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 Post subject: The Siege of Helm's Deep scenario
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:35 am 
Ringwraith
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The Siege of Helm’s Deep
A Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game scenario

Introduction


This narrative scenario is designed to represent the entire siege of Helm’s Deep, as depicted in the film, in one giant game of SBG. It was inspired by the scenario at the back of The Two Towers Journey Book which, whilst looking cool, has flawed victory conditions: namely that if Theoden, Aragorn or Gandalf die the Good player can’t win, this encourages the Good player to hide these mighty heroes rather than getting them stuck into the fight, also, the game doesn’t end until the Evil force is wiped out which will make for a very long drawn out ending as each and every Uruk-Hai is hunted down. I wanted to create a scenario that would ensure that both the Good and Evil players would play in the spirit of the game and ensure that the major events of the film played out in sequence. Following 3 play-tests and modifications, the results are below!

This is intended to be a huge, team game, I’ve played it with (roughly), 1500 points per side, 2300 points per side and 3500 points per side and there’s no doubt in my mind that the scenario gets better the bigger you make it. Ensuring there are a fair few players on each side will make the whole thing more fun and keep things running at a good pace. Most recently we played the game with 5 players per side and 3500 points per side, it took about 7 hours to play through the whole thing and it felt like a great sized game at a manageable time limit.

There are a whole host of special rules to ensure that the scenario plays out cinematically and replicates the events of the film - some of which may seem strange. As such, this is the sort of scenario that will really benefit from the presence of a Gamesmaster. It is useful to have an impartial person on hand to ensure everything runs smoothly and make a call on any logistical issues that arise throughout the game. Also, the GM may want to withhold some information from the players. For example, I GM’d the scenario recently and didn’t tell either the Good or Evil players when Gandalf and his reinforcements would turn up, this added to the excitement of the game as every turn the Good players looked to me desperately hoping that help would come!

The scenario is primarily intended to be played for the spectacle, the social aspect and, most importantly, the fun! I would ask that all players enter with an open minded attitude, ready to roll some dice, have a laugh and gawp at the spectacle of it all. It’s not the sort of scenario to get hung up on rules disputes and if anything comes up roll a dice and move on - this should be fun for everyone concerned, the fortress may stand or the fortress may fall, it matters not!

Hopefully in the next couple of days I'll have another thread up with the full report and pictures of the last time we played this scenario with 11 players and 3500 per side - it was truly epic!

I hope you enjoy the scenario and if you give it a go it I’d love to hear how you get on and any feedback you have.

Enjoy!

Dr Grant

Layout

The scenario is played on a 6’ x 4’ board with the fortress of Helm’s Deep laid out in a similar manner to the picture below. The key features are:

A long section of wall extending over half the table representing the Deeping Wall with a 2” culvert halfway along its length.The back of the Deeping Wall should be 11” from the South board edge.

A curved wall section including the Hornburg Gate

A secondary wall located about 6” behind the main gate. Somewhere near this wall, ideally another 6” behind it, there should be a second Gate that represents the gate to the Keep.

Image


Starting positions

The Defenders of the Hornburg are deployed entirely inside the walls of Helm’s Deep. Theoden, Gamling and any Royal Guard are deployed behind the secondary wall. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli must be deployed on the Deeping Wall. The rest of the defenders may be deployed anywhere inside the fortress.

Gandalf and his reinforcements are not deployed at the start of the game, they will enter play later.

The Evil army is deployed at least 13” away from any part of the fortress walls. Except for Any Uruk Hai Demolition Teams which are deployed at least 25” away.

Priority

The Evil side has priority in the first turn

Ending the game

The game ends once the Evil force has been wiped out or after 20 turns have been played.


Forces

Both armies select an army of an even points size with the restrictions noted below. This scenario can be any size but you will need at least 1500 points per side to make a worthwhile battle. Neither army has to follow the rules for Warbands for the purposes of this scenario, each player simply picks the warriors and heroes they would like in whatever combinations they would wish.

Good Army

The good player divides his troops into two separate forces: The Defenders of the Hornburg and Gandalf’s Reinforcements.

The Defenders of the Hornburg are selected as 2 separate armies (elves and men) both of which have a 50% bow limit for the purposes of this scenario.

Gandalf’s Reinforcements must be at least 33% of the Good side’s total points and may not exceed 50%.

The Defenders of the Hornburg must include:

Aragorn with armour and Elf Cloak
Legolas with armour and Elf Cloak
Gimli with Elf Cloak
Theoden with Heavy Armour
Gamling
Haldir, Defender of Helm’s Deep with Elf Cloak

If you wish you may also include the following Heroes: Captains of Rohan, Eowyn (with no armour or shield) Hama, Grimbold, King’s Huntsmen, Galadhrim Captains.

The rest of your points must be comprised of: Rohan Royal Guard on foot, Warriors of Rohan (who may be upgraded to Helmingas if you include Grimbold) and Galadhrim Warriors. You may give any of these warriors banners and war horns as normal and equip them however you wish. You may not include more elves than men.

Gandalf’s Reinforcements must include:

Gandalf the White on Shadowfax
Eomer, Knight of the Pelennor on Armoured horse
Erkenbrand on horse

If you wish you may also include the following Heroes: Mounted Captains of Rohan

The rest of your points must be comprised of: mounted Rohan Outriders, mounted Royal Guard or Riders of Rohan (you may upgrade your Riders of Rohan to Westfold Redshields as normal). You may give your riders banners, warhorns and any other equipment you wish.

Evil Army

The Evil army must be selected from the Isengard list in the Fallen Realms book. The Evil force may take 1 siege ladder for every 200 points of Isengard troops rounding up (so a 1500 point army could take 8 ladders). The Evil army also has one battering ram. The Evil army may take a maximum of 20 Crossbowmen for every 1000 points in their army, rounding up, so a 3500 point army could include a maximum of 80 crossbowmen.

The Isengard army MAY NOT include the following heroes: Saruman, Grima, Sharku, Uruk-Hai Shamans or Sharkey and Worm.

The Evil player should attempt to make his entire army out of Uruk Hai Warriors with shields, Uruk Hai Warriors with pikes, Uruk Hai Warriors with crossbows, Uruk Hai Beserkers, Uruk Hai Demolition Teams and Uruk Hai Assault Ballistas (of which you may take 1 per every full 500 points in the army).

If the Evil player needs some more troops to boost his army he should add in the following troops in as close to this order as possible (although form this point on you ar emoting away form the film’s depiction of the battle): Dunlending Warriors, Wild men of Dunland, Uruk Hai scouts, Feral Uruk Hai, Orc Warriors. If you do include any Dunlendings in your army, you may also include Thrydan Wolfsbane and Dundlending Chieftains to lead them, similarly if you include any Orc warriors you may include Orc Captains to lead them.

The Isengard army MAY NOT include the following troop types: Isengard Trolls, Warg Riders, Ruffians

Designer’s note: Certain troops are banned with good reason, firstly we are attempting to recreate the events of the film and these troops don’t appear in the film. Secondly, a long line of Warg Riders outside the walls of Helm’s Deep completely neuters the charge of Gandalf’s reinforcements (by negating their charge bonuses) and is deeply anticlimactic. Similarly, Saruman’s legion should be a relentless horde of Uruk-Hai that keep coming but who the good side can cut through without too much trouble, having Shamans lurking about with channelled Fury transforms them into a wall which the Rohirrim will have great difficulty holding back. Finally Isengard trolls also tend to spoil things cinematically by Hurling all the reinforcements off their horses and making it all go a bit wrong. Remember, this scenario is intended by be a fun contest between friends that is played is a friendly atmosphere, wherever possible you should attempt to enter the spirt of the battle and this starts with the army lists. In addition, whilst it is not true to the film to have Ugluk, Lurtz, Mauhur and Vrasku present, you will find that the Evil side need these models purely to keep track of their different captains as otherwise you will find yourself with multiple versions of each Uruk-Hai captain pose and it will become desperately hard to keep track of who’s who. In addition, these characters’ extra stats and abilities give the Evil army a much needed boost when getting over the walls, if it helps, think of them as generic Uruk-Hai captains with special abilities!

Victory conditions

Both sides gain victory points for achieving various objectives, when the game ends the side with most victory points wins.

Evil Victory points


5 points for breaching the Hornburg Gate (or opening it from the inside)
5 points for destroying the culvert section of the Deeping Wall
5 points for moving 10 models off the South board edge or through the door to the Keep
5 points for killing Gandalf
5 points for killing Theoden
5 points for killing Aragorn
2 points each for every other named character killed - Note The King’s Huntsman is not a named character

Good Victory Points


5 points if the Hornburg Gate is not breached (or opened from the inside by Evil models)
5 points if the culvert section of the Deeping Wall is not destroyed
5 points if less than 10 Evil models move off the South board edge or through the door to the Keep
5 points if Gandalf survives
5 points if Theoden survives
5 points if Aragorn survives
5 points for Breaking the Evil army
5 points if Gandalf can move into base contact with Theoden or Aragorn (at which point the reinforcements are assumed to have made safe the fortress)
5 points if the Evil force is completely wiped out

Designer’s note: As you can see the scenario will essentially begin 30-0 in favour of Good. It is down to the Evil force to chip away at this lead throughout the game. Realistically, the Evil side will probably get the 15 VPs for overwhelming the fortress which means that what will ultimately decide the game is how many of the named heroes the Evil side takes down. Of course if the Evil players devote too much time and attention to killing named characters then they might not overwhelm the fortress after all, decisions, decisions….

Special Rules

Legion of the White hand - Every time an Evil warrior with a single wound is slain put it aside. At the end of the following Evil Move phase it may re-enter play from the North table edge on a dice roll of 3 or more. If a 1 or a 2 is rolled the model may not re-enter, do not roll for it again. Once Gandalf and the reinforcements arrive they are assumed to have cut off the reinforcements so no more evil models may re-enter play.

Helm’s Deep has but one weakness - Grima has told Saruman of the culvert at the base of the Deeping Wall, the one place where the wall can be breached. If the evil player places a demolition charge in the culvert and successfully detonates it then the Deeping Wall will explode. Replace the section of wall with a breach 5” wide. All models on that 5” of the wall should be placed as close as possible to the breach on the Deeping Wall, they take no damage (see below). All models on ground level within 6” of the culvert take 1 strength 10 hit and are knocked prone.

Designer’s note: It’s obviously absurd that the models on the Deeping Wall survive. However, the Good player has one advantage over the defenders in the film in that he KNOWS that section of wall will be destroyed so, if they take damage as they should, the good Player will just leave that section of the wall completely unmanned which will look very silly indeed. Moving the models to another section of wall can just represent more reinforcements pouring up from behind the wall, as for why the characters survive? It’s Fate of course! Of course, there’s nothing to stop the Gamesmaster from telling the players that this is how it will work and then in fact making every model on the wall take a S10 hit - it’s all part of the fun!

The Gates - The main gate to Helm’s Deep is the Hornburg Gate which has a defence of 10 and 3 wounds. It can only be attacked by the Battering Ram.

In addition, if 2 Isengard models are in base contact with the inside of the gate and do nothing else for the rest of the turn (including Fighting) they may open the gates at the beginning of the next turn before the roll for priority.

The secondary Gate that leads to the keep has a Defence of 8 and 2 wounds.

Smaller doors around the fortress have a defence of 6 and 1 wound.

Break Points - The Rohirrim have resigned themselves to their fate and will fight to the bitter end - The Good side is never considered broken in this battle.

The Evil side is only considered broken when there are less than 50% of their starting number of models on the board at any one time. Note that this means that models regenerated through the Legion of the White Hand rule do help to keep the Evil side above its Break Point.

Pouring rain in the Dead of Night - The Siege of Helm’s Deep takes place during a heavy rainstorm late at night, greatly reducing visibility for missile fire. To represent this, both the Defenders of the Hornburg and the Evil army may not target Heroes, musicians or banner bearers in the opposite force (or Beserkers with flaming brands - not even Legolas could bring them down!).

Designer’s note: The point of this rule is not to change the nature of the game but to better represent the defenders desperately shooting at the attackers running towards them. It also stops the defenders taking advantage of the true line of sight rule to sniper all the elites (Beserkers, banners, sappers, captains etc.) before they get anywhere near the castle. Similarly, it prevents all the Uruk crossbowmen lining up and sending 60 crossbow bolts towards Aragorn etc. and ensures that the Good Heores are placed on the Deeping Wall where they should be!

There will be no dawn for men - Saruman has given his legions one task, to sack the fortress and leave none of the Rohirrim alive. The Uruk-Hai are fixated on this single purpose and will give no thought to anything else. Every model in the Evil army must move as fast as possible towards Helm’s Deep at all times (without calling Heroic actions to do so). As soon as a model reaches the fortress it must attempt to attack it, whether by escalade, charging through the breached wall or attacking the gate. The only models immune to this rule are any Evil models with a missile weapon or those operating an Assault Ballista.

Once Gandalf’s Reinforcements arrive or Thedeon rides out, this rule changes so that every model in the Evil army must move as fast as possible towards Helm’s Deep or any Good model at all times. In addition, as soon as any of the mounted Good models are outside the fortress, any Uruk-Hai with missile weapons must now move as fast as possible towards either the Fortress or a Good model, their bloodlust gets the better of them and they abandon their missile weapons.

Designer’s note: This is to ensure that the Evil player plays in the spirt of the scenario, the Uruk Hai have no idea that Theoden will ride out of the main gate, nor to they have any idea that Gandalf will arrive at their rear in the second half of the battle. This rule will make the Evil player throw everything he has at the fortress rather than creating deeply unthematic ‘nets’ ready to catch the cavalry when they ‘surprise’ the Uruks. Come on, get into the spirit, who cares if the strawheads have horses, you do not know pain, you do not know fear YOU WILL TASTE MANFLESH!

Shieldmaiden of Rohan - If your Helm’s Deep model has a cave system built into it, you may wish to add the following rule. Deploy Eowyn within the cave system at the start of the game. One of the victory conditions is for the Evil player to move models off the South table edge or through the door to the Keep. Any models that leave the table in this manner are immediately placed in the cave system behind the Hornburg within 6” of Eowyn, they may not move again that turn. This is the only way Eowyn may be attacked. As soon as there are some Evil models in the cave system, these models and Eowyn can move and partake in the battle as normal in subsequent turns. Note that they may not leave the caves as long as Eowyn is alive though.

Designer’s Note: If Eowyn is killed it might be good to reintroduce any Uruk-Hai in the caves to the battle, this will utterly depend on the way your scenery is laid out but can be worked out on the spot in any way you see fit. It is a nice last twist at the end of the game and should give the defenders even more to worry about as Uruks appear at their rear!

Fall Back to the Keep! - From turn 10 onwards Theoden, Gamling and any surviving Royal Guard must attempt to move towards the door to the Keep, once they reach this door, remove the models from the table, they are assumed to have barricaded themselves within the Keep.

On turn 11, remove Aragorn and Legolas’ models from the table and place them with Theoden and the Royal Guard, they are assumed to have fallen back to the safety of the keep.

Now for Wrath, now for ruin and the red dawn! Assuming they reached the safety of the keep, on turn 12, after both sides have moved you may place mounted versions of Theoden (with a shield), Gamling (who may be equipped with the Royal Standard), Aragorn, Legolas and any Royal Guard who made it to the safety of the Keep within 10 inches of the Hornburg Gate, outside the fortress. To do this you may well need to displace Evil models to clear a path, this is fine, the Good player may move any Evil models he wishes out of the way and place them anywhere within 10” of the gate.

If your model of Helm’s Deep has a causeway, rather than the above, place the Good models within 10” of the bottom of the causeway. The Good player may move any Evil model on the causeway to within 10” of the bottom of the causeway, representing Theoden’s charge clearing the Evil models from the causeway and scattering them.

If the Good player wishes, any of his mounted models may charge enemy models as they are placed 10” from the Gate/causeway. Remember you place the Good models after both sides have moved so they may not be counter-charged this turn.

Designer’s note: The intention of this rule is, once again, to echo the events of the film. When Thedeon and his company charge out, it should be a glorious and powerful charge. Using the regular rules the likelihood is that Theoden will meet a wall of Uruk-Hai outside the gate and spend several turns slowly cutting through them and fail to get anywhere.

The White Rider - Gandalf’s Reinforcements will arrive on turn 13, moving on from any point on the East table edge. In an exception to the normal movement sequence, the reinforcements arrive after both the Evil and the Good side have completed their movement for the turn. In addition, in an exception to the normal Reinforcements rules, Gandalf’s Reinforcements can charge on the turn they arrive measuring their charge range from the edge of the board.

Designer’s note: The GM should be ready and willing to add and adapt any or all of these rules throughout the game to ensue the scenario runs smoothly. For example, if Legolas finds himself at the top of a staircase on the Deeping Wall with Uruks at the bottom then OF COURSE you should allow him to charge an Uruk at the bottom whilst firing 3 times on the way down like a Throwing Weapon, representing the scene in the film where Legolas rides the shield down the stairs! Assuming everyone is playing in the spirit of the game, I think you’ll find that the players on both sides will enjoy this sort of impromptu fun!

Siege rules

Designer’s Note: These rules for ladders and battering rams are a combination of the current rules for siege warfare and some of the older rules so are reproduced here so players have them in one place

Uruk Hai Demolition Charges

See the rules on page 95 of the Hobbit rulebook. Except ignore the detonation chart - If a model successfully passes a Courage Test to detonate a charge in the Culvert the section of wall is destroyed.

Uruk Hai Battering Ram

The Uruk Hai Battering Ram requires 4 Uruks to wield it but up to 8 can carry it. The ram is dropped immediately if there are less than 4 Uruks holding it. A warrior carrying a ram can drop it at any time but may not charge on the turn it drops the ram. A model will automatically drop the ram to fight if it is charged. The ram can be picked up if there are sufficient models in base contact to carry it. Once picked up the ram cannot move further that turn. Mounted models may not carry the ram.

If a ram reaches a gate it can attack it in the Fight phase assuming it still has the necessary number of crew to do so. The ram automatically hits once causing a single strike with a strength equal to that of the least strongest crew member +1 per additional crew member up to a maximum of 10. Therefore a ram with 6 crew strikes at strength 9 (4+5). Roll to wound as normal. A hero may not use Might to modify this roll. A battering ram that would strike with more than S10 can re-roll rolls to wound

The Uruk Hai Siege Ballista

See rules on Page 24 of the Fallen Realms Book

Siege Ladders

At least 2 models are required to carry a siege ladder and up to 6 can do so. 2 or 3 warriors carrying a ladder move at half pace 4-6 warriors carrying a ladder move at full pace. Models with a strength of 6 count as 3 for the purposes of carrying ladders. Only warriors on foot can carry ladders. A warrior can drop a ladder at any point in his move and will automatically do so if charged. A ladder can be picked up if there are sufficient models in contact with it, it cannot move further that turn. Warriors carrying ladders cannot shoot and cannot cast Magical powers. If a ladder is moved so it touches a wall it is raised immediately, place the ladder against the wall, no models can climb the ladder that turn.

If a ladder is in place at the start of a turn a model on foot can climb it without penalty. Only models on 25mm bases can climb ladders. No climb roll is required and no movement penalty is applied. Models climbing ladders may not shoot nor cast Magical Powers.

A model who climbs a ladder automatically charges the nearest enemy whose zone of control overlaps the ladder. If there is no defender whose control zone overlaps the ladder then the attacker may be placed on the rampart but he cannot charge any other model. Up to 3 ladders can be placed in one defending model’s control zone.

Attacking over a battlement is worked out in exactly the same way as models defending a barrier: It the Attacker wins the Duel he must make an in the way roll before rolling to strike the defender, in addition the defender is not pushed back. If he kills the defender he may immediately be placed on the rampart. If the defender survives the attacker remains at the top of the ladder.

If the defender wins he rolls to wound the attacker as normal. If the attacker is killed he falls as described below.

If the attacker is not killed he may still fall as he is forced to back away. Make a roll for any attacking model that loses a Duel but survives. On a 4-6 he keeps his footing and stays at the top of the ladder but on a 1-3 he falls to the ground and takes falling damage as normal (1 S3 hit for every inch he falls and is placed prone). If a warrior at the top of a ladder falls roll a dice for every model on the same ladder, on a 1-3 the model also falls and takes falling damage.

A defender moving in front of a ladder in his Move phase may attempt to push the ladder to the ground as long as there is no model at the top, this uses all of his remaining movement. Roll a dice for the model pushing the ladder, deduct 1 for every enemy model on the ladder, add 1 if there is another friendly model attempting to push the ladder. If the score is a 4+ the ladder is pushed to the ground and is placed at the foot of the wall. Every model on the ladder takes falling damage.

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Last edited by Dr Grant on Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: The Siege of Helm's Deep scenario
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:59 am 
Craftsman
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What an awesome scenario. Thanks for post it.

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 Post subject: Re: The Siege of Helm's Deep scenario
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:51 am 
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Thanks - excellent scenario, and well thought-out rules to keep the game flowing. I particularly like the meta-game aspects of forcing models to act as if they do not know what's coming (even though the players do know). The situation was similar at Fords of Bruinen, and likely also so with Balrog and the bridge of Khazad-dûm. We will undoubtedly adapt many of your rules to our campaign. Looking forward to reading your battle report, too!
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 Post subject: Re: The Siege of Helm's Deep scenario
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:30 am 
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Awesome scenario Makes me want to ply it sooooooo baddd.

The theme you keep to the movies is really good.

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 Post subject: Re: The Siege of Helm's Deep scenario
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:28 pm 
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Yeah looks fantastic man I wish I had the manpower and the models to do it haha.

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 Post subject: Re: The Siege of Helm's Deep scenario
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:43 pm 
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It was great fun to play. All those painted models. Cant wait for next years scenario.

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 Post subject: Re: The Siege of Helm's Deep scenario
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:51 pm 
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Really nice scenario; who needs WOTR? I had an idea for the culvert though - could you randomise which wall had the culvert, and only tell the evil player? That way the good player would be in the same position Théoden was in. Even though I'll never be able to play it, it was lovely to read about it. Maybe a batrep sometime?

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 Post subject: Re: The Siege of Helm's Deep scenario
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:43 pm 
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Great scenario Dr G. Can we expect a battle report of one of the bigger games at some point?

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 Post subject: Re: The Siege of Helm's Deep scenario
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:22 pm 
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Thanks for all the kind words guys, glad you enjoyed it. I must admit when I saw how long the post was I wondered if anyone would even bother to read it! Glad to know it's found a home!

Celevue wrote:
I particularly like the meta-game aspects of forcing models to act as if they do not know what's coming (even though the players do know)


Yeah that's one of the trickiest parts, you need to give the players freedom of movement but also prevent them from making tactical decisions based on information that the Uruks don't have. The first time I ever played it, when Gandalf's Reinforcements arrived there was a line of Feral Uruk Hai backed up by pikes waiting for them, it didn't go brilliantly well for the cavalry and felt somewhat anticlimactic. It was the same with the gate, as Theoden rode out he found 30 crossbowmen waiting for him, I bet you can imagine how that went! Hence the rule that the Evil models drop their missile weapons and charge once the cavalry charge out.

VandalCabbage wrote:
could you randomise which wall had the culvert, and only tell the evil player? That way the good player would be in the same position Théoden was in.


Yeah that might be an idea, the only problem is aesthetic as most Helm's Deep models have a clearly marked culvert. I suppose you could always just say there's no culvert and the uruks can attack any part of the Deeping Wall with the same effect.

Goldman25 wrote:
Great scenario Dr G. Can we expect a battle report of one of the bigger games at some point?


VandalCabbage wrote:
Really nice scenario...it was lovely to read about it. Maybe a batrep sometime?


Thanks, much appreciated. Battle report eh? Funny you should mention that! Enjoy :-)

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 Post subject: Re: The Siege of Helm's Deep scenario
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:23 am 
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Another go for Helms Deep!

http://25yearsofminis.blogspot.fi/2017/ ... -deep.html

We just love the scenario!
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