Tournament

Path to Hobbitcon: Shadow of Mordor – Get back in line you Maggots!

sof mordorDon’t get me wrong. I almost respect Ratbag. Who else has gone so far with so little?”
– Brûz the Chopper

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Welcome back to part two of my Shadow of Mordor posts in preparation of HobbitCon. For those unaware, HobbitCon is one of the two day events that works on an escalation system, bringing 400 points and then an addition 300 (700 total). Since my last post, I’ve been roped in to playing two days…. So I’ll have to look at another 300 points down the track.

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It’s been quite a busy couple of weeks with real life, painting and my new toys (may have got involved with A Song of Ice and Fire tabletop game and some 3d printing.) but I have made some progress on the Middle Earth front.

When I first started this project I had expected to grow tiresome and frustrated in converting up unique Orcs after the first few. Instead It has motivated me in creating, reimaginating, and finishing this army…..  However I currently have the problem…. I can’t seem to stop converting Orc .

The process.

So to begin I gathered up a heap of parts and bits from my bits box (well places) of games workshop models. However as AoS or 40k tend to be a little big for middle earth, I did manage to find a few bits and bobs. The parts include:

~ A mixture of warriors of Middle earth – for this project I have used Hardrim, Gondor and Mordor Orcs. These models were a mixture of broken, poorly painted and dating back to the original release sets.

~ Hunter Orc Riders – generous in spare heads and parts

~ Gundabad Orc upgrade kit from Forgeworld

~Age of sigmar/fantasy undead – A range of parts from the skeleton,black guard, and mainly hex wraith sprues

~ Spare parts and tools- general things found around including easterlings, greenstuff and paper clips.

~ Some additional Aos parts, mainly from beast men, and goblins.

The Parade.

As of typing I have created 25 unique Orcs for this force, giving me a few reinforcements to add later or just to nit pick at what weapons I want.  To make things easier I’ll display them in groups and comment about each section.

Put some muscle into it!

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When creating a rabble of Orcs, I wanted to include a variety, so in doing so I wanted some two handed weapons. So without further adieu, I present 3/4 of them.

From left to right-

1) A standard Orc spear with a swap from a gundibad berserker weapon.

2) Normal crewman off the Mordor siege bow.

3) Two handed/spear model with a weapon head swap to an Easterling halberd.

Just poke them with the pointy end!

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Any good Mordor army needs a few spearmen, and with rerolling 1s when outnumbering the enemy force there even better.

L to R:

1) Haradrim warrior with a hunter Orc head swap and Mordor orc spear tip. A little green stuff fur to keep it together.

2) A simple Mordor Orc with a borrowed Gondor spear.

3) Another Haradrim with a Mordor Orc head swap and Easterling halberd

4) A Mordor Orc with an Easterling cavalry arm.

5) A standard Mordor Orc . Possibly my favourite Orc model.

Swords and shields lads!

dav

Need something to charge the enemy.

L to R:

1) A Minas Tirith Archer with a leg swap from a Mordor Orc spearman, Mordor Orc sword arm and a spare gundibad Orc arm.

2) A Mordor Orc with a head swap. The face has been carefully trimmed above the nose. Both parts have been flattened out before glueing. Green stuff as required.

3) A Gondor Warrior with a head (Hunter Orc) and Gundabad weapon swap.

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L to R:

1 and 2) Mordor Orc with a Hunter Orc hand swap

3) Orc with a Gundabad weapon and a hex wraith arm

4) A Mordor archer with a hunter weapon arm, and minas tirith shield arm and some random goodies in his backpack.

Let lose the Caragors!

For those unaware Caragors are a much larger versions of Wargs, and live exclusively in Mordor.

For this project I wanted to create the war riders and their dismount together so they would look similar in appearance.

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1) The model has been created using a simple Hunter Orc with a Gundabad back banner. The foot version was a little more involved as there is no furry chieftain like top on the foot models. Instead I have had to cut a Hunter Orc in half, glue the chest and then add arms from both sprue.

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2) A simple Hunter Orc with a Gundabad head swap.

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3) Much like my head swap before., I’ve simply cut a hunter Orc head above the nose, thinned it and the helmet out and glued it on.

What’s to come? 

Well for the keen eyed, you will notice I’ve only posted 15 or so Orcs up. That leaves another 10 unique Orc to display for the next blog. At the moment I’ve begun to paint, and started some minor things on my characters. So finish off, I’ll see you next week and enjoy the post credit pics.

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Masters 2018 Day 2 – ‘Go Big or Go Home’

Last minute addendum: Minutes before I was to publish this Kylie publicly announced she would be stepping down from running Masters and handing the torch over to our own Adam Jenkinson. So I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the work that Kylie has done in establishing and running this event over the past 5 years, and the way in which its helped act as a touchstone to keep the national community together. I missed out on the first one but have attended every one since, and without exception they produce heavy competition, great terrain and some of the best missions and tournament structures I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. There’s now another event I can expect to play you in, I’m sure you will be gaining the title yourself sooner if not later.


Welcome to back to Andrew’s adventures at Masters! If you haven’t already, be sure to go back and read the previous two components to this series for this year. At the end of day one I was staring down the barrel of a very grim position in the standings, but it was a new day. It’d take a little luck and other match ups going my way to reach the podium, but far more than anything it required 3 big wins and nothing less. All the missions today mirror those of yesterday, by some coincidence they were played in the same order. Lets find out how that went shall we?


Game 4 – Pillage and Burn vs Matthew Todd

Azog with The White Warg
4 Hunter Orcs
1 Hunter Orc with 2H weapon
5 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow
1 Hunter Orc with Banner

Fimbul with Fell warg
4 Hunter Orcs
4 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow

Narzug with Fell warg
3 Hunter Orcs
4 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow
1 Hunter Orc with War horn and Orc bow

Yazneg with Fell warg, Lance
3 Hunter Orcs
1 Hunter Orc with 2H weapon
4 Hunter Orcs with Orc bow

Hunter Orc Captain with Fell Warg

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Matt was piloting a list he’d used to great success at Clash earlier this year with the Hunter Orcs. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying their presentation took a slight boost as well as he was borrowing Jeremy’s models. If I wasn’t rotating through the cavalry Hunter Orcs was an army I was considering myself. They can cut through any army like butter with Strength 4 and 2 Attacks on every model. Pitting that against the cloth armour of my army, if I ever got locked down I would be annihilated. If I could get a good round of charges off however, I could potentially do the same with the Serpent Riders charging in with higher fight value, lances and banner support to rip through them. The presence of 5 heroes made me hesitant to consider that plan straight up however, as there was lots of might and fight value kicking around between them. They also had more bowfire than I did. My advantage lay in my mobility and the flying monsters, I had to use it to spread Matt out as much as possible and then hit the more isolated targets.

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We were playing Pillage and Burn, as per the first mission the previous day. I placed two objectives behind the river, which should slow Matt down considerably, and reasoned I was fine with sacrificing one because I could get it back later. I had to spread him out until I found an opportunity to pounce, and that would require some bait.

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The opening went off very smoothly. The Knight of Umbar successfully compelled Narzug (far right above) out of the lines and subsequently eviscerated him turn 1. Matt elected not to send his other heroes in that direction which I though may have been a possibility, keeping them centralised. He wasn’t spreading yet. The rest of my force scooted back slightly, the horses all standing mid stream as we exchanged bowfire. The dice were hot this game, and Hunter Orcs steadily dropped to the poisonous arrows of the raiders

Matt continued to advance onto my objective the following turn and I saw an opening. The Betrayer and Suladan both charged forward, the Betrayer with an excellent hurling line available that would dismount Azog and Yazneg as well dealing considerable damage and preventing Matt from destroying my objective this turn. At the same time, the Knight of Umbar threatened the far flank, and it was very much in my mind at this point that he could simply ignore the fight and fly straight to the back of the board where Matt’s objectives lay.

It was then that the Betrayer would betray me for the 3rd time! He lost combat against a single Hunter Orc, and suddenly the game turns on its head on a single dice roll. Not only are Matt’s heroes still mounted, but he’s taken no casualties, he can destroy the objective this turn and Betrayer is exposed and on his own. I then painstakingly ran through my options, Suladan retreating with his own Heroic Combat, and accepted that the Betrayers fate would come down to a 50-50 Heroic Move contest next turn.

On this occasion, I got lucky, as the dice take so they give. Suladan was forced to dismount to pull off the heroic move, and my might reserves were down to one on both him and the Betrayer, but they got out with their lives.

It was a grim blow, but the Knight of Umbar was still active, and he surged up the flank, demanding a response. Matt diverted some hunter orcs but only one hero to tie him off, and my eyes lit up, as I could potentially isolate and destroy Fimbul like I had Narzug and call a heroic combat off him to fly well beyond reach onto his objectives.

This ploy ended up succeeded, but not without some pure class from Matt. I was just short of killing him and in danger of being locked down, when he unprompted reminded me to roll a hit for thrown rider, which dealt the killing blow. I said it at the time and Matt if you’re reading here it is again, that may have cost you in the match, but you won the real game in that moment.

With that success the Knight of Umbar was free to roam the backboard, looting and pillaging as he went. At the same time I wheeled around my force for a death and glory charge. Either I would burst through and end the game before he could reach my objectives by killing everything, or by losing everything. With the objectives piling up on my side as the Betrayer bailed on the fight to join the Knight, the sooner the game could end the better.

My heroic sacrifice proved enough, and all 6 objectives ended on my side of the board, bought with blood and horse meat. One big win down, two to go. I’d beaten one of my podium picks, and there were more coming in the future.


 

Game 5 Race to the Prize vs David Leonard

Suladȃn the Serpent Lord, Horse (Army Leader) -100
5 Serpent Guards -40
5 Black Númenórean, Venomblade Knights -50
2 Serpent Riders -26 -216 -216

The Betrayer, Fell Beast -170
5 Serpent Guards -40
5 Black Númenóreans, Venomblade Knights -50
1 Haradrim Warrior, Spear and Banner -32
1 Haradrim Warrior, Spear -07 -299 -515

Haradrim Chieftain, Spear -46
12 Haradrim Warriors – Bow -84 -130 -645

Haradrim Chieftain, Spear -46
4 Haradrim Warriors, Bow -28
7 Haradrim Warriors, Spear -49
1 Haradrim Warriors, Spear and Banner -32 -155 -800

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It was time for the Harad civil war! Perhaps a debate over the merits of horses… David had brought a horde harad force, with a monstrous amount of bows and a large body count. Much like Henry’s Gondor, I could not let them get into the center unopposed. Unlike Henry’s army however, David’s didn’t have as many threatening heroes and they were much more lightly armored. His single wraith wouldn’t be able to contend with both of mine if they apprehended it simultaneously.

The deployment for this scenario ultimately played a heavy role in the outcome of this game. I drew upon my Might reserves to ensure that my army came on cohesively, with the exception of Suladan, who was fashionably late (rolled a one two times in a row). I’m a big advocate of the idea that you should be spending as much might as necessary to deploy how you want to. David however opted to split his force, the elites including the Betrayer coming on from the opposite edge whilst the Chieftans entered from my side. I think David’s plan was to get some early rounds of heavy bow fire on me and buy the time necessary to get half of his force on the objective.

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I was more than happy to take this outcome however. It mean I’d be able to take out half his force without much resistant, coming out very much ahead in the trade and not quite break him to risk the game ending, giving me all the time in the world to slam into the second half and cut through and take the objective by killing everything whilst flanking from the sides.

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The bowfire did some damage, but not enough to unduly concern me, and men of Harad began to be knocked down left right and centre from calvary charges and Fell Beast hurls. Over the course of a few turns they were well and truly routed from the field, the chieftains having some magic thrown at them to contain them and allow the slaughter to continue.

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Meanwhile the other half of Davids force was desperately rushing towards the center, but I’d made sure to keep units out of the fight on intercept duty, ready to slow and delay them. A plucky Serpent Rider dismounted and grabbed the artifact from the central objective and even succeeded in killing a Black Numenorean before going down, much to my chagrin. With that model dead, if I killed everything the Chieftans had brought on, David would break and begin to run away, possibly reducing himself to 25% before I could contest the objective. I thus made a very conscious decision to go non lethal with the fellbeast as the only model that could, getting the Betrayer to barge so as to avoid strking blows, leaving a single model shaking his fist as the thunder of hooves faded from his hearing.

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With the line reassembled and feeling confident, the cavalry charged once more into the centre, looking to break the remaining footmen and cause them to flee enmasse. In the final turns, everything was committed, so it came as a great surprise when David was one model from the game ending, that we had a final turn afterwards, because I didn’t kill a single model in around of combat. This led to a most memorable and amusing sequence of events. The Betrayer had spent almost all his will the previous turn killing the Knight of Umbar assuming it was the last turn, so my Suladan called a heroic move intending to charge him and have him fade out of existence by running out of will. Suladan then failed his courage test to charge despite having three will available with a snake eyes, courtesy of the Betrayer’s Harbinger of Evil. My heroic move having failed, David then picks up the dice and makes a courage test for his Betrayer for broken. He fails it by one, courtesy of my own Betrayer’s Harbinger of Evil. In the ultimate fulfillment of his purpose, the Betrayer had now betrayed himself. David opted to take the noble way out and spent his last will to pass that test and then fade out of existence rather than flee the battlefield, granting me the leader kill and prompting more Harad to flee the battlefield, sealing his fate.

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Another big win! At the same time Jeremy had fallen to the hands of Henry, meaning that there was now no one undefeated. I’d have to leave it to fate and Henry’s final opponent to topple him, but with Jeremy losing I felt I had a decent chance of reaching the podium if I could take any kind of win in the last game. A mindset that ultimately, might end up hurting me!


Game 6 – Random Encounter vs Jeremy Shannon

Gundabad Orc Captain with Shield;
8 Gundabad Berserker
1 Gundabad Berserker with Two-handed pick;
3 War Bat

Gundabad Orc Captain with Shield;
4 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Spear; Shield;
5 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Shield;
1 Troll Brute

Gundabad Orc Captain with Shield;
4 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Spear; Shield;
5 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Shield;
1 Gundabad Orc Warrior with Shield; Banner;
1 Gundabad Troll

 

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Jeremys list was unsurprisingly gorgeous, but it had only 3 generic captains for its heroes. I am always in admiration for how he manages to eke the most out of anything that is put in front of him. My missions were to keep my heroes alive, kill his and capture his objectives. What I realized was, with the ability to fire off black darts at his heroes, is that I could do this absolutely no risk and not take fights of any kind. Being so close, I tunneled on purely getting a win to end up on the podium which meant no risk taking and no fighting.

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That doesn’t make for a particularly engaging game, and there isn’t that much to take photos of either. Hence I wasn’t taking many in this final game and there isn’t that much to talk about either. I spent 8 of the 10 turn limit skirting around, shooting bowfire that was predominantly ineffective and firing black darts off at his heroes before Jeremy cunningly concealed them inside a tower I couldn’t reach. With the benefit of hindsight, as soon as the two surviving captains took shelter in the corner, I should have charged straight up the middle to annihilate his army on the objectives as I could get guaranteed heroic moves and charges off every turn and should be able to isolate and take down the rolls. But I did not. I was so afraid of losing I forgot to try and win, which was the opposite of how I’d been playing up until that point. It also wan’t very fun. The Knight of Umbar was in a tentative position at one point and I did commit a charge on the 9th turn, but it was too late for the outcome I was looking for. I took the small win I was guaranteed, knowing it could possibly get me on the podium. It wasn’t a big win though, and thinking back now as I type this the opportunity for one was starting me in the face on turn 6. I didn’t discover until after that game that I was only 10 points behind on the leader board, and in my head as I heard this I knew I’d blown a chance of possibly taking the whole thing!


 

The final podium was :

1. Jeremy

2. Me (!)

3. Henry

I’d come 2nd, and only 5 points behind Jeremy! If I’d been told that on the end of day 1, I’d have been rather cautious about believing it. If I’d been told I’d actually had a chance to win it, I would have hardly believed it. It comes of course, at the cost of my podium predictions, as I’d played and beaten all 3 members featuring on mine. It was not quite the Green Dragon Podcast sweep with my defeat to Kylie,  but it was a respectable haul.

Part of me wishes I could play the last game again, but if wishes were fishes there’d be no room for the water. Best way to learn is to do something wrong. Melbourne ends its title drought, with a hearty congratulations to Jeremy as this years Master, a title well deserved, his involvement in the game is second to none. A thank you also to Joshua for lending me one of his fellbeasts, and to Kylie for a spare magnet when the Betrayer opted to yet again play to the name and lose his. Tim was most generous in hosting Ben and I over the weekend and driving us all over Melbourne, it was most appreciated Tim! Ben unanimously won best sports again (because of course he did, he’s such a swell guy) and we posted something for the first time in a few years (I am such a product of my generation) as we sent home our winnings to avoid extra baggage costs and airport security potentially objecting to pointed trophies.

I was really pleased with the aesthetic of my force in the end as well, my mumaks and remaining infantry are going to get a similar paint job at some point as well. Let this stand as a good example of why you shouldn’t give up after a poor start. Each day and indeed each game is a new one! Ultimately it was close but no cigar, I will be back next year.

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If you’re in Sydney or the surrounding areas, I am running Hobbitcon on the 11th and 12th of August at the Hall of Heroes, Campbelltown. There are single day options if you can’t make both days, and if it’s an incentive given my recent run of form at home you won’t have to play me!

Thanks for reading!

Andrew C

 

 

The Road to Masters 2018

It’s that time of the year and Middle Earth Masters in Melbourne fast approaches once more.

Let’s have a look back at how the past 12 months since the last Masters have gone. For anyone that I’ve played or spoken to you’ll know that I made a resolution after last year that my feet would not be soiled by touching the ground again and I would play where my heart lies, in all cavalry armies. I’ve been sticking to that resolution!

At a rough count, I’ve painted 152 models in that time across 4 armies. Painting mounted armies inevitably doubles your workload with a foot dismount added to every model you want to take, on top of the fact that mounted models in my own experience take between 3 and 4 times as long to paint as an infantry model from start to finish. It has the marvelous benefit of significantly reducing the backlog however, and I’ve made some substantial strides in reducing it to a manageable level, whilst keep new purchases to a minimum until it gets thinned out. The standard of my painting is now at a level much higher than it was a few years ago and has started to get some notice for painting votes and awards which is most gratifying.

Tournament wise, it has gone exceedingly well. Seemingly everything I touch turns to gold, with a win at every event I’ve attended. Good strategy with some luck when I need it has given me a considerable run of form. Many an army has been trampled underfoot by the glory of a cavalry charge.

Courage of Numenor (Campbelltown, Sydney) (3-0) Mounted Gondor

Wrath and Ruin (Castle Hill, Sydney) (3-1) Morgul Knights

Clash of the Titans (Cherrybrook, Sydney) (6-0) Rohan (Good) / Warg Riders (Evil)

Warhammer Wollongong (Wollongong) (3-0) Morgul Knights

Sail onto Brighter Shores (Castle Hill, Sydney) (4-1) Rivendell Knights

Courage of Numenor (Campbelltown, Sydney) (4-0) Mounted Harad

An overall record of 23-2 in games played translating to 6 consecutive tournament wins on the trot! The cabinet is getting a little full! I am delighted with my resolution to become the Horselord, playing cavalry is so much fun and gives you so much empowerment when it comes to decision making and seizing control of a game. With this kind of form in the run up I am undoubtedly setting myself up for massive failure in which I will crash and burn horrendously!

As a result of all this, it will thus come as no surprise that I will be not just flying south for Masters 2018, but riding.

I had at this point actually succeeded, with exception of a few extras and hero models, in painting up almost every mounted model I own. For the first time in over a year I was in unexplored territory again, as up until then I’d simply drafted the lists based on what was next on the painting list and drawn from that. I was free to dip into the spoils of tournament wins and redeem them on something that I had foot models for, but no mounted equivalents. Games Workshop had a bargain deal a while back for 3 Mumaks, shaving roughly $100 AUD off the price, which I purchased on what was admittedly something of an impulse (and looking back, was the last thing I grabbed before I introduced the no new toys until you paint what you’ve got rule! In hindsight, might have been correlated). They came with 36 Haradrim, and looking around at some of the increasing difficulty and expense of the OOP alternatives I was eyeing like Khand and Mahud, it was the most logical choice.

So I’ve ventured south into the desert for this one:

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The Knight of Umbar – Fellbeast
3 Serpent Riders
2 Haradrim Raiders – Bow, Warspear
1 Haradrim Raider – Bow, Banner

The Betrayer – Fellbeast
3 Serpent Riders
3 Haradrim Raiders – Bow, Warspear

Suladan the Serpent Lord – Horse, Bow
2 Serpent Riders
3 Haradrim Raiders – Bow, Warspear

Haradrim Chieftan – Horse, Warspear
2 Serpent Riders
2 Haradrim Raiders – Bow

36087169_10155670202415838_413976933995380736_n.jpgI debuted half of this list at Courage of Numenor. Hits hard, can’t take the hits back.

It’s a very hard hitting list, with some dangerous shooting power because they can manoeuvre for shots with the punch of the Betrayer supporting, and heavy close combat output with 2 fell beasts, a 3 attack character and lances with enhanced poison across the board. It is not however, very durable. The army is Defence 4. Cloth and wicker armour is not the greatest of protections! Half of it is also Fight 3, which is not great for a cavalry force that wants to get quick guaranteed combat wins and move on. The army appropriately needs to embody the serpent; hit hard, hard fast, let the poison flow before their prey has a chance to respond.

It has some dangerous matchups in F4 S4 armies – Iron Hills and Isengard present a serious threat that can match them in fights, kill them exceedingly rapidly and die relatively slowly. Elves are also a real nuisance in shutting down the Fellbeasts and stalling out the cavalry charges.

I know some people don’t like double Fellbeasts, which is fair enough, but aside from the competitive strength (which still needs to be executed well) it purely just cuts down on the volume of models I have to paint, which is a real Godsend. The excellent Joshua Colman has generously agreed to lend me a second one for the weekend.

I’ve painted half the required models for Courage of Numenor last weekend. I’ve opted for a black and beige-white colour scheme for the raiders, swapping out the black for turquoise on the Serpent elites to give them a bit more pop. Serpent guard and riders are OOP, so I’ve been converting them with Numenorean heads and making them the only models with the back banners, which is enough combined with the colour scheme to distinguish them on the table.  It’s been an enjoyable departure of the greens, greys and browns of the past few forces that preceded it. It was also nice to get a few comments and messages about them after the event. I now need to seriously get cracking on the other half!

 

Predictions:

Last years winner, Locky Rigg, won’t be in attendance, so that frees up some space on the podium, and improves the home state of Victoria’s chances of claiming a big interstate title, which despite being always in contention on the podium they surprisingly actually have not done since Masters 2015. That being said, my predictions are remarkably similar to last years:

My top 3 are:

  1. David Leonard – Believe it or not, he was equal first before tiebreakers last year and won all 6 games the year before, but came out in 2nd place on both occasions. Third time in a row I’m tipping him to take it, third times the charm right?
  2. Jeremy Shannon – We will undoubtedly narrowly miss playing each other once again, though playing me probably won’t hurt his chances of winning from everything I’ve seen and heard via the Green Dragon Podcast.
  3. Matthew Todd – Really consistent player and someone that’s beaten me solidly in our last two encounters, whilst nipping at my heels in the events that I did not play him.

A full local podium on this occasion, if ever there was a chance to bring home the bacon this is it for the Melbournians! I put David and Matthew in the same positions last year, and they ended up 2nd and 3rd respectively and I correctly identified all 3 podium members so there’s some kind of track record there.

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 and you don’t have the burden of expectation to weigh you down!

I’d like to conclude by promoting Hobbitcon, now in its 2nd year! 11th and 12th of August, escalation, one and two day options, interesting goodies,  and since I’m helping run it, you don’t have to play me! Come and play!

Thanks for reading!
Andrew C

The Inspiration for my Bolt Action Cancon Force: The Battle of Rots 1944

By Ian Underwood

Cancon is held annually in Canberra over the Australia Day weekend in January and is Australia’s largest gaming convention. This year’s Bolt Action event will be the largest tournament of its type held in Australia, having sold out 70 places a month before kick off. I attended Cancon for the first time last year and had a great time, so to be honest this is pretty exciting and in this post I discuss the force I’m taking and the historical inspiration behind it.

Cancon will be the second consecutive Bolt Action event where I’ll be taking a post-D-day Royal Marine Commando force. I attended MOAB in Sydney late last year with a force based on the amphibious assault of the Dutch island of Walcharen (see the earlier post here). Playing that elite, highly mobile force ended up being little beyond my experience level, and so for this tournament, I’ve gone for a more a generic army build…  but like all my recent Bolt Action forces, this one takes its inspiration from an actual historical engagement or action.

In this case the force is inspired by the desperate assault on the twin village of Rots and Le Hamel, in the Mue Valley to the North-West of Caen on the 11th June involving primarily 46 RM Commando and Canadian Shermans from the Fort Garry Horse

The Battle For Rots

“They fought like lions on both sides, so that the dead lay corpse by corpse. We searched every house, every courtyard to avoid ambush. And here is the confirmation of how ferocious last night’s battle must have been. The Commandos lie dead in rows beside the dead SS. Grenades are scattered all over the road and in the porches of houses. Here we see a Commando and an SS man, literally dead in each other’s arms, having slaughtered each other. There, a German and a Canadian tank have engaged each other to destruction, and are still smouldering, and from each blackened turret hangs the charred corpse of a machine gunner.”  – Regimental History, Régiment de la Chaudière.

On the 8th of June, two days after the Normandy landings, the elite 12th SS Panzer-Division ‘Hitlerjugend’ counter-attacked the Canadian positions to the North-West of Caen in an attempt to break the Allied bridgehead. After heavy and desperate fighting the the German’s were repulsed and the counter-attack stalled. The Canadians now however,  were left with a number of exposed forward positions in a salient around the towns of Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse and Norrey-en-Bessin.

Over the next few days, using the town of Rots as their base, the 1st Battalion of the 12th SS launched several assaults on both towns. Again the Canadians desperately repulsed the attackers. In one attack on Norrey-en-Bessin on the 9th June, seven Panthers were destroyed in a mad four minutes when they unwittingly presented their flanks to three troops of Shermans – including several Fireflys, who were arriving to reinforce the beleaguered defenders of the town.

rots2

Troops from the 12th SS Panzer-Division drive thru the town of Rots after an attack on Norrey-en-Bessin, June 9th, 1944. The fatigue is evident.

These engagements showed the true character of the Canadian troops as they threw back virtually everything the men of the 12th SS ‘Hitlerjugend’ could hurl at them. Sadly it also brought out the true character of the 12th SS, as it was during this 3-day period that elements of the 12th SS captured over 60 men of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles in the neighbouring town of Putot-en-Bessin and later executed 45 them in the grounds of the Château d’Audrieu, where some officers were headquartered.

It also should be noted that the 12th SS were responsible for the April 1944 massacre of 86 Frenchmen from the village of Ascq during the division’s relocation to Normandy. They were also were responsible for the massacre of 18 Canadians soldiers in the grounds of the Abbaye d’Ardenne on the day after the actual D-Day landings.

The 12th SS were highly motivated fanatics who had, by their own standards, under performed in the battle of Normandy so far. They would be later criticised heavily by the German high command and no doubt would have been smarting from their lack of battlefield success.

lemesnilpatrymap

The Commando’s route down the Mue Valley and the twin assault on Rots and Le Hamel. Note the precarious position of the villages of Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse and Norrey-en-Bessin – which received much attention from the 12th SS  from their base at Rots.

The Assault on Rots

On the 11th June, 46 Commando was attached to the Canadian 8th Infantry Brigade and given the task of clearing the 12th SS from the Mue Valley, culminating in an assault on their stronghold in the twin villages of Rots and Le Hamel. Clearing the valley was a necessary prerequisite to the advance on Cheux, and securing of the town of Carpiquet and the adjacent airfield.

For this assault they would be supported by a Squadron of Shermans from the Canadian Fort Garry Horse, a troop of Royal Marine Centaurs, 25 pounders and a machine gun company.

The attack started with A & B troop (a commando troop is roughly 65 men) advancing on Rots whilst S & Y Troop attacked Le Hamel. The SS had situated 5 machine gun nests 100 yards in front of the village. Major Lee of 46 Commando takes up the narrative.

“They held their fire until Y and S Troops were 100 yards away and then let fly. Without hesitation the assaulting troops went in, firing their rifles, Brens and tommy guns from the hip. There were two hedgerow obstacles to cross, one of which was lightly wired, but the attack went on. While we were crossing the last obstacle, 30 yards from the enemy machine guns, the Bosche flung their grenades and turned and ran for the defended houses in the village. 

The Commandos then were engaged in fierce street fighting for two hours, the enemy were, according to Major Lee.

“well camouflaged, and obviously very well trained. They darted about from house to house, changing their positions all of the time. Except on one occasion when confronted by a Sherman they showed no inclination to surrender. Their moral was obviously very high.”

Eventually Le Hamel was taken with with two 88mm Guns captured. A & B Troops meanwhile, assaulted Rots – where the higher concentration of SS grenadiers and Panthers were located.  Desperate fighting ensued, a tank on tank battle was taking place in the main street – with the Shermans coming off the worse. At one point B troop was engaged from both flanks and the rear, taking heavy casualties until it was relieved by X and Z Troop and a Sherman Firefly.  

Eventually at 8 o’clock that evening the village was secured. The Canadians had lost six Shermans, whilst two SS Panthers had been destroyed. The Commando’s advance of 7 miles had outstripped that of friendly units on their flanks and they were ordered to pull back for the night.

The following morning,  a company from the Quebec-raised Le Régiment de la Chaudière reinforced the Commandos and the Fort Garry Shermans and managed to secure the whole area. The ‘Chauds’ buried 122 SS men in Rots, while the 46 Commando reported 17 killed, 9 wounded and 35 missing. 

Major General Keller of Commanding 3rd Canadian Infantry Division later wrote to the Royal Marine’s Brigadier Leicester.

“…I must ask you to congratulate for me Lieut-Colonel Hardy and his 46 Commandos, for their thorough dealing with the enemy in and along the river line (Rots and Rosel): my R. de Chauds buried 122 Bosch done in by your chaps.

Be assured we appreciate all this and will deem it an honour to be fighting alongside and preferably with the Royal Marine Commandos”.

blog-pic2

The Bolt Action Force

As discussed above my actual Bolt Action force is a fairly standard army build with 4 squads of infantry and two vehicles. My regular infantry squads represent the Canadian Le Régiment de la Chaudière who reinforced the Commandos. Their cheaper cost also allows me to fit in a fourth infantry squad, which at 1000 points (I’m told) is pretty essential for a novice player.  

There were no Daimler armoured cars at the Battle for Rots, but I had one new in a box and and so it was painted up and joins the fray alongside the Royal Marine Centaur tank.

1000 Points

First Lieutenant (Veteran)

8 Man Commando Section #1
3 SMG / 1 Vickers K Gun

8 Man Commando Section #2
3 SMG / 1 Vickers K Gun

8 Man Infantry Section (Regular) #1
1 SMG / 1 Bren Gun

8 Man Infantry Section (Regular) #2
1 SMG / 1 Bren Gun

Medium Mortar (Regular)
Observer

PIAT Team (Regular)

Centaur Close Support Tank (Regular)

Daimler Armoured Car (Regular)

Free Forward Observer (Regular)

National Characteristic: Up and At ‘Em.

Hopefully these guys will perform admirably, like their real life counterparts. We’ll see what the tournament brings.

 

 

 

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

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!