Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ill Met By Moonlight: Uruk-Hai vs. Wood Elves

So Gaius' two armies are competing in the tournament. As he can't control both of them, he gives one to me...and of course, in an "ill met by moonlight" scenario, he gives me the team with a single archer who already wounds his targets on a 4+ and now a 3+. I'm really not enjoying how this game is looking, as there is lots of terrain and so many enemy archers (who now wound my shield-bearing Uruks on a 5+ and my pikemen on a 4+). This, I'm sure, will be a good, uphill game. Here are the forces:

The Fist of Isengard: 401 points

Uruk-Hai Captain with shield and heavy armor - 60 points
17 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shield - 170 points
16 Uruk-Hai Warriors with pike- 160 points
1 Uruk-Hai Warrior with crossbow- 11 points

35 units, 1 crossbow, 1 hero

Host of Lothlorien: 402 points

Galadriel, Lady of Lothlorien - 130 points
8 Wood Elf Warriors with Elven blades and thrown daggers - 80 points
4 Wood Elf Warriors with Elf bows- 36 points
12 Wood Elf Warriors with Wood Elf spears - 96 points
6 Galadhrim Warriors with Elf bows - 60 points

31 units, 10 Elf bows + 8 thrown weapons, 1 hero

The scenario we will be playing is an "Ill Met By Moonlight" game on a board that is 48" x 48". In this final game of our tournament, no units will be allowed to shoot at an enemy unit from a distance of more than 12". All ranged attacks, though, receive a +1 bonus to wound because the darkness prevents units from dodging missiles as easily as if it were daylight. Both armies will divide their forces into two groups: one will be deployed between 18-24" of the army's starting board edge, while the other starts within 3" of the board edge. These units are placed at the choice of the general, as opposed to the "To the Death" games we've played in the past. The game is played until one side is destroyed (death or rout). In this game, we may play until one side cries "uncle," depending on how bad the game is going.

The map is set up as follows: all terrain pieces are within 3" of each other, with the first piece of terrain being placed was a circle of rocks (normal ground, rocks are climbable) in the center of the map. There are two forests, two cairns, two hills, and a ruin, and the Amon Hen structure (which will be improved in the future, I promise). The Uruks won the roll off and have chosen to select their board edge (south), ceding priority to the Elves for the first turn.
The advantage (though meager) that the Uruks have is that for once, I outnumber the Wood Elves - which, considering my units cost more than Gaius', is a huge blessing. Added to this advantage is that his units will not be able to shoot at mine until we are close (we've ruled this to include volley fire, as "seeing" units is limited in this game to 12"). Gaius did ask if he could substitute Galadriel for Celeborn and I promptly informed him that the armies couldn't be changed mid-tournament...mostly because "Cast Blinding Light" doesn't do much in this scenario.

The reason for that is as follows: the scenario happens at night. With the nighttime conditions comes two advantages: archers can't shoot beyond 12" and ranged weapons gain a +1 to wound. When "Cast Blinding Light" is in effect, anyone within 12" of the caster can be seen as if it were daylight (this means that units within 12" of the caster can be shot normally). The "+1 to wound" bonus is hard to figure, but the special rule attributes it to not being able to see the arrow and dodging out of the way. It appears then that this would prevent anyone shooting into the light from gaining the +1 to wound as well as preventing those inside the light to gain +1 to wound (as the target, who is still being shot at from 12" away if not in the light, can see the shaft coming). All told, the power defeats the purpose of the scenario and doesn't play much of a role in a game with 1 enemy archer in the first place. Instead, it keeps the crossbow moving most of the time until battle is waged. As such, I'm sure Gaius will not be casting it during this game.

My forces have been divided evenly as far as pikes and shields are concerned, with my captain at the back (I don't want him immobilized during the beginning of the game by Galadriel and then see my army fall to pieces should we be broken). I've placed my crossbow Uruk-Hai in the first group and placed around him a guard of units. Knowing that Gaius will want to stack the trees with soldiers, I'm a small band practically in one wood while keeping my crossbowman watching the other.

Gaius split his forces evenly, which means I will begin with archers at in the best case scenario end with archers as well. It'll be a good uphill fight, but I need to strike first if I'm going to take his Elves apart. As you can see from the picture above, Gaius has formed a nice "bulwark" formation with four Wood Elves with spears, probably counting on repelling my pike-supported Uruk-Hai with his high Fight 5. As the cheapest Elves with both the shielding rule and the spear rule, they're pretty awesome like this...need to break them now and remember that tactic later.

Turn 1: Foes In The Dark (Priority - Elves)

The armies move and fights ensue. The Elf bulwark is engaged, with one Elf not being attacked (he'll be supporting his friend in the fight, methinks). By the woods, I have a few Uruks coming up around one side, while other Uruks are guarding the crossbow to make sure he can fire safely this round. The Elves are shifting around with their archers and will be fighting in one fight by those woods this round.
If fighting Elves in the day was hard, fighting them at night is even harder. Though Gaius will need to measure all of his archer shots this game, his throwing weapons simply benefit from the +1 to wound rule. Still, the 4 throwing daggers only took down 1 Uruk-Hai with pike this round, while a Galadhrim archer and a Wood Elf archer took down two of my Uruks. Grrr...I knew this was going to happen.
The Uruks on the left have killed two of the Elves with spears (good-bye, bulwark strategy), while the Elves with spears push back the Uruk pikeman but fail to get the 5+ required to wound. You will also see one of the Uruks near the crossbow has a shiny token on him: he was immobilized by Galadriel to keep him from charging the forest. The shiny token will pop up in this game when someone is immobilized.
Kill count: Uruk-Hai 2/31, Elves 3/35.

Turn 2: The Midnight Foray And Ambush (P - Elves)

My supporting team of Uruks are trying to catch up to the fighting going on at the far side, but much of the battle is now flowing against me. With the Elves gaining priority, the two remaining members of the "bulwark" formation have retreated to the safety and numbers of the Elven reinforcements. The sheer number of spearmen in the formation means that I need to engage units carefully, as their units can support while alongside. The Elves use their thrown daggers against my center formation, killing 1 Uruk with shield. They have also engaged my Uruks at the forest, keeping their archers clear of any entanglements. You will also see that the crossbowman has been immobilized by Galadriel. Come on...
The Uruk with shield at the top of the picture was killed with a throwing dagger in the Shoot phase (handy skill for these Elves to have), but on this side of the battle, only an Uruk pikeman was killed. Off to the left of this picture is a Galadhrim Warrior with Elf bow and a Wood Elf with Elf bow, who both took aim and send feathered arrows into this poor chap.
On the other side of the field, the crossbowman withstood the firepower of the Elven archers, though a pike-carrying companion was not so lucky.
In the fights that ensued, the Uruks won 1 fight and killed an Elven swordsman. The Elves failed to wound most of their foes, with the exception of a pikeman (seeing a theme here?). The two Wood Elves with Elf bows you see in this battle line are actually spearmen, so don't be deceived.
In the woods, one Elf lost his fight, while the other lost his and died. Go Uruks!
Kill count: Uruk-Hai 4/31, Elves 7/35. Uruk force is broken after 11 more kills, while the Elven force requires 12 more...oh no, I hate it when this happens.

Turn 3: Reinforcements Arrive (P - Uruk-Hai!)

So the Elves in this game not only get superb mastery in an "ill met by moonlight" scenario due to their heavy use of archery, but they also have a spellcaster in this game (and the only spellcaster in the whole tournament). After my Uruks charged into the Elves in the woods (engaging a Galadhrim Warrior with bow), Galadriel leaned over, successfully cast Command, and moved the Uruk away from the archer he had charged, running shamefully into the middle of the field where he can be a prime target for the 2 Elves perched on the ruins or the 3 Elves in the woods. The other units moved as you'd expect, engaging some units and all three remaining Uruks in the Elven backfield are trapped. Oh, goody...
Sink me already...the Elves kill 3 more Uruks with their bows this round. You will remember I mentioned there were 5 archers who could shoot this round...well, 3 of them got lucky. What did my crossbow do this round? Or the first round? Why nothing but miss his targets...why do you ask?
LOOK AT THE BOTTOM RIGHT! Three trapped Uruks, three choices to "shield," three 6s rolled, and no 6s rolled by the Elves! I'm so happy. Elsewhere on the field, the angry combatants decided to flail at each other, so as to not kill anyone, but two of my Uruks successfully stuck to their training and killed an Elf with Elven blade. I'm so happy I've forgotten may dismay about the Shoot phase.
Kill count: Uruk-Hai 5/31, Elves 10/35. As great as it was to not lose any Uruks during the Shoot phase, I need to kill more Elves if I want a chance at winning this game.

Turn 4: Consolidation And Confusion (P - Elves)

Galadriel did an annoying Command spell again - this time against my Uruk Captain. She successfully cast it using 1/6 Will points + her free Will point. Isengard doesn't have good heroes per se, and most of them happen to be glorified Uruk-Hai who possess no more than 1 Will point each. Such is the case here, so I used my 1 Will point to roll 1 dice, hoping to roll a 6 (though in a way, it was pointless). I know from past experience that if you don't resist the casting of a spellcaster, they'll keep the targeted enemy hero out of combat for the entire game. With 2 Might points, I had a 50% chance of stopping the spell. I rolled a the Captain advanced in the opposite direction while his troops rushed towards the center. My Uruks are in trouble elsewhere, as you can see, so I'm not pleased with this position. You'll also see that an Uruk with shields was killed by a throwing dagger in the center deadlock.
Crossbow kill! A Galadhrim warrior bites the dust as a quarrel gets the better of him. Unfortunately for me, the other Elven archers in the area decide to mow down my Uruks, claiming 4 more kills. Three of these kills were Uruks with shields, who usually have the advantage of only being killed on a 6, but when the nighttime conditions makes that a 5+, they fall ever so quickly. Not liking this at all...but I kinda guessed it would happen.
The fights went surprisingly well. Only one of my trapped Uruks died (keep it up other guys), while an Elf with Elven blade died to his angry Uruk foe. The Elves won all but 1 fight (the shielding Uruk-Hai on the right won his fight), but failed to wound anyone besides the trapped Uruk at the bottom right.
Kill count: Uruk-Hai 7/31, Elves 16/35. The Elves are 9 units from breaking, while the Uruks are 2 away. This is probably a good indicator that I am losing.

Turn 5: Reforming The Lines (P - Elves)

Of my two remaining Uruks in the backfield, one was killed by a thrown dagger, while the other has been trapped and immobilized (courtesy of the Lady of Lothlorien). He has also been trapped by two archers and a swordsman with throwing daggers (who thankfully didn't take him down). You will see, however, that just above this fight the Elves have re-established their bulwark formation. Just as before, they are trying to keep out my 6 invading Uruks with their spear-work, so we'll see how that fares. My Captain is attempting to avoid Galadriel while keeping near the core of my units. As my force is now 1 unit from breaking, I need to keep my army together.
As there was no shoot phase, we move straight to the Fight phase. Here you can see that the Elves won every fight down low, killing 3 Uruk-Hai in the process. The bulwark worked...congratulations Gaius. The Uruks are now broken, so we'll see who stays.
On the other side of the field, my Uruks are slightly more successful, as one of them shielded his way to victory, while the other units lost their fights (the shield unit surrounded by archers managed to live after the blows fell, the pikeman died, and the crossbow-shield combo fight were rebuffed by the Elven spearman (who failed to wound the crossbow Uruk).
Kill count: Uruk-Hai 7/31, Elves 21/35. The Uruks are broken...great.

Turn 6: Rally, Rout, and Rage (P - Uruks - broken, remember)

Since my units are doing so poorly (and I control the camera), I took a bit of a privilege  taking shots of things that could be cool. Here, you can see my brave (more like incredibly angry Captain shouting to his men to stay in the fight). Those seen here are the ones who could hear him over the din of combat and chose to stay, after seeing his valiant stand.
Four of the five Uruks who were repelled by the bulwark, however, did not hear the Captain, and seeing that the enemy was gaining the upper-hand, promptly fled the field. Their lone companion shouldered his pike and headed to the left of the frame to support someone else in the fight. You can see the Elves here wondering if they should pursue the Uruks or ensure that the battle was won. In the end, discipline in the ranks won the day.
After all the courage testing was done, the Elves moved and we have the fights as so. Three of the units in the Elven bulwark have moved on to close off one of the rocky passes, while the other rushed to aid the Elves with swords at the other entrance. You will see one Uruk (closes to the bottom right) engaging two Elves with swords. He is backed up by two pikemen, so that fight is a 4-3 if you include all the spear support. Gaius thought about immobilizing that Uruk, but I said that would be incredibly unfair and cruel. He settled instead for immobilizing the Uruk nearest Galadriel, who was being attacked by an archer, a swordsman, and a supporting spearman.
This Galadhrim Elf shot at the captain from his perch and landed a blow so hard on the Captain that any other Uruk warrior would have fallen. The Captain, however, fell to one knee, rose instantly, and urged his followers on as if nothing had happened (Fate point successful, basically).
Despite the whole game going down in flames, my Uruks managed not only to win their fights, but slay their opponents! Three more Elves bite the dust, as the five angry Uruks are surrounded by seven vengeful Elven warriors.
If things hadn't gone so ill on this side, I might have thought the game was save-able. As it turned out, two Uruks with shields fell to their opponents and the others managed to live through an Elven onslaught (the crossbowman actually winning his fight, but not killing his foe).
Kill count: Uruk-Hai 10/31, Elves 23/31. With only 8 Uruks left to fight off 9 archers, 9 spearmen, 2 throwing daggers, and an un-engaged spellcaster, I cried "uncle" and ceded the game (and consequently the third and final game of the tournament) to Gaius. Wood Elves seize a major victory.


Assessment by Gaius:

If it weren't the last game in the tournament, this game would not have had any glory to it. From the beginning, we all knew that the Elves were going to dominate with the archery rules and the Uruks were going to have to endure a lot of shooting and probably use a phalanx formation to break the Elven lines. Absent bad rolls on the part of the Elves, the game was going to be won by me. It was for precisely this reason that I didn't give Tiberius the Elves. :-P Still, fun game.

Assessment by Tiberius:

The game, as I believed from the get-go, was an up-hill game. Gaius and I both agreed that we liked the immediate battle that this provided, but the use of Wood Elves in this scenario is a bit...unfair. All the same, it was fun while it lasted and seeing the Uruks charge head-long into the Elven ranks was fun. Breaking the bulwark at the beginning, slaying the Elven fighters in the center at the end, and nailing a Galadhrim archer with a quarrel were all great moments, but unfortunately, no victory can be built on these alone.

Stellar unit for Uruk-Hai: Uruk Warriors with shields

The game, on the whole, went to the dogs. The shield troops, however, distinguished themselves under the pressure by not only surviving barrages of Elven arrows, but slaying Elven warriors and shielding themselves to fight another round. For two rounds, 4 ferocious Uruk-Hai kept at bay 12 Elven warriors, which is more than double their point totals in enemy units (with more dice and higher Fight values). In the end, however, the Uruks were never able to capitalize on this or pick up momentum. My metaphysical hat off to these guys and I wonder if any other unit will ever take this title away from these hardy troops.

Stellar unit for Wood Elves: Galadhrim Warriors with Elf bows

Though I never remember to keep track of which bows kill what, 13 kills were clocked by the archers of the Elves, about half of which could be assumed to be the direct result of the Galadhrim warriors. Beyond these kills, the Galadhrim Warrior from his perch plucked the Fate point off of the Uruk-Hai Captain, and these kills ultimately led to the securing of an entire side of the battlefield (the wooded area) and bogged down the Uruk army from charging into the center successfully. It should be no surprise that the archers won this game, as "Ill Met by Moonlight" is an archer's paradise.

1 comment:

  1. poor Uruks. their build seems to be simply unable to contend with wood elves.

    Just for the record, I'd contend that the +1 to wound counts (at least for shots towards the caster) with blinding light in this scenario. The scenario rule is designed to represent the inability of troops to see the shot coming (both due to darkness and the short range). Arrows heading towards the blinding light would still be considered "short range" to the caster, with minimal time to react. Shots coming out are debatable... since anyone can see the archers lit up, they would know the shot was coming. however, they are still shooting at close range, so I guess you could still arguably apply the +1 to wound. All in all, it's probably just better not to cast the spell in the first place.