The Recapture of Umbar (Fourth Age)

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The Recapture of Umbar (Fourth Age)

Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:50 pm

A brief report of a recent battle (Jubilee Weekend) at my house. The scenario was a 'What if?' based on the recapturing of the old Gondor port of Umbar. King Elessar has turned his attention southwards and has invited his friend and ally King Eomer of Rohan along. Prince Legolas and Lord Gimli of Aglarond welcome the chance to meet their old chums again (and have a re-match of their kill-counting!), and bring contingents from their households. Princes Faramir of Ithilien and Imrahil of Dol Amroth loyally join the crusade and those diminutive but brave Knights Meriadoc and Peregrine also follow the army. Finally, a slender Rider of Rohan joins the cavalry - Princess Eowyn is off to war again, this time following her husband rather than uncle. We thought about Queen Arwen as well, but reckoned she'd rather stay at home and look after things, rather than trudge to a drab, dusty land far to the south. Let the boys go out and play!

The port of Umbar is a mixture of old Gondor and more recent Harad architecture (medieval Europe and Arabic), with ruins giving a hint of the grandeur of Numenor. A sea wall protects the town and a lighthouse overlooks the port. A river runs into the bay and the greenery of the equator starts to appear. The Great South Road crosses the river at a solid stone bridge, and this was the main objective of the game - capture the bridge and the Evil army, cut off from their escape, count as Broken.

The forces were roughly equal, using our favourite 'That Looks About Right' technique. A mixture of troop types was important, for interest's sake, hence Elven and Dwarven contingents for Good (not to mention the pony-mounted Hobbits!) while Evil had all manner of nasties. Good had a two-pronged attack, comprising an amphibious assault anywhere along the coast and a cavalry-heavy frontal assault along the road. Evil thus had to worry about the heavies coming at the town and infantry leaping ashore behind the front line.

There were eight 12-man ships in the assault fleet, moving at roughly the same speed as the cavalry advance. The Evil forces set up with troops manning the sea wall but also forward-deployed from the town. This was partly to make a game of it (cavalry against defences never goes well for the mounted side) and partly to offset a house rule whereby any troops outside of enemy charge range could double-move. A long, narrow table does not make for fast games without such tweaks.

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The above photo shows the front lines approaching each other. The terrain was largely flat desert, with the sea along one table edge. A couple of oases, two sets of ruins and a typical Middle-Earth giant tree - in this case a Baobab - broke up the emptiness.

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The general battlefield, showing the cluttered town which is well-suited to defence, especially with archers atop the flat-roofed houses.

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The reception committee at the docks!

The battle started with a surprise for the three Evil players as the Good fleet adopted a side-by-side approach to manouevre, expecting to clamber over the side of one ship and into the other nearest the port. Cunning! The cavalry advanced and battle was soon joined.

It should be noted that Evil won priority 11 times out of 13 and this obviously affected the cavalry. That said, the Royal Banner of Rohan was dispensing free Might like mad, and Merry alone used four points of Might during the game, usually shouing 'With Me' for Heroic Moves and then sending bigger troops into combat. Gothmog - who obviously escaped the defeat at the Pelennor Fields - also stole a few freebies, especially from Aragorn who carved his usual hole through enemy lines but then fluffed twice and was eaten by wargs. Ouch.

The naval attack got some troops off but was foiled by the sea wall in many cases (perhaps it would have been better to unload away from defences and behind the Evil front line) and that ended up in a stalemate - which is a victory for defenders. The cavalry battle was more successful for Good. The Mumak got a couple of Tramples in, but not as many as hoped (only one Stampede, owing to some above-average Courage Tests). That said, it was persecuted by Legolas and his Sure Shot rolls of 6 several turns running and was finally cut down by Merry! "Still only counts as one" said the ever-magnanimous Gimli who outkilled the enemy more than Legolas, not least because the latter found a nice shooting spot that his Elven Cloak didn't hide him in. Harad archers took care of him. Aragorn took down a Khandish Chieftain but the Khandish King survived and wrought havoc among the Knights of Minas Tirith.

The Easterling phalanx came out of the town but a combination of Dol Amroth crunch and Elf Fight value stopped them in their tracks. Imrahil was a beast, cutting through the Evil ranks and was poised to make a solo dash for the bridge when the came petered out.

In the end we felt that it was a draw, although - like any great game - it could have gone either way.

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Re: The Recapture of Umbar (Fourth Age)

Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:08 pm

Great pics! Love the huge battles!
Uruk-hai: Lurtz, Ugluk, Vrashku, Mauhur, 6 Captains, 2 Shamans, 3 Banners, 1 Hornblower, 3 Drummers, 40 Shields, 51 Pikes, 39 Crossbows, 37 Archers, 32 Scouts, 1 Ballista with 3 Crew

Also: Saruman, Thrydan Wolfsbane, Grima, the Nine Nazgul

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Re: The Recapture of Umbar (Fourth Age)

Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:12 pm

I absolutely like the size of battles you do :D They have an epic feeling to them and the story-lines behind them are great. Sounds like it was another fun game!
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Re: The Recapture of Umbar (Fourth Age)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:23 am

I really like those haradrim buildings.

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Re: The Recapture of Umbar (Fourth Age)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:27 pm

Ive made some kindof like that they're really easy. just foamcore or cardboard and then pillars of polystyrine attched to the corners to hold it together and allow you to have a removeable roof
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Re: The Recapture of Umbar (Fourth Age)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:43 pm

That looked like so much fun! Well done to Merry for cutting down the Mumak, first the Witch-King, and now a Mumak! I enjoy reading this, so thanks for posting.

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Re: The Recapture of Umbar (Fourth Age)

Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:16 pm

nice one, i always love seeing a massive battle, it looked amazing :D :D :D

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Re: The Recapture of Umbar (Fourth Age)

Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:36 pm

Awesome! Very nice read and loved the photos and the epic size of the battle. It must be fun to have a dedicated group of regular players around.
Looking forward to your next epic battle!
Also known as "Fëanor, the mighty elf"

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Re: The Recapture of Umbar (Fourth Age)

Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:52 pm

I agree
i really enjoyed it, great report typhoon2
maybe one like this would be good in the magazine...
:D :D :D
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Re: The Recapture of Umbar (Fourth Age)

Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:21 am

Youre models are very well painted! beautiful scenery!
Let's get this started

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