Sunday, March 24, 2013

TMAT GT13 - Round 3 and parting thoughts

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more! As we return for one last recap post on TMAT Grand Tournament 2013. Round three of the tournament was as yet more bloody as, by now, players had settled into the format a bit better and were now jockeying for that one final push to the end.

Round 3, Board A: The Dwarves are for the Dwarves! vs: Fire from the East

Exhausted after their long travels, the dwarves return home to find enemies wandering their very halls! After enduring the mocking of Dol Amroth and the sting of the desert, by this point the dwarves had had their fill of haughty men. For their part, the Easterlings were looking to top off their haul of loot with mithril from the deeps. Balin swore to end the life of the easterling captain, and Shagrat was determined to test the mettle of the old  dwarf in battle. The clash of blade against heavy armor rang throughout the halls and both armies struggled around the arkenstone. While dwarven steel is legendary for its resilience, the armorers of the east proved to be of the highest caliber as well - neither army was able to find a significant advantage over the other. In the midst of the melee, Shagrat met Balin on the battlefield. As sword crossed with ancient axe, each recognized that the other had some hidden agenda at work. [Shagrat's oath succeeded, Balin's failed]. Grabbing a few crates of mithril armor, the Easterlings vanished into the darkness as the dwarves rallied around the banner of Erebor.

Easterlings deployment
Dwarf deployment
Both armies charge forward for the arkenstone
With both armies gaining banner support from their own armies, the arkenstone  was all but ignored

Neither army was broken and both had accomplished their secret objectives, but the dwarven banner yet remained, ceding victory to the army of Erebor.

Final Score: 4-2 major victory for The Dwarves are for the Dwarves!

_ _ _ _ _

Round 3, Board B: The Chill of Angmar vs: The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân

The convoy of haradrim cautiously eased into the ruined city. Rumor held that the old city had become haunted over the years and the eerie gloom did little to dissuade that perception. Neither did the sudden appearance of the Dwimmerlaik and two wights at the head of a mass of foul orcs. Valiantly leading his troops away from the specters to the far corner of the city, the Golden King claimed he would outslay the wraith, and the Dwimmerlaik determined to make his way through enemy lines into the Haradrim home territory. As a lucky crossbow bolt down the wight on the far side, Dalamyr turned back north to assist the Abrakhân forces that were sent to head off the ringwraith and his troop of orcs. After slinking around corners for a while, Dalamyr decided to attempt to rush the oncoming orcs - only to be immediately paralyzed and pounded into a bloody pulp. In the face of no less than 6 orcs, the Golden king finally shook off the dread of the haunted city with a might-y shout, and proceeded to induce some dread of his own upon the hapless orcs on that corner of the city, raining strike after powerful strike upon them until they were all laid low [Golden King oath succeeds]. Inspired by the great deeds of their king, the arbalesters that were left to protect the treasures in their home quadrant mustered their courage enough to hold the Dwimmerlaik at bay [Angmar oath failed].

The Golden King and his army have cleared the SE objective
Haradrim make a run towards the newly-vacated NE objective (defending orc ran away)
Narzug and his cohort hold the center uncontested
Haradrim attempt to beat back the foul orcs in the NW
Arbalesters protect the SW and  attempt to keep the Dwimmerlaik at bay
At game end, Harad held two objectives and the majority of a third, the orcs claimed the central bridge unchallenged and the final objective was empty. Both armies accomplished their secret objectives, but Abrakhân remained steadfast on the field while the Angmar forces were broken.

Final Score 12-5 major victory for The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân

_ _ _ _ _

Round 3, Board C: The Fist of Isengard vs: Defenders of the Forest

Pure desperation is what drives both Isengard and Lothlorien to take to the desert to seek the aid of their allies. Both of their leaders sit near the bottom of the pile in terms of  tournament rankings at this point, and both Tiberius and Glot were out for blood - or at least a bloody good show. Saruman and Celeborn both swore they would meet on the field of battle and live to tell the tale. Arrows sang through the desert skies as elf and uruk jumped at each others throats, the sands soaked with blood. Despite the heat, both army leaders pressed their troops onward, with the fight extending long into the evening. Saruman and Celeborn did indeed meet briefly on the field, but their duel was inconclusive and bore little impact on the battle as each side attempted to find a gap to squeeze their emissaries through to safety [both oaths succeeded].

Lothlorien deployment
Uruk deployment
every tournament we seem to have at least one game that manages to dodge the camera... unfortunately this was it this time around - sorry guys.

 At the end of the day, none of the emissaries had escaped, and both armies were broken, however the crafty Saruman had accomplished his hidden agenda while taunting Celeborn, and claimed victory for Isengard.

Final Score 3-1 major victory for The Fist of Isengard

_ _ _ _ _

Round 3, Board D: Isengard’s Outriders vs: Dol Amroth to Gondor!

Fresh off their victory against Saruman's forces, Dol Amroth is surprised to come across the Isengard vangard on their way down the mountain. Prince Imrahil declared this would not be his last battle, and Vrasku claimed his trigger finger was feeling mighty twitchy and he could outdo the swordarm of the Dol Amroth prince. With wargs biting at their flanks and a massive troll lumbering through the middle of the battlefield, the two armies clashed with a fury that echoed across the mountainside. Chaos reigned as the swan knights rode uruks to the ground and blood-crazed beserkers tore into the regimented lines of Gondor. Imrahil was able to rally his troops for one last great battle as the men of the great city scattered the uruks and pursued them through the forests. While many warriors were felled by Vrasku's crossbow, he could not keep up with the vengeful blade of Imrahil [Imrahil oath succeeded, uruk oath failed].

Uruks deploy - far from the wargs
Dol Amroth deploys
Beserkers run all over the field as the Gondorians try to take them down
Vrasku and his crossbows fire into the fray
A steadfast Dol Amroth had broken their enemy, but were unable to prevent them from accomplishing their secret objective.

Final Score: 5-2 major victory for Dol Amroth to Gondor!

_ _ _ _ _

At the end of round 3, the Game standings were as follows:

1 The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân (36 battle points)
2 Dol Amroth to Gondor! (34 battle points)
3 The Chill of Angmar (23 battle points)
4 Fire from the East (20.5 battle points)
5 Isengard’s Outriders/The Fist of Isengard (18 battle points)
7 The Dwarves are for the Dwarves! (16 battle points)
8 Defenders of the Forest (13 battle points)

Under the rules of our past tournaments, we would have been stuck with a tie for first place between Harad and Dol Amroth (3 major wins) and a 4-way tie for 4th place with both Uruk armies, the Easterlings and Dwarves all having W/L records of 1 major win and 2 major losses. As you can see, the additional scoring opportunities have significantly changed the landscape of the scoreboard. Now came the fun part of tallying up all of the votes for best themed and best conversion contests and awarding points:

Best Themed:
1st: The Fist of Isengard (3pts)
2nd: The Chill of Angmar (2pts)
3rd: The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân (1pt)

Best Conversion:
1st: Tavros' scratch-built Gondorian Bolt Thrower (3pts)
2nd: Zorro's Corsair Reavers (2pts)
3rd: Tiberius' Thorin's company (1pt)

After all was said and done, the final standings were as follows:

First Place:  The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân (39 battle points)
Second Place: Dol Amroth to Gondor! (37 battle points)
Third Place: The Chill of Angmar (25 battle points)
1st Runner up: Fire from the East (23.5 battle points)
2nd Runner up: The Fist of Isengard (22 battle points)
3rd Runner up: Isengard’s Outriders (18 battle points)
4th Runner up: The Dwarves are for the Dwarves! (16 battle points)
5th Runner up: Defenders of the Forest (13 battle points)

Final Thoughts:

Whew. I knew going into the tournament that I had taken a big bite of things to add to the tournament. After THRO12 I reached out to the participants for their feedback and I tried to incorporate as much of that as I could into TMAT GT13.  In the few days leading up to the tournament, I was starting to think perhaps all the additional points may have been a bit too complicated to keep track of with such short games, but overall people seemed to manage them pretty well. It was very interesting to see how they altered things in the end. Many thanks to my fellow TMAT contributors for their assistance with planning, providing terrain, scenario testing (major hat tip to Centaur on that note), even though I technically wore the hat of tournament director, it really was a group effort.

I think players seemed to appreciate the mixed LOME/Warbands scheme. Considering the amount of praise we had from various corners (not mine!) for the Warbands scheme after THRO12, I was really surprised to see that all but two participants opted to use our restricted LOME scheme for their builds (although one other army fit the warbands structure even though it was labeled LOME). It seemed to work pretty well with allowing players to find a way to field the army that they wanted to field, rather than being forced to simply force their idea into a particular scheme.

The secret objectives were a big hit too. I took pains to ensure that each objective is potentially obtainable by every army. Granted,  certain combinations of map and opponent certainly made them significantly more difficult and would require some dedicated effort to achieve, but they aren't supposed to be freebies - only 1 player managed to achieve their objective each game. For players who lost their games, 50% of the points scored were from secret objectives - which kept 5 players from being skunked like they would under normal scoring rules. I was a little concerned that the additional points could potentially sway the final game scores too heavily, but that did not turn out to be the case. Out of a dozen games, only 3 games had their final outcome changed because of secret objectives (1 minor to major, 1 major to minor, and 1 draw turned into a major).

Finally, how did my mostly all-new Harad/Umbar force do? Well, they won the tournament, so clearly it did pretty well. I sorta lucked out in not facing an uruk firing line or the wall of D6 Easterlings with 3 heroes to cause holes in my lines, but they met some serious challenges, and in that process I discovered how well-rounded this army is. For armies that rely on shooting, I was able to return fire without sacrificing the integrity of my battle line, for magic users, the Watcher took the lead, getting a few key charges against terror-causing casters and forcing them to to look elsewhere for their spells. The reavers really were worth their weight in gold, giving me a strong core with 3 attacks at F5 (with support). Even without the GK's banner, they were able to ensure I won most of my fights, giving me extra opportunities to wound against heavily armored uruks and dwarves. The Serpent guard performed admirably - extending the F4 line, acting as support when there wasn't a warrior around, and at the very least, getting to re-roll the occasional wounding die unnerves your opponent greatly. The Arbalesters were the only weakpoint in the army. While they did a good job of absorbing volley hits, and were my only means of shielding, they did very little on the shooting end. I think if I had to redo the list I would probably have dropped a couple for some more reavers.

anyways, thanks for bearing with me with the long delay between posts. the last couple weeks have been pretty crazy. I think the rest of March and April will be dedicated terrain building months for me - and I know the other guys on the blog here have a number of interesting projects going on. Hopefully I will get some posts up soon on my projects soon... and there is always the backlog of painting to catch up on.


Friday, March 15, 2013

TMAT GT13 - Rounds 1 & 2

Welcome back for part two of our TMAT GT2013 recap (played Sat, Mar 9). All eight participants were assigned a number, reported to their respective boards and we kicked things off with:

Round 1, Board A: Isengard’s Outriders vs: Defenders of the Forest

The animosity between elves and dwarves is second only for their hatred of orc-folk. So much so that the elves of Lorien found need to abandon the sunlight for the darkness of dwarvern halls in order to face off against the pillaging Vrasku and his uruk horde. As both sides closed upon the chamber room that holds the Arkenstone, Vrasku claimed he would live to fight another day, and Celeborn swore to kill more than the foul uruk could. The dank air was filled with elven arrows and crossbow bolts, ricocheting off pillars and causing carnage on both sides. While the elves defended the Arkenstone mightily and prevented it from falling to enemy hands, it was at a very great cost. Celeborn himself had to be carried from the field of battle, grievously wounded, with his army decimated - the taunts of Vrasku and his army ringing in his ears [Isengard oath passed], and with the bodies of far too many of his elven kin pierced by crossbow bolts [Elven oath failed].

Rumil holds the elven flank
Vrasku and his firing line prepare to return fire
The elves manage to keep the uruks away from the arkenstone (bottom left)
dwarven fires illuminate the underground battle
alas, but in the end the elven numbers are too few to hold back the hordes of Isengard
Isengard killed the enemy leader, and drove the elves to 25% of their starting force while remaining unbroken. Lothlorien, having accomplished their secret objective, ceded the field and left.

Final Score: 9-2 major victory for Isengard’s Outriders

_ _ _ _ _

Round 1, Board B: The Dwarves are for the Dwarves! vs: Dol Amroth to Gondor!

As oft happens when the ill-temperedness of dwarves meets with the pride of man, choice words soon came to blows between the armies of Tavros and Dr. G. Imrahil declared he could outfight the dwarven leader, and Balin was determined to lead his troops another day. The swan knights galloped around the city ruins with ease, taunting the stubby legs of the dwarves, while the Grey pilgrim attempted to knock some sense into the men of the White City. In the main street running through the town, the elite soldiers of both nations were tied up into a massive, disorderly, brawl. Beards were pulled, shins kicked with mithril-capped boots, and the occasional dwarf tossed through a window to raucous laughter (often cut short by a wallop to the glutus maximus). Fortunately the ordeal was over before the injuries on either side became too serious. At the end of it all, the prince of Dol Amroth stood proudly over the egos he bruised, while Balin made some comment about the feeble punches of the tall folk [both oaths succeeded].

Dol Amroth and Gondor set out to claim the city
Gandalf lets loose a sourcerous blast
Dwarves and Men jeer at each other
Dwarven shieldbearer and banner try to assist Balin in the center melee with more fights overhead
End game: Dol Amroth holds the 2 southern objectives and the majority at NW objective. NE is empty 

At game end, neither army was remotely close to breaking. Dol Amroth had full control over two objectives and the majority at a third. One objective remained unclaimed and the center objective was hotly contested by both the dwarves and men. The dwarves accomplished their secret objective.

Final Score: 7-2 major victory for Dol Amroth for Gondor!

_ _ _ _ _

Round 1, Board C: The Chill of Angmar vs: Fire from the East

On the desert board, Centaur's orcs faced off against the Easterlings, marshaled by the Black Prince. Shagrat declared he would outkill the Dwimmerlaik, and in what was probably the gutsiest move of the tournament, as his oath, the Dwimmerlaik declared that Shagrat would die before the end of the game. At D7 with 3 health, 3 fate, and 3 will points to resist incoming spells, most players would have considered such a move ludicrous when you have the much easier targets of a captain and Amdur (2hp, 1 will, 1 fate), but that’s Centaur for you… always charging headfirst. The two armies clashed in the middle of the desert, the savage hunter orcs raining blows upon the shields of the steadfast men of Rhun. Shagrat ran across the battlefield doing what he does best - killing things. Eventually, the spell casters of Angmar were able to work down his will points and the barrow wights put him on the ground. Although they labored long and hard at it, the orc 2h bearers finally managed to punch through the armor of the great uruk, leaving him a lifeless bloodied corpse - next to the trail of orc bodies strewn across the battlefield [both armies succeeded in their oaths].

Angmar takes the field
Easterlings begin the long march across the desert
Both armies advance in staggered formation
Angmar and Easterlings clash with no room for emissaries to make it through
Shagrat meets his end under the hail of 2h weapons
Narzug attempts to take the Corsair emissary around the far flank

At the end of the game, all of the emissaries were still several turns from escaping, neither army was broken, and both armies failed their secret objectives. The only points were for the death of the great uruk, Shagrat.

Final Score: 2-0 major victory for The Chill of Angmar

_ _ _ _ _

Round 1, Board D: The Fist of Isengard vs: The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân

As the Abrakhân convoy travels north, the lushness of the forest leaves an impression only slightly less memorable than the howl of the wild warg. Soon the sound of uruks-hai thundering through the underbrush adds yet another new experience for the travelers far from their desert home. As the armies of Tiberius and el Zorro attempted to avoid the wild creatures, the proud Saruman claimed his sorcery would wreak more havoc than the blade of the Golden King, while the Abrakhân lord pointed to Mauhur and claimed his life forfeit. With wargs stalking their flanks, both armies drew up battle lines around a newly-vacated troll cave (it's former occupant still dazed and bleeding out). Although the uruk-hai are strong, the money of the Abrakhân king was well spent, and savageness of his guards makes short work of the denizens of Isengard. Yet the superstition of the desert folk prevented them from slaying the White wizard, instead offering him gold and jewels in order to leave them in peace. Taking advantage of the distraction, Mauhur fended off his attackers and fled - following his master back to Orthanc. [Neither oath achieved]

Both armies advance, trying to avoid the lairs
the bloodthirsty creatures tear into the haradrim right from turn 1, killing both a reaver and an xbow! 
Rogue troll and wargs slam into the uruk lines
Fortunately for Isengard, Saruman's immobilize makes short work of the troll - which failed to respawn
Harad battle line prepares for an uruk assault
a lucky round or two of harad archery from close quarters really sets off the numbers. From that point , fight value and sheer numbers would take their heavy toll on the Isengard lines. 
Game end: Mauhur makes his escape from the field after having been trapped between the GK and his corsair allies on the turn prior - bringing the game to a close
Saruman departed the field with 4 massive chests of treasure leaving his army reduced to 25% while the Haradrim remained unbroken. The Abrakhânis also accomplished their secret objective.

Final Score: 11-0 major victory for The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân

_ _ _ _ _

At the end of Round 1 the standings were:

  1. Isengard’s Outriders (12.5 battle points)
  2. The Chill of Angmar (11.5 battle points)
  3. Dol Amroth to Gondor!/The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân (11 battle points)
  4. -
  5. Defenders of the Forest/Fire from the East (3.5 battle points)
  6. -
  7. The Dwarves are for the Dwarves! (3 battle points)
  8. The Fist of Isengard (2.5 battle points)

After a quick break for lunch, people cast their ballots for "Best Themed" and we dove right into round 2!

_ _ _ _ _

Round 2, Board A: The Fist of Isengard vs: Dol Amroth to Gondor!

The sound of hoof beats echoed in the deep as Imrahil lead his forces through the maze of pillars, trying to find their way to the artifact. The glint of uruk armor warned them that their prize was in danger of falling into the wrong hands. Spurring his troops onward  Imrahil swore to cut a line through the uruk forces to their deployment zone. Across the hall, the silver tongue of Saruman rang through the claimed his army would bring him the head of one of the Gondorian captains. As the alliance of men pursued the uruks through the caverns, the lack of attention to the Arkenstone itself indicated the likelihood of a hidden agenda by both armies. In his zeal for battle, Imrahil forgot to explore from whence the uruks came, and despite the glorious acoustics of the cavern, Saruman’s incantations could not produce a Gondorian head. [Neither oath succeeded]

Dol Amroth deployment
Uruk deployment
Dol Amroth and Uruks clash over the Arkenstone
As the battle wages on, the knights put a beating on the army of Orthanc
the Arkenstone is all but forgotten as the bloodlust overtakes Dol Amroth

Both armies accomplished their secret objectives. Isengard was driven to 25% while Dol Amroth remained unbroken.

Final Score: 9-2 major victory for Dol Amroth to Gondor!

_ _ _ _ _

Round 2, Board B: Isengard’s Outriders vs: Fire from the East

As the current leader after round 1, The General Will’s uruks marched into the ruined city to search for spoils. Unfortunately for them, Shagrat already had his eye on this particular ruin, and the race was on to claim as much loot as possible. Wrathful over the competition, Vrasku claimed the head of the Easterling captain, and Shagrat in kind swore that one of the Uruk captains would not live to see another day. With crossbow bolts raining down from rooftops and every street bristling with pikes, the crazed beserkers clashed with the methodical Dragon Guard. As the pillaging continued throughout the day, the precision of the men of Rhun began to take its toll on the Isengard armies. In the midst of the battle, Shagrat tossed the head of the uruk captain at Vrasku - emblazed with the family crest of the Easterling captain [Easterling oath succeeded, Isengard oath failed].

Vrasku's uruks deploy
Easterlings press forward into the city
Crossbows cover the center objective as the uruks set up an ambush! 
Dragon Guard (bottom) shield desperately to prevent the uruks from gaining a foothold in their objective
the fighting is fierce in the streets
Shagrat attempts to clear the center bridge for the Easterlings
 Uruks and Easterlings hold their own, Easterlings manage to gain upper hand in center
At the end of the day, the city was fairly evenly split with both armies holding control of two objectives. The Easterlings managed to claim majority control over the center objective. Additionally, the Easterlings accomplished their secret objective while breaking the uruks.

Final Score: 12-6 major victory for Fire from the East

_ _ _ _ _

Round 2, Board C: The Dwarves are for the Dwarves! vs: The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân

Lost and far from their halls, Balin and his vanguard trudge through the sands, trying to get messengers to their allies. Across the desert plain, the Abrakhân army is on an escort mission of its own. Exhausted, yet determined to get his messengers through, Balin claimed his blade was more deft than that of the Golden King, and the Golden King swore that his reign would continue. With the hot sun beating down upon them, the dwarves moved slowly in their heavy armor, loosing volley after volley at the lightly-armored haradrim, trying to get them to break off and leave their band alone. For their part, the Abrakhânis took full advantage of the heat to belabor their overdressed adversaries, with the Golden King matching Balin blow for blow. [Harad oath succeeded, Dwarf oath failed]

Dwarf deployment
Harad deployment (top group failed to deploy)
Dwarves advance with caution. Harad emissaries (2 bottom) make a break for the flank.
Gandalf lined up for a sorcerous blast against a corsair reaver - at which point the haradrim learned the ills of having such dangerously armed troops at the forefront. The unfortunate corsair scythed through the air, impaling himself, the spearman behind him and landing a debilitating cut on Dalamyr (who failed all 3 fate rolls!) before landing at the feet of the Golden King.
battle is joined and the dwarves fight mightily against the desert hordes
The harad emissaries took off at a sprint across the desert, bypassing the even-slower-than-normal heatstricken dwarves to make their escape.
Both armies broke each other on the last round, yet with the escape of 2 emissaries, Harad’s victory in the coming war was assured. Harad also accomplished its secret objective.

Final Score: 13-1 major victory for The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân

_ _ _ _ _

Round 2, Board D: The Chill of Angmar vs: Defenders of the Forest

Venturing to the forest eves near Angmar, Celeborn and his cohort are investigating the recent increase of wargs and trolls that have been reported in the area, only to find the Dwimmerlaik leading an army of orcs down from the mountains. The Dwimmerlaik dared to cross blades with the elvish lord, and Celeborn swore that his people would exact vengeance on the Barrow Wight that had haunted them. Shortly after the battle commenced, the fell spirit perished to the music of elven bows [Elven oath succeeded]. As the battle waged on and the lorien elves faced off against overwhelming odds, Celeborn was plagued by the magical onslaught of the enemy, eventually falling to the paralysis of the remaining wight, as the Nazgul gloried over his foe. [Angmar oath succeeded]. From there, it was only a matter of time before the elves would be forced back into the trees.

Angmar deployment - far from the rogue wargs
Lorien deployment
a lone elven archer in the tower distracts the wild wargs.
having cleared out the troll, the two battle lines close on each other
battle is fierce with orc and elven blood
Celeborn is paralyzed, while Rumil tries to come to his aid
the elves fought valiantly, but the sheer numbers of orcs held them back
Both armies were broken, but with the loss of their leader, the elves were routed (25%), but not before accomplishing their secret objective. The foul banner of the orcs remained to claim the field.

Final Score: 9-5 minor victory for The Chill of Angmar 

_ _ _ _ _

So after two rounds of combat, the standings had shifted a bit:

  1. The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân (24 battle points)
  2. Dol Amroth to Gondor! (22 battle points)
  3. The Chill of Angmar (21 battle points)
  4. Fire from the East (16.5  battle points)
  5. Isengard’s Outriders (15 battle points)
  6. Defenders of the Forest (9 battle points)
  7. The Dwarves are for the Dwarves!/The Fist of Isengard (6 battle points)
  8. -

Stay tuned for the Round 3 and some final thoughts on TMAT GT 2013!