Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Hunter's Red October (THRO) 2014: Introduction and Round 1

Good evening gamers!

Due to coming down with a one-day-bug yesterday, I'm a little behind where I wanted to be getting these posts up. Here's the first of two posts on The Hunter's Red October 2014 (THRO 2014) tournament. I'll do a brief introduction of the armies (you can read the army lists in the comments on the announcement here), and we'll get into the results for Round 1. As we lost a player right before the tournament, I dropped and reassigned my partner to the team that lost a player - thanks Captain Glot for being cool with that!

Alliance 1: "The Halloween Army" and "Saruman's Foot Cavalry"

These armies feature some new twists that challenge the conventional meta - the "Halloween" army fields two Cave Trolls AND the Dwimmerlaik AND a Barrow Wight AND several spectres, all supported by a spam horde of Orcs to spread the damage. The question facing all opponents of this list has been "what do I try to kill first?" And my answer idea. The Isengard list abandoned the Uruk Warrior-heavy focus and favored taking fast Marauders, a Drummer, and a ballista - our first siege weapon used in a TMAT-sanctioned tournament! This really challenged players to think differently about how quickly to attack and how to form their ranks. Really fun armies to watch, less fun to play against. :)

Alliance 2: "The Terror of Dol Guldor" and "The Host of Rohan"

Zorro does a great job of building lists that play to the meta of THRO tournaments, and while this list was built to be a "why not, this is a fun tournament" list, it was designed to play on the scenarios very well. Featuring Bolg and a host of Castellans of Dol Guldor, there were few points that could be scored on Lords of Battle and it would be very hard to break this list. In addition, since everyone causes terror, low-Courage armies would be challenged. The Host of Rohan took a different approach to intriguing armies and mounted everyone. Yes, horses everywhere. Thanks to the new warband sourcebooks, Rohan can do this without buying copious amounts of Sons of Eorl (or riders who can't use their bows?).

Alliance 3: "Isengard's Outriders" and "Optimistic Boromir"

The "kludged" team was the only team that was awarded the "theme" points - in part because they were thrown together the week of the tournament and also in part because the Fellowship and Isengard have some nemesis moments at Helm's Deep and Amon Hen. This featured an Uruk army that had to drop last minute from the last TMAT GT and an all-hero Fellowship army that featured Elven cloaks on most everyone and Anduril! Yes, as a tournament director, I was really thrilled to see this list!

And so, without further ado, into the tournament we go!

Round 1

Round 1 (DOMINATION), Table 1: "Saruman's Foot Cavalry" vs. "Isengard's Outriders"
Here you can see most of the starting forces of Saruman's Foot Cavalry. The ballista will be staying in place this game, claiming the starting objective), while fast Marauders attacked each of the flanks. Up the center went Lurtz and some heavier, "slower" Uruks, though the drum that kept the team moving was pretty good at making sure these tanks were anything but slow.
On the other side of the field, Isengard's Outriders formed up to storm the two objectives on the flank and (SHOCK) completely abandoned any effort to claim the center. Best I could tell from talking to the commander, he planned to shell the center with crossbows and concentrate his forces on the exterior objectives. Not a bad plan, really, if you count on your archery.
Here's a closer look (yes, I don't know how to flip these things - let me know in comments if you have any ideas) at the ballista - recently acquired by Glenstorm. For less than the cost of an Uruk volley team, this is a powerful addition to any army.
Here's a closer look at the crossbows of the Uruks. Vrasku, their fearless leader, is standing just outside the doorway in the center of the picture (stand visible). With 8 crossbow bolts shooting at the center of the map, there's quite a bit of fire coming down there...
The battle raged, with Lurtz and his team rushing past the center objective and sweeping into some of the Uruks charging one of the far objectives. This diversion reduced the number of foes (especially pike support) who would have met up with the Uruk Marauders).
You can see a closer picture here - a few Feral Uruk-Hai with pike support viciously challenged a Berserker...those odds don't look good. At the same time, Marauders pressed the edges of the formation, threatening pikes.
On the other side of the field, an Uruk Captain and a small band of men from the Foot Cavalry army intercepted a band of warriors heading to the other extreme objective. Some of these warriors would continue to fight here the entire game, helping neither side score any points. You can also see a good picture of Vrasku here (furthest on the right).

What was most remarkable about this game, however, were the Osgiliath Veterans. These veterans were left alive on their objective when the fighting got toughest. Whenever they were attacked, the one controlling them was able to decide if they would shield or not. Despite being only Fight 3, they won quite a few fights (don't recall if they killed anyone though).
Similar fortune favored the Gondorians on the other side, much to the chagrin of the Isengard's Outrider's commander, who focused most of his troops on these two objectives.
This picture was taken close to the end of the game - same objective as the previous picture. As you can see, not much has changed on this objective and two of the three Gondorians are still alive. Spoiler alert: the archer would die, but the spearman would not.

Back on the other side...still two Gondorians! Yeah, this bites...

Game Summary: with neither team being broken and both enemy army leaders alive and well, the in-game scores were purely driven by objective count. Unfortunately for Isengard's Outriders, the two objectives that they were dominating still had Gondorians on them, which means they didn't score points for any side. These Uruks did control one uncontested objective, but Saruman's Foot Cavalry controlled two uncontested objectives, which means that on a 6-3 score, Saruman's Foot Cavalry received a major victory. The story wasn't all-bad for Isengard's Outriders, as they completed their oath and their rivals did not. Neither team scored any Remarkable Achievement points.

Round 3 (DOMINATION), Table 2: "The Host of Rohan" vs. "The Halloween Army"

So I don't know where all the pictures for this game went, but all we have to go off of is the starting set-up (bummer too - I like this map). You can see that the Trolls are staged to charge the middle, while hosts of Orcs prepare to advance on the sides. A few trackers have posted themselves in the starting objective and hope to stay there and protect it for as long as possible.
Here are the Riders of Rohan - I must say, I was curious to see how an all-mounted army would do in our tournaments, since we've never had an army like this before. They arrayed themselves with the power heroes set to charge the center and skirmish forces ready to pummel from the sides.
Game summary: the Host of Rohan skirmished with the Orcs, waiting to charge until their archery had done its damage. As the game drew to a close, the riders were able to race to the various objectives, claiming three uncontested and having the majority on a contested objective. One of the objectives scored no points (tied forces, if I recall correctly). Having broken the Orcs without being broken, managing to slay the Dwimmerlaik, and not being broken themselves, the Host of Rohan scored a Major Victory. In addition to these points, both teams got the "Valiant Heart" Remarkable Achievement (passing 3+ Courage tests on a "natural 10+"), but Rohan was the only one to complete its oath and also completed two other objectives (Slayer of Foes and Cowardly Scum).

Round 3 (DOMINATION), Table 3: "The Terror of Dol Goldur" vs. "Optimistic Boromir"

So once again, a bunch of pictures just never made it. Oh well. Here you can see the Dol Guldor army - plenty of Castellans led by Bolg (converted model, a side pic coming up in the next post). This Domination game would be interesting, since there are a host of small tanks that can be sent to each objective and they are facing an opponent (the only opponent) with fewer units than their own.
Here are three of the warbands from the Fellowship army: Aragorn was in a hurry to get into the action, while Legolas decided he would play the field and support his friends with archery. Merry wisely stayed behind.
Boromir took up the right flank and raced to the objective. This Boromir model is subbing in for the Boromir of Gondor model because he looks awesome...happens every tournament.

Gimli took the left flank and raced to that objective. Because Legolas drifted to the right, Gimli was the lone-dwarf-out who would be fighting his battle alone (as if he cares...).

Game Summary: The melee members of the Fellowship were outnumbered nearly four to one at their objectives. As a result of their foes just not dying, they were eventually overcome. Legolas got pinned next to the board edge and used as much Might as he could to win the fight and try to live. In the end, the game was over in ~45 minutes and the two players decided to bring out an all-hero Elven army for the Dol Guldor team to fight. I don't recall how that went, but I'll let the gamers comment on that if they wish to. The Terror of Dol Guldor received a Major Victory, controlling two objectives uncontested, killing the enemy army leader, and breaking their foe (reducing to 25% as well) and being the only player to achieve his oath. Neither team received any Remarkable Achievement points.

As Round 1 came to a close, the Dol Guldor/Rohan alliance had scored two major victories and were leading the pack. The Angmar/Isengard team had scored a major victory and a major loss, while the Isengard/Fellowship team had two major losses. As a tournament director, I kind of hoped things wouldn't be this asymmetric from the get-go, but that can't be helped. In the next post, we'll review the second and third rounds and the results of the tournament. Until then, happy hobbying!

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