Monday, November 28, 2011

To the Death: The Fellowship vs. The Uruk-Hai

With the grand tournament done, I'm going to experiment with the Fellowship a little against various evil forces. I went back through the battle reports I've put up, and figured out how many points each army has gained while playing their 11+ games. These numbers are visible in the brackets to the right of the army's record. 5 points are gained for a major victory, 4 for a minor victory, 3 for a draw, and 1-2 for a major/minor loss respectively. In these upcoming Fellowship games, I'll be sure to highlight what a major/minor victory entails. Two of these games are going to be against my army of Uruk-Hai (who are desperate for a better game than the "Clash of Piquets" last time), and two are going to be against the Goblins in two Moria scenarios.

Fellowship of the Ring: 500 points

Aragorn/Strider with bow - 180 points
Boromir of Gondor with Elven cloak - 115 points
Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood with armor - 95 points
Gimli, Son of Gloin - 90 points
Meriadoc Brandybuck - 10 points
Peregrin Took - 10 points

6 units, 2 bows + 1 thrown weapon, 6 heroes

The Fist of Isengard: 501 points

Uruk-Hai Captain with heavy armor and shield - 60 points
18 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields - 180 points
14 Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes - 140 points
2 Uruk-Hai Warriors with crossbows - 22 points
1 Uruk-Hai Warrior with banner - 39 points

Ally: Vrasku - 60 points

37 units, 2 crossbows + Vrasku, 2 heroes

The scenario we will be playing is a "To the Death" game on a board that is 48" x 48". Unlike the last game, the ability to consolidate a starting force is difficult in this game, as both groups could be spread pretty thin. In this case, only three units will be in each group, so hopefully (for me), the Fellowship heroes will start in the same region, so I can form a solid defense. I know already I need to keep Merry and Pippen out of the fighting if I can, but primarily just to make sure that Boromir and Aragorn don't get clobbered by the Uruk-Hai when the charging comes.

The map is set up as follows: there is the Amon Hen structure, three woods, a river, a rock cluster, and three hills. The Uruks won the roll off and have chosen to select their board edge (the eastern edge), ceding priority to the Fellowship for the first turn. In this game, it will be interesting to see if the superior heroic capabilities of the Fellowship can defeat the strength of numbers of the Uruk-Hai (who Gaius has gotten some practice with in the recent tournament games). As detailed above, each side is split into two groups. We rolled to see where each will be placed, and you can see what each of the components is below:
Isengard, Group 1: (0-3" OR 18-24")
Vrasku - 60 points
9 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields - 180 points
6 Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes - 160 points
2 Uruk-Hai Warriors with crossbows - 22 points
NOTE: the crossbow units are going to be substituted during this game with two Uruks with pikes leveled for a charge.
Isengard, Group 2: (0-3" OR 18-24")
Uruk-Hai Captain with heavy armor and shield - 60 points
9 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields - 180 points
8 Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes - 160 points

Here's the Fellowship groups:

Fellowship, Group 1: (0-3" OR 18-24")

Boromir of Gondor with Elven cloak - 115 points
Meriadoc Brandybuck - 10 points
Peregrin Took - 10 points

Fellowship, Group 2: (0-3" OR 18-24")

Aragorn/Strider with bow - 180 points
Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood with armor - 95 points
Gimli, Son of Gloin - 90 points

The scenario lends itself to my choice of how to group my soldiers - this Fellowship is the same one that fights at Amon Hen! Boromir and the hobbits need saving, so Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli will be meeting up with them. It's also nice that the measure for splitting up soldiers is based on number of units instead of points (as one side dwarfs the other by far). Unfortunately, also like in Amon Hen, the three Hunters will need to reach Merry, Pippen, and Boromir before they are overwhelmed.

Turn 1: The Fast Pursuit (Priority - Fellowship)

The Fellowship was able to advance first and safely moved out of range of the Uruk-Hai. Legolas loosed three arrows at Vrasku and landed one of them in his target's leg. Vrasku looked at the shaft, snapped it in half, and bellowed a roar (fate save successful).
Kill count: Fellowship 0/37, Uruks 0/6.

Turn 2: Answering The Horn (P - tied, Uruk-Hai)

Boromir called a heroic move and shifted himself between the advancing Uruk phalanx and the hobbits nearby.  The Uruks then charged all around and Aragorn emerged from the Amon Hen structure.
Legolas takes aim against the crossbowmen on the hill and lands two wounds: one on Vrasku and one on one of his bodyguards (1 Might used).
Aragorn used his free Might point and called a heroic combat. He won the fight easily but then rolled two 2s and a 3 to wound. The only fortunate parts to this sad event is that the Might Point was free and the Uruk-Hai rolled four 6s to win the fight (good thing one 6 by a Fight 6 unit beats those numbers).
In the Fights that ensued, Merry and Pippen met ill ends, with Merry taking one wound and failing his Fate save and Pippen taking two wounds and passing his Fate save but still dying. Boromir blew his horn, but the Uruks were courageous and contested him in the fight. They promptly lost the fight and Boromir lashed out and killed two of the Uruks he was facing (2/6 Might used).
Kill count: Fellowship 3/37, Uruks 2/6.

Turn 3: The Sound of Steel (P - Fellowship)

Crossbows ready to shoot on the hill and Uruk-Hai racing around the melee heroes spells bad news for the heroes here. I'm more than a bit concerned about how this fight is going to go.
Vrasku called a heroic Shoot but neither he nor his companion were able to score wounds on Legolas (Vrasku hit with one shot and rolled a 2, which he couldn't promote to a wound). Legolas then took aim and nailed Vrasku dead in the head.
Aragorn paid his free Might point and another Might point (1/3) to win his fight and killed one Uruk assailant. Boromir won his fight - which he was forced to fight because the Uruks were again courageous enough to contest him - at the cost of three Might points (5/6) and killed one Uruk as well. Gimli paid 1 Might point (1/3) to win his fight and promptly killed two of his foes. At this point, I'm paying Might points to win fights because my heroes can't roll 6s on their dice (and they've got about a 50% chance of getting a 6 on one of those dice).
Kill count: Fellowship 8/37, Uruks 2/6.

Turn 4: Noble Warriors (P - Fellowship)

By this time, I don't have many movement choices for Aragorn or Boromir (though I probably should have rushed Aragorn towards Gimli at this point. I was able to move Legolas off the hill which blocked him from view from the Uruks who were assaulting him, buying him one more archery turn. Gimli charged the other Uruk-Hai who were nearby and delayed a few others from rushing the archer too heavily.
Legolas was worth his salt this round and slew two Uruks with shields while paying NO Might points. I'm so happy...
And suddenly, I'm much less happy. Boromir's foes again were courageous enough to fight and this time Boromir rolled a 2 high. The 7 attack dice turned into 14 wounding dice and successfully landed 3 wounds to kill him (though only three wounds). Aragorn killed two of his assailants (free Might used), but this was not enough to make me happy about what happened a half-stone throw away. Gimli was a power house again and slew two of his opponents (no Might used). 
Kill count: Fellowship 14/37, Uruks 3/6. The Fellowship is broken, but with Courage 6 across the board and priority last turn, I'm not worried. The Uruks are 5 units away, so I'm not doing too bad here.

Turn 5: No Escape (P - Uruks)

With two Might left for each of my heroes (plus the free one for Aragorn), I'm not risking any heroic moves that could be countered by the Uruk Captain. As such, my units are all trapped right now and I'm not too happy about that. I need to role 6s (which no one has done in the last two turns).  There was no Shoot phase this turn.
As you can tell, things are not going well. Gimli lost his fight pitifully and was wounded four times, blocking only one in-coming wound with a Fate point. Being trapped by Uruks is a real pain. Aragorn killed two units but Legolas killed no one.
Kill count: Fellowship 16/37, Uruks 4/6.

Turn 6: Hard Pressed And Hardly Beaten (P - Fellowship)

So at this point, I'm really pressed for what to do. I've got two trapped heroes fighting eight Uruks each. I really, really, really need to roll a 6 in each fight this round.
I was happy that my heroes survived this round, but that doesn't mean the round was good. Aragorn burned his free Might point and his two remaining Might points to win his fight and came away killing two of his assailants. Legolas won his fight (2/3 Might points) again but failed to wound anyone yet again.
Kill count: Fellowship 18/37, Uruks 4/6. The Uruks are one unit away from breaking. I am soooo close to seeing this army vanish in a tough fight.

Turn 7: All Turns Black (P - Uruk-Hai)

The Uruks are in end-game phase, with most of them within 6" and visibility of the Uruk Captain. If he can pass his Courage test (1 Will and 1 Might remaining with Courage 4), the army will stay together. I also need to win just one more fight and kill one more unit.
Alas, not to be...Aragorn lost his fight by rolling a 3 high and was promptly dealt 5 wounds. Theoretically, if all three Fate points were successful, he would have received two of his three wounds. Unfortunately, only 1 of these rolls was successful (the other two were 2s, which even with the Free Might point wouldn't have been good). Following Aragorn's noble death was Legolas, who also lost his fight, failed all three of his Fate saves, and was dealt 9 wounds. Not a pleasant end for the game at all, except for Gaius who celebrated a major victory. 
Kill count: Fellowship 18/37, Uruks 6/6.


Assessment by Gaius:

Winning feels good. It does - especially when you have an army of Uruk-Hai and you best the Fellowship of the Ring. :) In all seriousness, the game moved quite smoothly. I don't handle crossbows very well, so it was tough playing against a skilled archer with a good bow shooting at my vulnerable hero and guardsmen. I like Vrasku's ability to shoot twice, but his Defense 5 is a real draw-back when fighting Strength 3 ranged weapons (as Tiberius' Free People armies all sport). Next time, Uruks with shields will be standing in front of them to provide some protection, but on the whole, they served as a good diversion, tying up a 95 point archer with 80 points of units and leading to his getting trapped before he could move towards his friends. It all worked in the end.

Assessment by Tiberius:

There's something about playing with the Fellowship that is both invigorating and disheartening. It's great to have all (or mostly) elite troops who win fights when they roll a 6 and smash through the enemy without a problem. What can be tough, though, is losing a hero before you're done using him. It's also a bit unnerving when Merry and Pippen die and you're one unit from breaking. It shouldn't be a problem against armies that don't sport the Golden King of Abrakhan, but it's a bit disheartening all the same. On the whole, it was a fairer game facing the full-force of the Uruk army this time, unlike the Clash of Piquets game we played a while back.

Stellar unit for the Fellowship: Aragorn with bow

Though the bow was no help in this game, Aragorn really did a good job (except at the end). I usually say that Aragorn can kill his weight in units (namely, score 180 points in a game). In this game, he only scored 70 points, but that's still really good for a short game. Legolas scored 90 points this game, but this consisted of the crossbow Captain Vrasku and 3 other units. For having more turns of archer, I expected more from him. On the whole, the heroes had a rough day, with no 6s in their Fights after Turn 2 (Gimli had a 6 in Turn 3, but nothing that high since that turn).

Stellar unit for the Uruk-Hai: Uruk-Hai Warrior with pikes

I very rarely give these guys the titles they deserve (same with Goblin spearmen). If it weren't for the overwhelming number of dice (and the all-but-guaranteed roll of a 6 with 8 attacking warriors), the Uruk-Hai would lose most (if not all of) their fights. The pikes are vulnerable to Strength 3 units (Legolas' bow and Gimli's throwing axe in this case), but against Strength 2 weapons (hobbits and Aragorn's bow) or Strength 4 heroes (everyone except the hobbits), these guys are solid troops (or at least, as solid as their shield-toting cousins). The ability to spell death for a hero in one turn of losing a fight like this game featured is invaluable. I am looking at converting two of my pikemen into crossbowmen to mimic this army with warg riders potentially coming in the future. In the mean time, keep an eye out for more hobby projects and games this coming week!

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