Escape from Moria!
A Lord of the Rings Strategy battles game
By Neldoreth
February 24th, 2009

Not long ago Balin lead the dwarves of the Lonely Mountain back to re-take the Dwarf hold of Moria. The king of the Lonely Mountain bid him to stay, that returning to Moria was not yet safe. Despite the warnings, the host of Balin returned, and won many battles. Moria was partially re-taken and the mines were opened once again...

But as it was foretold by the king of the Lonely Mountain, it was not yet time. The dwarves awakened the terror in the deep, and so their newly reclaimed realm began to crumble once more. As hordes of goblins stormed their defenses, Balin was killed. For a while the defenses still held, but against the great Balrog of Morgoth, the dwarves were finally chased out of Moria yet again...

But their battles to hold the realm did not lack for glory. Their fighting was no less than viscious, and their victories, although not complete, were not lost to history. Although none escaped Moria to tell their tale, travelers who passed through the mine found their writings, and their history became known. The chronicle of this battle is one of those histories...

Set up - Those that remain of the Dwarves of Moria are trapped in Balin's great tomb... The dwarves position themselves in the middle of the baord, while the goblins enter from the four entrances at the centre of each side of the board. The Balrog also enters from one of the entrances.

Loss after loss, battle after battle, the dwarves gave way. Only at the very end, when all was surely lost did the dwarves decide it was time to flee Moria and warn their kin of their impending doom. But it was too late. They were trapped, all sides of their refuge, Balin's tomb, were besieged. And what was worse was that not only were the hordes of the goblins closing in on them, but the Balrog of Morgoth itself that aided the siege! Their only hope was to send scouts to escape the mines and make it back to the Lonely Mountain.

For this scenario, the dwarves must have at least one of their number escape back to the Lonely Mountain to warn their kin. To do this the dwarven player must have at least one figure leave the board. Furthermore, for each figure that leaves the board, a six-sided die must be rolled, and only on an outcome of six will the dwarf make it back to the Lonely Mountain without being cut down by goblin scouts. On top of that, the dwarves must cut down at least 20 goblins. Finally, if all else fails, the only way for the dwarves to succeed is to kill the Balrog of Morgoth... For the goblins to win, they must stop the dwarves from gaining their objectives. If the dwarves gain one objective but not the other, then the game is a draw.

The tactics of the dwarves are simple. Run for the easiest exit. The Balrog entered through the entrance on the right side of the picture, so the dwarves went towards the exit directly opposite... For the most part.

The dwarves scoffed as the hordes of goblins emerged, but to their terror, their attackers were not merely goblins. The Balrog of Morgoth emerged, lighting the tomb with an unearthly smouldering light. Bolfin, one of the dwarf captains called out his orders in haste. The bulk of the dwarves retreated in an orderly fashion toward the door opposite the Balrog. Bolfin himself, as well as some of his more resolute warriors stayed to delay the Balrog and the rushing goblins in hopes of allowing their comrades to escape.

The Balrog wasted no time in attacking the dwarves. His headlong rush didn't avail him though, and he was wounded in the early fighting!

Bolfin's dwarves stood as the Balrog charged their ranks. Axes clashed, spears were thrust, and claws were swung. In the battle the Balrog was bested. Surprised at the fierceness of the dwarves, the Balrog faltered and took a wound from the long spears of the dwarves! Bolfin took heart, as did his dwarves in their success at this early stage of the battle. However, he realized that the hordes of goblins were still closing, and things would only get more difficult as the battle raged...

The retreating dwarves stop to slay some goblins... While the Balrog smashes the defending dwarves. Bolfin heroically stands alone against the Balrog and manages to hold him for a few turns before he turns to escape himself!

Bolstered by Bolfin's success, Thalfin the captain lead the remaining dwarves in the opposite direction of the attacking Balrog. As his dwarves retreated towards the exit, the goblins rushed to meet them. Intent on making up all of the required goblin kills, Thalfin ordered his dwarves to stay and fight! It may have been the mistake that lost the dwarves the battle!

However, as the goblins closed in on the dwarves that battled with the Balrog, Bolfin's cause went ill and the Balrog smashed the dwarven line while the goblins picked away at it. Bolfin's warriors fought the goblins that would meet their blades and put many down, however many dwarves were also killed by goblins. Furthermore, Bolfin heroically stood alone against the Balrog! Although he had little chance to defeat the beast, he did manage to hold it for some time!

As dwarves continued to struggle, attempting to escape in all directions, a single dwarf archer, Timbur the Brave, stood alone against the Balrog and held him up for turn after turn! Meanwhile, the dwarves managed to slay 15 goblins...

Bolfin left combat against the Balrog to Timbur the Brave, a single dwarf archer. Bolfin attempted to help his dwarves break out through the north doorway, while Thalfin continued to lead his dwarves to the west doorway. In the mean time, some dwarves also headed for the east doorway, and with their forces scattered in all directions, the dwarves' retreat turned quickly into a route! With only small groups of dwarves heading for the doorways, they were too small in numbers to punch their way through and many fell to the goblins as they fled.

Despite this, the dwarves managed to cut their way through 15 goblins in their attempt to escape. This is almost enough to allow them to save face and claim that although they may have lost Moria, they made the goblins pay dearly for their victory.

Timbur still managed to persist in holding up the Balrog while the dwarves inched their way to escape!

As the dwarves fought their desperate battle to escape from the mines of Moria, Timbur the Brave continued to hold the Balrog back single handedly. In nothing short of an amazing feat, the lone bow-armed dwarf won fight after fight against the beast. Unfortunately, as his name suggests, the beast eventually overcame the him, and Timbur fell. As he fell, his cry "Timbur!" rang through Balins' tomb. His feat was worthy of a song, that was sung in the great halls of every dwarven feasting hall in Middle-earth for years to come. And to this day, Timbur is remembered, for whenever a great tree is felled, his name is shouted!

Timbur died just as the dwarves reached their first goal of felling 20 goblins! But with the Balrog no longer held up by the brave Timbur, it was the beginning of the end for the dwarves.

With Timbur defeated, the Balrog fell on Thalfin's dwarves, which were the largest remaining group in the tomb. Also, despite their lack of enthusiasm early in the battle, goblin reinforcements began to come in greater numbers as rumour spread that the dwarves were all but destroyed. As a consequence, the dwarves fleeing through the North (including Bolfin himself) and the East passages were surrounded and cut down. Thalfin's dwarves were also put to the blade and spear. With the Balrog behind them and the oncoming goblins in front of them, their fate was sealed. Although they fought bravely, their fight was lost.

Thalfin the captain was the last dwarf alive in Balin's tomb before the battle ended. Although he put up a brave fight, he had no chance against the two goblins captains and their hordes! And even if he had, he would still have had to get passed the Balrog!

Even though many dwarves died, and few escaped Balin's Tomb, all hope was not lost. Three valiant dwarves were able to escape the tomb of Balin and make for the Lonely Mountain to bring their tale to their kin. Alas, it was not to be. Timli was cut down by reinforcing goblins as he escaped the tomb. Tamly made it to the bridge of Khazad Dum before he was cut down by arrows. And finally, Tomley, the last dwarf to escape, was caught in the forests on the mountainside after nightfall, and all manner of terror was inflicted upon him before he died.

As a consequence, neither side was able to secure a complete victory. The dwarves killed many goblins, but the goblins managed to cut down all of the remaining dwarves! And any opportunity for vengeance on either side would have to wait until the Fourth Age! It was an excellent battle, played with an excellent couple of guys! Thanks!