And so it comes, our first battle Report. The army of Gondor faces Barad-Dur in The Fog of War Scenario, where objectives are hidden, following the new army Rules from the Throne of Skulls. That means that Gondor will receive a courage boost of +1, while Barad-Dur will get +1 to wound against outnumbered opponents.
But First, let's have a look at the armies and at the battlefield.
MINAS TIRITH (Dikey)
The Battle Begins
Good has priority. Boromir moves behind the lines towards the center while Gandalf tries to Strenghen Will the Captain, but apparently the white wizard does not like Boromir very much after what happened to Frodo, and the spell fails.
Evil does not manage to do much better. Both Shamans used 2 will point and a might point to cast a channelled Fury, but one of them fails miserably and will spend the rest of the game as a very expensive spearman. However, the one who succeded managed to save one of his orcs from Berengod's deadly arrow. Dikey's not amused. But neither is Shagrat, since his orcs failed every single shot that turn.
Priority goes to the Evil Side, but their marching orcs have to split because of a ruined building in the North side of the field, and that slows them down. Gandalf decides to slow them down even more by casting a Sorcerous Blast that sent on orc flying back into the nazgul, wounding two of his companion in the process, but the Shaman saves one of them. Faramir leads his Knights around the forest on the far east, while Boromir is moving steadily towards the center. Only the knights moved fully, the rest of the army is carefully taking its time.
The Third turn sees Gandalf blasting orcs away once again, a majestic blast against the center of the evil ranks that knocks down many orcs, including the shaman, and kills two of them. Sauron retaliates with a channeled Chill Soul. The Taskmasker is too much of a wimp to whip Sauron, who has to give up his might point. But his is a Might well spent, because 2 Gondorian Swordmen and 2 Guards of the Fountain Guards go down. In the meantime, Faramir's knight are done with their movement and are now at charge range. The Nazgul tries to make Faramir more vulnerable by sapping his will, but fails his spell.
Good's priority. With no might, there's nothing the evil side could do to stop Faramir, who bravely passed his courage test, from charging the Nazgul, while the knights charge the orcs nearby to prevent them from supporting the Nazgul. Boromir moves in to support his brother from the south, charging 3 orcs, while Denethor and Gandalf stand together; the white wizard keeps his free will point safe for the round, ready to face the spell that Sauron is channelling. Again, the taskmaster does not dare to whip his Dark Master and the spell is cast but this time the White Wizards successfully repels it. The Orcs move against the knights, to outnumber them where they can, while one spearman moves in to help the wraith.
The shoot phase isn't worth mentioning, we go straight to combat! Boromir calls an heroic combat while Faramir calls a Strike to have the Fight advantage over the nazgul. The horn of Gondor freezes the orcs and they all go down to the mighty champion of the white city, who then moves against two spearmen, killing them both. 5 Orcs down in a turn: just another day out in the field for Boromir. Faramir, while amazed by his brother display of skills, proves his own worth by striking down the Nazgul. However, the knights fail every other fight they're in, and one of them loses his life.
Evil priority, but Boromir calls and heroic movement, countered by Sauron. The taskmaster proves to be utterly worthless and Sauron is now without might. Boromir moves towards the center, charging orcs without a care in the world, while Faramir and the knight move to clear the rest of warband, this time with support from Gandalf's Citadel Guards. Sauron cast a spell that bounce off Gandalf as some of his orcs charge without much success. Meanwhile, thanks to the Citadel Guards' support, the knight have basically wiped out the Nazgul's Warband, and only one lone spearman is still standing. Boromir...well, he's just being Boromir.
Good gets priority once again and there's no hope left for the center of the evil formation which is now charged from east and South. Boromir's killings have opened a path for gondorian soldier to charge into the Shaman, who gets a wound saved by fate. At the end of the fight phase, there's only one orc left alive: the brave orc, despite having his back against a wall managed to win against two Warriors of Minas Tirith supported by Citadels!
Evil archers tried their best, but it wasn't enough and the few arrows that found their mark were not sturdy enough to pierce the thick gondorian armor.
Good seizes priority again in the sixth turn. This time Boromir goes straight for the Shaman while the infantry mob up the remaing orcs and the knights move around the building. A Brave citadel stop Sauron from moving then the Dark Lord repels the Immobilize cast upon him by the White Wizard. Orcs arrows strike true, killing a Knight, while Denethor falls to the orc's blade. Enraged by his father untimely death, Boromir gets rid of both the Shamans and Faramir kills two more orcs.
After two more turns of boromiring (I dediced that he needed a new word, at this point) there's no longer a center in the evil side nor a ranged threat, and even the brave orc fell after three turns, something that upset Shagrat almost as much as the Nazgul's death. Gandalf made sure that Sauron's move is hindered by his own orcs and even on that flank the fights are mostly one vs one with supports, with the good side preventing Barad-Dur from using its bonus.
From Turn nine, all hope seems lost for the Evil side. They are now broken and mightless, the nazgul is down, Berengod is well hidden inside the forest on the east and Boromir has still enough might to boromiring around.
At 11th turn the timer calls the last turn. Boromir moves against a lone archer, while Faramir and the knights perform a repulisti and only a single orc survives. Boromir calls an heroic combat: he easily butchers the archer to small pieces (a whopping seven wounds; they are still looking for his head) and then moves inside the forest nearby, securing the objective for Gondor. The Warg rider sent to seize the evil objective does not manage to get in there before the end of the game.
Faramir and Boromir called an heroic combat each. The Big brother grabbed the objective in the forest, while the little brother killed the archer and then moved to trap the warg rider near the statue in the center, killing him. All the riders were successfull in their final turn and when the game was over, only one orc was standing on the western front.
With the evil force broken, the nazgul killed, Berengod safe and sound full control of the objective, the Good Side scores full points against none.
Post Game Thoughts
The ruined building on the north side was to Shagrat what Russia was to Napoleon: To move his orcs forward, he had to split them in two groups, which severely weakened both their offensive and defensive abilities. Since the Nazgul had no might and the Shamans spent theirs to channel Fury, I had full control of the North Side of the battlefield thanks to Boromir's Might, which allowed my troops to keep their advantage over the orcs, attacking those warbands one at the time and outnumbering them despite the fact that the evil army had almost 20 models more. On the south front, Sauron had a majestic opening, killing two Warriors and two Fountain Guards with a Channeled Chill Soul, but once his might was gone he had no way to force his way throught: between the orcs getting blasted and compelled in his way and the Gondorian Elités heroically sacrificing themself one at a time, the Dark Lord was in no position to give his troops the support they needed. While he opened the path for a warg rider to seize the objective, the game ended before it could do it.
Man Of the Match
While every hero did what I intended for them, we agreed that the man of the match has to be Boromir. The Captain of the White Tower. His amazing reserve of might points allowed him to move across the battlefield with ease killing every opponent everytime he charged (and he charged each turn after the close quarter fights started), including the two shamans.
His last heroic combat allowed him to seize the objective uncontested, while his boromiring (I really want this to be a word) opened the path for the rest of his troops and he contributed in no small part to the breaking of the evil force with 15 confirmed kills. Thanks to his lance and double strikes, even fury couldn't do much to stop him.
The Army Bonus
Barad-Dur bonus did not come into play much but, when it did, they killed. Moving from 6 to 5+ to kill is huge, expecially if combined with piercing strike and the fact that the bonus kicks in when outnumbering: you have a bonus to your wound roll and you are already throwing more dice. Without Gandalf to disorganize the evil lines with his Blasts, a lot more Gondorian would have died.
Gondor bonus was, as expected, not massive. It did, however, helped me in taking control of Denethor for the whole game, with only one will point spent. Thanks to Sauron's special rule, Denethor would have failed at least four courage test, but this +1 to courage kept him sane. Even more relevant than the bonus, however, is the fact that Gandalf is in the list. Without Gandalf, Gondor would have had no magic support nor way to disrupt the evil lines from afar and the game would have been very different. In the end, what really upgraded the Minas Tirith army list is not the +1 Courage bonus, but the fact that Gandalf the White is now part of it.
Siamo Dikey e Shagrat, e facciamo parte del Gruppo di Gioco della Sicilia Orientale dedicato al gioco " Middle-Earth: Strategy Battle Game" prodotto dalla games workshop, che è la proprietaria del marchio registrato.