Has it really been six months since I last did one of these? I certainly missed writing them as I find battle reports to be one of the most gratifying parts of the hobby. It is where you see all your hard hobby work come together. For this report, I’m playing Maggot’s Farm from the still relatively new Scouring of the Shire book. This is my first go around with the MESBG version of the rules and when you add to that its been months since my last game, hopefully my rust doesn’t show too much and I didn’t make too many mistakes in this game. Of course, if you spot any, do let me know in the comments below. Without further ado, let’s get into the battle report!
Pre-Game Thoughts – I was interested in playing this scenario for a couple of reasons. This is my first attempt at a scenario with sentries which I have always thought sounded like a fun mechanism. The win condition is noteworthy in that the Ruffians need to get 4 of the 6 members involved in this skirmish off the opposite board edge to win and they have unlimited time to do so. 3 Ruffians is enough for a draw and anything less is a loss. The Hobbit scenarios I’ve played make use of turn limits so I look forward to trying a scenario without any time restrictions.
In terms of strategy, I didn’t have a lot worked out for either side like I normally do. The Good Side obviously wants to raise the alarm as early as they can even though that is mostly down to a lucky roll of 5 or higher. After that, they need to take down several ruffians, preferably before Maggot enters the battle because if he shows up late, some of the ruffians may be off the board already. To help make the report easier to follow, I included the image above to help you tell which dog was which.
Sharkey’s boys have three bowmen who won’t shoot well in this scenario (since this takes place at night, a special rule means they only hit on 6’s) so ranged combat is unlikely to be effective. Instead, ganging up on Maggot’s mutts and whipping or clubbing them to death seemed like the best course of action but as I found out, this scenario is a bit unpredictable and plans don’t always work out the way you expect them to.
Battle Report – The game begins with Maggot’s hounds just behind the hedges, ready to patrol the farmland. Fang surged forward to the outskirts of the woods while the other two meandered backwards towards their master’s home. The Ruffians entered the board quietly and split up into pairs to try and slip past the farm.
Farmer Maggot’s side maintained priority but only one dog moved forward and it wasn’t Fang so the Ruffians continued to move through the woods and out into the open.
Sharkey’s lot grabbed priority for the first time. Each Ruffian strode forward confidently with only Fang lurking nearby. Wolf continued to meander in Maggot’s Field after rolling a 1 and moving backwards yet again. Things were looking very good for the Ruffians until Fang caught an unfamiliar scent and surged forward into contact with a Ruffian! The alarm has been raised and Grip ran along the hedge towards the scent of more Ruffians. Fang, clearly surprising the Ruffian in the dark, fatally wounded the hefty troublemaker and just like that, the Farmer Maggot’s mutts had retaken the initiative in the game.
Keeping the momentum, the Good Side took priority back. While Farmer Maggot did not hear the hounds barking, Fang snarled and charged the Ruffian with a bow before he could fire a shot. Grip and Wolf stayed near the hedges to avoid being shot at since all other Ruffians were out of charge range. With the low odds to hit, the bowmen kept a tight hold on their weapons and followed the remaining Ruffians towards the north side of Farmer Maggot’s fields. They needed to escape quickly as the mutts were harassing them more than expected. Winning the duel on a tie of 6, Fang slew the bowmen! It is no wonder hobbit thieves feared Maggot’s dogs! Sharkey’s men couldn’t lose anyone else or a draw would be all they could hope for.
The Evil side gained priority back in what was sure to be a critical turn. A Ruffian with a club charged into the hedge to try and club Grip. The remaining Ruffians surged forward to try and get off the board as quickly as possible. The excited guard dogs finally caught the ears of Farmer Maggot who entered the fields, determined to see off the intruders. To the Ruffian’s horror, Grip dragged another Ruffian down and fatally wounded him. They could now only hope for a draw or to maybe take a few of the annoying dogs down with them!
Sharkey’s boys kept priority and charged Grip to get their revenge! While they could have potentially moved towards Farmer Maggot, they knew his hounds must be stopped first or they would be trapped in Maggot’s fields. Wolf came to Grip’s aid and charged the Ruffian with a whip while Fang loomed dangerously close. The bowmen won the combat but failed to wound Grip. Wolf won his combat but the Ruffian with a whip fended off his claws. The Ruffians were soon to be outnumbered and were clearly intimidated by Maggot’s hounds!
The Good won back priority and each dog charged a Ruffian while Maggot nearly made it into combat this turn. Unsurprisingly considering the tenacity shown thus far, Fang easily dispatched a bowmen and the Ruffians officially lost the game!
Frustrated and determined to get revenge, could the Ruffians harm any of the defenders? Surely enough, Wolf tragically suffered a fatal whipping as the Ruffian cackled with delight. Grip nearly suffered the same fate but survived being struck by a bow by the other foul man.
Farmer Maggot kept the initiative and he and his remaining dogs charged into the Ruffians bent upon revenge. Farmer Maggot cut down one of the remaining Ruffians as the one with a whip started to panic. He fought back Fang in desperation but could not hurt the brave canine.
On the next turn, revenge was finally gained for Wolf who died bravely in defense of Maggot’s farm. Farmer Maggot’s fields remained a haven for hobbits under Sharkey’s cruel reign and the Ruffians learned this is one place they could ill afford to stray!
Post-Game Thoughts – Well that was about as one-sided of a result as I can remember having in MESBG. With the exception of maybe two or three combats, Maggot’s hounds were absolutely lethal not only winning duels but fatally wounding ruffians left and right. I did really enjoyed the narrative of Fang having an absolutely vicious bite that put fear into the Ruffians. I couldn’t help but set-up that cool image of a dog at the edge of the hedges snarling at the incoming Ruffians as well. I would also say that one big advantage of playing solo is that I don’t feel nearly as bad for the Evil Side having a poor game as I would have if I were playing a live opponent. There was very little Sharkey’s men could do to avoid defeat in this game though I do wonder if they should have stayed closer together and tried a little harder not to let Maggot’s hounds charge them. It felt like the Good Side caught some breaks in regards to being able to pick apart the Ruffians one-by-one and that might be due to the tactical decisions (and potential mistakes I made) in this game.
As a scenario, I wouldn’t say this one is full of tactics or has tons of depth but there is enough here to sink your teeth into. I think the randomness will make this one fun to replay as well. It feels like Farmer Maggot and Co. are in trouble if you don’t have good sentry rolls and yet, it suddenly changes and becomes intense once the alarm is raised. While it has some extra rules like Sentry and the penalty to shooting, I think this scenario is a pretty good one for new players. It is fairly quick and not too heavy on tactics. If anything, luck of the dice rolls matter more than usual here and I think any new player would have a good time being in charge of the Good Side here.
I really enjoyed playing this scenario and feel vindicated for spending as much time as I did on the terrain for this one. The board looked great and while the quality of my photos was a bit inconsistent, I think the overall quality of pictures and the “board” come through pretty well. I do wish the lighting in the photos was a bit more consistent but I’m sure that was due to my lack of photography knowledge more than anything else as I use the same light setup that I always use.
I look forward to more Scouring of the Shire scenarios in the future and to eventually playing through the entire campaign. Maggot’s Farm gets a thumbs up from me and is a nice reminder of why I love MESBG.