Smeagol's War Report

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Smeagol's War Report

Postby Smeagol » Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:01 pm

My normal tournament preparations have me planning out my force and then writing out a semi-detailed set of tactical thoughts for each of the Legions of Middle Earth scenarios. While this process still happens in my head it never made it to paper due to mitigating circumstances. I found myself with the inability to test my force in more than a couple of scenarios. I got a total of three games before I packed them for the trip. My tests games all went well, but as with all things that don’t go through serious stress testing before they go into production some problems came up I wasn’t prepared to handle. The tournament in question was Bilbo’s Birthday Bash (http://www.bilbosbirthdaybash.com/) held at the Chicago Battle Bunker. This tournament is typically a one day regional event for the local players, but the organizer, Brent Sinclear, decided to make the tournament a two day event when he heard there was interest from some of us that have to travel to events. This netted him three players who flew into the play, plus the relatively local players of the region.

My force consisted of an alliance between Barad-dûr and Dwellers Beneath.
1 Druzhag the Beast Master
1 Orc Shaman
1 Orc Captain on warg
18 Orc Warriors with shield
18 Orc Warriors with spear
18 Orc Trackers on wargs

57 Models and 5 Might in the force. Plus a unique spell caster that makes the army play a lot differently than you might think. He definitely makes the warg mounts a lot more fearsome and troublesome to get rid of.

Day one - Round One - Modified Seize the Prize - Robert Fening – Rivendell
Robert had the twin sons of Elrond, a bunch of armoured and shielded elven warriors, unarmoured elven spears to back them up and unarmoured elven archers as support. All told about 48 models as I recall. The modification to the scenario requires the artifact to be carried off my opponent’s table edge.

Normally I hate seeing elves in front of me, but my speed advantage and the difficult terrain that wasn’t woods on the flanks gave me a false sense that I’d hit the artifact first, grab it and then be off to the races for an Easy Major Win. If Priority and contested Heroic Moves had gone my way this is what would have happened. I deployed with my infantry on my left flank with the intent of using them to screen my end run. I had the cavalry center and right to speed towards the objective and to make my opponent think I was going to make a dash off his left table side (my right). This went according to plan. The first few turns saw ineffectual elven Volley Fire while I dashed towards the center. I got to the artifact first and dropped off a rider to dig up the artifact. This is where things got difficult as the elves shot everything I had on the objective so I couldn’t dig it up. So much for “In the Way” rolls for the cover I was receiving for a fence/hedge between my advance unit and his elves. I lost Priority and everything I had that could touch the artifact got engaged when I lost the contested Heroic Move. Worse there were the two twins of which one was in combat near the objective. I cast enrage beast on one of my models to keep the Twin (don’t remember which it was) from Heroic Combatting his way to the objective. He still declared a Heroic Combat, but chose to go after a different model so I easily dispatched the elf on the objective. The exhaustion killed my warg and the orc tracker now on foot proceeded to dig up the artifact for me.

I was now prepared to grab it (I had to move a model onto the objective marker during movement to pick it up) and run. Another Heroic Move, which I contested and lost, tied up my line and caught my front line of warg riding trackers standing. So once more I was stymied in my attempts to get the now loose artifact into my possession. Seeing a good chance the elves would get the artifact I hurriedly sent my infantry into the center to set up a safety net to counter any elf attempt to breakthrough. The two twins cut a hole into my center and freed up the artifact. Of course the elves won Priority again and one of the twins moved onto the artifact!!! My dismay turned to shock when he didn’t declare he was picking up the artifact. I almost asked him if he was picking it up when I came to my senses. Now engaged for the third time and losing wargs and riders fast as a result I moved an orc onto the objective and picked it up, then moved back to hand it off to my Orc Chieftain on a warg (now out of Might). He promptly dashed from the center towards my left flank.

The battle became a meat grinder with my force taking the worst of it. My Orc Champion was prepared to dash off the table with the prize, but Robert’s skillful redeployment of his unengaged archers stopped that as I had all of two models to escort him and no Might to influence Priority. Two turns later I broke and Daggûr (my orc captain on warg) promptly fled the field, dropping the artifact in the process. At this point I’m pretty sure I’ve just lost any chance for a win and decide I can at least try for a draw instead. So Druzhag ran over and picked up the artifact.

The next turn I managed to break the elves (by one model), but my cavalry was all dead or fled by this point and my infantry was clustered around my orc shaman and only barely holding out thanks to a defensible wall. I got Priority (finally) and engaged the two twins and watched no less than eight elves flee the fight. Six of them were between me and the table edge. At this point I saw a chance to still make a win. I handed the artifact off to my orc shaman who was not going to run as I had Fury cast. I then had to tie up and then bypass one of the twins while I kept the other tied up in the center. I managed to get past his thin defensive line on my left flank and headed into the remnants of his archers. Three more turns of fighting and weaving through the few defenders in my way saw me within striking distance of getting my shaman off the table when a change in Priority allowed Robert to engage my rear guard. Luckily for me he couldn’t quite reach my shaman so he positioned himself to force me to move around him in the hopes I couldn’t get off the table this turn. With the clock running out I threw my last unengaged warrior at the blocking elf to remove his control zone and then made the game winning measurement. I “just” able to make it off the table for a Minor Win (I was broken). A much harder fight then I was expecting and a great way to start the tournament.

I’m now at 15 points.

Day two - Round Two – Modified Contest of Champions – Chris Balke – Erebor Rangers
Chris is a familiar opponent as I’ve seen him play a couple of times and faced off against him once at a Las Vegas GT. As much as I was delighted to face off against him as a player I was not happy to see his force. Dwarf Rangers led by Gimli and supported by six Iron Guards. Gimli is a beast in combat and I rarely take him down. As the best I have for a champion is my generic orc captain on his warg it looks to be a loss for me. Couple that with the deadly accuracy of those dwarven rangers and their ability to easily tear up my defense 3/4 orc tracker cavalry before I ever engage. Chris split up his attack force into two flanks with Gimli on my right and his archers in the center. A very good defensive position, but rangers attack better than they defend. Knowing his wings will block archery fire to his flanks I positioned my warg riding archers on my right and the infantry on my left. The initial approach saw light damage to my infantry and even less to the wargs. With Gimli coming straight in I decided to swing about half of my cavalry around to my right to either draw Gimli out of the center (and away from my infantry) or to outflank his force.

Initial Contact saw my infantry hit Chris’ right flank in force while still managing to keep Gimli out of the battle. I then struck at Chris’ left flank with my cavalry with the intent of digging a hole to get to Gimli. The maneuver worked wonderfully as I dropped dwarves left and right and an enraged beast managed to chew up two Iron Guard escorting Gimli. I now had Gimli just where he wanted me. Despite throwing a string of enraged beasts at Gimli the obnoxious dwarf managed to tie and then win (tie breaker roll) every combat and was racking up kills faster than I was. By the time I had broken the dwarves Gimli had managed four kills and I only had two. The only reason Gimli didn’t get more kills was due to the two Fury spells in play.

A couple of turns later the dwarves are only few models from reaching 25% and ending the game. So desperation set in. I gambled (stupidly) and tried to kill Gimli in one last crushing charge with my last casting of the enraged beast spell while my captain managed to finally engage one dwarf. Gimli easily batted my attack force back, but Chris made the rare mistake of trying to kill my shaman who backed off with one Wound and no Fate. My captain managed to kill off his opponent and I now have three kills to Gimli’s four. The dwarves however are now one model from ending the game and broken. I won Priority and moved to engage every dwarf in range. My orc captain charged two models in a wild attempt to pull out either a draw or maybe a win. My dilemma now is that I can’t give Gimli another kill or I lose the game. The only model I have that can possibly survive a beating by Gimli is Druzhag. He’s a FV 3, Defense 3, 2 wound model with two Fate. Gimli can dish out three wounds in a round. I was a little desperate obviously.

At this point you have to consider that the turn before I had dwarves in trapped combats and none of which I could shield in. It was through sheer luck that I didn’t kill one more dwarf than I did. OR this game would be over. We had around fifteen combats and no wounds on the dwarf side. I was never so happy to have such bad luck. This turn required three of Chris’ unengaged dwarves to pass their courage tests or the game would have ended. I was very happy my opponent couldn’t roll bad dice.

Gimli wins his fight easily and does three wounds on Druzhag which is near heart breaking. I drop my two Fate dice and deflect two of those three wounds. Druzhag survives, bloody, but still on the field. Gimli is now held to four kills. Next up is my charging orc captain on his warg. I drop a 6 to win the fight, but the two rangers manage to drop one as well. Same Fight Value means a tie breaker die roll. On a 4+ I take a Minor Loss. I toss the die and there is a cry of exultation (from me obviously) as I roll a 2! So my orc captain wins the fight. I have three strikes against two trapped models needing 5s to wound. My first roll comes up short and I don’t wound the dwarf. My next throw nets me one five so I have now tied Gimli and have ensured a Draw. With time running out I throw my last two dice and both come up FIVE or better. With much relief I have managed to steal a Major Win from certain defeat. Had any ONE die roll gone the opposite way in the last two turns I would have lost the game.

I’m now at 25 points.

Day three - Round Three – Modified Domination – Julian Micu – Barad-dûr
I hit the first of my nemesis style of armies played by Julian. His horde of Morannon Orcs were going to be a very tough fight. He fielded Shagrat (the old guy) with shield, an orc shaman and an orc taskmaster leading 22 Morannon Orcs with shield, 23 Orcs with spear and 23 Orc Trackers.
Initial setup had me putting my infantry on my left with the cavalry clustered on my right with Druzhag in their midst. My first turn I cast Beastial Fury and then dismounted half of my infantry which in essence gave me nine more models added to my break point buffer. The fast elements I sent off to my right with the intent of grabbing my rightmost objective while my left flank moved to secure the objective in that direction. The dismounted trackers pulled up the rear to hold my home objective. Julian moved enmass more or less towards the center. Volley and direct fire archery proved to be less than spectacular and as I didn’t have enough models to volley fire in return I decided to switch my cavalry from archers to fast movers. So I had them scamper off to my right behind the cover of a building to swing around the rear of Julian’s army. In the mean time I had been pulling my infantry back from the left and slowly sliding to the center and right in response to Julian’s strong force moving to hit my advance on my left.
Much of this battle was me trying to find a good position to engage on my terms. Our combat lines are effectively even in all regards except armour. I will be inflicting half as many casualties on him as he will to me. So I needed to get my cavalry into position to hit his much softer trackers in order to try and bring his force to break point as quickly as possible. Several turns of maneuvering saw my force holding two objectives on my side of the table and my cavalry having just taken Julien’s home objective. At this point it’s time to engage and so we close to contact. To make a long story short. My combat infantry line was seriously torn up over the course of a few turns and I hadn’t inflicted any serious losses on Julien’s in return. The cavalry attacking his archers was doing a good job of tearing Julien’s trackers up, but my cavalry was outnumbered nearly two to one and he had the advantage of being able to pull models off his front line to reinforce his rear guard. Still my wrag riding trackers carved a path to his commanders before my force was broken.
With time running out I and my force broken I now have to work out how I’m going to hold the three objectives I have and maybe steal the third. Julien gets Priority and quickly thwarts that option. He’s got scoring models into position on all four objectives. I threw what I could at him, but two of the objectives are guaranteed to be his, a third looks like a tie with one a piece, but the fourth I have a chance to steal back from him if my warg riders can do their job. I use my last Will point to enrage a beast and we get to rolling the dice. My first warg rider is beaten back, my second wins his fight, but only manages to kill a single model. My enraged beast manages to win his combat and with the slaying of both his opponents gives me numerical advantage by one model. At this point time gets called and we get to measuring out the objectives. Two are safely in Julien’s control, one is safely in my control and the last which looked contested actually belonged to me. Julien’s tracker was ¼ of an inch out of control range. So a draw for both of us.
Had we played another turn I was guaranteed a major loss. There was no way I could recover from the abuse my force had taken at the hands of Julien’s force.

I’m now at 35 points and tied with Frank Brown. Over dinner we discussed our relative positions and what we expected to be the matchups for the next morning. Frank and I are tied and would most certainly be facing each other until we learn that there is an odd number of players above us. This means that Frank manages to dodge my force in the one scenario my force is truly built for. I tried to get some sleep, but didn’t do a good job of it.

Day two - Round Four – Reconnoitre – John Humphreys – Grey Company+Gwaihir+Gandalf
John’s force proved to be a pleasant surprise for me. I didn’t see where I was likely to lose this battle unless I was too efficient in my killing and therefore ended the game before I got anything off the table. John’s Grey Company based force won table sides and deployed first, which worked to my advantage. He placed Gwaihir and Gandalf on my left flank safely behind a hill that had the Seeing Seat monument upon it. Assessing his deployment and the terrain (or lack thereof in the center) I choose to place half my wargs on each flank with my mounted orc chieftain on my right. Druzhag and the orc shaman were more central as I had yet to work out a plan of attack. John was cautious on his first turn and mostly just moved into better positions (using walls for cover) and settling Gandalf and Gwaihir safely on my left. I moved aggressively forward with my wargs on my right as they needed to clear the table before either of us got reduced to 25% and I expected it to be John rather than me. My infantry moved forward in the center split into two groups, whild my left flank wargs moved into cover of the hill to prevent Gwaihir from having line of sight for a charge (John’s Gwaihir was on a very tall (6”) fight stand). I then drifted my shaman to the left as I knew I would need to charge Gwaihir eventually and without Fury I was unlikely to accomplish that. I also moved Druzhag to my left as I would need his Enrage Best spell to tackle that flying beast. John’s archery was accurate, but not very effective. He had been tearing up everyone the day before, but my orcs proved more difficult to wound. I took losses, but nothing serious.
Gwaihir tried to charge my warg riders, but after checking LOS it turned out that I was well hidden from view, so Gwaihir moved into a scoring position for next turn while Gandalf moved forward and Sorcerous Blasted orcs and wargs. My shaman was knocked down but unhurt. I stood him up and moved him into Fury effect range and charged with three of my warg riders to catch Gwaihir on three sides. I then cast Enraged Beast at a fourth warg before sending him forward as well. My two spell casters were working well together. On my right I continued my advance and finally made it into cover of a small hill. So archery was less likely to be a problem now. Several rangers had started climbing up to the top of that same steep and high hill, but they weren’t going to be shooting me for now. In the center I had no choice, but to continue my advance and take the arrows.
The combat with Gwaihir went my way and when I picked up 22 dice to roll to wound the trapped Eagle, John realized just how dangerous that move had been. Gwaihir was converted into a main course in one turn of combat. Over the next few turns I managed to get the majority of my right flank wargs off the table and then turned to ending the game as quickly as possible. Gandalf was caught by wargs and an enraged beast made short work of him while the orcs engaged and then started trapping rangers and dunedain in combat. John made a dash for my table edge after I had removed a security force to help with shattering his force to end the scenario and now had four scoring models with a clear field in front of them. I had on orc tracker that could fling arrows at them as they ran, but nothing else. With two turns of movement left to reach my table edge and thwart my designs on a Major Victory I finally managed to break John’s force. His force is now only two models from 25% and ending the scenario a a result. He got priority and started to make his Courage tests. The last four he tested were his scoring rangers. When two of the failed it pretty much ended the game as he needed one more turn to get them off the table. I managed to pull a major victory with time to spare.

I’m now at 45 points and I’m in second place Battle Points wise so I’m guaranteed to take on the front runner who had three Major and one Minor Victory so far. This would be my first time playing my last game on table one in a large (for the US) LOTR tournament.

Day two - Round Five – Meeting Engagement- Kyle Toth- Cirith-Ungol+Wraith
Kyle has a reputation as being a tough player to beat. He did well in the Gathering in the Desert tournament (placed second as I heard it) and liked to play “hard” forces. So I was expecting something obnoxious and instead was pleasantly surprised by a large, but decently composed force of 19ish Mordor Uruk-hai with shields, 19ish orcs with spears and 19ish orc trackers lead by Shagrat the Warleader, an Orc Drummer and a mounted wraith. So all told I’m facing an army that is built on the same lines as mine, but it hits a lot harder in combat. My first thought after seeing Kyle’s force deploy and based upon its composition is that he’s fond of frontal assaults. My force is lousy at frontal assaults so my only option is to try and find a position that gives me some advantage I can exploit to get into a flank to minimize his ability to counter assault any attack.
I’ve never played Kyle and I’ve never seen him play so I have no idea what to expect. This naturally puts me on the defensive play wise. Kyle’s initial deployment obviously favoured keeping his heroes safe from archery fire with his wraith more than 6” from anyone to prevent me from volley firing at it. I know and I suspect he did too that the wraith was going to be the difference between a win or a loss for me. He might have heard that I like to assassinate heroes with archery as well. For the first third of the game we jockey for position, him moving towards my weaker left flank and me moving my cavalry towards his left flank. Archery is pretty much all him as I convert my ineffective archers into pure cavalry to exploit their movement.
When we finally get into a position to engage Kyle has moved his combat line into a partially exposed position to bait me into engaging, while my cavalry has finally made it into a position to charge his left flank as well. It’s as good a position as I’m going to get and the only way I can take first place is by a Major Win so I engaged. The initial attacks went well for me and the casualties in Kyle’s force started to stack up. That wraith however is being the pain I expected and it is only by sheer luck that my mounted orc captain survived the combat he was in. I agonized over attack options to tie up and take out that wraith for a good couple of minutes, but I couldn’t get anything in cleanly. So I was forced to just continue what I had already done the turn before and tried to overwhelm his flank. In hindsight if I had cast Enraged Beast on the warg then dismounted the orc tracker and charged it into the nearest enemy orc tracker. I would have a Courage 6 (4 for Druzhag + 2 for enraged Beast -1 for Wraith’s aura) combat monster to engage that wraith with. Unfortunately Kyle had me flustered and the stress was interfering with my ability to think out of the box. I managed another good round of combats (for me) and added to the dead pile, but Kyle’s force was still a ways from breaking and mine was perilously close.
By this time Shagrat was finally in striking position of my line and Priority shifted (and stayed) with Kyle. An enraged beast spell beat Shagrat back initially, but that obnoxious wraith transfixed the warg rider and Shagrat finished it off the next turn. Our last turn saw Shagrat break through my lines and cut down my shaman and my force broken, but time was called which ended the game. My force was broken, but not down to 25% and Kyle’s wasn’t yet broken. One more turn and Kyle would have no doubt destroyed by force for a win.

My final score was 55 Battle Points. Two Major Wins, one Minor Win and two draws. This battle record repeated my personal best performance at the Baltimore GT in 2008 where I placed third overall with the same combat win results. In Baltimore Frank Brown managed to beat me out of Best General by one stinking point. With Frank Brown and I tied for battle points it was going to be a toss up which of us won that title for Bilbo’s Birthday Bash. Well I got my revenge by winning Best General via the tie breaker.

So I come out of Bilbo’s Birthday Bash with a personal best. I tied for second place with one of the best player I know and I won Best General to boot.

This tournament represented the five toughest games and players I have ever played sequentially. I have never enjoyed any tournament more than I did Bilbo’s Birthday Bash in Chicago.
Last edited by Smeagol on Sat Nov 13, 2010 5:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby BrentS » Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:03 pm

Good reports Tim. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to Chicago so much. I know its a big investment to travel across the country to play with little toy soldiers!
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Re: Smeagol's War Report

Postby febber » Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:25 pm

Smeagol wrote: My final score was 55 Battle Points. Two Major Wins, one Minor Win and two draws.


You are a superb general but your math sucks sometimes. You get 20 for a major Tim, not 10. :lol: If you really want to claim only 55 battle I will take that Best General award off your hands with my 75 points for the exact same results you had. :wink:

As I said at the tournament, given that you played both Kyle and Julian, you deserved the award. I could have handled either of their armies in ME, but would likely have gotten slaughtered in recon as I didn't have the bodies to hold any of you guys off. But it was interesting that despite being neck and neck most of the time we never met, once again. Julian Alex and Kyle saw to that.
All-time LOTR Grand/National Tournament Record: 92-18-45 (W-L-D), 63 major victories
21 awards in 35 events inc. 5x Best Overall; 2x 2nd Overall (w/o Best General); 9x Best General
2007 National Circuit Champion
2008 National Circuit Champion
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Re: Smeagol's War Report

Postby BrentS » Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:29 pm

febber wrote: But it was interesting that despite being neck and neck most of the time we never met, once again. Julian Alex and Kyle saw to that.


and the Randomizer...
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Postby Guardian of Ecthelion » Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:55 pm

Nice reports Tim, my only question is you were happy to play me because I am not a good general or because we have a good time when you beat me or both(':?').
Like Brent said I am glad you came out here I really enjoyed talking and hanging out at Portillos after on Sat Night.
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Postby Smeagol » Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:52 pm

My game against you was one of my toughest. I may have outmaneuvered you, but that's not hard when dealing with dwarves. In the long run it was VERY good luck on my part that kept me in the running for a win at all. You managed to do a very good job of handling my flanking attack and you ultimately tore up my left flank. You are a very good commander. You are still more cautious then I am so I was able to gamble and get away with some risky gambits.

I loved the trip and hope to play against you again in the future.
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Postby Gartl » Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:23 pm

Great reports! And again grats on the win. You did us West Coasters proud!
It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. - Boromir FOTR
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Postby griffen127 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:38 pm

So I favor "hard armies" interesting. This makes me laugh.
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Postby Smeagol » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:41 pm

Yep. :P
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