Sunday 13 January 2019 – Welcome dear reader to the start of the DeAgostini campaign for The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game. Having been a collector and player of this game since the release of the first DeAgostini magazine featuring this great game back in 2002, I’ve always wanted to recreate and replay the events of the legendary The Lord of the Rings films.
The DeAgostini campaign (starting in issue #59) seemed the perfect opportunity for me to make this dream come true. Of course it required quite a lot of miniatures and terrain, things I didn’t have. By that time I was not a good painter, nor a great terrain maker. Of course one doesn’t need this to play the game, in theory you could just play the campaign using pieces of cardboard and some dice. So undettered I started the campaign, multiple times over the years. The farthest I have gotten was the second scenario in the Two Towers campaign (The Forbidden Pool, issue #63). I had many different interests so the reason I stopped was probably because I just forgot about it. By that time I used unpainted as well as badly painted miniatures and used pieces of paper as terrain. Nevertheless I enjoyed the games.
Probably more than 10 years later, with a collection sufficient to play the entire DeAgostini Lord of the Rings campaign, with painting skills that I deem satisfactory and the dedication to make suitable terrain, but most importantly with the launch of the newest and most streamlined edition of this beautiful game (Middle-earth Strategy Battle Game) in 2018, I decided to undertake the grand project of playing the entire campaign the way it was meant to be played (e.g. using the correct miniatures and terrain). I am using the rules for the new edition, which may seem an odd choice since the scenarios were obviously play-tested using different rules and stats. Yet I think using the new rules and profiles are the most fun. Due to the lack of an opponent I will be playing these games solo, trying my best for both sides. My goal is not to write extensive battle reports. Rather I will focus on the photos and write down a summary of the play. So without further ado, here is the battle report for the first scenario in this campaign:
The first scenario, Flight to the Bucklebury Ferry can be found in issue #37. The four hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin) have to make it to the ferry to escape to Bree. They are inside a forest and are being hunted by the Nazgûl. In this scenario there is one such Nazgûl, mounted, searching for the Ring. In this play the Good side had priority almost every turn initially, causing the Ringwraith to not make much progress.
The hobbits could therefore safely reach the forest edge without alerting the Ringwraith. However, due to the special scenario rules, once a hobbit left the forest, the Nazgûl would automatically be alerted. Being seated on his steed, it didn’t take long to come into contact with the hobbits. Multiple fights and some spellcasting ensued, the hobbits not wanting to leave their fellow hobbit behind. In the end Merry was mortally wounded and fell to the ground. In the next turn Pippin managed to kill the horse, meaning the Nazgûl could no longer profit from the Charge bonus. The wraith dissipated once his Will store was reduced to zero, allowing the hobbits to check on Merry and safely make it to Bree. Merry turned out to be fine and would participate in the next scenario as normal.
Wow! Being the start of the campaign, and being the first SBG scenario I played under the new rules, with fully painted miniatures and terrain, I was blown away by how much fun I had. All those hours preparing, making, decorating and painting the required terrain and miniatures really paid off. I found this to be a hugely tense and fun scenario. From memory my previous plays of this scenario have also been very positive. It seems a deceivingly simple and perhaps boring scenario due to the low number of participants, but I thought it was really fun. I think the Good side has better chances of winning (in 3+ plays over the years the Good side has almost always won without too much of a sweat). That doesn’t mean the scenario isn’t tense, once the Nazgûl engages the hobbits anything is possible and there is a very large sense of threat. I think there is a good probability that at least one of the hobbits dies. In this play it was Merry. Fortunately he hasn’t truly died (after a hero dies in a scenario in the campaign, a D6 is rolled. On a 1, the hero is truly dead and cannot be used anymore in the campaign). I would highly recommend this scenario, especially as part of a campaign like this one.
Hope you stay tuned for the next scenario, where the hobbits meet Strider and try to escape Bree.