Friday, November 28, 2014

WARGS!

Happy work-off-the-tryptophan-and-carbs Day!

after a much too-long hiatus, I figured it was time to dust off the blogger log-in to post some updates from Karningul. Tiberius and Glenstorm have been working hard at keeping the blog alive, but with a lull for the holidays (and a now-functional camera) I'm hoping to have some down time to draft up some filler to display some of the projects I've been working on for the past... far too long.

my busy hobby table

so we'll kick things off with the most recent item on the project table: wild wargs

Send out your warg riders!
As you may have noticed from a number of other posts on the blog, I've been a bit slow coming to the warg party. Most of the rest of the other TMAT players use them in some form or another, and I finally caved. My plan is to use a WWC to have them augment my Harad army (because fast attack troops are always a good option), and because they are just fun.

The Pack

The rocks were sculpted using sculpy and a Basius press mold purchased via Zinge Industries. Really awesome concept - I totally recommend checking the Basius molds out if you like the idea of infinitely customization with your bases.. Basius just completed a kickstarter with improved double-sided molds (which I missed by like... 24 hours. boo hiss), so it might be worth waiting until those are released, but I was in dire need of more basing ideas and didn't feel like waiting. . .

given as TMAT already has 18+ other wargs running around (okay Glenstorm, 12 wargs and 6+ Fell wargs). I wanted to make these guys stand out a bit and did a bit of sculpting work on them to fill out their fur and make them more distinctive (and because I'll use almost any excuse to customize models).

added a more elaborate crest

extended the crest up the head and covered the bare patch on his back

"General Burnsides" - he gets a bit of a mohawk and hairy cheeks

most crests and covered flanks


I'm still trying to decide on colors. Mostly I'm going between the mottled black/brown/tan that I've seen from LOTR concept art (and is semi-displayed in TTT), or full black with glowing eyes. but first I have to find a proper rock for my WWC to pose on, because the Basius ones aren't quite big enough. 

I have a far number of other projects that have made their way across the crafting tables in the past few months, ranging from mordor, to dwarves, to uruks to elf heroes. Hoping to get some of those on display in the near future, so watch this space!

-Z

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Siege Combat: Mordor vs. Rohan

Glenstorm recently acquired an amazing fort that we want to experiment with in our LOTR SBG games (and quite possibly showing up in next year's THRO tournament). This game will be between Glenstorm's beloved Rohan army and my work-in-progress Mordor army. Here are the forces:

The Helm's Deep Brigade (Rohan, Warbands)
Warband 1
-Eomer, Knight of the Pelennor: 115 pts (Army Leader)
4 Rohan Royal Guards: 40 pts
4 Rohan Warriors with shields: 28 pts
4 Rohan Outriders: 28 pts
Warband 2
Eowyn with armor and shield: 40 pts
3 Rohan Royal Guards with throwing spears: 36 pts
4 Rohan Warriors with shields: 28 pts
3 Rohan Outriders: 21 pts
Warband 3
Rohan Captain with heavy armor/shield: 60 pts
2 Rohan Royal Guards: 20 pts
2 Rohan Warriors with shields: 14 pts
3 Rohan Outriders: 21 pts
Hidden Forces:
2 Rohan Warriors with shields/throwing spears (Warband 2): 18 pts
1 Rohan Warrior with Banner (Warband 3): 31 pts
Theoden, King of Rohan with heavy armor/shield (Warband 4): 75 pts
4 Warriors of Rohan with shields (Warband 4): 28 pts
Full Total: 603 pts, 40 units, 10 Might
The Host of the Morgul Vale

Warband 1:
The Dark Marshal [Army Leader] - 120 pts
4 Spectres - 60 pts
5 Orc Warriors with spears and shields - 35 pts
Warband 2:
Ringwraith with 1M/8W/1F - 70 pts
4 Orc Warriors with shields - 24 pts
6 Orc Warriors with spears and shields - 42 pts

Warband 3:
Ringwraith with 1M/7W/1F - 65 pts
6 Orc Warriors with Orc bows - 36 pts

Hidden Forces:
Ringwraith with 1M/7W/1F (Warband 4) - 65 pts
3 Orc Warriors with shields (Warband 4) - 18 pts 
4 Orc Warriors with two-handed weapon (Warband 4) - 24 pts
2 Spectres (Warband 1) - 30 pts
1 Orc Warrior with spear and shield (Warband 1) - 7 pts
1 Orc Warrior with shield (Warband 2) - 6 pts
40 units, 602 pts, 6 Orc bows, 5 Might, lots of magic

The scenario we will be playing is a Hold Ground game on a board that is 48" x 48".  The objective will be in the center of the map (and close to the center of the fort), and all units within 6" of the objective (which is just along the interior of the palisade walls for most of the fort) score 1 Victory Point for each team.  Teams also gain 2 Victory Points for killing the enemy army leader, 1 Victory Point for breaking the enemy army, or 3 Victory Points for breaking the enemy army and not being broken yourself.

Mordor won the roll off, I elected to defend, and Glenstorm decided to forego siege equipment in favor of adding his extra 150 points worth of warriors, with Mordor winning priority for the first round.

Thoughts from Tiberius: it took me all of two seconds to realize that I didn't have enough guys to man the walls. I'm a huge fan of siege defense, but how many guys you have is a huge part of whether you win or lose. My heroes should be able to keep his guys (especially Théoden) from doing anything, but we'll see how that goes. The primary goal, though, is to break his guys (don't know how we're going to do that) OR just shield him away from the center objective.

Thoughts from Glenstorm: So, I've played a number of games growing up where my brother defended a castle, and I have to say that if there is one man that I trust to defend a castle it's Tiberius.  Cracking this army is going to be hard: I've got him beat on the model count, but he boasts a number of terror-causing units with a Ringwraith harbinger "cloud" over the entire fortress if he's smart on placement (which he will be) against a predominately Courage 3 (thus effectively Courage 2) army.  The only reliable charging men that I have are Eomer, Theoden (presuming that his 0 Will Points won't be a problem...against a caster army...lol), and the Royal Guards (who are naturally tied to Eomer, as always).  So, to call the ball: push the castle from three sides, use the RoCap and his unit to crack the flank, use Eomer and his unit to storm the gate, use Eowyn's unit to distract fire and keep the enemy penned down on the other side of the fort, and Theoden's unit can just have fun being Transfixed and torn apart, :P



Turn 1: (Priority - Evil)

In the Move phase, the Dark Marshal cast Drain Courage (1/12W) on Eowyn, who blocked the spell (1/2W), not wanting to have difficulty charging on a later turn. One of the spectres moved a Warrior of Rohan away from the fortress wall (one epic Warrior of Rohan passed his test to resist a different spectre). During the Shoot phase, a Warrior of Rohan kills an Orc spearman with his throwing spear, while an outrider kills an Orc archer (and the Orcs do heroically...nothing).


Turn 2: (P - tied, Good)


As the forces of Rohan advance against the walls, two spectres moved their targeted foes away from the castle (the guy who epically passed last time passed yet again) and a Rohan Royal Guard charges so close to the walls that the Dark Marshal comes out to fight him, after failing to cast Drain Courage on Eowyn (2/12W). Eomer is targeted by Drain Courage by Ringwraith #1 (1/7W) and he lets it pass (Courage 3 on the hero while in range of one of my Ringwraiths!). Eowyn is targeted by Drain Courage yet again by the Dark Marshal (2/12W) and she resists this too (1/2M, 2/2W). In the Shoot phase, two Outriders kill another Orc archer and an Orc spearman. During the Fight phase, the Dark Marshal won his fight (on a tie) but doesn't wound his foe (3/12W).
Kill Count: Rohan 4/28, Mordor 0/40.


Turn 3: (P - Good)

With Rohan winning yet another priority roll, Ringwraith #1 (near the gate) called a Heroic Move (1/1M). One of the spectres at the gate successfully sent a Warrior of Rohan backwards, but besides that, everyone just formed up to protect the gate (two just outside the gate, shield with spear support inside the gateway, and shield and spear support coming up just beyond the gate). After Rohan moved, Ringwraith #2 cast Compel on Théoden (1/1M, 2/8W), keeping the hero from approaching the walls. On the other side of the board, a spectre moved the Rohan banner-bearer away from the walls, taking the banner bonus from those assaulting the palisades this turn.

In the Fight phase, the RoCap called a Heroic Combat (1/2M), won, and killed his foe (bringing himself and an ally over the walls). Nearby, an Orc archer was killed, allowing yet another warrior to cross over the wall. Near the gate, a Rohan Royal Guard lost to the spectre and was killed (wound on 4s, baby!) (spectres: one of my new favorite units, :) ) and three Warriors of Rohan were killed as they attempted to breach the wall nearby. Finally, the Orc warrior with a shield who beat Eowyn and her Royal Guard last turn won for a second time, keeping the hero and elite bodyguard from breaching the far wall.

Kill Count: Rohan 6/28, Mordor 4/40.



Turn 4: (P - Good)

At this point in the game, Rohan has overrun the wall at the top of the picture and is pressing hard against the palisade on the right side. Eomer is sitting in the gateway and if Théoden can ever charge, he'll be pressing from the south end of the supporting palisade. The forces of good moved and then it was Evil's turn for a magical barrage. Ringwraith #1 has come down from the wall and cast Drain Courage on the RoCap (2/7W), but the spell only barely went off and so was resisted (1/1W). Ringwraith #2 casts Compel on Théoden, moving him away from the walls (4/8W - can't keep this up much longer).
In the Fight phase, Rohan called two heroic combats: Eomer attempted to beat a spectre and lost his fight (1/3M) and Eowyn attempted kill the Orc she's been fighting for several turns (2/2M). She lost as well. Elsewhere on the field, the Dark Marshal killed the Royal Guard he's been fighting (5/12W). Besides that, there was a lot of shielding...

Kill Count: Rohan 6/28, Mordor 5/40.



Turn 5: (P - Evil)
At this point, Rohan has solid control of one of the walls and is pressing two others. With priority finally going to Evil, it was time for some serious magic casting. The results were...mixed. Ringwraith #2 failed to Transfix Theoden (5/8W), but Ringwraith #1 transfixed the RoCap (3/7W).
In the Fight phase, Eomer called a Heroic Combat and killed a spectre and then an Orc Warrior with shield. The warrior of Rohan who epically resisted two spectre magical barrages helped a team of guys kill the spectre on the wall and prepared to charge the tower. Besides that, the Orcs on the palisade with the Dark Marshal shield off the forces of Rohan, though the Dark Marshal himself can't land any wounds (6/12W).


Turn 6-7: (P - Evil both times)


I'm just going to let you catch the drift from these pictures. Pay attention to how many guys are on the gate wall...
Yeah, things not going well. The Dark marshal squared off against an Outrider in a Heroic Combat and killed him, moved on to another outrider and killed him too! Besides that, Orcs fell left and right and I didn't have the guys to do anything about it. You will notice, however, that Eowyn STILL hasn't killed the Orc she's been trying to kill for the entire game...that's a bit encouraging (That guy deserves a medal).
I don't remember what all the counts were, but we ended with a major victory for Rohan (break and not broken, more guys within 6" of the objective).

Conclusion:

Assessment by Tiberius: I'd have to say that I was impressed by three things: first, the Dark Marshal is great at keeping a battle line together (shielding + 6" banner radius = awesome). Second, spectres are great for dealing with units who have average/low courage OR wounding high defense units who have average Courage (Glenstorm taught me this with his Halloween army, but there's nothing like seeing it work for yourself). Finally, the fortress was not too hard to storm. I've played several games (not on this blog) where a fortress built for siege defense couldn't be taken by a force twice the size. This one gave the defenders enough protection to be valuable, but was stressing at the same time. The only revision I would make (as I told Glenstorm after the game) would be to have burning oil/tar to pour down from the gatehouse. Besides that, I just needed to have more guys...

Assessment by Glenstorm: Wow, that was a close one.  There was a lot of orc and ringwraith victories in combat that (thankfully) didn't result in damage, and the RoCap actually broke through the lines on his side (which was more of a hope than a strategy).  Theoden did virtually nothing all game, but we expected that, so it's alright.  I am disappointed with Eowyn and company: I was testing her for the first time and I hadn't factored on how only having 1 Attack can be a serious problem (like being shielded all game by an orc that cost 6 points to field).  On the whole though, not bad Rohan: good to be playing with you guys again, :)

Stellar unit for Tiberius: Orc Warriors with shields and spears. Glenstorm convinced me a few weeks ago to go the shield and spear route if I wanted a more reliable meat-shield between my Ringwraiths and enemy attackers. That extra defense pip and the ability to shield saved my team on this mission. At the gatehouse, being able to spear-support and then shield was great.

Stellar unit for Glenstorm: The Royal Guards for sure.  I don't think we would have lived as long as we did if that one Royal Guard in Eowyn's unit hadn't held down the Dark Marshal for forever (even if he did die near the end), nor would we have been able to charge the spectres at the gate.  These guys usually take the brunt of my assaults, and I'm very grateful for how they kept us in the game in this scenario, :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Beware of Dragon, Part 1: The "Vanilla" Dragon Type

Good morning gamers,

In preparation for the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, I'm doing a four-post review of Dragons that you can buy in the LOTR SBG. There are, in my taxonomy, three classes of dragons you can buy and understanding why you would purchase each will assist in deciding what army you build around it. The classes are:
  • Vanilla: no upgrades (cheapest option, melee-oriented)
  • Utility: a single upgrade (medium expense, single-task-oriented)
  • Versatile: two upgrades (most expensive, potential for multi-task orientation)
In this post, we're going to focus on the "vanilla" class - what you get by just purchasing a dragon. As we talk about the "benefits" and "cautions" for playing with dragons, keep in mind that most of what I'm going to relay in this post isn't going to be rocket science or unexpected, but it is important for laying the groundwork for understanding what upgrades (if any) you buy for your beastie.

Benefits to Playing a Dragon

1) Melee Profile

One of the chief reasons anyone would look at a dragon is their ability to perform well in melee combat. When trying to fight normally, dragons have 4 Attacks with Fight 7, Strength 7, and 3 Might points. This is not only above average for heroes in general, but tends to be higher than the strongest heroes in Middle Earth. Though you pay the same as you would for several heroes, you can definitely go toe-to-toe against the vast majority of foes if you really need to.
2) Monster Brutal Strikes

Here at TMAT, we have incorporated the new Brutal Attacks rules for monsters, so dragons have the ability to smash armies by throwing units, attack heroes/single high defense models on their Strength stats, or blow off "Suicide Bobs" who try to tie them down. If you manage to win the fight against a D7 Boromir of the White Tower or King Aragorn, you can wound them on 4s by striking normally OR you can wound them on 3s by "rending." Facing a D7+ Dwarf front line? Throw someone. Get tagged by a Redshield near Erkenbrand? Shove him away and charge into Erkenbrand himself.
3) Courage Reduction

Dragons have the Harbinger of Evil special rule. When combined with Terror, you can make it really hard for Courage 2-3 armies to tie you down. If/when you break the enemy force, be sure to kill/tag all their heroes so you can watch units run away like mad around the dragon. This isn't unique for dragons - this can have disastrous effects when you have multiple ringwraiths on table too.
Cautions about Running a Dragon

Though dragons are great at fighting enemy units, they have limitations as well. A few are highlighted below:

1) "Resistant" to Magic

While dragons are great at taking down heroes, enemy spell-casters are a danger. I hear the veteran gamers exclaiming, "But I have the Resistant to Magic rule, which means I can always resist spells that come my way!" As true as this is, a single will point is not often enough to break a spell. Considering that most spells are cast on a 3+ or 4+, you need two Will points to have a reasonably high chance of defeating the spell (high 70 percents) and with a single dice, you may need to pay a Might point or two in order to block the threshold casting value. If they get a 6, you're even less likely to stop the spell from taking effect.
In addition, because you don't get to use the Resistant to Magic rule until you are out of Will points, you can't be "immune to magic" until you've eliminated your ability to use Will for other things (we'll see why this is a big issue for dragons in the next post). Spell-casters are also tricky, because at base cost, a dragon has no ranged capabilities and pretty much all casters move at the same speed as a dragon. While most army lists don't run spell-casters, when one does appear, you run the chance of having a 250 point punching bag instead of a powerful monster.

2) Getting Stuck

While you can use any of the Brutal Attacks to deal with a single unit who attempts to tie you down, with 6" movement, you have very little control over what damage you will be able to do if your opponent charges you with a single unit and then keeps his other units spread out. Since you're sinking the cost of three Cave Trolls into a single monster, you'd better have a way of killing lots of units. For my part, I see the dragon needing to remove most/all of the enemy heroes in play and then secondarily kill swaths of units. If this is your end goal, getting stuck by a minor unit and being able to charge/knock down only a few other units is not going to do the trick. Furthermore, because your base is large, having a few units spread out in stagger formation can create a sufficient barrier to protect a tactical hero (spell-casters like Ringwraiths, aura heroes like Malbeth the Seer, etc.) a turn or two of protection.
3) Average Courage

While Courage 4 is normal for most heroes, it has several penalties for a dragon. First and foremost, if you're out of Will points, you need to use Might points to pass Courage tests to charge terror-causing units and to stay in the game after your force is broken. Second, whenever you take wounds, your Courage rating becomes your most critical stat (and if you're out of Will points...). Finally, when facing units with high Courage and who wound against your Courage value instead of your Defense value (like Centaur's spectres), not only can they make wounding you easier, but they use the same statistic that you will later use to try to save yourself from fleeing the field.
In the coming weeks, we'll be looking at what each of the dragon upgrades gives you as well as the various combinations of what you can do with each. The next post will focus on the "Utility" versions of dragons that you can buy, where a single upgrade shapes the purpose of using the dragon model. Until then, happy hobbying!

Friday, November 7, 2014

THRO 2014: Rounds 2 and 3

So in our last post, we discussed the armies that were in the THRO 2014 tournament and how they did during their first rounds. This post will cover the second and third rounds (as well as the post-game information). Let's jump right in!

Round 2 (Lords of Battle), Table 1: "Optimistic Boromir" vs. "The Host of Rohan"
Pretty much every unit in the Fellowship list has a Elven cloak, so the masonry on this map was a huge boon. Aragorn and Legolas both have bows, and so being able to shoot out from behind masonry at the riders of Rohan without receiving enemy fire drove the riders to need to attack.
The Host of Rohan formed up to perform a valiant charge. While many armies might be concerned about the huge amount of terrain between them and their foes, the riders jumped over fences and maneuvered with ease. If it weren't for the incoming arrows, "coming from nowhere" as it were, the ride would have been quite splendid.
Here you can see Eorl the Young and a Son of Eorl riding ahead of the thundering host. It's moments like this that warm my heart - seeing an atypical army pulling a thematically awesome move.
Gimli was one of the first heroes to be charged - the Sons of Eorl were tough fighters, but the Fight 6 heroes of the Fellowship were up to the challenge.
As a matter of fact, the heroes of the Fellowship were more than a match. While the riders of Rohan were great skirmishers, the fact that none of Rohan's heroes can get to F6 is a great handicap. Aragorn was charged repeatedly by power hero after power hero, but he could not be beaten. With Anduril in hand, he not only could beat the best of Rohan, but he could wound any of them on 4s...ouch.
At the end of this game, the Fellowship had taken two wounds and exhausted 27 wounds/Fate points in reply. The Fellowship received a major victory with this kill ratio alone, but in addition broke the Riders of Rohan, drove them down to 25%, and killed the enemy army leader. The Fellowship also managed to fulfill its oath and received the Slayer of Foes Remarkable Achievement.
Round 2 (Lords of Battle), Table 3: "Isengard's Outriders" vs. "The Halloween Army"

The Halloween Army formed up in the heart of the city, organizing rank upon rank of Orcs and preparing the troll to charge the center. Here's an army you don't want to find late at night...
The Uruks spread out their formation, preparing to rush around the rocky formation and park some crossbows down low and up high. With pikes bristling, they prepared to meet the hosts of Angmar!

The Orcs and trolls race towards the enemy - you can see here also the wealth of colors this horde has...not common in armies showcased on this blog.

As the battles raged, you can see here that both sides tried to anchor their battle lines between terrain pieces. The multiple attacks of the berserkers proved to be very devastating against the lower-Fight-value Orcs.


Elsewhere on the field, the Uruks were spread thin, with the banner of the Orcs plunging through the Uruk ranks.

Unfortunately for one captain, the Paralyze spell of a Barrow Wight proved lethal, and the great army leader of Angmar, the Dwimmerlaik was waiting with his two-handed blade. Ouch...

While the fighting was rough in melee, some of the greatest contributions from the Uruk army came from their crossbows. Claiming one of the trolls, the crossbows would whittle down support troops and cut down flanking squads, making life easier for their pike-supporting brethren.
In the end, the Halloween Army dealt 15 wounds (or spent Fate points), while the Uruk-Hai dealt 32 wounds (or spent Fate points). To further secure a major victory for the Uruks, they broke the enemy and killed the enemy army leader. The Uruk-Hai also completed their oath and received the Valiant Heart and Cowardly Scum Remarkable Achievements.
 
Round 2 (Lords of Battle), Table 4: "The Terror of Dul Guldor" vs. "Isengard's Foot Cavalry"

The Uruks began in a corner, ready to race ahead to the bridges while the ballista provided cover support. Both players agreed that the effectiveness of the ballista would likely shape how the game would go.
In response to the threat of the ballista, the army of Dol Guldor began hidden behind some hills. Without ranged capabilities, there was no sense staying out in the open from the get-go.

Here's a blurry picture of the battle line and the conversion for Bolg that Zorro has performed. Really neat model - write up with close-ups on the blog in the future perhaps?
As the armies prepared to meet in combat, the Catellans emerged from the wood and the Uruks formed ranks. their pike support would be invaluable during this game, as it would not only bring the number of attacks closer into balance, but these warriors wouldn't have to take a courage test - ain't that nice?
Mauhur and his marauders raced into combat, taking the fight to the Castellan side of the river. Unfortunately for the Uruks, some key charges would be failed, limiting the amount of units that could contribute to the fight.
As the battle waged, the Castellans formed a loose line to engage the Uruks. Eventually, pikemen were fighting for their lives against the unphased wraiths of Mordor. The only thing more frightening than this was what was going on in the middle of the board...



After a long-fought game, the Uruks scored an unfortunate 1 wound against the Terror of Dol Guldor. In return, Bolg and his host scored 38 wounds (or Fate points). In a tremendous major victory or Dol Guldor, the servants of Sauron broke their foe, reduced them to 25%, and killed their army leader. The Terror of Dol Guldor fulfilled its oath, while Saruman's Foot Cavalry received the Valiant Heart Remarkable Achievement (lots of Terror foes will do that for you).
Round 3

Round 3 (HOLD GROUND), Table 2: "The Terror of Dol Guldor" vs. "Isengard's Outriders"

So something happened again with the pictures...sorry about this guys. Basically, this fight involved the Uruks and the Castellans (and Bolg) rushing up the face of Weathertop and fighting in the Seat of Power. The higher Fight value of the Castellans (and multiple attacks) did them well, as they beat back the Uruks. Some crossbowmen attempted to pluck wounds off of the wraiths of Mordor, but when their quarrels hit, they rarely wounded (and even then, the high Will stores of the Castellans proved sufficient to negate damage).

In the end, 2 Uruks were in range of the scoring objective when the game was called, while 9 members of the Terror of Dol Guldor were in range. The Uruks were broken and driven down to 25%, further aiding a major victory for the Terror Dol Guldor (the only team with three major victories at this tournament). Dol Guldor completed its oath, while the Uruks succeeded in receiving the Valiant Heart Remarkable Achievement (as nearly everyone did that fought this army...).

Round 3 (HOLD GROUND), Table 3: "The Host of Rohan" vs. "Isengard's Foot Cavalry"

In a classic battle between Rohan and Isengard, both armies raced towards the center. While the drummer aided the Uruks in racing towards the objective, the Riders of Rohan used their skirmishing capabilities to delay engagement until the Uruks were whittled down a little. As Eorl and his elite bodyguard raced around the board tackling the ballista, they then attacked the rear of the Uruk column, threatening the corps of troops staking out the objective.

At the end, the Uruks had 9 units in scoring range, while Rohan had 6 units in range. Since Rohan was able to break the Uruk force and was not broken itself, the teams pulled a draw. The Uruks were able to complete their oath and neither side scored any remarkable achievements.

Round 3 (HOLD GROUND), Table 4: "The Halloween Army" vs. "Optimistic Boromir"

Glenstorm and Captain Glot had practiced all three scenarios before the tournament, and both knew that if the Fellowship faced the Halloween Army on this particular scenario, things were going to be very, very uphill. With the Halloween army able to concentrate its forces in one place, any army would have been sorely pressed to beat it. As it was, Aragorn was killed in a single round of combat on the center bridge, followed shortly thereafter by Boromir and Gimli. As the hosts of Angmar raced down to catch the hobbit and Elf in the list, they squarely placed a huge block of troops on the objective.

In the final turn of the game, the Fellowship was tabled, leaving 12 Angmar troops solidly on the objective. In the biggest route of the tournament, the Halloween Army killed the enemy army leader (early), broke their foe, and reduced them to 25% (0% really) by the time the game was called. Angmar fulfilled its oath, while the Fellowship claimed the Valiant Heart Remarkable Achievement.

Tournament Recap:

The team that won the tournament was the alliance between the "Terror of Dul Guldor" list and the "Host of Rohan" list. Not only did this team win the tournament, but they were both the highest scoring players at the tournament. Both brought lists that were meant to be fun and they turned out to be quite competitive - and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what THRO tournaments are all about.

The question going into the third round was actually this: which team comes in second? After the last round, the major victoy of the Halloween Army over the Fellowship, combined with a rough last round for Isengard's Outriders and a hard-fought draw between Saruman's Foot Cavalry and Rohan, that decided the final standings. In the end, the scores were as follows:

Individual scores (OFFICIAL):
  1. The Terror of Dol Guldor - 36 pts
  2. The Host of Rohan - 21.5 pts
  3. Saruman's Foot Cavalry - 20.5 pts
  4. Isengard's Outriders - 19.5 pts
  5. Optimistic Boromir - 17 pts
  6. The Halloween Army - 16.5 pts
Team rankings (OFFICIAL):
  1.  Dol Guldor/Rohan - 57.5 pts
  2. Foot Cavalry/Angmar - 37.0 pts
  3. Outriders/Fellowship - 36.75 pts
As tournament director of my second THRO tournament (third tournament in my career), I consider this to be a uniquely successful tournament. The player were very adaptable, but I was pleased to see the teamwork that went on when allies would look at their friendly player's board and give comments and strategic hints. We've never had that before (commentary yes, but never team strategy). For next year's THRO tournament, we'll see if alliances play a more critical element to the game play. With THRO behind us and November here, we're kicking off Dragon month, so watch this space! 

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 is...no 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!