Relief of Helm’s Deep!

Now, what we’ve all been waiting for … the Relief of Helm’s Deep scenario from The Two Towers. This is one of the biggest scenarios in the entire system, with 24 Riders of Rohan, 10 Warriors of Rohan, and every hero on record going up against almost 80 Uruk-Hai. This scenario looked absolutely amazing set up, with the hordes of troops everywhere, but we discovered embarrassingly that nobody had a digital camera.

I was on the side of the good guys, and our strategy was straightforward … link up the relieving and besieged forces, and then simply try to slice through the hordes of Uruks. Man, there were a lot of them, almost wall-to-wall (20 Sword, 20 Pike, 20 Crossbow, 10 Berserker). Note to self: it’s best when you actually learn from previous playings. Having used the Uruk-Hai pikemen to such devastating effect on Wednesday, you would think I would have gone into this game with a little more respect for them. But no. Gandalf was in the van of the first charge, which went hearteningly well – Uruks scattered by the Ultimate Sorcerous Blast, a couple forward deployments obliterated … but then we had a somewhat adversarial relationship with the Priority and Heroic Move rolls, and the Riders just got swamped in a sea of Uruks. Two heroes ended up getting killed (Theodin and Eomer, I think – Gandalf was in bad shape but still alive) and that was enough to lose.

Lessons Learned: The good guys have some tough choices in this one. It seems they more or less have to link up the Relief force with Theodin’s group, but doing so denies them the mobility advantage of the cavalry; you really want to try to do an end run, stretch the Uruk line to the point that they can’t form those devastating “hedgehogs”. These are directly contradictory objectives, so balancing them is tough. The main mistake I made, though, was to move Gandalf too aggressively. He has reasonable stats, so it’s tempting try to get him into melee when you can, but if he’s up in the fray he’s not using his far more powerful Ultimate Sorcerous Blast. The string of bad luck we had on the Priority/Heroic Move die rolls would not have hurt nearly as badly had Gandalf been able to do some blasting instead of being tied down so much. The game was actually reasonably close, so I imagine this misuse could have been a significant factor.

I enjoyed playing this scenario a great deal, and look forward to trying it again. You really need 4 people to play it, though, and more wouldn’t hurt.

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