Dains Last Stand - 18Jun11

Dain's Last Stand

An Epic War of the Ring Battle


For the benefit of openness, I will admit that I played this game as a co-leader of the Evil force.  I try to present the game in a balanced way but there will be some “in character” comments slip thru I’m sure.

Scenario Background


The Siege of Gondor started on 13 March, 3019, and lasted until 15 March when the Rohirrim came to the aid of Gondor at dawn and the Gray Company arrived with many men from the southern fiefdoms to break the siege and set the stage for the final downfall of Sauron with the destruction of the One Ring ten days later. The fate of those deeds are well known…

But on the same morning that hope was coming to Gondor, a cloud of doom was falling in the North. An army from the East crossed the Redwater river and drove the brave men of Dale to retreat to the foot of the Lonely Mountain. The Dwarves of Erebor came forth to aid their allies and a great battle began. The fate of those deeds will be decided here…



Here's a rundown of the Forces for this game.

Forces of Evil - Dain's Last Stand - 18Jun11

Forces of Good - Dain's Last Stand - 18Jun11


Set Up & Deployment

We had five players through most of the game and this was a new experience for me and very enjoyable.  On the side of all that is Good and bearded we had Joe, John and Brian leading the Dwarves.  Coming from the shadowed East and driving fear before them (I told you I may be a little biased) Ed and I controlled the hosts of Easterlings, Haradrhim, Orcs and other foul forces.

The table was set up mostly per the scenario rules with “a little” variation.  The table we were playing on was 4x8, rather than the 6x8 recommended.  This did have some impact on play since the Dwarves didn’t have to spread themselves out much to cover the width and Sauron’s force was more channeled in it’s attacks.  The extra couple feet of space would have allowed more Evil units to be brought to the front faster against a thinner rank of Dwarven defenders and probably would have made the earlier part of the game more “exciting”.  I normally don’t mind progressive wave attacks and think the game could have been more balanced even on the shorter table had it not been for a very attractive but completely unexpected third set of ruins that showed up on the Dwarven deployment zone.

Somehow our scouts must have missed those, but the Dwarves sure didn’t.  Despite not having any heads up from the scenario description which somehow missed this third ruin (yeah, that’s sarcastic…I played Evil after all) the Dwarves were very well dug into it by the time Suron’s force showed up on the board.  I think of all setup/deployment actions removing this extra ruin and using just the two defined in the scenario would have had the most balancing effect.  Our cavalry and mumuks were crippled in actions against two ruins at the edge of our deployment zone, while protecting a total of 8 companies of deadly Dwarf rangers and funneling all of Evil’s force into a crossfire between them in order to reach the real forces in the rear.  Ed and I let this go as it did look good and we really were just playing a friendly game more than anything else, but we won’t be as generous with a rematch.


The Dwarves deployed first as per the scenario description.  Ed and I sat back on the other side of the room talking about some possible early game plans while we gave the Three time to plan, strategize and place models (and sneak in an extra fortified position).  Their choices were very good.  The ballistas were divided into two Formations allowing them to spread the fire while limiting retaliation.  One was placed in the main ruined tower that, per the scenario description, offered additional defense to the occupants.  The other was placed on a hill just to the side of the Gate near a small woodland.  The main defense was a couple formations of Dwarf warriors lead by Dain reaching across the table about mid-way up their deployment zone.  There were some Vault Wardens and other warriors behind them as a final bolster.  At the vanguard of the defenders were two Formations of Dwarf Rangers tucked away in the ruins on either side of the board, with Drar's Hunters and another formation of Dwarves  outside the ruins but in line with them.



Ed and I placed our lone catapult near the back right edge where it could reach all but the last 3" or so before the Gates.  We next placed our two Mumuks as they took up the most space and needed a pretty safe path forward, setting them on the right side of the table at the edge of our deployment zone.  Most of our fast movers (Easterling and Harad cavalry) were also placed right on the deployment line from the center to the left edge, with some solid infantry nestled in between the cavalry and the Mumuks.  The Horde was placed in the back right corner, the Corsairs near the back left and the remaining forces distributed through the zone with an eye of not getting in the way of our more key players.



Turn 1

The Dwarves did very little moving on Turn 1...even in Dwarf terms.  Their stumpy legs shifted a little and redressed ranks but nothing more.  Evil, however, blasted out of the gates with a vengance.  At least, we tried.  We had grand intentions of running our Mumuks right down the center, not worrying about their longevity but just trying to punch a hole for our cavalry and infantry to follow.  So I pointed mine and cast three dice to see how far he can go...and totaled 5".  Stall.  Ed only got about an inch or two further with his.  Double fail.  I hate random movement.


Our cavalry the jumped forward full distance, closing on Drar and the other Dwarf formation defending the ruins on the left (which also contained 4 Companies of Rangers, remember?).  Though the Haradrim all had bows we gave up the option to shoot and those that could did an At The Double while those without Captains charged forward as far as they could.  Likewise with our Infantry.  The Easterlings (with Amdur), Mordor Uruks and Morannon Orcs (each with a Captain) and Troll Chief did an ATD with the rest of the forces filling in behind them.


What could shoot did but did not do much on either side.  The Dwarves archer and ballista shots dropped just a couple horse from our various formations while the crew of the Mumuk took out just a couple Rangers.  When it was time to charge things got fun.


The Mumuks each stood too far away to charge anything due to our poor move rolls, but we had several cavalry within range.  Ed's Easterling Kataphrakts charged into Drar's Hunters and my Serpent Riders hit the other Dwarf formation next to him.  Though we get no charge bonus against defensible terrain, I still sent one of my Haradrhim Raiders against the Rangers held up in the extra ruins.  The Def3 Haradrim wouldn't be lasting long in the cross fire of Dwarf arrows anyway so I hoped to at least take a couple of them with me.


In an attempt to lessen the blow of the cavalry charge, Drar called an Heroic Duel against the Easterling Captain while the Dwarf Captain in the other Formation did the same against the Serpent Rider Chieftain. Drar did well, killing the Captain and a couple of the Easterling horse.  The Haradrim Chieftain won his duel by 1, and committed both of his Might to get some extra rolls on the table.  As I said, we didn't expect the cavalry to last long and just wanted to do as much damage as possible before going down.  This resulted in the death of the Dwarf Captain and four warriors.

As the charge resolved the Easterlings killed 9 of Drar's finest, but then the Dwarves had some great rolls and finished off all of the Kataphrakts.  The rolls were so good in fact that the quote from the Dwarf leadership was something to the effect of "not even enough left to make chili".  The Serpent Riders also killed 9 of their Dwarves thanks to their lances and poison weapons and took only a few hits in return. The big surprise though was the Haradrim Raiders attacking the ruins.  They managed to kill 4 Dwarves while only taking 3 losses themselves.  Ed reminded me about the roll for an Earth Shaking charge (I don't play cavalry much yet) and I got a 6!  So the Haradrim disengaged from the tower and swung around into what was left of Drar's Hunters.  The rolls were great on my part, wiping out the rest of this Legendary Formation before it could respond.  "...not even enough left to make chili" as they Dwarves put so well earlier.





Turn 2

For Turn 2 Evil won priority and pressed forward.  The Mumuks did better this turn, advancing several inches to be right next to the right hand tower and nearly in charge distance of the Dwarf's main line (the Dwarf vanguard now fully engaged by our forces we couldn't really charge our Mumuk into them). We figured one more turn and some serious Dwarf squishing would be happening.  The bulk of our force (cavalry and infantry) continued to advance.  Our two lead Harad cav formations squared off against the Dwarves still present around the left hand ruins, the Troll Chief and all capable Infantry ATD forward, as did the Horde (which was finding the presence of the two Mumuks in front of it a bit of a road block). My Warg Riders started to push forward on the right hand board edge and we move the Corsairs forward as they weren't getting any chance to shoot their deadly crossbows past the mass of forces in their way. The Dwarves responded to all this by closing ranks around the threatened left flank, moving Dain's formation toward the right to cover the possible Warg charge, and closing ranks overall.


We took a shot at Dain's formation with the catapult this turn, but only scored 2 kills.  The Corsairs still couldn't get a clean shot, and the Mumuk riders only scratched the Dwarf Rangers in the tower again.  The Harad cav were close enough to their nearby Dwarves to only need a 1/2 move to stay in charge position so they were able to score a couple kills with poisoned arrows, but overall Evil had a very weak shooting presence.  The Dwarves however did great.


Their Rangers that were left near the ruins on the left of the board took out the rest of the Serpent Riders with an amazing barrage of thrown weapons while the Rangers in the ruins themselves thinned the ranks of the Harad Raiders a little.  Both of the ballista took shots at one of our Mumuks and scored 5 Wound Counters and brought it down to only 5 models left...and we rolled for a Panic! (we realized later that it shouldn't have been this bad, but we let it go to keep the game going).

The Fights weren't as telling with the last of the first group of Harad Raiders loosing to the Dwarves near the tower and not much else of note as we were still rushing to bring Sauron's Infantry and remaining Cavalry into range while the Dwarves were reluctant to engage most of what was left close enough for them to charge.


Turn 3

Dwarves got priority again.  The King's Champion edged up next to the right hand tower, keeping a small rock formation near him as well, giving him a charge option on the Mumuks while limiting the risk to himself if the Mumuk should stampede in his direction.  The Rangers near the left tower pulled back slightly from the approaching bulk of the Troll Chief.  As Evil moved, we rolled for the Mumuk's stampede.  There was a 50% chance it might go forward and into some Dwarves.  If not, there was a good chance it could go left into open terrain or even into the tower on it's right, either way not being much of a threat.  As luck would have it though I rolled a direct line right into our second Mumuk!  You know that scene in Return of the King...yep.  That was pretty close.  My Mumuk dies in the impact and delivered 6 hits on Ed's.  Thankfully the rolls were "poor" and Ed's Mumuk took minimal damage.


Time for shooting and the Dwarves decide to "correct" that lack of damage by directing both Ballistas at Ed's Mumuk.  The first only scored 1 rolll, but that resulted in a 6, which was followed by a 3.  Minor damage.  The second Ballista did nothing to the high defense and resilience of the beast.  The Dwarves in the ruins on that side tried one more time and unleashed all their arrows at near point blank range, scoring one more kill of a Mumuk crewman, but nothing else.

Evil's only shooting for the turn was the Troll Chief making a Thrown Weapon shot at the Dwarves near the left hand ruins and killing two.  Our Corsairs were rushing forward to try to be useful and we completely forgot to fire the catapult.  That's what you get for using Orc labor.


The Kings Champion charged Ed's Mumuk, trying to do some more damage and produce another panic's elephant.  He passed his Courage but rolled a 1, stalled charge, and had to spend a point of Might to get there.  The Dwarves on the other side tried to charge the Troll Chief hoping to prevent him from getting his extra dice for a charge.  They also passed courage but then rolled a 1 (another stalled charge!), spending their last Might to make it a 2 and get the charge in. The forces of Evil decided it was time to eradicate the Dwarves from the ruins and charged the one on the left with the Easterling infantry while the Mordor Uruks rushed the side of the same building.  On the right, the Haradrim Raiders charged the round tower.  We knew that charging defensible terrain with cavalry is far from optimal but without a Hero to ATD the formation was lagging behind the leaders and at risk for easy bow fire losses anyway, and we had some unexpected luck with the one on the left earlier.


In the Fight phase, the King's Champion managed to kill one more Mumuk crewman in the Fight but took 2 Wounds himself from the Mumuk's return blows.  The Dwarf Captain called an Heroic Duel against the Uruks and won well, killing the Captain and 5 Uruks in the process.  In the Fight that followed the Dwarves killed the last of the Uruks while only taking a total of 8 losses themselves, winning the Fight.  The cav assaulting the right hand tower poked a couple Dwarves but took heavy losses in return.


The Troll Chief declared an Heroic Duel on the Captain that charged him, and with his high Fight value got a 15 to the Dwarf's 7.  Between that and the mighty blows the Troll delivered in the follow up combat it completely wiped out two full companies of Dwarves.    The turn was a rough one for both sides was about to get worse.  Ed checked panic on his wounded Mumuk and failed.  Next turn will see another stampede!


Turn 4

We again saw Priority go to the Dwarves.  For such stumpy legs they really know how to move.  The forces of Good pulled back slightly with all their exposed troops, tightening ranks.


When it was our turn to move we decided to check the Mumuk first, figuring we had very little we could do to limit the risk of the Mumuk's stampede and whatever will be will be.  What happened to be was almost the worse we could expect.  The Mumuk turned right at the huge Horde or Orcs.  Thankfully the losses were reasonable...9 kills in the charge and one company crushed in the failure to Fall Back.  The Warg Riders rushed forward with an At The Double and quickly joined the Troll Chief in striking range of some Dwarves and the rest of the Forces of Evil advanced as quick as they could.

When the shots started flying both Ballista and all Dwarf Rangers targeted the oncoming Warg Riders (The Forces of Good had suffered more than expected at the hands of "weak" cavalry already), and 3 puppies fell.  The Troll Chief threw some stones at the Rangers in the ruins and managed to kill 3 in the process.


To counter the bad Priority, the Warg Rider Captain declared an Heroic Charge against the Dwarf Warriors.  Though the preference would have been to go for a flank or rear charge for better effect we were forced to take the mighty Dwarves head on (or shield on).  The Troll Chief later engaged the same Formation on it's flank.  The Haradrim Warband charged the ruins on the far left while the Easterlings disengaged from the ruins and moved at best possible speed to the main Dwarf battle line.


In the combats, the Troll Chief did another Heroic Duel, this time calling out this Formations Shield Bearer.  He kill the Hero off and wiped out 5 stout Warriors in the process.  The Troll then killed 5 more Dwarves in his Fight phase and the Wargs managed to get three of their own despite the heavy front armor they faced.  In return the Dwarves killed 2 Wargs, giving the Fight to the forces of Sauron.  Ed reminded me about the cavalry check for winning the Fight and I got another 6!  The Wargs charged the now disordered Dwarves and scored 2 more kills while suffering nothing in return.  The Dwarves failed their courage test badly, even with the banner reroll, and lost 8 more of their kin in the process.  A total of over 20 Dwarves died in those moments with the loss of only 2 Warg Riders.


In the Haradrim's battle their Hasharin rolled a 6, killing 5 Dwarf Rangers in his suicidal attack and enabling the Haradrim to easily finish off the Rangers and take their place occupying the ruins on the left of the board.  It took way too many turns and cost far more models than I would have expected but it finally fell.


Ed also managed to regain control of his Mumuk.


Turn 5

Yep...Dwarf Priority...again.


Dain's Formations pulled back to the center of the board, and the last company of Dwarves slaughtered by the Wargs / Troll backed up a little but very little additional movement took place for the Dwarves (this really is a defensive scenario for them which plays well to their strengths).  The Haradrim, Easterlings and Morannon Orcs all rushed forward with an ATD, pushing up but falling short of charge range.  The Horde moved up to swarm the tower on the right side, and the Mumuk advanced a mighty 5" (did I mention how much I hate random movement?).



Shooting was popular in Turn 5.  The Ballistas split their fire with the one on the hill near the gate shooting at the Easterlings ( killed 4 ) and the one in the left tower targeting the Troll Chief.  After all the damage the brute has done to the the Dwarves this turn Joe wanted to be sure to finish it and used a special bonus (Intervention Fortune).  The number of hits was more than enough to kill the mighty Troll Chief.  Finally the Dwarves in the ruins on the right shot into the exposed flank of the Easterlings and lucked into 8 kills!  Mordor's drunk catapult operators again missed their target of the ballista in the tower.


In the following combat the Dwarves got the jump on the Warg Riders and managed to kill what was left of that Formation.  The King's Guard charged the Morannon Orcs and declared an Heroic Duel, killing the Orc Captain but nothing else.  He then proceeded to slay 7 Morannon Orcs without suffering anything in return.  The Horde hit the Ruins...finally!  It's Captain called both an Heroic Fight and challenged the cocky Dwarf Ranger Captain to a Duel and they both rolled a 6.  Neither had the might to adjust the roll, so the Duel did little.  In the Fight the Dwarves lost 5 to 3 on the first hit, then the Orcs struck a second time killing 13 more while only loosing an additional 2 themselves.

Turn 6

Dwarf Priority...again.


By Turn 6 the servants of the Dark Lord were getting desperate.  We had lost nearly all of our swift moving cavalry and a couple hard hitting infantry.  We were down by one Mumuk and the only damage done by the other so far was against our own troops.  We sill had most of our Horde and a few other key Formations but they had been delayed getting across the board by the two sets of ruins in which the Dwarves had dug in so well.  We had thinned the ranks of the Dwarves significantly, but there were still several tough Formations, including Dain himself to get through and only two turns left to do it.  We still had a chance of out numbering the Dwarves at the foot of the Gates but it won't be easy.

Both ballista targeted the Easterlings, obviously seeing Amdur and his Dragon Knight among the large group of heavily armored (and multi colored) warriors the greatest threat.  Their rolls were not very good though and they suffered one miss and only scored 2 wounds with the other.  For our part we sacked the Orcs manning the catapult (actually we had them killed first and then thrown in a sack) and the replacement crew was far more motivated and actually struck home.  We dropped a mighty stone on the ballista in the tower and crushed them all.


The Kings Champion, weak and bloodied from earlier battles, stalled his charge with no Might left.  One formation of Dwarves also stalled, but Dain commanded his Formation forward against the Easterlings.  The Haradrim counter charged Dain to the left of the Easterlings and I attempted to do the same with the Morannon Orc on the other side.  Sadly without their Captain the Courage 2 Orcs just couldn't bring themselves to get near the terrifying presence of Dain and stood where they were.  I believe this failed roll made much of the difference this turn.


Murin called an Heroic Duel against the Dragon Knight and Dain challenged Amdur.  Both Dain and Amdur called Epic Strike, and each then rolled a 5.  With neither having more Might left to adjusting this, Dain won by virtue of his +1 for calling the Duel and landed a single wound on Amdur.  Murin and the Dragon Knight each committed all their remaining Might to boost their rolls ( M:8 vs. DK:10) with the result being Murin and 9 Dwarves dying under the swift blades of the Dragon Knight.  The Combat went very well for the Dwarves.  With their bonuses in the following Fight the Dwarves killed a total of 11 Easterlings and 8 Haradrim while only loosing 3 more of their own.

Turn 7

You guessed it...Dwarf Priority...again...


The forces of evil continued to push forward as best they could against the Dwarves that closed ranks.  The remaining ballista thinned the Easterling cohort by another 4 warriors, while the Haradrim rushed forward and declared an Heroic Shot, blasting a shower of poisoned arrows into the side of Dain's Formation and killing 5.  The Arbelasters FINALLY got a shot in, taking out 5 Dwarves in one of the straggling Formations which was enough to wipe it out completely.  The catapult tried shooting at the last ballista but couldn't get past its resilliance.


Dain again charged the Easterlings and the King's Champion charged the Morannon Orcs.  With the Haradrim and Corsairs having shot they were unable to charge, so the only remaining combat came from the Orc Horde that continued to attack the Rangers held up in the right hand tower as they moved around it.


Dain's Formation finished off the Easterling Cohort, leaving Amdur laying in the grass before the gates of the Lonely Mountain, though the mighty Lord of Blades helped kill 3 more Dwarves before he fell.  Dain's Champion was able to cut down three more Morannon Orc before the heavily armored mob killed him.  The Horde finished the last 8 Rangers in the tower but lost another 13 of their own number in fight.



Turn 7 ended with Dain's Formation reduced to 7 models and no Might left.  Behind him only only two Companies of Vault Wardens stood to hold the Gates.  Three Companies of Dwarf Warriors still held the right side of the board, overlooked by a ballista on the hill behind them.


Facing this was a full 4 Companies of Arbelasters, 2 full Companies of Haradrim archers and an Orc Horde still about 9 Companies strong, with a catapult backing them up all the way to the Gates.


The forces of Evil outnumbered the forces of Good nearly 3:1, but it was the start of the last Turn and the Dwarves had enough of a line in place that Sauron's army could not bypass it.  They would have to kill every last Dwarf Warrior to strike at the Vault Wardens holding the last line within the victory zone of the Gates.  That just could not be done on one turn.  At best we may have been victorious for the Turn, but would fall short of the goal.  And so we shook hands and gave the victory to the Dwarf team that played a solid defense.


Closing Thoughts

Both sides made a few mistakes in play.  None of these would have mattered much alone but in total they probably did have an effect.  Some of it was simply because we were using units (especially in the Fallen Realms force) that we have very little experience with yet to date.  Our biggest flub was when we were all excited during the first ballista strike on my Mumuk and forgot to take the R2 into account! We effectively gave 4 free hits on the Mumuk and this probably made all the difference in it's early death (and subsequent wounding of the second Mumuk before its time).


Our forces on the Evil side were far from optimal, but this was not a big factor for us as this was really intended as just a fun game and we needed to sink some points into larger cost ( ie 2 Mumuk ) models where we didn't have enough base troops completed.  I really liked the mix of cavalry and infantry and the various units from across Sauron's muster, but if we had a follow up game I think we would probably leave one or both Mumuk behind and add more core troops.  I'm also not sure about the effectiveness of the Corsairs in this army.  Evil really needed to keep pushing forward at every turn and they just can't move and shoot.  It was also important to have Captains in the Infantry formations or they just fell too far behind for much of the game.


In terms of setup, the recommended table size would have been another 2 feet wide.  This would have made it much harder for the Dwarves to cover the whole board in depth and would have given our greater mobility additional power.  I don't think this would have been felt as much as it was in our game had we not been facing the additional defensible terrain feature.


The extra feature was probably the biggest factor in the game.  Having two of them across from each other about mid-way on the table really bottle necked the progress of the Dark Lord's army.   Cavalry and Mumuks are crippled against them and the extra defense they lend to the already tough Dwarves really let them hold out longer than they should have.  On the rematch I think the Dwarves will have a harder time keeping Sauron's forces from punching a hole on that side of the table and pouring through.


On the side of Good, Joe was the most experienced Dwarf player, and the bulk of this mighty army was his.  He did a great job helping answer questions of his teammates regarding the specifics of the force, but all three are very experienced gamers (even if WotR is not their primary system) and good tacticians.  This does have the downside of some lengthy discussions and at times multiple good options for action to be debated.  For Evil, Ed and I sort of divided up our forces with each of us having about 1/2 of the Fallen Realms and 1/2 of the Mordor points.  We then operated relatively independently with just a quick check at the beginning of each turn on what our priority target for that turn was.  A third player would have probably resulted in a need for more coordination as the Good side had...but then again how coordinated do you expect a bunch of Orcs and a mix of fallen Men from the east to be?


We all agreed that a rematch is due, just because this was such a fun and close game.  I'm sure there will be some list tweaks from both sides but overall I don't think force composition was the biggest factor in the game.