DeAgostini The Lord of the Rings Campaign – The Two Towers – Scenario 7: Restore the King

Saturday 28 September 2019 – The Three Hunters and Merry have found the trail of Pippin. They end up in Fangorn forest, where they meet the white wizard. The white wizard no longer refers to Saruman, but to Gandalf, returned to Middle-earth as Gandalf the White. It appears that he, together with Treebeard have managed to save Pippin from his pursuer (Uglúk). Nevertheless, Uglúk managed to get away, so it is likely he will pop up again later in the campaign. Merry joins his hobbit friend after deciding he has seen enough battle and bloodshed. Under the watchful eye of Treebeard, the two hobbits are kept safe, for now.

Meanwhile, the Three Hunters inform Gandalf of the danger that threatens Rohan. With spare horses from the Rohirrim and of course Gandalf’s faithful steed Shadowfax, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas and Gandalf ride with haste to Edoras. There they’ll find that king Théoden will not receive them with open arms… This scenario is found in DeAgostini BGiME magazine #51.

The Three Hunters and Gandalf the White arrive at Meduseld.

This scenario doesn’t follow the normal rules for SBG. The four turn phases are still there (minus the Shooting phase), but the normal profile characteristics are not used (so no Might points!). Instead, each character has their own unique characteristics. The board consists of 6 by 8 squares and the participants are Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf the White (Good) versus Grima, Gamling and three Rohan Royal Guard (‘Evil’). Every character can move one square each turn (but not diagonal, only Grima may move diagonal). Legolas may move up to two squares each turn. To fight, a character has to face another character adjacent to their square (but not diagonally). The person with Priority determines the order of the fights, as normal. Both characters roll a single D6, whoever rolls highest wins. On a tie, the player with priority rolls another D6, on a 1-3 Evil wins, 4-6 Good wins that fight. Legolas, Gimli and Gamling all get +1 on their Fight roll, while Aragorn gets +2 and Grima gets -1. Gandalf automatically loses each fight he’s in, because he’s solely focused on restoring Théoden.

The board is set, the pieces will soon be moving.

If there are multiple fights with the same character, each one is resolved individually. Whoever loses the fight backs away one square in the opposite direction of the attacker. If the loser is an ‘evil’ model, he is also knocked prone. If it’s not possible to back away, he remains in the same position and is also knocked prone (this applies to the Good models as well, so this is the only way for Good to be knocked prone).

If a character is prone he may stand up the next turn, using all his movement (and thus not moving a square). However, this is not possible if an opposing model occupies this same square. Normally no one can occupy an already occupied square, but this is possible if the other model is prone. This is therefore a good strategy to prevent someone from getting up. Finally, Gandalf’s goal is to get in base contact with Théoden. After all other fights are resolved that turn, both Gandalf and Théoden roll a D6. If Gandalf’s roll is equal or higher than Théoden’s for two turns in a row, the spell is broken and Théoden is restored. If this happens within 25 turns, the Good side wins. Otherwise, Evil wins.

Good starts with Priority. Their tactics include sending Legolas up ahead because of his swiftness and hopefully take out Gamling. Gimli and Aragorn will play bodyguard for Gandalf, since he can’t win fights. The plan Evil has is to let Gamling (their best fighter) stay back and protect Théoden. Meanwhile the guards and Grima will focus on getting to Gandalf and trying to stop him as much as possible. Grima can make use of his sneaky diagonal movements to do so.

In the first turn Legolas knocks a guard down. He then aids Aragorn in the second turn to knock down another two guards together with his pal. Moving up, Legolas manages to knock out both Grima and Gamling. With Good having luck with the Priority rolls, Legolas can move in and suppress Gamling, so he cannot stand up.

Luck remains on Good side as they barely lose a fight (the bonuses do help) and Priority is often in their favour. Now Gimli holds Grima, Legolas holds Gamling and Aragorn holds a guard. Gandalf can move up on the way to Théoden.

In these turns it never really gets tense for the Good side. They generally win their fights and their priority rolls and have managed to neutralize the most important characters. Even with the occasional Priority, Evil is unable to really bring the trouble to Good. In turn 9 Gandalf the White comes into contact with Théoden. The next three turns Gandalf rolls excruciatingly bad, will his plan to save Théoden fail after all?

In turn 13 Gandalf finally rolls a 6. Now he only needs to tie or beat the next roll in turn 14. This he does, both sides rolled a 2, lifting the curse of Théoden and restoring the king of Rohan!

Aftermath

Good wins the scenario. Since the restoration (or cursing) of Théoden is such an important event, the winner gets 6 victory points. This means Good now has 14 victory points. Evil remains at 21 victory points. Had one side had more than double the victory points of the other side, the next scenario could be a full-blown attack on Edoras (instead of at Helm’s Deep). Since this is not the case, Good will have some time to travel to Helm’s Deep.

Post-game thoughts

Things went quite smoothly for the Good side. It was a short game, but the rules were fun and a nice diversion from the normal SBG rules. It felt very much like a puzzle, almost like chess where you’re trying to visualize the steps in the following turns in your head. That said, unlike in chess the outcome of the scenario does seem reasonably luck dependant, since it relies so heavily on dice rolls (without making tactical decisions in the rolling, such as using or saving Might). I think with the right opponent, it could be a fun one-off game. I also appreciate the uniqueness of the scenario and it does feel thematic.

All that said, it wasn’t a particularly satisfying scenario to play. The board is a bit cramped and the resolution feels a bit random (winning a dice roll two turns in a row saves the king? That’s not particularly satisfying, especially since you have no influence over this). Still, I am happy to have played and it is such a vital event in the story that it definitely feels like it has a place in the campaign.

In the next scenario, Théoden orders the Rohirrim to retreat to Helm’s Deep. Their journey will not be without peril however, as Saruman has sent Wargs to raid their party…

3 thoughts on “DeAgostini The Lord of the Rings Campaign – The Two Towers – Scenario 7: Restore the King

  1. I’d certainly give the designers credit for taking a short scene and turning that into a scenario for a wargame! With that said, from what I can tell, it seems too luck based and a little short on strategy which I can definitely see why it would be a bit unsatisfying to play through. It is cool that the results of the scenarios have big effect on what occurs at certain points. I somehow didn’t catch that before and I think it is a great idea for any LOTR campaign.

    I love your Rohan terrain and Theoden’s Hall looks amazing. I think that is your best piece of terrain yet. I liked the close ups of the minis as well. It was good photography and hard to pull off I would imagine.

    It sounds like the next scenarios are going to be pretty epic in scope. Do you have a lot of hobbying you have to do before you can play them? I’ll be looking forward to it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kuribo for stopping by! Indeed, a good effort by the designers. I expect a similar scenario will feature in the upcoming War in Rohan book (hopefully with a bit more strategy and a little less luck), seeing as Gondor At War also had a number of mini-game scenarios that ignored the main SBG rules.

      Yes indeed, most scenarios affect future scenarios in one way or another in this campaign, beyond taking into account dead, wounded and tired heroes. Most of the time it is simply a small buff in the next scenario, but there are some important ones that result in different scenarios that are played or not played.

      Thanks very much for the compliments! Theoden’s Hall took quite some time to build. But I am happy with the end result and also quite happy and proud to have pulled it off, I never imagined that when I first had the idea of playing through this campaign in full some years ago. Since the exterior of Meduseld is never really used in any scenario except in the one possible situation that you get to play the attack on Edoras, I originally planned on just building those stone squares so it’d be suitable for this scenario (and save myself a lot of effort). However when things started to look increasingly bad for the Good side and the attack on Edoras scenario became increasingly likely to pop up in the campaign, combined with the fact that only having those stone squares without any walls would likely feel a bit empty, I decided to give it a shot and hopefully learn more about making terrain. Well, that worked. 🙂

      The photos of the close ups were actually done by my girlfriend, she is a much better photographer than I am (even though she’s not into miniatures). She actually came up with the idea of having certain shots (such as those close ups of the models) that I never even thought about (because I didn’t think it would be feasible). Now if only she could become as interested in playing this game as she is in taking pictures, haha.

      Truth be told I’m not sure how epic the next scenarios will be. In the DeAgostini campaign, the battle of Helm’s Deep is spread out over a number of scenarios, mostly with 600 points of forces on each side. So I imagine they will not be too huge in scope, though I have played some of them more than 10 years ago and I remember having a good time with them. I will need to paint Haldir and his elves, as well as building / painting castle walls and towers for Helm’s Deep. That will take some time, but I do believe the lion’s share has already been finished for some time now (painting all the Rohirrim and Uruk-hai). I will be using the scenery recommended in the magazine, which is more of a generic looking castle than a full replica of Helm’s Deep. The latter would of course be awesome, but would also require more time and is less versatile / usable in other scenarios.

      So I think the amount of hobbying required for the next three scenarios is moderate, though at the same time the amount of time I have available for the hobby is also shrinking somewhat. As a rough estimate, I think I can play approximately one scenario per month and hope to finish up the Helm’s Deep scenarios either before or somewhere at the start of the New Year. The scenarios after that might take a little more time because I’ll need to paint Treebeard and his Ents (hopefully by that time new Ents have been released so I can paint them all together) and I’ll have to think about sewer terrain for Escape from Osgiliath. The final scenario of the Two Towers campaign, Assault on Osgiliath will likely be the largest battle yet in this campaign, being a 1000 points match. The Return of the King doesn’t feature as many scenarios, but it does feature the enormous 2400 points match that is the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. So if we’re talking epic, I think that would fit the description. 😉 A lot of hobbying will be required for that battle, though considering the things I’ve achieved this year, if next year will be just as productive in terms of hobbying I might finish the entire campaign before 2021 (and then move on to other campaigns from source books, The Hobbit or even Battle Companies).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is a very good point and I’d bet you’re right about a new version of this scenario coming! I think removing the need for “squares” in the terrain would be very smart by GW. I’d love to see GW do an approach to a campaign like this one in the future. It would be amazing to play through where scenarios can change the course of the “plot” and that would probably be the ultimate version of the movies to play through too!

        Making Theoden’s Hall is well worth it and you could always play the Attack on Edoras as a one-off scenario down the road for fun. I certainly would with how nice the terrain looks! Compliments to your girlfriend on the photos as well. She picked great angles from which to take the photos which is something I try to do when I take pictures. I’d say you should enlist her as your official photographer or try to learn as much as you can from her 🙂 My fiancee has no interest in playing too and while she occasionally offers to play as she knows I have no regular opponent, I know the game is outside of her interests so I never ask her to play 🙂

        That sounds great about Helm’s Deep and the remaining Rohan scenarios. You will have your work cut out for you on the painting of the Ents since they are large figures and even more so with Pelennor Fields! You’re making great progress on your campaign and I think you’re achieving goals at a faster rate than I am so I’d say whatever you’re currently doing is working well! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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