Friday, August 3, 2012

Game 3 - The High Ground: The Fellowship vs. The Serpent Horde

This is the third game that I'm playing with the Fellowship and it looks to be one of the hardest missions I'll have to perform with them (Domination will probably be harder). This is a warband game of 500 points and today we are facing fellow TMAT contributor Zorro and his famed Haradhrim. Here are the forces in today's match:
The Oath-Bound: 500 points

Frodo Baggins - 60 points (Army Leader)
Legolas with armor - 95 points
Aragorn - Strider - 175 points
Gimli, Son of Gloin - 90 points
Samwise Gamgee - 30 points
Bill the Pony - 30 points (substitute: Rohan Horse)
Meriadoc Brandybuck - 10 points
Peregrin Took - 10 points

8 units, 1 Elf bow + 1 thrown weapon + 4 stones, 8 heroes

The Serpent Horde: 499 points

Suladan with bow - 95 points
4 Haradhrim Warriors with spears - 28 points
8 Abrakhan Merchant Guards - 64 points

Haradhrim chieftain with bow - 50 points
5 Haradhrim Warriors with spears - 35 points
5 Haradhrim Warriors with bows - 35 points

Hasharin - 90 points
6 Haradhrim Warriors with spears - 42 points
6 Corsair Arbalesters - 60 points

37 units, 7 bows + 6 crossbows + 1 blowgun, 3 heroes

The scenario we will be playing is a High Ground game on a board that is 48" x 48". In this scenario, the game ends when one force is broken (4 for the Fellowship and 19 for the Haradhrim) and a roll of a 1-2 is rolled during the End phase (after the Fight phase and before the next round's priority. If a priority roll results in a tie, there is no Shoot phase during that round. The points are then calculated as follows:
  • 1 point for each unit "on the high ground." This is defined as touching the High Ground - standing on it, touching its base, climbing its edge, etc.
  • 3 points if the enemy leader is killed, OR
  • 1 point if the enemy leader takes 1+ wounds.
  • 3 points if the enemy army is broken and the friendly army is not broken when the game ends, OR
  • 1 point to the winner if both he and the enemy army are broken.
The map is set up as follows: we have the high ground in the center of the map with a few rock formations surrounding it. The Haradhrim won the roll off and alternate placing warbands with the Fellowship. They subsequently also win the roll for priority. This game is going to be tough for me not because my army is so small, but because I need to score with all of my units to have a chance (or most of them). Legolas has been a dependable army-stopper before, but in this particular case, he's going to need some help. Against an army of Harad, I'll lose any shooting war I get into and my hobbits could be easily decimated by any of the units in this army. Also, Zorro's Haradhrim have a record that is something to the tune of 20-1-1, which makes them easily the most notorious army featured here on TMAT.

Turn 1: The Day Is Dark (Priority - Harad)
The Fellowship attempts to consolidate its position on the High Ground. Pippin lies down, Bill races towards the ruined tower, and Merry fails a climb test to get to better cover. Many of the Haradhrim advance, staying close to the hill and out of visibility of Legolas.
In the Shoot phase, a Haradhrim bowmen scores 1 wound on Sam (1/2H). The Haradhrim chieftain adds another wound to Sam, who saves it with both of his Fate points (2/2F). A final bowman scores a wound on Sam, killing him. This is not a good start...
The crossbows then level their arrows at Legolas, who lost his front-cover from Sam. Though two of the Corsairs hit their marks, Legolas emerges unscathed from the barrage. In return, Legolas slays one Haradhrim spearman.

Kill count: Fellowship 1/37, Haradhrim 1/8.

Turn 2: A Second Barrage (P - Harad)
Not much happened this round. Harad continues to sneak around the high ground, while I discover that units cannot fight down a height, but may fight up Gimli will be throwing an axe this round and Aragorn is a sitting duck.
The Shoot phase was also mostly uneventful. A Haradhrim archer wounded Aragorn (1/3H), while Legolas failed to wound any Corsairs (his only visible targets).
Kill count: Fellowship 1/37, Haradhrim 1/8.

Turn 3: Elendil! (P - Harad)
Frodo was under Evil control this turn and was moved so that he would begin to walk off the high ground (not in a way that would harm him, of course). Besides that, Aragorn jumped down (we allowed him to do that) so that he could get into the action and do something. Pippin decided to stand up so that he could keep Haradhrim from climbing up.
In the Shoot phase, Pippin was wounded by a Haradhrim archer and failed his Fate save. Maybe he should have stayed down, :-P. In other news, a Corsair arbalester wounded an Abrakhan Guard, while trying to kill Aragorn...that kinda makes up for losing Pippin. Legolas, for his part, auto-hit an Abrakhan Guard at the base of the high ground (who we decided had an in-the-way roll, but I wasn't convinced) and killed him.
Kill count: Fellowship 3/37, Haradhrim 2/8.

Turn 4: The Fury of Axe and Sword (P - Harad)
Gimli and Aragorn now are in full-combat, hoping to even out the score and kill some of the melee units on the hill. Gimli engages two units while Aragorn engages a loner.
In the Shoot phase, Bill is shot and saves the wound with his Fate point - yaye! At this point, I know I have no way to save him, as I don't think I can make him lie down and I can't give him cover. Unfortunately for me, a few more arrows nail the poor horse and he dies. :( From this picture, you can see a close-up of the Rohan stead I borrowed from my good buddy Glenstorm. Legolas trains his arrow on the Abrakhan Guard fighting Merry, but fails to wound.
In the Fight phase, both Aragorn and Gimli call heroic combats: Aragorn wins his without an issue (free + 0/3M) and Gimli slays his foe (2/3M). As they charge into more units, Gimli kills two more spearmen while Aragorn takes down an Abrakhan Guard.

On the other side of the field, Merry loses his fight in front of Legolas, is wounded, but saves the wound with his Fate point. YAYE! Another turn with a buffer between Legolas and nasty guys.

Kill count: Fellowship 8/37, Haradhrim 2/8.

Turn 5: The Might of Dunedan (P - Harad)
Frodo is under the control of Evil this round and he again tries to get off the high ground. Legolas places his bow on his back, draws his daggers, and engages an Abrakhan Guard to make things a bit more even on the hill. Gimli, unfortunately, will be spending the rest of this turn getting ready for the next attack and just throwing his axes this round.
In the Shoot phase, a Haradhrim bowman wounds Aragorn (taken as a wound, 2/3H), and a blowdart and crossbow quarrel also wound the famed hero. Aragorn spends 2 Fate points to avoid taking his final wound and passes both of them (2/3F). Hurrah!

Aragorn calls a heroic combat, kills the spearman he's fighting and jumps down, ready for more action. Legolas kills the Abrakhan he's fighting with ease. Unfortunately, Merry died this round trying to defend Legolas. Aragorn succeeded in killing the unit he was facing in a Heroic Combat, jumped down the ledge, and killed a Harad spearman.

Kill count: Fellowship 12/37, Haradhrim 3/8.

Turn 6: The Two Kings (P - Fellowship)
With priority finally in my grasp, I jump both of my melee heroes on Suladan. In order to do so, I need to call a heroic move with Aragorn, as Suladan is determined to move before I do. Aragorn wins the roll-off and moves first. A few of the warriors nearby try to draw Aragorn away from Suladan...this should be interesting.
In the Shoot phase, the Haradhrim chieftain fires at Legolas and hits his own spearman instead, spending a Might point to kill him - the spearman that is. Why I wondered? Then I heard six crossbows caulk and watched them be raised to shoulder. Thankfully for me, only a few hit and none wounded. Whew!

Aragorn called a heroic combat (1/3M), won easily, and slew his opponent and charged into the fight with Suladan. Between him and Gimli, they defeated the great hero and killed him (Aragorn 3/3M, Gimli 3/3M). Though I just spent all my Might store for my two power heroes on this one kill, I just earned three victory points for slaying the leader. Yaye for me...

Kill count: Fellowship 15/37, Haradhrim 3/8. The Fellowship is broken and we rolled to see if the game continued and to my relief, it did.

Turn 7: A Heavy Blow (P - Harad)
The Move phase was a mixture of me trying to consolidate my units in scoring positions and finding units to kill. Aragorn climbed back on the high ground to save the top from being overwhelmed, while Gimli moved to assist on the ground level. Legolas trained his bow for unleashing a torrent against the Haradhrim archers.
In the Shoot phase, Aragorn was wounded by an arrow and failed his Fate save. Thus ended the tale of our great hero... :(. BUT, in vengeance, Legolas trained his bow against three Harad archers, and watched all three fall to the ground dead (3/3M).
Kill count: Fellowship 18/37, Haradhrim 5/8. We rolled again, and the game continues to press forward. I'm going to need a few more turns (namely, like 6 turns) if I want to win. On the plus side, if I can kill 2 more units, the Haradhrim are broken, which could mean that the guys on the hill run in terror of my warriors.

Turn 8: The Tide Begins To Turn (P - Fellowship)

By this time, both Zorro and I were ready for the game to be over, so I became sparse with the pictures. Sorry. Not much happened this round, except that Legolas killed 2 archers with his bow, breaking Harad.

Kill count: Fellowship 19/37, Haradhrim 5/8. We roll again and the game goes on. I finally have a chance to win it. My team, though, is Gimli, Legolas, and Frodo, so I'm going to need to get into fights pretty quick if I want to win.

Turn 9: The Wind Howls (P - tied, Harad)

In the Move phase, the Haradhrim Chieftain (one of two heroes left) fails his Courage test, and is joined in his flight by 1 Abrakhan Guard and 3 Haradhrim spearmen. With no Shoot phase and no fights, this round was over pretty quick (and we also saw the first movement of the Corsair pirates).

Kill count: Fellowship 24/37, Haradhrim 5/8. Thirteen to three, hardly seems fair. If this were a game of kill-to-the-death, I'd give them a chance to surrender, but since it's not, I'm kinda working hard to stay alive. We roll a dice and yet again, the game continues. :)

Turn 10: Hopes Fall (P - Fellowship I think?)
Not much happened this round, except that Gimli killed a Corsair. As you can see, I'm going to need to kill a lot of guys if I intend to out-score Zorro.
Kill count: Fellowship 25/37, Haradhrim 5/8. We rolled a dice and the game ended on the roll of a 1. The points were scored as follows:

Harad: 11 scoring units, 1 point for breaking the enemy
Fellowship: 2 scoring units, 3 points for killing leader, 1 point for breaking the enemy

Final score: Harad 12, Fellowship 6. Major victory for Harad...not unexpected.


Assessment by Tiberius:

So I knew that this was going to be an up-hill battle, but I didn't know I'd start on the hill and have only a down-hill game. :-P Ok, lame jokes out of the way, the game was fun and challenging. We learned after the game that the Evil player, if in control of Frodo, can try to have him take off the Ring (which might have been nice while he was next to an Abrakhan Guard like he was). With this change, I probably would opt for having Frodo stay on the ground in future games and wait to put on the Ring until he's set to be hurt. Also, I'm only planning on using his Might to make sure that I keep control of him. But all told, I really enjoyed the game (since using the Fellowship is just fun). :)

Assessment by Zorro:

That was faaaar closer of a game than it ought to have been. When your plan for a give-away scenario devolves down to "try to out outrun legolas and pray the dice favor you before everyone runs away" you know you are in trouble.
Unfortunately for Tiberius, this was a scenario that heavily favored me from the beginning. Unlike the old scenario, this one merely requires one to touch the hill, rather than be on the hill. So all I needed to do was plunk 3 Hobbits and the pony and have a reasonable number of Haradhrim at the base of the hill - out of legolas' view. As soon as I realized that the new deployment rules meant that the fellowship was likely to start on the hill, any plan of actually mounting the hill went out the window - but a diversionary assault of abrakhans did a good job of pulling aragorn out of hiding and into crossbow range.
There were a number of really epic moments in the match - such as Gimli's flying leap (tumble?) down the cliff after spending most of the game with his foes frustratingly out of reach, or Legolas attempting to use hobbits as a meat shields against the Abrakhans mounting the stairs. Although I think my favorite was the chieftain burning a might  point to kill off his own warrior to open shots for the crossbows. Sometimes being evil is sooo much fun.

Stellar unit for the Fellowship: Gimli, Son of Gloin

Ok, so half of my team contributed to the points we got: Legolas killed 8 units for 58 points, Aragorn killed 4.5 units for 76, and Gimli killed 5.5 units for 83 points (the half points were for Suladan). If you credit these heroes with the points from the units who fled, another 79 points can be claimed (roughly 25 more points each). Frodo, for his part, kept my team from running away (not that my C6 heroes are likely to do that), but he also was able to stand on the high ground with relative impunity until nearly the end of the game. By kills, Legolas takes the cake, but Gimli slew almost his weight in warriors before the battle was over (more than his weight if you count the units who fled from him and his fellow Hunters). The only things that kept him from doing more this game was his speed, which will always be his shortcoming, and the inability to charge units while on the hill.

Stellar unit for Harad: Corsair Arbalester

Definitively going to have to go with the corsair arbalesters on this one. Although Suladan did his part to draw Gimli and Aragorn off the hill and force them to burn some might, I was hoping he'd be a bit more effective with that bow. The corsair crossbows did almost all of the damage in this game, and their D6 at range did wonders to prevent a potentially devastating kill-streak by Legolas - not to mention that they scored nearly half of my points at the end of the game. 

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