Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Operation Tuckborough Update

Hey Reader!

Wow, it's been a busy last couple weeks!  The Forge has been extremely busy rolling out projects, and I hope to have a few posts up on those in April.  In preparation for the upcoming TMAT GT, I've been working on a number of terrain pieces for a Shire map to round out Operation Tuckborough.  I wanted to quickly post on the new pieces and the overall board as we head into the GT this weekend (Woot! Woot!).

1.  Barrels and Crates

I ordered a set of crates and barrels from Slave to Painting, which has a number of terrain pieces for various games across eras in addition to miniature models.  Reasonable prices, good quality resin on the pieces I purchased, so I also recommend them.  I first discovered them when directed by a friend of mine to Scott's Wargaming Blog; Scott is a follower on this site, and if you haven't seen his stuff yet, you really should.  He's an LOTR gamer who also does a few other 28mm games, and his paint jobs are fantastic.  So you should check his site out.

As you can see, the larger barrels and crates provide an easy in-the-way for a standard model (here's one of my elves again, harkening back to a previous post about my Shire list; these two guys are going to be converted into spectres soon, which is why I haven't finished them yet), while also having low stacks that don't obscure the torso (so there's some strategy to how you place your units behind cover).  Conversely, you can also see...

That hobbits and other shorter models (like Murin here) have the exact opposite problem: all of the crates and barrels provide cover that obscures the torso, but the larger pieces also obscure the eyes of the model, preventing an archer standing where Murin is from firing in that arc.  So something a good commander will have to think about is how to place your men to optimize both their protection and firepower.  I really like these pieces (primarily because of their modular nature), and am also glad that they transcend genres (and can also be used for Fantasy, 40k to some extent, and my rapidly growing Infinity collection).

2.  Marketplace Supplies

About two weeks ago I got the last few pieces for my board from Tabletop World, which is a company located in Europe (Croatia, I believe, as the letter that came with everything was in Serbo-Croat using Latin letters, so it's not Serbian.  They use the Euro, by the way, so cash conversion can be in your favor depending on which country you're from) with a limited line of Fantasy terrain products.  They have great customer service, though (which makes up for the limited line of terrain), are very prompt, and have a good amount of detail on the resin pieces they provide, so I highly recommend them.

The courtyard is about 8" x 10" (more like 7.5" x 10"), and provides a variety of texture, height, and size for the cobblestones (which is why I like it so much).  I've been wanting something for the base of my marketplace for quite a while, and this piece works perfectly.  I like it so much I've actually considered getting a second one to extend the base area, but we'll see (dunno if I want to spend about 20 Euro + shipping to get it if I'm not also ordering another piece).

The supplies set is also really sweet, which is pictured here.  There's a larger, in-depth groceries set that they sell (complete with cabbages, corn, more sacks, more crates, more barrels - the works), but the supplies set was 10 Euro instead of 22, and it covered everything I wanted it to cover (though I may end up getting the other set in the future, as it would help to flesh out a marketplace really well, though I'm leaning away from it).  The set comes with a cart, 3 crates, 2 sacks (one attached to one of the crates), a bucket (not pictured here, though it's sitting next to the statue in the marketplace photos below; it's also perfect for that well I've had for a while), 2 bags of produce, 2 parcels, and 3 barrels, one standard for what you'll find in a terrain set, one open holding some sort of grain, and another open and empty with scoring for the boards of the barrel on the interior (excellent high-detail resin mold for that, by the way - I was very pleased with it).

One of the things I like most about this set is that it moves the marketplace from a storage yard (with just crates and barrels) into an actual place of commerce, complete with produce and other niche items, so hopefully it will set a different atmosphere for the courtyard.

So, taken together, here's the new map layout:

This is the map without the old cardboard courtyard structure; I'm shying away from using it in the tournament, as it may unfairly block archery and magic, and with the cobblestone courtyard piece I'm not at a loss for setting the marketplace apart from everything else.  It sounds like we may be using the Shire map in the tourney, and I'm excited!  As I'm running my Shire army in the tournament (The Waistcoat Brigade gonna rock it, :D ), I'm looking forward to defending hearth and home in the tournament as a thematic army.

A few more quick pics on the map to highlight it a bit more:

The statue in the courtyard can be replaced with a well; depending on what this map is used for, though, we can change the center focal piece.  You'll also notice the barrels, crates, sacks, etc. form natural protective cover as people approach the center.  Plus it makes it look more lived in and homey, :)

One portion of the map is more of the "residential" quarter, with two smials angled off of the marketplace.  It is anchored off of the fences that form the road from the Brandywine Bridge, and also offers a bit of archery protection for people shooting into the marketplace.  To the right of the smials I have some of my Arnorian ruins pieces, and I'm also thinking about adding some of my other Osgiliath Ruins pieces to give it a bit more spice.

On the far corner we have the Dunedain camp.  With four tents and a few well-placed cots and barrels, we have a bit of cover for people near the camp, and can also serve as an easy objective (via the campfire) should a Shire board be used for Domination.  It's very similar to the camp setup from the Shire game from September, though a bit different in arrangement.  On the whole, I'm really excited about the map: it offers the openness that you'd expect from a Shire town (you know: not blocking or obscuring the landscape and view like those towns of men), but still gives some good protection to people and necessitates the need for tactics when preparing to engage the enemy.

Over the next few days I hope to get in a pitched battle with the Shirelings (as I've only done one game with them so far against the White Council and a quick game against Tiberius' dwarf army for the tournament), and after the tournament I will be posting on some of the final touches to my Misty Mountains army from the Hobbit collection, my "Halloween" Angmar army, and the first rendition of a comp system (modeled after the Swedish Comp System for Fantasy) for LOTR, so stay tuned!

Watching the stars,


"Lie back on the floor," said Firenze in a calm voice, "and observe the heavens.  Here is written, for those who can see, the fortune of our races." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Monday, March 3, 2014

Terrain Project: Weathertop

With most of my prep for the upcoming GT already done, today's post is going to be a project that I hope to have done before this summer - Weathertop. Our dedicated readership will recall that at the last Hunter's Red October tournament, I took an army of Ringwraiths. Our dedicated readers will also recall that my first army for Good was the Fellowship of the Ring, and so Weathertop has a special place in my LOTR-nerd heart.
Hard-core fans of the movies will recognize that what I'm doing is not in strict adherence to what is shown in the Fellowship of the Ring. What I'm borrowing from in my inspiration for this effort is in part from the movies and in part from Lord of the Rings Online.
The entire piece sits on an 18" x 18" board of polystyrene. As you can see from this shot, the center of the base has been cut out (because I want the material for elsewhere on the project). The sides of this base are ~3/4" high, which not only means that infantry of all kinds will have to try to climb it, but horses need to jump it. This will stall some units from just charging up the side quickly.

The top has a few pillars still standing, and others that have fallen down. This gives a little protection for those standing up top, but let's face it - it's a ruined watch tower, not a citadel. Not a lot of protection provided and you can't stand up top and shower your foes with arrows forever. The ramps up this side, like those in the picture above, allow monsters and cavalry to move to the upper levels. In "The High Ground" scenarios, I intend for this upper level (touching it, maybe being on it only) to be the only scored section for the purposes of the scenario. This not only limits the amount of units who can score, but also encourages fighting all the way at the top (otherwise, a larger army could put most/all of their units on the base only).
Here's a preliminary application of gravel and glue, along with some of my spare polystyrene chunks to add some character to the scene. As a watchtower ruin, there are some traces of ancient walls (allowing some models to not have any protection and some mild protection to others), while the main entrances have only stalagmite-style rocks. We'll look at a few close-ups in a moment.
In this alcove, a few hobbits might choose to share a bite to eat, protected at least in part from the wind. I'm using "thematic paperweights" to keep this part of the terrain feature down, as the board is a bit warped. The gravel you see hasn't made its way completely up to the walkway - need to wait for some of this to dry to see where the boundary is from the first set.
We have some Ringwraiths walking around to make sure everything is clear, as well as inspecting some of the fallen pillars. You'll also see a Wild Warg Chieftain lying on his back, waiting for his glue to dry (confound breaking mid-game bases!). Ed note: while trying to move this to a place other than the dinner table, the Chieftain rolled over and came off his base again...new plan in the works...
Hopefully during the next two weeks, I'll have an update on the rest of the gravel, add some grass sections, and have some work done on the cobble stones at the top (not to mention a touch or two to make to the GT army I'm taking). Have a great week and happy hobbying!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Domination: Tunnel Fighting!

With the TMAT GT rapidly approaching, it took me a little while to decide which army to take: my Dwarves have been in the box since the first GT back in 2012, my Wood Elves are desperate for a shot at redemption after having a terrible time at the first Hunter's Red October tournament, and my Goblins have never been to any tournament at all. The other day, I decided I'd be taking my Dwarves, but I wanted to play them against my Goblins (just in case I changed my mind). Therefore, I called my friend Gaius to control my Goblins and play a quick game. Here are the forces:

The Host of Erebor, my dear bearded fellows and the army I'm taking to the 2014 TMAT GT.
The Host of Erebor: 603 points

Gimli, Son of Gloin - 90 points
Balin, Son of Fundin with Durin's Axe - 85 points
Dwarf Shield-Bearer - 60 points
8 Dwarf Warriors with shields - 72 points
10 Dwarf Warriors with Dwarf bows - 90 points
1 Dwarf Warriors with banner - 33 points
6 Khazad Guards - 66 points
6 Dwarf Rangers with throwing axes - 60 points
1 Dwarf Ranger with throwing axes and two-handed axe - 11 points
2 Dwarf Rangers with two-handed axes - 16 points
2 Dwarf Rangers with Dwarf longbows - 20 points

39 units, 10 Dwarf bows + 2 Dwarf longbows + 9 thrown weapons, 3 heroes

The Denizens of Moria, the army I need to take to a tournament someday...
The Denizens of Moria: 603 points

Groblog - 55 points
Moria Goblin Shaman - 45 points
2 Wild Warg Chieftains - 150 points
12 Goblin Warriors with shields - 60 points
16 Goblin Warriors with spears- 80 points
10 Goblin Warriors with Orc bows - 50 points
4 Goblin Prowlers with shields - 32 points
2 Wild Wargs - 16 points
1 Cave Troll - 80 points
1 Bat Swarm - 35 points

50 units, 10 Orc bows + 4 thrown weapons, 4 heroes

The scenario we will be playing is a Domination game on a board that is 48" x 48". The game ends when one side is brought down to 25% of its starting size OR 90 minutes have elapsed. The scoring rules are as follows:

  • 1 point for breaking the enemy OR 3 points if the enemy is broken and your army is not;
  • 2 points for killing the enemy Army Leader;
  • 1 point for every objective where your army has the most units OR 3 points for every objective where there are no enemy units present.
Here's the map set-up (and my son Tamwyn, who recently decided he likes rolling dice and playing with my blue "bendy" ruler): center objective is measured from the base of the white statue (hope to have that painted up and detailed for the GT), four other objectives are whatever their bases are.

Turn 1: The Advance of Armies (Priority - Dwarves)

The armies are moving, and because this is a Domination game, both armies push their archers towards the center objective (that, and Goblin archers don't do anything to D7+ front lines). Nothing happens, besides the Shaman casting Fury (1/3W).

Turn 2: The Pack Races Up (P - Dwarves)

And everyone continues to move up, but there are some Dwarf archers who will be able to shoot this turn...
Two Dwarf Warriors with Dwarf bows shoot at the Wild Wargs (Colleen and Blitz, if you've read the post on my Warg conversions), and though both archers hit, neither shot is good enough to kill the wild beasts.

Turn 3: A Deadly Barrage (P - Goblins)

As the teams draw nearer, the Goblins are now in control of four objectives, with the Dwarves rapidly moving towards the center and crag (top-left in this image) objectives. With their numbers, it'll be hard to shift them.
A Goblin Warrior with Orc bow managed to hit a Dwarf Warrior with shield, got a 6 on his first roll to wound, but then rolled a 3...figures. In response, three Dwarf archers wounded their foes, one of which ignored the hit thanks to Fury (1/1M).
Kill count: Dwarves 2/50, Goblins 0/39.

Turn 4: Striking the Beasts (P - Dwarves)

Sorry, no pics for this round (thought I took some, but apparently not). In the Move phase, the armies continue to move up and near each other in the center. In the Shoot phase, though, a Dwarf Ranger with longbow wounded the Cave Troll (1/3H), while two Rangers with throwing axes wounded the Wild Warg Chieftain down below, one of which was saved by Fate (1/1F, 1/3H).

Kill count: Dwarves 2/50, Goblins 0/39.

Turn 5: The Flash of Steel, Howls of Pain (P - Goblins)
And we have fights! The Wild Warg Chieftain has charged some of the Dwarves nearby and a Dwarf Warrior with shield came to aid his comrades. Gimli is backed up by the Dwarf banner, which is a killer combination when the Shield-Bearer benefits too (3 attack dice for each of them is great)!
One of the Dwarf Rangers (Lafi, remember that name) killed one of the Wild Wargs with a thrown axe. Elsewhere on the field, a Dwarf archer wounded a Goblin, who shrugged the wound off with a savage howl (Fury Save).
Gimli and the Shield-Bearer call heroic combats, but pay dearly for them. Both kill their men and charge onward into the foes, but they spend all their Might doing it (Gimli: 3/3M, Shield-Bearer: 1/1M).
As the battle continues, two Dwarves are felled by the Goblins - one by the Wild Warg Chieftain (1/1M). Not a lot happening elsewise. Note that the Dwarf Warrior with the dice next to him was not killed, just knocked over.
Elsewhere, the Cave Troll won a roll-off against his foes and decided to Rend Balin. Despite being able to wound on 3s, he only managed one wound (what I wouldn't have given for 3 Might points on that one to promote my 1 and 2 into wounds). Balin saves the wound with a Fate point and a Might point (1/3M, 1/1F).
Kill count: Dwarves 5/50, Goblins 2/39.

Turn 6: The Brave and the Bold (P - Dwarves)
The armies continue to press against each other. At the bottom right, you'll see that Lafi (Dwarf Ranger) killed the other Wild Warg with his throwing axe (Baruk-Khazad!). This was ill-planned in a way, since I could have thrown against the Wild Warg Chieftain with my other Dwarf first and then killed the Warg, but alas. Lafi was then taken off of the fight by a Goblin spearman (with back-up).
Not to be outdone, a Goblin spearman was killed by a Dwarf longbow (not in this shot).
In the Fight phase, the Shield-Bearer loses his fight and is almost wounded (Goblin got a 6, but didn't get a 4+). Elsewhere, Gimli slays his foe with his 2h (most effective way to cut through 5+ Fury saves), while a Dwarf and a Goblin with shield are also killed further up.
Further down, Balin and his team best the Cave Troll and with them all at S4 and +1 to wound (yaye Khazad Guards who rely on a macho hero to do the winning for them), they handily slay the Cave Troll. Balin spends all his Might to win the fight, though (3/3M, 3/3H for Cave Troll). Next door, Lafi slays the Goblin who came to challenge him and the Wild Warg Chieftain takes no wounds from the other Ranger, even though he was trapped).
Kill count: Dwarves 11/50, Goblins 3/39.

Turn 7: The King of Moria Arrives (P - Gobs)
The fights continue to press, nothing much to report.
In the Fight phase, the Dwarf Shield-Bearer called yet another Heroic Combat and after slaying his man (twice over), he charged into the Wild Warg Chieftain. This was a strategic call for me, as the WWC is not only one wound away from death, but the DSB can tie the high dice, giving my Dwarf warriors a better chance of killing him.
As the fighting raged, the Dwarves lost one of their number, but managed to kill a Goblin and one of the Wild Warg Chieftains (making that two of the enemy "smash" units). Gimli, however, actually manages to LOSE his fight and to boot is wounded by the Goblin he fights! He saves the wound with Fate, but he's royally ticked off now (1/2F).
Balin and Thorin easily kill their man, but the others settle for pushing their foes backwards.
Further over, Lafi kills another Goblin (18 points killed for 10 points spent...gotta love it), while his comrade is less lucky (and the Wild Warg Chieftain snapped off his base...again...need to work on that).
Kill count: Dwarves 17/50, Goblins 5/39.

Turn 8: Racing Across Chasms (P - Dwarves)
As the warriors charge, a Dwarf Ranger with throwing axe kills a Goblin bowman (love killing things in the Move phase). The Dwarves now have a solid hold on the center objective and actually outnumber the Goblins on the bottom-right objective. In the Shoot phase, one of the Dwarf Rangers with longbows killed one of the Goblin archers with Orc bows at the top-right base (Goblin starting position). That's really good for me, as I don't want to have to walk all the way there!
Lots of dead Goblins everywhere. The highlights are that Gimli slew two Goblins this turn (no Fury saves), while one of the Dwarf bowmen wounded the Bat Swarm (1/4H). Thanks to an incredible effort by the Dwarves, many of the Goblins who stood between the Shaman and Gimli have fallen - not good news for the Greenskins!
On the far end, Lafi finally dies to the Wild Warg Chieftain, but thankfully there are four more Dwarves (all D7) coming up towards the objective.
Kill count: Dwarves 23/50, Goblins 7/39. Goblins 2 from break, Dwarves are 13 from break (and outnumber Goblins)

Turn 9: A Desperate Dash (P - tied, Goblins)
You'll see in this shot that there is a Goblin remaining on the Goblin's starting objective, while the Bat Swarm raced down to the Dwarf starting objective, giving the two rangers there something to do for the first time this game ("Why did he take us into this battle again?" "Because he had the points...")
In the Shoot phase, the Goblin Prowlers use their throwing knives and kill one of the Dwarf Rangers (who actually survived several bouts single-handed against the Bat Swarm before racing over here). The Dwarf Archers who are attempting to challenge the objective are preparing to shoot point-blank at their foes (but don't yet, as they need to get in scoring range FAST).
The DSB calls yet another heroic combat and slays his foe, charging two spearmen in response. I LOVE this guy's ability to call free Heroic Combats if he's near a certain hero!
On Gimli's side of the battle, several D7 Dwarves are felled by the Goblins (about time, right?). The DSB are successful in killing one of his foes, further cracking down the number of defenders to protect the shaman. Gimli, though, was denied the right of killing his foe because after dealing two wounds with his two-handed axe, the Goblin he was hitting shrugged both off with a wild yell (two Fury saves...grrr).
With Balin and a few loyal followers hacking at the remaining Goblins on this flank, the Dwarf archers of various kinds can focus their attacks on units on farther objectives with impunity. Go team...
On the far end, though, the Dwarves have less of a good story: the Wild Warg Chieftain's charge not only bowled the shield-toting Dwarves over, but he slew both of them with a swipe of his paw and a slash of his teeth. The Khazad Guards remain undaunted.
Kill count: Dwarves 29/50, Goblins 12/39. Dwarves are 8 from break, Goblins are 9 from game.

Turn 10: Keen Eyes And Fell Deeds (P - Dwarves)
No group shot, but here's what you need to know: one Goblin spearman fled the field. All other Goblins (including those sitting on objectives), as well as the Bat Swarm passed their Courage tests. In the Shoot phase, these two Dwarf Rangers managed to kill two Goblins: one was the remaining Goblin archer on the Goblin's starting objective, while the other was a spearman on the crag objective where the WWC is. These kills not only mean that one objective is empty, but the other objective has two units on each side, so the WWC must kill at least one Dwarf (without the benefit of the charge) to score on that one.
At the start of the Fight phase, the DSB gets in one more heroic combat and slays the spearman he's fighting handily. He then charges the shaman, who was slated to fight Gimli with the help of Groblog, but now it's two separate fights.
The Shaman loses combat to the DSB, but saves two wounds before the spell expires (that's how we play here at TMAT - Fury disappears at the end of the combat with the Shaman, not before wounding dice are rolled). Gimli loses his fight to Groblog (how?), but isn't wounded.
Kill count: Dwarves 34/50, Goblins 12/39. Dwarves are still 8 from break, Goblins are 4 from game.

Game ends after time is called:
-No points scored on Goblin starting objective
-Dwarves score 1 point on Dwarf starting objective
-No points scored on rocky crag objective, as both armies have 2 models (WWC + spear vs. 2 KG)
-Dwarves score 1 point on cliff objective (3 archers vs. 2 prowlers)
-Dwarves score 1 point on center objective (Gimli + Balin + 12 followers vs. Groblog + 5 followers)
-Dwarves score 3 points as they are not broken and the Goblins are broken
-No points scored for army leaders, as both army leaders are alive.

Final count: Dwarves 6, Goblins 0. Major victory for the Dwarves!


I'm going to forgo the normal conclusion wrap-up and talk a little bit about what happened in the context of the upcoming GT: Dwarves are a hardy lot and I like that more than half my army can shoot (makes this interesting). Balin's crew did a good job of pounding objectives (as a single warband, I think that one was the one I'm most proud of), but I needed to get units to the objective with the Prowlers on it sooner. When I finally did get units there, I won the objective - but I was pushing it time-wise, so I can't do that later.

In the center, the chips fell as I expected: the combined relentless assault of Gimli and the DSB is powerful, especially when both are in range of a banner. Together they are formidable, but when coupled with lots of D7 units and D6 archers who can rip through D4 and D5 troops from a distance, it's really sweet. My Rangers did great things for me - taking out most of the units on the crag objective and clearing the archers defending the Goblin starting objective was invaluable. If I had to give a "Stellar Unit" award to anyone, it would have to be the Dwarf Rangers with Dwarf Longbows, as it took away an entire Goblin objective and made another one scoreless (changing a major victory into a minor victory). I will give credit to Lafi, who killed 3 units by himself - for 10 points, that's really good. I'm excited to see what these Rangers do at the upcoming tournament!

In the coming weeks, I'm working on some terrain projects, most of which I hope to bring to the GT, so watch this space and happy hobbying!