Gathering in the Desert, Game 4

Game 4 – The Artifact vs Chris’s Gondor + Gandalf
Well, as part of the post Day 1 obsessive-compulsive discussions of the battle points, it was clear that Chris and I were going to be matched up for Game 4. This would prove to by my second tournament match-up with Chris – we faced on a very one-sided game of Sieze the Prize at the 2008 Las Vegas GT. I jokingly told Chris that this was my chance for revenge and it figures we’d be playing a Sieze the Prize variant. The primary difference in this scenario was that the “Artifact” had to be carried off your opponents deployment edge.

To start our game, the prize was tucked just inside a piece of difficult terrain (trees). I deployed with 4 Raiders up front making no beef that my intent was to race to the prize. The problem was (and for what its worth, I knew this was going to a problem) the 14 Rangers of Gondor lining up their 3+ machine guns. The rest of my army was deployed with my archers and other cavalry to my left and my Mahûd and Haradrim lined up in the center.

 

Deployment of Chris's Army

Deployment of Chris's Army

 

 

After turn 1, the machine guns worked like a charm against me – I lost two raiders outright and the other two had their horses cut down beneath them. Ouch. In the following two turns, I was still able to get one model on the prize and a second one just off the prize. I moved a good portion of my army towards my right side and envisioned a strong wall of Mahûd escorting the prize across Chris’s undefended portion of the board.
What I failed to recognize was the trap that Chris laid for me. Gandalf stepped up and threw a 3 dice command spell at one of my Haradrim near the prize. He proceeded to encircle this poor fellow with Etchilion, his other hero, and 4 Guards of the Fountain Court. My Haradrim was Heroic Combat bait and he could slingshot into my other Haradrim with the prize. Dang Wizards. I was so concerned about a sorcerers blast that I’d spaced my models to prevent minimal damage. I never even considered command. Well played Chris.

 

Preparing to take the Prize

Preparing to take the Prize

 

 


However, all hope was not lost. I had twelve archers that could volley fire into that group combat and since I’m evil I can target someone within 6″ of my own model. I was going for a “knitemare” (inside joke) and trying to plunk my own guy and hope to spoil the ensuing heroic combat. Picking up the 12 dice, I knew I needed 2 “6’s” to have a shot at this plan – I rolled only one. Although my counter maneuver didn’t work, it was certainly an exciting moment in the game.
After the I predictably lost the Heroic Combat, he was in line to take out my other Haradrim warrior and he was able to dig up the prize on his first try.

Out next turn was the next critical juncture. I decided against calling a Heroic Combat with my Mahûd Tribesmaster. I thought long an hard about calling it. However, I felt like even I called it, I would have been burning a critical might point. I really was confident that even if he had the prize, I could kill him before he could get it off the board. So I let him go and he again showed me the flaw in my reasoning… after winnign the combat the next turn he was able to hand off the light object such that it moved almost 12″ away from my pack of warriors. To make matters worse, I was now out of position as I had over-committed my warriors to the right side of the board.

The next few turns saw the prize moving towards my left corner of the board. I used my archery to move back to defend and moved as many of my free warriors towards that position as possible. The combats in the middle of the board were thick and highly congested. Although I was winning fights and killing many of his models, I couldn’t make significant headway in getting closer to the prize. To make matters worse, he had some very stubborn WoMT that just wouldn’t die even when heavily outnumbered by Mahûd and their spear carrying friends. For at least two turns, Gandalf failed to immobilize the Mahûd Tribesmaster, which meant that I could use the Warrior Pride rule to engage Gandalf with Mahûd Warriors. Throughout the course of the battle, I was able to put a wound on Gandalf after forcing him to burn through all three fate (and those darn re-rolls). Up to that point, it was the first official wound Gandalf had taken all weekend.

While those fights were interesting and important towards the overall numbers, the real game was seeing if Chris could get the prize off the table. I had my archers set up in a “prevent” defense staggered with gaps creating control zones that would have to be avoided. I was moving guys diagonally as fast as possible to try and reinforce the lines. With about 10 minutes to go in the game, Chris was now less than 6″ from the edge of a board (as an eagle would fly) but he was facing two deep Haradrim ranks. I finally had caused enough casualties that he was broken. As with my last game, the ultimate outcome hinged on a single die roll. We rolled for Priority and Chris won (Dang!). He was able to use Stand Fast with Ecthilion and keep all his WoMT near the prize on the table. If I had managed to win that priority, I would have tied up Ecthilion and let the WoMT tempt fate as I fully reinforced the battleline. However, once again, the die went against me. Through a very careful set of tying up control zones, he managed to find a sliver of an opening that he could pass the prize carrying model into contact with another model which he handed off and walked the prize off the table. Bah! I thought I’d tied up all the loose ends but I left a bit too much of a gap. It really came down to the difference of about 1/4 of an inch on the table.

Chris earned a Minor Victory (minor for being broken). This was probably one of the most fun games I’ve ever played. It was quite tense but our personalities kept the game very enjoyable. We were constantly ribbing each other and joking around. We both got serious when we needed too and those last few turns were very tense indeed! However, despite the loss it was a fun game. I think Chris may have played a tactically perfect game. I made a few major mistakes and left some openings. As all great generals do, he capitalized on those mistakes and made me pay for them. Kudos!

After that round, I was in 3rd place in battle points behind Anthony (another minor win) and Chris. Sean was 1 point behind me while Jeremy was right behind him. Since Anthony had already run the gauntlet of generals (playing Jeremy, Chris, myself, and Sean) he would draw someone down the list. Chris and Sean hadn’t played so they would be at Table 2 and Jeremy and I and would be at Table 3.

 

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