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 its 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!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Painting Update - ACW, Squadhammer, Battletech

This week's post is another painting update. 

I completed another set of commanders from Pendraken for my 10mm ACW project. Both sides got a Division commander (denoted by the flagbearer), another Brigade commander, and a staff officer model promoted to command either artillery brigades or other formations.

I also finished a Dreadnought for my Squadhammer project. I think the third-party legs look pretty good, giving the Dreadnought a look somewhere between the normal squat, box-shaped version and the sleeker Contemptor version. The Sergeant is for scale. 

Speaking of older projects, I've also finished the support lances for my Battletech mercenary force. A while back I posted a lance of Manticore tanks, which are the main punch of the tank company. 

The second lance of the company is made up of two Bulldog tanks and two SRM carriers. This lance is a close range force that supports the Manticores when enemy units get too close for their PPCs to be effective. 

The third lance in the company consists of two Galleon tanks and two LRM carriers. The Galleons are fast scout tanks that can act as spotters for the LRM carriers. The LRM carriers add to the firepower of the Manticores at long range. 

Finally, I added an air lance of two Warrior helicopters. While lightly armed, the Warriors make for decent scouts for the company. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

King (George) of the Hill - Rebels & Patriots AAR

Two years after meeting Dan, we finally got around to getting to the table (the first year was due to scheduling, and then Covid happened...). When we first met we somehow got to talking about tabletop wargaming. Dan was already an experienced role-player, but wanted to get into the wargaming hobby. It's certainly taken a while, but we could finally play that game I owe him. 

We met up at the local game store last weekend. After thinking about what game to play, I settled on Rebels & Patriots. I had already put together a box of terrain for it, which I planned to use at Cape Con. Unfortunately, that was canceled due to the pandemic, so the box went up to the attic.

We used the "Lament Ridge" scenario from the book, with the tree at the center of the table denoting the objective. The goal was to be the only side with units within 3" of the objective at the end of the battle, which could randomly end starting on turn 8. Otherwise, you could remove 75% of the enemy and force them to rout. 

The Americans had four units of Timid Line Infantry, which meant that they fought with 6 dice instead of the 12 that most units start with. They were accompanied by two units of Sharpshooter Skirmishers. The Sharpshooter upgrade meant that they had a 24" range instead of 12" and hit on rolls of 4" instead of 5". 

For this game, we tested a house rule to Skirmishers that I had seen discussed online. Normally Skirmishers can either use a Fire action and shoot with 12 dice, or use a Skirmish action and fire with 6 dice. However, with that 24" range and increased chance to hit, Firing Skirmishers are more like machine-guns then, well, skirmishers. So we changed the Skirmishers unit to have the same restriction as the Native unit and only have the ability to Skirmish, removing the Fire Action. 

The British had a more regular force, with three units of Line Infantry, a unit of Shock Infantry (Grenadiers), and a unit of Light Infantry. 

I think I should paint up some Native American allies for the British to act as Skirmishers for the sake of unit variety. I will also need to add some cavalry to both sides. 

Neither of us rolled anything interesting on the Officer Traits chart, and I was the attacker for the scenario. 

The game started with both sides advancing. With their long range, the American Skirmishers managed to hit the unit of British infantry behind the fence and made them Disordered. 

On the other side of the ridge, the two forces lined up, with my skirmishers and Dan's infantry taking cover in the fields. 

Unfortunately, Dan's officer couldn't seem to get his own unit moving. He rolled a blunder (double 1's) on their first activation, earning the unit a point of Disorder. 

Fire from the skirmishers continued the harry the British infantry, and the unit by the farmstead briefly retreated before Dan rallied them back into action. 

Meanwhile, the infantry in the fields exchanged fire with each other. The long range and cover meant that only minimal damage was dealt. 

With the opposition momentarily stalled, the Americans moved into the farmstead, hoping to potentially flank the British with the support of the riflemen. 

On the American's right flank, a unit of the Continental Army was the first to break, fleeing after being hammered by the two British unit. 

Dan's officer had finally gotten his men into the action and had formed his units into a battle line. Since his officer's unit was still Disorded from the earlier blunder, they could only fire with half their dice. Still, that was enough to knock out a stand from the Skirmishers. 

Meanwhile, the British Line Infantry had settled back at the fence and fired upon the Continental unit in the farmstead, causing casualties and a point of Disorder. 

While it was Turn 5 of a potential 8, neither Dan nor I had decided to move onto the hill yet, as any unit that crested the ridge would like be the target of the troops waiting below...

I managed to rally my unit of Line Infantry, even if it was severely diminished. 

While I was getting the men back into battle, Dan sent his infantry in a charge against the Skirmishers in the field. A lucky Evade action let my Skirmishers fall back out of the range of the British baronets. 

And during this Turn, Dan rolled a double six to activate a unit, and rolled another six to get a 4 point unit's worth of reinforcements! He decided to bring on a light artillery piece to support his attack on the hill. 

On Turn Six I decided that it was time to act, and my officer ordered two units of Line Infantry up onto the hill in Close Order. 

In response, Dan charged in his Grenadiers. Luckily, my Timid infantry were able to survive the charge and only ended up falling back a short distance - well within range to fire at the Grenadiers in the next turn. And since they had caused a point of Disorder on the Shock Infantry during the melee, the Grenadiers didn't get a chance to follow up their attack. 

Desultory fire from my units on the right flank gave Dan the opportunity to rush his line infantry from the field to the hill, hoping to catch my Close Oinfantry in the flank. 

Meanwhile, the smoke coming from the farmstead seemed to block the view of both sides, with little damage done to any of the units. 

Another poor round of American shooting from the fields allowed Dan's infantry to reach the American unit by the hill (after they had fired on the Grenadiers). The British infantry saw the colonists off, but the rebels managed to keep their cool in the face of cold steel and kept their lines for the moment. 

However, it was a this point that Dan's right flank crumbled from the weight of fire and mounting Disorder tokens. In short order both his Officer's unit and the infantry unit behind the fence were routed, leaving his force bereft of the Officer's +1 bonus to Discipline (which was crucial for activations, morale checks, and rallying). 

We did correct a slight mistake at this point when I realized that Dan's melees would have forced my units out of Close Order. That actually ended up helping me when we realized that my units could then fire at Dan's units without the 45° angle of fire restriction that Close Order imposed. This Turn ended with two more of Dan's units Broken and retreating away from the battle.

However, Dan could still pull out a draw if he managed to keep a single unit within 3" of the objective when the game randomly ended. 

Unfortunately, Dan wouldn't have that chance. A poor roll to Rally saw the Grenadiers rout, which then forced the rest of the British to make morale checks. Without his officer's command bonus, the last unit of Line Infantry fled the table, leaving only the Light Infantry and the Light Artillery. 

We decided to call the game there as I technically miscalculated the points total needs to force Dan's British to rout (I didn't incorporate the extra points from the cannon) but by that point it wasn't going to last much longer. The Americans had secured the ridge and likely would have seen the rest of the British off before long. 

I'm glad that Dan and I were able to get our first game done, and what a game it was! While the Americans came on strong at the start, their dice seemed to cool in the middle, and it could have gone the British's way, especially with the reinforcing cannon. The disastrous loss of his officer and the crumbling flank, however, didn't leave Dan with many options. 

I'll have to add more units to both sides for variety if we're going to be playing Rebels & Patriots more often. I'd definitely like to take the campaign rules for a spin, as they don't seem to take too much effort to implement.