The Grey Mountains Pass

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In three lines the Dwarfs and Men await the onslaught.

 It is March 16th TA 1412. The witch king has fallen on the fields of Pelennor and Thranduil has repelled the forces of Dol Guldur, but the arm of Sauron is still strong. The Evil One has stretched forth his hand and summoned the Orcs and Goblins from the Grey Mountains to lay waste Erebor and Dale

A company of dwarfs from the Iron Hills and men from the lands between Mirkwod and the Lonely Mountain stand in their way. They are determined to hold the main pass through the Grey Mountains to the plains before Dale. Messengers have been sent to summon aid from the Elves of Mirkwood and Rivendell.

The Watchtower stand at the entrance to the pass. In front of it the Dwarf leader stands with a Stone Thrower and a Bolt Thrower. The wargs are the first to attack!

This is the scenario that we used for our second large scale battle in Middle Earth, which was played at Cold Wars in March 2001. Can the dwarfs hold on until the Elves arrive or will they fall and Sauron's horde lay waste the farmlands and Dale?

The game was played on a large T shaped table, comprised of 6 foot wide tables. The rules used were Games Workshop's Warmaster, scaled up to 28mm by doubling all the distances.

There were two areas of rule changes:
1) The brigade rules were modified to allow stands from a brigade to be moved as a stands in a unit during both charges and pursuits. After movement, the stands in a unit have to be contiguous.
2) Giants are such large and dangerous targets, that any missile unit may target them in preference to the closest unit. Any artillery unit may shoot over intervening units to target them.
We decided to simplify and have no wizards or flyers, except the Nazgul leader of the Orcs. The only magic items used were a couple of banners that were carried by the Dwarfs.

The games was sponsored by The Stuff of Legends and the Virtual Alchemist Ltd. Games Workshop were kind enough to donate some giveaways and to provide encouragement.

Army Lists

More Pictures: Openings

Onslaught

Endgame

The Elves

Thanks to:
The Men of Mordor
and apologies to those valiant Good players who didn't get pictured. Thanks also to James Humphries and Derek Whitman.

Conclusions

The Battle went well and fun was had by all. Warmaster is an excellent system for this size of engagement, and the massed hordes look spectacular.

Giants are nasty.

The T shaped table didn't work too well. By having the first slope at the junctions of the tables, the focus of the battle was a 6 foot reach for the evil players. If we had moved the slope back 3 or 4 feet, it would have allowed the evil players to reach their stands easily, but still have allowed them space to maneuver into the pass.

The Elves didn't arrive, they were planned to come in behind the dwarves, which would have been a mistake. It would have caused an enormous log jam and been boring. They should come in on a random side of the T, with the evil horde being surprised or not to taste. This would give a much more fluid battle.

The rule changes for brigade charges and pursuits were easy to understand and helped keep things moving. Given the figure scale it seemed more natural.

The large target rules also appeared to work well, although further testing is necessary. The point costs for the special Orc units and for the Dwarf Bolt Thrower need to be fine tuned.

We tidied up loose single stand units on the evil side after each turn to eliminate clutter. We removed these stands and used them to replace lost stands in other units or to create fresh units at the rear. We did not rebuild units in the front line, only in reserve units. This definitley helped move things along.

The only way to successfully run such a large game is to keep things simple, It also helps to have a sense of humour!

2001 This page may not be copied without permission. Last modified: April 2nd 2001 by Orclord