Wednesday Night Warhammer: Lord of the Blood Bowl

It’s Wednesday Night Warhammer! Or so the headline would suggest. For the second week in a row, no Warhammer was being played! Instead, the menu consisted of a larger game of Lord of the Rings and the good old classic: Blood Bowl.

Starting from the beginning, our evening warmed up not with tables being arranged or scenery being laid out, but with the Wii U being fired up and a couple of rounds of Smash Brothers being played. What’s this? Video games at a tabletop gaming night?! Yeah, the host of our get-together bought a swanky new telly which we NEEDED to test… it passed muster.

Anyways, after taking victory in Smash a few times, we rearranged the space for some gaming of the miniature variety.

Although both games were being run at the same time, I’ll focus on one before jumping over to the other.

Lord of the Rings:

My opponent Nick suggested we try a 650 point game this time instead of the more unbalanced “heroes vs goblins” scenario of last week. Since I wasn’t really sure what I was doing exactly, I wrote up a list that seemed fair and easy to get to grips with.

My force of choice? The Easterlings. Why? ‘Cos they look cool, ‘nuff said. Seriously though, there wasn’t much variety in the Easterling force so it made the list writing job fairly simple.

I ran with:

2 characters, a Ringwraith on foot and Amdur – Lord of Blades (impressive name I know).

1 warband of Easterling warriors evenly split in armour, so 4 bows, 4 sword / shield and 4 pikes lead by a captain.

1 warband of Khandish warriors, 8 with axes and 4 with bows, also led by a captain.

Lastly, 1 warband of 4 Easterling Kataphrakts (horsemen) led by a captain on pony.

Looking at the stats, Easterlings seem to have very mediocre fighting ability but decent defence. The Khandish were the opposite, better fighting ability but lower defence. The characters looked okay but nothing fancy. I was really hoping that the Lord of Blades would live up to his name and chop a path to victory.

My opposition took an all cavalry army of Rohan. Basically 3 war bands of many horsies, one being made up of 4 Sons of Eorl (aka death on four legs as you find out). They were led by 2 characters whose names pass me by… sorry but Lord of the Rings characters all have names that sound the same to my ears. They seem to all be made up in a similar structure: Vowel, consonant, vowel,  consonant, letter with an accent or flourish, the occasional double vowel, consonant.

Anyways, they were good, that’s the point I’m trying to make, I think.

So, we laid out a pretty looking play surface and rolled off to see who got to choose where to deploy first. Rolling the first of 3 sixes I was able to deploy my force where ever I wanted… which didn’t mean much as I didn’t know what I was doing. I decided that having infantry stand behind a fence was a good idea, so that’s what I did.

Nick deployed on two different sides looking, I thought, to flank then surround my men.

Easterlings hug the fence, a false sense of security...

Easterlings hug the fence, a false sense of security…

The first couple of turns we faffed about in the movement phase, Nick trying to position himself so that his main force could charge behind and to the side (while avoiding the fence) and I reacted to that as best I could.

On the other side the smaller horse force looked as though it didn’t know what it was doing, coming closer to my lines and then leaving a couple of grunts to harass my Khandish warriors which the remaining group circled around to try and join the meat of Nicks force.

The shooting phase was fairly uneventful. I noticed that Lord of the Rings has considerably less shooting that what I’m used to in Warhammer and even that is less effective. Granted, few models on the board means few shots need to succeed, but that was the feeling I got.

A couple of incidents to note was that although my bowmen were largely ineffective, I WAS able to shoot down two horses. Not the riders, the horses. This stalled Nick’s advance a little as now he had a warrior on foot, standing in front of the rest of the group.

Another thing I noticed during this game is how precise your movement of models needs to be. Figures cannot move through other figures and once you move a piece, you can’t move it again. So you kind of need to plan who is going to move where and when. There were a couple of times my Warhammer brain didn’t factor this in, leaving characters being blocked by troops or bowmen not gaining line of sight due to a figure being in the way. This also plays a major factor in combat as figures need to touch bases and there is only a finite amount of space available.

So with initial faffing complete, the decimation of the Easterlings began. Through my own folly, Nick was able to surround my small band of Kataphrakts and in 2 turns reduce then to nothing. As attacking models gain bonus attacks if your enemy is swamped and unable to escape, I didn’t have much hope. I was able to pick off the occasional rider, but not enough to make much of a difference.

Not to worry, my Lord of Blades will take care of things, surely. He was able to prove his might against a grunt whose ride I shot out from under him. Cavalry shouldn’t be an issue.

umm.. yeah.. this doesn't look good the the bad guys

well that escalated quickly!

Taking a side step, the Khandish were able to take out the couple of lone horsemen with few casualties, though it did take a few rounds to do so. Nothing to report though, the Wraith didn’t do much, which is a shame as he has some nifty hex / debuff spells that sound great at demoralising characters (dropping the courage or removing their spells points, even forcing a figure to move where I want). The problem was he was on the wrong side of the board. What I should have done was keep him near my Lord of Blades and have that Easterling group seem a bit more menacing.

So, the main meal of Nick’s force arrived in full. His super horsey rider guys ploughed their way through my not so super horsey rider guys and ran into my Easterling warrior group in its rear and sides. My Lord of Blades stood up to the task, after dispatching the lone grunt with ease. Well, he would of if he didn’t fall in the first minutes of combat. Never judge a book by its cover, or a character by its name. Lord of Blades? Pfft, more like Lord of Butterknives.

With my leader down I was only able to hold off the assault for a turn or two more. My Wraith made a beeline for the fight in an attempt to support but it was all over before he got there. Game over, one loss to me.

Rohan Riders kick a poor Easterling while he's down

Rohan Riders kick a poor Easterling while he’s down

So what did I think about this style of game compared to last weeks? First off, it seemed much more balanced. I think my main setback was my list I’d written. Secondly, movement is a much greater factor in this style of game. Last week it didn’t matter too much as Boromir and Gimli smashed their way to victory. Here I really could see and feel the mistakes I made with simple things such as unit position for supporting attacks. I also became surrounded and “trapped” fairly easily giving Nick’s force a bunch more attacks.

Thirdly, and this will stem from list design, I found having a lower fighting skill to be the biggest detriment. As I may of explained last week, when a combat takes place, each player rolls dice equal to the figures attack value. The player with the higher roll wins the fight and the opportunity to wound. If the roll was a draw, the figure with the higher “Fight skill” wins. As the Rohan fellas were mostly better fighters, every draw in combat (and there were quite a few) meant a lost combat for me. Also, if Nick rolled a 6, then he also won the fight (If I also rolled a 6, the roll off would have been a draw and I lose as my Fight Skill was lower).

After the game Nick and I sat down and had a chat as to what changes I could make to improve the list and cater to my playstyle. I find I’m a fairly defensive player, who likes to wait until my opponent makes a mistake for me to capitalise. I find being aggressive is not my bag. So as a result, the proposed list looks a bit like this:

Ringwraith

Easterling war priest (this cheap character can cast a couple of spells to help my warriors survive).

2 warbands of Easterling warriors kitted out like I had originally, but this time, upgrade them to an elite version. This gives them an increased fight skill and courage (for psychology checks)

1 warband of Easterling Kataphrakts, this time also upgraded like the warriors and with increased numbers in the group.

So although the 2 lists seem similar, I now have warriors that can fight and a pony club that has enough bodies to last more than 1 round of combat. The War priest can buff my warriors and the wraith can use his wraith powers to enfeeble enemy heroes.

There you have it. A fun, more tactical game of Lord of the Rings. Now as I’ve a few hobby projects on the go, I might leave this game until I purchase figures (instead of having to use other models to represent).

On the other side of the gaming table we had Ben and Huw starting a mini league of:

Blood Bowl.

That good old Gridiron-esque, fantasy sport game where players try score as many points while attempting to keep their players alive.

Not knowing much about the game and probably unable to do it justice reporting the match, (as it’s been… phwoar… maybe 17 years since my last match?) I’d asked both guys to jot down notable events, scores and the like.

So the two teams facing off were Human team “The Hairy Ballers” vs Skaven (rat men) team “The Dirty 13 “.

Human team included such players as:

Catcher : Mojo Jojo

Blitzer: Gorgeous George

Lineman: Sloppy Jeff

And Jeremy Peepants, who attempted to head-butt a skaven player and received a knife in the gut for his troubles. RIP Jeremy Peepants.

There were a few other names that probably wouldn’t be safe repeating.

The Skaven had players names  following the same theme but also a couple to suit the Skaven sneakyness. These names included:

Linesman: Big Cheese

Runner: Now you see me, Now you don’t

Runner: Greased Lightning.

By my observations, the humans had rotten luck. I managed to catch a top display of teamwork were one human player attempted to pass the ball a short distance, the receiver fumbled which caused the ball to bounce away. A second human player tried to pick up his bouncing ball and also fumbled, knocking the ball into the open arms of the Skaven. Apparently this kind of rolling was a theme for the humans.

Naturally the Skaven had the opposite turn of luck.

No blood or bowls? Hardly a fitting name.

No blood or bowls? Hardly a fitting name. It should have been called..er.. Grass.. umm.. dice… figures. Yeah, Grass Dice Figures game!

Ben gave me a couple of highlights from the game, reporting:

“Can’t touch this killed Jeremy Peepants after a poor block, both players fell but Peepants died.
Gorgeous George beat the odds and stunned the Skaven scoring a touchdown 3 turns in from the kickoff.

Now you see me, Now you don’t almost completed the Play of the Day by grabbing the ball in a tackle zone then lobbing the ball into scoring range. What let him down was greased Lightning’s butter fingers, being unable to catch the ball and score.

The umpires heavily favoured The Dirty 13 in the first half of the match, allowing the Skaven to foul without penalty. As a result, any chance The Dirty 13 had to foul, they jumped on without a worry.”

There you have it! Another Wednesday down. Next week I’ll give Blood Bowl a go against Ben and relearn the system and I’m also keen to give Chaos in the Old World another spin. Dreadfleet is on the radar now that I’ve read the rule book through twice… there was sooo much we missed in the game we played last week. It’ll be interesting to see how the game scales with 4+ ships on the table.
Warhammer may also be on the cards depending on who turns up.

Oh, before I forget, a handful of Wednesday Night Warhammerers attended the Victorian Inter-Club Challenge which was held last weekend.

This was a team event where Warhammer, 40k and Warmachine was being played. Teams were to be comprised of 4-5 players from various gaming clubs.

WNW represented in the Warhammer component for the first time and performed fairly well, taking away 2nd (out of 3 teams) but more importantly, bring home the Best Sporting club trophy.

Woop! WNW is a proper thing and not just dudes in a house playing man-dollies and board games!

Woop! WNW is a proper thing and not just dudes in a house playing man-dollies and board games!

By the sounds of it, the tourney was run well and everybody enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere. Next year I’ll make sure I attend this one and report back.

Until next Wednesday dear readers,

Bensome.

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