Wednesday, February 25, 2009

AAR of Gathering in the Desert 2009

The blood has cooled, the paints are put away, and the results are posted - it's time to reflect on the Gathering that is past. Well, my part in it, anyway.

First off, I can definitely call the tournament a success. Having gotten 4th Overall and 2nd General were both achievements I can be proud of in that field. I understand how the army works pretty well and it showed in my battles. I had a great time playing and did my best to make sure my opponent had a good time as well. I did pretty well in Sportsmanship - if Brent gave me #1 on his opponent ranking (which I think he did) then I earned the equivalent of one #2 and three #3 rankings. My downfall (if you can call it that) was my rushed painting. I only had a higher score than 4 other players, and was well behind 2nd and 3rd Overall. If I got the score I'd earned in Vegas I'd have gotten 3rd Overall and nearly taken Best Overall (since #1 didn't paint his own army).

I had about as good an army design as you can get with a big burly character in the lead. I was light on numbers but still had the survivability to avoid being laid to waste. The Guards of the Fountain Court, as suggested by Brent (I think), were a fantastic addition to the list. Ecthelion, using the King of Men stat line, was a great combat hero, overtaking most opposition with his F5 and two attacks plus spear support. The rangers also earned their place, softening up the opposition before rushing into help out via trapping and spear support. Gandalf definitely made the list what it was, though - all the tricksy stuff I could pull with him was awesome. I really enjoy playing with magical powers, partly because so few people actually have encountered them it leaves a significant imprint on them. I'm not sure how the army would have performed on objective holding missions or mobility missions (like Reconnoiter), but the missions given suited the army well, except for those darn Uruks.

Sportsmanship scores are always something of a quandary for me - I can't deny that I play to win and that I understand the rules very well and will let my opponent know when they are doing something wrong. However, I try to be nice about it and will readily point out when they could do something advantageous or bad to me as a result of a rule they don't understand. The biggest problems come when I encounter someone who thinks they know the rules but really don't, or someone who conveniently forgets rules when it doesn't suit them.

One brief point of conflict in my last game that troubled me was when I trapped a Morgul Stalker between the edge of the long hill we were on and a combat. It was on the Angmar table, and the hill had started against the edge of the table (it was flat along one side, clearly designed to sit along the edge). However, when this combat happened it had gotten bumped, so there was about a 1/2-3/4 inch gap between the actual table edge and the edge of the hill. My opponent brought up that he could retreat down the hill, and I pointed out that it had started against the table. He had been leaning over this hill to move his models in the center, and I'm thinking that was when it got bumped. He gave me this snort, and when I asked if it was a problem, he replied, "Oh, no, it's just one model", with a subtext (to my mind) of "You're an ass for pushing this point, but I'm going to let you have it to keep my sportsmanship score up". He wasn't obnoxious or anything, but I'm pretty sure that because I didn't back down there I got a lower ranking on the final sportsmanship sort. I'm just not sure how to deal with this, as I don't want to be walked all over, but I also don't want to lose a potential advantage that the rules say I have.

Ah, my painting. I knew it wasn't up to snuff, but the full impact of the rating did make me sad. I completely deserved it, though. I was painting on the plane, had minimal highlights on most of my models, and used a lot of quick and dirty methods. I need to significantly step up the detail painting and do another layer or two of highlights all over the models. That could earn me 6 more points on painting without a huge expenditure of effort, and possibly even 8 if I really impress the judges. 6 would have put me less than a point behind Brent and Best Overall, 8 would have given me the tournament. I can see adding some detailing to the cloaks and trim of the Fountain Court, plus maybe some battle damage on the warriors shields to get that Hand Painted Details level.

So I'll definitely put some more time into painting. I'm going to have to skip Adepticon - some day I will definitely have to go there, though. However, I can see doing the Necronomicon and GT Vegas, and might even be able to squeeze in a Games Day or something. Of course, I'm going to have to be very, VERY nice to my wife, and hope our child doesn't decide to be born while I'm playing with toy soldiers...

Thoughts on next army

Boy, I had a great time with the Errand. I'm probably going to improve the painting on that list for a little while, and I might still use it for the rest of this season. However, I am starting to think about my next list.

I do have a problem - I love playing challenging armies, but I also love winning. One force I really like is the Army of the High King, but those guys are just inherently inefficient against everyone but Isengard Uruk-Hai. The main point of the army is making it an Elendil delivery system, and as good as he is he isn't as good as Gandalf, who is worth the same number of points. Oh, Gandalf is such a dirty old man...

Speaking of Gandalf, I was thinking about going with Gandalf the White, which I won at the Gathering. However, the Errand was already pretty thin on the model count, and adding 50 points to the wizard would mean losing Ecthelion in favor of Damrod (wow, that's a bad deal) or seriously dropping my model count. There just aren't any Good horde armies apart from Hobbits, and Gandalf can't fight with them.

So I'm thinking about a Mordor army. I can throw 60+ models into most of the armies I am developing. Each one I came up with had a "gimmick" which I'd like to play with: shamans and a drummer, Shagrat the Warleader, the Witch King, a catapult with a troll, all of them look like fun. Maybe I can also come up with one using a Fell Beast. I know many of these aren't the most efficient in the world, but these are some of the models I've always wanted to play with. I'll think more about it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Last battle report for Gathering

Round 5
Opponent: Sean Ramirez
Table: Angmar
Scenario: The Last Alliance

This scenario was a straight-up kill ‘em scenario with the emphasis on killing valuable people – it was based upon victory points, which is the points value of the stuff you kill. This is, in my opinion, not a very good mechanic for LOTR. The game is specifically designed to be based upon numbers, and while individual models can be very expensive, the most expensive are the ones that affect other models and help their fellow models. Heroes are good on their own, but their real value is in holding other models on the table via Stand Fast and doing Heroic Actions. Some heroes just aren’t that hard to kill (Gandalf not being among them, apparently), but can be very valuable – Gildor Inglorian being perhaps the best example of this. After all, a Half-Troll is way more effective in combat than a Captain of Minas Tirith, but the Captain costs more than twice as much. So I didn’t like that aspect of the scenario. Another fun aspect of the scenario was that it was 12” deployment zones, and if you had any of your own models in your deployment zone at the end of the game the best you could get was a draw.

Sean had the army that I least wanted to play in the tournament. He was running 30 Black Numenoreans backed up with spear supporting orcs, some trackers, and three Morgul Stalkers thrown in for fun. This crew was led by The Dark Marshal and a Black Numenorean Marshal, which meant that all of those terror checks I’d be taking would be at -1 Courage. The Nazgul could also effectively neuter Gandalf, which really irritated me. On top of this, I was outnumbered by 10 models. I knew this would be a rough game.

I lined up in my left corner, hoping to give the rangers a clear bunch of shots as the enemy closed while creating a bottleneck in the center. I hoped I could hold off any support coming from the sides while I demolished anything that came down the middle of the table. Sean’s deployment seemed to support this, with significant contingents taking his flanks and a big group around the heroes in the center.

The first round of shooting was awesome – I killed three orcs, two Numenoreans, and a Morgul Stalker. Sadly, that was the most my shooting did for the rest of the game. I think I got a couple of small kills, but between the short distance between armies and getting stuck into combat, I didn’t have a chance to shoot much more.

The bad things started happening with Gandalf right off the bat. After getting up Terrifying Aura and Blinding Light, the Dark Marshal closed to within range of a Sap Will. The next couple of turns was me trying desperately not to lose any more will, with one big Sorcerous Blast thrown at the Marshal in a high stakes gamble to kill him – I even blew all of my remaining Might to score a wound, but Sean easily made his Fate roll. Finally there wasn’t anything left, and I was limited to Gandalf’s one free Will per turn and the Blinding Terrifying Aura of Light went out.

We got stuck into combat and I started learning just how incredibly annoying Numenoreans were. I was failing a bunch of my Courage tests, so I started moving pieces that could block routes to an inch away from enemy models to channel them or provoke a charge (and I didn’t have to take a Terror test). I also had small blocking contingents holding off a chunk of his army that was trying to turn my flanks. The Fountain Court Guards were a HUGE help here, since they could charge without testing their Courage and could take abuse from S4 hits. I started to whittle down his force, but I’m losing people as well. Ecthelion in particular is doing a great job of killing Numenoreans.

There isn’t a lot to tell after that – we just ground away, though Sean kept using the Nazgul to try to do bad things with spells, usually not succeeding. I did manage to punch a hole in the Numenorean line and run a Fountain Court Guard into the Dark Marshal, getting rid of a point of Will. Finally the turns are drawing close to an end, and it’s obvious we’re tied. My Fountain Court behind his lines is occupied, but I pull one last trick out of Gandalf’s sleeve – I cast Command on the Marshal, who at this point has only one point of Will remaining. This allows me to move him into combat with my Fountain Court Guard. This is awesome! As long as I get to fight, the Nazgul will go pop at the end of the turn.

Sean shoots into combat with all of his trackers, and manages to kill my Guard on the second shot!?! DAMN IT!!! He then proceeds to mow down another 40 points of troops that the trackers also hit. OK, so the first round of archery went to me, the last roud to Sean. We ended up drawing, with Sean ahead by about 50 points, but needing 60 for the win. Interesting thing about the game – I won each and every priority roll. Sean did not have priority the entire time.

I can see now that the way to win this fight would have been to punch a hole in the line of Numenoreans and rush through with my Guards to engage the Nazgul directly. That is what I should have done with my Sorcerous Blasts, not trying to wound the Nazgul. That would also have saved my Might for Heroic Combats and anything else that would have helped clear a path through the Numenoreans. On Sean’s side, I would have put my Black Numenorean Marshal on one of the flanks to assist in crushing opposition there and get into my rear area faster. Other than that, I can’t see any major mistakes beyond forgetting to move Gandalf after several of his casts.

Result: Draw (10 points)

My overall result was a little confusing – if you include the painting points from the guy who didn’t paint his own model, then I was 4th Overall and 2nd Place General. Our tie combined with a victory on Brent’s part gave him Best Overall, and Anthony, who played and beat some of the best players in the country minus Tim Hixon, clearly got Best General. He would have gotten Best Overall if he’d just PAINTED HIS OWN DAMN ARMY! Ah-hem.

Anyway, I’ll do a review of the tournament itself and my own lessons learned tomorrow night.

What a great event - Gathering in the Desert 2009

I’m on my way back home after a fantastic tournament. The Gathering in the Desert 2009 was perhaps the single most enjoyable gaming experience I think I’ve ever had. It was in large part due to the incredible hospitality of Tim Kulinski as well as the great community of players who came together for this event, both local Phoenix area players as well as us “out-of-towners” who came to participate in the first LOTR event of the 2009 Tournament Circuit.

So first off, I really could have been better prepared for this event. I wasted a lot of time that could have been better spent painting my models to a higher standard. I was highlighting Fountain Court Guards on the flight to PHX, painting until midnight the night before the event with Tim, and then even more painting the morning of. I even squeezed in painting the belts of my warriors black after the first round while waiting for lunch to arrive… I really want to get some more layers of highlights onto all of the models, detail out the Fountain Court, and give Ecthelion a serious paint job. Alas, it will be a while before I am able to make that happen, since I have GOT to catch up on my grading – I won’t paint anything until I’ve cleared my backlog of tests.

I was happy to recognize a few of the folks there – Tim Hixon was the only other California resident there, and I recognized Brent Sinclair from the Las Vegas GT. The store where the event was held was co-owned by Kyle Kinghorn, a great hobbyist and manager who I knew from when he managed the LA Battle Bunker for GW. It was great to see him again, and he did play – we also got a chance to catch up on gossip about GW and what he’s been doing with his store, Empire Games. I want to throw this in about Kyle’s operation: Empire Games is probably the best hobby game store I’ve ever been in. The environment is clean and orderly, there is tons of great looking gaming terrain, and it is well stocked. Kyle ran a great store in the LA bunker, and I think he’s outdone even that with his own store. Now if only some of the tables were lower…

Anyway, on to the games.

Round 1
Opponent: Robert Brightwell – Angmar
Table: Emon Euil
Scenario: Bilbo’s Treasure

This was a neat game where you could earn three extra battle points by searching for Bilbo’s treasure but was otherwise a “wipe ‘em out” game where you wanted to reduce the enemy to a quarter of their starting models. There were six markers spread across the table, under each of which was a number. We rolled to determine which number marker it was (turned out to be #6. I deployed my rangers in the middle of my deployment zone with a clear view across the table, then split my warriors on either side of them. I put Ecthelion on my left and Gandalf with the rangers. There was an objective in the crater in front of me, and another one up on a large rock pile in front of Ecthelion’s force.

Robert put his wargs on his right led by the Warg Chieftan, and after some consideration put Burduhr in the middle with a clear path down the center of the table. He spread the rest of his force out across the table with his Shade behind Buhduhr.

I rushed my models forward, getting Blinding Light going with Gandalf and approaching the two rockpiles to my front. I did move half with the rangers, since I figured I’d be able to range Robert’s wargs. Sure enough, the wargs had a couple in range of my archery and I managed to down one of them. I started climbing the rocks in front of me on either side, on to check the objective and the other to provide a defensible position. Robert was sending his wargs to check on one of the objectives to my left, but I saw the main engagement was going to be in the center. Most of Robert’s army was pounding down the table straight at me behind Burduhr. My rangers decided to do something about that. One round of shooting saw Burduhr lose a wound, and a second round saw him dead. The rangers continued to pick off orcs after that.

We had collectively turned over three counters when I managed to find the treasure, which oddly enough was on top of the rock pile on my left. I pulled the chest back and formed up Ecthelion’s crew to go after the wargs and protect the treasure. As the chieftain hit my troops, I brought out Gandalf (who had gotten a Sorcerous Blast off to some effect, but nothing major) to Immobilize the Warg Chieftain, then dogpiled him with Ecthelion and a bunch of other troops. The warg fell under a hail of sword blows.

The fight on the left ended pretty quickly with the wargs being slaughtered, but the center was proving a little harder. The reason? That damn Shade. I hate Shades. I have no idea how to really deal with them other than just take the -1 to all my die rolls. I tried to blast him and move him with Gandalf, but the blasts didn’t work and the Command ended up moving him so he was only 5 inches away from all of the fights instead of 2 inches. Suck.

One redeeming feature for me was that with all of his archers in the backfield, I was outnumbering the orcs, and despite the damn Shade, I was taking them down. After a few turns, I had managed to get the treasure off of my own side, then broke Robert’s force. That was effectively the end of the game, as his troops evaporated. I was pretty stupid, though - I cast Command on the Shade to get him out of the way of the combats, but that left him on the table! I should have just let him fail his Courage 1 test and run away.

This was an enjoyable game, but Robert did play into my hands by charging the center. I expected the wargs to split off to the left, and Ecthelion handled them masterfully. By running into the teeth of my archery, Robert lost the game. With Burduhr down and his numbers thinned by archery and hanging his own archers back I was able to corral him into the center, turn his flanks, and devour him. I would have kept most of the troops to the flanks, particularly Burduhr, who could have gotten around a lot of the rock piles without any problem. This would have reduced the impact of my archery, and possibly allowed him to hit one of my own flanks, reducing my number advantage. But Robert was very easy to get along with and does have a good grasp of the game, so I enjoyed the experience.

Result: Major Victory plus bonus (23 points)

Round 2
Opponent: Anthony Pigati – Legion of the White Hand
Table: Amon Hen
Scenario: Light the Beacons!

This was another kill ‘em scenario which had bonus point for lighting the beacons in a diagonal line down the middle of the table. The catch – if you get a 1-2 while trying to light a beacon, you light yourself on fire!

Anthony was playing a very rough Uruk-Hai list - two captains, five berzerkers, twelve crossbowmen, and the rest in swordmen and pikemen. He outnumbered me by two. I knew in order to get him, I’d have to isolate part of his force and destroy it to even the odds.

I tried to do just that by starting off rushing towards the beacons. Anthony followed my lead by splitting his crossbowmen to go for the corners and sending his mass into the center. He won priority the second turn and did the same. However, now I sent everything I had towards my left. He ended up splitting his force again to send some troops around the Seeing Seat, and I pounced. I put Ecthelion and a few more troops on my right to delay reinforcements and then tried the ole’ “Come hither” with Gandalf – I throw a 2 die Command on the Uruk Captain on Anthony’s right, and get a 6. Oh, he is so dead… What do you mean he rolled a 6 with his one point of Will?!? Crap. I shoot at him, and manage to get a little bit, but nothing that will turn the tide.

The second turn I commit. Gandalf is still failing me, getting only 1” off of a Sorcerous Blast that should have knocked over some 5 models, and then I commit. My troops pour into him, lining up to get 4-on-2s and trapping. I’m turning his flanks – this will only be a matter of time. I kill on berzerker off with a lucky roll against a lone ranger, and then the Uruks go on a killing spree, taking something like a quarter of my force off the table. It’s a devastating blow, and the next round isn’t much better. Now I’m really in touble, and for all of my efforts, I just can’t get anything to happen. I finally manage to isolate the Uruk captain on my left, but with only Gandalf and three other models against him, I’m not able to finish him off – I just don’t have enough models. A few turns after the butchery, I fall below a quarter and the game is over.

This one was really frustrating. I did everything right, Anthony screwed up big time, I capitalized on it, and a tear of 6s not only saved his bacon but turned the tide in his favor. Anthony admitted that he was sweating bullets when he saw what I’d done, and that his dice alone saved him.

Result: Major Loss plus bonus (6.5 points)

Round 3
Opponent: David Bishop – The Serpent Horde
Table: Spring Thaw
Scenario: Look to the East

This was a straightforward kill ‘em scenario with a catch – half of your army starts on the board, and the rest comes on in a random turn from the “east”, your right hand table edge. David’s Harad was a good horde list – a cavalry contingent of raiders and Serpent Guard led by Suladan, several archers with another captain, and some 30 regular warriors with spears. He outnumbered me by almost 50%.

I put Gandalf and all of my rangers on first with a few warriors to back them up, setting them up towards my right behind a hill. The rest of the warriors and Ecthelion are put into reserve. David puts his archers and a chieftain on his left, while putting his cavalry with Suladan near the center behind a hill. His spearmen are all in reserve.

David starts off by riding his cavalry right into the middle of the table. My rangers come out 3” and let fly. I manage to cut down four of his cavalry in a single round. My reserves come on turn two, and I decide to bring them in to support my rangers. David’s reserves also come in, heading along my rear table edge towards the rangers. I position a few troops up on a hill to slow down the spearmen while focusing on the cavalry. Gandalf tries to Immobilize Suladan, but he manages to shake it off with Will. I’ll give this to Suladan – he doesn’t go down easy. Ecthelion and some buddies were desperately trying to take him down and while I knocked a wound off, I couldn’t do better. The next round I did manage to Immobilize Suladan, but could still only put another wound on him. I’m doing better with David’s cavalry, catching them without a charge, trapping them, and killing them. I finally manage to take Suladan out, and he is the last of the mounted models to fall.

In the mean time, I’m throwing blocking detachments out against the archers and the spearmen. David decides to split his spearmen in two, and I see a chance to eat another bite-sized chunk of Haradrim. I go after the part of his spearmen that are going left around the hill, filling them full of arrows with my rangers, then sending Ecthelion and several warriors over to help out from the cavalry fight. I manage to turn his flank and his warriors drop like wheat to the scythe. I’m also tearing apart his archers with Gandalf’s Sorcerous Blast and warriors while holding off the second contingent of spearmen with shielding warriors.

David’s force finally breaks, and this is the last straw. With no hero to hold them, half of his spearmen flee, and a few more kills reduces him to a quarter. We talked about this afterwards, and a few things were clear; 1) David made a big mistake by feeding his cavalry to my entire force. Between the archery and getting picked on by Ecthelion, Gandalf, and all of my warriors his cav didn’t stand a chance. He would have been much better served keeping them behind the hill until I closed with his archers. 2) He probably should have deployed his archers on his right as well to make reinforcing them with his spearmen easier. As it was they had to run across the entire table before getting to the fight, which by that point was almost over. 3) Gandalf is a very, very bad man who needs to keep his hands to himself. 4) My dice karma, which had been swinging in my opponent’s favor against Anthony, was back in my favor this time, particularly with the round of shooting that saw four of his cav killed. David was a heck of a lot of fun to play, kept a good attitude the whole time, and made sure the entire store knew that Gandalf was a dirty old man.

Result: Major Win (20 points)

Round 4
Opponent: Brent Sinclar – Harad
Table: The Shire (home field advantage, Brent!)
Scenario: The Artifact

This is the oh-so-abused scenario Seize the Prize with one itty, bitty alteration: you have to take the artifact off the enemy’s table edge. Let me tell you, this changes the entire game. Brent had a mean, mean list, with lots of Haradrim including cav, supported by a contingent of Mahud from Far Harad, including two Camel Riders and two Half-Trolls. I knew his mobility could create serious problems for me, but I was counting on my archery and Gandalf to negate that little advantage.

I planned on getting the artifact and running up the right flank, so I sent a large continent of warriors over the hobbit hole on my right to prepare the way while keeping my rangers in the right-center with a clear lane of fire and Gandalf to shield them with Blinding Light, and Ecthelion with all of my Fountain Court Guards behind the trees in the center. Brent had a typical cavalry/infantry deployment for Seize the Prize with four raiders in the center surrounded my his troops. His young Suladan with cavalry support, including his Camel Riders, were over in his left corner behind another hobbit hole.

Things started pretty typically – I moved everyone forward, starting up Blinding Light, and then moving the rangers 3” to shoot, while Brent rushed his cavalry toward the objective chased by his infantry. The rangers loosed their arrows, and I was disappointed with getting less than 50% hits. I rolled for wounds (we’d randomize hits if they wounded the D4 models), and scored 4!!! Two raiders were slain and the other two were unhorsed, including one which failed his thrown rider check and face planted. Sweet!

Unfortunately, they were still pretty close to the objective. We both continued to close, and my second round of shooting couldn’t hit the two forward deployed infantry. At this time, Gandalf tried to get Terrifying Aura going, but I rolled a 1. I finally decided to burn the might – I thought I’d need that Aura up and I wouldn’t get another turn where there wasn’t something more pressing to cast.

The next turn Brent won priority and had both models in contact with the objective. While he was finishing his move, I was doing my best to keep a poker face – I saw a golden opportunity. Once he finished, Gandalf threw a three die Command to bring one of the Haradrim out of the forest and towards me. Ecthelion and three Fountain Court jumped him, supported by more Fountain Court. I could almost see Brent blanche when he realized what I was going to do.

But when it got to his turn, Brent did not despair! No, he thought of a way to deal with this problem – volley fire and choose to hit his own guy! He launched his 12 arrows and… only one hit! Which I promptly allocated to an unengaged Fountain Court Guard against whose armor the bolt bounced off harmlessly. One Heroic Combat later, Ecthelion and his buddies were very up close and personal with the lone Harad warrior, who was duly dispatched, and Ecthelion dug up the prize.

Brent then threw his army at Ecthelion. We wasn’t able to get too many guys into combat with Ecthelion, but a Mahud supported by a spear made it. I really, REALLY wanted to get the heir to the Steward out of there, so I did another Command on the spear supporting model, which created a channel through which I could squeeze in a Fountain Court to help out Ecthelion. I blew his last point of Might in another Heroic Combat, which killed the Mahud and allowed me to run him through the channel. Controversial call here – Brent decided against challenging the Heroic Combat with his Mahud Chieftain, which would have resulted in the closure of the channel if it had worked. He felt it was more important to use that Might for later Heroic Moves.

The next turn Brent wins priority, but I call a Heroic Move with Gandalf. I think Brent challenged this one, but I managed to go first and get Ecthelion over to the warriors who had just crossed the hobbit hole and hand the objective off. I then throw Gandalf and the rest of the troops over there into combat to hold Brent’s group in place. Brent starts shifting his archers left to cover the area in the corner. While both forces are getting ground down in the center, the mass of warriors, including the one carrying the artifact, dash for the corner with Ecthelion in hot pursuit. Brent gets there first and goes into a prevent formation, intent on stopping me from carrying the piece off. First turn I succeed a little in breaking through, but not enough.

At the end of this turn, my force is broken. The Mahud and Half-Trolls in the center of the table have been busy killing my troops off and now I need to make courage checks. I get incredibly lucky and Ecthelion’s Stand Fast! keeps most of the Warriors of Minas Tirith in place. I take a careful, careful look, and see that there is a corridor and a courier for the artifact if I can remove some vital control zones. I manage to put just enough of my soldiers in to allow the carrier to run up, hand off the artifact, and for the recipient to thread the needle and carry the artifact off Brent’s table edge. Holy moly, I managed to do it! I didn’t get the major, because I was broken, but I’d take it.

This was about the best, most enjoyable game I’ve every played. It was challenging, thoughtful, funny, and very friendly. Brent is a fantastic player and painter, so our struggle looked really good on the table as well as looking really, really hard to deal with.

We talked about it a lot afterwards, and we agreed that I got lucky knocking down all of those riders in the first turn and that there wasn’t too much Brent could have done about the Command to facilitate the Heroic Combat. On the other hand, Brent’s decision to not challenge my second Heroic Combat cost him, since it meant he had to chase the artifact. He probably also should have brought Young Suladan over to the rear corner with the rest of the prevent defense to call Heroic Moves when he loses priority, which happened all three of the last turns.

Again, this was an incredible game and I’m really looking forward to playing Brent again.

Result: Minor Win (15 points)

I’ll update the last report as well as formatting and pictures tomorrow. Probably.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Packing up for the Gathering

Here it is, Mithrandir's Errand!

I still have some details to get done (skin and eyes for Ecthelion and the Fountain Court, other bits) plus a good deal of highlighting on cloth, but this is a playable army now. I'm going to pack these guys up now and get my stuff ready to go so I can leave directly from work. I will take the opportunity to show off my models to my students, so maybe I'll get a little painting done at my desk this morning...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Main parts of Fountain Court done

I wasn't able to get pics taken yet, but I've gotten all of the basecoating done for the Guards, and now just need to get detail and highlights. They're looking pretty sharp, though I probably could have done a better job with more time. I'll get Ecthelion and a couple of Dunedain with spears primed this morning to see if I can get them knocked out tonight.

I hate painting white...

OK, I just spent a little over an hour to get the white onto these five models. Figure about 22 minutes a model to paint the feathers and the tabards from black to brown to bone to white.

Ugh, what a pain in the rear. There just isn't a lot of options - a white undercoat wouldn't have worked, and from my experience it is harder to get a really good shadowing on white base coated models. It's great for set pieces, but for speed, I prefer black priming.

Of course, then you still have to deal with white.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ecthelion Conversion Done

OK, Ecthelion is done apart from the shield, which I'll put on later. OK, minor conversion, but most LOTR conversions are simple anyway.

I green stuffed the gap in the neck and created longer hair to cover the shelf in the back of the model. All in all, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

"Bro, that ain't cool."

Heh heh heh... Well, now it's time to sand that guy's base and maybe get a little more painting done on the Fountain Court guards.

Bro, I'm gonna rip your head off

OK, it's time to do Ecthelion. I've decided to use the following models of the brothers Boromir and Faramir. This is particularly appropriate since Ecthelion is their grandfather.

I really like the Boromir model, but between not having a shield and the misaligned mold it just didn't justify building. On the other hand, I HATE the Faramir model, since it is about as non-dynamic as it gets. He does have a nice helmet on, though. So I decided to chop off their heads and put Faramir's helmet onto Boromir's body. Here is the implement of decapitation!

Boromir was pretty straight forward, particularly since the model doesn't have much of a neck. I just chopped across the top of the shoulders. With Faramir I went in a V to preserve something of the neck, then wiggled the head loose.

Next I checked the fit of the two pieces and filed them down to they fit, and just glued them together. I did have to trim the hair a little bit to make it look somewhat natural, though I'll still need to use Green Stuff to make it look better.

I'll be readying a Minas Tirith shield that I'll probably slap on after I've painted the model. Well, I'm going to let the glue set and get some dinner.

First Fountain Court done to minimum standard

OK, so my test model for the Guards of the Fountain Court is done. I am pretty happy with it, but I'm going to have to determine how to do it more quickly than the hour and a half or so that it took me to do. Assembly lining it should help, but some parts are just going to take a while.

So I started off with a coat of Khemri Brown, a tan Foundation Paint, covering the areas that will be white. Nexxt I put down some Bleached Bone - I had to put a couple coats down on the flatter areas - keeping light colors smooth is a huge pain. I tried to keep the darker Khemri showing in the low areas.

Following that, I put down Skull White, again in some cases having to put down a second, more watery coat of paint to smooth things out. The feathers on the helmet did take a significant amount of time here.

I then put down Dwarf Bronze on areas that would be metallic gold, including on the edges of the shoulder plates. I then put down Shining Gold. The Bronze is a key element to put on first, because without it the Gold looks thin and streaky. I'm going to have to pare this back - the armor edges were a huge pain in the rear to get right, so I'll probably just stick to the helmet and the tabard. I also had to put some Ogryn Flesh wash on the decoration on the helmet then flat highlight with Shining Gold, since the texture wasn't very deep and the paint was thick. Next time I'll just put down the wash over the Bronze. I also put black paint into the areas along the gold to separate it from the white cloth.

Next came putting black on the shield, including taking the time to put some black between the branches on the shield. This does make the shield look nicer, but I'll only do that on all the models if I'm flush on time. Not bloody likely at this point. I also put a black wash over the chest armor, which brought the tree out nicely - it kind of looks like a Spiderman symbol while painting it...

Finally, I highlighted the black cloth with a mix of black and Shadow Grey. This was the hardest decision for me, since I really wanted to black to look black, but in the end I thought tying the highlights into the rest of the force would work. I then painted the skin inside the helmet with Tanned Flesh, painted the eyes white, dotted the pupils with black, and highlighted the flesh with Dwarf Flesh.

At some point, I want to improve the highlights on the cloak, highlight the metallics, and put a design into the gold trim. Oh, I need to paint the spear shaft brown as well, but that's a must do. I'll probably do that later tonight or tomorrow. I think next up will be converting Ecthelion.

I'm way behind...

Well, the great push I planned over the weekend ended up being a flop. I did get the following done:

So I've got all of my basic troops done to a minimal level and my Fountain Court are getting started, but I still need to convert Ecthelion, and I'd really like to get three more rangers converted with spears. As much as I hate to admit it, I'm contemplating calling in sick Friday... OK, I almost certainly won't do that, but I can see forgoing my sacred sleep to get some more done.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Well, at least I had fun

I ran a tournament at DundraCon today, and I had a lot of fun running it. Unfortunately, I also didn't get very much painting done, which I had counted on actually getting a significant amount done. I did manage to tank brush the troops and wash them, but no more than that, and I got a few of the Guards of the Fountain Court base coats on their armor. Uh, and that was it. Alas, I had to play as the ringer for two of the three rounds and then help the new ringer out a bit in the third. So crunch time is rapidly approaching. Maybe tomorrow I can do another painting marathon in the morning.

I did manage to get a total of 6 players into the tournament, which is pretty well attended for LOTR tourneys in this area. I deliberately played against Wyn in the first round, which was a slightly modified To Kill A King where if the kings aren't killed then it goes to killing other heroes for Minor Win determination. We got some terrific houses that you could remove the roof from, and I managed to pop Gandalf (my king - it had to be the highest point model) into it supported by other troops. Wyn, who was playing Dol Guldur, pretty much wrote off cracking that nut, and instead ran a budget wraith up and Black Darted my other Hero, Damrod, out of existence. I went running after his now fleeing force, and managed to break his army but failed to cap any of his heroes (wraith and a Spider Queen). So the ringer army took a Minor Loss the first round despite losing three models the whole game.

The other two games were both wins for the Small Errand, with Gandalf making huge contributions to both wins and becoming a bit of a joke in the room - "Oh, it's your turn to get beat on by Gandalf?" to whoever was playing the ringer army. Hey, that's not fair - Gandalf almost got crushed by a dogpile of Uruk-Hai, including a captain, which laid three wounds on him in one round - the first three fate rolls all failed, but the rerolls saved two of the wounds.

Anyway, that's it for now. Bed time.