Saturday, 8 January 2011

WotR GT Report.


 2010 War of the Ring Grand Tournament!

Note: My opponent's army lists are not exact in all cases because my memory has not served me so well this time. Maps are drawn approximately and there was no way I could remember all the terrain placement - most of it is visible on the videos. Game 4 video is missing because youtube decided to be stupid and say I have to 300 minutes for the upload which I really didn't feel like doing after uploading the other 4 videos already for almost 4 hours :)

I’ve written numerous tournament reviews in both English and Polish (stretching back to 2008 GT) but never in my career have I had a task that involved remembering details of battles which included complex situations in several places at the same time. WotR is such an enormous battle system compared to SBG that it is not easy to remember everything, especially without photographs (I had some technical problems, ie. I won’t ever again use the single-use cameras...). Luckily I have some video footage. In addition I included some drawings of the set ups.
I would’ve done this report earlier, but dissertation deadline of 6th December forced it back a while. Then Christmas, New Year, we’re all lazy at that time :)

My Army:
Durburz (General)
Gothmog (Ally)
4x Giant Spiders
4x Giant Spiders
4x Wild Wargs
5x Wild Wargs
1x Bat Swarms
1x Bat Swarms
6x Gundabad Blackshields
6x Gundabad Blackshields
6x Gundabad Blackshields
1x Nameless Fear from the Depths of Moria (The Mumak of Moria) :P (ally)
Fate: Tainted Palantir on Gothmog
Total 199 models, 10 Formations, 11 Might Points

Reasons for choices:
-           I never used a Mumak before, so I thought it would be cool. Plus the FAQ made a mistake of saying that Overlord can be used on a formation without Might, so it was about time someone exploited this rule and showed the designers that they might have to fix the FAQ slightly (it stands against the rules anyway).
-           1x Bat Swarms were taken because of the combo useage: Durburz Overlord’s a Swarm behind enemy formation, then Gothmog Overlord’s Mumak into that formation. Formation has to flee into the swarm and gets destroyed. It’s useful because the Swarm can fly, so there’s no problem with going behind the formation. They also proved useful for blocking flank charges and sacrificing themselves into enemy formations which could have done a big deal of damage on a countercharge into one of my other formations.
-           I got convinced to take Palantir by some Polish gamers and gotta say it was a great choice due to priority requirements. Thanks to them.

Game 1: Field of Swords / Shieldwalls
Opponent: Elves (160 Galadhrim Warriors)
Don’t remember the list exactly but it was something like:
Both Twins
4x Bowmen
4x Shieldmen
6x Shieldmen
3x Bowmen
3x Bowmen

Map (click for larger image):

Turn 1:
Mumak got Transfixed and couldn’t move.
All 3 formations of Goblins moved forward with at the double. Durburz’s centre formation needed a 9 to charge Galadhrim archers, so I rolled a 6 and used 1 might to boost it up, then with heroic combat I destroyed 3x Bowmen and charged the 4x bowmen, leaving 2 companies alive.
On the left Gothmog got engaged in a duel with a twin with ES and drew, I lost combat after his heroic (he got Epic Defence and a lot more dice, I got ED too but lost a few more models. After recharging me, he lost more models instead). At the end of the turn we were both left with 4 companies and 1 extra model in the 5th.
On the right archers shot down 2 companies of spiders and forced them to move back out of charge range. Druzhag’s Broodlings flanked his 4x Shieldmen and along with Druzhag’s Goblins they charged. Druzhag was forced to a duel by a non-ES Twin so he could either call Epic Cowardice or Heroic Combat. I decided to do HC because even with calling EC I can get a Duel before managing to escape, therefore HC had more benefits because of another round of combat. As it happened I won the roll off to have Heroic Combat before the duel (according to the FAQ this is correct), won the fight and decided to charge again with both Goblins and Broodlings. Druzhag survived a Duel and Elves were wiped out.

At the end of turn 1 the situation was:
Left flank Galadriel and 1 Twin with 5 companies alive. In the middle 2 companies with Haldir alive.
On the right 3 companies of archers alive. I lost a total of 2 companies of Goblins and 2 companies of Spiders.
Turn 2:
Turn 2 led to clearance of the middle and right flank while the left combat still kept going. The Ent ambushed in the middle of the table unable to charge anywhere. For the next 4 turns Druzhag would hopelessly try to burn him with his fire magic but to no effect (3 times on the HtK table I rolled a 1).
Mumak was Transfixed again.

Turns 3-8:
Left flank Elves were killed after a rear charge from Durburz’s Goblins and Galadriel died in a Duel. The Ent suffered 5 wound counters with Mumak’s shooting and at the end of turn 8 was fighting the Mumak and put on 5 counters on it. Druzhag had almost no effect on the Ent and neither did Mumak in combat.
In total Mumak caused 0 casualties. Mumak’s crew caused 1 Elf to die and put 3 or 4 counters on the Ent. It was just a warm up for the beast.

Result: Victory, 3 points.

Game 2: Seize the Prize / Take the Pass
Opponent: Harad
Army: Something like:
Golden King (General) with his 4x Warriors
Cave Drake (converted to be Golden King’s pet :) ).
2x Half Trolls with 2 handed weapons
2x Half Trolls
4x Haradrim Warriors
3x Riders/lances
3x Archers
3x Archers

First thing that occurred to me was that I couldn’t set up my army properly, so I had to leave one Goblin formation at the back for later.

Turn 1:
I started offensively, making at the double moves with both front Goblin formations. Druzhag summoned 3x Broodlings on the left flank which allowed both Warg and both Spider formations to hide behind safe from the Spiders. Nothing interesting otherwise
Turn 2:
Gothmog used Overlord to move Mumak 30-something inches and finish on the formation of Riders that were within an inch of the board edge, scoring himself his first 75 points of the tournament :)
At the same time, as I was moving first, Druzhag cast Bolt of Fire at the Drake (Druzhag was on a hill in the middle so he could see everything) and caused 2 rolls on the VHtK table. The first roll was a 6 which went down to 5, that then got boosted to a 6 with a Might point (one of the reasons I don’t think monsters other than EHtK are not useable in this game is because Might can be used on the table rolls, making them insanely vulnerable to heroes of all sorts).
In the centre both units of Half Trolls charged into Blackshields and with Epic Strikes they caused havoc in my formations, while not many of them were dying (especially thanks to Khamul).
On the left flank Broodlings got killed by magic.

Turn 3+
The game was over once one Half Trolls formation broke down and Mumak walked into the centre of my opponent’s army from behind the right flank. At the end I was holding 4 objectives, while my opponent had 1 in a Half Troll formation inside a defensible terrain on my right flank.
The Mumak killed a total of about 150 points.

Result: Victory, 3 points.

Game 3: The High Ground / Maelstrom of Battle
Opponent: Misty Mountains
Dragon with Magic
8x Blackshields with Captain, Shaman, Drum
6x Wargs with Chieftain
4x Giant Spiders
4x Giant Spiders
Fate: Unfair Fight (I only realised on my way back from the tournament that taking this Fate was illegal because the army did not contain a MM battlehost).

Given the nature of set up of Maelstrom and the fact that I don’t remember exactly which formation came on in which turn, it’s a bit complicated to describe exactly how everything turned out, so this is a rough estimation.

Due to the set up Im gonna use the north/south/east/west directions. South is my side.

Turn 1:
My opponent was forced to move first and out of his army I believe only Blackshields moved onto the board from the north side and Dragon flew on the east but as reinforcements can’t ‘At the Double’, he didn’t play any role in turn 1.
In my move Mumak came on the south edge on the left, Goblins with Gothmog came on next to it on the south edge. Goblins with Druzhag came on to the right flank of opponent’s Blackshields on the north end and Druzhag burned them a little with Exisicate (or whatever the stupid spelling of this spell is...)
Turn 2:
In the 2nd turn Dragon, Shaman and Druzhag concentrated on destroying my Druzhag’s formation. I decided not to bother resisting spells because his formation was going to die anyway. Instead I used my Might to summon Broodlings on the flank of Blackshields (who had turned to face me, so their flank was facing the centre of the board). Subsequently Druzhag jumped to the Broodling formation and fled as far as he could, while burning a few more Goblins with magic.
Also my Goblins with Durburz came on the east edge and walked towards combat with the Dragon.
Turn 3:
Next turn Durburz had a dilemma because behind him from the south appeared a formation of 6x Wild Wargs with a chieftain, so Druzhag jumped back into that formation, the formation turned to face the Wargs and with a Heroic Charge later on destroyed them. At the same time Dragon had positioned itself to be in range of 2 formations (Spiders, Goblins) and burned both with magic to some extent. My initial Druzhag’s formation was almost dead by this time.

Turn 4+
In the previous turns Mumak was moving forward and at that moment had an estimated 27 or so inch gap between itself and the Dragon without actually pre-measuring the range to not let my opponent know my potential plan (I’m good at range guessing, played Empire with 3 cannons for 2 years :) ).
Gothmog called a Heroic move with the Mumak and Durburz called one with Spiders. Opponent did not counter. Spiders positioned themselves in a line between the Dragon and its nearest board edge (there was enough space for about 5 companies long formation) and the Mumak rolled its average to finish its move on top of the Dragon to make it flee off the board. My opponent got initially furious about it because he didn’t know a move like this could happen, but after calling a referee, both him and the ref had to agree with the correctness of this move in the light of the rules.
Also in this turn Gothmog’s formation moved forward to be almost in base contact with enemy Blackshields and block them from reaching the hill. In combat Gothmog died in a duel because of the Unfair Fight Fate which made the fight into a 19+d6 vs 10+d6 duel.
Mumak killed 475 points by kicking the Dragon off the table.
I initially felt really bad for killing the Dragon with a Mumak, but that’s part of the game and you have to learn to deal with situations like this. Paul was a very good player who was defeated by a loophole in the rules and hopefully game designers will look at it soon and realise that making FAQ against the actual rulebook ruling was a bad idea.

Result: Victory, 3 Points

Game 4: Seize the Prize / Shieldwalls
Opponent’s Army: Isengard
2 Troll Captains
6x Uruk Hai Shields
2x Pikes
2x Pikes
2x Pikes
2x Crossbowmen
And something else which again I can’t remember exactly.

After the end of day 1 me and Ed Ball (TLA’s Death and Glory) both were sitting on 9 points and we were sure to play against each other on table 1 in game 4, but for some reason (something to do with players playing each other more than once and swapping tables down the line, I ended up on table 2 and Ed was playing on table 4 against Gondor’s Grey Company with Elendil/Aragorn/Galadriel/Dain combo... which Ed annihilated in 45 minutes so badly that the owner wanted to surrender... but Ed didn’t let him :). Anyway, onto the game:

Turn 1:
Both of us started moving forward, but through a mistake on my opponent’s side Saruman got killed in a duel with Durburz in turn 1.
The main combat against Khamul’s formation on the right took about 5 turns to kill off the big formation reflecting hits.
The game overall was quite uneventful, I just had a massive numerical and manoeuvrability advantages that other than Mumak eating both Trolls, nothing interesting happened.
At the end Mumak got another 300 points of kills.
Video: Unfortunately Youtube told me to wait 300 minutes to upload this one so no can do...

Game 5: The High Ground / Maelstrom of Battle
Opponent’s Army: Mordor
Winged Nazgul Battlehost:
Witch King
Knight of Umbar
1 Company of Morannon Orcs
Fate: Doom and Despair (the courage autofail one)

I played Ed at Doubles GT 08, Singles GT 09 and now WotR GT 10, so yay, we play every year at a big event :)

Turn 1:
Ed’s Battlehost flew onto the board from his edge 12” towards the middle of the board and his orcs hid in a terrain piece on the left side.
My Mumak then moved onto the board about 18 inches away from the first Nazgul, Gothmog’s formation managed to get onto the board next to him (there was a 1/3 chance of Gothmog starting close to the Mumak’s position so I got lucky in this case), Durburz’s formation walked straight behind the 5 Nazgul, rest is on the picture.

Turn 2:
Gothmog called a Heroic move for the Mumak, who then rolled a 9 on 3d6, making it move exactly 27 inches forward and finishing its move on top of 3 fell beasts. These then fled off the board or into my Goblin formation. Mumak subsequently died from 4 spells...

Turns 3+:
The remaining 2 wraiths died in duels with ES Heroes (Gothmog/Durburz).

It proved to be a very one sided game, but nonetheless Ed agreed at the end that he misplayed it, because he could have called a Heroic Move with one of his Nazgul (preferably Witch King because of Might boosting magic and focus rolls) and then if he had won the Roll off, he would have moved closer to the Mumak, cast sunder spirit and then Transfix, which would mean that I would have been very unlikely to make the move and Mumak would have no effect on the game.
In total Mumak killed 825 points (2 Wraiths and WK) to make a grand total of around 1750 points killed, so a 500 point increase on his cost across 5 games (I mean over 5 games taking Mumak costs a total of 1250 points and if he kills more than that then he’s proving to be efficient).

There wasn’t any time for video and there wasn’t anything to be recorded other than 5 Fell Beasts walking onto the table. Game ended in 45 minutes.
Result: Victory, 3 points.

Game 6

So after a short break we decided to have an unofficial rematch with Ed to see what would have happened if scenario was different (and because we had about an hour and a half till the end of the round). Set up Shieldwalls.
In turn 1 just for fun I decided to storm the Mumak forward at the Fell Beasts again, but after moving 39” he was still about 5” short (needed 15+ on 3d6 to do anything). The rest of the army moved forward. The Mumak insta-died from massed magic.
Then we had a few turns of Swoop Attacks and Multi-spellcasting, but each time a Nazgul got into combat, he’d be getting eaten by an Epic Strike or just the enormous amount of S4 attacks that Blackshields were making.
In the end Ed had 1 Wraith left and I had 2 half deplated formations of goblins and 1 formation of Spiders, with heroes with no Might and Druzhag already down. We decided to call it a draw, because we forgot to actually choose the scenario objective :D

In the end having 15 points from 5 games was enough to take the “Best Evil General” and “Overal Winner” awards. I had a video of awards ceremony, but due to lack of tripod and positioning on top of a phone and 2 coins, the film isn’t worth showing :)

Thoughts after the event:
-           Overlord ruling in the FAQ is a bunch of nonsense and is opposite to what the rulebook says. By overusing it during the GT I think I’ve proven to everyone that it needs changing and going to what it was meant to be “May use Might instead of its own” is as clear as things get. No idea why FAQ states the opposite.

-           Mass Magic can be effective, but isn’t necessarily the way to go. Mass formations on the other hand is something that works regardless of your luck with Focus rolls. Also I took as many separate formations as I could as a counter to 5-Nazgul multi-Pall-of-Night, which during playtesting seemed to be taking good care of fewer formations, but were unable to cope with 8+. Also, the Mumak takes away a turn of casting if the player wants to get rid of it, so it can be used as a shield against Magic (of course if you don’t neutralise the Mumak, it will eat your army, so you have to take care of it)

-           I still believe that there should be a Magic level limit of about 1 level per 200-250 points.

-           According to the rulespack (which it seems barely anybody reads these days!) the armies had to be made out of a single army list (ie. No alliances), but so many people had alliances that the refs allowed it and supposedly said next year there will be a restriction on no alliance.

Again sorry about the lack of photos – sh*t happens ;)


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