[Here's a little treat- a battle report from 2009! Barks]
A shadow looms over Middle Earth. The White Hand has marched against the lands of Rohan. Plagued by uncertainty, Théoden King abandons Edoras and marshals his remaining strength at the defences of Helms Deep. The stoneworks have never fallen to the foe, but should that happen, there will be no mercy for the surviving defenders…
This game was based closely on the scenario given in The Two Towers Journey Book (GW 2006). Scenery was constructed from foamcore following the plans in the book. I led the Free Peoples. Would the Deeping Wall fall, or would ‘history’ be changed? Read on…
White Hand Assault Force
- 2 Uruk-Hai Captains (Heavy Armour, Shield)
- 39 Uruk Hai Warriors (30 Shields, 9 Crossbows)
- 7 Berserkers
- 2 Demolition Teams
- 1 Assault Ballista
Defenders of the Deeping Wall
- Aragorn (Armour)
- Legolas (Armour)
- 24 Warriors of Rohan (8 bows, 8 shields, 8 shield/ throwing spears)
Mission: The White Hand has to get 10 figures beyond the Deeping Wall. Any other result is a Free Peoples victory.
Aragorn gazed at the approaching Uruk-Hai. He stood in the middle of the wall, with the Rohirrim spread along it and his companions Legolas and Gimli to his left. The Uruks were advancing in a single body, with shields in front, ladder bearers behind, and their Captains, berserkers and sappers behind that. A detachment of crossbows was off to the right, and a siege weapon could be seen in the distance.
|The White Hand assault approaches|
The Uruks closed steadily with the defences. The men of Rohan released arrows at them, but to no effect. The crossbows moved into a firing line, and the ballista released a few wild shots. Unnerved, Legolas missed shot after shot.
|The Deeping Wall|
The ladders came closer. The men of Rohan had picked off one or two Uruks while Legolas continued to shoot ineffectually. When he did hit, his Mirkwood arrows bounced harmlessly off the iron of Isengard. The crossbows of Isengard, however, kept up a devastating solid rain of quarrels, picking off the defenders with ruthless precision.
“Ladders!” came the cry, and Gimli adjusted his grip on his axes with glee. Ladders slammed into the wall, and the defenders raced to push them down. Propelled by the assault ballista, an Uruk-Hai Captain rode his ladder to the top and launched the assault on the Men of Rohan defending the left. Brutally hacking with his crude weapon, the Uruk dispatched his opponents and leapt onto the walkway- right in front of an angry dwarf.
|The first ladders hit the wall|
The attackers’ view. The Demolition teams move into position.
Shocked out of his complacency, Legolas took his first kills on the Uruks milling at the base of the wall below. The Rohan defenders kept up a steady barrage of spears and arrows, but the armour of the attackers kept many from reaching their mark. Still the deadly crossbow bolts picked off the defenders…
“Baruk khazad! Khazad ai-menu!” roared Gimil as he spun towards the Uruk-Hai Captain. More creatures were pouring up the ladder behind him, but the whirling fury of the dwarf’s axes was unstoppable. Many Uruks fell at his feet until the Rohirrim were able to push the ladder down.
Gimli defends the left of the wall
The men of Rohan held their nerve in the face of the fearsome creatures ascending the ladders in front of them. Many Uruks failed to cross the wall, slipped, and fell to their deaths below. The defenders were heartened by the lack of progress the attackers were making, but as many times as they threw down the ladders in front of them, they would get picked up and re-raised. Lost in the general melée below, the sappers carried their deadly cargoes to the wall’s central culvert…
Aragorn threw down the ladder in front of him. Looking to his right, he realised the sudden peril the defenders were in. The steady fire of the crossbows had killed many of the defenders on the right hand side, and the Uruks had raised three ladders there whilst the fighting on the wall was happening on the left. Aragorn had to get there before Isengard’s finest could climb up. Taking several men of Rohan with him, Aragorn sprinted towards the ladders. He reached the ladders and with the defenders already on the right, was able to slow the White Hand assault. Aragorn turned around- and found that all the men he had taken with him had been killed by another brutally accurate volley from the crossbows in the valley below.
|Aragorn races to the concentrated assault.|
Behind him, the Rohirrim are about to die from crossbow bolts.
At the culvert the berserker charges forwards…
Before Aragorn could come to grips with the sudden loss of four men, however, the Uruk-Hai sappers had delivered a parcel of Saruman’s sorcerous devilry into the culvert, and a berserker had destroyed himself igniting it. As the dust settled, however, Aragorn saw that the wall was still intact!
“Legolas, kill the other one!” he called. On the left, the elf nodded grimly, but his arrows failed to have any effect on the creatures below. The sappers dropped off another vessel in the culvert, and a berserker ran madly towards it…
Aragorn thought rapidly. The wall would fall to another titanic explosion, and Uruks would swarm in through the gap. He had to get there quickly but wouldn’t have the time to run to the steps. The only way would be-
The breach in the Deeping Wall
With a second earth-shattering explosion, the White Hand smashed down the Deeping Wall. It would be a race through the breach.
Gimli raced down the steps on the left. Calmly, Legolas stepped to the gap and prepared to rain arrows almost straight down. Aragorn ran to the edge of the wall and leapt down, landing badly on the rocky ground below.
Legolas covers the gap after Aragorn chooses the quickest way down.
The Uruks swarmed into the gap, but Aragorn picked himself up and charged into the middle of them. He effortlessly killed the lead Uruks, but there were more behind them. Above, Legolas shot arrow after arrow without any effect. Gimli ran up to Aragorn, and the two mighty warriors effectively blocked the breach.
Aragorn and Gimli hold the breach
while Uruks swarm onto the right-hand wall
Above them, however, the Uruks found the wall defenders decreased and pushed the advantage. Both sides were getting low on numbers and the more weak-willed on both sides were running away from the fighting. On the top of the right-hand wall, however, a doughty Rohan warrior held his own against many Uruks and berserkers. Putting his body between them and the stairs down, he valiantly repelled many assaults when lesser men would have run- or died.
The lone Rohan defender on the right- now outflanked
But still the Uruks came. Hurling themselves ineffectually against Aragorn and Gimli, more attackers ascended the ladders and assaulted the remaining defenders. A massive captain leapt onto Legolas, who desperately fought off the monster. On the right, the Uruks threw up another ladder, and the sole defender there finally succumbed to the assaulters.
In the breach, Aragorn and Gimli realised that victory was within their reach. Soon, there would not be enough attackers left to enter the courtyard. The attacking commander realised this as well, but pressed home the assault on the walls. Two berserkers leapt on to the wall immediately above Aragorn. Determined to deny them any glory, the ranger scrambled up the crumbling rubble of the wall. Hanging on with one hand, Aragorn bested them in combat but due to his precarious position he was unable to press home the attack- slipped- reached out- and-
With a sickening thud Aragorn fell down onto the rubble below. Gimli raced over, but the unnatural position of the ranger’s neck told the dwarf that Aragorn was beyond aid.
“Aye, lad, that’s an embarrassing way to go,” he said.
A pyrrhic victory at the Deeping Wall for the defenders! I killed enough of the Uruks so they couldn’t get the number required for victory beyond the wall, but I was broken, the wall was decisively destroyed and Aragorn had fallen- literally!
This was a great game. We both broke on about the same turn, and it became a grim fight to see who would win. If the Uruks had deployed their bombs better they would have breached the wall sooner and I don’t think I would have been able to stem the tide through the gap. As it was, I wounded Aragorn in a desperate leap down to get to the gap. Once he and Gimli were there, there was no way the attackers were coming through.
Fate got the better of me. I didn’t need to go back up the wall, but I was over-confident. We used the backing-down-from-a-ladder rules when determining the fight outcome, so even though Aragorn won the fight, because he didn’t kill the berserkers he had to back down, rolled badly- and died. Whoops.
Other highlights and lowlights included:
- The sole Rohan defender on the right refusing to run and holding his own against about six Uruk-Hai.
- Legolas failing miserably at any sort of ranged combat
- The brutally efficient crossbow fire of the Uruks taking down up to four at a time.
- The siege ballista had no effective fire
- More Uruks died falling off ladders than from any other cause, I think
Again, this was a great game, wonderfully cinematic. The ladder rules work well, and it is really hard to fight your way onto defended battlements. Once the defenders’ numbers have been thinned by crossbows and there’s a big rent in the wall to distract them, however, it’s all on.
Théoden King gazed blankly down at his defences. The attack wave had been driven off successfully- but at what cost?