Jamie and I are back in Sheffield after another enjoyable weekend in Slimbridge at the annual Berkeley HOTT tournament.
Neither of us had practised since last year so it wasn’t likely that we’d do well in points terms. And as Jamie was using a new army (his Garden Gnomes) and I’d decided to try using eight different armies over the weekend, a top ten finish was never likely.
In the first battle I played Owen Webber who was using an army based upon the Fellowship of the Ring in Moria (Mg Gen, He, Lk, Sh, 4xWb, 2x Bd). I used my slightly rejigged Gloranthan Dwarves (Sh Gen, 3x Sh, 3x Bd, 3x Lk, Bh, Art). I got to defend and put down my Dwarf gateway-cum-dice-tower as the stronghold.
Owen launched a strong flank attack and I couldn’t get enough over to hold him up fast enough to prevent him taking the Stronghold for a quick win.
|Owen just before his glorious victory.|
|Aragorn and one of the Hobbits take on the Dwarf Shooters.|
|Aragorn finds the secret door into the Stronghold. I think a thrush knocked...|
Game 2 was against Amy and Gemma Malcolm. I used Steve Price’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream army and the girls used a Lizardman force. Again my Stronghold was threatened, this time by a force of two Behemoths. I decided to force the issue and went after the Lizardmen’s Magician General with Oberon (Hero). I got lucky and won the game .
|Gemma and Amy bring a bit of much needed style to proceedings.|
|Oberon and Titania go in hard and fast.|
The third game was against Nigel Jones. Nigel used Benedict’s Mini Mammoths (2xHe, Gd, 4xRd, 2xSh) whilst I plumped for Mark Fry’s gorgeous 15mm scale Rohirrim (KtGen, 5xKt, He, Pd, Mg and my vote for best army of the weekend).
|Rohirrim knights being gorgeous.|
|Left to right: Theoden, Gandalf, Eomer, and Eowyn (with Merry).|
I wasn’t sure what to do with a magician and Paladin in the same army other than keep them as far apart as possible so I sent the Hero and Paladin (Eomer and Eowyn respectively) on a right flanking attack aimed at the Stronghold, sent the knights up the middle in a two-deep block, and kept Gandalf away on the left.
Nigel’s God (Spirit Of The Ancestors) arrived on turn 2 and disappeared on turn 3. He must have seen what was coming because I continued to roll sixes and Nigel continued to roll ones. The Rohirrim knights cut right through the centre of the barbarian army and reached their Stronghold having killed 8AP in the process. Added to the 4AP for the disappearing God this gave me the game event though the knights didn’t manage to capture the enemy camp.
|The Rohirrim burst through the barbarians' centre!|
|... and reach the Stronghold!|
Finally on Saturday, I faced Gordon Malcolm. Without checking Gordon’s army I selected Steve’s very nice Imperial Colonial force (nineteenth century redcoats with sci-fi weapons; BdGen, 5x Bd, He, 2xDr). This was perhaps the worst force I could have picked against Gordon’s Weeping Angels (AHeGen, AHe, 4xFl, Bt, 2xLk). I tried to hide in a corner until my Dragons arrived but they never did.
|Hiding in the corner.|
My personal morale collapsed almost completely at this point. HOTT was a stupid game and I never liked it (Ludus stultissimus est et nunquam amavi). Why was I bothering? Shouldn’t I just surrender?
|Statues, Sir, fahsands of em...|
I kept going and slowly began to get back onto an even keel as Gordon’s PIPs dried up and I managed to inch my Hero towards his Stronghold. With just two units of Blades left, including the General, and no sign of the Dragons, my Hero reached the enemy Stronghold! +5 to the Hero vs +6 to the Stronghold. Could I snatch a victory? The dice rattled and came up 6:5 to me; a stand off! On the following turn, Gordon’s Aerial Hero General hit my Hero in the rear. So now it was +4:+6 and if I lost it was all over bar the final slaughter. We rolled. I got three up and won the game! Truly an epic confrontation and a lesson never to give up.
|Taking the Stronghold.|
So, three wins and a defeat on day one. Better than I expected and yet oddly unsatisfying. I didn’t feel I’d played particularly well but rather that the dice had been very kind at key moments.
Sunday morning I was paired with Benedict Sharrock. Benedict was using his very pretty Silmarillion army (HeGen, He, Cl, 4xBd, Sh, Bt, Lk) and I used my Morokanth (WbGen, 4xWb, 3xMg, 2xLk). Can’t clearly recall the details here. I know that Benedict won and that we a had a really enjoyable game. I never had the right combination of enough PIPs and enough of my Magicians in range to have a go at bespelling Benedict’s Hero despite the presence of the Cleric.
|Not another f**king Elf?|
Battle number 6 was another hugely enjoyable one. I played my Border Reivers (RdGen, 3xRd, 5xBt, 3xLk, Sk) against Steve Harris with his Wolf Lords (HeGen, Bh, 5xWb, 3xBt). This was always going to be challenging as I had nothing that could take on his 4AP elements on anything like equal terms. I sent my Riders on a right hook ride at Steve’s Stronghold whilst my Sneaker moved up on the left to try and drag away some defenders. The Beasts moved up right-centre to try and protect the left flank of the column of riders.
In the course of the battle I felt like I’d really dragged Steve’s army around the field but I only managed to kill one enemy element. Eventually the presence of of woods all over the field and the fact that my General was off on one flank meant that I was unable to manoeuvre and I was eventually defeated. Sadly I don't seem to have any pics of this one.
On Sunday afternoon my energy seemed to drain away. I probably shouldn’t have skipped lunch but when I sat down to face Pete Duckworth I felt like death warmed up. Pete, however, was his usual charming self and soon we were both enjoying a hard-fought battle in which we both struggled to get a crucial match-up or a decisive manoeuvre.
|Welsh Air Force Lancaster bomber over the Cantina Rio Caeriog.|
Pete used his ECW Parliamentarians (SpGen, Sp, 3xSh, Art, Cl, Kt, Rd, He) and I used Don’t Cry For Me Aberystwyth, my Welsh army from the Patagonian wars (BdGen, Ab, Sk, He, 3xSh, 2xWb, Rd).
|Just before the clash.|
Pete’s one of the best HOTT players around and I’m always please to do well against him. I took out his Rider with a lucky 6:1 but I felt I played quite well and said at one point that felt please to have played for nearly and hour before losing my first unit. At this point Jamie, who was looking on having finished his game earlier, pointed out that we’d been playing for 70 minutes. After another 15 minutes or so we called it a draw.
My final game was against Alan Millicheap. I used the Northern Union (BdGen, Bd, 2xWb, Cl, He, Bh, 2xBt, Hd) against Alan’s Skeletons (HeGen, Pd, 6xWb, 2xSh). My decent play of the previous game deserted now and Alan’s massive, fast attack on my left flank came in too quickly for me to reorganised and before I knew it I was 15AP down!
So 10 points out of a possible 24 and mid table mediocrity in 15th place out of 25 people. All in all to be expected with no practice at all. I enjoyed myself and I met my aim of playing eight different armies over the weekend.
Many thinks are due to all of my opponents and to Steve Price for doing such a great job of organising as ever. And congratulations, Steve, on winning your own tournament!