Friday, April 30, 2010

Play testing

As part of the tournament we are planning, for the fall, we are developing new scenarios and testing table layouts.  Wednesday night, my wife being out of town, Kieth came down and we played in my basement.

I laid the table out in the Bree layout that I had come up with.  The table was laid out with a village in the center.  There was a large village square with a fountain.  Surrounding the square were houses, two per side.  There was a road, lined with walls running out of the east side (north being Keith's side of the table - to the right in the picture below).  There were some fences and trees in various places around the town.

(The sunken road is nearest the viewer in this picture.)

The effect of this layout was that there was a good sized area in the center to fight in, divided in two by the fountain.  The road turned out to be a pivotal location, allowing flank charges into the village and a defended wall on each side.

(The sunken road is top right in this picture).

The scenario we came up with is a combination of several others.  Each player divides their army in half.  We are still trying to decide if we want to have the opponent choose the force that will be deployed forward or the player, though we went with the player choosing their army last night.

Half of the army deploys between 18" and 24" in, on the table.  This means that the two armies start with half of their troops right in each others faces.  The other half of the army deploys three inches in from the table edge.

Night fight rules are in play, meaning that bows can only shoot 12 inches but they get plus one strength.  This had the effect of forcing players to close on each other and, theoretically, it shortens the time they have to shoot.  It also makes the shooting much more dangerous than normal.

The other scenario element that we added in was a modified contest of champions.  Normally in that scenario it is decided by the champion who kills the most enemy models.  A lot of people (including me) really dislike this scenario.  In our scenario a major victory means that you have reduced your opponent to 25% but you are not broken.  A minor victory is achieved by reducing your opponent to 25%, but you are broken.  The kills of your champion add bonus points.  In our game Faramir ended up killing eight dwarfs while Dain only got three kills.  That gave me five bonus points for my minor victory.  We liked this because it makes the scenario about more than just what two models do, and it also has the potential to really get some spread on the player's points in the tournament.

Keith deployed first.  He had Dain with half of his force, divided equally by type (Khazad Guard, ranger, etc), in the village square.  Half of this company was on each side of the fountain.  The other half of his army was set up in the center of the table in his rear deployment zone.
(Dain is the red beared fellow, second from the right in the left hand company.  The shield bearer is the unpainted mini to the left).

I also divided my army in half by type, except that all three of my knights were in the rear deployment zone.  Faramir and Cirion were both forward with their half of the army.  Faramir, a bunch of WoMT and three rangers were set up in the road, just outside the square.  Cirion and the rest of the forward WoMT were in the east corner of the square, as far back as I could get them.  There were five rangers to the west of the village.  The rear deployment zone had knights, the horn blower and six rangers, off to the west.  The WoMT were in the center and five rangers were in the east.

(Faramir and his company along with the three rangers who are bait for the trap.)

I got priority first turn and moved Fararmir, in the second rank, and his band so that they were across the road, right on the edge of the square, with both flanks secured by buildings.  The rangers in the road moved up to the wall.  Cirion's lads backed up so that they had their flanks held by buildings, but they bulged out into the square.  Another part of his force moved up to fill the gap between two buildings, to the west of Cirion.  All of the rear troops moved forward at full speed.

Cirion's troops were setting up a trap for Keith.  By bulging out into the square they gave the Dwarfs an opportunity to have more Dwarfs fighting than humans.  If they moved forward to engage these troops then they would have to ensure that they split off enough troops to keep Faramir and his company locked up in  the street.  Once the Dwarfs had committed to this course of action, Cirion and his lads would fall back, past the houses, so that the situation was reversed and fewer Dwarfs would be forced to fight against more humans, who would have both flanks protected by houses.

(Cirion and his boys move back to increase their odds.  The Dwarfs have bounced off of the wall after their first attack, top right.)

The second part of my trap was based on Faramir, and was, by far, the riskiest part of my plan.  If Faramir and his lads got locked in combat to the front then they would not be in a position to react if the Dwarfs could get over the wall and into the sunken road, from behind.  It appeared that the only thing keeping this from happening was three rangers along the wall.  No problem, thinks the Dwarfs, we can take some D4 rangers.

In Keith's first turn he pushed forward on both sides of the fountain.  The eastern block pushed up so that their flank was on the house, with Faramir's lads just around the corner.  Dain's lads moved forward, trying to minimize how much shooting they would take from my rangers on the west side of the village.

My shooting was completely useless.  Keith managed to kill a couple of WoMT.  The additional strength from the scenario rules made the bows much more deadly.  I, again, won priority in turn two.  I used the opportunity to move the rear half of my army forward, running everyone as fast as they could go.  The knights moved up the western board edge.

Keith moved Dain's forces forward, leaving the other half of his force in the square in place.  He split his rear force in two, half heading directly towards the square and half heading towards the sunken road, which was still only guarded by my three rangers.  Shooting was, again, inconclusive.

Turn three Keith finally won priority and decided to move into combat.  His eastern force swung in to engage Faramir's company and block of the road.  He split the force advancing on the sunken road, sending a third of it off towards the square and the rest towards the wall.  Dain's force advanced against Cirion's company, pushing off a force to guard against the small group of WoMT between the buildings.

My shooting, this turn, was finally decent, with a bunch of Dwarfs falling.  All of the combats were inconclusive, with losses on both sides.  At the end o this turn we had each lost seven models, meaning bad news for Keith with his smaller army.

Turn four finally saw the Dwarfs reach the sunken road.  Two Dwarfs got in to combat with three rangers.  All of the troops who were originally deployed in the square were now in combat.

I pulled Faramir away from the street fight, where he had been in the second rank, and threw him up to the wall against the Dwarfs attacking the rangers.  The WoMT in the center pulled back behind a building, leaving the alley open.  I was hoping that Kieth would try to cross the fence, allowing me to engage his force piecemeal.  He didn't fall for it.  The WoMT who were coming up the center, from the rear deployment zone, split, with half hiding behind a building and the rest moving to reinforce Cirion.  Keith ended up forgetting how many troops I had behind the building and, when they finally came out, late game, he was shocked by ten fresh troops piling in to combat.

The fight in the sunken road went against the Dwarfs, with Faramir getting his first kills.  In the square, neither battle line was moving.  Dain was not getting kills but a few models were still falling to archery.  My rangers, on the western edge of the village, kept moving forward, behind cover, and dueling with his rangers, who were in the open.  My knights were swinging around the rear of the village.  I'm sure that Keith expected them to get in to the fight in the square.  My plan was to have them hit the Dwafs at the sunken road from behind, then swing back around to the square.  Additionally, I had gotten the reserve rangers up to the road and there were now eight there instead of three, along with Faramir and a WoMT spearman supporting him.

This was the decisive turn.  Keith's force in the square was engaged all along the line.  His rangers were losing the archery duel and hid behind the fountain, short buggers.  The force at the wall had just seen its advantage in numbers disappear.  Keith pushed everything he could up against the wall and bounced, losing several dwarfs.  In the next turn he pulled back, allowing Faramir to shift back to the fight at the edge of the square and the rangers, along the wall, to shoot at will.  The dwarfs along the sunken road evaporated over the next couple of turns.

In the road, Faramir managed to turn the fight and break through the dwarf line.  The knights finally reached the fight, one being dismounted by rangers and one killed, but they killed off the last dwarf in the way and the remaining, mounted knight, charged into the combat in the square.

(The Dwarf attack on the sunken road is over.  Faramir is about to blast his way through the dwarf line and Cirion is about to eat Dain's axe.)

Dain was slowly pushing back Cirion's company, killing Cirion in the process.  The WoMT line just wouldn't break though, with the ten troops behind the house providing the numbers to hold Dain and his band.  The dwarf Shield Bearer was having no luck in killing hi opponents, even with his free Heroic combat every turn that he was within three inches of Dain.  Only once did he get into a combat that involved Dain.

(Cirion's last moments.  You can see the shield bearer off stage left, in all his mithril glory.)

My rangers moved forward to engage hand to hand, Faramir's company finally broke out of the street and the Dwarfs were steadily pushed in to a smaller and smaller corner of the square.  When Keith finally broke, the shield bearer kept all but one Dwarf in the fight with their re-rolls of failed courage tests within 12 inches.  By the time the shield bearer failed there were not enough dwarfs left to really affect him much.

(Faramir leads the breakthrough.)

Keith finally broke me but with Farmair's stand fast and the horn blower I only lost five models to failed courage tests.  (Actually that seems like a lot, looking back on it.)  We called it when Keith got to ten models.

(The final moments of Dain's warhost.)

I really enjoyed both the scenario and the table layout.  As always, Keith was a great opponent.  We made some changes to the rules and clarified some issues.  We were going to play it out to total annihilation, thinking that with the two armies starting so close together this would not be a difficult threshold to reach.  It turns out that it just takes too long to wipe out an army so we changed that to 25%.  We also decided that throwing weapons would not benefit from the additional strength, since they were unaffected by the range restrictions.

My trap worked as I hoped.  If Keith had pushed everything against the sunken road, as he started to, it might have been different, and he had me very worried until he split his force.  He underestimated the advantage that a defended obstacle gives.  Faramir was a star, killing dwarfs right and left.  I manged to limit Dain to only three kills, but I just couldn't kill him.  I put one wound on him, even when I had him trapped by three models with support.  He is a tank.

This is probably the most enjoyable game of LotR I have played, which is saying something.  I think both the table layout and the scenario will be good to go for the tournament.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Slow hobby time

I have not been doing much with the hobby this month.  I am currently looking for a new job and that is taking most of my free time and what's left of my energy at the end of the day.

I have been following the rumors about Warhammer Fantasy 8th Edition.  I have to admit, I'm very excited.  It sounds to me like the changes will be very interesting.

I have been happy with 7th Edition, by and large.  There are a couple of things I hate, the terrain rules first and foremost.  I hate the fact that, for most units, touching terrain is the end of the game.  Ranked units just come to a complete standstill when they get in to terrain.  Most of the other things people don't like don't bother me all that much.

Having said that, I am looking forward to the changes.  A percentage cap on characters would be great.  Even if, as rumored it is 25%.  I like this a lot better than the number cap.  Four vampire counts characters are not equal to four goblin characters.  The points cost doesn't make up for the fact that you only have those four slots to get whatever you need for your army.  I also don't like hero-hammer so this works for me on many levels.

This cap will also lead to more troops on the table.  I hate 16 model armies.  An army should look like an army.  Some people don't agree, but that's ok.  They're playing a different game than I am and not with me.

Random charges seems to be getting a lot of internet ink right now.  I'm ok with this too.  It makes things a little bit less certain, which is good.  There are plenty of "realistic" reasons why this rule works and it will not be nearly as critical if the rumored rules for casualties are true.

The new casualty rules are rumored to be that the first two ranks get to fight.  This is regardless of how many models get killed.  Casualties are taken off of the back and if you have two full ranks when this is done they all get to fight.  This means that getting the charge loses some of the importance that it used to have.  It also means that normal infantry might actually be of some use in the game for something other than supporting a character.

There are others, too many to recount here.  Warseer has pages and pages  of threads about this.  All in all, I think the summer is going to be a great time for Warhammer and I couldn't be more excited.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Tournaments.  They are a lot of fun.  They are a lot of work.  There are not very many LotR tournaments, and certainly not many in our neck of the woods.

Three of us are talking about setting one up in the Denver area.  We are discussing dates, locations, scenarios and terrain.  I think we can make it happen but there are a lot of things we need to get sorted quickly if we are going to pull it off.

The first issue we are discussing is whether or not we want to do it as part of Tacticon, the big Labor day convention here in Denver.  The first thought was to hold the tournament there.  We are now leaning away from that for several reasons.

1.  There is a $30 convention fee.  We would have to charge on top of that for prizes and food.  We are looking at a two day tournament, so there would not be a lot of time for people to use their passes to see/game the rest of the con.
2.  Labor day is not going to work for me.  Not a reason not to do it that weekend if that makes the most sense, but definitely a reason for me not to be all that thrilled about putting in all the work to make this thing go.
3.  The convention organizers have not bothered to get back to Keith regarding his request for ten tables.

Reasons to do it somewhere else.
1.  We run it at Tim's store, Collectormania, and it won't cost us anything.   We can fit in ten tables, and he might be able to get a bigger space if we need more.
2.  We can charge a reasonable amount and use all of the money for prizes and food.
3.  We are not locked in to a particular weekend.
4.  We only have to deal with ourselves, not the convention organizers.

We are going to have a meeting next Friday to discuss this.  If we are serious the biggest issue will be coming up with the terrain.  LotR is best with a lot of terrain on the tables.  I have enough for two tables.  I don't know about Keith.  Tim has a few hills but nothing else that really fits.  We will need to build a lot of terrain.

We also need to come up with the scenarios that will be played.  We have, realistically, all but one or two figured out, so that should not be bad.  It also gives us an excuse to play a lot of games to play test them.  We will also have to decide if we are going to announce the scenario's before the event, or let people show up blind to them.

I think we can pull it off and make it a great event.  Our goal is to have twenty players.  I think we can hit that easily, but partly that will depend on when we decide to run it.

I am excited about this.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Warhammer 40,000

I finally did it.  I played my first game of 40k.  Warhammer is my first love.  LOTR was second.  I'm not sure how I feel about 40k.

Tim has been offering to teach me for months now.  I just never had the time.  I like the fluff.  I like the models and have collected most of an Imperial Guard army.  It is much easier to get a game of 40k at the shop.  I have just avoided it up to now.  I finally took the plunge.

I made up a 500 point list.  It had a little bit of everything, just to see how things work.  A platoon of Guardsmen with two squads.  Special and heavy weapons.  Company HQ.  Veterans, who I played with normal guardsmen stats the whole game because I'm not very SMRT.  A squadron of scout Sentinels, just to see how a sqdn works.

Tim had to tactical squads and a captain.  We rolled kill teams.  Bad for me.  The game was fun but there were just so many rules that I didn't like.  I'll play a few more games but at this point it is not high on my list.

1.  I hated no armor saves.  Marines shoot at guardsmen, all the guardsmen die.  Yeah, fun game.
2.  The assault rules.  No real tactics there at all.  Pile in and you get to kill as many models as you want.  Dumb.
3.  What do you mean my missile launcher scatters 2d6 - BS?  What the hell is the point of that?  Minus BS?  No.  That is total BS.
4.  Small table.  Oh yeah.  Turn three we are in assault.  That's exactly how battles with firearms work.  Everyone tries to get into hand to hand combat because that is actually more effective than using a rifle. 

I suppose I'll give it a few more chances but I was not impressed.  The more I think about it the more I didn't like it.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


I played a 2000 point game of Warhammer this weekend.  My empire against my friend Rob's High Elves.  It was a great game, very tactical, lots of back and forth and lots of cinematic moments.  I forgot to take pictures of course.

What struck me was how great my cannons were.  I was using a list that I had tooled up to fight a HE Dragon lord list.  Two canons, Arch Lector, Warrior Priest and Battle Wizard.  Lots of dispels.  Rob plays a, mostly, infantry list.  he had one unit of eight Silver Helms with his general in it.  The point being, finally, that my list was not really a list I would normally play with.

The two cannons were the stars of the battle.  They killed a bolt thrower, his level 1 mage, his general and the hero of the Silver Helms and a chariot.  They also absorbed turn after turn of fire from two units of ten archers and two bolt throwers.  The only hero they didn't kill was his level 4 mage, who was killed by one turn of fire by eighteen of my archers, (three detachments of seven, one of which had taken some casualties).

The other thing that struck me was just how well his spearmen stood up.  These are a much maligned unit on the web.  Everyone hates them.  I found them to be pretty bad ass.  Once they got stuck in they just stayed there.  It helped that they were in the flank of my swordsmen, and that they were fighting empire swordsmen, but all the same, they did their job.  If Rob could have gotten his cavalry into that unit as well it would have been all over.

It was a great game and it reminded me that cannons work best in pairs.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


I am having a hard time getting back in to the swing of things.  I started painting up the rest of my Gondor army but I just can't bring myself to finish them. 

I think I need to play.  Playing always motivates me to throw some more paint on my models.  When I'm throwing dice and my opponent's army is painted, and mine is not, it is a huge motivator to get it done.  I'm always good for at least a week after that.  Likewise, if my opponent's army is not painted I think about how crap it looks and want to get mine looking better.  Either way the gaming is what keeps me painting.

The other thing that helps is having a deadline.  I got more painting done in the lead up to the GitD than I have in any given year before.  Having that sort of goal is hugely helpful to me.  I have always worked best under a deadline.

Bottom line, I need to figure out a deadline or play some games.  We have our warbands league this weekend, so I may be able to get some gaming done then.  That would get me kick started on my Empire.  I have a lot painted for that army but there is more I can do.

Next weekend is our 40K league.  I have not played any games yet, but we are doing kill teams from the Battle Missions book.  That would give me a chance to learn the rules and to get motivated to paint my IG.  I have one squad of them painted.

I also got an American Rifle Company box for Flames of War for my birthday this week.  If I get them assembled then I could play some practice games of that.

I guess I just have too much hobby and not enough time or motivation.  I know what I need to do, now I just have to do it.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...