There hasn't been much in way of tournaments for me since last spring. My Warhammer sabbatical continues and will for a good long time I suppose as long as the state of the game remains as it is. My dabbling into Warmachine has shown me that the competitive learning curve is steep and requires more dedication than that of guy who likes to play numerous systems and has two children under 5. Competitive Warmachine will be a slow process for me that involves gaming with friends and finding events that fit the bill for my skill level. The one system I am still playing that just seems to never get old for me. (and not because I dont get to play it all that often) is The Lord of Rings, Strategy Battle Game. As the mechanic of this game is the basis for Legends of the High Seas and Legends of the Old West. I am never that far away from it, even thou I have not played a game of LotR since the spring either.
Bilbo's Birthday Bash is our areas Fall Classic, in its third year, I am glad to say I will have been at the them all. A great time and extremely competitive event..the player pool for this game is small but dedicated meaning the half dozen events nationally each compel the players to travel. So when you go to one these things the talent pool is always top tier, in both player skill and Hobby chops. I do enjoy a 20 person event where Best Appearance award is drawing from 40 or even 50% of the attendees as starting base instead say 5% at a Warhammer event. Its just fun to bring your models to play with that much great looking stuff.
LotR is my last attachment to Games Workshop, I have to say I am not looking forward to a bunch of Finecast models, but am hoping for some metal or at least good plastic kits when the Hobbit films are released. While I am sure I'll end up disappointed we can always hope for the best. GW's has all but abandoned the SBG, with all LotR releases being geared toward the inferior but model hoarding War of the Ring. Thankfully we still get updated model profiles in White Dwarf. Reports from attendees I know, at this years Las Vegas Throne of Skulls, were certainly less than positive, so consider the game at this point, a "Specialist Game". Most already do although GW displays it as a core system. It would certainly be great if someone else who didnt have two other major game systems could eventually get this license and run with it. I think it would breath new life into the game, because in 100 years, Warhammer and Warhammer 40K are likely going to be foot notes or even forgotten in popular culture, while like it's successor "Star Wars", "The Lord of the Rings" already has timeless status.
One the great things about LotR is since it tournaments are strictly player run, you know what you are getting and I must tell you this a great event. Well run and well supported by its Organizers. This year has a three category painting event, which really got me happy and I plan on entering on piece in each category (the maximum) And the competition will surely be steep.
If you dont play the game and have read this far. feel free to stop now. I want to spend a few minutes talking about LotR competitive play and my army this year, which will only interest the select few.
Army Selection this year for me was tough one, with two years in competitively running Gandalf with Grey Company, adding Gwaihir (the Eagle) at 600 points was an uphill battle. Low model counts left me little room for error, and against insanely high defense armies like Dwarves is was just a "how well can you lose" type game.
Competitively the only somewhat of bummer to me, is general player philosophy of playing this game. General theory, which is akin to any game where people apply win/lose game theory instead just enjoying the game, a fact of human nature we just cant avoid. Is that despite any point limit you always maximize you model count because the law of average dicates the more you outnumber your opponent the exponentially increase your odds of winning. So instead of seeing armies of various factions with the heroes or monsters from the game we love or loathe. Instead you'll see a Mordor army at 600 points with 3 Orc Captains, a Bannerman and 70 orcs.
These are the type of Armies that win events, its just math, the more dice you can throw against a lesser amount dice, the easier you will win. For a game with huge playbook of tactics, its a shame the tournament play is dominated by this type of Lowest Common Denominator thinking. It usually only this way top 3 tables..then the rest of folks bring out the fun armies and all the cool stuff, from some running just 13 models in the "Unexpected party" or just running all 9 Nazgul. I even faced off against a Dragon last year and it was one of the better games I had ever played. I would love to see our National TO's (hint, hint, I know most of you) Change the games cap of 75 models to 50 for tournament play just so we start seeing some different and thematic armies winning events instead of another different shades of 75 generic troops winning the day with the law of averages as their mightiest weapon.
As you know I don't roll that way, "gamey" isn't normally in my playbook unless like Warhammer you eventually get pushed into it. I had originally planned on running a Fiefdoms army this year, with Prince Imarhil at the lead with all the bells and whistles...for whatever reason its seems that the Fiefdoms are super popular this year, and another regular player (and great hobbyist) and I ran into each other at another event and realized we where both working on The same army and we weren't alone. Since he had already started the army, and most of my stuff was still in boxes or blisters we flipped a coin for it. Fair enough and I lost. so it was back to drawing board..well not really- I didn't need to contribute to 20% of the armies this year being Fiefdoms- So I went to my fall back position, either Angmar or Mordor
While I initially made the push for Angmar, I had all the models..it doesnt show up that often, and has one of the few factions that can use the cool undead. I felt I wanted to play a little more competitively this year, and I was just missing the bump I would need running naked Wargs, gambling on undead spells going off, and my Heavy hitter, Buhrdur surviving.
I finally went back to my original army- Cirith Ungol and decided to flesh it out at 600 points with the Spider Queen herself, and touch the whole thing up and finish it. I am quite happy with the line up and I think its going to play great.
Shagrat- War Leader- despite his brief but fun roll in the film, this version is the toughest orc, let alone one of the top tier melee character in the game. I dont need another combat hero with "epic" Shagrat on the field.
Shelob- The Spider has a bunch of nasty tricks but one huge weakness...she must make a courage check everytime she gets wounded and if she fails she is done..this makes her a huge crap shoot..bad luck on an early volley fire..puts you almost 100 points down immediately. you need to use her speed to hide her and put pressure for your opponent to go after other threats and then bring her in late game, if you pull it off...you're going to win.
Orc Shaman on Warg- "Fury" is a great spell and being able to cast it on your Orcs on the key charge is a game changer. not to mention he has "immoblize" too. IF you can get a chance to use it. This guy is leading my Warg Riders in battle.
8 Warg Riders with HW & shield, strong cavalry with the shaman backing them up, great cavalry. Archers shooting at Shelob, they are coming for you.
18 Orcs Hand Weapon and Shield-
10 Orcs Spears
1 Orc with Banner.
The muscle wading up the middle with Shargrat
4 Uruk Hai with Two Handed Weapons. the Honor Guard- Strength 4, +1 to wound
Defense 7 Dwarfs go down on "5"
There you go, 44 Models, 22 Break...the pros will say model count."too low"...but you need to kill 22 Orcs ASAP and my Wargs Riders are into you by the second turn on one Flank..Shagrat is bringing a wall of Orcs up the middle and Shelob is waiting in the darkness for a good target...I'll take it..either way it will be fun to play. Staying in theme, I think all my painting contest models are going to be Mordor too, just not sure on what my 25mm model is going to be. I'll post WIP shots of Army throughout the next couple months..the event is first weekend in November and I have about a third of it already done, so Orcs and Saxons on the bench thru November for sure!.
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