Gandalf the Grey
Gandalf the Grey is one of the iconic characters from the Lord of the Rings and is many a man's favorite character. In the Strategy Battle Game, there are few spell-casters quite as good as the Grey Pilgrim. Gandalf's stat line is a little better than the standard profile for a wizard (1 Attack at Fight 5 and Strength 5 with Glamdring, 3 Wounds with Defense 5 and 3 rerollable Fate points thanks to his Elven ring, Courage 7, 3 Might points, 6 Will points + 1 free Will point each turn thanks to his staff of power). He also sports more spells than any wizard in the game besides Gandalf the White (more on him in a bit), giving him a lot of options during his Move phase.
Sorcerous Blast is one Gandalf's iconic spell, utilizing raw magical power to rocket away an enemy and wipe out him and a few unlucky companions nearby. This spell will certainly be anticipated by your opponent and is best utilized if Gandalf is able to get around the flank of your foe and knock down a good chunk of his front line. Alternatively, shooting with your Sorcerous Blast at a diagonal (as shown in the picture above) can hit as many targets as a straight line, but will also knock down targets that you may not be able to reach without cavalry. Be mindful to target units without Will points, as this will make the chance of successfully casting the spell more likely.
Gandalf the Grey's three defensive spells are Terrifying Aura (2+, remains in play), Blinding Light (2+, remains in play) and Strengthen Will (4+). Terrifying Aura lives up to its name and gives Gandalf terror so long as he has a Will point left in his store. This spell should be cast early in the game and usually means you're not trying to get into a fight on the first turn. Why choose to cause terror? Since most evil units have low Courage values, this could mean that the dog-pile that usually is sent to deal with expensive spell-casters doesn't work nearly as well as it otherwise might. Blinding Light is perhaps the most valued spell on this blog, as it shields all friendly units within 6" of the caster from enemy archery unless the roll to hit is a 6 (this too remains in pay so long as Gandalf has 1 Will point left in his Will store). This has little effect against Goblins and Orcs with a 5+ Shoot value, but against Uruks or upgraded Haradhrim with a 4+ or 3+ Shoot value respectively, you will see the difference when you play.
While the Elven cloak provides a defensive boost to Gandalf the White, Shadowfax provides a boost to his offensive capabilities and a slight boost to his defensive capabilities. On the offense, you have a 12" movement which allows you to get your wizard into position to deal the maximum possible damage with his Sorcerous Blast spell (more on that in a moment). Since you paid 235 points for this hero, he needs to kill more than 20 units in order to pay for him (unless you get a hero or two in that count), so Sorcerous Blast is going to be where it's at. Shadowfax also allows Gandalf to charge the enemy from a great distance (with a second attack), which is also nice. Defensively, Shadowfax gives Gandalf a permanent in-the-way roll because he's a mount, which should direct a few shots towards the D5 horse instead of the rider. For 10 points less than the cart, Shadowfax is an excellent purchase, trading 2 wounds for an extra 4" of movement and an additional unit to assist the White Wizard.
Gandalf the White also has access to the six spells that Gandalf the Grey has and adds "Your Staff Is Broken!", which can take away the benefit of a wizard's staff of power (free will point and two-handed weapon). Though not an often-used spell, it certainly provides an incentive to not take Saruman (as if we needed a reason in most cases, right?). The other benefit that Gandalf the White has is that four of the six spells cast by Gandalf the Grey are cast more easily by Gandalf the White. Terrifying Aura and Blinding Light are still cast on a 2+, but all of the other spells improved by one step, making Immobilize cast on a 2+, Command and Strengthen Will cast on a 3+, and Sorcerous Blast cast on a 4+. This opens up a lot of options, which I will detail briefly below.
|Courtesy of http://www.goggin.co.uk/images/lotr/Gandalf2.jpg . I play a lot with Saruman with my Uruk-Hai and it's very nice when you know you can all-but guarantee that you will cast Transfix (evil version of Immobilize), but it's also very useful to be able to cast Compel (evil version of Command) on a 3+ (also, passed in most cases easily). When cast against a banner-bearer, a melee hero who has little or no remaining Will points, or a monster, you can neutralize the effectiveness of your enemy's army pretty quickly. Gandalf the White, therefore, gets to decide whether or not it is beneficial to move his foe, rather than whether he wants to move his foe. Since both immobilizing or commanding his target is relatively easy, the choice becomes much simpler.|
Bill the Pony
The second reason that Bill is valuable is because of the potential for greater killing capability, magical resistance, or survivability for your killing heroes. One hero from the Fellowship may be in base contact with Bill at the end of his Move phase and roll a dice: on the roll of a 6, the unit regains 1 Might, Will, or Fate point that he spent earlier in the battle. If Legolas were shooting from behind Bill (or Aragorn fighting in front of Bill), you could potentially get a lot back from Bill. Though I have not focused very much on utilizing these rules in the games I've played to date, the potential for these benefits still exists.
I've also learned that it helps to have Gandalf around if you use Bill. Keeping Bill safe from archery is nearly impossible, so making sure he doesn't get shot is a nice boon. Alternatively, starting near your enemy might complicate the shots of the enemy, but nothing quite beats Gandalf's Blinding Light spell. This is especially dangerous when Bill is within 6" of Gandalf (with Blinding Light active) and Legolas is shooting from behind the two of them: in this way, Legolas could regain a Might point that he used previously and has a clear in-the-way roll from the horse. A similar strategy could protect Boromir of Gondor with his Elven cloak from being shot - all for 30 points.
I hope this has been helpful and that together with the other two posts, you'll have some greater understanding for the uses of each Fellowship member. I really like the army list and find them fun to use (though each game is a struggle). If you have a Fellowship army and have combos that you like, please feel free to share in comments or link to a battle report/tactica article location. If you have sample army lists that can sport Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White, I'd also like to see those in comments. Happy hobbying!