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Posted 12/01/2017

Battle Report: Iron Hills vs Easterlings

Jay Clare: This week we decided to do something a little different for our weekly blog. With The Hobbit™ Strategy Battle Game Grand Tournament, being held at Warhammer World, rapidly approaching – I have already bought my ticket and Adam Troke is polishing up his rules knowledge in preparation for being the referee – we thought we would try out the new Scenario for the event: Heirloom of Ages Past. You can find the Scenario, and the event rules pack online, HERE.

Adam Troke: The Heirloom of Ages Past Scenario has six objectives on the board, but only one is the true relic that both armies are fighting for. Both players’ armies enter play from randomly determined areas due to the Maelstrom of Battle deployment type, meaning that this Scenario promises to be an exciting race for the objectives, followed by a desperate scramble to hold onto the relic.

Jay: Having had the new Iron Hills Dwarves sat on my desk for a little while, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to try them out in a Points Match battle ahead of the event. Sticking to the 600 points limit for the GT, I took the following army:

I fancied giving both Thorin and Dain a run out, but I also wanted to try the fantastic new Iron Hills Ballista. This would mean my army would be an allied force between Erebor Reclaimed and The Iron Hills, and meant that I wouldn’t receive either of the Army Bonuses – would this be a decision I would regret?

Adam: Jay’s challenge to help him try out an army for the Grand Tournament in February was music to my ears. He was playing as Good so, totally unaware of what army he was taking, I picked my Easterlings to give him some stiff competition. My army is entirely geared towards melee combat, so against Jay’s usual army of choice – Lake-town, the odds might favour me a little more, but against anything else, such as the Iron Hills, which are also great in combat, things could be very different.

It wasn’t until just before the game that I got to see Jay’s army… oh, the horror! An Iron Hills/Erebor alliance and everything in his force was Strength 4, meaning it would scythe through my Easterling armour with ease. Dain and Thorin together would also be hard to stop. Thankfully, the Scenario might give me a little edge, with my greater numbers and slightly faster models. My plan was simple – claim the main objective at all costs and don’t worry about the fighting.

Jay: With our armies decided upon, we set about our epic battle for bragging rights within the office.

The game started with Adam’s Easterlings winning Priority, and advancing as close as possible to the nearest objectives. Whilst Thorin’s warband was placed further away from the Easterlings (much to Adam’s relief), Dain Ironfoot had no such misfortune – appearing right behind Amdûr’s warband!

Jay: The armies collided with a crash of steel on iron as Dain’s warband of Iron Hills Warriors smashed into Adam’s vanguard, led by Amdûr. The next few turns saw the Easterling forces taking heavy casualties without inflicting many losses in return, all the while the Ballista bombarded the rest of Adam’s army, forcing them to spread out to avoid heavier losses. Amdûr engaged Dain in an epic duel, both heroes bloodied by the intense combat! Adam even tried enhancing Amdûr’s chances by casting Transfix on Dain with Khamûl, and then using the Easterling War Priest’s Bladewrath to make Amdûr stronger… and still the Easterling failed to overcome the doughty Lord of the Iron Hills.  

Jay: In a twist of fate, though, Adam’s luck turned as one of his Easterlings managed to recover the relic behind their own lines on the first try – a disaster for the Iron Hills!

Nonetheless, I relentlessly threw my Iron Hills Dwarves forward in a desperate attempt to break through the Easterling lines. Following a successful Heroic Move, Thorin managed to slay the War Priest and Khamûl was brought down by the many Iron Hills Dwarves that had surrounded him – this final kill also managed to break Adam’s force, but his pesky Easterling archer still had the relic in his clutches!

Jay: As turn 8 began, I realised that to win the game I needed the Easterling Warrior holding the relic to fail his Courage test – or be splatted by the Iron Hills Ballista. There was nothing else in my army that could reach him in time. As my force piled into the remaining few Easterlings, all I could do was hope. Yet fortune was not to be on my side as the Easterling not only passed his Courage test (convincingly as well, just to rub it in), but the Iron Hills Ballista failed to hit its target, skewering a nearby comrade instead. Even though my Dwarves easily massacred those few Easterling brave (or foolish) enough to stay around, including Amdûr, it was not enough to win the day. While I had slain Adam’s general (Khamûl) and broken his army (in fact he only had three models left alive), he still had the relic in his clutches, ensuring a narrow 6-4 victory to Adam’s Easterlings!

Adam: Victory to the Easterlings then, by the narrowest of margins. When Jay was able to ambush Amdûr’s warband with Dain Ironfoot, I knew things would be grim so I sent Khamûl to help Amdûr out. Despite my best efforts (and thanks to some appalling dice rolls), Dain escaped with only superficial injuries and, by the time Thorin’s warband arrived to help out his cousin, my army was in deep trouble. However, my ill luck in one area was repaid as I rolled a 6 to pick up the relic with an Easterling archer, who then became my number one priority. With ballista bolts raining down around him, he fled the fight to hide far away from Dain’s blood-spattered hammer. It wasn’t a glorious victory, but it was a good example of how you can win a scenario, even if you’re losing the fight on the tabletop.

Jay: I may have lost the Scenario, but the Iron Hills Dwarves certainly left their mark! They cut through the Easterlings with their Strength 4 and higher Fight value, and only took about four casualties in return – it really was a bloodbath! For this mission I wonder if I would have been better substituting the Ballista to make sure that my force was composed entirely from the Erebor Reclaimed army list. This would give me the Army Bonus (Thorin counts as a 6″ banner), something I could have done with to help me cut through the Easterlings even quicker. That said, had the archer not found the relic, then the whole game would have been different, and my Ballista certainly made its mark on Adam’s ranks of Easterling Warriors. Defeat, however, is defeat, and no doubt I will have to endure relentless mocking in the office – at least for now!

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