Greetings from all of us at TMAT! The past few weeks have been pretty crazy for us with work and all of that good stuff that pays for our hobbies, but to end our hiatus from the blog, I will be posting every day this week, Monday through Friday, to both summarize the results of The Hunters Red October Tournament, as well as to introduce you all to my plans for November in revisiting the first army I started collecting: Rohan. So for all of the Rohan lovers who have felt a bit passed over in content on this blog, I'm sure you'll enjoy November as I update the tactics and army discussions, talk a bit about the unique bestiary and hero options for Rohan, and hopefully get in a number of battle reports as well. Tiberius is also experimenting with some new Rohan models (which I'm really looking forward to seeing!), so he'll likely also have some content going up as his graduate school classes allow.
I. Introduction to THRO 2013
First of all, for those of you who do not remember, THRO was first begun last year by Tiberius as a means of testing out new rules and getting use army lists that we would not typically use. This was the first tournament where we tested the (at that time new) warband rules for LOTR, and since we enjoyed it so much, I picked it up this past year. This time around, we tested some new scenarios, both ones that we have never used at a tournament before, as well as ones that are spin-offs of scenarios in the sourcebooks (because we believed that the deployment or victory conditions could be improved upon). We also experimented with some new add-ons that have not been used in any LOTR tournament in the world to date via terrain-based bonuses.
For this tournament, we had six competitors: Tiberius, myself, Zorro, Tavros, Captain Glot, and the Duke of Milan, who is a new member of our gaming group, and who I will be more deeply immersing in the game (in exchange for helping him create the first ever LEGO-based tabletop strategy battle game. We will see how this goes). My hopes going into this tournament were that we would be able to refine our understanding of the kinds of scenarios that players enjoy using (primarily for our use in the TMAT Grand Tournament in March), as well as to get a feel for how players react to a random factor generated by the board, as opposed to being generated by an army list or victory condition.
We sported three scenarios at this tournament: Domination, Arkenstone, and Ill Met by Moonlight. Within each of these, we had four weapons caches, randomly dealt to each board, and left face-down until a model came into base contact with it. The weapons caches gave team benefits to round out weaknesses (so, for example, teams that could not normally take shields, like my Grey Company or a Harad army, an opportunity to gain shields on a few of their models), buff strengths of models (equipping a King's Huntsman with a crossbow, anyone?), and retrofit existing weapons (most commonly with the option for ranged weapons to light their arrows for reduced accuracy, but greater damage). With these terrain-based advantages, teams had yet another random factor to play into their strategy.
Our Domination game took place on Tiberius's underground map, with the five statues (provided by your's truly) serving as the five objectives. The map restricted deployment through caverns (the black sections, crossable by bridges), difficult terrain, and a walled-in section that prevents volley fire in or out of that quadrant. Tiberius wanted to bring out his Tomb of Marzabal as well, but because of how much it restricts deployment, we determined it would not work well for this tournament. The four stockpiles were randomly placed with one in each quadrant, and roughly within 3" of the statues (not pictured in the above photo).
For the Arkenstone map, though some may think it would be better on a dwarf map (it is called, "The Arkenstone," after all), I didn't want to place it on the underground map 1) because we did that for the TMAT GT this past March, and I wanted to be original, :P and 2) I thought it would be good to have Domination be on a map that involved terrain restrictions, and to leave a map like Arkenstone (which is a modification of a To the Death scenario) on a more open map. Zorro contributed his desert terrain to this map, including a number of new buildings which I had not seen before the tournament. I really like them, and am looking at buying their Forge scenery piece. They also appear to be extremely well-made, and very modular, which I'm a major fan of. The well in the center of the map serves as the Arkenstone for our mission. I also experimented with different placing for the stockpiles - instead of being placed in the four quadrants, I centered the four stockpiles (which you see off to the side at the top of the photo) 3" from the Arkenstone, forming a "cornucopia" of sorts around the Arkenstone.
3. Ill Met by Moonlight
For Ill Met by Moonlight, we did an Angmar map (because that's seriously the most scary place to find an enemy late at night, right?) with a number of new pieces by Zorro to add some ruins to the normal pieces provided by Tavros (trees and rocks) and Zorro (towers). The result was a board that restricted deployment to accompany the restrictions and bonuses to archery inherent on the map. Tiberius provided the playmat for the setting, and on the whole I am really happy with how this board turned out. Like the Domination Map, opted to place the stockpiles at more or less even points around the center of each quadrant (so nothing too special about those).
"The board is set; the pieces are moving," says the Wizard, and our teams brought six very different skillsets to the table. Most of them were in the LOME format, following our 600 points, 200 points directed toward heroes build, and Tiberius sported a Warbands build. You can see all of the army breakdowns in the comments of the aforementioned THRO post; here we'll be talking about the unique advantages and strengths of the lists everyone fielded.
1. Tiberius's army: Riders in Black
This was the army I really didn't want to fight in the tournament. His army was composed of five models, each as a different warband, meaning that he was able to choose who he matched everyone up against, based on the deployment of his opponent. With the Undying as his army leader, this also meant that you had to burn through (effectively) 19 Fate Points to do a single wound to the already D8 F5 ringrwaith (so, as you can imagine, we didn't see too many people choosing the "your army leader will die" oath against Tiberius). His entire army also sports terror (so charging him can be insanely difficult if you front an army with Courage 3 or less), and all of them reduce the Courage of enemy models by 1 within 12". By far the smallest list ever brought to a tournament, it was a highly formidable list packed with magical attacks/debuffs and two attackers: a 3A S4 Witchking mounted (so 4A on the charge) and Khamul, who can reach up to 3A on the charge when he is mounted (which he was). This is a signature-style list for Tiberius: tons of fun, lots of magic, and some unique strengths.
2. Zorro's army: Reapers of the Westfold
Zorro has never brought his Isengard list to a tournament, primarily because he lends it out to less experienced players for them to use (and when the list is F4 D6 with very straightforward power units, it's an easy civ to pick up for new players). Zorro sported his traditional Vrasku/D7 Captain build, but also added an Uruk Drummer, which Tiberius is also experimenting with. This adds speed to an already hard to kill team at range, coupled with a solid set of berserkers for additional damage and mayhem. With S4 or 5 at range and in melee combat, this team represents the hard-hitting side of Isengard, and when it gets rolling, it's a beautiful thing to behold.
3. Captain Glot's army: Rohan
Glot ran a Grimbold/Erkenbrand/Eomer list, which is a solid build for Rohan (in fact, I don't think you can get a stronger list of named heroes for Rohan in my humble opinion - more on that this month), sporting a mix of F4 riders (who can double as F4 infantry if they get dismounted), S4 infantry (for killing power), and a solid aggro-builder that can hammer home against D4 and D5 lists in Eomer. As the only Forces of Good hero other than Dwalin who can hit S5, Eomer is still my favorite hero, and will be the subject of most of my discussion this month on Rohan. This was the first time Glot has fielded Eomer in a tournament, and he really enjoyed using him. As one of the largest armies in the tournament, Rohan presented a formidable force.
4. Tavros's army: Angmoria
This army always fascinates me. Tavros has a few different builds for his Angmoria list, and this time he decided to forego the "monster mash list" (involving trolls, a Wild Warg Chieftain, Burduhr, and a Dweller in the Dark) in favor of a shaman-heavy, infantry-heavy army that sported Burduhr and the WWC for additional firepower. The list provides solid D5 coverage with adequate spear support, and because of two shamans, does a good job of charging terror units and surviving break tests. He decided not to field Groblog (who raises the 6+ Fury Save to a 5+ Fury Save), which I thought was interesting. On the whole, a very mashy, fun-looking list despite its less heavy reliance on monsters.
5. Duke of Milan's army: Easterlings
I helped the Duke craft his list, and we settled on an Amdur-focused list (I usually like to focus mine on Khamul, but Amdur is more helpful for his style of play and is easier to use), coupled with a Dragon Knight for killing power and a Captain for holding the end of the battle line. He accompanied this with a solid line of Black Dragons backed up by adequate pike support and a handful of archers to cover the flanks. On the whole, a solid "turtle" build for the Easterlings.
6. Glenstorm's army: Grey Company
Last year at THRO I teamed in my Grey Company army with my Rohan army, and I enjoyed that. This year, I decided to go all-in with GC. Using Aragorn, 4 Rangers of the North, and 3 Dunedain, I was spending almost 400 points on heroes. I enjoy doing that with this force - getting the S4 helps a lot against D6 armies, and having the potential for three (yes: three) volley teams is just fun, :) My force by far brought the hailfire when it came to archery (as almost no other civ invested in archery - in fact, I think only the goblins had a volley line other than me), and relied on cheap but not extremely durable heroes (even Aragorn was only D5).
Over the next three days, you'll see how each of these teams did, as well as some pictures from the action as we were able to take them (we didn't have a dedicated picture taker for this tournament, so they'll be much more sporadic than our past posts). I'm actually thinking that, in the future, I may end up sitting out of competing in a tournament so that I can do batreps and summaries of games in the tourney, as I think that would be a ton of fun. But my gaming buddies love it when I play, so we'll see, :) Until tomorrow, you'll find me,
Watching the stars,
"I know that you have learned the names of the planets and their moons in Astronomy...and that you have mapped the stars' progress through the heavens. Centaurs have unraveled the mysteries of these movements over centuries. Our findings teach us that the future may be glimpsed in the sky above us." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix