Matt Connellan
United States
Binghamton
New York
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I am the white void. I am the cold steel. I am the just sword.
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So, I have owned this game for over a year and still have not gotten it to the table. That changed last night. I played - to name names - with this guy:
Joshua Kocur
United States
Glendale
Arizona
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He chose the forces of Shadow, so I scooped up the Free Peoples. LET'S DO THIS!

Josh puts three dice in the hunt pool, as he does for what I recall being every turn of the game. I start by leaving Rivendell and instantly being located. Nice job, Frodo. I stop off in the Fords of Bruinen. The rest of the first turn mostly consists of us jockeying for position, as Josh flies a Nazgul into Bruinen and then slowly marches his army up from Moria to join him and I just spend all my time moving the Elves into active war. Lovely.

Next turn, Josh summons the Witch King to join his modest host, to get the extra die I would presume. This, we now realize, is not so great a move, as it activates all of my nations. He also brings Saruman out, for that other extra die. I decide to unleash the power of the elves onto his two-unit, two Nazgul+Witch king force sitting outside of Rivendell. It isn't too hard to kill them, and we look at the rules. Hey, the Witch King just died. Sorry, dude. The Fellowship takes this new opportunity to try and move again. They manage to not be hunted this time. Distance 1.

Turn 3: I try to move the Fellowship and again they are found. Dammit, Frodo! Pull your head out of your ass! I have this card in my hand that says I can move characters and then if I have somebody in Erebor and Ered Luin I can instantly move the (from what it seems, normally unutilized) dwarves to At War, and they can then most likely conquer Mount Gundabad. I feel like the best way to accomplish this is to put them at Goblin's Gate. I counted the spaces after the game, and it's way quicker to get to Mordor through Moria, so this might not have been the best move. Thanks for telling me, Tolkien (oh wait, you did...). In the meantime, Saruman is summoning an asston of guys and heading into Rohan, which I did not even think about trying to do anything to stop. They are still one step away from war so I cannot muster any reinforcements in Helm's Deep. Not great... Also, more Nazgul come to visit the fellowship in Goblin's Gate.

Turn 4: I use a card to get Strider into Erebor. There's half of what I need to activate the large dwarf army I have standing in Northern Murkwood, unable to proceed any further! Of course, as experts may already know, that never ends up happening and Strider sits there the whole game accomplishing nothing. As the game progresses I keep seeing all these cards that say IF STRIDER/ARAGORN IS IN GONDOR/ROHAN. I can't use any of those! Well, how do I get Aragorn? He... needs to be all the way down there. Well, that's not happening. I forget the card that Josh played, but it involved his Nazgul sitting on the Fellowship, and it ended with Merry being "taken alive" and leaving the fellowship. Also, a few wolf riders waltz into Helm's Deep without incident, and then next action a card gets played that allows the wolves to do three rounds of battle on the beseiged Helm's Deep. I guess we can all guess how that turned out. 2 points for Shadow.

Turn 5: From reading my Gandalf the White card, it seems to me to get the most effect from him you should let him take a corruption hit while in the Fellowship and can then just resurrect him in Fangorn, and since I am not going to depose the Nazgul from Goblin's Gate I try to move them. They get found... again. Now they're in Old Ford, and the Nazgul kindly catch up with them. In the meantime I start trying to move my belligerent elves from the Grey Havens east, and Recruit a single elite Rohan guy (who are finally at War) at the abandoned Fords of Isen. By this time, most of the forces that took Helm's Deep have moved on to Edoras and Saruman is sitting all alone in Orthanc, so Josh takes this opportunity to start pumping out some more... Isenguardians? Somewhere in all this some Umbar ships move everybody hanging out in Umber to Pelargir, massacring the token defense force. 3 points for Shadow.

Turn 6: I get Gandalf's Staff out and once again try to suicidally move the Fellowship. The staff stops the 3 damage tile he drew, but instead I get found AGAIN. Now they are hanging in Gladden Fields. Man, it takes forever to go this way. A force moves west from Dol Guldur to simultaneously threaten the Fellowship and multiple other regions. I move my Lorien Elves up to Dimrill Dale and split Legolas off of the Fellowship to join them. See, I have this awesome card that I can use if the army has a companion that lets me ignore one roll by the Shadow player. That's one free round of me beating on them! So after the Southron/Easterling force moves into Lossarnach and smashes themselves on the might of Minas Tirith, I move my elves up to attack the shadow in Gladden Fields. Time for my trick card - bam! Oh wait, in says I only get to ignore the Leader reroll? I guess I should have read that a little better. My elven forces get mostly decimated, leaving one foot soldier, one leader, and Legolas standing all by themselves. The Shadow takes this opportunity to counterattack and kills them. Bye bye, Legolas.

Turn 7: The Shadow player easily takes Lorien. 5 points for the Shadow player. Uh-oh. But since the Fellowship is now unmolested, I get a rare, non-successful hunt. Woo-hoo! Distance 1! Minas Tirith strikes back at the Southrons and drives them back into Pelargir. Also, the Elves from the Grey Havens just keep on marching east and the Rivendell elves march south. Josh, now realizing that Moria is looking a bit vulnerable, only having a token force there, starts sending up some reinforcements from Isenguard. The Rivendell Elves march into Moria and the shadow retreats its one unit into the Stronghold. An army amasses in North Dunland to strike them, but the reinforcements from the Grey Havens cut into them and force him to regroup. The fellowship tries moving again... found... again. Also 2 damage, so Gandalf dies. Josh has in play a card that lets him discard a character card in play whenever he kills a member of the fellowship, and I didn't realize until right now that we played this wrong, but we both interpret that as Strider, the useless lump, was now dead. Of course, he's a Companion, not a character, but whatever; he wasn't accomplishing anything anyway. Fellowship shows up in South Anduin Vale. Gandalf is resurrected in Fangorn.

Turn 8: Josh amasses three Nazgul in Dol Guldur. What's he up to? He plays a Shadow card that he believes allows him to roll for damage against the Fellowship for every Nazgul adjacent to them. I reread the card, and it's actually for rolling damage on an adjacent army, not the Fellowship. Whoops! My large contingent in Dol Amroth (thanks to Elven Ships) starts marching east. A shadow card allows a bunch of reinforcements to show up from Arnor to the Trollshaws. Great. Shadow player walks into Rivendell (since all my elves are dead by this point, except the two in Gondor). 7 points for Shadow. Shadow also parks some Nazgul on top of the Fellowship, because he's not liking how close they are getting to Mordor. Gandalf, in the meantime, gets angry and uses the Ents to smash the lone troop sitting in Orthanc, also killing Saruman. I guess there's a lesson learned: Saruman needs support.

Turn 9: There are four hunt dice in the box and a Nazgul sitting on the Fellowship, so I think it's time to change my focus. I have the perfect card, so I decide to go for it - I siege Moria with my one elite Elf and the leader, with a combat card that lets me make one of my leader rerolls an automatic hit. I manage to get off unscathed and take Moria. 2 points for the Free Peoples! Additionally, Lamedon wrecks the Southrons in Pelargir, bringing the Shadow's points down to 6. Josh moves a superior force into Moria to take it back, and seeing the writing on the wall, I know that I have to seize victory now or probably never, so Pelargir marches south to west Harondor. Shadow only has one die left, and they use it to try and take back Moria, with his four normals and a Nazgul against my one elite and a leader. Luckily, he only rolls one hit and my elite is demoted but still alive. Gondor freely marches into Umbar for two more points and the Free Peoples win!

So, many mistakes were made during this game, on both sides (sending Strider up to the Dwarven Lands to rot, taking the long way to Mordor, misreading cards, summoning the Witch-King first thing, etc.) but it was still fantastically fun and I can't wait to play again. Hopefully competently this time.
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Andrew Poulter
United Kingdom
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Glad you enjoyed the game. Hope you get to play it many times, it improves with each play.

I spotted one rule wrong in your report, but it didn't seem like it made a difference. You cannot recruit at the Fords of Isen as it is not a settlement but a fortification only.
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Matt Connellan
United States
Binghamton
New York
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I am the white void. I am the cold steel. I am the just sword.
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GamesJart wrote:
Glad you enjoyed the game. Hope you get to play it many times, it improves with each play.

I spotted one rule wrong in your report, but it didn't seem like it made a difference. You cannot recruit at the Fords of Isen as it is not a settlement but a fortification only.

We compared the picture in the region to the pictures in the manual and came to the conclusion it was a town, but that's probably because the different classification of Free Peoples' Fortifications/Towns/Cities kind of looked samey to us. We certainly didn't play like it was a fortification when it got ran over. Whoops again!
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Mike
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A Witch King activation can really fuck up your plans as the Shadow player. I never activate him until the FP have at least 2 active nations.
 
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Gary Goh
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore
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It sounds like you and Josh had a really fun session, so here's to you guys having more sessions like this one!

I have the 2nd edition and played it just today with my brother-in-law as the SP. It was his first game, but we certainly had a blast. Uncannily, my game also ended with a FP victory, which resulted from a walk into Mount Gundabad after taking Orthanc.
 
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