Osgiliath – A game too far?
If you had been around me since April, you would know that my big war-gaming push for 2011 was Lord of the Ring. I decided that I needed to run two LOTR Strategy Battle Game (SBG) scenarios at the Fall 2011 Southern Front Convention. Mission accomplished! I choose the crossing of Osgiliath and the Battle of Pelennor Fields as my objectives. One scenario requires a lot of new terrain (Osgiliath) and one would require a horde of painted minis. I would hopefully get some synergy going between the two and motivate myself to knock out a bunch of old projects. This meant building and painting a pile of terrain and finishing and painting several hundred LOTR minis. (My games were Fri and Sun; my buddy ran a walls of Rammas game Sat)
Lets talk about Osgiliath. If your are LOTR movie fan, you would have seen Osgiliath at 4 different points. In chronological order a) touching scene between Boromir and Faramir after they retake the city (then Denethor arrives) b) at the end of the Two Towers when Faramir mistakenly (he obviously hadn’t read his role in Professor Tolkien s’ books) takes Sam and Frodo to Osgiliath, c) Faramir fails to repel Gothmog in an amphibious attack, and last d) Faramir foolishly charges the massed might of Mordor manning the mossy merlons of Osgiliath. I decided that I want to do a game set between b) and c). Not the main attack, but a smaller effort to capture a bridgehead. So as LOTR SBG games go, this game was a sizable (but not huge) effort focused on the forces of evil attempting to gain a foothold on the far shore of the Anduin in Osgiliath. Having secured an island near the shore, the Mordor brutes attempt to cross a narrow channel of the river and secure a bridge.
All the movie screen time, means there are lots of shots of the buildings and the general atmosphere. I decided that I would set my version on a green game mat with lots of green vegetation. The buildings would be ruined mostly white affairs. Luckily GW makes a Osgiliath terrain kit that I could use to makes some variants and the new Gale Force 9 buildings (pre-painted a lovely gray instead of white) look like the came from Middle Earth. A few older greek, roman, and GW Gothic ruins were re-allocated to the mission. Last, I pulled out piles of ruined Hirts Arts bricks and made about 30 little brick walls and piles.
(Ignore the Rohan lads – they were just limbering up their horses in the workshop.)
A combination of commercial and custom ruins painted in a “White City” style. Large terrain pieces are from Gale Force 9. Smaller pieces from ZITERDES, GW, and Hirst Arts constructions. Game mat is the new flocked one from GW. The plazas and river are from Dept 56. The docks is from Dwarven Forge’s Medieval building set and the ship is an Old Glory viking craft. The boats and bridge were made from coffee stirrers. The “White City” paint scheme is simple. First spray-paint a base coat of Krylon Tan Camo; then heavy dry-brush with Delta CERAMCOAT “sunflower” and “ivory”. Last, I splashed a little mud around the bases and affixed some flocking / static grass here and there. I made statues and fountains from old minis, wooden spools, and some Hirts arts things. The GW LOTR terrain sets, DEPT 56, and Mega minis are good sources for this stuff. All told the board had 20 separate ruined buildings.
Gondor set-up on one side of river and then Mordor. Mordor had 4 boats that held 8 small minis each and 1 large boat that held 4 large minis and 6 small minis or 24 small minis. Trolls could ford the river – roll 1D6 without a 6 to avoid being swept downstream and potentially drowned. The current carries the boats 6″ downstream per turn, boats could paddle 3″ forward per turn or a Troll could push one (with out the current displacement). It took 3 turns to cross. Running this scenario first, gave us a chance to refresh the players on the Siege engine rules, magic, Wraiths, and boats. The first three being necessary for the huge Pelennor Fields game we played Sunday.
Heroes: Gothmog, Skullie, Cleaver, Thrasher, Gorbag, Troll Chieftain, Wraith on Fell Beast, 2 Orc Shamans, 2 banners
Troops: 43 Morannon Orcs, 9 Morgul Stalkers, 6 Trolls, 10 Artillery crew, 2 Catapults, 2 Siege Bows
Heroes: Faramir, Damrod, Madril, 4 Minas Tirith Captains, 3 banners (Faramir, Damrod, Madril and Rangers were painted the afternoon of the evening game – whew!)
Troops: 7 Rangers, 30 Minas Tirith Archers, 60 Minas Tirith Spear, 6 Knights of Minas Tirith, Minas Tirith banner, 1 Trebuchet, and 3 Bolt-throwers. http://www.flickr.com/photos/9975128@N05/6183652730/
All the boats successfully crossed the river and the trolls broke out from beachhead. The archery fire was concentrated on the trolls and wraith to no effect. The catapults and trebuchet practice counter battery fire. Eventually one catapult crew bought it. This meant almost all the Orcs made it ashore. No boats foundered or crashed into the bridge. This lead to heavy Minas Tirith losses amongst the spearmen. The archers were too far back and too slow to get to the fight. Overall result was a close tactical victory for the bad guys and a strategic win for Mordor. In the debrief, we discussed the limitations imposed by 6″ movement rate and the ability of the responders to react quickly enough. If I did it again, I would have more forces for the defenders and more boats for the attackers. I would also encourage the archers to use the Bolt Throwers against the Orcs. Trolls were remarkably hard to kill and in typical LOTR archer fashion, they may as well have used suction cup arrows. It was a good warm-up game for the big game Sunday and a lot of fun to start the con.