Suladin's Treasure Hunt

110521wotr07sSuladân was leading some men of Harad into the realm of Gondor in search of treasure. But several companies of the Gondorian army, from the capital city of Minas Tirith, were marching with Faramir to intercept them. Could the Haradrim recover the treasure first? And would the fierce warriors of Harad be able to withstand the trained companies of Gondor?

This nail biting battle from War of the Ring was played at NWA's Croydon venue on 21st May.

 


War of the Ring

110521wotr08War of the Ring is the mass battle version of the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game from Games Workshop. The War of the Ring rules allows a fast paced game that is simple to learn, but gives players interesting tactical choices. Putting together a large War of the Ring army can be daunting for new starters, so Jeremy proposed that the players at NWA start with 600 point armies to spread the good word about War of the Ring. This has several advantages:

- The number of figures to be painted is reasonable, both in time and cost. For example, the Gondorian army in this report only had 6 Minas Tirith Knights, 10 Minas Tirith swordsmen with shields, 12 Minas Tirith spearmen, 22 Minas Tirith archers, 2 Minas Tirith men with banners, 2 Captains of Minas Tirith, plus Faramir mounted and on foot.

- It allows players to trial different armies, to see which one they like (or their playing style is suited to) before they fully commit to a large number of figures.

- Games are quick, so it is easier to learn the rules and try different tactics. Time can be spent discussing the rules and tactics, rather than rushing through a larger game to finish in time.

To make 600 points work better, the following modifications to the army lists were agreed on:

- Maximum size of units is half the normal, rounded up. For example, Orc Warbands usually have a maximum of 9 companies, but we allow a maximum of 5 companies for our 600 point games.

- Only 1 formation can have bows.

- In addition to the usual limits, legendary formations are limited to a maximum of 1 and rare formations are limited to a to a maximum of 2.

- We are not using Fortunes and Fates. This is so we do not overwhelm the new players with too many rules at first. It is something that will be easily introduced later when players have more experience with the game and wo move to larger armies.

These modifications allow the opposing sides to be balanced and the armies representative of the larger point armies.

And now - to battle!


Suladân was leading 2 units of Haradrim Raiders (cavalry with 3 companies each), 1 unit of Haradrim archers (5 companies) and 1 unit of Watchers of Karna (2 companies) which decided to hide in ambush. Faramir was leading the Gondorian army, consisting of 1 unit of Minas Tirith knights (3 companies), 1 unit of heavy armoured foot (3 companies) and 1 unit of armoured archers (3 companies). Some of the units on both sides had banners. There were some Captains on both sides and the Haradrim archers had a horn blower to help them march faster. 3 treasures were placed on the board for the two armies to fight over.

Turn 1 - It Begins

Faramir led his knights from Minas Tirith forward on the right flank, capturing one of the treasures in the process. The Minas Tirith archers moved forward on the left flank, capturing another treasure. They now had 2 out of 3 treasures. But would they be able to hold on to them?

Only 3 casualties were caused to the Minas Tirith archers on receiving the opening volley from the Haradrim archers. Luckily for the men in armour, the poisoned arrows had no effect.

The Minas Tirith foot troops, swordsmen backed by spears, called a heroic charge. Suladân tried to counter with his cavalry, but was not quick enough and the Gondor heavy infantry caught the horseman flat-footed. Unfortunately the quick-witted Gondor Captain died, along with 2 of his men, bested in a duel with the skilful Suladân. Another 4 Minas Tirith men died in the subsequent fighting, including 1 succumbing to a poison-tipped spear. Surprisingly the Minas Tirith men failed to cause any casualties. But despite becoming disordered from their loses, the Minas Tirith heavy foot stood bravely and did not retreat.

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Click on most of the photos below to see a larger version of that photo.

Turn 2 - More pile in

The Watchers of Karna sprung their ambush from the forest behind Faramir's knights, giving him troops in front and behind to worry about.

The Minas Tirith archers moved forward as quickly as they could, swinging around so they could head towards the main part of the battle. The Minas Tirith foot rallied and reformed their lines for the next round of combat. The Haradrim archers advanced at the double. Suladân repositioned his cavalry for fear of being charged in the rear by Faramir's knights, then transferred to the other Haradrim cavalry rather than be wiped out against Faramir.

The Minas Tirith archers had just moved to within close range, so their Captain called a heroic shoot - downing 9 evil men. Feeling the safest place was in battle, rather than being a target in the open, the Captain of the Harad archers called a heroic charge. Faramir's knights charged the flank of Suladân's cavalry. Despite being in the perfect position, the Watchers of Karna were not ready in time to charge the rear of the armoured knights.

Faramir called an epic strike (boosting his fighting ability for this turn) and the Minas Tirith Captain with him called a heroic fight (allowing a second round of combat for them this turn). The Haradrim Raiders resisted valiantly, but were in a hopeless position and were wiped out or captured for ransom.

The hard pressed Minas Tirith infantry lost 7 men to Suladân's charge but only another 2 to the blows of the Haradrim archers. In return they only managed to kill 1 Haradrim Raider and 1 Haradrim archer. Despite losing this round so badly, they remained in good order and good spirits.


Turn 3 - Major battle

Faramir moved forward, te knights looking for more targets to charge. Suladân moved his cavalry back behind the tall hedgerow, to obtain a good tactical position. The knights could not charge him there, but he remained poised to take advantage of any opportunity.

The Minas Tirith knights lost a whole company to the poisoned arrows of the Haradrim. The Minas Tirith archers and knights charged, the armoured archers catching the rear of the Haradrim archer formation. Suladân had a perfect opportunity, but his charge stalled and he did not regain his Might. A heroic fight was declared by the Haradrim archer Captain. The Gondor archer Captain replied with a heroic fight. Faramir called an epic strike then a heroic duel on Suladân.

Suladân helped the Haradrim Raiders kill 2 knights including Faramir - a devastating blow to the Gondorian army. In revenge, 8 Haradrim archers were killed by knights and another 6 by the Minas Tirith archers. Only 4 armoured archers died, causing the Haradrim archers to become disordered, although they were doughty enough to stand their ground.

Suladân's cavalry failed courage, causing 1 more Raider to gallop off into the distance. The Minas Tirith knights charged Suladân again. The ensuing clash of cavalry left Suladân with only 1 companion in his disordered formation. The Minas Tirith archers charged the rear of the Harad archers again. The Haradrim were still a disadvantage and lost 6 of their men to none.


Turn 4 - More pile in

The evil side gained initiative. The Haradrim archers reformed and moved to their left, allowing room for their cavalry to hopefully aid them. The Haradrim cavalry reformed and moved, then Suladân raced over to the Watchers of Karna and spurred them forward. He wanted to bring them into the battle and was also sure that his second cavalry unit would not last out the turn.

The Minas Tirith archers moved to their left while the knights headed towards the Watchers of Karna, although the knights were too tired from the previous fighting to move at the double. The Haradrim archers failed to wound, obviously still recovering from their disorder.

The remaining company of Haradrim Raiders charged the Minas Tirith archers, riding down 4 of them. They won the fight, disordering the archers and forcing them to drop the treasure they were guarding. Unfortunately they took just enough casualties for the unit to disperse.

Similarly the Minas Tirith knights charged the Watchers of Karna, causing 5 casualties and a disorder, but dying in the process. The Gondor foot killed 2 enemy, but 3 of their own men lost heart and fled. So the Minas Tirith heavy infantry became disordered and were only on the table by 1 man. (When the last company of a unit is down to half or less, it disperses).

This left no cavalry units on the field of battle and all of the infantry units in a fragile state. This looked like it was going down to the wire.


Turn 5 - The Remnants Regroup

The Haradrim archers successfully reorganised themselves, turned to face their enemy and fell back a short distance. The Minas Tirith archers failed to reform, not helpd by taking 2 casualties from enemy arrows.

The Watchers of Karna successfully reformed. They moved forward, picking up two lots of treasure in the process. The glint of the gold obviously inspired them, for they continued forward - seeking to engage the remnants of the Gondorian army.

The last company of Minas Tirith armoured foot charged the Harad archers. But either preoccupied with the treasure, or worn out by their long march across the battlefield, the Watchers of Karna refused to charge this turn. Though heavily outnumbered, the Minas Tirith infantry took a heavy toll of the Harad archers before the armoured men, too, dispersed.


Turn 6 - Those Valiant Few

All that was left on the field of battle were the disordered Minas Tirith archers and the recalcitrant Watchers of Karna. But with no-one else left, both rose to the occasion, with the Minas Tirith archers finally redressing their ranks. The Watchers of Karna charged home, but not before they lost 3 to incoming archery fire. The ensuing fight was a close and desparate one, with 4 Gondorian casualties and 3 dead Watchers. The skill of the Watchers just gave them the edge in this round. Despite the stirring sight of the Minas Tirith banner, the Gondorian ranks were in disarray from the ferocious charge.


Turn 7 - Last Ditch Stand

The Watchers rubbed their hands in glee as they pressed home their advantage. They gave no time for the Minas Tirith archers to reorganise their ranks. To confuse their enemy further, the Watchers of Karna swung around to the left flank of the archers. The Watchers crashed into the side with an unstoppable charge, but the armour of the Minas Tirith men saved them. Despite the clever tactics of the Watchers, the Minas Tirith men caused 4 casualties whilst only losing 1 of their own.

The Watchers were destroyed. The Gondorians were still disordered but they held their courage. However, the last company had nearly dispersed - it was only there by 1 man.


Turn 8 - Courage, My Friends

With night coming on, the 3 treasures were there for the taking, if only the remnants of Minas Tirith archers could reorganise their depleted company in time. With the night would come wolves and all manner of creatures. If they did not leave for home soon, they would not survive the night out here in their exhausted state.

Driven by fear and relieved to still be alive, the Minas Tiriths reformed their limited numbers and grabbed all 3 treasures. They tenderly placed Faramir's body on a surviving horse and tiredly headed for home, before darkness and wolves overtook them.


Wrap-up

What a fantastic battle! This was a tense one and exciting to watch. It generated quite a crowd of onlookers at NWA. There were many occasions where either Jeremy or Charles could have swung the battle in their favour. Suladân failed to charge on several occasions and the Watchers of Karna missed their ambush opportunity of attacking Faramir's cavalry in the rear. But the Minas Tirith men did not have it all their own way, being charged in rear and flank several times and their archers several times having trouble coming out of disorder.

The battle was never static, with lots of movement of units trying to gain little advantages or survive just that turn longer.