Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 December Heroes of Middle Selby Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game Tournament

Well, we had our first session of the 2010 December Heroes of Middle Selby Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game Tournament.

A raging series of battles between Etako's Expeditionaries, led by Etako and The Serpent's Shadow, led by Al'Abisir Mahahr.

These games were all short, quick and brutal! Each lasted an hour (and that included all the time for photos). With no note-taking or photography they would have been even quicker!

Speaking of photography, thanks to Eldarion Telcontar on the TLA forums for camera advice, the spot metering thing really worked well!

We've been playing big point battles for so long we sort of forgot the actual skirmish roots of the game.

Anyway, enough blather!

Game 1: Storm the Camp!

We both swore our oaths - a line in the sand! This meant that we got our bonus oath points (for points and other misc. rule stuff check out previous posts) if our leader got to a terrain bit in the enemy's encampment.

We each had a "base" on opposite corners of the map.

Here are Etako's Expeditionaries all set to go - a Khazad Guard in each entrance-way and Etako, his Shieldbearer (Boggle Bootmire) and two Iron Guards are set to assault the enemy base.

Opposite them, the evil men, led by the assassin Al'Abisir Mahahr set themselves up. Ten of them man the walls, the other ten, including the assassin, make ready to attack.

For the first few turns the advancers advance and the defenders have a smoke or swap old war stories.

By Turn 3 it is clear that the dwarves, with such a small group, are heading for the dead center of the board, where a rocky arch will allow a direct route to the enemy base. The Men, with their longer legs, are swinging around a rocky hill.

On Turn 4, Al'Abisir Mahahr steps closer to the dwarves and throws a dagger, it clatters harmlessly to one side. The Iron Guard throw axes, but they, too go wide of the mark.

In Turn 5, the dwarves win priority and the four assaulters charge back towards the encroaching men!

One Iron Guard hurls an axe forward as he leaps over rocks, the axe buries itself in the head of a Watcher of Karna, killing him instantly! The dwarf hurdles the falling body and barrels into another human. 

Another of the Iron Guard runs towards Al'Abisir Mahahr and throws his axe, it is a direct hit, straight on target! But fate is with the assassin and a golden medallion under his black clothing deflects the brunt of the blow, leaving him unwounded.

Boggle Bootmire lunges at a watcher, while next to him Etako attacks Al'Abisir Mahahr with the Iron Guard.

Boggle is attacked by a watcher of Karna and two spearmen, he slams his shield into the face of a spearman, but slides on some gravel. Harnessing his might, he recovers enough momentum to bury his axe in the watcher's chest.

Next to him, Etako and the Iron Guard hurl themselves into combat against the black clad assassin, three deadly blows rain down upon the human, but fate is still with the evil man and only one of the attacks causes injury, the others slashing black silk a hairsbreadth away from skin.

The other Iron guard is now set upon by a watcher of Karna and three spearmen. Satisfied that he has cordoned off his King and slain an evil man already, he resigns himself to his fate. Blow upon blow rains down on him, but his well crafted armour and parrying ability save him! (My brother was given the bad-rolling, dodgy dice, award for that effort.)

Turn 6 - the dwarves gain priority, and not wanting to be surrounded, back off defensively towards the arch. The Haradrim, rather than assaulting the short, plucky dwarves, turn and head towards their objective - the enemy base.

Turn 7 - knowing that they can't catch up to the faster humans, and trusting the well defended Khazad Guard to hold the base, the dwarves head through the arch towards the Harad base.

The three Watchers of Karna above the walls aim with their poison-tipped arrows and let fly. An arrow flashes through the air towards Etako and hits! Fate is not with him as the arrow finds a chink in his armour and wounds him deeply! (Totally fluke roll there to hit, followed by two attempts at fate saves that both failed!)

Turn 8 - The dwarves and men both approach the opposite bases. The watchers on the roof raise their bows once more, let fly and another arrow pierces Etako's defenses, right into his good eye! Etako drops like a sack of heavy armour, dead! (Unbelievable! He's defence 8 and was wounded by two arrows!)

And a picture of the celebrating archers:

Turn 9 - Boggle Bootmire and the two Iron Guards scream curses at the Watchers on the wall and head towards them at full speed, cursing their stumpy legs and swearing revenge! The arrows in return manage to punch through their defences and Boggle is hit! (He's defence 8 also, the watchers must be using infra red remote control arrows or something!)

Turn 10 - As the dwarves finally are almost within striking distance of the wall, one last trio of arrows spears down - into Boggle's upraised, cursing mouth! The arrowhead punctures right through and he gurgles down to the ground. (The archers got the lucky dice "Fortunes Favour" award for four arrows hitting defence 8 targets, unbelievable odds!)

Meanwhile, at the dwarven base, they are under assault. Al'Abisir, sorely wounded as he is, still glides past a clumsy two handed axe swing and stabs a Khazad Guard right through the eye-slit in his helmet. At the next archway across, a Watcher and a spearman team up against a Khazad Guard, who manages to deflect their blows across into the wall, showering them with sparks as metal hits stone.

Turn 11 - Priority Dwarves. The Khazads shuffle around to make sure they still have doorways blocked. The Iron Guards throw their axes, but miss, the archers (for once) also miss. At the dwarven ruins, the Hasharin swiftly slays another dwarf, the Watcher and spearman again attack, but the Khazad Guard they face is a canny warrior and turns his armour to deflect the attacks.

Turn 12 - Priority Dwarves. Again, the dwarves have a chance to shuffle around to block the holes in their defence. Again the Hasharin slays another Khazad Guard, winning a tie roll. 

The Iron Guard finally get to the Haradrim base. One throwing axe slays a spearman before the two Iron Guards get into close combat, against two spearmen each they each manage to slay a human, full of ire and vengeance for the falling of their heroes.

Although now in the enemy base, the two Iron Guards do not outnumber the seven humans still there (four spearmen and three watchers).

Turn 13 - Priority Dwarves. The force is broken and one of the Iron Guards flees the battlefield. The other renews his assualt, takes on three spearmen, wins and slays two of them, dwarven steel piercing through their light armour.

At the dwarven ruins, a Khazad Guard smashes his two handed axe through a watcher, cleaving him almost in half, in the next alcove another Khazad Guard fends off two spearmen, parrying with his mighty axe.

Perhaps all is not lost for the dwarves? Al'Abisir, uses his point of might to slay another Khazad Guard at the same time as some of his comrades sneak around a now-deserted archway, bringing the number of Haradrim inside the base to more than the number of dwarves - victory to the men!

Haradrim: +10 pts major victory, +1 pt unlucky roll, +1 pt lucky roll, +1 pt best non-hero (watcher that used his super archery skills to get four wounds on defence 8 dwarves) = 13 points.

Dwarves: +1 pt major loss.

Game 2 – Contest of Champions

Etako swears that he will be King in the Future (stay alive).
The Hasharin swears to uphold chivalrous combat (melee Etako).

In a Haradrim town near an ashy wasteland, far too close to Mordor for anybody’s comfort!

Some watchers head up to the rooftops for another go at killing heroic dwarves with poisonous, treacherous, remote controlled arrows. A group of spearmen head around to try and flank the dwarves, who march steadily towards the center of the small town.

By turn 4 the armies are within range of each other. Arrows whistle through the air, but none strike their mark. Two throwing axes from Iron Guard dwarves whirl through the air towards the Hasharin. They both hit, but fate is with the black clad man and neither cause serious wounds.

Turn 5 – Priority Haradrim.
A messy melee erupts in the central courtyard.

Boggle and two Iron Guard take on Al'Abisir, who uses a point of might to tie, the roll off goes to the dwarves, who get four good hits on the evil man, no amount of fate or luck can save him from the brutally efficient axes. With the shieldbearer’s special rule, they leap over the fallen man to join Etako’s fight against a spearman. With overwhelming numbers, the spearman falls to Etako’s Ironfist, teeth scattering over the ground causing a Khazad Guard to slip and fall to a Watcher of Karna’s twin steely blades.

Another Khazad Guard smashes the ribcage of a Watcher of Karna and a fortunate spearman manages to hold his own against three Khazad Guards!
Leaderless, the Haradrim warriors lay down their arms and capitulate. The dwarves allow them to go, to take word back to others about the payment for fighting someone that’s not their own size.

Short, quick, major victory for the dwarves!
Dwarves: +10 pts major victory, +2 pts oath = +12 pts = 13 pts total.
Haradrim: +1 pt major loss = 14 pts total.

Game 3 – Ill Met By Moonlight

The forces of the two armies are scattered somewhat, two groups run into each other in the dim, dark night and call for assistance from their comrades at the edge of a Harad city in green rolling fields.

Etako declares the Hasharin as his Arch Enemy and swears that the evil man will die. The Hasharin declares Boggle as his Arch Enemy and threatens to stop him once and for all.

Turn 1 – Priority dwarves.

An Iron Guard hurls an axe at the Watcher of Karna that seemed to spring up out of nowhere, it sends the watcher springing back to nowhere and the Guard joins a Khazad Guard to take on another watcher, who bravely repels their attacks, but causes no harm to the heavily armoured dwarves.

Another Iron Guard/Khazad Guard combination takes on a Watcher, who deftly slips to one side in the darkness and decapitates the Iron Guard, finding a weak seam in the neck-armour. A Khazad Guard bodily slams into another Watcher, who is knocked off balance and falls from the building, dead from the fall and the massive two handed axe wound in his chest.

Turn 2 – Priority Dwarves.

Another throwing axe finishes off a Watcher, leaving the Iron Guard and three Khazad Guards to surround the last hapless man on the rooftop and send him to oblivion.

Turn 3 – Priority Dwarves (again!)

The Iron Guard balances himself out on a rooftop ladder and hurls his throwing axe at the banner bearer, slaying him unexpectedly! As he falls dead, the Hasharin’s throwing dagger and two arrows from the last two Watchers of Karna all fly through the air, killing the brave dwarf. The body falls to the ground and the blood of the banner bearer and dwarf mingle in the grass. (My brother awards me a strategy point for killing his banner bearer like this – it totally took him by surprise!)

Turn 4 – Priority Haradrim.

The rooftop Khazad Guards hurry for a ladder down to meet up with Etako’s band. The Haradrim all gather together into a large group.

Turn 5 – Priority Dwarves.

The two groups near each other, dwarves taking shelter behind a tree, wary of arrows.

Turn 6 – Priority Haradrim.

The evil men horde towards the dwarves. Etako steps from behind the tree and backhands a Watcher so hard that his head cracks on the stone wall. A Khazad guard holds his own against some spearmen.

Turn 7 – Priority Haradrim.

The shieldbearer and two Khazad Guards attack Al'Abisir, who uses his point of might to win the fight and kill the shieldbearer, blades flashing in the moonlight! His oath is fulfilled!

Etako takes on two spearmen, killing one and sending the poor man’s body slumping to the ground atop his comrade from the previous combat round. Two Khazad Guards match up against a couple of spearmen and the twin axes glint as they end the life of the human.

Turn 8 - Priority Haradrim.

Messy melee abounds!

Etako calls Heroic Combat against two spearmen and rolls so badly that he uses the rest of his might to win and kill the spearman, charging past the man's dying body to attack Al'Abisir with a Khazad Guard. The Hasharin, still gloating over the death of Boggle is unbalanced when Etako slams into him, allowing the Khazad Guard to strike. Fate is with the black clad human as he tucks and rolls to avoid taking any damage beyond mussing up his clothing.

A Khazad guard splits open the head of a Watcher of Karna as two of the dwarves comrades team up to disembowel another spearman.

Four spearmen team up to battle a Khazad Guard, who falls beneath their combined spear thrusts.

Turn 9 - Priority Dwarves (on a tied roll of 6s)

The men have been broken and four of them run fleeing into the dark night. Etako is attacked from behind by two spearmen, but his strong mithril mail protects him from their blows as he turns and the Ironfist Gauntlet sends a man flying with a shattered skull uppercut.

Al'Abisir and a spearman are attacked by two Khazad Guards, who swing mightily, hard enough to shear a man in two, but fate again saves the Hasharin from their attacks as he deftly maneuvers. If they could only slay the evil man, they would achieve a major victory, but one more dwarven casualty will make it a minor victory.

Turn 10 - Priority Haradrim.

Al'Abisir calls his few remaining men to be courageous and none of them flee. Then he turns his attention to a solitary Khazad Guard, who cannot focus properly on the black clad man in the darkness of night and succumbs to the poisoned blade of the Hasharin.

In retaliation for their fallen comrade, the dwarves slay more of the wicked men.

Turn 11 - Priority Dwarves (tied on 4s).

A foregone conclusion, Al'Abisir meets Etako's Ironfist Gauntlet and does not survive to tell the tale of how his teeth ended up embedded in his braincase.

Minor Victory to the Dwarves +6 pts, Oath fulfilled +2 pts, strategic point +1 pt = +9 pts = total of 22 points.

Haradrim minor loss +2 pts, oath fulfilled +2 pts = +4 pts = total of 18 points.

Going into the final game there are only four points separating the two teams!

Game 4 - Take and Hold.

The last oaths to take are dwarves: chivalrous combat, haradrim: future king.

A bridge in a pleasant enough meadow is the strategic key to the main armies, each of whom sends out scouts to see what is happening near a quaint little farmhouse.

Unfortunately there has been a lot of stormy weather and the troops are split up helter skelter appearing at the field in twos and threes!

In turn 1 a dwarven throwing axe takes out a nearby Watcher of Karna...

On the other side of the bridge, Al'Abisir throws a dagger at a heavily mailed dwarf, but his aim is true, a consummate professional!

Turn 2 - Priority Haradrim.

Al'Abisir, a Watcher and a spearman all tackle a Khazad Guard before he can reach the shelter of some ruins, he doesn't stand a chance against all of their steel.

On the opposite side of the field, two Iron Guards leap into action, one of them killing a spearman, the other fending off a spear.

Turn 3 - Priority Dwarves.

In the open field a Watcher and an Iron Guard face off, one short and mail clad, the other with graceful flashing steel... The human's height wins out and the dwarf falls dead to the green, green grass.

Downstream from the bridge some Khazad Guards are in a skirmish with some spearmen, the longer reach of the spears fend off some of the attacks, but the sheer determination of the dwarves wins through as a two handed axe cleaves a main almost in two.

An overview shows just how scattered things are...

Turn 4 - Priority Dwarves.

Boggle and a Khazad guard leap into action, bringing down a spearman who was nearing the bridge.

Downstream, one Khazad guard takes on a spearman, dashing the poor man's brains over the wet rocks, to let his comrades charge onwards towards the bridge.

The shorter legs of the dwarves are beginning to show, as some humans have already started crossing the bridge!

Turn 5... If the dwarves get priority they'll be able to get onto the bridge, if the Haradrim get priority they'll be able to screen off the dwarves from the bridge...

Priority... Dwarves!

Boggle and his Khazad companion charge onto the bridge, but the slippery surface causes them to lose their combats. Fortunately their heavy armour saves them from any serious wounds! Etako takes out a Watcher that was creeping up from the rear.

Elsewhere the Iron Guard is STILL fighting the spearman he's been up against since the beginning of the battle and everybody else converges on the bridge.

Turn 6 - Priority Dwarves.

Boggle is beaten back by two spearmen, but again, his shield bearing expertise saves him from harm. Etako smashes a Watcher into the water below, trying to fight his way across the bridge to kill Al'Abisir as per his oath.

Downstream the Khazad Guards are attacked by a Watcher and a spearman, the Watcher leaps across the stepping stones with a grace borne of years of skillful training, ducks two massive axe-swings and slays a Guard!

One more dwarven casualty will possibly cause the battle to end, fortunately the only other combat is the Iron Guard vs. that spearman...
Unfortunately the Iron Guard mustn't have had his breakfast today, after five rounds against a simple spearman, he fails badly and the spearman stands dumbfounded, but triumphant!

Well, fortunately the game will only be over if a 1 or 2 is rolled.
A 1 is rolled!

Game over!

Minor victory for the Haradrim +6 pts, Oath fulfilled +2 pts = +8 pts = total of 26 points.

Minor loss for the Dwarves +2 pts = total of 24 points.

So the Tournament goes to the Haradrim!

The Serpent's Shadow falls across Etako's Expeditionaries!

What a fun few games to play, lots of heroics and single combat with such small groups. Small bits of luck go a long way, when you lose a large percentage of your force in a single fight!

Unimpressed with the Shieldbearer over a normal Dwarf Captain so far, perhaps because of the limited numbers, the lack of might, will and fate is telling, also it could be due to my lack of skill =)

I heartily recommend some fast and furious 250 point action for those who want to break it up from playing really big games. Also I know some people still haven't really tried scenarios - I'd really strongly suggest you give it a go. When the fight isn't to the death you really get to see some different aspects of army composition.

My brother's comments:
Well, what a day of battle! Four conflicts, each quite different from the other,
with different bonus point goals with the Oaths feature. I think there were a
couple memorable moments for me.

I've got to say I was amazed by the constant rolling of double 6's inflicted on
the Dwarf heroes in the first match, taking them out with arrows, and not even
needing to make any poison rerolls! That Watcher of Karna was incredible in that
game! I don't often make use of archers, but from now on, it is something I will
consider more.

The scenario where we met in the clearing in the middle of a town ended so
quickly, with the Hasharin taken out of the fight in the first moment of
conflict! I tend to throw him out in front where the action is, but I probably
should have held him back, and moved him into engagements of my choosing after
the mass melee had begun. Hopefully I will learn to be wiser when running the
Hasharin around the map.

I also enjoyed walking through the alleys of the streets in one scenario, with
dwarfs up on the rooftops, thinking, they've got to go all the way to the ends
of the buildings to get down before they can attack me - only to have death rain
down on me from above and take out my bannerman! I continuously forget about
their ranged attacks!

I quite like the photo too from, that same battle, of the dwarfs walking across
the bridge between two rooftops. It really gave a 3D effect to the board.

The final battle was a race to control the bridge. My first thought for tactics
was if I could reach the bridge first, while getting dwarfs to kill off 10 of my
guys, my force would break and we would have to roll to see if the game would
end. As long as I had someone on the bridge, and no dwarfs were there, it would
have been a quick victory. I wasn't at all prepared for lone spearmen to hold
off for so long against the dwarf warriors, but it still came down to numbers,
and I heaped men onto that bridge to claim it in the end.

All in all, a fun set of matches, and now I have an idea of what the scenarios
are like, I will be giving some thought as to what to do next time we clash in
this tournament. Who knows what armies I will face - or what army I will field -
in the coming challenges...


  1. sorry but where did you get that river

  2. My brother's river, feel free to ask him:
    I think he ordered it from somewhere online?