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Subject: ULTRA-MEGA CRY FACTORY!!! or All 3 Expansions Simultaneously rss

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Chris Tannhauser
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George is a sadist. How do I know this, you ask? Is it because he pulls the legs off of children? Or, even worse, drugs hapless victims with a paralytic and makes them watch 20 gazillion hours of '80s TV?

No—I know he's a sadist because he hosted an entire GamesDay in order to play Reiner Knizia's Lord of the Rings with all three expansions simultaneously, "just to see what happens."

It made my head hurt just thinking about it. I mean, the only times we've ever won at Sauron was when the Hobbits got lucky tile draws; Friends & Foes is more doable, but still, a run of bad luck can drown you in a dark tsunami of foes; Battlefields gives you more control, but at the cost of delaying the Hobbits' departure from any given board. Doing all three at once seemed a uniquely obvious exercise in futility—hooking up all three of the Hobbit-grinding machines in parallel could only make for a four-space Shire-fat render-farm.

Yes, it should make you shudder. Think of it—the time spent locking down the battlefield just means more "free" turns for Sauron, without the Hobbits even going anywhere. Oh, and look, I’ve already forgotten about the foes, haven’t I? Well, courage, lads, 'cuz here they all come...

It would be a suicide run. But what the hell.

George was "kind" enough to announce the day's main activity a couple of weeks in advance, so only those inclined to such masochism would even bother showing up, and so that no one had any expectations of anything remotely resembling a victory.

Except for Dave.

Dave volunteered instantaneously to be Sauron, "so I can win," he said matter-of-factly. Thanks, Dave! So kind of you (in an Ayn Rand kind of way).

(If you don't give a crap who played or what we ate then skip straight down to THE GAMES and save yourself a load of boredom. Kinda like the first eight chapters of Lord of the Rings.)

THE PLAYERS

George, our "Hobbity" host. He's freakishly tall for a Hobbit, but possessed of all their habits. His hospitality makes Samwise look like an Objectivist—so much so that a typical complaint goes something like, “Quit serving us so much! Stay at the table and play, damn your eyes!”

Engineer Dave, He Who Likes to Break Games. What? You say that game doesn't go to 11? Oh, trust Dave, it will—though it might shake to pieces and tear out a duodenum or two with all the cardboard shrapnel. Never tell him it can't be done. Unless you want to cry.

Tod. He's the guy who famously laid good money down on the board during a 3:00 AM game of Traders of Genoa. The heated negotiations ceased. "What's that for?" someone asked. "For someone to do anything," sighed Tod.

Eryn. One time Eryn traveled all the way to Berlin just to stand at Checkpoint Charlie with a giant-sized Twilight Struggle control marker for a photo that was rejected from inclusion in the BGG database. Perhaps if he had had a cat with him?

Garrett, my 13-year-old son. He was excited beyond measure at being included in a "Bad Uncles" gameday. Remember, G—"only Daddy and the Bad Uncles talk this way..."

And Me, your perfect narrator.

ELEVENSIES A-GO-GO

"The finer the repast, the softer the ego-blows of defeat." Or something like that. We had the usual George-provided spread of Hobbity goodness: fresh-baked pastries from a local bakery, hard-boiled eggs, and a ginormous fruit basket for starters; a second course of fine cheeses (cave-aged white Cheddar from France, a pungent Asiago from Italy, and Dubliner from Ireland, among others), Italian dry salami and a mound of dried cherries; a lunch of fresh-baked bread and Black Forest ham with a selection of "mustards from around the world" (whatever that means). All washed down with bottle after bottle of Pellegrino (aka "Italian sump-water"). At some point we also ate barbeque soy chips and drank Fresca.

THE GAMES

Game 1—Base Game Run-Through

As Eryn had never played before, we decided to play a quick run-through of the base game alone so he wouldn't come away with the wrong impression ("Let me get this straight—it's all about dying in Bree. Repeatedly.")

We breezed through the base game, as we always do these days, destroying the Ring in the Cracks of Doom without losing a single Hobbit. Now that Eryn has tasted the sweet nectar of victory that comes only from rupturing every last one of Sauron's 666 testicles, he was ready for the never ending sorrow that filled the rest of our day...

Game 2—UltraMegaCryFactoryActivate!

We set to the task of laying out the game entire—Reiner Knizia's Lord of the Rings with all three expansions: Sauron, Friends & Foes, and Battlefields. It was a dog's dinner of boards, cards, markers, chits, pawns, and assorted cardboard thingamabobs. And not to mention that abstract Sauron thingy that the ladies love to caress ("I just love the way it feels," coos my wicked, wicked wife).

The card stacks for Rivendell and Lothlorien were particularly fat—all five Hobbits were drooling at the prospect of American-Christmas-dwarfing mounds of Elf-presents. Little did we know the trail of tears we would tread to get there, feeling less like an American Christmas and more like a Chinese factory worker's...

(As a side note, we chose not to use the Dark Events tiles (I mean, come on, man! Really!). We started Sauron at 15 and gave ourselves the One Ring and Watchful Peace cards. We might be suicidal, but we're not stupid.)

With full bellies and munching mouths we stepped out of our adorable round doorways and onto the gnashing Conveyer Belt of Doom. And pretty much biffed it face-first in Bree. We went down hard, bloodying our noses and choking on broken teeth.

First of all, there's a lot to keep track of. No, more than that. You're close, but there's more. It's kind of like—

trying to run a nuclear reactor

AND

land the space shuttle

ALL THE WHILE

texting the break-up of your five-year relationship with that really hot chick who's full of broken glass.

"Ouch" doesn’t even come close.

Bree ended up being a gut-punch and a broken leg. We did a reasonable job of keeping track of everything—setting up the battlefield and whacking foes all the while weathering Sauron-turn after Sauron-turn.

It was all going so well...

Except that we forgot the Bree board itself. We didn't have the Ring token to get the Gandalf card, and we didn't hide enough to prevent Sauron from zipping down the corruption track all the way from 15 to seven or so.

We dragged ourselves, crying, a little bit further and then were overcome by the forces of darkness. Total score? Hell if I know—just write "lame" and "dead" on the goddamned sheet.

Game 3—This Time It'll Be Different, I Promise

We reset everything (did it take longer than the preceding game? Perhaps...) and began anew, this time resolved to lock down the Bree board before making our run for Rivendell.

We went at it hammer and tongs, Hobbits forming up to run the control rods, set the flaps for the glide-path to Andrews, and to text ITS NOT U ITS ME LOL.

Three Hobbits went out in a single Sauron-step, and then the lone Ring Bearer succumbed.

For an impressive high-score of... wait for it... 25.

Game 4—WER NT BRKNG UP JST TKNG BRK LOL

This is where it all changed—we decided to redefine victory as "any score that beats 25." We had no illusions of getting the Ring to Mordor, or even of a military victory. We just didn't want to go out like punks on a weak-ass 25.

We flung ourselves at the task, everyone playing to move the main activity line marker and kill foes, anything that would up our score.

Having killed and killed until every last Hobbit was gore-soaked and dragged behind him a wagon-load of Many Pelts (what was the Captain of the Dark Tower doing in Bree, anyway? Giving Sam a workout and an Orc-skull helmet is what). Todwise Gamgee, especially, sat uneasy on a mountain of dead, brooding with furrowed brows on his corpse-throne.

The non-stop carnage allowed us to skip Moria—and hey!—that would up our score tremendously! Everyone agreed, even though it meant many fewer Elf-presents—no Elven Rope with which to strangle and bind, no going kayaking at Helm’s Deep.

Sauron-Dave was playing super-dirty—cycling through cards to work different strategies, pushing the Black Rider hard to distract us, and then, failing that, pumping foes out into a conga line of evil 12-plus strong...

It was in Isengard that Frodo-George lost it.

"Lost it" not meaning the Ring, but as in "I'm done, and going to Hell, but so are all of you. SO ARE ALL OF YOU."

Frodo-George had two of the most impressive turns I have ever witnessed in Lord of the Rings. Period.

The specifics are hazy (probably because I was hitting the deck and burying my face in the mud To Make It All Go Away). Imagine, if you will, Frodo piloting a Ju 87D-5 Stuka over Isengard, chawing the butt of a wet stogie while hamming every living thing in sight with 20mm cannon shells and lobbing screaming 1000-pound bombs everywhere, unrestrained by the laws of physics due to god-mode and infinite ammo hacks, spawn killing, team killing, generally PWNING 4LL N00B5!!!11111!1!!!1

I don't know how he did it, but Frodo-George played those two turns like a cheese-ball one-turn-kill Magic deck—each turn just went on and on... One card-play led to another, and another; each play got him more resources to chain more plays, kill foes, move activity markers, it was horrible and wonderful simultaneously and we prayed it would never end...

And then Sauron-Dave intoned, "Die, pesky Hobbit." And squashed him like a bug under the Sauron piece.

It was over.

We tallied up the points for the main activity line and foes killed and topped out at an impressive (if I do say so myself) 45.

POSTMORTEM

More than half of our score was in pelts (they truly knew us for our trail of dead) and we were close to a military victory. Perhaps that is the only way to win, aside from super-lucky tile draws, in the Ultra-Mega Game of Doom? Is it possible to make the Sauron player beg for the Black Gate card?

I’m sure we would have liked to play more, but our heads ached and our butts were sore. And the soy chips and Fresca weren’t doing our duodenums any favors.

Next time, though, I think we got it down: go for the extended score first, and the military victory second. Everything else can go soak its head in an Elementary school toilet after lunch on Corn & Mayonnaise Day.

So there you have it—the ultimate Chernobyl-Challenger-Tiffany simulator. Just in case you're wondering what all that feels like. At the same time.

He drew a deep breath. 'Well, I'm back,' he said.

JST LK I KNW U WD
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George Rothrock
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Chris,
you have captured the essence and spittle of that fateful gamesday with savant-like clarity. Thank you!

The move to capturing points rather than destroying the ring made a huge change to the players' outlook. The strategies and definition of success change in a manner that frees your thinking, much like in trading up from morality-based religions to a suicide doom cult. The tendency to squirel resources toward that fateful day when you prepare to cross the treacherous grounds of Mordor is instantly replaced with the mad urge to game the system, with your hobbit-skin the first resource you spend, if only to move a little further down the path.

My heartfelt thanks to all who showed up to play. Some of the finer foods were provided by Chris himself, so I need to give shouts to the fine gamers who came to play with an open mind. I had always wanted to do the gaming equivalent of a slurpee-suicide (headache and all) but once Battlefields came out, we HAD to do it. Thanks to all who made it a great day.

George-Frodo
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eryn roston
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Re: ULTRA-MEGA CRY FACTORY!!! or All 3 Expansions Simultaneo
this manages to be both a poetic and accurate account of those terrible events that took place on March 31st.

I for one was sorta reminded of the Matrix: Revolutions. Its as if the game was designed like the matrix and Zion -- to allow us to flourish briefly only to destroy us almost completely...only to let us build up and try again...so that we could be destroyed again.

George thanks again for hosting and thanks to all for the food.

I will say that next time I will have to take more care in how much coffee I consume. By the time we hit the second game / first big game I was already crashing hard from all that caffine -- which made our impending doom seem all the more difficult to bear

I
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Bryan Stout
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Re: ULTRA-MEGA CRY FACTORY!!! or All 3 Expansions Simultaneo
HiveGod wrote:
Game 2--UltraMegaCryFactoryActivate!
...It was all going so well...

Except that we forgot the Bree board itself. We didn’t have the Ring token to get the Gandalf card, and we didn’t hide enough to prevent Sauron from zipping down the corruption track all the way from 15 to seven or so.

Just in case you weren't aware of this tactic ...

Sam's Character ability card seems specially-made for this situation. Rather than suffer the potentially horrible consequences of Bree's third Event, Sam rolls a die and suffers the full consequences of it -- which would have been much better than One-eye advancing half the board!

I'm glad you all had fun, though. I had fun reading about it.
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Jason Zer0
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Re: ULTRA-MEGA CRY FACTORY!!! or All 3 Expansions Simultaneo
Man I wish I made it to that session. Well, not REALLY. But I did swing by later and we made a valiant attempt at wiping the slate clean w/ a nice light session of Robo-Rally, Ticket to Ride, and San Juan.

Look forward to making the next one.

"Your session reports rule."

Helps to be a professional writer.
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Chris Tannhauser
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Eryn--

I totally forgot about the coffee--yet another service-oriented minefield that must be carefully traversed at George's Hobbit Hole. For those who don't know, he maintains a gourmet coffee station within arm's reach of the gaming table with a forever-topped off carafe of fresh, hot coffee, cream, a couple of different kinds of sugar, and mugs. It is very, very easy to drink way too much of the Blood of the Black God. I, too, have found myself wired beyond all imagining by the third turn of some game...

Daren--

Thanks for the kinds words!

Bryan--

D'oh! (No matter how much you play there's always a "D'oh!" isn't there...) Glad you enjoyed it.

Chris

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Richard Lea
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Quote:
white Cheddar from France


>splutters<

What???
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Chris Tannhauser
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Oops. I suppose you're right--it was actually a 'Gallic Cheddar-like cheese-food substance.'

UPDATE: I found a sliver of the label on wrapper... searched some foodie sites for the name... turns out it's actually Irish.

blush
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J
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"What? Surely this session report doesn't deserve 54 thumbs," I thought to myself.

I was right.

It deserves ten times this many. Wonderful stuff!
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Chris Tannhauser
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Well, it's no Projekt Eins, but I do what I can...

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carl huber
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Re: ULTRA-MEGA CRY FACTORY!!! or All 3 Expansions Simultaneo
If I had geek gold to give, here is where I would give it. Best. Session. Report. Evah.

"ITS NOT U ITS ME LOL."

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ART
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This has to be the single most funny and entertaining session report I've ever read. Thank you for putting in all that effort.
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Adam D.
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I cried while laughing.

Best.. writeup... ever
 
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Fredrik Claesson
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Re: ULTRA-MEGA CRY FACTORY!!! or All 3 Expansions Simultaneo
Sooo funny. You´re a genius.
 
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Marshall Miller
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WOW. Just WOW.

(any pictures?)
 
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Marshall Miller
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You've also made me very interested in purchasing this game.
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Shawn Baldwin
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HiveGod wrote:

Now that Eryn has tasted the sweet nectar of victory that comes only from rupturing every last one of Sauron’s 666 testicles, he was ready for the never ending sorrow that filled the rest of our day...


This one sentence is the single funniest thing I have ever read. EVER.
 
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Douglas Buel
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I find myself using the phrase "Ultra Mega Cry Factory" from time to time.
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Aaron Lambert
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Re: ULTRA-MEGA CRY FACTORY!!! or All 3 Expansions Simultaneo
More like ultra-mega laugh factory! I know this is an older post but I have to say, that was hilarious. I was snickering the whole time, trying not to laugh out loud while at work. I happen to know Eryn pretty well and he's an enjoyable person to game with, that is when he isn't being a backstabbing scoundrel. shake
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Stephen Sanders
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All Right. Its like I mentioned 2 years ago in my comments on both expansions. You can't win with the F&F and Sauron expansions being combined (not to mention Battlefields). It is a close game with either expansion by itself, but not both together. Play them seperately and you will have an enjoyable experience. Otherwise, you will go out early, just as you showed by your session reports.
 
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Jonah Johnson
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caltexn wrote:
All Right. Its like I mentioned 2 years ago in my comments on both expansions. You can't win with the F&F and Sauron expansions being combined (not to mention Battlefields). It is a close game with either expansion by itself, but not both together. Play them separately and you will have an enjoyable experience. Otherwise, you will go out early, just as you showed by your session reports.

yes, these are words of wisdom, but i think they had lost their sanity and wanted to test their gaming friendships.

stay well,

jj
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Chris Tannhauser
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Yep, I think it's clear that the expansions are meant to be used one at a time; once you've got the base game licked you then have a choice of three different flavors to play. Makes this game an absolute rest-of-my-life classic in my mind.

Around here, any mention of that fateful gamesday is met with winces, shudders and involuntary twitching...

We are scarred.
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Darren M
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That's one gnarly session report. I need to find a group of gamers with enthusiasm like that to play games with.thumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
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Shannon Ferguson
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Thank you.
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Shannon Ferguson
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I am so jealous! Gourmet coffee & LotR! d10-0 out of d10-0
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