Wednesday, June 16, 2021

When is a Gate not a Gate? - Middle Earth SBG Tournament AAR

This past weekend I attended the first Atlantic City Open, an event run by Frontline Gaming. 

The Atlantic City Open is the third series of events run by Frontline. Their other two are the Las Vegas Open and the Lone Star Open. Since Adepticon takes care of the Midwest, Frontline decided to start up the Atlantic City Open to cover the East Coast. 

The stars of the event were Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar, but there were also events for Kill Team, Star Wars Legion, and Lord of the Rings, which is what I took part in. 

Since it had been more than a year since I'd gotten MESBG to the table, and my last time playing was the less-than-inspiring MESBG tournament at 2019's Fall In!, I decided to bring a somewhat less-serious list and just have at it, fully expecting to be staying down at the bottom tables.

I ran the "Black Gate Opens" Legendary Legion as my force. This list severely restricts the options I could take from Mordor, but gives two bonuses: the Black Gate version of the Troll Chieftain, which gains an extra point of Might, Will, and Fate as well as the Fearless special rule, and a special rules that gives +1 on Wound rolls if enemy models are outnumbered in close combat (this does not include supporting spears, however).

Mordor - Black Gate Opens Legendary Legion, 700 Points

  • Black Gate Troll Chieftain
    • Morannon Orc, Banner, Shield, Spear
    • Morannon Orc, Shield
    • 5x Orc Warriors, Shields, Spears
    • 5x Orc Warriors, Shields
  • The Mouth of Sauron, Armoured Horse
    • 5x Orc Warriors, Bows
  • Mordor Troll Chieftain
    • Morannon Orc, Shield
    • Orc Warrior, Banner, Shield
    • 4x Orc Warriors, Shields, Spears
    • 4x Orc Warriors, Shields
  • Orc Captain, Shield, Warg
    • 4x Orc Warriors, Shields, Spears
    • 4x Orc Warriors, Shields
The scenarios for the day were randomly decided from a small pre-determined pool. 

My first game was against Robert and his Minas Tirith army, which was led by Denethor alongside Borormir, Madril, and a mounted Huron. With plenty of cavalry, bows, and Fountain Court Guards, this list could out-fight, outs-hoot, and out-move me. The objective was Seize the Prize, where both sides would race to uncover an artefact in the middle of the table and hold it until the other side broke or the round ended. 

While I had priority for most of this game, I messed up from the start and didn't deploy my Trolls in front of the Orcs so they weren't much help, and the Black Gate Chieftain ended up surrounded and slain by Boromir. As Robert pointed out after the game, I should have used the Orc Captain and the Mouth of Sauron to rush up and try to defend the objective. But it ended up in Huron's hands and I never got the chance to get it back. 

In a desperate bid for points I tried to rush Denethor with the Orc Captain. But I rolled poorly and the Orc Captain was trapped and slain by the Steward of Gondor and his accompanying soldiers. 

This ended up as a loss, 0-7. 

My second game was against Kevin and his Black Numenorean themed Mordor force. Led by the Dark Marshal and a Black Numenorean Marshal, Kevin's entire force had Terror and was mostly mounted, which meant I was unlikely to engage on my terms (especially with the Dark Marshal's "Harbinger of Evil" special rule that gave all of my units within 12" a -1 to their Courage).

This scenario was Lords of Battle, where the goal was to cause as much carnage as possible. Since the deployment for the scenario is the entirety of one half of the table (and at least 1" away from the enemy) we ended up pretty much on top of each other, as I figured Kevin would have the advantage of speed if I didn't deploy closer. 

Unfortunately, my earlier premonitions about the game turned out to be true, especially since I lost priority for most of the game. While my Fearless Black Gate Troll Chieftain did a fair share of the work and ended up squishing the Dark Marshal, the regular Troll Chieftain couldn't pass a Courage check to save it's life. Kevin decided to go after the squishier Orc infantry if the troll wasn't going to engage. 

With the Morgul Knight's lances, my Orcs were fairly easy to kill especially when knocked down from charging cavalry. And it's only after the tournament, at the time that I'm writing this, that I realized that I could have targeted the less-armored horses for extra wounds. This would have also remove the lances and the double attacks on charge from the Morgul Knights. 

Well, hindsight is 20-20. But the game's score ended up 2-8 for another loss. 

As I had expected, I was back at the bottom table for the last game of the tournament. Here I was up against Caleb and his mixed Mordor and Easterlings Alliance, led by Gothmog and the Knight of Umbar. 

The final scenario of the day had to have the dreaded Maelstrom of Battle Special Rules (which I do not like. At all). It ended up being Heirlooms of Ages Past. 

In terms of deployment, the dice could have been worse. The various warbands ended up mostly spaced out, apart from the Mouth of Sauron and the Knight of Umbar, who ended up right on top of each other. In true villainous fashion, the Mouth of Sauron fled on his horse as the Orc Archers in his warband were butchered. The Knight of Umbar gave chase, but the Mouth managed to not only defend himself but slew the Ringwraith before retreating behind the safety of the nearby Troll Chieftain. 

However, I had thought the game lost when Caleb ended up uncovering Heirloom artefact way over on his side early on. But this time my Trolls weren't stymied by the terrain, and Caleb unfortunately rolled a few 1's which Transfixed the model with the artefact and kept it from running away. As my Troll Chieftain held of successive waves of cavalry charges and eventually ended up killing Gothmog, the Black Gate Troll Chieftain went after the artefact bearer and squished the orc. I was able to recover the artefact as Caleb's force broke and fled the table en masse

At the end of this game, I won 12-0. 

While I'm not sure of the final results, I'm fairly certain I was a spot or two from last place. As a consolation prize (I suppose), I received a pint glass for being voted the second-best painted Evil army in the tournament. 

I definitely enjoyed this event more than the one at Fall In!, as this time I had tempered my expectations. At the very least, each of my opponents were a pleasure to play against, and I wouldn't mind heading back next year if there's another event. If I'm lucky, we may see more MESBG players in the area. It would help my rules knowledge and play skills if I could play more often than yearly tournament!

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