Friday, April 27, 2012

Amon Hen: The Uruk-Hai vs. The Fellowship

So...after so long without a post, here's what the Uruks looked like as of yesterday...
Dreadful shot, I know. This is actually a shot from a web cam (old camera finally died on me, so we're looking for a new one). In the meantime, later on this weekend, I hope to get some better shots of this army, so we'll see how that works out.
 Slightly better pic, but still not very good. I finished the detail work and washes for my Uruk-Hai and needed to get a game in. Gaius wasn't free today (as he works on Thursday), so I actually played a game with my wife, Elliryana. She doesn't play very often, but her record right now against me is 2-1-1. She's pretty good, actually. :) We try not to be too competitive at home, so we played the Amon Hen scenario from the Free Peoples Sourcebook with a bit of a twist. The points weren't even, but the fight was fairly close:

The Fist of Isengard: 363 points

Lurtz (Captain with shield stand-in) - 60 points [Commanded by Elliryana]
Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields - 90 points
3 Uruk-Hai Warriors with crossbows - 33 points

Uruk Captain with two-handed axe and heavy armor - 60 points [Commanded by Tiberius]
6 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields - 60 points
6 Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes - 60 points

26 units, 3 crossbows + 1 Orc bow, 2 heroes

The Fellowship: 695 points

Aragorn with  with Elven cloak and bow - 190 points [Commanded by Elliryana]
Gimli  with Elven cloak - 100 points
Samwise Gamgee  with Elven cloak - 40 points
Peregrin Took with Elven cloak - 20 points

Legolas  with Elven cloak 100 points [Commanded by Tiberius]
Boromir with Elven cloak 115 points
Frodo Baggins  with Elven cloak and mithril mail and Sting 110 points
Meriadoc Brandybuck  with Elven cloak 20 points

8 units, 1 Elf bow + 1 bow + 1 throwing axe + 4 thrown rocks, 8 heroes

The Amon Hen scenario is structured like this: the Amon Hen structure was in the southeast corner, while the rest of the board is littered with forest terrain, rocky ground, and a marsh. The Uruks began with priority, as they were surprising the Fellowship. To win the game, the Fellowship needs to get Frodo and Sam to the ships at the northwest corner (represented in our game). Evil, on the other hand, needs to run off any board edge (except near the area with the boats) with three or more hobbits. Any other scenario is a draw.

So my wife and I didn't take pictures as we went, but I'll try to explain what happened. You may have noticed in the pic up top that I painted Saruman yesterday and I'm really looking forward to using him soon, but right now we're just using a handful of Uruk-Hai. We're following warband rules (and honestly, I would have chosen my army a little differently if the warband rules didn't apply, but whatever) and deploying them appropriately.

Turn 1: The Enemy Appears (Priority - Uruks)

The armies move towards each other and the Fellowship responds to the ambush. Merry and Pippen promptly run away towards a marsh, while Frodo races down the stairs. Boromir hides behind the wall of the structure to avoid detection. Sam waits bravely by a rock cleft near the boats, ready to support Frodo in the final escape. The Uruks advance quickly, hoping to gang up on a few of the heroes and have a few units sweep past and attack the hobbits!

During the Shoot phase, Lurtz fires an arrow into the air and watches as it lands on Aragorn in front of him. Unfortunately for Lurtz, the arrow passes through his cloak and fails to do damage to the great warrior. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas use their ranged weapons against their foes and each succeed in killing one Uruk each during the Shoot phase for Good (Aragorn used his free Might point to hit the target, but each rolled a natural 6 to wound...ouch).

Kill count: Fellowship 3/26, Uruks 0/8.

Turn 2: The Great Charge (P - Uruks)

Merry and Pippen awaited the arrival of the enemy in the marsh (the center of the map), preparing to throw stones at their attackers as they approached. Legolas, in the meantime took up a point position in the woods nearby the hobbits to give some cover fire for both them and Frodo. Boromir was not seen as the Uruks moved (thanks to his Elven cloak and the building he sheltered in), allowing the Uruks to pass around him and charge into a flanking pikeman. Both Gimli and Aragorn charged two Uruks a piece, getting into the action quickly.

Legolas shot down an Uruk with shield and then leveled an arrow at the Uruk with pike behind him (1/3 Might). Feeling very happy, he reaches gracefully for another arrow for next round.

Aragorn won his fight but rolled low on his wound rolls. In order to save Might for later in the game, he judiciously decided not to wound anyone. Gimli lost his fight, but the stout armor of the Dwarf avoided all damage by the foes. Boromir fought with one Uruk with pike. He won his fight but didn't get any high wound rolls (not good).

Kill count: 
Fellowship 5/26, Uruks 0/8.

Turn 3: Surge Ahead! (P - Fellowship)

The Fellowship engaged several guys now, trying to tie down Uruks while giving Frodo the time to get across the board. All the same, some Uruks have broken past the three star melee heroes and prepare to charge the hobbits as they run.

Legolas unleashed three shots against the Uruks charging Merry and Pippen, but failed to wound any of them (could have wounded one, but that would have eaten up both of his remaining Might points). Very disappointing and strategically very, VERY bad.

Aragorn and Gimli were killing machines, engaging two Uruks each and killing them (Aragorn: free Might point, Gimli 1/3 Might). Boromir blew his horn and his enemies again stood firm. He won the fight and succeeded in killing the pikeman he failed to kill last round and wounded the Uruk captain (saved by Fate).

Kill count: 
Fellowship 10/26, Uruks 0/8.

Turn 4: Find the Halflings! (P - Uruks!)

So this was not a good turn for Evil to get priority (at least, not from the perspective of Good). Pippen and Frodo were engaged in combat, Legolas was tied down by two Uruks, and Boromir, Aragorn, and Gimli were tagged down by one Uruk each (Boromir fighting the Captain).

Merry and Pippen lost their fight against an Uruk and Pippen avoided being wounded with his Fate point. Frodo lost his fight and burned all 3 Fate points trying to prevent a wound by the Uruk he was facing. Aragorn won his fight and killed his guy. Gimli and Legolas did the same to their guys (Gimli: no Might, Legolas: 2/3 Might). Boromir got under the axe of the great Captain he was fighting and succeeded in dealing two wounds to him (2/6 Might).

Kill count: 
Fellowship 13/26, Uruks 0/8.

Turn 5: Bearing Down Hard (P - Evil)

Evil tied down Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir with one Uruk each to gang up two guys on Frodo. Boromir, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas each killed the guys they were facing, but Frodo lost his fight and was wounded twice (two 6s), knocking him out! Both Merry and Pippen lost their fights but survived (no wounds taken).

Kill count: 
Fellowship 17/26, Uruks 1/8.

Turn 6: Despair Is Kindled (P - Good)

Frodo was picked up by an angry Uruk who was able to rush him off the board edge at half-speed, scoring a point for Evil and making the game at worst a draw for Evil. Pippen lost his fight to an Uruk-Hai and was subsequently knocked out. Legolas attempted to shoot an Uruk in combat with Merry but failed and Merry subsequently lost his fight, but avoided taking a wound with his Fate point. I think Aragorn and Gimli killed guys this round, but I don't really remember.

Kill count: Fellowship 19/26, Uruks 1/8.

Turn 7: The Race Is On (P - Evil)

Pippen was picked up by an Uruk this round and the race is on now to escape off a board edge with him. Lurtz, in the mean time, is racing to overtake Sam, who has retreated towards the boats. Legolas wounds Lurtz with a keen shot, but the wound is saved by Fate. Gimli kills the Uruk he is fighting and looks forward to getting back to the hobbits, instead of being tied down with Uruk-Hai.

Kill count: Fellowship 20/26, Uruks 1/8.

Turn 8: Hedging Defenses (P - Good)

Boromir killed another Uruk warrior and Legolas lost his fight against an Uruk warrior. Fortunately for him, he wasn't wounded. I don't really remember what else happened here, but it wasn't good for Good.

Kill count: Fellowship 22/26, Uruks 1/8.

Turn 9: Closing In For The Kill (P - Evil)

Lurtz successfully charged Sam, won the fight (1/3 Might), and wounded Sam twice - BUT, Sam passed both of his Fate saves, to keep two healthy wounds on himself. Aragorn was wounded (Wounds 1/3), and Boromir killed the guy he was facing.

Kill count: Fellowship 23/26, Uruks 1/8.

Turn 10: The Final Blow (P - Evil)

Lurtz charged Sam and won the fight easily, wounding Sam twice and knocking him out (3/3 Might). Aragorn killed the crossbowman that he was fighting, leaving Lurtz as the lone Uruk-Hai remaining. Boromir ended his Move Phase in base contact with Pippen, reviving him.

Kill count: Fellowship 17/26, Uruks 1/8.

With Lurtz as the only Uruk left, the game will end in a draw. We did round 11 anyway, and Lurtz narrowly escaped off the board edge (Evil won priority, but Lurtz couldn't have been reached even if Good got priority).


Assessment by Tiberius and Elliryana:

The game was fun, but both Elliryana and I noticed a few things we would have done differently. First and foremost, the hobbits are always in the best position if they stay in the center of the map. Second, the Uruks needed, from the beginning, to simply focus on getting past the heroes (as they did in the movies). A prolonged conflict with these guys is really not a good idea. Of all the heroes that could have been killed during this game, Legolas and Boromir would have been the best bets (low Defense and archery from Legolas, no Fate for Boromir). Still, it was a fun game (and draws are rare when the Fellowship is playing).

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

The Uruks with pikes did some of the better things in the game (and rarely get the recognition they need). Not only did an Uruk with pike support another Uruk with pike to wound Frodo twice, but most of the time that a hobbit was picked up, the guy hauling the load was carrying a pike. They also make for great distractions for the more resilient and main-stay Uruks with shields. All told, they did the best job out of any of the units in this game, potentially because so many of the foes were Strength 4 and therefore took out the defensive bonus of the Uruks with shields.

Stellar unit for the Fellowship: Gimli

When we play games with the Fellowship, it's hard for one unit to really stand out (in this game, four heroes had 4+ kills, which is unheard of in most games (though I'll admit, four heroes in general is unheard of in most games). Gimli is one of the most consistent heroes (whether fighting with the rest of the Fellowship or with his bearded fellows) and is always a favorite of mine. In this game, he not only remained unwounded, but also managed to kill more units than all the other guys (including one kill with a throwing axe with no Might expended). He was also one of two units to come close to paying for himself (Boromir being the other, but he got a Captain under his belt, which really inflated his score).

Oh...sneak peak into something new I've been working on...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Enter the Dragon(s)

Just a quick progress report on the men of the East. I have completed the first batch of Dragon Guard. I’d have to say I’m very pleased with how they have turned out.

I decided to only give sashimonos to roughly half of the troops - partly because I was feeling too lazy to make 20 of them, and partly because I couldn't decide whether they looked better with or without the sashimono.

Since these are the elite Dragon Guard, I wanted to stay away from the typical easterling colors so they will stand out from the rest of my easterling force. I opted for a greenish scheme to reflect their dragon-esqueness. The slight green hue to their armor doesn't show particularly well in the pictures, but it is a nice subtle effect to make them look more like actual dragon scales.

Paintjob:basecoat: black
Boots: (p3) battlefield brown
Armor: my own special blend of (P3) Pig Iron and (GW) Chaos black
cloth: (GW) hawk turquoise
sword handles & center of shields: (GW) tin bitz
blades: (P3) pig iron
Gems: (GW) liche purple layered over the bottom 2/3s of (GW) chaos black with a dot of skull white for the highlight

All armor and cloth received a light wash in (P3) turquoise ink, then I edge highlighted with (P3) Pig Iron - including picking out random individual scales before following with a light wash in (GW) badab black to blend it all together. Finally I went back with a highlight of (GW) hawk turquoise for the cloth. I stayed away from my typical devlan mud washes, and tried to be careful to brush off any excess wash to prevent buildup to give them a clean, polished look. After all, these are the most superior troops of the most elite force evil has to offer!

It was by far the most complicated process I've used for painting rank and file troops, but I think it really payed off!

Major lesson learned: thinning your paints really does make a difference! It makes for a much smoother finish. I'm very much a "paint right from the pot" guy, no fancy pallets or anything for me - and what do you do with all that pain that is left drying out on the pallet? such a waste!. But this is one change I will definitively maintain. I don't do anything fancy with mine, I just added a little water straight into the pot and gave it a good shake to mix it up. It doesn't take much, you don't want to thin the paint too much (I think I over-thinned my pig iron - all the metallic flakes keeps trying to settle to the bottom now, so I have to stir it up with a toothpick before using it). Just a few drops seemed to go a long way towards improving the finished product.

Next step: stripping the old cruddy paintjob off the dozen pre-owned easterlings so I can paint them up right!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The House of the Rising Sun...

6 weeks with no posts. Mea culpa. Since the tournament life has kinda taken over – I'm 3 weeks from finishing my M.A. and that crunch has seriously cut into my hobby time. But it has not been completely silent on the crafting front.

As you've probably seen from Tiberius' prior posts, the effort I put into my elves paid off. Despite having the smallest army in the tournament, the Vanguard of Rivendell was able to pull off two major victories and a draw – just enough to squeeze out a tournament win. From this I learned a couple very important lessons:

  1. having a F5 shield wall rocks - to the point of being borderline unfair. Despite being heavily outnumbered in every scenario, my converted elves (see here) were able to spread out plug gaps – often taking on 2-3 troops at a time, and were able to hold entire flanks at bay so the spears could focus on meting out the damage elsewhere.
  2. Elf bows are evil. Yeah, I've heard this plenty, but seeing as most of my armies are D4/D6, I'm rarely on the brunt end of this – and don't flinch at facing off against Tiberius' wood elves. But I faced a lot of D5 in the tournament, and the quality of elf archers really showed
  3. I am done painting elves. Done. No more. Can't take it. It was great to get through 60%ish in time for the tournament, but I need to work on something else for a while.

So what is next on the agenda? Well, I recently acquired the fallen realms sourcebook, and as I turned the pages I yawned my way through Isenguard, cringed at the manner GW has castrated Harad and then I saw it: GW has finally decided to give the Eastern Realms a fighting chance! No more overpriced pikes, no more gondorians in golden armor, and no more stupid “swordbound”-ness. The Easterlings have arrived!

Easterlings have always been “my first love.” They were the first army I started, and I have always wanted to muster them into a decent fighting force. And with the inclusion of the Dragon Guard upgrade, I think they may have turned into just that – the elite forces of evil that they were always meant to be. For the moment, we'll put aside the rant about Dol Amroth getting the same stat line and a special rule for a smaller price, and the fact that Amdur and the Khandish King's banner rules don't cross-apply when they are considered the same list, or the killing off of the Khandish mercs. We will pretend we are not bitter about the favoritism that Good receives, because someone at GW finally noticed us!

Look look! It's time for the closeup!

So watch this space over the coming months for further updates from the East. I have already acquired another box of warriors (the old 20 packs, not the new box-ette) to add to my old ebay-acquired, prepainted army (some of which will get a repaint), and a dragon knight on horseback (my first, and probably last failcast purchase) and have started converting up a storm.

And just to hint at what is to come, my plans for this army include:
  • Numerous warrior conversions
  • Easterling king in Chariot conversion (khandish king rules)
  • Dragon knight(s) on foot conversion(s)
  • Sashimos for the dragon guard
  • converted Easterling captain
  • A female Easterling captain (eowyn conversion)  
Most of these are already in various stages of progress, so here is a short sampling: 

Dragon Guard reposes

Easterling Pike conversions

more reposes and test model of Dragon Guard color scheme
brass rod + superglue covered paper + grey stuff =   sashimo factory (WIP) 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Uruk-Hai Month: Take 2, Week 3

So this weekend, I did a little more touch-up work on my Uruks and welcomed a few more acquisitions on Friday:
All the way from Utah (thanks to a great deal on ebay) is Saruman, who showcases the Palantir that I intend to use in my games with him. Saruman has always interested me, though I've been afraid that his D5 will not allow him to fight against armies that sport S3 bows in their volley teams (which both my Dwarves and Elves sport). However, my desire to get some element of surprise (and magical dominance) with my Uruk army has encouraged me to make the bid on him.
Second addition: Radagast the Brown! Yes, I can't stay away  from spell-casters (and no, mine will not be this detailed). This tactical spell-casting hero will be the subject of a later post as I phase out of Uruk-Hai Month and change over to Spell-Bound Month, but needless to say, I've had my eyes on this hero for a while now and he's finally here!
Finally, a new sourcebook. Anyone who reads this blog will know that my heart lies first and foremost with my Wood Elves and my Dwarves, so getting a book that includes both of those armies (as well as a lot of neat others like the Fellowship and the White Council) is a real boon. With some of the new rules greatly benefiting the Elves (and establishing some clarity about what weapons a Dwarf starts with), this provides the opportunity to have the new profiles available and at a glance and have a look into the finer workings of creating warbands. Don't know how often you'll see warbands used on this blog (since I don't really care for the system that much), but I'll give them a few chances in friendly games with Gaius (who is excited to see how the armies fair).
That'll be it for now, but looking forward to glossing up the Uruks this coming week (we're a bit behind, but I blame that on being WAY too busy). I'm also putting together a set of posts on spell-casters, to be the first collaborative posting between the contributors on this blog, so watch this page!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Declaration of Nerd-dom: Statistics in the Lord of the Rings SBG

I think in numbers. When I'm having problems staying awake, I perform mathematics. When I'm trying to fall asleep...I try not to think of numbers. If I'm lying in bed trying to decide whether I want to wake up, I think of numbers. Yes, I'm a nerd. So to show a bit of the math I began one day in bed and finished here at the computer, we're going to do some statistical looks at common situations that have faced my Dwarf army in the Strategy Battle Game.

Scenario #1: Entanglement against an army of Haradhrim

Haradhrim, up until the new rules, were the best bargain for cost that an Evil player could get. With the new rules, the army costs roughly the same as other armies but still poses a strong threat to an army of Dwarves. In large part, this is due to the large amount of bows that the army can field, but another element to the threat is the vast proliferation of spears in an army from Harad. Since the Dwarf units have (by and large) no spears in their army, confrontations with Harad means that there will be more foes standing against your Dwarves in combat. We'll look at the following army as an example, facing off against an army of Dwarves which is nearly like one that I intend to showcase in a near-future article:

Haradhrim Army: The Serpent's Sting

Golden King of Abrakhan - 115 points
Suladan with bow - 95 points
2 Haradhrim Chieftains - 90 points
12 Serpent Guard - 160 points
20 Haradhrim Warriors with bows - 140 points
8 Abrakhan Merchant Guards - 64 points

600 points, 44 units, 21 bows, 4 heroes

Dwarf Army: The Folk of Durin

Gimli, Son of Gloin - 90 points
Balin, Son of Fundin - 75 points
2 Shield-Bearers - 120 points
6 Khazad Guards - 66 points
8 Dwarf Warriors with shields - 72 points
10 Dwarf Warriors with Dwarf bows - 90 points
6 Dwarf Rangers with throwing axes - 60 points
2 Dwarf Rangers with two-handed axes - 14 points
1 Dwarf Ranger with Dwarf longbow - 10 points

597 points, 37 units, 10 Dwarf bows + 1 Dwarf longbow + 8 throwing axes, 4 heroes

As you can see in this sample army (most cheaply built if one converts Haradhrim Warriors with spears into Serpent Guard), the Haradhrim with the new army rules can sport an army with a lot of bows and a lot of spears, including 20 Fight 4 warriors with poisoned blades or the Chop! special rule (not to mention 21 S2 bows with poisoned arrows). As a Dwarf commander, you're faced with the need to kill the Serpent Guards and the Abrakhan Guards for sure, but the heroes and two volley teams will provide some difficult before the melee is engaged. What do you do? Statistically, let's look at what you might do...

Chances of winning a fight: quick calculation
When two dice are rolled, there are only 36 combinations that could arise. 15 cases will result in one dice being higher than a second, while another 15 cases will result in the one dice being lower than the second. The remaining 6 rolls will be ties. This means that, without ties in consideration, a player has a 42% chance of rolling a winning roll when he and his opponent are rolling a single dice.

The ties, of course, are won by the player with the highest Fight value. Against Serpent Guard and Abrakhan Guards, however, the ties "statistically should" split evenly between the Dwarf and the Haradhrim unit he faces. This means the chance of winning the fight is a 50% chance. If we consider the roll to wound, then, we will have a 33-50% chance to wound, depending on whether the Dwarf fighting against the foe has Strength 3 or 4. With the match-ups below, here's what the battle looks like:

-2x6 Serpent Guard
-1x8 Abrakhan Guard
-TOTAL: 14 attackers

-1x6 Khazad Guard
-1x8 Dwarf Warrior with shield
-TOTAL: 14 defenders

If we compare the 8 fights between the Abrakhan Guards and the Dwarf Warriors with shields, the break-down goes as follows:
-4 Dwarves win their fights, 1.33 Wounds dealt
-4 Abrakhan Guards win, 1.33 Wounds dealt
Reasoning: the D7 of your front line means that both you and the Abrakhan Guards win the fight and wound the foe evenly. This is unmatched in the rest of Middle-Earth, but it's still risky.

In the 6 fights between the Serpent Guards and the Khazad Guards, we need a different statistic to determine who wins the fight. In this case, the Dwarf is the "attacker" and the Haradhrim are the "defenders". The result, as you can see, is that the Dwarves win 33% of the fights and the Serpent Guards win 66% of the fights:
-2 Dwarves win their fights, 0.67 Wounds dealt
-4+4 Serpent Guards win, 1.6 Wounds dealt
Reasoning: the D7 of the Khazad Guards require a roll of a 6 to wound. The Poisoned Blades of the Serpent Guard, allows them to reroll 6 of 36 combinations, one of which would succeed in wounding. With 7/36 of the rolls resulting in a wound, 20% of their attacks succeed in killing their opponent. Unlike the fight before, this fight is a bit less fair, with the Haradhrim scoring twice as many kills as the Dwarves.

Melee comparison: If you take the wound ratings shown above and compare that to each individual unit, the Abrakhan Guards have a 17% chance of killing a Dwarf, while the Serpent Guard have a 7% chance of killing a Dwarf. Pretty clear that we should be killing the Abrakhan Guards, right? We'll let's look quickly at the archers...

21 bows (including Suladan) means a lot of arrows all the time. Calculating a statistical chance of wounding with bows is much easier, as you can see with the explanation below:

Volley Fire: 21 bows x (16% chance to hit) x (8% chance to wound) = 0.29 Wounds/round
Direct Fire: 21 bows x (50% chance to hit) x (8% chance to wound) = 0.88 Wounds/round

The shots calculated here consider how easy it is to wound a Dwarf Warrior with shield or a Khazad Guard. The ability to wound a Dwarf Warrior with Dwarf bow or a Dwarf Ranger will be easier and double the chances of wounding. If this is the case, 21 archers are supposed to kill nearly 2 Dwarves at close range and 1 Dwarf every 2 turns at volley. This means that each archer has an 8% chance of killing a Dwarf with D5-D6, making the Abrakhan Guards the most likely to kill any Dwarf at a given time. Statistically speaking, it's best to kill these guys. Since we've selected the Abrakhan Guards as our targets, we'll see how many hits and wounds we get with our Strength 3 Dwarf bows:

Volley Fire: 10 Dwarf bows x (16% chance to hit) x (33% chance to wound) = 0.56 Wounds/round 
Direct Fire: 10 Dwarf bows x (50% chance to hit) x (33% chance to wound) = 1.67 Wounds/round

If your volley team is left alive by the time it is able to fire directly, they are supposed to kill 1-2 Haradhrim each turn. For having half of the archer force of your opponent, that's not bad. At the same time, you might kill 1 unit every 2 turns while volleying, so you're not going to kill many units before battle begins. A good Dwarf general would be careful then, before rushing into battle, as the overwhelming numbers of the enemy (outnumber by 7 in this case) could really hurt your army.

Scenario #2:  Entanglement against an army of Uruk-Hai

The comparison between Dwarves and Uruk-Hai is similar to the comparison against Haradhrim with a few exceptions: first, Uruk-Hai have Defense 6 instead of Defense 4, and second, Uruk-Hai have crossbows and smaller numbers. Here's a sample army we'll look at:

Uruk-Hai Army: The Slaughter Lines

2 Uruk Captains with shields - 110 points
*Vrasku - 60 points
Uruk-Hai Shaman - 50 points
17 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields - 170 points
10 Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes - 100 points
10 Uruk-Hai Warriors with crossbows - 110 points

600 points, 41 units, 11 crossbows*, 4 heroes

On the whole, the Uruks barely outnumber the Dwarves (by 4), so this game should be close. In melee combat, there are 27 Uruks to fight 14 heavily-defended Dwarf Warriors and Khazad Guards. Here's the break-down of the fights as estimated:

-2x10 Shields + Pikes
-2x3 Shields + Shields
-1x1 Shields
-TOTAL: 14 attackers

-1x6 Khazad Guard
-1x8 Dwarf Warrior with shield
-TOTAL: 14 defenders

We're going to assume that the double-up fights of the Uruks are occurring on the flanks and so we'll have those three fights against shield-bearing Dwarf Warriors. If we compare 5 fights between the Uruk Shields + Pikes and the Dwarf Warriors with shields (and 5 fights between similar units and Khazad Guards), the break-down goes as follows:
-2 Dwarf Warriors and 2 Khazad guards win their fights, 0.33 + 0.67 Wounds dealt (1 dead Uruk)
-6+6 Uruks win, 2.00 Wounds dealt
Reasoning: the D7 of the Dwarves make it harder for the Uruks to win (and completely negates the Strength 4 stat of the Uruk-Hai). The D6 of the Uruks, however, negates most of the chance of the Dwarf Warriors of scoring wounds, though the Khazad guards have it much, MUCH easier. Still, the Uruks have the advantage because of their pike support.

The remaining fights break down as follows:
-1 Dwarf vs. 1 Uruk: each has a 50% chance of winning the fight and a 16% chance of killing their foe...
-2 Dwarves vs. 4 Uruks: the Dwarves have a 33% chance of winning their fights and a 16% chance of killing their foe, while the 4 Uruks have a 66% chance of winning their fights and a 16% chance of killing their foes; final tally: the Dwarves have an 11% chance of killing their foes, while the Uruks have a 44% chance of killing their foes. Having the extra guys really, really helps.

The key to stopping the melee fights, therefore, is to remove the ability to get more than 1 Uruk in each fight. This, of course, means, we're shooting at the pikemen:

Volley Fire: 10 Dwarf bows x (16% chance to hit) x (33% chance to wound) = 0.56 Wounds/round 
Direct Fire: 10 Dwarf bows x (50% chance to hit) x (33% chance to wound) = 1.67 Wounds/round

I'll mention now that the chance of wounding the pikemen here is just as easy as wounding Abrakhan Guards in the Haradhrim army. The ability to kill some of these pikemen before the fight is possible but shouldn't be counted on as a way to whittle down the foe. We must consider, however, if we should instead shoot at the crossbows instead (same likelihood of wounding, so we're focusing on damage caused).

Direct Fire: 10 crossbows x (50% chance to hit) x (16% chance to wound) = 0.83 Wounds/round
Direct Fire (Vrasku): 2 crossbow shots x (66% chance to hit) x (16% chance to wound) = 0.22 Wounds/round

Each crossbowman has an 8% chance of killing his foe, while the Uruks in close combat have a 16% chance when fighting two-to-one. This means that the targets should be the pikemen, as we estimated before.

Scenario #3:  Entanglement against an army of Goblins

Goblins provide a different dynamic when running the statistics: no Fight 4 units. The Bat Swarm can change this quite a bit, but on the whole, the Dwarves will win ties. Here's a sample Goblin army to show what the statistics are:

Goblin Army: The Host of the Mountains

Durburz, Goblin King of Moria - 60 points
2 Goblin Captains with shields - 80 points
1 Goblin Shaman - 45 points
16 Goblin Warriors with shields - 80 points
16 Goblin Warriors with spears - 80 points
12 Goblin Warriors with Orc bows - 60 points
2 Cave Trolls - 160 points
Bat Swarm - 35 points

600 points, 51 units, 12 Orc bows, 4 heroes

The fact that Goblins have so many units is, in fact, a bother to most Dwarves (outnumbering the Dwarves by 14 in this set-up). We all know we need to shoot Trolls to death before they get to us, but we just won't have the units to fight off over 40 Green Skins by the time they arrive, ready for battle. Let's see why:

-2x12 Goblin Warriors with shields + spears
-4x2 Goblin Warriors shields + spears
-TOTAL: 14 attackers

-1x6 Khazad Guard
-1x8 Dwarf Warrior with shield
-TOTAL: 14 defenders

Here's how the 2-on-1 fights go:
-3 Dwarf Warriors + 2 Khazad Guards win their fights, 1.67 Wounds dealt
-7+7 Goblin Warriors win their fights, 1.20 Wounds dealt
Reasoning: despite winning many more fights, the Goblins have the statistical likelihood of wounding fewer Dwarves than the Dwarves wound Goblins. One of twelve dead Dwarves, of course, is larger than 1.5 dead Goblins out of twenty-four, but it's fairly close.

The 4-on-1 fights, we will assume, involve Dwarves with shields. By using the shielding, rule, the calculation is fairly similar to rolling 1 dice against 2 (a few percentage points in favor of the Goblins, but it's a small difference). These uneven fights have a similar trend, then, as shown above. In this case, of course, the Goblins who win their fights double their likelihood of wounding solely because they have more dice, upping the likelihood of wounding from those shown above. The Dwarves deal 0.25 Wounds, while the Goblins deal 0.8 Wounds...not very fair, no?

Shooting at Goblin Warriors is a simple choice from the perspective of archery: they're all D4 or D5, so you wound them on 5s. Your archers do as they have in the last few times (we'll review again for good measure):

Volley Fire: 10 Dwarf bows x (16% chance to hit) x (33% chance to wound) = 0.56 Wounds/round 
Direct Fire: 10 Dwarf bows x (50% chance to hit) x (33% chance to wound) = 1.67 Wounds/round

The Goblin archery, though is less impressive than previous cases have been:

Volley Fire: 12 bows x (16% chance to hit) x (8% chance to wound) = 0.17 Wounds/round
Direct Fire: 12 bows x (33% chance to hit) x (8% chance to wound) = 0.33 Wounds/round

Even with direct fire, the archers are only set to kill one Dwarf (if he is D7) every three rounds. Volleying against the archers may be useful to keep fire from your troops, but on the while, you shouldn't lose many units to these shots. Targeting the spearmen will probably do more of an impact on the game (at least until the archers join in the melee).

So...there was some interesting math from the perspective of my doughty Dwarves. I didn't include the likelihood of the throwing axes or Dwarf longbow dealing damage, but the choice of who you shoot with these weapons tend to be less tactical since the choices are much more limited. If you've thought through this as well, I'd love to hear from you in comments.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Uruk-Hai Month: Take 2, Week 2

So I spent part of the last few weekends working on my Uruk-Hai bases and am pretty happy with how they're finally shaping up. Final touch-ups on the models and bases followed by a wash in mud and these guys should be fully painted. I hope to get pics up soon, but you'll notice in the pictures that the skin is painted a little differently and with the addition of the wash, their skin should get darker, but more noticeably different from the black armor they wear. Next week is glossing time, and then everything should be set.

But since one cannot simply do hobby projects to understand whether or not the army he's making is a good one, I invited my good mate Glenstorm to play-test his newest arrivals: the Grey Company of Arnor. As an army, the Grey Company are a bit daunting, not only because they can be allied into other armies easily and provide a volley team (or two) for a minimal amount of points, but also because they bring a very respectable Fight value of 4/3+ to the field, making them superb archers and excellent in-combat warriors. For 8 points each, Rangers of Arnor are well worth taking. For every four of these warriors in the army, a Dunedain player must also take at least one Dunedain Ranger or Ranger of the North. For 24-26 points, these guys bring the same profile with the following additions: Strength 4, Courage 5, 1M/1W/1F, the ability to call Stand Fasts! and heroic actions (with their single Might point), and Defense 5 (Rangers of the North only). All told, these mini-captains are great for those moments where you wish you had a Might point and they're cheap to allow for a good allied contingent to bring a punch without eating a chunk out of the army (a full volley team could be bought for as little as 112 points without the need to pay for 20 non-bow warriors).

The armies we fought with looked like this:

The Fist of Isengard: 503 points

Uruk-Hai Captain with shield - 55 points
Uruk-Hai Shaman with armor (stand-in: banner) - 55 points
Vrasku - 60 points
18  Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields - 180 points
12  Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes - 120 points
3 Uruk-Hai Warriors with crossbows - 33 points

36 units, 3 crossbows + Vrasku, 3 heroes

The Grey Company: 500 points

Aragorn, Isildur's Heir - 200 points
Rangers of the North - 75 points
3 Dunedain with spears - 75 points
12 Rangers of Arnor - 96 points
6 Rangers of Arnor with spear - 54 points

25 units, 25 bows, 7 heroes

We played a Meeting Engagement game, but didn't record it because one of the new batteries I got from the store was a dud (very not pleased with that). But the basic summary of the game is provided below:

1) The Rangers volleyed and barraged my Uruks for a long time and killed about 7 of them at range (not bad, all-told). During that time, my Shaman saved 1 unit (again, about average).
2) My crossbows had problems staying in range of these guys, but once they were ready, they nailed 5 warriors (Vrasku taking down 2 of those guys and knocking a wound off of Aragorn). All told, the warriors nearly paid for themselves during 2 rounds of archery and Vrasku paid for 1/3 of his cost plus wounded Aragorn.
3) The Shaman's Fury rolls didn't save many, but I wasn't expecting them to. I learned very quickly, that you need to keep a long line of troops to protect the Shaman because when Aragorn calls that Heroic Combat, he's coming for the angry guy in the back. Needless to say, one bad round with Aragorn and a roll of a 1 on a Fate point later, and the Shaman was out of the game.
4) Never depend on your Uruk Captains to pass their courage tests when the game is ending. This is no news to me, I just don't like being reminded of it.
5) Uruk pike support against Rangers is incredible, since you get 2-3 attacks and you need to roll a 4 to kill - absolutely incredible. I've learned this fighting against other D4 units like Goblin spearmen and archers, but it feels different when the unit you're killing is nearly your cost (not half of your cost).
6) The Rangers need to make up for their small numbers in one of two ways: first, be an allied contingent to another force (allowing you to get more troops instead of paying 24-26 points for a lesser hero once every five troops), or second, kill lots of units in the Shoot phase and be able and willing to skirmish with the enemy (volleying and advancing, then shooting directly and falling back).
7) End result: Uruks were dropped to exactly 25% on Turn 11 or so, while the Rangers were 2 units away from reaching that point as well. Very close game (by score, not so much on the board because Aragorn was virtually untouched) and LOTS of fun. Minor win for the Rangers and a good welcoming to the battle space.
7) I'm very much considering buying a box of rangers from Glenstorm and preparing a very special surprise with them...

I've decided after this game that I'm not entirely sold on the shaman, but need to give him a few more practice tests. In the mean time, I've bid on Saruman, Grima, and Gandalf (conversion to Radagast impending) so the army of Uruks will have a few more heroes to assist them (mostly in large games, but also because I love spell-casters and tactical heroes).

Until next time, enjoy the hobbying experience!