Friday, January 2, 2009

Another win with the Errand

I took another victory with Mithrandir's Errand, this time against a goblin horde force commanded by Wyn Robertson. For those who don't know him, Wyn is an extremely canny player who regularly wins local tournaments and fought me for the best overall at GT Vegas 2008. We played an unfavorable scenario (for him) this time, which was Contest of Champions.

I used the same Errand as last time. I don't remember the exact composition of Wyn's force, but at 600 points it had 59 models including Durburz, a Goblin Drum, a Bat Swarm, a captain with shield, two shamans, and 6 prowlers. I was outnumbered by 14 models, or over 30%. Yow. Gandalf was my champion and Durburz was his.

The terrain was pretty normal with lots of hills, a ruin, and one river blocking a quarter of the table. However, the center of the table was clear as required by the layout of the scenario.

The game started off with the predictable volley fire from the goblins, but I eschewed volleying in order to get closer. Gandalf turned on his Blinding Light and Terrifying Aura, while both shamans got Fury going. Only one of my warriors fell to the goblin archery. As I got to within 24 inches of Wyn's goblins, he kept most of his gribblies behind terrain, but I started to plink off one every so often, though I was disgusted at how my vaunted Rangers of Gondor were statistically matching goblins for archery. However, as more and more of his goblins became visible and the forces closed, I jumped Gandalf out and started throwing Sorcerous Blasts at his goblins.

At one point, I saw a terrific opportunity to blast Durburz back into a shaman and four other goblins, and ran him up to hop up a 1" climb to blast. I roll a 1. Grrr. I burn a Might, after all, I've got 3. I then rolled three dice of Will (burning two from my store), and managed to only roll a 4. At this point, I'm pot-stuck as my poker playing friends would say, and I threw in a second point of might to make it happen. Wyn rolls one die to resist and throws a 6. Well crap. Just don't blast heroes is the lesson here.

An hour and a half of maneuvering around each other finally saw Gandalf blast a goblin out of existence which put Wyn behind the 8-ball. The goblins were getting the short end of the stick in the archery game with about seven of them dead to still only one of mine. Wyn started to move in closer, and I pulled together a shieldwall across the center with a corner near the hill that Gandalf had to use Might to climb. Gandalf headed away from Durburz towards my left flank while Ecthelion went to deal with the goblin king.

Wyn finally managed to hit my line with about 45 minutes left. Gandalf jumped in and blasted some goblins who were stuck behind the lines then charged a lone goblin. Glamdring cleaved it, bringing Gandalf's tally to three, while Durburz still hadn't hit the line. Along the line the goblins threw themselves onto the shieldwall only to be repulsed with serious losses.

Durburz finally hits my line, but it's looking tough. Wyn very cannily isolates Ecthelion from Durburz, but I manage to peel off all but one enemy while putting spear support on both of the warriors Durburz charged. Alas, I forget to call my Heroic Combat until later. Before that, Gandalf butchers another goblin (two wounds, though he managed to roll 6-5 for Fury: whew!) and Wyn's line is collapsing and I'm turning his right flank. We play through until we get close to Ecthelion and Durburz, and I ask for a mulligan Heroic Move. Wyn gives it to me and while I win the combat I fail to kill the gobbo. Oh, well. Durburz then butchers the two warriors opposing him, we check the time, and have one minute of play left. Wyn asks for a mulligan Heroic Move for Durburz and just for sport we do it. He manages to kill another warrior, but that still leaves the tally at 4-3 in favor of Gandalf.

This scenario played Wyn's instincts against him. Wyn is a very deliberate player who knows how to place his specific models. He also regularly plays Wood Elves, whose archery is vicious. He's used to hanging back and drawing his opponents to him through withering bowfire, and the goblin archery was more annoying than deadly. My rangers and Gandalf on the other hand were seriously scary and once I'd killed a goblin with a blast the pressure was really on Wyn to even the score. Here his deliberation helped me as I whittled down his forces at range.

In this case, he should have rushed his entire force (minus the drum, of course) straight at mine. He'd suffer some minor pricks from my archery, but he needed to get Durburz into the thick of it, and his greater numbers would have put me into a seriously tight place. On the other hand I pretty much played it how I should have, forcing him to come to me and scoring kills at range with Gandalf.

I'm looking forward to playing Wyn some more in the next few months, and I think we'll deliberately choose some different scenarios.

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