Sunday, March 18, 2012

Uruk-Hai Month, Take 2: Week 1

Ok, so a while back, I had an Uruk-Hai month because I wasn't excited about an investment I made. The result was that the Uruk-Hai lost most of the games they played during that time, but I learned a lot about how the particular units I had worked (or didn't work). This time around, I'm hoping to get the units all prepared and finished along with identifying what investments I want to make in the future.

This week's work focused on finishing the basing for the models and identifying which places needed further paint improvements before the protective gloss coating was applied. If you zoom in on the picture, you'll see that the rocks that were added last time to the bases of these Uruk-Hai (and those not pictured here) has been painted black. All avid fans of the LOTR movies know that the Uruks chant "Burn to Ashes" constantly, so this gives that sort of picture. Next week, the rocks will be dry-brushed with a little gray and will be given a mud wash.
Here's a close-up on the crossbows I've been working on (pardon the blurriness). The idea is to have 3-4 warriors with crossbows by the end of it, so we'll see how that ends up. I'm looking at adding a shaman to my ranks soon, so watch for that. If you have ideas for what to do with this army, please leave them in comments. Right now I'm looking at adding berserkers or Warg Riders (a later post will explain why).

TMAT GT12: Round 3 and Standings

So we played 3 rounds of games with 3 Good players, 3 Evil players, and 3 scenarios on specific boards. A previous post has already shown two of those games. This post will close out the tournament, show a few picture highlights that were neat, and discuss how my Unexpected Company did during the tournament.

ROUND 3

Table 3: Zorro vs. Tavros

It was good to have this match-up as the last one of the tournament, since Zorro and Tavros were the highest ranked players at the time and with Tavros behind by 1 point, a victory would secure him the highest ranking army award for the tournament. Zorro, however, was intent on pulling at least a draw on this one and the two fought an epic Domination game. Two trolls on one side and a host of Elven warriors on the other...the clash was epic. Elven volley fire and direct fire was great at reducing the Goblin numbers and in one particular round, the Elves volleyed so that Legolas could use his auto-hit on a lone Goblin within the Goblins' starting objective. The bloke subsequently died and the rest of the archers held their fire. This in turn slowed the Goblin advance, as an unclaimed objective is bad news for one army. As the armies fought to control the bridge, the Goblin force broke and a dice was rolled. The game ended and the objectives were counted, with the Goblins in control of the two objectives on their side (narrowly) and the Elves had the objectives on their side.

Draw for both: Good 3, Evil 3

"The board is set, the pieces are moving." The Trolls and the Wargs stand out in the Goblin army, don't they?
The Elves managed to make it across the river on one bridge, but were promptly met by a Troll, a few wargs, and a host of Goblins. They never claimed the objective, even with archer support (seen at bottom right)...pity that.
On the other side of the bridge, the fighting was tough, with Buhrdur trying to clear/hold the bridge and Goblins and wargs jumping across the river to enter the melee. You can see a prowler in this picture who is really getting into this whole jumping thing.
Another shot from this side. You can see here one of the Dunedain rangers who populated our game tables. Glenstorm is working on a Grey Company army and wanted to show off some of the WIP models he was working on during the tournament

Table 2: Capt. Glot vs. Glenstorm

As opposed to the other table, this battle featured the two players currently in third place on their respective lists. Both had a rough time in previous rounds and so both armies were out for blood. No better scenario to have that fight on than the High Ground, eh? The Uruks and Rohan dominated in different places of the board. The Uruks were strong on both flanks and ran down most of the Rohan Warriors they faced, as the heroes of the Rohan were trudging up the stairs of the hill. The battle went well for the Rohan on the hilltop and as the timer expired, the Rohan had managed to kill all of the Uruks sitting on the hill. As much as we thought getting a major victory on this mission would be difficult, two of the three games in the tournament ended that way. Unfortunately for Glenstorm, most of his units were approaching the rear of the objective and could have poured into the fight if there had been time to get the next turn started. Unfortunately, there was not. Sorry, mate.

Major Victory for Capt. Glot: Good 5, Evil 1

Here is the board set-up: the Uruks are approaching from the north, and would be the first army to try to use the siege ladders you see on the left.
Everyone's getting ready for battle here, with a few Rohan Warriors trying to brace for the on-coming Uruk-Hai attack. You can see their major force heading to attack the archers at the top left.
And there are warriors at the top of the hill! Boromir leads the charge, while Haldir and Theoden lie down (right? they didn't trip or anything, I don't think) to avoid being seen or shot. The battle would be intense up top...
As the attack fills out up top, Rohan has the advantage. The Orcs, however, are forcing the Rohan to retreat around the hill and if time had permitted, probably would have cut into their units on the stairs and trapped them up pretty good. If we had played 90 minute games instead of 75 minute games, it probably would have worked out better for Glenstorm.
Table 1: Tiberius vs. Sir Percy Blakeney

So my good friend Percy visited us all the way from Michigan. He played 3-4 games before the tournament and was happy with the strength of the Uruk-Hai. His list featured 8 units who I like very much (all the guys with long pointy shafts were mine) and a bunch of units that I've been thinking of adding to the army (berserkers and crossbows). Unknown to the other players, I set this game up as my last game because I've been rethinking my investment in Uruk-Hai recently (see a previous post for more info on that) and so I wanted to believe in them again. I know that they don't hold up against Wood Elves and I know they can dominate against Goblins, but the Dwarves are always a close contest. So the point of this battle was to decide if I wanted to try to believe in them again.

Needless to say, Percy did a great job and the two of us fought in the best Urban Meeting Engagement game of the tournament. The Dwarves and Uruk-Hai were evenly matched and we watched as our kills advanced even the entire game. The game requires that one side be reduced to 25%, and it looked like both of us would reach that point at the same time. As it turns out, by the time the timer ran out, neither of us was at 50% of our starting size, despite Gimli racking up over 10 kills (yeah, the other Dwarves were depressing, more on that later). As a player of the Uruk-Hai, I can honestly say there were few things I would have done differently. Percy did a great job and I'm very thankful he was able to make it out to the tournament.

Draw for both: Good 3, Evil 3

The Dwarves and Uruks charge for the tower, as it is the only piece of non-difficult terrain for a long, LONG time. I have the advantage, as I was able to line up my Dwarf Rangers along the side that has rocky difficult terrain (which they pass over without difficulty). What I wasn't expecting was a crossbow team sitting on the other side of it, waiting for me.

The Uruks arrived before I did at the ruins. As you can see, they got shields an pikes into the doorways quickly and that really hurt later on. Still, Gimli was a real trooper and fought his way through wave after wave of Uruks, rolling 6s to win the fight most times.
You can see here the Dwarf Rangers and a Dwarf Warrior with shield charging at the Uruk crossbow team. I got really close to charging them, but those Uruks cut me off and did a real number on this attack team. To the left the shot was a pair of Khazad Guards who couldn't climb over the wall during one turn (that really stunk).
The first Dwarf to enter the ruins was a Dwarf with shield. He managed to not die during the whole fight and fought against the Uruk with shield that you can see in the center of the shot. The Dwarves never made progress on this front, and two Uruk-Hai successfully stopped 4 Dwarves from entering the fight and assisting Gimli (that's 20 points worth of Uruks distracting 42 points worth of Dwarves).
Final Standings:

Armies of Good
1st Vanguard of Rivendell (Zorro): 13 pts, awarded the Best Good Army award and Highest Rank award
3rd (T) Host of Erebor (Tiberius): 9 pts, awarded the Domination award (highest score in scenario)
3rd (T) Free People of the West (Capt. Glot): 9 pts, awarded the Come From Behind award

Armies of Evil
2nd Mountain Alliance (Tavros): 12 pts, awarded the Best Evil Army award
5th Isengard Unleashed (Blakeney): 7 pts, awarded the School of Hard Knocks award (for playing the least amount of games in preparation for the tournament)
6th Raiders of Isengard (Glenstorm): 4 pts, awarded the Better Luck Next Time award and Most Unique Scenery Additions award (for adding fun to our games with Dunedain rangers)

Special Events during the games:
You can see here the great Goblin king Durburz, lying face down in a river. As it happened, Durburz died by drowning during the game (pushed in I think after losing a fight?). Since the Goblins were losing their units pretty quickly, this was quite a blow...sometimes Lady Fortuna doesn't smile on your army.
Earlier in the fight (as you can see with Durburz standing there), the Troll chief Buhrdur managed to kill the Elf Captain of Rivendell, the first player to pull off that feat during this game. Of course, there were still lots of Elves to challenge him and keep him from getting to any serious objectives, but still, quite a feat.
My final highlight is from the clash between Uruk-Hai and Dwarves during the Urban Meeting Engagement game. You can see here an Uruk Warrior with shield holding off three Khazad Guards. The guards won almost every fight for 5 or more rounds, but the barrier's in the way roll blocked each and every one from landing (and the Khazad Guards would have wounded him on a 5+ without two-handed weapons if they could have gotten to him. Oh well...
The Unexpected Company
So what about Thorin and Co? I posted several notes on their development as the tournament drew near and made an investment in rangers instead of Dwarf Warriors...what were the pay backs? 
The Dwarves with throwing axes (6 of them) were the most effective, killing 16 units during all three rounds (an approximate total of 93 points total). While this doesn't pay for them, the throwing axes were a huge boon to my first two games. In the last game against Isengard Unleashed, the throwing axes were useful against the crossbows, but not much else. By class, however, this group of Dwarves killed more than any other group (runners up being the 12 kills scored by the Dwarf Warriors with Dwarf bows). Kili got his first kill in the last game and promptly died after scoring it, but Fili scored 4 kills during the games, bringing up their tally to about 1 kill each game for the pair of them. Less than stellar, but S2 bows have a problem killing D5-6 units anyway.

The two-handed weapon Dwarves had it rough, as they sat out of the conflict during the Domination game and tended to be used as arrow magnets to protect the throwing axe-carrying Dwarves of the company. Still, they scored 4 kills in the first game, which was really good. The other games, they were scoreless so far as I can remember and poor Bifur never got a kill during the tournament (the only one to not score a kill, actually). Balin's games were on and off, but his best performance was during the Domination game, where he led most of the Unexpected Company against the most daunting of the Raiders of Isengard's forces (the one with Vrasku and his team of archers on the other side of the river). He scored 4 kills that game (same as Gimli) and 8 kills during the course of the tournament (maybe 9, don't remember if I killed two people in the last round of the last game and forgot to mark that). All told, the company did alright, and the 3+ shoot value with throwing axes and the equivalent of normal bows was a real threat to the foes as well (even if their kills were less than spectacular). The conversion potential also made it worthwhile and I've really enjoyed preparing a new set of scenarios to use with these Dwarves, so keep watching to see what those are!

So, that was the tournament. We really enjoyed it and are looking forward to having another one. I heard back from one of the comment-makers on this blog that he lives in the northern VA area and hopefully we'll get in a game with him soon, but if you are also in the area, I'd really like to hear from you!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

TMAT GT12: Rounds 1 & 2

Our "dedicated photographer" showed up during the first round and so the pictures for that round are a bit scarce. As a matter of fact, with the exception of a few pictures I posted of my first game on an earlier post, we only have pictures of one game. So...we'll start with the other two games (but rest assured frequent viewers, we'll have better sets of pictures in later posts). In the style of a blog that I really like, I'm going to explain a bit about each game and then show some pictures afterwards...so here we go.

ROUND 1

Table 3: Captain Glot vs. Sir Percy Blakeney

This game was an epic clash between Rohan and Isengard, the fair heads against the unfair head-hunters. During this Domination game, the battle raged over the bridges that crossed the river and Boromir camped out on one of them. Needless to say, the Uruk-Hai didn't fair to well against him. However, elsewhere on the field, the Uruks did very well, capturing two objectives and pressing for a third. The day was cut short when the Warriors of Rohan broke, a dice was rolled, and the game suddenly ended, leaving the Uruks and Rohan with two objectives each (though an army of Uruks were rolling towards them at top-speed).

Draw for both: Good 3 - Evil 3.

Table 2: Tiberius vs. Tavros

Of all the games I played during this tournament, this one had me the most concerned. So I got it over with first...and unfortunately, it was on the one scenario I didn't want to face this particular horde of Goblins on. As it turns out, the Trolls couldn't climb up the stairs or the rocky faces of the High Ground, so they spent most of their time chomping through the Dwarves who were around the hill for much of the game. My army was split into three groups: with Tavros placing his units first, I lined up my Dwarf archers opposite Buhrdur and a team of Goblins and Wargs, while Gimli led a group of heavily-armed Dwarves and rangers against a massive line of Goblins. A Khazad Guard and Dwarf Warrior with shield were always kept with each attacking group, as I needed reliable units to assign volley fire to in later games. In these cases, though, they helped to buttress against the loads of Goblins I was fighting. Balin led the third contingent up the rocky face towards the scoring zone. The battle was close, with my archers nearly shooting Buhrdur to death before getting raked by his allied forces. Gimli slew a Troll and failed to do anything else of interest, as he spent the final few turns attempting to climb the hill and failing. Balin was killed by Durburz on the high ground after really messing up his roll to win the fight. As the timer ran out, we counted up who was winning the fight and the Goblins were leading on the high ground by 3.

Minor Victory for Tavros: Good 2 - Evil 4.

Table 1: Zorro vs. Glenstorm

This classic fight between Elves and a horde of Orcs and Uruk-Hai had both players a little concerned. What ended up happening was a lot of effective Elven archery fire and a fierce melee fight at the end. Since the goal in this game is to drive the enemy to reach 25% of his starting force size, the Elves gained the upper hand early. Once the force from Isengard was reduced to 25%, the question became whether the Elves had a hero remaining. With both Legolas and the Captain alive, the Elves seized a major victory against the Uruk-Hai.

Major Victory for Zorro: Good 5, Evil 1.

The armies met around the building, not risking a fight inside...hmm, that's interesting.
The Orcs rush around the Elven lines after braving the marsh at half-speed. The Elves prepare for a tough fight on this side and are seriously out-numbered.
On the other side of the world, the Elves battle the archers and supporting units of the Uruks and Orcs. With blades flashing, this flank is looking much better than the other side.
There's nothing quite like supporting archer fire from an Elven battle line...especially one that sports Legolas.
Since there weren't many pictures here, let's move on to Round 2...

Table 3: Tiberius vs. Glenstorm

So here is a classic fight between my newly-completed Dwarf army against their ancient rivals, the Uruks and Orcs of Isengard played by my good friend and long-time partner in crime, Glenstorm. These forces have battled several times before and I think up until the tournament, my record against them was 1-2 (maybe worse than that). As we set up for this domination game, I split my army into three pieces: four Dwarf rangers stayed behind to defend my camp, while Gimli took an armored division across the river followed by a company of archers while the Unexpected Company (those who weren't defending the camp) joined Balin and the token Khazad Guard and shield-bearing warrior to claim the distant objective. As expected, the fighting happened just across each bridge, with the Dwarves at first having a rough time against the sheer number of Dwarves. After really messing around for most of the game, Gimli began to remember the point of this excursion as the minutes wound down. Gimli managed to rush into an objective after scoring many kills and a broken Uruk force led to the defender of Gimli's newly-claimed objective running away. All of the nearby allies of this Orc were either in combat, fled, or couldn't reach the objective, leaving the Dwarves with three objectives and the Uruk-Hai with one.

Minor victory for Tiberius: Good 4, Evil 2.

The Uruk-Hai gained control of a nearby bridge very quickly. The archers you see here, guided by Vrasku, managed to nail quite a few Dwarves during the game - especially those trying to cross the other bridge or Dwarf Rangers who ventured too far from their cover. The Orcs and Uruks crossing this bridge went straight for the approaching Dwarves and kept them from crossing the bridge the entire game.

The other bridge saw a lot of action. The Dwarf archer team followed across the bridge not long after and helped drive the Uruks off the bridge and away from the Dwarf base. The rest of the Dwarves had a really, really rough time clearing out these Orcs and Uruks until Gimli got on top of his game.
The fighting got really tense as the battle raged on. Here you can see Gimli at the rear of the enemy lines and getting ready to pummel forward to the objective.
At the other objective, you can see Balin leading his company of Dwarves.  Those pictured here include Thorin Oakenshield, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, and Ori. Most of these Dwarves paid the ultimate price before the game ended, as the Dwarves were also broken during this fight.
Table 2: Zorro vs. Sir Percy Blakeney

This fight pitted a choke-point war between High Elves and Uruk-Hai. Of all the armies to fight in this particular scenario, the army of Blakeney was probably the toughest for the Elves to fight, as their pikes and Strength 4 provided a real battering for the Elves. From what I am told, the game was very, very close, with the Uruks gaining control of a tower early in the game and raining crossbow bolts down on the nearby Elves, preventing a counter-attack on their flanks. A long and bloody conflict at the top of the high ground was waged until the final few turns, when a few good priority rolls for the Elves allowed them to get the upper hand on the Uruks and kill all of the Uruks on the hill. Legolas did his part, sniping Uruks engaged in fights and shooting down supporting pikemen.

Major victory for Zorro: Good 5, Evil 1.

Legolas and his archers kept the Uruks busy off of the hill. The shields of the Uruks made killing them difficult, but when Elves with bows have a mind to do something, usually they do it in the end.
Scaling the high ground is difficult without the stairs and as you can see, the Uruks were swift to distract many Elves from climbing up the rock face, even though it placed them directly in the firing line of the Elven archers. Their charge spared many pikemen from being killed early in the game.
The fighting was fierce, with Uruk-Hai warriors, Berserkers, and their captain attempting to break through the line of solid Elven defenders. The Elf captain here did a stellar job of keeping the Uruk-Hai back, thanks to his Fight value of 6.
The battle on the high ground was rough for the Uruks and the Elves finally defeated the last foe on the mountain, a berserker as it happened to be.
ROUND 2

Table 1: Capt. Glot vs. Tavros

The Meeting Engagement games seemed to be the most fun, but this game was going to be a bit one-sided. On the one side, Boromir of Gondor stood impregnable against most of his adversaries unless he really, REALLY messed something up. Being supported by Haldir and Theoden certainly helped. On the other side, however, the skulking but bulky Durburz and his Troll friend Buhrdur would take some effort to defeat as well. In the end, killing all of the enemy heroes would be a tough endeavor. The Goblins gained the advantage quickly, utilizing the Wild Wargs and trolls in their army against the weaker Rohan units. The sheer number of Goblins stopped the heroes from being as effective as they should have been and the rampage ended with an overwhelming number of Goblins running through the ranks of the Rohan until they reached 25%. With both heroes alive and well, the Goblins were the undisputed champions of this game.

Major Victory for Tavros: Good 1, Evil 5.

The armies prepared for a bloody battle, racing towards the ruins to utilize its defenses. You can see both trolls forming up on the same side to the left of the picture.
The Goblins reached the ruins first and claimed a few defensible spots. Little did they know that the powerful heroes of the enemy would be swiftly approaching.

Here's a close-up on the Goblins, and particularly a prowler who seems to be rejoicing at their good fortune. Can't wait to see what happens when Haldir and Theoden show up...
But alas, the interesting parts of this tale are with the Trolls. These great beasts walked unchallenged for the most part through the men of Rohan, scoring numerous kills along with the packs of wargs you see on the right.
So...that was the first two rounds of the tournament. The standings thus far were as follows:

Armies of Good:
Vanguard of Rivendell (Zorro): 10 pts
Host of Erebor (Tiberius): 6 pts
Free People of the West (Capt. Glot): 4 pts

Armies of Evil:
Mountain Alliance (Tavros): 9 pts
Isengard Unleashed (Blakeney): 4 pts
Raiders of Isengard (Glenstorm): 3 pts

A later post will explain the third round and the consequent rankings that followed. As a close-out to the Unexpected Company posts, I'll be making a short epilogue to the upcoming post about how the company did and who were the stellar members of that group. I'll be placing this within the greater context of the army in general and particularly highlight how well the heroes did. Until then, I leave you...

Friday, March 16, 2012

TMAT GT12: Game Background

So we have a LOT of pictures from the tournament, though we are conspicuously lacking in pictures from two of the games. But, the tournament has been well-covered and we'll show a bit of the action here.
Army Lists:
Glenstorm's "Raiders of Isengard:" Vrasku, Uruk Captain with heavy armor and shield (surrogate is Ugluk in these pictures), 16 Uruk Scouts with shields, 8 Uruk Scouts with Orc bows, 8 Orc Warriors with shields, 8 Orc Warriors with shields and spears, 1 Orc Warrior with banner, 3 Orc Warriors with two-handed weapons, 2 Orc Warriors with Orc bows.
A closer look at Vrasku and some of his minions, getting ready to tear into an army of blonde-headed men.
Zorro's "Vanguard of Rivendell": Elf Captain with heavy armor and shield, Legolas with armor, 10 Elf Warriors with heavy armor and shields, 10 Elf Warriors with heavy armor, shields and spears, 10 Elf Warriors with heavy armor and Elf bows.
Despite being the smallest army in the tournament, this team is armed to the teeth. You can see Legolas in this shot (as well as a Ranger of Arnor, who populated every game table somewhere...).
Tiberius' "Host of Erebor": Gimli, Balin, 8 Dwarf Warriors with shields, 6 Khazad Guards, 10 Dwarf Warriors with Dwarf bows, 3 Dwarf Rangers with throwing axes, 3 Dwarf Rangers with throwing axes and two-handed axes, 4 Dwarf Rangers with two-handed axes, 2 Dwarf Rangers with Dwarf Longbows.
Unlike most of the armies in the tournament, the Dwarven mail gleams in the sunlight. These little blokes are also anxious for a fight and prepared to repel any beating they are faced with.
Tavros' "Mountain Alliance": Durburz, Buhrdur, 20 Goblin Warriors with shields, 14 Goblin Warriors with spears, 6 Goblin Warriors with Orc bows, 4 Goblin Prowlers, 3 Wild Wargs, 1 Cave Troll.
The units in this army are varied and include a few neat conversions, like the Goblin you see here with a hat he claimed from a wizard who visited Moria once...
Captain Glot's "Free People of the West": Theoden, Haldir (Defender of Helm's Deep), Boromir of Gondor, 12 Warriors of Rohan with shields and throwing spears, 10 Warriors of Rohan with shields, 11 Warriors of Rohan with bows.
The Warriors of Rohan in this army form a solid number of units to support hte three heroes of this army. Each is well-detailed and solid fighters (though severely lacking in the resist-enemy-spell-casters department...which unfortunately we didn't have in this tournament).
The final army was Sir Percy Blakeney's "Isengard Unleashed": Uruk Captain with shield, Vrasku, 18 Uruk Warriors with shields, 8 Uruk Warriors with pikes, 6 Uruk Warriors with crossbows, 4 Uruk Berserkers.
Blakeney came all the way from Michigan to play with us (well, not really, but sort of) and he fielded an army of Uruk-Hai with smelly breath and eager spirits.
The Three Game Boards: Understanding the Rules and Terrain
Table 1 was an "Urban Meeting Engagement" game. Usually, in Meeting Engagement games, the center of the board is clear of terrain, forcing armies to fight on an even battlefield without gaining an advantage from terrain. What terrain pieces are on table are placed on the periphery and since the game is played until one side is reduced to 25% of its starting size, one army could sit behind terrain for most of the game if they wanted to. In this particular scenario, we have a ruined building in the center, surrounded by a marsh (difficult terrain) and a rocky ground (rocky difficult terrain). Next to these terrain pieces there were a few small walls that could be defended or fought over and a few pieces of terrain around the edges if people wanted to use them.
Here's a close-up of the building, brought by Tavros and Capt. Glot. The marsh you may recognize from a previous post.
Table 2 was a "High Ground" game. Instead of playing with the rule that a tied priority round results in everyone getting knocked to the ground, we instead nullified that rule and focused solely on the rules for getting up this particular high ground terrain piece. I'll be the first to say that there were a lot of rules, but you'll see more about that later.
You can see the level of detail that Zorro put into making this piece of terrain. Up close, it was quite the work of art - major kudos to him for putting this together and really making the games on this table tactically strenuous.
The final game was a "Domination" game. This game featured four objectives that were fought over by both sides, each starting in a corner (and basically claiming one at the start of the game). Splitting the board in half was a river that could be jumped over or crossed via bridges, but the current was too strong to swim across. This made for interesting choke points and daring jumps from bank to bank.
Tavros and Captain Glot brought this piece as well. You can see some of the detail on the water (and you may even recognize some of the Dwarf terrain pieces scattered on both sides of the river).
With this backdrop, the next few posts will be on the rounds of the tournament, with the results posted at the end of each post. Until tomorrow, happy battling!