By Michael Blomquist.
The wastelands north of Angmar spawned yet another frigid inhospitable storm of foreboding upon Middle Earth. As the polar vortex roared south into the northern reaches of the Misty Mountains, the winds whipped the mountainous ramparts of Carn Dûm, capital of the Witch Realm of Angmar. Lightning flashed across the stormy sky revealing that the ramparts comprised of ominous castle walls surrounding Carn Dûm. On the western facing walls overlooking the gatehouse into the city stood an immovable tall figure armored in black mail with a black flowing cape. As another streak of lightning forked across the sky and angry waves of heavy snow started to blanket across the castle, the black clad figure first turned his gaze westward towards the Kingdom of Arnor and appeared ridged in contemplation. With a quick magical gesture and word of power, the wraithlike figure peered beyond the means of normal vision especially in the midst of a polar vortex from the northern wastes further westward beyond Arnor to the lands of the hated Quendi elves. Lord Murazor, first among the Nazgul, turned thoughtfully and looked southward and without a hint of surprise stated, “Yes, I know of the hidden Quendi enclave of Imladris as I know of your unique talents… Caramir.” As a surprised figure slipped out of the shadows to reveal himself, Murazor continued speaking. “I assume Morlaen sent you to this council to represent the Line of Morlaen.” Caramir paused and nodded as he studied the black clad leader of the Witch Realm of Angmar before him on the frigid ramparts.
Caramir shivered in the icy winds despite his heavy furred cloaks and answered, “Yes Lord Murazor, my Liege Lord Morlaen dispatched myself to assure you that our blades are yours in this struggle to bring the Loyalists to heel. Our two nations shall fight as one to join two other Usurpers leaders each rallying two nations to their banners respectively against the Loyalists. We are joined by the Line of Castamir led by Lord Castamir himself and the Line of Elendin also led by their liege-lord, Lord Elendin, both fight as one Usurper banner. Also, the nations of Southron Kingdoms under Lady Adunaphel and the nation of Hithlum under Lord Uvatha fight as one Usurper banner.” Allowing himself a quick reflection and smirk added, “I believe you know those last two liege lords personally.”
Murazor ignored the mortals attempt at flippancy and simply said “Come follow me to the war room.” Caramir quickly followed the Nazgul deep into the protected city fortress of Carn Dûm. Upon reaching the war room, Caramir was greatly impressed by the preparations for war that the Witch Realm of Angmar had started making especially with the huge planning board with all of Middle Earth regions, known population centers, and known armies depicted thereon. He reflected to himself that Lord Morlaen had chosen wisely in picking Lord Murazor as an ally for the upcoming war.
Murazor spoke after allowing Caramir a moment to take in the room and information before him. “Yes we are well balanced with our banner men. With my armies and your intelligence and other unique capabilities, we shall crush all Loyalists who oppose us. The Loyalist opposition appears to be grouped with the Kingdom of Arnor and Rhovanion under one banner, the Horselords and Quendi under another banner, and finally the Rebels of Ered Lithui and Line of Eldacar under their lead banner.” Murazor gazed over at Caramir, the agent of Morlaen, as the agent nodded in agreeance at the task before them.
They plotted and planned deep into the night oblivious to the frozen fury that was pounding the walls of Carn Dûm. The plan while complex in many aspects relied heavily on one simple focus. That focus being to break the Loyalists nations surrounding the Witch Realm of Angmar piecemeal before they could group up and project outwards against the surrounded realms of Angmar. Murazor ordered all war pyres to be lit all across the Misty Mountains to alert all of his holdings to fire up the orc pits and to rally the trolls for the hoards needed for war! Morlaen would field intelligence and diplomatic efforts assets to support the armies of Angmar against the forces of the Quendi, Kingdom of Arnor, Rhovanion, and Line of Eldacar. Caramir knew that Lord Morlaen already had a reliable lead on where Ji Indur could be found and that this asset would bring great promise to the powers of Morlaen’s Darkblades in this upcoming struggle. The lack of direct reliable coordination between allies would be a great weakness yet present great opportunities against the Loyalists as well. Lord Morlaen’s agents had already secured assets amongst several Usurper allies that would provide detailed reports to aid in our war efforts throughout the campaign.
It would be a long epic struggle across Middle Earth as the Usurpers and Loyalists battled over 41 turns to struggle for dominance. Limited communication hindered both sides in the war as no one had a complete picture of what truly was going on as the fight raged across Middle Earth. From the battlefront of the Witch Realm of Angmar and the shadowy dwellings of the Line of Morlaen, the scope of the battle can be broken down into four phases as Murazor saw things unfold as Lord Marshall Gothmog with his huge host drove his Loyalist enemies before him across the plains of Arnor and into the Quendi heartlands…but I get ahead of my tale. It all started as a great struggle for survival as preparations were made for the hordes to ride forth against the Loyalists…
Survival and Preparations (Turns 1 -10)
After initial posturing and reorganization, both sides started in earnest and made military pushes to strike and counter each other in the Misty Mountains, northern Mirkwood, and northeastern Kingdom of Arnor.
Though greatly outnumbered in the north by surrounding enemies, the Witch Realm of Angmar held its own very effectively using its interior lines of communication and supply to defend its region and keep most of the region and population centers intact.
Line of Eldacar armies pushed through the northern Misty Mountain pass capturing Goblin-town and Eralda temporarily cutting the pass off for the Usurpers. In response, Witch Realm armies and a small cavalry detachment from Morlaen managed to capture Rhovanion’s major town-tower of Maethelburg and destroy Eldacar’s city-tower of Buhr Lomia. The removal of these two Loyalists population centers in western Mirkwood greatly set the tone for the next phase of the campaign against the Loyalists in this region.
The Kingdom of Arnor allowed the Witch Realm armies to gain the initial initiative which resulted in KoA population holdings of Hamidas, Kelidos, Baraketta, and Bree all being destroyed. Kingdom of Arnor armies tried to foray into the Witch Realm holdings but encountered greater than anticipated fortifications being raised just before the arrival of Loyalist armies. These timely fortifications prevented any serious damage to the Witch Realm as warbands continued to charge forth into the Kingdom of Arnor to raze the Loyalist holdings to weaken their abilities to make war. The Kingdom of Arnor King, Argeleb II, managed to keep the Witch Realm forces under Regent Gothmog and his commanders from further damage with the employment of his heavy cavalry forces. Quendi and Eldacar forces met difficulties as Morlaen Darkblades culled their commanders.
All Witch Realm mages learned the arcane ability to teleport resulting quick recovery of the first of three Dwarven Rings of Power, Kazil Dwalin. Morlaen’s diplomatic corps recruited intelligence assets to ensure that every available bird shared their songs and provided vital information for the war. Additional Nazgul also rallied to the banners of Morlaen, including Ji Indur and Khamul during this period. With the addition of their skilled dark talents and instructions, Morlaen agents managed to see to the removal of seven Loyalist souls from the realm of Middle Earth. This phase of the campaign came to a close with the arcane revelation of Imladris by the Witch Realm mage Maksaern. No longer were the Quendi elves hidden in midst of the southern region of the Witch Realm of Angmar…
Stabilization and Offensives – KoA and Quendi (far South) (Turn 11-20)
In the north, Phase two started slowly a few fortnights to cleanup and stage the operations, but the Witch Realm armies ultimately captured the Quendi capital of Imladris securing the center WK region from hostiles. Both Witch Realm and mobile Morlaen forces secured the western side of Mirkwood and fortified the Goblin-town pass through the Misty Mountains. The Mirkwood region would largely be a sideshow of small raids and skirmishes for the remainder of the campaign.
As the Quendi lost Imladris, a small blocking WK troll foot soldiers army stopped a large desperate relief force commanded by King Argeleb II of the Kingdom of Arnor just outside the newly secured Witch Realm forests. Argeleb’s huge heavy cavalry army clad in steel with war machines in tow easily destroyed the WK boyz who dared halt their progress. This well-planned deception allowed Morlaen Darkblades to slip out of the shadows to see that the King of Arnor never got to his victory speech. Murazor smiled briefly at the news of Argeleb’s demise and turned war leader at Carn Dûm, “It is time Gothmog. Take your horde westward and drive our enemies before you. As you move forward, spread the WK realm forward over the remnants of the Kingdom of Arnor and secure all of Arnor. Drive your warband hard so that the Quendi will not see you coming until it is too late.” Regent Gothmog took his leave and led his horde out of Carn Dûm that very night.
Emissaries reported changes mid-phase during the stabilization weeks just after Imladris fell and Argeleb II had been killed. The Southron Kingdoms and Hithlum split allegiances from their liege lord for unknown reasons. Adunaphel leading the Southron Kingdoms joined the Witch Realm and Morlaen banner. Adunaphel also brought with her a named assassin known as Slyardach who would prove to be most resourceful in the weeks to come. Lord Uvatha and the Hithlum joined with Castamir and Elendin. Agents also reported a division in the Loyalist forces in that the Rhovanion forces joined the Horselords and Quendi banner. After the death of Argeleb II, the Kingdom of Arnor sided with Eldacar and the Rebel banner. It was not clear what caused this disruption among the Loyalist nations, but perhaps the violent assault from the Witch Realm armies and Morlaen agents had contributed to this event.
As this phase closed, Usurper armies in the north and south began their major offensives against the Loyalists. While gathering and building his epic horde, Gothmog completed his initial task with the construction and fortifying of Yáressê. Murazor ordered the capital of the Witch Realm of Angmar moved westward to Yáressê so that the Witch Realm could lead the campaign from the front as the hordes started spilling into Arnor. While visiting Yáressê, Murazor was noted to have tried to recruit a notable troll named Tom to the war effort. Tom the Troll foolishly attacked Murazor which resulted in Tom the Troll being vaporized by words of power spoken by the Nazgul …Gothmog’s horde took notice… Warlord Gothmog and his huge horde redoubled their efforts and force-marched from Yáressê towards Fornost, the city-citadel capital of the Kingdom of Arnor.
In the far south, Morlaen and Southron Kingdom agents discovered the location of the Quendi Elf Lords close to the Havens of Umbar. Lord Elrond, Lady Galadriel, and Arwen were plying their wicked curse magics to befoul the Usurper operations and kill from afar without fear of retribution. A plan was developed using Southron Kingdom armies as bait to lure the elf mages into a trap. An initial attempt was made to strike against the elves but as this phase ended but resulted in only an elven ring of power, Vilya, being stolen off Elrond. Morlaen agents persisted against the Quendi cursers and set the trap again. The chapter ended with the elf lords arriving once again into the jaws of the doom trying to protect their now revealed major town of Eithel Culroch as the Southron Kingdoms army pulled up outside the elven southern stronghold.
Agent activities in the north at Carn Dûm proved most deadly for the Usurpers and Loyalists assassins. Ji Indur, Caramir, and Lord Morlaen were sadly lost to Loyalists insurgents. In return, Usurper assassins managed to catch and kill two of the offending Loyalist assassins from Carn Dûm. While it seemed an even exchange, the blow was sorely felt amongst the Morlaen Darkblades. In closing this phase of operations, Usurper Darkblades permanently retired a total of sixteen Loyalists from the realm and one Loyalist was retained for questioning…
Quendi Cleanup in South and KoA Assault (Turns 21-30)
On all fronts, this phase started off flawlessly and turned the tides of fate against the Loyalists.
In the south, a well laid plan culminated with the Southron Kingdom army easily capturing the Quendi stronghold of Eithel Culroch as the adamantine jaws of the Darkblades trap sprung closed killing all the Quendi cursers. Lord Elrond, Lady Galadriel, and Arwen all died in a single deadly night after having plied their wicked elf magics one last time. As their life-force bled into the forest grounds outside Eithel Culroch, the Quendi cursers dimly realized three things: they were not immortal, they had chosen poorly, and they had been played. Many powerful artifacts were recovered and some, though few, were put immediately to use. Adunaphel took a keen interest in Tinculin and started in earnest in building a SK curse crew. Ren the Unclean also rallied to the SK banner during this phase and was destined to join Adunaphel’s dark magics band for future endeavors.
The Southron Kingdoms continued to mop up the far south removing any further Quendi threats for good. SK forces also continued moving eastward to see to the removal of hidden Rebel strongholds that little birds kept revealing. The first Rebel stronghold to fall to the Southron Kingdom forces was the Rebel city of Khosa just south of Mordor. This phase ended with the Rebel city of Lag Nurnen in the far south eastern desert being revealed and primed for the cleanup by the Southron Kingdom Mumakhil riders. This hidden city was the last of the Rebel strongholds below Mordor so the focus shifted back to Mordor.
Morlaen unveiled its well-armed and equipped army of Dark Mounted Enforcers as they rode into Mordor and captured the Rebel city of Grim Ford. Morlaen operations expanded from this point in countering and removing all Loyalist resistance wherever met. Following the Witch Realm of Angmar’s example in the north, Morlaen emissaries prepped a hidden population center forward towards the fight to better command and influence the “schwerpunkt” for the Mordor campaign against the Loyalists. As this phase ended, this newly renovated Morlaen city became the new Darkhold and capital at which all campaign efforts would be controlled for the remainder of the campaign. Additionally, Murazor issued orders that all Loyalist captives and artifacts were to be imprisoned and safeguarded at Darkhold until control of the Darkblades.
In the north, the KoA campaign started off with General Gothmog and his huge horde blowing through feeble KoA armies and destroying Fornost, the city-citadel capital of the Kingdom of Arnor. The week that Fornost was put to torch and while the ashes were still hot, a camp heralded as Smoking Hole rose from the ashes. The WK garrison of the newly created camp-keep became a forward operating base and a grim tiding of things to come for the Loyalists. General Gothmog and his horde continued forth and razed numerous KoA armies as they moved westward closing closer to Quendi holdings. As the phase drew to a close, Marshall Gothmog and his war band had destroyed the city-tower of Caras Fornen and captured the city-tower of Himaelin which became the new forward capital of the Witch Realm. Marshall Gothmog dispatched smaller warbands from his huge horde and assigned trusted lieutenants to start assimilating all of Arnor into the new Witch Realm.
As the phase came to an end, we ended on a down note as Khamul was assassinated defending the Witch Realm capital of Yáressê. Murazor ordered that efforts start to shift on activity priorities for the Darkblades of the Usurpers. Darkblades killed twelve Loyalists but also started collecting hostages from Loyalist nations, especially from the Kingdom of Arnor. Eight loyalists were imprisoned in the hidden Morlaen Darkhold along with many accursed Loyalist artifacts.
Hunting, Breaking the Loyalists Will, and Ascension (Turns 31-41)
Murazor directed all available arcane assets under his banner specific tasks. Certain mages were assigned with tracking and following known Loyalist assassins and known Loyalist artifacts of power; a select group were assigned to research the dark magics of spirit mastery with Adunaphel taking charge; one specific mage started revealing the Quendi holdings so that Murazor’s wrath would be brought to bear upon the accursed Quendi; and finally the recovery of the last two Dwarven Rings of Power and select items of power were slated for immediate recovery.
Loyalist Companies comprised of four – five small killer agent groups; three emissary groups led by Gandalf, Goldberry, and Vidurafin; and one reconstituted Loyalist curse group led by Saruman the White. All were tracked using all means and tools available of arcane, agent, and emissary.
The tide had turned in favour of the Usurpers and all armies were giving orders to start pushing on all fronts to bring the pain. From intelligence reports, the Kingdom of Arnor and Rebel nations were critical so efforts were made to prioritize assets to crush those nations first.
Battles continued through the final KoA population centers with Marshall Gothmog leading the war in the northwest with his huge warband. Murazor even joined the army for a short bit to aid with his arcane powers and conjuring additional slaves to fuel the warband ranks. The largest battle of the campaign took place at Himaelin. The report follows:
In the Cool climate of the Hills & Rough of 1007, armies prepared for battle in the early morning hours under an overcast sky.
At the head of a loud and exuberant army rode Marshal Gothmog of the nation of the Witch Realm of Angmar. In his hands was borne the glowing Mace called Nallagurth. The mount on which he rode pranced mightily at the head of the battle lines. Behind him the forming ranks were filled with:
4277 Dark Riders of the North with bronze/steel weapons, bronze/steel armor, exemplary
1432 Troll Footsoldiers with wooden/bronze weapons, leather/bronze armor, solid ranks
1800 Hill-men Clansmen with wooden weapons, none armor, a mob
At the head of a demoralized army rode Captain Isorian of the nation of the Quendi. The mount on which he rode stood cautiously at the rear of the battle lines. Behind him the forming ranks were filled with:
1200 Mounted Knights of Elbereth with wooden/bronze weapons, leather/bronze armor, a mob
1600 Elven Swordsmen with wooden weapons, none/leather armor, ragged ranks
At the head of a rebellious army rode Captain Jokarm of the nation of the Kingdom of Arnor. The mount on which he rode moved with trepidation to the center of the battle lines. Behind him the forming ranks were filled with:
3000 Mounted Knights of the Old Realm with bronze/steel weapons, bronze/steel armor, a mob
At the head of a rebellious army rode Captain Shahûr of the nation of the Quendi. The mount on which he rode moved with trepidation to the center of the battle lines. Behind him the forming ranks were filled with:
1600 Mounted Knights of Elbereth with wooden/bronze weapons, leather/bronze armor, a mob
The City of Himaelin flying the flag of the Witch Realm of Angmar is situated in the Hills & Rough here. It is fortified by a Castle.
Suddenly, violent bolts of lightning crashed into and around the battleground. Unnaturally strong and driving rain caused Army Commanders to review their chosen tactics.
Captain Isorian changed tactics to standard battle formation.
Captain Jokarm changed tactics to standard battle formation.
Captain Shahûr changed tactics to standard battle formation.
Report from Gothmog … My commanders moved among the troops before battle, readying them, bolstering their resolve, and issuing last minute orders. These troops didn’t need much encouragement and licked their lips in anticipation.
Finally the order was given in loud commands. “Charge!! Charge!!”
As our troops deployed, a cheer went up as a cold amber light enveloped them, and they realized that they were receiving magical protection.
The men cheered as boulders and flying debris were hurled upon the enemy troops. Gothmog reports that against the forces of Isorian, they met our charge with their standard formation.
Gothmog reports that against the forces of Jokarm, they met our charge with their standard formation.
Gothmog reports that against the forces of Shahûr, they met our charge with their standard formation.
After the battle had joined in earnest, heroes made their presence known all over the battlefield.
Gothmog swung his glowing Mace above his head and laughed at those who would oppose him.
Murazor stood off to one side making magical gestures and incanting arcane words. Suddenly, barriers sprung up from the ground and prevented many of the enemy from striking at his comrades!
Seammu swung his glowing Sword above his head and laughed at those who would oppose him.
Urgora stood off to one side making magical gestures and incanting arcane words. Suddenly, many of the enemy’s blows were deflected from her comrades who fought with more assurance!
Bornandil stood off to one side making magical gestures and incanting arcane words. Suddenly, many of the enemy’s blows were deflected from his comrades who fought with more assurance!
After the battle. …Gothmog’s forces were victorious in the battle, but suffered severe losses.
This glorious and victorious battle broke the back of the KoA and Quendi cavalry forces in the northwest. Marshall Gothmog survived the battle with an elite warband of over 3000 troops and more Dark Riders of the North arriving each day to bolster those depleted ranks.
Murazor issued new orders that all original Witch Realm holdings be abandoned so that Loyalist agents would find no targets. Morlaen Darkblades hunted down Loyalist armies that dared try and strike at the Witch Realm. This tactic proved very effective and devastating to Loyalists who thought they were hurting the Witch Realm. Meanwhile, the many newly acquired and improved holdings continued to churn out the warbands of Dark Riders of the North that carried us to victory.
After the mighty victory at Himaelin, Murazor ordered his mage Maksaern to unveil the Quendi hidden population centers starting with the new Quendi capital, Mithlond. Lord Marshall Gothmog issued orders for all warbands to force-march to regroup at Athrad Sarn. In their haste to reach the rally point, intelligence reported that several smaller Loyalist armies were overrun in the process leaving no survivors to question. Once at Athrad Sarn, Murazor issued a summons for all Witch Realm mages to come and join the Gothmog’s warband in preparation for the last battles for known KoA cities. Unbeknownst to the Loyalists, Murazor had been busy training a secret second group of mages for cursing, sickness, and even weakness, and now was the time for the revelation. At Athrad Sarn, the KoA fielded its last large heavy infantry army against the might of Gothmog. The Loyalists also committed a highly skilled squad of Loyalist killers that had plagued the Usurpers ranks over the many weeks of this long campaign. Arahad and Poralo were very well known and skilled assassins that were even respected by the Darkblades for their prowess in the subterfuge arts. But against spell and blade combined, they were no match. Arahad died first as the sorcerous black cloud from the WK mages enveloped him. Before Arahad had even hit the ground, several shadow figures from the elite ranks of the Darkblades caught Poralo flatfooted and cut him down before he could run. Numerous Usurper hostages were freed when those two were removed from the realms.
The campaign ended around the entrance to Mordor with the Loyalists rallying under one combined banner in a desperate attempt to regroup and strike back at the Usurper onslaught. This action allowed for diplomatic missives to coordinate a joint Usurper banner to reorganize into a joint effort to fight together for the last few fortnights.
Hithlum agent assets under Lord Uvatha immediately began providing much more detailed intelligence reports resulting in much more reliable targeting. This activity allowed Morlaen Darkblades to much more effectively bring the pain. At Minas Anor, the combined Usurper forces devastated invading Eldacar assets. And to add suffering to the pain, the Southron Kingdom dark mages under Adunaphel and Ren the Unclean revealed themselves and fired their unholy magics upon the unsuspecting Gandalf. After the sorcerous black lung took him, Gandalf smoldered a few days I am told. Thus ended Gandalf and the Loyalist struggles.
And so it finally ended, all Usurper nations survived and ascended to victory! The last phase tally for agent activities added an additional fifteen assassinated and eleven kidnapped in the final days. The Usurpers accepted the unconditional surrender of the beaten Loyalists after a long hard fought campaign of 41 turns. Morlaen’s Darkblades were credited with forty confirmed kills. Morlaen’s Darkblades held onto sixteen Loyalist artifacts and ten Loyalist hostages at the end of the campaign. The Usurpers had one 100% curse group, one 100% curse/sickness/weakness group, and one partial sickness (almost ready for another replacement) at game end. We had three very strong agent companies of killers and four emissary companies. Again, I cannot stress the importance of intelligence in this campaign.
Game 649 was a Kin-strife Gunboat Game. Each side had 3 people controlling 2 nations each at the start. Communication is very limited to diplos every 5 turns sent thru the moderators. This game was highly challenging and enjoyable. This epic tale is told from the nations that I played perspective. I wouldn’t recommend a Gunboat or Kin-strife to a new players, but after you have a few games under your belt, then this game is a great fun challenge and will definitely test your skills. No one has perfect information in this game as setups are uniquely tailored. Everyone has limited information. Learn to use weaknesses against enemy nations and maximize your strengths like building improved fortifications just as a large enemy force rides up only to realize they can’t take the place… Critical Orders and Spells : LA, LAT, LCT, Reveal Pop, Reveal Char, Double, Divine Char with Forces all become so very important in building your strategy in your game. Intelligence truly begets power in this game. Looking forward to my new Kin-strife already!