Sunday, July 10, 2011

Clash of Piquets: The Fist of Isengard vs. ... The Fellowship?

So my longest-standing Good force "army" has been the Fellowship of the Ring. For a good 3 months, they were my only Good units, though they were soon joined by a good-sized company of Dwarves and Elves. I noticed, after my friend Zorro said I should show the records of my armies, that I never really fought battles with my fellowship, and so today, I'm seeking to remedy that. To assist me in this, I've asked my good friend Gaius to take an army to play with...and with a wicked grin on his face, he said two words: "Uruks, dude." are the forces.

The Fellowship of the Ring: 500 points

Aragorn/Strider with bow - 180 points
Boromir of Gondor - 105 points
Meriadoc Brandybuck - 10 points
Peregrin Took - 10 points
Legolas of Mirkwood with armor and Elven cloak - 105 points
Gimli, Son of Gloin - 90 points

6 units, 5 units capable of making ranged attacks of various sorts, 6 heroes

The Fist of Isengard: 499 points

Uruk-Hai Captain with shield and heavy armor - 60 points
Uruk-Hai Captain with crossbow and heavy armor - 60 points
18 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields - 180 points
16 Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes - 160 points
1 Uruk-Hai Warrior with banner - 39 points

37 units, 1 crossbow, 2 heroes

The scenario we will be playing is a Clash of Piquets game on a board that is 24" long by 24" wide. In this game, half of each force (rounded up) is deployed at the beginning of the game. All units must be deployed between 6" and 10" from their board edge. At the end of each player's Move phase, the player will roll to see whether the rest of his units enter the battle. On the roll of a 4+, the unit arrives anywhere on the player's board edge. If one side is broken at the start of the End phase, all of the units of that force will flee the field, leaving the other force as the winner. If both forces are broken during the same turn, the game is a draw. To be clear, three of the Fellowship heroes must die, while 19 Uruks must be killed on the other side. With this in mind, here are the forces and the map, and the map we will play on:

Fellowship Deployment: Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli
Fellowship Reserves: Boromir, Merry, and Pippin.
Uruk-Hai Deployment: Uruk-Hai Captain with shield, 9 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields, 8 Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes, Uruk-Hai Warrior with banner.
Uruk-Hai Reserves: Uruk-Hai Captain with crossbow, 9 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields, 8 Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes.
This map simulates the ground near Amon-Hen and some of the grassy plains of the Rhovanion region: a ruin fashioned after teh great combat locale of Amon-Hen has been set up and will probably serve as a valuable vantage point for the few archers in this game. A few sets of trees and some hills are scattered on the field, but the rest of is flat ground strewn with rocks and various logs. The characters in play (at least for the Fellowship) are accurate to the story (or movie at least): six of the Fellowship will fight to the death and are opposed by Uruk-Hai (heavily armored this time) and opposed by an Uruk captain (this time armed with a crossbow). We rolled to determine who gets to choose either placement or priority, and the roll went to the Uruks, who chose to place first, giving the Fellowship priority during the first round.

Turn 1: Taking Ground (Priority - Fellowship)

Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, move to get a better vantage point. I've staked out the side of the map without the trees on my side, hoping to get to the defensible part of the woods. Boromir and Merry arrive, and are placed on the board edge. The Uruks split into two groups: one to tie down Aragorn and company, while the others rush towards the opposing board edge, where Boromir just showed up. No doubt, their intention is to kill off the reinforcements before they meet up with the more adept heroes (no slight to Boromir intended). 10 Uruks join the frey on their board edge, while the captain and seven others fail to arrive.
During the Shoot phase, Gimli fails to hit his target with his throwing axe, but the two keen archers of the fellowship slay 3 Uruks as they try to advance (Aragorn used a free Might point to hit his target, but on all other counts, the kills were flawless, each rolling a 6 to wound his foe).
Kill count: Fellowship 3/19, Uruks 0/3.

Turn 2: Tactical Withdrawal (P - Fellowship)

The Fellowship moves to tactically consolidate its forces, including moving Gimli out of view of his nearby Uruk companions, so that he cannot be charged by them. Pippen arrives in the back corner of map, safe from the oncoming storms of Uruk-Hai. All but 2 of the Uruks arrive this turn, and they are quickly making a pincher move towards the Fellowship.
In the Shoot phase, the same story happens, except this time the two kills of the round go to Gimli and Legolas (Aragorn was fiddling with his bow or something). With the arrival of the Uruk Crossbow captain, the hobbits must move towards the safety of the log, instead of the board edge...and all hope of getting to the woods is now officially over, thanks to the arrival of a fresh block of troops.
Kill count: Fellowship 5/19, Uruks 0/3.

Turn 3: Skill of Arms is Tested (P - Uruk-Hai)

The Uruks engage the three melee heroes and start to press Legolas. Merry (hard to see in this shot) climbs over the log to get between Legolas and an advancing Uruk (doesn't engage him, but is ready to). Pippen lacks the speed to get to the log in time to climb it this turn, but he's taking cover behind it now.
In the Shoot phase, the Uruk commander misses Aragorn completely (risking his own comrade in the process), but Legolas sends two arrows into the Uruk who is supporting the Uruk Aragorn is facing. This should make a heroic combat rather easy to win, don't you think?
In the Fight phase, you probably wouldn't be surprised to hear there are 3 heroic combats: one by each stellar hero. Boromir wins his fight easily and pays another Might point (second of six) to wound his opponent. Aragorn beats his opponent down and guts him easily (no Might needed). Gimli beats his opponents easily enough, but pays both of his remaining Might points to kill the guy he was fighting (ouch). All three continue moving on to fight other villains... of the Uruks fighting Boromir passed his courage test to keep fighting and Boromir paid 2 Might points to win his fight and paid yet another Might point (1 left) to kill both of the guys he was fighting. Gimli wins his fight with his two-handed axe and makes two large gashes in the face of the Uruk he's fighting. Aragorn, taking an ambitious swing at the upcoming regiment of Uruk-Hai, not only fends of their pike support, but also pays 1 Might point to cut through the two Uruks he engaged.

Kill count: Fellowship 14/19, Uruks 0/3. Though this is looking undoubtedly good for the Fellowship, two of their stellar melee heroes are out (or nearly out) of Might points. Hopefully their success will last for one more good turn.

Turn 4: Weariness Sets In (P - Fellowship)

So, with one more turn of priority, the Fellowship heroes carefully select their targets and being to clean up the Uruk-Hai. The Uruks try to isolate a few heroes that they hope to beat. The Shoot phase had nothing interesting happen (except that Merry threw a rock at an approaching Uruk, hitting him square in the chest, but his rock bounced harmlessly off his plate armor).
This time it was Legolas who called a heroic combat (1 Might left), and he easily beat and killed his opponent, stabbing both of his daggers in the neck of the Uruk he was fighting. Given a tough choice as to which unit to charge, he decided to take on one of the Uruk pikemen who was fighting Boromir. You can see the Uruk who Merry threw the rock at in this picture by the way...he's the one going head-on towards the halfling.
Legolas's help was gladly welcomed, as Boromir blew his great horn. The Uruk-Hai Captain used his 1 Will point to pass his courage test and kept himself and a friendly pikeman fighting against the great warrior of Gondor. Each hero paid a Might point to try to win the fight, but Boromir's lack of one more point of Might kept him from winning the battle. The captain then proceeded to take a great swing towards Boromir...and on the three dice that he and his comrade rolled, they ended up rolling 3 twos...bummer. Legolas beat his opponent, but failed to wound him as well. Gimli, taking on 3 Uruks, won his fight easily, but also failed to wound...what's the problem, guys?!?
If any hero in this army is going to kill his opponents, it's going to be Aragorn...and he did. He won his fight without paying his free Might point and succeeded in killing both of his foes without using his free might point. So...he promoted the third dice to do a finishing blow "stab-in-the-chest" against one of the Uruks that he just slew. It felt good...
Kill count: Fellowship 17/19, Uruks 0/3. The Fellowship is 2 kills away from shutting out the Uruk-Hai...

Turn 5: Sadness and Hope (P - Fellowship)

Ok, at this point, the Uruks are forced to play a defensive game, because the members of the Fellowship are calling the shots. However...the Uruks succeeded in the preceding four turns to draw the fellowship out and spread themselves thin, allowing (as you will see) access to the vulnerable halflings.
In the Shoot phase, the Uruk captain shot at Pippen...and hit him...and wounded him! BUT...Pippen saved the wound with his Fate point. WHEW!
Pardon the blurriness. In the Fight phase, Gimli loses his fight, but dodges the blows of his oppressors. Legolas wins his fight (paying his last might point to do so), and fails to wound any of his assailants. And to think that the Fellowship only needs to kill 2 more people...
Boromir loses his fight and is not wounded, but an Uruk comes down hard on Merry's head and knocks him out (killing basically, but right now we're playing that they want the hobbits "alive and unspoiled.").
Sorry, this shot is also blurry, but it is once again up to Aragorn to save the day...and he does. He pays his free Might point to win the fight and then pays 1 more Might point (1 left) to slay all 3 of his opponents. Pretty sweet, as this ends the game, with the victory going to the Fellowship.
Kill count: Fellowship 20/19, Uruks 1/3.


Assessment by Gaius:

So, the Uruks were able to make the Fellowship split their forces, but unfortunately, they rolled too many 6s (Aragorn especially). I'm starting to realize that to fight such a force, you really need the dice to roll poorly (like they did in some of the latter rounds) and when that happens...just hit them with a lot of guys. But even this strategy didn't work all the time (like the Uruk Captain who needed to roll 5s to wound Boromir and couldn't). game, but I like how pike walls can really drain the effectiveness of heroes.

Assessment by Tiberius:

I was really saddened that Merry died - almost had a clean sweep there. Still, the fellowship did well and with Aragorn the healer in the army, I'm sure Merry will be fine soon. BUT, what I wasn't that pleased with was how the heroes performed near the end. Without the ability to change dice rolls, the end game really didn't work well. But, given that the goal of the game is to kill quickly, the decisions that were made early in the game were, I think, justified. And of course, with Aragorn as your star, you can count on someone doing something later in the game, when everyone else has used up their Might stores.

Stellar unit for the Fellowship: Aragorn

What else can we say - he killed close to half of the units that the group killed and was certainly ready to continue felling Uruks until he cleared his point cost. I just love fielding him in battle, but since he's so expensive (180 points with bow), he takes up a lot of your army space. Still, always fun to play with him when I get that chance.

Stellar unit for the Uruk-Hai: Uruks with pikes

I really can't decide who to crown the stellar unit, since there really was no stellar unit in this game. The pikemen get the award because not only did they score the one kill of the game, but they also allow a fair (or fairer) fight against Boromir, which is always nice. They also assist in draining the Might stores of heroes, by forcing them to contest more dice, each trying to find that golden 6 roll. A few times, they even gave their Uruk companions the edge they needed to win fights (but only in one case was that actually capitalized on). Oh well...better luck next time, chaps.

1 comment:

  1. Well-fought, both of you! Btw, if you need superglue for the crossbow conversion, talk to me -- I have some in my supplies.