Battle of Bywater at Croydon 21-Mar-09

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090321croydon21aFrodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin returned to the Shire from their adventures with the Fellowship of the Ring. To their surprise they found their beloved home in upheaval. Crawling away after his defeat at Isengard, the bitter Saruman went to the Shire to exact revenge on the Hobbits. With his faithful snivelling companion Wormtongue, Saruman used a gang of Ruffians to enslave the peaceful inhabitants of the Shire. But the return of the Hobbit adventurers stirred up a rebellion, which culminated in the Battle of Bywater. See how this great scenario for Lord of the Rings turned out when played on a Saturday afternoon at Croydon.

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Battle of Bywater

The Hobbits had built some barricades on the main road to Bywater to protect themselves against the march of the Ruffians. Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin were mounted on their ponies. Sam guarded Frodo with the main force behind the barricades. Merry and Pippin each took charge of a small flanking force amongst the burnt out Hobbit holes on either side of the road. Pippin looked resplendant in his Gondorian armour; the silver tree glinting in the sun.

The Ruffians shambled down the road. Marching would be too organised a description for their uncoordinated group effort. Despite this, they looked menacing to the much smaller Hobbits. As they saw the felled trees across the road, they briefly paused. Weighing up the situation they decided to all head to the left to stay in one group that could support each other.

Ruffians Close In

The Ruffians moved along the left hedgerow. Some jumped over, as they all headed closer to the defending Hobbits. The halfling archers moved into positions to try and maximise their fire. The other Hobbits quickly moved into appropriate positions and searched for palm sized stones that they hoped to throw at the Ruffians. Hobbits are very accurate with their stone throwing. They can spend many happy hours throwing stones at nothing in particular.

Pippin gathered the small force on the Hobbit's left flank and herded them down to the hedge. This gave them some cover while they had clear shots at the Ruffians still on the road. 

Three Against One

Quite a few of the Ruffians fell to Hobbit arrows and stones. Some of the Hobbits were casualties. This included one remaining brave Hobbit who had survived the initial onslaught on the Hobbit's right flank. He had been caught in the fighting and was unable to outrun the long legged men. He fought bravely against three Ruffians who had him surrounded. Happy just to win the fight, he did not have time to wound any of his foes, but made up for it in the next round when he amazingly won again.

Some reinforcements helped out and drew one Ruffian away from him. His outstanding effort continued as he fought against two of the Ruffians, this time managing to kill another. Alas, he grew too cocky and fell when fighting against his sole remaining opponent. However, his brave effort aided by a couple of archers perched on top of a Hobbit hole stopped the Ruffians reinforcing their left flank attack.

Sharkey Appears

Only a few Ruffians got through to the hedge beyond the barricade. They hurled themselves at the hedge in the hope of dislodging the Hobbits behind. But the Hobbits had chosen their position well. Again and again the Ruffians attacked. Frodo moved up to encourage the defenders. With his help, the Ruffians slowly lost casualties to the strong position. With reinforcements denied to them, the attack eventually petered out.

Despite the first attack of the Ruffians being dispersed, the Hobbits had lost some of their number. As several Hobbits arrived to aid their comrades, the reinforcements of Ruffians which had been steadily arriving, slowed to a trickle. Ruffians have a much easier time gaining reinforcements, so the Hobbits have to conserve their strength. In the same turn, Sharkey arrived on his first attempt. This was much to the dismay of the Ruffians, who had to protect him at all costs.

The Worm Turns

With the Ruffian numbers reduced, Pippin organised a limited counter-attack along their left flank towards Sharkey. This was supported by the timely arrival of several Hobbit archers from behind the damaged Hobbit holes. Despite lurking behind a tree for cover, Sharkey was quickly wounded by archery fire. The Hobbit archers were coming from all directions to reduce Sharkey's chance of hiding. Ruffians were running in all directions to try and form a human shield as they attempted to hunt down the archers. This spread the evil force further than they would have liked.

The Hobbits did not take the bait of Grima Wormtongue who was thrown out in advance to try and distract the Hobbits from attacking Sharkey. Concentrating on Sharkey paid dividends. While he was distracted by the Hobbits advancing towards him from several directions, a lone Hobbit archer snuck up behind him. The arrow struck home, but Sharkey's fate was not do die from this one.

With Sharkey down to his last wound and no fate, Grima turned and headed back to attack his former master. Momentarily distracted by Grima, Sharkey could not stop the lone Hobbit archer from charging into combat with the former wizard. Some of the Hobbits closing in were close enough to stop several of the Ruffians from rushing back to Sharkey's aid. Unfortunately for them, enough got back to stop Sharkey fighting alone. Angered by his treachery, the Ruffians did not allow Wormtongue to survive long. The lone Hobbit archer managed to fight off several attackers, but failed to wound Sharkey. Disappointed by not being able to overcome Sharkey almost single handed, the Hobbit was quickly overpowered.

The End is Nigh

The Hobbit attack petered out as the Ruffian reinforcements flooded in. The Ruffians continued to take a toll of the Hobbits after valiant attempts by the Shire folk to break through to the wounded Sharkey.

Now heavily outnumbered, the Hobbits on the left withdrew carefully back towards the defensive perimeter. As they retreated, they watched for an opportunity to dash back into the fray. None presented themselves, so the retreat unfortunately continued.

The game had now reached a critical stage. Most of the Ruffians were back on the board as reinforcements, but the Hobbits had not been reinforced for a while. Most of the Hobbit archers were off the board. So the Ruffian archers set themselves up to further whittle down the Hobbit numbers. They positioned themselves carefully to stay out of range of the accurate stone throwing. If they could remove more Hobbits from the board, then they would be willing to close into hand-to-hand combat to get to Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin.

But the evil side did not want to wait too long. Every turn there were one or two archery shots at Sharkey. The in the way rolls could not stop the arrows forever. Sharkey only had one wound left. He had used all his fate earlier against the lone, brave archer in combat. The tension mounted as more Hobbits were removed. Almost every turn, an arrow made it through to hit Sharkey, but kept failing to wound. Finally, the sixth arrow which hit him ended the game.