Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Fellowship: The Strength of the Company

So, let's admit it, we play with the Fellowship warband not because we like playing with hobbits or ponies, but because of the epic heroes that can be fielded. Yes, we can't have a large (conventional-sized) army, but the units we have are specialist fighters and very, VERY fun to use. In this post, we're going to depart from the generally-below-average statistics of the hobbits (and Smeagol) that we looked at in the last post and instead, we're going to focus on the heroes who pretty much do one thing well: killing Orcs, Goblins, and evil men.

1) Aragorn - Strider
Rules & Stats
Aragorn is the king of all killers, sporting an excellent offensive stat line (Fight 6/3+, Strength 4, 3 Attacks, and 3 Might points) in addition to a decent defensive stat line (Defense 5, 3 Wounds, and 3 Fate points). Aragorn's "Mighty Hero" special rule allows him to spend a Might point for free each round, giving him access to more Might points during a game than any other hero available. Aragorn's wargear options are vast and most of them can be useful. For 5 points, Aragorn could choose to take a bow or armor (or pay 10 points for both). The bow allows him not only to capitalize on his 3+ shoot value, but also means that he can use his free Might points sooner. With the new scenario rules in the sourcebooks, you can (of course) start very near to your enemy and get into combat sooner, but if you want to play more defensively, the bow can really help. The armor makes Aragorn Defense 6, which is my standard for a good defense rating (as Strength 2 and Strength 3 bows or melee attacks wound on 6s). I generally say that taking the armor is a good idea (unless you're fighting Uruk-Hai), though the bow is optional.
Aragorn could also take an Elven cloak or a horse for 10 points. The Elven cloak is great for ensuring that Aragorn doesn't become an archery pin-cushion before getting into combat, but it also ensures that a Nazgul or Barrow-Wight doesn't begin casting spells on Aragorn before he's close to the enemy battle lines (hopefully allowing Aragorn to cut through the lines and charge the spell-caster after a turn or two). The horse doesn't provide protection for Aragorn, but having 10" of movement means that you can close in on enemy archers very quickly and when you charge them, you have 4 Attacks at Fight 6 - perfect! I haven't played with Aragorn mounted yet, but if you have other cavalry (Riders of Rohan?) this might be a nice combo.

Finally, you can give Aragorn Anduril for 75 points. This is tied for the most expensive item in the game (Sauron can take the One Ring for 75 points and I think that an armored Fell Beast might be that much) and can be useful, but generally I'd say it's overpriced. Anduril allows Aragorn to wound any foe on a 4+, which is great if you are consistently fighting D7 or higher units, but on the whole, I'd be fine with wounding D5 and D6 foes on a 5+ and pay 75 points for a contingent of Rangers or another hero to guard Aragorn's back.

Purpose in the Army
Aragorn is your killer and he's a must if you're fighting Uruk-Hai. Because I'm a nerd, I'm going to take you through a quick analysis of why this is the case:
We know that statistically, your chances of rolling a 5+ on a single dice is 1/3 (33%). Since Aragorn has a free Might point, all he needs is a 5 on his highest dice to win the fight (wounding will be harder, but life is sweet).
When we up this to two dice, we get nine possible combinations, with the rows being when Dice A is rolling a 1-2 (top row), 3-4 (middle row), or a 5-6 (bottom row). The columns represent Dice B rolling a 1-2 (left column), 3-4 (center column), or a 5-6 (right column). Our chances of rolling a 5+ on two dice, therefore becomes 5/9 (55%). Not bad right?
But Aragorn rolls three dice, so this is a layered three-dimensional demonstration of the likelihood of rolling a 5+ on three dice. Each 3x3 square is the same as laid out above for two dice, but now we have three levels of these rolls with the left square representing when Dice C is a 1-2, the center square representing a 3-4 on Dice C, and the right square (completely full!) represents a 5-6 on Dice C. The chances of getting a 5+ with three dice (as Aragorn rolls) is 19/27 (a 70% chance). Against units with Fight 5 or less, Aragorn should win his fights (at least in 7/10 cases).
So why is Aragorn a must against Uruk-Hai? Uruks come into a field all their own when they get to wound people. The Fighting Uruk-Hai that I field have a Defense 6 shield-wall that can carve through an enemy Defense 6 enemy line with relative ease. In the case of the Fellowship, most of the Fellowship heroes who are not hobbits will be wounded on 5s and all the hobbits, Bill, and Smeagol will be wounded on 4s (unless Frodo has his mithril mail on). That's a lot of pain if the Uruks win. As a result, you want heroes who won't lose and Aragorn is that man - winning 7 out of 10 fights, he should be able to carve through quite a few Uruks before he takes a wound (and with 3-6 wounds including Fate saves, you're looking pretty good for one turn if you're not trapped).
Tactica
So how do you maximize the potential of this amazing hero? Heroic combats! A common tactic for armies of Evil to deal with killer heroes like Aragorn (especially those with lots of disposable units) is to throw a single warrior at the hero in order to keep him from doing maximal damage. A heroic combat by any hero could be called, but with the usual 2-3 Might points, you won't be cutting through very many units this way. Aragorn, however, is a different kettle of fish: with a free Might point each turn, you can call a Heroic combat for free and finish up the unit you're fighting rather easily (or so the hope is). Once the foe falls, force your way into more dire fights, assisting other heroes, raining on an enemy hero's day, or bashing through more rank-and-file troops to break the army.
Aragorn also works well with other heroes and in this post, I'm going to briefly review a hero (or two) who can be incredibly helpful to the hero highlighted. In this case, Aragorn can be helped by his good friend Gildor Inglorion (Rivendell & Eregion army list). This Wood Elf commander comes in a 80 points, and has a fairly standard Elven hero profile: Fight 6 with 2 Attacks and Strength 4, 2 Wounds with Defense 4. He has 1M/4W/1F and can cast Immobilize on a 3+. This is the reason he is a great complement to Aragorn. I mentioned before that Aragorn's chances of rolling a 6 (or promoting it with his free Might point) is a 70% chance, but this really comes into its own field when Aragorn is fighting a unit with a lower Fight value than his own. What happens if Aragorn is fighting a Troll (Fight 6 or Fight 7)? This is risky at best, but Gildor's Immobilize spell can reduce any hero or monster to Fight 1 and 1 Attack. What are the chances that Aragorn loses the fight now? Not very high... The pair cost ~260 points, which is expensive for most games, but the pairing can easily defeat enemy heroes, especially those who are traditional killing-focused heroes (1-2 Will points for most captain-type units and an occasional 3 Will in others).
2) Boromir of Gondor

Rules & Stats
While Aragorn is the best hero you can field with the Fellowship, Boromir of Gondor is, point for point, the best aggressive combat hero available to an army of Good. For 105 points, you receive a hero with the necessary 3 Attacks at Fight 6 and Strength 4 and a special rule which makes Boromir win the combat automatically if the enemy with the highest Courage rating fails a Courage test. With 6 Might points to ensure that fights are won or near-wounds become wounds, there are very few armies that Boromir of Gondor can't handle. Defensively, Boromir of Gondor is left wanting, though with 3 Wounds at Defense 6 and no Fate points, his foes will still find tackling this hero a bit daunting.
Boromir has access to two items: a horse and an Elven cloak. As mentioned above under Aragorn's profile, the horse allows Boromir not only to enter fights sooner, but also allows him to gain an additional Attack when charging infantry. The added knock-down bonus provides Boromir with a greater likelihood of wounding his foes and saving his Might points for a later date. The Elven cloak is, in my opinion, a better item for Boromir, as it prevents Boromir from taking damage from arrows until he is up-close and personal - just where you want him. Even at that close range, his allied units should provide a cover screen to at least provide an in-the-way roll and protect their friend. Mounting up is great and all, but you make a fine target for every able-bodied bowman on the map.
Purpose in the Army
Boromir of Gondor is as one-dimensional as they come: he is built to kill units and not much else. In the Fellowship warband, Boromir is a cheap substitute for Aragorn, but not a wise substitute for Gimli or Legolas in general (more on that later). Boromir's Might points allow him to also call Heroic Combats effectively, allowing him (and say, Gimli or Aragorn) to move on to other fights that are more pressing. The mobility that you can have with Boromir in your army is superb, provided he stays alive long enough to call these actions before being shot or slain by magical attacks (1 Will point isn't going to help you much in the long-term).
Tactica
Boromir is best employed when charging multiple opponents. Though you can often find multiple opponents if you drift to the end of your battle-line, I would suggest keeping him near the center of your line. If you have the opportunity to charge the enemy, charge Boromir into more than one person (forcing a Courage test). Be aware of enemy shamans or war priests who allow all units of their race or heritage to pass any Courage test they need to take, as this quite effectively negates Boromir's special rule. Once the battle is raging, Boromir really doesn't require too much tact to use. Ensure that you win fights, as you shouldn't assume you'll survive a round of wounding.
Boromir of Gondor should be focused on forcing Courage tests and ensuring that those fail. If Good had a unit with a Harbinger of Evil or Ancient Evil special rule, that would be beneficial, and it so happens that in a way, they're in luck. Galadriel, Lady of the Galadhrim is available in the White Council list. For 230 points (or 240 points if Boromir has an Elven cloak), you can purchase both heroes who sport Fight 6, 3 Attacks, and Strength 4. Galadriel's Elven blade (two-handed weapon or hand weapon) and 3 Might points means that she can be a real killer in close-combat, but she also inflicts a -1 penalty to the Courage rating of all foes within 6" of her. This mini-Harbinger of Evil special rule allows her also to capitalize on her own Terror rule, but further benefits Boromir if he stays close. Galadriel also has a single spell: Blinding Light - perfect for making sure that Boromir isn't shot up too early. Used in tandem with an Elven cloak, you could run through many an enemy with this pairing.
3) Gimli, Son of Gloin

Rules & Stats
Gimli, Son of Gloin, is (point for point) the best resilient hero available to an army of Good and certainly the most resilient unit available to the Fellowship warband. With an impressive offensive stat line (Fight 6 with 2-3 Attacks at Strength 4 and 3 Might points, more on this later) joined with a most impressive defensive stat line (2 Wounds at Defense 8 and 2 Fate points), very few units will be wounding Gimli easily (and Strength 3 units will need to roll a 6 followed by another dice that scores a 4+). When Uruk-Hai (captains and warriors) are only wounding you on a 6, you know you found a good unit. Gimli's Axes of the Dwarves! special rule allows him to choose between 3 Attacks or 2 Attacks with his special two-handed axe (+1 to wound, no -1 penalty to win the fight). In my opinion, Gimli is the best hero available to Good armies in the game because of his flexibility on offense and his stalwart defensive stats.
Purpose in the Army
Gimli's purpose in the army is simple: kill lots of basic troops with his throwing axes and hand axes. For 90 points, very few heroes can deal out the death and punishment that Gimli does. Like Boromir, Gimli is very one-dimensional, but he does take a bit more skill to use. Unlike Boromir, Gimli does have a ranged weapon, allowing him to dig into an enemy in the Move phase and if he slays his foe, he can then charge someone else, further upping his kill potential.
Tactica
Gimli's flexibility is also seen in his choice of weapons. He can choose to either have 3 Attacks OR 2 Attacks with +1 to wound. In my opinion, there are only two cases in which the +1 to wound is helpful. First, if Gimli is being assisted by another unit (orseveral units) who can increase the chances of rolling a 6 (or otherwise winning dice roll). Losing 1 dice that Gimli could use Might to improve is a hit to be sure, but with a friend or two, the +1 to wound is an excellent bonus.
The second case in which I would recommend using the two-handed weapon is if your foe is trying to tie down your hero with a single warrior. This is one of the most effective strategies for dealing with a killer in any army, and this is the time when you want to be able to call a heroic combat, wound your foe quickly, and help with the rest of the battle.
Gimli is one of those characters who could work with anyone, but my favorite pal for him is a Dwarf Shield-bearer. Not only does the pair of them cost 150 points, but you can hold a position and kill lots of guys with this combination. The Dwarf Shield-bearer should have one warrior between himself and Gimli, ensuring that he is within 3" of Gimli. 
When the Fight phase begins, the Shield-bearer can call a free Heroic Combat and if he succeeds, he must try to get into Gimli's fight. By placing another unit between Gimli and the shield-bearer, we have prevented the shield-bearer from entering that fight and instead can move him to a different fight (like the one next to him!). On the following turn, the shield-bearer will be within range again and can repeat the process again.


The best thing about using the shield-bearer is that Gimli no longer needs to call heroic combats, as another friendly hero is doing one per turn. This allows the mighty Dwarf to save his Might points for winning fights or killing foes.

4) Legolas

Rules & Stats
Legolas was my favorite hero when I began collecting because I misunderstood his "to-hit" special rule (see next paragraph for details), but even after the rule was clarified, I really liked the famed archer from Mirkwood. It was because of Legolas that I chose to invest in Wood Elves and since that time, I'm glad I made the choice I did. Legolas is, in my opinion and with clear and convincing evidence, the best ranged hero in the game and is often considered to be one of the best heroes for cost that an army of Good can purchase. For 90 points, you have an Elf hero with a traditional profile: Fight 6/3+, Strength 4, Defense 4 (unarmored), 2 Attacks, 2 Wounds, 6 Courage. You also receive 3 Might/2 Will/3 Fate, which is far above your average Elf captain.
Legolas is also the only hero to have the Deadly Shot special rule. With this rule, he can choose to either shoot three times during the Shoot phase (more than any other hero in the game) or shoot a single shaft which hits his target regardless of "in-the-way" rolls or the "shooting into a friendly combat" rule. Since Legolas wields an Elf bow (Strength 3 with a range of 24"), Legolas can tackle Defense 5 foes with relative ease, which is better than most bow-armed warriors.
Legolas' equipment choices are simple: you can take armor for 5 points, an Elven cloak for 10 points, or a horse for 10 points. Each of these options has value, but my standard equipment choice for Legolas is just the armor. Since all Evil armies wield even-Strength bows, getting Legolas to Defense 5 is great for keeping him safe from enemy archery (as Strength 2 bows will be wounding him on a 6). The Elven cloak is a handy item, as it can protect you from archery until the enemy gets close and maximizes the effectiveness of your own archery by negating the charge range of cavalry. Generally speaking, though, I would take a friendly archer (or a melee warrior to stand between me and my foes) over taking the cloak. A horse gives Legolas added mobility and provides a built-in in-the-way roll (two if you are behind some form of cover). While harder to hide Legolas, a horse allows him to decimate foes with Movement 5 and also allows him to rush to cover if necessary.

Purpose in the Army
By and large, Legolas is the archery of the Fellowship. Though he is the best archer in the game, again in my opinion, Legolas often has his work cut out for him. If a horde of Goblins approaches, does he fire into the rank-and-file or does he look to the troll (or trolls) among them? If Gandallf stands ready to handle the troll, does Legolas deal with the Bats or the Goblins first? The choices will have costs, but Legolas' primary duty is to make life easier for his comrades (and it often helps if he can kill his weight in units before he falls).
Tactica
The only "tactica" issues that the wielder of Legolas needs to consider are as follows: how many arrows should I shoot, and who should I take to be Legolas' protector. My general rules of thumb for how many arrows I shoot are:
1) If Legolas is participating in a volley team, use the single arrow, as you guarantee one arrow in your volley team hitting its target.
2) If your opponent brings the Shadow Lord (or some other hero who inhibits the archery prowess of your team), use the single arrow to knock out the guy.
3) If there is a hero or warrior who is immobilized, paralyzed, or otherwise at a severe disadvantage in a fight, it is often useful to use the single arrow to take off some of the pressure.
4) Unless your gut is giving you a different feeling, I recommend shooting with the three arrows in every other case. Don't use your Might to promote your to-hit dice, and use them when you are trying to wound a key unit (a Barrow-Wight, a charging Uruk-Hai, etc.). These shots are best spent on units with 1 Wound and Defense 3-5. Remember also that the instances above where I recommend using a single arrow are for when that shot is going to do something game-changing - shooting once just to hit automatically may not be the best choice (like if you're about to be swarmed by foes). Legolas does not often wound 3 times, but I've seen it done on more than one occasion and some of those times are recorded on this blog. Usually, you will average one kill per round, but if that kill happens to be a valuable one (like a 50 point Barrow-Wight), you can pay for Legolas quickly.
Like Gimli, Legolas does well working with almost anyone. I'll highlight two possible allies with Legolas because your focus for your ally will either be to further boost your team's archery or to team in a competent melee hero to work in tandem with (and protect) Legolas. If archery is your goal, Legolas' father, Thranduil, is an excellent choice. With a single shot that hist on a 2+, Thranduil is a dependable archer. His base cost is the same as his son's, but hebegins with both armor and an Elven cloak. Though he has less Fate points than his son and shoots less arrows each turn, Thranduil provides two other key benefits to your army.
First, if you are fielding Wood Elf Warriors, Thranduil can upgrade them to Mirkwood Guard, who share his 2+ Shoot value. For 2 points per model, this upgrade will be expensive but could be worth every penny. One kill that results from an arrow that hit on a 2+ will pay for the upgrade of 3-5 warriors, which should cover a good many who you upgrade this way. You also will deal a psychological blow to your opponent, who will be saddened that almost all of your arrows hit his warriors.

Thranduil's other benefit to the team is wrapped in his Circlet of Kings special rule. The crown that Thranduil wears allows him to cast two spells automatically: Aura of Dismay (which makes all units within 6" of him when he ends his movement cause Terror) and Nature's Wrath (which knocks down all enemy units within 6" of him). Aura of Dismay is best cast when you have priority or when you call a Heroic Move, as terror only affects enemy units who are trying to charge the terror unit. Nature's Wrath can be used whether you move first or not, as you will be knocking down your enemy to make fights more one-sided or knocking them down to allow your units to fade towards the trees more.

Though we are still trying to reconcile how a spell (like Nature's Wrath) can be cast automatically when it is usually resistible, our current solution is either to treat the spell like a 6 was roll to cast it (consistent with the Cave Dweller rule) or allow Thranduil to cast the spell on a 1+ while rolling two free dice (for a reference to how a Doubles Tournament determined how to treat this rule, see the following link on the Last Alliance forum). In either case, we here at TMAT believe that the spell should be resistible in order to be fair. The only time I've play-tested Thranduil, I cast the spell while no enemy heroes were within the radius of the blast, so it was a moot issue. If Legolas stands beside his father, you can guarantee that they will have some distance put between them and the melee foes of the enemy who seek to charge them.
If you are looking for a melee hero to team with Legolas, Gimli is my favorite choice. For 185 points, there isn't much of a pairing that beats Legolas with armor and Gimli. We've already detailed how strong Gimli is as a hero, but when you have him guarding Legolas from a melee assault, you have a truly daunting force. If you view the games that I've played with the Fellowship on this blog, you will see a clear difference between the games where Gimli was assigned to protect Legolas and when he was acting on his own.
These are my thoughts on the Fellowship. In the final post I'll be making on Fellowship tactica, we'll be looking at Gandalf the Grey, his successor Gandalf the White, and Bill the Pony. If you have strategies (or common combos) with these heroes, I'd love to hear about them in comments!

Tiberius

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rohan Army Update

Dear Reader,

Greetings again from the Forge! Courtesy of a binge buy of miniatures, I've updated my Rohan force and made some of my own modifications. As I haven't used my Rohan force in a while here at TMAT, and since I now have new units that will both complement my older strategies and have blazed the way for new strategies, I thought I'd give you a taste of what the Insurgency is working on at the How. First of all, a few words about how I generally build my army.

First, I am probably one of the few Rohan players in the world that does not rely heavily on heroes. I use Eomer every chance I can (it would not be too far off to say that I started collecting Rohan so that I could rock and roll with Eomer, :D ), but instead of choosing Theoden, Eowyn, or even Hama (as a smaller, cheaper captain), I primarily rely on Rohan Royal Guards and raw recruit "rank and file" infantry to finish the job. Following this purchase, however, I have a few new additions that will give me the flexibility that I wanted to alter my weapons and tactics.

Horsemen 

Over the years, I have always loved horses - there is something magical about them, and their embodiment of grace and strength is worthy of substantially more stories than Hollywood or authors make. In LOTR SBG, I was originally driven away from horses because 1) they were more expensive, and I was strapped for cash at the time, and 2) a horseman cannot shield (and, if you've read any of the fights I've done on this blog, you know how often I shield, ;) ). Both of these facts drove me toward infantry. Until now...

As game after game have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of a Lone Knight charging into enemy ranks, drawing archery fire and hammering home at the flank of a large block of infantry (as epic as it is, which you can see in this battle report), I decided to invest in horsemen. Having received two horsemen as a birthday gift from Zorro in addition to the blister I now own, I now have an eight-rider retinue at the command of the Third Marshall of the Riddermark (all of whom are different; more on that in a bit), and after a few rounds of practice against orcs and Uruk-Hai, I'm quite pleased with how versatile they are.


Caption: Here we have Eomer and Firefoot accompanied by eight riders. I use three color schemes in my Rohan force to designate battle groups:
-Edoras Garrison: Green cloaks, Rain Gray tunics. The defenders of Edoras proudly guard the halls of Theoden, King of Rohan, and have a typical "Rohan" color scheme.
-Dunharrow Detachment: Russ Gray cloaks, Black tunics. The men of Dunharrow are Eomer's chosen band, and he leads them in their exploits across the Riddermark. These models have the most battle damage/wear on them, due to their veteran status.
-Westfold Recruits: Brown cloaks, Fleshy Leather tunics, and tend to have the most tattered and low-upkeep look to them, representing Rohan's more rural population.

I'll detail more about each group in the next post which will discuss tactics and formations, as each does something different for my army. Right now, though, I want to talk about why I prefer Rohan cavalry to a few of the other mounted fighters I've seen. The most natural comparison is between Rohan and Gondor. Gondorian knights (especially Dol Amroth Knights) benefit from substantial armor (D6 with shields), lances (which add +1 to wound), and a "regular army," high-defense line of infantry for support (and distraction of the oncoming horde). This makes Gondorian cavalry very versatile, as they provide a killing unit to complement their shock infantry. Knights of Dol Amroth come to the fight with a higher fight value (4, which is really good for the race of men), and a higher courage value (4, instead of 3), which I greatly respect. What Rohan cavalry provide is a substantially more tactical skirmish cavalry unit that can pepper an enemy line before charging with either their throwing spears (S3 attack from 6" after using their full movement) or their bows (S2 attack from 24" after moving half of their movement or less). Because of the Expert Rider rule, riders can also carry shields (D5 instead of D4) while also carrying and using bows, but must choose to keep either the bow or the shield if dismounted.

I really like having a substantial body of horsemen with Eomer now. When Eomer leads a charge, for example, it is nice to have units that can punch a hole for him (and the rest of the troop) before engaging the enemy at close quarters. And, especially now that I run with the Knight of Pelennor Eomer as opposed to the Marshall of the Riddermark, I lack a ranged attack for Eomer (and must depend on his division of riders to supply that). I have also faced off against Harad cavalry on a few occassions, and, on the whole, I was unimpressed 1) by the low defense value of those riders (D4), and 2) by their inability to get ranged options on horseback (did the new rules change that?). I always wondered at this, since I would expect only armored horsemen to be forced into close combat (Kataphracts, Gondorian Knights, etc.). Rohan cavalry offer you a cheap light cavalry unit (like Harad), but also gives you ranged options (like warg riders) and shields for higher defense (and shielding if your rider gets dismounted). I have always theorized what it would be like to run a fully mounted army list against a body of Goblins or Dwarves, which would allow you to stay at range and pepper the enemy indefinitely (assuming that the Goblins don't increase their speed...). But, to date, Tiberius and Tavros have not taken me up on that offer, :)

Royal Guards



As I mentioned above, my strategy primarily relies on Rohan Royal Guards for its punch and firepower (besides Eomer). This is much more common when fighting Elves, Goblins, or anyone else that may field a unit that causes terror, but in general these guys are a large part of my strategy regardless of who the forces of Rohan rally to strike. Because of how many times I've used them, they should have individual names by now, but at present, they don't, :)

Royal Guards offer two things that a Rohan force desperately needs: 1) F4 units (to roll off against Uruk-Hai), and 2) D6 infantry (for holding the line against S3 bows). They are only 10-12 points (depending on if you buy them throwing spears), but they are well worth the cost. I usually use all 6 of my Royal Guards whenever I go into combat, and have considered buying 3 more to provide me with more firepower on the front lines. Royal Guards also have the bodyguard rule: you assign a particular hero as their leader, and as long as that unit is alive (has not retreated or been killed), they will pass all courage tests (which cannot be altered by your opponent). This makes them the perfect units for engaging units that cause terror (Barrow Wights, Trolls, Elven heroes, Elves within reach of a hero that causes them to cause terror, very large winged creatures from the abyss, etc.), as they will always pass their courage tests. Now, be forewarned: unless you bring in another unit that will help them win the fight, you will quickly find that your Royal Guard troop will become Royal Guard soup (as these units tend to have a high strength value, and likely also have might points), so deploy them wisely.

King's Huntsman


Though perhaps not as good looking as Chris Hemsworth (I've thought about cleaning up the beard on this guy...), this guy offers to Rohan a new advantage: stronger, better archery options on the ground. Not only does the Huntsman have a 3+ shoot value (putting him on-par with the rangers and elves that have torn my army up on multiple locations), but he also carries an Elf Bow (S3 at 24"), and passes any in the way rolls on a 2+ (so he almost always hits his target). He also regains lost might points when he kills monsters and heroes, making him a prime choice for use against low defense, large heroes. Since each horse can carry one passenger and one driver, I've thought about the possibility of placing a Huntsman and a few outriders on the backs of my cavalrymen, so that I can quick drop archers either behind enemy lines, or at a flank where the enemy's defense value is lower. Still under consideration on that point, though.

Rohan Warriors



For all of the hype I've heard (and seen) of Gondorian, Harad, Woodland, Dwarf, and Isengard forces, I really like these guys: experience has taught me that they are a hardy folk, even if their stat line don't show it (more on this in the next post when we talk about the men of Dunharrow), and the unique nature of these raw recruits forces you to adapt to a radically different strategy than any other army you can field in LOTR SBG. First, Rohan uses throwing spears, not normal spears. This has a two-fold impact on your tactics and deployment. Without spears, it is impossible to support units with a second rank: every soldier that is not in the front rank is a swordarm lost when the battle moves to melee combat (and archers, make no mistake: in my army, your primary weapon will be your sword once the battle comes to the front line). What this also does, however, is give you the skirmish option: you can run the traditional "bait and switch" tactic against enemy armies (especially Goblins and Dwarves, that usually give you an additional turn to get away before engaging you) by throwing their spears at 6" range, even after moving their whole distance.

Second, your units are very light (D5 at best), but also very cheap: it is not every day that the forces of Good can field as many units as the forces of Evil (almost never, actually). My old army list was limited in unit count, and thus was forced to buy heroes like Boromir, Legolas, or Aragorn in order to fill the point vacuum. That's all well and good, until the enemy kills 13-14 of your warriors, and you really wish you had an army of 50 instead of 32 (which I have been in on more than one occasion).

Running with Rohan is not easy, and it will always keep you on your toes. But for those of us who love the adrenaline of an impossible cavalry charge that turns into a killing fest, or a handful of recruits leveling a regular army that should statistically mop the floor with them, is a feeling unmatched in human experience - at least west of the Anduin, :)

Until the next post, or until I see you on the field of battle!

Centaur

"I watch the stars, for it is mine to watch, as it is your's to remember." ~ Glenstorm

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Fellowship of the Ring: Concerning Hobbits

So this month, I'm playing five games with the Fellowship, and I'll tell you what, it's a challenge. In a way, the scenarios got better in that the games play until either 1) one army is reduced to 25%, or 2) one army is broken and a roll of a 1-2 is cast at the end of a turn. This means that games can go on for a long time, giving the Fellowship the time it needs to kill lots and lots and LOTS of people. That said, one of the necessary elements to any Fellowship army has got to be the presence of at least one hobbit. This post, therefore, is dedicated to exploring the rules, benefits, weaknesses, and tactica for the four hobbits in the Fellowship list (and I'm throwing in Smeagol for fun because he can be treated similarly to the hobbits in the list). In future posts, I'll write about the killing power of the Fellowship (Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir) and the more tactical units available (Gandalf the Grey, Gandalf the White, and Bill the Pony).
1) Frodo Baggins
Rules & Stats
Frodo's statistics are generally lower than your average hero of 60 points: with a Fight value of 3/3+, Strength 2, Defense 3, and a single attack, you can usually find one hero in any list who is better than him. He does benefit from having 2 Might, 3 Will, and 3 Fate points, which provides him with better magic protection and a reduced likelihood of taking wounds than your average captain. Like all hobbits, Frodo can throw stones (Strength 1 ranged weapon that works like a crossbow and has a range of 8") and is Resistant to Magic. These skills, in addition to his high Shoot value (3+) and his 3 Will points, should allow Frodo to evade magical attacks and might allow him to kill a D4 or D5 foe before being charged (you are wounding these guys on a 6 though with your rocks, so don't count on it).
Frodo can be equipped with three equipment items: Sting, mithril mail, and an Elven cloak. Sting is a 15 point upgrade and brings Frodo up to a respectable Strength 3. This is probably the most overpriced item in the game and I wouldn't take it. Yes, being able to wound your foes like any decent normal person is nice, but for 75 points, I'm going to submit that you'd be better off taking either Merry or using the points to upgrade another hero to a stronger one (Boromir to Aragorn, for example). The mithril mail increases Frodo from a below average D3 to an excellent D6 (which I consider to be the goal for every unit if you can possibly get there). For 25 points, this can be worth it, but I'm a bit hesitant to say yes in every case (as you could almost by Sam as a bodyguard for that much and you're approaching the cost of better units like Gimli or Legolas). The final piece of equipment is the Elven cloak, which I consider to be completely useless. Never get it. Why is this useless? Because Frodo's base cost includes the Ring!

The Ring is a very useful tool and not used very often because only three (obscure) units can wield it (Frodo, Isildur, and the Dark Lord Sauron). The Ring can be put on or taken off during Frodo's Move phase (that is, the Good player's move phase) and while Frodo wears it, he may only be attacked by Nazgul (he can't put it on at all if Sauron is present) and is otherwise ignored. He can move through units and enter enemy control zones, but he cannot charge or be fought while wearing the Ring. Even if Frodo is charged, he can put on the Ring so long as the Evil player charges Frodo before the Good player moves Frodo. While wearing the Ring, Frodo rolls a dice at the start of the Good player's Move phase and on the roll of a 3+, the Good player can move Frodo normally. On the roll of a 1-2, Frodo is moved by the Evil player, who may move him as he wishes so long as he doesn't run off a board edge, jump off a cliff, or take the Ring off. Finally, if Frodo is wearing the Ring and is the only unit alive on his team, he succumbs to grief and is removed as a casualty - it's the price for being untouchable if the enemy doesn't have a Ringwraith. To take off the Ring, Frodo needs to pass a Courage test, which is greatly aided by his rating of Courage 6.

Purpose in army
The new sourcebook has provided the Fellowship with a special rule for their warband: while Frodo is alive, no one in the Fellowship warband needs to take a Courage test for their force being broken. This is passed automatically, meaning that Nazgul or the Golden King of Abrakhan who rely on foes failing Courage tests are out of luck. For 60 points (or perhaps a little more), Frodo can provide this benefit to his team while remaining untouchable by anyone except Nazgul (if you want to take the risk of keeping your Ring on after your force is broken).

Frodo can also lend his 2 Might points to assist his hobbit kin by joining them in their fights. Since very few of the hobbits have Might points, it's a good idea to utilize Frodo's Might points to assist your weaker units (make life easier for your other combat-oriented heroes). As we enter the tactica section now, the final purpose of Frodo in the army is his ability to target units who traditionally skulk behind ranks and try to stay out of combat.

Tactica
Tactical units are very, VERY common in the Lord of the Rings. Whether it's a Nazgul who wants to save his Will points to cast spells instead of fighting or a shaman who wants to inspire his friendly forces, there is likely to be at least one unit in every army who would rather not be engaged this round (with very few exceptions). Against these units, Frodo has a serious advantage.

When you're charging towards the enemy, Frodo should make a complete move under the Good player's care and then put on the Ring. Once the Ring is on, you need only be concerned about Nazgul. Generally speaking, though, this shouldn't be a big deal. Yes, a Nazgul has the upper hand in a melee combat against Frodo, but each spell-caster can only cast one spell each turn. If your foe wishes to cast that spell against Frodo instead of someone else (Boromir or Gimli for example), you have 3 Will points + a free Will point to resist the spell with the Resistant to Magic rule. If you are left alone, walk through the enemy ranks until you are behind the front lines and prepare on the next turn to take the Ring off, declare your charge, and do everything you can to win that fight. This is best done, by the way, if you are moving second, as your foe will not be able to counter-charge Frodo and gang up on him.
Using the Ring to attack units in the back lines is also useful in getting to D4 units (usually spearmen, archers, or units with two-handed weapons). Since Frodo wounds these units on 5s, these are the kinds of units you want to be facing if you possibly can.

2) Samwise Gamgee
Rules & Stats
Of all the characters in Lord of the Rings, I associate the most with Sam. Sam is a dependable hero and a loyal friend - and it shows in his profile. For 30 points, Sam isn't a bargain, but he's decent. Like Frodo, his Fight value of 3/3+, Strength 2, Defense 3, and 1 Attack are sub-par, but in other categories he's a perfectly acceptable hero. With 1 Might, 1 Will, and 2 Fate, Sam is oriented towards staying alive rather than killing. On a team where you need both killers and tanks, Sam plays a decent role in both (and often has a kill or two each game).
Like the other hobbits, Sam benefits from stone throwing and resisting magic attacks (see discussion on Frodo above for more details). What Sam lacks when compared to Frodo is not only 1M/1W/1F, but access to equipment besides an Elven cloak. Generally speaking, I wouldn't take the Elven cloak, as you should be saving that money for another helping hand rather than keeping Sam free from archery, cavalry charges, or magic attacks while obscured by something.

Purpose in army
Of all the units in the Fellowship list, Sam is one of the heroes I rarely use. For 30 points, I find it difficult at times to include him in my armies - that is, I found it difficult until the new sourcebooks came out. Though Sam's profile hasn't changed, your Fellowship can now take Bill the Pony if it includes Sam. Though we won't be talking about Bill in this post, let it suffice to say that the nice pony serves not only as a banner for the hobbits (giving them essentially 2 Attack dice to determine who wins the fight) and allows one hero from the Fellowship to attempt to regain a Might/Will/Fate point spent earlier in the battle. For 60 points for the pair of them (Sam and Bill), I sometimes wonder if this is a better investment than Frodo.

Tactica
Sam's tactica is rather simple: keep him near Bill and the other hobbits. His solitary Might point means that he can add a small pip to a joint combat he is involved in, but it won't do much to stem a bad tide. Just like the story of the Lord of the Rings, I have found that Sam makes an excellent bodyguard for Frodo, able to stand in front of his master (if he isn't wearing the Ring) to distract attacks from him. I hasten to add that he provides a greater protection for Merry and Pippin, not only because he can take up to 4 wounds on himself before dying, but because Frodo has Might points and Merry and Pippin do not.

3) Meriadoc Brandybuck & Peregrin Took
Rules & Stats
Merry and Pippin have identical stat lines and are the cheapest units the Fellowship can buy. For 10 points each, you get some of the worst heroes in the game: Fight 3/3+, Strength 2, Defense 3, 1 Attack, 1 Wound, Courage 4, no Might, no Will (Resistant to magic rule notwithstanding), and 1 Fate point each. As far as heroes go, they're really not much to look at.
Purpose in army
For 10 points, I generally find that a Dwarf Ranger, two Goblins, any Uruk-Hai, etc. is a better investment. In the Fellowship list, however, I never leave home without these guys. Why? Because for 20 points, I increase my break limit by 1 and make the game last longer. You will recall from the beginning of this post, that the scenarios now are dependent on one army being broken and a dice rolling low or one army being brought to 25% of its starting size. In a 500 point game, I can have an army of eight units (Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Frodo, Sam, Bill, Merry, and Pippin for example), which means that the enemy needs to kill 4-6 of my units. If Frodo wears the Ring and Aragorn and Gimli stay near the hobbits, that means that one of my power heroes will likely need to die before I'm close to losing. Forcing your foe to kill Aragorn, Legolas, or Gimli can be a real challenge, and that is certainly a benefit to you.

Tactica
The tactics for Merry and Pippin are very straight-forward: if Bill is in your army stay very, VERY close to him to benefit from his banner rule. If Bill is not in your army, you need to have at least one combat hero (Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, or Boromir) dedicated to playing baby-sitter for them. True to the story, I have found that Merry and Pippin can provide a great screen for Boromir during one round, keeping the enemy off of his flanks and avoid being trapped. If the hobbits on the flanks are trapped, big deal - they're probably dying anyway (sorry guys, but that's your lot).
4) Smeagol

Rules & Stats
Smeagol is a new addition to the Fellowship list (he was in the Wanderers in the Wild list). If you are interested in fielding Smeagol, you need to agree to one of two things: first, a very low point game, or second, allying in another army with the Fellowship. The reason for this is that a Fellowship warband that includes Smeagol must include Frodo and may only Sam (in addition to Smeagol and Frodo). This means that your base cost for your army is 120 points and can get as high as 180 points...very small game. Smeagol's stats are decent: better than Sam's in some ways and worse in others. Unlike the other units described here, he has Fight 4/-, Strength 4, Defense 4, 2 Attacks, 2 Wounds, Courage 4, 1 Might, 0 Will, 1 Fate, and Movement 5. Nothing out of the common way, but pretty good compared to the other units we've looked at.
Purpose in army

Image courtesy of the One-Ring.co.uk, posted by user "SidtheSloth."  
I wouldn't recommend taking Smeagol unless your allied force (notice I've omitted the "playing a small game here") needs a low-cost killer. Smeagol's statistics make him a better-than-average Uruk-Hai Scout (with an extra attack, wound, Might point, and Fate point for 22 points more). On the whole, this might be a fair trade, but I'm not convinced. Consider that for the same cost as Smeagol, you could buy Sam or Bill (or play a big game and include Aragorn or Gandalf)...I don't know that I like my other armies enough to choose Smeagol instead of Bill or Sam.

Tactica
I have never used Smeagol but I imagine the following would be his usefulness in your army: Smeagol provides better killing power than any of the hobbits discussed here (except for maybe Frodo with Sting). The fact that Smeagol can wound D6 units on 5s makes up for his general lack of a profile. If you can use the allied force (say, 350 points of Rohan in a 500 point game) to take on the enemy battle line, I can easily see Smeagol charging around the flank and killing spearmen or reserve units to his heart's content (while coughing out "Gollum - GOLLUM" all the while). He will likely be wounding these units on 4s or maybe 5s, so he might be able to pay for himself.


With this lowly beginning, we prepare to rise to new heights in the next post, where we will explore the realm of the great warriors of the Fellowship, namely the three hunters and the sword-arm of Gondor: Aragorn - Strider, Legolas, Boromir of Gondor, and Gimli, son of Gloin. Until then, happy hobbying!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Game 2 - To the Death: Fellowship vs. Isengard Raiders


This game continues a series of games that I will be playing between the Fellowship and several of my favorite gaming friends. We're going to follow the warband rules in five-500 point games while going through most of the new scenarios for game play and today's game is against my good buddy Glenstorm, who was the first person I shared this game with and helped make this hobby experience a reality. 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
Meriadoc Brandybuck - 10 points
Peregrin Took - 10 points
Bill the Pony - 30 points (Bat Swarm standing in, treated as a banner by my hobbits)

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

The Raiders of Isengard: 500 points

*Vrasku - 60 points (Army Leader)
8 Uruk Scouts with shields - 72 points

Ugluk - 60 points
8 Uruk Scouts with shields - 72 points

Barrow-Wight - 50 points
2 Orc Warriors with spears and shields - 14 points
1 Orc Warrior with banner - 30 points


Barrow-Wight - 50 points
3 Orc Warriors with spears and shields - 21 points


Barrow-Wight - 50 points
3 Orc Warriors with spears and shields - 21 points

30 units, 1 crossbow*, 5 heroes

The scenario we will be playing is a To The Death game on a board that is 48" x 48". The scoring system has changed and points are awarded to each player based on certain requirements being met. In this scenario, the game ends when one force is reduced to 25% of its starting size (2 for the Fellowship and 7 for the Raiders). The points are then calculated as follows:
  • 2 points if at least one friendly banner survives and the enemy has none survive, OR
  • 1 point if at least one friendly banner survives.
  • 3 points if the enemy leader is killed, OR
  • 1 point if the enemy leader takes 1+ wounds.
  • 5 points if the enemy army is broken and the friendly army is not broken when the game ends, OR
  • 3 point to the winner if both he and the enemy army are broken.
The map is set up as follows: there was a hill, two ruins, two walls, a small collection of rocks, and a wood (below the shot). The Uruks won the roll off and have chosen to select their board edge (northern edge), ceding priority to the Fellowship for the first turn.
The Fellowship was my first Good army (after getting the Mines of Moria box set) and I've really enjoyed finding ways to field them as a team. Anything less than 750 points will mean that someone sits out, but in this game (after the last game) Gandalf and Boromir are the bench players. Though magic would be great, the general lack of archers in this game means that the Sorcerous Blast would be the greatest contribution that Gandalf lends. The presence of barrow-wights means that Boromir could be UTTERLY useless, and I've seen him get pulled to pieces by Vrasku a few times too many. So, today we're trying out Bill the Pony for the first time...maybe a late-term acquisition if he pays off.



Turn 1: An Ancient Evil (Priority - Fellowship)
Sorry, no pic of the opening Move phase, but essentially, the Uruks charge the Amon Hen structure. Gimli is targeted by two Barrow-Wights who each successfully cast Paralyze on Gimli (#1: 1/5W, #2: 1/5W). Gimli burns both of his Will points to resist these spells: he's successful on the first roll and unsuccessful on the second...not good (2/2W).
Legolas sees the peril of his friend and unleashes arrows into one of the Barrow-Wights who paralyzed his friend. Without spending a Might point, one of the Barrow-Wights (#2) goes down. Unable to see the other terrifying creature, he turns his attention to the band of Uruks charging them and 1 Might point later, an Uruk with shield falls (1/3M). With no other shooting or combat to resolve, Gimli rolls to stand up and he successfully does so (1/3M).
Kill count: Fellowship 2/30, Raiders 0/8.



Turn 2: A Strong Barrage (P - Uruks)
The Uruks charge Gimli and begin to work their way around the structure. Aragorn leads the charge against the Uruks and comes crashing into Ugluk and another scout. Frodo puts on the Ring (indicated with the shiny token) and is followed by Sam, while Merry and Pippin reach for stones to throw. Gimli is targeted by the remaining two Barrow-Wights, who fail to cast Paralyze on him (#1: 2/5W, #3: 3/5W). Legolas has mounted the stairs on the structure to put some distance between him and the other Uruks (and to gain visibility to the other Barrow-Wight nearby).
The hobbits kill no one with their rocks (no surprise), but Legolas bends his bow and takes down another Barrow-Wight (no Might used) and successfully kills 2 more Uruk Scouts with shields (2/3M). After two rounds of archery, the famed Elf archer has scored 5 kills totaling 127 points, paying for himself with a little to spare. I love this guy...
Sorry, no picture of the Fight phase, but Aragorn pays 3 Might points (free + 2/3M) to win his fight against Ugluk and successfully wounds the Uruk captain. At the last moment, though, the great Uruk Captain dodges the sword of the hero and encourages his companions to charge him (fate save, 1/1F). Gimli wins his fight, but fails to wound his opponents.

Kill count: Fellowship 5/30, Uruks 0/8.



Turn 3: Like Water On Rock (P - Uruk-Hai!)
So the field is now sufficiently full of melee fights. Usually, I'm excited about this, but you'll see why this is no celebration in a moment. Frodo took the Ring off so that he could take the spear-support off of Sam and make the fight a bit closer. In hind sight, it might have been better to engage the Uruk with Sam, but I like fighting against a foe with the same Fight value (3 for the Orc) instead of one who's Fight value is higher (4 for the Uruk). Merry and Pippin continue to reach for stones, hoping beyond hope to score a wound on the upcoming Orcs soon.
The final Barrow-Wight successfully Paralyzes Gimli (4/5W) and the Dwarf is promptly charged by two Uruks supported by two spearmen. I had a pretty good idea that this wound happen, so my back-up plan kicked in: Legolas used his auto-hit rule to target one of the Uruks hovering over Gimli's body and sent an arrow into his chest, killing him.
During the Fight phase, Aragorn wins his fight against a sea of Uruk-Hai and  successfully slays one of them. Tell you the truth, I was kind of afraid of that fight, as I was up against 8 attack dice with a banner supporting them. Very not fun. Gimli receives no wounds from his foes, who back up a little after the fight (auto-losing fights because you're paralyzed is officially not fun).
In the other two fights, Sam and Frodo fail to win their fights: Sam takes no wounds and the orc who was fighting Frodo landed a wounding blow on him. At the last minute, Frodo blinked and the blow was deflected (fate save, 1/3F). With all the fights being resolved, Gimli rolled to see if he gets up...and manages to roll a natural 6!
Kill count: Fellowship 7/30, Uruks 0/8.



Turn 4: The Hobbits! (P - U.R.U.K.S.!)
So things are getting desperate: most of my Fellowship has been engaged again, including Pippin this time. Merry stoops for a stone while the rest prepare for a rough round of battle. As you can see through the opening in the roof, Gimli is on the ground again, victim to the last Will point of the Barrow-Wight (#3: 5/5W). Though I'm relieved that the spell-casting is done for the game, I'm not pleased with how many Uruks are surrounding Gimli.
In the Shoot phase, Legolas kills an Uruk who engaged Gimli at the foot of the stairs and killed him (no Might). Merry, of course, failed to wound the Uruk he targeted. In the Fight phase, both Pippin and Sam lost their fights and while Sam suffered one wound from his foes (1/2H), Pippin managed to escape unscathed. In the other fights, Gimli sustained no wounds, while Aragorn and Frodo win their fights but fail to wound anyone. We roll to see if Gimli shakes off his paralysis and much to the joy of Glenstorm, he does not.
Kill count: Fellowship 8/30, Uruks 0/8.



Turn 5: Chaos Rises, Hopes Fall (P - Uruks again...how many turns in a row can this happen?)
The fun never stops and Aragorn is again pinned to the wall by troops. All four of the hobbits and the Dwarf are engaged in fights this round, which makes me nervous. I believe all of them are within banner range of Bill, which could be a real blessing. In the Shoot phase, Legolas again auto-hits and kills an Uruk hovering over Gimli (3/3M).
Gimli sustained no wounds this round, but Aragorn was on fire: he succeeded in killing two of his Uruk attackers, and now reduced the fight to a more manageable load.
The other fights did not go over nearly as well: Merry and Sam fell to their attackers, each failing a Fate save and suffering a wound. Frodo and Pippin win their fights, but fails to get the needed 6 to wound. As the combats drew to a close, Gimli still could not get up.
Kill count: Fellowship 11/30, Uruks 2/8.



Turn 6: Kill Bill (P - Fellowship Finally!)

Without a bodyguard of hobbits, Bill and Frodo do what they can to stay alive (Bill so that I don't give up points for losing my banner and Frodo so that he takes no wounds). As a result, Gimli, Pippin, and Aragorn are in serious trouble.
In the Shoot phase, Legolas fires three arrows at a spearman supporting an Uruk attacking Gimli, but misses all of his shots. Vrasku, on the other hand, fires at Bill the Pony and scores one wound (1/2H). One more hit and a failed Fate point later, and my banner is gone - flee horse!
The Fight phase had mixed results for both armies. Pippin died and Gimli suffered two wounds with one successful save (2/2F, 1/2H). One more wound and he's finished. Aragorn, for his part, killed an Uruk Scout and Ugluk this round, spending the last of his Might (free + 3/3M). As the fights came to a close, the situation got slightly better as Gimli successfully rose from the ground, angry as ever (2/3M).
Kill count: Fellowship 13/30, Uruks 3/8.



Turn 7: Kill Bill 2 (P - Fellowship again!)
This turn was interesting. Frodo moved under Evil's control (failing to fight the control of the Ring) and  the rest of the Fellowship moved towards more advantageous positions. Gimli slew an Uruk Scout with a throwing axe as he got up and proceeded to charge an Orc on the stairs, getting ready to repay Legolas for the protection he was afforded throughout the game.
In the Shoot phase, Legolas nailed an Uruk at the top of the stairs and unleashed a few more (unsuccessful) shots at the Orc spearman nearby. Outside this shot, Vrasku fired at Bill again and failed to hit him - stay alive pal!
The Fight phase went as expected with two fights: Gimli and Aragorn both won their fights and killed an Uruk and Orc each, further raising the kill count for the Fellowship!
Kill count: Fellowship 19/30, Uruks 3/8. The Fellowship is unbroken (with Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Frodo, and Bill still alive) while the Uruks are now broken and have two heroes to keep their team together (Barrow-Wight #3 and Vrasku).



Turn 8: The Tide Turns (P - Uruk-Hai...yeah, it was time again)

Sorry, no picture this round, but here's a quick synopsis. 1 Orc flees the battlefield in despair, but the other warriors remain in the field (likely afraid of the Barrow-Wight nearby). Most of the Fellowship members are charged (except Frodo, who wisely keeps the Ring on).

Vrasku hits his own warriors who are fighting Gimli on the stairs, but fails to wound them. In the Fight phase, Aragorn kills the Orc carrying the banner, but a spearman in base-contact with the banner-bearer raises the standard from his friend's hands. In the other fights, both Gimli and Legolas lose their fights (Gimli to two shielding warriors and Legolas to two Orcs who fail to wound him).


Kill count: Fellowship 21/30, Uruks 3/8. 



Turn 9: The Final Blow (P - Fellowship!)
Again, no picture until the wrap-up, sorry. One Uruk (I think?) fled the field, but the rest stayed to fight. Bill, as you can see, slogged through the difficult terrain of the forest at 2" each round to put some cover between him and Vrasku. Legolas continued to fight up top but was not wounded by his foes. Gimli and Aragorn stormed the final three Orcs and Barrow-Wight down on the ground and slew all the Orcs (failing to wound the Barrow-Wight was a pity for Gimli, who really wanted pay-back for the time he spent paralyzed). 
Kill count: Fellowship 25/30, Uruks 3/8. The Uruks had 5 units left, which brought their team under 25%. With the game ended, we tallied the points for each side: 
  • Fellowship scored 2 points for having a banner alive while the foe had none (Uruks score 0);
  • Fellowship scored 5 points for breaking the enemy without being broken themselves (Uruks score 0);
  • Fellowship scored 0 points for wounding/killing the enemy leader (Uruks score 0).

Final score: 7-0, victory for the Fellowship! Campaign total: 1-1-0.


Conclusion:

Assessment by Tiberius:

So, after the last game, I'm very, VERY happy I took Aragorn. It was clear that without Aragorn, the Uruks would have run through my army very quickly and overwhelmed me. Having another melee hero to cut through the enemy while Gimli was lying on the ground was a huge boon (and as I've mentioned before, Aragorn is always a nice asset to have when you're facing Uruk-Hai). Though very expensive, if your army can include Aragorn (even with no upgrades, as was the case in this game), you get a solid warrior and a bona fide fighter to the bitter end. Aragorn's exploits can't be praised, though, without giving credit to both Legolas and Gimli: without Legolas, much of the rest of the army would have been over-run, keeping Aragorn facing unnumbered foes. Another roll like the first round (with essentially killed my Might use for the game) would have been the death of Aragorn for sure, but Legolas' keen bow kept Uruk-Hai flowing towards Gimli to finish him off. For Gimli's part, his stout armor kept off the aggressive blows of the Uruk-Hai for four turns (though he almost died on that fourth one), serving as a serious drain on the might of the Uruk-Hai. Though the hobbits didn't score a single kill, their distraction from the main heroes was definitely worth it. I was saddened that I didn't use Bill's "Second Breakfast" rule, which allows a hero from the Fellowship to regain a M/W/F point on the roll of a 6, but we'll look into that in another game.

Assessment by Glenstorm:

Wow, there was a long train of poor planning in that game.  I banked on getting Vrasku around the flank, and held him back from engaging in close-combat so that he neither scored hits on heroes nor got engaged in combat (which was the whole idea of fielding him in the army).  I should have paralyzed both Legolas and Gimli instead of just focusing on Gimli, and I probably should have attacked Bill instead of just focusing on Aragorn on that flank.  There were some things in that game that could not be changed (Did I seriously lose two Barrow Wights and 9 will points in the first two rounds of archery?  And how many 6s did Aragorn roll to keep my Uruk-Hai from wounding him?), but the game could have been much cleaner on my part.  Tiberius played his cards very well, and maintained the upper hand the entire game.  Well fought.

Stellar unit for the Fellowship: Legolas with armor

Legolas was amazing today, though he rarely disappoints. Like many heroes, this hero over time really cuts into the effectiveness of an offensive force. Not only did he kill two Barrow-Wights (saving me from 6 Will points of paralyzing pain), but he also killed 7 Uruk Scouts, totaling a final score of 163 points (almost half of the total 367 points of units killed by the Fellowship as a whole). I do give credit to Aragorn for keeping no less than six units tied down for four turns and award him a runner-up second place for his work.

Stellar unit for Uruk-Hai: Barrow-Wights


 It was hard giving a favorite unit, since the only people that got kills in the match were my Uruk-Hai,but they badly disappointed me in how little they hit when it counted (Gimli should have been dead...).  The Barrow Wights didn't live for very long, but to their credit they prolonged the game for me by 1) limiting Gimli's kills early in the game, and 2) distracting fire away from the main body of the army to keep the enemy at bay.  I've been tinkering around with them as party of my army, and will likely use them again if a Warband-style game is requested.  Having spellcasters was a ton of fun (I think I can now see why Tiberius uses them so much!), and I'd look forward to using them again!