As the first themed month that I've done, I'll say that I really enjoyed testing out my Grey Company army with various heroes, battle scenarios, and opponents. I ended it off by playing against Zorro last night in a new version of Reconnoiter (check back on this space for updates on the rules we experimented with - I really enjoyed it!) against his High Elves, and though I lost the match, I walked away with an overwhelming feeling of, "Wow, for only being D4 these guys are amazingly resilient," lasting about 8 rounds against a larger, higher fight value, higher defense troop of Elves. To cap off the month, I want to specifically focus in on one of my new purchases that will hopefully be arriving this week: Malbeth the Seer.
Malbeth the Seer can be bought from Games Workshop (or other vendors) with King Arvedui, the Last King of Arnor. Arvedui is okay (primarily a minor hero with the standard F5, S4, H2, and C5 of a hero from the Race of Man), and is especially helpful for warriors from the Arnor list (as they can use his courage value of 5 instead of their courage value of 2 when they are near him), and has a 12" Stand Fast! range. I'll be honest, though: I did not buy this set for Arvedui, :) But Malbeth, on the other hand...
Malbeth the Seer gives you a very basic statline: only 1M/2W/1F, and unlike most guys in this game that carry a staff, he has no magical attacks or buffs. What he does offer is the 6" 5+ foresight save (similar to an invulnerability save in Warhammer 40k or a ward save from Fantasy), and gives a light, skirmishing force like the Grey Company a few more chances at survival. I'm looking forward to adding him to the force, in part because he is a cheap hero, at 80 points (which is helpful in warband-style games), and can also be easily added to an army that sports Aragorn (a brawler-style hero), Halbarad (support), Elrohir and Elladan (scrappers), and the list goes on. There are very few Good forces that do not benefit from this hero, and I'm really looking forward to adding him to the list.
Malbeth is primarily useful for three purposes in your army:
1. Muting Archery: Don't you hate it when you face a Harad, Elven, or Dwarf ranger band that puts deep holes in your forces with their archery? Malbeth provides an opportunity to negate those effects. It is probably not as strong a defense as Blinding Light (which players like to use), but it gives you options for redemption from a hot volley of archery.
2. Reduces Heroic Combats: Heroic combats are a good way for heavy-hitting heroes to quickly add up kills, crush flanks, maneuver around the map, or engage weak heroes. The trick, of course, with a heroic combat, is that you have to kill all of the units that you engage in the fight. What happens, though, if a foresight save prevents the wounds to a particular unit? The unit stays, they are not killed, and the Heroic Combat is ended without the hero moving. Goblin shamans create the same quandary: do you use a Might Point and attempt to make a power play that may not work? Granted, Aragorn is probably not as worried about this penalty as other heroes are (as he can burn a free Might Point every turn), but the point is still the same: do you take the chance?
3. Strength 4 attack: Malbeth is not a weak hero in close quarters. He is not exceptional, sporting D5, 2 wounds, and 1F, but his F4 and S4 make him a capable fighter against enemy infantry. His 1 attack (like most guys that carry a staff) should be taken into consideration, but when backed up by a spear, he can do very well against enemy infantry. As I've just noted, I would not recommend using him against a hero, though: while his Foresight Saves apply to him as well, they are not reliable enough for me to count on against enemy might points and high strength values. Against raw troops, however, he can be a competent close-combat warrior.
Over the next month, I will likely invest a lot of time into him and Arvedui (as they are new), and am still determining what other units to work on. I badly need to do base work and customization to my Isengard and Angmar forces, and am also in desperate need of finishing touches on a number of my Rohan forces. I also am now the owner of 24 Warriors of Minas Tirith who I am itching to customize and transform into Osgiliath Veterans, so we'll see where next month takes me. Any thoughts of where I should go next from our loyal fan base?
Keep watching this space for further updates on new scenarios, new units, and new battles!