The Desolation of Stockport 2017 Review
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Jay Clare: A couple of weeks ago, I ventured up to Stockport to attend the 3rd annual ‘Desolation of Stockport’ event for The Hobbit™ Strategy Battle Game at the Element Games North West Gaming Centre. Hosted by the fantastic James and Jamie, this event is one of the highlights of The Hobbit gaming calendar – with players coming from many countries just to take part in this event.
With the total number of players exceeding 80, I set myself a target of finishing in the top 10 – I’m quite a competitive player, and I frequently end up in the top tiers of tournaments, so this was not an unreasonable goal. With the high level of competition at the event, I threw theme out of the window and took the following army – one I had never used before, but I was confident it could perform at the highest level:
Saruman the Wise (leader)
Galadriel™, Lady of Light
12 Rangers of Gondor
Game 1 – Domination
The draws would be done using a Swiss-style system, with the first round being a random pairing. This paired me with Ben L. who player I had faced just once previously.
His army consisted of the Witch-king on Fell Beast, the Shadow Lord on Fell Beast, a Troll Chieftain and 3 Mordor™ Trolls. Whilst I was confident that my force could put up a good fight against this all-monster army, the Scenario being Domination really worked in my favour.
Ben lumbered his Trolls forward towards my line, but kept his Ringwraiths back – no doubt to protect them from Saruman and Galadriel. However, this provided me with the opportunity to Immobilise and pick off his Trolls one by one, and by the end of the third turn, all four Trolls had been slain – two by Beregond!
At this point, the game was all but won, but that didn’t stop Ben throwing the Ringwraiths into combat for a last hurrah with a smile on his face – even if Beregond did slay the Witch-king single-handedly!
Final score: 15-0 to me
Game 2 – High Ground
After my first round win, I went into my second game against Jack H. brimming with confidence – until I saw his army…
The combination of Half Trolls, a Shade and the Knight of Umbar was the perfect counter to my force, as it negated my Fight value and Defence, and I didn’t have enough Terror-causing models to take advantage of the Half Troll’s poor Courage.
Over the course of the game, Jack’s army systematically chopped through my Fountain Court and secured himself the win – though I did at least manage to slay the Knight of Umbar to salvage some dignity!
Final score: 28-3 to Jack
Game 3 – Reconnoitre
After my defeat, I dropped down the rankings and was drawn against Eoin, a player I had met at multiple events before but never had the opportunity to play against.
His army was small, comprising Treebeard, Galadriel, Radagast™, Gil-galad and a handful of Elves and Woses. I knew I had to get rid of Treebeard quickly and so focused my attention on him.
Saruman cast Immoblise upon the Ent, who failed to resist, and was then surrounded and slain by my force, leaving Eoin without his biggest threat. The rest of the game went well for my force, as due to his small model count, I was soon able to reach Galadriel and Radagast, slaying them both.
The final few turns saw a few of my Rangers escape the board to ensure victory and the rest of Eoin’s beautifully painted army fall to the Guard of the Fountain Court.
Final score: 10-0 to me
I will quickly add that I thought Eoin’s force was so nicely painted that I gave him my ‘Best Painted Army’ vote.
Game 4 – Hold Ground
Sunday morning saw me drawn against Gethin W. and his Warg Rider army. I had recently played Gethin at an event in Cardiff, where I had sealed a comfortable victory. However, since our last encounter, Gethin had certainly improved his tactics.
Gethin knew he couldn’t take my army head on, so he instead tried to block me off from the objective and hope that the game ended before I could reach the centre of the board – and he even started dismounting his Warg Riders to try to double his numbers near the objective.
However, despite his best efforts, my army managed to finally break through his lines and move onto the objective on the last turn of the game.
This was, without a doubt, the toughest game I played all weekend, Gethin’s clever use of tactics meant I had to play to the best of my ability to earn the win.
Final score: 21-8 to me
Game 5 – Lords of Battle
The last two games had helped in propelling me back towards the lofty heights of the rankings, and on game 5 I was paired against Liam F. – someone I had played many practice games with but never faced at a tournament before.
His army was a mix of Gondor and Rohan™, led by Faramir, Cirion, Beregond and Erkenbrand, and had a sizeable chunk of hard-hitting Cavalry. The early game shooting war went in my favour, thanks mainly to Galadriel having the Light of Eärendil and a few cheeky Sorcerous Blasts from Saruman.
This put Liam on the back foot and forced him to commit his forces to the fight. Once he did, I was able to pick off Faramir (his leader) and win the game – although a last minute flurry from Erkenbrand and Cirion provided some worries.
Final score: 44-24 to me
Game 6 – To The Death!
So the final game came around, and I was drawn against my good friend and long-term rival Alan L. Alan was determined to finally get one over on me following our two previous encounters, and his Isengard force was a scary prospect to face.
The first few turns went well for my force, my shooting proved effective whilst Galadriel’s Light of Eärendil prevented Alan’s crossbows from dealing excessive damage to my Rangers. However, it was when we finally hit combat where the game really swung.
Alan’s luck seemed to abandon him when our lines met and my force was able to cut through his remaining Berserkers and Uruk-hai, reaching Saruman and his Shaman, slaying them both. Broken and with their leader dead, Alan’s force crumbled away, granting me victory once more!
Final score: 10-0
Although his luck was consistently poor, and he rolled far more than his fair share of 1s, Alan kept up his cheery smile and positivity right until the final roll of a dice (which was yet another 1!). I awarded Alan my ‘Favourite Game’ vote, although it could have gone to any of my opponents across the weekend, who were all a joy to play against.
This left me on a grand total of 5 wins and 1 loss, earning me 6 th place overall – a very reasonable position! Congratulations to Edward B. who won the event, as well as Andreas Ø. for being awarded ‘Best Painted Army’ and Thomas M. who was awarded ‘Most Sporting’. As it is every year, the Desolation of Stockport was a truly fantastic event which was friendly and well hosted by James and Jamie – roll on 2018!
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