It’s been a while. A long while. But what a thing to come back for.
In my hiatus it’s been a huge pleasure to watch the LOTR hobby go from strength to strength. Though not contributing, I’ve enjoyed its resurgence from a distance.
But as with all things, something drew me back in.
The new battle companies book (Buy it – seriously) is a huge reason to take the leap. Life doesn’t give me the time to paint or even use huge armies, its what tends to keep me away from the other GW systems. But this is the perfect vehicle to dip your toes back in.
I will do a proper book review in time, coupled with the history of Battle Companies from old White Dwarfs.
For now though, I thought I’d throw myself in. The most popular content on the website before was my excursion into the fan made supplement of Battle Companies. Where my orc warband led by Lugthak took on a multitude on foes. (It’s still worth a read!)
As I now enter my second age, I thought it best to start a new company, a new campaign.
Enter Radluk and his Uruk-Hai.
I took the standard Uruk-Hai starting force. Using the Lurtz model as Radluk (I intended to convert a hero, but parts didn’t arrive in time). Mauthak to his left (Bow) and Gazmog to his right (Shield) are the sergeants. The others are all named too. (I stuck small bits of paper under each base to keep track)
This article will cover the first three battles of an ongoing campaign for the Uruk-Hai and their Dwarven foe.
Our narrative picks up with the Uruk-Hai recently scattered after the Rohirrim attack led by Eomer. Realising they cannot return to Saruman with their mission failed, they have decided to go for broke and live as raiders.
Stumbling across a small townsend they are swiftly set upon by a group of Dwarf Rangers. (We used the agreed 50pt limit – Two with 2Handed Axe, Two with Bow, Two with Throwing Weapon)
Battle 1 – Chance Encounter
Well. This won’t go down as my finest display of military prowess.
The dwarves split into two packs. Two arches on the left flank, the other four (including their leader and a sergeant) on the other flank. I matched in my deployment. Hoping my numerical advantage would win out in the melee and hopefully I could pick off the archers through luck.
I couldn’t. As I advanced, Mauthak, my archer sergeant was shot down. The second survived enough for the Dwarven archers to get bored and join the brewing melee on the other flank.
Frustratingly the combats did not go well. The Dwarven leader ‘Chubb’ quickly dispatched Radluck. Piercing strike is rough. One Dwarf warrior ‘Butcher’ (Trivia – the dwarves were all named after the surnames of Hobbits from the fan expansion…) was able to throwing axe a normal Uruk (Grok)
Three Uruks down already. I can’t stress how important every roll is in this game. So so so important.
Grimthak, one of my Uruk’s managed to get a kill on Hogg, one of the rangers. But was quickly killed himself soon after. Butcher, lived up to his name, the Dwarf ranger killed Grok, Burz and Yaghur over the course of the battle.
Suddenly I was left with just Gazmog. I’d lost 6 Uruk-Hai at the cost of one Dwarf.
So this is where Battle Companies earns its stripes.
Injuries, death, progression, rewards. All happen now.
What you don’t need after your first game is this…
Yes. This is Radluck. This is my leader, and yes that is a double one. Radluck is dead permanently.
To rub salt into the wound, Yaghur, one of the warriors misses the next game too. Everyone else is okay. Mauthak steps up to lead.
I’m at 2 influence, my opponent has 4. Neither of us spend it.
Game 2 – Stand your Ground
So, the King is dead, long live the king.
Mauthak is now leading the company. Hopefully the bow wielding leader will be slightly more able to survive! Our new leader has led the broken company back through the plains, where the rangers have tracked them. With one of the company injured the company have made their rest on a hilltop. Only 5 Uruks for me this game…
The Rangers led by Chubb are closing in.
Mauthak took a central position. Gazmog looked to cover the southern edge. The others tactically spread.
As the Rangers approached the archers held positions but neither side managed any kills from range. The southern Dwarfs got close more quickly, and trying to isolate them, I pushed forward trying to get some multiples into combat.
I pushed Mauthak into combat with the dwarf named Chubb. Whilst Gazmog and Grimthak moved against Butcher. He’d been prolific in the previous game, and I wanted rid of his streak. The other Uruks began engaging across the board.
Butcher did his work. Grimthak was down quickly, with Gazmog left trying to hold the Dwarf monster. Mauthak and Yaghur quickly fell too. Leaving my grip on the hill precarious at best.
Butcher was killed!! Finally Gazmog was able to stop the Ranger, but sadly it was too little too late as another Uruk-Hai fell and I lost the battle. My second defeat!
Well, this is not going as planned. On the recovery rolls Yaghur (the scout archer) misses the next game. Putting me at a worryingly low 5 models again, despite Burz coming back in. I decide to spend 3 influence to recruit a new warrior. Typically I roll a one. So use my last influence to move it up a point to get a generic scout. He’s name is Ghrey. The orcish for Grey, which happens to be a reflection of his unpainted state.
The Dwarves have happier progression. All three heroes roll on progression, with Chubb (2h axe) and Boffin (bow) gaining ‘Barak Khazad’ whilst Cotton gains an extra point of might. I’m terrified at this point.
Butcher, the aptly named dwarf will actually miss the next game due to his death. However he is clearly off buying his new armour as when he returns, he’s become a Khazad Guard…
To make matters worse, my opponent spends his 8 influence point on a Wandering Elf. Luckily without bow for now, but he’s easily the strongest character on the board now.
Game 3 – Hold the Line
Mauthak needs to lead his bruised and battered warband into some sanctuary for a while. The woodland and plains have seen his force leaderless and decimated, so he decides to risk the old road and make for the mountains.
I cannot recommend highly enough this scenario. It’s simple. Get 33% of your company from one end of the board to the other. But the drama, excitement and twists made this probably the best game I’ve played in around 15 years of war gaming.
Above shows the initial deployment. He’s Dwarves, bolstered by the myseterious Elf named ‘Longholes’ (Odd Hobbit names) sat in the centre, whilst his archers stood a little further back.
I split my forces quickly. Mauthak took Grimthak and Burz. Whilst Gazmog went right with Grok and Ghrey.
The bulk of the Rangers moved to the right flank to engage with Gazmog, whilst he thought his archers would deal with the pesky Uruk-Hai leader and his followers on the other flank.
Every move counts, and the deliberation as my opponent set his defence and plan was great to be part of. It’s a real cat and mouse.
Things started badly. On the right flank, the bulk of the Rangers quickly over came my Uruk-Hai. Longholes the Elf killed Grok whilst the new recruit Ghrey was introduced to Chubbs axe.
The right flank was left with my sergeant Gazmog. The left continued to push on. However the Rangers began to creep across the board and looked to slam into their advance.
I decided to try and hold off the Elf. Grimthak slammed into the Elf. It was a valiant attempt to let Mauthak and Burz escape down the left.
On the right, Gazmog managed to kill a ranger and then began a long standing duel with the Dwarven leader Chubb.
Something miraculous happened. Burz killed a dwarf blocking the left channel and both he and Mauthak were able to get closer and closer to the end. The archers turned the attention on the two of them. Shots puncturing the air and whistling past them.
Then the unexpected. Grimthak, who had previously been tied up with Elf, killed his mysterious opponent! The third Uruk-Hai tried to make a break from the centre. Gazmog was still tanking his opponent on the right flank.
Mauthak and Burz were incredibly close now. The intriciies of the movement as my opponent had to decide to shoot or not were huge.
Burz was inches away.
Boffin, the Dwarf sergeant with a bow lined up a shot. He used a might point to hit.
It wounded. It killed.
Burz, inches away from securing victory fell to Dwarven archery.
Hope seemed lost.
But Grimthak had killed the elf and was now determined to escape. The archers had been pulled away to the left and their arrows missed the lucky Uruk.
I had finally won.
Yesss! Victory at least. Even a victory that involved me running away felt good!
In the recovery phase I managed to lose Burz permantely. Which is a blow as firstly he died heroically in the final escape, but secondly he had a shield which was useful.
I used my influence to recruit, and managed to roll a like for like replacement, named Jhard.
The final influence point I used to get Mauthak some poison arrows, hopefully he can whittle the enemies numbers from afar.
Gazmog gained the ‘Parry’ ability, an apt reward for his exploits. Whilst I chose not to advance Grimthak yet, I need to get him a shield first really, I don’t want a Pikeman.
My opponent recovered his forces, but his Elf was lost in battle. Which sets up a daring rescue for our next battle when we reconvene.
I will surmise the book properly in a review, but I absolutely love this system. Narrative driven content, fast games, great rules.
It’s been great to blog again. I’ll be back with more shortly. Check the website for the previous content and Lugthaks campaign. Who knows, maybe he’ll return…
Comment on what you thought.