Wednesday, January 23, 2013

To the Death: Uruk-Hai vs. Harad

Recently, the guys in the club got together for a fun, recreational pair of games to test our armies that we plan to take to the spring TMAT tournament. I was only able to stay for one game, but managed to remember my camera to chronicle the event. The game I got to play was against Zorro's famous Haradrim, but he was excited to try out his Reavers (WIP, see recent post here).

The Fist of Isengard: 600 points

Saruman the Colorful - 170 points [Army Leader]
18 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields - 180 points
7 Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes - 70 points
3 Uruk-Hai Warriors with crossbows - 33 points

Ally: Mauhur - 60 points
Ally6 Uruk Marauders with shields - 60 points
Ally3 Uruk Scouts with Orc bows - 27 points

39 units, 3 Orc bows + 3 crossbows, 2 heroes

The Golden Horde: 603 points

The Golden King of Abrakhan - 115 points [Army Leader]
11 Haradrim Warriors with bows and spears - 88 points
10 Serpent Guard - 80 points
8 Abrakhan Merchant Guards - 64 points
4 Watchers of Karna - 36 points

Ally: Dalamyr, Fleetmaster of Umbar - 100 points
Ally: 8 Corsair Reavers - 80 points
Ally: 4 Corsair Arbalesters - 40 points

47 units, 11 bows + 4 crossbows, 2 heroes

To fully appreciate this game, you need to know that we were trying out various kinds of scenarios for the upcoming Grand Tournament in the spring. Here's a quick look (and description) of the tables we were trying out:
Domination game, with parts of rivers on either side but a wide open space with some littered terrain for the center objective. This differs from the set-up at the recent Hunter's Red October tournament, which had a bridge in the middle as the objective. Tavros' Dol Amroth force fought against Glenstorm's "Chill of Angmar" army - brief recap in comments, one/both of you?
A variation of "reconnoiter," which involves attempting to escort diplomats from your board edge to the other instead of trying to get your own units across. Zorro and Glenstorm developed this scenario in preparation for the TMAT GT and the forces of Harad and Angmar faced off after I left.
Ah, the lush grounds of battle that hosted an epic To the Death between my Isengard army and the famed Southrons of Zorro. The twist to this scenario is that sitting on the hill is the "Arkenstone" (portrayed here by my Mirror of Galadriel). At the start of the Fight phase, the number of units from each army are counted up who are within 3" of the stone: the side with the most gains the benefit of a 6" banner from the stone. The opposing side (or both sides in the event of a tie) gains a 3" banner from the stone. This will be this battle report that we'll cover here.
Scoring for this game is as follows:
  • Game-play is until one side is reduced to 25% of its starting force or 90 minutes elapses.
  • 3 point if the enemy army is broken OR 5 points if the enemy army is broken and your force is unbroken;
  • 2 points if the enemy army leader is slain.
  • 1 point if you have a banner remaining at the end of the game. If you have a banner and your opponent has none, score 2 points.
  • [Added scoring points] 3 points if the enemy army is reduced to 25% before the game ends.
We also experimented in this game with "oaths of battle": each army leader declared a separate objective it would attempt to achieve. If completed, this would provide additional points to its final tournament score. If both players achieved their oath, 1 battle point was scored. if only 1 achieved their oath, they scored 2 battle points. The oaths we had to choose from were:
  • Blood-sworn Enemy: Choose an enemy hero - he is your arch enemy and they must die before the end of the game
  • Future King: Your army leader must be alive at the end of the game, neither slain nor "heroically departed".
  • Chivalry in battle: Your army leader must fight the enemy leader in close combat (not shielding) for at least one round and survive.
  • Line in the Sand: Nominate a piece of terrain in your opponent’s deployment zone (or place a marker if there is no suitable terrain). Your leader must end its move within 3" of it at least once during the game.
Zorro chose the oath of killing Mauhur, while I declared I would keep Saruman alive. We alternated placing warbands (within 6" of the board edge on a 1-3 and within 12"on a 4-6) and the Uruks won the roll to go first.

Turn 1: Charge! (Priority - Uruk-Hai)

No pictures of this round, but a few things of note happened: first, Saruman successfully cast Terrifying Aura, so hopefully he won't be ganged on this game. In the Shoot phase, the famed archers of the Haradrim killed two Uruk-Hai Warriors with shields, while the crossbows who could shoot killed no one.

Kill count: Uruks 0/47, Haradrim 2/39.

Turn 2: The Fearless March (P - Harad)

The armies continue to move up against each other. One of the Serpent Guards on the hill decided to lie down while within range of the Arkenstone, so all of the Haradrim within 6" of the Archenstone benefit from a banner this turn (yeah, really useful) (hey, I thought there was a chance your marauders would close the gap!).
The Corsair Arbalesters, not to be outdone by their Haradrim allies, level their crossbows towards the Uruk-Hai ranks. In an impressive move, three of their quarrels find their targets and each takes down his target - two Uruks with shields and one with crossbow. The Haradrim attempt to pierce the armor of the Uruks but fail to cause a wound. The remaining Uruk archers respond by killing...nobody (great...just great...and ouch...).
Kill count: Uruks 0/47, Haradrim 5/39.

Turn 3: The White Wizard (P - tied, Uruks!)

Now within range of the enemy lines, Saruman unleashes a Sorcerous Blast on the enemy (free + 1/6W, 1/3M) and successfully killed both the targeted Watcher of Karna and a Haradrim archer, while knocking down an Abrakhan Guard and a Serpent Guard (it's a start...yaye first kills!(hmm... that bloke is going to be problematic).
The rest of the Move Phase was spent forcing the armies towards each other and engaging everywhere. A Watcher of Karna mustered his resolve, vaulted over a set of rocks and engaged Saruman (I had hoped that he would get stuck on one side of the rocks, but the control zones of my Uruks were taken away...bummer) (+2 to courage for charging terrorizing models for the win!).
In the Shoot phase, a Corsair Arbalester killed one of my Uruk Scouts with Orc bow and once again, no one else did anything in the Shoot phase (come on guys, do something!).
In our first round of combat, things look pretty grim for the Uruks. Mauhur killed a Corsair Reaver (1/2M) on my left flank, but the Uruks lost all the other fights thanks largely to the Reavers. As a result, three Uruk Marauders were killed, as was one Uruk Warrior with shield. My lines are really messy, and there are still four Fight 5 units (3 Reavers and Dalamyr) and a banner alive on that flank...methinks this won't end well.
In the center, I manage to kill an Abrakhan Guard and a Watcher of Karna (yaye!), but am not able to wound in two other combats that I won. Luckily for me, my archer who was fighting two-on-one managed to not die, but unluckily for me, one of the Reavers killed an Uruk with shield. More unluckily for me, Saruman lost his bout with a Watcher of Karna, took two Wounds, and failed ALL. THREE. FATE. POINTS (3/3F, 2/3H). (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!(Do we have a new head of the order here? I dub thee, Bane of the White Hand!). So, with 3 Fate gone and 2 of 3 Wounds dealt, my ability to fulfill my oath is looking pretty slim.
On the far side, a Reaver-Abrakhan team killed one of my Uruks with shields (not really a surprise, right?).
Kill count: Uruks 5/47, Haradrim 12/39. Three rounds in, and the Uruks are 8 units away from breaking, while the Haradrim are at a blissful 19 units away...yeah, I need a stroke of really good luck.

Turn 4: Smoke and Fire (P - Saruman uses his Palantir, Uruks)

Saruman's Palantir spawned a battle of Heroic Moves (Saruman and the Golden King): Saruman won the roll-off and unleashed yet another Sorcerous Blast, killing two guys (Corsair Reaver target and Serpent Guard) and knocking down a Reaver, who was promptly charged (free + 2/6W, 3/3M). With 4 kills totaling 35 points, I've still got a long way to go before I pay for Saruman's points. I'd like to get over to where his heroes are, but I kinda need to deal with the Watcher of Karna in front of me...
Charges got resolved as you see here: we noticed after we finished moving that we mixed up the movement (we moved my Heroic Move, then all the Haradrim - including the ones on the right flank who were outside the Golden King's range, then the rest of the Uruks), but we didn't want to go back and re-do it. Maybe a few of my guys on the right would be in slightly better positions, but not much would have changed considering how badly they are outnumbered.
In the Shoot phase, my Uruks continue to do nothing (what?), which makes me finally decide to take the "archers are swordsman" mantra to heart and prepare to just charge with them. The Haradrim  for their part, are not silent and kill two Uruk pikemen with a well-placed Haradrim arrow and a Corsair quarrel (man, I needed those). By the way, the Uruk with the green token is "transfixed" thanks to one of Dalamyr's smoke bombs in the Move phase (yeah, that's going to end well...).
To add insult to injury, Dalamyr calls a heroic combat (1/1M) and easily defeats the transfixed Uruk with shield he's fighting. He then charges into the rear of Mauhur, trapping the great Uruk captain (that's really, really, REALLY not good...("knife" to meet you Mauhur-ting).
The fights worked out as follows: Mauhur won his fight (2/2M) and succeeded in killing an astounding...nobody! (come on...) An Uruk Marauder was killed, as was a Corsair Reaver (yaye!), but elsewise, nothing else interesting happened here.
On the hill, Saruman and his helping Uruk archer won their fight, but neither were able to get the 4s required to kill the Watcher of Karna (you really thought you were going to kill Bane so easily?). Elsewhere on the hill, one Uruk was killed, as was the Corsair Reaver on the ground and an Abrakhan Guard (Go team!).
On the far side, things are not going well at all. I have one Uruk with shield out of the original 6 (lost two this round) and a handful of other guys trying to keep this element of the army at bay. I think it's safe to say that this flank has been rolled up (and the other flank isn't doing well either).
Kill count: Uruks 10/47, Haradrim 20/39. I'm broken and things are not looking good at all...this game's done, but we're pressing on because there's still time.

Turn 5: A Powerful Shot (P - Uruks again!)

Saruman passes his courage test (3/6W, score of 16),  thumbs his nose at the GK, and lets loose yet another Sorcerous Blast (free + 4/6W) and this time kills the targeted Serpent Guard and kills another Serpent Guard and a Haradrim archer. A third Serpent Guard and an Abrakhan Guard were knocked down and almost wounded, but not quite. 7 kills with SB and 59 points claimed...certainly helping to make up for my complete lack of archery kills. His Stand Fast covers everyone except Mauhur (who I forgot to test for, but Zorro was content to have remain) (I hadn't killed him yet!) and my army stays to fight to the bitter end.
The rest of the fights are as follows: the guys on the ground were charged, but there's little I can do elsewhere. I'm trying to push the Haradrim away from the stone (which has been benefiting them all game, I might add), in hopes that I can get 6" coverage for the units in the fights surrounding the hill. Kinda hazy on where guys died this round (started removing some of them before the pictures were taken), so I adjusted the final score to reflect the number dead at the end of the case you actually go back and check my math. :-P
In the Shoot phase, a Corsair Arbalester levels a deadly aim, passes his in-the-way test on the rocks, and despite my claims that the quarrel needed to test for its courage, the great wizard of Isengard fell ( over and no oath point...sad).
Why do my pictures keep rotating? Anyway, the Haradrim succeeded in killing a pikeman and a Marauder, but I managed to kill an Abrakhan Guard and a Serpent Guard. Still, the day was woeful, as the great Mauhur lost in a roll-off and fell to a great many blades (I think the GK alone wounded him 5x).
On the hill, not much changed - the Uruk Scout with Orc bow died, but so did 2 Serpent Guards (Yaye team, here we can kill more than we lose...).
But, life is just bad over here. I lose two more units and fail to kill the Serpent Guard on the ground - I beat him, but couldn't get the needed 4s on 2 dice to kill him (that's just wrong).
Kill count: Uruks 18/47, Haradrim 26/39. Yeah, life is really not good, but we keep playing, because there is time on the clock and I'm not at 30 units yet, :-P.

Turn 6: The Sun Sets (P - Haradrim)

Basically, all but one of my guys was charged before I got to move, he passed his Courage Test (not drained by the Golden King - don't know if I was that unimportant, if the King had pity, or if I blitzed through my Move phase too quickly to be noticed in time), and took a Serpent Guard off of a friendly. Not Shoot phase because everyone's fighting. Here, you can see the tide has really turned on the hill and I lose a swathe of guys (killing one in return, ironically with the guy who wasn't bribed(technically, only heroes are worthy of bribe, per the rule) (oh...that's...comforting).
Left flank: things are really getting rolled up now, but only one of my guys is killed. In return, I killed a Watcher with the Warrior on the far right.
Yeah, lost the last of my crossbows in what was hardly a fair fight. Thankfully, I lost enough guys that the game came to an end a few minutes before the timer ran out.
Kill count: Uruks 20/47, Haradrim 33/39. I was 4 units away from breaking the enemy, so I feel good. score:
  • Uruks score 0 points for failing to break the enemy army, while the Haradrim score 5 points for breaking the enemy and not being broken;
  • The Haradrim score 2 points because Saruman was killed.
  • No banners this game, so no points scored for either side.
  • The Haradrim finally score 3 points for reducing the Uruk-Hai to 25% before the game ended.
With a score of 10-0, this game is a major victory for the Haradrim  The Haradrim also scored an additional 2 tournament points for fulfilling their oath (killing Mauhur) while the Uruks failed theirs (Saruman did not survive), so in a tournament, this game would have scored the Haradrim 12 points (major win + oath) and the Uruk-Hai 2 points (for a major loss). (If it's any comfort, there will be a couple other small "kudos" bonuses in the tournament that you likely would have received - thus boosting your score another point or so).


Assessment by Tiberius:

Yeah, tough game today. The Haradrim are a fearsome army to fight, but all told, I did well against them. They were nearly broken (and with Courage 4 heroes standing beside each other, others could have run off) and if I hadn't botched all my Fate rolls, Saruman probably could have survived. Breaking the enemy and keeping Saruman alive would have adjusted the points to make the score a lot closer (4-1). I'm thankful that I got this game in before the tournament, since I'm not likely to face the same mixture of volumes of archery combined with really high Fight values.

Assessment by Zorro:

Well, considering that Harad has never faced Uruks, I was a little apprehensive about how they would handle a force that wounds them on 4s. The victory was a bit hollow considering how many bad rolling streaks Tiberius had, but it was well fought on his part. Given a rematch, Harad probably would have broken, which is a contingency I really need to plan for better. Historically this army has broken so rarely (only 3-4 times in 20-30 games) that, as Tiberius mentioned, I left a large portion of my army hero-less. Rather a bad situation to be in with C3 troops. All told, a fun match. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Tiberius's army is capable of given a gambit of opponents and scenarios. 

Stellar unit for the Uruk-Hai: Uruk-Hai Warriors with pikes

As great as Defense 6 is for keeping units alive, supporting attacks are the best way to ensure that the good opposing units die. In this particular game, I had a single pikeman kill three units - mostly on his own - which highlights another reason to give the award to these guys. I also need to note that Saruman ended up getting 33% of the army's kills - not bad for a spell-caster (and not good for the rest of the army).

Stellar unit for the Haradrim: Corsair Reavers

No question here. When you have a unit that can walk up to a Uruk pike block single-handedly and smack them in the face, you can't not give them the award. Otherwise it would be a bit of a toss-up. There was plenty of good work being done all around. The Arbalesters held their weight and more (for once), the Abrakhans did their share of cleaving, and of course the wizard-hunting Watchers of Karna certainly made a name for themselves with what was probably the most pivotal moment in the match (or in any game I've played in a while): cutting the enemy leader down to size in the first round of melee combat. But without the edge that the Reavers brought, we would have seen a lot more roll-offs, which would have lead to a lot more dead Haradrim, and in a force that has no capacity to shield, any thing that can preserve units is worth it's weight in Mithril. 


  1. Well... Yes... Sad day for the Uruk-hia. But! I am looking forward to seeing how this works out when your dice are a little rested up, Tiberius.

    Now this might just be a little naive, so feel free to educate me here, but what do you think about dropping Sauruman for some more troops and maybe another strength 5 fight 5 Uruk hero (or two)? I don't want to dis the wizard or anything, but its just a thought. When it comes to magic, I go with ringwraithes, but maybe you should try someone with a little more melee skill.

    oh and the terrain looked pretty good. nice job. :P

    Zorro, I am not looking forward to facing these reavers again... ok... maybe I am. but it won't be pretty. you know something is really wrong when your troops are beating a Dol Amroth captain on ties.

    _It is likely that we go to our doom_

    1. Due to the constraints that will be in place at the tournament (LOME with 200+ pts spent on heroes or warbands), the choice for Uruk-Hai players is a) Saruman and 1 Uruk Captain for 230 points or b) 4 Uruk Captains for 240 points...unless you want Orc captains or another allied group. I take Saruman 1) to keep guys from running away and 2) to burn through enemy Might points on the critical turn when I use the Palantir. Besides that, I can tackle 1 Will heroes with my Transfix (when they don't have Elven cloaks) quite easily and I like the surprise element that Sorcerous Blast gives. Captains are way too predictable for my taste, though I'll have a post up soon that goes over what I would do with them if I wanted a straight-up Uruk army.

    2. Although, could you imagine, Tiberius, fronting Lurtz, Ugluk, Mauhur, and Vrasku all in the same force? Pretty beastly, if you ask me, ;)

      I'd agree with Tiberius on the whole, though: having Saruman gives you a lot of options, not least of which the ability to just say in a critical round, "Priority is MINE!" I've also seen Sorcerer's Blast used quite effectively, especially when you can knock over an enemy's front line and then engage them all with F4/S4 Uruk-Hai. It works better against F3 opponents, but it has its uses against any unit, when properly deployed. The trick of course (as with any spell caster) is placement, as you are well aware, :)

    3. heh. that would be a pretty awesome foursome. The problem of course being that everyone wounds them all on 5s. Unless you were running a raider themed army, I would probably drop one of them (Lurtz?) for an Uruk captain w HA & shield.

      Any way you look at it, Uruks have a hard time meeting the hero obligations of either warbands or our modified LOME build. That is why my loaned Uruk force for the Red October tourney had so many beserkers - I had about 50 points leftover but was at max models for 3 heroes. as Tiberius mentioned, unless you bring in orc captains (which basically forfits your only strengths), you really are capped at about 37-39 models.

      Fortunately for me (not so much for Tiberius), my Harad force is reasonably anti-magic. heroes either have high will stores or elven cloaks, and I have a smattering of "resistant to magic" models running around the table. Unfortunately that didn't stop Saruman from getting off several potent blasts, killing a number of key units.