In an obvious attempt to steal my thunder Servitob has already displayed some of the exploits from last nights gaming nirvana. Not only that, but he is obviously trying to make me feel bad by picturing my plastic army men force going up against Gribblin’s painted, foppish, dilettantes… If you stare really closely you can spot some painted Easterlings in there I swear!
After meeting up at our usual hang-out it turned out that only Carabus, Gribblin and myself had bothered to bring any models. As Carabus had already mercilessly crushed the Armani handbag forces of the Elven Kingdoms and I was yet to face off against their perfectly manicured and flaxen-haired Galadhrim legions, it was decided I would be fighting this time round.
I’d tweaked my list ever so slightly from the last time out when I had great success against the Rohan. The Winged Nazgul stayed in the list but the rider on his back changed from the Shadow Lord to Khamul the Easterling. I wanted to try out his Essence Leech ability and it fits more into my purported Easterling themed army. I also dropped the Balefire Arrows Fate from the Haradrim Warband and took the Black-hearted Trees intervention, this was primarily an anti-Ent pick but can also do a number on any infantry that choose to camp out in defensible terrain (we normally have at least one or two forests on the table).
Gribblin had some changes of his own but that’s his army so I’ll let him tell you all about that. Our independent adjudicator nBreaker rolled our mission and deployment, he rolled Field of Swords and Maelstrom respectively. After we administered a swift kicking and some “re-education” we settled on the same objective but rolled Battle for the Pass as deployment in the hope of a less random and a more balanced and enjoyable game. I won the roll off and tasked Gribblin with deploying first. Glorfindel and the Galadhrim infantry went on my left flank behind a wood while the Galadhrim Archers took up position line abreast in the centre with the Knights on the right flank. With the centre of the table composed of a defensible building with some walls there was lots of room to go up either side, I had a wood on my right too. I decied to massively weight my forces towards the left flank, I know things move very quickly in War of the Ring but his cavalry would have to come to me if they wanted to hurt things. Therefore I deployed my Morgul Knights on my far left, to their right were the Haradrim with Dalamyr, next was the Easterling Cohort with the Winged Nazgul stationed behind them. The Watchers of Karna were left in ambush and I’d chosen the wood in Gribblin’s deployment zone as their hiding place. Lastly the Haradrim Raiders were all alone on the right flank to make Gribblin think about his targets and movement or end up with a roaming cavalry unit in his flanks if he turned towards the rest of my army.
Gribblin then gave me priority for the first turn, the Easterlings shuffled forwards slightly but everything else stood still. I was determined to make it hard for the Elf shooting if I could. Rather than give a total blow-by-blow report (I’ll leave that to Gribblin and his better memory) I thought I’d take the units in turn and give a run down of their performance. I’m still looking at my army as a whole and thinking of improvements and tabletop performances are a great way of seeing what is working and what isn’t.
Haradrim Raiders – My current list has 4 companies of these guys with a Banner Bearer. Despite their speed they got shot up by the longbow armed Galadhrim Knights and never made it into combat, this is the third game where they have done nothing. The unit costs 135pts so it isn’t exactly a cheap throw away unit but they have now gotten completely shot down without seeing combat in two out of the three games I have played. Therefore I am considering their future, they do provide a nice boost to the number of companies I field but so far haven’t achieved anything.
Overall rating so far 2/5
Haradim Warband – 4 Companies accompanied by Dalamyr, Fleet Master of Umbar. Cheap and cheerful these are my shooting troops, I may drop the bows though as I rarely shoot, I’d rather move farther forwards and get them into combat. They may only be Defence 4 but due to the size of the unit can soak up casualties. They took a pounding from Elven shooting but still got across the table and made one of the biggest differences in the game. They took a charge from the Galadhrim Knights towards the end of the game. The combination of Dalamyr’s Flash and Caltrops (no charge bonuses against his formation) and spending both Might points for an Epic Strike and Epic Poison meant that the Knights didn’t really kill a lot of Haradrim, while being Fight 10 and re-rolling all failed hits was nasty, they managed to wipe out the Knights completely. I took Dalamyr mainly for his anti-charge rule, I couldn’t really think of why I’d ever use Epic Poison considering the other uses for Might but it was the spot-on time to do it last night and it paid dividends.
Overall rating so far 4/5
Easterling Cohort – 3 Companies with Dragon Knight and Captain armed with Pikes. People avoid these guys like the plague. Defence 7 to the front with Pikes denying charge bonuses is quite a good thing. These guys are just solid and dependable and people don’t like them. They got wiped out in the end this game but they were ground down over time and I made some bad choices with their movements which put them out of position. The Captain Will of Ironed a spell at the right moment and I rolled like a chump when declaring an Heroic Duel against Glorfindel (no guts, no glory). Still, I like their solid and immoveable nature.
Overall rating so far 4/5
Morgul Knight Regiment – 3 Companies with Banner Bearer. Second time out for these guys. Their low courage hurts them, especially when they get Light of the Valar chucked at them every turn. However, once Dalamyr moved over from the Harardim they got a lot tougher. This was the only unit I had left at the end of the game and they pretty much got ignored. I am thinking that they may need a Hero in there full time, probably an Epic Hero to really get the most out of them, especially against anything that causes Terror. This was the first game where Terror really played a part as both myself and Gribblin failed a lot of Terror tests. They did however finish off Glorfindel which was awesome, so that swings in their favour. People are also scared of what they are capable of and I would like to see them charge some infantry at some point, so, still need some more time with them to really find their niche.
Overall rating so far 3/5
Winged Nazgul – I swapped my original Dark Marshal Epic Hero for a Winged Nazgul after the first game, replacing the Mumak. In the two games he has been in my army he has scared the living snot out of the opposition and rightly so. If I had to pick my overall most effective unit it’s this fella. The Swoop Attack can really hurt, especially if you get a nice line of stuff to go over, however, as anyone who has used a Nazgul knows, he is a Wizard more than a fighter. While being on the Fell Beast certainly ups his damage output in combat it’s the magic he casts that is the real gem. While I had a number of spells fail at critical moments (the Nazgul was killed by a charging Glorfindel after I cast Strength from Corruption on him. Average rolls would have seen him dead but I rolled like a chump, scoring one hit), but for the first few turns he went around Black Darting enemy Heros with great success. I reckon next time my opponents may Will of Iron it but that suits me fine, they spend a point of Might to try to stop it and 50% of the time I’ll still be getting the spell off to strip more Might, it’s a tough decision for a player to face. I also got Black Breath off a few times which annoys Heroes too. Khamul’s ability to redirect his Hits hoovered up some Elves here and there too which was another annoyance. Overall I’ve been having great success with this model, sure it eats up all my Allies allowance but it is a mobile threat and one hell of a good one too.
Overall rating so far 5/5
Watchers of Karna – 1 Company with bows and they might not be making a re-appearance. I had spare points so spent them here, however, the idea that they would harass opponents in their own deployment zone through ambushing hasn’t really played out. To be a threat I’d need more of them but I just don’t see them filling that role well enough. A bigger unit would be better but I have nowhere else to squeeze the points to do that. Better if you take the battlehost but then you’d have to sell your kids to afford those metal models so overall about as useful as a third testicle.
Overall rating so far 2/5
Sauron’s forces eventually triumphed over Galadriel’s finest but there was only one unit left at the end of the game, the Morgul Knights. The game really had an ebb and flow to it with the advantage swinging between both forces at one time or another. It was an hard-fought game and I had a lot of fun, happy that I won of course but happier that we had a good game and I got to once more assess the forces at my command. I reckon I can fit some more Nazgul in there….