Saturday, 28 July 2012

Gong Con 2012 - First Day: The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

This weekend is Gong Con, a new event staged by the Wollongong University Gamer's Guild. The Guild cover a wide range of gamers - role-players, board-gamers and miniature wargamers and, as regular readers of this blog know, the Gong Garage Gamers attached themselves to it earlier this year in order to gain more exposure for the group and because it's a better venue.

When Gong Con was announced it seemed obvious to us to participate, and it was a chance to showcase some miniature wargaming. We had various grand plans, and had hoped to stage a few different games over the two days, but we're a small group of gamers with limited time and resources, so we went with what we know - 'Hordes of the Things'.

For the first day we decided to pull out a game we played a couple of years ago - a HOTT game based loosely on the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Effectively a 48AP Gondorian army faces a 48AP Mordor army, but there are complications - Gondor's Rohan allies are riding to the sound of battle, but it's not known when they will turn up, whilst Mordor's army is split in two, with a small force of Gondorians holding a vital river-crossing at Osgiliath.

Here's the table from one end. That's the River Anduin, with the ruins of Osgiliath on it. The bridge isn't there at the start, but Mordor can build it by spending PIPs. Beyond the river is Minas Tirith on the hill:

The table from behind Minas Tirith:

Armies deployed. The Gondorians have Gandalf (a Paladin), two Spears, two Shooters and six Blades. Off tale behind them are the reinforcements from Rohan - a hero general (Theoden), two Knights and two Riders. Mordor's army consists of two Warband (one a general), two Shooters, a Behemoth, six Hordes and an Aerial Hero (Nazgul):

The battle at Osgiliath. A second Mordor army is trying to link up with the first - a Hero general (the Witch King), a Behemoth, three Riders, two Shooters and six Hordes. Defending Osgiliath are a Spear general (Faramir), another Spear and four Shooters:

Minas Tirith. This resin model is the lid from a jewellery box that came with the special edition DVD of the third Peter Jackson LotR film. Minas Tirith acts as the general for the Gondorian army deployed in front of it:

We had a few minor special rules - Gandalf and the Nazgul got a free PIP with which they could move themselves or a group they were with, and Mordor could build a bridge over the river, linking the two halves of the road together. the river crossong speed was increased to reflect Mordor's use of boats (and to offset the fact that the river is quite wide for a HOTT game). The troops from Rohan rolled PIPs each turn, but didn't appear until their accumulated total was 20 or more.

Victory was purely through destroying half of the enemy AP - killing a general was inconvenient, but not fatal, whilst Minas Tirith, although classed as a stronghold, just counted as lost AP for Gondor (albeit a lot). This ensured that the game didn't end in a 'sudden death' - a useful way to play it with new people.

We played three games during the day, the idea being that people attending the Con could take part or just watch - it was really a combined demonstration/participation game. We had a few takers when it came to playing, but members of our group took part as well, offering advice and support to help the newbies along.

I didn't keep a detailed account of each game, so here are some pictures taken through the day.

Early in the first game, and already there's a big hole in Mordor's line:

A troll finds himself pinned between Gandalf and Theoden. Rising to the occasion he proceeded to kill Gandalf, having already destroyed three Gondorian elements earlier in the battle. As trolls go, he was pretty awesome:

The Rohirrim:

Orc hordes return to the battle along the road to Osgiliath:

Gondorian swordsmen face the Witch King:

Warg riders attempt to slow down the Rohan advance:

Halfway through the second game of the day:

Rohirrim are attacked by a Nazgul:

Led by Gandalf and Theoden the forces of Rohan appear to save the day again:

One of the cast of thousands. HOTT Yahoo group regulars should note: Not Green:

Mordor prepares to cross the river again:

And does so in style:

The battle before Minas Tirith. Note the uncharacteristic (for a wargamer) deployment of a reserve on the hill:

Theoden takes down the troll:

Caesar's finest moment, as he gets 14AP of Mordor's troops destroyed in one bound, including his general:

We played three games - the first went to Mordor, whilst the other two were won by Gondor. This was a reverse of our test games which saw Mordor victorious in all but one.

A big hurrah for John, who designed the scenario, made the terrain and did most of the troops as well. Caesar did some of the bases, whilst I just provided a troll and put together the playsheets and information sheets.

We were photographed by the local paper, and filmed by both local television and the university's own TV station. I think we got plenty of exposure.

Tomorrow we will be running and playing a selection of normal 24AP HOTT games, using a variety of armies designed to showcase the scope of the game.


  1. Nice job, guys! Hopefully this will gain you some new converts to Hordes of the Things.

  2. Ditto DS. And good to see a young-one at the event.


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