Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Dark Day for Men

Mark came over for one of our ongoing Thursday games. This week it was Games Workshop's War of the Ring games, which I've posted about before. It's a mass combat game set in Tolkien's Middle Earth. Mark is great. He brings over all the figures, the terrain and the nice table covering. He also takes some great pictures to record the game. The miniatures we use are not the 28 mm ones from GW, but a larger scale that was put out in a collect able format. Apparently they are becoming increasingly rare and hard to get a hold of. Mark does a lot of conversion work on them to make different poses and looks from the originals. They look great. I have a pile of the 28 mm but they have to watch from the display case until Dave can bring over his gigantic horde of guys.

This week it was a mixed force of Evil, mostly from the Fallen Realms list with some Uruk-hai thrown in for good measure vs. Gondorians and Rangers. My force consisted of three companies of Easterlings with pikes (24 figs), three companies of Uruk-hai (24 figs), 2 companies of Haradrim archers (16 figs), 3 companies of Haradrim cavalry (6 figs), and a Troll. I also had a Haradrim captain and an Uruk-hai captain.

Mark had three two company formations of Warriors of Minas Tirith (16 figures each), two companies of Minas Tirith archers (16 figs), two companies or Rangers (16 figs), 4 companies of Knights of Minas Tirith (8 figs), and a bolt thrower. He also had Faramir and a Minas Tirith captain.

We set our forces on the long edge of my 6 foot dining room table. The table is only 2 1/2 feet wide which means we were going to be engaging each other tout suite. I set my Easterlings on the right flank, with the Uruk-hai taking the centre with my cavalry in between them. On the left were the Haradrim archers and the Troll.

Mark divided his cavalry between the two flanks, with two companies each. Farimir was with the left cav formation. On the left flank were the Rangers, with the centre having the three formations of Warriors and the bolt thrower. The far right flank was held by the two companies of archers.

The terrain conisted of two clumps of woods at either end of the battle field and some difficult terrain scattered across the centre.

Mark won the first turns initiative and asked me to move first. I had placed my captain with the archers. This allowed them to move "At the Double", which they were able to do, moving 12" instead of 6". All of the other formations trundled forward at their regular move with the Haradrim cav leading the way. Mark moved his Rangers forward, occupying the woods on his left flank. This increased the defence of his low D Rangers. Rangers and woods, two great things that go great together, well, most of the time. The rest of his units moved up, with his cav flanking. The next phase was shooting. My Haradrim captain called a Heroic Shoot. Normally archers that have moved full cannot shoot, but the Heroic Shoot overrides this. This gave me 18 shots at the Rangers, plus another 9 shots from the cav. Despite the defensive bonus given by the woods almost a full company of Rangers were cut down, some by poisoned arrows.

Mark returned fire with his archers and bolt thrower. The bolt thrower missed, and the archers did minimal casulaties. Nobody was in charge range so there was no fight phase.

I won initiative on the second turn and advanced my cav towards one of his warrior formations. My archers moved up slightly so they could still shoot, and everybody else advanced. In the shoot phase my archers finished off the Rangers in the woods, Mark's bolt thrower missed again and I don't think I took any other hits from his archers. My cav was planning on charging the infantry in front of them but Mark called a Heroic Charge, interrupting their attempt to charge by charging them with Faramir and his two companies of Knights. I was in turn able to charge the Knights with my Troll. The knights wiped out the Haradrim cav with Faramir using Epic Strike, and were then wailed on by the Troll, who scored 9 hits. This would normally take out the whole formation. Faramir used his Epic Sacrifice ability negating 6 of the hits but going down in the process. One Knight went down with him. His other unit of Knights had gotten within charge range of my Easterling unit and hit them in the flank, taking out a company, losing a couple of Knights in the process. Those Easterlings are tough dudes.

The next turn I won initiative and moved my Easterlings and Haradrim archers into the woods that were near them. This made them considerably less tempting targets for charges. My Uruk-hai moved up the centre putting themselves into a rather vulnerable position. Mark moved his one unit of Knights so they could charge the Uruks in the rear and after the Uruks charged a unit of warriors in the centre they were charged by another unit of warriors in their flank. Not good. My archers in the woods managed to get out and charge a unit of infantry. The Minas Tirith Captain called out the Uruk-hai captain in a Heroic Duel, but was defeated, leaving the Men leaderless. The Troll was in the thick of it as well. After being whittled down by a company of Minas Tirith archers my Easterling phalanx charged out of the woods to come to grips with the archers harassing them. The resulting fight phase saw casualties to the Uruk-hai, about 12 of them going down. I was expecting worse. The flanking formation of Haradrim and the Troll did there jobs, reducing the companies of Men considerably. The Easterlings managed to get there licks in on the archers, eventually destroying the formation after a couple of turns of combat, but being reduced to a single company.

The subsequent turns were a swirl of battle in the centre of the board. Mark's bolt thrower crew finally got their range and the Haradrim archers paid the price, going down in two turns. The troll laid about him with abandon and did some pretty serious damage. He managed to stay alive despite a couple of turns of fire from the bolt thrower, receiving two wounds but not going down. The remaining Easterlings moved across the board to get into the fray in the centre. I had bad luck on initiative over the last few turns but I was able to make some good moves, most importantly having the troll resist going after a unit that was disordered and instead charging another unit in the rear. The Troll was probably my most effective unit and after the bolt thrower failed to kill it, Mark conceded the game.

At the end of the game Mark had two companies of Men left, one of which was surrounded by my remaining Uruk-Hai, Easterlings, and the Troll and the bolt thrower. My troll was wounded and I had about a company and a half of Uruks and the one company of Easterlings. It could have gone either way and the victory was definitely Phyrric.

It was a great game and we got to use a lot of different rules and was probably one of the best tactical games I've played in some time. It was probably our smoothest game to date without a lot of rules discussion. Even when things were going bad the game was so much fun it didn't really matter. As I noted above, Mark took lots of pictures and I've posted the ones he sent me. Again, thank you to Mark for taking the time to come over, bring his stuff and giving me my gaming fix.

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