The Trouble with being Hasty…
As our scene opens, the mighty Treebeard stands 18″ (3 turns) from the walls of Isengard. Dear Meriadoc and weed-befuddled Pippin sit ready on his limbs with stones to hand. Three short strides and Treebeard will be “In like Flynn”, but that would be hasty. Treebeard mutters something about trees and friends, howls at the moon, and decides that fighting outside Orthanc is a better idea. (The GM thinks not, but we shall see). The other Ents stand at the perimeter of the board 24″ to 30″ (4 to 5 turns) from the wall.
The Ents pause to debate whether Uruks are type of Hobbit and Warg Riders a type of Squirrel. This leads to much on-doing.
Meanwhile, the Uruks had been caught napping. Saruman was on an inspection tour and was 40″ (7 turns) from the wall. Some of the Uruks were nearly 48″ away – that is 8 full turns of running along at 6″ per turn just to get to the wall.
Who would have thought that they would have had time to run all the way to the wall and mount it before the first Ent closed the distance. In fact, Saruman had time to close to the wall, mount it, and use the old sorceror’s blast on the first bit of vegetation to make it to Orthanc (and down he went).
This just goes to show that the evil plans of the GM don’t always work.
So what happened instead? Outside the gates was a small work party of orc thralls chopping down trees. The Ents decide that the Orcs must be stoned and walked 3″ per turn for 3 turns so that they could toss rocks. Needless to say the Orcs did not like the rocks, but it gave time for the Warg Riders and Uruks to get in action.
From each flank, a Warg-rider patrol (Orc Captain and 12 Riders) streamed onto the board. More rock targets. Before you could say Johnny Be Good, the wargs were hemming in the Ents. This also allowed time for Mahur and his Marauders (ever heard their recordings?) to enter the board and completely tie up the right flank.
Eventually, the evil dudes started to run out of warg-riders and the Ents got back underway. Unfortunately, this pause in movement had allowed sufficient time for the wall to be fully manned. Worse yet, the Siege Bow hit 3 Ents with flaming munitions (scratch 3 flat-tops) and despite cautious warnings from the GM, 4 Ents positioned themselves under the high tower’s flaming oil – ouch!
By then, another 13 Warg-riders had covered 72″ of board exited the walls and slammed into the Ents. The pikes delivered hasty thrusts, the archers and crossbowman fired and it turned into a rout. In about turn ten, four Ents fell en masse.
Soon the Ents reached 50% casualties and failed the majority of their courage checks. Timber! Even stalwart Treebeard could not stop the retreat and soon nothing was left but kindling.
I think all had fun despite the Ent carnage. Saruman is at this moment reporting the capture of Merry and Pippin to the Dark Lord and is awaiting news from Helms Deep. The great war continues….
Notes on the game.
- We used the new Hobbit version of the rules in all respects except we ignored the new weapon effects, disallowed Shielding, and did not count banners as banners (nor paid the point costs). We tried out the new Monster rules for Hurl, Barge, and Rend.
- Lacking Lesser Ent profiles, we used Cave Troll stats.
- Everything behind the tree line was heavy cover, but the area with stumps and lichen was just decorative.
- The high tower had a vat of Boiling Oil with a 6″ range. The Uruks rolled to shoot for everything in range. If they hit, the Ent took a wound and was on fire.
- Burning ents took 1 wound per turn unless they doused themselves with one of the numerous water barrels inside the walls. Four Ents burned alive!
- The game probably hinged on the Ent decision to slowly advance and throw stones. They never made it to the walls and were repeatedly hit with bow and quarrel fire. Some were damaged by the ballista. Some showered in the oil dousing near the tower. One was bowled over by Saruman’s spells. The Ents generally had a tough lot of it once the Wargs encircled them and the Pikes got outside the gates. Saruman’s forces took a lot of damage with the loss of most warg-riders and some Uruks, but it turned out not to be close once the Ents could not get to the walls.