Thursday, October 20, 2016

Announcing TMAT's THRO 2016 - Battle for the Mark!

Good morning gamers,

It is my great pleasure to announce the fifth annual THRO tournament! The purpose of this tournament, like previous THROs, is to try new things and (and less on gaining prestige). The tournament will be held at Patrick Henry College on November 12, 2016. For this year's tournament, we're experimenting with a few new things: smaller lists, basically one scenario type, and limited army choices. Without further ado, here are (in my typical style) the Ten Commandments of the Tournament (Rules):

1) Thou Shalt Understand The Canon

The ruleset from the One Rulebook (ORB) and warbands sourcebooks will preside over this tournament, as well as the "House Rules" section on the TMAT website. Errata and FAQs on the GW website for the sourcebooks and rulebooks (both the ORB and the new Hobbit rulebook) will apply, so far as they explain the sources above or explain scenario scoring rules. When in doubt, the ORB reigns supreme.

2) Thou Shalt Honor Thy Alliance

This years tournament is themed "Battle for the Mark" - half of the participants in this tournament will play on the side of "Rohan." Available army lists include:

  • Legions - Theoden's Hosts;
  • Legions - Lothlorien (may only take Haldir (Defender of Helm's Deep version only), Rumil, and Galadhrim Captains as heroes; may only take Galadhrim Warriors as warriors);
  • Legions - Fangorn;
  • Legions - The Fellowship of the Ring (may only take Gandalf the White, Aragorn/Strider, Legolas, Gimli, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Peregrin Took);
  • Warbands - The Kingdom of Rohan (cannot take Eorl the Young);
  • Warbands - Lothlorien & Mirkwood (see previous Lothlorien entry);
  • Warbands - Wanderers in the Wild (may only take Treebeard and Ents); and
  • Warbands - The Fellowship (see previous Fellowship entry).
The other half of the participants in this tournament will play on the side of "Isengard." Available army lists include:
  • Legions - Isengard Raiders;
  • Legions - White Hand of Isengard;
  • Legions - Dunland; and
  • Warbands - Isengard (cannot take Sharkey and Worm or Ruffians).
Note: For our Rohan players, remember that Riders of Rohan taken from any of the "Legions" army lists do count towards your army's bow limit. Riders of Rohan taken from the "Kingdom of Rohan" warbands list do not count...

Important: at the end of the tournament, the total battle points (2-10 scored per round, see #4 below) across the alliance will determine which side wins (with greatest among equals determined, of course).

3) Thou Shalt Honor Thy Lists And Alliances

All armies shall be worth no more than 400 points. Any army using the adapted Legions of Middle Earth rules (instead of the new Warband schema) must include a hero/heroes whose cumulatively worth is at least 120 points. Each army is allowed to take only one named hero (unless that hero comes from the Fellowship of the Ring). In addition, there can be only one copy of each named hero across the alliance (e.g. only one Rohan army can have Eomer).
    Once a list is submitted on this blog, it may not be edited based on the opponents it faces. The army brought to the tournament must reflect the army lists provided on this blog. For the purposes of this tournament only, players are allowed to use models for a named hero they possess that has already been claimed in another player's army post to substitute for a different named hero. For example, if the first Rohan player chooses Eomer as his named hero, another player who intends to play on the Rohan alliance may use his Eomer model to represent Theodred. Players are encouraged to procure/borrow the models from other players if they can, but aren't going to be penalized for leaving a perfectly good model at home (especially if they would have brought that hero normally).

    4) Thou Shalt Know The Scenarios

    This tournament will pit Rohan armies against Isengard armies (good vs. evil). All scenarios are "To The Death" scenarios, with armies deploying within 18" of a corner, instead of the normal deployment rules. After each scenario is scored, the following Battle Points will be awarded:
    • Major victory (10 pts): awarded if one army scores at least twice as many scenario points as his opponent.
    • Minor victory (8 pts): awarded if one army scores more scenario points but less than twice as many points as his opponent.
    • Draw (6 pts): awarded if an army scores the same number of scenario points as his opponent.
    • Minor loss (4 pts): awarded if an army's opponent receives a minor victory.
    • Major loss (2 pts): awarded if an army's opponent receives a major victory.
    The rules for To The Death are provided below - note that each table has a different special rule for how to accumulate more victory points:
    • To The Death: armies roll to deploy within 18" of their starting corner. The game ends when one army is reduced to 25% of its starting force. Points are scored if there is at least one friendly banner alive at the end of the game (+2), killing the enemy army leader (+2 points), if the enemy is broken (+3 or +5 if enemy is broken and own army is not broken), and if the enemy was reduced to 25% by the end of the game (+1).
      • Table A Special Rule - Hold the Ford: the center objective on the map is an important ford at a river in Rohan. Any model may attempt (as allowed) to leap over the river, following normal rules. Fords in the river count as difficult terrain but otherwise have no other penalties. Models who choose not to jump the river (or can't) are allowed to enter the river just enough to get their base fully in the water. At the start of each turn, any model that is in the river (not a ford) rolls for footing: if the roll is failed, the model is knocked to the ground. At the end of the game, each side gains +1 point for each model it has in the river (fords included).
      • Table B Special Rule - Storm the Camp: the starting corners for each army will be one of two small outposts. Each outpost will have two palisade wall sections and a gate of sorts. Gates are open and can never be shut. Palisade walls can be jumped or climbed over (following normal rules). Any model that is on the rampart of the palisade is treated as if in base contact with the wall. If a model is on the rampart but identified as not in base contact with the palisade wall must slide to the bottom of the hill. At the end of the game, each side gains +1 point for each model it has in the opponent's camp.
      • Table C Special Rule - Celebrity Bash: okay, this one isn't LOTR themed, but we're going to have fun with it. :) In the center of the map will be a picture of a celebrity. Its Defense and Health will be listed on the picture. One side may defeat this celebrity - if they do, they gain 2 points and the picture is flipped over. The other side may now beat this other celebrity - if they do, they gain 1 point and the celebrity flips again. Any player may beat the first celebrity - this goes on and on and on until the game ends.
      • Table D Special Rule - Where The Wild Things Are: all four corners of the map will have a warg pit, each with 2 Wild Wargs. After each side rolls for priority, the player who lost priority can move the wargs up to 6" away from their lair (or 12" away if it can charge someone) and must charge the nearest enemy model, if possible (no matter who controls it). Each army gains +1 point for each Wild Warg it slays.
      • Table E Special Rule - Raise the Standard: at the end of the game, any side with at least one banner remaining gains +4 points (instead of +2).
    5) Thou Shalt Recognize Remarkable Achievements

    Players may attempt to complete any of the following achievements during a game: upon completion, each will add 0.5 Battle Points. Each achievement may only be scored once per game and a max of three achievements can be scored in any game. Players will receive 2.5 Battle Points if all five are successfully scored over the course of the tournament:

    Slayer of Foes
    : a hero kills at least 5 units, the sum of whose points is equal to or greater than his own.
    Valiant Heart: any units in the army successfully pass three courage tests on the roll of a "natural 10+" (i.e. the sum of the two dice rolled for the courage test is 10 or more). These courage tests could be to charge models with terror, staying in combat after the army is broken, or because of a special rule (i.e. the Horn of Gondor rule).
    Cowardly Scum: a hero fails a Courage test to remain on the field after his army is broken on the roll of "snake eyes" (sum of 2 on the dice).
    Rotten Luck: a hero is dealt enough wounds in a single round equal to his Wounds and Fate points.
    Loved by the Valar: a hero successfully passes a Fate roll on a "natural 6".

    Tournament Director's Note: The kudos for this tournament are designed to be hard to achieve (though not unrealistic) but quantifiable to remove some of this subjectivity. They are also thematic: the "slayer of foes" is the traditional "I can kill my points worth of units" deed, the Valiant Heart/Cowardly Scum rules reward very successful (or very unsuccessful) Courage rolls, and Rotten Luck/Loved by the Valar reward overwhelmingly awful/incredible Fate rolls made by models with more than 1 Fate point (needs to be hard to get, guys).
    6) Thou Shalt Attempt To Keep Thy Oaths

    For each game, after deployment, select 1 Oath not previously sworn and announce it to your opponent. If both players achieve their oath, each scores 1 Battle Point; if neither player achieves their oath, each scores 0 Battle Points; if only one player achieves his oath, that player scores 2 Battle Points.

    Blood-sworn Enemy: Choose an enemy hero - he is your arch enemy and they must die before the end of the game
    Future King: Your army leader must continue to lead his force at the end of the game, neither slain nor "heroically departed".
    Chivalry in Battle: Your army leader must fight the enemy leader in close combat for at least one round and survive. Your army leader may not use the shielding rules in this effort.
    Line in the Sand: Nominate a piece of terrain within 12" of your opponent's board edge (or place a marker if there is no suitable terrain). Your leader must end its move within 3" of it at least once during the game.
    Battle Prowess: Your army leader must kill more models than your opponent's army leader.

    7) Thou Shalt Not Take All Day

    All games will have a maximum time cap of 60 minutes. Time will be displayed visually for all games and will only be stopped in the event of a "red flag" being thrown. A red flag will be thrown when two players cannot agree on a rule (line of sight, special rules for a unit, etc.), in which case all fights will stop and the other competitors will mediate what the proper ruling is. If a resolution is still not met due to an even number of players voting evenly on the issue, a dice will be cast by one of the competitors not playing in that particular game to determine what the rule is for that game. Should the time limit elapse without the victory conditions being met, the current round will be played and then the game will end. Any player found intentionally stalling the game to make time run out will be awarded a major loss as indicated in Rule 4 above. Between rounds there will be 15 minutes to finish the round, determine the standings, move to the next table, and answer "the call of the wild."

    8) Thou Shalt Fight In Middle-Earth

    Players who have built terrain for a particular Rohan/Isengard-themed board (36" x 36") are encouraged to bring their boards to be used in the tournament. Players should use their best judgment when building their maps to ensure that armies are able to maneuver the map within the time constraints (e.g. having too many walls, doors that must be battered down, difficult terrain, etc. can make a game more tedious than interesting). If more boards are supplied than are needed for the tournament, priority will be given to those posted first.
    9) Thou Shalt Be Gentlemen

    Players must be courteous to their opponents and play these games in the spirit of good fun. Should a player conduct himself in a manner which destroys the fun atmosphere of the tournament, a red flag will be thrown and depending on the severity of the infraction, the player may be issued a warning against future infraction, forfeit the game, or be dismissed from the tournament.

    10) Thou Shalt Not Be Late
    Players who are bringing terrain to the tournament must arrive by 9:15am to set up the tables and register their armies. All other players must arrive by 9:30am in order to get preliminary check-in requirements, set up their armies at their tables, and fellowship with other players. All armies need to have a sheet of paper that provides their complete army list (with profiles), along with necessary unit-count information (total units in the army, how many units are to be lost when the army is broken, and how many units must be lost to be reduced to 25%). The tournament will follow this schedule:
    • 10:00am - 11:00am - ROUND 1
    • 11:15am - 12:15pm - ROUND 2
    • 12:15pm - 1:30pm - Lunch
    • 1:30pm - 2:30pm - ROUND 3
    • 2:45pm - 3:45pm - ROUND 4
    • 3:45pm - 5:00pm - Tournament Score Summary and Clean-Up
    Looking forward to see the armies that participate!


    Tuesday, April 26, 2016

    TMAT 2016 Preview: The Army of the Dead

    Hey Reader!

    Also been a long time since I last posted - between working full-time (with growing responsibilities as I train a mostly green team, including my boss), starting up a small business, and blogging for the aforementioned small business - on top of normal life - it's been a whirlwind of excitement around the How, :)  But the Forge has been busy with a brand new army for the upcoming TMAT GT, and I'm super excited about it!

    In retrospect, I don't think anyone (except maybe Tiberius - I was chatting with him about it when I was adding the wash) that I even owned models for the army, so when I posted on the blog I got a few responses of, "Wow: you own Army of the Dead models?"  And I was like, "...oh yeah: I haven't show you guys these."

    So I decided to do a post (much in the same style as the post Tiberius put up, which you can find here), highlighting my army for the tournament.  So with no further ado, my Fiefdoms army...

    1.  High Concept: The Fiefdoms of Gondor

    I've seen a few people in our gaming group play Fiefdoms, but to date it has been exclusively 1) Dol Amroth men-at-arms, knights, and men-at-arms (which, for the record, are good units for what they are designed to do), and 2) as an ancillary squadron to a Gondor army.

    Honestly, I've always liked the Fiefdoms list - Clansmen of Lamedon are among the cheapest F4 S4 2-hander troops you can purchase (only 8 pts/model, yo!), and with a ranger-style archer option and a mix of heavy infantry and heavy cav, they've got their bases covered.

    What's more, their heroes have some flesh and color to them: they all offer something useful to the list.  Now we won't do the breakdown here (I'll save that for a post series someday), but for now just know that the Fiefdoms army can do well more than just a heavy infantry block supported by cavalry, which is what we have seen to date from them.

    My army is an attempt to showcase some of that versatility.  It uses a small troop of rangers (still not sold on them being better than Rangers of Arnor, but they'll do in a pinch), a small detachment of Clansmen of Lamedon (because I try not to go anywhere without a 2Her nowadays - good for cracking a D6 wall, especially if it's a S4 2Her), and 19 (yes, 19) Warriors of the Dead.

    The army is still very one-dimensional (it's designed to run up into your face and wreck your lines), but it does it in uncommon ways.  Let's take a look at how it does this.

    2.  Unit Choices: Heroes and Warriors

    Leading the army is Angbor the Fearless, the old guy in front of the other five Clansmen, who not only lends a 2-hander to the army, but also allows Clansmen within 6" of him to treat him as a banner (because you know me: I don't go anywhere without a banner re-roll).  The Clansmen are not only F4 (like Angbor), but they also boast Courage 5, allowing them to be reliable charging units against models that cause Terror.

    Next to them you see a small detachment of Warriors of the Dead with shields, which add two essential traits to the force.  Since these bad boys start at D7 as their base profile, adding the shields brings them to D8, so that S4 models wound them on 6s (effective neutralizing of a lot of Forces of Good power heroes), S3 models wound on 6/4+ (so elven archery gets dicey against their ranks, as do basic infantry), and S2 models (i.e., most archers) are wound on 6/5+ against these boys.  With them comprising over half the army, it also means you have to kill at least a few of them in order to break the army, and with them outnumbering the softer Clansmen almost 3:1, we should have ample protection from non-volley archery.

    But these boys aren't just tanks - they're powerful killers.  Because they wound targets on Courage Value instead of Defense, most models - even if elves are in the mix - will be wounded on 5s or better.  This means that we should be looking at high damage output, even against heavily armored opponents, with minimal casualties.

    We also have a small troop of Blackroot Vale Archers.  I've had these Dunedain models for a long time, and I've just never used them because frankly I love the poses for the Rangers of Middle Earth better, :P  So as I was painting up a spare Aragorn model as Duinhir (who almost made the cut for my army), I was like, "Eh, I might as well try these guys out."  So I grabbed these models, changed up the color scheme to a brown coat + blue jerkin (to look more like Gondorians), and have added them to my force.

    We'll see if I use them again - I have my reservations on these guys (C2 is hard to overcome), but it's archery, and I need that to support the main body, :P  Not to mention they get to re-roll to-wound rolls against monsters, which could be useful in a pinch.


    All in all, the more I look at this list the more I think of it like a large club: it's very one-dimensional, very predictable, but the one thing it does it's pretty good at, :)  I look forward to seeing how these guys work at the tournament!  Should be a lot of fun, win or lose!  Until next time, you know where to find me,

    Watching the stars,


    "Firenze!  What are you doing?  You have a human on your back!  Have you no shame?  Are you a common mule?" ~ Bane, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Sunday, April 24, 2016

    TMAT 2016 Preview: The King's Champion

    Hey everyone,

    Long time no write, I know. Been working on a few things before a short trip this week, and got some time in for a picture or two. Behold, the (nearly finished) King's Champion and Heralds conversion for my upcoming TMAT list:
    Here's the list (missing a few models I'm going to borrow from Glenstorm's collection). 10 of the units are Defense 5 and flexible skirmishers, while the rest are Defense 6 archers, D7 front-liners, or D8 (or D9!) heroes. 
    Yeah, he's a beast, if you haven't seen his profile - potentially D9 with 5 Fate points and 3 Attacks (with 2 banner rerolls for the lower two dice) at F6 S5 - killer!
    The banners came from two blisters of GW's Warhammer High Elf Lothern Sea Guard (excellent unit in big blocks). These were set on half-toothpicks, giving them not only a point to insert into the banner, but also remaining thick (as I've always assumed a Dwarf war standard would be).
    The King's Champion (as well as the Heralds) come from a metal Dwarf Warrior blister and I've seen this particular model converted different ways to be Dain, Durin, etc. In this case, he's been given the two hand axes from the two shield-toting Dwarves in the set (who became the heralds) and got accented with a fur hide cloak (thematically won from a Dunlending) and two great tusks which he won in an epic battle with a feral Boar (parts actually came from my Warg blister - hurrah for base scenic modifications).
    Also did some work on my Dwarf Shield-Bearer (DSB), who is a converted Dwarf Ranger. The black hair coming out was added on thanks to Dwalin from the first Hobbit movie, did some decorative stuff to his cape too...
    A free-hand dragon - not the best, but pretty good given the size. Going with a dragon theme because his shield has a dragon too. Did some silver trim on the hem too, matching what I've done for Balin's cape as well.
    Next week, I might post something before the GT, we'll see. I need to finish basing the models - planning on getting the KC up on something (not going to do that for the heralds - I think they'll stand out on their own). Until then, happy hobbying!

    Sunday, April 3, 2016

    Announcing: TMAT GT 2016!

    Time to announce the opening of registration for the fifth annual Tell Me A Tale Grand Tournament! This tournament is a small 1-day independent tournament for the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game and will be played on Saturday, May 7, 2016 in Purcellville, Virginia starting at 10am (players are asked to arrive at least 20-30 min early for check-in and setup). LOTR SBG players in the greater D.C. area and beyond are welcome to attend, but are asked to register NLT Apr 30. The tournament is free to play and the rules for the tournament are provided below.

    1. Gameplay

    (1.1) The ruleset and FAQ/Errata from the One Rulebook (ORB) and warbands sourcebooks will preside over the tournament along with the TMAT House rules listed in the tab above. Apart from the rules adopted in the house rules, the Hobbit ruleset will not be used; however the armies and models may be used. It is the responsibility of the player using the new models to provide their full profiles on the day of the tournament.
    (1.2) The tournament will consist of three games - each will have a time limit of 90 min. At the end of 90 min, players will be permitted to finish their current round and tally points.
    (1.3) Once started, the time clock will only be stopped if two players have a significant disagreement on a particular rule (line of sight, special rules for a unit, etc.), in which case all games will stop and the other competitors will mediate/look up what the proper ruling is. If a resolution is unable to be established in a short time period, a roll-off will be cast to determine the ruling for that particular game.
    (1.4) There will be approximately 15 minutes between games for players to move to the next table, refresh themselves, turn in their scoring data, etc. and there will be a 60 min break for lunch following Round 1.
    (1.5) Upon check-in the day of, players will draw a number and be assigned to randomized opponents and boards. The boards you are assigned to will determine scenarios played.
    (1.6) Scenarios will be a mix of Warband and LOME based scenarios with minor modifications. See Section 3 for scenario details. Scenarios played will be determined by the table you are on.
    (1.7) Battle Points are earned as follows: Major win: 10pts, Minor win: 8pts, Draw: 6pts, Minor loss: 4pts, Major loss: 2pts.
    (1.8) Additional Battle points can be earned by: 1) Accomplishing various Oaths of Battle in-game with your Army leader (see 4.1); 2) Kudos points from your opponent (see 4.2) 3) Secret Objectives completed each round (see 4.3).

    2. Army building

    (2.1) Army size will be 600pts, 60 model limit. Your army must contain a clearly designated Army leader.
    (2.2) Armies may be constructed either using the Warbands scheme or using a modified LOME scheme with at least 200 points (33% of total) spent on at least 2 heroes and all LOME alliance restrictions in effect.
    (2.3) For the purposes of deployment, LOME armies will be broken into 3 detachments of at least 6 models (if your army contains fewer than 18 models, divide as evenly as possible). These detachments will be treated as warbands for the purposes of deployment and any scenario rules that refer to "warbands." These detachments must be designated prior to the tournament and will be submitted with your army roster. If you have insufficient heroes to provide a leader for each detachment, nominate a model to "lead" the deployment for any detachment without a hero. All models in a detachment will be deployed within 6" of the leader.
    (2.4) For newer post-LOME models that do not show up on the old army lists, use common sense to determine which list they would fall under. Feel free to contact the tournament organizer if you have questions as to whether a new model is allowed in a certain LOME list. Please consult the House rules page for the adopted LOME alliance structure for the new Hobbit army lists.
    (2.5) WYSIWYG - equip your models appropriately. Proxy models are permitted only if specially purchased/converted/clearly established for that role permanently. (e.g. no "counts as, but only for this tournament" substitutions. If you want to field a particular character, invest the time/$ to do so). Exception: generic Nazgul models may be used as named Nazgul as long as it is clear to your opponent what they represent.

    3. Scenarios

    (3.1) For all scenarios, scoring rules regarding the opponent's army leader will be modified to the following as applicable: 0 Victory Points are scored for wounding the enemy leader. 2 Victory Points are scored for killing the enemy leader.
    (3.2) Depending on the number of participants, the following scenarios will be used (in order of precedence)
    (A) Tempt the Fates: To the Death variant. Wipe out your opponents to win! Play continues to 25%.
    1) Setup: Each player receives an allotment of 3 tokens. These represent the players Doom Pool.
    2) Deployment: Warbands/Detachments are placed on opposing board edges within 6" of the board edge on the roll of 1-3, and within 12" of the board edge on the roll of 4-6.
    3) Scoring: 3 Points for breaking your enemy, or score 5 points if your opponent is broken and you are not. An additional 2 VPs are awarded if the opponent has been driven to 25% of their starting force at game end. Score 2 points for killing the army leader. Score 2 points for having a banner in your army at the end of the game.
    Special Rules: Doom on You!: Doom tokens can be spent to alter any roll made by the player, except rolls made by heroes (but including priority rolls or in-game roll-offs). Each token spent can alter a single die by +/-1 in the same manner as might points. Players can spend multiple tokens on the same roll. At the end of the round, add any used Doom tokens to your opponent's Doom pool.  

    (B) Domination: Scenario setup, play and scoring uses the rules from the Warband sourcebooks with the following exception for setup: Opponents select opposite corners of the board rather than board edges. All warbands/detachments are deployed within 18" of their corner.
    (C) Storm the Camp: Advance into the enemy territory and claim it for your own! Game ends at 25%. Setup: Opponents select opposite corners of the board and all warbands/detachments are deployed within 18" of their corner.
    Scoring: 1 point if the enemy is broken, or 3 points if they are broken and your army is not. Score 1 point per model within 24" of the opponent's corner at game end.
    (D) Hold Ground: Scenario setup, play and scoring uses the rules from the Warband sourcebooks with one exception: play continues to 25%.

    4. Additional Scoring

    (4.1) Oaths of Battle: For each game, after deployment select 1 Oath not previously sworn and announce it to your opponent. If both players achieve their oath: score 1 Battle Point, If neither player achieves their oath: score 0 Battle Points, Only one player achieves: that player scores 2 Battle Points. 3 bonus Battle Points are awarded if a player fulfills their oath each game:
    Blood-sworn Enemy: Choose an enemy hero - he is your arch enemy and they must die on the field of battle before the end of the game
    Future King: Your army leader must continue to lead his force at the end of the game, neither slain nor "heroically departed."
    Chivalry in Battle: Your army leader must fight the enemy leader in melee combat for at least one round and survive (die being rolled on each side). Your army leader may not use the shielding rules in this effort.
    Line in the Sand: Nominate a piece of terrain within 12" of your opponent's board edge (or place a marker if there is no suitable terrain). Your leader must end its move in base contact with it at least once during the game.
    Battle Prowess: Your army leader must kill more models than your opponent's army leader.

    (4.2) Kudos: At any point during your game, up to 3 categories may be awarded by your opponent once per game, worth 0.5 battle pts each (maximum of 1.5 battle points per game). Your opponent is not obligated to give the maximum kudos - or any kudos at all. They must be earned.
    Hope Rises: A non-named figure acts in a way that both players agree was awesome. (Example: Your uruk captain just used a might point to shoot into a combat and kill his own troop - thus opening up a previously concealed Legolas to 6 xbow shots!)
    Lead by Example: A named hero acts in a way that both players agree was awesome. (Example: Eomer just called 3 successive heroic combats to catapult himself to the rescue of your banner!)
    Master Plan: Perform a maneuver that causes your opponent to be impressed (for good or ill) by the strategy. (Your elf cavalry just rode around behind the opponent's line and dismounted in order to shield their opponents into difficult terrain - thus clearing a path to the objective!)
    Fortune's Favor: Experience a very lucky streak of dice rolling that is acknowledged by both players (Example: your orc archer just passed 2 in the ways to wound a D7 unit!)
    The Dice are trying to Kill Me: Experience a very unlucky streak of dice rolling that is acknowledged by both players (Example: your mounted Nazgul had its mount slain, was thrown to the ground, failed both fate rolls and broke its wraithish neck!)

    (4.3) Secret Objectives: Each round, a secret objective will be randomly shuffled out to players for the chance to win extra Battle Points that round. These objectives do not impact the outcome of your current game, but add to your overall tournament score. Your secret objective is not to be revealed to your opponent until game end. Each successfully completed secret objective is worth 2 Battle Points.

    5. Registration:

    (5.1) Registration is done via the comments below. Post your army list and note your army leader and indicate how it is organized under the appropriate LOME or Warbands rules. Once a list is posted it may not be revised. If the posted list does not comply with the guidelines given, the Tournament Director reserves the right to make minor ad hoc corrections to facilitate compliance.
    (5.2) On the day of the tournament you must provide a hard copy of your army roster with: 1) A complete army list organized by warband (or detachment for LOME armies) with the army leader designated; 2) The complete profile stats of all units in your army; 3) Total model count, army broken point and 25% level of your army (all fractions are rounded down - a 31 model army is broken when reduced to 15, 25% when reduced to 7 models)
    Players who fail to provide their army roster on tournament day as outlined will not be allowed to participate until they produce the required roster. If this should delay the first game, they will be credited with a major loss and their opponent will automatically be awarded a major win.

    For any questions regarding the above, feel free to ask away in the comments below. We're looking forward to yet another great tournament. Let the games (and modeling/painting flurry) begin!

    - Z

    Sunday, February 28, 2016

    The Last Alliance: Concept & Strategy

    In this post update, we're looking at Numenor and Rivendell & Eregion and what you can do with them. First, we'll do a brief overview of both army lists and then we'll talk about how those in our gaming group have approached the hero and warrior choices for a High Elf list and then we'll close with what I saw in both of these lists and how I've chosen to build my army. Pictures will be an update from the workbench for our progress on Numenorians (and a few High Elf acquisitions).

    Unpacking The Lists: Numenor and Rivendell & Eregion

    Both Numenor and Rivendell & Eregion (hereafter Rivendell) lists have one thing in common: they have one warrior option. On the one hand, having one warrior option is nice because you know very quickly what you want - spears? Bows? Shields? Shields with spears? Banners?

    On the other hand, having more than one warrior choice often allows an army to compensate for the weaknesses of a basic unit (for example, having a Strength 4 unit choice). This means that an army taken solely from Rivendell or Numenor will be stuck with certain limitations (say, expensive base units for the Elves or average Defense values for Numenor).

    400-pt Warbands for Rivendell...not a lot of guys...
    Rivendell has poor warrior options primarily because the emphasis of the list is on its Hero choices - you have many combat hero options (like Glorfindell or Elladan and Elrohir), captain options (both named captains like Erestor or Gildor Inglorion and unnamed ones), and even some auric/tactical hero options (like Arwen or High Elf Stormcallers). Magic casters are a given for Elven armies and the Elves of Rivendell are no exception. This list also has some crossover heroes (like Elrond) who do both magic and damage. The problem, of course, with having lots of good heroes is that once you choose one or two heroes you want, you quickly run out of room for warriors...

    For 201 points, you can get a Captain with shield, one with no
    equipment, and 12 Warriors - cheap and average troops.
    Numenor, on the other hand, not only lacks in warrior choices, but also lacks in hero choices. You really have three hero options: Elendil (lots of combat power and free Heroic Combats), Isildur (good combat abilities with the ability to sneak in on enemy forces), and unnamed captains (who can be F5 D7, which makes them good bunker captains to hold down enemy heroes...or kill stuff, you know, as well as captains can). By taking Elendil or Isildur, you basically opt for a smaller army, but more damage done by conventional hero methods (bashing). By going the captain route, you could get ~50 models in a 600-point game. Take Isildur and you're looking at a list in the mid-40s. Take Elendil and you're looking at roughly 3 full warbands.

    The Might of the Elves: The Current Rivendell Meta

    High Elf lists as you've seen them on this blog tend to take one of three flavors:
    • Legions Of Middle-Earth (LOME) adapted rules (which we've altered to require the total cost of heroes to be at least equal to 33% of the army list requirement) build with 2 heroes that barely break the 33% requirement (one could be allied) and spamming 10-11 point High Elves (generally an even split between shields, shields + spears, and Elf bows).
    • LOME build with 3 heroes who all do combat damage (one could be an ally) and fewer High Elves (still basically spamming the traditional shield, shield + spear, and Elf bow combinations).
    • LOME build with 2 heroes and spamming not only traditional High Elf Warriors, but also including a High Elf Warrior with a banner.
    We'll look at some common concepts of the meta in brief.

    1) Legions Of Middle-Earth Dominates Over Warbands

    The choice of LOME shouldn't come as a surprise: if you want numbers, it's going to be hard to get to ~39 models without choosing some really poor hero choices (at least, in terms of combat power). Let's face it, if we buy three 80-point heroes (say 3 High Elf Captains with shields or Elf bows), we have ~120 points per warband to spend on units. If we want 33% of our warriors to have Elf bows (which we probably do), four of our other warriors will need to take no equipment at all and the other four will need to choose between shields (D6) or spears (supporting attacks). Not great options.

    If we choose to take two 80-point heroes and one Stormcaller/Arwen, we gain 20 points to work with, which basically can outfit our melee warriors with shields (or almost all of them), but we are choosing a hero who is not that likely to kill any warriors (or at least, not many).

    Also, we mentioned before that one of the big draws to playing as Rivendell is to be able to use their power heroes, who will take up 140-170 points to use. Clearly, LOME is a good option.

    While all of this is true, there is one big advantage to running Warbands over LOME:

    You get to run Wood Elves.

    Yes, I'm a Wood Elf player, so of course this is a big draw to me. LOME doesn't allow High Elves to take Wood Elves because Gildor is in the Wanderers in the Wild list, not the Rivendell or Eregion lists. Now consider: let's say that I'm trying to build a 600-pt list and my first warband looks like this:

    Gildor Inglorion - 80pts
    11 Wood Elf Warriors with Wood Elf spears - 88 pts
    Army Total: 12 models, 168pts (432 remaining)

    If my goal is three full warbands (we're going to get close, but not quite hit 39 models), here could be my next warband:

    High Elf Stormcaller - 60pts
    11 High Elf Warriors with Elf bows - 121pts
    Army Total: 24 models, 349pts (251 remaining)

    This allows me to do the following warband to finish my crew:

    Elladan and Elrohir - 140pts
    11 High Elf Warriors with shields - 110pts
    Army Total: 36 models, 599pts

    If your league allows for grace points (we at TMAT usually do 0.5% of the limit, which in this case would be 3 points), you can actually convert more of your Wood Elves into High Elves. Regardless of what ratio of High Elves to Wood Elves you use, this kind of list actually gives you a lot of flexibility against opponents: your spear units are cheap, and while their Defense is low, they can shield if charged (an ability gained at +3 points/model with High Elf Warriors).

    Your archers are supported by a stormcaller, who can blow a target model away from the group 2D6" and keeps them knocked on the ground for that turn. This buys you valuable time against cavalry models/heroes/monsters who might try to clear out your archer core. You can probably get this off three times in any given game, but you could get it off more often than that. Target something worth at least 60 points, and you'll probably keep that value out of the game completely (especially if it's melee).

    My melee wall will have 11 High Elves supported by Wood Elves with the twins running havoc on their foes. They don't have the D6 armor buff, but they're still very capable on offense, so if you can keep them protected from enemy fire, they should be able to weather the storm. With Gildor Immobilizing their targets, you can also take down monsters/light heroes with ease, paying for the pair quickly and efficiently (not to mention saving the rest of your team from a lot of pain).

    Alternatively, if I wanted three more models for the list, I could swap the twins with Erestor (saving me 60 points), allowing me to purchase 3 more infantry models, swap my Stormcaller for a Captain with Elf bow, and still have a few points left over for converting Wood Elves to High Elves.

    It's important to note that you can't take this army with Legions: you can run roughly the same list by dropping Gildor entirely and converting his cost (and his men) into High Elves (or upgrades on the twins), and you'll basically gain 2-4 models. I'll emphasize this point:

    Taking a Legions list would be just fine - not as flexible, but more resilient.

    2) The F5 D6 Spam

    Here at TMAT, we have a F4 D6 meta - basically everyone shoots for this or shoots way under it and spams lots of guys or takes lots of monsters/bashy heroes. It's just how it goes - people like above average combat prowess and resilience. Where High Elves come into a realm all their own is the F5 combat prowess (trumping basically all other warriors and some heroes) in addition to a D6 resilience. It's sooooo tempting!

    It comes, however, at a price: I believe all High Elf players should take a good handful of F5 D6 warriors - it pays to be a winner in fights and to come out alive on the off-chance that you lose. However, how far does this go?

    Most High Elf players here at TMAT run two ranks of D6 warriors, with each file in their battle line costing 21 points (10 for the front man, 11 for his spear support). This is a lot of money - even for armies with expensive warriors, like Uruk-Hai. While I call this method the "spam," it's really hard to spam this because it's really expensive. If you want to get three full warbands (or their equivalent) and assuming that you have 33% of your warriors with Elf bows ('re Elves), you'd have this to work with after getting your warrior core set:

    12 High Elf Warriors with shields - 120pts
    12 High Elf Warriors with shields and shields - 132pts
    12 High Elf Warriors with Elf bows - 132pts
    Army Total: 384pts (216 remaining)

    Okay, if I just spend 2/3 of my army on warriors, I have a few options:

    a) LOME: Elladan and Elrohir with heavy armor (or Elf bows) + Arwen (or a stormcaller)
    b) LOME: Elrond, Master of Rivendell + 1 more High Elf Warrior with Elf bow
    c) Warbands: Arwen with Elven cloak + Stormcaller + High Elf Captain with Elf bow (or shield...or Erestor...or Gildor...)

    Not a lot of options - all good options (maybe not Option B...not convinced that will work), but you're limited simply because of your warrior choices. I also didn't highlight that Gil-Galad allows you to get a F6 D6 front line...but that only exacerbates the issue (and would probably reduce your numbers a fair bit).

    3) The Rule Of One (Power Hero)

    Generally speaking here at TMAT, High Elf lists have one power hero. Even in the sample lists I provided, you're looking at one good hero (unless you take the twins). It's hard to break this rule, even though Rivendell is loaded with good heroes. Legions lists thrive on having numbers and the necessary evil that comes from spamming 40 guys is that if you're paying 10-11 points per model, you're going to have ~200 points to play with for your heroes. From my perspective, that tells me one thing:

    If you only want to spend 200 points on your heroes, don't play as Rivendell.

    I make this note fully knowing that people have taken Rivendell lists on this blog with a single power hero and won. Lots. TONS even. But if you're taking Rivendell, you miss out on their true capabilities if half your army isn't invested in heroes. Why take the twins and some captain/stormcaller when you could take the twins AND GLORFINDEL? Three combat heroes will clear out enemy positions easily. Want to cut down on costs a little? Drop Glorfindel and take Erestor - rerollable wounding dice on ranged and melee attacks is downright scary. Or perhaps you leave the twins at home and pay a few more points to get Elrond with Glorfindel. To do any of this, you need close to 300 points invested in heroes (or more).

    Going Tiberius-Crazy: A Last Alliance

    So, I'm a long-time listener of MrMalorian's Warhammer Fantasy youtube channel, and he likes to talk about lists that are "Malorian crazy" - lists that focus heavily on one thing that only a player who knows what he's doing would do but could end up proving to be quite valuable (or a complete bomb).

    What we're going to talk about here is the most "Tiberius-crazy" army I've come up with to date: a Last Alliance build that takes all the tactical units you could hope to field with High Elves (well, most of them) and the supplemental units you can field from Numenor (which have gone heretofore untested on our blog).

    Okay, some basics for starters: with the current meta, as I've mentioned in my previous post, we see a lot of unprotected Elven archers running about. D5 on your archers is great, but against S3 bows, you're going to get roasted. While you may take down some of them in return, it'll probably cost you more in the long-run. Sending a D6 warrior to stand in front of these guys (never count on terrain being your friend) is expensive - why keep 10 additional points/model out of the fight?

    So, we recruit some cheap warriors from Numenor. While Numenor doesn't have access to D6 (you'd have to turn to Arnor for that - read more about them in Centaur's post here), you do get cheaper 8-point cost units who are also D5 to improve the survivability of those deadly archers. Let's assume we have the following Numenorian warband to ally into the army:

    Captain of Numenor with heavy armor and shield - 60pts
    10 Warriors of Numenor with shields - 80pts
    2 Warriors of Numenor with bows - 16pts
    Army Total: 13 models, 156pts (444 remaining)

    With about a quarter of the army point cost spoken for, we now turn to getting some High Elf warriors to flesh out our ranks. If we shoot for two full warbands, we'll spend at least the following points on our High Elf Warriors:

    16 High Elf Warriors with shields - 160pts
    8 High Elf Warriors with Elf bows - 88pts
    Army Total: 37 models, 404pts (196 remaining)

    With almost 200 points left, we can do a few things, but here's what I would recommend:

    2 Stormcallers - 120pts
    Captain of Numenor with shield and heavy armor - 60pts
    2 Warriors of Numenor with bows - 16pts
    Army Total: 42 models, 600pts

    Why so many Numenorians? And why run 10 shields and 4 bows? The answer is simple: your army already has 16 warriors decked with F5 D6 and the shielding rule to stay alive. The rest of your army are elite bowmen hiding behind either a F4 D5 shield wall or a F5 D7 captain who can shield. Factor in two stormcallers, and any enemy heroes you face are not going to be punishing your lines. The result is pretty simple: you clean up enemies with your archery and absorb whatever enemy archery comes your way. It's important to note that by dropping 4 High Elf Warriors, we could grow our number by one total unit by adding in some more Numenorians (say 2 with bows and 3 with shields). In this kind of set-up, we'd be going for firepower with this list, instead of the traditional charge-and-break. Tiberius-crazy? Perhaps...we'll be looking to get the army tested for either this year's GT or next year's GT, so more on that in a bit.

    A special thanks to my little munchkin helper, Vin, who isn't looking her best, but is sick we give her a pass.
    In our next post, we'll be looking at my beloved Wood Elves and how we get a very different Elven experience with them. Until then, happy hobbying!

    Saturday, February 13, 2016

    Tactica: Getting The Most Out Of Your Archers

    Aaaaaaaaaand we're back! It's been far too long everyone, but things have been crazy - lots to catch up on.

    2016 brings with it a new emphasis: Elves! And what way to showcase some of the work we're doing on our Elves than a post on archery. The regular readers of this blog know that archery is my thing - most of my armies max out their archery or have some kind of magical power that works like archery. In the gaming group you see here on TMAT, most of the armies that come to our tournaments lack in archery (often having 0-6 units that participate at range greater than 8"). This post is for the non-believers out there and ways you can tailor your list to do more in a distinct (and potentially powerful) phase of the game.

    1) Why Do The Haters Hate: The Risk Of Emphasizing Archery

    250 pt Lothlorien & Mirkwood List: Legolas, Wood Elf Captain
    with Elf bow, 4 Wood Elf Warriors with Elf bows, 6 Wood Elf
    Warriors with throwing daggers
    Armies that focus much of their value on archery face the following problem: what happens if I just can't kill things when I'm shooting? When I first started collecting in the hobby, I had an army of Wood Elves where everyone toted a throwing weapon or Elf bow. This not only maximized on the high shoot value that Elves naturally have, but it also provided me with devastating power over melee-oriented armies. In the army you see on the left, this is what 250pts of Wood Elves running this kind of strategy would look like - not a lot of units, but everyone gets to participate in the shooting phase. If your opponent gets the drop on your melee warriors, however, those throwing daggers won't do anything for you.

    Revised List: Legolas with armor, Wood Elf Captain with Elf
    bow, 5 Wood Elf Warriors with Wood Elf spears, 1 Wood Elf
    Warrior with throwing daggers, 4 Wood Elf Warriors with Elf bows.
    Consider the alternative: skip the investment in archery and instead focus your purchases on compensating for melee weaknesses - in this case, purchasing armor for Legolas and Wood Elf spears for many of the melee warriors (instead of throwing daggers). While you are still vulnerable to melee damage, the spears will not only allow you to support the other warriors should you get in a fight, but could also be used to shield (useful for buying the archers time to redeploy and escape). This team still sports a lot of archery, though you could choose to substitute the Captain and Legolas' armor upgrade for Haldir with an Elf bow (for still more archery). In small games (or one section of a larger battle), that's powerful.

    I'm convinced that it's this assessment of "what happens if my non-bows are nerfed" (or "what if my bows never hit") that dissuades many from taking archery in the first place. While this certainly has its share of reliable stories to prove the case, the greatest value of archery comes in this:

    Archery is the only thing in this game that your opponent has no control over once he's done moving his guys.

    There is no dueling roll like there is in the Fight phase, there is no sneaky maneuvering like there is in the Move phase. There is only shooting - and unless your opponent calls a Heroic Shoot to shoot with some/all of his warriors near a hero before you do, there's nothing that can be done. It's all in your hands, really. That's what makes it unique, and I think that's what makes the Shoot phase powerful.

    2) Knowing Your Army: How To Make Your Archery Work

    Goblin Warriors or Goblin Prowlers? Both can be archers...
    Choosing what archers you use can be simple for some armies: if you only have one unit that can carry a bow (or use a throwing weapon), you're really just debating whether to take archery or not (and if you do, how much). For other armies, however, the choice between what unit to take can be quite involved. Consider a Goblin army for example: it would be wrong to assume that all you have as options are those TERRIBLE Goblin Warriors with Orc bows - I've written up in the past a whole section on how they're the worst archers in the game. Goblin commanders should consider whether to get Warriors or Prowlers (who we always forget have Orc bows as an equipment choice): Prowlers cost more (you get 3 for the cost of 5 normal Goblins...roughly), but shoot more reliably on a 4+, have throwing daggers when the enemy gets within 6", and are Fight 3 when the enemy invariably charges you. Not a bad choice, unless you intend to field lots of monsters and need the points spent elsewhere.

    A mixture of Dwarf Rangers and Dwarf Warriors?
    Dwarves have a similar choice: Dwarf Warriors or Dwarf Rangers (not to mention, ballista). One of the great benefits of a Dwarf Warrior is that he's got great Defense and a strong bow (albeit only with 18" range). Against armies that sport odd-Defense units, there are clear advantages to taking Dwarf Warriors. But since almost every army you'll fight has some even-Defense units (usually D4 or D6), the improved strength of the bow is negated entirely. Against these units, for 1 point more, you hit more reliably at a longer range and you lack 1 Defense point. It was this logic (took me a while to realize) that eventually sold me on getting a mixture of Rangers and Warriors.

    There's no right or wrong answer: sometimes I leave my Rangers at home, sometimes I bring them. I haven't been sold yet on Prowlers as archers, but I'm starting to come around to them. It ultimately depends on what you want your army to do (or if you want to focus on archery at all).

    3) And Then They Died: How To Protect Your Archers Smartly

    For some lists, protecting your archers is a matter of choosing the right non-archer unit to stand in front of your bowmen (I don't trust terrain to work too well). Take Isengard for example: you have excellent choices of D5-D6 Uruks who can stand in front of your D3-D5 bowmen/crossbowmen (depending on whether you want to take Ruffians, Orc Warriors, Dunlandings, Scouts/Marauders, or crossbowmen). While I can see value in taking Ruffians (Glenstorm did an EXCELLENT write-up of why you take these guys here) and almost everyone can see the value in taking crossbows (anyone who gets their base strength from their archery is an excellent choice), I personally like Uruk Marauders with Orc bows. Why? Three reasons:

    • Marauders are fast - 8" base means moving 4" while being able to shoot. This allows them to keep close to your ranks (more on that in a bit);
    • Marauders are F4-S4, which makes them reliable damage-dealers in melee combat if you need to throw archers into a fight (remember Glenstorm's first rule of archers: archers are swordsmen);
    • Marauders cost 10 points, which is about what you expect to pay with Isengard anyway (though expensive compared to many, MANY other lists). 

    250 pt Isengard List: Mauhur, Drummer, 8 Uruk Warriors with
    shields, 3 Uruk Warriors with pikes, 4 Marauders with Orc bows.
    If you choose Marauders, you can get a 250pt army as shown on the left - featuring Mauhur, a drummer, a handful of Uruk Warriors with shields and pikes, and four Uruk Marauders with Orc bows. The archers here would be able to move at 8" (11" if the drummer beats his drum) and can fire if they've moved 4" (or 5.5" with the drum). Moving at 5.5" is basically like moving with the rest of the battle line and you can still fire - how great is that??? Still, we're paying a lot for D6 archery cover to protect our D4 archers. If they spend most/all of the game standing in front of a row of archers (until they eventually charge), the points are kind of wasted. This is when commanders like me come to the conclusion that there must be a better way...

    Revised List: Mauhur, Drummer, 3 Uruk Warriors with shields,3 Uruk Warriors with pikes, 4 Orc Warriors with shields,
    1 Orc Warrior with spear, 4 Marauders with Orc bows.
    The answer, I've found, is actually to run Orc Warriors with shields: for 6pts/model, you're dropping your Defense a little bit, but you grow the army by a few guys and while they don't benefit from the drum's movement bonus, they can still advance in front of the Marauders without slowing them down. The army would look like this (we traded 3 Uruk Warriors with shields for 4 Orc Warriors with shields and one Orc Warrior with spear). The numbers for this list have grown a little (19 models in 250pts) and the overall resiliency has gone down against odd-Strength units only (which most ranged weapons are not). It's important to note too that your spear/pike line has grown by one more file, so you might be able to do more damage against your opponent when your melee warriors clash.

    250 pt Rivendell & Eregion List: Erestor, Arwen Evenstar,
    4 High Elf Warriors with shields, 6 High Elf Warriors, 6 High
    Elf Warriors with Elf bows.
    The other option is to take an allied contingent to protect your archers. Some lists don't have a lot of unit flexibility and to highlight this point, I'd like to showcase my Rivendell & Eregion warriors that I'm working on. When you only have one warrior profile to work with (High Elf Warriors...though with Gildor you unlock 0-12 Wood Elf Warriors), it's hard to manage both cost and function. Most High Elf armies that you'll see here on TMAT feature a 1/3 split between shields, spears with shields, and Elf bows. This means that your bows generally go unprotected. A typical 250pt group (without spears) would look like this: High Elf bowmen are protected by D5 "vanilla" warriors. A small contingent of High Elves with shields would support whatever power hero you're using (which is Erestor here, but could be Glorfindel, the Twins, or Elrond if you really wanted damage).

    Revised List: Erestor, 4 High Elf Warriors with shields, 4 High
    Elf Warriors with Elf bows, 4 High Elf Warriors, Captain of
    Numenor, 5 Warriors of Numenor with shields
    So how can we protect our archers while still featuring a strong front line? Ally in Numenor: for 8 pts/model, you get the same D5 protection and this allows you to raise your army total a little while not sacrificing Defense. I'll note that you could also go with the same number of units, add four Warriors of Numenor (instead of five) and give all of your "vanilla" High Elves spears and shields (which most people like). I'll also note that if I'd chosen to ally in Arnor, instead of Numenor, I could get D6 cover for the archers for the same amount of points (and if you fielded a few more to spear-support your High Elf shield-wall, you'd actually both grow your number and improve your protection from enemy archery all in one move).

    I'm hoping to get more content up in the next few weeks - things have been crazy recently, but got some hobbying to do on my Wood Elves (you saw the new captain I procured), High Elves, and Numenor. We'll be delving into some tactics and strategy (and why I decided to get Numenorians anyway), so stay tuned!