Greetings again from the Forge! Courtesy of a binge buy of miniatures, I've updated my Rohan force and made some of my own modifications. As I haven't used my Rohan force in a while here at TMAT, and since I now have new units that will both complement my older strategies and have blazed the way for new strategies, I thought I'd give you a taste of what the Insurgency is working on at the How. First of all, a few words about how I generally build my army.
First, I am probably one of the few Rohan players in the world that does not rely heavily on heroes. I use Eomer every chance I can (it would not be too far off to say that I started collecting Rohan so that I could rock and roll with Eomer, :D ), but instead of choosing Theoden, Eowyn, or even Hama (as a smaller, cheaper captain), I primarily rely on Rohan Royal Guards and raw recruit "rank and file" infantry to finish the job. Following this purchase, however, I have a few new additions that will give me the flexibility that I wanted to alter my weapons and tactics.
Over the years, I have always loved horses - there is something magical about them, and their embodiment of grace and strength is worthy of substantially more stories than Hollywood or authors make. In LOTR SBG, I was originally driven away from horses because 1) they were more expensive, and I was strapped for cash at the time, and 2) a horseman cannot shield (and, if you've read any of the fights I've done on this blog, you know how often I shield, ;) ). Both of these facts drove me toward infantry. Until now...
As game after game have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of a Lone Knight charging into enemy ranks, drawing archery fire and hammering home at the flank of a large block of infantry (as epic as it is, which you can see in this battle report), I decided to invest in horsemen. Having received two horsemen as a birthday gift from Zorro in addition to the blister I now own, I now have an eight-rider retinue at the command of the Third Marshall of the Riddermark (all of whom are different; more on that in a bit), and after a few rounds of practice against orcs and Uruk-Hai, I'm quite pleased with how versatile they are.
Caption: Here we have Eomer and Firefoot accompanied by eight riders. I use three color schemes in my Rohan force to designate battle groups:
-Edoras Garrison: Green cloaks, Rain Gray tunics. The defenders of Edoras proudly guard the halls of Theoden, King of Rohan, and have a typical "Rohan" color scheme.
-Dunharrow Detachment: Russ Gray cloaks, Black tunics. The men of Dunharrow are Eomer's chosen band, and he leads them in their exploits across the Riddermark. These models have the most battle damage/wear on them, due to their veteran status.
-Westfold Recruits: Brown cloaks, Fleshy Leather tunics, and tend to have the most tattered and low-upkeep look to them, representing Rohan's more rural population.
I'll detail more about each group in the next post which will discuss tactics and formations, as each does something different for my army. Right now, though, I want to talk about why I prefer Rohan cavalry to a few of the other mounted fighters I've seen. The most natural comparison is between Rohan and Gondor. Gondorian knights (especially Dol Amroth Knights) benefit from substantial armor (D6 with shields), lances (which add +1 to wound), and a "regular army," high-defense line of infantry for support (and distraction of the oncoming horde). This makes Gondorian cavalry very versatile, as they provide a killing unit to complement their shock infantry. Knights of Dol Amroth come to the fight with a higher fight value (4, which is really good for the race of men), and a higher courage value (4, instead of 3), which I greatly respect. What Rohan cavalry provide is a substantially more tactical skirmish cavalry unit that can pepper an enemy line before charging with either their throwing spears (S3 attack from 6" after using their full movement) or their bows (S2 attack from 24" after moving half of their movement or less). Because of the Expert Rider rule, riders can also carry shields (D5 instead of D4) while also carrying and using bows, but must choose to keep either the bow or the shield if dismounted.
I really like having a substantial body of horsemen with Eomer now. When Eomer leads a charge, for example, it is nice to have units that can punch a hole for him (and the rest of the troop) before engaging the enemy at close quarters. And, especially now that I run with the Knight of Pelennor Eomer as opposed to the Marshall of the Riddermark, I lack a ranged attack for Eomer (and must depend on his division of riders to supply that). I have also faced off against Harad cavalry on a few occassions, and, on the whole, I was unimpressed 1) by the low defense value of those riders (D4), and 2) by their inability to get ranged options on horseback (did the new rules change that?). I always wondered at this, since I would expect only armored horsemen to be forced into close combat (Kataphracts, Gondorian Knights, etc.). Rohan cavalry offer you a cheap light cavalry unit (like Harad), but also gives you ranged options (like warg riders) and shields for higher defense (and shielding if your rider gets dismounted). I have always theorized what it would be like to run a fully mounted army list against a body of Goblins or Dwarves, which would allow you to stay at range and pepper the enemy indefinitely (assuming that the Goblins don't increase their speed...). But, to date, Tiberius and Tavros have not taken me up on that offer, :)
As I mentioned above, my strategy primarily relies on Rohan Royal Guards for its punch and firepower (besides Eomer). This is much more common when fighting Elves, Goblins, or anyone else that may field a unit that causes terror, but in general these guys are a large part of my strategy regardless of who the forces of Rohan rally to strike. Because of how many times I've used them, they should have individual names by now, but at present, they don't, :)
Royal Guards offer two things that a Rohan force desperately needs: 1) F4 units (to roll off against Uruk-Hai), and 2) D6 infantry (for holding the line against S3 bows). They are only 10-12 points (depending on if you buy them throwing spears), but they are well worth the cost. I usually use all 6 of my Royal Guards whenever I go into combat, and have considered buying 3 more to provide me with more firepower on the front lines. Royal Guards also have the bodyguard rule: you assign a particular hero as their leader, and as long as that unit is alive (has not retreated or been killed), they will pass all courage tests (which cannot be altered by your opponent). This makes them the perfect units for engaging units that cause terror (Barrow Wights, Trolls, Elven heroes, Elves within reach of a hero that causes them to cause terror, very large winged creatures from the abyss, etc.), as they will always pass their courage tests. Now, be forewarned: unless you bring in another unit that will help them win the fight, you will quickly find that your Royal Guard troop will become Royal Guard soup (as these units tend to have a high strength value, and likely also have might points), so deploy them wisely.
Though perhaps not as good looking as Chris Hemsworth (I've thought about cleaning up the beard on this guy...), this guy offers to Rohan a new advantage: stronger, better archery options on the ground. Not only does the Huntsman have a 3+ shoot value (putting him on-par with the rangers and elves that have torn my army up on multiple locations), but he also carries an Elf Bow (S3 at 24"), and passes any in the way rolls on a 2+ (so he almost always hits his target). He also regains lost might points when he kills monsters and heroes, making him a prime choice for use against low defense, large heroes. Since each horse can carry one passenger and one driver, I've thought about the possibility of placing a Huntsman and a few outriders on the backs of my cavalrymen, so that I can quick drop archers either behind enemy lines, or at a flank where the enemy's defense value is lower. Still under consideration on that point, though.
Second, your units are very light (D5 at best), but also very cheap: it is not every day that the forces of Good can field as many units as the forces of Evil (almost never, actually). My old army list was limited in unit count, and thus was forced to buy heroes like Boromir, Legolas, or Aragorn in order to fill the point vacuum. That's all well and good, until the enemy kills 13-14 of your warriors, and you really wish you had an army of 50 instead of 32 (which I have been in on more than one occasion).
Running with Rohan is not easy, and it will always keep you on your toes. But for those of us who love the adrenaline of an impossible cavalry charge that turns into a killing fest, or a handful of recruits leveling a regular army that should statistically mop the floor with them, is a feeling unmatched in human experience - at least west of the Anduin, :)
Until the next post, or until I see you on the field of battle!
"I watch the stars, for it is mine to watch, as it is your's to remember." ~ Glenstorm