Saturday, January 9, 2010

Another Dark Day for Men (well, Evil Men that is)

First, in something totally unrelated to the rest of this post, I must mention the fact that I had a pretty fabulous Christmas this year. The main part of this was due to the fact that my lovely wife had ten days in a row off and we got to spend plenty of time together. There were lots of very nice presents for everyone in our household and tonnes of good food, including the best Sloppy Joe's I've ever had. Now that the holiday season is over, it's back to some other fun things, like table top miniatures gaming.

The last battle I played in went quite well for me, with my mix of Uruk-hai and Evil men winning a pretty convincing victory over the forces of good. Our next game was going to be a refight using similar but slighted changed orders of battle.

Again, I was playing evil. I like playing evil in LOTR: WOTR but I'm not sure why. Maybe it'd because most of my own LOTR mini's are evil. I was notorious in high school for sticking to playing the good guys, especially the Federation in Star Fleet Battles and Ranger or some other Good character in D&D. The main difference between my forces from those in the last game was the addition of a Ringwraith, in this case Khamul the Easterling. He is a pretty expensive unit, so I lost two companies of Uruk-hai, and the remaining company was converted to crossbows, and lead by an Uruk-hai hero named Vrashku. The increase in points allowed Mark to expand his Ranger and Cavalry forces for the good side. You can see the respective forces in the pictures posted with this blog. You might notice that Mark had the weight of numbers on his side.

Mark says that he is slightly scared of magic users in WOTR, especially powerful ones like the Ringwraiths. They can cast up to three spells a turn and have all the other abilities of heroes, but only one point of Might. Khamul also has an ability called Essence Leech, which gives his formation a save against casualties and can cause those casualties to rebound onto a nearby enemy unit. As cool as he is, I'm not sure he's worth it in a small to medium game of WOTR, as he sucks up a lot of points and can leave you badly outnumbered.

We set up as usual, using the nice terrain mat Mark has plus his spiffy rocky outcroppings and trees. We faced each other as if we had entered along the long edge of the table, which meant in the first turn we would almost certainly be in arrow range of each other. You can see the initial deployments in one of the pictures.

I may be mixing up the first couple of turns here but you'll get the idea. Mark won the first Priority (initiative) roll and decided to let me go first. I hot footed my Uruk crossbows into some woods and advanced the rest of the army. Mark also advanced with his cavalry starting to sweep around both flanks. The first shooting phase was mediocre for me, taking out one Gondorian cavalryman. I did manage to use Khamul to Transfix one of the units of his cav, but in retrospect, I should have used the spells differently. His shooting phase was much more devastating than mine, with a lot of his stuff locking on to the troll. He managed to inflict two wounds on the Troll with his Avenger Bolt Thrower, which was then finished off by something like 36 shots from his Rangers. It was a terrible blow. The troll was one of the main reasons I won the last game and he was dead in the first turn. I should have used Khamul to cast Pall of Night on the bolt thrower and the Rangers, reducing their effectiveness, and I should have deployed the Troll closer to cover. He also took out some of my Uruk-hai crossbows with his formation of Gondor archers. Taking one company of anything is a mistake. The charge phase saw me blow my charge roll with my Haradrim against the Transfixed Gondor cav, so nothing happened there. I tried to charge his other unit of cav with my Haradrim foot but couldn't get close enough, and they counter charged with a Heroic charge, wiping them out but expending all of their Might in the process. The next turn saw the rest of my Uruk crossbows fall, despite the cover of the woods. They got charged in the woods, but could only fight with half their number. So, I was down to my three companies of Easterlings, including Khamul and some Haradrim Cav. I tried to limit my losses by fighting defensively, keeping the archers under palls of night to reduce their effectiveness and manoeuvring to get out of their line of sight. Faramir and his cav managed to charge the Easterlings from the rear but a combination of Essence Leech and two handed weapons destroyed the entire formation. The remaining Easterlings were whittled down by archery fire and then the other unit of cav hit them, finishing them off. The Haradrim cav, who I had kept largely intact by avoiding a headlong charge into the heart of the enemy forces, decided discretion was the better part of valour and hit the road.

Well, that battle went about as wrong as it could, other than the high point of taking out Faramir. I'm still getting used to magic so I have to work on picking the right spell for the right situation. The early Transfix would have been useful if I hadn't failed my charge roll. The Pall of Night might have been a better choice, and my troll may have survived to get under cover, or at least get into charge range. Also, taking Vrashku and his Talons was a mistake. If your going to use a Legendary unit, make sure you have at least three companies in the formation. We made one little mistake, in that when fighting from cover it's half the capacity of the terrain in terms of companies, not individual figures. This means my Uruks in the woods would have shot and fought at full strength. The Uruks were a point sink as was Khamul. The loss of the Troll, another points sink, was a nasty blow, and my forces never recovered after it was lost. I'm thinking in small to medium WOTR battles, numbers are important, and big points sinks, like a magic user, even a powerful one like Khamul, should be avoided. About half of his forces never actually engaged, with most of the damage being done through missile fire and cavalry. His big block of infantry in the centre didn't do a lot, except for a formation that took out the last of Vrashku's Uruks who were hiding in the woods.
Next time we play, I'm hoping to take an Isengard (lots of Uruk-hai lead by Saruman of the White Hand) themed force but I'm not sure who I'll be up against. There is a distinct chance of pointy eared bastards in the offing.

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