By Sai, the good guys

Well, the final mission. I wish I could say it was spectacular and all I had dreamed of, but in reality it felt like a rehash of the same mission we’ve played several times over now.

So, the usual deployment that replicates the film. Yes, the goodies start in the middle and the baddies are all round. Well, sort of. Numbers wise we were even but I had far more heroes which seemed a bit daft. The orcs had the infinite guys pouring in rule which by this stage is incredibly dull and uninteresting. Because I’ve played it so many times I knew exactly how to deal with it.

The orcs got the first turn and did nothing. Noting that, the goodies did nothing either. The bad guys need to move forward! So they did. Gandalf got off a big blast spell on the troll, knocking him backwards and to the floor. This being the final mission most of my heroes had penalties of down to one might except Pippin… he had infinite free Heroic combats so essentially the three hunters hung out with him so they could fight anywhere for free. And yes, they took out the troll with the heroic combat. He lasted all but one turn. With him out of the way, next up was the Mouth. Sure, he caused terror but shooting him gradually wore him out.

With the two big bad heroes out of the way, The game was pretty chaotic for a couple turns. There wasn’t a clear winning area of the board but my heroes were certainly dictating ‘won’ fights quite often.

Eventually we found a sort of order and the battle split into two flanks. The side with the reinforcements had the heavy heroes defending it and they never looked like giving in. The other flank was made up of more numbers, Eomar and Gandalf. Although I had lost quite a few, the idea was to keep orcs tied up with heroes so I wasnt going to lose through low numbers.

Eventually beating one flank but unleashing the horde from the gate, my lines were back in order. Pete only had rubbish orcs to complete against me with a full contingent of heroes. We didn’t play the full 15 turns as it seemed pointless but by the end of turn 12 a massacre was brewing.

This mission seemed unbalanced from the start just due to my hero stats. Sure, they wanted the orcs to feel strong with reinforcements but honestly that should have been a novelty rule in some early mission and not a go-to rule for the campaign. I would have liked to have seen this play out as a more epic battle. Put in 5 trolls, 80 orcs, loads of heroes and same with the good guys. Just make it a massive slaughter.

Campaign Conclusion
By Sai, the good guys

Hrrrm, where to start on this. Ultimately this was a bit of a rotten tomato. This book has me feeling like I really don’t want to play another Middle Earth Strategy Game campaign. Maybe push that further to a Games Workshop campaign. At heart, i am a campaign player and love linked narrative play but the system and source material needs to add to this.

This book had some truly awful games that were not fun or connected to this game. So many missions were also played to the tune of the story with one sided fights, which just felt like a waste of time in the end. The missions they got right, and there were a few were very enjoyable so I’ll give them that. The best potential aspect for me was the winning and losing conditions. These played a small role in the missions really which was a good way to make you feel like you win or lose big but again, they were not that well-thought-out. For example there was a mission with the Mumaks starting on 8 lives. I don’t see why that mattered when the king of the dead was insta killing them anyway.

Probably my biggest gripe came at the clumsy display for the biggest battle. Playing the game in order just to realise when we got that far that we’ve played this mission but in a smaller scale in bite sized chunks. WHAT? How hard would it have been to warn us about this at a relevant point and dish out the rewards accordingly. Its such a shame as looking at it it seemed like the most fun battle to be had. Whoever is in charge should realise that people read campaign books when you get to it, not from cover to cover in one sitting. Especially when you don’t want spoilers.

So, yea. I’m a little burnt by this book. Last year we complete a Necromunda campaign which was more fun but only due to good organisation and far fewer games. I’m a campaign gamer at heart, but its experiences like these that could change my mind.

Pete's Conclusions...
25. The Dead Arrive