DeAgostini The Lord of the Rings Campaign – The Two Towers – Scenario 10: Retreat to the Keep

Wednesday 1 January 2020 – After holding the Deeping Wall just long enough, our Heroes will try to retreat to the Keep with Théoden, hoping for Gandalf to arrive with reinforcements. Théoden will not simply leave his post however and the Uruk-hai are very numerous. This scenario is found in DeAgostini BGiME magazine #30, with different participants as discussed below.

Both sides consists of an army worth 600 points. Evil wins if either Théoden or Aragorn is slain. Good wins if Théoden is in the Keep at any turn, without any evil model being with him. However, Théoden may not leave the castle wall he starts on until either 10 turns have passed or the gate has been breached. In turn 10 the surviving heroes from the last scenario (Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli) will join the board via the ‘Deeping wall’ edge, which is the edge to the left. Since the Uruk-hai are so numerous, the ‘Endless Horde’ rule is in place, meaning any Evil model that leaves the board returns at the start of the next turn and can immediately make a Move. After turn 10 or if the gate has been breached, they can also enter via the ‘Deeping wall’ edge. For the Rohan warriors the ‘Endless Horde’ rule is also in place, to represent the forces Théoden has kept in reserve.

The Uruk-hai march towards the gate, while Good tries to shoot down the battering ram bearers. No hits.

The Uruks press on while Rohan shooting and even throwing spears is still abysmal.

The first ladders are being raised and climbed, while one Uruk battering ram bearer has been pierced by one of the spearthrowers on top of the gate.

The first fights have started and the Uruks fight an uphill battle on their siege ladders. No Good model is harmed and quite some Uruks tumble down, sometimes falling to their death.

Good has priority and Théoden spends a might point to knock down a siege ladder with a couple of Uruk-hai on it. On the left side another siege ladder has been knocked down, killing all Uruks that were on it.

The heavily armoured gate suffers a wound caused by the battering ram (it has 2 wounds). The next turn (turn 5), an Uruk-hai captain and a couple of Berserkers join the battering ram bearers and the captain spends a Might point to cause the final wound on the door, which means the gate is now wide open. Théoden may now retreat to the Keep.

However, the king of Rohan is busy fending for his life, as an Uruk-hai captain has ambushed him. Meanwhile on the left side of the castle some of the defending Rohirrim have died and Gamling could be in danger. The first Uruks march through the gate, hoping to storm the Keep next.

Théoden remains occupied with the Uruk-hai captain and fails to smite down the siege ladder. Meanwhile, all Rohan defenders over at Gamling’s side have died, meaning Gamling is quickly swarmed by Uruk-hai.

The Uruk-hai captain falls down, finally allowing Théoden to retreat to the keep. However, a whole host of Uruk-hai have now made it through the gate, blocking the way. The two courageous spearthrowers atop the gate have now made it down, hoping to buy some time for reinforcements (our three heroes) to arrive, even though they know they’ll have to buy this time with their inevitable death.

These spearmen manage to hold the Uruk-hai off for a couple of turns, achieving this by shielding. Just before both Rohan men die, a glimmer of hope arrives as Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli enter the board. Legolas goes into archer mode, while Gimli attacks the battering ram bearers and Aragorn heads straight to the moshpit of Uruks in the narrow corridor. It is too late for Gamling, after having survived about 5 or 6 turns being vastly outnumbered, he finally succumbs to his wounds. He died bravely.

Meanwhile, Théoden and his men have made it down. The Uruk-hai are not yet aware of this, which means the Rohirrim have a chance to close in on the Uruks. However, there is no way to sneak past them, so their only hope is to charge into battle.

A number of turns pass as The Three Hunters manage to survive and occasionally kill an Uruk or two, but more Uruks keep pouring on the board. Théoden slays the Berserker he sneaked up on, but once the Uruks are aware of his presence he gets cornered as Evil gets priority yet again.

Aragorn’s luck had to eventually run out and in turn 15 he rolls a ‘3’ highest and doesn’t have enough Might points to compensate. Being surrounded by 10 Uruk-hai, he dies and Evil wins the game.

Aragorn’s desperate stand

Aftermath

Evil wins and has slain two named Heroes, netting 3 + 2 + 2 = 7 victory points. Neither Gamling nor Aragorn are permanently dead, but they did lose all their Fate points for the next scenario they participate in. Evil now has 33 victory points, while Good has 19. However, I’ve been thinking and I feel this whole victory points system is quite unfair for the Good player. The reason is that almost every scenario contains named Good heroes but very few contain named Evil heroes. The magazine doesn’t actually specify that the Hero has to be named, but to be fair it never really makes that distinction for anything, at least not in the Dutch translation that I own. I feel that netting 2 victory points for any dead Hero (including captains) is also not fair, so I have come up with a possible solution: if no named Heroes die in a scenario, that player also gets 2 victory points. Applying this retroactively to the Two Towers campaign, Good gains 4 x 2 = 8 victory points, then totalling 25. There is no effect for the next scenario.

Post-game thoughts

This was a very intense and exciting scenario. I’ve made a number of tactical mistakes though. The most severe one was putting Théoden on the right wall. That was not smart at all, as it was very likely the gate would be breached and that would trap Théoden there. It would’ve been better to put Théoden with Gamling on the left wall, giving them both more survivability and allowing Théoden to actually retreat to the Keep and giving Good a chance of actually winning the game. If I hadn’t done that and Evil hadn’t had Priority for about 7 turns straight, Good could have won the scenario.

However the scenario was too exhausting to replay it right away so I’ll just go with this. I’m still not a fan of the ‘Endless horde’ rule, though I do understand why it’s often used and I can’t think of a good alternative. I think this scenario is fairly balanced (if you put Théoden on the left wall). Also I believe it would be better to not let Evil choose where the Uruk reinforcements appear after turn 10 or breaking the gate. Instead there could be a 50/50 chance the respawning Uruk could appear at the Deeping wall edge or the frontal assault edge. Otherwise I imagine it would be quite a slog to get through that final journey to the Keep.

But aside from my mistakes and suggestions for improvement, I think this is a really fun scenario and one of the better ones I played recently. It is quite exhausting to play though, I can’t imagine how tiresome the Battle of the Pelennor Fields will be when I get to play that one. In the War in Rohan book a new version of this scenario is detailed, though it’s quite different. In that version the three hunters have to move through a horde of Uruk-hai to make it to the keep, where Théoden, Gamling and some warriors of Rohan are fending off the Uruk attackers. The layout is quite a bit different as well. I do think that scenario could be quite interesting and fun to play.

In the next scenario, the Ents have awoken and learn of Saruman’s betrayal. That means they have unfinished business in Isengard…

2 thoughts on “DeAgostini The Lord of the Rings Campaign – The Two Towers – Scenario 10: Retreat to the Keep

  1. This is another fantastic report! The intensity of the scenario and the heroics of the good side were fun to read about. The pictures look really nice too and I appreciate how many you included as it made it easy to see everything that happened in the battle.

    I agree with your conclusions that good side seems to be at a real disadvantage in the campaign as a whole and I’ve been wondering if the earlier losses are making it harder to win later scenarios or not. Regardless, I can’t help but wonder if a different campaign system (like the one in the Journey books or the one started in the Hobbit era that has been been carried up until now) will be more to your liking. I really do hope that GW does a new version of the Journey books one day as that would be heaven for people like us 🙂

    I also know exactly what you mean about exhausting too! I felt that way with Roast Mutton which had much fewer models but still was mentally tiring with so many rules to remember. Having a large number of models with different rules is really tough on a solo player and I’m hesitant to play scenarios that have that kind of setup in the future since it takes so much hobbying time to even be able to play them. With that said, I’m hopeful that you enjoy the Return of the King scenarios and that larger scenarios that we both play don’t continue to present this kind of problem.

    I’m looking forward to your next report, as always! Any hints as to what the next one will be? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your comment. Yeah, I can’t imagine GW not redoing the Journey books for LotR, especially with their steady stream of new releases and reworkings of older scenarios. My hope is that they’ll take their time to playtest it to great lengths and do a good job translating the events of the books and films into the game (hopefully versions for both, like in Gondor at War). I don’t mind waiting a while longer for it, as this means more profiles and models are added through new supplements, which could then be used in the greatest saga of all time (in my humble opinion).

    Yeah the amount of rules to remember also really drains you mentally! Not so much so in this scenario (fortunately), but I also play The Lord of the Rings: The Living Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games and the Saga quests become really complex with so many rules in place at any one point, it’s very easy to make mistakes. I can imagine playing scenarios with Thorin’s Company would be quite exhausting.

    The next scenario will be Treebeard and another Ent marching into Isengard, hoping to break the dam and release the river. That should be great fun and I’m really looking forward to playing with Ents! They are some of my favourite creatures in the world of Middle-earth and I’m really curious how they’ll perform in this new edition. I only need to paint Treebeard and the other Ent(s) and I’m ready to go. I discovered I don’t actually need Orthanc so I’ll postpone working on that for a few more years I think. I expect I’ll play and post the next scenario in the first week of February. 🙂

    Do you have any planned scenarios coming up?

    Like

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