Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Close Run Thing in Rohan

The month of February has arrived and it was time for a refight of the last game of War of the Ring Mark and I had played. Again, it would be Isengard, lead by Saruman of the White Hand against Rohan, lead by Eomer. Last time I won a narrow victory.

The forces were exactly the same as before but Mark chose to divide up his companies into a slightly different configuration of formations. He broke his archers into two groups and rearranged his cavalry into three formations. This would make his force more flexible and less vulnerable to certain spells.

I kept my forces the same, assigning Saruman to the Uruk-hai Warband and the Captain to the Phalanx. Vrashku and his crossbows were on the far right flank, Saruman and the warband were in the centre with the Troll and Berserkers slightly his right, the Phalanx was to his left and the Sappers were on the far left. The phalanx was a bit further over this time, lined up to try and take one of the three buildings that were the objectives of the game. The big difference in Mark’s deployment was putting an archer unit close to each flank.

I won Priority for the first turn and At the Doubled what units I could. The Vrashku advanced with two companies up and one back, coming into range of the archers on their flank. The warband and the phalanx both made their rolls but because of the restrictive terrain could not move up as far as they would like. Next time I think I’ll just go through the terrain rather than try to go around it, as it will help maintain my formation and only slow me down slightly. I ended out of spell range of all of Mark’s units, not a bad trick for a narrow table. I tried to cast Dark Fury on Saruman’s formation but failed the spell roll and chose not to expend a point of Might to bump it up. I did use Saruman’s Overlord ability to allow the Sappers to do a Heroic Move, giving them 18” of movement, placing them beside one of the objective buildings. I should have moved them into the building for the extra defence. Mark managed to At the Double two of his three cavalry formations and set them up for a double charge on the Warband with Saruman. My clever move of the game, which I had been thinking about since the last game, was to at the double the Troll Captain into the centre building, which I did.

For shooting, things initially went quite well for me. Vrashku called a heroic shoot and unloaded on the archers across from him. Hitting on 5’s and 6’s he did 11 hits to the formation. One more would have killed it so he expended a point of might to eliminate it completely by boosting one of his die rolls. Vrashku was down to one might but had killed an entire formation. Mark’s archers on the other flank shot up the Sapper unit, unfortunately doing four hits and killing it. There was an earth shattering kaboom, but no units were affected by it when I rolled 6” for the blast radius. Dang! It did make us realize that we goofed last game and they should have actually blown up much earlier. He also softened up Saruman’s formation with some thrown weapons and horse archery.

In the charge phase I was hoping Saruman’s Voice ability would prevent him from being charged, but this failed. In order not get charged by both units I chose to charge the closest one. Mark declared a heroic charge for both formations, which I countered with one of my own. I won the first roll but not the second. I’m not sure we played that right but I’ll have to do some rule checking. By charging the one cav formation I left myself open for an attack from the rear by the other cav. Mark also declared a heroic duel with both Erkenbrand and Eomer. Eomer also called an Epic strike, raising his fight to 10. I maxed out my dice roll and Eomer did well, beating me by 5, giving him that many rolls on the Heroic Duel chart. He rolled 6’s on three of them killing Saruman outright and doing a number of hits to the actual formation.

The rest of the fight phase saw the rest of the formation annihilated by the remaining cavalry attacks. Mark, being the nice guy that he is, decided we should do a reset and let me try it differently. This was most generous of him. For the refight I decided not to charge his cav but let myself be charged. This eliminated the attack to the rear as he could only get to my flank, but his one formation would get its lance bonus and both formations would have their charge bonus. Again Saruman’s Voice failed to beguile the Rohirim into not attacking. Again, he called heroic duels, and Saruman survived the fight with Eomer but was killed off by Erkenbrand, doing even more casualties to the formation and again the rest of the formation being wiped out by follow on attacks. So, either way, Saruman was very damn dead without having got a single spell off. That was a serious blow to my moral. In retrospect I should have had more units closer to him guarding his flanks. It may have also been wise to place him with the phalanx formation as that would have eliminated the cavalry charge bonus. Taking off 6 dice per Cav Company charging might have been worth the slightly lower defence. Having units prepared to hit his cav in the flanks, like the berserkers, would have been a good idea as well. So, one of my most valuable units was gone. Mark played it masterfully, using his heroes to eliminate my hero. It did cost him a fortune in might to do, but he’d essentially torn the heart out of my force. I perhaps should have gone second, as Mark would have moved into casting range allowing me to soften up some of his units before they hit me, or perhaps Immobilize one of them.

I still had an effective fighting force, and it was time to focus on the objectives. Mark won Priority for turn 2, and manoeuvred his cavalry for a strike at Vrashku’s Talons, seeking revenge for his dead archers. He also wanted to get away from the troll in the building. A block of his infantry and the Three Hunters moved up the centre. I moved the Talon’s into a position across the corner of the board which would prevent them from being flanked. I moved the Phalanx up, managing to get one company into the building. We play it that you can temporary split up formations to occupy terrain. The berserkers moved so their backs were to some woods to prevent rear attacks from the nearby cav. The troll moved out of the building so he could charge the Rohan knights close to him.

Mark shot up the Talon’s using horse archery and thrown weapons, and the archers on the far flank managed to get some solid hits on the company of Uruks in the building. I focused my crossbow fire on Deowine’s unit of 3 companies of Rohirim, but with something like 18 rolls, only managed to eliminate a single company (4 hits total). The troll threw a rock at some cav but did not get enough hits to eliminate a knight.

The charge phase saw two units of Rohan cavalry plow into Vrashku, eliminating two companies in the fight phase which was a better result then I’d expected. He also charged the troll, failing to do any hits for the loss of knight. The Three Hunters charged the berserkers in the flank, killing 6 of the eight guys in the formation. That hurt. My special teams, except the troll, were sucking.

Mark won Priority for turn three (was it really only turn three?). He moved a block of Royal Guard infantry towards the building occupied by the Uruk phalanx and occupied the building on my right flank with some oathsworn infantry. I moved the troll back into the centre building and another company of Uruks into the left flank building. The last two berserkers retreated into some woods. On the shoot phase the last of the Talon’s went down under a hail of bow fire and thrown spears. The troll managed to bring down a Knight with a rock. The archers did nothing to the Uruks in the building they occupied. The Royal Guard charged the Uruks in the building but came off the worst for it, taking two casualties for nothing in return. They were proving a tough nut to crack. The Three Hunters charged the Troll in the central building managing to inflict two wounds on him after expending a bunch of might, but he was still alive.

On turn four Mark again won Priority and wheeled his riders back across the table. Basically he was going to throw everything he had at Uruks in the building. Time was almost up and despite being badly bloodied, I still held two of the buildings. A combination of archery and fighting eliminated the Uruks in the building. I attempted to charge the Three Hunters in the flank with my two berserkers to reduce the number of attacks on the troll, but their charge failed. After a mighty expenditure of Might, the troll went down. The Three Hunters started the game with 8 Might and used it all. I was able to get the last company of Uruks into the building after winning Priority on turn five and they held out for the last turn of the game.

A lot of my problems were caused by my set up. I really should have done more to protect Saruman. Again, Mark played his assault on the Master of the White Hand very, very well but as noted above, there are things I could have done to minimize the damage. Despite the big loss early on, I fought my forces as well as I could and things came down to the wire. Mark manoeuvred his cavalry brilliantly, exploiting their advantage of rapid movement, but also discovered they’re not of much help when you want to occupy a building. The Troll Captain certainly proved his worth. In the building he had a defence of 10 making it very difficult to hurt him. I think I played the first game better tactically, and If I had of repeated some of the things I did there this game would have gone much better for me.

Until next time, TTFN.

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