Sting of the Red Scorpion

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Sting of the Red Scorpion

Postby The Mouth of Sauron » Sat Jun 28, 2008 6:43 pm

Kushir the Red Scorpion scourge of Gondor, raider of Erebor and adversary to Rhun continued his bloody path to the borders of the mirkwood. A land rumoured to hold great treasures guarded by foul elves and their giant arachnid servants. Kushir's fame and fortune allowed him the luxury of hiring a company of seasoned warriors of khand, black hearted mercenaries one and all. Greed drove these men and the promise of gold and gems beyond a king's ransom got their interest. Kushir assembled his tribesmen and ordered them to support the Khandish axemen on either flank. Julladain, his lieutenant, he trusted with the center and the largest of the infantry units. Ghendis, the captain of the mercenaries, had his own lieutenant, Ghenwa, leading the attack on the right flank. Kushir and Ghendis took their position amongst the cavalry supporting the attack on the left.

In the woods Legolas and his wood elven bretheren waited silent and unseen. Legolas took position on his right flank with his elves spread out to prevent any of the servant of Sauron from breaking through their cordon and entering the realm of the elves.

The scenario was Reconnoitre. I got to choose the table side and I choose to attack from the side that had only one woods near my table edge. I didn't need a pesky elf or two getting through my lines and making a dash through the safety of the woodland to defeat me. I had a rocky hill on my left flank with a patch of woodland in my center and another small hill on my right. Across from me lay a patch of woodland on my far left with a small ruined tower just to the left of center. Another large patch of woodland terrain lay on my far right. Interpersed throughout the field were small pieces of nuisance terrain (ferns and bushes) that provided cover, but offered no resistance to movement (50mm LOTR based pieces). The elves were using the woods as bastions and Legolas had established his command at the small ruined tower.

Kushir surveyed the field and saw four avenues to victory, the two gaps on either flank were heavily defended by the elves and were unlikely to yield any successful breakthough, but they were still critical to contest to keep the elves from breaking through, burning his own camp and scattering or despoiling his reserves and supplies. The center near the ruined tower had the two other gaps, neither was strongly held, but it would be dangerous nonetheless as his flanks would be exposed to archers and counter attack from the woodlands. To add insult to injury he was missing several members of his cavalry force. The untrustworthy scum had snuck off in the night. The losses amongst the infantry were not felt as much, but his striking force was much weakened by the losses. Kushir raised his war spear and his men surged forward with a war shout.

The infantry moved forward with the cavalry slowing their advance long enough to unleash a hail of arrows into the enemy command. An elf fell to a black feathered arrow. The elves moved predictably. They shunned the center to avoid the cavalry and moved the majority of their forces along the flanks using the woods as a fortress from which to launch any counter assaults. Elven arrows flew through the air and two horses were slain, their riders fell from their stricken mounts with practiced ease. Dark curses were sworn upon the murderous, horse killing elves. Kushir's men moved forward and took positions on either flank ready to assault or defend depending on how the winds of war (Priority) drifted. Kushir's lieutenant, Julladain, considered his options and decided not to reinforce the attack on the right flank and instead moved with an eye to make a move towards the center should the opportunity arise, but it was also evident to him that there was a chance to engage the elves in the woods if he moved cautiously and thus bleed the enemy and give his comrades on the right a chance to break through.

Kushir considered his options, he could maneuver to his left and use the cover of the hill to protect his horsemen from the elven archers and then make a dash towards the center from the left flank. This was fraught with danger as the elven defenders on the left could outmaneuver his own infantry screen and thereby trap his cavalry behind his own men. A dash into the center would advance him into striking range of the two center gaps, but would also advertise his intentions. Being cautious and trading bowfire was not a favourable option, but it had no long term negatives. He ordered his cavalry to trot a small pace forward through the small gap between the trees and the nearby rocky hill. Again his horsemen unleashed arrows and this time bushes, stones and passing birds seemed to conspire to block his arrows as no elves were struck down. The return fire from the elves struck down a rider and another horse. Khandish men were also lost on both flanks to the deadly elven fire. The initiative was with the elves and Kushir awaited their assault, but the elves stood their ground unwilling to get to grips with his men and risk unecessary casaulties.

Kushir passed word to his flanks to hold their positions and not engage the enemy. It is well known that elven warriors carry small darts and throw these with as much accuracy as their bow armed compatriots. Kushir's cavalry again moved cautiously through the gap and entered the clearing in the center of the field of battle. They prepared to unleash another volley of arrows into the elves, while the infantry to his right moved on the elven held woodland on the far right, but also careful to stay clear of their throwing weapons. Elven arrows flew from the trees and bushes and slew both men and horse. Amongst the unhorse was Ghendis, the mercenary captain. The return flight from Kushir's horsemen scored no hits. Again the initiative lay with the elves to make the first move and again they stayed their hand. Kushir ordered his cavalry to a gallop and left Ghendis to take command of the infantry on the left while he lead the assault on the center. More elven arrows flew from the trees and brush this time unhorsing Kushir and killing more of his men. The time for action had come and Kushir's men fell upon the elves as both flanks moved towards their elven counterparts. The infantry in the center surged towards the woodland on the far right, while Ghendis and his unhorsed warriors charged a nearby group of elven archers that had broken cover to enfilade the cavalry charge with fire. The remnants of the cavalry charged into the two gaps and engaged the elven defenders with the dismounted warriors following behind as best they could. Elven daggers flew as both flanks engaged Kushir's men. Few were the casaulties as the elves closed. The right flank had already been bled by elven archers and barely had enough bodies to block the enemy from breaking their lines in a single charge. Fortunately none fell to the daggers of the elves as they closed. There was ferocious fighting across the field and the elves were routinely beaten back and many of the elven warriors fell and did not rise again.

Legolas was shocked that his veteran warriors were being defeated so easily and now there was a very real possibility of the enemy's cavalry breaking through his lines. Kushir's men pushed their advantage and continued to hold the initiative, though Legolas' quick intervention (Heroic Move) prevented Kushir and his remaining horsemen from bounding past unchecked. Thus the riders and as many warriors as could be reached were checked, while on the other side of the tower two cavalrymen broke through the small gap with the help from their unhorsed companions. Kushir moved to reinforce his trapped horsemen, while Ghendis charged a nearby archer. The flanks were now heavily engaged with men and elves selling themselves dearly. Ghendis slew his opponent and continued his charge into the melee holding hs horsemen at bay (Heroic Combat). Again the elves took the worst of the combats, when the elves would win the men survived and merely stepped aside to avoid their blows, but when the men won elves invariably fell. The matter was still under ocntention for while the blades of the elven warriors might not be as sharp as they should be, there was nothing wrong with elven arrows and both of the horsemen that had broken through were brought down under a hail of arrows.

Kushir and Ghendis were now locked in combat with Legolas, while his elves followed their prince's example and stole the initiative to pin the remaining horsemen in place. The left flank was going badly for the elves as the men of the east now outnumbered them and were breaking through their thinned out lines. Things were dire in the center as well as Julladain's men pushed past their slain opponents and moved to exploit the gap in the center. On the right the men of the east were barely holding their own. The valiant efforts of a lone spearmen of Harad and Ghenwa, the lieutenant of the mercenaries, were all that prevented a strong group of elves from creating and exploiting a hole of their own. Combats were bloody and vicious. Both the elves of Mirkwood and the men of the east were exhausted and near their breaking point (both of us were 4 models from breaking). Another horseman broke through in the center while men poured past the few remaining elves on the left flank. A lone elf made a dash through the center towards the camp of the men with pursuers hot on his heels, while Julladain and Ghenwa fell onto the remaining elven defenders on the right flank. Both sides were now bled white and broken. The elves of Mirkwood had a bit of luck and got the initiative and engaged the captains of men. To Legolas' astonishment the men of the east proved to be near fanatical and charged his overwhelmed elves, the only ray of hope lay with the failed morale of the two mercenaries closest to penetrating the Mirkwood. The slaughter continued with Legolas, Kushir and Ghendis all having avoided wounds by fate alone. The men of the east retook the initiative, but their captains' had enough of battle, the mercenary captains both fled the field and many of their warriors followed them. Too many men had fled or fallen and Kushir knew the battle was over, but his men continued to fight and prepared to withdraw.

Legolas stood looking over a bloody field at the retreating enemy. his force was too spent to pursue and they would have to let them go as the field belonged to neither side. His elves gathered their wounded, the dying and the dead then withdrew into the woods. Never again would he underestimate this fierce band of men from the east or their fighting spirit.

Kushir and his force performed well and I was pleased with their performance. I lost four cavalry and four infantry before the battle started which are actually average losses by number, but I took above average cavalry losses which in the long run hurt. If I had managed to make one courage test on the turn both Gary and I were reduced to 25% I would have managed a major win, but as it was luck didn't fall to me at the last minute and Gary's excellent play kept us to a draw. Luckily for me Gary's lead elf that had managed to breakthough my lines failed a courage test and fled the field which pretty much guaranteed neither of us could win this game.

Mercenaries of Khand
1 Khandish Mercenary Chieftain with bow and horse
1 Khandish Mercenary Chieftain
14 Khandish Mercenary Horsemen
28 Khandish Mercenary Warriors with two handed weapon

1 Haradrim King with war spear on horse
1 Haradrim Chieftain with spear
22 Haradrim Warriors with spear
1 Haradrim Warrior with banner

Points = 700
Models = 69
Might = 8
Last edited by The Mouth of Sauron on Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:12 pm, edited 8 times in total.
The Mouth of Sauron

Postby Guardian of Ecthelion » Sun Jun 29, 2008 12:08 am

That wasn't a battle report. That was a story!! Well written an enjoyable read. Sounds like you and Gary had an enjoyable game. Hopefully I can do well enough in a tournament to have a chance to play you. I would enjoy the challenge. I know I am not at your caliber but it would be fun.
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Postby BrentS » Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:47 am

Well, that was rivetting! I loved reading through it. Well written Tim! Sounds like a fun game even though no clear winner was established.

My only critique would be break up some of the paragraphs to make it a bit more readable. :wink:

Can you comment a bit more on logistics of the game. How many sell sword losses did you get? It seemed like that your cavalry ran away more than the infantry?
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Postby The Mouth of Sauron » Sun Jun 29, 2008 11:31 am

BrentS wrote:Can you comment a bit more on logistics of the game. How many sell sword losses did you get? It seemed like that your cavalry ran away more than the infantry?
For my part I lost 8 models, four cavalry (above average by 2) and four infantry (below average by 2). Two more cavalry would have made a difference when I finally made my attack in the center.

Reconnoitre is a challenging scenario as it requires you to attack and defend at the same time. Speed is the greatest asset for this scenario, but an all cavary force might find it hard to win if they can't do it quickly.

Gary's skill as a player and his familiarity with my tactics and strategies makes this a very hard scenario for me as well. My force is near perfectly configured to do well in this force, while his Wood Elves are very capable of exploiting woody terrain. So terrain is the biggest variable I have to worry about when we play. We had three patches of woods in play and two of them were on the side I choose for Gary's deployment. I knew they would bottleneck me late in the game, but I also had a large area to maneuver in the center of the field and could exploit two potential gaps. I had already decided to send my cavalry through this gap and Gary was well aware of my intended pathway, but I also had a large infantry force in my center that could also make for that breach, plus it would protect my cavalry from anything Gary tried to throw at it from the woods on my far right.

Gary's force is deadly as it closes and more so if I have Priority. If I move forward to engage then he falls back into terrain and throws daggers at my low defense force. Coupled with his elven bows I would be bled to death. If he has Priority then he has to decide to attack my line or allow me to sit outside of 6" and avoid his throwing daggers. He got priority three turns in a row during a critical portion of the game for him and this allowed me to pin his flanks in place by not moving within 6" and spreading out my line a bit. Once I got Priority I did exactly what Gary expected and moved in to attack range. I was going to take casaulties, but Gary wouldn't get any significant movement with his counter attack. Of course I also had to be sure he couldn't burst through with his throwing weapons.

Shooting was Gary's strongest options, but this tactic is also very dangerous for the wood elves. Wood Elves are too efficient with their shooting and throwing weapons and it is a very real possibility that he would lose the game by destroying my force. Gary also had the problem of mobility to deal with. As an infantry force he is slower than mine and with his low defense he can't afford to try and break through with only a couple of models too early or they'll get caught and cut to pieces. If he can reach the woods in my center then his mobility gives him and advantage as he can move freely and I can't pursue or shoot him down easily.

Gary's force had one other problem. I know his playing style very well and this means I know what to expect from him when we play. My default attack behavior dove tails perfectly into his default defense behavior so we've become very good at our preferred playing styles. Where we become truly dangerous is when we speed up the play of the game. Our spectator, who decided to buy the game after seeing Gary and I play, commented that we played way too fast for him to follow what we were doing. Our combats and shooting sped up to a frenzy that you are one of the few to fully apprreciate since you saw Frank, Gary and I do the same thing in Chicago.

This isn't a conscious tactic on our part so much as a reality that we are so comfortable with the rules that we can play through these sections of the game very quickly. This throws our less experienced opponents off balance and causes confusion and uncertainty in their play. This of course works to our advantage.

Gary knew that my cavalry were the most dangerous portion of my force in this scenario and my higher than normal losses not only worked to his advantage and made his anti-cavalry tactics easier. Normally Gary won't fire at heroes as he considers it a waste of energy, but he will shoot at mounted heroes to try and dismount them. Against me he was able to dismount both of my heroes early enough to blunt my cavalry assault.

For me the primary tactical demand is to make my opponent defend on their half of the table. This makes the trip to my table edge that much farther for my opponent in case they break through. Gary managed to break through with his elves late in the game, but since he was on his half of the table when he broke through he was a minimum of five turns from my table edge. Whereas I was only two (for cavalry) or four turns (infantry) from his table edge when I managed to break through.
Last edited by The Mouth of Sauron on Mon Jul 14, 2008 3:55 pm, edited 4 times in total.
The Mouth of Sauron

Postby BrentS » Sun Jun 29, 2008 3:36 pm

The Mouth of Sauron wrote: Where we become truly dangerous is when we speed up the play of the game. Our spectator, who decided to buy the game after seeing Gary and I play, commented that we played way too fast for him to follow what we were doing. Out combats and shooting sped up to a frenzy that you are one of the few to fully apprreciate since you saw Frank, Gary and I do the same thing in Chicago.

Amen to that :)
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Postby Gartl » Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:10 am

It was an excellent game! We both hit break point on the same turn and we both hit 25% on the same turn. Can't get much closer than that :-)

We originally rolled the scenario To Kill a King, but with me having Legolas we decided that wouldn't make for much of a game. We then rolled High Ground, but that was the last scenario we played with my Wood Elves (versus his Arnor. Wood Elves won). I then suggested Recon as I think that will be one of my hardest scenarios for me to win as I have everything on foot. Add to that my propensity to play defensively and it can be a real challenge, as this game proved.

My plan was to hold the center and one flank and break through on the other flank using the woods to move past his troops. I did manage to get two elves to his side of the board, but I was at break point and in one turn they both decided to flee (the only loses I had from morale checks). Tim almost won the game on his second breakthrough. He got two horsemen past my center earlier on, but I wasn't concerned as I had seven archers plus Legolas to deal with them and they did so. His second breakthrough was one turn from escaping off my board edge if he got proiority. If I got it I had a warrior with a throwing dagger to attack before he got to move. Tim got priority, but fortunately mercenaries have a low morale and he fled making the game a draw.

As Tim said, I normally don't shoot at heroes as I would rather take down the enemy modle count. However, in this scenario I wanted his mounted heroes on foot so that they couldn't make heroic moves with the cav or use thier courage to keep the cav from fleeing. The strategy worked well and keep him from a win. The other thing I had to do was cut down his cavalry as they were the only real threat. He did manage to get cavalry by me, but only two of thirteen starting cav which allowed me to stop him.

The last thing of interest was that I couldn't win in melee. Tim was easily winning about 80% of the hth fights and killing about 80% of the models when he did win! When I won the 20% I did I coulnd't wound. I would say that about 90% of the casualties I caused was with bows and throwing daggers. It was really bizarre, but made for a fantastic game.
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