Our second battle in the Harondor campaign was fought with two large 200 point armies: Gondor led by Bruce and Phil against Mordor and Harad led by Darryl and Mike respectively.
Bruce took charge of the Gondor Knights this time boosted by the presence of the Prince of Ithilien and his Royal Guard on the left flank. Phil was in charge of the infantry boosted by the Pelargir Citadel Guard and some artillery. Opposite: Mike was in charge of the Haradrim and Darryl the forces of Mordor boosted by some more Uruk Hai and artillery.
The battle began with Gondor advancing steadily, moving artillery onto the hill for a commanding view of the rough ground opposite and the infantry moved in to the buildings (ruined temple by the river). The light infantry rangers placed out of command on the far right did march forwards but then spent most of the game failing to activate.
Mordor attacked by sending in the elephants against the bowmen and spearmen of Gondor. The harad cavalry skirmished with the late knights but this time their armour saved the Knights from injury.
The Trolls (Elephants) took a lot of shots coming in but did manage to close with the enemy. The deep spearmen suffered a double disorder and the loss of their commander but they did manage to heroically kill the Troll. Another Troll faced a barrage of missile fire but was at last brought down by an artillery bolt from the hill. The only hit the artillery scored all game but a crucial one.
The Gondor infantry successfully occupied the buildings as the facing Uruk Hai proved very reluctant to advance. Then when ordered to charge and take the ground they consistently failed to activate with an ace card every time! On the far left flank the Gondor Knights pushed back and destroyed the Harad cavalry. However the Harad commander proved resilient and simply joined his light cavalry. Mike then moved his redoubtable javelinmen over to that flank and held the Knights up even defending against flank attacks before driving a unit off the board in disorder.
On the Gondor far right the Rangers failed to move. Whilst in the centre with the Trolls now dealt with the Gondorians were able to rally their forces just in time before the Morgul Knights charged into contact. Gondor held! The citadel Guard advanced towards hitherto immovable Half Trolls. The foolhardy Gondor infantry attempted to destroy the uruk Hai whom their archers had disordered but were soon sent scurrying back into the buildings in disorder. The Uruk Hai still kept drawing aces though so could not rally and push their advantage.
The Morgul Knights easily pulled back to the safety of the ground behind the hill and planned their next move. With the Knights pushing hard against the Haradrim to his right and his Uruk Hai stubbornly failing to advance on his left the Marshall of Umbar was in no hurry to attack the now rallied Gondor infantry in the centre. So the forces of Harad and Mordor retreated whilst the camel riders and Harad light horse archers held the Knights back long enough. Even the reluctant rangers had advanced in sight of the Uruk Hai but too late to have an effect. So victory was awarded to the forces of Gondor especially the Knights led by Bruce and the Prince of Ithilien.
After the battle we felt the Trolls had once again caused a lot of trouble and delay for the Gondorian infantry, even killing their commander but had failed to make any great impact in terms of destroying units. The Bowmen would probably be better deployed a box ahead of the shieldwall infantry to allow a retire and then swap places as opposed to being in the same box then stuck in front once the enemy close. Also Darryl felt the Harad cavalry wing with a lot of lights would be better deployed broken up and mixed with the infantry rather than attempting to face off against the superior Gondor Knights. The artillery did not really have a huge impact as their fire can easily be drawn towards light units in rough going but they did kill a Troll and save a unit of bowmen which was quite impressive. Artillery in a building (presumably placed on a tower or rooftop) would be even more useful as they can see over intervening troops more easily. The Mordor bolt thrower did not even shoot as it was killed by archers as soon as it was deployed on the hill but it did draw fire away from the Morgul Knights so that was important. Finally we could not work out what the defensive bonus for formed infantry in buildings was though it did not matter because the Uruk Hai never did manage to activate. If they had then they probably would have captured the buildings. Placing formed units out of command in a maze of rough ground is not a good idea as the Rangers found out. All in all another good game of To the Strongest and everyone enjoyed it with Bruce soon capturing the essence of the rules and activation mechanisms.