Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Shire List, Part 2: Heroes Post 1 of 2

Dear Reader,

Greetings again!  I was out for the past week visiting family, and am just now getting caught up on all of my projects.  Spending 20 hours on a plane does wonders for gathering your thoughts on a list, and what follows is my assessment of the heroes available for Shire teams.  I'll begin with the hobbit heroes, and then move on to the non-hobbit (and more exciting) heroes available to you.  Before launching into that discussion, though, something should be repeated from my last post:

You play with Shire lists to play with heroes.

Yeah, you all saw that coming, :)  If you've ever wanted to field a hero-heavy force, go with one of the Eriador civs: Shire or Grey Company.  Unlike the Grey Company, though, your selection of F6, S4, D5-6 heroes is extremely limited, so you'll be working with a smaller (no pun intended), less sustainable crew in a Shire army.  That being said, you can cover all of the bases using a Shire list for dirt cheap, and that will be the focus of this post.

Heroes
1.  Frodo of the Nine Fingers

Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
There are two Frodos in the Lord of the Rings Miniatures: Frodo Baggins, who is part of the Fellowship List, and Frodo of the Nine Fingers, who is part of the Shire List.  Technically both are available for Shire lists under Warbands, but only Frodo of the Nine Fingers is available in an LOME Shire list.  That's good, though, as a generally a general will likely prefer Frodo of the Nine Fingers in a Shire list over Frodo Baggins anyway.

I say this because of the roles they play in an army.  Frodo Baggins is a low-level combat hero: he sports F3 S3 D6 when using Sting and a Mithril Coat with 1 attack for striking wounds for 100 points.  Most Shire players, looking at the cost, begin to ask the question, "Why should I field 1 Frodo at 100 points that can strike with 1 wound each turn instead of investing in, say, 4 Dunedain, who have a better stat line, possess a range attack, and may be more survivable?"  Honestly, that's a good question: I honestly do not know why you would opt for Frodo Baggins over 4 Dunedain, who are contributing 4 wounds at S4 and F4 into combats.  In a Fellowship list, he makes sense: Frodo provides you with the option of tagging basic infantry to free up your power heroes (like Aragorn, Boromir, and Gimli) to engage in critical fights on the battlefield.  In a Shire force, though, Frodo Baggins would be 100 points to cover what 2-3 Shirriffs could cover, which is a huge waste of points.

Frodo of the Nine Fingers, however, costs 65 points (so a shy bit more than 2 Dunedain), and while he cannot strike wounds, you field this Frodo for his support role to the team: he is the only banner available for a Shire list.  Being able to re-roll poor die rolls when fielding a primarily F3 D3 army is extremely important, so the role he fills for the army is much stronger (even if he is a weaker combat hero).

Only two upgrades are available for Frodo: an elven cloak and a pony.  Personally, I'd definitely be open to the elven cloak (as it will help to protect him as he supports the troops), and I could see the benefit of purchasing the pony if for no other reason than to have a banner with 8" movement.  Since he cannot strike wounds, though, I'm a bit cautious on mounting your only D6 hobbit if he cannot gain an extra attack on the charge, especially as he and his pony would attract a lot of archer fire.  With only 1 Fate point (compared to 2 Fate for Merry and Pippin and 3 Fate for Sam) and 2 wounds at D6, I'm not overly excited about placing my banner in that position.

Another thing worth remembering about Frodo is that he is the only hobbit with 3 Will points.  He makes for an excellent spell resister.  Using Frodo to eat up spells (especially area-of-effect spells) so that your Dunedain and other heroes don't have to is extremely helpful.  It's also helpful if his Courage 6 is anchoring your army in regards to calling a "Stand Fast!" as the extra Will points can ensure that your army sticks around for a while.

2.  Samwise the Brave

Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
Samwise Gamgee is an interesting hobbit for the mix, as he is both better and weaker than his compatriots in different categories.  Like Frodo, Merry, and Pippin, he boasts a F3/3+ profile, and like Frodo and Pippin he may be upgraded with an elven cloak for 10 points or a pony for 5 points.  He is the only hobbit that can reach S3, but is also only D3 (compared to Pippin's D4, Merry's possible D5, and Frodo's D6).  With an extra wound, Might, Will, and Fate point above Merry and Pippin, though, he's not a bad hero for 50 points.

I'm personally not sold on Samwise the Brave, primarily because I see more firepower and use coming out of Farmer Maggot and his dogs for the same number of points, but that's personal preference.  If you're looking for a low-level combat hero to accent your heavy firepower from Aragorn and the Dunedain, go with Sam.

3.  Peregrin, Captain of the Shire
Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
Pippin is a unique case in the foursome.  He lacks the defensive stats of Merry and Frodo, as well as the offensive power stats of Sam.  This makes him the least attractive option of the four from a stat line perspective.  As I've mentioned before, though, that's one of the tricks to running a Shire list: you have to get your mind past the stats to reach the strategy.  Pippin's worth is not in his stat line.

On the point of his stat line, though, it is worth noting that he received a boost in the recent Free Peoples Sourcebook, as they recreated a new profile for him in Peregrin, Captain of the Shire, as opposed to Peregrin, Guard of the Citadel.  Since the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook's debut, the new Pippin still boasts a 1/1/2 fighting profile in regards to Might/Will/Fate, but now has 2A and 2 wounds instead of 1 in both categories for only 5 points more at base cost.  While still at D4 and only F3, this makes him much more sustainable in close combat.

As I mentioned in my last post, Pippin allows you to pay 1 point more for your archers to increase them to F3.  Pippin is a tactical hero, much like Frodo: while Frodo gives your low-rolling front line a chance at redemption through banner support, Pippin provides a static buff to your archers to make them more viable in close combat, should they be flanked or outmaneuvered by your opponent.  Unlike Frodo, however, if Pippin dies, your archers are still F3.  This is a big bonus that a commander should keep in mind.

4.  Meriadoc, Captain of the Shire
Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
Merry is the "James Bond" of the crew, providing a wide variety of roles and options for the team, based on what you need.  Like the others, he can be equipped with an elven cloak and a pony, but he also has access to the Horn of the Riddermark (for 20 points) and a shield (for 5 points).  The horn acts like a normal horn (adding +1 Courage to all hobbits so long as Merry is alive), which is helpful in keeping your forces in the field and allowing you to charge terror units.

Like Pippin, Merry also received an upgrade in the Free Peoples Sourcebook from the Knight of the Riddermark version in the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook.  He now has 2A and 2 wounds, and now has a base cost of 30.  Merry's real strength, though, comes from the shield upgrade (which, by the way, I'd always recommend you buy).  At D5, Merry is not only on-par with most basic infantry is his defensive stats, but is also the only hobbit that can shield.  Since all hobbits only have 1 attack (unless they are charging on a pony), with the only exception to that rule being Pippin, Merry has the ability to roll not one, not two, but four dice in combat if needed.  This makes Merry a bunker: he can guard a critical point or weak hero from unexpected attack.  Couple that with 1 Might and 2 Fate, and you have a hero that can hold a zone for a few rounds until your heavy hitters can dispatch the foes.

As mentioned in the last post, Merry also allows you to buff your Battlin' Brandybucks, making them S3 instead of S2.  Unlike Pippin, however, the buff is on a F1 model, which has its drawbacks.  That being said, considering that it raises the cost of the model to a measly 4 points, I think it's worth it to have a few S3 guys in close combat, especially against a D5 army.  As you can see, Merry meets almost every role for a hero (save combat firepower), and I'm convinced that, at only 30-75 points, every Shire army should field Merry.

Conclusion

The four hobbits do an amazing job covering each other - you have three army buffers, a tank, and a low-level combat hero.  Again, the stat line is not great; for all of these heroes you will receive more bang for your buck from a Dunedain (who will likely cost less as well).  But the additional bonuses that they provide help to meet critical roles for your force.

In my next post (which will likely be out within the next few days), I'll highlight the niche-roll hobbit heroes, as well as the non-halfling heroes at your disposal with this list.  I'm really looking forward to discussing it with you all, so stay tuned for more!

Watching the stars,

Glenstorm

"Will they follow me?" ~ High King Peter
"To the death." ~ Oreius

2 comments:

  1. Nice write-up Glenstorm. Two comments:

    1) Frodo Baggins is a better choice in a Fellowship list than he is in a Shire list, particularly because the new sourcebook allows all of your heroes to auto-pass courage tests for the force being broken if he's alive on the field (more on that in the Fellowship month post).

    2) Sam is only worth it in a Fellowship list too - mostly because he is a cheap hero that allows you to field Bill the Pony (Legolas-blocker and Might-replenisher). In a Shire list, Sam is too expensive and only gets a basic Strength value.

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    1. That's true - I feel kind of bad, though, because he boasts a solid M/W/F profile, so there's a side of me that wants to find ways to use him. But, as you'll see in my next post, if I have a choice between Maggot and Sam, I'd take Maggot every time.

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