Sunday, June 3, 2012

Storm The Camp: Wood Elves vs. Uruk-Hai

So for Battle Report #2 for Wood Elf month, we're having a friendly Storm the Camp game between the Wood Elves and Uruk-Hai. Today's mission, though, places an added challenge on the Elves, as evidenced in the army lists below:

The Fist of Isengard: 502 points

Saruman the Colorful - 170 points
18 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields - 180 points
11 Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes - 110 points
1 Uruk-Hai Warrior - 9 points (unit with two-handed axe)
3 Uruk-Hai Warriors with crossbows - 33 points

34 units, 3 crossbows, 1 hero

The Defenders of Lothlorien: 400 points

Celeborn with Elven blade, heavy armor, and shield - 150 points
8 Wood Elf Warriors with Elven blades and throwing daggers - 80 points
10 Wood Elf Warriors with Wood Elf spears - 80 points
3 Wood Elf Warriors with Elf bows and Elven blades - 30 points
6 Galadhrim Warriors with Elf bows - 60 points

28 units, 9 Elf bows + 8 throwing daggers, 1 hero

As you can see, the points in this game are not even - the Uruks have the advantage. This game is to identify the melee capabilities of Celeborn while also chronicling for the first time on this blog the capabilities of Saruman, the great wizard of Isengard. Unlike the two games I've played already with Saruman (sadly not recorded here on this blog), Saruman benefited from Strength 2 bows in the enemy army. In this game, Saruman runs the danger of being targeted by the Elven arrow fire (though no volley fire is in this game). It will be a battle to see whether or not Saruman can focus on transfixing Celeborn or whether he needs to spend his time casting Sorcerous Blast against the vulnerable Wood Elves (the Wood Elf Warriors are wounded on at least 4s by the blast).
To win this scenario, each army has a table corner which serves as their "camp". If, at the end of any turn, there are more opposing units within a camp than defending units, the game ends with the victory going t to the invading side. If both camps are "taken" in the same round, the game ends in a draw. Major victory/loss is awarded if a hero (in this game, the hero) is alive. The board has a smattering of woods, rocky areas, and a marsh. The center of the field is left open, to allow for open combat on the way to the objectives. The Uruks won the roll off and have chosen to select their corner (the northwest corner), ceding priority to the Elves for the first turn.
I'm putting finishing touches on two posts which provide details on the two heroes listed here. I'm going to try to get those posts finished after this one (where I have time to test what I write about and lend my analysis some credibility). In the meantime, allow me to simply say that Saruman the Colorful is your stereo-typical wizard who benefits from casting Transfix on a 2+ and Compel on a 3+ (better than other wizards) and has a Palantir, which allows him to seize priority during one round (great for catching Wood Elves and other skirmish units). Celeborn, on the other hand, has a few Will points which he could use to cast Immobilize or Aura of Command (everyone within 6" passes any Courage tests), but seeing as this army is facing Saruman and happens to pass most Courage tests anyway, it doesn't look like he'll be casting much. Thankfully, Celeborn is also decked for combat and shares most of the stat line of Elrond (except he doesn't have an Elven ring to pass Fate rolls easier).

Turn 1: (Priority - Wood Elves)

Both armies advance towards each other and as typical, Saruman fails to cast Terrifying Aura on himself. I chuckled and we began the next turn. The Elves are almost in archery range and will definitely be in range next turn. I could have not paid for the heavy armor for Celeborn and instead gain another archer to complete the volley team, but part of me wanted to make sure Celeborn was wounded on 6s by the Uruks instead of 5s and the other part of me wanted to see what happens when there is no volleying. No pic this round, nothing interesting.

Turn 2: (P - Uruk-Hai)
The armies continue to move towards each other, but the Elven archers are now in range. The Uruks are marching in the Warhammer Fantasy "Lance" formation, providing a solid two-lines of protection for their pikes. Gaius thought it would be cool, but I have my doubts.
This round, the Elven archers killed a single man, slain by a Wood Elf arrow. First kill is an Uruk (no surprise). 
Kill count: Wood Elves 1/34, Uruks 0/28.

Turn 3: (P - tied, Wood Elves)
So I actually didn't want priority this turn, but I'll take it I guess. Since I'm fighting against a Movement 6 army instead of a Movement 5 army, my chances that I get more than one round of throwing weapons in is not very likely. I move up so that he cannot charge me (about 8" away) and wait to see what he does. The Uruks form up, allowing their crossbows to fire on the archers guarding my base and Saruman rolls up his sleeves to do some magic.
Magic he does: he spends 2 Will points (free + 1/6 W) to cast Sorcerous Blast against one of my throwing dagger guys and blasts him into two of the men behind him. The target and one of the spears go down hard and do not rise (1/3 Might paid to wound).
In the Shoot phase, the Elves kill one Uruk guarding the crossbowmen, but fail to kill anyone else. The Uruks respond with two of their three crossbow bolts hitting, killing two Galadhrim Elves. Youch...
Kill count: Wood Elves 2/34, Uruks 4/28. The Uruks are coming out hard from the get-go.

Turn 4: (P - Wood Elves)
Sigh, here we go again...out of charge range and I've got the skirmish troops. So, I maneuver my guys to again force him to advance slowly or get hit by sharp things. Celeborn moves so that he has a clear view of Saruman and casts Immobilize him. With a 5 rolled on a single dice, Saruman decides to just roll his free dice and gets a 5 as well. A great cheer arose from his Uruk minions as Celeborn fell into the Elven battle line. The Uruks moved up into charge range, knowing that they needed to get the jump on the next turn before the Elves were united as one force. 
Since the Uruks were within 3" of Celeborn, Saruman cast Compel on the great Elven lord with a single dice (2/6 W). Celeborn paid another Will point (2/3 W) and a Might point (1/3 M) to resist the spell. With a single Will point left, I'm a little afraid of what this spell-caster will do once the fighting starts (as wizards are the one kind of spell-caster that you can't just "wait out").
In the Shoot phase, a Galadhrim Warrior killed an Uruk crossbowman and the crossbows returned fire and killed another Galadhrim. The Uruks are on a roll...
Kill count: Wood Elves 3/34, Uruks 5/28. The fun will begin depending on who gets priority...

Turn 5: (P - Saruman seizes priority...uh-oh)
THIS is where Saruman comes into a field all his own. Using the Palantir of Orthanc, Saruman seizes priority and I am left helpless to do anything (besides potentially wasting one of my two Might points to try to move first). The Uruks press hard on the lines and Saruman uses his free Will point to cast Transfix on Celeborn. With his last Will point and one of his remaining Might points (2/3 M), Celeborn resists the spell and knows he has one turn to cut through the Uruk lines and reach the enemy caster. Not. Good. Nothing of interest happened in the Shoot phase.
Celeborn uses his final Might point to call a heroic combat: he narrowly wins the fight and crashes three fatal blows on the Uruk in front of him. He then advances on one of the nearby pikemen, whose control zone protected both Saruman and the retreating pikeman.
The Elves obviously felt their reputation was on the line, because they won all but two fights. More than that, the Elves lost one of their number (trapped and alone, poor bloke) and dealt six kills in return (one by Celeborn). After rolling 6 after 6 after 6, the Elves remain alive and deal a terrible blow to the Uruk army.
Kill count: Wood Elves 10/34, Uruks 6/28. The Uruks are 7 units away from breaking, while the Elves are only 8 units away...this should be pretty close.

Turn 6: (P - Wood Elves!)
The Elves charge and fail with all their throwing daggers (yet again). Celeborn is the last to charge and he places himself so that he cannot be trapped. The Five remaining Uruks with shields are far from him, so all he'll be facing are pikes. Saruman, no surprise, successfully casts Transfix on Celeborn. The other fights are fairly one-sided. No one shot in the Shoot phase, as the Elven archers have charged and the Uruk crossbows reformed to protect their base.
In the Fight phase, five Uruks beat Celeborn (who despite being Transfixed still rolls a 6 to win the fight) and score two wounds, both of which were saved by his Fate points (3/3 F used). With one other dice rolling a 5 in the rolls to wound, I'm really happy I took the heavy armor this game. In the other fights, the Elves clearly had the advantage, but only killed 3 Uruks this round. The Uruks, in turn, won two fights and killed no one. The Elves must be blessed.
Kill count: Wood Elves 13/34, Uruks 6/28.

Turn 7: (P - Wood Elves again!)

The Wood Elves charge again and this time, their throwing daggers worked! Two Uruks fell, which not only pays for the weapons, but chopped a good hole in the Uruk battle line. Celeborn is, once again, transfixed by Saruman - BUT, Saruman rolled a 1, so he paid a Might point to make it work (2/3 M). Three Elves and two Uruk crossbows fired warning shots at each other (not even hitting each phase). We realized after taking this shot, btw, that one of the pikemen was free to move and so he backed up the Uruk fighting Celeborn.
In the Fight phase, Celeborn won his fight (despite being transfixed) and the Elves around him slew four Uruk-Hai. One Elf died during the round (despite being backed up by a friend).
Kill count: Wood Elves 19/34, Uruks 7/28. The Uruks are broken and are speedily retreating to their base. The game is all but over...

Turn 8: (P - tied, Uruk-Hai)
Saruman barely passed his Courage test, transfixed Celeborn yet again, and called a Stand Fast! for his army. Three Uruks needed to test for Courage and two passed the test (the one who failed hoisted his pike and you can see him scurrying away from the field). The Uruks worked on consolidation, since they only have six Uruks in the foreground. The Elves, in the meantime, send three of their warriors back to their base to make sure no one can get around their flanks. The other Elves form up in a battle line and prepare to throw their daggers again.
In the Shoot phase, the Uruks took aim and fired at the Elven archers (by far the greatest threat to their army), but they failed to hit them again. The Elves responded by killing a crossbowman with a Galadhrim arrow and one shield-carrying Uruk with a throwing knife. In the Fight phase, the single fight was won by the Elves on tied 6s and they succeeded in killing their foe.
Kill count: Wood Elves 23/34, Uruks 7/28.

Turn 9: (P - tied, Elves)
The Elves charge into the Uruks and engaged three of them, failing to kill any with their throwing daggers. Saruman decided to not provide his Stand Fast! range to the men in his base in order to get a beautiful shot with Sorcerous Blast (free + 2 other dice, 3/6 W). He succeeded in getting the shot off, but stopped short of knocking over Celeborn. After paying his final Might point, though, he succeeded in killing all three of his targets. The Uruk who was charged, now free to do as he wished, now decided with his companions to charge other units. Only one of the four units within the base failed his Courage test and the others ran up to be closer to Saruman - the Uruks aren't going to play defensively quite yet. Nothing happened in the Shoot phase.
In the Fight phase, nothing of interest happened, but here's what the field looks like (with 3 more Elves waiting back at their base and five Elven archers of to the left of the shot).
Kill count: Wood Elves 24/34, Uruks 10/28. With 10 Isengard units remaining and 15 Elves on the assault, we decided to call it a game. Since both Saruman and Celeborn were alive, we called it a minor victory for the Elves.


Assessment by Tiberius:

I love my Elves - I really do. The strategy they use is really complicated and very risky, but it can pay off big when run well. Today, I got lucky during one round of combat that succeeded in keeping the flak off of Celeborn while he was transfixed. If it weren't for killing 6 guys in one round, I probably would have been toast. As soon as Celeborn fell, it would have been Sorcerous Blast after Sorcerous Blast, and that is never fun.

Assessment by Gaius:

The opening formation worked rather well: the pikes were protected, keeping the death count from rising until an unnaturally bad round of combat. With the Elves rolling 6s almost every fight (first to win, then to kill), there's really nothing you can do but hope it stops. Next time, time.

Stellar unit for the Uruk-Hai: Saruman the Colorful

The Uruks really didn't do anything this game: no more than 3 kills per unit type and only 10 kills total. Saruman, however, killed 5 units and succeeded in keeping Celeborn down to 2 kills (both in his first round of combat). He finished the game with 3 Will points plus his spare one, plenty enough to kill a few more Wood Elves with Sorcerous Blast or keep Celeborn from doing anything interesting. This all serves as icing on the cake when you consider that he also gave his Uruks priority on a round after no hits were launched by throwing daggers and Celeborn was cautious enough to not challenge the Uruks. Getting your troops into combat with the Palantir is a huge benefit when you're using Uruk-Hai.

Stellar unit for the Wood Elves: Wood Elf Warriors with Elven blades and throwing daggers

Though I didn't use the Elven blades much this game, these guys are loads of fun. Their throwing daggers finally kicked in near the end of the game, resulting in 3 kills and of course, they fought in the forefront and killed numerous Uruks with shields. This they owe to their spear supporters, naturally, but the added pep that the throwing daggers brought after the initial shock was made was nothing short of perfect.

Hero Review: Celeborn with Elven blade, shield, and heavy armor

First off, the Elven blade is a must. You shouldn't be penalized with the "unarmed" rule when you can pay 5 points for the blade. Against most armies, the heavy armor should suffice, but the D7 that you can give Celeborn (and that I gave him today) really paid off. I like using melee heroes (despite my love for spell-casters) and I also like his ability to cast Immobilize on his foes. I can see him doing really well against Trolls, as they can't resist his spells and he can have 4 Attacks if backed up by a spear. If he doesn't have a shield, he can wound a Cave Troll on 5s with 4 Attacks - one good round and you're golden. Like all melee heroes, however, he lacks the Will points to stand up to a wizard like Saruman, so be sure to have other units that can do the killing each round for him.


  1. interesting battle. Saruman sure is handy for keeping your opponent's killing hero at bay.

    I like the lance formation. I'd never thought of using the double-protection for the pikes. Although I don't usually play against your S3 bows with them either. . .

    But I think you are about due for a rules brush up - uruks can't have 2h weapons (only a captain can) and also, once a model is engaged, it can't move or shoot - even if its enemy is killed later in the move phase.

  2. I built the Uruk with a two-handed weapon originally to be a captain (which, according to the new rules, can benefit from having heavy armor - thank goodness). Unfortunately, I didn't want to spend 503 pts on this army (because 1 point makes so much of a difference), and so I routinely have my two-handed weapon Uruk sub in as an Uruk with hand weapon only. In this game, of course, it didn't matter - he guarded the base until he fled the field.

    As for the engaged and shooting rule: yes, I looked that up and units are not allowed to do that. I don't think we did that here, since the rule is highlighted in my book as a reminder from a past game.

  3. cool. You should post a shot of the conversion.

    At the beginning of turn 9, after Saruman's blast, you mention "the uruk who was charged, now free to do what he wishes..."

    1. Ah, so you are right. Yes, the fact that a unit who has been charged cannot shoot I knew, but this was a bad on our part...not that it made much of a difference, since the Uruks were taking a beating and we wanted it to be...closer. Thanks for noting that! :)