Archive for the The Unexpected Party Category

Battle Report: GitD Game 5 – The Artifact

Posted in Armies, Dwarves, Gathering in the Desert, The Unexpected Party, Tournament on February 27, 2010 by BrentS

Game 5
Scenario:  The Artifact
Opponent:  Kyle Toth – High Elves featuring Elladan, Elrohir, and Erestor

The last game of the tournament saw me matched up with Kyle.  I’ve played Kyle once before at a local event (part of a team tournament primer) and I knew that he was a very good player.  Kyle was playing a High Elf army and while his army was relatively small (a little less than 40 models), I knew that given the high Fight Value it would make the combats challenging.  The other challenge I was going to have was the fact that with my slower movement rates he was likely going to be able to secure the artifact first.  The objective of this scenario is to dig up the Artifact and get it across the board and off your opponent’s table edge.

Kyle and I drew the second table that feature a river dissecting the board.  There were two paths across the river, a ford and a bridge.  In addition, there were several large woodland features.  The woods posed a particular problem as of course the elves could cross the terrain without any movement penalties.

The game started out predictably with the elves moving quickly towards the artifact.  I was surprised that Kyle deployed all three of his heroes behind his lines.  I was hoping this would allow me to use Gandalf to cast a Command or Immobilize on whichever elf reached the artifact first.  Unfortunately, it felt like every crucial priority roll I needed went against me.  Kyle was able to get two elves in base contact with the artifact and was able to dig it up on his first try.  I lost the next priority and when I called a heroic move (in hopes of Commanding the elf towards my dwarven line, Kyle counted with a  heroic move of his own from one of the twins.  Unfortunately, I lost the roll-off and Kyle was able to get the jump on moving the ring towards my board edge.

Kyle was able to use the bridge to cross the river and with my dwarves concentrated on the ford, I was out of position to stop him.  Kyle’s archery, while largely ineffective thanks to the Blinding Light, did manage to fill Shadowfax.  I had to use several points of Might to call heroic moves to try and get back into position.  I managed to isolate the elf carrying the prize and killed him using a Heroic Combat.  Balin secured the prize as I tried to using a Heroic Move to get some distance and start moving the Artifact towards Kyle’s edge.

While I was expending so much might to try and secure the Artifact, Kyle’s Elves and two of his heroes were tearing through my Dwarves.  He was easily winning the combats through superior numbers and higher Fight Value.  He managed to kill all my non-heroes and started to bring the full weight of his force on my surviving Heroes.

Balin and Thorin traded the prize but were eventually overwhelmed.  The twins were able to get into combat with the dwarven heroes, swarming them with high elves.  Over two turns, Gandalf was killed for the first time all weekend.  Unfortunately, for the dwarves looking to reclaim the lonely mountains, the High Elves proved too strong and too powerful.  Balin and Thorin were both slain in the last two turns of the game.  For only the second time ever (and first in the tournament), the Unexpected Party was killed to a man.  With plenty of time on the clock, Kyle was awarded a Major Victory.

Outcome:  Major Loss – 5 points.  65 Battlepoints Overall for the tournament.

Well, I gave it my best shot.  I found myself out of position most of the game and fighting a constant losing battle of priority and heroic move roll-offs.  I was happy to at least get the Artifact into my possession but by that time, my army was depleted of might and my numbers were reduced to just a few.  Kyle played a good game and his superior army won the day.

Post Tournament Thoughts…

Overall, this event was one of the finest weekends of gaming I’ve ever had. So many of the players are returning players or players that I’ve met in the past, the level of camaraderie is just outstanding. We have so many excellent people, painters, and players in this community, the tournament is always just a total blast. During play-testing my army was 5-4 so it should be much of a surprise that I ended up with a recording essentially the same – 2-1-2. I had hopes of competing for Best Overall, despite the small size of my army. I knew if I could survive the first two scenarios, the next three were all winnable for my army. My plan worked perfectly until I ran into the Elven buzzsaw in Game 5. Even though Best Overall was my “stretch” goal, the real prize I was hoping for was Best Appearance. I’m very happy that I was able to walk away with that award. I certainly did put a lot of time and effort into planning, building, converting, and painting that army. I was very pleased to see that I managed to score a “perfect”40” points appearance scoring – easily my best ever appearance score. Buoyed by such a high appearance score, I later found out that I finished 3rd Overall in the tournament – not bad for Army of only 15 models! Although I didn’t repeat as Best Overall Champion, I still feel like my experience at the Gathering in the Desert 2010 was a success.

Battle Report: GitD Game 4 – Contest of Champions

Posted in Armies, Dwarves, Gathering in the Desert, The Unexpected Party, Tournament on February 26, 2010 by BrentS

Game 4
Scenario: Contest of Champion
Opponent: John Petrelli – Mordor featuring Black Guard and the Shadowlord  

Going into the tournament, I felt like Contest of Champions would be the best scenario for me. Having Thorin (Gimli) as a Champion supported by Gandalf to help neuter the other champion. However, I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous about this particular match-up. I knew that John was a very good player and an army full of the new Black Guard Uruk’s would be difficult to handle. With the Shadowlord providing a constant nuiscance I knew this wouldn’t be an easy match-up. I know that John was debating all along which hero to take as his Champion – the Black Guard Captain or the Shadowlord. Ultimately John selected the Black Guard Captain and we were off.

John won the roll-off for deployment (which was perfect for me) and he spread out his line along the entire edge of the board. He put both the Shadowlord and Black Guard Captain on my left side of the board. I deployed my entire force as a tight group to my far right side. My strategy was simple enough, I was going to try to charge directly across the board and pick off a few models before John could close his army around me.

As usual, I started the game off with a Cast Blinding Light followed by Terrifying Aura. John had twelve orc trackers but could never really put any hits on me as I crossed the board. I was a bit evil and when I had the opportunity I put the volley fire shots on Bilbo. I know I probably shouldn’t but as he was the weakest model in my force and I didn’t want to have an easy target for John’s champion.

During the long slog across the board, I was presented with an early opportunity to cast a Sorcerous Blast and my luck continued. I hit an orc and rolled a 6 for the distance he was pushed back. I had positioned Gandalf so that this flying orc flew into both the Black Guard Captain and the Shadowlord. The orc was killed, the Black Guard Captain took a wound and the Shadowlord lost his horse! That’s some pretty good luck. This put me a tremendous tactical advantage, in that John needed to be very careful with his Champion as he only had one wound left and by losing the Dark Steed from the Shadowlord, his “threat” range was greatly diminished.

As I managed to cross the board, there was a cluster of Black Guard that I tried to focus on in an effort to get Thorin some kills. I used Gandalf to threaten the Captain and the Shadowlord but ultimately used Gandalf to command the Black Guard warriors towards Thorin. I managed to draw one in and score my first kill. Leading 1-0 in kills I felt like my primary job would be to try and do the best I could to neutralize the Black Guard Captain.

John and I danced around the board for most of the next hour each playing cat and mouse trying to get position. He was very effective in firing off the Black Dart spell. He managed to score wounds on Thorin that I had to save with fate and try and resist with will. I was able to get off one more Command that led to another kill for Thorin, bringing my lead to 2-0 in kills but Thorin was down to his last wound, no will, and no fate. At the same time, the Black Guard Captain was at least 24 inches from my lines as there was just too much concern for Gandalf to get off that second Sorcerous Blast.

John’s trackers continued to volley into the Unexpected Party. However, he could never get that elusive wound on Thorin. Twice he was able to roll a ‘6’ but couldn’t follow that up with the 5+ he needed. In the meantime, I finally realized that I should be putting any other hits on my non-heroes. It didn’t matter to me if they died to archery as they weren’t available for the Captain to kill.

John and I traded punches with spells. I used Gandalf’s Strengthen Will to help give some will back to Thorin. I gave John an opening and using his last point of Will, the Shadowlord was able to Sap the remaining Will from Gandalf. At this point, Gandalf only had one Will in reserve but that was enough to lose both the blinding light and the terrifying aura. We had less than 30 minutes in our game and John knew he had to take a few risks to try and get his Champion some kills.

He cleared a path across the board and the Champion started his charge. Using only the free point of Will from each turn, Gandalf was able to get off two consecutive Sorcerous Blasts (rolling ‘6’) both times. While neither wounded, I did manage to throw him back 6 inches and 3 inches in two consecutive turns. After a failed immobilize spell in the previous turn, the last turn of the game found us rolling off a Heroic Move. I won the roll-off and Gandalf was able to Immobilize the Captain. As time expired, the game ended with kills 2-0 in favor of Thorin.

Outcome: Major Victory – 20 Points. 60 Battlepoints in total.

Wow, what a strange game. John and I danced around for two and a half hours. We only had two hand to hand combats in the whole game and those were a direct result of Command spells. My Sorcerous Blast proved to be very effective in this game and John’s Black Darts were equally as scary. The nature of the scenario makes this type of game weird. It was quite odd that at one point in the game, I had Thorin lying down behind the dwarven line and John had his Champion 24 inches away from any of my models. I know that John wishes that he had chosen the Shadowlord as his hero and based on the rate at which he got the Black Darts off, I think he would have done much better with the Nazgul.

So after 4 rounds, I found myself tied with the 3rd highest battlepoints and would be playing on Table 2. With another Major Victory, I had a shot at Best Overall.

Battle Report: GitD Game 3 – Bilbo’s Treasure

Posted in Armies, Dwarves, Gathering in the Desert, The Unexpected Party, Tournament on February 25, 2010 by BrentS

Game 3
Scenario: Bilbo’s Treasure
Opponent: Travis Paul – Erebor featuring Dain Ironfoot and Balin

I’ve seen Travis at all the same tournaments that I’ve played Chris at; however, we’ve never had the opportunity to play. The scenario for round 3 is called Bilbo’s Treasure. It is basically Meeting Engagement with the victory conditions for Major and Minor being defined as having an army broken. In addition, there are 3 bonus points at stake for the player that manages to find Bilbo’s treasure and pull it off the board. I was joking with Tim Kulinski (the tournament director) that since my Army included Bilbo and my display board in fact was taken directly from the scene in the Hobbit where this treasure was hidden, shouldn’t I automatically know where this treasure was buried??? Well, Tim didn’t buy it but it certainly became a running joke for me. As far as the actual scenario, we had a very difficult board to play on as there were several wooded regions but it was dominated by a 3″ wide river that dissected the board diagonally. There was only one clear pass over the river – a little bridge that was about the width of two infantry model bases. I’ll admit that an army of dwarves over 40 strong wasn’t my ideal match-up for a Meeting Engagement army. However, I have play tested against Dwarves and I knew that I could have success if I could split the army and engage on my terms.

The game started as typical with Gandalf using the first two turns to Cast Blinding Light and Terrifying Aura. I was able to get up to bridge first and promptly parked Thorin and Balin at the top of the bridge. If Travis was going to want to cross the bridge, he’d have to fight through those two formidable heroes. I flanked the sides of the river with the rest of the Unexpected Party, with Gloin anchoring the side that Travis’s heroes on one.

Well, at this time, it was clear that I was going to have all the luck in this game and Travis was going to have absolutely zero luck. I managed to fire off a Sorcerous Blast at Balin hitting him with a Strength 5 hit – he ricocheted into Dain and fell back. The sorcerous blast put a wound on Balin and consumed his will as he attempted to resist. The next turn, I managed another Sorcerous blast and at a Khazad Guard that killed him and in the push back hit Balin again. This time the Strength 3 hit put a wound on Balin (rolling a 6 and a 5). Balin failed his fate rolls and was killed before even getting within 10″ of my line. Obviously, Travis was then a bit despondent. At the same time, he’s spent at least 4 turns volleying into my lines and when he did hit a couple, he was never ever able to roll a 6 to wound. He was firing 14+ bow shots every turn and never got a single wound on a dwarf. My throwing axes on the other hand wounded at least 5 Khazad Guard.

There was one marker that was close enough to my position that I could go and look inside to see if it was Bilbo’s treasure. Of course, the way the luck was going, the first and only treasure marker that we looked at on the board was in fact Bilbo’s Treasure. I used the next 5 terms to use Bilbo to drag the heavy box off the board edge. How ironic that Bilbo left the game while the Dwarves of Thorin’s Company and The Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain battled on the field as the burglar scooted off the table.

Meanwhile, on the battlefield, once Travis was close enough to direct fire, he started concentrating shots at Balin up front. However, Travis’ luck never got any better. He could never wound – he rarely even rolled more than 1 or 2 sixes to hit. He cursed his luck and changed targets. He targeted Bombur in hopes to kill the banner bearer. No luck. He targeted Gandalf and finally very late into the game he secured a wound – but only on Shadowfax.

On the left flank Dain started to cross the river but he was constantly harassed by Gandalf being immobilized or commanded back. He eventually wore out of might and will trying to resist Gandalf’s pesky spells. My dwarves were taking down the Khazard Guard in one on one combat. Travis was within 5 models of breaking and his only casualty on my side was Shadowfax. To top it all off his horrible luck, on the one turn where Dain finally got into combat against Oin, he managed to roll three one’s when trying to win the fight.

Travis’s mood had been deterioting throughout the game… and honestly, I don’t blame him one bit. There was not a single die roll that went his way. After the triple snake eyes, he said “I quit”. I told him that his dice could turn around and we should keep playing. However, I told him that I didn’t want him to get any more miserable and he didn’t want to play, I understand. It was a difficult situation. Travis is a good kid and he didn’t do anything wrong in the game. He just has absolutely zero luck. I’ve never seen a game where everything went against them so much. In the end, we shook hands and called it a game.

Outcome: Major Victory – 20 points with 3 bonus points for Bilbos’ Treasure. I was sitting at 40 battlepoints after 3 games.

Unbelievable luck in this game. I thought I had bad luck in my game against Chris, but I had a cake walk in my game against Chris compared to the luck that Travis had. I was happy to get the win but I felt really bad about the whole game.

So at the end of Day 1, I was sitting pretty much exactly where I hoped I’d be sitting. With the bonus points I had the functional equivalent of two draws and a major victory. As is typical, the group of us spent some time working through the battlepoints and adding up where people were standing. The leaders of the tournament were at 55 battlepoints and at 40 I was somewhere in the 5th-8th range. I was leading off the next morning with Contest of Champions, a scenario where my army would like be favored against most opponents for a change.

Battle Report: GitD Game 2 – Domination

Posted in Armies, Dwarves, Gathering in the Desert, The Unexpected Party, Tournament on February 25, 2010 by BrentS

Game 2
Scenario: Domination
Opponent: Chris Langland-Shula – Minas Tirith with Gandalf

Wonderful, sitting across from me in Game 2 is another one of my gaming friends, Chris. Chris is a great player and always fun to play against. The problem with Chris… I can’t beat him. Ever. I’m his personal whipping boy. We’ve been to three tournaments together (2008 LV GT; 2009 GitD, and this years GitD). I wasn’t loving the match-up for Domination. At least his army wasn’t a 45-65 model horde but I knew that he was great player and likely wouldn’t make one of the silly maneuvering mistakes that I needed him to make in order to pull a win. While I dreamed of finding a way to secure a win, in reality my goal was best case a draw and hopefully at the various worse a minor defeat. I needed to avoid the dreaded Major Loss so that I could stay in contention.

Chris won the roll-off to deploy our armies and split his force into three groups – Ecthilian (King of Men) and about 2/3 of the Warriors and Fountain Court Guard deployed towards the objective on my left. Gandalf and a smaller contingent of warriors deployed towards my right. The Rangers deployed in the center. I deployed in my typical bunched formation, fired off Blinding Light and waited for Chris to commit his forces. My goal was to try and find his “weaker” split and attack them with my whole army. However, Chris thwarted this plan by keeping Gandalf with the “weaker” group. I did a really bad job of positioning my models on the terrain piece and left a dwarf exposed to an easy sorcerous blast. Chris promptly through three dice and rolled the 5+ he needed. His distance was good enough the offending dwarf (I’m blaming Nori again) when flying back and knocked into Bombur and Gandalf. To make it worse, the sorcerous blast killed Nori, Bombur and made Shadowfax run from the board for being dismounted.. After this, I wasn’t’ anxious to get into a Wizard duel so I decided to try move towards the other group. The problem with this approach was that I’d wasted too many turns being indecisive and the bulk of his army was closing in from all the sides.

I tried to take a stab at getting into the warriors on the left flank, but a series of miserable die rolls coupled with being a outnumbered and I wasn’t having any real success in knocking back Chris’s army. I did my best to immobilize Gandalf when I could and tryied to win the fights I could. However, I was fighting an uphill battle. When I was only 2 models form breaking I realized I needed to just hunker back down on my home objective and play for the minor loss. So I pulled back, and blocked as many lanes across the rocky terrain as I could. I used throwing weapons effectively, used a sorcerous blast of my own to knock him back and after the second turn of checking for the end game, I rolled a 2. We counted and recounted the last objective and found out that we each had 3 models within contesting zone. Since Chris couldn’t claim this objective as his own, I salvaged the minor loss.

Outcome: Minor Loss, 7 Battlepoints. 17 Battlepoints Overall

Chris is a great player and I needed him to make a mistake that would allow me to split his army. However, that mistake never happened and my own indecision on which force to attack allowed him to close in around me. In addition to that, it felt like I had some pretty lousy die rolls that certainly didn’t help me out. Alas, my nemesis in these tournaments gets me again! I will have my revenge!!! However, salvaging a minor loss felt like a victory as I knew that Chris thought he had a Major Victory lined up. I was in about as good of position as I could have hoped after the first two scenarios. I’m pretty sure most people would assume that an army of 15 models wouldn’t be sitting with 17 battle points after those two scenarios.

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