Monday, May 30, 2016

Battle of Five Armies, LotR SBG style

We met at my brother's place to test his Bo5A scenario for the LotR SBG system, a game we have been playing of late, using our old Ral Partha figs from the mid 70's. Chris devised the scenario with the idea of ultimately putting it online for general use. It's intended for multi-players, 3 per side and it centers on one of the old forts on the spur of the mountain. The scenario starts with a small dwarf force holding the fort and everyone else entering from off board in waves. There were 6 contingents in all: 3 goblin/warg and 1 each dwarf, elf and men from Laketown. Each contingent had a hero leading it, only Fili for the dwarves being named from the story. 8 turns. Victory points were awarded thusly: 1  point for a member of each faction inside the fort at games end. (Starting dwarves and exception to this.) 2 points for each hero inside the fort. 1 point for each hero killed. Points were awarded per *side* not faction. (We also discussed prolly 1 point each for each of the opponents faction to fail their Courage check.)
That all being said, we loaded up on fat and sugar, and started with gusto.

I can't even begin to describe what this group means to me.

The set-up. Each faction enters on a different edge. For purposes of discussion, the left of this picture is north. The dwarves enter from due north, the elves from the northwest corner, the Laketown men, the northeast. Goblins and wargs enter everywhere else. It should be noted the Good side has less models, as would be expected. The Evil side had about 30 more points per faction and 10 more models or so.

The dwarves with crossbows man the fort as the clouds of war gather.

Fili leads the dwarven reinforcements onto the board. Dwarves with weapon and shield are harder to crack than Brazil nuts with your bare hands.

The forest king's contingent, led by their hero who's scrotum hung lower than his penis.

The men of Laketown want their share of the booty too.

Goblins swarm the board. This is a good shot as it shows my biggest mistake of the game and what probably cost us the most. That's mostly my contingent to the east, left of the stream. I entered there for two main reasons: first, I thought I could head off the elves and prohibit them easy ingress to the fort area, but secondly and more importantly: this side of the table was closest to where I was already standing and closest to where the snacks were. I was too fucking lazy to move around to the other side of the table.

No Legolas.

My wargs had a taste for elf flesh. Ultimately this went bad for us even though we outnumbered them. I eventually lost three to his two and my two remaining wargs fled to hunt elsewhere. They sucked there too.

Goblin archers prepare to shoot the shit out of the wall of the fort.

My stupidity revealed: my goblins moved 5, his elves moved 6. Plus Elves aren't slowed by difficult terrain (the stream and based woodlands.) I had no chance of catching the elves as I had planned. They flitted by, thumbing their noses at us as they skipped towards the fort. Note also, if I had used my wargs properly, I could have blocked, or at least slowed, their progress, but I was too bent on murdering them. It cost us.

The men of Laketown blot out the sun with their arrows.

Fili's boys firmly hold the fort while the goblins begin their futile efforts to dislodge them.

Goblins, as is their wont, swarm around the fort, looking for easy access. There was none to be found.

The humans run into a buzzsaw. The goblins turn their flank and start rolling up their line.

The rest of the pics are all on the final turn, showing different aspects, as it was an exciting one. In this shot you can see in the upper left, a warg trying to savage the elven hero. The hero has an escort who saved his life! At the bottom left are my reinforcing orcs with 2 handed weapons. As I have already discussed my stupidity, here's a look at the result. They never crossed the stream or got within 12 inches of an enemy model. Well played Steve! Fucking douche bag.

This also helps illustrate my incompetence. The goblin in the bottom right, you know, the one that is a base width away from being in the fort; the same one who schlepped through difficult terrain of the woods and the stream the entire game: anyway, he's from my contingent and was an inch or less away from entering the fort, thus denying the Evil side a Victory Point. Once again: well played! Not.

The final positions. The men of Laketown are all but chewed up. Literally, I suppose. I did kill a slew of elves with decent shooting but not quite enough to force a courage test. I took a total of 21 shots on the last turn against the elven hero, including using both my Might points from my own hero. We managed to kill the warg attacking him and the elf next to him and actually did 1 wound (but he had 2). I missed with the other 18 shots. I also lost the last two guys of another faction in the fort. All I had to do was win one roll off for a VP. Lost them both. BUT... all I had to do was survive the wound die rolls of 5 or better. Lost them both. So, lost another VP there. Good managed to get two elves and one human into the fort also on the last turn for 2 VP their way and won 5-3. One die roll our way or one less act of stupidity and it is almost certainly at least a tie. The elves and humans were dangerously close to taking a Courage test but alas, it was not to be so. But Good won out. All the dice rolls and stupidity still count in this rules set.

What a blast! Thanks to my brother Chris for hosting and for a well thought out and executed scenario that really made the rules set shine. The 8 turn length was probably perfect. One more turn and Evil would have overwhelmed the fort. I know there are definitely things I would do different. I'd love to give it a try.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

An orchish incursion. 7 May 2016

I met up with my brother Chris and his oldest son Nathaniel to play a game of Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game from Games Workshop. We are using our old Ral Partha figs from when we were kids. Chris recently discovered a cache of them in his basement and I have been bringing them back to life with some washes and paint touch ups. I try to leave some of the original paint jobs on as many of the figs as possible just to keep their integrity and as a sort of homage to our teen and pre-teen efforts of 40 years ago. We cut our gaming teeth on these beauties and it is a blast to (literally) dust them off and put them back into action. 

Chris was in a dwarvish mood so I developed a 400 point scenario which depicted an orcish incursion into the region around Erebor sometine between Bilbo's adventure and the start of the War of the Ring. Possibly the Master heard rumor of his ring? We decided we would play 10 turns with the Orcs being caught in the ruins of Dale. It was decided whomever had the most models in the city at game's end would be declared the victor.

The orcs were pretty generic. Their force included a captain and a Banner. 24 out of 35 of them had bows. They also had the benefit of a Mordor troll for a total of 36 models and 402 points.
The dwarves were a mixed lot. About 10 had bows, 8 had two handed mattocks and a dozen or so had shields and hand axes. They were led by Balin and a unit of 5 'Guards'. They also had 36 models and totaled 403 points.
In hindsight, the troll was not a good choice for this force. At 100 points he cost the same as 20 more orcs. Sure, he's tough but he can still only kill one dwarf a turn. In a game where you need to kill guys to force Courage tests, I should have eschewed his brawn for numbers. Truth be told, I just wanted to use the figure and wanted to play to have fun and not build a list with 'winning' in mind. Playing the game with my bro and his son, we were all winners! :-)

So the Evil strategy was to shoot the shorties as much as possible and thin their ranks before closing with them. They are tough little buggers so we wanted to increase our odds in hand to hand without getting in harms way. I had 24 dudes with bows, after all, to his 10. He shot 24" and I shot 18" but as I started in Dale, he had to come to me. I won't go into too many details but I needed a '5' or '6' to hit and a '6' to kill with our orcish bows. (Almost a 1 in 6 chance!) Then dice got involved. Now I don't want it to sound like the Good strategy wasn't sound and well thought out, but I couldn't hit the side of a fucking Barad Dur! There were at least 3 or 4 turns where I had NO kills. None. I killed one guy on the first turn and figgered I'd get one or two anyway so no biggie. By the time they get to me, I'd have whacked 8 or 10 models. Uh.... no.  I think I missed every shot the next three turns. Their return fire wasn't much better, especially on Nat's side but they were picking off a couple guys a turn, needing '4's or better to hit and "5's or better to kill.

After several turns of this nonsense, I abandoned that strategy and charged out to meet them but the odds didn't get any better. The little bastards are tough! My odds for hitting in hand to hand were the same and there were no sixes on my dice. The dwarves ground us down, even with our banner allowing us to re-roll attacks within 3" of it. I won as many fights as I lost but just couldn't sever their piano wire strength mortal coils. They would back up and then come back in and hack us with their mattocks. Nat moved forward like a wall of lava brushing aside my feeble defenses and broke into Dale over the northern wall. My troll played his role as a giant fucktard and killed one dwarf the entire game. (Granted, he hid like a troll sized pussy for the first three or four turns because I didn't want him pin cushioned before he had the chance to do his club work.)

So, my strategy(ies) of winning on one side and not losing on the other both failed. At the start of turn 8, I was down to 50% of my forces and started taking Courage tests (Courage score + 2d6) for all my dudes. With a Courage score of 2 and needing a 10 or more to stay in the battle, you can guess how well that went over with my brave orcs. We called it as Evil was utterly defeated. Sauron will learn nothing of his precious ring from this foray. I think I ended up killing a total of 7 dwarfs to a loss of 20 or 21 and 10 more running!

However, on the last roll of the game I whacked one last dwarf and ran off the table shouting "Evil still lurks!"

The quick set up. We decided on no Difficult Terrain just to make things easier and get into the game.

My brave (?) orcs man the walls ready to shoot down the stunties. Unfortunately our commander was confused and ordered them to place the rubber suction cups on their arrows instead of the armor piercing tips. Check out the awesome fountain Chris made in the background.

With a battle cry of  'Is he fucking serious?' my orc battle line advances out of the ruins followed bravely by their captain and standard bearer.

This is where I intended to win. I think the old Japanese poet Basho said it best:

The summer grasses
For many brave warriors
Aftermath of dreams.

The dwarvish Guard sodomizes my Forlorn Hope.

Orcs look tough.

Probably my favorite picture of the day. The troll runs screaming back to his hole chased (???) by dwarves while in the foreground two orcs are being hacked to death by dwarves as they try to just run the fuck away. The dwarves are pushing each other out of the way to get to crush someone's skull! (Been on both ends of that scenario myself!) Too funny.

It was a great game. After, we discussed the myriad of scenarios we can play with the figures we have. Everything from the First Age through the War of the Ring, including some of the grim battles of Feanor and his Oath, to the Fellowship vs. the Balrog to the siege of Minis Tirith. We got the figs and terrain to do it all. It has been such a pleasure to get these old models back on the table. 

Somewhere, my Uncle John is smiling.