Friday, January 28, 2011

A Trouncing in Isengard

Wow! Has it really been that long since I last did a blog entry? I guess so. It’s not like nothing interesting happened in the intervening time. There’s been a few SCA events, at least one or two games with Mark (including a nifty WWI air combat game), a really nice Christmas with my mom visiting, and my sister in law had her lovely baby girl. I guess I just haven’t been in the mood. My long painting commission is drawing to a close so I guess I’m feeling more like writing.

So, back to the point of this blog entry. I got a call from Mark early on Thursday morning saying he had the day free and would I like to play some War of the Ring. After some rapid mental gear shifting, I agreed. It’s one of my favourite games, and I was a bit surprised because Mark said he was a mite tired of the game. But who am I to look a gift miniatures game in the mouth.

Mark brought his usual awesome collection of miniatures. The battle would be Isengard, lead by Saruman against a force from Gondor, lead by Faramir. Mark had added another unit of crossbow Uruk-hai to his Isengard force as well as some really nice banners to all his forces. He had also made up new spell cards and a bunch of chits for marking various heroic and epic actions. It increased the visual appeal of a game that was already quite appealing looking. In addition there were some nice new terrain pieces for the table top.

Lead by Saruman the forces of Isengard included a three company formation of Uruk-hai crossbows, a four company formation of uruk-hai warriors with shields, and a four company formation of Warg riders. I also had a troll. Unfortunately, Saruman was the only hero I had. In order to give them greater mobility I place Saruman with the crossbows.

Mark Gondor force consisted of two, two company formations of Warriors of Minas Tirith with weapons and shields; a two company formation of Citadel Guard with longbows; a two company formation of Warriors with bows, a three company formation of Rangers and a four company formation of Knights of Gondor lead by Faramir. He also had two or three other captains.

It was a fairly cluttered battlefield, with several clumps of forest and a ruined building. I set up to avoid the large hill on the one end of the board, placing my Uruk-hai shield unit on my far left flank, the troll beside them, the crossbows in the centre and the Warg riders on my right flank. Marks Knights were across from my warriors w/shields, with his Citadel Guard next, followed by the two units of Warriors, and the Rangers on the far flank. Thankfully the rangers were out of position and would have to move a bit to bring there bows to bear.

I at the doubled my crossbows on the first turn, hoping to bring them in range of his units and then call a heroic shoot. This actually worked well and my shooting at one of his units of warriors resulted in five casualties. Is return fire took out a couple of Uruk-hai crossbows and the lead warg riders. It was a pretty fair exchange, but I was dreading the amount of bow fire I was going to take. The rangers were manoeuvring to my flank and I would be nicely enfiladed by Marks forces. Marks knights were charging towards my Uruk warriors and Saruman did his first useful thing, casting Enfeeble on them, reducing their strength by one. I was dreading the incoming charge, and I expected the formation to get hurt big time. I wasn’t far off. Faramir declared an Epic Strike, increasing his Fight to 10, giving him a bunch of extra attacks. He also rolled an Unstoppable Charge on his Charge roll, giving him further dice. Cavalry strike first meaning any casualties they do take effect before a foot unit can strike back. After the dust had cleared I had lost a full company and a half of Uruk- hai. This was not a devastating as I had thought my lads struck back with a vengeance, reducing the knights down to three units, which turned tail and were not really a factor for the rest of the game. Faramir would transfer to one of the Citadel Guard unit. The troll had been moving to hit the knights in the flank but that threat had evaporated so he had to figure out who else to hit.

The units of crossbows were being whittled down by archery fire but Saruman was laying about him with some good spell successes, the brunt of which were taken by the formation of rangers moving up on my flank. Despite their taking cover I managed to kill two full companies. We had decided that the spells of Dismay made more sense for Saruman than Command and he was able to use a combination of Sunder Spirit and Visions of Woe. He even managed to get a six for the spell effect, forcing Mark to make a courage check at minus 2 on a single dice. Visions of woe made it a minus 3, but he managed to roll a six on his courage check which limited the damage. He lost models equal to the amount he failed the courage check by. His courage was 3 with the reduction, he rolled a six for the courage check (9 total) which means he only lost a single figure. Saruman was also using Epic Ruination to boost the effects of other spells and using might to call heroic shoots. His three might went pretty quickly.

The Warg riders were being nailed by bow fire and tried to get into position for a charge. I should have pulled them back and gone after the rangers but instead tried a suicidal charge against a unit of archers. They were mown down without mercy.

The Uruk warriors were desperately trying to get back across the field to support Saruman, but his formation went down to mass bow fire despite taking cover in some woods. The game ended with a last gasp charge by the Uruk-hai and the troll against a formation of Warriors of Minas Tirith in a ruined building. They managed to take out quite a few, winning the fight, but losing the troll (who had been wounded by bow fire). We forgot that by winning the fight I had forced them out of cover and could occupy it myself. This meant the Uruk-hai may have been able to hold out another turn or two, but we called the game at that point.

I think the main lesson I can take away from the game is to use terrain better to reduce the effectiveness of enemy bow fire. The Citadel, with their range 36 longbows where very effective and there was littlie I could do about them. I also need to be a lot more cagey with my mounted forces and use them more effectively. Despite having lost it was a fun game. The Uruks effectively weathered the cavalry storm and Saruman got off a lot of spells. It was fun to see. I don’t know when we’ll next be playing but I suspect it will involve some gorgeous Starblazers ships that Mark is working on.

Until next time.