January 14, 2020 by Mel
Many apologies for the delay, but finally I have managed to get some time to write up all about the Christmas Game here at the Battle Bunker. Why is it what seemed like an absolute age in the planning and building, the game seemed to be over so quickly…… but what a game it was.
But first, I want to take you on a journey right back to the beginning…………
After the 2018 Christmas game, we already had the idea that we would like the 2019 Christmas game to be Pelennor Fields from the Lord of the Rings and so the planning began.
The planning of the large games is Lee’s expertise. Anyone who has been involved in playing one of our big games will know how it goes like a dream, everything just seems to go according to plan and totally seamless.
But, this doesn’t happen by accident or by luck. It happens by the endless hours of thinking through and testing every aspect of the game. This is one of those unrecognised and thankless tasks that many large game planners will undoubtedly comprehend, but this year was going to be different.
Why was it going to be different this year? I hear you ask…….
Well, this year Lee wanted to actually play in the game. Normally Lee steps out of playing big games as he can then run the game according to the plan he has set out. Also, Lord of the Rings is his all time fantasy adventure, this started his gaming career with Lord of the Rings based D&D while still at school.
So how did all the planning begin?
Lee and Jamie spent many hours consolidating and simplifying the War of the Ring rules by Games Workshop, so it could be played without the need to keep looking up rules and referring to books. There were many drafts, each one play tested to within an inch of it’s existence.
We had decided early on a couple of core changes that were to happen, the first one was that there would be no characters profiles used in the game. Pelennor fields is a large battle in which, although the films show the main characters moments that matter, in reality these would be lost in the vast swirling chaos of the battle. Of course, it wouldn’t be Pelennor Fields or any part of Lord of Rings without some reference to the main characters. So, even though the characters were not being directly played, Lee and Jamie wanted to make sure they were represented with narrative and created in game special rules which added the essence of those characters we all recognize.
The second major change was that the battle, whilst being controlled by two player sides, the forces of evil would be determined by random actions. By this I mean, the Evil forces would react based on a roll on a behaviour table. They may charge, they may just stand and shout abuse etc !! Getting this right was going to be a crucial part of the battle. Lee and Jamie played through this so many times making several changes along the way to ensure that it would not be too easy or too hard for the forces of good to take on the Evil side and vice versa.
Along with the rules, another critical part of the planning was ensuring the table layout and scenery looked the part, after all Lee wanted the players to feel as though they are there in the moment.
Choosing the size and shape of the table took some doing, should we try and include the Harlem Docks, can we actually build Minis Tirith (at one point a plan of a falling burning Denathor miniature was mentioned !!), and can we fit it all on the tables we have ? All questions to be answered. Lee, with his constant search for the best gaming experience moved the tables around several times measuring every aspect to get the look and feel of the battle right. Of course, a reality check had to come in here and so we finally decided on an off-set ‘L’ shape giving us 10ft in length with either 6ft or 4ft wide.
With time running out we decided we wouldn’t have the time to do the docks and had the Army of the Dead along with the Three Hunters coming in from the corner of the table as though coming from the Docks. Once Lee had decided we were not going to build the docks, he spent many hours considering how to have the castle, eventually deciding to have a corner coming into the table to represent the apex of Minis Tirith as shown in the film and what a good choice it was as it added to the cinematic look to the table.
So as you can see, whilst our previous post on the game showed the table and all the figures, the real work came in the planning as shown above. Many thanks to Lee and Jamie who put in many hours into making the game such a great success.
And so we arrive at the 28th December, the day of the game.
I have to confess that, normally I would cook up a lunch for us all, but this year, I decided that I would take the day off and ordered a buffet lunch from Morrisons.
Once everyone had arrived, we had an early lunch and then we let the battle begin……..
Lee, Jamie, Richard and Josh were controlling the Forces of Good, to begin with, each had elements of the Riders of Rohan. Regan, Tim and I were controlling the Forces of Evil.
The Rohan forced charged forward while shooting their bows taking an early lead, whilst the Orcs, well, some reacted and some didn’t !! From turn 2, the Army of the Dead arrived from both ends of the table to represent them coming from both the Harlem Docks and coming from a successful control of part of Minis Tirith castle. Also arriving that turn were the Haradrim on two Mumaks. Of course, this made the Mumak instant targets which when they take wounds could potentially cause them to stampede.
The game continued with the Orcs maintaining control on Regan’s end of the table whilst my Orcs were decimated very quickly. The Mumaks, whilst looking impressive really didn’t do as much as I thought and were more of a nuisance to the Rohan and Dead rather than taking effect in the battle.
Tim’s Orcs were holding in the centre however the Rohan forces although getting thin in numbers, were far too strong for them. Despite giving it a good fight, the centre eventually fell, which meant the evil forces were split. Regan’s Orcs fought on well against the Rohan and Dead of both Richard and Josh as their Rohan and Dead forces were very thin. But, eventually Regans numbers were dwindling to the point they were struggling to hold on.
Lee had put a decreasing battle rating mechanic into the game which would indicate not only the end of the game but, at a set point, when a surprise arrival would join the fight……. yep, Prince Imrahil and the Knights of Dol Amroth, controlled by Jamie, came charging out form the castle. After taking down one of the Mumaks (although it was pretty well worn down by endless shooting and melee), they were ready to take on the other.
The battle came to a close with the forces of Evil almost wiped out to a man (well, to an orc 😁 ). Of course, we had all counted on Good overcoming Evil however, it could have gone either way.
In the evening, after some tea and cakes, Lee had planned some Lord of the Rings based quiz rounds on Kahoot which went down a storm rounding off the day.
That concludes another Christmas game here at the Battle Bunker. The game was fantastic and everyone seemed to have a good time.
So, the final question………….. what is the game for next Christmas………..well, you’ll just have to wait and see 😁👍
We hope you have enjoyed this and the previous posts. Please feel free to follow our blog and YouTube channel, also like, share and comment about the post.
Until our next post, happy gaming.