Sunday, June 23, 2013

"If You Want Him..."

At long last, we're going to close out Flight to the Ford month, as I finally got around to painting my Arwen Evenstar figure - thanks Glenstorm! Though I plan on using her in my White Council army (grown to 9 potential members - see later in the post for more info), Arwen is a great hero to add to any force if you want a turn or two of magic. For the sake of this article, I'm going to assume the following sample list:
The Council of Rivendell: 600 points

Arwen Evenstar with Elven cloak - 60 points
Elrond - 170 points
Glorfindel, Lord of the West with Armor of Gondolin - 140 points
Galadriel, Lady of the Galadhrim - 125 points
Legolas with armor - 95

5 units, 1 Elf bow, 5 heroes, 13 Might points

Arwen: Character Review

Arwen Evenstar provides a key advantage to any Rivendell or White Council army: she's a cheap hero who sports Fight 6 and can cast one of the most game-changing spells available to the forces of Good: Nature's Wrath (more on this later). Her key disadvantages are that she has 1 Attack, has Defense 3 with no way to boost it, and has only 2 Wounds (with 1 Fate point). Though potentially fragile (especially in close combat), the benefits she brings to supplement the work of other heroes (not to mention the distraction she provides from other heroes) is quite valuable.

Equipment: Horse, Elven cloak, or neither?

Arwen costs 60 points normally and can be given a horse or Elven cloak (I say "or" because Elven cloaks don't work while you're mounted). Both cost the same number of points and each provides valuable benefits. The Elven cloak protects the wearer from archery, magic, and even being charged by enemy units if obscured by an object/model and more than 6" away from your adversary - very useful given that your Defense, Wounds, and Fate are low. A horse can hinder your ability to claim in-the-way rolls from archery, but also gives an automatic in-the-way roll for the horse.
Generally speaking, I would take the Elven cloak if any equipment at all - your equipment choice is heavily dependent on what units you have supporting Arwen (and in the case of a tournament, if there are any missions that require great speed). If you are running a White Council army and the majority of the army is on foot, you should only take a horse if you need the speed - in any other case, march on foot with everyone else. In the list provided above, Arwen could rely on the billowing cloak of Glorfindel to protect her from enemy archery if she wears the Elven cloak or you could spend the money giving Legolas the Elven cloak - the choice is yours as to which of the units is more important to protect.

Tactics: Nature's Wrath
For a full run-down of the use of Nature's Wrath (and its many uses), I direct you to a post I made on Thranduil not long ago. Arwen can cast Nature's Wrath more than once (unlike Thranduil), but you may not get more than 1 cast each game. With 3 Will points and 1 Might point, Arwen can cast the spell more than once, but the second attempt (I'm assuming there is no third attempt) is going to be risky. If you attempt to cast the spell three times with one dice each time, your probability of passing one of these is (the dice squares on the left): 1-((1-.5)*(1-.5)*(1-.5)) = 87.5%, so quite likely of getting one off. Ironically, you have the same probability of getting off a single spell by casting it twice (using two dice on one of the casting attempts), as you see in the next frame.
The benefit of using two dice on a single cast comes from the probability of successfully casting the spells twice. If you roll three dice, your probability is (.5)*(.5)*(.5) = 12.5%, which you can see with the dice squares on the left. By casting the spell only twice, your probability of casting it is higher: (.75)*(.5) = 37.5%, as illustrated by the squares on the right. It's important to note here that even with this higher probability, you are still only supposed to get this spell off twice in one game out of three (and with TMAT tournaments only having three rounds, you're talking once per tournament) if you're unwilling to pay your Might point to make it work. If you don't mind using your Might point, your probability increases: (.75)*(.66) = 50%. Now, in every other game you get it off twice...brilliant.

If you assume, then, that you only get the spell off once, how do you make the most of it? If you're using Arwen, I will assume that your army is either full of High Elf Warriors who are itching to fight units on their backs or your army sports combat heroes from the White Council list, like Glorfindel or Elrond. While knocking down your foes is fun, the new magic rules in the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey rulebook makes Arwen even more powerful. By using your Might point to call a "heroic channeling," Arwen can turn a spell that normally just knocks down her opponents to a spell that knocks them over and deals Strength 2 wounds to everyone touched. Though not that dangerous against Defense 5 or 6 opponents, this can be very powerful against armies that lack access to armor and shields (like Harad or the Misty Mountains) or a good many archers (Uruk Scouts or Orc Warriors). Though you're putting most of your worth into a single turn, the turn-out could be really, really sweet.

Tactics: Non-Magic Role

The question is begged: what do you do once you've cast all your magic (all your Will and maybe your Might is gone - is she worth anything now?). In this situation, I'll submit that Arwen has two roles to play. First, she can stand in the way of allied spell-casters or archers to keep them safe. In this list that would be Legolas, but it could easily be Radagast or Gandalf as well. Arwen sports the impressive Elven Fight 6 with her single attack, which may not seem like much, but you just need to get a high roll and you're golden (see one of the battle reports with the White Council to prove my point).

The alternative use you can have for Arwen is to claim objectives. Remember that in a Domination game, you're down-handed with only a few units. If you can hide Arwen at an objective after she unleashes a tide of magic, you gain the needed scoring points to ensure a victory. I've got a post in the works about playing a Domination game with an all-hero force (since it can be difficult with a conventional army if you're not careful), so more on that in the kind-of-near-future. Keep in mind also that if Arwen is mounted, her ability to pull back to an objective you abandoned with your small force is very, very easy.

Tactics: Making It Work

I've mentioned in passing the benefits Arwen gives to each member on the team: she can provide a guard for Legolas after she casts her magic to ensure that the archer can help out where needed from a distance. Galadriel can give Arwen the benefit of Cast Blinding Light but can also take advantage of units lying on their backs with her 3 Attacks. Glorfindel is the quintessential attack maniac with 3 Attacks and Fight 7 - again, capitalizing on units being knocked to the ground. Arwen's dad Elrond not only has Nature's Wrath in his arsenal as well but he's also a powerhouse melee hero. With both father and daughter casting Nature's Wrath, you've got a good chance of getting 2-4 of these spells off during a single game - that's lots of guys on their backs (who can't wound you) and with the new magic rules, perhaps even some damage!
There you have it - the final post for Riders in Black month (after a very long delay). I still need to do some finishing touches (and basing) work on the models, but I'm really happy with how they've turned out so far. I'm now preparing for the second round of what I've finally decided to call the "Long Cold Summer" project, where I'm working on underground terrain and finishing my Dwarf and Goblin paint jobs. The last three posts were Round 1 and so next weekend, I'll hopefully have something up to begin Round 2. Until next time, happy hobbying!


  1. Been looking forward to seeing the work you've done on this heroine for quite a while - excellent write-up! I'm thinking of going the Lindir/Elrond route for me Elf list (yes, I'm finally caving and getting an Elf army...), but she's a very good option for a hero.

    Excellent points on her sustainability in melee combat. Honestly, she looks a lot more frail than she is - and this coming from a guy who even had chances to wound her and failed to wound. I'd caution every player that faces her not to write her off, as she looks deceptively fragile.

    I look forward to seeing her in combat soon! If you'd like to do an all hero army, my Grey Company have been itching for a scrap for quite a while, as is my new Easterling force... ;)

  2. A great paint job on Arwen(s) there. Great work on her hair!