With twelve Moria Goblins freshly painted, it was time to put them to the test. I sent the call out amongst my The One Ring players, hoping one person would be interested in giving the SBG a test drive and play through the “Goblin Ambush!” scenario included in the inaugural issue of Battle Games of Middle-Earth. I lucked out with three of my regulars, Dave, Scott, and Tom, wanting to give it a shot. We gathered together on a weekend night to push the minis around.
Although issue #1 came with an insert of cardstock fold-out figures to be used in some of the scenarios— Aragorn in this case—I had the Mines of Moria plastic mini of the world’s most famous ranger and painted him up for the battle (we’ll look at him when we hit issue #6). I also had some terrain pieces I had constructed. Since we were playing the most basic of the SBG rules which ignores things like terrain movement penalties and line of sight, these were simply cosmetic additions to spruce up the battlefield. The battlefield in this case was a $4 green tablecloth I picked up from the local thrift shop, its dimensions marked off with masking tape.
We had four players in total and the "Goblin Ambush!" scenario assumes two players. To accommodate our larger player size, we ran it as a mini tournament with three rounds. Two players would face off, followed by the remaining two, with the two victors of each preliminary round playing to determine the champion.
Going into the scenario, I had high hopes for Aragorn triumphing despite the great discrepancy between forces: one Ranger versus twelve goblins. With the goblins divided into three groups and armed with orc bows that don’t have the reach of Aragorn’s elf bow, I assumed the Ranger and his three attacks every Fight phase would spell the goblins’ doom. All the Good side needed to do to win was get Aragorn off the battlefield on the Evil player’s edge, and the goblins move slower than old Longshanks. Things did not go as I expected!
Scott and I faced off first with me playing Aragorn and Scott as the goblins. I headed straight for the high ground near the center of the battlefield, firing arrows at the goblins with Aragorn’s long ranged elf bow before they could reach me with their inferior bows.
|Aragorn spies incoming goblins--and cookies!|
Reaching the high ground just ahead of the goblins, Aragorn was able to make a stand. I'd hoped to cut down a few of the foul creatures, clearing a path for a run towards the archers that stood between the ranger and a win. Things did not go as intended.
|It looks good, but wait a moment.|
|Aragorn is soon encircled by goblins and his 3 attack dice are now being rolled against the goblins 4 dice.|
|A good roll buys Aragorn a moment's respite.|
|Evil wins the Priority roll and Aragorn is soon penned in again. He has suffered a wound or two and things begin looking grim.|
|"Screw this!" Aragron cries as he makes a break for it.|
|Long legs outstrip the goblins and the opposite side of the board is only a move or two away.|
|However, a lost Priority roll and the goblins charge the Ranger, preventing him from moving. Five dice to three dice proves too much for the side of Good and the future of Middle-Earth is changed forever.|
As is often the case, a few bad dice throws and some questionable tactics led to one side's downfall. If I played this one again (and I suspect I will), I'd likely try a different tactic: I'd run down one end of the battlefield or the other, putting as much distance between Aragorn and the goblins on one of the side edges of the board. Plunging directly into the middle allowed both flanking groups to reach Aragorn and to pile the attack dice onto him. The bows didn't play a major role in the skirmish, but from what I understand of the SBG that's common. Despite Good's loss, it was a fun battle with good friends. Getting so close to escaping before being cut down wasn't the worst case end scenario for Good as we'll soon see.
End of Round One
Winner: Scott (Goblins)
On to Round Two.