Sylvan Angodnil sat uneasily on his spotless white charger (and it was spotless because be and his whole troop spent long hours grooming them when off duty) watching the dark hosts approach. Aglardor, their troop captain, laughed like silvery bells in a high tower, which Sylvan found annoyingly pretentious, and said coldly “The more of them, the more glory for us, am I right, lads?” The laughter of the troopers sounded a little forced and just slightly nervous, because there were a LOT of them. Sylvan counted four armoured trolls on the right flank, anchoring at least six bands of orcs and goblins marching towards them, and how many more on the left, or behind the tall trees which screened their centre.
The elven host was divided into two wings, that of King Cuildil on the left, and the right wing under the command of The Lady. A band of her nymph scouts had passed by earlier, taking up position in the woods on the right, only pausing to pet the horses of the Evenstar Hussars. “Pretty ponies!” they giggled, before flitting off into the foliage. Sylvan thought them underdressed and insubstantial. And then there was that damned giant bear, Bjork or Bjorn or something, one of the Lady’s pets, and his smell got the horses whinnying every time he ambled by, muttering loudly about how many goblins he would eat before the day was done. Sylvan wished he’d also wander off into the woods, as if you could tell which were woods and which were the tree spirits ambling about, more of The Lady’s friends.
Now the horns were sounding on the left, as Cuidil began shifting some of his reserves to that wing. Sylvan could hear the howls of wolves, rather a lot of them. That also made the horses nervous. Next, a company of light archers, their gray green cloaks flowing, trotted in front of the troop and took up positions. Felanor, the trooper on Sylvan’s left, looked at them critically. “Oh, that they were not in front of us, to steal our glory!” Sylvan scowled and thought, “What a birk. As far as I’m concerned, they can stand in front of us for the whole battle."
Soon battle was joined across the whole front. Elven horns, the deep voices of the treefolk, the brazen trumpets of the orc hosts, and the howls of countless wolves came from the left. A messenger from the king came and told Aglardor to be ready as the reserve. Aglador acknowledged curtly, watching enviously as Lindor’s troop of Hussars trotted towards the right wing, while ahead of them Bjork the Bear raged forward, bellowing in his uncouth and monosyllabic tongue. “BEAR SMASH!” , Sylvan thought he was shouting.
Both companies of elven archers were now continuously drawing and loosing, their bowstrings emitting a continuous thrumming sound, and as the battle lines shifted, Sylvan could see black orc and goblin bodies piling up before them like windblown leaves. “Good," he thought, "keep it up”.
With silver horns braying, Lindor’s troop of horse smashed into a goblin regiment and scattered them. “See them ride like the furies!” Aglardor cried to his men. “Oh, that we were with them!” “Oh that you’d shut up” thought Sylvan.
From their reserve position, Sylvan could see that the pressure on their right wing was easing. There were fewer orc and goblin trumpets sounding, and through a break in the trees he thought he saw goblin bodies flying into the air as the bear ripped their ranks apart.
On the left, though, things were still dire. A regiment of armoured foot trotted left to seal a gap on the flank, struggling to hold off a surge of goblin wolf riders. A bloodied nymph came running past them, clearly done with fighting. “Those wolves were REALLY MEAN!” she complained to no one in particular. More wolves were surging against the King’s bodyguard.
“See how the king staggers!” cried a trooper, and in horror, they saw Cuildil wander aimlessly, clearly under some sort of enchantment, while the few of his guard left standing struggled to protect him. Aglador drew his long and expensive sword. “Trumpeter, sound the advance! We ride to the king’s rescue”. But, scarcely did the troop begin to move before cries of triumph began to rise through the elven ranks. “They flee! The day is ours!"
Sure enough, the dark hosts, now much reduced in number, were streaming to safety, while the Nazgul leading them shook his fist at his fleeing minions before turning about and himself galloping away. Elves ran to steady the king, who, recovered, beamed in triumph and summoned a minstrel for a first draft of the victory lay.
Aglador sheathed his sword in disgust. “Never you mind, sir”, said Sylvan consolingly, “I’m sure we’ll get to charge one of these days.”
“Shut up, and go wash my horse.”
So ended another big game of Dragon Rampant fought just before the end of the year in James’ Basement of Quondam Rabbits. As is our tradition, we try to get together at least annually for a big Lord of the Rings themed game, using our preferred rules, Dragon Rampant. Almost all the figures in these photos are from James’ exquisite collection of old school figures from Vendel (now Thistle and Rose), though I brought a mix of my own, some GW, some Foundry. We put about 100 points aside on the table. I don’t mind saying that I was quite pessimistic at first, as I didn’t see any clear way of stopping James’ hordes, but my archers did yeoman’s work, and James had some bad dice luck with the morale roles in response to their volleys, so the archers bought me the time I needed to counter attack and gradually break James’ army morale. Some of my reserves, like poor Aglador’s riders, never got into battle.
It was a good lesson for me as a player in keeping my nerve, as I’d lost the first (Napoleonic) game we played that day and I was feeling a little pessimistic. As is our custom, the winner of our big Dragon Rampant game gets to keep Smoochy, the plush dragon, so he will remain with me until our next match up.
James has already put some of these photos up on the Wargaming in Middle Earth Facebook page, here. I hope everyone else’s gaming year is ending on a similar high note.
Cheers and blessings to your dice rolls.