Return of the King: Army of the Dead

This scenario from the Return of the King features Aragorn wielding Anduril, Legolas, Gimli, and a bunch of dead guys tearing into what appears to be the standard Return of the King contingent of Orcs – 36 of them plus two of the ever-imposing Mordor Trolls. Tonight, one of them will even really be a Mordor Troll model, as my newly-painted figure makes its debut appearance. The other will be represented by a rather less imposing Cave Troll.

Once again, the good guys are trying to break through to Minas Tirith (i.e., exit off the opposite board edge). This time, though, instead of a long, narrow battlefield, it’s a short, wide battlefield. The bad guys (Kim & I), setting up first, have to spread out to cover the whole board. The good guys then predictably clump along the right flank.

Here’s the brief summary: Aragorn rips through the bad guys, as usual. I don’t think we landed a single blow on him, although he never had to face the Troll. The Army of the Dead is nasty but not overwhelming – the Orcs managed to take quite a few down actually, to the point that the game was actually very close, the good guys exiting only a single extra model. The wound-split (Orcs need a 6 to wound the Dead, while the Dead need a 4 to would the Orcs) is ugly, but once the Orcs start ganging up and using their two-handed weapons to good effect, it’s no walk-over. And that Troll. A huge amount in this scenario hinges on whether the one Mordor Troll who can get into action can pass his courage checks to charge the Dead. Once he’s in there, he’s a smashing, mashing machine; with his fight 7, strength 7, and 3 attacks, about all you can do is get out of the way. In this game, Gimli was flattened beneath his hammer which was greeted by great applause from Mordor; Kim & I couldn’t even remember the last time Gimli had ever been eliminated, or even seriously wounded.

At the end of the day, I admit I wasn’t particularly taken with this scenario. Without any cavalry-type models, the long, wide board just means the good guys form a flying wedge right up against the side of the board furthest from a Mordor Troll and dash for the exit. Not really that compelling, much less interesting than the Ride of the Rohirrim scenario. The real appeal here is the Army of the Dead, which is kind of cool (lots of courage checks for the bad guys), but hopefully they’ll make a more impressive appearance in the Pellanor Fields. Just need to finish painting a few more Easterlings.

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