Forces of Evil

 

The Mouth of Sauron

 

 "A tall and evil shape, mounted upon a black horse… The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man ... his name is remembered in no tale, for he himself had forgotten it."

In the film version of Return of the King, the Mouth of Sauron is a pretty impressive character, even if only for a short time.  In the books a little more is revealed about him though his full details, like those of the Nazgul, are shadowed.  He was a Black Numenorean, and may have been in the service of Sauron for a hundred or even for thousands of years, possibly since the First Age.  We learn that he is the Lieutenant of the Dark Tower and commander of the vast Orc armies of Gorgoroth.  Had evil triumphed in the War of the Ring, it even seems likely that the Mouth of Sauron was to be given control of Isengard.

 The Mouth of Sauron in the Hobbit Strategy Battle Game

In the Strategy Battle Game, the Mouth of Sauron is actually a cost effective, fun model to play.   He costs little more than an Orc Shaman or Orc Captain and can fill the role of both...and with more style! 

With a successful Terrifying Aura cast early in the game (maybe even using his Might to channel it) you can limit the risk of being charged by many enemy forces. Should he be engaged in combat, 2 Attacks and a Fight 4 give him a reasonable chance of success.  If you equip him on his armored horse he becomes even more potent. 

Among his magic abilities he can cast Transfix relatively easily which can give him or an ally a significant advantage in combat. 

Only his 1 Might could be considered his greatest drawback.  Most generic captains have 2 typically so this puts him at a slight disadvantage from that perspective, but for only 60 points ( 75 with his armored horse) he's still a good bargain to bring in a mixed combat/magic Hero.

 The Mouth of Sauron in the War of the Ring

To be added

 

 

Khamul the Easterling

 

Lieutenant of Sauron, Shadow of the East, Commander of the forces of Dol Guldur

 

 

 Khamul is probably my favorite of all the Nazgul.  Except for the Witch King of Angmar, he was the only one given a name and significant background by Tolkien.  He was also the one that took charge of the dark fortress of Dol Guldur when Sauron fled from there back to Mordor and he eventually lead the forces from that stronghold against the Elves of Lothlorien and Mirkwood during the War of the Ring, returning on his Fell Beast to assist with the siege of Gondor.  The cursed stronghold at Dol Guldur, it's influence on Mirkwood and the ongoing struggle of the Wood Elves living there and their eventual break out attacks against the Free Peoples near the end, has been one of my favorite side-stories in Middle Earth once I was old enough to start putting all the pieces together.

 

War Troll of Dol Guldur

 

 

Deep in the southern reaches of Mirkwood can be found the evil fortress of Dol Guldur, once hiding place for Sauron himself and a stronghold of evil far from the borders of Mordor.  It is from here that Sauron massed the forces to launch his assaults on the Elves of Mirkwood and Lothlorien and strike north against the Dwarves of Erebor and the Men that lived in its shadow.

 

Among the varied foul creatures that comprise the forces of Dol Guldur are a detachment of War Trolls.  Smaller in number than the Trolls that accompanied the host of Mordor in its siege on Minas Tirith, they are still a strong part of the force of this dark tower.

 

Sauron, the Necromancer

 

Early in the Third Age of Middle Earth, Sauron began to grow in strength again.  He set up a stronghold in southern Greenwood in a location that came to be known as the Hill of Sorcery, or Dol Guldur.  There he disguised himself as a dark sorcerer known as the Necromancer and hid his true nature even from the Elves that lived in the northern regions of the woods.  He began to draw all foul and evil creatures in the area to his service and in time, his evil polluted the area so fully that the woods themselves were changed and came to be known as Mirkwood.

 

Gandalf suspected the evil dwelling at Dol Guldur was powerful but most in the White Council believed it was a Ringwraith, not suspecting the truth.  When Gandalf learned that Thrain II, father of Thorin Oakenshield, was being held in the dungeons there he stole in.  Unable to save the Dwarf, he was given the key and map that allowed Bilbo and company access to Erebor, but also learned the true nature of the evil that was corrupting the region.

 

Despite the objections of Saruman, who was already falling into darkness, Gandalf convinced the White Council to strike at Dol Guldur.  The Necromancer had warning of their coming (perhaps from Saruman ) and though his forces were defeated, Sauron himself escaped back to Mordor.  The fortress of Dol Guldur also survived and in time was strengthened back to a mighty garrison which helped extend the reach of Mordor until it was utterly destroyed by the armies of Lothlorien and Mirkwood at the close of the War of the Ring.

The model itself is pretty good for one of GW's creations.  When they have something from the films to work from they have done a great job of presenting it.  But when they have used their own imagination they often "run home" to their 40K roots (oversized weapons, lots of skulls, etc.).  Thankfully the Necromancer really looks like an extension of the Nazgul concept of flowing robes with some armor calling out themes of both Sauron from the Second Age (seen in the prequel of Fellowship of the Ring) and the Mouth of Sauron as seen in Return of the King.  Most examples of the model are painted up in the fashion of GW's example which gives the robes a look of ghostly green.  For mine though I wanted him to look closer to his Nazgul servants in appearance.  So I did his robes black with a reverse-highlighting of green glow to the areas where his inner spirit essence may be showing through.  I think I am going to do a little more work on darkening the glowing regions but overall I am happy with him and believe he looks very good next to Khamul and the Castellans.

 The Necromancer in the Hobbit Strategy Battle Game

In the Strategy Battle Game, the Necromancer is a formidable model but typically not the most "cost effective" for a game.  This may change if GW introduces a new or modified profile for his appearance in the Hobbit films.  

Currently he is dangerous in close combat but also wields significant magical power.  He can be worn down in time but with proper support from his forces can be a major power on the table.  

He has the Ancient Evil rule which gives a -1 Courage to all enemy models within 18".  This is a good start to his defense as he is also a Terror causing model meaning any enemy must pass a Courage Test to charge him.  The -1 Courage also helps when your enemy army is broken and you want to see them scatter faster and when you have other Courage based tactics in your force. 

From an offensive perspective, Drain Soul is a very effective rule.  If the Necromancer deals even a single Wound to an enemy model that model will be slain.  This means no matter how many Wounds a model can take as long as it does not avoid a hit with Fate it will be slain.  In some cases there are strong opponents that don't have any Fate but multiple Wounds (Ent, Eagle, Boromir from the Fellowship).  In other cases where the model does have Fate it can often be burned-through via earlier attacks or your opponent may simply fail to make the Fate rolls.  In any situation the fact that you can kill the enemy model immediately without having to deal out large numbers of Wounds is very handy. 

His only real disadvantage in a combat role is the fact that he has only one Attack.  His high Fight and Strength values are great for when he wins the dual roll, but with only one die to cast that's a risk.  It is important to at least have him supported by other models or have a banner near by...or both. 

Beyond his use in melee, the Necromancer is also a very potent magical force.  He has the full staple of "Evil" spells to include Drain Courage, Transfix and Compel (and is almost guaranteed to cast any of them successfully with 2+ and 3+ targets), as well as Sap Will when you want to start wearing down a strong Hero.  He also has Chill Soul which allows you to deal a wound from a distance but the relatively high casting target makes it less attractive unless you're really committed to it with multiple dice.  It should be noted that Drain Soul and Chill Soul do not work together...you can't use the spell to deliver the wound and have it count for the Drain Soul auto-kill.

 The Necromancer in the War of the Ring

In War of the Ring he has even more potential if it were not for one fatal flaw in his profile.  He uses the Hard to Kill ( H2K ) special rule, which I have found from experience is really not very hard to kill at all.  My Wood Elves easily bring down H2K models in a single turn of bow fire, and I've rarely seen one survive more than two combats in melee.  They are also easy prey to many special rule attacks and magic.  The Very Hard To Kill ( VH2K ) rule helps for stronger models by giving the dice a -1 modifier and effectively adding one turn of survivability to most models that have the rule.

Though the Necromancer in WotR has some good special abilities, strong magical power and a reasonable profile (including a high defense and a resilience of 2), that H2K has made me hesitant to play him so far.  I will likely start fielding him as my Dol Guldur army grows a little more, but under 2000 points I believe he is more of a liability than an asset.

 

 

Naneth Fuin, Spider Queen of Dol Guldur

 

"He had picked his way stealthily for some distance, when he noticed a place of dense black shadow ahead of him, black even for that forest, like a patch of midnight that had never been cleared away. As he drew nearer, he saw that it was made by spider-webs one behind and over and tangled with another."

 

In that darkest hallow of the dread and haunted forest of Mirkwood dwell the giant spiders.  Greatest among them are the small number of queen spiders, but an even larger and more deadly horror is rumored to live there as well.  It is said to make its home the caves and tunnels that snake beneath the forest, perhaps even connecting into the dungeons of the dark ruins of Dol Guldur itself.   Among the oldest and most learned Elves of Thranduil's Halls it is believed she is a direct child of Shelob, or perhaps even another of the countless brood of Ungoliant herself though with less of the great demon's blood in her veins.  The Elves of Mirkwood have named this horror, the greatest of all spiders living north of the Ered Lithui, Naneth Fuin, the Dark Mother.