Chapter 3 – Ambush by Firelight
The skies close to Mirkwood were always a little darker. The air a little fouler. It didn’t take much to make a Goblin afraid, and the woods on the horizon struck fear into their black hearts. But a new member had joined their party which gave them cause to feel a little braver than they would normally. Having a troll double the size of an Uruk protecting you does wonders for your own fear.
While the Goblin party had been at their camp, licking their wounds from the earlier fight, they heard something large crashing through the bush towards them. It wasn’t coming at a run, but it clearly moved with a purpose right towards their camp. The Goblins scattered into the trees and waited to see what came for them. The skin of their stolen sheep starting to blacken where it was left danging over the fire.
“Dinner!” Exclaimed a deep voice from the shadows. Out stepped a troll carrying a large, spiked, wooden club the size of a full grown man. It went straight towards the roasting meat on the fire, wrapping its gnarled fingers around the whole beast.
As soon as Pikhard saw the troll coming he knew it would be a vital ally in the journey ahead. He had to act quickly, but when dealing with a troll you only have a few options. Pikhard chose to try and dominate the troll through force of might. He leapt from the tree he was in, wielding his shield in two hands, and brought it down on the trolls large flat head with all his strength. The sound was like two rocks smashing together on a mountain side. Yellow drool dripped from the corner of the troll’s mouth and onto the ground as it stood dazed and unsure what had just happened to it. As it teetered on its large flat feet, the rest of the Goblin’s ran out as one and tackled the troll trying to knock it to the ground. Spot jumped onto the beasts back, biting and clawing at its thick leathery hide. As the troll began to come to, realizing what was going on, it began trying to kick the Goblin’s off who were dug into its legs.
“Hold it still,” Pikhard called to his company. “Hold it still for a few more seconds!”
With a running leap he sailed towards the flailing troll with his shield braced before him, connecting the center of the shield square into its oval face. The impact knocked the troll off it’s feet and Pikhard fell right on top of it. He brought his shield down in a fury of blows until the troll stopped flailing. It wasn’t dead, he knew that much. It would take far more to kill a troll than few blows to the head, such things were a hazard of every day life for them.
The Goblins quickly tied a chain around its neck and tied it to one of the trees nearby. While the troll lay unconscious, snoring and noises from other bodily functions escaping it, the Goblin’s finished their meal. Eventually the troll began to stir and realized it was chained up. It looked at the Goblin’s sitting before it while holding the chain limply in its hands, trying to figure out what happened and where it was.
“About time you woke up ya loaf,” Dhatta said to the troll. “We are leaving soon, eat some of these leftovers and get ready.” He tossed a bowl full of burnt meat over at the troll.
“I fights with you?” The troll asked, still confused on its current situation. How long had it been with these mangy Goblins? Was it always their friend? Why does its head hurt so much?
“Yes, you idiot. You have been for months,” Gheordhi told the troll. “You got hit on the head by some fat Dwarves awhile ago, did you already forget? I bet you forgot your own name too.”
“Na,” the troll began to say in its own basic language. “Tasha? Yar-“
“Na’tasha’yar eh,” Pikhard said, cutting the troll off mid sentence. “Alright, looks like you do remember. Hurry up and finish your meal, we have a long road ahead of us.”
This was the third game for my plucky band of Goblins on their way to Fornost! The first time with a cave troll! This was also the first time I actually played against Simon, the “leader” of our local LOTR crew. He is the one responsible for all the great terrain you see in these pictures, making a lot of it by hand on his own! He’s getting good at drafting us into help though now thankfully, which just means more boards to play on! He is also the one that brought the community back to life as it had been dead and buried for years until he got into it a couple years ago. Now its thriving!
We played back to back games this day, so this will be a report on the first one!
This was a “simple” mission! Get the most kills with your leader. Whichever enemy leader gets the most kills wins! Straight forward yes, but not easy to actually accomplish as in order to get your leader some kills you must also expose him to danger. If you lose your HQ early on, you now can’t score points!
The Goblin party, heading South down the Old Forest Road, inching ever closer to Mirkwood Forest came across another small farmstead. They could see an empty watchtower nearby and a fire was lit in a clearing between two farm houses casting an orange glow in the dark night. Around the fire sat 7 Dwarves, enjoying a late dinner after a long evenings travel.
“We should sneak up on them,” Whez-lei whispered to Pikhard. “Gut them by surp-“
“Shut up Whez-lei” Pikhard snapped, cutting him off. “Listen up you gits, we will flank them from both sides and attack as one. Lets go.”
The party split into three groups and began to advance quietly towards the unsuspecting Dwarves. But from the watchtower that was devoid of persons, a large raven began to caw furiously as it spotted the slinking Goblins. The Dwarves, hearing their raven, jumped up in alarm and grabbed their weapons. They formed a tight shieldwall and faced North towards the watchtower just in time to see the Goblin’s began to run at a sprint in three directions at once. A couple black arrows fell far short of the Dwarves, panicked shots fired from inexperienced Goblin hands…
This game began with my forces pushed as close as they could and Simon’s band of Dwarves in a shield wall formation center rear of the board, waiting for me to come. They would be able to fire their powerful crossbows at me as I was forced to come at them. Luckily there was cover on either side in form of two houses. I split my force into three, Spot, Whorf, and Dhatta going left, Pikhard, Na’tasha’yar, and Gheordhi going right. Whez’lei and Oh’Bryhan stood center and hoped to get a few cheeky shots into the Dwarves!
Arrows flew back and forth but nobody seemed to be able to roll a kill. I did manage to hit one of the sergeants in the rear, wound him, failed his fate roll…but then he had a reroll available (as this time my influence outnumbered his) and saved it on the reroll! What luck.
When Pikhard yelled out his warcry the two band of Goblin’s sprung forth from hiding to charge the Dwarven flanks. All hope of surprise long lost when that blasted raven spotted them. Spot came barreling out at full speed, charging headlong into the dwarven crossbowmen. However he was seen just as the plump dwarf had finished reloading and he firing a shot right into Spot, hitting him in the left shoulder. Spot yelped and jumped back, turning and running off back towards where he came from and back into the woods, trailing blood.
Pikhard hit the enemy lines first, but the enemy was ready. He flung himself into their shields hoping to knock them down with his weight alone but it did nothing. Like water hitting rock they didn’t move an inch. They stabbed at him again and again with their spears, managing to find weak spots in his armour before he could react. He was bleeding from several puncture wounds just as Na’tasha’yar smashed into the lines beside him. He used the distraction to slink away before they could finish him off for good, cursing their name as he went.
Both my forces came out from behind their cover at the same time and tried to close the distance as fast as possible, watching for a counter assault. Before Spot could get into the archers and stop their fire, he was taken down by a lucky crossbow round! Poor Spot can’t catch a break.
I didn’t think about how risky it would be having Pikhard in the front. I was hoping his armour would hold and he could take one or two down together with the troll. However he was quickly singled out, ganged up on with spears and with some bad rolling…quickly knocked out! There went by ability to score any points.
To further the problem, the troll flubbed its rolls too and one of the dwarves used their hammer to knock it right onto its back! Down to 1 wound on the troll, while pinned…it was looking like a quick finish to this game. Whez’lei also took an arrow to the ribs in a quick break from the swirling melee and was knocked out of action.
The mighty troll smashed its club into the enemy but it only served to push them back a small distance. One of the Dwarves, wielding a large solid club carved from the wood of an ancient tree, swung straight up into the troll’s jaw. It was knocked back and fell to the ground in a daze. The Dwarves stabbed the troll repeatedly while it lay on the ground, swinging at them with its club. They should have backed away to regroup but they got over zealous in their attempt to kill the troll off quickly. As they were focused on the troll, Whorf and Dhatta charged in from behind, pulling a few of the Dwarven fighters away and engaging them in desperate combat. Na’tasha’yar managed to find an opening with this distraction and swung its club at the closest Dwarves, sending them jumping backwards to avoid the blow.
Getting to its feet, the troll grabbed one of the Dwarves who wasn’t able to avoid its massive grip, swung the Dwarf back and then hurled it into its own warriors. The Dwarf sailed through the air, smashing hard into two other Dwarves, knocking them to the ground, before crashing to the ground in a ruined clump. The troll immediately charged into the two prone Dwarves and smashed them flat with its club. It roard in triumph as it was then once again charged by the remaining Dwarven warriors…
But a bit of luck began to come my way! The troll was able to get back on its feet, winning a fight with the dwarves that were all around it. Whorf and Dhatta charged into the rear of the Dwarven formation and kept some of the Dwarves from piling into the troll and finishing it off. After getting back up, the Dwarves tried to charge into it but the Terror special rule came to save me! All but 1 of the Dwarves stood in fear and could not charge the mighty beast! Na’tasha’yar grabbed the one Dwarf brave enough to charge it and threw it 6 feet into 2 of its fellows, killing the Dwarf as it finally hit the ground.
Only 3 Dwarves were actually on their feet now. Dhatta was taken down in the previous melees and now it was only Whorf and Na’tasha’yaur in the action! They pounced on the proned Dwarves and finished them all off. However this is about where the game came to a close. I was down to below 50% casualties and had to keep taking courage tests. Oh’Bryhan ran off the board (bloody coward!) and that tipped me below 25% which ended the game!
The two parties mutually disengaged, trying to gather their wounded and stay alive. Na’tasha’yar had to be dragged away by the chain around its neck as it tried to keep chasing after the Dwarves who were retreating West down the road, towards Mirkwood itself. The Goblins, beaten once again, found refuge in one of the farm houses, evidently long abandoned. They would spent the rest of the night here and rest, bandaging their wounds and looking around for a fresh meal before they too had to head into the dark maw of Mirkwood…
The Wrap Up:
Simon took the victory here by a whopping 1 point! His leader managed to get 1 kill in where as poor Pikhard got none :(. This game felt like it was going to be a slaughter in his favour from the early turns, but it just shows how luck can swing back and forth and change a battle! My new troll proved to be a huge boon and source of punch I was lacking before.
I did however have to take stalk of how scary a strength 4 hit is! I am used to most things so far only wounding on a 5 or 6..but wounds coming in on a 4+ makes me a lot more nervous.
In the end, nobody actually took any injures from the wound table (something I have been continuously lucky on…except for poor Rhyker). Whez-lei, funnily enough, was the first in my party to gain enough experience to level up! I rolled on the warrior table and he was promoted into a Prowler! I chose to take the two handed weapon so this effectively replaced the loss of Rhyker (though lacking in M/W/F). I had a new model on hand for this and he would continue to shine in the next game :).