Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The Battle of Helms Deep - Midgard AAR

My second game of the weekend was a scenario based on the Battle of Helms Deep (the book version, so Haldir and his pals weren't in attendance). 

Chris, who was running the game, created an impressive model of Helms Deep. 

The Hornburg was incredible, a massive structure of modeled mountain and 3d printed castle walls. 

From atop the highest rampart, Théoden watched over the assembling army of Isengard, a mix of fearsome Uruk-Hai, Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, and Men of Dunland. 

More warriors of Rohan lined the defenses of the Deeping Wall. 

Prior to the start of the game, both sides (I was commanding half of the Rohirrim) made some pre-battle choices. For the defenders, we decided to send Éomer out on a mounted sortie with a unit of elite warriors to hopefully peel of some of the attacking forces. The attackers brought a couple siege towers, a Fire of Orthanc hidden somewhere in their units, and some other choices that we would find out about later in the fight. 

The attackers also had a pair of camps that defeated units would respawn from, representing the unending hordes of Isengard's army.

The game would last six turns, with the defenders rolling randomly at the start of turn four to see if Gandalf would arrive with Erkenbrand and his surviving warriors. 

The horde of Isengard advanced at a steady clip, with some desultory archery fire from the defenders.

A smaller force of Uruk-Hai split off from the main group, marching up the earthen ramp to the Hornburg. 

It wasn't until the orcs were committed that they realized no one had thought to bring the battering ram!

Éomer and his men launched their attack on turn two, drawing off three Isengard units. The warriors of Rohan defending that section of the wall were relieved that combat wouldn't reach them so soon. 

Despite this, the main Isengard attack quickly broke through the Deeping Wall, with a unit of goblins sneaking a Fire of Orthanc into the Deeping Wall's culvert. Legolas spotted the goblins carrying the bomb too late and it exploded, killing the goblins and damaging the Rohirrim units defending that section of the wall (luckily Aragorn, who was on top of the Culvert when it blew up, was unharmed). 

Using their siege towers, the forces of Isengard quickly took the top of the wall, scattering the damaged Rohan Archers. 

It was a fierce battle atop the Deeping Wall, with Aragorn leading an attacking to try and reclaim the lost section that flanked Legolas and his unit. 

In the distance you can see Éomer fending off a couple Isengard units by himself, after his accompanying unit was wiped out. 

Meanwhile the Uruk-Hai steadily advanced up the rampart to the Hornburg. 

The defending Rohirrim were being pushed back, with another unit of archers routed. Isengard units were beginning to pour through the hole in the wall. Sadly, Legolas was the first hero to fall, assisting an elite unit of warriors hold back a force four times their size of Orcs and Dunlendings. 

Hoping to score some some morale points on my side, I had Háma charge out the gate with the Kingsguard. 

My luck had apparently be used up in the previous game that morning, and the Kingsguard were pushed back towards the gate. 

Then we discovered that the forces of Isengard had sent a unit of scouts to scale the walls of the Hornburg, resulting in a flank attack!

The forces of Isengard were in solid control of half of the Deeping Wall, resulting in an ongoing morale loss to the defenders. 

And another unit of Orcs appeared in the rear of the defenders, as more orcs mounted the wall.

Sadly, Gimli was the second hero to fall, helping to fell a unit of trolls (in another universe, Gotrek Gurnisson would likely find that a good death). 

I had Aragorn join up with the surviving unit of elite infantry and make their way to support the remaining Rohirrim units. The Deeping Wall might be lost, but perhaps the surviving warriors would push towards the Hornburg...

It was in turn six that Gandalf, Erkenbrand, and the rest of the relief cavalry arrived, too late to do much else apart from destroy an Isengard camp. 

The Hornburg was still somewhat secure, with the ambushed warriors of Rohan turning to face their attackers. 

However, the mess behind the Deeping Wall was too much for the defenders to handle and their morale was broken, giving Isengard a solid victory and potentially changing the fate of Middle Earth forever!

This was a wonderfully thematic and fun game to play. Had I another chance at it, I would definitely need to make some different choices, like getting the units and Théoden in the Hornburg down into the fray of the Deeping Wall. Abandoning the Wall might also be a good idea, instead of allowing the Fire of Orthanc to deal damage to units that hadn't seen combat yet. And I definitely feel like I didn't take Chris' advice of using the heroes enough, as they felt underwhelming against the massive Isengard force.

Still, Chris did a great job of adapting these set of rules to a siege battle, and it's still visually stunning. I will definitely pick up a copy of Midgard once it's released, as it might be a good way to utilize the 3mm fantasy figures I purchased a bit ago. Overall, it was a good conclusion to my first day at Fall In. 

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