Posts Tagged ‘wins’

Technically I suppose I should tag this as a non-competitive game, as my opponent had to write a scratch list and borrow all his models from the shop. I only actually wound up playing young Jaffar because nobody else showed up. I’m assuming this was down to the bad weather (though there wasn’t actually any snow on the streets of Oxford. For heaven’s sake, is this the attitude that built an empire?), not that it really makes any difference.

Well, anyway, the big event this week is that – with the NaNoWriMo story finished – I’ve been able to paint up some new models and play at 750 points for the first time. Making their debut appearances in this game were a Troll and two companies of Ghostly Legionaries with a Captain seconded from the Angmar list.

Jaffar used the shop’s Umbar Corsairs, fielding 14 companies of Corsairs in three formations, one led by Dalamyr, with (groan) a War Elephant to make up the rest of the total. As the new list still doesn’t have any shooting in it I knew the big beast would take some beating. The scenario we ended up playing was for control of a monolith in the table centre.



Corsairs being rolled over by Ghosts and Morgul Knights not pictured.


Jaffar decided to deploy and go first and opted for a table-wide deployment, sticking down from left to right (my viewpoint) some Corsairs, the Mumakil, the main Corsair block, and then the weediest of the infantry formations (four companies with no shield). Well aware my best chance was to crush his army a chunk at a time, I abandoned the left flank entirely, stuck the Orcs down in the centre, and filled the space up to the right table edge with the Troll, the Ghosts, and both Morgul Knight units.

Seeing the Knights bearing down on them the weedy Corsairs started backpedalling while Dalamyr’s unit and the Mumak redeployed towards the right table edge. The last Corsair unit stayed on course for the objective. The archers on the Mumak managed to shoot down the Troll on the first turn, which was intensely annoying but only to be expected as it was a newly-painted big model.

I got my own back fairly rapidly as the Dark Marshal’s Knight regiment charged the weedy Corsairs and ripped them nearly to bits, despite being flanked by Dalamyr’s unit on the same turn. This, on the other hand, opened up the flank of the main Corsair formation for the Ghosts to spirit-walk through some woods and charge them. One Heroic Combat later Dalamyr and his boys were looking a bit ragged too.

The Mumak was getting a bit too close for comfort, however, and I think my salvation was Jaffar taking it too close to the same woods the Ghosts charged through. Every time he attempted to charge or trample the Knights it ended up clipping the scenery, damaging it and halting the move. In the end he just got impatient, turned it around and went after the Orcs which were behind it. This suited me as they weren’t doing anything useful where they were (I strongly doubted they would be capable of taking on the Corsairs contesting the objective unsupported) and this removed the main threat to my cavalry and the Ghosts.

With the Elephant heading the other way I could concentrate on finishing off Dalamyr’s regiment. I decided I could do this with the Morgul Knights if they charged simultaneously and marched the Ghosts off to take the final Corsair formation in the flank.

Dalamyr and his men duly bit the dust and the Dark Marshal and his Knights galloped off to support the Ghosts (now looking rather fragile with only six men left). The last of the Umbar infantry fell even as the Mumak trampled the Orcs into the ground and polished them off with bow-fire from the howdah.

We now theoretically had two turns left, in which time Jaffar would have to wipe out all three of my surviving units and get the Mumak within 3″ of the mission objective. This was possible, just about, but extremely unlikely – and as Big Ben wanted to close up the shop and go home we decided to end the game.

Well, I won, which is always nice, but this wasn’t the toughest of games – this was a scratch list and very light on characters. I knew that if I could dummy the Elephant away from the rest of my army so the Morgul Knights could engage the Corsair flanks I would have a good chance, and so it proved.

As far as the new elements of the army go, things were a bit mixed: the Troll’s contribution to the game consisted of walking forward eight inches before collapsing full of arrows, which makes it difficult to assess its battlefield potential. On the other hand, the Ghost Legion did sterling work against the flanks and rear of the Corsair infantry. Given the low Defence and reasonable Courage of the Corsairs, the Ghosts’ Spirit Grasp ability was less important than I’d hoped (but then I was half-expecting to play Goblins), but their Spirit Walk into Dalamyr’s flank possibly won me the game. More Ghosts could well appear in higher point value games.

Well, anyway. Before we get to that point I have three more companies of Morannon Orcs and Gothmog to get ready for the table. Will Gothmog live up to his reputation as the biggest bargain in the game? Will the Ghosts’ low numbers prove their achilles heel? Will the Troll survive past the first turn of a game? Only time will tell.

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DftF: random slaughterhouse

You might think that the best way to win a wargames competition was to be better than everyone else competing and not immoderately unlucky. However, it seems to me that – while you can’t live without at least a little luck -all that really counts is to be better than everyone else that you play. With most events being the size they are, there’ll be fewer games than there are competitors.

Here again luck is an issue, and most tournaments I’ve been in have utilised some version of the Swiss system to try and ensure you should end up playing against someone of roughly equal ability. The GW Oxford WOTR league is not so formal as that, which is why I am currently top of the leader board after two games. This is simply because I’ve ended up playing against people even less experienced than myself.

I say all this because I’m uncomfortably aware that the wargames portion of this blog – which I anticipated would be a litany of defeat – is turning into a series of jolly retellings of how I duffed up a succession of young people. Last night’s game was against Javier (yes, of course I’m changing names to protect my victims’ anonymity) and his Moria swarm.

Javier had brought along two blocks of Goblin infantry, a block of archers, and a Troll. I took the same army I’ve always played as I’m still too busy to do any painting. The scenario was an odd one, decided by claiming objectives scattered across the table, and where the formations would turn up on random edges at random times.

I’m sure we must have been reading the rules wrong as I can’t see what’s to stop the second player, with only a little luck, from following his opponent onto the board should both their units come on from the same edge, and flank- or rear-charging them on turn one. This indeed happened in our game as I took the opportunity to stick one unit of Knights into the flank of his main Goblin formation – he’d’ve got the other unit in the other flank had I passed my Double test. That unit and the Goblin general was slaughtered by the end of turn two.

By this point nearly everything had turned up, with the Moria army down one end of the table and the Mordor force in the centre. The Knights grabbed one objective from under the noses of the Goblins and withdrew towards the other end, while the Morannon Orcs, with the aid of Wings of Terror, hoovered up another three. The Cave Troll had grabbed one for Moria but I was still 4-1 up with the game almost half gone.

I could’ve just backed off and sat out the game at this point, but that would’ve seemed a bit weaselly, so I engaged the Morians again – well, just the Troll to begin with, hitting it with the Knights and Orcs simultaneously. The Knights stuck a couple of wounds on it before the Orcs (bolstered by, as regular readers may have guessed, Strength from Corruption) dragged it down and finished it off, giving me all five objectives.

Meanwhile one of the Knight units frontally charged the second Goblin infantry unit and due to the Goblins not having shields slaughtered a bucketload. A combination of various nasty Nazgul spells killed another five leaving them an easy target for another cavalry charge on the last turn, which finished them off.

I take little pride in this win, as the scenario seemed a bit weird and Javier was clearly very, very green. Some cavalry would have furthered his cause considerably and possibly allowed him to grab a couple more objectives. His Goblin infantry weren’t exactly optimised for combat, either – no shields meant I was killing them on 3s when the Knights got the charge, and coupled with their low Fight and Courage (he really struggled with Terror tests) on these occasions I was rolling up to 30 dice a round. I suspect I lost more models to Strength from Corruption than I did to enemy action in this game.

Anyway, my game with BJ has been rescheduled for next week. A punitive beating seems only deserved at this point.


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DftF: father and son

Just when you thought the listed subject matter of this blog was a total con, up pops some proper wargaming material. I even took photos but, not surprisingly given that I find using a mouse a strenuous technical challenge, I can’t actually get them off my phone and into the blog. Hey ho.
Anyway, GW Oxford is running a WOTR mini-league until Christmas, which I have been roped into. Point values vary between .5 and 1.5K, which suits me as the ongoing financial cataclysm (not to mention my NaNoWriMo ‘commitments’) mean I’ll have to think very hard before adding to my current 500 point list. I had really thought to suspend operations entirely in this field but I enjoyed the first league game so much I’m seriously reconsidering it.
Well, at first the game looked like it’d be against a father-and-son team, but it turned out I’d just be playing young Anton and not his dad as well. Anton’s dad declared that he would not be participating in the game at all. The battle that ensued on the table paled into insignificance alongside Anton’s dad’s battle to stick to this, not assisted by Anton’s constant requests for advice and rules clarifications.
I ran my usual list of a Nazgul, two Morgul Knight formations and a handful of Morannon Orcs. Anton’s Isengard legion included no named characters, but two Uruk-Hai infantry blocks with Captains, a formation of Uruk crossbowmen, and a large pack of Warg riders. He deployed first and used the width of the table, popping down (from left to right) an Uruk-Hai block, the crossbows, the other infantry and then the Wargs. In response to this I refused my flank, sticking the Orcs down in the centre and both Knight units opposite the Warg riders.
Frankly, I knew the crossbows could blatter any of my units in fairly short order, and the fact they’d be occupying a building did not help matters. There wasn’t much I could do about that, but the mobility of the Wargs also displeased me and I was able to get a charge in on them with one of the Knight units. A judicious Heroic Combat meant I could wipe out the unit before the end of the first turn.
Not a lot happened for the next few turns besides some fairly cagey manoeuvering as I tried to line up a flank charge on the right-side Uruk block with one of the Knight regiments before the other Uruk formation could get across the table and join the fun. The Nazgul really earned his corn bombarding the crossbowmen with Sunder Spirit and Transfix, with the result that they only got one round of shooting in all game.

The deadlock on the right flank persisted all evening as the Uruks couldn’t get close enough to charge, and I wasn’t going to waste the Knight formation sending them in frontally. The other Uruk infantry group eventually charged the other Knights in the rear (Anton had been trying to charge all game, often sideways or backwards until we gently pointed out this wasn’t allowed), but this was a bit of a trap as it left them open to being charged in the rear by the Morannon Orcs (the units formed an odd fender-bender across the centre of the table). Anton rolled terrible dice and only killed a single Knight, while the Orcs hacked down many more Uruks winning me the combat. He passed his Panic test though.

The next turn, a combination of my movement and his crossbow fire shrinking the unit left the Uruks unable to charge the Knights again, and they were stranded with my Orcs (beefed up by Strength of Corruption) behind them. The reduced Knight formation fluffed its charge roll into the rear of the other Uruks (I really am outstanding at this) but the Orcs hit home, the Uruks there failing their Terror test and being torn apart.

Time was up at this point and as both our leaders were intact and neither had any banners it was down to company kills to decide the winner. I’d seen off eight companies of Wargs and Uruks while Anton had snatched back two Knight companies with his crossbows in the final turn, which translated as a 2-0 win for me.

As I’ve said before, it’s harder to learn from a win, but once again I’m feeling the need for some missile fire of my own. As their one round of shooting proved, the crossbows could have been a nightmare for me had they been able to shoot more often – as it was, the lack of a Captain in the formation made it relatively easy to neutralise them with magic. (The wobbly Courage of the Isengard troops overall was a pleasant surprise.)

It was rather easier to come up with advice for Anton. More mobile units and crossbows backing up a single big Uruk-Hai block would have made it less likely he’d be outmanoeuvered, and a spellcaster of some kind would have helped him too (though a small Isengard force is always going to struggle to find a cost-effective magic user). Overall though – and this I didn’t tell him at the time – I got the impression Anton’s army was just trundling about the table looking to get into fights, rather than actually focussing on winning the game. This made it relatively easy to dummy him out of position (he sent the left-flank Uruks off to intercept my Orcs and was very startled when they abruptly changed course rather than just marching across the table). If I’d been as heavily down in company kills as he was I’d’ve focussed entirely on trying to take out the enemy general and scoring 4 points (the equivalent of killing the rest of the army combined). As it was, the Nazgul was barely threatened and I scored a relatively easy win.

Still, it can’t last: next week I’m due to play BJ again, this time with his Moria army. I know I can expect to be horribly outnumbered by Goblins, Wargs, and giant spiders, commanded by someone who knows how to use them. I suspect the real challenge will not be winning, but maintaining good grace as I’m wiped off the table…

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