Wednesday, November 28, 2012

To the Death: White Council vs. Dunedain

So, as those who follow the blog know, TMAT has its first concurrent monthly focus - Glenstorm has been showcasing his Grey Company army and I have been talking tactics for the White Council. So...since Glenstorm and I haven't had a game together in a while, we decided to do something a bit out of the ordinary and break a few norms. Today's battle report will test those armies that are being discussed (and also help Glenstorm test out a unit he has coming in the mail). Not only will this be the inaugural battle for my new Glorfindel model, but Glenstorm sees if Malbeth the Seer is really all he's cracked up to be. Here are the forces:
 The Council of the Wise: 600 points

Gandalf the Grey - 170 points
Radagast the Brown - 150 points
Glorfindel with Armor of Gondolin - 140 points (Army Leader)
Celeborn with Elven blade and shield - 140 points

4 units, 0 bows, 4 heroes

Dunedain: 600 points

Halbarad with Banner of the Evenstar - 125 points (Army Leader)
Malbeth the Seer (stand-in: King's Huntsman) - 80 points
Elladan and Elrohir with Elf bows and heavy armor - 160 points
2 Rangers of the North (Torchirion and Culang) - 50 points
2 Dunedain with spears - 50 points
9 Rangers of Arnor (including Dannassel) - 72 points
7 Rangers of Arnor with spears - 63 points

24 units, 21 bows + 2 Elf bows, 8 heroes
Today's scenario will be a To the Death game on a 48" x 48" board. The armies will fight until one is reduced to 25% of its starting size (1 unit for the White Council and 6 units for the Grey Company) and at the end of that round, the game will end and points will be tallied. Each player rolls for his warbands (one warband, in the case of the White Council) and deploys them either between 12" and 18" from his board edge (on the roll of a 1-3) or between 0" and 18" from his board edge (on the roll of a 4-6). Points are scored as follows:
  • 3 points if the enemy army is broken OR 5 points if the enemy army is broken and your army is unbroken.
  • 1 point if you have a banner unit survive until the end of the game OR 2 points if you have a banner survive to the end of the game and your opponent has no banners left.
  • 1 point if you kill the enemy army leader.
The map is set up as you see above: there are two woods (woodland terrain), a few Arnorian ruins, a marsh (difficult terrain), and a few mounds (hills with no movement rules attached). The Grey Company won the roll off and have chosen to select their board edge, and began deploying their warbands. My thought at the beginning of this game was as follows: first, I will take little to no damage from archery on my team. Second, I need to kill Malbeth the Seer to capitalize on the generally low defense of the army. Third, I need to kill Halbarad before the game ends. Fourth (as if the above tasks weren't enough), I need to stop the Twins from raking up my team. Yeah, this will be an up-hill fight...

Turn 1: A Light Shines (Priority - Grey Company)
On the first turn, I made a critical mistake. I forgot to have Radagast cast Terrifying Aura (gives him Terror on a 2+) - and didn't realize this until Turn 4. Instead, I used my free Will point to (for the fun of it) cast Aura of Dismay on my team. It failed. Gandalf, though, cast Blinding Light successfully (free W). In the Shoot phase, the Rangers shot through the Blinding Light and hit 8 times - YIKES - and thankfully dealt no wounds.

Turn 2: A Blast of Energy (P - White Council)
This turn, Radagast should have cast Terrifying Aura, but instead failed to cast Immobilize on a Dunedain ranger (Daerdan). Yes, I should have read my own post before this fight.
I thought about casting Terrifying Aura with Gandalf this turn, but instead opted for Sorcerous Blast against the front rank. The poor Rangers were blown over (free + 1/6W) and went flying. I successfully wounded two of them, but thanks to Malbeth the Seer (the Huntsman you see there), they both survived. In the subsequent Shoot phase, the Rangers hit 5 times and wounded Gandalf. I saved this on a Fate point, but to tell the truth, this was also an error - I should have taken the wound and healed him with Radagast the following turn. Oh well...this is how you learn, right?

Turn 3: The Armies Close (P - Grey Company)
The armies are closing in on each other and the magic flies. Radagast cast Immobilize on Elladan, who decided to take the magic attack in stride and sit out on the Shoot phase this time around (free W).
Gandalf let off another Sorcerous Blast this turn (free + 2/6W), targeting the Dunedain Astuil this time (who failed to resist the spell, 1/1W). He was blown a whopping 1" (I was hoping to knock over Malbeth and maybe the guy behind him). Neither were killed, but both were happily knocked down - and since the Grey Company moved first this round, they stayed down during the Shoot phase). The Grey Company, try as they might, only hit 3 times this round and again, dealt no wounds.

Turn 4: The Clash of Steel, a Critical Error (P - White Council)
MELEE! The White Council seized the initiative and surged forward, with Celeborn keeping the Dunedain Astuil down on the ground. Gandalf cast Sorcerous Blast again (free + 3/6W) on Elrohir, who successfully resisted it on a single dice (1/2W). Bleh. He then charged in to protect Celeborn's back and bring his Strength 5 sword into the fight. It was about now that I realized neither of my wizards had Terrifying Aura up. Big mistake. Radagast immobilized Halbarad (free W) and Halbarad failed to resist, which kept his banner bonus out of most of the fights (1/2W).
In the Fight phase, Glorfindel wounded both of the Rangers of Arnor he was fighting and both failed their Foresight saves. Good break. ("Can I just say that this bruiser-style hero scares me?  Especially when my boys are D4?") Culang went on to wound Radagast in his fight (1/1M), but this wound was saved by Fate (1/3F). Torchirion and Daerdan beat Gandalf in their fight, trapped him (which I could have avoided by paying a Might point in Radagast's fight and getting him to win), and was promptly wounded five times (passing both Fate point, but in the end losing three wounds, 3/3F, 3/3H). Ouch. Celeborn, thankfully, won his fight and wounded both Astuil on the ground and Malbeth the Seer - both of whom were saved by Foresight. (Regarding Malbeth, in a Flynn Ryder voice: "Oh, motha', I've got to get me one of THESE!!!")
Kill Count: White Council 2/24, Grey Company 1/4.

Turn 5: A Mess of Blades (P - White Council)
The fights continue, but my magic users get to go first. Celeborn casts Immobilize on Elrohir, who spends 2 Might points and a Will point to resist the spell (2/3M, 2/2W). With this twin out of Will points, Radagast talks to his bird friends, gets the Elf's location, and immobilizes him (1/3M, free W). One Elf not helpful this round...yaye.
In the Fight phase, Glorfindel won his fight (3/3M - ouch), wounded Elladan who failed his Foresight roll and spent a Fate point (1/3M, 1/2F). A Ranger of Arnor wounds Radagast, which is then saved by Fate (2/3F). Celeborn went on to kill Astuil on the ground after he failed his Foresight roll.
Kill Count: White Council 3/24, Grey Company 1/4.

Turn 6: Close Quarters Are Forced (P - White Council)
So, in the Move phase, Halbarad called a Heroic Move - and the thing about having this set of heroes at this moment, is I don't have Might points to spare to counter him. So, I am aptly surrounded, trapped, and ready to be throttled. Thankfully, Radagast and Glorfindel are back-to-back, so if Glorfindel can just win, we'll be fine.
In the Fight phase, Glorfindel LOST his fight, was trapped, but surprisingly was wounded twice (once by Elladan and once by the Ranger of the North), and both were saved by Fate (2/3F). Radagast actually won his fight (2/3M, Daerdan spends 1/1M), but fails to wound his foe. Celeborn won his fight (2/3M), wounds Malbeth once who fails his Foresight roll but passed his Fate save (1/1F).

Kill Count: White Council 3/24, Grey Company 1/4.

Turn 7: The Wise Fall (P - White Council)
So, with the White Council able to cast magic again, Celeborn targets Elrohir, but fails (2/3W). Radagast, though, talks to the birds again and immobilizes Elrohir (3/3M, free W - did you notice I don't actually spend Will points with this guy?). We are then promptly charged by...everybody.
These fights did not go well at all: Glorfindel lost again and was wounded by Elladan once and twice by the Ranger of the North. I then failed my Fate save and took 3 wounds and died (3/3F, 3/3H). I then realized that I should have taken wounds earlier with Glorfindel and cast Renew on him instead of immobilizing the Elf. Bummer. Lots of Rangers of Arnor and Daerdan killed Radagast this round as well, even though he passed his final Fate save (3/3F, 3/3H). As the game prepares to end, Celeborn wounds Halbarad twice, but he saves both those wounds with Foresight. Ouch.
Kill Count: White Council 3/24, Grey Company 3/4. With that the game ended, and the points were tallied:

  • The Grey Company scored 5 points for breaking my force without being broken, 2 points for having a banner at the end of the game (Halbarad), and 1 point for killing my army leader (Glorfindel). Total points: 8 points.
  • The White Council...didn't break the Grey Company (in fact, killed as many guys as they killed in my force)...didn't kill the army leader (Halbarad)...and didn't have a banner (also Halbarad). So...0 points. Major victory for the Grey Company.


Assessment by Tiberius:

Most of the problems in this game can be credited to not playing well with Radagast the Brown. Casting Terrifying Aura early in the game may not have kept many units off my wizard (or off of Gandalf), and later winning a fight so that Gandalf wouldn't be trapped would have changed the number of units I had on my back to be sure. Whether the outcome of the game would have changed, I don't know. The Foresight saves also made Heroic Combats incredibly risky, so I couldn't capitalize on the melee capabilities of Celeborn or Glorfindel. All told, very tough match, but it's a fun list - especially when you're neutralizing enemy heroes.

Assessment by Glenstorm: 

As I mentioned in my last battle report, I rely on three things to win fights: wounds in the Shoot Phase, higher fight value, and pure luck.  Before the game, I predicted that the first two would not (and did not) all....  Had Tiberius taken wounds instead of Fate Points and cast Renew with Radagast, this game would have likely ended differently, as it would have been very hard to deal all of the needed wounds in a single round to any of his heroes.  I won fights on low rolls by my opponent, and happened to wound on high rolls.  Definite props to free fate saves from Malbeth, but honestly there was little tactical advantage from my end in that match.

Stellar unit for the White Council: Celeborn with Elven blade and shield

Yes, I'm giving the credit to the only guy who stayed alive (and got the most points worth of killed units). Celeborn's dual role as tactical magic caster and powerful melee hero fills a unique niche in the army. I'm happy with how well he did and quite disappointed with the choices made for my wizards. Perhaps the most disappointing part of the game was that Glorfindel didn't win any fights automatically after the first round of combat (and won no fights when he had run out of Might points). With all this going on, Celeborn went on to win every single fight and force people to pass Foresight saves or Fate saves. Give me a few heroes like this, and I'll make a field-day of any force. I do need to put in a hearty "good work" to the Dunedain Daerdan, who participated in the deaths of both wizards (and who dealt the majority of the wounds against both of them).

Stellar unit for the Grey Company: Malbeth the Seer

I know that we try not to give this award to heroes, but 1) with an army that only has 1 unit that is not a hero, and 2) the fact that the man effectively stunted Gandalf's magic, saved me spearmen and warriors in critical fights, and was not afraid to get involved in combat himself, this guy deserves a lot of credit in this battle report.  I was thoroughly impressed with his work here, and am pleased to add him to the force.


  1. I am no expert but I think running just heroes this way, is not too good an idea, as the game seems to an extent to be a 'numbers game'... your heroes will eventually run no out of M/W/F, and once they do and are surrounded by greater numbers and trapped, you've pretty much had it!

    1. Yes, playing with the White Council is tough and it's one of the armies that you play with for the joy of using the heroes and winning is a secondary objective. You also are disadvantaged in any game that is not To The Death or Lords of Battle.

    2. Oh I see... I quite liked the scenarios from the Fall of the Necromancer - once the White Council got properly involved they had supporting troops along too...

  2. 24 units to 4 is always an uphill battle, but really? only 3 ranger deaths? I'm beginning to think this army has the covering of the Valar...

  3. Great Blog!
    Am Building a Grey Co. Army of 750pts
    Any suggestions on heroes and amount of Troops?

    For the single point on how cheap they are do you recommend using some hobbit archers to sit back and pick off the enemy?
    If so Who would be their leader?

    1. I'll let Glenstorm do the talking on this one, but first off, welcome to the TMAT blog! You can find some of Glenstorm's thoughts already written by clicking on the "Arnor" label on the right hand bar and read some of the tactica that has been posted (by our very own Glenstorm) on the topic - along with some commentary in comments from the rest of us.

    2. Hey Ste271276!

      Welcome to TMAT! A few thoughts for you on a 750-pt game:

      1. I'd definitely take Aragorn, Isildur's Heir - for 200 pts, this guy will provide you with a 3" banner radius and 6" ignore difficult terrain for all infantry in the Arnor list, which is really good. He's also your F6 S4 hero, and boasts a lot of killing power. I highly recommend him.

      2. Depending on what you're fighting, choose Rangers of the North or Dunedain; if you're fighting S3 units you can probably get away with Dunedain, but if you have S2 bows or S4 units coming at you (Uruk-Hai or Angmar, for example), you should go with Rangers of the North.

      3. I like Malbeth the Seer from the Arnor list; makes your boys a bit hardier, and can contribute 1 S4 attack in close-combat, if you need him to. He's also a 3 Will unit, which is nice in case your opponent likes using casters.

      4. On Hobbits: I'm working on teaming Hobbits in, too! They'll need to meet bow limit, so be aware of that. If you run Shirriffs and archers, I'd recommend Pippin, as you can turn them into Tookish archers (F3 instead of F1). If you run Militia and archers, I'd recommend Pippin (for the archers) or Merry, who can make the militia S3 instead of S2. Depends on your strategy: do you want archers that are more capable at close quarters, or do you want warriors that can do damage in close combat? Tell me how they work: I'd be interested in seeing it!

      I've posted a few tactical posts on the units and heroes on this blog - I'd highly recommend looking at those for more ideas.

      Thanks for jumping into the discussion at TMAT!