Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Bloody Letter

Last Friday, I got my first opportunity to get Belagus and his Dol Amroth battle company on the table…

Belagus moved his piece across the board and looked up at the Princess. She was distracted, her moves poor and uncoordinated. Finally, she turned away from the board and looked out a window. ‘I have a letter,’ she said. ‘I need it delivered to a friend in Lossarnach. A captain stationed in the mountains…’
            Belagus set-off the next day. He was joined by Coric, his old swordmaster; Levant, a young soldier in the Princess’ personal guard, and the brothers Eldamir and Caellen, who had spent several years serving as rangers in the White Mountains. Most of their journey passed pleasantly as they made their way through the civilized lands of the south, but as they headed north into the mountains the road became more difficult. They were still two days from their destination, when they crossed paths with a band of orcs…
            Seeing them coming, Belagus ordered his men to take defensive positons, while Eldamir and Caellen went to work. As the orcs charged, the brothers let fly with their arrows. In minutes, two orcs were down, and another was badly wounded. Then the orcs were upon them. Both Coric and Levant were battered back, and even the brothers were forced to join in the desperate fight. Only Belagus stood his ground, his blade flashing this way and that. Just when it looked like the small party might be overwhelmed, Belagus cut down an orc and the rest fled in panic. Taking stock, only Coric was badly wounded. The party waited a day while Coric recovered, then hurried on their way. Eventually, they reached the outpost and delivered their letter.
They stayed at the outpost for a few more days, then set-off home. Two days out, they were ambushed by the same group of orcs. This time, the fight went against them. The orcs came at such speed that bows were useless and the fighting became desperate. Just when the fight looked bleakest, the orcs, apparently having accomplished what they wanted, retreated in an orderly fashion.
Although everyone lived, the small party was in bad shape. Coric’s leg had been smashed, and Caellen had suffered a nasty sword cut to his side. Although he claimed to only have suffered small cuts and bruises, Belagus realized he had reopened the old wound that had pulled him from the front lines, what seemed a lifetime ago.

Last Friday, I met up with a friend and got in two games of the new Middle-Earth Battle Companies. I brought my Dol Amroth battle company, and he brought his Uruks. He had the advantage of numbers, 7 to 5, but I had a slight advantage in both archery and armour.
            For our first game we rolled the ‘Messenger’ scenario. Basically, we each secretly named one of our figures to be a messenger and were supposed to keep this figure alive while killing the enemy messenger. I chose ‘Levant’ as my messenger, which was a classic case of out-smarting myself, as this was probably the worst choice. I would have done better naming Belagus (who had the highest armour) or one of the rangers who were less likely to get involved in hand-to-hand fighting. Anyway, when the game started, I went on the defensive. I slowly moved my company back and around to the right, trying to keep the Uruks out of charge range, while my rangers went to work. The tactic worked pretty well. The rangers downed two Uruks and wounded one of the heros. But then they were on me. The hand-to-hand fighting went poorly for me, and Coric fell at first contact. Levant slew an orc, but then fell to the next. Belagus killed another orc, but had to rely on his heavy armour to save him.
            After a few turns, I was down to just Belagus and one ranger, while three Uruks were left. Then, in a horrible display of dice rolling, my opponent failed his courage checks for all three Uruks and they fled the table.

            Both of us had lost our messengers, so technically the game was draw, but since I held the field, it felt like a win. We both claimed a reward of 3 Influence points. Coric received an ‘Old Battle Wound’. (Meaning he has to check before each game, missing it on a roll of a ‘1’). The Uruks had one guy suffer an arm wound, meaning he could no longer carry a shield, and another one would have to miss our next game.
            We decided to immediately play another game. I was feeling pretty good about this. Coric passed his roll, and with the Uruks one down, I was only outnumbered 5 to 6. Unfortunately, the scenario we rolled, ‘The Relic’, basically prevented me from using the same tactics for game two. Anyway, the game was a disaster for me, so I won’t go into details. Belagus, Coric, and Eldamir all went down before I caused a single casualty. With the Uruks already making off with the relic, I conceded the game.
            The post-game also went very poorly. Belagus picked up an ‘old battle wound’. Coric got a Leg Wound (-1 Move), and Eldamir has to miss the next game. Sigh. I claimed my 2 Influence points for the game and limped away.
            When it came time to spend my Influence, my bad luck continued. I paid 3 for a roll on the reinforcements chart and got a ‘1’, which is nothing. Thankfully, I was able to spend another point to increase this to a ‘2’, so I could recruit another Men-at-Arms of Dol Amroth. I spent the last point getting some Heavy Armour for Coric as his poor Armour score twice proved his undoing.
            None of my men gained enough experience to make any advancement rolls.
            All-and-all, not a great showing for two games. Still, no one is flat out dead, and we’ve added another heavy armoured trooper which should help. My company rating stands at 102.
            Most importantly, I had a lot of fun. The games were extremely quick. We finished both, with lots of pauses for chatting, in two-hours. In fact, we probably would have played a third, but both wanted to have a pause to get our new men/orcs painted up.


  1. Excellent. A fun battle report, see it didn't matter which way his sword was pointing afterall.

  2. great stuff! Have been tempted to grab the battle companies book, good to see some reports for it.

  3. It's a good little book. Well worth the investment if you are into Middle-Earth, just be aware that it is not a stand-alone rule-set. You will need other books.

  4. Great looking game and minis.