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Bilbo's Birthday Bash - A Gamer's Story

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:59 am
by Smeagol
It is said that every journey starts with a single step. Well this journey started with a little earlier than that. I knew I wanted to support the Bilbo's Birthday Bash in Chicago even if I wasn't going to be able to attend due to the pending birth of my youngest child. So I registered and paid for the tournament in advance. The cost being minimal to me in the event I couldn't go. As luck would have it my son was born a month early which made this trip much more likely to happen. So I started working on gathering a force to take on the best players that the midwest has to offer. My last foray into the midwest taught me that the forces I typically play were barely adequate for the task and I would have to step up my game if I was to compete in that arena. So I delved into my collection of figures to determine what I wanted to play. Many old favorites vied for my attention, but in the end I choose a force that would force me to get some more figures painted. For me tournaments are a good excuse to get stuff modelled and painted.

Three forces went onto the painting queue:
Wood Elves, a force I've not played competetively and I only own because I love the Galadriel, Lady of the Galadhrim figure. Though in this incarnation it would be Legolas that leads them. i've rarely played this force and more typically I loan it to a friend when I'm prepping for a tournament to get an idea of how badly I'll get chewed up by them in tournament play.

Cirith Ungol, a mostly painted force since it recycled many painted figures from previous orc forces. This force would give me the excuse to finish some more heroes notably a converted Shagrat with a shield and mace. The orcs have always proven themselves to be a resilient force, but they were the force I took last year. So they became a good standby in the event I couldn't finish painting something else.

The Haradrim, an old favourite and my very first LOTR tournament force. They have never done well historically, but I've always enjoyed them. I had thirty unpainted Merchant Guard I wanted to get painted up and tested on the battlefield. After reading battle reports by another veteran LOTR player I broke down and purchased the Golden King to lead the Merchant Guard. I'm not particularly fond of the miniature, but at least he's thematic to the force.

Having a newborn in the house and my oldest just entering Kindergarten made for a hectic time to start painting a new force and days would drift by in a sleepless haze of late nights. I had forgotten how much work newborn babies could be. The pressures of also working and caring for my wife while she recovered from the surgery needed to birth our son meant that time slipped by even faster with no work on my chosen forces. The Cirith Ungol force was looking better all the time, but so was the though of using a fully painted force. Not having time to play meant I had to rely on TLA to vet my force choices and to read the inevitable barrage of opinions both positive and negative about my force choices. I have learned that while I don't agree with everything posted there are still gems in the rough in many a comment I disagree wtih. Using feedback from others I crafted my force list and had to hope I could play the force well enough with little gaming time before the tournament began.

Little by little I worked on getting colours onto the models and slowly they started to emerge. I had yet to play a game with the force or to get any gaming in for this period of time so I decided to try and attend the Grand Waaagh! tournament which preceded Bilbo's. This meant I needed to get stuff painted in only a couple of weeks. As much as I hate the pressure of a pending deadline it did get me motivated enough to finish two thirds of the models. So a version of my Merchant Guard force went into the Bay Area to face the best and brightest of the west Coast. After a tough weekend I managed not only to go undefeated (though I did it with a draw) I squeaked out the Major Win. So my little force of "fat men" had been tough enough to crown me as a two time champion against a small, but intensely talented tournament field. Enough motivation to finish up the last ten models for Bilbo's Birthday Bash.

This brings me to this morning. The army is now packed and I just finished packing my daughter's lunch for school. Time for me to take my first step along my journey. Many thanks to Blackmist and others for their invaluable assistance in designing this force.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:13 am
by BrentS
The beginnings of a tale... there and back again.

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:48 am
by Smeagol
I'm not sure Chicago likes me or maybe I'm just getting old. Of the three trips I've taken there for tournaments I've managed to miss my first flight twice now. So what began with a single step is now a day long trek across the country. Shortcuts make for long delays and so instead of going straight into Chicago from here I now trek through Las Angeles enroute to Bilbo's Birthday Bash. There are no guarantees when I'll hit Chicago now, though the optimistic estimate is 4:30PM. Of course this is why I always leave a day early. It gives me a chance for things to go wrong.

Let's hope there are no more trolls, goblins or mirky woods in my path.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:06 am
by BostonNazgul
dont worry when you get here my harad will put your petty chieftain back in their place

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:29 am
by Smeagol
Such empty threats do not deter me from my goal. My journey has improved as a fair maiden has gotten onto the next flight out of LAX. I'm still going to be later than I wanted, but I will arrive. Now whether or not my luggage arrives with me is a matter of luck. But do not celebrate any premature victories as my force is a carry on. I may not have a rulebok' but I will have the figures.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:48 am
by Smeagol
Now comes the part where need to introduce the heroes in our tale. The force I ultimately finished and choose to pack for the Bilbo's Birthday Bash tournament is from Harad.

1 Golden King of Abrakhàn
1 Kumal, Chieftain of Harad

30 Merchant Guard of Abrakhàn
10 Haradrim Warriors with spear
20 Haradrim Warriors with spear and bow

Points = 600
Might = 4
Models = 62

In my last tournament I found the Haradrim King to be less effective than The Golden King despite being mounted and having a higher FV. He was routinely unhorsed and without a banner he lost more fights to dice rolls than FV. The Golden King on the other hand was a butcher by comparison. I had more spears in the last force as well and the force could easily be cut into there parts that could operate independantly of each other. This force retains that strength, but now I have enough Merchant Guard to cover all three groups. Something that hurt me against Frank last time. I didn't have enough heavy hitters to counter his heavy armour and it nearly cost me the game.

I lack the speed I was leaning towards in this force, but it is still pretty solid and versatile.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:35 pm
by Smeagol
Long weekend, but five really great games. Saturday started out with breakfast with Chris, his son and Jeff. I really enjoyed being able to sit down before the day's activities and discuss strategies and force composition theories.

Game one:
Daniel - Gondor.
Control the Battlefield - major win if you control four or five more of the objectives than your opponent. Minor win if you control two or three more than your opponent. There are five objectives. One in the center and one in the center of each quadrant.
Daniel had a mounted Boromir of the White Tower, Damrod, a Dunedain, an Avenger bolt thrower, rangers of gondor and arnor, warriors of min as tirith with shields and some spears, and a couple citadel guard with spear. He had a total of thirty eight models in his force.

I looked at his force and the scenario and felt that this was going to a relatively easy game. All I really had to worry about was Boromir. Well that is what I thought anyway. I really need to overcome my round one hubris. :-)

I.deployed my force with my archers on my right flank and my merchant guard on either flank. I placed the Golden King on my left flank and my chieftain on the right. Daniel got priority and to my amazement ran Boromir straight for the middle. Well ahead of his screen of infantry. I calmly moved my archers forward into direct fire range if Boromir and dropped twenty arrows in his direction. His horse became a pin cushioned corpse and Boromir had burned all of his Fate and one Might to avoid two wounds on himself. The rest of my line moved forward with the intent of taking the closest two objectives, swinging into control the middle before fanning back out to contest the last two on my opponent's side of the table.

Boromir getting shot up and now sitting in the middle of an open field did two things. Daniel had his troops fall back into cover. He had a split rail fence on my right, a burned out cottage in the center and a small woods on my left. He decided it was better to make me come to him than the other way around. Boromir couldn't retreat fast enough to cover so instead he had him move forward to the pile of dead uruk-hi that forms a funeral pyre in the center of the board. After three turns of advancing I managed to take out a could of his warriors with bofire, but Daniels rangers and that bolt thrower were chewing through my infantry line. I had lost seventeen models before I had even crossed the center line. Emboldened by my losses Boromir charge into my left flank. He burned three Might to win the first fight, then burned his last two to win the second fight, after the he was surrounded and cut down by an impressive number of strikes. Thirty-two strength four strikes, eight of which were by the Golden King were more than enough to end Bormir's career.

By this time my center force had moved to counter a rescue party's charge that had made a vakiant, but doomed attempt to save Boromir. This gave me some much needed cover from the bolt thrower. All of my merchant guard on my right flank were now either dead or had moved to reinforce my left flank. So my archers converted to infantrymen and advanced on the objective in my right. My two heroes excorted the merchant guard and a few spears to the last objective on my left. The rangers and the Dunedain were defending the objective on my left, but they did it from the safety of the woods. They were also trying to erode my securing forces on my home objectives at the same time. Daniel had started to pull models into the cover of the burned out cottage in the center to avoid more srchery losses. So by the time I started to advance in force towards the objective on my right, I had a sizeable numbers advantage. Thankfully Daniel's bolt thrower stopped being an efficient killing machine. His dice rolls to hit, deviate or wound resulted in a string of ones and twos.

I managed to hit the lead rangers in the woods, partially engage the defenders of the cottage and nearly surround the defenders of the objective on my right flank on the turn both of us broke. I had lost over thirty one models and only barely took down enough to break his force. The clock for end game was triggered by us breaking. The random die roll resulted in four turns for me to control all of the objectives before the game ended. The next three turns saw my home objectives nearly get abandoned by my models. My Golden King fled the field the turn after he paid off the Dunedain to do the same thing. My chieftain stood firm and I fell back to let nature take its course. The majority of Daniel's force fled while I trapped those that would not flee. I manged to slip models into his deployment zone two turns before I killed off his last defender. With one last turn to go in the game, I had managed to trigger the secondary game ending. I only had four objectives and two of those were held by a single model. The rest having fled the previous three turns. So I managed a Major Victory and got three bonus points for completing my secret mission objective. I had successfully infiltrated Daniel's camp by getting models into his deployment zone while he had none of his own in his deployment zone.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:24 pm
by Smeagol
I came out of round one with a very tough win. A game that could have gone horribly wrong for me very fast. Now I was headed into round two and a scenario I really dislike. A modified contest of champions. I rarely win contest of champions and usually if I do it was from some fluke of the dice. Well maybe I'll hit one of those combat oriented armies..... nope. Round two I get Josh Long and his Lothlorien elves lead by a storm caller and Legolas.

Game two:
Josh Long
For wrath, for ruin - modified contest of champions. Major win if you break your opponent's force and your champion has the most kills. Minor if you don't break your opponent's force and have the most chsmpion kills.
He had legolas, a storm caller and about forty elves.

I had no real chance of winning this scenario. I tried to snipe at Legolas and despite getting more than enough hits to kill him even with his Fate I couldn't manage a single wound. I killed anyone that stood in front of him so Josh had Legolas start using trees to give him cover instead. By the time I had managed to close into combat Josh had eight kills to my none. Since Josh is no fool and wisely castled up after he had decimated my archers I was forced to out manuever him. My archers had been pretty well slaughtered by the time I got into charge range. The next few turns were pretty intense as I tried to ckaw my way back into the game. My chieftain racked up kill after kill, while my Golden King only managed to take three wounds and burn all of his Fate. I made a seriously critical mistake and had managed to get my Golden King trapped through my own stuoidity. The game lasted two more grueling turns. I managed to kill one elf in com St and luckily Josh couldn't kill anything with Legolas. My only hope was to break his elves and get a couple of cheap kills by making the storm csller and maybe Legolas to run. I missed the mark by two models. The game ended when the Golden King was cut down by an elf. I was handed a major defeat by a very good player. He played his force well and didn't give me an inch I didn't earn. I only managed one bonus point. In hindsight my lowly chieftain would have made a better champion given he had managed four kills.