Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dunharrow Campaign, Quest 5: Rohan vs. Dwarves


Hey Reader!

This is Centaur with another battle report!  This will likely be the last battle in the Dunharrow Campaign, though keep an eye on us here at TMAT.  Sometime within the next 6-8 months we may end up doing a group-wide campaign using different civs going for similar mission objectives (what I'll call "achievements"), so we'll keep you posted on that.  Some of the details are being ironed out, but we'll keep you all posted on that, :)  To wrap up the Dunharrow Campaign, I got together with Tiberius after church to play a good ole' Domination game, as I haven't done that scenario yet for this campaign, and he brought a highly unconventional dwarf list to match me.  Here are the armies:

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

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

22 units, 400 pts, 5 Might

The Watchers of Ered Luin (Durin's Folk, Warbands)
Warband 1
-Balin, Son of Fundin with Durin's Axe (Army Leader): 85 pts
-2 Dwarf Rangers with throwing axes: 20 pts
-3 Dwarf Rangers with throwing axes and 2Hers: 33 pts
-4 Dwarf Rangers with 2Hers: 32 pts
-3 Dwarf Rangers with dwarf longbows: 30 pts

Warband 2
-Gimli, Son of Gloin: 90 pts
-2 Dwarf Warriors with shields: 18 pts
-4 Dwarf Rangers with throwing axes: 40 pts
-3 Dwarf Rangers with 2Hers: 24 pts
-3 Dwarf Rangers with dwarf longbows: 30 pts

26 units, 402 points, 6 bows + 11 thrown weapons, 6 Might

This is the first dwarf list I've ever seen that is not heavily D6 and D7 all around - instead of focusing on a shell that's hard to crack, Tiberius is running a list that uses 17 ranged weapons - which is almost as many models with ranged attacks as I have models on the table - and two F6 heroes that can beat Eomer on the punch.  This should be interesting, :)

Scoring

The scenario we will be playing is a Domination game on a 48" x 48" board.  Scoring rules are below:
  • Game ends when one side reaches 25% of its starting force
  • 3 Victory Points are awarded to the team if they have at least one model within 3" of an objective that is uncontested by the other team
  • 1 Victory Point is awarded to the team with the most models within 3" of a contested objective
  • 2 Victory Points are awarded for killing the enemy army leader
  • 1 Victory Point is awarded if the enemy force is broken at the end of the match, and 3 Victory Points are awarded if the enemy force is broken at the end of the match and your force is not broken
Deployment


The map is pretty standard: some good coverage and multi-layer fighting is available if a team wants it, and there's plenty of open space for cavalry to move around.  Since neither team has a volley line or a sizeable amount of archery (though the dwarves are sporting a lot of throwing axes and a decent number of longbows for the size of the army), we didn't feel like there was an inherent advantage to archers on this map.

The Dwarves won the roll off for deployment, they chose the top left corner (so that he can hold the objective from the top section of the wall while being safe from cav charges - well played, :) ), we deployed our men as you see above, and we prepared for Turn 1.



Turn 1: (Priority - Rohan)


Nothing happens: we moved up, archers moved their full distance, so with no shooting, we moved to Turn 2.



Turn 2: (P - Dwarves)


Our forces keep moving up, with the dwarf archers only moving 2.5" to square up for shots this turn.  Hawk Eye moved 3" to prep a shot, and my horsemen moved half their distance.


One of the dwarves with longbow brought down one of the RRGs (Man, I never get to use all of these guys!  They always get picked offer early!) ("For Balin!"), and, naturally, my boys did absolutely nothing to his men (It's amazing that even "lightly armored" dwarves are still D5, so I'm still wounding on 6s with my bows.  Dwarves are hard core) (and skilled in archery. :) ).  So we moved on to Turn 3.



Turn 3: (P - Rohan)


Our forces moved up further, and believe it or not, the dwarves beat me to the lower objective, :P  Eomer threatened the archer core in the center, while my RRGs fanned out to prepare spear casts at the incoming dwarf lines.  The archers pulled back 2.5" to shoot at the Red Knight, and Gimli and a number of the dwarves with throwing axes got in range to cast axes up top.


Hawk-Eye took down one of the archers in the center (Yay!  He paid for himself for the first time since...Quest 1!!!), the horsemen missed with their shots, and the RRGs at the lower camp wiffed their spear casts.


Up top, my two throwing weapons both wounded dwarf rangers with throwing axes, and no wounds were dealt by the dwarves in archery (ouch...I hate facing throwing weapons).  As we headed into Turn 4, we expected combat, one way or another...



Turn 4: (P - Dwarves)


...And we have fights this turn! :)  Eomer showed my charge of the archers for what it was: a feint so that I could get behind Gimli's detachment (and get out of range of Gimli, as he was anchoring the inner part of his warband), and my infantry engaged the two large bodies of dwarves.


One of the longbows shot the horse out from under the rider (who passed his fall test on a 6!), and then the party was cut short (literally) by a throwing axeman on the steps who carved down the rider (oh well, :-/ ) (*ROAR*).  And, as you can imagine, my archery did nothing in response (because that's just how this game is going, :P ).  Heading into the Fight Phase, Balin (1/3M) and the Rohan Captain (1/2M) called Heroic Combats; we rolled off and Tiberius won, so we settled Balin's first, and then the RoCap.


Balin squares up, rolls low, and the Warrior of Rohan wins combat via shielding on a 6, so Balin backs up 1" and the combat ends (kinda wanted that to work...).  Then the RoCap squared up:


...And after winning combat, he completely botches his roll to wound, :P (wow, two failed heroic combats....Wow, that's unreal...).  So, after an uneventful set of heroic combats, we moved to the rest of the fights:


Down below, a dwarf ranger was killed - the board had a lot of defensive victories, and not a lot of wounding.  Up top, there was a similar story:


A ton of defensive victories (read: basically everyone that shielded won).  Heading into Turn 5, the armies were now solidly meshed in combat.



Turn 5: (P - Dwarves)


The dwarves engaged us - as in, they engaged basically everyone except Hawk Eye, my banner, and my Rider of Rohan, as they were out of range.


On the charge, Gimli took down the Warden with his throwing axe ("Baruk Khazad!"), and then rammed into my Warrior of Rohan.  I was able to wrap around with my other Warrior of Rohan with throwing spears, and he failed his cast on the charge.


In the Shoot Phase, Kili took down Hawk-Eye (farewell, friend); nothing else happened in the Shoot Phase, and as we began the Fight Phase Balin (2/3M), Gimli (1/3M), and Eomer (1/3M) all called Heroic Combats, resolved in the following order: Gimli, Eomer, Balin.


Gimli finished off the warrior (2/3M), and then engaged one of the RRGs.  In Eomer's fight:


...He barely killed the dwarf shield (2/3M), and because of how Tiberius placed his men and how he charged my men, Eomer was unable to engage more than one dwarf following the heroic combat (bummer), so he engaged the other D7 shield.


Down below, Balin kills my poor shield, and then he engaged my banner (Okay: this was a dumb mistake, and per the fact that I made the exact same mistake in my battle against Donatello's Easterlings in Quest 1, I was really ticked with myself that I didn't see that, :P ).  So, I basically gave up on the banner at this point, and I'm glad that he's in base contact with one of my other warriors.


...And then, yeah: he started with the battle against the banner, Balin handily won, wounded him on 3s (ouch...gotta love Balin), and killed him, so the banner was picked up by his comrade.  Two rangers (one with throwing axes, one with a 2H) also fell on this side of the map (really starting to feel the impact of low defense now...).


Up top, one of the dwarves kills my Warrior of Rohan, and Gimli and the dwarf finish off one of my RRGs.  Eomer and the RRG polish off the Dwarf Warrior with shield, and one of the rangers was killed by the last remaining throwing spear warrior in my force.  As we headed into Turn 6, it was still anyone's game, as both teams came dangerously close to their break points.

Casualty Count: Rohan 9/22 (2 from break), Dwarves 9/26 (4 from break).



Turn 6: (P - Rohan)


I threw my force into the Dwarves, and my throwing spears did absolutely nothing (again).   Tiberius responded by engaging with everyone that remained, including attempting a jump test with one of his rangers, who passed on a 6 to engage the RRG in a 2:1 fight (nice, :) ).  Nothing happened in the Shoot Phase, so we moved directly into the Fight Phase.  Both of my heroes called Heroic Combats (which is 2/2M for the RoCap and 3/3M for Eomer, so we're out), so I resolved the RoCap first, then Eomer's combat.


The RoCap slew his ranger, and then engaged one of the two rangers on my RRG.  Eomer's combat was more strategic, and my reason for the Heroic Combat was much more risky...


Thankfully, Eomer killed his men, and then charged Gimli (we've got one shot at this boys, and we have no Might remaining, so this had better work! :P ).


In the rest of the fights, Balin handily killed the Warrior of Rohan, and the RRG fell to the 2H ranger.  The RoCap and one of the RRGs were also able to take down two rangers, so both armies are now broken.


Up top, a ranger was killed by the two RRGs, and Gimli rolled low, lost the fight, was knocked down, and between the warrior and Eomer they were able to deal enough wounds to kill Gimli (NOOOOO!!!!!).


...And in the center, the Rider of Rohan won the fight, knocked over both of the dwarf archers, and wounded one of them, ending the Fight Phase.


So after combat, this is what the board looked like.  Current kill count:

Casualty Count: Rohan 11/22 (broken, 6 from game), Dwarves 17/26 (3 from game)

At this point, Tiberius ceded the game (which probably would have ended next turn anyway), so we called it there.  Both armies were broken (Victory Points: 1-1), both army leaders were still alive (still 1-1), and each side was in full control of one objective (4-4).  Rohan was in dominant control of two objectives (6-4), and one objective was open, resulting in a 6-4 Minor Victory for the Men of Dunharrow.



Conclusion

Assessment by Glenstorm: This was an interesting fight - being able to leave RRGs to guard objectives was extremely helpful, as I knew I'd hit my break point (after four games with this list, you just know some things walking into it, :P ), and I didn't need to think about the bases in the back.  Eomer did what he usually does, and my lines held.  It's a good way to end the campaign, as I didn't see a number of problems that plagued me against the uruks and goblins.  The game would probably have been different had I faced a D7-heavy dwarf list, though the throwing weapons and longbows paid for themselves easily over the course of the game (with 38 pts earned through range damage).  It was a fun dwarf list to face.

Assessment by Tiberius: Playing with all my rangers is fun, but it's difficult. If it weren't an objective game (and if my foe's throwing weapons didn't have longer range than mine), I probably could have skirmished more and killed a few more warriors before engaging in combat. As it was, I ended the game outnumbered on all but one objective and with a killing hero on a single objective, it would have been tough to win. All in all, I'm happy I got a game in and look forward to having a smaller part of my army be composed of rangers from hereon out.

Stellar unit for Glenstorm: This game was totally Eomer.  My battle line did a stellar job of holding off two kick-toe heroes, my cav actually contributed to the kill count (instead of just being archer/hero fodder), but Eomer is the reason that the game was ceded.  Five kills (including a hero) in two rounds of combat: not every hero can do that, :)  I know we try not to give this to heroes, but he really made the day today.  Props to the Red Knight.

Stellar unit for Tiberius: Dwarf ranger with Dwarf longbow. Not that many kills this game that didn't go to these guys: with 24" range, they can stand at one objective and fire into other ones, which is great if you don't have spears. I don't normally field more than two of these guys in any game, so it was fun to have a half-dozen who could fire out into enemy ranks at my bidding.

And with this fight, the Dunharrow Campaign will be coming to an end.  It's been fun to get back into the first army I collected, and to play with some of the oldest models I own.  I hope you all enjoyed seeing a list in action, and I look forward to doing similar campaigns in the future.  If there's a particular civ you'd like to see, let us know!

I'll be in Texas next week for work, so I probably won't be posting much come the end of January.  Once I come back, though, I'm looking forward to using my Misty Mountains force, and preparing my Shire list for the TMAT Grand Tournament in March, so keep watching this space!

Watching the stars,

Centaur

"(Your teacher) is a human...and is therefore blinkered and fettered by the limitations of your kind." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Noobie's Top Twenty Heroes: One Gamer's Perspective

Hello Readership,

Posts like these can easily spark debates about what hero is better than another. This post is written, therefore, for new gamers and not those who have invested time and thought into making a nuanced army work. The heroes I'm going to evaluate today are going to cut across both Good and Evil and will examine what heroes are best for new players who want to use the heroes in the most direct approach. To make decisions easier, I've provided four categories of heroes: Slayers, Spell-casters, Snipers (read "archers," but I needed an "s" word), and Secondaries (read "captains").

A few things on housekeeping for this post: you can see the Top 20 in each category on the "New Players" page here. Some heroes will show up in the top five on that page that are not provided below, either because I'm only aware of part of their profile or because they overlap with some of the heroes provided (e.g. Gimli, Son of Gloin is remarkably similar to Balin, Son of Fundin...putting them both on the list would get boring and not be that helpful). You will also find on that page the computational scores for each person listed there, providing some point of departure for evaluating their performance. Finally, the computational methods for determining ranking will be provided as a formula, so you can experiment with how heroes you don't see on the list compare. If you have heroes you think should be considered, leave a comment!

Slayers:

Heroes who count as slayers are those who can not only kill a lot of units, but can kill units/heroes worth at least half of their point cost in an average game. When facing armies of Goblins or Orcs, this can be challenging because your foes are cheap, but a 90 point hero should aim at killing 9 Goblin grunts or one Goblin hero during the course of the game...which some have no problem of doing at all. Generally speaking, these heroes are found in the Forces of Good or are really, REALLY big. Furthermore, these heroes are limited to killing in melee combat - wizards and archers are in a different category. Heroes who have special rules that I'm not familiar with (like the new Tauriel model) haven't been included here, but check out the listing to see heroes like Tauriel and where they place with a limited knowledge of their combat skills.
  1. Balin, Son of Fundin - If equipped with Durin's Axe (not easily calculated in the computational scheme), Balin has 3 dice to win the fight at Fight 6 and wounds units with D6 or less on 3s or 4s. For 85 points, you don't need to kill too many things in order to pay for yourself. If you do run into a hero or a monster, your Fight 6 and 3 Might points will serve you well. Should you lose the fight, D8 will stop many blows from finding their mark, even though you're lacking in Fate points. For an untrained player, Balin is where it's at. Also, Balin's throwing weapons allows him to pluck of a wound from an enemy hero (or monster or grunt) before engaging in melee combat - a very valuable skill. Dwarf players should also check out Gimli and the King's Champion, as they are incredible killers (like Balin), cost roughly the same, and are generally easy to use.
  2. Mauhur - When you read "Mauhur," please read "any named Uruk-Hai hero." They all cost 60 points, which means that killing half of your weight is pretty easy (most kill their full weight unless they're targeted by a spell-caster or another slayer). I've gone into detail on Uruk heroes before, but it bears repeating that any Uruk captain - named or unnamed - is a killing machine, built for combat. Mauhur is my exemplar because he sports 3 Attacks, arguably better than having the envied 3 Might points (like the other named Uruks do).
  3. Elladan and Elrohir - Decked in heavy armor and wielding Elf bows, you can field two heroes with an amazing profile for just under the cost of Aragorn. These guys are great because for the cost of one expensive hero, you get two powerful (albeit potentially unreliable) heroes. Like most of the other heroes in this list, they're not that durable. All the same, you only need to kill 70-80 points worth of enemy units between the two of them - that's not hard to do. Unlike most of the heroes on this list, the twin sons of Elrond focus more on providing options to kill foes instead of concentrating on one modus operandi (i.e. they can choose to add an extra attack OR get a +1 to wound with a -1 to hit penalty OR they can shield OR they can fire bows...). Their unpredictability when one dies is also a bit of an issue when you are running a defensive list.
  4. Eomer, Knight of the Riddermark - In general, I prefer heroes with Fight 6 (I started with the Mines of Moria set after all). Despite not having Fight 6, though, Eomer is an excellent choice - and though we're going to focus on the cheaper version, the more advanced version gives you the power of S5 on the charge. Though neither have a distinct advantage over a D6 shield wall, any D4 units (or D5 units for the advanced version) should be wary. After looking over the armies that have participated in TMAT tournaments, there are at least part of each army that sport D4 or D5 - and some of the best armies featured in recent tournaments have been predominantly D4 or D5. Against Fight 6 foes or a concentrated spell-caster effort, be careful - to my knowledge, Eomer has only been stopped in TMAT tournaments because of Fight 6 foes or barrages of magic. Other Rohan heroes to look into include Eorl the Young and Theodred - these units either have the same upgrade scale as this cheaper version of Eomer or provide a different tactical benefit (like faster moving, armored horses).
  5. Boromir of Gondor - For just over 100 points, it's hard to argue with Boromir - I rarely have games when he doesn't pay for himself and he can win his first fight regardless of what he rolls. In some cases, though, you don't even need to roll to win the fight, which is great for saving Might points for when you actually need them. Despite his fragility (no Fate), Boromir is a powerful asset for any army - especially if you can protect him. He takes very little skill to use and can swing the course of a battle very quickly if used prudently.
Spell-casters:

Our loyal readership knows that I love spell-casters. These guys not only add an element of surprise to the game, but also provide an unconventional way of dealing with enemy power heroes or monsters. The magic users I lay out below have some sophisticated rules, but we're only going to focus on the easy stuff. For more information on magic, I did a series on the uses of various spell-casters (links included below).
  1. The Undying - 20 Will points and the ability to regain them if friendly or enemy spell-casters are nearby is incredible. I call the Undying my "Black Dart Factory," because having him with two cheap supporting Ringwraiths can give you enough Will to cast Black Dart each turn with 3 dice for the whole game - that's a lot of killing power. Since he only costs you 120 points, you only need to kill one captain and a few grunts before you pay for half of yourself. Alternatively, you can set your sights on an expensive hero (like Eomer, Aragorn, or a Troll) and snipe them until they die. Easy to use if you protect him - I would personally like to use a horde of Morannon Orcs someday.
  2. Ringwraith with horse, 2M/8W/1F - For 80 points, it's hard to top this unit - he only needs to kill a few units or one hero to pay for himself, and he has the offensive power (and magical prowess) to tackle almost any challenge. Like Barrow-Wights, these unnamed ringwraiths are great because you can get more than one of them. Unlike Barrow-Wights, though, these guys are a bit more resilient and provide more tactical advantages in the end-game.
  3. Barrow-Wight - For 50 points, these guys won't be killing anybody, but you can credit the heroes that die because of their magic to them without difficulty. These spell-casters benefit not only from being able to cast a devastating spell, but they're also really, REALLY cheap. This makes them not only a bargain, but easily accommodated into any army (if you play with warbands...).
  4. Saruman the White - Anyone who can cast Sorcerous Blast on a 4+ is a great bargain. Since Saruman the White is not only cheaper than Gandalf the White and can cover friendly heroes with his Stand Fast, he's a great supporting piece for your battle line. Sorcerous Blast not only provides the opportunity to kill enemy units, but also prevents them from killing yours during a melee round. With practice finding a direction for all of this wizardry, Saruman is easy to wield and can pay for himself if you guard him well.
  5. Radagast the Brown - Radagast requires some skill to use, but three of his spells take almost no skill to use well: 1) you can Immobilize anyone within 12" thanks to his Master of Birds special rule. 2) You can heal a friendly hero (like one of your slayers above) easily with his Renew spell. 3) If an enemy unit is approaching you and is mounted, you can eliminate the mount and potentially hurt the rider. The hardest of these spells is cast on a 3+, so you rarely need to use more than one dice to get them off. The only trick here is that like the Barrow-Wight, you won't be getting many kills with Radagast (besides mounts). You will however neutralize enemy slayers, heal your own slayers, and remove cavalry benefits (mobility and charge buffs) from your foes.
Snipers:

Archers can be hard to use in LOTR SBG - terrain, Defense values, and Shoot values all lead to an unreliable way of dealing damage. Some ranged heroes, though, can really smash an enemy to pieces. Here are my pics and each is not only easy to use, but reliable enough with their ranged weapons that they could shoot all day and be just fine. You can see the computational method in the New Players page, but the rank ordering is determined by the likelihood that the hero can kill either a D5 unit or a D6 unit who is "in-the-way" - it does not rank-order based on cost:
  1. Legolas with armor - There is arguably no rival for Legolas - guaranteed 3 shots a turn hitting on 3s with a 24" S3 bow is incredible. He is also able to reliably shoot into friendly combats or side-step rules like the Shadow Lord's Pall of Darkness or Gandalf's Cast Blinding Light. Legolas is one of the most dependable heroes in the game and frequently kills his fair share of units. Give him an Elven Cloak and he can deal damage without fearing retaliation by enemy archers so much. If you're looking at saving some money, you can go with Haldir instead - two shots instead of three each round isn't bad, but you also give up the ability to pierce through anti-archery rules. Haldir also lacks the Will and Fate profile that Legolas does, so if you can spare the money, get Legolas.
  2. Bard - Bard's stat line is pretty common - basically a Faramir model. From what I've gathered from his special rules, he wields a S4 bow and has the potential of shooting multiple times (based on whether you hit the previous time). Computationally, this isn't as good as guaranteeing multiple shots (like Legolas does) and wounding D5 and D6 units isn't that much better. Still, a dependable (but more expensive) archer hero to make a solid fighting force that much scarier.
  3. Vrasku - The token evil unit takes the form of an Uruk crossbow captain. With an impressive (for an Orc) 3+ Shoot value, shooting twice a turn, and wielding a weapon that wounds most units on a single dice, Vrasku is a very formidable opponent. Vrasku is also cheap compared to other heroes, which means he doesn't need to kill much to pay for himself. Be wary of protecting him, though, as his low defense is not going to be forgiving in a scrap (or a barrage).
  4. Ent - For this unit, you can actually read many units - Treebeard and Buhrdur in particular. Ents are blessed not only with the ability to chuck rocks from a respectable 18" away, but do so at Strength 10, which is enough to wound any warrior (and many heroes) on 3s. This unit scored well because it eliminates the need for an in-the-way roll - both D5 and D6 are wounded the same. While Ents are great for making sure that things get smashed both at a distance and up close, they're also very costly.
  5. King's Huntsman - This sneaks in above multi-shot Dwarf hero Drar because of his ability to focus his efforts on the target that he can wound more easily. Virtually always passing in-the-way rolls on targets that you wound more easily than the standard front-line troops is great and has made the King's Huntsman a very efficient tool in previous games here at TMAT. Though not often run in tournaments, this unit is a ranged tool, though fairly pathetic in close combat.
Secondaries:

As great as the Slayer, Spell-caster, and Sniper heroes are, secondaries are the most common and often the most needed heroes in the game. Need a little extra power? Didn't spend enough on heroes? Want another warband? Chances are, you need a captain to lead them. These captains are cheap and can either be used to add additional killing power to your battle line, or they can be used as speed-bumps (or "bunkers") against enemy slayers as a cheap alternative to spell-casters.
  1. Dwarf King with throwing axes - This hero takes a different form: for 80 points, you can buy a generic hero with Fight 6 Defense 8. I buy the throwing weapons not only because they provide you with the ability to wound enemy units before the battle begins, but because an additional wound in the Move phase is always nice. Dwarf kings are also the only heroes (besides Elf heroes) that you can buy generically with Fight 6, which makes them very, very valuable (not saying anything about Dragons or Mordor Troll Chieftains). Dwarf Captains are great units too (and technically the King's Champion is a common hero as well), so look to the Dwarves for great heroes.
  2. High Elf Captain with shield - This D7 hero is not only one of the cheaper High Elf hero options, but provides the valuable D7 and F6 that heroes look to find. A full warband with one of these heroes is just over 200 points, which means that an army that fielded a series of these "bunker" captains could field a large force and still have the ability to halt enemy heroes or monsters in their tracks. Be wary of spell-casters though - these Elves are not good at dealing with spell-casters.
  3. Wild Warg Chieftain - I wrote up a post recently on why I love Wild Warg Chieftains. As far as secondaries go, it's hard to match their killing power. Here at TMAT, WWCs (and other riderless warg units) have the cavalry rules, making them effective on the charge and fearful of the brown wizard. Regardless of who you face, a fast-moving S6 unit with multiple wounds and a Fate point (not to mention several Will points to ensure you resist spells or pass Courage tests) is a powerful asset to any team. For Goblin armies in particular, it's nice to have a hero who can actually hammer through units.
  4. Uruk Captain with heavy armor and shield - It's hard to beat the Uruk Captain - Fight 5 Strength 5 for not too many more points than your average captain is pretty good. With both heavy armor and shield, this captain gets to the desired D7, which makes him hard to wound for most heroes. Though this guy will be no slouch in combat, he can also tie down Aragorn or one of the Elven twins for several turns, buying you time to gain an advantage elsewhere on the battlefield. If you're playing with an army of Good, High Elf captains with the same build are great too - for 85 points, you can have a Fight 6 Courage 6 hero - not as good at killing, but very dependable.
  5. Wood Elf Captain with Elf bow and Elven cloak - This hero is something different: he's a ranged hero who is hard to wound with archery or magic. For only 75 points, you don't need to get that many kills before you pay for half of yourself. I highlight this unit because he's the only hero in any army book that can buy an Elven cloak for 5 points - it's a steal if you don't want to deal with his durability. Hide him somewhere and shoot all day long if you can. In close combat, though, you're still an Elf hero with an Elven blade - Fight 6 and winning 66% of ties is not bad.
To reiterate, this guide is for new players- there are heroes who can do amazing things if you understand their strategic value and if you build your army around them. I use Galadriel pretty effectively with my Wood Elves, yet she doesn't make the spell-caster list. Dwarf Shield-Bearers can slay many units and keep your units from fleeing the field, but their profile is lacking. Thranduil is a superb archer, but other archers specialize in killing any unit instead of counting on hitting monsters/heroes with in-the-way rolls. You will not find a Brawler like Aragorn or Sauron, but you can find units with similar profiles for less points. For more information on your favorite heroes, watch this blog - if we haven't walked through an army list yet, we probably will in the coming year (I plan to do my lists and Centaur is walking through most of his).

Until later, happy hobbying!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy: Heroes of Moria

And after a VERY long hiatus, we're back! When I left off in the underground discussion last time, we talked about some of the units that the Goblin army has and this time, we're going to talk about the heroes - and while we're doing that, we're going to look at some terrain updates since then. There are many, MANY heroes in the Moria & Angmar sourcebook for the Moria list. I'm only going to talk about heroes that I own by highlighting how to use supporting heroes and combat heroes.

Support Heroes

Durburz, Goblin King of Moria:
Durburz was my first Goblin hero and he compensates for one of the Goblin's worst attributes: low courage. A Goblin army that fields Durburz should keep something in mind: Durburz' greatest contribution to his team does not occur until after your army is broken. Since most Goblin units are Fight 2, you will be losing a lot of fights and quite possibly will take many casualties. Durburz' 12" Stand Fast! helps keep units in the game longer and can lend some muscle in a pinch.
Durburz should remain in reserve for most of the game unless he is facing enemy rank-and-file units with Fight Value 3. Against Fight Value 4 units, Durburz will only win 50% of the ties, which does not give him the dominance you would expect from a hero. Against higher Fight Value heroes/units, Durburz' chances of winning fights are not very good at all and so lining him up to fight is not a good idea.

Using him in tandem with the Cave Troll, however, can be a powerful team. A Heroic Combat by Durburz while he is in the same fight as the Cave Troll can all but guarantee that the two villains win their fight and ensure that the foe is killed after the fight. After this, Durburz can slink away behind the battle lines while the Troll romps on into the foe's army. With the new Monstrous Attacks rules from the Hobbit SBG rulebook (see the "House Rules" tab for what Hobbit SBG rules have been added to the LOTR SBG canon), performing a Heroic Combat is not as necessary for the Cave Troll, but this maneuver still ensures that "Suicide Bob" dies, instead of being simply by-passed. In the above case, the Cave Troll could choose to wound the Khazad Guard against his Strength value instead of his Defense value, which would result in wounding on 3s instead of on 5s, all but guaranteeing that the Khazad Guard dies. Both the Troll and Durburz can then rush Balin and give him a good run for his money.

Groblog, King of the Deep:
Groblog is another Goblin king (just not from Moria). While Durburz can cast a 12" Stand Fast, Groblog helps Goblin shamans by improving their Fury save roll to a 5+ instead of a 6+ as long as he is alive (more on that later). Groblog was first tested here at TMAT at The Hunter's Red October 2012 and let's just say that as soon as I saw him in action, I began a conversion effort. I have since found that while he does slightly raise the resiliency of an army, his greatest benefit is his 3 Might points. Goblins are woefully short on Might, which means that Heroic Combats in tandem with Cave Trolls, calling Heroic Moves, or even winning fights is really tough. Groblog's Might store (and Durburz' too) is a welcome boon for any Goblin player in order to accomplish these tasks. Keep in mind that the greatest hindrance of Groblog is that like Durburz, he won't be killing many people - you have him in your army for the Fury saves, so count how many saves are made on a 5 during the course of the game to see if he's worth it.
Moria Goblin Shaman:
The Goblin Shaman also helps mitigate the weaknesses of the Goblins. The opening rounds (if your opponent can volley) will be spent targeting your Defense 4 units (if he has Strength 2 bows) as they are your weakest units. With the shaman on the main line, he can make sure that your center remains strong under enemy fire. After some fighting, the shaman further helps your troops by keeping them from running. Since Goblins have average Strength and Defense values, keeping them in the field allows you to continue to deal damage against an opponent.
The other benefit of the Shaman is found when your force is broken. The Fury spell says that any Goblin hero or warrior automatically passes any Courage test he needs to take (including the Shaman himself) if they are within 6" of the Shaman. This means that when your heroes need to take Courage tests (with the best rating being a Courage 4 with Durburz), you definitely want them to be within 6" of the Shaman. When that happens, the two Captains and Durburz can keep their coverage over their men stretching out further than the 6" limitation of the Shaman. This is great for keeping your units in the battle and getting the most benefit of your large army.
Combat Heroes

Wild Warg Chieftain:
I've had several discussions with my fellow admin Zorro about Wild Warg Chieftains (WWC). The WWC is a powerful unit to be sure - Fight 5 with 2 Attacks at Strength 6 is nothing to sniff at (and here at TMAT, we give wild wargs of all kinds the cavalry rules, so he can have 3 Attacks with knock-down on the charge). Add to this 10" mobility, and you have a powerful unit that can attack a wing of your foe and then whip back into the supporting spearmen. Defense 6 foes, no problem...
Another key benefit to the WWC is that he's not a unique hero - you can have more than one! Many armies have a unique hero who provides the weight of their fighting power, but once you buy him, you need to look for a less-capable hero to supplement your attack line (unless you're Dwarves, then you've got tons of excellent heroes and only some of them are unique). With WWCs, you can buy as many as you want and for 75 points each, you don't need to spend a lot to get two or three of them.
Zorro's comment to me has been as follows: "For 5 points more, you can get a Cave Troll, who isn't as fast as a WWC, but you get +1 FV, +1 D, permanent 3 Attacks, and the ability to throw stones...so why the WWC?" While it's true that having Fight 6 and Defense 6 is much better than being Fight 5 and Defense 5, there are two driving reasons for choosing the wargs instead. The first and most important is a personal preference of mine: all armies that I run follow the warband rules. Taking Cave Trolls is great, but I want heroes to lead my warbands, and that means that I take a Wild Warg Chief and can spend my other points on warriors who can support me (like Wargs, Prowlers, etc.), instead of buying a tactical hero who won't kill many/any units and take a Cave Troll instead.
The other reason, though, for taking WWCs is because of a habit of my armies and a growing number of Glenstorm's armies: you can't deal with a magic caster if you're playing with Cave Trolls. My first conventional army was a Goblin army from the Mines of Moria set: I found that as powerful as the Cave Troll is that comes in that set, all you need is a hero like Gandalf and your heavy-weight becomes dead-weight. WWCs have not 1, not 2, but 3 Will points, which allows you to reliably resist 1-2 spells that your opponent casts. Very few armies field more than 1 spell-caster, so having more than one WWC can ensure that one of your power units gets to the spell-caster, enabling you to crush an enemy quickly and efficiently (and in most cases, paying for both of your WWCs with a single kill).

This post not only closes out my discussion on my Goblin host (600 pt horde shown here), but also wraps up my work on my Goblin army (besides some glossing that I need to do to protect my models and make them shinier in pictures). Now, it's back to Mirkwood, as I evaluate a few recent recruits, showcase the newest 600 point army list, and prepare for the upcoming TMAT GT in the spring (still undecided as to which army to bring). Until next time, happy hobbying!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Howls in the Night...


Hey Reader!

Yeah, that title was a bit darker than I wanted it to be - it's the new name for the Misty Mountains list I'm building, and it sounded better on paper than when I saw it on the blog, so sorry about that, :P  I'm also working on a "Halloween Army" for my new Angmar list (which will contain most of the scary/ghoulish choices for Angmar, minus Gulavar the Terror of Arnor, as I think he's overpriced for what you get), so more on that this summer.

In this post, I'll be looking at some of the models that I'm fielding for the list, some of the conversions that I've made in the creation of my orc brood, as well as some of my recommendations on what to purchase from GW.  For starters, though, here's the list I'm creating - I have two versions of it, based on whether I want more heroes and Might points over and against a larger warrior core:

Howls in the Night (Azog's Hunters, Warbands)
Warband 1
-Bolg (Army Leader): 175 pts
-9 Hunter Orcs: 72 pts
-3 Hunter Orcs w/ 2Hers: 27 pts

Warband 2
-Narzug: 50 pts
-1 Hunter Orcs w/ bow: 9 pts
-6 Fell Wargs: 54 pts
-4 Hunter Orcs on Fell Wargs: 64 pts

Warband 3
-1 Hunter Orc Captain w/ 2H: 50 pts
-9 Hunter Orcs: 72 pts
-3 Hunter Orcs w/ 2Hers: 27 pts

TOTAL: 600 pts, 38 units, 8 Might, 68 attacks in close combat at S4 or higher (not including charge bonuses)

Or, I may end up building the list this way:

Howls in the Night (Azog's Hunters, LOME)
-Bolg (Army Leader): 175 pts
-Narzug: 50 pts
-22 Hunter Orcs: 176 pts
-5 Hunter Orcs w/ bows: 45 pts
-6 Hunter Orcs w/ 2Hers: 54 pts
-3 Hunter Orcs w/ Fell Wargs: 48 pts
-6 Fell Wargs: 54 pts

TOTAL: 603 pts, 44 units, 6 Might, 80 attacks in close combat at S4 or higher (not including charge bonuses)

What I'm trying to decide between right now is straight-up close combat firepower coupled with a higher model count (List 2) and a greater Might count and two guys striking with 3 attacks with 2H weapons (one at S4, and one at S5 with no penalty to win the fight).  Both options really appeal to me, so I'll need to playtest it. :)

Purchase Recommendations

So, I don't usually do this for GW, but it's worth doing here.  Two quick notes on purchases regarding units:

1.  Buy the Fell Wargs set for everything warg-related in your collection

Photo courtesy of GamesWorkshop
I recommend the Fell Wargs because the models are nothing short of amazing.  There's been a lot of talk about how the resin/detail quality of the miniatures went up with the Hobbit release, and you really get to see it in these guys.  A lot of detail, very dynamic poses - use these models for everything.  Tiberius loves his Wild Wargs from the original release (which you can find a post about here), but I really like the new models, so I'll pitch them here.  They cost more, but in the case of these models you're paying for quality.

2.  Buy the Hunter Orcs on Fell Wargs set if you want to buff your terrain and warg collection


For $5 more, if you opponent doesn't mind you having guys on your wargs, you should purchase this set over and against the other one.  Why?  For starters, you get basically the same poses for your wargs as in the other set (which you'll see side-by-side later in this post), but for $5 more you get six riders and two dead riders for scenery.  So if you like building scenes with a bit more color for your battles, it's only a shy bit more for a lot more bang in-game.  Plus, with over a dozen extra arms (ranging from 2Hes and bows to various kinds of swords), this set also allows for a lot of customization for your infantry (which you'll see in part below).  I recommend this purchase.

Conversions

From the first box of Hunter Orcs I bought, I started customizing.  As of now, I've been able to add a lot of variety to my crew, especially after purchasing the Hunter Orcs on Fell Wargs set.

Units
1.  Fell Wargs/Warg Riders


It took me a while to sell me on Fell Wargs, as I'm used to cav units being pincushions for enemy archery, and at D4 S4 you're just asking people to shoot your stuff.  But following the TMAT Grand Tournament this past March, there were a number of times in my third match where I thought, "Wow, I can't charge that guy because I can't see him, and that's really irritating!"  So I started looking into Fell Wargs, and purchased a few back in October.

Then, as the new year approached, I took another look at the Hunter Orcs on Fell Wargs, thinking, "Well: a Fell Warg and a Hunter Orc have the same profile, they pretty much cost the same, and the only difference is that one moves 10" and does not require line of sight to charge, and the other has static 2 attacks on foot.  And I thought, "Huh: as a pair, if I really want the 10" range with no required line of sight, the orc is basically a 'Fate Point' for the Fell Warg should they be attacked."  And if I really need the orc for raw dice count, the warg becomes, in effect, a "Fate point" for the orc.  So I went ahead and bought a few.

As this happened during the Dunharrow Campaign, I was mulling over my thoughts on cavalry during those games, and I came to realize how much I liked having a few "fast attack options" in my army (to borrow a 40k term), and as I was looking at a primarily D4 army for my Azog's Hunters list, I can say that I'm grateful that I made the purchase.  Not to mention, it gave me a lot of arms to customize my footmen contingent:


See?  Eight new poses (four of which are "archer-to-swordsman" conversions); the one on the far right is my Hunter Orc Captain conversion, who will likely be using a 2Her.  As I was looking at the choices for heroes, I knew I wanted Narzug, and I knew I wanted Bolg, but I was looking for a third captain for my final warband, and when I realized that Hunter Orc Caps have the Many Blades rule, it solidified it for me: an orc that's F4 with 3 attacks (since he's not mounted) using a 2Her at S4?  That's killing D7 dwarves on 5s, killing D6 infantry on 4s, and killing Grey Company rangers on 3s.  Oh yeah, :)  Only D5 with 2 Wounds and 1 Fate, though that's one of the inherent problems with the list: you're light, so swallow that and just meat out more damage than you're receiving, :)

2.  Hunter Orcs


So, I've been excited about these models since I first saw their profile.  Like all orcs, they're F3, so they'll lose ties against elite infantry.  And as they are only D4 (like all light armor civs), you can lose a lot of casualties in a fight if you lose combat.  But, if you win combat, you're set up for success: S4 for damage and with the Many Blades rule, if the hunter orc is not mounted, he gains +1 attack, so 2 dice at S4 to wound (and 4 if the enemy is trapped).  For my force in the GT, I teamed them up with orcs from Angmar, and spear-supported these guys for 3 attack dice - that was fun, :)  But even without the spear support, if you think of the second attack dice on an 8-pt unit as free spear support that can't be shot by archers out of a fight, you can already see why I love these guys.  The extra arms and changes I've made to these guys - who already had awesome poses, but the extra add-ons and changes just made them more awesome - was just gravy on an already amazing unit.

3.  Hunter Orcs w/ 2Hers


...And if that weren't enough reason to love hunter orcs, it should be that they also come with a 2Her option!  2 attack dice at S4 with a +1 to wound?  Now that's a deal I can go for, :)  I like teaming these guys up with a regular hunter orc, so that the swordsman's two attack dice win the fight (as there's no penalty on them), and the 2Her kills the model they're up against.  It works pretty effectively.  The only sad thing about these poses is that because of the structure of the arm, it's hard to create new poses with these guys, as they're pretty much built to do one pose.  But that's a common problem for Fantasy and 40k as well in any circumstance where you have to have two hands on an object.

4.  Hunter Orcs w/ Orc Bows


And to cap off the units, hunter orcs can also take orc bows.  Granted, orc bows are the worst bows in the game, but that's one of the reasons I'm glad they have them.  Subconsciously as a player, I love rushing archer troops, especially archers that haven't been wounding very many people during the game.  As I approach such a troop, they usually attempt to shoot back at me, and (of course, because it's a S2 bow), there's not a lot of damage dealt to my force.  Then I hit them, and the fight is pretty much over as soon as it started.

Until you hit a hunter orc.  Who, like his frontline counterpart, is boasting 2 attacks at S4, and can tear you apart just as easily as the swordsman.  And since they're only D4 and F3, they make a tantalizing target for horsemen - horsemen who will soon find themselves tied in dice against the archer (or, if there are more archers, outnumbered 2:1 or worse) on the initial charge, and if they're caught on the defense, they'll find the numbers stacked even higher against them.  My maxim that "whenever you see the word 'archer' you should read the word 'swordsman'" rings truer here than perhaps anywhere else: a hunter orc archer will do far more damage in close combat than he will at range, so I highly recommend them to meet some of those transitional needs for your army.

To all of this I'll be adding Bolg, who is a massive hero if I ever saw one.  At F7 S5 with 3 attacks using a 2H with no penalty, this guy is a beast for offensive firepower (and with 3 wounds at D7 with 1 Fate, he's not terrible on defense either).  He also has an interesting special rule.  After killing two enemies, he gains the Terror special rule (so less people charging him, optimally).  After killing five enemies, he gains the Harbinger of Evil special rule (further reducing the units that charge him).  And if you use him enough to get 10 kills, he gains Aragorn's special rule, using 1 free Might point each turn.  Not invincible (and for the same cost as Aragorn, I'd likely not choose him unless it was in this list), but he will provide the strength and durability that this list requires.

Conclusion

As we head into February, I'll be releasing doing a few videoblog (or vlog) posts on army bestiary and the like as combinations of past posts, and will also be releasing information on the first ever comp system for LOTR (similar to the Swedish Comp System for Fantasy).  Until I write again, happy hobbying!

Watching the stars,

Centaur

"Centaurs are not the servants or playthings of humans." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rohan Tactics Post, Part II: Warriors

Hey Reader!

Happy New Year!  From all of us here at TMAT, may 2014 be even better for you and your hobbying than 2013, :)  This post is the second installment of my discussion on the Rohan civ for LOTR SBG, and today we'll be examining the warrior selections for Rohan.  For an in-depth look at the heroes available for Rohan, you can find that post here.  I'll be referring back to some of the styles of heroes in that post, so if you hear about me talking about a hero and you're confused about what I mean by a "bunker-style Rohan Captain," refer back to the post, :)  Since there are only a handful of unit selections for Rohan, I'll also be tying my discussion of each warrior in with a hero or two that work well with that unit.

1.  Rider of Rohan

Two of my Riders of Rohan - all riders of Rohan come with a shield
and a bow; you can purchase throwing spears for +2 pts/model
Riders are fun.  With 10" move and the ability to shoot a 24" attack and still move 5" on your turn, Riders of Rohan provide some of the flexibility in skirmishing and winnowing down a column of warriors that Rohan needs to survive.  They are generally pretty susceptible to archery (as the rider is only D5, and the mount is only D4), so be careful when taking on enemy archers.  This is also, by the way, why I would generally recommend against giving a Rider of Rohan a banner - at 13 base cost, if you add on another 25 points for a banner, you're just asking for your banner to get shot up by the enemy.  Still, they provide a unique niche for units in your force: fast attackers that possess a ranged attack (and a throwing spear at 8" for only 2 points) to weaken an enemy element before closing for combat.

If you field Erkenbrand, you can also pay +1 point to make them all Westfold Redshields, bringing them from F3 to F4.  Since Erkenbrand's horn is also a Courage +2 bonus to all Rohan models, they also move from Courage 3 to Courage 5, which helps a lot when charging casters/terror-causing units.  Not a bad purchase; depending on how you run your Rohan force and what role you want the riders to fill, you may want to purchase Erkenbrand.  I don't think he's an essential unit to a heavy skirmisher army, for example, as you'll want to limit how much you get into close combat with such a force, and F4 will only benefit you up close and personal in combat.

For a heavy skirmisher army, I'd recommend a mid-range cost hero like Theoden, Theodred, and Eomer, Third Marshal, because they also have an option at skirmishing, and they can provide the F5 S4 D7 profile that you'll need to distract the enemy's attention.  Plus, with 2-3 attacks (based on whether they are on the charge), they can put out a good amount of damage.  These are some of the things you should think about as you consider how to run Riders of Rohan: do you want them to be skirmishers that close the distance to finish off an enemy, or do you want them to be more effective on the charge?  Since they're D5, though, I'd recommend choosing: don't try to do too much with them, or you'll lose points fast to archer civs.

2.  Rohan Outrider

Photo courtesy of GamesWorkshop
I'm currently working on converting all of my Warriors of Rohan w/ bows into Rohan Outriders, because with the new update in the Kingdoms of Men Sourcebook, there is no reason to take a Warrior of Rohan w/ bow anymore.  Both units used to cost 7 points (with the option of taking a horse for the outriders), and Outriders had a 3+ Shoot Value (instead of 4+), but were only D3 (instead of D4).  With the new sourcebook, though, Outriders are now D4, still have the 3+ Shoot, and are still only 7 points.  This means that for the same cost as a Warrior of Rohan w/ bow, you get a better Shoot Value and a special rule that allows you to use the "Stand Fast!" of a hero without respect to range.

Rohan Outriders serve two purposes in your army.  They give you the "ranger"-style shooting at a 3+ Shoot with the durability that you expect for most archers (D4).  Because of the special rule, though, they also will hold their ground as long as a hero calls "Stand Fast!" so they are more reliable to leave at an objective in a Domination game (which is handy).  Coupling them with a bunker/bruiser-style hero who will attact attention far away from them, like Eomer, Knight of the Pelennor or a Rohan Captain, would be optimal if you are planning on using your Outriders for this style of combat.

If you opt for the option of taking a horse, Outriders offer you an option for a deep attack ranged force, being able to quickly run in (or flee a charge) and do ranged damage to a spear formation, a few lone defenders at an objective, etc., or you can charge home for melee damage.  Similar to my thoughts on the Riders of Rohan above, I'd recommend one of the skirmish-ready heroes, but probably with an emphasis on Eomer, Third Marshal or a mounted Rohan Captain, as they can also take bows for 5 points, which gives you more options for damage at range.  All around, these guys are very useful to your force, and I highly recommend taking a few in your army.

3.  Rohan Royal Guard

I'm pretty sure these guys are still my favorite unit in the game,
and I've held this view since I first picked up the hobby
If you've followed this blog for a while, you'll know that I don't go anywhere without these guys, :)  If you like the F4 D6 combat warrior build, Rohan can do it.  For 10 points (12 if you purchase throwing spears), an RRG will give you the F4 to win a combat, and the D6 with a shield to protect you from most attackers.  What RRGs add to your force, though, is the Bodyguard rule.  At the start of the battle, you assign each RRG to a hero (I usually assign all of mine to Eomer), and as long as that hero is alive and on the battlefield, they will pass all Courage Tests.  This is extremely handy if you are facing a heavy terror-causing team, or if your army hits its break point.  Naturally, I try to pair these guys up with a hero that is D7 and has a sizeable amount of Fate and Wounds to take a beating (so that they will maintain their special rule as long as possible), but that gives you a pretty wide selection of heroes (from Eorl and Eomer down to Theoden and a bunker-style Rohan Captain).

It also makes them excellent deep attack warriors.  Since you have the option of mounting them, you can have a F4 deep striking force that can hold their ground and will not run away, even if your heroes are miles away and out of "Stand Fast!" range.  And with the Expert Rider rule, these guys are more than capable while mounted if you need to jump an obstacle.  They meet a niche role in the army, but in my experience their role comes up all the time.

It is also possible for you to purchase a banner on an RRG.  I...personally don't recommend it, 1) because you're paying over 35 points for the model, which is just asking for some Dead-Eye to shoot at it, and 2) do you want a -1 to win the fight on your F4 guy?  What is more, do you want a D6 warrior not on the front line fending off the incoming attack?  I can understand why someone would want the D6 on their banner (to protect it from S3 attackers), but I think there are better ways to use your points to protect your banner.

On the whole, I think RRGs are one of the best deals in the game in terms of points, as you get the solid Fight Value and defense that you need to protect them plus a helpful special rule pairing for 10-12 points.  I highly recommend them.

4.  Son of Eorl

Picture courtesy of GamesWorkshop
One of the most expensive cavalry units in the game, Sons of Eorl are worth every point you pay on them.  Like other heavy cavalry options for Easterlings and Gondor, Sons of Eorl boast D6 on armored horses (D5 instead of D4), and like Black Dragon Kataphracts, they are also F4, putting them on-par with elite infantry.  What sets them apart from all other cav models is that 1) they have 2 attacks base, for 3 attacks on the charge, and 2) they are S4, so while they lack the option of a lance, they still do roughly the same damage as a warrior with a lance, does not require you to be on the charge, and the bonus carries over if (in most cases, read: when) you are dismounted.

These warriors are most effective when teamed with Eorl, as they will all move at 12" while mounted, they will all boast S4 and D6 or better, and they complement his special rule well, as they can fend off would-be attackers to place him in a good position to attempt to use free Might points for either heroic actions or to win a critical fight.

3 attack dice on the charge is extremely beneficial when facing pike formations, as it (finally!) places cav models on the same footing as a pike brick.  And with a 12" move armored horse, you will almost always have the choice to charge your opponent and gain the drop on them.  I have used these guys in a few games, and I've never been disappointed with them.  Mounted, they form a devastating charge; dismounted, they shield and wound like a Rohan Captain for half the cost.  Not too shabby.

5.  Warrior of Rohan

You have a couple of options for Warriors of Rohan: you can
purchase a shield, a bow, throwing spears, and/or a banner

The rank-and-file of most Rohan armies, the irony of these units is that, like the dwarves, they do not have the option for spear support, meaning that the "rank-and-file" style of play that other civs (like Gondor, Easterlings, Moria, etc.) use to anchor their army doesn't work for Rohan.  Instead of spears, Rohan gains the option to take throwing spears for 2 points (instead of 1 point), offering an 8" S3 throwing weapon attack (courtesy of the new Hobbit rules that extended the range from 6" to 8"), hitting on a 4+ Shoot Value.  If you want to run a skirmisher army, this can work very well.  Just be aware: at a 4+ Shoot, you're missing half of your targets, and wounding about 33% or less of those that you hit.  So don't expect a ton of damage from these in a given game, though it may give you an edge as you close for combat.

As I mentioned in my tactics post a little over a year ago, Rohan utilizes infantry differently from any other civ in the game.  Unlike dwarves who boast a heavily armored (albeit thin) front line, Rohan cannot simply "take the beating" on its frontline as they chomp through enemy ranks, and without spear support, it is difficult to beat your opponent on the dice count in a fight if it comes down to a massive wall of melee fighting.  Because your front line will also be primarily F3 D5, Uruks and S3 opponents will still do a number on these guys, but for their stat line these guys take the beating well.  Don't let a F3 D5 front line dissuade you: they can hold their own.  They just require more tact to use.

In terms of upgrades, you should always take the shield.  Period.  As was mentioned above, you should probably forego the bow in favor of Outriders for your archer core, but you should always take the shield.  If for no other reason than having the option to shield in a fight gone south, the shield is one of the most helpful weapons in the game, and it allows you to get that second dice in a fight that could use it.

For offensive capability, think about taking Grimbold of Grimslade and upgrading your warriors to Helmingas.  Helmingas are Warriors of Rohan who are S4 instead of S3, which is especially helpful for cracking through those heavy armor/shield warriors who boast D6.  Be careful, though: at F3, if you face off against elite infantry at F4, make sure that you are winning fights, as you will likely be spending points to upgrade a Strength Value that you may not use.  And if your opponent is using pikes/spear support, the problem of winning the fight is exacerbated.

If you want the equivalent of spear support in a number of your fights, consider getting a banner.  If you look at the re-roll as a second dice in the combat (if you need it), you get the equivalent of spear support without the fear of trapping your models on the front line.  It also gives you a chance at redemption against a unit with higher Fight Value so long as they do not roll a 6.

Conclusion

Like the Grey Company, there aren't very many warrior choices for Rohan.  That's okay: with a core of niche heroes, you can buy a variety of cheap, durable heroes to offset any of the niche deficiencies in your list.  What is more, your warrior core is cheap and good at what they do: Rohan Outriders are cheaper versions of Rangers of Arnor/Rangers of Gondor (albeit with a lower Fight Value, but with a helpful special rule in its place).  Rohan Warriors do the basic job that you need your frontline fighters to do without paying for it in a low Fight Value (like goblin warriors do) or paying much more for a higher Fight or Strength Value (like uruks or easterlings do).  And Sons of Eorl are among the best cav in the game, with Riders of Rohan being the most versatile cavalry in the game.  The list isn't bad; it just requires a bit more tact than your cut-and-dry heavy armor civ.

Over the course of the next few weeks I'll be posting some updates on my Misty Mountains army, as I'm doing some work on new models for them.  That army is now almost up to 600 points, with the only unit missing being Bolg (who will be a ton of fun to use! :) ).  I'll also be releasing further information on the Comp System that Tiberius and I have been working on for LOTR, as well as the last mission in the Dunharrow Campaign against a very unique dwarf team (which will hopefully be coming up next week).  Until then, you'll know where to find me,

Watching the stars,

Centaur

"I set myself against what is lurking in this forest, Bane - yes, with humans alongside me if I must." ~ Firenze, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone