Saturday 09 March 2019 – Having lost Gandalf the Grey, the Fellowship hurries towards the safety of Lothlórien in issue #35 of the DeAgostini campaign. A huge swarm of goblins from Moria has followed them down to the Silverlode. Will the Fellowship reach the elves of Lothlórien in time?
Aragorn calls a Heroic March with his free Might point, while Legolas only moves half his movement to be able to shoot with his Deadly Shot (three times). Unfortunately for him, he rolls three 1’s. It doesn’t take long for the Goblins to reach and surround the Fellowship…
Some fighting ensues. Some precious Might points are used and Legolas loses all his Fate points. At least the hobbits survive and actually make it to start crossing the river. Though not explicitly mentioned in this scenario, I treated the Silverlode as ‘Deep Water’, meaning a swim test has to be made while crossing it, drowning the swimmer on the roll of a 1. The river section with the stones doesn’t require swimming tests, but is treated as difficult terrain. This means it takes quite a while for the Hobbits to cross the river. Any dead Goblin returns as reinforcement the next turn. Knowing these reinforced Goblins might not catch up with the Fellowship on time, some of them decide to risk swimming across the river in order to cut off the Fellowship.
A few Goblins die trying to cross the water, but the majority makes it through. Meanwhile, the Fellowship is getting more tired every turn. Evil only has to slay a single member of the Fellowship to win this scenario, which would have devastating results. In that case, Lothlórien will not be reached and play immediately proceeds with the next scenario, the Ambush at Amon Hen. This means our heroes will miss out on the gifts of the elves (such as Elven cloaks and a Bow of the Galadhrim for Legolas). Even worse is the fact that the Fellowship will then start the next scenario without any rest, meaning depleted Might and Fate points for most members.
Frodo finally crosses the river. Unfortunately, this also means the reinforced Goblins can now start at any board edge, including the two across the Silverlode! These Goblins can cut off Frodo before he reaches the elves (winning condition for Good) and other goblins try to reach the tree tops to slay the vastly outnumbered elves.
It’s a tactic that works for Evil. A goblin captain has made it atop the tree platforms and slays some of the wood elf archers stationed there. Meanwhile other goblins hold up the fellowship while their leader is on an elven killing spree. Galadriel and Haldir are attacked as well, though they are able to fend off the lone goblins there. The Fellowship is having a hard time killing goblins, though they are able to win most fights. All elves on the left tree platform have been eradicated by the goblins and more and more climb up. About to assault the elves on the right platform, Frodo calls a Heroic Move and is able to climb up the tree and come into base contact with Galadriel. The Good side wins, though it was a very close call.
This was a very close win for Good. Legolas, Pippin and Merry all nearly died at the hands of the goblins and just a single death would have resulted in Evil winning this scenario. Had Frodo taken just a turn longer, the goblin captain and his minions could have done some serious damage to the rest of the elves. It’s a good thing the Fellowship can rest now (and receive their gifts!). Legolas in particular will be very happy with his new bow of the Galadhrim, which has Strength 4(!) and allows one To Hit roll to be re-rolled every turn.
I liked the board of this scenario quite a bit. The forest is beautiful and the tree platforms are interesting. The elves weren’t allowed to leave the tree tops in this scenario. I am generally not a fan of the ‘endless horde’ rule where all dead models will return the next turn as reinforcements. Especially on this 3′ x 3′ (90 x 90 cm) board, the stream of goblins seemed just endless. While very thematic, it did cause some, in my opinion, plodding gameplay. The Fellowship barely advanced most turns, if at all. It was nice to finally play this scenario with the proper terrain and it’s a thematically successfully scenario that is quite unique. However the fun factor for me was not as high as in other scenarios such as the Bucklebury Ferry, Watcher in the Water and Balin’s Tomb scenario. Playing with an exhausted Fellowship, I feel the Evil victory condition is a bit too easy. That would have been fine if that didn’t have these damaging consequences I described earlier. On the other hand, it would’ve been interesting to see how different the campaign would have been if the Fellowship hadn’t made it. As a stand-alone scenario I feel these win conditions for both sides are pretty balanced. For campaign play, I think it would be better to allow Good to benefit from Lothlórien as a sanctuary even if a single member of the Fellowship dies in this scenario. As punishment for losing, the roll for the dead of the Hero roll could have a -1 modifier or something.
The Fellowship can now rest safely within the realm of Lothlórien, under protection from Galadriel and the other elves. After some time, they will have to move forward with their quest and will travel down the Anduin, where they’ll make camp at Amon Hen. But they are not alone …