This past weekend the TMAT crew got together with a few other people we were able to rope in (after a flurry of practice games to get them up to speed) for our second annual TMAT Grand Tournament.
I'd have to say, I think this tournament probably had the most formidable series of armies to date. In any game setting, you get armies that your particular build is stronger against, and others you just hope to avoid. I think this year, most of us took a look around and just went "ick." We each had a list of opponents (containing most of the field) that we were really hoping not to draw against. For a quick recap, we had the following participants for our third TMAT tournament:
1) The Treasure Fleets of Abrakhân (LOME: The Serpent Horde + The Corsair Fleets) - Zorro
The Desert people of Harad. While Easterlings were my first love, I quickly grew attached to the combat prowess of the Southrons. This was a completely new list for me - focused on a wide variety of elites rather than just aiming for sheer numbers. Watchers, Abrakhans, Serpent Guards and Corsair Reavers - all itching to outclass each other on the battlefield. To date, Harad had been the most dominant of all the TMAT armies - and the only one of mine yet to go to tournament. I guess it is time to test their mettle against the best that Middle Earth can offer.
2) The Fist of Isengard (LOME: The Legions of the White Hand + Isengard Raiders) - Tiberius
As you may have seen from previous posts, Tiberius has a bit of a love-hate relationship with the denziens of Isengard (or maybe it is more like a heartbroken ex?). Mostly I attribute it to those pesky wood elves, but I was excited to see what this force could do. Led by the White wizard himself, this army sports a super-loooong shield wall and a contingent of fast-paced mauraders to keep their foes off-balance. Mixed with some timely spell-casting and a few random bow shots, the army of Orthanc was ready to do some serious blood-letting.
3) The Chill of Angmar (LOME: Angmar + Azog's Hunters + The Nazgul) - Centaur
Without a doubt, this army put it's full support behind the notion that it is better to be feared than loved. With the Dwimmerlaik, two Barrow Wights, 20 Hunter Orcs led by Narzug, and a pile of orc grunts for fodder, this brainchild of Centaur's just oozes danger. On the flip side, it is low on the fight value and defense, so the threat comes at a decent price. None-the-less, most of the players secretly (or sometimes not so secretly) hoped and prayed that they would not draw against this force more than any other.
4) Fire from the East (LOME: The Easterlings + Cirith Ungol) - The Black Prince
The Black Prince had played a few games with us in the past couple years, and he was itching to try out an army of men. And indeed what an army it is. This borrowed force is just a slight tweak on my tournament-winning force from THRO 12 - dropping a captain for some extra pikes. Led by Amdur and the great Mordor uruk Shagrat, this army sports a large block of Dragon Guard supported by waves of bristling pikes and a few stray bows for skirmishing. Needless to say, I had high expectations of this army going into the tournament.
5) Dol Amroth to Gondor! (LOME: The Fiefdoms + The Tower of Ecthelion) - Tavros
After plying the evil trade for the last two tournaments, Tavros decided to put aside his beloved Goblins and wargs in favor of Gondor and it's feifdoms. With contingent of KoDAs and men-at-arms led by Prince Imrahil, padded with some Gondorian spears and bows, Tavros is hoping to make that small (yet so wide) leap from the 2nd place finish he has held the last two tournaments to tournament crown. To that end, we also saw the first usage of cavalry in a TMAT tournament.
6) Defenders of the Forest (LOME: Lothlorien) - Captain Glot
Captain Glot has also changed his stripes this tournment - leaving his hearty (if not hardy) Rohirrim behind in favor for the eves of Lothlorien. Led by Celeborn, Haldir and Rumil, Glot's newly-completed Galadrim took the field for the first time, supplemented with a handful of Tiberius' wood elves. Being the first TMAT elven army to center around combat heroes rather than Legolas, the warriors of the treelands were ready to take a stand.
7) Isengard's Outriders (Warbands: Isengard) - The General Will
After a very respectable 3rd place finish in THRO12, the General Will again leads my uruk-hai onto the field. Mixing things up a little this time with a bit of a shield-to-pikes trade, Vrasku and a couple captains lead a team of 11 beserkers and a half-dozen xbows to add to the standard carnage of an uruk pike block. Most of the rest of us just took comfort in the fact that we are one step closer to roping another player into the hobby for good.
8) The Dwarves are for the Dwarves! (Warbands: Durin's Folk) - Dr. G.
Our final player was a fairly last minute addition that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the game - that is until he discovered Tiberius' dwarves, at which point he promptly went out and purchased his own additions to put his own twist on them (which was a pretty epic move all of its own). Unfortunately, not everything arrived in time, so a last minute adjustment saw the inclusion of the grey pilgrim to aid his old friend, Balin in leading a long shield wall and a volley team supplemented by a smattering of khazads and rangers following the banner of Erebor. It is the smallest force in the tournament, but hard as nails.
The game boards we played on were pretty awesome in their own right. Our various TMAT members put a lot of time and effort into the various terrain peices in order to ensure a really epic gaming experience (scenario rules can be found here).
Board A: The Arkenstone
Here we see the underground board that Tiberius has been working on converted into a giant dwarven hall. At its center, a precious artifact that will be the impetus for this twist on the “To the Death!” scenario. The 4 small rocky formations near the center are all difficult terrain. There are risings on the East and West board edges (suitable for archers) and a giant bonfire in the corner (all additional terrain pieces courtesy of Tavros). For the extremely brave (and rather lost) adventurer, there are two chasms along the sides on opposite corners of the board.
Board B: Domination
Now this board really was a treat. Centaur has invested a lot of time (and $$$) over the past several weeks acquiring and painting the terrain for a ruined city – which was the first multi-tiered board for our tournaments. Lots of walls to reduce viability, some spectacular archer perches and tons of in-the-way potential. The 5 statues represent the various objectives (the 3” radius for the center objective extends down to the ground), and there are barriers and doorways all over the place which should make for some very interesting defensive strategies.
Board C: He Gathers All Armies
The desert board is the only one to return from its appearance at THRO 2012. Slightly modified to include a large rock in the center, the visibility on the board is otherwise pretty clear. The palms offer the random in-the-way, but for the most part they serve more of an annoyance to a general’s battle plan than any strategic value. The real challenge of this board is the four large expanses of difficult terrain – forcing combatants to choose (and commit to) their routes early, and leaving emissaries to battle the arrows of the enemy in addition to the beating sun in order to make their escape in this modified Recon scenario. Many a player has had their face contorted into a frustrated grimace more than once due to the "you can't get there from here" nature of the map.
Board D: Where the Wild Things Are
Personally, this was my favorite map in the tournament. For those of you who remember the old “Battle for Middle Earth” PC games, take note of the low hill and tower in opposing corners and the stone formation in the center. These serve as lairs for a variety of rogue beasts (wargs and cave trolls) that serve as a constant threat to both armies while they attempt to fight to the death (and may respawn if killed). Otherwise there are a variety of forest sections to add additional cover and disruption in this mountain pass near Angmar. A few climbable ruined towers serve as archer perches
I'm still working on gathering feedback from all the participants and collating notes for the various games, but for now I'll leave you with some teaser photos:
|Lothlorien battles with the Uruk horde for possession of the artifact|
|a rogue warg attacks!|
|an uruk ambush|
|The Easterlings venture underground|
|Angmar and Easterlings clash in the desert|
|this is no mine...|
|rogue troll is slain|