Saturday 16 September 2023

They have yet another Cave Troll...

After the close run thing of the battle of Balin's Tomb, the Fellowship of the Ring make all haste towards the eastern gate of Moria, pursued the entire way by hordes of Goblins and...

...something else...

Their route takes them down enormous stairs which seem to be somewhat of a health and safety nightmare. What's more, whatever is pursuing them is causing vibrations that threaten to bring the cavern roof down on top of them.

They need to Escape From Dwarrowdelf!

And so the Quest of the Ringbearer continues into a scenario which represents probably my least favourite scene in Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring.

It's just silly.

From the bizarrely precarious architecture of the staircase, to the ceiling falling in for no real reason to the daft, "lean forward," when Aragon and Frodo use their combined 'weight' to direct tonnes of rock the right way.

It's not a bad scene as such, it's just much less grounded than the rest of the film and I find it a little jarring and unnecessary. It also hints at some of the horrors to come in The Hobbit movies.

Anyway, in this scenario the Fellowship need to get down the stairs represented by the stone path. The black space is empty and doesn't stop models shooting at each other. A random number of Goblins (and/or Troll) arrive each turn. Usually from the opposite edge, but sometimes elsewhere.

To complicate matters, any time there is a tied priority roll, the evil player, Matt (who is playing the evil side, not actually evil) can take a one inch section out of the stairs as the roof caves in, forcing the Fellowship to jump across the gaps.

Failed jumps cause instant 'death'.

Normally, this scenario probably wouldn't cause the Fellowship too many issues, but depleted as they were from previous battles, they could not rely on Might points to save them all, and we made a 'slight' error in the rules (more on that later).

Aragorn and Boromir took the lead with Aragorn calling for a heroic march to get everyone moving. Aware that the Goblins were likely to rely on their archers, Gandalf used his only Might point to heroically channel Blinding Light, making it much harder to target the Fellowship when they were close to him.

Meanwhile the enemy began to arrive. Matt began a run of high rolls for reinforcement, allowing him to bring on a Cave Troll immediately.

As Goblins started to cluster on the walkways ahead, Gandalf took aim with his sorcerous blast and a Goblin was sent flying to it's death.

He may not be a conjurer of cheap tricks, but this was going to be entertaining.

Goblins appeared behind the Fellowship but Legolas, acting as rearguard, was able to keep them back and began racking up his tally of kills.

The Cave Troll lumbered closer. Perhaps it was the thundering footsteps that shook the masonry, but a chunk of the bridge bike off, forcing the Fellowship to slow down to navigate the chasm.

Aragorn and Boromir leapt across the yawning gap to face the huge beast ahead of them, but the jumping rules prevented anybody else from making the crossing.

The heir of Isildur and the son of the Steward charged into combat. The enormous Troll was a undoubtedly a threat, but against these two great captains of the race of men it stood little chance. Aragorn called a heroic strike and the Troll was cut down alarmingly quickly.

Behind them, Sam and Gandalf made their way across the gap. It was at this point that Goblin archers began targeting the Wizard in the hope of making it easier to shoot the rest of the group, but none of their arrows found their mark.

The rest of the Fellowship, barring Legolas (who was still bringing up the rear), navigated the gap and pushed on. Aragorn and Boromir cut down all in their path.

Gandalf's attempt to blast a Goblin Captain off the ledge was thwarted by the creatures strong will.

Legolas finally made it across the chasm, but was caught up with by a pursuing Goblin. The Elf managed to kill the creature quickly, but it prevented him from trying to thin out the Goblins up ahead. This task was left to the blades of the men (and the occasional hurled axe of the Dwarf.

Gandalf continued to be targetted by the archers to no avail. 

Suddenly, another chasm opened up between Aragorn and Boromir and the rest of the party. Goblins rushed in and distracted by what had just happened and trapped against the gap behind him, Boromir was severely wounded by a Goblin Captain.

The two men were stout folk and they cut their way clear from the vertiginous drop, slaying the Captain and making space for two of the Hobbits to cross the gap behind them, all the time aware that another Cave Troll was making its way towards them swinging it's chain.

So, here's the thing. We think we made a mistake as we assumed that as the evil forces were arriving randomly, they respawned after death. Initially it didn't seem to be a problem as they weren't really a match for the heroes in such a narrow space, however, as the game wore on, the attrition Behan to tell.

Aragon and Boromir cut their way through to the second Troll whilst the Fellowship carefully navigated the second chasm. Gandalf continued to draw all the fire from the Goblin Archers and Legolas provided withering return fire despite pursuers closing in behind him.

Aragorn and Boromir successfully wounded the Troll and drove it back, just as Gandalf hit it with a Sorcerous Blast, knocking it off its feet. At the same time a massive crack opened up between the Fellowship and the prone Troll.

Legolas was once again locked in combat briefly and Gandalf made for the gap to join the rest of the Fellowship, but slipped and tumbled into the void.

"Fly, you fools!" was heard as the Wizard plummeted to his 'death'.

The Goblin Archers cheered, believing that they had been successful and turned their attention to the nasty Elf that had killed so many of them with its filth arrows.

Despite the shock of losing Gandalf, Aragorn made short work of the prone Troll and pushed on towards another Goblin Captain, but the ranger was beginning to tire.

Gimli leapt into the fray beside him, keen to even up the score with his pointy-eared friend.

Meanwhile, Frodo led his cousins in a charge to kill a pursuing Goblin which allowed Legolas to keep thinning out the archers shooting back at him.

"For the Shire!"

Aragorn and Gimli continued to cleave through the horde but both were close to collapse. Progress was slow, but it did allow Sam and Boromir to cross the gap behind them.

However, another Troll moved into view ahead of them.

The Fellowship pushed on, each leaping the gap in turn until a scream went up as Merry's jump fell short and followed Gandalf into the abyss.

Shocked, Frodo and Pippin pulled up short and were charged from behind by two more Goblins.

The press of bodies became immense and Gimli's axe sang as he cut through the foul creatures that infested his ancestral home. Aragorn's blade rose and fell and ever so slowly these doughty heroes pushed ever closer to escape, slaying the third Troll as they inched forwards.

Legolas kept up his fire into the archers, but without the protection of Gandalf's magic, weight of fire told and the Elf was hit too many times.

And then disaster struck. Just when it looked like the Fellowship might just cut their way clear, another chasm opened up infront of them. With no space to jump into and no reliable shooting to make a space, the Fellowship were sitting ducks.

When Aragorn fell to Goblin arrows we called the game as there was no way the Fellowship could reasonably get to the door. It was also quite late.

I'm not sure narratively how we explain this one, I can't even say they used rope to clamber off the ledge because Sam famously forgot to bring any. The best I can come up with is either the Goblins were suddenly frightened off by the Balrog (as in the movie) or everyone remembered that in Middle Earth falling massive distances doesn't actually hurt that much unless you are already on fire or land on a spike, and so they all decided to jump.

This would also explain how Merry and Gandalf are in the next scenario, so let's go with that. 

The Fellowship gather their wounded and leap into the depths for the benefit of 3D audiences and the falls result in some cuts and bruises and a broken carrot.

Although we'd played the scenario wrong, it was probably more enjoyable that way as given the amount of Goblins I killed, if they hadn't respawned the game would have been over fairly quickly. However, Matt's high reinforcement rolls, my lack of spare Might points and my total inability to win priority without causing a chasm to appear made a very hard task nigh on impossible.

I'm not sure we'll ever play that scenario again, but I think respawning bad guys but with more of them attacking from behind would present a more balanced fight as ultimately it was the tide of bodies I needed to clear that sealed my fate.

Fortunately the injury rolls saw nobody die and the recovery rolls were fairly positive. We decided that the Bravest Companion was Gandalf as whilst he was still around the game felt winnable as he was negating the Archers. Also, his Sorcerous Blasts took out several enemies including a captain and knocking down the third Troll. Also, the next scenario sort of relies on Gandalf and so it made sense to heal him up a bit.

With the Fellowship actually firing on all cylinders in this one, the big hitters all played their part and so the Fool of a Took was Merry whose main contribution was falling in a hole. However, as he was 'slain' he didn't spend his fate point and so he's at what passed for full strength.

Eagle eyed readers will have spotted that the Goblin horde didn't feature and proxy Uruk-Hai this time. This is because I'd raided my Plastic Peak (a bit like a Lead Mountain) to furnish a few more Orcs.

The first two are from Games Workshop. The one on the right is an actual Moria Goblin. I painted loads of these years ago and they aren't a pleasure to do as the details are so shallow. This one was at least quick.

The one on the left is apparently a 'Stab-Grot' which came with the temptingly cheap first issue if Stormbringer Magazine for Age of Sigmar. It scales fairly well with the LotR Orcs and although it's a bit ornate, it works well enough as a captain.

The other three are simple kitbashes done by sticking spare bits from Oathmark and Wargames Atlantic Goblin kits to some Warlord Games Viking Bondi bodies I've had knocking about for ages. They are a little bit samey, but they blend into the horde well enough.

And so we move on the the culmination of our adventures in Moria and I'm secretly pleased that the Fellowship finally lost one. It means that my Balrog is more likely to actually be involved in the game.

Acquired: 83
Painted: 222
Lead Mountain: 463


  1. Really nicely painted figures! I must re-watch this sequence in the film as I don't recall anyone or anything blocking path, only pursuers who mainly hung back firing arrows.
    I agree with you about how ridiculous some of the toppling stairs are but Jackson seems determined to open up every underground scene into a vast chamber when in the books it's tunnels and rooms. How the hollow Lonely Mountain stays up after Smaug demolishes most of the supporting columns is a mystery.

    1. The scenario doesn't really reflect either the film or the book very well, but I think they wanted to add something between Balin's Tomb and the bridge to make Moria more of a slog.

  2. Impressive figures! The match the movie, very closely, and they are very recognizable as being from the movie. Love the way you rendered the narrow bridge fight. Thought it was over the top, in the movie, but fun, nonetheless. Hearing that Merry fell, did cause me to wince. LOL! The Balrog, w/o Gandolf to slow it down, could end the quest... Cheers!

    1. If you read the report on the next scenario you'll find out just how ugly that could get.