Sunday 05 May 2019 – Orcs have attacked the camp where Frodo, Sam and Gollum are being held, at the secret base of the Rangers, the Forbidden Pool. This scenario is described in DeAgostini BGiME magazine #63. 12 Rangers of Gondor and Faramir protect their base against 3 Orc captains and 24 Mordor Orcs. Because Evil won last scenario, an additional 12 Orcs and a banner bearer are added to the forces of Evil. Faramir, Captain of the Rangers, knows the importance of Frodo’s quest and decides to aid their escape and protect them from the attackers.
The objective of the Good side is to move Frodo and Sam off one of the board edges where the Orcs deploy, to let them continue their journey towards Mordor. The Evil side wins if either Frodo is killed or if all the rangers (including Faramir) are slain. The game is a draw if Frodo makes it off the board but Sam is killed. The scenario takes place at night, meaning prior to a Shooting or Charging action, a D6 is rolled. Only on a 4+ can the action be performed, otherwise the model may no move no more that turn. Gollum can see in the dark just fine so he is the only one who doesn’t have to take this extra test.
Following Gollum as their guide, the hobbits cross the river, because that path seems safer. The orcs are moving up, but the ranger’s bow fire is very ineffective because of the lighting conditions.
The orcs are ready to charge some rangers and an Evil priority win causes some orcs to ambush the hobbits. Not wanting that to happen, Frodo spends a point of Might to Heroic Move. Not wanting to let anyone escape, the orc captain also performs a Heroic Move. Evil wins the roll-off and the hobbits are attacked. A ranger comes to the rescue of Frodo and Gollum, but Sam has no luck: he is paired with two orcs and an orc captain. Wanting to aid his buddy Sam, Frodo calls a Heroic combat. They slay the orc and manage to take some heat off Sam by charging into one orc in his combat, though they fail to wound him. Sam’s situation is dire as he loses the fight and receives 3 wounds. He barely makes it, with one Wound left, having spend all his Might and Fate points to survive.
The rangers are outnumbered, their shooting hindered greatly by the darkness. The hobbits have a bit more luck these turns now that most orcs are unable to find the hobbits in the dark, thus not being able to charge. Not wanting any harm to come to his master, Gollum fights in a rage and kills two orcs. Realizing Sam is so close to his death, Frodo shouts to run for it and Sam does so. He jumps to the top of the hill, though falls flat on his face after jumping down. Slowly things are looking better for the Fellowship.
But not for the rangers. Some of the rangers are bravely buying time for our heroes, so that the Ringbearer can escape. But they pay the price with their death. Below the river, only Faramir is left alive from Good and he is surrounded by many orcs, with no hope of escape.
By spending his final two points of Might, Faramir wins the fight, but is unable to wound any orc. A turn later, Faramir too dies and the orcs focus their attention towards the few rangers atop the waterfall.
Leaderless, broken and faced with a horde of orcs coming for them at night, two of the four rangers atop the waterfall flee. Our Ringbearer heroes are now free to travel further towards Mordor, but if the orcs manage to kill the rest of the rangers (or if they flee from their ‘Broken’ courage tests), Evil will still win the scenario.
A single courageous ranger remains standing on the battlefield and he tries to buy our heroes some time. Unfortunately, his fright has gotten the better of him the next turn, meaning the Ringbearer and companions haven’t made it in time towards the board edge, netting Evil another victory.
Having slain a named hero and having won the scenario, Evil gains another 5 victory points, placing them at a total of 8 victory points where Good still has 0. That means the next scenario to be played will be The Fords of Isen. Faramir rolled a ‘3’ on the ‘Death of a Hero’ roll, meaning he isn’t permanently dead, though he does have to do without his Fate points in the next scenario he will participate. The orcs have overrun the secret ranger base and all rangers have either fled or been slain. This was very much a military victory for the forces of Evil, though Frodo, Sam and Gollum did manage to sneak away and continue their quest. All hope is not lost yet, though things are looking dark for the Good side.
From the start I was worried for the Good side. With the cover of darkness, the ranger’s greatest strength (archery) would be muted. They were vastly outnumbered by the orcs and had to deal with 3 orc captains (and a banner bearer). There was no way they could just defeat the orcs and then allow the Ringbearers to move away. I played the scenario thematically, meaning I didn’t send every orc on the hunt for the ring. After all, they would have no idea that the ring is there. Still, I did play like the orcs wouldn’t want anyone escaping, so the Ringbearers were definitely hunted.
There was definitely some poor dice rolling for Good. I think maybe a total of four or six orcs were killed by bowfire the entire scenario, even though there were at least 4 rangers continuously shooting every turn. Had Evil not had the extra troops, had Good had some more luck with dice rolling, had it not been night, had the rangers still had access to volley fire (I play these scenarios with the current edition of the rules, so no volley fire), maybe Good would have actually won the scenario by letting Frodo and Sam escape from the board edge. That’s a big maybe. I definitely feel like this scenario is favourable for the Evil player. I think it is for this reason I didn’t like this scenario too much… Frodo, Sam and Gollum are so vulnerable, having to travel in the direction of the orcs. And the rangers are so incredibly outnumbered, especially considering their shooting in this scenario is statistically as efficient as regular orc bow fire.
The farthest I have gotten in this DeAgostini campaign in my life is right here, after this scenario. I think I just forgot about it after that, which was probably something like 10 years ago. I do remember not being terribly fond of this scenario back then either. Thematically I definitely dig it, but I think Good needs some form of extra benefit. I doubt volley fire alone will be enough. Not taking Broken tests may have also helped and I know you are not supposed to take them during Narrative Play. But not doing so didn’t feel right to me. After all, their leader and more than half of their comrades had fallen in combat, they were surrounded by a seemingly endless stream of orcs and their secret base was discovered. These rangers are mostly just regular men, having a Courage value of just 3. I definitely understand why some of the rangers fled.
In the next scenario, our eyes turn towards Rohan. There Théodred is outnumbered and ambushed by orcs, who are sent by Saruman to take out King Théoden’s son.