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.



  1. Quick note on the game that didn't get any pictures (Lothlorien vs. Isengard): first, all three of the Isengard emissaries ended the game within 3" of the enemy board edge, so if the game would have continued one more round, my Uruks would have scored 15 more points and been the first team to get all three of its emissaries across the board edge (but it was not to be...sigh). Second, the captains who came to support their army leaders couldn't survive - Mauhur was killed in a single round by Celeborn with spear support and Saruman used his magical prowess to transfix Rumil and knock down Haldir with a comrade who was blasted away and both were promptly killed by a small horde of Uruks. Not a great game to be a 1 Will captain. Third, both Glot and I enjoyed the game and Glot got to ask a lot of questions about when to resist spells and when to let them go - in the next tournament, I expect he'll be better prepared to fight a list with a single spell-caster in it.

  2. Excellent write-up, Zorro - I do wish, though, that we had snapped a pic of Dalamyr's fight in the 3rd match, as there was *a lot* of carnage on that side of the board when that round was over.

    I really enjoyed facing your list: it was well-rounded, offered a number of advantages against various lists, and was (in my opinion) the only list that was built well to defend against spell casters. I would definitely enjoy facing it again (though I don't think Chill of Angmar will make an appearance in the next tournament).

    Later on this week I'll be following up with a post regarding my list (as it was quite a unique one), as well as a number of the projects I'm currently working on. More on that in a few days.

    Keep rocking!

    1. yeah... we were so caught up in the battle that I totally forgot to snap some shots until the game was over. =P