Monday 11 February 2019 – The Fellowship have nearly made it through Moria. All they have to do is cross the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm (issue #22). Wanting to avoid a confrontation, they hurry along the long stairs, even Heroic Marching thanks to Aragorn’s free Might point each turn. But will it be enough to avoid the Balrog of Morgoth?
The Fellowship is underway and the goblin archers move to take a good position. When they’re firing their arrows and Merry gets hit (though not wounded), the Fellowship changes tactics and let the hobbits trade places with the bulkier, heavily armoured Gimli and Boromir. The jump across the gap in the stairs slows down the Fellowship quite a bit. Some poor dice rolling cause some Might points to be spend and the ‘big’ heroes to throw the smaller fellows (tossing with hobbits). Gandalf, having a pivotal role in this scenario as only he can break the bridge and thus assure a safe passage out of Moria, moves up ahead, not waiting on the slower pace of the hobbits. Meanwhile turn 7 has commenced and a whole host of goblin warriors has entered from under the archways.
The goblin archers block the path to the bridge so Gandalf has to wait for the rest of the Fellowship to catch up. Meanwhile he sorcerous blasts a number of goblins to their deaths. Turn 9 and the Balrog shows up. The Fellowship has quite the head start, but the goblins can really slow them down.
Fighting doesn’t go as smoothly or quickly as the Fellowship would like. The Balrog catches up and uses his Fiery Lash to grab Gandalf and put him into base contact with him. With a much higher Fight value, four attack dice, brutal power attacks and a ‘death by Balrog is really dead’ special campaign rule, versus a single attack from Gandalf, Gandalf, and with him, all hopes for the Fellowship in this scenario seemed lost.
Meanwhile, most of the Fellowship had crossed the bridge, where they watched Gandalf fighting the Balrog. Miraculously, Gandalf won the fight and even managed to deliver a wound to the Balrog. In the following turn, Gandalf sorcerous blasted a Goblin of the bridge to make way for him to move towards the end of the bridge. All he had to do now was survive the attacks by the goblins and land three strikes on the bridge in the turn after.
It worked! Gandalf survived the fight and in the next turn he managed to succesfully cast Sorcerous blast on the bridge, landing three wounds with a random roll (1-2 = 1 wound, 3-4 = 2 wounds, 5-6 = 3 wounds) that couldn’t be influenced by Might points. The bridge collapsed and Gandalf took with him 6 goblins and the Balrog himself, while the Fellowship watched from afar.
Post game thoughts
Wow, what a tense scenario! Initially I wasn’t sure if the Heroic Marches (which of course weren’t in the edition of the game at the time of this scenario / magazine) would cause the Fellowship to be able to move off the bridge without meeting the Balrog. But it seemed it was really necessary in this play. Had the Fellowship stalled a little bit longer it is very likely the Balrog would have made some permanent casualties. I was really surprised by Gandalf’s contribution to the Fellowship. He stole the show in this scenario, obviously, doing most of the heavy lifting. However he also pleasantly surprised me in the previous two scenarios, where his magic really damaged Evil. His kill count over these three scenarios is 17, more than Aragorn (13), Legolas and Gimli (both 10) and Boromir (9). Way back in the day I never understood why Gandalf was such a costly hero pointwise, having just 1 Attack. But he’s easily earned his share.
I made the terrain myself based on the instructions in the DeAgostini magazine. It took some hours to layer and paint such large areas of terrain, but I think it was very much worth it. It doesn’t look as nice and embellished as many of the terrain of the pro terrain makers out there, but for me it looks good enough and really serves the gameplay in this scenario.
Moving forward, the Balrog has been neutralized meaning he will no longer show up later in the campaign (had the Balrog survived, Evil could bring him to Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers) and Gandalf the Grey will return later as Gandalf the White, because he luckily didn’t roll a 1 after his death.
While the Fellowship grieves over the loss of Gandalf, Aragorn knows they have to move forward. Towards the safety of Lothlórien. The members of the Fellowship are taken aback by the heroic sacrifice made by Gandalf. They are done with fighting, but unfortunately, the fighting isn’t done with them just yet, as you will find out in the next scenario of the DeAgostini campaign where a group of goblins hunt the Fellowship down over the Silverlode …