You may remember that some time ago I announced out of the blue that I would be embarking upon my second grand misadventure in competitive gaming at this year’s AdeptiCon in the March Madness to Mount Doom event.
It. Was. Awesome.
To recapitulate: for the day, I managed to paint the Witch King of Angmar, alongside 5 Morgul Knights, 1 Black Marshall to lead them (and bring some extra Might), followed hopelessly by 7 Warg Riders to make up numbers and scare smaller unfortunates.
Game One: v. John Humphreys – Aragorn and his happy band of undead. If the film was any indication, this was going to be fast and rather Deus ex Machinatta, if you know what I mean. [check out John's blog over at Plastic Legions]
In fact, this game represents everything that I want in a gaming experience.
1. cool opponent
2. beautifully painted armies and scenery
3. strong narrative and/or cinematic game
4. solid competition with a genuine atmosphere of fun
check, check, check, check.
The scenario worked toward attrition, and John was keen to form a kind of exploding bubble with Aragorn and the undead king as the juicy center.
I approach hastily but with some modest caution. I had a number of conflicting goals here. I wanted to offer some bait to try and pull the bubble apart slightly before slamming all my forces into the wall. My hope here was to open the shell a bit in order to expand the possible targets and to get more of my knights working toward their charging potential. Unfortunately, I also wanted to keep some of the otherwise rather brittle Warg Riders back in order to keep my force from reaching that perilous scenario break point. In the end, it was a risky bit of balance.
So the trick was in the timing. I wanted all my force (minus bait, minus reserved Wargs) to collapse upon Aragorn and oathbreakers all at once, with the Witch King swooping menacingly into the backfield in order to take a proper stab at the more resilient elements in John's collective. It worked a bit, but I underused the Witch King’s transfix ability (learning) and generally lacked the real punch in the front row needed to break things open properly.
…and so, even though I was the poorer general on the day, I only officially lost according to the scenario objectives on the very last roll of the game! How about that. Again, John was always ahead and by far the better player but, even so, I never felt that I was being trounced.
Game Two: v Jimmy and his Wood Elf / White Council assortment.
So technically, we were both out of the official single-elimination aspect of the event; however, as I suspected beforehand, there were plenty of people hanging about still quite willing to play some more. With ample space to already set for the proverbial pickup game, we were straight back at it.
This time, I was set against a Jimmy’s very cool Wood Elf army that included Legolas, Saruman (before onset of ring0envy), and Galadriel. That almost sounds like name-dropping. Considering also the capable statlines for Legolas’ cousins, and I had my work cut out for me.
And again it was a close-run thing. This game taught me a bit about the significance of Priority and the importance of considering the sequence of individual combats in a scrum, as one can often look ahead (so to speak) to the next results as bodies begin to pile up.
And again, it was a tightener, as I was only 1 figure from breaking Jimmy’s forces when the With King’s zealous knights were cut out and killed beneath him. Another loss for my evil minions. And another tremendous game of intrigue and strategy.
Unfortunately, that was it for me. The flooding that hit Chicago that weekend landed squarely on my proverbial plate and put in motion of sequence of events from which I’ve been climbing out from underneath since. Alas.
Still, in summation. I have no idea why I have ever worried about competitive gaming. The tournament scene was tremendous and congenial. All the people I met (including a few extremely kind gentlemen who read the blog –Thanks Fellas!) were extraordinarily cool. All the armies I saw were original, compelling, and clearly collected with the best goals of the hobby in mind. And so on.
Just tremendous. I’ll be back again next year without doubt and encourage those, like myself, who approach the scene with trepidation to give it a bash. I could not be more handily and happily pleased with the decision.
Thanks to the Windy City LoTR folk.