Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Battle Report: Axes of Erebor v. Angmoria


Hey Reader!

This is Centaur with another battle report!  For the past week I've been out of town with no internet connection, riding horses, roping cows, throwing tomahawks, shooting bows, and all kinds of other things that (apparently) cowboys do at Latigo Ranch, the #1 Dude Ranch in Colorado (and the world, in this blogger's humble opinion).  If you need a getaway and don't mind being in the middle of nowhere in Colorado, you should seriously go sometime.  It's an excellent summer getaway, hosting guests from all over the world.

Earlier this month I promised you all a battle report from my bout with Tavros at a game night we had, and after getting the feedback on the game from Tavros, I'm really excited to write up my first attempt, and we decided to play a 600-pt To the Death scenario.  I decided to try my hand at my first ever Dwarf army build, and Tavros decided to experiment with a new approach to Moria.  While most Moria players rely on trolls and possibly a Wild Warg Chieftain, Tavros wanted to try two new units as crux members of the army: wild wargs, and a Dweller in the Dark.  The lists looked like this:

Glenstorm's Force - Axes of Erebor (LOME, Erebor + Wanderers in the Wild)
-Shieldbearer: 60 pts
-1 Dwarf Warrior w/ banner: 33 pts
-10 Iron Hills Veterans w/ shields: 110 pts
-10 Dwar Warriors w/ dwarf bows: 90 pts
-4 Khazad Guards: 44 pts
-4 Iron Guard: 60 pts
-4 Dwarf Rangers w/ throwing axes: 40 pts
-2 Dwarf Rangers w/ 2Hers: 16 pts

-Murin (Army Leader) and Drar: 150 pts

TOTAL: 603 points, 38 units, 8 Might

Tavros' Force - Angmoria (Moria, LOME)
-Wild Warg Chieftain (Army Leader): 75 pts
-1 Dweller in the Dark: 75 pts
-2 Goblin Shamans: 90 pts
-4 Goblin Prowlers with 2Hes: 32 pts
-18 Goblin Warriors w/ shields: 90 pts
-15 Goblin Warriors w/ spears: 75 pts
-10 Goblin Warriors w/ bows: 50 pts
-6 Wild Wargs: 48 pts
-1 Bat Swarm: 35 pts
-1 Warg Marauder: 35 pts

TOTAL: 605 points, 59 units, 3 Might


I've never played dwarves before, though Kellar and Tiberius have played them, and they really enjoy them (though I think Tiberius would take his Wood Elves over the heavy armor dwarves any day of the week other than Tuesday - because rolling dice on a Tuesday is just a bad idea).  To up the anti, my build does two things that no player so far on this blog has attempted.  First, I have not taken a F6 dwarf hero.  While this may seem like a small thing, consider: all of my units lose ties to the Wild Warg Chieftain, who is not only the enemy army leader, but also knocks down opponents on the charge (which, if Tavros uses his Might points and Priority well, which is a given, he'll do for at least three rounds solid).  With a S6 hero, Tavros will be able to make a mess of my lines, eating my high defense units on 5s (including my heroes), and my less defensible banner and archers on 4s.  Not the strongest build for this list.

What is more, I'm investing a lot of points in my shield wall.  Murin and Drar allow you to upgrade your Dwarf Warriors to Iron Hill Veterans, who are S4 instead of S3.  Against a primarily D5 army, it makes no difference whether your units are S3 or S4.  It makes a difference against shamans and archers, but considering the 33 Greenskins, 8 wargs, bats, and Dweller in the Dark between me and them, I'm not counting on too many fights against D4 that will not involve a lot of opposing dice.  Still, this is a list I've always wanted to try out, and as the inaugural game for my newly painted Murin and Drar, the list suits me.

I'm also testing out Iron Guard in this list (using base painted dwarf warriors for placeholders), as the 2 attacks at S4 and F4 appeal to me.  Add in a 3+ Shoot Value coupled with S3 throwing axes, all from a D6 warrior, they strike me as a good investment for any dwarf army, and remind me of the Hunter Orcs I fielded in the TMAT Grand Tournament this past March.  All dwarf armies invest points in a heavily armored force; the typical problem for dwarves is not being able to convert a lack of casualties into kills per round, and I'm hoping that the Iron Guard will make that conversion happen.

Strategy for Glenstorm: Tavros has me outnumbered 3:2, and with the unpredictability of Fury Saves, it's difficult to tell how many wounds we'll need to deal in order to break his army.  My plan is to quickly rush the Dweller in the Dark and attempt to take him down on a round where he rolls poorly to win the fight.  Since he is only D5 with 4 health, I'll engage him with a few Iron Guard to win the fight and some Khazad Guards to finish him off.  If he wins the fight, though, at F7 S7, he'll wound any of my non-Murin warriors on 4s, so let's not lose, :)  Otherwise I'll form a solid battle line to keep the wargs from my flank, use the archers to take down the bat swarm early, and then hew through the goblins to get to the shamans as quickly as possible.  Once the army breaks, mopping up the remaining wargs and warriors should be manageable.  So, to call the ball: protect the banner, take down the support/power models, and keep a solid battle line that will bottleneck the hoard until we break the army.

Strategy for Tavros: Dwarves are by far the most intimidating civ to me; a battle line of nearly impenetrable, walking tin-cans with sharp things trying to kill me.  Greenskins are not to be underestimated by they don't survive particularly well and they aren't going to do much to these mini iron-men...and I'm not bringing trolls.  I'm not even taking Durburz or Groblog along for if/when I break (I'm just gonna hope the Fury spells from my two shamans will be enough to keep guys around).  I'm always nervous without trolls but I'm hoping the warg pack and Dweller in the Dark will give me enough punch.  My strategy is simple: engage as much of his battle line as possible with the Greenskins and have the wargs and the Dweller hit the flanks.  I have a lot of high mobility units (one 8", eight 10", and one 12"), I'm hoping this will help me make the most of my high strength units while keeping them out of too much trouble.

Scoring

Today's match will be a To the Death scenario, as both of us were testing new builds, and a good ole' fashion scrap is a good way of testing the mettle of a new list, 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 once the game ends
  • 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 by the end of the game

There was another game running right next to ours (between Captain Glot and Zorro), so if you see other models next to ours, don't worry - it's just a graveyard, :)  They were playing a fascinating game where Zorro tested out a monster-based Angmar list against Glot's Rohan, who now sport Eomer, Knight of the Pelennor Fields (which, from one Rohan player to another, is a must for any Rohan list, in my humble opinion) and Erkenbrand, which is pretty amazing.  I won't spoil much about the game, but let me just say right here that it was quite entertaining watching the game go down, :)

We agreed to the terrain, rolled for placement, and the board looked like this as we headed into Turn 1:


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

Turn 1 (P: Goblins)


In the Move Phase, the armies just marched toward each other.  Both of the shamans attempted to cast Fury, and both failed the roll (1/3W for each).  Both volley lines lined up for shots, and nothing of interest happened, so we move to Turn 2.

Turn 2 (P: Erebor)

The armies move up further, with the Dweller in the Dark screening the Moria army, and my forces filling in the gaps around the rocks.  Both of the goblin shamans successfully cast Fury (2/3W for each used).  In the Shoot Phase, Drar's shot landed a wound on one of the goblin shields, and the wound was saved with Fury (1/1 saves).  The Goblin archery lands no wounds, and we move to Turn 3.

Turn 3 (P: Goblins)


As the armies start closing the distance, the goblins formed their battle lines with the wargs in reserve.  The Dweller in the Dark moves in on the strike force on the far side, and the bat swarm placed itself near the bridge, effectively allowing him to strike wherever he chooses on Turn 4.

In the Shoot Phase, the goblins land no wounds (which makes sense with S2 bows hitting on 5+), and with my archery, I pounded into the Bat Swarm (since it will cause me to lose my prized higher Fight Value).  My archers landed 3 wounds on the Bat Swarm (3/4H taken, so not quite finished), and the throwing axes of the Iron Guard on the far left hit the Dweller in the Dark (1/3H) (yeaaah...serves me right for leaving him out in the open).

Turn 4 (P: Erebor)


And as we enter Turn 4, we move into glorious combat!  I took the opportunity to charge the main lines on the left side, and after attempting to wound the Dweller in the Dark with a throwing axe (which didn't work), and I tucked my banner in a safe spot near the center of my force.  Tavros brought as many wargs as possible to bear on me this turn, opting to hold the goblins on the right in reserve.  On the left side, one of the wargs took a climb test to see if he could get over the stone wall, and after rolling a 6, proceeded to charge into my men past my battle line.


In the Shoot Phase, my men do nothing helpful (which is a problem, because we still haven't caused a single casualty to bring Tavros' force closer to his 30-model break point), though the Marauder manages to kill one of my 2H Rangers.  As we enter the Fight Phase, my Shieldbearer must declare a Heroic Combat, so we begin there.


In the Fight Phase, my Shieldbearer loses his Heroic Combat (I know, right?  What shieldbearers lose combats against goblin swordsmen?), but he takes no wounds.  The Dweller in the Dark wins his combat and kills the Khazad Guard and a Dwarf Ranger, leaving the Iron Guard alive.  The warg nearby wins his fight, knocks over the Dwarf Warrior, but fails to wound him.  One of the Dwarf Warriors in the main battle line is killed by the warg in his fight, and the golden Dwarf Warrior on the far side of Murin kills his goblin, but the wound is saved by Fury (2/2 saves).  Murin wins his fight (despite the Fight Value penalty), and wounds the Bat Swarm and the goblin, though the goblin's wound is Fury saved (3/3 saves) (as a reminder, this is on a 6+ save; Groblog is not part of this army.  This was truly incredible; I've never seen anything like this before) (I'm not asking any questions.  I'll take it!).


Near the center, the Iron Guard is killed by the Marauder (ok...having a warg with three attacks on defense is just awesome), and my dwarf ranger on the bridge loses his combat with the goblin, but is not wounded.  One of the Dwarf warriors kills the goblin in his fight, and the wound is not Fury saved (3/4 saves).  As you can see, my force is now vastly outnumbered, and I'm beginning to worry that if I do not get priority next round, we will be completely surrounded.


On the far right, the wargs win two of their fights, resulting in a number of warriors on the ground.  One of the Dwarf Warriors is killed by the gray warg, and the Wild Warg Chieftain next to him kills both the Dwarf Warrior and the Khazad Guard in the adjacent fight.  At the end of the first round of close combat, the kill count stands at:

Kill Count: Dwarves 8/36 (11 from break), Goblins 3/59 (27 from break)

Turn 5 (P: Goblins)


The armies advance, with Tavros taking advantage of the fact that I have a number of dwarves on the ground, who at best can stand up this turn, and will be counted as trapped if they lose the combat.  As you can see, by the end of the Move Phase, the Dweller in the Dark charged toward my main battle line, and the goblins begin to press the attack on the far left.  Most of the wargs have wrapped around my guys, and my archers charged and surrounded one of the wargs.


In the Shoot Phase, nothing of interest happened; the Warg Marauder had two shots, but nothing came of them.  So we quickly moved to the Fight Phase where the Shieldbearer and Drar both called Heroic Combats.  Drar and his loyal company of archers easily overwhelmed the warg, wounded him, and then proceeded to engage some of the goblins and the nearby warg.  A few of them also headed across to support Murin's company.


On the other side, the Shieldbearer won his combat but completely missed the goblin, so his combat came to an end.  The Iron Guard slew one of the wargs, and the Dweller in the Dark was beaten by the dwarves, but they failed to wound him (I seriously need to do something about firepower in this list; I'm just not converting combat wins into wounds here).  One of the Dwarf Rangers with 2H was also killed, as was one of the other wargs.  Murin paid a Might Point to win his combat (1/3M), but failed to wound on both attacks, even after both of them were re-rolled (Yeah...just, yeah...insert the point about firepower, :) ).


Moving further down the line, one of the dwarf archers lost his combat against the two goblins, but was not wounded.  The other dwarves in the battle line fought bravely, and managed to kill one more goblin in the front rank who failed his Fury save (3/5 saves).  As we headed down the line, though, the fighting got brutal.  Two dwarf archers were killed by the Wild Warg Chieftain, and one of the Khazad Guards was torn apart by the blood-scarred wild warg.  The dwarf ranger on the bridge also won his fight, but was unable to wound the swordsman.


The Iron Guard lost his fight, but was not wounded by the goblins.  He'll live to fight another day.  So, at the end of Turn 5, the current kill count looks like this:

Kill Count: Dwarves 12/38 (7 from break), 7/59 (23 from break)

Turn 6 (P: Erebor)

Turn 6 finds my forces in dire straights.  If we're not careful, Tavros will surround select units in my army, kill them off, and break my force with no hope of me breaking his before the end of the game.  This means that if that happens, my only hope for pulling out a draw or win is if Murin survives, my banner survives, and/or the Wild Warg Chieftain dies.  Since I'm not counting on any of my forces on that side of the board being able to kill the chieftain, I'm going to make an effort this round to protect my banner and thin out the ranks in that part of the field.  Once Move Phase ends, the board looks like this:


As you can see, I made a valiant attempt to block out the main body of soldiers, but my banner was engaged nonetheless (move of 8" *shrugs*).  At this point, I'm desperately short on models, and my battle line is way too long to be of any use against this horde.  Most of the wargs are down, and Murin is only two models away from one of the shamans, so my aim this round is to start wading through the goblin ranks in an attempt to get rid of their Fury support, and prevent them from having Stand Fasts for when (well, if/when) I break his army.  In the Shoot Phase, a few goblin archers shot into combats (most notably the one on the bridge), but nothing happened (really just wanted to shoot something) (I'm D5; I don't mind, :) ).


In the Fight Phase, we had two Heroic Combats: one with Murin (2/3M), and one with the Shieldbearer.  The Shieldbearer won his combat and wounded his man, and then moved into Murin's combat.  Murin and the Shieldbearer won their fight, they wounded their man, and Murin moved up, as you can see here (3/7 Fury saves).  Murin then won his fight, wounded his man once, and that was saved by Fury (4/8 saves).  On this side of the field, the Iron Guard took down the last warg on this flank, and one of the dwarves killed a goblin archer.  The Dweller in the Dark dispatched my banner, though, so I won't be gaining any points from the banner this game.


On the other side, the Wild Warg Chieftain tallied up another archer kill (failed to wound one of the archers he knocked over), as Drar added another goblin archer to his count (4/9 saves).  The dwarf archer with him died fending off more goblins, as did the Iron Guard in the far corner.  I also lost a Khazad Guard, a shield, and another archer on the far side.  As you'll notice, we didn't kill very many people this round, and with the death of the Khazad Guard, the kill count comes to...

Kill count: Dwarves 20/38 (broken, 8 from game), Goblins 14/59 (16 from break)

Turn 7 (P: Goblins)


Tavros was really hoping that I would get Priority, and I was desperately hoping that he would.  As it happens, fortune favors the bold, :)  Following his charges into my men, I found I didn't need to do any testing, as my forces were being surrounded across the map.  Nothing of note happened in the archery phase, and we moved into the combats.

Heroic Combats were called by the Shieldbearer (automatic), Murin (3/3M), and Drar (2/3M).  The Shieldbearer loses his combat, and the goblins fail to wound him.  Drar also loses his combat, and the archers fail to wound him as well (what's up with this, guys?  Seriously: they're goblins!), and Murin wins his fight and slays both of the goblins in his combat (4/11 saves).  He then moved up to threaten the safety of the Shaman.


By the end of the Fight Phase, I've lost two more archers to the Wild Warg Chieftain, and one of my shields lost the fight with the Warg Marauder, but he was not wounded.  One of my shields was killed by the goblins, and Murin not only lost his combat against the shaman and a spearman, but was also wounded once, and failed his Fate roll (1/1F, 1/2H).  I...was, just, speechless: he's supposed to mop the floor with D4 lower FV infantry, and...yeah, just, yeah, :)  (I was just as surprised.  Just throwing that in there)


On the other side, an archer loses his fight against the Wild Warg, but he does not take a wound.  One of the other archers was not so lucky, which can also be said of the shield and Iron Guard that also lay dying on the floor near the rock.  The Dwarf ranger on the bridge won his fight yet again, forcing the goblins back to where we started Turn 4 when this combat got started.

Kill Count: Dwarves 26/38 (2 from game), Goblins 17/59 (13 from game)

Turn 8 (P: Goblins)


So, this game is going down fast, :)  The Warg Marauder slung around and helped tag Murin, the Wild Warg Chieftain engaged the Shieldbearer, and the rest of my men were surrounded.  Nothing of note happened in the archery phase, and with only two kills to go, we headed into the Fight Phase.


The Dweller in the Dark won his combat against the golden shield warrior, and decided to use the Monster Rules from The Hobbit to fling the shield into the wall.  In the process, he killed the Dwarf Ranger, the goblin archer, and the shield warrior.  The Iron Guard was knocked over, but won the combat between him and the spearman, causing him to stand up.  Murin falls to the Warg Marauder, and the Shieldbearer was slain by the Wild Warg Chieftain (who dealt 4 wounds at 5s in this combat - it was quite impressive).


On the other side, Drar won his combat and killed the Prowler (4/12 saves), the dwarf on the bridge won his combat again, and failed to wound the goblin (ok, these two guys have been fighting for a long time.  One of them should be dead by now...statistically me, but whatever).  The goblins and the last remaining warg slew their archer, and the other dwarves held on valiantly to the end.  As you can already tell, though, the game was over, and the final tally was pending.

Kill Count: Dwarves 30/38 (game), Goblins 19/59 (11 from break)

For the final score, the game came out as a 5-0 Major Victory sweep for the Greenskins.

Conclusion

Glenstorm's Thoughts: Wow, that fight was brutal.  I've always admired the swarm ability of the goblins, but adding the wargs instead of a troll or two?  Call me crazy, but for the shaman-Wild Warg Chieftain build, it might work better to use the wargs than the trolls.  Especially if you pass one-third of your Fury saves, :)  I'd be interested in seeing more battles with Moria teams so that I can compare the two builds.  The list I faced played well against the heavy armor of the dwarves, using units that, though wounding on 6s, reliably threw enough dice into the mix to deal the wounds he needed in each round.  He managed his assault well, and I cede defeat.  Well fought, friend.

Tavros' Thoughts: There were several points where I think the die were just in my favor, but the high mobility that I fielded definitely had a major impact on this game.  When you've got two armies that move 5", having 10 speedy units (most with some nasty teeth) to play with was just a huge advantage and it worked well in the match...that and passing 1/3 of my Fury saves, :)  I think my overall strategy worked out better than I anticipated: the wargs/dweller managed their flank fairly well and the WWC and his minions wreaked havoc.  I guess leaving the trolls was fine after all.

Stellar Unit for Glenstorm: Definitely the Iron Guard.  The four Iron Guard I fielded in this army didn't pop up in too many of the glamor shots (though, let's face it: most of my team didn't do anything too spectacular in that game), but the amount of fire they attracted was very beneficial in preserving softer elements of the team, and they gave me some much-needed kills at critical points in the game (the warg kills on the far left being the most notable).  I am definitely sold on getting a blister of them now, and am likely going to spend my birthday money on that, so that I can have them painted up for anyone who may want to field them in the Hunters Red October Tournament.  Plus they are dwarves with swords, which I really like, :)

Stellar Unit for Tavros: I really had a hard time with this...and I hate to give the award to a hero, but the WWC was by far the most effective unit in my force.  He killed two dwarves almost every round of combat (that adds up).  Cavalry in general work very well with infantry, and I was able to use them pretty effectively this game.  So I'm going to say the "warg pack" led by the WWC.  They were fast to where I needed them, they landed wounds, and drew attention.  With the low defense, wargs' performance is highly unpredictable because sometimes they just die.  Fortunately they operated well tonight.  Hat-tip to Glenstorm for a good game.

For as bad as my team got hammered in this game, I was actually pleasantly surprised with the list.  As I mentioned, this was a softer build: F6 would have helped a lot against the Wild Warg Chieftain, and my S4 on my front line did not help me in any combats whatsoever.  That being said, I don't think it's a bad build, and I learned some important tactical lessons regarding placement and usage of archers, how thin you can go with a spearless set of heavy infantry, and points to ponder when facing monsters and S4 cav.  Over the next week I'll be working on a few random painting projects to help me in clearing off my desk (while watching White Collar), so expect some posts on random civs that I haven't used yet on this blog, but I look forward to using (and building terrain for) in future posts.  I am also hoping to get in an all-hero game against Tiberius as well as a few other games with my Easterlings and some of my newly crafted Grey Company models.  Until that time, you'll know where to find me,

Watching the stars,

Glenstorm

"Sybil Trelawney may have Seen, I do not know...but she wastes her time, in the main, on the self-flattering nonsense human beings call fortune-telling.  I, however, am here to explain the wisdom of centaurs, which is impersonal and impartial." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Personalizing your collection: Dwarf Army (Nearly) Completed

Readership, I'm not dead. :)
Thanks to Glenstorm for keeping the blog alive the last few weeks - I've been painting a Blood Bowl army on commission for a friend of mine and have finally gotten back to the summer project of finishing terrain pieces for my underground table (in prep for the next tournament) and finishing the details on the Dwarf and Goblin armies. Today, I'd like to give you a glimpse (though not a close look) at some terrain work I've been doing and focus today's discussion on the army of Dwarves that are now (almost) completed. You can see the army here (51 models) and also can see that the walls of the Dwarf Hold have received their grey base coat (more on these pieces in the coming weeks).
The first division is led by Gimli and it sports my Dwarf Warriors with shields, Dwarf Warrior with banner, and Khazad Guards. I play Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) and decided a long time ago that I'd eventually give all of my Dwarves names. After I made my own Thorin's Company in anticipation of the Unexpected Journey movie, I actually put into action the collection of names. In the lore of this army, all of the Dwarves in this army live in Thorin's Halls in Ered Luin, north of the Shire. The Dwarves you see here are trainers of great warriors (champions, guardians, and wardens) or they are craftsmen (weaponsmiths and armorers).
The Dwarf Warriors with Dwarf bows are led by this (kind of washed out) shield-bearer. Though LOTRO doesn't have many archers, there are hunter trainers, bards, and other random characters. In this army, those who don't directly use hand weapons for training are going to be assumed to use bows.
Here is my famous (as in, awarded a prize for best conversion at the last grand tournament and currently the most popular post on this blog) Thorin's Company - 13 Dwarves that can be fielded for 200 points. Though not as powerful as the units in the new Hobbit release (except for my Balin, who costs about twice what the new Balin does), the fact that I can get 13 units for the cost of 2-4 of the other members is enough to convince me. I'm thinking about putting an oakenshield on Thorin's model (somewhere), but I'm not sure I want to do that quite yet. The new model, though, has piqued my interest, though I'd probably go for a closer representation to what is wielded in the movie (vice a device that looks more like a shield).

Finally, I have "The King's Rangers," led by a shield-bearer. These rangers are trained in woodlore as all rangers should be, but their specialty is found in roaming the tunnels of the mountain and ensuring that they are neither seen nor heard as they scout for Goblins and other fell creatures. These models have finally been glossed and were the last large project for my army...at least for the time being.
I'm hoping to get the rest of the terrain pieces done soon and will be dedicating the rest of the month to those terrain projects. August will be almost exclusively Goblin-focused, while September will turn to cover newly-acquired models (birthday money is coming) and my Wood Elves - who are scheduled to be brought to the next Grand Tournament and have been woefully neglected as of late in their hobbying needs.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Battle Report: Host of Rhovanion v. The Might of Rohan


Dear Reader,

Greetings again from the Forge!  My travels have taken me all across the country, and now that I am finally back for the foreseeable future (probably), I'm excited to be getting some games in again.  I've also been painting up a number of Fantasy, 40k, and Blood Bowl miniatures, so the Forge has been very busy, :)

I took some time on Thursday to get together with Donatello for some gaming, as I wanted to test out my new Easterling force that I've been hinting at for quite a while, but haven't shown you all yet on the blog.  When I was first looking at LOTR SBG, I knew that someday I wanted to have a Rohan and Grey Company force.  For my army of Evil, I was immediately torn between an Uruk Scout force and the Easterlings, as both provided things I prized.  I wasn't able to acquire my Easterling army until recently, and now that they are painted and ready for use, fielding them in an army feels like a dream come true in many ways.  We'll see how they work, :)

This battle report will be a To the Death scenario, with the special Arkenstone twist that we tested at the TMAT GT II (because I didn't get to play on that map, and it looked like so much fun, :) ).  For this battle, Don opted to use my Rohan force, as 1) he's never played with Eomer, though he's been on the business end of the Third Marshall on multiple occasions, and 2) he would have the advantage of numbers and ranged firepower in the battle (which Rohan usually never has).  So to set the stage, these were the armies we were using:

The Host of Rhovanion (LOME, Easterlings)
-Khamul on armored horse (Army Leader): 135 pts
-Dragon Knight: 70 pts
-War Priest: 60 pts
-20 Easterling Black Dragons with shields: 200 pts
-10 Easterling Warriors with halberds/shields: 90 pts
-1 Easterling Warrior with banner: 32 pts
-2 Easterling Warriors with bows: 16 pts

TOTAL: 603 pts, 36 units, 6 Might, 2 Casters

The Might of Rohan (LOME, Theoden's Host)
-Eomer, Knight of the Pelennor Fields on armored horse (Army Leader): 130 pts
-Captain of Rohan with heavy armor/shield: 55 pts
-King's Huntsman: 50 pts
-3 Rohan Royal Guards: 30 pts
-3 Rohan Royal Guards with throwing spears: 36 pts
-1 Rohan Warrior with banner: 32 pts
-16 Rohan Warriors with shields: 112 pts
-7 Rohan Outriders: 49 pts
-12 Rohan Warriors with throwing spears/shields: 108 pts

TOTAL: 601 pts, 45 units, 7 Might

This will be an interesting battle, as we are both sporting banners, which means that we can gain Victory Points in our match if either of these models survive.  Usually in the games I play there is only one player who will sport a banner (and he's usually me, by the way), meaning that if the scenario rules add extra points for banners that survive, one team is solely focused on defending the banner, and the other is solely focused on chasing it down.  In this match, we will both be playing offense and defense in defending our banners, while also being careful not to risk our army leaders, as they also give points to the opponent if lost.

This is my first game using my new Easterling force, and as I'll explain in a tactical post soon, this is a slightly softer build that most of the Easterling forces you've seen on this blog.  Instead of relying on multiple killing heroes or a killing hero with supporting captains (the favored choice for Zorro and the Black Prince's major hero being Amdur and/or Shagrat), this list uses casters and a Dragon Knight to provide a wider array of options and functions for your hero core.  It also means that I spend almost 250 points on my heroes alone, making my force a bit smaller than those of my compatriots.  Just comes with the territory, :)

Strategy for Glenstorm: As this is the first time I'm using Easterlings, I'm a bit uncertain of how to play against one of my strongest civs (as I've invested a lot of time, energy, and cash into my Rohan force, and I'm very proud of it).  My plan is to use Khamul as my "fling fighter," and use him to "thread the needle" through the Rohan lines to make a mess of any flanking attacks he wants to call.  I can also use him to disrupt his archer core if he keeps them back.  Other than that, I'll pass on casting Fury with my War Priest, and instead focus on 3 casts of Bladewrath, so that I can make Khamul or the Dragon Knight S6 for the duration of the Fight Phase - optimally, in rounds where they are calling heroic combats.  So, to call the ball: Khamul will harass and distract from the main battle line, the phalanx of infantry will engage the models and setup the heroes, and the Drag Knight will focus on raw firepower and overpowering of infantry.  Honestly, I don't have a good counter for Eomer: he's a powerful hero, and I lack the strength to meet him with any of mine.  We'll play it by ear as far as he's concerned.

Strategy for Donatello: I've never beaten Glenstorm yet, but I think I can pull it off with this army.  I've seen Glenstorm use Eomer as a devastating flanking hero, so I'll pull him around the side, and use him to engage the fringe units before striking at his pike and banner support.  I'll use my Royal Guards as a solid D6 core to hold the main line while my Captain and Eomer move around the flanks to trap the front line.  My aim is to bring him quickly to 50%, engage his heroes, and then force him to courage test in the critical rounds.

Scoring

Today's match will be a straight-up To the Death scenario, with 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 once the game ends
  • 1 Victory Point is awarded if the enemy force is broken at the end of the game.  3 Victory Points are awarded if the enemy force is broken and your force is not broken by the end of the game.
We agreed to play on a more open map, as 1) I'm not too worried about either the Huntsman or his 7 Outriders, and 2) he's definitely not afraid of my two archers, :)  With the board set, we rolled for deployment, Don begins deployment, and the board looks like this as we head into Turn 1:


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

Turn 1 (P: Rohan)


In the Move Phase, both of the armies advanced, and since neither team had a volley line, nothing else happened.  I know: boring, right?  It gets better.  Trust me, :)

Turn 2 (P: Easterlings)


The armies continue to move toward each other, and the Rohan archer core moves up 3" to setup their shot against my main battle company.  Eomer continues his drift toward the far flank as I move Khamul closer to the center of the board.


In the shoot Phase, my two archers fail their rolls (which is expected), and Don responds by taking down two of my swordsmen with his outriders (Hawk-Eye and someone else quite forgettable).  The Huntsman messed up his shot, though, so it could have been worse.  With no melee combats, we move to Turn 3.

Turn 3 (P: Rohan)


The armies continue to advance toward each other, with the Rohan force near the bottom of the screen still in a solid block, and the force at the top of the map now broken into two teams around the bridge, where Eomer has placed himself.  After my movement, Eomer is now just about in charging range, and the throwing spears are almost in range.  My archers line up to shoot into the large body of infantry, and his men continue to size up my center block.  I declared a magic attack with Black Dart against one of the Royal Guards with Khamul using 2 Will (2/12W), but I did so before looking at the casting value: instead of the usual 5+ casting value, Khamul casts Black Dart on a 6!  Naturally, I didn't hit him, and I have since decided that I'll likely forgo casting that spell again in the future, :-/

In the Shoot Phase, nothing of note happened.  The King's Huntsman targeted Khamul (because if I wounded him and he failed his Fate rolls, I'd be in really good shape to in the game at the get-go), but he failed to wound (thankfully, :) ).  Next round we will begin melee combat, so before we begin any of the Fight Phases next turn, a quick note on the kill count so far:

Easterlings: 2/36 (16 to break), Rohan: 0/45 (23 to break)

Turn 4 (P: Rohan)

...And the battle is joined!  Unfortunately, in our desire for blood and glory, I forgot to take a picture of the Move Phase.  You'll see everything in the pictures that follow, though.  Don split the bottom block of infantry into two groups, one peeling off into the ruins of the manor house, and the other preparing to meet Khamul and the War Priest's block of infantry.  The upper blocks of Rohan infantry came around the bridge and formed a defensive line to attempt to block me from accessing the arkenstone (a wise move, as my banner is in that block, and thus keeping me to a 3" banner advantage from the arkenstone will limit where I move in future rounds).  Eomer opted to stay on the bridge instead of moving up (as I want the drop with him on Glenstorm's force, and I don't really need him in combat this turn).

I charge both of my blocks of infantry into Don's battle lines, and the War Priest pays 1 Will to cast Bladewrath on Khamul (on a 2+).  Now, usually I'd be like, "There's no way he'll roll a 1 on Turn 4," and just roll the dice.  This time, I had this really bad feeling of, "I'm going to have to burn my Might point early, aren't I?"  And sure enough, I was right, :)  I got Bladewrath off, using 1/3W and 1/1M, so Khamul will now be Strength 6 for the Fight Phase.


Don had a pretty effective Shoot Phase considering that he was shooting at D6 with his archer core.  His archers take down a halberd (the Huntsman missed again, by the way), and one of the throwing spears wounds the War Priest, who fails his Fate save (1/1F, 1/2H).


Up top, one of the throwing spears takes down one of the halberds as well.  My two archers again do nothing, :)

As we head into the Fight Phase, I called a Heroic Combat with Khamul (because that's what you do when you're S6 for the Fight Phase, :) ).  I paid 1 Will to get +1 attack until the end of the Fight Phase, giving me 3 attacks on the charge.


I won the fight, knocking the two swordsmen to the ground.  I deal three wounds (bringing me back up to 12W), paid 1 Will for being engaged in combat (1/12W), and then slung Khamul into an archer for some wounding on 3s, and the Huntsman to take advantage of a F3 low-defense heroes, :)  Good times, :)  (I'll be honest: I didn't expect that, and should not have moved up that far with my archers.  This...can't end well...)


In the Fight Phase, my Black Dragons fend off the Rohan on the far side of the Manor House, and my battle-stave and halberd support fells two Royal Guards and a warrior with shield.  So far, no casualties for me on the far side (which is good, because my caster is about to get swarmed by the onslaught of Rohan swordsmen).


The Rohan Captain wins his fight against the Black Dragon (2/2M) and wounds him.  One of the other Black Drags takes down one of the swordsmen to return the favor.


And on the far right, the battle is extremely lop-sided: three of the four Rohan warriors fall in the opening round of melee combat, giving me vast supremacy on this side of the board.  It also means that if I get priority next round, I'll be able to handily charge Eomer, taking away his S5 and his bonus attack on the charge in a critical round of melee combat. (Glenstorm's right: I badly need priority in this upcoming round)


Up top, Khamul wins the fight on a 6, knocks them over, wounds the archer twice, but only the 4 wounds the Huntsman, which he Fate Saves with a 5 (1/1F).  These three wounds bring me back up to 12W, and then I paid 1W for being involved in combat (1/12W).  All told, a very effective round of combats for me.

Kill count: Easterlings 5/36 (13 to break), Rohan 10/45 (13 to break)

Turn 5 (P: Rohan) (Yay!!!)


So, I mentioned near the beginning of this post that I didn't really have a plan for Eomer.  That's still true, :)  Don opted to charge Eomer into my fireteam on the far right (top of the picture), which is good because he could have slung him into my Dragon Knight, and that could have ended very poorly.  The rest of his men engage me, surrounding Khamul with his archers, and standing up the Huntsman and moving him away (to avoid any further wounds in close combat with Khamul - he's out of his league).  He also rushes two infantry at my archers, one of whom will gain added protection from the wallpiece.


One of the Rohan spearmen wounds a Black Dragon on the charge with his throwing spear, allowing him to begin wrapping around my main block.


The War Priest gets off Bladewrath on a 6 on Khamul (2/3W), so even though he will not be charging this round, he will be S6 when fighting the archers.  That should help a bit.  No one had any shots in the Shoot Phase, so we move straight to the Fight Phase.


In the Fight Phase, Eomer (1/3M) and the Drag Knight (1/2M) both call Heroic Combats.  The Dragon Knight kills his man, and moves in on one of the two Royal Guards on this side of the board.  Eomer wins his fight on a 6, knocks over all three of his opponents, handily wounds the first and third on a 5 and 6, and then promoted one of the 4s against the second Black Drag to a 5 (2/3M).  He then slung around to the rear of the main body, engaging one of the halberds and my banner (which is really bad news, because he gets to call the order of combats, and my halberd cannot shield now, because the banner does not have the shielding rule...see, I told you I didn't like this guy...).


In the other fights, Khamul paid 1 Will to add +1 attack, won the fight, and wounded two of the archers on 3s (dealing 2 wounds, bringing him back up to 12 Will before losing 1 for the combat - so I'm back to 1/12W used).


On the far left, one of the Rohan Warriors killed one of my archers (big loss, I know), but otherwise I am still boasting a solid battle line on this side.  Don lost a Royal Guard and a Rohan Warrior, but otherwise he is consolidating his strangle hold on my block of infantry.


On the other side, the lone Rohan Warrior fends off the three Easterlings, and Eomer handily defeats the banner and the halberd in one fell swoop (5 kills for the Third Marshall so far, worth over half his point value - I love this guy and hate his guts all at once, :) ).  One of the Rohan Warriors also succeeded in killing a halberd, and one of the Rohan spearmen fell to a Black Dragon.  The lone Royal Guard left on this side of the board is still holding strong, rebuffing the attacks of the Drag Knight.  With that, we prepare for Turn 6.

Kill Count: Easterlings 12/36 (6 from break), Rohan 17/45 (6 from break) (this is a really close game - we were both amazed at how this proceeded each round!)

Turn 6 (P: Easterlings)


Don wasn't excited about the prospect of me overwhelming Eomer, so he opted to call a Heroic Move with Eomer (3/3M).  Eomer and most of the Rohan Warriors with him, as you can see, opted to fling themselves into the battle near the manor house, with Eomer tagging the War Priest (which is a *really* bad match-up for me).  Khamul used 1 Will to cast Black Dart on the Huntsman and failed (2/12W), and then charged him, causing the rest of the archers to surround me when Don's Move Phase came.


To setup the attack on the secondary body of infantry, the "Warden" (Rohan Spearman with a spear on his back, center-left) killed one of the Easterling halberds with his throwing spear on the charge, and then moved in on the other Easterling halberd, keeping me from spear supporting in any of my fights this round.  For Rohan, this is absolutely critical for survival, as they cannot spear support with their army.  With no shooting, we move to the Fight Phase.


I called a Heroic Combat with my Drag Knight, as I was planning on killing the Rohan Captain with the 12 dice I was rolling against him.  We won the fight (yay for higher FV), he was trapped, and we rolled to wound.  A 6 is required, as the Drag Knight is D7 - and as you can see, only 1 of the Easterling Black Drags managed to wound him, :-/  What really bites is that if I had Bladewrath on my Drag Knight this round, we would have had the 3 necessary wounds to end the fight (with his two 5s).  Instead, now I have a Drag Knight with no Might points who is tied down fighting a D7 shielding minor hero who costs less points than him, :-/  If anything good came from this combat, it's that Don failed the Fate save, so he's now used 1/1F and 1/2H.


Sorry for the blur.  Khamul paid 1W (3/12W) to make himself +1 attack, won his combat, and rolled to wound - and only killed 1 guy (because he doesn't have Bladewrath anymore), :-/  Yeah...it's just an off round for me, :)  Khamul regains 1 Will, which he promptly loses because he was engaged in combat.


...But this guy wasn't having a bad round.  Yeah...just, yeah.  Very dead War Priest.  There were a lot of shielding victories this round, though two Rohan Warriors (including the poor Warden) fell to the Easterlings.


On the far side, the poor Rohan Warrior loses the fight, is trapped, and gets royally whacked by the surrounding Black Dragon and halberds (he held the flank for a long time, though) (that he did - and my boys are now so far away from the fighting that they'll spend next turn just moving).


On the far left, my two Easterling Black Drags are still holding firm against the Rohan Royal Guard onslaught (those guys should be dead by now...), and my valiant archer, when ganged on 2-1, not only wins combat, but wounds the guy next to him!  I was so proud of the archer that almost paid for himself after doing nothing beyond tying down a model or two for two turns.  He is the representation of my general philosophy toward archers (which I've mentioned in a past post): when you read "archer," read "swordsman," as that's the more reliable way for them to pay for themselves.

Kill Count: Easterlings 14/36 (4 from break), Rohan 22/45 (1 from break) (lucky dog... ;P ) (that's right... :) ) (If I win priority next round, I think I win: I can charge Eomer, my Drag Knight can finish off the Captain and move on to the Huntsman, and Khamul can engage archers on the ground.  That's the plan.)

Turn 7 (P: Easterlings)


True to my word, I had a chance to catch Eomer flat-footed, and engaged him with my token "Suicide Bob" model, and then began to track down all of the remaining Rohan.  Khamul opted to charge into a few of the infantry (as you can see), primarily because I'm running out of guys on that part of the field.  Seeing as the Huntsman wounds Khamul on 6/4+, I'm not too worried about leaving him for a round.

Turns out I was right: the Huntsman targeted a halberd in the Shoot Phase, missed him (*hangs head* I give up on this guy...), and nothing else of interest happened.  We move to the Fight Phase.


Then the unthinkable happened: the Rohan Captain shielded on a 6, and my Drag Knight and Black Drags only got a 5 high, :-/  As we backed up, I saw a lot of firepower wasted on a critical turn.  Bummer, :-/


Near the manor house, Khamul paid 1 Will to add +1 attack, loses his fight against the shielding warriors (I know, right?  Who does that?!?!?!), and then loses another Will point because he was engaged in combat (5/12W).  That's...so not cool, :-/  Eomer killed Suicide Bob (as you can imagine), and the Rohan Warriors went to town on my men, killing three Easterlings without a single loss (YEAH BUDDY!!!).  I'm still amazed at how effective his boys were this round: he rolled a lot of 6s.


On the far left, one of the Royal Guards falls to the Black Drag (this is not how this part of the battle was supposed to go! :-/ ), and my archer successfully defends again against this Rohan Warrior.  The result of this round is quite interesting:

Kill Count: Easterlings 18/36 (broken), Rohan 23/45 (broken)  (Bet you didn't see that coming at the end of Turn 6! :) )  (Neither did we, :) )

Turn 8 (P: Easterlings)

Glenstorm Strategy: Okay, I need to whittle this force down to 11 guys ASAP.  My plan is to engage the heroes, make a lot of the warriors test, and hope that this allows me to win the game quickly.  Oh - and my guys have to pass their courage tests, :P


As I begin courage testing, I'll give you a slight spoiler alert: the guys that run for the next few rounds are ironic in when and with whom they choose to run.  You'll see soon, :)  Khamul passes (Test: 16), and charges the warrior near the banner as he calls, "Stand Fast!"  The Drag Knight passes (Test: 14), and engages the Cap.  After he calls, "Stand Fast!" all of my warriors are covered except my archer, who runs (Test: 7)  All of Don's heroes were engaged except the Huntsman (I couldn't reach him without flinging Khamul into the middle of nowhere, so I opted to let him stay), and he passed his courage test (Test: 11).  The Huntsman is able to cover everyone except the two swordsmen on the far end of the manor house, one of which runs away (Incidentally, the guy who has been in a 2-1 against an Easterling Black Drag with a Royal Guard, and has been of the safest guys in the game to date.  Go figure...).  With no shots, we go straight to the Fight Phase.

I feel bad that I forgot to take a picture, but as you can imagine, adrenaline was running high at this point, :)  The amazing thing was the number of defensive victories - there were very few casualties this round.  The Cap pulled off his shielding stunt against the Drag Knight again, and other than the poor axeman that was fighting Khamul, Eomer killing his man, and the swordsman on the far side of the manor house, there were no other casualties this round.  So, with only three men dead and two men retreating, we end Turn 8.

Kill Count: Easterlings 20/36 (7 from game), Rohan 26/45 (8 from game)

Turn 9 (P: Rohan)


We called this round, "The Round When Everyone Ran Away," as there were no less than five models that ran from combat.  And not just any models: the Captain of Rohan failed his test on a 4 (Test: 8), though Eomer passed his (Test: 11), as did the Huntsman (Test: 14).  He engaged Khamul and swarmed a number of my infantry.  This didn't stop the Drag Knight from failing his courage test on snake eyes (Yeah...who does that, too?!!?!?!), as do three other Easterlings.  This creates a problem, though, even deeper than the fact that the men that I badly needed to peel off multiple attackers are gone - I'm also three models away from losing the game.  I need a ton of kills this round in order to pull this battle out.  Nothing happens in the Shoot Phase, so we go directly to the fighting.


...And we see a lot of carnage!  Khamul paid 1 Will for +1 attack (down to 6/12W), wins his fight, and manages to kill the Royal Guard, gaining 1 Will which he promptly loses.  My Black Dragons pulled off a lot of defensive victories around Khamul, but Eomer more than made a mess of things by killing two of my Black Drags in his combat.  This puts me at 1 model away from 25%, and Don is 6 models away from 25% with a much better spread of units on the board.

It was at this point that we realized that the entire match came down to one critical move next turn: whether or not I can kill his banner without losing Khamul.  If I don't kill his banner, the points will look like this:

  • 1 VP each for breaking the other army
  • 0 VP for killing the enemy army leader
  • 2 VP to Don for having a banner at the end of the game

This means that if I don't kill the banner and Khamul survives, I gain a 3-1 Major Loss.  If I kill the banner and Khamul dies, I still lose 3-1.  If I don't kill the banner and he manages to kill Khamul, it will end as a 5-1 Major Loss, and if I can keep Khamul alive and kill the banner, I can pull out a 1-1 Draw.  Everything rested on priority for Turn 10...

Kill Count: Easterlings 26/36 (1 from game), Rohan 28/45 (6 from game)

Turn 10 (P: Easterlings!)

Okay - do you remember how I told you courage tests were ironic?  Well, if you didn't find the Drag Knight and Captain walking off together ironic enough...


...Count up the guys at the top that failed courage tests: there's one Easterling (which means the game will end at the end of this round), and 5 Rohan Warriors (which means that if Glenstorm kills my banner, I will also be brought to 25%...wow...) (yeah...just, wow...).  We quickly realized that only Khamul's charge mattered, though we did all of them.  We started with Khamul's, though, as it held the fate of the game in its hands.


And in typical style, Khamul pays 1 Will to add +1 attack, wins the fight, knocks over his opponents, and puts his wounds into the banner, which is successfully wounded with no other model in base contact to take the banner.  The Black Dragons also kill one of the Rohan warriors, and would you believe it?  Eomer wins his fight but fails to wound the Easterling.  Two of the Black Drags fall to the Huntsman and a warrior as well as another pair of warriors.  So, in the final math:

Kill Count: Easterlings 29/36 (under 25%), Rohan 35/45 (under 25%)

For the final scoring, the game comes out as a 1-1 Draw.  Considering how evenly matched the teams were, it doesn't surprise me that the scoring reflects that, :)

Conclusion

Glenstorm's Thoughts: Wow, wasn't that game bizarre?  I don't think I've ever played a crazier game in my life, except maybe the Christmas Special Don and I did together about six months ago.  This was one for the books, and an amazingly intense game for my first run at the Easterlings.  On the whole, I love the list: it's got a lot of options (though definitely not as strong on magic as some of the other nazgul-based lists).  I really like how Khamul offers a killing hero, with the possibility of gaining attacks, FV, and Strength if you need it.  He's also the only ringwraith, I believe, that can get to S7 if you Bladewrath him, which I'll need to experiment with in future games.  On the whole, I'm really looking forward to using this list more!

Donatello's Thoughts: One of these days, I'm going to beat Glenstorm, :)  I really enjoyed getting to use his Rohan force, though, as I've faced it a few times, and Eomer is a really fun hero to use.  Being able to charge with 4 attacks at S5 and F5 is amazing, and his versatility and movement make him exceptional for fighting armies that cannot clock the model count of Rohan.  I'll likely try my hand at them again.

Stellar Unit for Glenstorm: Okay, you've got to give it to the Black Dragons.  These guys pack F4 D6 and C4, which is elite infantry status for only 10 points.  The Black Prince and Zorro like a slightly larger contingent of halberds (primarily because they are pike-supporting a lot of melee heroes, whereas I only pike support my Drag Knight), but I'm really glad I went with a 2-1 mix of Black Dragons and halberds.

Stellar Unit for Donatello: Eomer hands down.  I know that we try not to give these awards to heroes, but honestly all of my other units were inconsistent at best.  The Royal Guards held the line for a turn or two, but they died quickly to the Black Dragons.  My archers were complete duds (which I expected, as I was faced a D6 army), and my other warriors were very unstable.  The only steady force on the field was Eomer, so he earns this award.

I had a chance to play with Tavros on Saturday night, so I'm hoping to get that report up in the next few days.  I wanted to test out a few of my new dwarf models, so I'll be using an Erebor + Wanderers in the Wild LOME list in that battle against one of his new builds for Moria.  Check back on this space for more on that fight!

Until we meet again, you'll know where to find me,

Watching the stars,

Glenstorm

"Trivial hurts, tiny human accidents," said Firenze, as his hooves thudded over the mossy floor.  "These are no more significant than the scurrying of ants to the wide universe, and are unaffected by planetary movements." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix