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.
Mahud King, 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.
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.
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 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?
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!