Friday 19 July 2019 – Éomer and his Riders of Rohan stumble upon a camp of Orcs and Uruk-hai. What they don’t know is that the Orcs carry a Hobbit captive, Peregrin Took (Merry has previously been rescued by Aragorn and Gimli in the scenario ‘Ambush at Amon Hen). This scenario is found in DeAgostini BGiME magazine #18.
Éomer and 12 Riders of Rohan attack a group of 8 Uruk-hai Scouts with shield (led by Uglúk, who took over from the now deceased Lurtz) and 8 Orc warriors, who are led by Grishnákh. Uglúk has taken hold of Pippin and tries to drag him to Fangorn. This means he has to half his movement every turn. The Rohirrim don’t know that the Orcs have a captive, so I’m playing this scenario in such a manner that they are only interested in slaying all enemies (including making sure no one escapes). Evil wins if Pippin is abducted to Fangorn or all Good models are slain, Good wins if Pippin is freed and reaches Fangorn on his own or if all Evil models are slain. Pippin cannot be attacked, only captured. Good will receive 5 bonus victory points if they win, Evil will score 3 bonus victory points if they win.
The Rohirrim decide to hold their positions and let the enemies come to them. That way, they can take advantage of their cavalry charge bonuses and can shoot their bows from a relaxed distance. Not wanting to be sitting ducks, the Orcs and Uruk-hai move up, though they do this carefully to stay out of charging range the next turn. Meanwhile, Uglúk moves his prisoner away towards Fangorn.
The Rohirrim take down 2 Orcs by bowfire. The next turn, another Orc spearmen is slain by the Rohan bows. This time, the Orcs do move into potential cavalry charge range. Bad news for Good: Evil gets priority. Having played this scenario prior, not having the cavalry advantages is catastrophic for Rohan, so Éomer decides to call a Heroic Move. Grishnákh reacts to this by doing the same thing however and wins the roll-off. The orcs hurry to swarm the Rohan riders.
As mentioned before, the Rohan Riders really need their cavalry advantages in this scenario. Four Rohan Riders are slain in the Fight phase, whereas Evil only loses 1 Uruk and 1 Orc. The next turn, Good thankfully manages to retake Priority. However, Grishnákh can’t let that happen and calls a Heroic Move. Éomer responds by doing the same and wins the roll-off this time.
Nevertheless, another 2 Riders of Rohan are slain, while the men of Rohan only kill one Orc. Éomer successfully kills an Uruk and Grishnákh. He now sees that an Uruk (Uglúk) is trying to escape to the forest and hurries towards him. Another Rohan Rider also sees the escaping Uruk and also commences a chase.
There is still some fighting at the edges of the board, but the only thing that matters for the scenario is whether Pippin is abducted or freed. Uglúk only needs one more turn worth of movement to successfully take the poor Hobbit to Fangorn. Evil wins Priority. Éomer expends his final point of Might to call a Heroic Move, which would be enough to charge Uglúk. However, Uglúk responds by also calling a Heroic Move and winning the roll-off, thus taking Pippin to Fangorn.
Evil wins the scenario and gains 3 + 3 bonus victory points, now totalling 14 victory points. Good gets 2 points for killing Grishnákh, which means they now have 5 victory points. Because Evil has more victory points, they will get 100 bonus points worth of troops in the next scenario. Grishnákh is now dead in the campaign, while Éomer and Uglúk are still alive.
The above report is actually the third time I played this scenario today. The first time I hadn’t properly taken into account the movements with regards to cavalry charge bonuses at the start of the game and unintentionally let all the Orcs and Uruks swamp the Rohan Riders. This was catastrophic for Good and resulted in a very clear victory for Evil, even killing Éomer. That would have resulted in 8 victory points for Evil and 0 for Good! I do want to play this campaign in a fair way so I was planning on just writing up that report and simply going with it. However, then I realised that the whole thing was clearly a mistake on my part. I made bad tactical decisions because of my inexperience with playing cavalry. Because those decisions had such a huge impact on the game, I decided to replay it.
When I did however, I didn’t take into account that the Orcs also wouldn’t just be cannon fodder for the cavalry. This time Good just completely swamped the Evil models, which would likely have resulted in a major victory for Good. So then I decided to replay it one final time, now taking into account proper tactical decisions and manoeuvres for both sides, the result of which I described in this battle report. As you can read, Priority plays a very important role in this scenario. This is somewhat mitigated by both sides having at least 3 Might to call Heroic Moves, but even then the resulting roll-offs have a huge impact on the game. The above play I think is reasonably representative of the average of the two previous plays, slightly favouring Evil with Priority. In the end, the game came down to a 50/50 roll-off between Uglúk successfully escaping and Éomer and 2 Riders successfully charging Uglúk before he got away. Of course I had hoped the latter would happen, but alas, the dice gods decided otherwise.
Despite the heavy reliance on luck and dice rolls in this scenario, I did enjoy playing it. While any side can very quickly be decimated very fast, the scenario itself is fun and fast. I also really enjoyed the setting / terrain. The camp props such as tents and campfire are some of the first pieces of terrain I built for this campaign, I guess about 7 years ago. I also really like the Citadel Woods trees for representing Fangorn forest (saves me from having to make those trees myself, which I tried but wasn’t a success for me). Officially the participants mention 6 Riders of Rohan + 12 Warriors of Rohan, but the magazine itself encourages to use 12 Riders of Rohan and no Warriors instead. I agree with their recommendation, it makes for very fast gameplay and is more thematic. I would definitely recommend this scenario for standalone play because it is very fun, though I would put a disclaimer saying it’s very luck dependent.
In the next scenario, the Three Hunters and Merry witness first hand the destruction of Rohan villages caused by Saruman’s forces. They’ll have to send word to Théoden in Edoras. Will they be able to deliver the message?