Thursday, October 26, 2017

Workbench Update: Wood Elves

Good morning gamers,

With THRO 2017 around the bend (and as the planner of that tournament), I was faced with a glaring question: What army do I take? Do I run those Dwarves I love so much? How about Uruk-Hai? Buckets of Goblins? My Spectre-Orc army I've been dying to run? The answer to all of these (though begrudgingly for Dwarves and Goblins) is...

We're going back to Wood Elves.

For those who've followed this blog from the beginning, Wood Elves were the first army I developed: back in the LOME days, where Legolas and Gandalf (later replaced by Galadriel) were all you needed to make a powerful army of light troops work, Wood Elves were my jam (even over those bearded fellows I love so much). In this post, we'll be talking about a few different lists I've been considering and why to take them (particularly with a 150-point limit in mind).

1) The Wood Elf Grand Strategy: Skirmishing

There are three basic types of Elven warriors: High Elves for those who like the ability to get to D6 (and who don't like to be flooded with unit choices - not always a bad thing), Wood Elves for those who don't care about resiliency and want cheap skirmish units, and Galadhrim Warriors who do neither of these things, ;-). While I think there's value to having some D4 archers and D5 melee warriors, in general I think the decision between Rivendell & Eregion armies and Lothlorien & Mirkwood armies is what you want your warrior choices to be/do.

When I first got interested in the hobby, I knew I wanted an Elven army and the one thing that sold Wood Elves to me over High Elves was this: skirmishing potential. Not only can all Wood Elf Warriors use their 3+ shoot value (with Elf bows/throwing daggers), but you can get an all-archery team for less points than the equivalent D6 front-line + D5 archer support from High Elves. This, paired with many, MANY heroes who can shoot can make this team very, VERY deadly in the Shoot phase (and also the Move phase if you're fielding throwing daggers). So...I invested in Wood Elves. A few years, a small handful of Galadhrim, and a few Sentinels later, and my opinion hasn't changed (though I own a small lot of High Elves too, now) - Wood Elves have incredible flexibility and can provide for fun (though difficult) game-play.

2) A Brief Note on 150-Point Lists:

In the upcoming THRO tournament, we're running 150-point lists (with basically no heroes). Normally, your army can do several things (have some crushing units, have a shield-wall, have some archer, have some tactical heroes/units, and have some fast units). In a 150-point list, you'll be lucky if you can do two of these. This requires specialization - and if you tailor your army to do one thing well (or two things decently), you should end each game with a respectable bucket of enemies killed.

With these lists below, it should be noted that in a conventional game (600+ points), you could easily pair up two of these lists and then add some heroes. Each of these lists is going to focus on one (or two) of the emphasis areas noted above, but by pairing them together in a larger game, you can overcome some glaring weaknesses. For each build, I'll note a hero that makes the list better (who, conveniently, usually makes the list work at the 250-point level, if you're looking for quick list-building).

3) Build #1: Archery is Everything

3 Wood Elf Warriors with Wood Elf Spears
8 Wood Elf Warriors with Throwing Daggers
6 Wood Elf Warriors with Elf Bows

17 models, 6 Elf Bows + 8 throwing daggers

This list is pretty simple: basically everyone can shoot. I've chosen here to only include a small contingent of spearmen because for 8 points a model, there's not a lot of reason to leave them behind. While I could have dropped one warrior to give more people throwing daggers, I didn't think it was necessary (plus, let's face it, we want the extra model for when we eventually get caught).

The beauty of using throwing weapons, as mentioned above, is that they enable more of our units (14 out of 17) to be able to use that irresistible 3+ Shoot value that we love in our Elven archers. I could talk all day about how great throwing weapons are, how to use them, and so forth, but I already did. So rather than repeat myself, you can read about it here.

Hero to add: Thranduil. The extra points in a 250-point game could be used to upgrade most of your bowmen to Mirkwood Guard - which is well-worth the upgrade!

4) Build #2: Balanced Build

5 Wood Elf Warriors with Wood Elf Spears
3 Wood Elf Warriors with Throwing Daggers
4 Wood Elf Warriors with Elf Bows
3 Galadhrim Warriors with shields
2 Galadhrim Warriors with Elf bows

17 models, 6 Elf Bows + 3 Throwing Daggers

Wood Elves have one thing going for them: they can get warriors who are Fight 5 with shielding (or spear support) capability for 8 points. And they're Courage 5. This means that if all the guys you buy for melee support have spears, you can field a ton of them for relatively no expense. In the above case, we actually have less shooting potential and less Might than the previous list, though we've added shields and more spears (which can be used for shielding).

Unlike the last list, this army runs a mixture of Galadhrim and Wood Elves - I don't believe in Galadhrim spearmen (Wood Elf Spears are cheaper and support/defend themselves just as well) and paying to be D5 isn't worth it to me. While there are a few shield-toting Galadhrim in the list, I didn't go the whole way and drop the throwing weapons altogether. Instead, the daggers can be used as a small skirmishing band, whose potential shouldn't be underestimated in a small game (every man counts - especially if your opponent has low Courage and no heroes).

Hero to add: Galadriel - if you're looking for a balanced hero, Galadriel is an excellent choice. While she's 130 points (which would mean dropping the throwing dagger units and the shields on the Galadhrim in a 250-point game), she provides tactical support for your list that can supplement your other units. If the cost is too much for you, any hero would probably help (Thranduil, as mentioned above, is an excellent choice).

5) Build #3: Semi-Heroic Build

10 Wood Elf Warriors with Wood Elf Spears
5 Wood Elf Warriors with Elf Bows
1 Wood Elf Sentinel

16 models, 6 Elf Bows

This list drops the throwing weapons altogether, has 1 fewer model than the previous lists, but gives you a Wood Elf Sentinel. Sentinels are powerful in small games because 1) they have Elven Cloaks (making them hard to hit) and 2) because they have 2 attacks (3 attacks when supported by a spear...which you have plenty of). Multi-attack models who are facing single models tend to win their fights, which means they don't die. Sentinels also have quasi-magical abilities, which can make you cause Terror (huge in games where your foes have low Courage and no shamans), make a friendly unit pass a Courage test (I'll take that spear-support again, thanks), and make enemies perform moves (yeah, don't shoot that crossbow at my friends this turn, okay?). All of this (along with an Elf bow) makes a Sentinel kinda like a hero (and equally-costed to the heroes that are likely to show up at the tournament - except without Might/Will/Fate).

Hero to add: Legolas with armor - come on, you didn't think we'd have a list where he didn't show up, right? With 5 extra points, you can swap out 5 of your Wood Elf Spears with throwing daggers, or take Galadhrim shield troops instead (whichever floats your boat).

5) Build #3: Very Heroic Build

6 Wood Elf Warriors with Wood Elf Spears
2 Wood Elf Warriors with Throwing Daggers
1 Wood Elf Warriors with Elf Bows
3 Wood Elf Sentinels

12 models, 4 Elf Bows + 2 Throwing Daggers

This list has (understandably) fewer units than the other lists. I'm not sure it's that competitive, but for the sake of the trade-space, I need to mention it. Half of your models can shoot (which is pretty good) and the rest have spears for supporting your troops in fights (or fending off the ranks while you carve up pieces of it at a time). Everyone is D3, so you're very vulnerable to damage if you lose a fight, so this list (unlike all the others) needs to be careful. While you've upped the number of Sentinels you have, Sentinels are squishy, so don't be reckless with them. Their ability to make sure that low Courage spearmen aren't able to participate in fights (or Trolls...or Wargs...or banners) can give you very powerful benefits, so don't underestimate them!

Hero to add: Haldir with Elf bow. I haven't written much on Haldir, but this battle report says some about him. Haldir is basically a cheaper, less-good version of Legolas - given the choice, you want Legolas. However, when your model count is tiny (thanks to all those Sentinels), it's good to go a little cheaper on the hero so you can add 3 more units (two spears and an Elf bow). Some people like the Helms Deep version of Haldir (that one will give you armor for free), but I prefer the double-shot with archery vs. the melee bonuses that come from that Haldir - you don't want to engage in melee with this list if it can be avoided...

Not sure which one I'll be running, but I've decided to make the decision this weekend, so until then, happy hobbying!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Announcing TMAT's THRO 2017: A Red Sun Rises!

After nearly a year-long hiatus, good morning gamers,

It is my great pleasure to announce the sixth annual THRO tournament! The purpose of this tournament, like previous THROs, is to try new things and this year we will be doing something radically different from previous touranments. The tournament will be held at Patrick Henry College on November 11, 2017. For this year's tournament, we're experimenting with tiny lists, one scenario type, and basically no hero options. 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 "A Red Sun Rises" - 
for reasons that will be made clear in #3 below, you are not allowed to have any ally contingents in your list. Pick a list and stick to that.

3) Thou Shalt Honor Thy Lists And Alliances

All armies shall be worth no more than 150 points. No hero may be taken that costs more than 40 points. 
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.

4) Thou Shalt Know The Scenarios

All scenarios are "Early Sortie" scenarios, with armies deploying within 6" of their board edge. The game ends when one army is reduced to 25% of its starting force. When the came concludes, the following points will be awarded:

  • 1 Victory Point for every 10 points of enemy models killed (rounding up);
  • 2 Victory Points if a banner is alive at the end of the game;
5) Thou Art Not Remarkable

Unlike previous tournaments, there are no remarkable achievements this tournament. This has been done primarily for the sake of time and to make introducing the hobby to new players easier.

6) Thou Shalt Have No Oaths

Unlike previous tournaments, there are no oaths this tournament. This has been done primarily for the sake of time and to make introducing the hobby to new players easier.

7) Thou Shalt Not Take All Day

All games will have a maximum time cap of 30 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 0 Victory Points for the round. Between rounds there will be 15 minutes to finish the round, determine the standings, move to the next table, and take necessary breaks.

8) Thou Shalt Fight In Middle-Earth

Players who have built terrain for a thematic board (24" x 24") 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 - 10:30am - ROUND 1
  • 10:45am - 11:15am - ROUND 2
  • 11:30am - 12:00pm - ROUND 3
  • 12:00pm - 1:00pm - Lunch
  • 1:00pm - 1:30pm - ROUND 4
  • 1:45pm - 2:15pm - ROUND 5
  • 2:30pm - 3:00pm - OUTROUNDS, ROUND 1
  • 3:15pm - 3:45pm - OUTROUNDS, ROUND 2
  • 4:00pm - 5:00pm - Tournament Score Summary and Clean-Up
Looking forward to see the armies that participate!


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!