Gathering in the Desert, Game 3

Game 3 – Look to the East vs Anthony’s White Hand of Isengard

Entering the last game of the day 1, Anthony and I were tied for first in battle points. Anthony is a great general (as he showed throughout the tournament arguably playing the most difficult gauntlet of opponents) who does a good job on playing his Uruk-Hai army list.

I’ve played Uruk-Hai once before using a list consisting of a fighting core of Mahûd Warriors. However, last time this happened, I was allied with Orcs including a decent group of heavy armored Morannon Orcs to absorb some of the blows from the Uruk-Hai. I was a bit unsure of how the Haradrim contingent would do but felt confident none-the-less. Our armies were very similar in terms of pure fighting ability. Anthony’s big advantage was heavy armor across the line and crossbows whereas my advantage was slightly higher model count (8 I believe) and the presence of a small cavalry contingent. Our direct fighting lines could go toe-to-toe with equivalent FV, equivalent Str (wounding on 5+), and equal number of attacks (3 for him with pikes and 3 for me with spears).

The scenario was our third Meeting engagement variation of the day. We had edge deployment with the twist that only half our army was deployed at the start of the game. The remaining half could enter play starting on Turn 2 depending on the outcome of a random die roll that got progressively easier as the game went on. The reinforcements would “come from the east” which in game terms meant come from your right edge. Since directions technically don’t change, we jokingly called this scenario “Look the Right” – however, I applaud the organizers for using the obvious LOTR references for the scenario names.

To start the game, I deployed all my archers and about half my Mahûd, Tribesmaster, a Half-Troll and a handful of Haradrim Spears. My reserves were all cavalry, the rest of the Mahûd , a Half-Troll and a few Haradrim Spears. I deployed all my models close to the “East” edge of the board to try and maintain the fighting near my reinforcements. Anthony deployed all of his Crossbows on the right half of my board. He also had around a dozen Uruk-Hai with Shields or Pikes alongside a captain. His reserves were another Captain and 21 Uruk-Hai with Shields or Pikes.

The game started with two rounds of relatively weak volleyfire while he advanced the line to try and get the crossbows into range. On his second turn he rolled the necessary 5+ to bring his reinforcements to the table and started the long trek towards me. I advanced cautiously trying to be prepared to dive into some terrain to avoid getting some direct fire from his crossbows when he was in position.

By the third turn, I had priority and rolled the necessary result to bring my reinforcements on the board. I made the first huge mistake of the game as I was so focused on getting into position I totally forgot about the fact that he still had to move (duh!). I lined up a row of Mahûd and the Half-Troll right in front of his crossbows so that I could be ready to jump him on the next turn. Well, duh, he didn’t have to move them and he shot 12 crossbows right into me and killed 4 Mahûd warriors. Ouch, but as bad as it was, it could have been worse. I was going to deploy my cavalry behind his lines and try to crunch his crossbows from both sides but the difficult terrain made it impossible for me to get my Cavalry into the position that I needed to be in to pull off this maneuver. As a result of my brain gaff, I was now reeling a little bit trying to figure out how to survive that part of the battlefield.

On the middle part of the battlefield, Anthony was advancing his 22 model reinforcements towards me. I formed up my ranks and prepared for the inevitable assault. I hoped that my decimated lines up to my north could hold those models at bay long enough for me to get the upperhand. My archers moved into a postion to get several turns of direct fire at his advancing Uruks. I had a bit more luck with direct fire taking out a couple bezerkers.

Once our lines clashed it was a bloody scrum. We just bludgeoned each other basically trading casualty for casualty. I was starting to lose ground in my fight around the Crossbow Uruks (now also supported by his other half of his original deployment group) but I was making headway on this reinforcements. Most of his kills were coming from Haradrim spearmen but my Mahûd were standing firm. The Half-Troll and Tribesmaster were monsters on that flank.

In the northern flank, my Young Suladan fell to the hands of the Uruk-Hai Captain. He was avenged when the Captain eventually was swamped with some remaining Mahûd. The battle got very tight as we were both within a small handful of models of breaking and we’d each lost one of our heroes.

In the central battle, I was finally able to wear down his remaining Uruk-Hai Captain as the Tribesmaster and Half-Troll brought him to his knees. However, elsewhere, my other Half-Troll was surrounded and trapped by Uruk Hai and died. We counted the bodies remaining and found that I was broken (by 1) and he was 1 model from breaking. He had lost both of his heroes and I still have the Mahûd Tribesmaster on the board.

Priority was rolled and he won. Knowing the warrior pride rule, he pulled back and engaged no one. It was time for me to roll for courage checks. I started with the Tribesmaster (of course). I needed to roll at least a 7 (Courage 2 + 1 Will). The dice fell… 4… 2. I was one pip short of passing the test as my Tribesmaster ran away. Predictably my army fell apart running away. One brave Mahûd warrior managed to pass his courage test (rolled a 10) and charged an Uruk-Hai warrior. A few Haradrim spearmen survived their courage checks and lended support. I won that combat and killed the Uruk-Hai, successfully breaking his army. However, the damage was done, the courage checks caused my army to fall below 25% and the game ended. Anthony earned a hard fought victory.

The Battle Lines Clash

The Battle Lines Clash

We were both exhausted after this game. It was probably the tensest game I’ve ever played individually. He was held to a minor victory as he had no surviving heroes. Anthony played his army very well and I thoroughly enjoyed the knock-down throw down match that ensued.

In the aftermath of the game, I realized my two fatal flaws. The first was the obvious bad deployment of my reinforcements. The second goes back to a conversation I had with Chris Langland-Shula on Adeptus Arizona. He advised that he really thought I should bring a Mahûd King instead of the Tribesmaster as those extra two courage points could be all the difference when I get broken. My over-confidence in the army didn’t allow me to think that I’d be broken easily enough to make a difference and I rationalized that I the two models I would have lost would be more valuable than the Hero upgrade. I’m pretty confident now that if nothing else would have changed in my game, having a King would have meant that I won the game. Oh well, lesson learned after a tough battle.

So Day 1 ended with me still 2nd overall in battle points behind Anthony. Sean was one point behind me followed by Chris.

An interesting sidebar to this game was that I learned that Anthony would not be eligible for Best Overall as he had not painted his own army (a stipulation by the organizers, and all GW GT events, that you wouldn’t be eligible for best overall or best appearance). So despite the outcome of our match and the huge points difference in battle, the Best Overall award was still very much up for grabs.

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