Author: greycompanyrangers

There and Back Again: A Masters Tale Part 3

By Andrew Colman

Welcome to the third and final part of my Masters blog! If you haven’t , do read the previous two components I’ve written prior this one for context on what is occurring.  (It would also pad my already enormous ego to have people reading it!).

Day 2: ‘It is close, so close to achieving its goal’

Sunday dawned bright and clear, but still far below a soft Sydneysiders acceptable minimum temperature. A slightly later start time was appreciated for the extra hours’ worth of sleep. I was starting the day in a powerful position at the head of the rankings, but facing the task of maintaining it for the whole day against the top of the field.

I’d like to give a little context on the significance of my match against Locky. For this event we were both members of the Fallen so it was a team kill to start. We’d first met in the final round of Masters last year. In a game that ultimately decided the tournament with us both sitting on 5 wins, I’d secured 1st place by a good 15 point margin whilst knocking him down to 4th denying him almost all points over the course of that encounter. I knew that if I were him I’d be leaping at the chance for a rematch. We narrowly avoided playing each other at Clash, which he ultimately won, being on the top tables next to each other in the final round. There was a distinct feeling in the back of my mind that whoever won this match would have a very good opportunity to go and win the event. No pressure for round 4 out of 6 right?

 

Round 4: Random Encounter vs Lachlan Rigg (Survivors of Laketown)

Warband 1

Bard the Bowman with Armour and Horse (LEADER)

2 Lake-Town Militia with Spear and Shield

2 Lake-Town Militia with Spear and Bow

4 Lake-Town Militia with Shield

1 Lake-Town Militia with Bow

 

Warband 2

Percy

4 Lake-Town Militia with Bow and Spear

6 Lake-Town Militia with Bow

 

Warband 3

Alfrid the Councillor

5 Lake-Town Militia with Spear and Shield

4 Lake-Town Militia with Shield

 

Warband 4

Gandalf the Grey with Horse

5 Lake-Town Militia with Spear and Shield

4 Lake-Town Militia with Shield

 

THRANDUIL’S HALLS

Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood with Horse

IMG_0504[1].JPGAny man who wants to give their last, follow me!

The mission we were playing was Random Encounter. Every player receives a random assortment of 3 out of a 6 possible objectives. Crucially, you do not which objectives your opponent has secured. The opportunity to play mind games with your opponents  was apparent. I indulged in it wholeheartedly, perhaps overindulged as we shall soon see. The 3 objectives I received were:

Bodyguard: Keep my leader alive, have more heroes alive

Capture: Capture my opponents objectives

Destroy: Break my opponent’s army

I was pretty confident that I would be able to fulfill all of my objectives. The scribe and mercenaries gave me a very good opportunity to lockdown the objective points, the Goblin King is very difficult to kill and I had more heroes to start than Locky. Double Monsters hurling through a defense 4 army should be able to do the work they needed to in order to break Locky as well. We were playing on the fantastic Pelagrir board, with lots of cover, ruins, chokepoints and general theme oozing out of every crevice. From a tactical standpoint, it gave me good cover from the nasty volume of bowfire Locky was packing. There were 12 bowman backed up by Percy, alongside the sniper team of Legolas and Bard. Deployment had me placing everything at the back of the board bar the Goblin King’s warband, which meant I had some difficult decisions to make. Ideally most of my army would be towards the front so they wouldn’t have to run the gauntlet of missile fire hailing down from both bridges. But since they weren’t, did I leave the Goblin King to make the trip with them or commit him straight into combat? I ultimately opted for combat, reasoning that should he be at risk I could simply rotate him out reasonably comfortably. It’d also give me the opportunity to mind game him into thinking I didn’t have the Bodyguard objective and potentially reduce the focus that he’d otherwise receive.

IMG_0548[1]Locky assumed a commanding sniper position atop the two bridges

The Goblins all surged forward in a mad dash to spend the least amount of time under the withering hail coming from the the two bridges on overwatch. Grinnah was brought down in an enfilade of fire from Legolas and Bard and the Shaman was left with one wound and no fate, but the rest of the archery was thankfully not as devastating as it could have been with only light to moderate casualties. The Goblin King slammed into the laketowners and throwing bodies left and right. Some plucky goblins opted to jump into the water and attempt to swim under the bridge. A few of the more allergic to washing stumbled and drowned. Meanwhile the scribes reinforcements were beginning to encroach on his position from behind.

IMG_0549[1]The elite goblin Marines dons their scuba gear and jumps into the water.

In the meantime the Dark Marshal and the Black Numenoreans threatened his left flank, causing everyone to withdraw to the bridge and ceding me sole control of 70% of the board. I had control of 3 of the 4 objective markers with an easy access to the final one, an equal hero count and the ability to get into combat and start tearing his troops apart. I was rightfully feeling comfortable about being able to score good points whilst denying him lots of potential objectives. Looking at Locky, it was clear he had realised the same.

But it’s never over until its over.

IMG_0550[1]A truly beautiful board.

The Goblin King stood in a chokehold only allowing a single model to fight him at a time, and he had slaughtered his way through a total of 8 milita thus far. Locky then opted to charge him with Gandalf, hoping to damage him with Orcrist as it ignores his blubber save. Thematic, but somewhat risky because of his lower attacks and fight value, in addition to being potentially annihilated himself should he lose a fight. It paid very heavy dividends however, as over 2 turns from 4 attacks he successfully dealt 4 wounds and slew the Goblin King outright. The unexpected speed in which he was vanquished took me completely aback and gave no opportunity to withdraw him as I had initially envisioned. It was an undesirable setback, denying me lots of vps  and slowing my killing capacity, but I still held a controlled position. Locky was tunneling hard on his archers dealing out damage, which allowed the Dark Marshal to swoop in over two turns and hurl them pell mell across the bridge. I made another crucial mistake in overestimating where my mercenaries could deploy and holding them back for far too long, and immediately realised they would pay no part in the battle. They were another part of the mind games I had been playing with Locky, and while that had certainly served its purpose in demoralizing him into a losing position, they now weren’t going to be able to anything to help me win! It was at this point I realised that I was letting the game slip away from me, when I by all rights should have been simply playing it out for a comfortable win.

IMG_0553[1]Defeat from the jaws of victory?

It was now crucial that I break Locky before the game ended to secure the victory and a clean 8 VPs to tie the game up irrespective of his objectives. The Dark Marshal flew into the midst of his army looking to seal the deal whilst the goblins closed in on all sides. The Dark Marshal did minimal damage on impact before being swarmed in the final turn of the game and slain. As the dust settled, I was a heartbreaking one model short of breaking him. One model denied me a full 8vps and rendered it 0. Losing the Goblin King had caused me to lose heavy VPs, and the loss of the Dark Marshal at the death meant that because Locky also had the Bodyguard objective, he had more heroes alive and could turn it from a 6-5 to me to a final result of 8-6 in his favor. I’d gotten into his head and Locky fully believed he had lost the match even as it ended, even as we were counting up the points. My mind games had been flawless, successful to a fault, ending up in some measure into tricking Locky into winning. The look of surprise on his face when he realised he’d actually won was priceless. By the end we’d gathered a decent crowd of spectators around the table in what was dubbed the match of the tournament, I’m sure it was a most entertaining game to watch.

As I look back at this game, there are multiple  errors I made. Splitting my force, losing the Goblin King, wasting my time with the Black Numenoreans and Dark Marshal and holding back the mercenaries for far far too long. I still back my decision to commit the Dark Marshal at the death, taking a 6 point win was far too much of a risk for the overall tournament standard, and even with a mediocre finish from me Locky had made mistakes as well, I was still heartbreakingly close to the break and the win, a single defense 4 model lay between victory and defeat across multiple combats.

Unfortunately you can’t win them all. With the advantages I created and the subsequent volume of errors I made when it mattered, I didn’t deserve the win. Far better to lose and learn from your mistakes than win and fail to recognise them. Good advice for life in general!

Final Score: 6-8

 

Round 5: Clash of Champions vs Liam Daily (Moria)

Warband 1

Durbûrz, the Goblin King of Moria

4 Moria Goblin Warrior with Shield;

3 Moria Goblin Warrior with Spear;

2 Warg Marauder

 

Warband 2

Moria Goblin Shaman

4 Moria Goblin Warrior with Shield;

3 Moria Goblin Warrior with Spear;

1 Warg Marauder

 

Warband 3

Grôblog

4 Moria Goblin Warrior with Shield;

3 Moria Goblin Warrior with Spear;

1 Warg Marauder

 

Warband 4

Moria Goblin Shaman

4 Moria Goblin Warrior with Shield;

3 Moria Goblin Warrior with Spear;

3 Moria Goblin Warrior with Orc bow;

 

Warband 5

The Watcher in the Water

IMG_0499[1]Who ordered seafood?

I was quietly disappointed after the result of the last game as I knew it was a powerful opportunity to retain my position on the top of the table. Regardless, winning the final two games should put me in good stead for contention should I pull it off.

Round 5 I was playing against my travelling companion Liam, the final member of the Fallen, meaning I had now had to play against all 3 of my teammates (a testament to the quality of our team that we were all at the top!). Liam and I had spent a fair amount of time discussing strategies in the days prior and I was quietly confident he was going to be a dangerous contender for the top echelons. We’d practiced against each other, so we had a fairly intimate knowledge of how the other persons

We were playing Clash of Champions, which is all about getting kills on your leader, and generally slaughtering your opponent. Liam’s Watcher wasn’t his starting leader, but there was always a chance he would drown Durburz. Even he didn’t, there was a severe danger he would simply snatch up Goblins and deliver them to Durburz on a silver platter. It was also very obvious that he would deploy on the river for the Watchers benefit, as with my lack of shooting I would have to approach him.

Accordingly, we deployed some distance apart in a manner reminiscent of a mexican standoff. I didn’t want to commit and have my champion snatched off by Mr Tentacles to be tied up for the entire game without any prior opportunities to get rid of all the will on his shamans and heroes, whilst Liam didn’t want to face my combat nasties and take the opportunity to shoot whilst he could. A cagey start saw us maneuvering for position, as I tried to stay out of Watcher range whilst throwing off sap wills left and right.

IMG_0555[1]A 6×4 board and we end up on a 2×2 square!

I forced Liams hand with a humble goblin, travelling at Mach 3. The Goblin King successfully killed a Moria Goblin with a thrown Goblintown minion, forcing Liam to engage else he lose outright. I was so tunneled on the Watcher’s movement within the water (which doubles it from 4 inches to 8) that Liam’s decision to take him out of the water took me aback. He swarmed up, threatening to grab the Dark Marshal.

This prompted a truly unique and memorable passage of play. The Goblin King remained stationary and prepared to throw another Goblin. Thrown Goblins knock enemy models to the ground, thus if I could hit the Watcher he couldn’t use his tentacles, which are a shooting attack. Liam calls a heroic shoot, fully aware of what I intend and looking to strike first. I called a heroic shoot in response. A few judicious might later, I win the roll off, successfully hit the watcher and knock it to the ground, preventing it from shooting, and crucially limiting it to a 2 inch move the next turn! This then lead to a massed heroic combat/strike the next turn, with the hapless watcher swarmed and brought down by the King, bringing his kill count to 2. To cap it off, as Liam realises Durburz will never now reach combat, he makes the noble sacrifice of drowning himself in the river, using might to move down the result and give himself a new champion! One of the more ridiculous passages of play I’ve witnessed in recent memory, yet one that made complete tactical sense at all stages.

IMG_0558[1]The Watcher in the Water is filleted for sushi like a fish out of water

At the same time on the other flank, Liam surges into the fray as he desperately tries to secure kills on Groblog, his new champion and use his marauders to run down my goblins. My Black Numenoreans were crucial in getting the fight value to prevent them from rampaging and locking them down. Groblog successfully gets 1 kill, before the Dark Marshal swoops in to immbolise him for the rest of the game. I was fortunate that he would fail to resist the first spell, which made me reasonably confident that I could keep him down and take the game, it was just a question of by what margin.

IMG_0559[1]Thrown Goblins were the clear MVP of this match

The Goblin King waded through the river as Liam came close to breaking. The Moria goblins clung together as the encroaching swarm of their brethren came in from all sides. As the game was coming to a close, Liam consciously stayed as from the Goblin King as possible. Knowing that he would be unable to reach combat, on the last turn he readied his throwing arm for one last throw. He hit, and slew another Goblin, bringing his total to 3, breaking Liam and making my champion kills greater than double his, for a slough of victory points for me in the dying moments of the game. Liam was a difficult opponent who’s getting very good at the game, and I think he’s going to be making waves in the events he attends here in Sydney in the coming months.

Final Score: 16-4

 

Round 6: Seize and Control vs Matthew Todd(High Elves)

Gil-galad on armoured horse w/shield (Leader)

4 High Elves w/elven blade

4 King’s Guard w/spear and shield

1 High Elf w/banner, spear and shield

3 High Elves w/elven bow

 

Elladan (warband leader) and Elrohir

3 High Elves w/elven blade

4 King’s Guard w/spear and shield

3 High Elves w/elven bow

 

Arwen

3 High Elves w/elven blade

3 King’s Guard w/spear and shield

4 High Elves w/elf bow

1 High Elf w/elven blade and elf bow

IMG_0492[1]

Gil-galad was an Elven-king.
Of him the harpers sadly sing;
the last whose realm was fair and free
between the Mountains and the Sea.

His sword was long, his lance was keen.
His shining helm afar was seen;
the countless stars of heaven’s field
were mirrored in his silver shield.

But long ago he rode away,
and where he dwelleth none can say;
for into darkness fell his star
in Mordor where the shadows are.

Mr Todd is a member of the Green Dragon Podcast and a true tournament veteran. I’d predicted him for 3rd place in preamble to the event. It seemed I would need to prove my own prediction wrong if I wanted to place myself! The final round promised for a truly interesting finale. Matt had been on a supreme high of confidence after day 1 with 3 wins which continued into round 4 with a massive win at the same time myself and Locky sunk each other in points. He’d been promptly brought back down to earth with a thorough trouncing from Locky in round 5. Liam was playing Locky and our hopes rested with him to tie him down (he received a barrage of advice from us). Were that to be the case, there was a field of 4 or 5 of us in contention for 1st place. It was time to play for all the marbles. We were playing Seize and Control, effectively Domination. Understandably my focus was intent on the match at hand, so there’s an unfortunate dearth of photos for this particular game, I only took a couple at the end. I will endevour to make this an appealing chunk of text!

My list does exceptionally well at Domination being able to capture all the objectives simultaneously.  We were playing on a heavily forested board, which would favor Matts elves. He also had lots of Kingsguard, of which the Fight 6 would be heavily nullifying the power of my 2 monsters in combination with elven blades. I was fully prepared to heroic strike to be able kill the models I needed to. The match started with Gilgalad storming down a flank, slaying all the goblins in his path. I reasoned it was a reasonable trade to removing him from the primary conflict and keep away from my own hitting power. He would eventually burst through and start hunting down the scribe, who would summon reinforcements to intercept and stall him. In the centre of the board the goblins performed their trademark scuttle towards the waiting ranks of elves. In the meantime Liam had suffered early losses against Locky, but was rapidly coming back into the game for a slight lead. There was everything to play for!

It was at this point that one of the unfortunate realities of a dice game struck. I failed to cast fury two turns in a row on the roll of a one. I wasn’t channeling either so that I could retain the might to ensure it went off. A 1/36 chance that was going to severely punish me in the end game. The shaman enabled my horde to stick around, and if I were to position it in the center of the board, it could daisy chain stand fasts for all my heroes to subsequently cover the entire area around the central 3 objectives whilst the mercenaries secured another. It’d allow me to snowball my numerical advantage for the games entirety. My heart sunk when I saw this, because I knew it was going to make the game much harder and I had really overwhelm the elves, and quickly. If I was broken before the end was nigh, I was most likely now going to lose.

With some moderate casualties from bowfire, the goblins ran into combat. It is at this point I make a very foolish error. I commit the Dark Marshal to the wrong elf, so that he would be in range of a heroic combat slingshot from the twins. I was even conscious of this possibility, and was looking at a different target for him. Yet I still made the mistake. A moment of carelessness, perhaps the pressure brought on by losing my late game safety in the shaman or a touch of fatigue? Irrespective of the reason, it would prove costly. Matt still needed things to go his way because I had several mitigating tools, but full credit to him, he took the opportunity with both hands, and the Twins successfully brought down the Dark Marshal. My late game was looking even more grim now without a high courage hero and one of my major kill threats. Arwen was unable to cast natures wrath, I was fortunate to be able to resist all its casts with a couple of might to assist. One of the Twins was slain in the continuing melee, alongside a steady grind of elves and goblins. My scribe reinforcements were somewhat underwhelming on the whole this game,  and some of those that did come on were diverted to prevent Gil Galad from murdering the scribe.

IMG_0561[1]Gilgalad ran out of might and was on a solo mission relatively early in the game, but it did not stop the mighty king leaving a fearsome pile of bodies in his wake.

I then hit the dreaded break point. As I feared, without my safety nets, my army promptly collapsed upon itself. I was forced to bring the mercenaries on into the primary fight to prevent a complete rout rather than securing one of the periphery objectives Matt was looking to contest. The Goblin King fled immediately, and with it most of my hopes of winning. Should he stay around, I had the killing power to continue grinding out the elves. Gilgalad was in the far corner of the board, and if Matt wanted to contest the final objective, he would have to stay there. Unfortunately it was not be, and the elves began to slay the remaining goblins or more commonly, left them to flee en masse.

IMG_0563[1]My blunder combined with the shamans failure had cost me dearly.

As the final goblins were put to the sword, Matt had managed to pull out a respectable if not overwhelming win, but Locky in the meantime had narrowly pulled out the win over Liam. I mentioned it earlier but I have to give recognition to Liam, he did exceptionally well in the face of a very difficult schedule of opponents and pushed both me and Locky hard.

Final Result: 4-14

 

With 6 wins from 6 games, Locky would thus be the Master of Middle Earth for 2017. He would do it playing against the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place getters. A truly impressive achievement Locky, well done, I am honored to pass on the title!

In what is some true irony, in the reversal of Locky and I’s positions last year, I would finish in 4th place. We’re one to one now, third time takes all?

David Leonard (for the second year in a row!) and Matthew Todd finished in 2nd and 3rd respectively, whilst Liam took 6th. My predictions for the podium in the preamble report I gave before the event proved to be wonderfully accurate, which was pleasing to see. My eye for how people play the game was alive and well! The Fallen would take the team award for the 3rd year at Masters by a decisive margin, despite the substantial volume of team killing we had enacted against each other.

It was a most enjoyable weekend away. I had some commanding wins and some heartbreaking losses. It wasn’t the best I have ever played, but I had a real blast of a time and it was great to see some of our friends from the south again. Goblintown is entering retirement alongside the Rivendell Knights for the forseeable future, however I feel a serious urge to return to my roots in the all cavalry force. I feel its where I best shine as a player, dictating the terms of battle, holding control and never relenting it. At the time of writing, I lead a mounted Gondor force to a tournament win at Courage of Numenor last weekend. I enjoyed a 17 game consecutive winstreak in the wake of my win at Masters last year, so hopefully its a sign that history may repeat itself!

A colossal thank you must go to all my opponents on the weekend, it’s the community that makes the game what it is. A thank you must also go to Kylie for running the event, and to Josh for once again being a most generous host. And lastly, a thank you to you, dear reader, for making it to the end. If you haven’t done it before, come along to an SBG event, you won’t regret it. If you have, I hope to see you at an event soon! I’d be remiss not to promote the next event in Sydney, Hobbitcon, the first weekend of September with one and two day options. I’ll be helping run the event, so if that’s an incentive you won’t have to play me! If you’re not a member, join the Australian LoTR & Hobbit SBG Community , all the details for this and other events are here. If you enjoyed this blog, please comment and let me know if you’d like to see more of this or other things in the future.

Masters will be taking a road trip to Sydney next year, so I’ll be back to reclaim the title!

Thank you for reading! Happy Hobbying!

Andrew

A New Bolt Action Army for MOAB, Part 1

By Ian Underwood

As soon as I’d read the ‘Normandy Royal Marine Commando Troop‘ article and accompanying list published on the Warlord website last year I knew that my second Bolt Action army would be a force that represented the Royal Marines in the North-Western theatres post D-Day.

With MOAB (Mother of All Battles) tournament in October 2017 as a goal, I planned to build a force based on RM 46 Commando‘s successful assault on the villages of Le Hamel and Rots five days after landing on D-Day, (a different Le Hamel to the village at Gold Beach). Here 46 Commando, with support from RM Centaur tanks and Canadian Shermans, fought and forced back a highly organised and dug-in SS Panzer Grenadier company supported by Panthers from 12th SS Panzer Regiment – an impressive feat of arms!

But as I researched further my proposed new army transitioned from a Normandy force into one that would represent the amphibious assault on the heavily fortified island of Walcheren by RM Commandos. The final operation in the Battle for the Scheldt, in which the port of Antwerp was opened up to allied shipping.

Read on to discover the historical inspiration behind this new army.

walcheren-schelde

Amphibious Buffaloes & Weasels assaulting Westkapelle on the Island of Walcheren 1944

Although the Allies had captured the vital Belgian port of Antwerp largely intact in early September 1944, the German’s still controlled key areas of the vast Scheldt estuary – a vast waterway running 50 miles from the North Sea to Antwerp. At this stage the Allied lines of supply were stretched hundreds of miles from the ports on the Normandy coast to the front lines and the establishment of more northerly ports was a high priority. The northern French ports of Calais and Dunkirk had yet to be captured, despite being under heavy siege.

After the failure of Operation Market Garden in September, and at the urging of American high command, Montgomery made securing the the Scheldt estuary a priority above all other operations under his command. It took 5 weeks of hard fighting in the daunting, waterlogged coastal terrain against tenacious and highly-organised German defenders to complete the objective.

The final phase of the Battle for the Scheldt was Operation Infatuate – the assault on the heavily fortified island of Walcheren by Royal Marine and Inter-Allied Commandos from the sea, and Canadian and Scottish forces plus French Inter-Allied Commandos from the mainland.

Walcheren was a partially reclaimed island at the mouth of the estuary. It was connected to the mainland by a narrow but long causeway and was defended by approximately 10,000 German troops. The approaches to Antwerp from the sea were dominated by a series of formidable German gun emplacements. Nothing could enter the Scheldt without first passing these batteries. In fact the island was one of the strongest fortified sections of Hitler’s ‘Atlantic Wall’.

Sheltd-map

As the majority of the island’s interior was below sea level, a plan was hatched for air bombardment to breach the sea walls and flood the entire interior of the island, thus keeping the defenders pinned to the external dunes and without meaningful resupply. The Commandos would assault the coast in amphibious craft, that would also allow complete freedom of movement within the flooded island if required.

On the 1st of November 4th Commando Brigade (41, 47 & 48 Commando plus a small force of Belgian & Norwegian Inter-Allied Commandos) assaulted the island from the sea. In stark contrast to Normandy, most of the Brigade landed in amphibious Buffaloes, disgorged by LCTs (Landing Craft Tank). The commandos landed at Westkapelle with 47 & 48 Commando branching south towards Flushing whilst 41 Commando and No 10 Inter-Allied Commando branched north towards Domberg. Their objectives were to capture all of the German coastal and anti-aircraft batteries and radar installations along the dunes, hold them against potential counter-attacks and link up with the allies assaulting from the mainland.

After three days of hard fighting along the dunes, with all objectives secured or destroyed, the RM Commandos linked up with the Allied forces who had assaulted the island from the East and South – and the Battle for Walcheren Island was over.

Within hours of the capture of the last shore battery, minesweepers were in the Scheldt sweeping for the hundreds of mines that lay along its length. By the end of the month Allied shipping was unloading in Antwerp and the lines of supply were dramatically reduced. 

Westkapple painting

The Assault on Westkapelle : A painting in the Domberg Town Hall

Creating The Bolt Action Force

Creating a Walcheren RM Commando force for Bolt Action is somewhat limiting when compared to the options available in most generic and theatre lists. Only 41 Commando landed with armoured support, namely Churchill AVREs and Sherman Crab anti-mine tanks from the 79 Amoured Division. 47 & 48 Commando landed with essentially what their Buffaloes and support craft could carry – 3 inch mortars being their heaviest ordinance.

Much like D-Day however, the commandos relied heavily on Naval bombardments from the 15 inch guns of HMS Warspite and two Royal Navy monitors, which pounded the German positions. 25 support landing craft also steamed in close exchanging fire with the shore batteries. (The bravery of these support craft, coming close inshore greatly factored in the relatively light casualties the assaulting Commandos. The cost to the support land craft was heavier, as only 4 out of the 25 was still operational at the end of the day!).

If anyone complains about the free arty observer for my list I’ll point them to the HMS Warspite, sitting 50 metres over the road lobbing 15″ shells onto the board. 😉

No theatre selector from the Armies of Great Britain book adequately fits the Commandos at Walcheren as the ‘Normandy RM Commando Troop list contains no Buffaloes – so I’ve had to use the Generic Reinforced Platoon selector. 

First draft 1250 Point MOAB List

First Lieutenant (Veteran)

7 man Commando Section #1
1 SMG / 1 Vickers K Gun
7 man Commando Section #2
1 SMG / 1 Vickers K Gun
7 man Commando Section #3
1 SMG / 1 Bren Gun
7 man Commando Section #3
1 SMG / 1 Bren Gun

Medium Mortar (Regular)
Observer

PIAT Team (Regular)

LVT Buffalo # 1 (Regular)
Polsten Gun
LVT Buffalo # 2 (Regular)
Extra hull mounted MMG

Sherman V (Regular)

Free Forward Observer (Regular)

National Characteristic Blood curdling charge

This list pretty accurately represents a 41 Commando force as it assaulted  Westkapelle and Domberg to the north of the island.  I’ve opted for a PIAT team to compensate for a lack of Anti Tank options aside from the Sherman V, although I’m reconsidering the PIAT in favour of spamming anti-tank grenades on all my commandos.

What are your thoughts?

Everything’s being assembled and painted now, stay tuned for more updates.

Walcheren Map

There and Back Again: A Masters Tale Part 2

A Masters report by Andrew Colman

Welcome back to the second part of my blog covering the Australian SBG Masters for 2017. In this part I’ll be covering the group stage on the first day of play. If you haven’t already, go back and peruse the blog entry I composed prior to the weekend, I do a preview of all three of my group stage matches and an in depth discussion of my own list which should give you some good context.

Day 1: The Road Goes Ever On and On

Friday night saw myself and Liam Dailly travelling down from Sydney to Melbourne where we were joined by Lachlan Rigg from WA and hosted by the magnificent Joshua Colman (as his surname would suggest). Together we made up the ‘Fallen’ representatives at Masters under the pseudonym of ‘The Barons’. Saturday morning was a bracing 1 degree above 0 as we plodded around in at least 4 layers. A trend of extremely cold weather seems to hang around the Melbourne events I’ve attended the past few years. Whilst the turnout for this year was a little disappointing, it was great to see both some familiar faces and get the opportunity to meet some new ones. The quality of painting and creativity in display boards made my choice for best army difficult, but I ultimately voted for Tim’s Double Mumak army just ahead of Josh’s Werewolves. Coincidentally, I’d have the pleasure of playing both of these armies on Day 1.

In the interest of assisting those who might be looking to improve their game, throughout my discussion of each of these matches I will try to convey my thought process going into the game, how it plays out and you could possibly learn from it. Before you start each game you need to identify several factors; the strengths and weaknesses of your army, the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents, how they will subsequently interact with each other and the nature of the mission you are playing, and what point in all of the these interactions will yield you the greatest advantage. This is a fairly overt way to articulate it, but everyone who’s ever played a miniatures game will have done this on some level.

Game 1: Supply Lines vs Joshua Colman (Dwellers in the Dark)

Wild Warg Chieftain

9 Dwellers in the Dark

Wolves1They don’t bite…they rend

The supply lines mission revolves around getting points for holding up to 3 objectives in every turn. Josh’s werewolf army was using dweller in the dark profiles, meaning there were 9 monsters with regeneration and higher fight value than my big hitters. I knew if they got into my goblin line they would inflict horrific damage and start a bowling competition with the amount of hurls they would unleash. The mission lay heavily in my favour however as I could easily get to all 3 objectives with superior numbers and quickly gain points Josh had limited mechanisms to answer. He also possessed only a single might point, guaranteeing me the ability to move as and when I needed to. Fury and the high courage of the Numenoreans meant the terror on his models wasn’t a heavy concern, whilst if I beat the werewolves in combat there low defence meant i could return heavy damage on them.  It was the epitomy of a glass cannon. With all these factors in mind, I was cautiously optimistic that if I simply control the game I should come out with a win. We were playing on a beautiful Khand board that drew some inspiration from Japanese aesthetics of our world. The central objective lay just outside a portico style gate in the centre of the board. This created a natural choke point that only one or two wolves could access, so a coterie of goblins proceeded to huddle in its shelter throughout the course of the game hoping they wouldn’t be killed by their hurled brethren. A stone wall run through the board on either side of the gate.

Wolves2The flying Goblin formation (with camera blur)

Hesitant about dividing my army with one half cut off by the wall, I formed a defensive V formation spearheaded upon the gate and prepared to stall out whilst I gained objective points.

My initial manoeuvres made it difficult for Josh to commit many of the dwellers and I was able to weather the initial onslaught with a little bit of luck. Meanwhile the scribe began his magic and the reinforcements began to roll in, drawing Wolves away from the primary conflict.

Wolves 3It’s rude to hurl your dinner, please just kill and eat it like a normal giant Wolf would (My inner monologue for most of this game)

The Dark Marshal and the Goblin King then proceeded to use this as an opportunity to go on the counterattack, striking up and surrounding dwellers to bring them down whilst using magic to keep others locked down. A piercing striking Goblin King with Burly needed 2s to wound the defense 5 Dwellers with 6 attacks when trapped. Ouch! This chained with heroic combats saw several dwellers downed. The goblins in the centre had taken a bit of a beating and were broken in that time however, and the King / Marshal were drained of might.

Wolves4Bottom Right: A conveniently Dweller shaped hole in the midst of the Goblins. Forcing Josh to split his army made it very difficult for him to produce the shock and awe tactics he needed.

 By this point however Goblin reinforcements were swarming over the remaining objectives and the day was clearly carried. The surviving dwellers were buried under the remaining goblins whilst the Dark Marshal heroically delivered the coup de grace to end the game, fading out of existence beside the Wolfs corpse as he lost his last will point. Ultimately a bloody victory, but a comfortable one that I didn’t make tangible mistakes in and felt in control. As much as he likes to compete Josh was a top sport as usual and clearly still enjoying himself even when losing.

Final score: 19-3 

 


Game 2: Race to the Prize vs Nick Beattie (Iron Hills Dwarves)

Dain Ironfoot – War Boar
11 Iron Hills Dwarves 

Iron Hills Captain
11 Iron Hills Dwarves 

Iron Hills Captain – War Goat
6 Goat Riders

Dwarves1‘We’re on lads! Let’s give these bastards a good hammering!’

Race to the Prize is a more balanced version of Hold Ground. Nothing starts on the board but instead randomly deploys from any board edge, runs to the middle and seeks to capture the objective and the artifact atop it. I was playing against Nick Beattie, who as I mentioned in my previous blog, from everything I heard was quickly picking up the game with the benefit of his experience in other war gaming systems. As you’ll soon see, ‘quickly’ is a severe disservice to his ability.

Iron Hills if they can bunker up are a nightmare to dislodge, but I knew that I could most likely outflank them plus the fact they needed to move to the centre while being harassed and only having limited options to stop my reinforcements. The Iron Hills army rule meant that the dwarves could always arrive when and where they wanted to (a 2 could be pushed down to a 1, a 3 could be pushed up to a 4, a 4+ is effectively a 6) so I had no hope of looking to catch them out, but was prepared to spend as much might as necessary to make sure my army came on together, its strength is in numbers. I held a decent might advantage at 11 to 7, but this was mitigated by the Captains special rules to potentially copy my actions for free. Double monster gives me good tools to take out the goats with hurls and the Marshal could shut down Dain with magic for most of the game hopefully. With all this in mind I was reasonably confident I could pull out the win against a newcomer. Nick had never encountered many of the things in my army, including Ringwraiths, Shamans and flying monsters. It was only his 2nd large point’s game and something like his 8th game in total.

I began by deploying some of my smaller weaker warbands with less might, so that if necessary the big things could spend might to come on and protect them. The Scribe was my first warband and immediately rolled for reinforcements, which combined with the spreading of that warband resulted in my covering 44 inches of a board edge in which Nick could not deploy because he would be within 6 inches of one of my models. He did however deploy his goats towards the edge of that board edge. I responded with more goblins, he deployed infantry some distance away on the short board edge. The King, The Dark Marshal and Grinnah all spent might to appear in the face of the Goat Riders. Nick immediately realised his error in not deploying his force together and resolved to do everything to mitigate his losses.

Dwarves2‘Send in the Goats’ –Dain

The goats would not be able to outrun the fellbeast who could compel, charge one and then hurl or heroic combat, so he decided to commit them in to buy time for the dwarves to reach the centre and do as much damage as possible. My jaw then proceeded to hit the floor as he looked to block the flying fellbeast by using his models to prevent a space for it to land in the back line. This is a fairly advanced tactic, and most players pick it up after a long time playing where they’ve seen it been done before. This man was doing it despite having never even played against a model with fly before. I was later told in his 2nd game ever he’d dismounted in order to able to fit through a particular gap. This is something people playing the game for years don’t do.

The goats were fairly swiftly swarmed and brought down with a combination of magic, hurling and sheer numbers whilst the rest of the Goblins swarmed for the centre from the shortest possible distance from a table edge.

Dwarves3The horde swallows the goats up, leaving nary a trace behind

At this point I was very confident of taking away the win, but I also realised I had someone who would have a great mind for the game and was very open to learning. The rest of the game was in some respects almost a cooperative venture, with both of us openly talking from both sides of the fence what our tactics should be and what our opponent should expect and how to react to that. Nick would end up earning my best sports vote, despite his early losses he wholeheartedly threw himself for the rest of the game into discussing how he should be trying to mitigate his losses and recover with an upbeat and very perceptive attitude.

Dwarves4Dwarves are natural sprinters, very dangerous over short distances!

It was then a headlong march for the centre, with harassing goblins from behind and the mercenaries deploying near the centre blocking off the dwarves ensuring I would comfortably envelop it before Nick could get there. The artifact was snatched up and quickly put into the hands of the Goblin King.

Dwarves5The Goblin Apocalypse is upon us

The Dwarves formed their shield wall, gritted their teeth and began to grind relentlessly towards the objective. Iron Hills are incredibly hard to kill, even when completely surrounded, so a heavy extended melee broke out in the town square. The Marshal kept Dain out of the fight whilst I rolled a horrendous amount of reinforcements, using up the 40 odd spare goblins I had brought along, never anticipating I would use every single one of them.

Dwarves6I ended the game with more models than when I started. Not often you can say that.

The Dwarves eventually caved under the relentless pressure, not before bringing down the Dark Marshal. A very decisive win ultimately, but a most engaging and enjoyable game. I like helping people learn, and someone with a natural knack for it like Nick is very gratifying to watch. I think it’s fair to say, come this time next year, there will be another very dangerous competitor in the ranks, and I’ll be cheering for him. I’d love a rematch then.

Final Score: 21 – 3

 


Game 3: Breakthrough vs Tim Wraight (Double Mumakil)

Mumak1Amazing display board and theme, got my best army vote

Game 3 saw me matched up against Tim’s Mumaks. As I’d suspected, the big things were coming out in full force from him. The objective of Breakthrough is to run your models off the opposite edge, with points for how many you get off. I had far more than he did, but his were much faster, and much harder to stop. If they all died or got off before I could get models to the other side, I would be losing very hard. The Goblin King could shake off a trample, but nothing else in the list can. The only other tool I have for stopping them is using the Dark Marshal to control the commander of the beasts. I couldn’t also let them die too quickly because then the game would end again! Speed bumps is the name of the game.

Mumak2Full Speed Ahead!

Tim sensibly split the Mumaks so I couldn’t slam them into each other and also forced me to divide my forces. The Mercenaries deployed early in one of the far ruins in the hope that Tim would turn around and try to run them down, which would give me some very crucial time to move everything up. He didn’t bite, and continued to storm forward, which I think was the right decision. If he gets a mumak off and ends the game he still gains more points than I do. The Purple Mumak squared up against the Goblin King, who stood at the head of a cowering column of Goblins that all stood directly in 2 lines behind him. After some thinking Tim elects to veer away from the King, reasoning that he has a low chance to kill him and will probably be losing combats against him because of the fight values. I agree with this rationale, he wants to get off the board as swiftly as possible. However, I think he would have fared better drifting to the edge of the board than towards the centre, for reasons that will soon become apparent.

Mumak3Grinnah and friends breathe a sigh of relief

In the meantime, the Dark Marshal was forcing the Green Mumak into reverse parking every turn, heavily stalling its movement forward. Most of the crew dismounted with rappelling lines, since they would be able to actually move faster than the 4 inches forward it was gaining each turn. In the meantime both Grinnah on my right flank and Black Numenoreans in the centre were sprinting towards the other end of the board unimpeded. With the Green Mumak stalled, the Dark Marshal flew over and was able to reach the Purple Mumak as it had veered towards the centre.

Mumak5Did you invite it?

I was then able to successfully turn it around a turn away from the board edge into the hands of the King and his merry goblins, who promptly took 5 wounds off the beast in combat. It didn’t stampede, but I wasn’t too fussed as the compel had also granted me an extra turns grace before it reached the edge. I was fortunate enough to win the Heroic Move next turn and promptly dealt another 5 wounds to the Mumak, bringing the beast down.

Mumak6Legend says in Harad this manoeuvre is called ‘chucking a uey’

The Beastmaster was the only survivor of the falling damage, and was hunted down by the Goblin King. The Dark Marshal returned to the left flank to answer the encroaching Green Mumak.

Mumak7Abandon Ship!

The Mercenaries, Black Numenoreans and Grinnah’s contingent sat on the edge of the board, but I didn’t move them off it.  I was close to breaking, and I didn’t want for everything to run unnecessarily. Thus they all gathered on the board edge waiting for the final turn of the game. As the crew had predominantly dismounted, the remaining Goblins on that flank threw themselves into combat. The Dark Marshal came in to assist, yet again delivering the coup de grace to end the game as the models on the board edge left to safety.

Mumak9On Your Mark… Get Set…

The end result was another very clear victory in my favour, as I’d managed to prevent Tim from getting a single model off the board. It was dangerously close though, the Mumak’s had gotten perilously close to the board edge. Tim as always was a great sport.

Final Result: 22-3


Day 1 Closing Thoughts:

I’d run the group stage very successfully, dropping only 10 potential points over the course of the day for a final tournament score of 80 from a maximum of 90 points. I believe this had me sitting in first place at the halfway point in the tournament. I was obviously pleased with this, but I knew that the high seeding I now had would mean the gloves were off and I was in for some very challenging opponents tomorrow. Round 4 was to be on the top table against Lachlan Rigg, the man I knocked off the podium last year and the winner of Clash.  It would promise to be a most interesting game……

Come back next time for my coverage of day 2!

There and Back Again: A Masters Tale

By Andrew Colman

The 2017 Australian Middle Earth Masters are almost upon us, and as the incumbent title holder for the past year, I thought it would be good to blog my adventures at Masters this year. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking to win back to back, but that’s only a part of the appeal. We have an excellent Hobbit SBG community that gets together to play toy soldiers and enjoy each other’s company. It’s marvellous how you can be friends with people you may have only seen face to face half a dozen times or less.

gondor

So what army do I plan to bring? Originally I was tossing up whether to bring this ‘anti-meta’ Gondor list themed around the White Council aiding a kingly Denethor in his prime (tying in the idea that this is when both Saruman and Denethor may have just begun using their Palantirs in the pride before the fall) :

Saruman the Wise
Galadriel, Lady of Light

Denethor
12 Fountain Court Guard- Shield

Beregond (Convert as Irolas, Denethors assistant)
12 Fountain Court Guard- Shield

Damrod (Thorongil conversion?)
8 Citadel Guard – Longbow
2 Citadel Guard – Horse

Lobelia Sackville Baggins (Convert up a young Boromir).

40 Models

W&R-Army

I already had most of the models to make this army from a previous army comprised of converted Numernoreans with Spartan shields and helmet for a suitably elite look.

The basic principle was to have an answer to the things you will most likely see in top table armies (Magic, Fell Beasts, Strength 4, Terror, low defence number spamming, shooting) that I’d most likely be facing while having a omnipotent late game with an army that has bodyguard, aura of command (which will also stop Denethor going mad), 12 inch stand fasts as well as the Lobelia plus Galadriel terror combo. This is a very intimidating synergy build I’m quite proud of, and you may see me bring something like it at some point in the future. But it’s a force that while potent, is influenced by what other people could bring, rather than what I want to bring and is a fairly static indomitable shield wall. I want to bring an assertive, aggressive playstyle to Masters that puts the pressure on and forces your opponent to react.

I looked at the missions again, and why I was so successful with my knights last year. The supremely well designed Masters Missions all demand that you have mobility, the ability to capture objectives which usually means numerical pressure, a good versatile leader and a good late game considering they all end at 25%.

A few minor changes to the missions and the potential for a protest march if I brought the Knights again meant I’m bringing something else. So I went from one extreme of army style to the other, but valuing at the exact same principles we touched in doing so. Which means we go down, down, down into Goblintown. I’ve played a lot of variants of Goblintown at this stage, and own far too many of the dear little cockroaches. They probably see me as Sid from Toy Story with the amount of conversions I’ve done for them to create some aesthetic and tactical variety from event to event.

The theme for this particular army comes from a LOTR video game titled War in the North. The story behind it is inspired by the unexplored conflicts in Northern Eriador during the War of the Ring.

witn

Fairly underrated game in my experience. It’s no Shadow of Mordor, but it’s pretty fun!

The grunt enemies you encounter early on are, you guessed it, goblins in loincloths, whilst the primary antagonist is a Black Numenorean named Agandaur, with a core retinue of Black Numenorean followers.

witn2

Attractive looking things, aren’t they?

Throughout the course of the game he is tasked with rising an army of Orcs and Goblins, rides a fell beast and makes extensive use of magic. Sounds quite like something up the wheelhouse of a certain Dark Marshal. I’ve not listed him as the leader of the army for a couple of reasons. The first is purely a competitive one, it makes deciding target priorities for my opponent a real headache (do you deal with the ringwraith on fellbeast or direct it towards the tanky Goblin King who is very difficult to get leader points off?). The second is that this is still a Goblintown army with the Mordor contingent as auxiliary support, and not putting the Goblin King as the general of a Goblintown army simply feels wrong.

witn3

Magic – Great for parties, also useful in SBG

It’s now on its 3rd or 4th email submission as I kept shuffling numbers and points around until I was happy, but the list I’ll bring to Masters 2017 is:

Warband 1: (Leader)
(Tharzug) The Goblin King
12 Goblins

Warband 2:
Grinnah
12 Goblins

Warband: 3
Goblin Scribe
11 Goblins

Warband 4:
Moria Goblin Shaman
1 Moria Goblin – Spear

Warband 5:
Goblin Mercenary Captain
6 Goblin Mercenaries

Warband 6:
(Agandaur) The Dark Marshal – Fell Beast
1 Morannon Orc – Spear
8 Black Numenoreans – 1 Warhorn

army

The outer walls of Fornost in ruin (one of the games early levels) as the hordes burst forth from one of the breaches in the Fall of Fornost long ago.

This is an army that embodies pressure. It’s a ticking time bomb that demands a response and provokes mistakes. The Mercenaries and the Scribe combined with the warhorn create a constant stream of models that can appear anywhere on the board, granting so many of the checklist points we need to win the Masters scenarios. As mobile as you can get considering they can appear from any point, you’ll be outnumbering your opponent with Goblintown, you can very comfortably capture objectives and the Goblin King is an exceptional leader with a 40k esque stacking 3+, 4+, 5+ save between blubber, fate and fury. You also have a decent late game considering you can be reduced to 25% and still outnumber your opponent and clinch those all important objectives. If you don’t break until late in the piece you can also snowball your growing numbers advantage to overwhelm your opponent.

The Black Numenoreans are a tool to mitigate some of the weaknesses of Goblintown with their low defense and low fight value and provide a terror causing frontline that will also be very useful in the end game. The Dark Marshal will get the full value out of the banner range with this many models to benefit from it, while also being an answer to enemy fell beasts (F6!) and dangerous heroes. Because he is not my leader, it enables me to take risks and be aggressive with him, which is what we want at a Masters event. Having a second monster is great for hurl combos as well.

Anecdotally, this will be the first tournament of the many I’ve attended that I will be bringing the power pick that is a named wraith on Fell Beast. Considering the amount I’ve faced and brought down, I’ve more or less learned how to use them by proxy of being on the receiving end and knowing what shuts them down. Their recent nerf in the FAQ’s that stops them from being one shot machines when rending enemy heroes soothed some of my previous qualms about taking these point efficient nasties.

This will be the last time I bring Goblintown for the foreseeable future as it will be the 6th event I’ve brought them along (2 wins and a podium for them thus far) before they join the Knights in semi-retirement. I have some serious shenanigans planned for some of the missions, which I won’t share just yet to keep the surprise, but suffice to say they should provide people with some wonderful headaches.

Predictions:

It’s unreasonable to rank yourself so I’m not going to put myself anywhere. I do want to point however that I have again avoided having to play Jeremy Shannon. Jeremy is the creator of the Green Dragon Podcast and has been playing the game since its inception, and he owns every model in the range. Needless to say he’s pretty damn good. With one exception in the last game of an event that had no relevance due to the scoring system, by some quirk of fate Jeremy and I have never played each other despite sitting next to each other on the scoreboards across many an event. Jeremy can’t make it to Masters this year, so I’ll just facetiously claim it’s because he doesn’t want to have to finally play me.

My top 3 are:

1: David Leonard: Mr Leonard was my pre-tournament pick to win last year, finishing with more points than the winner of the previous two years, and finished 2nd only because some jerk also won 6 games, just by a bigger total margin. He thoroughly trounced me with a crushing loss in our last game at Silmarili. Melbourne’s best hope for their first big interstate win since Masters in 2015

2: Lachlan Rigg: The Men of the West (WA) have made an impact since they arrived at Masters last year with powerful armies and very good players, with Locky leading the charge. He won Clash this year, and undoubtedly has a target on my head after knocking him off the podium by a single point after our game in the final round of Masters last year. Looking forward to a potential rematch.

3 Matthew Todd: Another veteran player coming off a high with a long coming win at Silmarilli earlier this year. Is this the Toddles renaissance? Time will tell, but Matt has been on my shortlist of players at every tournament for a long time, and this one is no different.

Dark Horse – Joshua Colman: Fellow Fallen team mate, a great sportsman and painter as well. His army is top secret TM. It is wonderfully themed and utterly ridiculous, but incredibly potent if he plays it well.

I am of course doing a disservice to all the other excellent players who will be there and consequently wipe the table against me for not mentioning them, but there are only so many spaces on a podium!

Addendum: I wrote this up, but waited for the group draw before publishing this – the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place getters of last year are in the same group, which has my 1st and 2nd picks for this year! Group of Death indeed. I’m sticking with my picks, but there may be some very close games on day 1 in that group, with Corey Leslie playing an all-powerful kingmaker role. They may potentially knock each other out of contention by denying each other points, but if that happens I’m sure they can catch up on day 2 with more forgiving matchups.

My own group has Tim Wraight, Joshua Colman and Nick Beattie.
Joshua Colman and I will be indulging in some kinslaying (apt as we are also both Elf fans) being drawn against each other. From memory we have a 2-1 record in my favour so a good opportunity for him to level the score, especially considering the horrific damage his army can inflict to my Goblins in any given turn. I’ve had the pleasure of playing Tim a few times as well, and he often brings powerful centrepieces to his armies (Treebeard with an all Ent army, Gwaihir and Eagles, King Elessar and SMAUG! to name a few) so I’ll undoubtedly need to be prepared to deal with something big and scary. I’ve never met Nick, a newcomer to the hobby, (it’s also always great to play against new opponents and meet new people), but from what I understand he is a war gaming veteran who’s picked up the game very quickly under the wings of Jeremy Shannon (if the painting and conversion pieces Nick’s shared are any indication he’s already far better than me in that department). I underestimate him at my own peril!

I’d be remiss before ending this to give a quick shout out for Hobbitcon, being run early September here in Sydney. Helmed by myself, Ian Underwood and Adam Jenkinson, we’ve created a large collection of new points match scenarios to play over the weekend.

Come along and enjoy the fun!