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!


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