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Posted 11/05/2017

News from Middle-earth: The Seven Stones 2017 Review

 The Middle-earth™ team’s very own Adam Troke recently had the chance to attend one of the most popular The Hobbit™: Strategy Battle Game tournaments on the UK events scene – The Seven Stones. Adam came back jabbering about what a splendid time it was, so to save our ears, we asked him to write it all down instead.


Adam: The Seven Stones is a doubles ‘tournament’ hosted in Finchley, London by Damian and Tom – a whacky two days of gaming that involves bringing the most thematically beautiful army you can possibly conjure up, and then having it out in a scout hut filled with fellow enthusiasts. On the first day, each team competes in a mini-league and, depending on how well you do on the first day, you’ll end up in one of four ‘knock-out’ tournaments on the second (against players who have armies roughly as competitive as your own). Make sense? Perfect!

This year I attended the event for the second time, partnering with my friend and colleague, Sam Jeffery. Determined to fully embrace the thematic nature of the event, Sam and I decided to paint a brand new Minas Tirith™ force for the weekend, all based around the defence of Minas Tirith in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King™.

My army list consisted of:

Denethor (leader)

4 Guard of the Fountain Court

Adamir*, Knight of the White Tower

12 Warriors of Minas Tirith (with various spears, shields, bows and a single war horn)

Iorlas**, Captain of the Citadel Guard

10 Citadel Guard (some with spears, others with longbows)

Sam’s army consisted of:

Cirion, Lieutenant of Amon Barad

12 Warriors of Minas Tirith (all with spears and shields, except one who has a banner)

Beregond

6 Warriors of Minas Tirith (again, with spears and shields)

Battlecry Trebuchet (with three crew)

The first day of the event was one of epic battles and glorious defeats. Our first game saw the Defenders of Minas Tirith laid low by an Azog’s Legion army that included both the Pale Orc and his spawn, Bolg. Although we did well in the battle, the cunning of our opponents (Bradley and Ben) meant that we were ultimately outmaneuvered. As Azog™ and Bolg celebrated… Denethor and his wounded warriors fell back and consoled themselves with some cake.

Game two went a little better for us, as we faced the Last Alliance-themed force of Ben and Thomas. Raring for a fight, their army came at us in a rush, but some cunning from my team mate Sam (who expertly led the ultra-devastating High King Elendil around by the nose), helped us weather the early stages of the battle.

When the fighting became an endurance competition, the heavy armour of the Minas Tirith warriors won out, supported ably by some vicious and, it must be admitted, super-lucky shots from my bowmen. Victory for us, by the narrowest of margins.

Our third and final battle of day one was against the father and son team of Paul and Jake. Let’s just say they won, choking us out of the running with a vicious army of Dunlendings and Uruk-hai Scouts (and quite a few crossbows into the bargain). You couldn’t have asked for a nicer pair to play a game against though, and as their hordes hacked through our gleaming armoured warriors, we enjoyed a really tactical skirmish.

The second day saw Sam and I playing in the ‘Palantir Mug’ against several teams who had all been similarly battered on day one. As a result of the way day two was structured, all of the teams in our group were designed with narrative over ‘power’. Hilariously, three of the teams in our group had all brought a ‘Defenders of Helm’s Deep’ army, all including Aragorn, Legolas™, Gimli, Haldir and plenty of Elves.

Our first match-up was against one-such Defenders of Helm’s Deep army, controlled by Alan and Ryan (friends of ours from the Nottingham area). As we shared snacks and trash-talked over the table, a bloody battle emerged as Men and Elves fought to control a single central objective. Alan and I ended up skirmishing at the edge of the board, while Sam desperately tried to contain Aragorn and Gimli, who heroically fought their way onto the objective. The casualties were high on both sides, but ultimately our numbers were too much for the Heroes of Helm’s Deep this time around – a ring of silver-clad Warriors of Minas Tirith surrounding Gimli at the end of the battle.

After a spot of lunch, we drew the redoubtable Larry and Chris, who had somehow fought their way through day one using the ever-so-unlikely ‘Flight to the Ford’ army. Including Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Glorfindel, Arwen, Elrond™ and… Bill the Pony. Theirs was an army designed with theme (and not victory) in mind. By this point in the weekend, Bill the Pony and the trail of Hobbits had become the talk of the event, but Denethor’s warriors quickly put an end to all that as we swept them off the board. Yes, we felt mean for killing a little packhorse and a clutch of hapless Hobbits. But Gondor demanded a victory!

And so came the finals of our mini-league, against another Defenders of Helm’s Deep army, this time led by renowned Strategy Battle gamers Dan and James! Their army was glorious to behold, complete with custom objectives and a display board. Our battlefield was something quite special too, with a wide river across the board, spanned by several bridges – and the scenario was a custom seven-objective version of Domination.

The battle was an absolute bloodbath and the river that ran through the centre of the board was quickly awash with corpses as we slowly ground down the Elves wading through it. At last, even our Trebuchet found its mark, crushing their hornblower and allowing us to sweep one of their objectives clear. We won the game and claimed the eponymous Palantir Mug, but most importantly, we had a great game to round off a brilliant weekend of battles.

It’s worth noting that James and Dan also won the event’s Best Themed award, the prize that is roundly considered one of the main reasons for the whole event! They even came in costume (Dan as a Rohan™ Warrior, James as Legolas) – it really couldn’t have been more deserved!

Other awards were given to Callum and James, who won the Palantir Cup (the overall winners of the event), and to Hector and his brother Sylvester who not only dressed up as Gandalf™ for the whole weekend (both of them), but also won by universal acclaim the Most Sporting award!

All that remains is to thank the magnificent Damian and Tom for organising another glorious weekend of fun and friendship! We’ll be back next year to defend our mug…

*: I always try to name one of my heroes in my army after me. It dooms them to ignominy, but it’s fun!

**: Damian and Tom, who run the event, encourage players to come up with great, narrative hooks for their army. With some help from a friend, I converted a Citadel Guard to be the fellow called Iorlas who follows Denethor around in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King™. I even wrote up some homebrew rules for him!

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