Friday, July 6, 2012

Game 1 - Lords of Battle: The Fellowship vs. Isengard

So with the Wood Elves getting their fair share of games, I thought it would be good to change things up and do something new. I recently finished re-reading the Fellowship of the Ring and came away thinking, "You know, I really miss playing games with the Fellowship." So this month, I'm shooting for playing 5 games with the Fellowship against 5 different opponents, and going through 5 of the new scenarios from the army books (we're not playing Reconnoiter, despite that being the closest to what the Fellowship was actually doing in the movies). The first game we have on the docket is a match with my good buddy Gaius, who played the first game on this blog with me. I'll be controlling the Fellowship during all five of these missions (or so is the plan), and here are the forces for today:

The Oathsworn: 500 points

Gandalf the Grey - 170 points
Legolas with armor and Elven cloak - 105 points
Gimli, Son of Gloin - 90 points
Frodo Baggins with mithril mail - 85 points
Samwise Gamgee - 30 points
Meriadoc Brandybuck - 10 points
Peregrin Took - 10 points

7 units, 1 Elf bow + 1 thrown axe + 4 thrown stones, 7 heroes, 1 warband

**Fellowship Warband special rule: so long as Frodo is alive, all Courage tests for the army being broken are automatically passed by each member of the Fellowship warband.

The Fist of Isengard: 498 points

Vrasku - 60 points (Army Leader)
Uruk Captain with two-handed weapon and heavy armor - 60 points
Uruk Captain with shield - 55 points
18 Uruk Warriors with shields - 180 points
11 Uruk Warriors with pikes - 110 points
3 Uruk Warriors with crossbows - 33 points

35 units, 3 crossbows, 3 heroes, 3 warbands

The scenario we will be playing is a Lords of Battle game on a board that is 48" x 48". Each army rolls a dice for each of its warbands to determine whether their army deploys anywhere on their board edge or within 12" of the middle of the table (on the roll of a 1-3). Once one army is broken, a dice is rolled: on a 1-2, the game ends and the points are tallied. If a 3+ is scored, another round is played and at the end of that round, a dice is rolled again. This continues until a 1-2 is scored on the dice at the end of a round. The means of scoring in this game are as follows:
  • 1 point is scored for each successful wound caused against an enemy unit and for each Fate point expended by an enemy unit. If a unit dies without using its Fate points, the unexpended Fate points provide 1 point each.
  • 1 point if the enemy force is broken at the end of the game.
  • 3 points if the enemy force was broken and the friendly force was not at the end of the game.
  • Special rule: if an enemy hero is killed in a fight, a friendly hero in the same fight (player's choice) can regain a Might point previously spent in the battle.
The map is set up as follows: a ruin lies in the center of the map and various rocks, hills, and assorted scenery surround it. The Uruk-Hai won the roll off and have chosen to select their board edge (the southern edge), ceding priority to the Fellowship for the first turn. One of the Uruk-Hai armies was forced to deploy within the front half of their board edge, while the others were allowed to be placed anywhere. They decided to remain close to the forcibly-advanced troop. 
The Fellowship was allowed to start anywhere and so began very, very close to the Uruk-Hai, with Gimli surrounded by Sam, Merry, and Pippin, while Legolas and Gandalf prepare to distract the larger contingent of the Uruk army and protect Frodo (who, as army leader, is safely behind a wall with the Ring in his pocket). 
So the Fellowship has been having a rough time in these scenarios, but this is a scenario which they are built to win. Not only is the goal to kill lots and lots and LOTS of people, but the enemy must engage your power heroes in order to have a chance to score enough points. My objective will be to keep the hobbits safely behind the forward lines to limit their exposure to crossbow bolts and forward attackers. At the same time, they need to be close enough that Gandalf and Legolas don't get engaged by more units than they can handle. I will need to rack up 18 kills before 4 are racked up on me to have a good shot at winning, so we'll see how this goes (and the Uruks have systematically defeated the Fellowship before, so this should be very interesting).

Turn 1: Battle Is Joined (Priority - Fellowship)
Gimli, Sam, and Pippin charge Uruk-Hai within the ruins, Gandalf casts Blinding Light (free W), Legolas prepare to fire into the Uruks, and Frodo moves near Gandalf and puts on Ring (very safe now and can pass through the ranks of the Uruk-Hai to surprise them). The Uruks move up towards Gandalf and Legolas, trying to hem in Gimli and the 3 smaller hobbits within the ruins.
Legolas kills an Uruk with pike (1/3 M) and Vrasku scores a wound on Gandalf, burning through 2 Fate points (2/3 F).  OUCH!!
WHITE LIGHT!!!! Sorry about that, but here's what happened. Gimli calls a heroic combat, pays a Might to win, pays his final Might to slay both (3/3 M) - uh-oh! Gimli wins his next round, but fails to wound anyone. Sam and Pippin lose, both take a wound - Pippin fails the Fate save and dies, and Sam passes his Fate save.
Score: Fellowship 3, Uruk-Hai 5.

Turn 2: Felled Like Trees (P - Uruks)
Gandalf unleashes Sorcerous Blast (free + 2/6 W), knocks 3 Uruk-Hai over, and kills none of them. Grrr... Gimli is surrounded within the ruins and Merry and Sam meet an Uruk-Hai Warrior at the gate. Things are not looking good, but I'll note that Frodo is happily walking behind the ranks and preparing for some nasty action... 

Legolas kills 2 Uruks with his arrows (3/3M), while the Uruks hold their fire to avoid collateral damage. 
Gimli is surrounded, loses his fight, and takes 2 wounds from 2h weapon captain (1/2 M). Thankfully, Gimli saves 1 with his Fate points (2/2 F, 1/2 Wounds), keeping him barely alive. Sam and Merry win their fight (Sam rolls a 6), and Sam kills the Uruk he is fighting (rolls another 6). "I think I'm getting the hang of this..." My thoughts: "Good, Sam, now save Gimli before he dies!"

Score: Fellowship +3 (6), Uruk-Hai +3 (8). Pictures get kinda scarce from here on out, as the game got really, REALLY intense...

Turn 3: A Wave Through The Ranks (P - Uruks)
Gandalf calls a heroic move, unleashes another Sorcerous Blast (free + 3/6W) and knocks 6 Uruks over including a Captain. The blast kills 3 of the Uruk-Hai (3/3 M). In response, the Uruks engage Merry and Sam separately, surround Gimli, and a skulking Uruk who ran around the far side of the ruins charges Gandalf.

In the Shoot phase, Legolas fails to wound anyone and an Uruk crossbowman scores 1 Wound on the Elf archer, but Legolas saves the wound while burning through 2 Fate points (2/3 F).

During the Fight phase, Gandalf is only one to score a wound during his fight. Gimli and Sam won their fights but failed to wound anyone and Merry lost his fight but wasn’t wounded.

Score: Fellowship +4 (10), Uruks +2 (10). 10 dead Uruks, 1 dead hobbit.

Turn 4: A Moment Of Great Loss (P - Uruks)

So things are a bit tight: all of the Fellowship except Frodo are charged this round, and Frodo tries to catch up to Gandalf and Legolas (1/2M to pass the Ring check). No shooting occurred during this round.

Gandalf is trapped, loses his fight, and takes 5 wounds from the Uruks (which is enough to kill him and score 4 point for the Uruk-Hai). Legolas scores a wound against one of the Uruk Captains, which is subsequently saved by Fate (1/1 F, 2/2 M). Gimli loses his fight, is trapped by his foes, and sustains 3 wounds. This kills him as well and scores 1 point for the Uruk-Hai.
Score: Fellowship +1 (11), Uruks +5 (15). The Fellowship is one unit away from breaking, but it's not looking good without Gimli and Gandalf...

Turn 5: Hope Fades (P - Uruks)
Everyone is charged by Uruk-Hai except Frodo. Frodo passes his Ring-test and moves towards a band of Uruks who have surrounded Legolas. He passes his Courage test to take the Ring off and charges one of them. No shooting occurred during this round.

The combats this round were terrible: Legolas lost a very one-sided fight against the Uruks who had stormed the Amon Hen structure and consequently suffered 3 wounds in combat (3/3F, 2/2H). Three more points for the Uruk-Hai. Frodo loses his fight and burns 2 Fate points to stay alive (2/3 F). Sam loses his fight, takes 8 wounds, passes his Fate save, but still REALLY dies (3 points scored). Merry loses and takes 2 wounds, unable to pass his Fate save (2 points scored). So, at the end of the round, it’s just Frodo and I cede the game (thankfully, he didn’t have the Ring on, or he would have been lost as a casualty).

Score: Fellowship +0 (11), Uruks +10 (25).

Post-game scores: Fellowship scores 0 more points for enemy being broken, Uruks score 3 for Fellowship being broken.

Final score: Fellowship 11, Uruks 28. Major victory for the Uruk-Hai (defined in the new scenarios as being double the enemy score).


Assessment by Tiberius:

I love Uruk-Hai vs. the Fellowship games. I've come to the conclusion that as great as Uruk-Hai Warriors are with heavy armor and shields, their Scout counterparts with shields work about as well in melee combat against the Fellowship. The D6 is useful against the arrows of the enemy (and particularly the stones of the hobbits), but D5 opponents in close combat are just as good as D6 against an army of S4 heroes. At this point, I'm not interested in making that investment, but I may keep it in mind.

As I am going to be playing five more games with this army, I'm going to adjust my list a bit before the next game, which will be between me and Glenstorm. In that game, I'm looking at playing against another Uruk army, so I know I'm going to need some more killing power. So, it looks like Frodo won't be making an appearance. He is an interesting unit, and great for keeping the army together.

Assessment by Gaius:

The Uruk-Hai are best used as hero-killers or breaking through shield walls of D6 units. Since most of the Fellowship can't get higher than D6, this makes them superb foes for the Fellowship. I really liked taking the Uruk Captain with two-handed weapon, since he could use his two-handed axe against Sam, Merry, or Pippin and wound them on a 2+. AHHHH! Doing that to Sam was well-worth the whole game. :)

On a more serious note, Tiberius and I were wondering what would have happened if all of the Fellowship would have begun inside the ruins, instead of half of the Fellowship starting there. I'm not sure much would have changed, as the sheer number of Uruk-Hai would have still come down to bear on them, but we decided that Gimli probably would have been trapped much later and not had to waste as much early in the game. It is also possible that Legolas may have been able to gain a nice roost and shoot more.

Stellar unit for the Fellowship: Gandalf the Grey

Not a killer by normal rights, but Gandalf is a fun hero to use. Not only does he get the "Kaboom" spell for the army, but he also has the potential to make life a whole lot easier for your other heroes. In this game, we was protecting Legolas (cloaked) and since Uruks who are knocked down waste half of their movement to get back up off the ground, Legolas and Gandalf could back away 3" from their foes and maintain a good distance for another round. It didn't help that we lost priority during the important rounds, but this army can't help that. Though none of the Fellowship heroes killed very many units, Gandalf and Legolas killed 3 each, which made up most of the team's kills. A big shout-out goes to Sam, who defeated two Uruk-Hai and killed one of them.

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

In close combat for games like this, it really doesn't matter if an Uruk-Hai has D5 or D6 (predominantly Strength 2 or Strength 4). Where this does matter is when Gandalf or Legolas is in the equation. Since Sorcerous Blast wounds the initial target with a Strength 5 hit and subsequent victims with Strength 3, having a D6 shield-wall not only means that the target is wounded on 5s (instead of 3s or 4s), but the units nearby are wounded on 6s. That's really good for keeping your army together and alive against a powerful wizard. Against Legolas' Strength 3 bow shots (or Gimli's Strength 3 axes), you get the benefit of only being wounded on 6s, which has kept many a vulnerable Uruk pikeman alive. It will be interesting to see how much more damage the Fellowship can do in their next game against Glenstorm's Uruk Scouts.


  1. unfortunately, I think that was a little bit of a predictable ending. . . I think the Uruks scored even more points than they were credited for:

    Rd 1: 6pts (wound and 2 fate points from gandalf, 2 wounds on hobbits + 1 failed fate)
    Rd 2: Uruks only have 2 pts (fate saved 1 wound preventing a 3rd point)
    Rd 3: 3 pts for Uruks (1 wound + 2 fate points)

    1. Gimli paid 2 Fate points and one worked during the 2nd round, giving 3 points to the Uruk Hai instead of 2 (2 Fate + 1 wound). Round 3 didn't actually result in a wound - bad write-up on my part, changed as of this comment.

      I thought, after the fight was over, that Aragorn would have been a good improvement to the team instead of Gandalf. I was hoping that the magic of the Grey wizard would really help, but it ended up not adding much. Oh well, the first of five games gives perspective for the others...