Monday, August 11, 2014

AAR: The Battle of Laketown, LEGO Hobbit style

Continuing my report on using war games during a LEGO: Hobbit summer camp class, the second scenario we played was the "Battle of Laketown".  Please read my "Spiders of Mirkwood" report for more details on this crazy endeavor. 

In the book, Smaug is mad that someone wants to steal his treasure and mistakenly thinks it's the humans at Laketown.  He soars from his mountain and commences to burn the town, which is made of a lot of wood, until Bard the Archer fells him.

In our game, we attempted to recreate this scene, but anyone could bring down the dragon by simply manning the arbalest and rolling well on a d20.

Since you can't destroy Laketown without building it first, I asked each student to build both a building and a boat.  I made the arbalest tower, while my assistant created the "board".  As you can see below, Laketown was built in a circular pattern, with causeways and bridges connecting the various buildings.  The players had to traverse the city, climb the tower that houses the arbalest and bring down Smaug.

Laketown, with Smaug looking on in the distance.

The Rules:  The characters don't have life points in this scenario, which I'll explain the reasoning behind that in a moment.  A player has two actions per character (each player had three chracters): Move and/or attack.  Instead of gridding the map, the characters could move 5", using a 2x16 flat brick as a ruler.  Once inside the town, they could decide where their characters went.  They could even hide within the buildings! 

In the meantime, Smaug flew by once a turn.  His direction was dictated by rolling 2d6 of different colors.  Before rolling, decide which die is the "front" and which is the "back".  When rolled, look at the front die in relation to the back die.  That gives the flight path of Smaug. 

Smaug breathed fire every time he passed over Laketown.  I gathered together all the smaller red, orange and yellow bricks I could find and kept them handy.  When Smaug passed by, the numbers on the direction dice indicated how many of these bricks he "spewed" at the town (with a minimum of six).  I gathered that many bricks in my hand and sprinkled them along Smaug's flight path.  If they landed on or in a building or walkway, then it caught fire.  Two such markers on a causeway caused it to be destroyed.  Three markers destroyed buildings.  Boats attached to these buildings were destroyed as well.  If a character was on a walkway or in a building when it went up in flame, he died.  If a fire marker ended its movement touching a character, he died.  Smaug's fire is HOT!

Killing Smaug wasn't very simple, but it was possible (5% chance).  The players had to roll a '20' on a d20.  This simulated how hard it was to kill Smaug, as he only had one weak spot in his armor to exploit. 

The players start...

A close-up of the action

Almost there...
Where do these stairs go?
They go up...
Firing the arbalest
Laketown is burning!
The adventurers got to the tower, climbed the winding stairs and took turns repeatedly firing the arbalest at Smaug.  Finally, the inevitable happened and Smaug was defeated!
All in all, the game went smoothly, with only a couple of things I'd change if I were to play it again.  The tower steps were too confined and hard for the players to place their minifigs on without knocking things over and generally gorilla fingering things.  I'd make the stairs wider and/or maybe have a couple of arbalest towers in the town.  I also think I'd change how many pieces of "fire" Smaug belches each turn.  It never seemed like the characters were in a lot of danger as they ran through the town to get to the tower.  Maybe double the number of pips on the dice to intensify Smaug's fire?

Regardless, this played out generally like my mind's eye pictured and most of the students seemed to enjoy the experience.

Next up:  The Battle of Five Armies!

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