Firstly I've started a uni course, for seconds (and way more importantly)...
My wife is pregnant, due next January, so things are busy and exciting around here!
In any case, we managed to finally get another game running (500 points or thereabouts)...
In the ashy wastelands near the border of Mordor, Etako's band of dwarves have been tasked with holding a strategic pass in the mountainous region there. Three strategic locations are to be held against Suladan, The Betrayer has convinced him to attack before the dwarves can dig in.
Basically there are three ruins. The aim is to occupy them with your troops. You get a point if you are the only player with troops in the ruins. They have to be fully inside the ruins, not in archways. When one force breaks from that turn onward a die is rolled. On the first time a 6 ends the game, next turn a 5 or 6 ends the game etc. My brother came up with this scenario and we both find that we enjoy games that aren't just a deathmatch, the ending is still somewhat random for fun, but we know it won't go on and on!
Suladan appears at the top of a ridge, near some old mining equipment that has been long disused.
The dwarves, knowing their task in advance, have split into two groups. Some vault wardens are to take the ruins on the east of the valley.
While Etako leads the main force down the valley.
For the first few turns the two teams surge forward, dwarves trudging on, horsemen spurring their mounts to great speed. Suladan and a rider make for the eastern ruins near the eerie red glow of some lava pits. The Betrayer urges two raiders towards the central ruins. The Hasharin leads a band of men towards the western ruins.
Turn 4: Priority Haradrim (tied on 1s, but dwarves had priority last turn)...
The dwarves have made a solid battle line. Archers on the eastern side, Khazad Guard on the west. The Nazgul suddenly veers off track to the west, leaving the dwarves alone and defending a position that looks like it won't be attacked!
Suladan boldly charges right at the vault warden that has just made it to the archway, knowing that if he lets them in, they won't be leaving! The Iron Guard accompanying the vault wardens fan off to one side. Suladan wins the combat, but fails to wound the warden, ensconced firmly behind his shield, which pretty much blocks the archway completely.
The Iron Guard fling their axes at the raider with Suladan, heavy blades making a thwocking sound as they thunk home, two in the hapless horse, one in the outraged rider - silencing his requests to the RSPCA for a cruelty to animals report.
Seven dwarven archers draw back their bows and arrows fly into the air, whistling home into the bodies of several Haradrim men, only one arrow causes a serious wound, but it's enough to get the attention of the body of evil men that are heading for the eastern ruins.
Turn 5: Priority Haradrim.
At the western ruins The Betrayer leads a contingent of archers onto the slopes of a hill and focuses his evil aura into a dart of pure blackness, hurling it at an Iron Guard. Using a point of might he concentrates enough to slip the dart through the eye-sockets of the heavy dwarven helmet. Blood gushes from the small holes and the dwarf collapses quivering and shaking to the ground, convulsing and dying.
The Hasharin forms up with some Watchers of Karna, forming a barrier to the ruins as the dwarves charge forward, ready to avenge their cruelly slain comrade.
The rest of the forces scatter in various directions, some dwarves clambering up the steep steps of the central ruins, the others lining up with shields in front of archers. The Haradrim split up also, some fortifying the northern entrance into the eastern ruins, some archers form up behind some rubble for cover and some spearmen head towards the dwarves.
Suladan wins another combat against the Vault Wardens and even his mightiest blow fails to cause a wound against the heavily armoured dwarf. Arrows fly from the dwarves and haradrim but no wounds are caused.
Turn 6 : Priority Dwarves.
Suladan again attacks the Vault Warden, his blade flashes through an opening and slices open the armour of the dwarf, but fails to penetrate further and just draws a small amount of blood. (He won the fight, then rolled a 6, then rolled a 3! So close!)
Meanwhile the Betrayer, ever the strategist, aims another black dart at the dwarven banner bearer, it flashes past his own troops and causes another dwarf to shiver as it narrowly misses him before striking the banner bearer! Who grunts and spasms, blood runs from his nose, but he plants the standard firmly on the ground and shouts vehemently at the evil wraith - valiantly resisting the evil black magic.
Iron Guards charge forward, slaying two archers with whistling throwing axes. In return the poison enhanced arrows from the surviving bowmen slay an Iron Guard, the extra-virulent poison works exceptionally fast due to the Betrayer's evil aura.
The Hasharin leads a charge forward against the dwarves, he pivots behind one and while a spearman distracts the Khazad Guard, the Hasharin slides a poison-tipped dagger up behind the dwarf's helmet and into his brain, killing him instantly. A watcher and a spearman win a tie roll to take out another Khazad Guard, the heavy armour slowing the dwarf down too much against the nimble men.
In the center of the battlefield, dwarven archers let fly, two spearmen die, but the archers, huddled behind the safely of some old masonry, shoot back as arrows ricochet from the barrier, narrowly missing them! Their arrows thwack into the shields of the dwarves - as good protection as any larger barrier!
Suladan continues in his struggle against the vault warden, the stubborn dwarf has really settled into place now and refuses to give any ground, though his massive shield is getting a lot of new dents and scratches from the Serpent King's sword.
Turn 7: Priority Haradrim.
The Betrayer unleashes another evil black dart at the dwarves, slaying another of the Iron Guard dead in his tracks. The tide of the melee turns towards the dwarves this time, incensed by another evil attack against one of their own, they fight treachery and magic with stubborn determination, and iron resolve, oh, and big whopping sharp axes.
A watcher and a raider die beneath flashing dwarven axes. Etako's Ironfist Gauntlet sending the watcher to join his ancestors, and sending the watcher's teeth to join the men in the back row of the combat. A Khazad Guard's long two-handed axe gave him the required height to take out the man atop his mount.
The Hasharin fails to penetrate the armour of another Khazad Guard and yet another dwarf stands firm against the flailing hooves of a raider.
On the eastern front, the iron guard accompanying the vault wardens decide to head towards the other entrance and charge at the well defended northern entrance. The archers, behind their masonry barrier, take aim and kill one of the Iron Guard in a well placed shot, puncturing two layers of mail!
In retaliation, the archers behind the shield wall finally manage to slip an arrow past the barrier as the Haradrim stand to take their shots, and fell one of the evil men.
Turn 8: Priority Dwarves (I rolled a 1 and complained, but then he rolled a 1 too and I won on the tie!)
The Iron Guard on the east continue towards the well defended northern edge of the ruins. They throw their axes at the archers behind the barrier, but miss, axes clinking against the stone. Suladan again fails to wound the vault warden, and is insulted beyond all rage when he thinks he hears a loud dwarven snore.
One of the archers suddenly falls, the steadily advancing archers, behind their shield wall, aim carefully, wait for the Haradrim to pop up to shoot at the Iron Guard, then launch their arrows. Only one of the seven arrows makes it past the barrier, but it thwacks sharply home into a human skull.
In the center of the board, some Haradrim have decided to try their luck against the dwarves atop the ruins. Brave? Foolhardy? Well the stairs will at least be good exercise.
At this point in the game, my brother had two ruins and I had one, he was near breaking point and would win if the game ended, so he started attacking like crazy, half hoping his own men would die so that he'd win! Sounds like The Betrayer at work to me!
The melee on the western side of the battlefield continued on unabated. The Nazgul, chuckling evilly, black darts another Iron Guard. With another comrade fallen, the dwarves again throw themselves forward with reckless abandon.
Etako leaps at the Hasharin, roaring out a challenge to battle. The Hasharin darts to one side, but has underestimated the speed of the dwarf and catches the Ironfist Gauntlet in the side of the head as he tries to pirouette past. It is a mighty blow, but fate is with the evil assassin today and he rolls with the attack, flipping back to his feet effortlessly. A Khazad guard takes out a spearman with a massive swing of his mighty two handed axe, splitting the man almost right down the middle.
Three archers and the last raider take on a solo Khazad Guard, who braces himself and whirls his axe in a massive three hundred and sixty degree spin, knocking aside the incoming blows and felling the man on his horse!
Turn 9: Priority Haradrim (another tie roll with 1s!)
The Betrayer, sensing that victory is slipping away, summons his remaining willpower to destroy the banner bearer, who cannot resist a second attack. As the banner dissolves in the black acid mixed with it's wielder's gore flecked body, the Betrayer laughs, the sound fading as he melts away into an evil wind that whips across the battlefield.
The chill of the echoing laughter stuns most of the attacking dwarves. Etako stands firm, brave and steadfast even in the face of such overwhelming evil, taking on the Hasharin, two watchers and an archer! He launches himself at a watcher and smashes him full in the face with the Ironfist Gauntlet, killing him outright in a single blow while just taking the hits from his other opponents on his well-crafted mithril armour.
On the stairs in the center of the battlefield the spearmen attack the defending dwarves, but no damage is done as they stalemate. The dwarven archers shoot across the lava and kill some of the spearmen inside the eastern ruins. Suladan uses a mighty blow but still cannot penetrate the shield of the sleeping vault warden.
The two remaining Iron Guard on the eastern side launch an attack on the last Haradrim archer, who doesn't stand a chance against their four flashing blades.
The Haradrim force is now broken, the end of turn roll is a 2, so the game continues! If it had ended, the Haradrim would have won!
Turn 10: Priority Dwarves.
Etako, still on a rampage, takes on the Hasharin and a watcher, but his feet slide out from underneath him on some teeth that were on the ground! The Hasharin seizes his chance and lashes out at the mighty dwarven hero, the Bane of Kings poisonous blades that he wields cause nasty wounds on Etako's right arm, but fate is with him today and the poison doesn't take.
Seeing their leader fall, the other dwarves step back to cover him, one Khazad Guard dies beneath a spearthrust from an evil Haradrim warrior and the other dwarves are fortunate not to suffer the same fate.
On the eastern front, a wall of dwarves crashes into the defending Watchers of Karna. An Iron Guard falls to the wicked blades of a Watcher of Karna. Standing next to him, an Iron Guard avenges his fallen brethren by bodily launching at another Watcher, barrelling him over and ending his life with an axe and sword combo.
A shielded dwarf advances on the third watcher, deflects a spearthrust and swings forward with his axe, sending a spray of blood out onto the ground from the throat of the Watcher.
Suladan dismounts, allowing the rocky outcrops to shield him from archer-view and continues his unrelenting assault against the snoring Vault Warden.
The end of game die is rolled again... a 1, the game continues - again, a Haradrim victory if the game had ended!
Turn 11: Priority Haradrim (again on a tie of 1s!)
Four Haradrim flee the field of battle, much to the cursing of the Hasharin and Suladan.
The dwarves at the northern entrance of the eastern ruins charge forward, rolling over the Haradrim resistance as though it wasn't even there. Axes flying and armour seemingly impenetrable, they end the lives of a Watcher and a spearman.
At the southern end, there is a rude awakening for the Vault Warden, who tips forward during a particularly intense part of his dream. Suladan lashes forward at the opportunity and finally defeats the sleeping dwarf!
Meanwhile in the center of the battle, the dwarves atop the central ruins sit down and smoke a pipe, the Haradrim they faced fled the scene. They offer commentary on the battle unfolding beneath them (often making quite rude comments!)
Etako calls a heroic combat, punching a spearman so hard that it launches him into the air, where Etako runs forward underneath the dead human, who crashes to the ground behind him as the plucky dwarf smashes into a Watcher of Karna and enters the western ruins.
The Hasharin, seeing his arch-nemesis approaching, dispatches a Khazad Guard as though it is the easiest thing in the world and sets himself to face Etako.
The end of turn die is rolled again, a 2! Game still goes on! If it had ended that turn it would have been a draw, with the dwarves on the central, Suladan in the eastern and the western still being contended.
Turn 12: Priority Dwarves.
At the western ruins the Hasharin slays the last remaining Khazad guard, Etako slays the last remaining spearman. The two heroes now face off against each other.
At the eastern ruins, Suladan is surrounded by angry dwarves. Arrows flash past him, but none of them strike home as he stands defiantly and proudly!
A four is rolled, the game is over. The dwarves have won a minor victory!
The dwarves offer amnesty for the King and his sole remaining henchman to end the bloodshed. The humans agree and are escorted from the field of battle. The black haze over their thoughts from the Nazgul is lifting and they wonder what led them to oppose the mighty dwarves! (Who totally rock - no bias!)