Opponent: Sean Ramirez
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.