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To War! Escalation Tournament Finale- 800 points with Rivendell PART 1 of 2


I was really excited to head into the 4th and final To War! Escalation tournament round at Your Hobby Place in Fredericksburg, VA. Up to now, I had done very well and really couldn't believe that I was heading into the final round in first place! I scored third in the 300 point round, and first in each of the 500 and 700 point rounds

I made a game time decision on my list, opting for two banners just hours before the tournament so I could rely on two-hand feinting across my line. I intend to follow these articles up with my thoughts on the Rivendell list, and specifically how I chose to play them- so stay tuned!

At 32 models, obviously the list is quite elite, though I would not say it's fragile. Again, I will cover some more list building philosophy in a subsequent article, but I was fairly confident in this list's ability to face just about any situation!

So, without further ado-

Game One vs Garrett's Army of Gothmog Legendary Legion in Clash by Moonlight

For this tournament, the organizers decided to go with the "veto" system. If you're unfamiliar with that, essentially, 3 missions get selected and the players roll a die to then alternate eliminating one. This is a really fun way to make sure you're not playing scenarios that completely wreck you as you can veto anything your army will struggle to deal with. Our three initial scenarios were "To the Death", "Hold Ground", and "Clash by Moonlight". 

I vetoed first, eliminating "Hold Ground". I do not like Maelstram deployment- but especially not when my opponent has Guritz! Garrett opted for "Clash by Moonlight" after vetoing "To the Death". Honestly, neither of those two were great for him versus me on this particular board. In either case, I knew he'd have trouble bringing his massive army to bear all at once.

First up, I will say that Garrett was a great opponent and had been doing quite well in the tournament series! In fact, he was ranked #2 heading into this game so we were both quite excited to square off.

The terrain on this table was really interesting. The large wall pieces really dissected the board up, and this definitely played to my advantage when outnumbered as much as I was. Speaking of, I should explain Garrett's list!

Gothmog on Warg was his leader, obviously. He then had Guritz, Goroth, and Zagdush. He had a troll, an orc drummer, and an equal measure of front-line Morannons with shields and spear-support regular orcs without shields. 49 models iirc.

Garrett deployed across much of the front while I opted, initially, for my left corner. But, I knew I was gonna "shimmy" to the right and make that corner piece my fortress. I was taking a page from Sparta here, and intended to make this my "Battle of Thermopylae" terrain piece. So long as I could hold my front line, orcs wouldn't be able to surround me. 

Mordor does a drum and march combo to speed up the board as I shimmy into fortress Rivendell.

Goroth and his warband push ahead through the gap. Garrett knew he needed to get in before I closed it off, but I also saw an opportunity to swamp this smaller warband before the rest of the army got to me.

Following a basic "Economy of Force" principle, I send just enough to deal with Goroth's Warband. Glorfindel and Boromir both get involved, knowing that they'll be able to quickly reposition on their mounts. Meanwhile, I leave a large enough contingent to pivot into the terrain gap and prepare to hold the line from the oncoming storm.

Goroth's Warband quickly starts to fall apart as the left-force prepares for the coming storm.

Goroth falls. This puts me ahead in VPs in this scenario, so I know if I can keep all of my heroes safe I can score a victory here if for nothing else.

As the Mordor lines smash into me, all I could think of was:

Gothmog and Zagush both charge my lines, but over the course of a few turns of fighting Zagdush is killed. Gothmog is wounded and loses his Warg. With two banners covering my front I two-hand feint on the frontline in nearly every fight, except those where the front-line loss would be really harmful. This cuts through Morannons in a pretty spectacular fashion.

The lines grind for a while. A few elves do go down, but the line mostly holds. Boromir and Erestor stand ready to reinforce any major gaps should they develop- but for the most part let the rank and file deal with the front.

Glorfindel and a small group send a sortie out through the northern doorway. Mordor answers with a large force- peeling off from supporting the front line. Glorfindel has no intention of risking engaging the troll.

As the game comes to a close, the Mordor front line is reduced to a few orcs and Gothmog who still stands. Elves take some losses, but nothing terribly catastrophic. Holding a narrow front plays perfectly to their strengths and Rivendell emerges from the fight successfully.

I score 5 VPs for breaking the enemy without being broken. 1 VP for causing a wound on Gothmog. 3 VPs for having heroes alive and for killing more enemy heroes (Goroth and Zagdush) for a total of 9-0

Quick thoughts: While my plan worked pretty well, I do have to say that Garrett's dice were positively abysmal in the duels. I fully expected to lose a bunch more elves and use my heroes to plug gaps. At one point I believe Zagdush (Fight 4) struck up to try to score some kills, and rolled a 1. He then lost the duel to the elven blade roll. Ouch. But, I really did enjoy playing Garrett and I certainly hope we cross paths again!

Game Two vs Chris' Host of the Dragon Emperor Legendary Legion in Seize the Prize

Chris has featured on this blog a few times before and, honestly, his enthusiasm was a major cementing factor in my own love of the game. He was part of the carpool crew coming up to this tournament with me. So, while we were both a tiny bit bummed to face each other in round two, I was also sort of relishing my chance to face the Dragon Emperor. I'll be honest, having seen what he's capable of on paper I was really expecting him to be ridiculous. I'll share my thoughts about the Host of the Dragon Emperor Legendary Legion after this batrep!

Again, we had three scenarios to choose from: Contest of Champions, Command the Battlefield, and Seize the Prize. Again, I vetoed Command the Battlefield- the Maelstram of battle and a scenario that benefits larger armies. Chris went back and forth on the other two, but settled on Seize the Prize.

I think we both agreed that this mission is... not great? It's a cool idea but often in practice it leaves a lot to be desired. See also one of my recent games with Andrew.

Again, I don't remember Chris' list specifically but it was the Dragon Emperor on Palanquin, Brorgir, and Rutabi along with a Kataphract drummer, 8 Dragon Cult assassins and a whole pike block. Mid 40s model count, I believe.

Well, much like my last game of Seize the prize, I knew I had to get in there and fortune favors the bold. Boromir called the march, rushed forward, dismounted, and rolled a 6 to pickup the prize! On turn 2, Chris won the heroic move roll off and the lines became embroiled. He hit Boromir with Rutabi and another Black Dragon with full pike support- but I was thankfully just able to peel Rutabi out of that fight.

Mercifully, Boromir survived attempts to take him down. Black Dragons were absolutely slicing through my elves, but I knew I just needed to get the prize to Glorfindel.

Elves were able to lay down their lives to block Boromir as he made his way to the rear.

And handed the ball off to Glorfindel who immediately made a mad dash to my left flank.

Elf losses were significant, but all they had to do was hold. Chris peeled the Dragon Emperor and a ton of Black dragons to attempt to cutoff Glorfindel.

"Noro Lim, Noro Lim, Asfaloth!" As a quick aside, I remember very fondly my first read of the Lord of the Rings as a kid and I was absolutely captivated by Asfaloth and Glorfindel. Still one of my favorite parts of the whole trilogy- as a result Glorfindel has always been one of my favorite characters.

Glorfindel takes a small gamble to charge a Dragon Cultist and heroic combat off of him to secure his escape.

With Glorfindel's escape, the game immediately ends in a 7-0 for Rivendell. Not the most satisfying game for either of us with just a few turns of play. Outside of a tournament, it is at least cool that something like this can happen in a game. It's thematic to have a big brawl over a macguffin and race to escape with it while others lay down their lives to buy you time. 

It's a thrilling concept... but not so much in a game like this. Like I said, neat scenario idea but can feel kinda bad too. Still, it is one of the many things Glorfindel does exceptionally well!

Quick Thoughts: We had a big discussion about the Host of the Dragon Emperor on the way home, namely due to some salt of Chris' opponents over it. Having now faced it I will say that yes, I think the LL is very strong. However, it's far from alone in the pantheon of strong Legendary Legions. Plus, once the Dragon Emperor left his big nasty pike block, my elves suddenly started killing stuff again. So, my off-the-cuff thoughts from a single game against them (and mostly armchair analysis) is that on their own Easterlings aren't super competitive. The Dragon Emperor Legion is competitive, but it is far from unbeatable. Plus, it's really COOL. I mean, it was fun to face and seems fun to play- what else do you want?

Apologies to Chris for this one, it was a tough one for him. I think once Boromir had the ball, Chris had one shot to take him out... Failing that, I think it was over from my 2nd die roll of the game (digging up the artifact).

Okay! I think that's enough for today. Check back tomorrow for Part 2 where I outline my 3rd and final game and some thoughts across the tournament series! Thanks for reading!


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