Thursday, April 29, 2010

Up Elve's Creek

Two posts in two days. Wow!

Mark came over today for another game of War of the Ring. It was essentially a re fight of the last battle we had with a few minor differences. Instead of taking the wood elf King, Mark went with Haldir, who, as we shall see, is pretty hot with a bow. This also gave him the points to buy another company of Elves, giving them two formations with two companies each. The terrain was also slightly different with a branch to the creek, one larger patch of forest and a few extra spots of difficult terrain. My forces were unchanged from the last game.

My account of the game will essentially be a description of the high (and low) points that occur ed, rather than a turn by turn account. A lot happened in the game and it would be difficult to relate it all.

My set up was different than last game, with Vrashku's Talons on the far left flank, followed by Saruman in a formation of two companies of Uruk-hai Phalanx, next to whom were a three company formation of Uruk-hai Warband. Within the forks of the creek was a four company formation of Orcs and a two company formation of Uruk-hai scouts with bows.

The big patch of forest was right in front of the Talon's and, I having won Priority for the first turn, moved them in at the double. The forest had a capacity of three, so they would be able to shoot at full strength. All of my other forces advanced as best they could. The amount of terrain made things interesting for manoeuvring. My first turns shooting went well, taking out almost a whole company of Rohan bowmen who were hiding in a nearby patch of woods. A lot of his cav was on my far right flank, but they did not move into an offensive position as they were worried about Vrashku and his crossbows. Mark's return fire killed some of the Uruk-hai scouts on my left flank who had moved to far to shoot. They were subsequently charged and wiped out by a unit of Rohan Royal Knights. I had advanced too far forward and they paid the price. That hurt and left a group of cav menacing my large Orc formation.

I decided to turn the orcs around to face the knights so they wouldn't be charged in the rear. This turned out to be a huge mistake as every bow in range shot them in their poorly protected rear, also wiping them out. The cav didn't even have to charge them. My right flank had effectively ceased to exist.

Back on the right things were a bit of a see saw. The Berserkers were acting as a meat shield for Saruman's Phalanx while he moved into spell casting postion. Despite this, some of the Elven archers were able to draw a bead on him and took down some pike Uruks, despite Saruman casting Aura of Blinding Light. The Rohan bowmen had wisely retreated behind the forest leaving me with no targets. The Elves had a special cloak rule which meant I could only shoot them at a range of 12" or less.

Mark's cavalry on the left were moving into position for their inevitable charges, but he found the crowded terrain somewhat limiting. Saruman had found a position with had both of his flanks covered by forest, which meant pretty much any charges would come from the front, and the pikes would negate any charge bonus. He tried to hammer one formation of Riders of Rohan, lead by Erkenbrand, first with Exsiccate boosted by Epic Ruination. I rolled quite well on the number of hits, but, as it was a friendly game, I reminded Mark that he could use Will of Iron to resist the spell effect, which he did. I then hit him with a Bolt of Fire, for which I rolled a 6 for spell effect which would have meant D6+3 strength 9 hits (!), but he spent another point of might and resisted the spell (Damn!). Finally, I tried to Immobilise the formation, but on the subsequent charge he managed to roll under his strength value and was able to make the charge. If Mark had not have used Will of Iron that formation would have been wiped out for sure. I think it was one of the deciding points of the game because that unit would cause me a lot of grief later on. At least I got him to burn off most of his might.

On the left, Vrasku's Talons, after much waffling on my part, had left cover to try for a shot at the elves, but could only bring one company to bear. The Troll Captain lumbered forward out of some woods suddenly menacing a lot of Mark's units. I had lost priority so called heroic shoots with both the Talon's and the Troll. Mark called an Epic Shot with Haldir, and won the roll to see who went first. He did three Epic Shots with Haldir which wiped out the Talons. We felt something was wrong with this and on reading over the rules we realized only one point of might could be expended per phase. So, the Talon's miraculously returned to the board. Instead, he used his single Epic Shot on the troll, which almost survived the onslaught of arrows, but Mark used Haldir's last point of might to bump a die roll, finishing the troll off. My return fire, despite expending a point of might to use Take Aim, only killed four elves, much to my chagrin. The Bersekers managed to charge the archers who had moved back into the woods and wiped them out to a man.

On the next turn the berserkers moved right right in front of a unit of Riders lead by Eomer. At first they were going to be a nasty speed bump, but I used Saruman's Overlord ability to allow them to do a heroic charge. Eomer also declared a heroic charge, but I won the die roll. Eomer's unit also failed it's courage check for being charged by a unit that caused terror, reducing their fight to zero. Eomer expended his last point of might for a heroic strike, but only managed to kill one berserker. The remaining four (some had been killed by archery fire in previous turns) must have been really pissed off. The rolled a "Carnage Unbound" on their special table which increased their strength to 10 and the rolled a five for their charge bonus. I also had a plus one on my attacks because of two handed weapons. This meant I had something like 12 dice, hitting on 2's. The attack took out six riders, and Eomer came very close to being taken out. On the next turn he would move to a larger unit of Riders.

Mark charged Saruman's Phalanx with the cav that had weathered the magic storm. Originally he wasn't going to because the pike negated the riders charge bonus but he realized he could call out Saruman in a heroic duel. Saruman only managed to roll a two for the duel and Mark rolled a six, giving him 4 rolls on the chart. This wiped out Saruman and all but five of the Phalanx who were then killed by the remaining Riders.

Over on the right, my large unit of Uruk warband had manoeuvred so their backs were to some forest. IIRC, every archer that Mark had in range of them shot at them, but because of their toughness and armour, no casulaties were sustained. A unit of Royal Knights charged them in their right flank but I called out their leader, Deowine in a Heroic Duel, which I managed to win, slaying him. The fight only killed one Uruk and the Knights were down to two companies and disordered. The large formation of Riders that Eomer had joined wheeled around and positioned themselves for a charge on the front of the Uruk warband. I called a heroic charge and managed to win the roll and charge them first, negating their charge bonus. The Knights charged me in the flank. After all was said and done, a few Uruks went down as well as some riders, but I still had two and a half companies remaining.

Back on the left, the Talon's had retreated back into the woods and were peppering elves with crossbow bolts. At that point we had to call it. Mark had the by far superior force remaining. His Royal Guard and and Militia hadn't even engaged anyone yet. I was certainly in better shape than the last game, but not by much.

I'm not sure what I would have done differently. I think the loss of the right flank was critical. I decided to turn the orcs around at the last minute, and I should have just advanced them at the double and kept their shields to the front. Also, I advanced the scouts two far forward and they got caught in the open. They died within sight of the forest they were trying to get to for cover. It may have also been wise to have Saruman move up faster as he only got in one good turn of spell casting.

The first few pictures above were taken with my new camera, but I used up the limited memory I had available by the middle of the game. I plan on fixing the memory issue with an 8 gig memory card as soon as possible. Mark sent me the last couple which were from later in the game.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kingdom of Ealdormere Coronation

Last Saturday was Coronation in Ealdormere, the event where we crown our new King and Queen. It's handy to have a new set of Royalty every six months. If you don't like the current set, you just have to bide your time and they'll go away without all that messy Civil War stuff and lopping off heads.

Stepping up to the thrones were Princess Dagmar and Prince Quilliam. I've know Dagmar for some time and she is a very nice and talented person. I know less about Quilliam other than he seems to have a good head on his shoulders and is an amazing fighter. I'm looking forward to this reign.

The event itself took place at a campground near the city of Kingston (Greyfells in the SCA). The site has a large main building with three floors of space so there was plenty of room, even if the weather had not been absolutely gorgeous, which it was. There was also a duck pond near the building which had all sorts of interesting water fowl, including several different types of ducks and geese.

We headed out from Guelph on Friday morning for the drive to Gananoque which is where Eve's mom lives. The site is about a 30 minute drive from the site, which was very handy. We got to Gan and Eve's mom made us a nice roast chicken dinner with potatoes and mixed vegetables. It was very yummy.

Both Eve and I had projects to finish for the event. Eve had two awards scrolls to complete plus finishing work on her new gown and I had 50+ miniatures which needed to be based (have sand and static grass applied to them). I spent until about 1 am working on my stuff and Eve was up to 3. This seems to be par for the course for most events but at least it wasn't a two hour drive away.

We headed out with Elizabeth at around 9:30 am and got to the site just after it opened at 10 am. Being there early helped get us a great parking spot. Eve changed into her new dress, a Gothic era gown in a warm red-brown brocade with fur trim, and it looked fantastic. She would get several compliments on it during the course of the day. Eve made sure she got her scrolls delivered and I was on Elizabeth duty until the end of First Court. Elizabeth looked very sweet in her purple dress and we went outside almost immediately as the hall was rapidly filling up and was getting quite noisy. Elizabeth has a tonne of energy and it's fun trying to keep up with her. She liked to be near the duck pond and it was an interesting time keeping her dress clean. The geese could be a bit aggressive so I had to keep an eye on them. Sometimes I followed her, sometimes I lead her, and we went all over the site including the upper and lower parts of the hall. It was quite tiring but fun in its own sort of way. Court was quite long and I only caught bits of it as Elizabeth made her way through the Hall. I did get to see one of Eve's scrolls get given out and it looked really good, even at a distance, with the main motif in gold based on a piece of Norse era metal work and lettering in Runic.

Court ended at 1:30 and I switched off with Eve and headed over to the fencing list where things were starting to get going. There were about 15 fencers at the event, about twice as many as the RMIC probably expected. I got to see people I haven't seen in years like Gavin and his Lady, Estienne. We ran some authorizations, including a reauthorization for Lady Estienne who was back to fencing after about 10 years. I also reactivated Gavin as a Rapier Marshal and got Lord Daffyd started on the Rapier Marshal in Training process.

The tourney was a fun format, a round robin with a twist which the RMIC referred to as Fermat's Lst Tourney, as it employed three geometric shapes, a circle, a rectangle and a triangle. These shapes were marked out on the ground in rope and the idea was to keep at lest one foot in the shape. If you incapacitated your opponent you scored two points, and if you forced them out of the shape you scored one. The top winners for each shape would face off in the final. I did pretty well, but not well enough to be one of the final three, which were Lady Cristabell, THL Wilhelm, and Lord Daffyd. IIRC Wilhelm won first place and Cristabell and Daffyd tied for second. Lord Archibald was at the event and wanted to play Cut & Thrust with me and we had a lot of fun. I gave as good as I got, which pleased me as Archibald is a very good fencer and a lover of period fencing manuals and techniques. Wilhelm invited me to play at longsword, but we couldn't use C&T as he wasn't armoured for it. We, mostly, avoided doing any percussive cuts. All in all, it was a very pleasant afternoons fencing and I came out of it relatively unbruised. Thank heavens I remembered to put on my knee pads as Archibald did a beautiful stroke right across the side of my leg at knee level. It would have been right on bone but the knee pad absorbed most of it.

After the tourney was over I sought out Eve who was tired and needed to go back to Gan to rest. The only rest she'd had was taking Elizabeth on a trip into Kingston for some lunch and Elizabeth got to watch part of Wall-E on DVD. We said our goodbyes to some friends and headed out. Eve had wanted to stay for Second Court and see her other scroll given out, but was way to tired and we had run out of drinks of Elizabeth.

We drove back to Eve's mother's place and I volunteered to walk downtown and pick up a couple of orders of fries. The place we like to get them was closed but I found some really nice fries at a local pizza place. We had them along with hot chicken sandwiches and gravy. It was delicious, and I was ravenous by then as I hadn't had much for lunch. I spent the evening chatting with Bernita, Eve's mom, as Eve and Elizabeth crashed out. It was really fun to talk to her, and it was one of those neat meandering conversations touching on everything from Elizabethan naval tactics, to favourite SF writers, to silly TV shows. She enjoyed it because she doesn't get many opportunities to have an intellectual discussion except online and face to face is much more personal.

We all slept in the next day and after breakfast I tried to take Matthew to the local toy store, whose Sunday hours are apparently "By Chance", and we were out of luck. We did manage to get some neat Lego cars and a Hot Wheels car at a local department store. After we got back, I cut Bernita's front lawn, which had gotten a bit shaggy. It's the first time I'd pushed a mower in about 20 years as I've spent most of that time living in apartments. Next we packed up our stuff and headed back to Guelph. It was a good drive home, even when crossing the top of Toronto. We were glad to get home and the cats were happy to see us. I had a fun time at the event and in Gan. I think the next event I'll be at is called Fruits of Our Labour (FOOL) where I'll be running fencing for the day and Eve will be teaching. I'm also expecting Mark over tomorrow for a game of War of the Ring which I will hopefully write an entry on.

That's all for now.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Eves of Mirkwood can be a Hazardous Place

After almost two months, Mark and I were finally able to get together to have a game of War of the Ring. It's been awhile because I simply haven't been healthy enough, or the kids weren't healthy enough for him to come over and I certainly didn't want him to get sick and pass the joy onto his family.

Now, Mark is very cool in that he brings all the stuff we need to play the game, including the miniatures and the terrain. This time he even brought the table, or at least the table top. He had got a big piece of particle board and cut it into three 2' x 4' sections. This gave us a total playing surface of 6' x 4' when laid on the 6' by 2 1/2' foot dining room table. This gave us, literally, room to maneuver, and his green terrain map fits it perfectly.

Again, I was playing the Uruk-hai. I had a good force lead by Saruman. There was a two company formation of Uruk phalanx, a three company Uruk Warband, Vrashku leading two companies of crossbows, an Isegard Troll Captain, a company of Beserkers, a two company formation of Uruk-hai Scouts, and a three company + formation of Orcs with swords and shields. After previous experience dealing with cavalry, I put Saruman in with the phalanx, whose pikes would negate charge bonuses.

Arrayed against me was a mix of Rohan units with one surprise, three companies of wood elves accompanied by their King, Thranduil. For the first time, Mark had brought a spell caster to the table, and some of the best archers in Middle Earth. There were three separate groups of Rohan cavalry, two of Riders and one of Knights, accompanied by Eomer, Deowine and and Erkenbrand. I think there were three or four companies in each formation. There were also two formations of Oathsworn Militia with two companies in each and two, two company formation of Militia archers.

The game this time was not a fight over some structures as were the previous two games, but a fight to the death near the edge of Mirkwood Forest. There were a number of patches of forest on the board and a creek which separated roughly 1/3 of the board from the rest. The creek counted as difficult terrain put was not impassable.

I set up along one map edge with the Orcs to my far right, on the far side of the creek, but close to the Troll captain who could support them with his greater movement and ability to at the double. To the Trolls left was the Uruk hai Phalanx with Saruman, too his left were Vrashku's Talons beside the Uruk-hai warband. At the far left were the two companies of Uruk-hai scouts with bows.

I can't remember exactly how Mark deployed, but the wood elves were near the centre, flanked by the militia and some cavalry with the other archers on the far left opposite the Uruk scouts. IIRC Mark won priority on the first turn but let me move first. All of my units advance. My plan was to use the terrain as much as possible to keep my units from being flanked by cavalry. My first mistake was advancing the troll into range of the wood elf archers.

Erkenbrand and his cavalry moved towards the Orcs on the far right and the other two cavalry units at the doubled towards the centre Uruk-hai warband. The Militia hung back and the archers moved towards a clump of woods. The wood elves advanced a short distance so they could shoot but were out of Saruman's spell range.

Arrows from the wood elves fell like rain onto the poor troll, but after all was said and done, only three struck home, generating a single roll on the Very Hard to Kill table. Whew, dodged a bullet (well, arrow) but Mark rolled a 6 on the table, which modified down to a 5 causing two wounds. He then expended a point of might to bump the roll up to a 6 killing my 150 point unit. That was not a good start to the game though it did set the tone for the afternoon. Mark forgot that he had given me priority which meant my units could charge his cavalry, taking away their charge bonus, so he was forced to expend a point of might to call a heroic charge against the orcs who also tried a heroic charge but lost the die roll and were hit by 4 companies of cavalry. He decided not to attack the Uruk-hai war band in the centre. During the fight phase, about one and a half companies of orcs died, taking down a couple of Erkenbrand's riders in the process. The orcs were also Disordered.

Next turn I won priority, advancing the scouts into some woods, and moving the Uruks into positions were it would be difficult to flank them with cavalry. Saruman also began casting spells, launching a bolt of fire at the Elves, taking out three of them, but failing his focus roll so no further spells could be cast. The poor orcs remained disordered and thus would be charged again next turn, but could not charge and only had one attack dice. Mark's Rohirim and Knights in the centre lined up for a charge against the Uruk warband. Vrasku managed to whittle down one of the approaching groups of cavalry, killing four riders. The berserkers moving up the middle caught a storm of arrows from the wood elves, reducing their numbers by three. Mark was forced to declare a heroic charge so he could come to grips with the Uruk-hai warband, but I won the roll off and charged one unit of cav, in turn being charged by the other. At least I got rid of some of his charge bonus. The fight phase saw most of a company or uruk-hai warband die, for the loss of one horseman of Mark's, and the Uruks were disordered.

Mark won priority on the next turn, slowly advancing his wood elves and the militia began to advance as well but there wasn't a lot of movement on either side. Thranduil cast Natures Wrath on the Talon's killing a couple of them and cast Entanglement on the berserkers, severely limiting their advance towards a group of Rohan archers. Saruman countered with Exsicate against the wood elves boosted by Epic Ruination. Mark quickly expended a point of might, his last one, to try to block the spell and succeeded, saving himself a pile of potential damage. I followed up with bolt of fire taking out a few more elves but failing to Transfix them with my third spell. The wood elves and militia concentrated fire on the Talons killing some more crossbows, and their return fire plus that of the scouts killed another rider. My last remaining company of Orcs was charged by Erkenbrand and the two centre formations of cav charged the Uruks in the centre. He called out the Uruk captain in an Epic Duel, also using Epic Strike, getting eight rolls on the heroic duel table which killed the captain and 6 other Uruks. The follow on charges reduced the formation to one company. The last company of orcs on the right fell to Erkenbrand's charge.

The next turn saw Mark win priority again, and again there wasn't much movement, other than Erkenbrand wheeling around to join the fight in the centre and the militia slowly advancing. Vrashku's unit was hit by Nature's Wrath again plus shooting from the elves, reducing them to a single company. The berserkers were entangled again, plodding desperately towards a target, any target.

The lat few turns are a bit hazy for me, but what basically happened is Mark focused his spell and missile fire on the Talon's, wiping them out. The Uruk-hai warband in the centre was reduced to a single company. The Uruk-hai phalanx advanced part way across the creek and Saruman pounded the elves with spells, but got caught on the next term by Nature's Wrath which was enhanced by the creek. It really messed up that formation and Mark turned all of his cavalry towards Saruman and the phalanx. The scouts in the woods managed to shoot down the last two riders in one of the Rohirim formation as they turned to attack Saruman but then Saruman and the phalanx were destroyed by archery from the elves and the remaining cavalry. The berserkers survived but never made it into combat after being entangled three turns in a row. At the end of the game I was left with the scout archers minus a couple of dead, one company of Uruk-hai warband, and a half company of berserkers. I think Mark lost a full company of elves, one full formation of cavalry and a couple of other companies of cavalry. All in all not a good day for the forces of the White Hand. I think for the next game we are planning a re-fight, but there may be some variations in the forces.

Tactically, I did some good things. I used the terrain well to avoid being flanked by cav, something that has pain in the butt for me in previous game. I also tried to limit the huge charge bonus that cavalry gets, sometimes successfully. Still, in the end, it was a pretty crushing defeat, with Saruman fleeing from the board. The Elves were very effective at shooting, and Thranduil did some effective spell casting. He also had two units of Rohan militia that essentially did nothing in the game, not that they had to. Oh well, the forces of the White Hand will return, and it will be a dark day for men and elves.