Chris L's ToS 2011 Batreps

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Chris L's ToS 2011 Batreps

Postby ChrisLS » Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:36 am

My wife and I are driving home from the Throne of Skulls tournament in Las Vegas. It was another great weekend with both my family and my gaming buddies, though sadly my job requirements meant I couldn't spend as much time with folks as I would have wished.

I had wanted to go to this tournament for almost two years, and been frustrated in my attempts to qualify. I had started to work on my Mordor force, but since I hadn't qualified I stopped work after priming and basing them, along with most of them having Tausept Ochre basecoats. But two weeks ago I was told I could attend, so I got busy finishing the army. I had about a week to paint the army while I wasn't working (week after school ended, but before summer school started). I painted like crazy, and managed to get the entire army playable before I needed to leave, though I wanted to get it better detailed and highlighted.

Turns out I didn't need to worry, though I continued up until the event started just on the principle of the thing. I hadn't paid too much attention to the scoring, and there was no painting score for the event. While painting would be judged separately, it would not count for overall. The format itself was new, and worth mentioning. First, armies would be effectively playing against their fellow armies of the same kind. For LOTR, that meant Evil armies records would be compared to other Evil armies, and Good against Good. There would also be no Major/Minor wins – just Win/Loss/Draw. A win was worth 3 points, a draw 1, and a loss 0. People would also vote for their single favorite opponent. For 5 rounds, that meant a maximum of 20 points: 15 for 5 wins, plus 5 for votes. The top scorer of each kind of army would win Best General for that army type. All armies of the same kind would be averaged together, and whoever had the greatest difference between the average and their own score would be Best Overall.

This meant that sportsmanship would only matter if you were someone's favorite opponent, but if you were this was a very significant difference – two votes would effectively turn a Draw into a Win. This would become a major issue. There was a secondary objective – Skull Taker points. Each round, we totaled up how many points of our opponents' models were taken off the field. Whoever got the most would win the Skull Taker trophy for the system.

My army was almost completely new. I reused a few orcs, and I finally used my Mordor Uruk-Hai, plus my two painted wraith models. At 700 points and with painting time a major issue, I decided to go for higher point (and defense and strength!) Morannon Orcs, though I preferred the original metal orc models from the Fellowship era to the plastic Morannons.

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Barad-dur

Orc Shaman
Orc Drummer

Orc w/Banner
30 Morannon Orcs with shields (4 with spears)
7 Orcs with spears
18 Orc Trackers

Cirith Ungol

Mordor Uruk-Hai Captain with two-handed weapon

6 Mordor Uruk-Hai with shields

Witch King of Angmar (2/10/1) on horse

700 points
66 models
5 Might
18/56 bows (Barad-dur)
In my fantasy world, we have pie.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. - Mark Twain
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Postby ChrisLS » Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:41 am

Round 1

Clash of Piquets
Prince ? (Ringer)

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Easterlings

Khamul the Easterling on Fell Beast
3 Easterling Captains with shield

6 Easterling Warriors with bows
? Easterling Warriors with shields
? Easterling Warriors with shield and spear

Khandish Mercenaries

Mercenary Captain on horse with two-handed weapon

4 Mercenaries on horse with bow

Models: 38
Might: 10
Bows: 10 (technically illegal due to the Khand, but I didn't care)

Table:
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Prince is a manager at the Memphis GW store, and has been trying to get his customers excited about LOTR. This immediately makes him an awesome guy in my book. The army was his own, which is also cool, but it also showed me that this was not going to be a difficult game. Prince was good on the basics, but his grasp of the tactics of the game wasn't very developed, and outnumbering his army almost 2-to-1 also made the outcome predictable.

I started with my drummer on the board. I figured that would give me the most options in terms of movement – I could bring up models as they arrived quickly, plus by putting all of my trackers on to start, I could whittle what he did have on the table down with archery. Prince started with his Khandish on the board, including his mercenary captain.

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I got most of my heroes on pretty quickly, throwing up Fury as normal. My archery took down his Khandish mercenaries VERY quickly, and to make matters worse Prince didn't have any dismount models. DOH. He hid his merc captain behind some trees pretty well, though.

Khamul came on pretty quickly, and Prince sent him forth into combat. It was an experiment on his part, but a worthwhile one.

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I figured this would be my opportunity to rack up some Skull Taker points and first threw Sap Will at him (resisted), then used Fury to heap some orcs onto the Fell Beast. Well, Khamul on a Fell Beast is one mean mamma-jamma, and he started ripping me up (though he also got some ridiculously unlucky dice rolls to wound), restocking his store of Will. I did have him surrounded pretty good, though, so Prince sent two of his supported Easterling captains along with his unsupported merc captain in to try to break things up.

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However, I quickly surrounded his merc captain and pummeled him in no time. I was able to hold off the other two captains pretty well due to my by this time massive number superiority. I also engaged a few models supporting his last captain on my left.

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By this time, I was getting close to breaking him, which would end the game. Thinking skull taker points, I went after his captains and wraith. Khamul wasn't losing combats, but I forced him to spend might on just keeping his wraith alive. I also tried to isolate his captains, but they gave better than they got, surviving quite handily. I finally took down Khamul when he was out of might and I got the charge off. Putting my attacks onto the Fell Beast put him away due to no dismount model, and the next turn his force broke. However, I had lost plenty of my own force in the process, being within 10 of breaking myself. Khamul accounted for most of them.

Result: Win - 3 points, 278 Skull Taker points

This was a pleasant, low stress game with an enjoyable opponent. Prince, as are most GW managers, is a very pleasant and easy-going fellow, and appreciated my help with the rules. We briefly talked afterwards about what he could do to improve – mostly things like surrounding isolated models if he had the chance, and not splitting up his force in the face of superior numbers. He kind of fed his troops to me piecemeal, holding a lot of them back from my archers instead of advancing them behind cover. If he'd brought Khamul in as part of a larger scale assault, I'd have a serious problem on my hands, particularly if it was spearheaded by all of his captains. So if I were him, I'd have turtled until enough of my force arrived to go for broke on a flank assault, trying to hold off the rest of the army while going for the break.
In my fantasy world, we have pie.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. - Mark Twain
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Postby ChrisLS » Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:44 am

Round 2

Storm the Camp
Nick Dantche

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Khazad-dum

Durin

4 Iron Guard
2 Dwarf Warriors with two-handed weapons
13 Dwarf Warriors with shields
6 Dwarf Rangers with dwarf longbows
Dwarf Ballista

Arnor

Malbeth the Seer

12 Warriors of Arnor
6 Rangers of Arnor

48 models
4 Might
12/46 bows

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I first met Nick at GW Alamo at a primer event for this tournament. We played Seize the Artifact, and the game went very predictably. With my drum, I was on top of the artifact in no time, dug it up, and sent it on a end run that Nick's dwarves simply couldn't catch up with. This is a very different kind of scenario, but mobility would once again be a huge issue. I had numbers on him, and I needed to close the gap as soon as possible to avoid Nick's missile weapons, particularly his ballista. Bogged down with 5” move dwarves and facing off against a drummer, Nick clearly decided to play for the draw and started to set up a fortress.

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(no more pictures - too busy!)

My drum did its job admirably, but on the second turn, Nick took it out with a ballista shot (I think that was what killed it – either that or volley fire). Nothing for it, I'd just have to walk in slower. I paid for that. Nick got a couple of fantastic ballista shots in and his rangers were tearing me up. By the time I'd closed, our numbers were matched, and there is only one way that kind of a game can end. I had my Uruk-Hai on my left keeping a detachment of Nick's honest and hoping to tie up his ballista, but they got stuck against Nick's F4 troops and started to get whittled down. On my right, one small detachment separated itself from the group, but I couldn't catch it and destroy it before it got into a gap in the fence and held his flank. I tried to launch myself into his flank before he was ready through compelling one of his Iron Guard into a Heroic Combat with the Witch King and some buddies, but I somehow managed to whiff with 5 dice fighting a single F1 die.

The center was were the action was – Durin and Malbeth were the rock I had to break against. The Witch King Sapped Will on Durin, and then spent one point of Will a turn to try to keep him that way. It worked for a while, and my main force started to break through his warriors, but I was paying a terrible price. Before I managed to fully break through, I failed my roll to keep Durin drooling and he started cutting more of my troops down, finally charging the Witch King himself and putting the wraith down. This was around the time I hit my breaking point. Our numbers were still fairly even, but with Durin on the loose and the high quality of Nick's forces, that wasn't going to last long.

Fortunately, my shaman and his Fury saved my bacon. I lost one model to Courage tests, and made a headlong charge into Nick's camp. We reached the bottom of the turn and agreed to call the game about a minute before time was called. It wouldn't have made any difference if we'd continued – Nick outnumbered me and had tons of models just outside his camp, and there wasn't a chance in hell of him reaching my camp. We totaled up the models – Nick had 14 models in his camp. I figured that was just too many to overcome, but as we counted my models I kept getting closer and closer – 12, 13, 14... done. I was one model away from pulling a win.

Result: Draw – 1 point (4 total), 122 Skull Taker points (400 total)

What a nail-biter! Nick did phenomenally well with his shooting – that really evened the game up. Taking out my drummer Turn 2 was critical. He was the only player the entire tournament to kill that drummer, and I REALLY needed that extra mobility to get me out of the line of fire. He also did a great job of choking me off with terrain, though he did make one mistake early on in that he didn't occupy the fence on his left flank, but instead put troops in front of it. In the end, they still did the job of delaying my troops, but I got a few beforehand and it could have freed up enough models of his to make a run for my camp. Nick had some great rolling, and he played the defense very well.
In my fantasy world, we have pie.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. - Mark Twain
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Postby ChrisLS » Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:51 am

Round 3

Domination
Tim Hixon

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Barad-dur

Mordor Troll Chieftain
Shaman on Warg

20 Morannon Orcs
20 Orcs with Spears
20 Orc Trackers on Wargs

Models: 62
Might: 4
Bows: 20/60

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Mr. Hixon, we meet again. I've seen and gotten along with Tim several times over the years, and this was the third time we'd faced off. I beat him the first time because he was being a good sport (assaulted me in a tough position rather than just volley fire until we puked), and he beat me the second time because I was being a good sport (deliberately made a soft list as ringer in the tournament I was running). This time, we were both ready for a no-holds barred game.

In a lot of ways, we had similar lists. Lots of trackers, with his mobility coming with wargs and mine with a drum. We both had shamans to keep the force together. Main combat troops are Morannons, with some backup in the form of regular orcs. He brought a big gribbly in the Mordor Troll Chieftain, while I brought the Witch King and an Uruk-Hai captain. My magic was my edge, his mass of cavalry which could stick around if their riders were killed was his.

We chose the corner hills and the forest base as the Domination targets. I won the rolloff for sides and chose the one that put his home objective as close to me as possible. I figured with the terrain fairly open on my right, I'd send my trackers with a few Morannons to that side as a delaying force, and put the main effort into my left.

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Tim put his mobility on my right, but split his combat force up 50/50 on either side. That is, unless you count the troll on my left. That will be a problem.

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My drum continued to be my best friend. It enabled me to get into position behind the barricade on the right and occupy the ruins on the left before Tim could even get close.

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However, this did split my force in two, and Tim did exactly what I would have done – moved to split my army and defeat it piecemeal. His wargs made a quick shift into the center while his left combat detachment swung around to keep me pinned into my fortress. This did expose his D6 Morannons to bowfire, but kept the ruins between my trackers and his.

We danced around a bit, neither one of us willing to commit before we had the advantage, and neither wanted to make a mistake. Tim did manage to throw a rock at my Uruk-Hai captain, and he burned a point of Might to bump his roll of 2 to wound up. I made my Fate roll, and figured Tim had wasted a vital point of Might.

A few turns later, Tim, having won priority, made the decision to position his trackers in the center for a charge the next turn, but he was out of range of my own charge. However, with me going second, this enabled me to pull what I heard referred to in White Dwarf as a “heroic mugging.” I Compelled one of his ordinary warg riders 5” closer to my line and dog-piled him with my shaman in the mix. Tim immediately knew what was coming and was ready – he shot into combat, hoping to take out the luckless tracker and his mount before the Combat phase and the Heroic Combat. Fortunately for me, his archery failed to find a target.

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My archery, on the other hand, was on fire. I had repositioned several trackers to have a line of fire into the wargs, and I mowed them down. I think I removed three complete models and dismounted a fourth, which opened up Tim's shaman to the full brunt of the mugging. After I butchered the hapless tracker, I hit his shaman like a pile of bricks, killing him in one round. The heart of Tim's assault had been torn out, and Tim told me right there I'd won the game.

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This wasn't an easy victory, though. I figured I could hold the hill on my left against Tim trying to just walk past me, so I pulled my Uruk-Hai back onto the high ground. Mistake. This allowed Tim to rush around the corner of the ruins and get two turns of free shots in on the models there. I did manage to Transfix the troll, but didn't hurt the bugger – he kept winning combats while drooling and I didn't have the models to completely surround him. Plus, my Uruk-Hai captain whiffed a combat against a spear supported Morannon orc, who promptly put the captain down with two wounds. Yeah, that was not a wasted point of Might off that troll earlier.

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On my right, Tim hits the trackers, sending a couple of models over to deal with the one guy I have holding the right objective. They manage to take him out in one turn despite my gaining the high ground. He then hits the trackers with his Morannons, cutting them off from the rest of my army and starting to massacre them.

On the other hand, Tim just can't recover in the center. I've almost wiped out the trackers and wargs and am now pushing on his home objective, held by two spear orcs. I manage to hold off his stupid troll with Transfixes, but still can't hurt the thing. My Uruk-Hai have managed to rejoin the fight on my left, but it isn't going well. Time is finally called, and I'm holding three objectives – both home objectives and the hill on my left, while Tim holds the right.

Result: Win – 3 points (7 total), 311 Skull Taker points (711 total – BTW, I'm hearing multiple people have been tabled: my ST points are WAY down on the totem pole)

Tim is a terrific player, never mind his rhetoric. He has a definite philosophy of army construction, which emphasizes numbers and generic heroes over higher quality. He also specifically wanted to bring his converted troll model, which was awesome. On the other hand, as the man who introduced me to the concept of the “budget wraith”, he fell into one of the classic Nazgul traps, which to be fair isn't that hard to do. It still wouldn't have been that bad if I hadn't had an absolute tear of shooting. The math said I should have scored 3 kills before fury, with about one warg or tracker sticking around afterwards. If I'd done that, my Heroic combat wouldn't have been nearly as bad. Instead, it was devastating as I was able to isolate and take out his only other hero. He still managed to make me pay for it, coming close to breaking my army and seizing one of the objectives away from me. He took advantage of every weakness I offered him. The big drag was the troll, who was almost completely nullified between the terrain and the Witch King. So the biggest irony is that if there is one lesson I would take from this game, it's that Tim should have stuck to his normal philosophy of army building – throwing in the three captains he could have taken for the price of that troll would have been MUCH more dangerous than the big gribbly.
In my fantasy world, we have pie.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. - Mark Twain
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Postby ChrisLS » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:00 am

Round 4

Seize the Artifact
Ty Finocchiaro

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Ents

Treebeard

Thranduil's Halls

Legolas

14 Elves with spears and throwing weapons
15 Elves with elven blades and throwing weapons
14 Elves with elven bows

Models: 45
Might: 6
Bows: 14/43

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I know Ty by reputation and White Dwarf articles, but this was the first time I have met him. One very interesting thing about his hobby is that he won't play the same list in different tournaments, and he doesn't play outside of tournaments, so every list is a new experience from the get-go. Oh, and his models are drop dead gorgeous. However, this does mean he isn't as familiar with some aspects of the game as he could have been, and he is making his mistakes in the tournament instead of in warm-up games.

Ty chose sides and set up first. He puts Legolas and his bunch of elven machine-gunners up on the hill to his right, giving them a free field of fire. OK, I'm not going that way!

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Treebeard was set dead center, and the rest of the elves are pretty much split around Treebeard. I put a few Uruk-Hai and spears on my left to hold the ruins in case something unfortunate happens, but the mass of my army is dead center, and I put my own archers as far from Ty's S3 shots as possible.

Turn 1 starts off predictably – I sound the drum and dash forward. Perhaps to Ty's surprise, I don't bother volley firing. Those guys have something else on their plate...

By turn two, I'm in contact with the artifact. Of course, Legolas is already drawing his arrow with all of his buddies following his lead. I decide to put both of my heroes in contact with the artifact. I figure I'll lose one of them, so the other will be able to take charge.

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Instead, the elves mow down BOTH the Witch-King AND the Uruk-Hai captain. Plus, I wasn't able to dig up the artifact. This is going to be tricky.

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Ty then does something I've never seen in this scenario – he pulls back. At this point, I have the game. I surround the artifact, making sure there are lots of in-the-way checks if he wants to kill the potential diggers, and he's going to have to kill all 4 D6 Morannons. Good luck with that.

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Indeed, while he picks off a few, I have all four still in contact at the end of the Fight phase, and I manage to dig it up. Next turn, they're off to the races up my right flank with the drummer pounding away.

Too late, Ty tries to break into my line, but there is no way he can do it in time. I do a hand-off of the artifact, getting it a foot away from the center well within my line.

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Now the trackers are ready to shoot – I've got a shooting gallery between two sets of ruins, and as the elves walk in half of them get mowed down. I can even get the artifact past the shooting gallery in one turn with hand-offs.

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He throws his troops into the gallery and I let him try to kill my troops – there are too many to cut through. Apart from my archery, I've killed almost nothing of Ty's, and he's starting to get me down near breaking point, but is just doesn't matter. I get a clear alley, and the courier is away.

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Result: Win – 3 points (10 total), 110 Skull Taker points (821 total – I'm hearing more people have been tabled, and I've barely killed a single army of points in four rounds)

Ty said he screwed up on the rules, and I have to agree with him. He didn't know about the hand-off rule, so he wasn't as worried about the far end of the board. Second, he didn't know that I couldn't charge him when I beat the drum, which I did every turn. That was why he pulled back – he thought I'd be setting the conditions for the combats and would by cutting down his D3 elves. Instead, he could have been in my face throwing daggers the whole time and forcing me to go further around, giving him time to plug gaps in his line. He also made a classic error with his archers – he shot them every turn, even when they couldn't significantly affect the outcome of the game. If he'd moved them into position to shoot into the gallery I'd set up two turns earlier when it was clear I would get the artifact and where I was going, I'd have been in big trouble. On the other hand, this was just a bad match-up for him – with my mobility, numbers, and shaman keeping me together even if he'd broken me, it's going to be damn hard keeping me from taking that artifact away.
In my fantasy world, we have pie.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. - Mark Twain
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Postby ChrisLS » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:04 am

Round 5

Meeting Engagement
Drew Stewart

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Legion of the White Hand

Saruman on horse

6 Uruk-Hai Berzerkers
12 Uruk-Hai Warriors with shield
1 Uruk-Hai Warrior with pike
17 Orcs with Spears
18 Uruk-Hai Warriors with crossbows

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Here we go – Round 5, Table 1. Drew and I have identical records, 3-0-1. This is for all the marbles. This is also a perfect scenario for him – if there is one thing Uruk-Hai do well, it is kill stuff. The 18 crossbows just make it that much worse. Drew wins the roll-off and chooses the side with a nice, clear field of fire for his crossbows, putting them into one big group on my right. The rest of his force he lines up across the center, with Saruman predictably in the center.

I'm staying WELL clear of those crossbows, so I set up heavy left, with my trackers in the center of the table holding my right flank. One thing I can do which he can't is volley fire... which does NOTHING. Against D5 and 6 it really isn't that surprising. The rest of my force I pull to the left, staying behind the ruins to stay out of the crossbows line of fire.

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Drew brings the crossbows up, trying to get something into range, while sliding his Uruks over to the hill, turning it into a gigantic fortress. Well, that looks like a good way to die – not going that way!

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I wait until Drew wins priority and brings his crossbows in as close as he can to get some shots in... and then I shift my entire force to the right.

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With the drum, I have a ridiculous amount of mobility. I manage to go from behind the ruins to within two inches of his crossbow line in a single move. Half his bows can't shoot, and the others don't accomplish anything. Saruman gets off a terrific Sorcerous Blast that knocks a bunch of people over but doesn’t kill anyone.

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Next turn Drew wins priority, but I call a heroic move and slam into his crossbowmen. He manages to pull a few back behind the barricade, but the damage is done – 2/3 of my army is whooping up on 1/3 of his. I left a small blocking detachment on the left, and they take cover as the Fighting Uruk-Hai come screaming down the hill to try to rescue their brethren. I brace for a pounding and... they bounce off my wall. Sweet!

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Saruman is still dancing around, and is not being as effective as he could be due to his justified fear of “Your Staff is Broken” on the Witch-King (the whole reason I took him instead of just a regular wraith). I finally manage to win priority and throw the spell at him, and he blows the rest of his will protecting the one free point per turn – totally justified. In the mean time I've beaten down most of the crossbowmen, apart from the ones on the other side of the fence. I send two detachments around, but keep forgetting to do a Heroic Combat to really break through. My captain does hit the wall and kill both the defenders he engages, but by this time the main fighting line is getting close. I go after anything I can get a decent chance at killing.

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Time is also running out. I've lost 10 models, but Drew is about to break. He starts pulling his force back to near Saruman, and I bring my wraith over towards where he is hiding out. We race through combats, and with two minutes remaining, end the turn with Drew broken. I win priority (though I still had a point of Might on the Witch-King, so that didn't matter too much), and throw a three die Transfix at Saruman, bumping the 4 up to a 5 with my last point of Might. Drew tries to resist with his one free point – 2. No 12” stand fast for him. I don't move anything. Drew then proceeds to completely whiff his Courage tests, though having the Nazgul in the middle of his force doesn't help. His five surviving berzerkers all make their Courage, along with four other models, plus the drooling Saruman who doesn't need to check. The end condition for him is 13 models. 15 seconds later the whistle blows for the end of the game.

Result: Win – 3 points (13 total), 395 Skull Taker points (1216 total, less than half of what the Skull Taker winner would have)

INTENSE GAME! I think that once I pulled off the “head fake” and isolated Drew's crossbowmen, the result was pretty much a given assuming we had all the time in the world. But this is a tournament, and that is NEVER the case. I personally don't like the “kill 'em all” scenarios for LOTR, because a well designed force played moderately well is virtually impossible to table in 2.5 hours. The thing that won me this game was the combination of the wraith (his Transfix and Harbinger of Evil rule) and Drew's terrible rolling. When he was winning, he couldn't wound, and he wasn't winning that much. One combat was his 7 attacks against my lone shielding Uruk-Hai behind a wall. I lost the combat, and then 6 of Drew's attacks hit the barrier, and the last one failed to wound. Statistically, about 70% of his orcs and 60% of his non-berzerker Uruks should have fled. Instead, over 75% of them ran. I could tell Drew was absolutely stunned at the turn of the game – and I know how it feels. I've been there myself. It is particularly hard when you know you're on the top table at the end of the tournament. I just know it would have been worse if we'd drawn and knocked both of ourselves out of contention. Of course, that's easy for me to say, since I won. All in all, it was a hard fought game.
In my fantasy world, we have pie.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. - Mark Twain
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Postby ChrisLS » Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:05 pm

As folks may know by now, although I had the best record in the tournament, I did not receive any award. C'est la vie, according to the rules of the tournament I didn't make it. It was kind of frustrating, particularly when each and every army of the other systems were represented while only Good and Evil were recognized, and the winner was chosen from amongst the Best Generals.

I like some aspects of the system, particularly the part where the winner was arrived at by comparing records of similar armies: this is a self-correcting system for over-the-top armies. However, the low points for victory when added with each favored player vote getting one point, can really throw things off. I determined that only 7% of my score was a result of votes, while 21% of Rich's score was votes. One vote was because he played the same person twice (more on that below) and another vote came from a friend of his. That's a big swing. I may incorporate some aspects of this system into my future tournaments (though I am also looking at Battlefront's tournament system - I like the idea of a hybrid), but I would not allow player voting to swing the tournament that significantly.

Another thing I would never, EVER permit at a tournament is playing the same person twice. Several people played repeats, some of them back to back due to the draws they got in the first round. Well DUH! If you draw in the first round, who else is going to be close to you?!? You could end up with two evenly matched armies (or even near mirror image armies, like Frank's and Rich's) playing each other the entire tournament! No way, no how should anyone how travels that far and pays that much money have to play the same person twice. End of story.

To make up for this obvious flaw (particularly when some people were looking at playing the same person for the THIRD time), everyone who played the same person twice was given an extra favorite player vote, since obviously they lost the opportunity to get another favorite player vote by playing the same person twice.

This further skewed the results - it doubles the value of a draw, and increases the value of a win by a third. This is not a ding on Rich - having to play Frank Brown with a mirror army is pretty much a guaranteed draw if you're as good a player as he is. So his second fight against Frank denied him the opportunity to pull a 4th win. Hell, if he hadn't played Frank, I might have been playing Rich in Round 5, and I don't like my odds in that contest. So Rich earned it. Unfortunately, the way the system was designed we never got to find out.

Apart from that glaring problem, here is my review of the rest of the event.

Positives

Food: Fantastic! Being fed the entire tournament, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, was terrific. It was really good stuff, too. This was a huge, huge thing, making the experience much better.

Swag: I loved the LOTR dice! Of course, there were probably a bunch of non-LOTR players who weren't quite so happy, but I loved them... The water bottle was a great thought, since in Vegas you'll dry up like a raisin without regular hydration, and I can always use another tape measure. Well, maybe not, but I do like having them...

Extra events: Totally awesome. I didn't take full advantage here because I brought my family with me and visited some friends. But if I'd been there solo like most of the people there, I wouldn't have left the hall except to go to the bathroom and sleep. That makes a big tournament really great and helps build the camaraderie.

Provided hobby supplies: I usually bring my own hobby stuff to events because I still need to finish my army. But it was great to have painting stations, water, brushes, and TONS of paints available. Great touch.

The players: I can't say this enough - I love the LOTR community. There were some absolutely terrific players at this event both play-wise and personality-wise. I loved the armies, I got along with all of my opponents, it was just great to see everyone I've come to know and respect over the years. That above all is why I am willing to travel to these events.

Neutral

Vegas: I'm just not a big fan of Vegas. It's expensive, I don't gamble, and I hate all of the cigarette smoke everywhere. On the other hand, it was close enough for me to drive there. The Tropicana was a good venue. The food is terrific and the staff were incredibly helpful. The room was nice, though the "upgraded" blinds let in so much light I kept waking up at 2 am thinking it was morning. The Trop also isn't so big that you're wandering for ages, like at the MGM Grand or Treasure Island. We also figured out ways to get around without going through the casino... 8) But the draw for me was the event, not the venue. In that regard, I don't care if it was in Vegas, Baltimore, Memphis, or Lawton, Oklahoma. I was there to play toy soldiers and hang out with my buddies. OK, maybe not Lawton.

Terrain: When we first arrived, the terrain was pretty light. Hixon helped out, giving some suggestions on making the tables more playable. This made a huge difference. I wouldn't say that any of the tables were unbalanced or unplayable. At the same time, they weren't terribly exciting, either. Between Gathering in the Desert and Mayhem in the Mountains, I've really become used to high quality terrain (something I need to put more effort into for DGW...) with a wide variety of tables. One thing that definitely did not play into wins/losses was the table assignments. None of the tables had wide open spaces for archery or formation battles, nor were any of them so crammed and tight it becomes a struggle just to get into contact. The were just... the same. But mad kudos to John Schaffer for almost single-handedly painting them all!!!

Scenarios: Straight out of Legions with no allowance for time expiration, but at least there were no stupid tie-breakers on victory points like at the 2008 GT. I think they could have done some research and used some of the well-developed Indy GT scenarios, but it seems like GW is intent on using set scenarios from the main rulebooks. Battlefront does the same thing with FoW, which sometimes is a little annoying, but it works. I also really dislike the Kill 'em All scenarios - most scenarios allow you to essentially win this way anyway, so why not make them more interesting? To boot, the vast majority of high quality armies are simply not going to be wiped out in 2.5 hours. It did seem easier to do at 700 points than 600, probably because those extra points reduce the boost horde armies get due to the lack of scaling using the Legions rules. I'd like to see a model cap of 10% of the points involved instead of set numbers within a bracket.



Needs Improvement

Administration: OK, by leaving out paint judging from the overall score, you'd think it would be a hell of a lot easier to organize the event. Apparently not. I think that part of this is simply GW has lost the institutional memory on how to run large tournaments. The last ones they ran were in 2008 and almost the entire crew who did it have been let go. The two biggest problems IMO were repeating match-ups (something GW themselves explicitly forbade back in the RTT days) and having only one laptop for the entire tournament. They needed one laptop per system. I understand that they had the Team Tournament thing, but that's an easy, easy fix - just have the total for each system and then add them up. Also, throwing in game-changing corrections like the above referenced extra favorite player vote for playing a repeat game was pretty obnoxious. Also, assigning lots of Good vs Good and Evil vs Evil in the same round is just unsportsmanlike. The mirror armies facing off was particularly odd - Goblins vs Goblins, Isengard vs Isengard, Gondor vs Gondor: what the heck?!? That's an easy, easy fix.

Paint judging: There was certainly an appearance of favoritism - all three of the winners in LOTR were former GW employees. To be fair, when you work for GW for a long time you get a LOT of practice, and they specifically recruit talented hobbyists. But there were some AWESOME armies out there that were painted by non-GW alums (Tom Keegan's and Brent Sinclair's are just the first to jump to mind) that were simply overlooked as far as I could tell.

Add in the stuff mentioned above, and I think GW did not run any tests using this system in live tournaments. As I said before, GW lost a lot of its institutional memory of how to run tournaments with the purgation of its events team a couple years back. It really showed in how the tournament itself was run.

All in all, I'd probably go to Memphis if it was SBG (I'm hearing something about them deciding it will be WotR? No way if that's the case) and I had the time/money to do it. Lots of things up in the air at the moment in my life, so that's not a guarantee. I did have a great time, even if I got kind of down on the long drive back.
In my fantasy world, we have pie.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. - Mark Twain
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Postby ponatowski » Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:19 pm

Well said Chris.

Tom O
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Postby Slammers77 » Tue Jun 21, 2011 6:53 pm

Well said Chris. I never even saw anybody walk around and look at the armies for paint.

As far as Memphis, I won't go. I've been to Memphis plenty of times, and it is not a city I would seek to return too, even with it being in driving distance for me. I would rather go to BBB, GiTD or MiTM and still see the same good folks, have fun and have confidence in the event being put on. I said I would give the ToS scoring a try and was intrigued by it. After experiencing it I don't like it and the easiest way to express that is not to go back to the event.

John
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Postby DrunkenSamurai » Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:06 pm

Chris, you can't charge your orcs that got the bonus movement from the drum. It spells this out pretty clearly in the rules for the orc drummer.
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Postby ChrisLS » Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:15 pm

Absolutely. Ty wasn't familiar with that rule, which got him in trouble.
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Postby DrunkenSamurai » Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:08 am

When I read the batrep it sound like he pulled back because you were charging on the drum. My mistake :oops:
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Postby ChrisLS » Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:15 am

No sweat. *8)
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