Friday, July 15, 2011

Contest of Champions: Uruk-Hai vs. Wood Elves

So after tallying how many games I've played with each civilization, I've noticed that my Uruk-Hai are woefully behind in their practice (and it's showing). So, the rest of July is going to be declared "Uruk-Hai Month." Hence, I'm going to play as my Uruk-Hai against all of my other civilizations (excluding the fellowship, since that one just happened), and will be randomly generating both terrain and missions. All missions and terrain will be set for a 24" by 24" map.

Fist of Isengard: 499 points

Uruk Captain with shield and heavy armor - 60 points
Uruk 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 Might of Mirkwood: 500 points

Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood with Elven Cloak - 100 points
7 Wood Elf Warriors with Elven blades and thrown daggers - 70points
8 Wood Elf Warriors with Wood Elf spears and thrown daggers - 80 points
8 Wood Elf Warriors with Elf bows - 72 points
1 Wood Elf Warrior with Elven blade - 8 points
Ally: Gandalf the Grey - 170 points

26 units, 8 bows + 15 throwing weapons + Legolas, 2 heroes

The scenario we will be playing is a Contest of Champions game. All units will begin within 3" of their board edge and will fight until one side is destroyed (killed or fled). The winner of the game is decided by the side whose "Champion" (one hero chosen at the beginning of the game) kills the most units. In the case of a tie in kills, the game is a draw.
The board has been given the following features: two woods in the north quadrants and one river (with ford in the middle) and a building with 3 fence pieces in the southern quadrants. To determine placement, the Elves have won the roll and will select the Eastern board edge and have given the Uruk-Hai priority on the first round.

Turn 1: The Arrows Fly (Priority - Uruks)
Both armies move towards each other. Gandalf attempts to cast "Blinding Light" with his free Will point for the turn, but rolls a he fails. The building you see here is a new terrain piece, which when completed will be a forge/'s missing its shingles.
In the Shoot phase, an Elven archer nails an Uruk Pikeman and Legolas nails one pikeman (not seen in this shot).
Kill count: Legolas 1, Crossbow Captain 0.

Turn 2: Flurry of Blades (P - Uruks)
The Uruks form a strong line. Gandalf casts "Blinding Light" and leads his men into the Uruk ranks. The Elves kill 2 Uruks with shields in the Move phase.
In the Shoot phase, the Elven spearmen use their throwing weapons to kill 2 Uruk pikemen, while their archer companions snipe another Uruk with shield (this one directly in the head). Legolas went to then kill 2 more Uruks (one with shield).
In the Fight phase, the Elves weren't as devastating as they were at range, but they were still pretty good. The Elves, as you can see, killed 2 Uruks, but lost 3 in the process (including 1 to the Uruk Captain). The Uruks won a few other fights, but managed to not kill the agile Elves.
Kill count: Legolas 3, Crossbow Captain 0.

Turn 3: Ka-Boom! (P - Elves)
Gandalf now leads the Elves onward to victory, by casting "Sorcerous Blast," using his free Will point and 2 others. He sent the poor Uruk 3" through the air, hitting two of his buddies in the process. Though none of them died, they will fight on the ground against their Elven assailants. Fortunately for them, only one could be reached this round. 
The Uruks then assail their Elven foes quickly, hoping to gain an advantage against them in combat (several of which feature 2 pikes supporting the forward lines).
During the Shoot phase, Legolas pays 2 Might points to shoot an Uruk who was engaged by an Elf with Elven blade. This not only protects his ally, but opens up the supporting pikeman to the bows of the the Elven archers. The archers then promptly kill him. Besides one other pikeman, they fail to kill any other Uruks this round.
During the Fight phase, the fights were won fairly evenly between both sides, but the Uruks killed 3 Elves, while the Elves only killed 2 (including the Uruk on the ground).
Kill count: Legolas 4, Crossbow Captain 0. It's looking pretty bleak for my guys right about now, unless we can kill a lot of guys and my captain starts shooting people. BUT, the Uruks are 2 units away from breaking.

Turn 4: Again...and Again... (P - Elves)
Gandalf calls yet another charge after yet another Sorcerous Blast. With 1 Will point and his free one, he successfully casts the spell and pays a Might point to ensure that 2 of the 3 Uruks die (not the one with the dice by him).
The rest of the movements indicate that the Elves have the advantage, in part because this Sorcerous Blast killed the Uruks necessary to cause the Uruk force to break. As a result, the Uruk Captain with shield was engaged by Gandalf and kept from calling a Stand Fast! One Uruk was killed with a throwing dagger, but most of the other Uruks were kept in line by the Crossbow Captain racing towards the front ranks and calling them to stand together (two fled).
In the Shoot phase, Legolas pays his last Might point to kill an Uruk with pike. Besides that, nothing happened.
In the Fight phase, both Gandalf and the Uruk Captain pay a Might point (one left each) to tie the fight at 6. The random dice roll favors Gandalf, who immediately takes a swing at the Uruk who assisted in the fight and misses. Whew... In the other fights, one Uruk died and one Elf died. 
Kill count: Legolas 5, Crossbow Captain 0.

Turn 5: The Not-So-Great Escape (P - Elves...again? Seriously?)
In the Move phase, Gandalf casts "Immobilize" with his free Will dice on the Uruk Captain, but rolls a 2. He chooses not to use his last Might point to save it and calls a tactical withdrawal. They form a nice wall with most of their troops, but one daring Elf charges the Uruk Captain to keep him from calling a Stand Fast! Other Elves (the ones who were in the belly of the beast, so to speak and not shown here) retreat to the river, where they are aided by their archer comrades.
As it turns out, these maneuvers are not needed because the Crossbow Captain rolled "snake eyes" on his dice roll, which meant that he couldn't pass his courage test (even with a full store of Might and Will) and promptly fled the field...without a single kill to his name. How embarrassing. We could have kept playing, but since the game is a "Contest of Champions," I can only win if my scoreless-now-fled hero killed 6 or more units before Legolas killed any. So...the game was over and I was a little unhappy.
Kill count: Legolas 5, Crossbow Captain 0.


Assessment by Gaius: I've never seen the Uruks cleaned up so quickly. Part of the problem was their captains couldn't always call their Stand Fasts, but the Elves were also just cleaning them up with their thrown daggers and their bows (and a bit in close combat too, come to think about it). For the same cost (or cheaper), the Wood Elves are great against these Uruks...maybe the Uruks need more/different units if they're going to compete with these guys. I'll leave that decision to Tiberius.

Assessment by Tiberius: All told, I'm a bit disappointed. I knew from the get-go that the Uruks would have trouble getting through the woods that were before them, but I didn't want to just go around them (leaving the woods open for the Elves to enter and use). On the whole, I think that may have been a serious problem. The other problem was that no matter where I positioned my troops, I couldn't get my pikes safe from archery (between the daggers and the two squads of archers, there was simply no protection). I'm looking into adding Berserkers to my line-up, which should help me clear out more Elves, but even in a game like today's, I don't think they would have made the difference (they would have only allowed my units to not have to take a broken test in the 4th round. Still, this game isn't about utter domination (just like the Uruks last game against the Elves), so we'll see what's needed in a different style of mission at a later date.

Stellar unit for Wood Elves: Wood Elf Warrior with Wood Elf Spear and thrown daggers

Along with the archers, these guys are absolute marvels. Not only do their spears allow them to use the shielding ability (which gives them 2 dice at Fight 5), but they also allow them to support fellow Elves and throw their throwing daggers in the Shoot phase. That led to some epic kills and really evened out the playing field for me against the Uruks by removing the advantage of their pikes. Once I believe, their thrown daggers would also allow them to kill a unit in the Move phase and then move on to attack another a game like this, these guys make up their points with only one kill, so I think it's worth it.

Stellar unit for Uruk-Hai: Uruk-Hai Warrior with shields

There's always something to be said about Defense 6 units. Against armies with Strength 3 bows, this really comes into the foreground, since your Defense 5 units (usually a bastion of strength against archers with Strength 2 weapons) suddenly become weak and exposed. I love how these guys can absorb the Elven archery (and melee damage that doesn't involve Elven blades as two-handed weapons), since they force the enemy to wound them on 6s. Their ability to survive makes them essential to the army, not to mention well-worth the 10 points I'm spending to retain them. Now to find a way to kill more Elves with them...


  1. wood elves are the bane of the fighting Uruk-hai. all their strengths (high FV, high Str) are completely wasted and the pikes are readily nulified by the massive amounts of ranged weapons. methinks Easterlings would fare far better.

  2. Easterlings would run into the same problem that the Uruk-Hai faced (lower FV, disadvantage in trees) with a 3 strength instead of a 4 strength. With a similar phalanx strategy, I don't think the result of the attack would have changed very much.

    I think that, frankly, the Elves were well-placed and well-prepared to win this game from the outset. With the Cast Blinding Light mitigating the effectiveness of the scoring machine (when you have to roll a 6 to attempt to land a hit on most of the enemy line, you have a problem), coupled with an excellent battle plan and high die rolls, there wasn't much Tiberius could have done differently.

  3. Easterlings' lower str is no disadvantage against D3 troops, and they have the advantage of being 2 points cheaper (for sword/shield) - an easterling army at that point level would have 5 extra troops. Also, Eastering pikes are D6 instead of the Uruk D5 - thus cutting the Elves' ranged kills in half.

    but I agree, the elves really just had a good game.