Monday, May 9, 2016

War of the Fallen Star: Rohan moves East

The DC area Strategy Battle Game Community recently launched a narrative called "War of the Fallen Star", about the Fourth Age of Middle Earth, wherein Arwen Evenstar goes mad with grief and becomes corrupted by the shadow as a result of Aragorn's death.  You can find lots of detail here:

Four of us met at Huzzah Hobbies last week and played a game as part of that campaign.  To this point, the men of Rohan had been ambushed by a mysterious enemy, which turned out to be Easterlings in the service of the corrupted Arwen.  Having found out the source of the attacks on their lands, the Rohirrim ventured east to punish the transgressors.  The Rohirrim were joined by a warband of Haradrim, now turned to good and resisting the evil of Arwen and her allies.  

I am playing the Khandish, and have decide to name my king Geshir Dahk of the Variags.  

Foam flying from his horse's mouth, the Khandish scout entered camp as though an enemy was on his heels.  "Dahk Khan! Dahk Khan!  I must warn him!" he cried as he entered the field camp of Geshir Dahk's warband.  "What is it, Halath?  Did you find a woman at last?" jeered Geshir.  His young scouts were prone to dramatics.  "No, my Khan, riders!  Many riders in strange raiment approach!" cried the scout.   "I bring warning!"  Looking up from his game of draughts, Geshir became very serious.  "Tell me all, and quickly!"  It seemed at least two dozen horse and some foot had crosse the border of Rhovanion in search of pillage and plunder.  The scout described them as an odd mix of straw-headed riders and the serpent-men of the south.  

Geshir turned his gaze to his draughts opponent, who was hooded and cloaked.  "It is as I warned," said the orc.  "Her enemies come for you now.  Stand with Her, as you did Him of old.  None can stand against the power of Gondor and the Shadow together."  Geshir spat into his palm and offerred his hand to the orc.  "If Her gold is good, then we fight for Her as we once did for Him.  And if foreigners encroach, we fight all the same.  Deal."  The orc smiled beneath his hood.  "Oh yess, very good.  And my friends will help you, as well." Geshir wrinkled his nose as the orc also spat and then took his proffered hand.  The stench of the orc was almost unbearable.  But the smell of his gold?  That was sweet.  

Geshir led his men to battle, accompanied by the mysterious orc and his horde of spiders.  He arrayed his horse behind a hillock and spread his footmen behind.  Geshir and Talvag, his second, held the center.  The orc and his spiders took the left flank.

Arrayed against them were Rohirrim and Haradrim in large numbers and mostly horse.  Geshir hoped the spiders could resist the horde of Haradrim horse while his own warriors dealt with the Rohirrim.

Both armies advanced.  Geshir made certain to use the terrain to his advantage.  He planned to have his horsemen and chariots engage in an archery duel from the cover of the rocks if at all possible.  

The Rohirrim advanced and Geshir's archers did very well, felling several Rohirrim horsemen.

With great speed, the Haradrim advanced and were met by the spiders of the mysterious orc.

More Rohirrim are unhorsed as Rohan drove their infantry ever forward.  Ardesta of Khand leads the right wing from his chariot.  

Haradrim flank the spiders and move to seize an objective.  

Geshir advances with his horsemen to make a shooting line.

More Rohirrim fall to the arrows of the Khandish.  The spiders are annihilating all the Haradrim they can reach.

A few exuberant Rohirrim infantry charge, only to be wiped out by Ardesta and his horsemen. The Rohirrim foot hurl throwing spears from beyond charge range, causing casualties.

The Haradrim emerge in the rear of the Khandish lines, and Geshir khan leads a charge straight into them.  The results are mixed, however, as the khan misses his blows.

A Haradrim king and his horse break the spider lines and overcome the Khandish foot in the center.

The spiders and orc shaman stand victorious on the left flank.  

Ardesta charges the skirmishing Rohirrim, taking a chance that he can break them in melee rather than suffer their javelins any further.

Geshir khan slays three Haradrim in a heroic combat as Talvag fends off the Haradrim king.

The spiders turn around to reinforce the Khandish in the center...

...and move to finish up Rohan, as well.  The Rohan horse failed to assist the Haradrim in a timely fashion and so were left to play defense.  

A swirling melee results in a large number of unhorsed Haradrim.  Geshir exchanges blows with the Haradrim king, but neither warrior can wound the other.  

Ardesta fights to hold back the Rohan infantry unsuccessfully, and a Rohan captain makes her way onto a Khandish  objective.   However, one enterprising Khandish horsemen charges a distant Rohirrim and slays him, taking an objective for the glory of Geshir!

The Spider Queen engages the Haradrim and sends broodlings to pin their king and general, who is on foot.  Geshir charges the regular Harad horse, while Talvag manages fights a second Haradrim king.

Talvag slays the downed king while other combats are drawn.  However, the Haradrim and Rohan are now broken.  

Ardesta the charioteer falls to two Rohan captains, and so Geshir's force is also broken!

In the face of severe casualties, the Haradrim and Rohirrim break off, leaving Geshir and his orc and spider allies in control of the field!

Geshir pulled his axe from the skull of a fallen Haradrim.  What were these men doing so far from their homes?  No matter, they are dead and I am not, Geshir thought.  It had been a hard battle, and in truth his men had suffered more than the orc's creatures.  He eyed the strange creature with some distaste.  No man loved orcs, but the Variags had allied with them when the price was right or they had no choice due to His orders.  Now it seemed that gold, and revenge, would lead Geshir to fight alongside orcs as his ancestors once had.  How would the dwarves of Erebor react, he wondered.  

Geshir's reverie broke as the orc approached.  He limped from a serious wound, but had somehow survived the battle.  "Well fought, Lord Khan.  She will be pleased to hear of this victory.  More gold and glory will be found in Her service.  I will send word soon for your brave warriors."  Without waiting for a reply, the orc turned and strode away to the West, spiders scuttling in his wake, and then disappearing into the foliage.  "What madness is this?" wondered Geshir. But his eyes moved to the sacks of gold the orc left behind.  "Tend to the wounded.  Bury the dead! Then bring strong drink!  Tonight, we celebrate our victory, rich men of Khand!"  Geshir roared.  His men cheered raucously as they stripped valuables from the dead Westerners and Southrons.. This was the life for a Khandish king, of that Geshir had no doubts.

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