Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shire List, Part 3: Heroes Post 2 of 2

Dear Reader,

Welcome back!  We continue our series of discussing the Shire list of LOME with a discussion of the lesser known hobbit heroes, as well as the non-halfling heroes at your disposal (which everyone finds more exciting, more helpful in a fight, and more funner all-around, :) ).  After covering the four hobbits from the Fellowship in my last post, I'm really looking forward to getting into a number of the unique roles that the other heroes in the list play.  Some of my comments are going to be "like duh" commentary on a model, as some of the heroes were built for only one purpose by GW.  Others may surprise you.  In any event, as we trailblaze some territory that no one in the blogosphere has covered, bear with me as we discuss ten heroes that are worth fielding in your force to meet specific needs.

Halfling Heroes
1.  Fredegar Bolger

Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
Freddy Bolger plays a small role in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and in like fashion he plays an extremely small role in this game.  Freddy is not a combat hero by any stretch of the imagination.  At F2 S2 D3 with only 1 wound, 1 Fate point, and (if that weren't bad enough for a hero) being unarmed, the chances that Freddy wins combat are extremely low.  At 5 points, he is also regarded as less useful than a Tookish Archer (which also costs 5 points) or a Hobbit Shirriff (who only costs 4 points).  So why field Freddy?

He's a 5pt "Stand Fast!" for your army.

Honestly, there's no other reason to buy this hero, other than the possible tactical option that he is larger than a number of the other models, and could thus serve as an "in the way" against archery for a more useful unit (no offense, "Fatty" Bolger).  If you think of anything else, I'm all ears, but I get the idea that there's just not much more to view in this hero.  And, honestly, that's fine.  Not every hero needs to be a power hero: if you have an extra five points lying around and are worried that your army will break and run because you are fielding a low defense, low FV team with only a decent Courage value (a reasonable fear), he may be an option for you.

2.  Farmer Maggot and Grip, Fang, and Wolf


Farmer Maggot meets three unique rolls for your force.  First, at only 50 points, he's an easy way for you to add 4 models to your force (and for any Warbands army to obtain 4 models, which is not bad if you run a heavy civ), 3 of which are extremely short, giving them a definite bonus against archers in a terrain-heavy map (and will be a critical component of my tactical analysis next week).  Second, at 50 points, he brings firepower to your force: he grans you access to 3 S3 models (which is virtually non-existent at F3 for this list), as well as giving your army their only chance at a two-handed weapon.  As a 2Her, Maggot is less likely to win his fight, but gives a bonus often equivalent to being S3, and sometimes better rolls than a S3 model would regularly roll (especially against D4 and D6 infantry).  Third, Maggot gives you an opportunity to reliably engage terror-causing models.  Maggot's special rule allows his dogs to use Maggot's Courage value (C5) anywhere on the field as long as he is alive, giving you a 2Her and 3 8" movers at C5 for engaging terror units.  Not too shabby.

Now, this begs the question: what if Maggot dies?  At F3 S2 D3, it's true: it looks slim for the poor guy.  That being said, his profile is above-average for hobbits, standing at 2 wounds with 2 Fate points.  Sure, he's no Glorfindel, but for a hobbit, he's quite survivable.  What is more, if he's accompanied by Aragorn, Gandalf, a few Dunedain and/or one of the four hobbits, he suddenly becomes much less of a threat in a force.  In my opinion, no Shire list should ever agree to engage in combat without this guy.  More on him in the next post.

3.  Paladin Took

Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
Paladin Took, at only 25 points, fills one role in your force: he's your 12" "Stand Fast!" for hobbits in your army.  Since he is armed with a walking stick, has 2 Fate points and 1 Might point, he can actually stand as a more competent combat hero than Freddy and Lobelia, but his primarily role as a F2 S2 D3 model is as a support hero to keep the army in the field, not to lead by example, :-P  As you'll notice, some of the commentary on these models will not be new thoughts or novel ideas; characters like Paladin were built for one purpose, so I'll recommend that purpose here.  Sorry it isn't more exciting, :)

4.  Lobelia Sackville-Baggins

Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
Lobelia was not loved by Tolkien, and the Perry Brothers and our friends at GW have followed suit: the model is not comely, and neither is her stat line, :-P  Her role is unique in a force, being both a debuff against opponents and a buff toward your force.

...Aaaand, just like that, I have everyone's attention again, :)  Everyone is thinking, "Wait, Centaur: Lobelia keeps me from using a hero's "Stand Fast!" within 6" of her!  How does she buff my force when she keeps me from using Stand Fasts, does not contribute wounds, and at only F2 S1 D2 (which is the worst profile I have ever seen), is not likely to even stay alive (even with 1 Fate point), let alone buff my force?"  Good question - a quick question for the blogosphere at large:

Did anybody else notice that she has 3 Will points?  And Courage 6?

Don't ask me where they get this from Tolkien (except maybe that she was extremely tenacious about getting Bag End?  Maybe?), but for a force as varied as a Shire list, she fills the most unique roll I've ever seen: she counters (believe it or not) ethereal units very well.  Consider: Barrow Wights (which cost 50 points - five times her cost - and can call a "Stand Fast!" to nearby troops) are D7 (which is hard enough to wound anyway for a hobbit, so not striking wounds doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things), S2 (so not wounding models very well anyway, increasing her chance of survival), and are casters (that, once engaged, can't cast magic) that cause terror (which is no problem for C6 models).  Check it: a 10-pt female hobbit on a tirade can tie up a 50-point caster who happens to have one of the most devastating anti-hero spells in the game.  Want to tie her down with magic?  Go ahead - she's got 3 Will.  That 3 Will also means that even if she rolls snake eyes on a Courage test, she'll pass, so charging one to keep him from casting magic is no biggie.  I contend that for 10 points, she's really good at tying down a unique set of units.

Not convinced?  Let's look at spectres.  These guys also cause terror (which is no problem for her), are F2 (so they tie on FV), are D5 (which, again, is 6s for most hobbits to wound, so it's no major loss that she can't strike wounds), and their special rule moves models if they fail a Courage test (which, if she does, the dice are just against you, plain and simple).

Shades, anyone?  At F1 S1 - even considering the Shade's special rule - the chance that the Shade wins the fight or wounds Lobelia (on 5s) is extremely low, and at D8, it's probably a courtesy to Lobelia that she is not allowed to strike wounds, :-P

So, if you happen to find yourself against a terror-heavy, ethereal-heavy force, believe it or not, Lobelia might just help you - especially if they wound against your Courage value instead of your defense value (there aren't very many of those, but for those who do, she's unparalleled in the bonus she receives from that rule, :) ).  She fits a niche roll, but if you find yourself in need of that, she may be a good choice, :)

5.  Bandobras Took, The Bullroarer

Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
Bullroarer is unique in the list of heroes in that 1) if you use him, you are not allowed to take any other named hobbits in your force (as he lived well before them), and 2) he is the only F3 S3 D4 hero in the list who boasts a possible 3 attacks at 10" movement.  Being able to ride a horse doesn't sound very impressive to any other civ in the game (well, maybe dwarves, now I think about it), but it really appeals to Shire teams.  At 40 points, he is also one of the cheapest cavalry heroes of all time.  And, with 2 attacks at S3, he's not terrible - he will likely not be the hero at the end of a tournament with the highest kill count, but he's not a bad low-level combat hero to complement an Aragorn or a Dunedain.

Bullroarer is also one of the reasons I'll likely never field Samwise the Brave in a force, as I mentioned in my last post.  If I had to make a choice for a low-level combat hero, I'd rather accompany Aragorn with Maggot (for a current army) or Bullroarer (for a past army) than Samwise.

6.  Bilbo Baggins

Photo courtesy of the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook
Bilbo Baggins got a new profile for the Hobbit movie, and the jury is still out as to whether you can use him in a Shire list (I'm guessing not, unless he came with a special rule much akin to Bullroarer's.  Bilbo is an oddity in the list: he costs 90 points (which is a lot for a hobbit) who is S3 (if he bears Sting), D5 (courtesy of a mithril coat), and boasts a F3/3+ profile on-par with the hobbits of the Fellowship.  On the whole, he's not a bad low-level combat hero (though, for 90 points...I don't see why you'd purchase him over, say 3 Dunedain with an equal number of Tookish archers to support them).

Something to keep in mind, though: according to the note in the new Free Peoples Sourcebook, if Bilbo and Frodo are in the same force, "Bilbo carries Sting and the mithril coat, and Frodo carries the Ring."  By extension, I assume that if Bilbo and Sam are in the same list, Bilbo carries Sting.  So, if you choose to field Bilbo in your force, just remember that you'll be running with (potentially) a S2 Sam and a D3 Frodo.

Non-Halfling Heroes
1.  Aragorn, Strider


Alright, cut the nonsense: let's talk about some *real* heroes for a bit, :)  Aragorn, in my opinion, should be the reason that you play with a Shire list.  With cheap models to form your ranks, you can easily get your break point to a sizeable amount for under 200 points.  This means that you have 400 points in a 600-point game just to spend on heroes.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, calls for a spending spree, :)

One of the reasons I started investing in Shirelings a few months ago is that I wanted to field Aragorn, Strider with Anduril, Flame of the West in an army, but was having trouble justifying 250 points on 1 hero in a Rohan, Gondor, or Grey Company list.  So as I was skimming through the Ruins of Arnor Sourcebook, I noticed that he was an option for the Shire as a hero, and I was like, "Hey: that would do it!"  When I saw that you could also pick from Gandalf and Dunedain as well, thoughts and builds started flying through my mind, and I've been set on buying Shire forces ever since, :)

Having an Aragorn that can would all models on 4s is amazing, as it will save you a number of Might points throughout the game, and increase the number of kills you can make with an already awesome hero.  Some will say, "Pick Gandalf: he's a caster!"  That's true, and Tiberius has shown me the benefit of having a caster many a time.  Personally, though, I find the 255-260 points you'd spend on Aragorn to be a better use of the points, and it fits my playing style better.  That being said, since I've just knocked Gandalf, let's look at the unique contributions he gives you.

2.  Gandalf the Grey

Zorro's Gandalf - it's pretty awesome, :)
Hobbits lack a shaman-class hero, which means the only way you can obtain magic in this list is through a 170-point wizard.  And all things considered, he's a powerhouse wizard.  Tiberius did an amazing write-up on Gandalf a while back (actually, he's done a lot of commentary on Gandalf, so if you're thinking of running Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White, just search this blog in the left sidebar; you'll get plenty of thoughts on how to run him in various types of lists), so I'll definitely cede greater wisdom to him in regards to Gandalf's skills and powers.  What I want to focus on here are the unique contributions he makes to a Shire force, especially since he complements the weaknesses of the list very well: low survivability, low firepower, and (appropriately) one of its advantages - low cost, :P

Gandalf can meet out punishment in a variety of ways.  With Sorcerous Blast augmenting his S5 hand weapon or S4 2her, all done at F5 with free Will points to help with blasting people, Gandalf can perform decently in close combat or at range as a makeshift short-range artillery piece or as a close-range threat.  Keeping in mind that all wizards only have 1 attack, it would behoove any general fielding Gandalf to remember that while he is competent in close combat, 3 Wounds with 3 Fate (re-rollable, courtesy of Narya) goes by quickly when you're surrounded by Uruk-Hai or other elite infantry.

What is more (and, for hobbit armies, what will likely be more useful) is that he can also cast Blinding Light, which protects your army from most archery (as your opponent can only land a hit on a model on the roll of a 6).  Having spells like Immobilize and Command come in handy as well in case you have a model that is going to cause trouble for your force.  With Strengthen Will to help your heroes regain fallen Will points, Gandalf offers a wide variety of assistance to any Shire force.  Personally I'm more of an Aragorn guy, but I'd definitely be open to fielding Gandalf in his place on occasion, as he is a very competent hero.

3.  Dunedain


Dunedain are some of my favorite heroes (probably only behind Rangers of the North), because for 24 points (25 if you purchase a spear), you get a really good return on your investment.  At F4/3+, S4 D4, they look like exalted elite infantry, and for their cost, I suppose to some extent they are.  What Dunedain do for your force, though, is give you two advantages, both tactical (and will be explored further in my tactics post next week).

First, they are a cheap way to spread a M/W/F point across the board.  Need to resist spells?  Shire lists do this well (as all of your hobbits boast the Resistant to Magic special rule), and Dunedain contribute by bringing 1W to the fight.  Sure, it's not the same as Resistant to Magic, but it's helpful in a pinch to get your rangers into close combat.  Need some Might for some heroic actions across the field?  Good to go.  Want a chance at redemption because of a bad die roll?  Hope the Fate point sticks.  For 24 points, they are exceptional all-around heroes.

Second, because they are heroes, they never contribute to a bow limit.  Since hobbit archers use bows (S2 at 24"), they can form volley lines with Dunedain, who can then protect them in close combat.  Alternatively, they run well on your front lines as well: need a F4 guy to win fights for your S3 Battlin' Brandybucks?  They can do that.  Need some C5 "bunker busters" to engage terror units?  These guys can do that in style.  Also, because they are human, they benefit from 6" movement, making them much more effective at wrapping around enemy lines than their hobbit counterparts.  Wherever you need these guys on the map, they'll do their job.

Conclusion

As you can see, you don't have a lot of amazing choices for this list.  That being said, you have a wide variety of types of heroes that will each fill a niche roll for you in a force.  It also means that, depending on what you are facing in a given army, you can customize your list to meet needs and play to your strengths without having to reorganize hundreds of points (like most civs would have to do).  Worried about your force running after breaking (because, trust me: your force will break in combat)?  Paladin Took is less than 30 points.  Need some 8" attackers with a decent Strength value (at S3)?  Maggot's dogs will do the trick (and can hid behind almost any terrain, making them effective "bunker busters" for your force).  Want a power hero that can romp on his opponents?  Aragorn is your man.

The list offers a wide variety of options for your force, which is a great boon considering that the Shire cannot ally with anyone in an LOME format.  In the next post, we'll discuss how to deploy your forces, thoughts in regards to managing damage output and sustaining in combat, as well as some thoughts for Warbands armies.

Watching the skies,

Glenstorm

"Firenze!  What are you doing?  You have a human on your back!  Have you no shame?  Are you a common mule?" ~ Bane, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

2 comments:

  1. Finally got around to reading this - great write-up Glenstorm. Personally, I think that a 600-pt list has plenty of room to field both Aragorn and Gandalf if you aren't picky with Anduril (355 points on both heroes decking Aragorn with armor and bow). With the remaining near-250 points, you can buy an army of 40 units under Merry and Pippin - 44 units protected from archery and lots of killing power. Again, it means no Dunedain and no Anduril, but magic-lovers might like it. :)

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    1. Good point; personally I'd probably prefer the firepower from the Dunedain, though the protection from archery and the opportunity at magic is a worthwhile consideration. I may end up testing it out just to see if I like it, :)

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