Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Pocket Full of Power: The White Council as an Ally

I recently got a comment on the only White Council battle report on this blog to date that mentioned how the White Council is ill-prepared to play the scenarios in new sourcebooks (not to mention the old scenarios in the Legions of Middle-Earth book). It's true - all hero armies don't do well in the missions that currently exist. If you choose to use an all-hero army, you do so knowing you have an up-hill fight.

However fun it is to use only heroes, there is a value in having a few heroes allied into a larger force (today's armies will be allied with Minas Tirith, as you get high-resilience units for average prices). Under the Legions rules, this was much easier, but it can be done under the warband rules if you're willing to bend a bit. I'm going to suggest that the heroes be taken in pairs, as the White Council units benefit from deflecting magical attacks if they are near each other. Here are a few recommended pairings.

Raw Offensive Power: Glorfindel, Lord of the West with the Armor of Gondolin and Legolas with armor and Elven cloak

Legolas and Glorfindel are two of the most deadly members of the White Council (and certainly in the Elven lists). Legolas is easily the best archer in the game and Glorfindel can win automatically against a Cave Troll. No matter what the modus operandi of your army, these heroes can provide you with the offensive power you need. Keeping these heroes near each other also ensures that when they resist spells (Legolas with his 2 Will points and Glorfindel with his 3 Will points and "resistant to magic"), they will receive the +1 bonus to their resistance roll, making it easier to use a single dice to resist the spell. To demonstrate how they work into another list, I've provided the following sample list below:

Denethor, Steward of Gondor - 30 points
Beregond, Captain of the Guard - 25 points
8 Warriors of Minas Tirith with shields - 64 points
8 Warriors of Minas Tirith with shields and spears - 72 points
8 Warriors of Minas Tirith with bows - 64 points
Ally: Glorfindel, Lord of the West with the Armor of Gondolin - 140 points
*Ally: Legolas with armor and Elven cloak - 105 points

500 points, 28 units, 9 bows + 1* Elf bow, 4 heroes

Twenty-eight units is a small number of units in a 500 point game, but you're counting on the Warriors staying alive while the heroes do their work. Neither Beregond nor Denethor is a particularly strong hero (Denethor would be better with Might points), but they will provide you with tactical heroes and allow you to enhance Legolas and Glorfindel's killing abilities with lots of D5 or D6 warriors. Armies that play with Legions rules instead of the Warband rules can replace Beregond and Denethor with Madril or Cirion, who are marginally better offensive heroes, adding a third point-man to assist the two Elven lords.

Tactical Defensive Power: Radagast the Brown and Erestor

While Legolas and Glorfindel are an offensive duo, Radagast and Erestor are defensive units. Radagast has been the subject of two recent posts, but it goes without saying that his greatest advantage to any force is the ability to make enemy monsters and heroes ineligible to wound (or win fights) for a turn thanks to his free Will point each turn, his Master of Birds special rule, and the Immobilize spell (cast on a 3+). But his assistance to Erestor is seen when considering Erestor's profile and the fact that Radagast also has Renew on a 3+. Erestor is as cheap as any High Elf Captain, but he has an enviable Defense 7 with 2 Wounds and 3 Fate points. Yes, a captain with 3 Fate points. This hero can take a beating and be given back 1 Wound each turn by Radagast when he casts Renew on him. That means that when this Fight 6 hero with 2 Attacks loses a fight and is wounded, you can take one wound and save the rest with Fate points. Once healed, you're in good shape to give it another try, throwing your daggers (and rerolling to wound) before the impact of battle. Here's their army list:

Captain of Minas Tirith - 50 points
Damrod - 20 points
8 Warriors of Minas Tirith with shields - 64 points
8 Warriors of Minas Tirith with shields and spears - 72 points
8 Warriors of Minas Tirith with bows - 64 points
Ally: Radagast the Brown - 150 points
*Ally: Erestor - 80 points

500 points, 28 units, 9 bows + 1 throwing dagger, 4 heroes

Yes, a second list without a volley team, but you can see here that this list is similar to the previous list. Beregond has been downgraded to Damrod, who is just an elevated Ranger (very similar to a Ranger of the North in everything except price). Denethor has become more dependable and is now a Captain of Minas Tirith with no extra equipment. This guy is really there to provide some combat capabilities to assist your team, but if you want to get the most out of him, be sure to make sure you take on enemy heroes/monsters who have been immobilized by Radagast. Erestor can do his own thing, but be careful to not let him get trapped, as he truly is your best offensive hero...which isn't saying much.

A Poor Man's Ally: Thranduil and Arwen Evenstar

The White Council is often expensive, but if you only have a few points to spend, you still have options. Thranduil and Arwen are great heroes because not only are they cheap, but they also both have Nature's Wrath. Nature's Wrath is simple: you knock bad guys over, you charge them, you kill them while they're on the ground. Simple, right? Well, Thranduil can cast it once and Arwen can cast it two times (with some accuracy), so that means for three rounds, you could have the enemy sprawling around. If nothing else, this will weary your opponent psychologically as he goes from struggling to wound you to not being able to wound you at all. Thranduil is a fine hero in combat (nothing outstanding, but not shabby), while Arwen is more vulnerable. To supplement this, I submit the following list:

Cirion, Lieutenant of Amon Barad - 55 points
Beregond - 25 points
Damrod - 20 points
8 Warriors of Minas Tirith with shields - 64 points
8 Warriors of Minas Tirith with shields and spears - 72 points
8 Warriors of Minas Tirith with bows - 64 points
5 Guards of the Fountain Court - 50 points
Ally: Thranduil - 90 points
*Ally: Arwen Evenstar - 60 points

500 points, 34 units, 10 bows + 1 Elf bow, 5 heroes

The cheaper allies allowed the army to grow by a few units and you have a balanced army at a decent size (and a volley team). To boot, your army stands with many a Defense 6 warrior who is ready to square off against a host of foes who are lying on the ground. You can consider foregoing one of the Guardians of the Fountain Court (or downgrading Cirion to Peregrin Took and buying a few more Guards of the Fountain Court) and give Arwen an Elven cloak: not only does this protect her from archery (as you will have plenty of shields to get in the way), but it can also give you the comfort that you need to cast your spells in peace, free from enemy spell-casters taking your Will away from you. With both of your allied heroes wearing Elven cloaks, it would be hard for your opponent to get to your team - and remember that you can also make everyone cause Terror with Thranduil, which also has its uses.

Rumor has it that in the next TMAT Grand Tournament, we're going give armies the choice of using the warband rules or a modified Legions rule set to build your army (spending at least 33% of your points on heroes from the main or allied contingent). Under these rules, it would be much easier to have a large army at 500 points with an allied hero or two from the White Council.


  1. I do find your tactical discussion interesting, but, whilst the lists are legal in terms of allying in, I struggle with theme of the lists...

    Why would any of these elven heroes 'go for a stroll' down to Gondor , a journey of approx 900 miles on foot or horseback, or perhaps a sail down the Anduin, without some kind of Elven force accompanying them?

    I would prefer to field these Heroes alongside elven forces... at the very least one warbands worth of elven troops...

    1. A themed army might replace the Gondor elements with Wood Elves (fighting the Necromancer perhaps) or High Elves (as most of them come from Rivendell anyway). I provided Gondor as an example not only because you can (in a 500pt warband game) have a large army with high defense, but because Gondor troops are widely avaiable online (Ebay and other distribution sites). If you are going for a themed force, you would want to stay away from Gondor on the whole (Gandalf as an exception).

  2. I'm actually seriously looking into Beregond right now to lead the Gondor side of my Osgiliath themed army, as he's 25 points, got a decent Fight Value, and carries a longbow (Elf Bow) - the only Gondorian with that ability.

    He's basically a Ranger of the North with a better bow and lower courage value, so I like him. :) Still debating on that one, though.

  3. Beregond is a decent sniper. Having the S3 bow and a well spent might point could make a nice dent in some unlucky bugger (like a barrow wight... *sigh*)
    But just normal citadel guards can get S3 bows (wanna say 10pts with it). Just fyi.