Friday, October 4, 2013

Battle Report: Grey Company v. Host of Rhovanion

Hey Reader!

This is Centaur with another battle report!  As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm playtesting my list for the upcoming Hunters Red October Tournament, and last night I met up with Donatello to play an Arkenstone game (as it's one of the four scenarios for the THRO Tournament), using the following lists:

The Grey Company (Grey Company, LOME)
Detachment 1
-Aragorn, Isildur's Heir (Army Leader): 200 points
-1 Dunedain (Rosseloth): 24 points
-3 Rangers of Arnor w/ spears: 27 points
-9 Rangers of Arnor: 72 points

Detachment 2
-2 Rangers of the North (Culang and Dannassel): 50 points
-1 Dunedain w/ spear (Daerdan): 25 points
-1 Ranger of Arnor w/ spear: 9 points
-7 Rangers of Arnor: 56 points

Detachment 3
-2 Rangers of the North (Cadan and Torchirion): 50 points
-1 Dunedain w/ spear (Astiul): 25 points
-1 Ranger of Arnor w/ spear: 9 points
-7 Rangers of Arnor: 56 points

TOTAL: 603 points, 36 units, 10* Might, 36 bows

The Host of Rhovanion (Easterlings, LOME)
Detachment 1
-Khamul w/ Armored Horse: 135 points
-6 Easterling Black Dragons w/ shields: 60 points
-3 Easterlings w/ halberds/shields: 27 points

Detachment 2
-Easterling Dragon Knight: 70 points
-1 Easterling w/ banner: 32 points
-8 Easterling Black Dragons w/ shields: 80 points
-5 Easterlings w/ halberds/shields: 45 points

Detachment 3
-Easterling War Priest: 60 points
-6 Easterling Black Dragons w/ shields: 60 points
-2 Easterlings w/ halberds/shields: 18 points
-2 Easterlings w/ bows: 16 points

TOTAL: 603 points, 36 units, 6 Might, 2 casters

This will be an interesting fight, as it is quite likely that an Easterling team will show up at the tournament (guys in our gaming group really like using them, and for good reason).  My current thoughts as the tournament director for THRO is that the Arkenstone mission will be on Tiberius's underground map, so the terrain will be a bit different from the way it will look in the tournament.  As we laid out the board, we were both itching for a good game!

Strategy for Glenstorm: Both of us are sporting 36 units, which means that the game will come down to how much damage I can deal on rolls of 6s (as my men will be wounding him primarily on 6s at range and in close combat), and how much damage he can do on 5s in close combat (as he fields virtually no archery).  I'm planning not to abandon my honor by playing a massive game of "keep away," but will instead whittle down his main body of troops (in Detachment 2), overwhelm his third detachment because of its weaker stat line, and hold Khamul at bay on the flank long enough to break his army.  Since most of my force is Courage 3 (Courage 2 within 12" of him), I'm not trusting in being able to charge him easily, so we'll do our best to fend him off long enough to break his other elements.  So, to call the ball: whittle down his elements through archery, fend off his major heroes, break the blocks of infantry, and mop up as quickly as possible once we reach close combat.  I should have better spear support than him, so that may save me in this game.

Strategy for Donatello: Glenstorm is sporting a ton of D4, with a half-dozen D5 guys in the mix.  This makes Bladewrath very effective on his main infantry (wound on 3s!!!) and heroes (wound on 4s!!!), so I'll use that to my advantage here.  I decided to take the Black Dragon upgrade (like Glenstorm, Zorro, and the Black Prince do), because I'll need the F4 to match his men.  My plan is to hold down Aragorn with my large blocks of men (or Khamul casting Transfix, if he gives me a shot), and allow my Dragon Knight to seek out his lesser heroes, aiming to recoup Might points off of killing off the lesser heroes.  With a higher FV and a chance at 5 attacks (when supported by two halberds), taking down the rest of the force shouldn't be too difficult.


Arkenstone games are scored as a To the Death scenario, using the following rules:
  • Game ends when one force is reduced to 25% or less of its starting models
  • 2 Victory Points are awarded for killing the enemy army leader
  • 2 Victory Points are awarded if a team has a banner remaining at the end of the game
  • 1 Victory Point is awarded if the enemy force is broken.  3 Victory Points are awarded if the enemy force is broken and your force is not broken at the end of the game.
For Arkenstone games, as you'll recall, there will be a marker in the center of the board (the Arkenstone) that will grant a 6" banner radius to the force with the most models within 3" of it.  The other force treats the Arkenstone as a 3" banner for their force.  For the purposes of scoring, the Arkenstone does not count as a banner for either team at the end of the game.

We agreed to the following terrain, as both of us were open to having a more open map with a few pieces at the edges, mimicking how Tiberius likes to setup his underground map.  For this game, Don didn't want to play with stockpiles, primarily because 1) most of them would only be able to be used by his heroes and two bowmen, and with a 25% of getting a barrel of tar and a 50% chance that it would end up on my side of the board, he didn't want me landing hits with archery wounding on 5s instead of 6s (which I can understand).  Once all of the terrain was placed, we rolled off to see who deployed first, I won the roll-off, and deployment looked like this:

And with that... (For death and glory!) (Something stirring and brilliant that Glenstorm would not have thought of, because he always says the same thing before battle!)

Turn 1 (P: Grey Company)

By the way, as you'll likely notice, the pictures are different in this post than in my past posts (especially in terms of width/clarity.  I recently got a new phone (major props going out right now for the Droid Ultra), so hopefully the quality will be better than other reports in recent history, :)

In the Move Phase, the armies advanced toward each other, with the Easterlings making a dash toward the Arkenstone, and the Grey Company advancing 3" toward their foes.  You'll notice that, after taking notes from my game with Zorro recently, that my detachments are closer together than they were in that game, so that they can support each other more effectively.  I'll need this against his F4 D6 front line, as he will have a wider spread of spear support.

In the Shoot Phase, my three volley teams block out the sun, concentrating on the War Priest's detachment, and they take down one of the Black Dragons.  Don had no shots at this range, so we moved to Turn 2.

Turn 2 (P: Grey Company)

The armies advanced further (not much to see - you'll see the full layout after the Shoot Phase), with the Easterlings forming up a battle line near the Arkenstone.  The Grey Company pulled up another 3" and prepared to fire normally on the advancing horde.

In the Shoot Phase, I opted to take a gamble: on the far end, Culang (Ranger of the North) and Daerdan (Dunedain w/ spear) landed hits on two Black Dragons, and both rolled 5s to wound.  I opted to spend their Might points to convert those to kills (1/1M for each), which is not normally my play style, but since he only has a F4 front line, my thinking was that if I can whittle down his front line this turn and next turn with archery, I'll win ties even though he will have the 6" banner radius from the Arkenstone (which I can't take from him now - he'll have it all game).  With over 2/3 of my archers still to fire, I wonder if I made a mistake paying out those Might points early.

Turns out I didn't, :)  The next set of archers under Aragorn brought the pain, knocking down four more of the Black Dragons with 6s to wound (that bites).

Gwonil (Dunedain) took down another without the aid of her Might point, and another ranger took off one of the swordsman on the end, causing 8 casualties this round (You know: Glenstorm likes to say in his battle reports that this is not normative, and I suppose it isn't, but still...).  The Easterling bowmen returned fire, and both shots failed to wound.  At this point I did some measuring, and discovered that Khamul was just barely out of striking distance from my flank.  With Aragorn locked on the lower section of the map, I suddenly began to panic about how to stop a F5 3A S4 guy from overrunning me on the far side.  Next turn, I'll need to create a troop to stall him.

Casualty count: 9/36 Easterlings (9 from break point), 0/36 Grey Company

Turn 3 (P: Easterlings)

The armies continue to rush forward (well, my army rushed forward; Glenstorm's stayed back) (true, :) ), with the Dragon Knight placing himself behind the Arkenstone to shield him from archery (Hey: when you only have 2 wounds and 0 Fate points, you protect your heavy hitter) (Fair point - though I'm not so dishonorable as to take him down with archery, :) ).  Khamul goes flush against the rocks, with the horse's head poking around the corner (we can see! :D ).  I rearranged and formed up my battle line, with Torchirion (a Ranger of the North), Astiul (a Dunedain w/ spear), and a random ranger moving 3" to take shots at Khamul (and to brace his charge next turn, as I'm not confident in wounding him on 6/5+).

In the Shoot Phase, the Easterling bowmen did nothing, and while I thought about returning fire against them, the fact that they are D5 means I want to wait to take them on until melee combat, where I'm wounding on 5s instead of 6s.  We ended up only doing 2 wounds, though he's now lost half of his F4 fighting line, which is pretty decent.  The three shots at Khamul were all on-target, all of them were on the rider, and all of them failed (not surprisingly).

Turn 4 (P: Easterlings)

As we moved up, I was in charge distance this round.  But as much as I wanted to charge, I restrained because his men were still within 6" of the Arkenstone, and because his banner was within 3" of the Arkenstone he still had dominant control over it.  So instead I moved forward about an inch, and formed up a solid battle line to meet the oncoming hoard.  Khamul charged Torchirion and the Ranger of Arnor and attempted to cast Transfix on Torchirion on a 4+ and failed (1/12W).  I attempted to charge two rangers in, and one of them failed his courage test because of the Harbinger of Evil rule that reduced his Courage by 1.

In the Shoot Phase, the Easterlings did nothing, and the Rangers of Arnor responded with one final hurrah, taking down 4 Black Dragons.  Gwonil and Dannassel (Ranger of the North) took down 2 more without the aid of Might (I'm down to 3 Black Dragons...this is not good...).

In the Fight Phase, Khamul paid 1 Will to add +1A (2/12W), won combat on a 6, and knocked down all three of his combatants.  With 2A +1 for the charge, Khamul sported 6 attack dice, rolling 4s to wound the rangers (which he got for both, bringing him back up to a full Will store), and 5s to wound against Torchirion.  He made 1 of the 2 die rolls, which Torchirion saved with a Fate Point (1/1F).  Khamul paid his 1W for being in combat (1/12W), and as we headed into the mayhem and carnage that is the first round of full melee combat, the casualty count looked like this:

Casualty count: 17/36 Easterlings (1 from break point), 2/36 Grey Company (Yeah...this isn't going very well...)

Turn 5 (P: Easterlings)

...And we have melee combats! :)  The Easterlings charged in, engaging a number of the front ranks, and screening Aragorn off with the bowmen (because they haven't done anything all game for me yet, and I don't care about them that much).  Khamul moved around the flank to hit the rangers from behind (as I wasn't going to waste him just attacking Torchirion - I need raw damage count right now), and the War Priest successfully got off Bladewrath on the Dragon Knight (on a 6, 1/3W expended), making him S6 until the end of the round (on a 2+, this is one of my favorite spells!) (it's high on my list, too - especially if you plan to call Heroic Combats) (Oh, I will, :) ).  Khamul cast Black Dart at one of the Rangers of Arnor he charged (on a 5+) and failed to cast it (2/12W).  Aragorn and his men wrap around the end of the battle line, crashing into the Easterling bowmen and pikes on the south end of the battle line.  Torchirion stood up, and a few of the rangers attempted to charge Khamul and failed.

In the Shoot Phase, I took a few shots using spear-supporting rangers, and they landed two kills on the pikes (so his force will be broken next turn), and took a few shots at the banner from the guys on the ledge, but none of them hit.  As we entered the Fight Phase, three Heroic Combats were called: Aragorn (Free/3M), Gwonil (Dunedain, 1/1M), and the Dragon Knight (1/2M).  The Drag Knight won the roll off, and the combats were resolved in the following order: Drag Knight, Aragorn, Gwonil.

The Dragon Knight was supported by two pikes, which meant he was sporting 5 attacks (yes, that's right - 5 dice at a higher FV) that wound on 3s (such a boss).  He won his combat, slashed through both rangers handily, and moved on to engage two more rangers (which you can see in the Shoot Phase picture above).

Aragorn and Dannassel handily defeated the shielding pikeman in their fight, Dannassel wounded him on 5s, and pull off the pike support in the fight nearby (as I'm pretty sure the overwhelming number of rangers from the south can handle the rest of these guys; I'm going to start moving the heroes toward the center as they wound on 5s instead of 6s).

Gwonil and Rosseloth won their fight and finished off one of the last of the Black Dragons (who did a valiant job shielding, by the way - he forced us to a roll-off, and the girls won the roll), and then moved in to engage the pikeman protecting the banner (I would have engaged the banner, but there was no way to get to him past the control zone, and I don't want to take the chance of losing a hero by doing solo battles.  I'll play more conservatively and let the other heroes wrap around next turn).

For the rest of the Fight Phase, Aragorn and Dannassel take down their pikeman, and the rangers take down the bowman that they swarmed.  Otherwise, in the south there were a lot of lost combats that resulted in no wounds, so things pretty much remained the same.  In the center, the Drag Knight easily cut through the two rangers in his fight (I need an answer to that; Aragorn is too far away, and the Drag Knight will eat up my minor heroes, too.  Make a note of this for future games...).  Khamul paid 1W to add +1A (3/12W), won the fight on a 6, knocked over all 3 rangers in his fight, and wounded 2 of them before paying his 1W for being in combat (bringing him back to 2/12W used) (such a fun combat nazgul - and one of the most underrated of the named ringwraiths) (I know, right?).  Heading into Turn 6, the current total:

Casualty Count: 23/36 Easterlings (broken, 4 from game), 8/36 Grey Company (10 from break) (Good showing that turn, guys, but it's a little too late)

Turn 6 (P: Easterlings)

So...we were so into the game that we didn't take a picture, :P  Aragorn called a Heroic Move, as did the War Priest (since he probably won't need that Might Point for anything else if Aragorn is charging toward our general location).  Aragorn won the roll off (...which means I probably wasted the Might Point; oh well, it was worth a try, :) ), and the rangers surrounded the bulk of the Easterling army.  I tagged the Drag Knight with a Ranger of Arnor (sorry man: someone's got to be the fall guy this round), and charged another Ranger of Arnor and Torchirion into Khamul to remove his charge bonus.  By the end of the Heroic Move, Don had two Easterling pikes near the top of the map left to move, which he threw against the spears involved in one of the combats (I need to keep myself from losing guys, and get into one-on-ones that I can win; we're running out of options here).

In the Shoot Phase, nothing happened (it's about time, ;) ), so we moved into the Fight Phase.  Three Heroic Combats were called: Aragorn (1/3M), Astiul (1/1M), and the Drag Knight (2/2M).  Aragorn won the roll off, so they were resolved in the following order: Aragorn, Drag Knight, Astiul.

Aragorn won his fight against the banner and the pikeman on a 6, and then rolled low to wound.  I paid my last two Might Points to slay them both (which I didn't think was too bad, since the game is pretty close to over, so I figure it's okay to burn my Might store here), and then moved in to engage the War Priest.

The Drag Knight lost combat against the Ranger of Arnor ( had triple the attack dice and a higher FV, and the highest you can roll is a 3?!?!), and the ranger failed to wound, ending the Heroic Combat (Fall Guy: "I survived!!!" :D ).  Astiul, Gwonil, and Rosseloth finished off their pikeman, and, while I probably didn't need this to win the game, I decided to go for the moral victory and fling everyone at Khamul (as I already had 2 guys facing him, and 5 guys trapping a Nazgul is pretty fun).  Astiul and Rosseloth rolled 5s, and while they are usually Courage 5, the Harbinger of Evil dropped their Courage Tests to 9s, causing them to use up their Will points (1/1W each).

In the rest of the Fight Phase, things were crazy: the Easterling pikeman near the War Priest lost combat, but was not wounded, giving the War Priest a drop option for retreating in his combat.  We went to that combat next, and the War Priest rolled a 6 to win the fight, compared to Aragorn's high dice of 3 (Dannassel and the other ranger didn't do any better; wow.  Just, wow...), by a strike of amazing luck (Yes!!!), the War Priest wins combat against Aragorn, Dannassel, and the Ranger of Arnor, and struck at the Ranger of Arnor to wound on 5s (as he's only S3, unlike the other heroes who are S4), and rolled a 4 (Yeah: I was really missing that wasted Might Point right there...figures the one chance I'd have of wounding someone, I'd roll just low enough to miss, :P ).  Up top, the two Easterling pikes both lose combat, but neither of them are wounded (and, by the way, I was starting to worry at this point, because I only need 1 more kill to end the game, and none of my guys - including Aragorn - are converting).  Then, as if understanding my worry, the Black Dragon to the south successfully shielded against 3 Rangers of Arnor (picture of him in the wrap-up photo), and the Easterling pikeman nearby also successfully shields.  The bowman, on the other hand, did not have the boon of shielding, and was slain in combat (which means the game will end).  This left on the battle against Khamul at the top.  So, Khamul rolled to win the fight:

...And he rolled Snake Eyes. :)  (*Facepalm* Seriously, man?  Seriously?) (*Soft happy smile*)  I rolled higher than Snake Eyes, as you can imagine, and then we rolled to wound:

The S4 guys (everyone other than the Ranger of Arnor on the eastern side of the picture) needed 6s, and the ranger needed 6/4+ to wound.  The RoA failed, Rosseloth landed a wound with a 6, and the two Dunedain who rolled 5s (Astiul and Gwonil) both expended their Might Points earlier in the combat, so they could not promote their attacks to wounds...meaning that on 10 dice, I landed 1 wound, with 2 Fate Points at the disposal for the Black Easterling.  So, feeling excited about his odds, Don rolled for Fate:

Yes - you saw that correctly: Snake Eyes again (that bites. :(  ) (...that's rough, dude...).  So, with that one wound I caused, Khamul goes down.

A bit blurry; sorry about that!
As you can see, there weren't very many kills that round following the Heroic Combats, but it was enough to end the game.  Final count:

Casualty Count: 29/36 Easterlings (game), 8/36 Grey Company

So, final score: 3 Victory Points for the Grey Company for breaking the enemy without being broken, and 2 Victory Points for killing the enemy army leader, resulting in a 5-0 Major Victory for the Grey Company.


Glenstorm's Thoughts: Wow - that was a wild ride, :)  A lot of factors worked well for me in that game, including the archery game coming out in force and being able to keep my heroes from being bogged down against his power units so that I could focus on kill count.  I'm glad we didn't have the stockpiles, as not only would they not have helped Don's force much (except maybe the throwing weapons, though Turn 4 was the only time he was setup to use them well), though there's a side of me that wonders what would happen if the bowmen could have picked up shields or 2Hers, and whether that would have changed anything.

Donatello's Thoughts: Wow - I really thought wounding on 6s would be harder for this guy, :)  The Easterlings are a very one-dimensional civ, especially when you opt to focus all of your points into casters, killing heroes, and a solid phalanx.  He did a good job of whittling down my forces and choosing where we fought, and there were a number of amazing rolls he got off.  On the whole, I wouldn't have changed much about my approach or decisions in the game.  Well fought, Glenstorm.

Stellar Unit for Glenstorm: Rangers of the North, no question.  These guys consistently held down the fort, whether that was by knocking down front ranks at range, curving around the end of his battle line at the end, or stunting Khamul and holding him off of the main body long enough to break the enemy force.  At D5, they will be wounded by just about anything short of an Uruk Captain or a Troll on 5s or better, and with a Fate Point, you have a bit of room to move in case you need it.  These guys are consistent and proven, and I appreciate that.

Stellar Unit for Donatello: Wow - everyone had their fair share of fails in this game, :P  The Black Dragons are usually my stellar unit, but there were only three left once we got into melee combat, so they didn't really shine, except inasmuch as two of them survived to the end, :P  As half of my kills went to Khamul and the other half went to the Dragon Knight, I'd likely pick the Drag Knight solely because of his predictability and dependability in breaking the center.

I'm hoping to get a few more games in (maybe with Tavros and Glot, if I can setup a time to meet up wtih them), which will likely be Domination or Ill Met by Moonlight sceanrios.  With only a few weeks to go until the tournament, I'm getting excited about what the tourney will hold!  Until then,

Watching the stars,


"We watch the skies for the great tides of evil or change that are sometimes marked there." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


  1. Any game where one side is basically broken before melee is reached is going to go badly. and needing to go trudging across a great expanse of open terrain into 36 bows is just asking to get maimed. I fear the terrain (or lack thereof) sold you out Don.

    btw - you guys do realize that the _rider_ is the one who needs to see right? What the mount sees is irrelevant - if the rider can't see the target, they can't charge (re: comments on turn 3). Just a side note for the future so you don't get your tactics royally messed up in a game.

    1. Yeah, we knew that the rider is what needed to be able to see the target in order to charge, but 1) because he was tired of getting shot at, and 2) because I was moving 3" over anyway, I told him, "You'll be able to charge me next turn."

      I'll be interested in seeing how Tiberius sets up terrain for the tournament, as the map has traditionally been very open, and that could make the scenario problematic for certain civs. We'll see.

  2. Hey Tiberius

    Really want my GC to work well for me but so far not having much luck.
    Just read your GC tactic post which was great... Any plans to put it on ayoutube vid? To fully explain the tactics you use Its hard sometimes to see what you mean with just pics

    Keep up the good work!!

    1. Hey S (don't know how else to elegantly simplify the user name),

      First off, welcome to TMAT! If you're interested in a tactica youtube video, I'll call attention to your post to our resident GC army user, Glenstorm. He's the one that wrote up this post and several other tactical posts that you can find in our "Arnor" labels. Glenstorm also initiated the only Youtube batrep that we have up (that was Isengard vs. Angmar/Misty Mountains). We'll see what we can do to make the maneuvering more visible - thanks for the comment!

  3. Hey Ste,

    Welcome to TMAT! Good question. I'm definitely thinking of doing a YouTube video of it, as I'm also doing some Shire tactical posts, and will soon be doing some Rohan tactical posts as well before jumping over to Gondor, Angmar, Misty Mountains, and Isengard, so I will likely start with Grey Company and the Shire (since those are done), and then will continue adding to the YouTube side of the blog as we go along. And who knows - I may throw some battle reports in there too every now and then, :)

    Thanks for the input - when the vid goes up, there will be a post on this website, so feel free to stay tuned, and then we can chat a bit either on the blog post or YouTube video on ways to help your GC force. I'll be the first to say that Grey Company can be really hard to run, but I had some good success with them in the recent TMAT Hunters Red October Tournament, and they are by far my favorite civ.