Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Defense of Osgiliath AAR and other Lord of the Rings stuff

Hello again.

Here is a post in which we discuss the sinister siren song of GW's Lord of the Rings and have a game of Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game.  This might be a long post.

"STOP Buying Lord of the Rings Stuff"

is what I told myself.  "At least, stop buying stuff until you play the stupid game once.  Because if you keep buying stuff and then play and end up not liking it, you are wasting your money."

The last time I played LOTR had to be back sometime in 2014 ish.  I remember liking the game a lot for awhile, but eventually becoming disenchanted with the list building, scenarios, and over powered magic system.  Looking back, I think I was more tired of the tournament scene than the game mechanics themselves.   But I do love the Lord of the Rings and the miniature collection survived all the purges of getting rid of stuff that I wasn't using.  But mostly it all just sat in a box in the back of the garage, covered in cobwebs, labeled in faded Sharpie "someday, somehow, I'll get back into LOTR."

Around September last year, GW launched their new version of LOTR with the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game.  It sounded great, and I purchased the books, as discussed in this blog post HERE.  (the post is called 'Lord of the Ka-Ching' which I still find Hi-larious.)

After reading the rules and watching youtube videos, I got all excited and made this LOTR ruin that I finished last January (Can be seen  HERE).

And that's when I told myself "Stop."
Play the actual  game once or twice, make sure you like it, before investing more into it.  Especially because it's a GW game and you know that it's gonna cost an arm and a leg and more besides. 

So Then I bought Some More Lord of the Rings Stuff

You all saw it coming.  Wargamers have feeble minds and we are in good company.

First I bought the Gondor at War supplement.  Seemed like a no brainer bc I had a gift certificate to the Warstore from Christmas just waiting to be used and my LOTR miniature collection focuses on Gondor and Mordor.

This turned out to be a mistake.  Not because the book is terrible, but because the book is AWESOME!

The thing is full of really fun scenarios that focus on recreating iconic parts from the movies and books (mostly from Return of the King) which is exactly what I want to do....
Also, a lot of the scenarios are doable with my current collection, or become doable with only a modest investment in time and money.  A lot of the scenarios are set in Osgiliath or inside Minas Tirrith which fits my terrain made from Hirst Arts and is again, exactly what I want.
There might be a fuller review in the works for a future blog post, but it looks like an excellent LOTR resource.  But unfortunately it proved to be a major catalyst to my excitement and lead to buying..

yes, the carpet is indeed that ugly...

Missing from my collection (but not anymore!), and needed for some scenarios were Morannon Orcs (which are just like regular orcs except stronger and with better armor...so I guess not like regular orcs after all.).  A nice fellow on TMP was selling two boxes for half price.  These were snatched up as 'a deal too good to be missed.'   First miniature purchase of the year.

Having these guys made more scenarios possible, especially scenes from the movies that take place in Osgiliath and Minas Tirrith.  Which lead to buying..

I mean, IF I was gonna do battles inside the White City and the ruins of the former capitol of Gondor, then I NEEDED a suitable wargame mat.  RIGHT?  I think this Cigar Box "Dungeon Floor" mat will do the trick.  I got the 6 x 4 Plus version.

It's all coming along nicely now, no need to buy anything else for awhile.  Remember you're supposed to play the game before buying anything else.  Did you just say tax return?

Special characters from Forge World.  Also very much needed.

The wife and I were surprised to get a tax return this year, which we weren't expecting, because I just said it came as a surprise.  I'm an excellent blogger with a powerful command of the English language.  While the majority went to responsible behaviors a slice was selected for frivolous purchases, which resulted in me ordering these special characters, naturally.

To recap:
After I told myself to stop buying stuff I then proceeded to buy a book, a wargame mat, 2 boxes of plastic miniatures (48 total), and 4 blisters of expensive resin miniatures (9 total).  I am the epitome of self control.

Will somebody save me from myself, and play me LOTR so I can clear my conscience?!!

Defense of Osigiliath AAR        (get on with the game already)

Enter, from stage left, my good buddy Dai, to the sounds of wailing guitars and exploding smoke bombs, like a WWE superstar.  Back when we played Blood Eagle Dai said he would like to try out LoTR.  We finally got out act together and he came over for a game...

The "Defense of Osgiliath" is the first scenario from the Gondor at War supplement.  In which Faramir (one of my favorite characters) and some side kicks try to defend the ruins of Osgiliath from an endless tide of orcs.  I think this happens around the time that Gandalf starts to figure out that Bilbo's ring is actually the One Ring, and is out looking for Gollum.  

For the initiated; Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game is a lot about how the Heroes lead their troops and use their special abilities, very similar in concept to Too Fat Lardies game design.  So an AAR is mostly about what the heroes are doing.  I'll try to keep the descriptions of things kinda generic so that everyone can follow along.  

I don't want to rewrite the whole scenario, but here are the basics: 
4 x 4 table covered in ruins.  The game lasts 10 turns.  
There are 3 objectives; one in the middle of the table, and 2 more to each side, making a line through the center.  
The forces of good consist of 12 Warriors of Minas Tirrith, the guys in heavy armor, and 12 Rangers of Gondor, the guys who prowl around in the woods and wear cloaks.  Lead by Faramir (a medium power hero), his buddy Madril (a slightly less medium power hero), and Damrod (who is a very minor hero, really just barely one step above a redshirt, I mean cannon-fodder, I mean brave but common soldiers).

Picture of the general table set up, with the miniatures milling around till action is called.

Other side...

The forces of evil consist of 36 orcs lead by 3 nameless Orc Captains.  They didn't get any speaking lines in the movies I guess.  All 3 are a little less powerful than Madril.  

Victory conditions:  The forces of evil have to capture / destroy  ALL THREE objectives by the end of 10 turns.  To capture or destroy an objective a bad guy just has to be in contact with it for a fight phase.  The good side has to keep Faramir alive and hold just ONE of the objectives.  Sounds easy enough.. but wait!

I thought this pic was very atmospheric.

Special rules:
The Orcs have endless numbers!  At the end of the evil player's move phase, roll a D6 for each dead orc; on a 4+ that Orc is returned to the evil deployment zone. The 3 Orc Captains don't respawn,

Faramir has to charge if able to, because he knows that his father will be mad at him if he yields the ruins and he is fueled by a desire to not be yelled at...like most sons.  But he may spend a point of Will in order to control himself and think rationally (to not charge).

I gave Dai the evil side as befits his character and personality.

Good guys deploy 6" from center objective

Side Discussion: Unpainted Miniatures!
Shame and indeed horror, this post features unpainted minis (GASP)  I was too busy finishing the ships featured in the last post to paint all the troops for this scenario.  I make no apologies. (DOUBLE GASP)  This is a blog post, not a magazine article.  This is a home game, not a gaming convention.  There's nothing wrong with playing with unpainted miniatures, especially when trying things out.  

Evil deployment

And now,  a series of pics in which I will try to summarize the action..

Orcs quickly come streaming in the center and on the right.
I try to shoot as many as possible with my bows, but typical LOTR shooting, it's pretty crap.

Damrod and a small force of rangers put up a tolkien (get it??) resistance on the right objective
 as Orcs come running through the ruins

Faramir is out front by the center objective, trying to hold back the Orc wave
He is burning through his might and fate points

The right objective falls and Damrod begins a retreat back to the center objective.

Dai has focus much of his orcs on the center and right objective
but on the left side now, Orcs are seen coming through the ruins

fighting in the center and right rages on! 

I send some men out to hold the left objective.  I could just let it go and just concentrate on holding he middle
but I figure that the orcs I distract / delay on the left, the less that can attack the center.

The center objective is really only being defended by having my figures stand on it.
Faramir is down to 1 wound and no might or fate. I think about pulling him back
but that's not what heroes do!

I surround the left objective with 3 guys
3 men taking on 7 orcs, so I guess that means my plan is working?

Faramir falls victim to a nameless orc with an axe.
Of course he is not dead-dead.  Just mostly dead.
He'll be back in the next scenario.
But this does not look good for the good guys.  Now even if I manage to keep an objective
the best I can do is a draw.  play for the tie!

Hold that left objective!
by standing right on top of it!

Orcs sweeping in on the center objective.. Madril goes down as well.

Orcs take the left objective.

It all comes down to Darmod, the least of my heroes and now has his chance at fame.
Almost everyone is dead, at the start of turn 9,
Damrod stands on the last objective, surrounded by Orcs.
Can he hold out for 1 turn?
(odds are not good)

On the beginning of the 10th turn there are no good models left to defend the last objective, unless the plan was to hide it under their corpses.  So Dai pulls out a win on the very last turn.
Victory to the Evil side!

Osgiliath is fallen, and Faramir is in Deep-deep-dodo with his father.  He's gonna be mad...

"What did Faramir do now?" 

Post Game Thoughts

Ok, that is a very interesting and fun scenario and I enjoyed it. In truth the game was closer than the pics make it look.  The scenario has a very cool dynamic where the good side is playing with diminishing strength (every lost model hurts) while the evil side must apply constant pressure (and losses do not matter!).  While all my models died, it means that I had them in the right place in order to contest the objectives.  At least that's what I'll tell myself.  

Good news!  I really like the Lord of the Rings rules, or should I say the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game (what a mouthful).  It plays well and is fun.

Bad news!  I really like MESBG (I wasn't going to type it all out again).  This will lead to craziness.

This post has gone on for long enough.
Thanks for reading.

(EDIT: no one noticed that I misspelled Osgiliath the whole time...now corrected.  It's a made up word anyway!)


  1. Awesome looking ruins! The mat looks great too,Im frankly relieved you like the rules after you've invested so much into the them,it doesn't seem that excessive a spend ( although I don't know how much GW is nowadays) fun sounding game and surely the start of a campaign?
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain, I was relieved too. It’s a little excessive to me, bc with the mat, books, and figures it a couple hundred. Guess it depends on who you ask.
      The scenarios in the supplement are linked, in that the winner gets a bonus in the next, but calling it a campaign might be too strong a word. But I definitely want to do them so it might just have to count. 😀

  2. Great looking terrain.......I’m not allowed to buy anymore LOTR stuff either 😀 we have found Dragon Rampant works really well and has meant we have played more with the collection than trying to re learn older rules

    1. Thanks Matt. I have plenty of LoTR stuff now to last awhile. 😀
      DR works fine for using LoTR troops and I’ve done that as well. But for now I think I prefer the GW rules.

  3. Lovely scenics. GW must be doing something right as their latest trading figures look pretty robust.

    1. They certainly have enough of my money for the time being. Though I doubt that LoTR is thier true money maker. Still it’s a good product. 😀

  4. I knew you were in trouble at this point: "become doable with only a modest investment in time and money." We've all been there! Lovely game report--I really, really like the look of the table with that battle mat. I have one of those, but haven't found a good use for it (yet!).

    1. Thanks Ed. I knew someone would find that phrase funny. It’s true that I could map out almost all future purchases for the year just on Lotr stuff. The trick will be painting them at the same pace. 😀

    2. And loaded with deeper meaning. 😀

  5. Hey how great it is that you actually got to play, and like the rules! Saves faffing about trying to find an alternative set (although fortunately there are probably 101 suitable ones for the sine qua non of fantasy gaming)

    Also I gave Dai the evil side as befits his character and personality. Lol. But true.

    1. Thanks Laz. If you like LoTR stuff I think it’s high time you, me, and Dai got together you think? 😀
      I also gave Dai the orcs bc it seemed to be the more forgiving side as losses recycle bc he’s never played before. I at least knew the rules and the game though it’s been years since LoTR has seen the table. 😀

    2. I have not played in YEARS and only a few times then.

      Which is to say it would be fun!

      Project a date far enough in the future, and I will even paint something. Maybe.

    3. We’ll see what we can do. I’m suffering from an excess of real life so it might be awhile before I can play again anyways.

  6. That was all kinds of brilliant! What an absolutely amazing table and game you had there Stew! Can't wait to see more in the future 🙂

    1. Lol, thanks Ivan. Appreciate it. I wouldn’t go as far as brilliant bit who am I to argue? 😀

  7. Another fun game at the Stewart household AND I won AND EVEN BETTER, I got to hold your son! (Even though he didn't like me. LOL)

    1. Thanks for coming over and playing Dai. It was a good time. My son is at that stage where he’s suspicious of everyone. 😀

  8. Super looking game, Stew! Your recently finished ruined buildings are fantastic in play. i like your game mat too! Wonderful job.

    1. Thanks Jon. It all came together pretty well. Still need a few more terrain items. 😀

  9. Breaking strain of wet tissue paper, like us all. Glad you finally got a game and better still enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks Tony. Appreciate it. 😀
      Hopefully my recent purchases well sate my list for new models for awhile.

  10. Victory or defeat only on the last turn! You can't ask more from a scenario. Superb looking terrain too. Well worth the time you put in to it. Must find where you mention where you got that fantastic game mat.

    1. Thanks for the comment David, appreciate it. You and I can be LoTR Internet buddies. 😀
      I really enjoyed this narrative scenario and of course plan to do more.
      For the mat, it’s from cigar box. See the third pic down from the top of the post.

    2. Ha ha yes Stew. I've been deeply involved in spending that "Modest amount of time and money" on getting started. :)

  11. I'm glad to hear the call of the one ring took hold and more importantly, you had a great game :D I am tempted to pick up Gondor At War despite not owning any of the minis needed for the scenarios. If you have Mordor and Gondor already, it makes the scenarios so much less of a time commitment to play so you might as well play them all now ;) Especially when you have such great looking terrain! That is a nice board that will work for all of your Osgiliath scenarios and probably will work well for depicting the White City too. I look forward to seeing how you get on with MESBG! :)

    1. Thanks Kuribo, I appreciate the comment!
      Having mostly Mordor and Gondor forces laying around for years, the GaW book was an easy buy. I think I have the miniatures for 6 of the scenarios already.
      Thanks for the nice words on the terrain. I am planning on these doing double duty as osigiliath ruins and the White City under siege. 😀

  12. Lovely stuff. I'm lucky enough to both have made the same mistake, and to live in an area with a small, but lively, community for MESBG. Really looking forward to the new Battle Companies book.

    1. Thanks Fire! Lucky you to have people around to play MESBG. I think I’ll be able to entice a few friends to play with me easily enough but I’ll likely be the only one investing in figures and such. But that doesn’t matter much, as that means I’ll always get to play with my toys. 😀

  13. Epic, intense and so atmospheric, lovely buildings and minis!!