Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Workbench Report #2017-1: In Which We Are Not Dead

Happy 2017 gamers!
I find myself alone most Tuesday evenings with my wife hanging out with friends and I took a look at the blog and realized a great travesty: 6 posts came from this blog last year. I know what you’re thinking – how in the WORLD did you only get up 6 posts (and not all of them were yours)! Where were you last year!?!?!?
The answer is quite simple: the workbench has been far from empty – it just hasn’t seen much LOTR stuff. While I will go into great detail as to what we were doing last year, I’ve decided first to show you:
Behold! The great Highborn Elves in all their glory!
In 2016, my capital investment team (aka me while driving in the car to/from work) had many meetings with my fellow board members (aka, me while driving in the car to/from work) about what we wanted to buy during the course of 2016. We plan things out two in advance and then adjust for trends as we deem fit. In our case, we planned 2016 to include the following purchases: 1 blister Warg Riders, 1 blister Uruk Scouts, 1 blister Wood Elves, 1 blister High Elves + Numenor. As we began thinking about what we actually wanted/needed, we came across a different plan: finish our Warhammer army. Why? In a word: Ninth-Age.
For those unfamiliar with what’s been happening in the Games Workshop cosmos, our beloved Warhammer Fantasy 8th Edition got shelved in favor of Age of Sigmar. Most of the competitive armies (and the entire meta) got dumped for a new system that’s more squad/hero-oriented instead of large army block-oriented. This got a large group of WHF fans miffed, so a handful of our great heroes of the game decided to petition for (and were granted) permission to create “The Ninth Age,” which is either the step-daughter or pretty niece of WHF 8th Edition.
Citizen Spears/Sea Guard (can't decide) on the left, Flame Wardens on the right - none of these are the original GW models...
Two big improvements came from the dawn of the Ninth Age: first, all rulebooks are available free online. Second, there aren’t standardized models anymore – just base sizes. I had no interest in dropping ~$100 for a basic unit of 20 Phoenix Guard during 8th Edition, but in Ninth Age, I was able to buy models that were roughly $1/model. Really changes the game for investment planning!
So, why didn’t I post any of this last year? Because that’s not what this blog is for. This is not a Ninth Age blog and it’s not going to become one. Why do I bring up all this now? Because the purchases we made for Ninth Age had an impact on our LOTR collection in two big ways:

First, we took Dunlendings to a tournament this year. No picture today - more on that next week. At THRO 2016, we did a Rohan vs. Isengard tournament (pictures going up next week, know it’s really late, been really busy, more excuses than I can write, yada-yada-yada). At that tournament, we tested out whether Dunlendings are worth it – questionable whether getting MORE S4 units against a predominately D5 civ is even valuable, but I did like them (and thematically, since I brought Thrydan, I needed to bring at least some Dunland units). The models you see here are taken from the Saxon Thegn set distributed by Warlord Games. They’re really good and can be used easily for Dunlendings or Rohan guys. You could probably use them for other things to, but those would be the most obvious conversions (since they come with rounded shields and ringmail armor). But as great as these guys were/are, they’re not the biggest reason for the purchases we did…
It's amazing how much stronger a list can be when it has basic alternate gear options available...
As you may have noticed last year (not that we talked about anything that much), we started working on a Numenorian contingent for our High Elf army. I don’t like armies that have all High Elf models because they’re expensive – really expensive. I was toying (and still kinda am) with converting up all my Numenorian warriors into Warriors of Arnor, but have decided for the now to just stick with a Numenor contingent. Just getting warriors with shields doesn’t do much for your army resiliency, but giving them spears/bows (thanks to a 'bows and bills' set from the War of the Roses) is a great way to add a little umph to your army.
The bows got new hands, spearmen sometimes got new hands (but most lost their entire forearm) - can't tell, huh?
What I really like about the Saxon Thegn army is that all of the warriors can be equipped with spears. Since I knew I wanted a few that didn’t have spears, I had a bunch of extras (and still do) to give to my Numenorians. While these guys might all see spears entering their converted arms soon, for now I converted up 6 as spearmen. What you might not know is that the entire forearm of these converted guys is borrowed from the Thegn model arm…looks pretty minted, though, right? Yeah, I’m proud of that. J

Ultimately, it’s pride in our work that makes the hobby what it is – hence the repeat of the quote of the month. We’ll be doing hobby work every Tuesday (and some other days as is convenient), and when those are LOTR-based, we’ll let you know in this space. I should warn you: 2017 and 2018 are currently pegged as Star Wars Imperial Assault years – we’re getting the core set soon, have a few of the support blisters already, and my kids want the new Rancor, so we’ll be busy. J I've also been asked (along with my good buddy Glenstorm) to join the FFG forums contributor Rythbryt at a new blog dedicated to talking all things SWIA - the blog is called Wretched Hive (if ya don't get the reference, you need to re-watch A New Hope, :-) ). While new models will probably not be flowing into this hobby, we’ve got plenty of painting/basing/terrain-ing to do to provide content here. Until next time, have a great start to your year and happy hobbying!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Announcing TMAT's THRO 2016 - Battle for the Mark!

Good morning gamers,

It is my great pleasure to announce the fifth annual THRO tournament! The purpose of this tournament, like previous THROs, is to try new things and (and less on gaining prestige). The tournament will be held at Patrick Henry College on November 12, 2016. For this year's tournament, we're experimenting with a few new things: smaller lists, basically one scenario type, and limited army choices. Without further ado, here are (in my typical style) the Ten Commandments of the Tournament (Rules):

1) Thou Shalt Understand The Canon

The ruleset from the One Rulebook (ORB) and warbands sourcebooks will preside over this tournament, as well as the "House Rules" section on the TMAT website. Errata and FAQs on the GW website for the sourcebooks and rulebooks (both the ORB and the new Hobbit rulebook) will apply, so far as they explain the sources above or explain scenario scoring rules. When in doubt, the ORB reigns supreme.

2) Thou Shalt Honor Thy Alliance

This years tournament is themed "Battle for the Mark" - half of the participants in this tournament will play on the side of "Rohan." Available army lists include:

  • Legions - Theoden's Hosts;
  • Legions - Lothlorien (may only take Haldir (Defender of Helm's Deep version only), Rumil, and Galadhrim Captains as heroes; may only take Galadhrim Warriors as warriors);
  • Legions - Fangorn;
  • Legions - The Fellowship of the Ring (may only take Gandalf the White, Aragorn/Strider, Legolas, Gimli, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Peregrin Took);
  • Warbands - The Kingdom of Rohan (cannot take Eorl the Young);
  • Warbands - Lothlorien & Mirkwood (see previous Lothlorien entry);
  • Warbands - Wanderers in the Wild (may only take Treebeard and Ents); and
  • Warbands - The Fellowship (see previous Fellowship entry).
The other half of the participants in this tournament will play on the side of "Isengard." Available army lists include:
  • Legions - Isengard Raiders;
  • Legions - White Hand of Isengard;
  • Legions - Dunland; and
  • Warbands - Isengard (cannot take Sharkey and Worm or Ruffians).
Note: For our Rohan players, remember that Riders of Rohan taken from any of the "Legions" army lists do count towards your army's bow limit. Riders of Rohan taken from the "Kingdom of Rohan" warbands list do not count...

Important: at the end of the tournament, the total battle points (2-10 scored per round, see #4 below) across the alliance will determine which side wins (with greatest among equals determined, of course).

3) Thou Shalt Honor Thy Lists And Alliances

All armies shall be worth no more than 400 points. Any army using the adapted Legions of Middle Earth rules (instead of the new Warband schema) must include a hero/heroes whose cumulatively worth is at least 120 points. Each army is allowed to take only one named hero (unless that hero comes from the Fellowship of the Ring). In addition, there can be only one copy of each named hero across the alliance (e.g. only one Rohan army can have Eomer).
    Once a list is submitted on this blog, it may not be edited based on the opponents it faces. The army brought to the tournament must reflect the army lists provided on this blog. For the purposes of this tournament only, players are allowed to use models for a named hero they possess that has already been claimed in another player's army post to substitute for a different named hero. For example, if the first Rohan player chooses Eomer as his named hero, another player who intends to play on the Rohan alliance may use his Eomer model to represent Theodred. Players are encouraged to procure/borrow the models from other players if they can, but aren't going to be penalized for leaving a perfectly good model at home (especially if they would have brought that hero normally).

    4) Thou Shalt Know The Scenarios

    This tournament will pit Rohan armies against Isengard armies (good vs. evil). All scenarios are "To The Death" scenarios, with armies deploying within 18" of a corner, instead of the normal deployment rules. After each scenario is scored, the following Battle Points will be awarded:
    • Major victory (10 pts): awarded if one army scores at least twice as many scenario points as his opponent.
    • Minor victory (8 pts): awarded if one army scores more scenario points but less than twice as many points as his opponent.
    • Draw (6 pts): awarded if an army scores the same number of scenario points as his opponent.
    • Minor loss (4 pts): awarded if an army's opponent receives a minor victory.
    • Major loss (2 pts): awarded if an army's opponent receives a major victory.
    The rules for To The Death are provided below - note that each table has a different special rule for how to accumulate more victory points:
    • To The Death: armies roll to deploy within 18" of their starting corner. The game ends when one army is reduced to 25% of its starting force. Points are scored if there is at least one friendly banner alive at the end of the game (+2), killing the enemy army leader (+2 points), if the enemy is broken (+3 or +5 if enemy is broken and own army is not broken), and if the enemy was reduced to 25% by the end of the game (+1).
      • Table A Special Rule - Hold the Ford: the center objective on the map is an important ford at a river in Rohan. Any model may attempt (as allowed) to leap over the river, following normal rules. Fords in the river count as difficult terrain but otherwise have no other penalties. Models who choose not to jump the river (or can't) are allowed to enter the river just enough to get their base fully in the water. At the start of each turn, any model that is in the river (not a ford) rolls for footing: if the roll is failed, the model is knocked to the ground. At the end of the game, each side gains +1 point for each model it has in the river (fords included).
      • Table B Special Rule - Storm the Camp: the starting corners for each army will be one of two small outposts. Each outpost will have two palisade wall sections and a gate of sorts. Gates are open and can never be shut. Palisade walls can be jumped or climbed over (following normal rules). Any model that is on the rampart of the palisade is treated as if in base contact with the wall. If a model is on the rampart but identified as not in base contact with the palisade wall must slide to the bottom of the hill. At the end of the game, each side gains +1 point for each model it has in the opponent's camp.
      • Table C Special Rule - Celebrity Bash: okay, this one isn't LOTR themed, but we're going to have fun with it. :) In the center of the map will be a picture of a celebrity. Its Defense and Health will be listed on the picture. One side may defeat this celebrity - if they do, they gain 2 points and the picture is flipped over. The other side may now beat this other celebrity - if they do, they gain 1 point and the celebrity flips again. Any player may beat the first celebrity - this goes on and on and on until the game ends.
      • Table D Special Rule - Where The Wild Things Are: all four corners of the map will have a warg pit, each with 2 Wild Wargs. After each side rolls for priority, the player who lost priority can move the wargs up to 6" away from their lair (or 12" away if it can charge someone) and must charge the nearest enemy model, if possible (no matter who controls it). Each army gains +1 point for each Wild Warg it slays.
      • Table E Special Rule - Raise the Standard: at the end of the game, any side with at least one banner remaining gains +4 points (instead of +2).
    5) Thou Shalt Recognize Remarkable Achievements

    Players may attempt to complete any of the following achievements during a game: upon completion, each will add 0.5 Battle Points. Each achievement may only be scored once per game and a max of three achievements can be scored in any game. Players will receive 2.5 Battle Points if all five are successfully scored over the course of the tournament:

    Slayer of Foes
    : a hero kills at least 5 units, the sum of whose points is equal to or greater than his own.
    Valiant Heart: any units in the army successfully pass three courage tests on the roll of a "natural 10+" (i.e. the sum of the two dice rolled for the courage test is 10 or more). These courage tests could be to charge models with terror, staying in combat after the army is broken, or because of a special rule (i.e. the Horn of Gondor rule).
    Cowardly Scum: a hero fails a Courage test to remain on the field after his army is broken on the roll of "snake eyes" (sum of 2 on the dice).
    Rotten Luck: a hero is dealt enough wounds in a single round equal to his Wounds and Fate points.
    Loved by the Valar: a hero successfully passes a Fate roll on a "natural 6".

    Tournament Director's Note: The kudos for this tournament are designed to be hard to achieve (though not unrealistic) but quantifiable to remove some of this subjectivity. They are also thematic: the "slayer of foes" is the traditional "I can kill my points worth of units" deed, the Valiant Heart/Cowardly Scum rules reward very successful (or very unsuccessful) Courage rolls, and Rotten Luck/Loved by the Valar reward overwhelmingly awful/incredible Fate rolls made by models with more than 1 Fate point (needs to be hard to get, guys).
    6) Thou Shalt Attempt To Keep Thy Oaths

    For each game, after deployment, select 1 Oath not previously sworn and announce it to your opponent. If both players achieve their oath, each scores 1 Battle Point; if neither player achieves their oath, each scores 0 Battle Points; if only one player achieves his oath, that player scores 2 Battle Points.

    Blood-sworn Enemy: Choose an enemy hero - he is your arch enemy and they must die before the end of the game
    Future King: Your army leader must continue to lead his force at the end of the game, neither slain nor "heroically departed".
    Chivalry in Battle: Your army leader must fight the enemy leader in close combat for at least one round and survive. Your army leader may not use the shielding rules in this effort.
    Line in the Sand: Nominate a piece of terrain within 12" of your opponent's board edge (or place a marker if there is no suitable terrain). Your leader must end its move within 3" of it at least once during the game.
    Battle Prowess: Your army leader must kill more models than your opponent's army leader.

    7) Thou Shalt Not Take All Day

    All games will have a maximum time cap of 60 minutes. Time will be displayed visually for all games and will only be stopped in the event of a "red flag" being thrown. A red flag will be thrown when two players cannot agree on a rule (line of sight, special rules for a unit, etc.), in which case all fights will stop and the other competitors will mediate what the proper ruling is. If a resolution is still not met due to an even number of players voting evenly on the issue, a dice will be cast by one of the competitors not playing in that particular game to determine what the rule is for that game. Should the time limit elapse without the victory conditions being met, the current round will be played and then the game will end. Any player found intentionally stalling the game to make time run out will be awarded a major loss as indicated in Rule 4 above. Between rounds there will be 15 minutes to finish the round, determine the standings, move to the next table, and answer "the call of the wild."

    8) Thou Shalt Fight In Middle-Earth

    Players who have built terrain for a particular Rohan/Isengard-themed board (36" x 36") are encouraged to bring their boards to be used in the tournament. Players should use their best judgment when building their maps to ensure that armies are able to maneuver the map within the time constraints (e.g. having too many walls, doors that must be battered down, difficult terrain, etc. can make a game more tedious than interesting). If more boards are supplied than are needed for the tournament, priority will be given to those posted first.
    9) Thou Shalt Be Gentlemen

    Players must be courteous to their opponents and play these games in the spirit of good fun. Should a player conduct himself in a manner which destroys the fun atmosphere of the tournament, a red flag will be thrown and depending on the severity of the infraction, the player may be issued a warning against future infraction, forfeit the game, or be dismissed from the tournament.

    10) Thou Shalt Not Be Late
    Players who are bringing terrain to the tournament must arrive by 9:15am to set up the tables and register their armies. All other players must arrive by 9:30am in order to get preliminary check-in requirements, set up their armies at their tables, and fellowship with other players. All armies need to have a sheet of paper that provides their complete army list (with profiles), along with necessary unit-count information (total units in the army, how many units are to be lost when the army is broken, and how many units must be lost to be reduced to 25%). The tournament will follow this schedule:
    • 10:00am - 11:00am - ROUND 1
    • 11:15am - 12:15pm - ROUND 2
    • 12:15pm - 1:30pm - Lunch
    • 1:30pm - 2:30pm - ROUND 3
    • 2:45pm - 3:45pm - ROUND 4
    • 3:45pm - 5:00pm - Tournament Score Summary and Clean-Up
    Looking forward to see the armies that participate!


    Tuesday, April 26, 2016

    TMAT 2016 Preview: The Army of the Dead

    Hey Reader!

    Also been a long time since I last posted - between working full-time (with growing responsibilities as I train a mostly green team, including my boss), starting up a small business, and blogging for the aforementioned small business - on top of normal life - it's been a whirlwind of excitement around the How, :)  But the Forge has been busy with a brand new army for the upcoming TMAT GT, and I'm super excited about it!

    In retrospect, I don't think anyone (except maybe Tiberius - I was chatting with him about it when I was adding the wash) that I even owned models for the army, so when I posted on the blog I got a few responses of, "Wow: you own Army of the Dead models?"  And I was like, "...oh yeah: I haven't show you guys these."

    So I decided to do a post (much in the same style as the post Tiberius put up, which you can find here), highlighting my army for the tournament.  So with no further ado, my Fiefdoms army...

    1.  High Concept: The Fiefdoms of Gondor

    I've seen a few people in our gaming group play Fiefdoms, but to date it has been exclusively 1) Dol Amroth men-at-arms, knights, and men-at-arms (which, for the record, are good units for what they are designed to do), and 2) as an ancillary squadron to a Gondor army.

    Honestly, I've always liked the Fiefdoms list - Clansmen of Lamedon are among the cheapest F4 S4 2-hander troops you can purchase (only 8 pts/model, yo!), and with a ranger-style archer option and a mix of heavy infantry and heavy cav, they've got their bases covered.

    What's more, their heroes have some flesh and color to them: they all offer something useful to the list.  Now we won't do the breakdown here (I'll save that for a post series someday), but for now just know that the Fiefdoms army can do well more than just a heavy infantry block supported by cavalry, which is what we have seen to date from them.

    My army is an attempt to showcase some of that versatility.  It uses a small troop of rangers (still not sold on them being better than Rangers of Arnor, but they'll do in a pinch), a small detachment of Clansmen of Lamedon (because I try not to go anywhere without a 2Her nowadays - good for cracking a D6 wall, especially if it's a S4 2Her), and 19 (yes, 19) Warriors of the Dead.

    The army is still very one-dimensional (it's designed to run up into your face and wreck your lines), but it does it in uncommon ways.  Let's take a look at how it does this.

    2.  Unit Choices: Heroes and Warriors

    Leading the army is Angbor the Fearless, the old guy in front of the other five Clansmen, who not only lends a 2-hander to the army, but also allows Clansmen within 6" of him to treat him as a banner (because you know me: I don't go anywhere without a banner re-roll).  The Clansmen are not only F4 (like Angbor), but they also boast Courage 5, allowing them to be reliable charging units against models that cause Terror.

    Next to them you see a small detachment of Warriors of the Dead with shields, which add two essential traits to the force.  Since these bad boys start at D7 as their base profile, adding the shields brings them to D8, so that S4 models wound them on 6s (effective neutralizing of a lot of Forces of Good power heroes), S3 models wound on 6/4+ (so elven archery gets dicey against their ranks, as do basic infantry), and S2 models (i.e., most archers) are wound on 6/5+ against these boys.  With them comprising over half the army, it also means you have to kill at least a few of them in order to break the army, and with them outnumbering the softer Clansmen almost 3:1, we should have ample protection from non-volley archery.

    But these boys aren't just tanks - they're powerful killers.  Because they wound targets on Courage Value instead of Defense, most models - even if elves are in the mix - will be wounded on 5s or better.  This means that we should be looking at high damage output, even against heavily armored opponents, with minimal casualties.

    We also have a small troop of Blackroot Vale Archers.  I've had these Dunedain models for a long time, and I've just never used them because frankly I love the poses for the Rangers of Middle Earth better, :P  So as I was painting up a spare Aragorn model as Duinhir (who almost made the cut for my army), I was like, "Eh, I might as well try these guys out."  So I grabbed these models, changed up the color scheme to a brown coat + blue jerkin (to look more like Gondorians), and have added them to my force.

    We'll see if I use them again - I have my reservations on these guys (C2 is hard to overcome), but it's archery, and I need that to support the main body, :P  Not to mention they get to re-roll to-wound rolls against monsters, which could be useful in a pinch.


    All in all, the more I look at this list the more I think of it like a large club: it's very one-dimensional, very predictable, but the one thing it does it's pretty good at, :)  I look forward to seeing how these guys work at the tournament!  Should be a lot of fun, win or lose!  Until next time, you know where to find me,

    Watching the stars,


    "Firenze!  What are you doing?  You have a human on your back!  Have you no shame?  Are you a common mule?" ~ Bane, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone