Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Let's call it a draw

The Errand had another battle against the mighty forces of the Goblins of Wyn. This time we decided to try out one of the other scenarios, specifically Storm the Camp. I’ve developed some prototype rules for breaking ties to avoid the inevitable unhappiness with the victory point system. In this case, the tie breaker was if the game ended without a camp being captured then whoever had more models in the other’s camp won a minor victory.

Wyn’s force was exactly the same as last time, which was not a fun prospect – where I had the advantage in Contest of Champions, Wyn had a major advantage in Storm the Camp with 14 models on me, including a flyer. The table was also really full, as shown in the below picture. This reduced the effectiveness of my archery. I had swapped out one of my warriors with shield and spear for another Citadel Guard with spear.

I set up first, planning on using Ecthelion and a small contingent to block my right flank while sending Gandalf up to break through with my main contingent on the left. I knew I had to act quickly before I was overwhelmed. Wyn then set his force up with the drum in the middle, a shaman on each flank, with Durburz on my left and his captain on my right.

Rather than engaging in the typical archery duel, we both ended up rushing at each other. I think he realized that he needed his archers up front more than he needed to volley fire at me. We ended up funneling around the hill in the center – I delayed with Ecthelion’s force while rushing forward with Gandalf as planned. I didn’t want a gaping hole in my lines, so I tried to get a few guys up on the hill, but proceeded to roll 1s for almost all of them. Typically, Gandalf got Blinding Light and Terrifying Aura going, and Wyn started up Fury, though one of his shamans blew all of his Will to do it. As the forces closed, I threw a perfectly lined up Sorcerous Blast into a goblin warrior – with a good roll he would have slammed into Durburz, a shaman, and three other goblins! I rolled a 1 for distance. Sigh.

I smashed into Wyn’s right flank very early, turn four I think. Gandalf blasted a goblin into six other goblins, then jumped onto a lone goblin with a warrior. I then tied up the rest of his flank and started sending people around to try to turn it. I launched a Heroic Combat to get Gandalf past most of the goblins. Durburz and a bunch of Wyn’s goblins also came barreling into my line, but I managed to pile a Citadel Guard in with the Warrior on the Goblin King and supported them both with spears. The fight happened, we tied with 6s, and I won the roll off for tied Fight values (good thing I got in the Citadel Guard!). I then piled three wounds onto Durburz, which he saved on with Fury, but then rolled snake eyes for his Fate! All of his Might went into keeping the bugger alive. In the mean time, I was rolling 6s like a madman and the F2 goblins were getting the worst of it. I was also winning all of the priority rolls, and Wyn couldn’t compete with Durburz having blown all of his Might to survive.

On the other side of the table, things weren’t developing quickly. Wyn took cover behind some ruins and threw a couple of arrows my way to little effect. He then threw his captain and some troops into my line, but they just bounced off.

I then threw Gandalf into another Heroic Combat to get him and another warrior behind the goblin lines, and with priority I isolated Durburz and tied up Wyn’s goblins. Durburz fell to the spears of the Citadel Guard, and I blasted a gaping hole in the goblin lines with another insane round of 6s. Things were looking a little grim for Wyn.

He did manage to tie up my troops on the hill and send some goblins off on a dash for freedom.

Time was running out, and I won priority yet again. I bottled up the goblin breakout and sent a contingent running for their camp with Gandalf in the lead. Wyn started pulling troops back in an attempt to make it to the camp in the same turn as mine. Ecthelion and his troops held firm against the goblins pushing against their line as the rangers supporting them fell back to secure the camp and the Citadel Guard stepped forward in support. Another bloody round of combat found the Errand down four models to Wyn’s sixteen.

We checked the time and found we had only a couple of minutes left, not nearly enough for the two turns we’d need to finish the game properly. We both felt that I was on my way to a victory, but according to the agreed upon tiebreaker, we had a tie, since neither of us was in the other’s camp. This is one problem in that a well-constructed force can play for a draw simply through delay if they were so inclined, but I guess that’s a problem you’ll face with almost any scenario.

Again, I’m not sure what I could or should have done differently, but we both agreed that Wyn shouldn’t have thrown as much force against Gandalf’s contingent as he did. Rather than trying to kill them, he should have used shields to stop my movement while he rushed through the light defense in the center or spread my right flank so thin I couldn’t stop something from oozing through. By allowing such a large chunk of his force to be bottled up between the hill and the forest, he surrendered his numeric advantage, which left my superior Fight and Defense dictating the battle. Of course, I did roll like a madman for tons of fights, and winning Priority the last four turns made Wyn’s job nearly impossible. All in all, a very fun game which made us both think hard, and it wasn’t a blowout by any stretch of the imagination.

One kind of funny thing – while I know many people wouldn’t play with unpainted models, I’m more interested in getting some games in than having a fully painted army. But with that, I was working on the force during the game! I’d been working on shadowing the warriors’ cloth before the game. Once my first warrior died, I started shadowing, swapping out the painted warrior for one I still needed to do. I went through my entire force this way, so now all I need to do for the warriors is shade their cloth and detail them.

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