, shrugging off blow after blow.

So Stickyfingersss I hope you got your money's worth on that one!

Obviously there were more combats in this game than in others, so I hope you don't mind the slightly less detailed report, but I have limited time!

I might post more thoughts on the game later, but for now it's off to bed! Thanks for reading!


  1. what a great game!

  2. Great Battle Report! Your writing skills are really good and makes the story really come alive. Have you ever thought about linking each battle together in a campaign and writing a small book? I think it would be great.

  3. Another awesome report, keep them coming :) and congratulations on winning with the Dwarves!

  4. great report, just remember that in the new rules a tie of dice doesn't knock everybody over anymore. It halts shooting.

  5. Cool idea James, maybe one day when I've got the time I'll think about that. A campaign might be fun!

    @Anonymous #2 Yup, I think I mentioned that in the introduction, we were using both the new and old rules for the wind as we really enjoy the fun value of the knock down =)

  6. Great read. Not sure where a gust that strong is coming from though in an underground cavern :)

  7. @anonymous #3 I think I mentioned a few times that the cavern is open at the top? (also in big multi-cavern systems you can get wind - resisting jokes)

  8. Yes, the wind is from those fire-beans the Balrog ate last night....
    Amazing battle report and nice comeback! I'm glad you have more time now to keep playing.

  9. Very epic report, thank you for sharing :)

  10. Awesome comeback... That happened two days ago with Dwarves vs. Easterlings, same scenario, the Easterlings had twice as many men as the Dwarves, but the Dwarves just stuck through and won it, 9-7 pretty awesome huh?

  11. Oh, and by the way I know you were playing with the old knock-down rules, but when you're knocked down, if you get up you can't charge, you can only move 3in/6cm, just FYI.

  12. Thanks all =)
    @Hasharin - Really? In my rulebook that came with the Mines of Moria set it says that a model on the ground can stand up for half his movement then act like normal "including charging an enemy".

  13. In the hard cover rulebook I'm pretty sure it states that. But I'll have to check when my friend whose borrowing my rulebook gives it back.

  14. "The spider also finishes off the disheartened dwarf ranger by (funnily enough) slashing open the dwarfs chest and snipping out the heart to slurp between its mandibles as a mid-battle snack. Okay, maybe it wasn't that funny. I guess you just had to be there. And be evil."

    ΗΑΗΑΗΑΗΑ! Nice one!

  15. Dwarven courage's great too, I played a game where it ended up being one shielded captain vs a cave troll and about 5 goblins. Goblins (except one) & Troll fled, captain killed remainders and was last on the table. Talk about close! :S

  16. Awesome. just plain awesome.

  17. This blog is inspiring. I'm starting either a Haradrim or Goblin army soon. How does this sound for a starting Goblin force?

    8 Goblins with sword and shield
    8 Goblins with spear
    8 Goblins with bow
    2 Goblin Drummers
    6 Wild Wargs
    2 Giant Spiders
    Goblin Captain
    Goblin Shaman

    And then at some point the Balrog.