- 10 Sep 2019
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Jay: Recently, I had the pleasure of joining a group of friends to play a Narrative Scenario for Adam ‘Friend of Middle-earth’ Troke’s birthday. We replayed his favourite scene from the films – the Ambush at Amon Hen – when the Fellowship are scattered and attacked by the scouting Uruk-hai. The encounter played out much the same as it did in the films: Merry and Pippin were captured, Boromir died valiantly and Frodo managed to escape. The only difference was that Lurtz stood victorious in the duel with Aragorn – a devastating loss for the Free Peoples of Middle-earth!
The camaraderie around the table was heart-warming and everyone played in the spirit of the characters they were using… often to their own tactical detriment! Unlike Matched Play, which pits two players against one another in a battle of wits and skill, Narrative Play is much more about recreating the iconic scenes that appear in the films and books using the Heroes and warriors that were present. Players will usually act as if they were the characters in question and make decisions based on what they would do. In Narrative Play games, it’s common to hear phrases like “I’d prefer not to charge Aragorn into that Uruk-hai horde – he’ll get surrounded. But it’s clearly what he’d do here!”
It got me thinking about the many Narrative Play Scenarios I have participated in over the years and the fun I’ve had playing them. So, I thought I’d present you all with my top five Narrative Scenarios for the Middle-earth Strategy Battle Game.
5 – Denethor’s Madness (Gondor at War)
This Scenario presents a much smaller skirmish than most games, including a mere nine models: Gandalf the White, Pippin, Beregond, Faramir, Denethor and four Citadel Guards. Denethor’s Madness recreates the scene where the Steward of Gondor’s mind has completely broken. Driven insane by grief at the perceived loss of both of his sons, he plans to set himself and Faramir alight, thus joining his children in death.
The Scenario requires the Good player to remove Faramir from the funeral pyre, but there is a ticking clock as they only have eight turns to do so. Denethor and the Citadel Guard are trying to prevent this rescue from happening, so will drag Faramir back to the pyre if they can. Couple this with the fact that Gandalf is without his Staff of Power and is drained following his encounter with the Witch-king of Angmar, and you have a fast-paced and exciting Scenario that really conjures up the desperation of the situation.
4 – Fall of Arnor (Armies of The Lord of the Rings)
Perhaps a more unusual choice, as it’s not a scene directly depicted in the books and films, but I’m really fond of this Scenario. It showcases the final struggle of King Arvedui as he tries to defend Fornost against the seemingly unstoppable tide of Angmar.
To win, the Evil player must kill both Arvedui and Malbeth, whilst the Good side must wipe out the Evil force entirely – a rather tall order! Alternatively, Arvedui can force a draw if he abandons Fornost and escapes via any board edge – this provides a really interesting tactical decision for the Good player if the battle is going ill.
3 – Fire and Water (Armies of The Hobbit)
I’ve made no secret that Bard the Bowman is my favourite character (he defeated the mighty Smaug after all), so it should come as little surprise that his mightiest deed features on this list, as it’s amongst the most heroic acts of the entire Third Age!
This Scenario is packed with additional special rules that bring the feel of the scene to life, from the icy waters of the Long Lake, to the fact that all the Good models seem so insignificant to Smaug that he must have a clear line of sight in order to target them, otherwise they will remain hidden. The Good side must kill Smaug, whilst the Dragon has to kill every Good model to claim victory. The best way for the Good side to win is to get Bain – who is carrying the Black Arrow – to reach his father in one of the towers so they can fire the weapon at Smaug and end the dragon’s reign of destruction once and for all!
2 – Old Cotton’s Farm (Scouring of the Shire)
From the biggest model in the range, to some of the smallest. I absolutely love the Scouring of the Shire Scenarios, as each one shows a different side to Middle-earth, separate to the grandeur and scale of the War of the Ring. There are no vast legions, heavily armoured troops, mighty heroes or terrifying monsters – instead, the games pit the likes of farmers and millers against some bullies over small plots of land!
Old Cotton’s Farm is my favourite from this supplement as it showcases the part in the book where Farmer Cotton stands defiant against the Ruffians before conducting an ambush upon them. The Good player also gets to use a wide selection of Hobbit Heroes and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love playing as the Hobbits?
1 – Roast Mutton (Armies of The Hobbit)
The encounter between Bilbo Baggins and the Trolls is perhaps one of the most iconic in both the books and the films. It is simply an excellent scene which demonstrates that even though the Dwarves have not entirely warmed to their burglar, they’ll still risk themselves to protect him.
The Roast Mutton Scenario depicts this perfectly, and the Good player will need to do all they can to protect Bilbo from the Trolls. Instead of killing Thorin’s Company (which can be quite difficult), the Trolls can stuff them into bags to keep them for later instead. This provides some fantastic amusement as the Dwarves try to break free from the bags and rejoin the fight!
The Scenario also has an element of unpredictability as neither player knows when it will end. From turn 7 when the Good player rolls a D6 – on a 4+ Gandalf breaks the overhanging rocks, allowing sunlight to flood the Trolls’ camp, turning them to stone and ending the game. But by then it may already be too late…
Well there you go, my five favourite Narrative Play Scenarios. I highly recommend that you give them a go – they’re incredibly fun!
Cheers, Jay! The Roast Mutton Scenario, in particular, sounds fantastic (although it has made us rather hungry), so why not pick up both Thorin’s Company and the Trolls and give it a go. If your favourite Narrative Play Scenario hasn’t been mentioned, let us know what it is and why on the Forge World Facebook page.