Tuesday 8 March 2022

The Battle of the Five Armies in 28mm

Good Morning Folks and welcome to a rather special post. 

This post is dedicated to my good friend Mark who for the best part of 20 years has had a dream to wargame the iconic battles of Tolkien's Middle Earth. Mark has in the last two decades collected and then painted over 2000 metal and plastic figures from GW's Lord of the Rings range but has never had the opportunity of ever putting them all on a table at the same time. On Saturday the 5th of March that all changed as a group of the Shed players met at Imber Court to refight the Hobbit's Battle of the Five Armies.

At this point I'd like to give special mention to another blogger  - the armchair corporal - who had written up an account of this battle. He'd also gone as far as producing orders of battle for both Good and Evil. The link for his article can be found Here

Prior to the game on Sunday Mark and I had met a couple of times to discuss how we might fight this battle and what would be needed. We decided that we would use Pike and Shotte as our core rule set because experience had shown us that it could handle large battles but also was commonly known across the group. From here it was relatively straight forward to decide on the stats of the armies and units present. As mentioned above we drew our army lists and dispositions from the armchair corporal's website.

If this post goes down well I'll post up our amendments and orders of battle in a later post

As for the table we wanted to go big and fortunately we knew we could get an 18ft table set up in Imber Court (home of the Molesey gamers group). This was decorated with two homemade desert battle mats and then topped with a simplistic version of Mount Erebor and the ruins of Dale. The mountain was constructed out of polystyrene just for this game. The gateway was flanked by two plastic toys I originally bought for my Frostgrave table. 

This was a barren featureless plain - scoured by the Dragon Smaug

Onto the deployments...The side of Good was lead by myself, Vince and Dave facing us were the Evil forces of the two Marks, John and Stuart.

The three main good forces were arrayed as follows - the Elves would cover the Left Flank, the Dwarves in the centre and the men of Laketown the right flank. In total the Forces of Good had around 40 units. These would be augmented with the arrival of the Eagles and Beorn later in the game.

Confronting the allied forces were the hordes of Evil lead by Bolg, Son of Azog. These included huge numbers of goblin rabble, infantry and vicious fast wargs and their riders. Accompanying the horde were several Trolls and a a couple of giants. A total of over 110 units made up the force of evil. 

Each unit of infantry comprised of around 16 figures.

With the forces deployed (the Evil horde would arrive in predetermined waves) all the defenders of Erebor could do was wait for the onslaught

In the picture below you can see the extensive Elven forces protecting the lower left flank of Erebor. The watchtower of Raven Hill sits atop the edge of the ridge.

The forces of good see the horde advancing in the distance....

Screened by filthy goblin archers the horde begins to march forward against the left flank of the Men of Dale and the Dwarves

Leading the charge on the left are Wargs supported by trolls and other evil minions

As the force advances the side of Good realise they are in for a desperate fight. More troops enter the valley

With fierce war chants the horde presses forward 

The wargs charge forward - Dwarves of Dain Ironfoor their target

Massed ranks of goblins charge towards the far end of the Elven flank - only to be cut down by heavy missile fire 

Dain's dwarves prepare to repel the charge....

More Evil troops pass through the ruins of Dale

The Wargs crash into the Dwarf and Elven Infantry with more riding up in support - there was no subtlety in this attack

The vast numbers of Orcs and Goblins could be seen massing against the Human and Dwarf left flank

The Giants lumbered forward - causing fear in their opponents and disruption for their own troops

More Wargs pressed home their attacks one the centre. The stout dwarven warriors attempting to hold the line

The Battle was now in full swing and casualties were piling up. (red counters) - An heroic stand by the Dwarves was called for...

Across the field a brutal war of attrition was in full swing....

Thinking that the full evil force was now on the table the players on the good side were dismayed to see a further host enter the far end of the table 

With much of the fighting now taking place on the left hand slopes there was a fear that the men of Dale lead by Bard would break.

Back in the centre the wargs were causing mayhem and casualties on their opponents - but the dwarves held firm

Elen archery was continuing to play havoc with the Hordes left flank

The evils small force of Bats were now flying into the rear franks of the human troops causing disorder as their fronts were charged by the mean greenskins

As things were starting to look desperate the Eagle swooped in causing chaos amongtst the lead elements of the orcish forces

It seemed for every evil force knocked out two more would appear. The field looked epic.

With the Eagles supporting the defenders some progress was made in the centre

However it was too late on the left flank as the Evil horde poured up onto the lower slopes and started to chew into the meagre human forces

The centre was a chaotic mess and started to get worse as trolls crashed into the Dwarven infantry - it was time for Thorin to throw open the gates of Erebor and support his bretheren

Elsewhere the Elves were more than holding their own on the right fllank. Their surerio arms and deadly archery were playing havoc on the hapless goblins. 

At the far end of the valley in the shadow of the watchtower the Elves marched out to meet the new threat. 

Battle was now raging across the table

Things in the centre were getting very messy, much of the Dwarven infantry were now engaged and the humans were bravely battling back against numerous evil troops

As the battle raged the men of dale were slowly being forced back...

Despite Bards heroic last stand on the lower slopes of Erebor he could not hold the left flank. He fell mortally wounded.

The Dwarves were now facing trolls and giants, despite support from the Eagles several Dwarven units were eliminated and Thorin's position was in severe danger of collapsing

It was then that Beoorn and his kin arrived on the slower slopes - could they arrest the onslaught?

With Bard gone the human force was routed and all that lay between the gate and victory lay a few Eagles,  Dwarves and the Werebears.

With renewed vigour the eagles charge again, firther disruption caused on the forces of evil.

Thorin was now in a desperate fight for his life....

Dain's forces although depleted were holding the line

Meanwhilst the Elves were gaining ground against the new threat - beating off the giant and the horde in front of them

As the clocked march on the attritional effect of the battle was starting slow the evil advance, the numerous forces were getting in the way of each other and the Goblin commanders could not bring up their fresh troops fast enough.

With a shout of huzzah Thorin's guard finally broke the trolls and quickly engaged the giant with aerial support. Elves withdrawn from the far flank were now starting to join the central defence.

Ever so slowly the forces of good were starting to turn the battle

More trolls entered the fray but were quickly halted by the aerial birds of prey

Elsewhere Beorn was pinned on the slopes but refused to yield - the left flank might just hold

Despite throwing in their reserves the Goblin horde were starting to fell the pressure as the Elves started the throw themselves forward

Beorn was now faced with more pressure  but he stood toe to toe with the best that the forces of darkness could throw at him. Bleeding from several wounds he tore down the attacking giant.

The Elves , having finally routed all opposition in front of them turned en masse towards the centre

The centre still held, and Thorin was still alive - the clock struck six and victory for good was declared but it was a close run thing

Its fair to say that all the players were exhausted - six hours of gaming had no delivered a clear result but had delivered a wonderful spectacle and some very tense moments.

With hindsight fewer units (but with a higher figure composition) would have given a faster game but no body had left disappointed.

It was all agreed that Pelennor fields would be our next big fantasy game...

More soon