Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Gathering in the Desert Battles

I really meant to post up my battle reports for the Gathering last week but, I got lazy. Here is a quick over-view of each of my games along with a few photos.

Game 1 "Artifact" vs Moria Goblins (Jeremy)

The first game of the event was a cool themed match between my Dwarf army and Jeremy's Goblins. The scenario was "Artifact" which is a modified "Seize the Prize" scenario. There is an objective in the center of the table and you need to dig it up and carry it off the opponent's table edge.

Being the first game of the event and facing the Cave Drake I must admit to being a little distracted. During the deployment phase I was really only thinking about how to not get smashed by the Drake. I actually did not start thinking about the scenario until about turn three when Jeremy's Wargs dug up the artifact. By the time this had happened I had over committed my army on the right and allowed a big gap to open on the left in front of the Drake. With the Wargs now racing for my baseline behind the Drake I had to make a quick redirect of my force to block. This is not very easy to do with Dwarves.

I did manage to tie up the Drake and the Wargs for several turns of hard fighting. This allowed me to deal a lot of damage to the Goblins on my right as well as redirect my center. I actually managed to take the artifact away from the Wargs but this was not going to last long. Jeremy took it back and was only a few inches from getting off the table. By this time both armies were broken so it would come down to some key courage tests. In the end Jeremy was able to pass a courage test with one of the Golbins with the artifact and exit the table. This was a fantastic game and a good start to the event.

Result - Minor Loss

Game 2 "Domination" vs. Corsairs (Chris T)

Game two was a modified Domination scenario. In this scenario there are three objective markers place diagonally across the table. The armies are them deployed diagonally from opposing corners. Chris had a truly stunning Corsairs army with a budget Wraith on a horse. I have played against Corsairs several times so I knew most of the tricks. I also knew the army was much tougher than you might think.

The first few turns were uneventful, just moving towards objectives and some very ineffective Dwarf volley fire. With the slow speed of my army I knew I could not contest all three objectives so I focused my efforts on the center and the left. Chris would take the right objective and hold it uncontested for nearly the entire game. This meant I was down one objective from early in the game. As our armies closed the gap the shooting of the Corsairs started to take a tole. Crossbows and throwing weapons accounted for 12 dead Dwarves before I took any of his models out of action. It makes thinks tough when you spot someone 12 kills and you are starting with almost equal size armies.

Chris really did a great job managing his throwing weapons and shooting but once the Dwarves made contact he had a really tough time getting past the high defense. I slowly started to make up ground and both of our armies broke on the same turn. I was truly stunned by this as I had been losing all game but now I felt like I had a chance. In this scenario once one army breaks the game may end suddenly. If the game had ended on the turn we broke Chris would have walked away with a major victory. But the game didn't end then, instead we had two bonus turns and this would prove to be the decisive factor. Chris' army's low courage meant that he lost lots of troops to failed courage tests. In fact, he lost all the troops holding the right objective leaving unoccupied. Two additional turns of fights and courage tests allowed me to capture the left objective. We both had too many troops and characters to capture the center so it remained contested.

Chris was a great guy to play against and was a great sport. On several occasions during the game he reminded me of re-rolls for my banner. This is something that I always forget to do and it did make a difference. Most people are more than willing to let you forget to do things during the game and I can understand why this happens. It is my responsibility to know my army and to use it to the best of my abilities. It was refreshing to play someone who was more concerned about having a good game rather than just getting a win.

Result - Minor Win

Game 3 "Emissary" vs. White Hand (Mike W)

The "Emissary" mission is a modified "Storm the Camp" scenario. In this scenario you must escort an special emissary model across the table and into the opponent's camp. The emissary only moves 6". This modification helps slowdown the cavalry armies and gives the foot armies a chance. I our game speed was not going to be an issue. It was going to be a slow slug-fest.

Mike and I had the same basic plan - block in the center and the left and shift the emissary around the right. The terrain was better on my side of the table for this tactic and my emissary made good progress. On Mike's side it was a different story. I was able to bottle him up and force him to move his emissary back to wards the center and then ultimately towards his left flank. It was at this point that Mike started fighting for the draw and gave up on the win. Unfortunately, I did not realize just how big of shift he was making towards my emissary and by the time I figured it out he had blocked my advance.

This was a really fun game but it was a brutal and pretty evenly matched.

Result - Draw

Game 4 "Bilbo's Treasure" vs. Cirith Ungol (Chris L)

This is a scenario that is inspired by a scenario that Tim and I worked on for Legends of the High Seas. You start the game with 6 numbered objective markers evenly distributed across the center of the table. At the start of the game you roll a d6 to determine which objective marker is the treasure. You must make contact with the marker to reveal the number. Once you locate the treasure you must take it off the board by any table edge to win the game. Turns out this game would be the perfect storm of bad luck and karma realignment.

To really understand the issues it is important to understand that this was a new version of the scenario. We have played a "Bilbo's Treasure" several times but the older version seems to result in a kill'em all sort of game with few people playing to the objective. This year we wanted to change this up a bit and encourage people to play it differently. Unfortunately Tim and I never played tested the changes and they were a disaster. So the karma came in with the crappy scenario that I had ample opportunity to address before the event and didn't.

So, start with a crap scenario and then draw one of the top players. I have been to 5 tournaments that Chris has been in and he is always one of the top contenders. He brings solid armies and knows how to use them. Chris' army included an orc drummer which gives all orcs within 12" of the drummer a 3" bonus to movement. This means he is nearly as fast as a cav army and almost twice as fast as me. Basically, I would have no chance to get to the objectives ahead of Chris, even the ones on my side of the table.

By the end of turn three Chris had contacted all six of the objectives and I, as expected, had not made it to any of them. My only chance was for the treasure to be under one objective that I was charge distance from (5"). If it was there I would at least have a fighting chance. Any of the other 5 and it was game over. Well, it wasn't the one I needed it to be, so the game was effectively over. There was just no way for me to catch an army that moves 9" a turn with an army that moves 5" a turn, especially when he had a 2" head start.

I think our game lasted about 20-25 minutes, which was not the quickest game but it was pretty fast. I think there was only one game out of 9 that went the full time. The thing that bugged me the most wasn't my game and how it turned out. What really bugged me was how many bad games happened with this scenario. I must admit to feeling a bit guilty for not putting in the extra time to make sure the scenario worked.

Chris was a good guy to play, I just wish we had had more of a game.

Result - Major Loss

Game 5 "Head of the Snake" vs. Isengard Scouts (Pete)

"The Head of the Snake" is a scenario that Tim and I came up with a couple of years ago and is a modification of the "To Kill a King" scenario. The major difference is you only get a minor win for shooting out the opponent's king. To get a major win you must kill the opponent's king in hand-to-hand combat with your king. This is one of my favorite scenarios and is a blast to play.

Pete was a last minute player that was playing one of Tim's ringer armies. Pete was, therefor, not familiar with the army and was mostly out to have a good time. This was fine with me as game 4 had made sure I was in no position to compete for the top.

We drew the Osgiliath table which has loads of terrain. Dwarves love loads of terrain with lots of choke points. Pete started off his attack with the Warg Riders on each flank. With their speed we were in contact very quickly. In the center our leaders and large numbers of troops headed for a fountain in the middle of the table. I made fairly short work of the Wargs. I was also making short work of the Uraks. In fact, I was killing his army out so fast I was worried I would get him to 25% before I killed his king. I did get into combat with his king and after a couple of turns of combat I had a wound on him but then my fears came true. I got him below 25% and the game ended. The official result was a Draw but I should have gotten a minor win based on some rulings from other games. Oh well, it was still a blast and was probably the best game of the weekend. It was nice to finally play someone who rolls dice worse than I do.

Result - Draw

Thursday, February 23, 2012

2012 Gathering in the Desert Armies

For this installment of my GiTD coverage I want to chat about the armies. The Gathering is an event that prides itself on great looking games. We have already look at the first half of the great looking game equation - the tables. Now it is time for the armies. The Gathering has a full painted army requirement which you just don't see very much. In addition the armies are graded on theme. Because appearance and theme actually entail significant points for the overall score you see some really amazing armies and stunning painting.

The appearance standards are so high that my Dwarf army I painted last summer for this event, and I am very proud of how it turned out, scored an average score for appearance. The level of detail on the top armies was really stunning. The really sad thing is that I only managed a few crappy cellphone pictures of a few of the armies and I completely missed some of the best. (Hopefully Tim will post some better pictures of all the armies)

This year had a very diverse array of armies. The format for this year was Good vs. Evil with each player choosing to play Good or Evil and bringing one 600 point army. Match-ups were all Good vs Evil regardless of the overall standings. I think this really helped inspire people to build and play interesting armies.

Here are a few of the Good armies:

Durin's Folk
High Elves
Galadhrim Elves
Army of the Dead
Dol Amroth

For Evil we had:

White Hand
Urak Hai Scouts
Far Harad (all mounted)
Moria (with Cave Drake)
Moria (Gundabad)

With this variety of armies, combined with the themed tables and Good vs Evil match-ups resulted in some really great games. Next up I will discuss my games. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2012 Gathering in the Desert Tables

This past weekend was the Gathering in the Desert Independent GT for Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game. It was the fifth year of the event and it was held at Imperial Outpost Games in Glendale AZ. One of the great things about this event are the tables and terrain. Lots of work has gone into making this a great looking event. Here are some shots of each table.


The Prancing Pony


Isengard Pits


Balin's Tomb

Amon Sul

Amon Hen

I will have a few more posts about the event so stay tuned.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dwarf Display Board

The last thing I needed for the GiTD was a display board for my army. I painted the army a few months ago but I total forgot the display board. Naturally I remembered last night. So I whipped this one up today and I think it will get the job done.

The Witchking on a Dark Steed

I needed one more figure for a game tonight so I pulled out my Witchking on a Dark Steed. I painted this guy this morning in a little more than an hour. As usual, it looks better in person.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lord of the Rings Khandish King

This weekend is the Gathering in the Desert Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game independent grant tournament (sounds impressive). Each year there is a painting competition and I try to have at least a couple of entries. Usually I have something already painted that I can just touch up and enter. This year I started with a couple of fresh models and spent more than a week painting them up. I wanted a model that would really be unusual and stand out. My Khandish King on a chariot would be perfect. You just don't see too much Khandish stuff around.

I must say I was really pleased with how this turned out. And then I too high resolution pictures. I have come to the conclusion that I have 2 megapixel eyes, which is not good with 8 megapixel photos. It blows me away how many things jump out at me in these pictures that I literally cannot see in person. I really hope the judges don't look at these pictures before the judging. Oh well, maybe there won't be too many entries.

I really hate the way GW painted this model for the box. They took an amazing sculpt and then painted it in a generic black and red scheme. For my model I wanted to really bring out the Asian influences in the sculpt. There really are a lot of different Asian influences here from the Mongol, to the Chinese and the finally Japanese. To me the Chinese and Japanese influences were strongest. I wanted the cloth to be more elaborate than just a solid color but I did not want to get too bogged down in an intricate pattern. I think I pulled that off. The Samurai inspired armor needed to be more subdued to keep the model from being too busy. I went with a simple red-brown color which ties the model to the chariot but still allows the colorful fabrics to stand out.

It was a really fun model to build and paint and makes a nice addition to the collection.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Old School Stuff - Battle Honors 25mm Italian Alpini

It is time to dig out some of my older WW2 collection and get it documented. This is my Italian Alpini army. I acquired this army, just as you see it pictured below, several years ago from my friend Tom. He, in turn, purchased it just as you see it from a guy on eBay. The infantry are all 25mm/28mm Battle Honors. They are actually not bad figures and where sculpted by some of the same people sculpting other modern figure lines. They are a little small but I have had them on the table with modern 28mm stuff and they looked fine.

You must forgive the crappy photos. I had to switch back to my old camera and it doesn't do macro very well.

The two tanks are Semovente 75/18 from Army Group North and are the best part of the army. One of these models has a number 6 engraved into the bottom. I have always wondered if that means something. I have actually been trying to sell these figures for a few years with no takers. I planned to keep the semoventes to use with my Fallschirmjagers in Italy.

Above is the command team. You can see that the paint is not very good and it is showing its age. I had thought about stripping and repainting but that seem like a lot of work.

Anyway, these are back in the box. Who knows when they will see the table again.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Stuck in a Fallschirmjager Rut

I have come to the conclusion that I am stuck in a bit of a rut when it comes to my World War II projects. It seems that I am painting the same Fallschirmjager force, for the same period of the war, in 15mm and 28mm. I am not sure how that happened.

he good news is I have added a fourth manufacturer to the collection - Artizan. I only have the four figures with MP44 pictured below. Artizan makes very nice figures and I know lots of people who really love them but for me there is something a little off with them. I am not sure what it is.

Next is a batch of the old Foundry Fallschirmjagers by the Perry brothers. The are nice figures but are showing their age.

I have added a bunch more Black Tree Designs Fallschirmjagers to the collection. These are mostly pioneers. This is another line of figures that is nice but a little off. The faces are scary.

Finally we have some Crusader Miniatures Fallschirmjagers. These are probably my favorite FJ figures so far. I am really going to miss adding these to the collection. With the closure of Crusader USA there is very little chance that I will be adding many more of these to the collection.

In all I have added another 45 figures to this army. Not too bad. I still have about 25 figures left to paint so keep your eyes open for more.