Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Batrep WOTR: (Houseruled) Gondor vs Isengard

We've been heavily into BFG recently but on Monday night I got to reprise the epic Isengard vs Reunited Kingdom struggle. What I consider to be 'test match' level WOTR gaming. We used no houserules but did use my proposed 1000pt tournament guidelines.
This evening's clash pits the Forces of the Beige Wizard against his arch-enemy, Elessar King of the Reunited Kingdom. The Beige wizard has mustered: Himself, three coy of xbow, two formations of four coy Uruks with shields, three coy Berserkers, a base of sappers, and six coy of Orcs with 2HW, Grima Wormtongue also skulks about the forces of men, at the behest of his master Saruman. The King has: Himself, three coy of White Mountains Rangers, six coy warriors of Minas Tirith, four coy Axemen of Lossarnach, four coy Osgiliath Veterans, four coy Knights of Minas Tirith and four coy Warriors of Eriador. We played shieldwalls and VPs. Jason only knows the tactics in GW codexes, so only knows how to refuse flank. This is what he does, despite deploying first, rendering the exercise a little pointless. He takes priority.

Turn 1: He wanted the hill for his xbows, and take it. For some reason, he also wanted to put sappers in that wood. It is possible that he intends to use the time/space warping properties of WOTR defensible terrain to teleport the bomb behind me, or something. I push the big unit of warriors toward the xbows, we both know where this will end. The Rangers occupy the ruin. Perhaps I should just make it 'official' and permanently model them on it? The Osgiliath Vets push toward the central wood with the sappers, the warriors of Eriador (out on the right flank) slowly make their way around the farmhouse and the Knights and Axeman hold back, keeping their powder dry. Speaking of which, you are probably wondering where three coy of Warriors of Minsa Tirith trees? Heroic shooting bows and exactly the four hits needed. Then their are two Isengard formations in range to receive the effects of the explosion....
Turn 2: Elessar gets priority and the Osgiliath Veterans are lead by him into the smoking wood. Aggressive, perhaps even foolhardy.
The forces of Isengard make ready to assail the troops in the wood, but there are swarms of enemies for them to eventually contend with. Ranger shooting does not do much to the xbow but xbow shooting nails the Warriors of Minas Tirith once more. The troops in the wood are also hit with a fireball, failing their 3+ will of iron for the second time already this battle. What is cunningly hidden behind Jason's arm there is a formation of Hungry Uruk Berserkers. The Beige Wizard started in their unit and cast 'Dark Fury' before he left - should be 'fun' for the beleaguered defenders... and then the Berserkers and Uruks charge the wood, and flanking Warriors of Minas Tirith. However, the Osgiliath Veterans are strong, and Elessar wields Anduril. Miraculously they win the combat after just managing to wipe out the Berserkers and so send the surviving Uruks reeling back in disorder. The ranks of the Warriors of Minas Tirith, who have to hold that flank, are looking a bit thin there below the forest.
Turn 3. The Beige Wizard has priority but somehow the Uruks fail to come back from disorder. There they are, near four coy of them, impotent and milling about in front of half their number of the men of Gondor. Elessar decides that now is the time to get that right flank moving and leaps to the far off men of Eriador. They  double around to the far right, while the Axemen of Lossarnach, and following Knights, close on the Uruks positioned to hold the left flank of the Isengard line, between the two forests. This time, xbow fire fails to dislodge the Veterans in the forest, whil Ranger bowfire kills only a couple of xbow Uruks. The Veterans do a little better, killing a few of the Isengard 2HW Orcs, who lurk about. Charges go in, the Axemen of Lossarnach hit the Uruks to their font, the 2HW Orcs hit the forest edge and the remaining Warriors of Minas Tirith have managed to get around the flank of the disordered Uruks. Predictably, the Veterans throw back the charging Orcs. However the Axemen are thrown back by the Uruk shieldwall. The remnants of the Minas Tirith Warriors are slowly eating their hapless prey, piece by little piece.
Turn 4: Reunited Kingdom has priority but King Elessar lets the Beige Wizard go first. Jason just can't catch a lucky break and his Uruks remain disordered. Grima Wormtongue leaps into the Axemen and the crossbow begin to reposition (ain't heroic shoot great?) to still shoot the hill but gradually get out of range of the Rangers. Elessar leaves the Vets in the forest, managed to (just) rally the Axemen (Inspiring Leader 6 FTW) and then leads his men of Eriador into the forest anchoring the far left flank of the Uruk line (top right of pic). The Axemen manage to wheel their formation just enough to create an 8.5 cm gap for the Knights to line up in column, without risk of counter charge. There is a bloody melee on that flank, which the Uruks lose and become disordered. On the left flank, the dregs of the Warriors of Minas Tirith
Turn 5: Elessar again makes the Biege Wizard go first. Isengard Orcs line up to watch the back of the Uruks but with Elessar amongst them, the men of Eriador are not afraid. They pop out of the forest and line up to the rear of the Uruks. In the charge phase, Elessar Heroic charges... and the 2HW Orcs roll a 1! (Jason just couldn't catch a break this game.) So the charging troops crush the Uruks and take few losses in return. At that point, the Biege Wizard elects to take his Orcs and Xbows and go home. 

Cheers for the game, Jason. It was a blast. See what I did there? Those Sappers are cool and you should definitely take them again, though what you say about Radagast sniping them with spells even if they lurk in the second line is interesting and I would like to hear more of your ideas. Overall I liked the army I had, lots of different troop types and a cool hero. I think Jason is considering actually taking Captains, since he no longer can just bounce Thrydan about. Captains in WOTR? What's next? Banners? I think the dice definitely favoured me there too. Its hard for Isengard to execute a plan when I manage to snipe their Sappers, one flank fails two turns of courage 6 tests to undisorder, and troops are placed to prevent a rear charge but roll a 1...

I eagerly await the next round. 

Thanks for reading.


  1. Good report. Jason seems to have the same luck I have playing this game... ;-)

  2. 'Beige' wizard, I've heard this before but does it refer to Saruman or Radagast?

    This could be another case where the single epic hero per side does not work out fairly? I would say Aragorn is far superior to either, for the points. What do you think?

  3. Just looking closely at some of your pics - you seem to have permanently based your figs to the bases? So you don't play SBG with them either presumebaly?

  4. Hi Scott,
    1. I think this game was a bit of an outlier. However, there are things he should have done and I am generally quite happy being permitted to have the initiative. Still, this was a case where I had it easier than I should have. I couldn't plan on that basis though.

    2. It is Saruman. Aragorn is far better than Radagast but not better than Saruman. Saruman has a whole slew of special abilities, free might (or free actions) and exceedingly vicious spells. Basically he and the xbows did all the damage to me, as is usually the case. Played correctly, he is not all that vulnerable to duels either.

    3. I permanently base everything except historicals, where I want to have the option of using them for other systems. SBG has never really interested me.


  5. Interesting, how do you protect him from Duels? He's got F4 I think off top of my head and now Epic Strike, his special ability to stop people charging him only works on a 4+, I have only really found Bolt of Fire useful with him, and perhaps Dark Fury, but then you risk him being in the combat. The only time I played Isengard I got wupped (as usual) by the elves... I havent tried them again since...

  6. There are no guarantees, but like any thing in a wargame it is about managing the risks. So the aim is to actually prevent the enemy from charging his unit, most of the time. That is actually pretty straightforward to acheive for the start of the game, while keeping LOS. However, it can restrict your target selection. The good thing about Saruman is that he has Overlord so can allow units to take actions without joining them.

    Then, sometimes he has to stick his kneck out. This is not actually all that often - you can plan to have him start in a unit, cast 'Dark Fury', Shatter Shields (a very powerful spell) Exxiscate (awesome with Epic Ruination) and then leave the unit to join another, while that unit then moves off. Sometime though he will risk being charged. Then it is 50/50. Then, assuming he is charged, he is still R3 and (especcially if he has might left) can often survive a duel. Epic Challenge can pin him but he does quite well at passing those courage tests.

    I think that gamers often focus too much on just one or two of the interactions in isolation. If you do that, the probabilities of 'bad things' look quite high. However, the aim of planning in wargames is to minimise the times you are in the situations in the first place.

  7. Interesting comments. You certainly view things differently than I do, in terms of effectiveness and 'risks', perhaps thats why you are successful more than I am.
    Thats probably half my problem, my planning is picking the painted ones...

  8. I had quite a funny conversation with a mate on the way back from club last night. I will preface this with the fact that he does in fact beat me quite often.

    We were both talking about our respective son's art/craft interests. His son does some pretty good drawings and loves to do it. Mine like to make things, 'inventions', which are invariably the wrong colour and messy looking but when looked at closely turn out to have a surprising amount of functional features (albeit ones made from sellotape and card)....

    People's heads are just wired differently, I think.

    Anyway, the play's the thing. I like to think things through but can manage some spectacular defeats if my opponent takes the initiative off me.

  9. Yes, all very true. My son likes the wargaming, but doesn't at this point seem very artistic, or have the patience to sit and paint much, whereas my daughter seems quite artistic, but I doubt she'll be playing the games, although she has been fascinated by the pirate ships I have made recently.

    BTW, your tip about the 2HW orcs, was very good, I actually won a game tonight!