Monday, January 10, 2011

Assorted fragments from the front.

I had hoped to have a set of pics from our Epic four player, 2000 pts each, clash between 'Good' and Evil a couple of weeks ago. However,  I haven't received any from Martin, so the best I can offer is the one to the right. Ken (who was to play Rohan) pulled out and Martin (habitually styled 'the Goblin King' - he has the t-shirt) was left having to muster the forces of good against Andy (running Mordor) and myself (running my prototype Dunlending based force). 
Martin opted to send forth the legions of Gondor led only by Perigrin Took, guard of the citadel. I am completely with Martin on the whole issue of troops being better value than upgrades, but I think I would have plumped for a few more Gondor heroes (though he had the Three Hunters) for a 2000 pt list! 
He accompanied them with 2000pts of high-Elves, led by Elrond and Galadriel. We played across the width of a 8'x4' table with a fair amount of defensible terrain in there. Andy went up the left, while I took the right. Evil's numbers worked against us though, and both of us had a large formation or two in reserve, which would also present ongoing difficulty when we sought to bring them up through the cramped lines. 
The Dunlending Battlehost was superb in combat though, not least because Andy gave his 'Tainted' Wraith the 'Evil Reputation' Fate (both sides took the Palantir Fate/Fortune - of course - so we both might as well have started 75pts down and called it even.) With the inexplicable lack of an inspiring leader, with courage 6, on the Gondor force facing me, the Dunlending shock troops were slowly but progressively grinding down the Gondor line. The Centre was made up of several formations of Elven archers, and the spellcasters. While the right was Elven Glaives holding a large ruin. We ejected the Elves from that ruin, and I ambushed my men of Dunland into there. Meanwhile we pressed the Elven line, which held out a very long-time - aided considerably by the actions of the 'Three Hunters' and the Rangers of Ithilien (ambushed) in a middle terrain feature. 
Andy's and my reserves turned things quickly though, Andy got more bodies to flank the units slowing him down and I got a steamroller unit of 2HW Orcs, which I ran up in column and trampled the Elves facing me. Evil won that one. However, what I took away from it was that I'd gladly play this game at very high points totals - though possibly not with only Elves! - with no houserules or restrictions whatsoever. The small number of identifiable balance issues that exist just aren't a factor here. Barring odd hero choices, both sides will have plenty of the tools that they need to cope with what the enemy throws at them.

Speaking of abortive games, we began another 3vs all on Tuesday. Andy ran Elves again, but Jason brought out his Rohan, and I decided to give my Dunlendings another try. I didn't know Jason was going to take Rohan when I made the choice, but the specific perks - always steadfast when losing a fight, and Thrydan gets even more of a bonus in duels, were not unappreciated. To the right you can see the table layout. Confusingly, Jason is borrowing some of my 'Men of Middle Earth' to be Royal Guard.

We did get a turn played. Essentially, we both ignored Andy and I went tearing off to try and wear down the Rohan infantry, while shooting up their cavalry. Unfortunately for Jason, he had caught my old 'failing to double' bug, which had been afflicting me for a long streak of games. So I got a couple of turns good shooting at his cav as they tried to move around their screen. Pity we had to wrap it up, when Jason got called away! However, now that both of us have our new and partially unpainted armies out in the open, photographed in public, we should be spurred to finish them! I traded with Andy for some Uruks, and I have all four coys of that unit well progressed - it will definitely be sorted for Natcon in Easter, if somebody wants to try out what I suspect will do well at the 1000pt level.

Since Jason had left, I gave Andy a game with the 700pt forces that we had. He hadn't played 'higher ground' so we set up to run that through. Here he is (the farm is the objective) after his turn one moves, my legions loom menacingly at the bottom.
In the second turn, we fought over the farm and adjacent field, and my Uruks, managed to seize the position from the Elves.
Then I got my ambush out, Wildmen in the Elven rear, as they faced my Huscarls from their front. Andy chose to whittle down the Huscarls, while I got incredibly lucky and not only passed terror with the Wildmen, but also rolled the 6 I needed to make their charge. That was the end of those Elves!
However, he had managed to evict me from the farm once more and now held both it and the nearby field. He also had his Ent (Quickbeam) out and threatening the rear of my own forces.
Heroic Shooting crossbowmen saw to that Ent pretty quickly. Then it was really only a matter of time. Since my ambushers had got so lucky, I had neutralised half the Elven shooting, which Andy really needed to thin out my sheer numbers.
In the end, my troops ground over the objective and then chased down the pesky Woodelves. 

The houserules we used were the ones giving Rohan lances and Elves ignoring shields - since we are trying to get reacclimated to the vanilla game for NATCON. At 1000pts, the Dunlending Battlehost has Saruman rather than the mastery 2 Wraith I took to fit 700pts, it also gets another formation of Huscarls. Saruman's Ruin spells (he shatters shields and grants rerolls) were sorely missed here, but luckily the Wildmen made up for it by eliminating those Elves so quickly. I think Andy is now very keen to get his Mordor force ready and painted. From what I hear, that will probably have the numbers to take advantage of the Ringwraith's perks.

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