Sunday, November 20, 2011

Domination: Dwarves vs. Goblins

Because the Wood Elves and Uruk-Hai fought against each other in the final round of the tournament, the Goblins and Dwarves are due for another game. This game will be the final game before a month of games surrounding the Fellowship of the Ring, as they bring up their total number of games from one to five. In this tunnel fighting game, we have the following combatants.

The Host of Erebor: 500 points

Gimli, Son of Gloin - 90 points
Balin, Son of Fundin with Durin's Axe - 95 points
8 Dwarf Warriors with shield - 72 points
10 Dwarf Warriors with Dwarf bow - 90 points
6 Khazad Guard - 66 points
7 Dwarf Rangers with throwing axes - 70 points
1 Dwarf Ranger with Dwarf longbow - 10 points
1 Dwarf Ranger with two-handed axe - 7 points

35 units, 11 bows + 9 thrown weapons, 2 heroes

The Denizens of Moria: 500 points

Durburz, Goblin King of Moria - 60 points
Ally: The Witch King of Angmar with Morgul blade and +2M/+2W/+1F - 105 points
1 Cave Troll - 80 points
1 Bat Swarm - 35 points
16 Goblin Warriors with shield - 80 points
16 Goblin Warriors with spear - 80 points
12 Goblin Warriors with Orc bow - 60 points

48 units, 12 bows, 2 heroes

The scenario we will be playing is a Domination game on a board that is 48" x 48". Our four objectives are as follows: everything within the field boundaries in the southwest, everything within the three walls in the southeast, everything on the rocky terrain piece in the northeast, and everything on the rocky cairns in the northwest. The teams will select a corner to start the game from and will fight until one side is broken. Once one side is broken, a dice is rolled at the end of each round: on the roll of a 1-2, the game ends and the objectives are counted. If one army holds all four of these by the time one force is broken, they win a major victory. If three are held, it is a minor victory. If two are held by each (or one by each), the game is a draw. If there is an objective that is unclaimed, it is not factored into the scoring (so holding 2/3 means a minor victory).

The map is set up as specified above. No terrain pieces were allowed to be placed within 6" of any objective, though there was not much in the way of terrain added to this game. The Dwarves won the roll off and have chosen to select their corner (the southeast corner), ceding priority to the Goblins for the first turn.
This game should be interesting for two reasons: first, I'm play-testing Dwarf Rangers, who I'm anticipating purchasing around Christmastime. The idea will be to convert the Dwarf Warriors with two-handed axes into Khazad Guards and 2 Dwarf Warriors with Dwarf bows. This will not only finish up the volley team, but add 5 more Defense 7 troops. The Rangers will not only allow me to build an "Unexpected Party" from The Hobbit in anticipation of the new movie, but will also provide a wild card element to an otherwise boring army. In today's game, Elves with Elven blades represent Dwarf Rangers with throwing axes, the Elf with spear represents a Dwarf with two-handed axe, and the Elf with bow represents a Dwarf with longbow. With this large core of Dwarves, the game is not solidly decided...why you ask?

The answer is found in the second reason the game will be interesting: this is the inaugural game of the Witch King, ally of the Denizens of Moria. Though there is no indication in the books that the Witch King favored these warriors at all, the hand of Sauron has now stretched to the Misty Mountains and to tap the great host of Goblin Warriors, the Dark Lord has sent his most powerful emissary. This figure, appearing in the twilight form that a ring-bearer would see if he were wearing the Ring, comes with the standard grey-and-black color that much of the army has. You can also see a touch of red in his face, if you look very closely (which I thought made him look a bit more intimidating). The Witch King has a healthy 12 Will points with which to cast all sorts of magic against his foes and the dreaded "Morgul Blade," which will kill any opponent unless the wound is stopped with Fate point. I'm anxious to see how this unit fares against the hardy army of Erebor.

Turn 1: The Enemy Arrives (Priority - Goblins)
Both teams move towards each other and the volley teams prepare to fire. The Goblins hit Balin but failed to wound him through his tough armor (as predicted).
The Dwarves volley and score three hits, failing to wound Durburz or the Witch King (as also expected), but succeeding in killing a Goblin spearman.
Kill count: Dwarves 1/48, Goblins 0/35.

Turn 2: An Objective Claimed (P - Dwarves)
Both armies continue to move, with the Goblins claiming both North objectives (thanks to the Bat Swarm and the Cave Troll). It appears that the Goblins may get some strong positions in that northern objective before my Dwarves can get there. Nothing interesting happened in the Shoot phase. In case you had not noticed before, Gimli and Balin have split forces this game, Gimli leading his troops to the south and Balin leading his troops to the north. I'm hoping splitting up my heroes doesn't cost me later in the game.
Kill count: Dwarves 1/48, Goblins 0/35.

Turn 3: The Tension Rises (P - Dwarves)
The armies continue to move towards each other and it looks like we should have some combats next round. The Witch King fails to cast "Compel" on a Dwarf Warrior, using the first of his 12 Will points.
In the Shoot phase, both volley teams failed to wound anyone. The Dwarf Ranger with longbow (24" Strength 2 weapon) hit and killed a Goblin spearman, nailing him in the chest with a sleek bodkin.
Kill count: Dwarves 2/48, Goblins 0/35.

Turn 4: A Deadly Clash (P - Dwarves!)
Our first fights will be underway, but the fronts are threatened on all sides. The Witch King transfixed a Dwarf Ranger with throwing axe (2/12 Will) and the Cave Troll and Bat Swarm charge into Gimli and a Dwarf Warrior respectively (would have gotten them in the same fight, but I couldn't). The Bat Swarm is safest when it is engaged in a combat against a single foe (as is the case here), since he cannot be shot at by my Dwarves.
In the Shoot phase, the Dwarf volley team used one of the Dwarves at the northeast objective to direct their fire at the Goblin volley team. The archers scored a hit, a successful in-the-way roll, and a wound against a Goblin archer. Nothing else interesting happened in the Shoot phase.
In the Fight phase, Balin paid a Might point (1/3) to win his fight against the Cave Troll and scored two successful hits (he rolled two 6s, but wounds the troll on a 4+, so hopefully this luck will continue). The Bat Swarm lost its fight, but sustained no wound.
Kill count: Dwarves 3/48, Goblins 0/35.

Turn 5: Battle Is Joined (P - Dwarves again!)
With my Dwarves getting priority yet again, I got to choose the battles. The Witch King paid 1 Will (3/12) and 1 Might to cast "Transfix" on Gimli, who paid 1 Will (1/2) and 1 Might (1/3) to resist it.
In the Shoot phase, the Dwarf volley team fires as one for the last time this game (at least for the next few turns) and nails one Goblin archer. The Dwarf Ranger with longbow snipes another archer off the top of the cairn, scoring his second kill of the day. I like the range on this bow, and against even-Defense targets, it works just as well as a Dwarf bow!
In the Fight phase, the southwest objective was a bit anti-climactic. Gimli failed to kill his opponent and the Goblins more or less survived every round. The exception was against a Dwarf Ranger with throwing axes at the bottom.
On the other side of the field, Balin paid 1 Might point (2/3) to tie the Troll, lost the roll-off, but was not wounded by the Troll. Thank the the other fights, two Dwarves died - one to four Goblins and one to two Goblin archers who trapped him (thanks throwing axe buddies).
Kill count: Dwarves 6/48, Goblins 2/35.

Turn 6: Pressed By The Enemy (P - Dwarves - this is getting a bit unfair, you know?)
In the Move phase, the Witch King cast "Transfix" on Gimli with 2 Will (5/12) and after rolling a 6 on one of those dice, Gimli decided not to resist. Nothing much happened in the rest of the Move phase.
In the Shoot phase, the Dwarves shot up the approaching Goblins and killed three of them. Gaius seemed to expect this, but the archers were guarding the uncontested objective, so the chance had to be made. If he can get priority next turn, he should be clear of the archers.
In the Fight phase, the Troll won his fight and wounded Balin (though he failed to wound the Ranger who was assisting the great Dwarf lord). Balin paid his last Might point to make the Fate point work and save the wound. In the other fights nearby, the Dwarves killed one Goblin and the Goblins killed a Dwarf Ranger with throwing axes.
Down in the South, Gimli escaped from combat unscathed, while his warriors killed a Goblin. The Goblins in return killed a Dwarf Ranger with throwing axe. Durburz lost his fight but was not injured by the Khazad Guard opposing him.
Kill count: Dwarves 11/48, Goblins 4/35.

Turn 7: The Witch King Emerges (P - GOBLINS!)

In the Move phase, the Witch King transfixed Gimli again (7/12) and Gimli failed to resist with his last Will point. The Goblins near the southeast objective rushed past the archers and the Khazad Guard and press for the north entrance to the objective. We will see what happens there...
In the Shoot phase, only the Dwarf Ranger killed someone, this time shooting one of the Goblin archers that had descended from the cairn.
In the Fight phase, the Witch King won his fight against Gimli, but failed to wound him with the Morgul blade (he rolled a 2 and a 1...4 Will remaining). He will probably need to take more of a passive role now. In the other fights, Durburz killed the Khazad Guard he was fighting by paying 2 Might points (2/3) and one other Dwarf was killed nearby. A Goblin was also killed, ganged up on by two Dwarf Rangers with throwing axes.
Near the southeast objective, no one died. Four Goblins still press to break past the Dwarf defenses and take the objective, which currently only has one defender.
At the northeast objective, the Dwarf expeditionary force is having a rough time. Balin lost yet another fight to the Cave Troll, but was thankfully not wounded. One Dwarf was, however, and no Goblins were killed this round up there.
After taking the previous photo, we noticed one fight wasn't resolved (or we couldn't remember doing it). The Goblin won and killed the Khazad Guard he was fighting. Bummer...
Kill count: Dwarves 13/48, Goblins 8/35. The Goblins are 11 units from breaking, while the Dwarves are 8 units from breaking. It's fairly close, actually.

Turn 8: The Dwarves Respond (P - tied, Dwarves)

As the Dwarves charge, I am noticing how few little bearded fellows I have left in certain parts of the board. The Goblins still outnumber me, but we'll see how the war in the north plays out. One of my Rangers with throwing axes killed a Goblin during the Move phase in the north, which really helped make the battle lines easier to draw.
In the Shoot phase, my archers were hot again, slaying three Goblin archers as they prepared to fire. The two other Goblins (to the right of the frame) failed to hit anyone...pity that.
In the Fight phase, Gimli used his two-handed axe and won against the Witch King (no penalty is really great sometimes). He then successfully wounded the Witch King (saved by Fate) and paid his last 2 Might points to wound him again, dispatching him from the combat. WOOOHOOO! In the fights nearby, one Goblin and one Dwarf Ranger were killed.
At the southeast objective, the Dwarves won most of the fights and even managed to kill a spearman. Nothing much of interested happened here since the Shoot phase.
At the northeast objective, Balin lost again and suffered a wound to the Troll (1/2). The Dwarves lost most of the other fights (if not all), but none were killed. YAYE TEAM!
Kill count: Dwarves 20/48, Goblins 9/35. Thanks to some amazing rounds of archery, the Goblins are within 4 units of breaking and the Dwarves are 9 units from breaking. I'm feeling pretty good about this, except that I only control 1 objective (right now, game could end as a draw).

Turn 9: Spirits Fall (P - Goblins)

The armies continued to lock against each other in the Move phase. The Dwarf archers have moved more towards the center of the map, focusing on securing the southeast objective and moving towards the northeast objective. Nothing of interest happened in the Shoot phase, as only the Dwarf Ranger with longbow participated and failed to wound his target.
In the Fight phase, Gimli attempted to rally his troops into a more organized defense. They killed one Goblin (credit went to the Dwarf with shield, not Gimli), but lost a Khazad Guard and a Dwarf Ranger.
At the southeast objective, one Goblin was killed and all the Dwarves are still alive. Things are looking good down there, but I don't control this objective anymore - despite having so many troops outside of it!
At the northeast objective, things were terrible. One Goblin was killed, but Balin was finally slain by the Cave Troll. This blow leaves only five Dwarves left to fight in the north and the odds are not good.
Kill count: Dwarves 23/48, Goblins 12/35. With the Goblins one unit from breaking and no heroes in the northeast, I'm hoping that the majority of the forces will flee and I can then shoot the Cave Troll down. We'll see if that actually works.

Turn 10: The Day Closes (P - Dwarves!)

The throwing weapons finally paid off. One Goblin was killed during this round, which means the Goblin force will be broken on their turn. As such, I only attacked strategic targets, trying to keep the best possible position I could. Durburz passed his courage test after paying both of his Will points, calling a Stand Fast! which covered most of his remaining troops in the western objectives. In the Shoot phase, the Dwarf Ranger who has killed so many Goblins already killed the Goblin archer he shot at last time.
In the Fight phase, Gimli and two of his Dwarf Warrior kinsmen killed the two Goblins they were facing. This has them outnumbering the Goblins at this objective. At the southeast objective, no one died, making it a tied 1-1 at that one.
In the northeast objective, the Dwarves killed two Goblins and lost one Dwarf to the Troll. With this score, the objective is tied 4-4.
Kill count: Dwarves 29/48, Goblins 13/35. At the end of this turn, we rolled a dice on a 2, the game ended. With both sides being in control of one objective (Goblins in the NW and Dwarves in the SW) and two objectives equally contested, the game was a draw. If we counted how many points of units were killed in this game, the win barely goes to the Dwarves with 245-215, which shows that this game was a really close tie, despite the Goblins having superior numbers.


Assessment by Gaius:

So the Witch King didn't work out so well this game. Charging Gimli is probably not one of the best ideas and I probably should have called a heroic combat then. At the same time, I was a bit surprised that he could wound me twice. All the same, lesson learned with the spell caster. I also thought it was interesting that I was able to cross the field past a slew of archers and bring the Dwarf starting objective into jeopardy, leading to a draw instead of a minor loss. With a few tweaks, this army will be a lot of fun to use. Next time, though, I won't leave half of my army without a hero with some Courage, like I did this game.

Assessment by Tiberius:

For starters, I was a bit disappointed that Gimli had such a bad game. In his defense, he was keeping the Witch King at bay while the rest of his soldiers tried to defeat the Witch King's bodyguards. At the end of the day, that objective was won, so I can't complain. Where I can complain is how the Cave Troll won every fight after Round 4 and didn't give me a chance to make it close. I probably shouldn't have charged any units in the north at the beginning of Turn 10, as the Goblins, Troll, and Bat Swarm would need to pass courage tests (and with a Courage 3 as the highest level, many would have fled). Still, we learn, don't we?

Stellar unit for Goblins: Goblin Warrior with spear

The spears killed a large amount of the Dwarves who fell (them and the archers did). I'm not counting any role they played in supporting Goblins with shields - if you look back through the pictures, you'll see them taking on and killing Khazad Guards and shield troops just as easily as the other units did. I don't think I've ever given these guys this award, but they deserve it after playing as many games as they have.

Stellar unit for Dwarves: Dwarf Ranger with Longbow

The Dwarves with shields killed five units and the Rangers with thrown weapons killed four units this game. Both of those numbers are incredibly high. The Dwarf Warriors with Dwarf bows killed 10 units this game, but all of these units scored one kill or less during the game. Hence, our tribute goes to the lone Dwarf Ranger with longbow, who single-handedly shot down four Goblins and scored the number of kills that the Dwarf heroes should have been scoring (if they hadn't been busy elsewhere). The rangers, as you can see from the scores above, are well-worth their investment and should be fun to play with. Though not as durable as their Warrior cousins, their proficiency with throwing axes and longbows (or their much cheaper cost if you only purchase a two-handed weapon) makes them well-worth the investment.

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