In Mordor one simply does not volunteer for service to the Witch-King of Angmar, instead you are taken. His favorites are called The Taken of Minas Morgul and they are assigned to particularly difficult tasks. Currently in command of The Taken is one of the Witch King’s lieutenants, a Black Numenorean named, Arnakhor….
… from left to right, Arnakhor. Then his two sergeants, the Black Numenorean Azgarzir and Gazbag the Orc. The The spear wielding Orc Lagbug, the pick wielding Orc Maubag, the sword wielding Orc Nagduf, then the two Orc archers Radgaz and Shagduf.
Tasked with impeding the Elves sent to help the Dunedain, The Taken stop at the Four Coins Inn of Old Oak. There they hide their features as best the can and meet with the local Ruffian known as the Southron….
Arnakhor hisses in an icy whisper, “You fool. You had them in your grip and yet you let them slip between your fingers because of some old man? The Witch-King does not look kindly on such incompetence. I should slay you right now but I would prefer not drawing that much attention. Get out of my sight before I change my mind.” With that he shoves the Southron away from him, causing the fellow to fall off the bench they were seated on. With a look of fear in his eyes the Southron quickly bolts for the door.
Musing to himself that they may yet salvage something from this expedition given what the spy had told him of the Elven expedition to the Blue Mountains, he decides they will spend the rest of the night at the Inn and pick up the trail of the Elves in the morning….
Exiting the Inn just before dawn, torrential rain pouring down, The Taken can see several figures approaching. It would seem the Southron has betrayed them! The group heads East but the Ruffians close in.
Taking no chances and despite the terrible visibility Shagduf looses an arrow at a Ruffian brandishing a whip. The arrow hits the man in the leg, causing him to trip and fall.
The Taken decide to move huddled together in a defensive formation, seeking to maximize the natural choke points around them as they were so obviously outnumbered. One of the Ruffians charges an Orc archer but is pushed back.
Then one of the Ruffians tries to charge Arnakhor but he is overcome with terror! However another Ruffian finds his courage and charges the sergeant, Azgarzir. The Black Numenorean cuts the man down for his drunken recklessness, the bottle the man had been carrying dropping to the ground. Three Ruffians charge Maubag but the Orc successfully blocks all three with his shield, pushing them back.
The gloomy weather causes the Ruffians to sometimes lose clear sight of their quarry, even at such close range, preventing some attacks. The Taken are more cautious, waiting instead to be attacked whilst constantly moving East rather than risk getting distracted looking for fights to get into.
Maubag’s luck changes however as he is charged again by a pair of Ruffians, one of which cuts him down. Two other Ruffians charge Nagduf and the Orc is quickly overcome. Radgaz looses an arrow at the Ruffian leader, Viktor the Lame, hitting him in the shoulder. This causes Viktor to drop to the ground writhing in agony.
Priority switches back and forth as each side seizes the initiative. The gloom continues to prevent some of the Ruffians from being able to charge into the melee. However one charges the Orc sergeant Gazbag, getting then pushed back by the Orc. Radgaz can not get a clear shot thanks to the gloom. One Ruffian charges Lagbug and Azgarzir, felling Lagbug, whilst causing Azgarzir to fall back. A Ruffian charges Shagduf but the Orc uses his sword to force the Ruffian back. Azgarzir had charged back into the melee but fails to wound the Ruffian he has attacked, only forcing the man back.
The Taken try to continue East but the Ruffians keep some of them entangled in the melee. Two Ruffians charge Shagduf, but the Orc archer is helped by Gazbag. The Orc sergeant uses his spear to support Radgaz and wounds a Ruffian. However three Ruffians charge Shagduf, overwhelming the Orc archer.
The sun will be up soon and still the Taken try to escape. The Ruffians have the initiative but Azgarzir calls the group to follow him, the sergeant taking the initiative back from the Ruffians in a curiously heroic moment that sees all of the group retain their courage despite looking like they might be broken. This courage however costs Radgaz, despite spear support from Gazbag.
Continuing to fall back, the Ruffians fail to find the courage to charge the two Black Numenorean. Three Ruffians instead charge the Orc sergeant Gazbag but he fends them all off, forcing them back long enough for the three remaining Taken to escape to the East resulting in a draw.
A very interesting game! The “hero” leaders survived but the rank and file troops all fell. Unlike the Good Elves, these Evil troops had to face injuries as per the scenario rules. Only the pick armed Maubag who shielded so well was injured and will therefore have to sit out the next scenario. That will be against the Elves so that may hurt the Taken as they will only outnumber the Elves by one.
The Taken got three influence points but rather than roll for a reinforcement I decided to save the points, just as my wife did for the two points she got from her first scenario. I want to get an armored horse for Azgarzir so that he can follow the Path of the Knight when he has adequate experience.
We used the same house rules, the same time of day and weather conditions. I thought the movement adjustment for armor worked fine, my wife thought it was overpowered. We will continue to test it. We were both surprised at the lucky dice rolls of the Orc archers. But then bad luck came for the Taken to cause wounds in the melee combats they won. I made good use of Might and Heroic Movement but even the heroes still felt at great risk in the fights. Quantity seemed more telling than quality but ultimately it was the Terror of the Black Numenoreans that saved me I think.
Overall it was great fun. My wife had an obviously good time, grinning, laughing and jumping up and down at the successes of the Ruffians. Seeing her enjoy the game so much made all the time and effort we have put into this project completely worthwhile!
Hopefully our next scenario will be soon. We are going to work our way through all the scenarios in the Battle Companies book, with three in between each narrative scenario. Next is “Seize Ground”….