Brent's Throne of Skulls Reports

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Brent's Throne of Skulls Reports

Postby BrentS » Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:22 pm

Thursday - arrived a day early to enjoy Vegas with my wife. We used to come to Vegas at least once a year (starting with our honeymoon) but haven't been since I was at the last Vegas GT (in 2008). We were both excited to be there and see the sights and sounds... I did forget how much I disliked the casino smoke :) No luck in the Casino but we enjoyed a nice dinner at the Aria hotel - one of the new hotels since we'd last been there. Also, got a chance to see John L on Thursday night - always good to catch up with friends.

Friday Morning - my Mom arrived early in the day (who bring's their mom to Vegas or a gaming tournament?!??!?)... She loves Vegas and she gets along great with my wife - so she had a nice gambling partner while I was off rolling dice at a different kind of table.

Friday Afternoon - Did some gambling with the family, losing more than I was winning.

Friday Evening - off to registration... I got their early and scoped out the venue - many of the LOTR gang was already there. All the tables were in fact RoB game boards (4x4) and all of them were littered with the old still Citadel trees, Osgiliath ruins, and warhammer citadel fences. Others have commented on the terrain but I was pleasantly surprised - there was more terrain per table than I was suspecting to see and there was more than just citadel trees (which is what the Tournament Packet said). While I have a fondess and appreciation for the themed tables that we use in our Indy GTs, I can respect making all of the tables "identical" as it should cut down on the complaints about the "bad luck" of getting assigned to this table or that table.

The registration process, once it started moved pretty quick. We got our swag bag (GT Tape Measure, Water Bottle, and Gondor Dice. I think they were “custom” swag bags in that the other systems probably didn’t get a ziplock baggie full of Gondor dice. Still, happy to get something from the LOTR universe.

One of the “extra” events they were hosting was a hero painting contest – basically select a hero from your army and have it judged. I selected Bilbo and entered him. I wanted to stay and do the Custom Conversion contest too (basically a chance to convert a model using Chaos and Chaos Space Marine parts. However, I had to take off to go meet up with my family – we had tickets to see David Spade at the Venetian. It was a good show and we had really good seats to be able to see him.
I gambled a bit more (lost) and went to bed ready to play some games on Saturday.

Saturday – Couldn’t sleep (typical for a tournament) and got to the venue early. Breakfast was a bit late (according the schedule) but we had plenty of time between my arrival (around 7am) and game 1 (9:30am) so it seemed like forever!! I got to chat with several other people I hadn’t seen yet and started to check out the armies. As expected, Ty and Marc both brought very well painted armies. Tom Keegan’s Dol Amoroth blue me a away – each cobblestone on the base and the display was hand painted!!! The blending on the armored horses was superb and the white areas of the armor just popped. Best looking Dol Amoroth I’ve ever seen. Oh yea, and his Gandalf the gray was awesome. He really did a fabulous job getting the gray to pop against the contrast of the white horse.

Game 1 – Clash of Piquets vs Tim Hixon. Tim was running a combined arms Mordor list with a Troll Chieftan, Shaman on warg, and 20 Warg riding Trackers. I think he had something like 63 total models. Not my best match-up for sure… as it turns out, I end up saying that a lot this weekend. One thing I proved was that its pretty easy for 15 models to eventually get overwhelmed against some high caliber players and armies. Our game started with me on the immediate defensive… I needed to find a way to get my army to consolidate together. Only as a combined 15 models am I in a position to put some damage on my opponent. If I get spread out, my army crumbles as the heroes can’t protect the “lightweight” iron guard . I had some bad luck in that both Fili and Kili were deployed by Tim on my far right edge and Gloin (Gimli) was deployed on my far left. I had to burn 2 points of might from Thorin to get him deployed by me and keep him with Gandalf and Balin! Those instances of having my models separated turned out to be very costly… Fili and Kili were both shot down by archery (not in range of Blinding Light) and Gimli, though, valiant could break through the surrounding he got from the Wargs and Orcs with spears. He ended up finally losing a fight and Tim managed some insane number of wounds and died ungloriously… Early in the game Gandalf was effective in keeping the Troll at bay (using Command) and once our lines started to clash I was killing Orcs and Wargs very quickly. However, I ended up losing 4 of my iron guard models to archery and Gloin to the Orc trapping. Although I was killing models at a most efficient clip, I was only 3 more models from breaking. Tim’s fury and successful courage tests for loose wargs kept him just high enough from breaking to wear me down and win the match. With marginally better dice rolling, I think I could have pulled a draw or perhaps even a win. It was a fun match and it was great to finally getting a chance to “redeem” myself playing against Tim. As many of your know the history, I was largely a spectator not really playing the same game as the others the last time we met on the battlefield  I may have lost but I gave him a lot to handle I think. Fun game. I managed to get 220 Skull taker points (more that I think Tim got from me).

Game 2 – Storm the Camp versus John Long’s Fiefdom’s Army
So this is the second time I’ve played John in this scenario using this same army(GitD 2010 vs Army of the Dead). It also the second time I’ve faced his Imrahil lead fiefdoms list (GitD 2011 vs my Rohan). John and I always have fun games and I’m always glad to get a match in with him. I was 100% positive that I was going to get steamrolled in this one though. I can’t hold a camp with 15 models vs a 49 model army. I guess I should be thankful I didn’t get matched up with one of the really big armies.

Once we deployed and started moving, I realized that John had made a tactical mistake. He left all his archers and about 10 Knights (on foot) and Pikemen. This meant he was only assaulting my camp with 7-8 cavalry and 18 or so infantry models. I felt like that if I could keep the cavalry from sneaking behind me then I might have a chance since I’d be fighting 2/3ds of his army with all of mine.

Early in the game my dice rolls for Gandalf were pitiful. I failed the 2+ Blinding Light and barely passed the terrifying aura. I had two turns of sorcerous blast at a pack of mounted Swan Knights and I rolled 1-2-2 and then 1-2. Five dice, nothing higher than a 2. I lamented loudly how piss poor my dice were and Gary Lane who was playing right next to me said “here, use these”. He handed me a stack of his dice and I said “what the heck, why not”. This was the turning point of the game! John and I would both admit that he made another tactical mistake in that he got his cavalry around my side and he probably could have just marched a couple models into my deployment zone to win the game. I had a trick or two left to try and stop that but I was dangerously close to pissing the game away without a single model being killed!! Anyway, John took a chance and charged his models into my mass of Dwarves. I counter charged with anyone that I could and soon we had a huge scrum that had most of the Unexpected Party matched up with all of John’s Swan Knights. It was so complicated that I called three different Heroic Combats (Gloin, Thorin, and Gandalf). John had Priority so he paired them off and it ended up that both Thorin and Gandalf were paired off on the same Swan Knight. I was actually very happy about this as I needed to kill that knight and bounce both of those guys into the fight with Imrhail. This would allow me to trap Imrahil, negate one of his attacks (Charging with Shadowfax), and more importantly bring all three of Thorin’s (Dain) +1 attacks into the fight. Well, things went incredibly my way. I won every fight by one, and killed all the swan knights I fought. The Heroic combats were perfect and I won the fight against Imrahil. I managed to put 7 wounds on him and dropped him in the first round. John was defeated and demoralized at that point. He put up a good fight but in the end, my army chewed through the infantry models as they approached. After breaking his army, more than half of his remaining models ran due to courage checks on the next round. John conceded the game and all the Skulltaker points as I didn’t want to just watch his models all run away as I slowly marched across the board. It was a brutal combat game for John. I had essentially tabled his army and only lost two Iron Guard models in return. 700 Skulltakers to 15. Wow. So I won the game but only because the following three things happened – John didn’t commit more (if not his entire)force to the assault, John didn’t try to leverage his advantage to swing around the backside of my army and get a cheap win (I think he may have actually forgotten the victory conditions), and of course, Gary loaned me his dice. I offered to buy them from him after the game. They were that good.

Game 3 – Domination vs Eric Adams Fiefdoms/Rohan/Wizards alliance.
I had no chance in this game and knew it before I sat down. How am I supposed to win Domination with a 15 model army? Its pretty much impossible (though I did do it once). I decided my strategy was to try and castle up on one objective and make Eric come to me. He had massive archery (13 Warriors with bows, and 10 outriders) but I figured the Blinding Light would save me. For the most part it did. Eric had to come to me but his army was too big. He had Sauraman the White and that made it difficult for me as well – we were constantly poking at each other with the wizards but it didn’t let me use Gandalf the way I liked – Command and Immobilize. I was hoping that I could wear down his army and then hope we played enough extra turns to get to one other objective and contest it and force a draw. Well in the end, I couldn’t break through and Eric eventually broke me. He was smart and focused most of his attacks on the Iron Guard beating the models he could. In the longest Domination game I’ve ever played, he eventually tabled my army. We played at least 8 and possibly as many as 10 “extra” turns. In that time he was able to overwhelm and finally kill Balin, Dain, and Gandalf – something like 460 Skulltaker points AFTER I was broken. Eric would go on to win the Skulltaker award for the tournament… I’d like to think that without those extra 460 points he wouldn’t have won! I managed a respectable number of skulls myself and I was racking up an impressive total for a “losing” army.

So that ended Day 1. I found out later that evening that I was matched up with Tim Hixon (AGAIN) for game 4. I wasn’t terribly pleased at this – Game 4 was Sieze the Artefact and I didn’t relish facing all those Wargs again. However, I had some tricksy ideas in mind.

Game 4 – Sieze the Prize versus Josh Leong’s Mirkwood/Lothlorien
Alliance. Surprise! GW realized the error of their ways and switched the matchups for Round 4. I’ve played Josh a few times and we always have fun games. It was good to see him and play against him but I HATE ELVES. HATE THEM. Especially with this army. My worst games almost always come against Elves. I rely on the 2 attach FV4 Iron Guard to hold their own in keeping this army together and against those pesky FV5 pointy ear fairies, I can’t do that. Top that off and my “upgrade” to Dain for Thorin means that a lowly wood elf ties Thorin on Fight Value. Ugh. Did I say I hate elves?

Despite my loathing, Josh and I still had a fun game. Our game was ultimately decided on two random die rolls (arent’ they all??) Josh got to the prize first (surprise) and dug it up on the first try. On the next turn, I absolutely, 100% needed priority. I lost. So I called a heroic move with one of my 14 points of might. Josh countered. I absolutely 100% needed to win the roll-off. I lost. Josh moves the Prize away and hands it off to Legolas. Okay, that’s not so bad. I still have Gandalf and I will eventually wear off Legolas’s will right?? Wrong. Legolas has an elven cloak and is behind the elven lines. If I can’t see him I can’t touch him. Ugh. Where is Radagast when you need him. Anway, the game was predictable in that Josh was able to march Legolas around our battle scrum. I did my best to try and beat my way through the elves. Many elves died but I just couldn’t break through. I think I managed to finally break Josh’s army but it didn’t matter. Legolas walked the prize off the board and I couldn’t do anything about it. Oh well, them’s the breaks. I got a bunch more skulltaker points but was 1-3 in the tournament. Well the last scenario was Meeting Engagement… Meeting Engagement with this army is my specialty….

Game 5 – Meeting Engagement vs Chris Thomas’s WOOD ELVES with TREEBEARD. Have I mentioned that I hate Elves? I met Chris for the first time last year at my tournament Bilbo’s Birthday Bash (November 5-6, 2011 @ the Bunker). Chris is a great guy and since then we’ve played 4 games together – two tournament and two friendlies. In fact, I’ve played Chris more than any other player in the last 2 years. Chris and I played a “warm up” game a few weeks ago with our same ToS armies. We play tested Clash of Piquets and Chris trashed me (well he broke me without touching any hero not named Bilbo) but I took down Treebeard. So I figured I would have to do the same thing. The problem is… my spell rolling dice sucked. I could never get Treebeard to be commanded or immobilized. I let Chris back me into a corner and eventually Treebeard and the elves overwhelmed me. My heroes fought Treebeard tough but once he clobbered Gandalf (took two turns) there was nothing I could do but hope he didn’t win the fight. The only real highlight for my army was taking down Rumil (first time I’ve done that). I wounded him once with a Sorcerous Blast ricochet (probably my only “success” with the spell that day) and then had him immobilized and Gloin took him down. Otherwise, I just couldn’t hold up to contstant Fight 5, 6, and 8 surrounding me. Maybe if I’d tried to use my heroes to kill elves instead of Treebeard I’d have a chance but quite frankly, the only thing that kept me in the game was the high defense of the heroes withstanding Treebeards punishing blows. In the end, another loss with me racking up a very acceptable Skulltaker total.

My final record was 1-4. Ugh. That just looks ugly. I’d like to think with a little better luck I could have improved my record quite a bit. My final skulltaker points were 1808. I had a running joke with Tom Keegan that we were competing for the highest “Skulltaker per model” ratio. Tom had 21 models with 1900 or so Skulltakers. So my army won the unofficial “most efficient” killing machine award. This award does not exist and was created by me. However, on average every model in my army killed 120 pts across all 5 games. As Darth Vader once said… “Impressive… Most Impressive”.

So in the end, I played 5 good games. I had played each opponent in the past so that has both pluses and minuses. I would have liked to played someone new but that’s okay. I cast my vote for Chris Thomas as “Favorite Player” My reason… because he brought Treebeard. Until he (and then as it turns out Ty as well) brought him it was the first time I’d seen Treebeard used in a competitive game. Jervis’s rule set said I could use my Favorite Player vote for any reason I wanted and Treebeard seemed good enough to me.

I think overall, the Unexpected Party was pretty well received. Sure its “recycled” but there were enough new people to come over and take a look. I think it always plays tougher than an opponent thinks it will. I think people liked the new display board. I created (Tim Hixon's words) a "3-D Pop-up Book" showing the scene were William, Bert and Tom were turned to stone. On the right side was the scene with my Thomorillian statues and on the left was the text from the Hobbitt describing the passage. I know some people got pictures of it so hopefully someone will post them as I failed to bring a camera to Vegas. I was disappointed that it didn’t look seen like my army was even in contention for a best appearance award but I can’t say that the winning armies didn’t deserve them. There were a lot of beautiful armies out there and those painters continue to inspire me.

As a post script... I'm happy to say that on Saturday evening and Sunday, I did manage to win a little at the Casino. However, my wife more than took care of those winnings so I didn't come home with too much extra. Next time Vegas... next time I'm coming to get you!![/url]
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Postby BrentS » Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:45 pm

I, of course, failed to mention that Gary and I also finally got a chance to play a game. During the really, really long time it took to work through the final scoring, Gary and I played a friendly using the "special" scenario GW put together. Quite frankly, it was awesome.

It was Domination with about 20 side objectives. The goal was to achieve as many objectives as possible. Objectives were based on Recon, Take and Hold, Sieze the Prize and then "heroic ones" like not using Will, Fate, or Might. Killing at least 7 models with a single hero, things like that. It was a lot of fun.

Gary and I mostly played as a classic pitched battle. The game lasted 10 turns so we just dove straight in. I did a lot of killing and in the end Gary and I were both broken. It was great fun and I'm glad Gary talked me into playing. I look forward to meeting him on the battlefield again.
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Postby Gartl » Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:38 am

I really enjoyed the game as well Brent. I am glad we finally got to play a game (after three years). I am really glad it was a fun game rather than competitive as I really had a blast. I love your army and your models and I can see why you are always receiving great sportsmanship scores.

I hope to see you across the table again soon!
It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. - Boromir FOTR
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