Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Gamble of Champions

Last Friday night I got to play a game of LotR, and I took my Far Harad force.  This is only my second game with an all Far Harad force, and I'm learning a lot about them.  For years they were an allied contingent for my Corsairs.  They play a lot differently in that role than they do as a stand-alone force.  One important difference I noticed is that it's really, really not OK if one of them dies.  So let's talk about my game.

I'm going to actually provide my list this time.  I didn't take notes on the exact composition of my opponent's list.  I'll take some guesses.

700 points
Mahud King, camel
Tribemaster, camel
Mahud Warriors, blow pipes x 4
Mahud Warriors, hw/shield x 8
Mahud Warriors, spears / shld x 13
Half Trolls x 4
Half Trolls, 2 hd wpn x 4
Mahud Raiders, war spear x 3

I faced Tim's Uruk Hai.  At 700 pts he had big blocks of Uruk-hai with pikes.  A bunch of crossbows were parked on the a hilltop, maybe 6-8 of them.  A shaman was running around the back ranks.  But imposing beyond belief was the Isengard Troll that stomped ahead of the force.

We rolled up a scenario, and got Contest of Champions.  In this scenario the leaders of each side try to kill more than the opposing leader, all the while attempting to destroy the enemy army.  Probably sounds like something that happened at the office today, doesn't it?  I digress.

One of the areas that I struggle to get correct in any game system I play is the deployment phase.  I don't know why I tend to treat this phase like I'm sleep-walking.  Whenever I lose, half the time I can trace it back to poor deployment.  Now having said that, I don't think I deployed badly in this scenario; but throughout the game I had a nagging feeling like I was going the wrong way.  I'll come back to this point later.  Here's how the proud Mahud looked after I finished dropping them on the table.
There's that damn woods I always find right in front of me.  After years of seeing it there, why don't I learn to plan for it?  It's only six inches from my line, but yet I set up like it's a total and utter shock that those trees should appear before me.  So priority falls to me and the Mahud move out.  At the end of that move, I realize that I will have to divide my force to avoid the trees.  Splitting a small force in the face of a numerically superior foe is not a good idea.

My only reprieve from my short-sightedness is that the Uruk-hai are to my far right.  Later I would discover I am being led by the nose into a tight position where my already small numbers will be restricted.  Since I am thoroughly fascinated with the woods in front of me, I spend all my time dealing with them.  I decide to filter through the trees and keep my line together.  Here's a shot of me plodding through the terrain while trying to keep everyone together.  You can see the Uruk-hai getting into position.
So the next several turns will be a lot of movement and positioning of both sides.  I did manage to stay away from crossbow fire for most of this movement.  I got to take a few blow pipe shots, too.  The move or shoot rule is really too bad, given they're such short range.  I suppose the shoot 3+ and the poisoned darts make up for that.  But in reality, they don't; it's still a strength 2 dart with a re-roll on a 1.  Eventually we are all in position and I realize immediately that I'm am not going to be bisected, but instead trisected.  This is why I had that nagging feeling of going the wrong way I mentioned before.

The main Uruk-hai park in the center of the wide field between two trees.  Small harassment forces are coming around the flanks, which force me to send something to deal with these.  I end up getting pulled three ways, and the traffic jam in the middle means my Mahud warriors are spear supporting.

A Mahud left to spear support his buddy is only half a man.  He's just been castrated by one attack, which you dearly paid for in his expensive points.  It's a sad day when this happens, because you are throwing three dice where you should've been throwing four.  This is the downfall of an all Mahud force, I suppose.  But it just riles me whenever I have to do this. 

Here's a shot of where the rest of the game would play out.  Check out this awesome picture of the Isengard Troll roaring at me across the expanse.
The Uruk-hai come forward and two brave (insane) orcs break away to block the approaches.  However, this allows my King to charge the orc.  So the objective is for him to kill more than the Uruk-hai captain.  So he makes the charge.  His impaler rule does not kill anything and I rejoice.  I now have a Muhud leader in combat, which activates the warrior's pride rule for a 12" radius around him.  This means all my Mahud will pass their courage checks automatically.  So I send the two raiders charging into the troll.

The combat with the troll goes unfavorably.  First, none of the impaler strikes go off.  Next, the darn troll has a shield and he decides to use it.  So he rolls six dice to my six dice, and he wins.  Too bad, because the troll was trapped!  The king also loses his combat and has to blow a point of might to win.  At least he killed the orc, and I'm now leading the death toll 1-0.

All around the fights are joined and it is a very bad day for the Mahud.  One half troll is killed after losing the fight, and five other Mahud die in that combat phase.  During the shoot phase, the crossbows sniped a raider off his camel.  Rather flustered at this bad luck, I also see my Tribemaster is uselessly milling about on his camel, adding nothing to the fight.  The Uruk-hai captain gets a kill this round, too.

The Mahud win the next priority.  I decide to take a gamble.  I move some models around to break control zones.  Then I plow my Mahud King right into the Uruk-hai captain and his two columns of pikes.  This is crazy, but at least my impaler rule kills one of the orcs.  Now it's 2-1 for kill ratios.  The Raiders charge the Isengard troll again.  The spear of one of my models touches the troll's chest.  Will this be the good omen I hope it is?
Well, it was a good omen for the raiders.  The troll decides to "troll-up" and fight.  I win this time and throw six, strength 5 dice to wound.  I roll a lot of sixes and the Isengard troll is no more!  Yeah!

It was a Pyrrhic victory.  My King throws four dice and the best he gets is a three.  So pikes and swords get jammed into his face and he dies.  The kill score is 2-2, but the game is lost.  I ask to call the game, but we decided to play through one more round.  The Uruk-hai captain easily gets his kill and we end it.  Major victory to the Uruk-hai.

It was a good game and I had several realizations as I played.  The biggest one hit me like a ton of bricks.  I realized my Raiders are not for charging rank-and-file troops.  They are for hitting multi wound models.  To do otherwise means the Impaler rule could leave them exposed to counter attacks.  But on a multi-wound model, like the Isengard troll, it would help soften up the enemy.  So any game where I can learn something is not a loss!  I look forward to taking out the Far Harad again.  I might just start learning how to play them!


Drunken Samurai said...

Nice report and it sounds like a good game. That Tim guy is tricksy. Don't fall for his tricks. I nearly wiped him out last week and he still won the game. Cheatin' Uraks.

Tim Kulinski said...


Nice write up man, I was laughing out loud while reading it. It nice to see that you got over the "Troll Fear" and he can be killed. Look forward to another fit against you Far harad.

Jerry said...

Thanks guys! Glad you enjoyed the write up.