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Posts Tagged ‘Gondor’

DftF: it all comes good!!

For some reason I feel much less guilty about administering this week’s paddling to a fairly inexperienced player. I suspect this is largely due to the fact that, for once, my victim opponent was old enough to shave. Geraldo (once again, not his real name) rocked up with a selection of miniatures which he was able to weld into a fairly formidable-looking Gondor force with a hefty contingent (six companies) of Rohirrim allies.

 

We ended up playing a points match (points scored for general carnage and taking out the enemy general and banners) on a small table. Geraldo deployed first, from left to right (my perspective) sticking down a small Gondor infantry formation, a tiny (one company) Citadel Guard unit commanded by Faramir, the Rohan cavalry in the centre, a medium-sized archer formation in the corner and in front of it a fair-sized infantry unit.

After some thought I tended towards the left flank, popping down the Ghosts, the Troll, the Orcs (with Nazgul) and then the two Morgul Knight regiments. Faramir was looking vulnerable in the tiny Citadel Guard unit and with luck I could get some easy points there, while the only thing he had that really worried me were the riders of Rohan.

Geraldo went first and it became clear his strategy was to move in force into every piece of defensible terrain and defy me to pry him out. The Citadel Guard occupied a wood on the left while the large infantry formation entered some ruins on the right. This did not concern me overmuch as the things I really needed to kill – the cavalry and archers – were now out in the open and unsupported. I advanced on the Rohirrim in force with the Orcs and Knights while the Ghosts bore down on the wood with Faramir in it. Following his dismal performance last week the Troll hung back.

Luck sort of favoured me as the Nazgul rolled a 6 for the first casting of Sunder Spirit, reducing the Rohirrim to an effective Courage 0. He followed this up with Transfix, which the riders failed, stopping them from shooting or charging. The Gondor archers didn’t do anything, and in the charge phase the Rohirrim received one unit of Morgul Knights in the front while the Orcs Wings of Terrored their way into their flank. The Rohirrim were wiped out for the loss of only a couple of Orcs and I started to get a good feeling about this game.

The Knights were joined by the Dark Marshal and continued over towards the archers while the Orcs spun about to confront the smaller Gondor infantry unit heading in their direction. The Ghost Legion marched up to the wood with the Citadel Guard in it and prepared to charge. The main Gondor infantry unit’s Captain rather wanted his unit to leave their cover and engage the Morgul Knights, but the troops weren’t keen and stayed put.

The archers got zapped by the Nazgul and once again their shooting did nothing, while the small Gondor infantry unit attempted to charge the Orcs and failed. The Knights and Dark Marshal got stuck into the archers while the Ghosts engaged the Citadel Guard. I could’ve taken on the infantry with the Orcs but decided to hang on for a turn until the Troll got close enough to support them.

Even against a unit with fairly steady morale the Ghosts turned out to be fairly spectacular against a dug-in unit, completely ignoring their defence bonus. The Guard were extremely fragile and sure enough popped very easily, taking Faramir with them – although he wreaked some havoc with his four Might on the way down. The Knights killed fifteen archers up on the hill as well.

On the following turn the Dark Marshal hopped back into the Orcs which lined up facing the Gondor infantry, while the Troll got into their flank and the Ghosts spirit-walked out of the wood and around their rear. The Dark Marshal cast Sunder Spirit again and rolled another jammy 6. The Knights on the hill prepared to finish off the archers while the other unit pulled back to face the Gondor infantry in the ruins, should they be foolish enough to leave their cover (they weren’t).

For the first time ever I got some shooting as the Troll ripped up a divot and frisbeed it into the small infantry unit, killing two of them. Once again all my charges thumped home, with the infantry failing their Terror test. The Troll was so rubbish last week I had no real expectations of him, but he ended up with 12 attacks hitting on 3s and flukey dice resulted in him killing 11 out of 14 troopers and popping the unit before the Ghosts and Orcs even got a chance to attack. Up on the hill the Knights slaughtered the last of the archers.

We technically had a turn or two left to play, but I was 8-0 up on points and had yet to lose a single company, while Geraldo was down to his last unit. They were well dug in but I could quite happily have sat the game out and still won. In any case we were almost out of time so we called it a night at that point.

Imagine that on this occasion they’re not charging but fleeing.

 

I think this win was mainly due to luck and my opponent’s inexperience. Putting Faramir in such a fragile unit was a serious error (not really knowing Faramir’s special rules didn’t help his cause), as was putting infantry into cover while leaving archers out in the open. He was unlucky on his Terror and other Courage tests, sometimes failing by only a single point. I, on the other hand, was lucky with two 6s on Sunder Spirit casting rolls and the Troll’s ridiculously good dice rolls when he finally got stuck in.

The Orc unit still feels a little on the lightweight side and I still feel the lack of any shooting in the army. I have to keep telling myself that all these wins have been against inexperienced opponents; nearly every time I’ve played an experienced opponent I’ve been soundly clobbered. Still, I came home feeling fairly cheery, which is always nice.

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I was updating a chum about my wargaming activities the other day when I realised that the last bona fide win that I could recall (excluding games against someone just learning the rules, for example, or games abandoned midway through as my opponent had to go home for his tea) must have been at the GW store in Ikebukuro in Autumn of 2007. A bit of a downer I think you’ll agree.

Well, anyway, for reasons which now seem oddly vague to me I decided to put the Chaos Warrior army I’ve been nibbling away at on hold and try something completely new; to wit, the War of the Ring system. It’s surprisingly easy to knock up 500 points for this if you go fairly elite (which is what I did), and so the other day I trotted down to GW Oxford to see how the system actually played.

I ended up playing BJ, the manager, who apparently has a very good record with his Moria army. Possibly wishing to avoid an Evil-on-Evil clash he wheeled out the beginnings of a Gondor force, consisting of a few knights, a medium-sized infantry formation, some archers and a trebuchet. I had the Mordor force (army’s too strong a word for it at the moment) I’ve been working on, which is currently a small Morannon Orc unit and two mid-sized Morgul Knight formations, all commanded by the Dark Marshal (who would obviously be ruling the magic department).

The actual objective of the game was to control a wood in the table centre but this game was clearly going to be decided by a big scrap rather than clever manoeuvering. I got priority, went first, and started chucking stuff across the table towards the Gondor battleline, aiming the Orcs for the wood and aiming to blow away the infantry with a big Knight charge. In doing so I brilliantly left the Orc flank open for a devastating cavalry charge from the Gondor cavalry.

However… probability was throwing major wobblies all afternoon. The Dark Marshal killed a knight as part of his duel with the Gondor Captain, and while the knights hammered the Orcs extremely flukey dice meant I killed three more, wiping out two-thirds of the unit. Another flukey 6 meant the Orcs were steadfast and the heroic fight the Captain had called was a genuine contest. The second round saw yet more Orcs slaughtered but all the Gondorian cavalry was dead at its conclusion. The Orcs were down to a measly single company and effectively out of the game.

The next turn I was obliged to charge the Gondor archers to avoid them enfilading the Knights turn after turn, leaving the job of engaging the infantry to a single unit led by the Dark Marshal. Despite bombarding them with every nasty spell I could muster the infantry refused to fail their terror test and stood up pretty well to the cavalry charge. The other Knights flank charged the archers and wiped them out in a single round (which was rather annoying as I’d called a heroic combat).

BJ’s horrific luck continued as his trebuchet shot at the Knights who’d just slaughtered his archers, scoring five hits but only one wound (and thus leaving them utterly unscathed). While they repositioned to charge the trebuchet the infantry and Knights fought again. Being new to the game I’d neglected to jump the Nazgul into the larger unit and he was in dire peril of dying should BJ manage to kill one more Knight and reduce the unit to a single model – but, naturally, he was one 6 short of the kill he needed. Looking on the bright side for him, the Knight charge on the trebuchet stalled.

I decided to ignore the trebuchet and wheeled the bigger Knight formation round to flank the infantry, jumping the Nazgul into it at the same time. The trebuchet shot at the Orcs (the Knights were either too close or obscured) but, naturally, missed completely. Spending the Knight Commander’s last Might point got me a heroic charge in on the infantry which pinned them so the other Knights also got a lovely +6 charge bonus (BJ still refused to fail a Terror test, but I suppose I can hardly begrudge him that). Suffice to say that the infantry was routed by the combined charge and BJ threw the towel in (having comported himself with much grace throughout – much better than I would’ve done, I suspect).

So, what lessons to be learnt? Mr Kasparov wisely suggests that it’s much harder to learn from victory than defeat, but it’s pretty clear from this game that while cavalry can be devastating, it’s also rather fragile. Even vaguely average dice rolls would have seen me crushed – but that’s immaterial at this point.

Anyway – I think I need more Morannon Orcs as the current formation is a bit weedy. Not leaving my flanks wide open as I rush forward would be useful too. Not leaving the Nazgul in an understrength unit that’s about to get thumped would also be advisable. (I hung around to watch the start of another game, this time between Easterlings and Rohan, and got to see Khamul do his thing against the Rohan archery. I think I may have employed the wrong Ringwraith in my army.)

Next time I will no doubt get my just deserts, and get whacked off the table. But until then it’s just nice to have finally scraped another win, no matter what it was due to.

 

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