Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Battle Report: Men of Dunharrow, Quest 1: The Black Dragon Battalion

Hey Reader!

This is Centaur with another battle report!  Thursday night I sent a call out to my gaming buddies, and Donatello had some free time to play, so we met up to play the first Dunharrow game on this blog.  As a quick reminder from the challenge I sent out to the blogosophere, these games will involve armies of up to 402 points, built either in the Warbands scheme under the new sourcebooks or under the LOME format with at least 175 pts dedicated toward heroes.  All possible game styles are available for play, so this should be interesting!  Donatello decided to pick up my Easterling force (which he recently used and enjoyed using), and the armies looked like this:

The Men of Dunharrow (Rohan, Warbands)
Warband 1
-Eomer, Knight of the Pelennor Fields w/ armored horse (Army Leader): 130 pts
-5 Rohan Royal Guards: 50 pts
-1 Rider of Rohan: 13 pts
-1 Rider of Rohan w/ throwing spears: 15 pts
-2 Warriors of Rohan w/ shields/throwing spears: 18 pts
-2 Warriors of Rohan w/ shields: 14 pts

Warband 2
-Captain of Rohan w/ hvy armor/shield: 55 pts
-1 Rohan Royal Guard: 10 pts
-3 Rohan Royal Guards w/ throwing spears: 36 pts
-1 Warrior of Rohan w/ banner: 31 pts
-1 Rohan Outrider ("Hawk Eye"): 7 pts
-3 Warriors of Rohan w/ shields: 21 pts

TOTAL: 22 units, 400 pts, 5 Might

The Black Dragon Battalion (Easterlings, LOME)
Detachment 1
-Dragon Knight (Army Leader): 70 pts
-Easterling War Priest: 60 pts
-6 Black Dragons w/ shields: 60 pts
-6 Easterling Warriors w/ shields/pikes: 54 pts

Detachment 2
-Easterling Captain w/ shield: 50 pts
-7 Black Dragons w/ shields: 70 pts
-4 Easterling Warriors w/ shields/pikes: 36 pts

TOTAL: 26 units, 400 pts, 5* Might, 1 caster

This will be an interesting game, as neither team has invested much in archery, and neither has offensive magic (well, I guess it depends on how you count Bladewrath), meaning that both teams will be gaining their kill count through close combat melee.  Personally, that's how I like to do it (even with Grey Company), so I'm all-in for that.

Strategy for Glenstorm: Honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing.  I'm going to attempt to keep Eomer away from the Drag Knight, as he can sport 5 attacks (five attacks for a 70-pt hero, if you pike support him!!!  Such a boss!!!), ties me on Fight Value, and can avoid being knocked down, which means he's not easy to kill with a horseman.  My plan is to flank and pound into the pike support with my horsemen, and if I can find a way to isolate a minor hero or two without being charged by the Drag Knight, combat res should break his force and end the game.  So, to call the ball: bunker with the RoCap and a solid detachment of warriors around the banner to draw him in, flank with the horsemen and the wing infantry with Eomer, and then surround and break his force, preferably while keeping my banner and core alive.

Strategy for Donatello: I built this list for straight-up melee damage.  Bladewrath on the Drag Knight should allow him to chomp straight through Rohan (as he's wounding standing infantry and Rohan Royal Guards on 4s, Eomer and the Rohan Captain on 5s, and Hawk Eye and the banner on 3s (YES!!!).  Because Rohan does not have spear support, if I can keep pikes supporting my F4 front line, I'll beat a number of his men in combat based off of Fight Value, and I'll force the RRGs to shield in order to keep up against my Black Drags.  After the first few casualties, it should make overwhelming the rest of the warband easier.


We're playing a straight-up To the Death game (which I'm down with, as this is my first game using this list, and it will be glorious to test the list without having to think about victory conditions.  As a quick reminder, scoring works as follows:
  • 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 this game, we opted for an urban map, as Don wasn't running a deep phalanx, so he wouldn't suffer much in mobility if I structured the map with spear support in mind.  I placed the terrain, we both agreed to the setup, and as we prepared to roll for placement, the board looked like this:

We rolled off for deployment and I deployed first.  Usually this isn't a major problem, but I quickly discovered after placing my first warband that in smaller games placing second is extremely helpful, as it gives you the "reactionary" deployment to place your units against the units you'd prefer to fight.  As it happened, he placed his Drag Knight detachment across from my RoCap (so I was good with that), and his bunker detachment (Shield Captain with a high count of Black Drags and a few pikes) against Eomer's troop, which I was also okay with.  But this is good to remember for future games.

Both of his detachments deployed in the back 6", and both of mine were eligible to deploy in the full 12" zone, so I pulled most of my force pretty far up (and started Hawk Eye up top near an easy perch).  As we prepared for the Priority Roll for Turn 1, the board looked like this:

And with that... (for death and glory!)

Turn 1 (P: Rohan)

The armies move up, nothing too interesting here.  I rushed my riders up so that they were out of sight of the bunker detachment, but would be able to charge when they come out.  Don didn't like that (not one bit - really low for Turn 1, Centaur), and for the first few minutes as we wrapped up deployment I felt extremely exposed, primarily because it's been a long time since I've fought an army that didn't have a strong range threat (either from magic or archery), and to face an army that had no range options at all was just bizarre.  I'll need to think through how to get my horsemen up fast in future games when the enemy uses archery.

In the Shoot Phase, my Rider of Rohan threw his spear and missed (eh, was worth a try), and as the riders had moved their full distance, that ended firing on the far right.

On the left, Hawk Eye landed a hit on an Easterling Pike (with the Black Dragon in the way), passed the in the way roll, and wounded him on a 6 (Good way to start the game, buddy!).  With no combats this round, we moved to Turn 2.

Turn 2 (P: Easterlings)

Don moved up his bunker force, and because he could only charge my cav with a single Black Drag, he formed his men up around the well so as to minimize my charge (well played; well played) (eh, it's okay: there are ways around it...).  He used the pillars to screen most of his Drag Knight force pikemen, and hid his War Priest from fire (which is a pity, as I wanted to knock his Fate point out before getting to close combat).  I responded by charging with horsemen as possible (throwing weapon failed), and formed up a battle line near the well and along the wall to meet the enemy detachments.

In the Shoot Phase, one of the Warriors of Rohan wounded a Black Dragon with his throwing weapon; other than that, nothing happened.  As we headed into the Fight Phase, both Eomer and the Easterling Captain called Heroic Combats.  Don's plan in calling the Heroic Combat was 1) killing the Rider of Rohan (which he probably would have succeeded at rolling 4A with the higher FV), and 2) it gave him a chance to gang and kill off the other rider, freeing up warriors to fight against Eomer next turn.  After rolling off, Eomer's combat was resolved first, followed by the Easterling Captain (oh well; we tried, :) ).

To start the Fight Phase, Eomer won his combat, easily wounded the pikeman on 5s, and engaged the Easterling Captain.  That fight resolved next...

The Captain lost (not surprisingly), was knocked over, and on 8 dice wounding on 5s and 4 dice wounding on 6s, Eomer only landed one wound (very surprising).  Eomer paid another Might point (2/3M) to promote another 4 to a 5, creating two wounds.  The Easterling Captain passed his Fate save by expending his final Might point (1/1F, 2/2M).  The other Rider of Rohan was fended off by the Black Dragon, so we head into Turn 3.

Turn 3 (P: Rohan) (NOOOO!!!)

Don's Strategy: So, that was actually really damaging: I don't have Might points on that side of the board, which means 1) I can't stop the horsemen from charging this turn, but also 2) my Cap is basically forfeit at this point.  Glenstorm can send Eomer off, and just engage me with infantry to beat down and kill on 6s.  I need to get my Drag Knight and co. into melee combat and break his other force really soon, or my phalanx will get rolled, because this flank won't hold for long.

Don was right - and it got worse.  Much worse.  Like a good Rohan player, I charged with my throwing weapons first, and two of my warriors took out a Black Dragon and a pike on the charge.

The main body of Easterlings moved up to engage the wall, and Don just braced his force on the far side.  The War Priest cast Bladewrath on the Black Dragon in the center on a 3 (1/3W), so he will be hitting my guys with S6 on 3A (yay for pikes against Rohan).  This also means he will be wounding my RRG and my Warrior of Rohan on 4s, which is pretty awesome.

In the Shoot Phase, my five throwing weapons in the RoCap detachment opened fire, only one hit, and he didn't wound (what do I pay you guys for?!!?!).  Hawk Eye took aim at the secondary pikeman in the center combat (with the front pikeman in the way), and...

He landed the hit, failed the "in the way" (so hitting the first pikeman), and wounded on a 6 (yeah, baby!).  In retrospect, this was actually really damaging for Don, because it basically ensured that I would hold the center (since even with 1 attack at S6, he couldn't kill both of my men this turn, which means that the phalanx and the bunker detachment will not be able to help each other anytime soon.  With almost half of the army wrapped up in this force, his army would likely be broken around the time that his other detachment engages my men in the center.

In the Fight Phase, the pike-supported Black Dragon successfully beat the Rider of Rohan and Warrior of Rohan on Fight Value, and then wounded both the rider and the warrior.  The two RRGs beat the shielding Captain, and they get the roll of 6 required to finish him off.  The pikeman wins against the Warden on a roll off and fails to wound, and the two Black Dragons in the ruins win against the RRG but fail to wound him.

On the far left, the Bladewrathed Black Drag wins the fight (and down on dice, too!), and rolls to wound...

...Yeah, that didn't work... (humpf, :-/ )

To finish off the Fight Phase, the other Black Drag near him wins and successfully wounds the Warrior of Rohan on a 5.  With that, we enter Turn 4.

Casualty Count: Rohan 3/22 (8 from break), Easterlings 8/26 (5 from break)

Turn 4 (P: Rohan)

At the beginning of the Move Phase, the now unhorsemaned palomino (hey: if a rider off his horse is called "unhorsed," a horse who lost his rider would be "unhorsemaned," right? :) ) failed his courage test, so he runs off the board.  The rest of my Rohan forces begin to overwhelm the bunker, and the middle men held down the remaining men at the center.

I brought the battle line at the wall into more of a crescent for a pinch effect against his phalanx.  Don slammed his men into the defenders, with the War Priest casting Bladewrath on the Drag Knight.  Don then did something I didn't expect - he was able to climb up and prepared to charge Hawk Eye.  This...isn't good, because he's up on FV and will only be wounded on 6s while wounding me on 5s.  Not a good match up.  In the Shoot Phase, Hawk Eye missed the Black Dragon (not good...), and the three unengaged RRGs threw their spears and all missed (*Exasperated* "Guys - what do I pay you for?!?!").  And with that, we begin the Fight Phase.

The Dragon Knight called a Heroic Combat against the RRG, handily won the combat, easily wounded him on 4s, and then did something I didn't think he could do: he saw and was in range to charge my banner.  I was totally not thinking he would be able to get through and tag him, and I was kicking myself for not defending him better (as there goes my easy way to hit Major Victory) (5" of movement on him - you left him in range, and I'm wounding him on 3s, :) ).

In the rest of the Fight Phase, Eomer wins his fight on 4 6s (wow, that guy's really hitting them hard), and wounds both.  The Black Dragon shields successfully against the two RRGs, and the Warden loses to the Black Drag who fails to wound.  The pikeman loses to the RRG but is not wounded, and the other poor pikeman loses to the Rider of Rohan and the RRG, is knocked over, and is summarily wounded by both the guard and rider.  Next door the Black Drag loses to the Warrior of Rohan and the RRG, but escapes with no wounds.

At the wall, two Black Drags win their fights, pass the "in the way" roll for the wall, and kill the defenders, taking their places on the other side of the wall.  Another Black Drag also won, but failed to wound the Warrior of Rohan, so he held his ground on his side of the wall.

The bannerman beat the Drag Knight (wow...just wow...) (totally did not see that happening!), but the bannerman failed to wound him.

Casualty count: Rohan 6/22 (5 from break), Easterlings 11/26 (2 from break)

Turn 5 (P: Easterlings)

Per the fact that this is a To the Death match, we were both in very good position to break each other this round, so movements became important.  The Easterlings slammed into the wall detachment, with the War Priest successfully casting Bladewrath on the Dragon Knight (3/3W) (I seriously considered casting Fury to keep my army from running away if I'm broken this round, but I thought, "Eh, I need to kill things to break his force, and the Drag Knight is the only reliable way to do that at this point," so I went ahead and cast it).  The Black Dragon up top charged the Rider of Rohan (so that he would not charge this turn), and Rohan charged with what remained.  There was no shooting this round, so we moved directly into combat.

In the Fight Phase, both Eomer (3/3M) and the Dragon Knight (2/2M) called Heroic Combats, with the Dragon Knight's fight resolved first.  The Drag Knight wins against the bannerman, easily finishes him off, and then engaged the RRG near the end of the battle line (my thinking here is that I wound D6 and D5 infantry on the same roll, 4s, so I'd prefer to take out the RRG who will automatically pass courage tests now rather than later, in the hopes of splintering his army.  Since I'd be up on FV anyway, there's no reason not to go after the big guys right now if we can take them out) (very fair assessment; I'd likely have done the same thing).  Eomer and co. face off against the pikeman, and...

...We choke, :P (My first lucky break all game!  YEAH!!!)  The pikeman shields us off, and I just lost my last Might point with my heavy hitter.  Oh well, :)

The Rider of Rohan wins against the charging Black Dragon but fails to wound him, and the 3 RRGs handily beat and finished off the trapped Black Dragon.

On the other side, the War Priest pays 1 Might (1/1M) to win against the trapped Warrior of Rohan, and they finish him off (this flank is falling apart now...).  The two Black Dragons are shielded off by the RRG (wow - totally thought I'd have that fight...), and the Drag Knight (not surprisingly) finishes off the RRG with ease.  The pikeman shields off the RRG, and Hawk Eye fends off the Black Dragon but fails to wound him (YAY!!!  He survived!!! :) ).

To finish off the Fight Phase, the RoCap faced off against the Black Dragon with two supporting pikemen, paid 2 Might to win the fight (2/2M) (I usually don't do this, but I was like, "You know: we need to break this army now, so if I can kill him this round, it may be worth it," so I went out of my comfort zone and burned all of my Might here), and got the required 5+, breaking the Easterling force.  With that, we head into Turn 6.

Casualty count: Rohan 9/22 (2 from break), 13/26 (broken, 6 from game)

Turn 6 (P: Rohan)

I led off by charging his heroes, and when charging the War Priest with my RRG w/ throwing spear, my man successfully dealt a wound to the War Priest, who then subsequently failed his Fate save on a 1 (1/1F, 1/2H).  I then opted to let most of his army courage test, in the hopes that his C3 and C4 warriors would run.  This was a risk for me, as it meant he could also pick two models to overwhelm to break my force, but with the odds being what they are, I was open to the chance.  I did opt, though, to move Hawk Eye as far away from the Black Drag as possible, as he was now out of reach of being engaged this match (and is the easiest guy in my force to kill at present).  Don started testing, and only two pikemen failed (4 from game).  The rest of his men jumped into combat, aiming for the two kills necessary to break my army: one involving the Drag Knight, one involving Black Drags and the War Priest.  With nothing in the Shoot Phase, we headed into the Fight Phase, with me hoping to kill 4 Easterlings, and Don hoping to kill of 2+ Rohan.

Up top, the pikeman and the Black Drag put up a good fight, but both of them were overwhelmed, trapped, and slain (2 from game).  In the center, the Warrior of Rohan and the RRG beat, trap, and finally kill of the Black Drag they've been fighting for three turns, and the shielding pikeman successfully fended off the RRG, requiring me to kill off one of the warriors in the fight against the phalanx.

The RoCap won his fight against the Black Dragon and slew him, signalling the end of the game at the end of the Fight Phase.  Don had two fights left, involving the Drag Knight and the War Priest.  The Drag Knight easily finished off the RRG, and as we entered into the fight with the War Priest, I decided to take the chance and just fight it out instead of shielding (shocker, I know: this is way out of character for me), as I was likely going to die anyway, and so I might as well go for a chance to kill the War Priest instead of dying from an unsuccessful shielding attempt.  And then, wouldn't you know...

He won combat!  He failed to wound the War Priest (which was fine), but he survived the bout, resulting in my force not being broken at the end of the game.  Final count:

Casualty count: Rohan 10/22 (1 from break), Easterlings 19/26 (game)


Assessment by Glenstorm: Wow, that was close - had Hawk Eye lost his fight and been wounded, the game would have been a draw.  And had a host of other things happened or not happened, the game would have also ended as a draw or worse for me.  I love fast-paced, close games where we're not sure who will win up until the very end, and I'm so grateful that I had the chance to square up against a solid Easterling force.  I will likely begin to regret my lack of archer support very soon, but in this game it seemed to work better having a solid amount of melee defense.  I only landed 3 wounds (2 kills) with throwing weapons, which I generally don't put too much stock in anyway, but I think it will be nice to have that option as an 8" ranged threat in future games. We'll see what the next game holds.

Assessment by Donatello: Wow - I really thought I'd be able to crush that wall warband and fend off the horsemen through pike support in a restricted area.  I knew it would be close trying to fend off Eomer with a small detachment of men, but I didn't think it would be that tough.  There were a number of lucky rolls that swung the tide of war toward Rohan, but I'd definitely be up for a grudge match in the future.  I was comfortable with this force, and would love to see it back in action again!

Stellar Unit for Glenstorm: Hawk Eye.  Enough said.  The man killed about 30 pts worth of units, or about four times his point cost, and at critical times that likely saved the lives of my men in combat.  I love this archer, as he's been consistent for me in various games, and I'm pleased that he came out from the shadows again to help me bring in a win.  Thank you for your steadfastness, Hawk Eye!

Stellar Unit for Donatello: Dragon Knight.  I know, we try not to highlight heroes, but this guy racked up the most kills, consistently brought in the kills for me when no one else was wounding, and presented a credible threat to a bunkered force.  I respect that as a general.  I'm trying to get Glenstorm to buy an Amdur so that his Easterlings can field a F6 hero with Dragon Knight-style special rules, but will also count as a banner (saving his team a few points), but we'll see.  Glenstorm is really set on that War Priest (and I can understand why), so we'll see if he actually does it (True assessment, :) ).

This weekend, after the Thanksgiving holiday, I am planning on getting together with Tiberius for Quest 2, which will likely be a Lords of Battle match on a Wold map against an Isengard detachment, so stay tuned for more action next week with the Men of Dunharrow!  Until then, may your Thanksgiving be blessed, and may we always remember, as Josh Groban reminds us, that "even though this world needs so much more / There's so much to be thankful for."

Watching the stars,


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


  1. good game chaps. although I noted that the Dragon Knight could have killed the banner in turn 4 - seeing as the banner is at a -1 to his rolls, he was a might point away from winning that battle. Granted, if the rohirrim had banner rolled it for a 5+ you'd still be at a loss. But a 2/3 chance to deprive the opponent of 2 VPs? usually that is a gamble worth taking...

    oh, and Glenstorm, if you do end up picking up an Amdur, I'd gladly buy the mounted portion off you.

    1. Duly noted - I'd be more than happy to sell you the mount (as I like having the shielding option available). I'll keep you in the loop. :)

  2. Nice game - looking forward to playing against your Dunharrow fighters this weekend. I feel compelled to say this much about throwing spears: they're great! Not only are they great because they have more range than most infantry can move, but throwing weapons generally pay for themselves (you paid 12 points and killed 2 units and wounded a hero). It also adds an element of surprise to any army and supplements the lack of spear support.

    1. Yeah, I like having them in my force - I've seen some armies online where people buy all of their warriors throwing spears, and I think that's overkill; I don't think they're that effective, and would likely lose points for you in the long run. But, as an augment to your force, they're nice to have. Oh - and it helps to give structure to your charging order, :)

  3. A highly entertaining battle report, as always!