Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lords of Battle: The White Council vs. Easterlings

With the summer drawing to a close, Glenstorm and I got together for a quick game. We've fought all of each others armies on multiple occasions, but Glenstorm recently added a band of Easterlings to his collection. During the beginning of the summer, I wrote a post on Arwen and needed an excuse to give some of her strategy tips a try. So...this game will be between my White Council list and Glenstorm's new Easterlings. Here are the forces:

The Protectors of the Roads: 600 points

Glorfindel with Armor of Gondolin - 140 points
Arwen with Asfaloth - 70 points
Legolas with armor - 95 points
Celeborn with Heavy armor and Elven blade - 145 points
Radagast the Brown - 150 points

5 units, 1 Elf bow, 13 Might, 3 casters
The Jaws of the Dragon: 600 points

Khamul the Easterling on armored horse - 135 points
2 Dragon Knights - 140 points
3 Captains with shields and Easterling halberds - 165 points
1 War Priest - 60 points
2 Easterling Captains with shields - 100 points

9 units, no bows, 17 Might, 2 casters


The scenario we will be playing is a Lords of Battle game on a board that is 48" x 48". We will play until one side is reduced to 25% of its starting force (usually, you play until 50% and then see if the game suddenly ends, but we're playing an all-hero game, so...to the nearly-bitter end!). After the end of that turn, points are scored:

  • 1 point for breaking the enemy force OR 3 points for breaking the enemy force and not being broken; and
  • 1 point for each Wound and Fate point suffered by an enemy unit.
  • Special rule: if a hero is killed, a hero from the winning side in the same fight may regain a Might point previously spent in the battle.


The map is set up as follows: my WIP Dwarf walls cordon off the northwest corner, while scattered pieces of terrain obscure archery shots into the rest of the map. There are several bridges, market centers, rocks, and an outpost covering the rest of the map. The Protectors of the Roads (hereafter Good) won the roll off and have chosen to select their corner (the northwest corner), ceding priority to the Jaws of the Dragon (hereafter Evil) for the first turn.

Strategy for Tiberius: Running with 5 heroes (three of whom are D3 or D5) is risky against an army of nearly twice my size and D6+. Normally, I wouldn't fear captain units - I've got 1 hero with Fight 5 and the rest have Fight 6 or Fight 7. Today's match, though, involves Khamul, who isn't a great spell-caster, but does cast spells nonetheless. As a result, even a Fight 4 captain can be dangerous when he wounds on 5s. I need to isolate the captains into different fights, endure Khamul's barrage of spells, and keep Legolas and Radagast out of combat.

Strategy for Glenstorm: Taking down this force with a handful of F5 power heroes and about a half-dozen basic captains is going to be hard.  Really hard.  Since Tiberius is running a Celeborn who is only D6, my plan is to use Bladewrath on Khamul, cast Transfix before ramming into Celeborn, trust to 2 Might points to win the fight and knock him over, and then wound on 4s.  Even if I can only take down the Fate points on him, putting him on the ground should allow me to surround and kill him off early, which not only removes one of the tanks for his force, but also eliminates one of the casters.  I'll tie down Glorfindel with captains, and then use my Drag Knights to kill off the low defense, low attack heroes in the list (Arwen and Radagast).  Once they're down, taking down Legolas should be easy (as he won't be in melee range for a while).



Turn 1: (Priority - Evil)

The teams advance against each other. Radagast, learning from his bout against the Grey Company a while back, casts Terrifying Aura on himself now (free + 0/6W).


Turn 2: (P - Good)
And the armies keep on moving. Arwen has swept up the courtyard and makes it to the wall, waiting to spring a surprise.


Turn 3: (P - Good)

No pictures - everyone keeps moving and Legolas didn't have any shots available, thanks to the rocks. Next turn...



Turn 4: (P - Good)

MELEE!!!!! In the Move phase, the War Priest begins by casting Bladewrath on Khamul (1/3W). Khamul choses to charge Celeborn, passing his Courage test, and casts Transfix on Celeborn (2/12W). Celeborn manages to resist the spell and basically decides he's not casting Immobilize this game (2/3W, 1/3M). Nothing happened in the Shoot phase, but in the Fight phase, Khamul decided to improve his attacks by 1 (3/12W), but loses the fight (Celeborn: 3/3M). Khamul escapes without a wound, though (4/12W).


Turn 5: (P - Good)

No picture of the Move phase, but a lot happened: Khamul (himself only) and Radagast (pretty much everyone with him) both call Heroic Moves (Khamul 1/2M, Radagast 1/3M). Khamul wins the roll-off and charges Celeborn, passing his Courage test, and attempts to cast Transfix, but fails (5/12W). Radagast moves next, casting Panic Steed on Khamul (free + 0/6W), but Khamul handily resists the spell (7/12W). Arwen moves towards the other wall and casts Nature's Wrath with a single dice (1/3W) and Khamul chooses to resist for his team (8/12W).

The War Priest moves a bit closer to Khamul and casts Bladewrath again on his leader (2/3W). Two of the captains nearby charge Glorfindel and pass their courage tests, pinning him in the doorway (right where I wanted to be, actually).
In the Shoot phase, Legolas gets an auto-hit on an Easterling captain and wounds him. He passes his Fate roll, but Legolas is pleased with the first point scored in the game.
Sorry, no pic. Khamul improves his attacks again (9/12W), Celeborn wins the fight by default, but manages to score no wounds on Khamul (10/12W) (the good news for me is, with 2 Will points left, there's only going to be 1 more action by the great war leader) (This is really bad: I've just paid 135 points for a model that has so far scored me no points.  What you get when you play with a combat nazgul, :P ).

In the other fight, the Captain with halberd drops his shield in order to attack with his two-handed weapon (wow, that was unexpected). The Captain with the halberd gets no help from his friends and pays both his Might points (2/2M) to promote his highest dice to a 6. Glorfindel still wins the fight (1/3M), and deals 1 wound to the Captain with the halberd, who fails his Fate point (1/1F, 1/2H).
Score: Good 3, Evil 0.



Turn 6: (P - Evil)

Pictures are scarce when the game moves quickly - sorry for this and in the future. Khamul casts Transfix on Celeborn with his last available Will point (11/12W), but Celeborn resists the spell with the last of his Will points (3/3W). The War Priest nearby casts his final Will point on the Dragon Knight fighting Celeborn (3/3W). Arwen respond by spending her last Will points to cast Nature's wrath, but fails to cast it even with her Might point in hand (3/3W). So, she charges the Dragon Knight because Celeborn's position in the doorway prevents her from getting to any other targets.

In order to help Arwen out (and to break the chain of casters using all their Will points), Radagast immobilizes the Dragon Knight fighting Arwen (free + 0/6W), who cannot resist the spell as Dragon Knights have no Will points (didn't know that one...huh).

The fights are generally uninteresting: Glorfindel wins but can't wound anybody. Arwen wins, doesn't knock down the Dragon Knight thanks to his special rule, and after not knocking him down fails to wound him. Celeborn, though, lost his fight to the captain with a halberd (who also dropped his shield) and took 1 Wound, burning through all his Fate points and STILL taking the wound (3/3F, 1/3H) (OOOUUUCCCHHH!!!).
Score: Good 3, Evil 4. And just like that, the game is no longer favoring Good...gotta love Lords of Battle.



Turn 7: (P - Evil)

At the beginning of this Move phase, both Arwen (1/1M) and the War Priest (1/1M) called Heroic Moves. The War priest won out and Arwen was charged, ending her Heroic Move before it happened. Two Easterling captains moved through the small postern gates in order to threaten the softer units behind Glorfindel, but the Dragon Guard that meant to charge Glorfindel failed his courage test, making the fight at the gate much easier for the Elf hero. To make matters worse, Radagast immoiblized the Captain fighting Glorfindel (free + 0/6W) and the captain failed to resist the spell (1/1W).
In the Shoot phase, Legolas shot all three shots into the Captain with halberd and killed him (2/2H).
In the Fight phase, there was lots of action - Arwen was unfortunately killed by her opponents (2/2H) (the Dragon Knight regained 1 Might), but so was the captain fighting Glorfindel, after failing his Fate save (1/1F, 2/2H). Celeborn also wounded the Captain he was fighting, who failed his Fate save (1/1F, 1/2H).
Score: Good 8, Evil 7.



Turn 8: (P - Evil)
On (yet another) turn where Evil got priority, Radagast called a Heroic Move (2/3M). Unchallenged, and with everyone from the army of Good able to benefit, the White Council maxed out their options. The Dragon Knight near Celeborn was immobilized by Radagast (free + 0/6W - great thing about Radagast is he rarely needs to pay more than his free Will point to cast anything). Glorfindel found that he could avoid the control zone of the Dragon Knight near him and charge Khamul, rolling a 2 on his Courage test and was forced to pay Will points to pass it (2/3W). Legolas pushed up a bit, but was not charged by any of the Easterlings.
Legolas wound Drag Knight (1/2H)
In the Shoot phase, Legolas aimed at the immobilized Dragon Knight (no Will and no Fate is a bad combination against this team) and managed to score 1 wound (1/2H) (yeah...that's no fun, :-/ ). In the Fight phase, Glorfindel beat Khamul but (as Celeborn did before him) managed to score no wounds. Khamul did, however, lose the last of his Will points (12/12W), and so was removed from the game as a casualty, scoring Good 1 point for his Wound and 2 points for his unspent Fate points (3 points off of a failed combat...wow...). Celeborn killed the captain with halberd that he was fighting after he failed his Fate point (1/1F, 2/2H). But of all the fights that happened, Radagast stole the lime-light: he defeated his foes with his single attack (3/3M, 1/2M for Dragon Knight) and managed to wound the Dragon Knight he was facing (1/2H).
Score: Good 14, Evil 7.



Turn 9: (P - Evil - again?)

Captain tags Celeborn (1/2M, 1/1W)

In the Move phase, Celeleborn was tagged by a Captain (boo), Legolas was tagged by a Dragon Knight, and Radagast was cornered (but not trapped). Glorfindel, who had raced away from the action to kill Khamul, was unable to see anyone and so ran as far as he could but wasn't allowed to charge anyone. In the Fight that ensued, Celeborn lost to the Captain who shielded and Legolas killed the Dragon Knight he was facing (2/2H). But this round, it was again Radagast who stole the stage: Radagast lost the fight this time and suffered 3 wounds and successfully saved ONE of them (3/3F, 2/3H).
Score: Good 15, Evil 12. With the death of the Dragon Knight, the Easterling force was broken. As mentioned above, this would normally start the countdown to the end of the game, but we're playing to 25% of starting size. To get to this point, the Easterlings need to be reduced to 2 units and the White Council needs to be reduced to 1 unit.



Turn 10: (P - Evil)
In the Move phase, you can see that the Easterling War priest fled the field (boo). The Dragon Knight attempted to charge Radagast, but narrowly failed his test. The two remaining captains charged the wizard (1/1W used by one of them), but one was pinned by Celeborn and the other broke off to fight Glorfindel. Legolas side-stepped a little and took aim at the Dragon Knight (2/3M), killing him in the Shoot phase (2/2H). In the fights that followed, the only point of interest is that Celeborn managed to wound the Captain he and Radagast were fighting and the wound was saved by the Captain's Fate point (1/1F).
Score: Good 20, Evil 12. Game ends because Evil is at 22%.

Good scored 20 points for Fate and wounds.
Evil scored 12 points for Fate and wounds.
Good scored 3 points for breaking the enemy and not being broken.
Evil scored 0 points for breaking the enemy.

Final score: Good 23, Evil 12. Minor victory for Good.



Conclusion:

Assessment by Tiberius:

I remarked to Glenstorm before we began that this game was probably going to end quickly, with a decisive overwhelm by one side or the other. I turned out to be wrong: yes, I only lost 1 hero, but Radagast was 1 wound from death, Celeborn would have been transfixed against multiple foes if Khamul had rolled 1 point higher on his final Transfix roll, and Glorfindel was kept to only dealing a few wounds to his foes. Not a great game overall. The teams were pretty evenly matched, I thought. With the help of an additional Ringwraith (65-80 points ought to do the trick) to keep Khamul from having to waste Will casting spells, the battle could have easily gone the other way. As always, a pleasure playing against my first convert to the game.

Assessment by Glenstorm: 

Wow, that was harder than I thought, :)  Not winning that opening fight with Khamul was brutal, as it not only cost me 1 of 3 Bladewraths I can cast in a game, but it also cost me my horse and lost me my only chance to get my Will store back up (which meant I just spent 135 points gaining no points for victory, and later coughed up 3 points to the White Council for losing Khamul).  The truth is, though, I lost the game because Tiberius played very well, and he hedged his bets much better than I did.  I was really blessed to get priority as often as I did, as he would have had a lot more Might points to spend if he had won priority more often.  Well fought, bro.

Stellar unit for Tiberius: Celeborn with Elven blade and heavy armor. I give the award to Celeborn a lot - and for good reason. He's about the same price as Glorfindel and lacks the Fight 7 and "Resistant to Magic" special rule, but he makes for a dependable assistant killer for your army. In games without spell-casters, his Immobilize spell is deadly (what can be better than having a 3 Attack Fight 6 hero than to be able to turn the Troll he's fighting into a 1 Attack Fight 1 wuss?). In today's game, though, he held off a wave of Easterling captains and scored nearly as many points as Legolas did.

Stellar unit for Glenstorm: Dragon Knights, hands down.  The only model to get a kill in this game was my Easterling Captain with Shield, but I don't want to highlight that model (as that was all that they contributed).  I'm going with the Dragon Knights on this one for a few reasons.  First, they were the consistent firepower that wore down his heroes (and got Arwen in range of death for the captain), and presented a target that had to be fought on a given turn by one of his tanks.  When they were not engaged by a tank, they were able to engage weak combat heroes like Radagast and Arwen, and almost killed both of them.  Add onto that the fact that they have no Will points, meaning that they are prime targets for magic, and I was very impressed with their performance.

5 comments:

  1. Great report and a fun looking game. Quite a full analysis of the mechanics which is helpful.

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  2. I am in a total agreement with Danisnotatree here, just would like to add: The batreps and tactics here are just so good! Many thanks for the time you're putting in writing this for the rest of us to read and enjoy.

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    1. Thanks, guys! I love how Tiberius does his batreps, :)

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    2. Danisnotatree and Llama - we love posting for our dedicated readership. If you like the way these batreps are written, check out the links in the side bar (esp. "Simmuskhan's Battle Blog," which inspired the way I write for this one).

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