Monday, November 30, 2015

The New Zealand Hobbit League, Final Round, Day Two!

Day Two!

And on with the fun...

The tempo changed a little on day two, as previously mentioned, there would be three games, so games went up from 90mins to 120mins.

Looking at the result after Day One I was positioned 5th out of 20, and my son Chris was 10th - not bad for a 12 year old!

That meant I was in the top 8 and would be competing for the Lord of Middle Earth Title. Chris just missed out and would be competing for the title of Squire Of Middle Earth.

Also at this time the result of the Best Sport, Best Painted and Best Armies were announced. Best Sport went to Andras, and Jericho picked up both Best Painted and Best Army.

I had yet to play Andras so I guess I'd see! ;-) Jericho had brought a very well presented and converted Corsair army led by a pair of Wraiths on flappies. It certainly got my vote for best painted. Best Army though...hmmm... there was little guidance on what exactly encompassed "Best Army"??? Did it mean that most likely to win... or perhaps the best themed or 'fluffy' army - and not one designed to crush all before it??? Who knows, people were left to make up their own minds...

Jericho's army was a carefully chosen force, making best use of some of the new weapons rules from the Hobbit... taking Corsair Reavers, and converting them to holding at least one axe! These supported by Corsair XBs behind Pavisse shields and a pair of mounted wraiths - ShadowLord and Knight of Umbar. ... Such list builds and conversions have been known to illicit the word "filthy" on the GBHL Facebook page! ;-) ... in a goodly natured way of course!

As it turned out I didnt vote for Jericho's army for Best Army - I voted for Peters Mordor force... I liked the general theme and the conversion work was very good.

The nice thing about these Awards being made after the first day was that the recipients gained Bonus Cards with in game effects that could be played once each game for the rest of the day. So Andras won one of these and Jericho won two...

Anyway on with the day, and the first game I am draw against...Jericho! Oh bugger, I thought!

Game 5

I had had enough of a difficult time dealing with one wraith sap willing me in game one against Ollie, without having to face a tag team of 2! I had feeling this was going to get unpleasant quickly!

Mission was a modified Seize the Prize.. Centrally placed objective had to be dug up and either held in your own board half, for least points, held in your opponents board half for half points or carried off your opponents board edge for max points...

As it turned out Jericho, didnt do as I expected - tag team the Necromancer with his wraiths. Instead he flapped one forward , dismounted, losing the fellbeast, and dug up the objective, with his corsairs moving up in support. He then performed a skilled and surgical strike with his other wraith, compelling a warg rider forward then charging it with the wraith to kill it using heroic combat to then leapfrog forward and target my Shaman on Warg, who I thought was safe at rear of my lines. He then killed the shaman on warg by throwing him through my lines causing chaos and robbing me of Fury. (Why it is it whenever I try and move like this, my wraith invariably stuffs up one of the required dice rolls along the way!)

The only good thing about this move is the wraith had kind of shot his bolt as it were. If I could now charge him, I could take him out. I duly passed courage checks with my spiders and got some spear orcs supporting the spiders trapping the wraith against terrain. I also lashed him with a channelled Sap will for good measure. Jericho managed to resist the sap will at a cost of many will points, sniped off an orc  that was supporting with his XBs and then with 2 dice against my 5 managed to win the duel roll, and flapped away and escaped! Curses!! I ended up chasing the wraith away down the flank with my spiders caught up with it once more but couldnt kill it and it escaped again... on one will point remaining... I just couldnt get anything else to reach it!

Back to the centre and all remaining foot troops mixed it up, with the Necromancer and wraith holding the prize, exchanging spells...

After my spiders had given up chasing the other wraith they had moved back towards the centre where the main action was taking place.

And here right towards the end, the dice gods finally smiled on me little... I cant remember the exact combination of events but the wraith holding the prize was engaged by a sneaky spider, who broke through a gap in the lines and scampered around the flank and rear of the corsairs mob to charge the wraith, at the same time more spells from the necromancer targeted it... the wraith lost the fight, its last will point dissipating it to nothingness and the spider leaped on the prize as the rest of my orcs on foot, ran forward to engage the corsairs preventing them from having time to catch and attack the spider with the prize. As Jericho scrambled to try and do something about this turn of events... game time expired with me holding the prize in my opponents half of the table!!!

IIRC, this gave me 3 points for holding the prize in my opponents half of the board, but my force was also broken giving Jericho 3 points too - a Draw! The sigh of relief from Jericho was audible ;-)

Well I never expected that one to go down that way, and I was rather pleased to have come away with a Draw. A tense but enjoyable game none the less.

The unfortunate part of this was, that this was knock out cup draw stuff - and only one of us could go through. The rules were that since Jericho had finished one place higher than me after day one, then he trumped me in today's game and he would go through.

Fair enough I thought... I hadn't expected to win the game anyway, so I could live with that, and well done to Jericho!

So I was back to playing for pride and final position in the top eight for the weekend...

Game 6

2nd game of the day is Hold Ground, and I am drawn against Govinda, who is using a Moria goblin army led by Durburz the Goblin King, and assisted by a Dragon and Troll!

This mission has us all coming on from random board edges, with a rush to take and hold the centrally placed objective.

As the game deployments unfolded I was fortunate to manage to get my troops massed in one corner of the board supporting each other, whilst Govinda goblins were fairly spread out, and a couple of warbands late to the show... I got a sneaky chance to get ahead early and decided to give it a whirl placing one of the goblin warbands that came on, right in the way of my whole force... my idea being to swamp them with numbers getting rid of part of the Goblin force with ease before pressing on the the centre.

This largely worked though took a couple of rounds longer than I would have liked, the goblin captain there putting up a desperate fight and taking a few orcs with him before finally dying.

By this time things were certain hotting up in the centre, with the main issue being the Dragon closing in on my forces grouped there. It would only need to win a fight and chaos would ensue as its Monster Brutal power attacks kicked into gear. Luckily my Necromancer was there to diffuse the situation, and I decided my best option was to just keep transfixing it, so it couldnt win any fights!

And this pretty much worked, I managed to neutralize the dragon this way for several turns as the rest of my troops fought off the rest of the goblins. Finally with time running out in the game the Dragon finally managed to avoid a Transfix, and was just about wreck mayhem upon my force... when game time expired!
Saved by the bell I'd call that!
As we toted up game VPs it was clear I had a greater number of troops near the centre, and Govindas goblin force was broken.
IIRC this resulted in a 30-16 VPs in my favour, mostly because I had reached the objective first and had more troops around it than the goblins.
This resulted in a another tournament Win for me.
A great game.

Game 7

My final Game of the day and I am drawn against Andras and his Isengard force, led by Saruman mounted, Vrasku leading XBs, Thryden WolfsBane leading Dunlendings and an Uruk Captain leading a Pike phalanx, with a shaman leading a couple of ferals.

The Mission was a modified Contest of Kings.

We both felt we knew what we were doing and pressed ahead with the game. It was basically kill each other scoring points along the way.

I set up either side of a building in board centre again splitting my force. Vrasku set up on a building roof with his XBs, they were going to be a pain to my poor orcs raining death from above.

I decided to deal with this threat with the Necromancer whilst my faster moving troops looked to hit the other flank...

I got off to a decent start, with the Necromancer lashing a Chill soul at the XBs on the roof killing half of them! My flank charge went in quickly against Thryden, but he wasnt to be out done and got support from nearby troops to fend off my spiders and warg riders.

Saruman made his presence know letting loose Sorcerous Blast to minimal effect due to poor rolls or Fury saves...

The Battle raged on as all troops were drawn in to a melting pot in the centre of the board. The Necromancer continued his Chills souls taking further toll of the XBs and sniping several Uruks with Pikes. However this was taking a steady toll in the Necromancers Will points, and shortly before the end of the game we took stock to check victory conditions and see where we both were...

My Necromancer had caused a steady toll of casualties far beating Sarumans total, so we assumed I was quite a way ahead in game VPs.... it was then we noticed that wasnt how VPs in the game were being scored, but they should have been awarding the Necromancer bonus might points per turn!

I had already burned through all my might by this time. Andras very sportingly (Proved!) suggested that since I had clearly won the previous turns in Leader Casualties inflicted, I could have 4 Might Points back!

Well this helped my cause certainly and was probably fair... I would certainly have got off more Channeled Chill souls earlier in game which themselves would have been rewarding me with more Might points again....

So I let fly as best I could with my remaining will points, and again reached that fateful point where the Necromancer has to retreat to save his own life and remaining Will store.

Andras chased my force for all he was worth trying to get to my Necromancer, but in vain... again with time running out I had preserved my Leader and force just enough, even though broken, to hang on at the end, and caused a decent dent in my opponents force., who was broken also.

The small tipping pot had been hitting Saruman with a Chill Soul, and wounding him, giving me a VP for wounding the enemy leader...

IIRC this resulted in a 2-1 VP win for me, which result in a 'Major' win in tournie points, as I had double the points of my opponent!
A very enjoyable game.

Over to Chris

For his part, my 'mini-me' had also continued to do well in his days gaming and was in the final against Gordon for the Squire Of Middle Earth...

Playing as well as he could he was finally beaten by Gordon, in a Gondor Civil War - Aragorn the King prevailing over Boromir!

And so with final games played the placings could be finalized.

Matt had organised a huge amount of Prize support, the great thing about it being everyone had an equal chance of coming away with a top prize.

The winners of the league and the day received certificate awards, but the physical prizes were given out by random draw among all who attended on the day! Each name drawn from the 'hat' could select any prize from the table, and they then drew the next name and so on...

In the end Chris got the "No Admittance Except on Party Business" sign, and I got a set of NZHL inscribed dice.
We were both very happy with our prizes :)

After all was said and done, we gathered for a group photo...

 And the final standings after the two days gaming... I managed to come out 5th overall out of 20, with which I was very happy.
Four wins, 2 draws and one loss - and that was to Chris!

Chris got 'silver' in the Squire Of MiddleEarth and 10th overall. A very worthy performance for a 12yr old... I was very proud of him that he kept his interest and focus through the two days intensive gaming. Well done indeed.

 Well done to the Winner on the Day; Jericho, and to the overall league winner; Josiah. Much kudos!

Big thanks to Matt for organising and running the show, and to all players who came from far and wide to make it a great day. Great to meet up with some of the locals with whom I hope to get more gaming in, in future.

Thanks also to Nathan and Luke at local GW stores for loaning the tables and much of the terrain and the other players for contributing terrain... even my Weathertop got a showing... its quite a fiendish piece of terrain to play on, it would appear!

I look forward to next years Hobbit League activity, and hope I might be able to organise a weekend tournament in the Kapiti area...

And finally, its just great to see this game still getting the love from the player base, long may that continue... if we keep playing it, it won't die!

And on that note it will be interesting to see what continued support will eventuate from GW's recent 'specialist games" announcement... I'm keeping my fingers and hairy Hobbity toes crossed! ;-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The New Zealand Hobbit League, Final Round. - Day One.

Over the weekend my son Chris and I attended the final round of the New Zealand Hobbit League, held at PlayerBase in Lower Hutt, where 20 players had gathered for a weekends gaming fun in MiddleEarth.

Photos courtesy of Matt Ridgely and NZHL Facebook page... I took my camera along, but the action was pretty fast and frantic once the games started and I never remembered to take any in-game pics myself!

The event was 750 points, with the stipulation that armies must include at least 1 hero (or two combined) who's points value is 250pts or more. I think the thinking behind this being two-fold... the games will get to feature Heroes which Middle-Earth is all about, and it would avoid purely horde armies which can take a long time to move... the games were 90 mins max, with a strict dice down at that time... so we needed to boogy to get our games played out in time... horde armies would inevitably time out...

So with that format we had four games in the first day, with a random draw in first round followed by swiss chess draw for remaining games of the day...

What did I play? Well I tend to favour my Mordor armies (It's good to be bad!), tending on the horde side with a few powerful fighting leaders... but I decided on a variation this time...

I've always had a 'thing' about Dol Guldur, and the recent Hobbit movies certainly, have all explored that theme, and they were some of my favourite scenes from the trilogy... delving into the back story behind the main theme of the Quest of Erebor...

So I chose a Dol Guldur force led by the Necromancer.

I have had the model painted in my collection for quite some time and only used it once thus far in a 1000 point game where I felt its points were justified., so I thought it was high time it got a dusting off... and try it out at this smaller points game level.

He would lead a warband of Dol Guldur Orcs (F4) with banner. Backing him up would be a Mordor OrcTaskmaster and more Dol Guldur orcs with a Spectre. Finally, a Mordor Orc Shaman mounted on warg, leading a warband of orc warg riders and giant spiders.

I wanted to keep a sensible Dol Guldur theme, and still have an effective combo of heroes in the force...

I would be focusing on Chill Soul with the Necromancer, channeled where possible to kill troops. The Task masters ability would hopefully buff this ability saving some Might points, with luck. The Shaman would of course be there to cast channeled Fury, to try and keep my orcs alive and wearing down the foe...

To Battle!

Game 1
My first game was against Ollie Redding, who was running a Mordor force led by the Witch-King on Fellbeast, with Morannon Orcs, a Troll and some Easterling allies...

Sorry, I didn't find a shot of this game. Ollie hadn't played for a while, so wasn't up on some of the new Hobbit rules tweaks, but that said, I made a rule error too that Ollie corrected, so all was good.

The Game was a standard To the Death, and I got ahead early with some Chill Souls killing a few of Ollies troops. Ollie responded with an expected Channeled Sap will from the WK forcing my Necromancer to burn will to combat it ... in the meantime my greater numbers were knocking down Ollies troops. This theme continued until my Necromancer was down to 1 Will remaining and legged it getting away from the WK. With time running out, I had managed to break Ollies force, remaining unbroken myself, and had a banner active too, where Ollie did not, resulting in a 7-0 VP win, converting into a 24-0 Tournament score.

Game 2 and I was drawn against my son Chris, and the Gondor force he was running that I had readied for him. Boromir with the Banner led WoMT, Damrod led rangers with spear, Faramir led his mounted Knights and Beregond led more WoMT.

Chris had got off to a good start against Peter leading a Mordor force in the first round and had also come away with a 24-0 in his favor so he was feeling pretty stoked!

Our game was Domination... with 5 objective markers scattered about the board.

This would mean splitting my forces to try and cover all the objectives, which wasnt the way my army worked well. Also I had no shooting attack so couldnt just sit tight as I'd get shot to bits by the rangers... the board was relatively open.

So I decided to go for broke. the central objectives were all covered, and Chris had put his rangers clustered in a group covering his rear objective. He had placed Boromir out on a flank. I thought I saw a chance to advance on the rangers - Chill souls them and knock them out of the game, then return to the board centre and hold off Boromir and make a go of contesting the rest of the objectives and killing off Chris's army. But it was big and would be tricky to break.

Things started to go wrong from the start, I advanced on the rangers with the Necromancer's warband... and cast channeled chill soul., rolling a six on 4 dice. Damrod had one will point to resist it, and rolled a six to block the spell! The rangers then shot, and dropped 6 orcs! My Shaman was busy on the other side of board so no Fury saves either...

I got Chill off next round but by then Chris has spread out so I only got 2 rangers... and now Boromir was marching down to attack my shrinking warband...

We continued to battle it out across the table for the objectives... but when time was called Chris held one solely while all the rest were contested, and I was broken, leading to a 10-4 in VPs IIRC... and Chris getting a major win 20-4 in Tournie points.

Well done Chris, well played indeed!

Game 3, and I was drawn against the 'Ringer'; Matt Ridgely. One participant had pulled out at the last moment, so Matt although being TO, also stepped up to run a force. Any points he scored wouldn't contribute to a position on the day, but his opponents score would still count fully.

Matt had gone with The Fellowship as his force.

Our mission was Reconnoitre, with an adjusted points scoring system. This is a mission where this match up worked well for me... a small hero force trying to stop a much larger force crossing its table edge, and vice versa.

Again, sorry no picture for this one.

Our forces deployed and we set to... Matt deploying centrally on his board edge whilst I loaded a flank.

My force surged up the side of the board and Matts main heroes tried to head me off, whilst the 4 hobbits went for a sneaky end around uncontested march.

After a few turns we were mixing it up, with  Aragron, Boromir and Gimli in the front with support from Gandalf and Legolas from behind. But once the lead heroes were engaged by foot troops, the faster wargs and spiders zipped around and surrounded Legolas and Gandalf.

The fighting was fierce and the Necromancer ended up in the thick of it, against Boromir and Gimli, with orcs on all sides and Aragron surrounded by orcs too. I cant remember the order in which they fell, but Legolas went first I think. Boromir lost his fight and the Necromancer laid the killing blow with Drain Soul, Boromir being out of Might and failing his lone Fate roll. And subsequently Gimli also fell to the Necromancer. Legolas and Gandalf also both fell surrounded and cut down by warg riders and spiders... Only Aragorn stood alone in the throng at this time... But whilst all this was playing out the Hobbits were continuing on their merry jaunt, unmolested... so I was having to keep a close eye on how close they were to escaping, and how may of my own troops I had to get moving, and how much time was left...

We lashed through the last few turns, with all hobbits escaping, but hordes of orcs had also escaped, vastly outnumbering the hobbits... Aragorn had been unable to impede their massed march.

With getting max points for my reconnoitering troops, the altered Scenario VP's awarded me a 5-0 win; and thus another 24-0 in Tournie points.

Great game against Matt, and a little revenge for our last meet up at CTA! ;-)

Game 4, and the last game of the day and I was draw again Bryan Thompson, running Rivendell Elves led by Gandalf the White on Shadowfax, Arwen was along for the ride too, with Elladan and Elrohir both mounted and armoured up.

Bryan and I had had a pre tournie warm up game a couple of weeks back, where I tried out the Necromancer for only the second time, and Bryan dabbled with using Tom Bombadil in his force... it was a curious game with Bombadil facing off the Necromancer... and largely neutralising him...

Back to our game today...

Our game would be Lords of Battle... which is basically a scoring match with each kill scoring a point.

I deployed centrally up front with Bryan deploying to one rear corner...

I began by advancing towards Bryan's force and lashing away with a channeled chill soul at the grouped elves, trying to take out some archers too to reduce their return fire as I approached.

Bryan replied with Gandalf lashing back with Sorcerous Blast... to minimal effect thanks to Fury saves...

Evil continued its advance closing down the Elven force, more Chill souls  took their toll and Arwen trotted out to let off a Natures Wrath, accompanying Gandalf on his own Sorcerous exchange.

A steady toll was being inflicted on the Elves, and the orcs were passing all manner of Fury saves.

Eventually the two sides clashed in melee and started mixing it up...

The Necromancer singled out the Elven banner with a Chill Soul to remove his benefit to the elves, but elves being elves, still made an account of themselves in the ensuing melees...

When time was called we anxiously totted up the casualties and Victory Points, to find the game was a draw! I had got ahead early with my Chill Souls, but Bryan had fought back towards the end and closed the gap.

This scored us both 12 Tournie points.
A very enjoyable game.

And this pretty much wrapped up the events of Day One.

To finish off the day we submitted our votes for 'best sportsman', 'best painted', and 'best army'.

Our final standings after Day One would then see us go through to a knock out cup draw, splitting the field, the top 8 placings competing for Lord of Middle Earth and the rest for Squire of Middle Earth.

So with 2 wins, a draw and a loss, I'll see where I stand...

Tune in next time for Day Two!
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