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War of the Ring (First Edition)» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Session Report rss

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Yaron Racah
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Emanuel suggested we play this new game he got – War of the Ring. Now, I realize there's been a lot of hype about the books and movies this game is based on, but I just never could be bothered to read/see them. Never one to turn down a war game, though, I skimmed the rules and cards overnight, and was ready to play the next day.

The premise is very simple (and probably familiar to most readers) – it's an unbalanced fight between the so-called "Forces of Shadow" and the "Free Peoples". The Shadow guys are a lot stronger (more units and actions per turn), but they have to take 10 points worth of the Free Peoples' strongholds and cities. The "good guys" are weaker, and it's hard for them to even start fighting (based on some simple "political system"), but they only need to steal 4 points worth of settlements (which can be as few as two strongholds).

One other thing which is supposed to help balance the game, and add movie flavor, is the presence of a group of Free People heroes called "the Fellowship". These guys can move around, helping get the Free People nations to actually fight, and help them win fights (there are some copies of a pretty good battle card – It is a Gift - which can only be used with the Fellowship around). There are also alternate victory conditions associated with the Fellowship. The Shadow victory looks pretty neat – if they try to move around too much, and help in too many battles, you "hunt" them, causing damage, 12 points of which let you win. Light's victory looks pretty unlikely, though, as he needs to get them to the middle of Shadow territory. This is carries a high risk of being "hunted", and prevents them from helping in the war).

The game does seem a little broken. All the Shadow player has to do is play solidly and cautiously, avoiding losing strongholds to surprise attacks, and victory is pretty much inevitable.

With that in mind, I naturally set about proving my point by choosing Shadow, and taking notes as we were playing (names of specific event cards are highlighted). It's been a while since I beat Manu in a serious game, and I figured a change would be welcome.


The first few turns saw Manu concentrating mainly on moving the Fellowship south. That makes sense, if you remember his nations can't even start recruiting troops before they're activated, and the only way to do this (short of being attacked, which is too late), is declaring the Fellowship in their cities.

Seeing that, I spent some actions and cards hunting them, and of course used most of my actions to muster my forces. I got Saruman in the game, using his mustering abilities to gather a lot of troops, and used my cards to build up forces almost everywhere (Southrons, Easterlings, Dol Guldur, and of course the whole Sauron area opposite the Gondor nation - as full as the stacking limit allows). The idea was to wait till I'm ready, than crush him everywhere at once.

Meanwhile, my Fellowship-hunting attempts were also going well. I used the Cruel Weather card to good effect, pushing them back one, and Flocks of Crebain finally resulted in a reveal in Hollin. Manu took the tile drawn as damage (called corruption, for some reason). Another move saw another success, and corruption was running high. Seeing as they were aiming to cross through Moria, I used Balrog of Moria, and got another tile in when they declared on the other side (a 3 tile this time, got the leader, Gandalf). It was needed to delay their arrival at the south (were they would activate everyone and use cards to help the main battles), and it was a relief to see the most powerful hero go down, but I kind of regretted not having the other effect of the Balrog card available.

Anyway, all this had the effect of forcing the Fellowship to declare in Lorien, and stay there for quite a while healing one point each turn.

Meanwhile, my muster was in full swing, and I was starting to move huge armies towards their goals (Minas Tirith, Pelargir, Lorien, Woodland Realm, Dale, Erebor – worth the 10 points I needed in total).

Just as I was getting ready to attack, Manu decided the Fellowship were good to go, and pressed onwards. No problem here - I revealed them again in Eastemnet, using cards and tiles to great effect. He used Horn of Gondor to absorb some of the damage, but then Boromir went down to Lure of the Ring, and Merry and Pippin were chosen randomly against tiles (immediately being "resurrected" in Fangorn). Seeing as Manu was really keen to get the Fellowship to Minas Tirith, I played Breaking of the Fellowship, drawing a 3 tile and causing the departure of the last 3 companions – all further damage would be taken as corruption.

That accomplished, I finally started my first attack, hitting the Rohan army in the Fords of Isen, killing it off (leader and all). I sent some forces through the breach to Eastemnet, to get more hunt rerolls against the Fellowship, and really take it out of the game. An unexpected but welcome Fellowship-damage victory was becoming a real possibility at this point.

Responding to this first attack, Manu used the Eomer, son of Eomund card to get a leader and unit in Rohan (killing off my Fellowship-hunting unit), and got the ex-fellowship members (plus the reincarnated Gandalf) to Edoras, activating Rohan. He proceeded to quickly muster a leader and some troops (Riders of Theoden) and send them to Helm's Deep with the companions, before I got a chance to attack there. At the same time, he sent a Gondor leader and some troops to Osgiliath, in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of advancing Sauron troops.

I fell on Helm's Deep in strength (The Fighting Uruk Hai, Devilry of Orthanc), but was thwarted by some good rolls, the large number of companions, and the Huorn Dark card. The worst came when The Ents Awake: Entmoot was used to attack the almost empty Orthanc and take Saruman out of the game. I didn't pay any attention to the Ents when I went over the decks last night – seems I should have… That was pretty much the end of the Saruman nation, but it wasn't very important to my plans, anyway.

I was more apprehensive when Gandalf took off with Pippin to Minas Tirith (using his Shadowfax ability), where the toughest battle was to take place. This was mainly due to Gandalf's Nazgul (Shadow-leader) neutralizing ability. A large army was building up in Rohan for Gondor's aid, and Strider was using cards right and left (Challenge of the King), reminding me that he can transform and give Manu an extra die if he gets to Gondor. With all that in mind, I realized I should strike fast with everything I've got – and finish the war quickly.

It was actually Manu who initiated aggression on the Gondor-Sauron front, using Faramir's Rangers against my Southrons in Ithilien (lost me an elephant). I used Corsairs of Umbar to take the city of Pelargir with a large Southron force, planning to use it for a move on Minas Tirith, but got driven away by the obviously broken card Dead Men of Dunharrow, and saw Aragorn being transformed in Pelargir, for a total of 6 dice to my 7.

Fortunately, my plans were now ripe. Next turn, I played Day without Dawn to remove some Will of the West joker dice, and used The Shadow is Moving and The Shadow Lengthens to move my armies quickly to position. One army was sent to Rohan, to tie the troops there to their own defense. I (finally) brought in the Witch King (getting an extra die, and some card recycling power), and easily took Osgiliath (The Black Captain Commands), routing the leader and surviving troops back to Minas Tirith, and started a siege on Lorien with my Dol Guldur forces.

My Rohan assault was deflected by a small force, aided by Rage of the Ents (I hate Ents), but the main thing was the siege of Minas Tirith. I started an unstoppable assault, complete with a huge army, the Witch King, Nazgul, Grond, Hammer of the Underworld, Black Breath (got rid of that pesky Osgiliath leader) and Denethor's Folly. Manu, however, was not unprepared. First, Gandalf got rid of Denethor's Folly. Then, Paths of the Woses brought the largish Rohan army as relief, their leader went down with Heroic Death, and then Merry used Blade of Westernesse to get my Witch King, which really smarted. Nevertheless, my army decimated the Rohan army, which was finally called off. I conducted another round of siege warfare, and would probably have taken the stronghold if Manu hadn't suddenly pulled out Help Unlooked For, and sent Aragorn with his regulars to finish off my remaining forces.

That didn't accomplish anything except lengthen the game, as I still had hordes of Sauron forces at home, and Manu's reserves were getting low. However, as those forces needed some maneuvering to get to position, I decided to complete my attacks on his other strongholds before moving against Minas Tirith again. Thus, I pressed my sieges against Lorien and Woodland Realm (Dol Guldur forces both), and used my mustered Easterlings to take Dale, and besiege Erebor.

We were playing the last turn for today, when Manu did the strangest thing. He took his remaining (pitiful) Minas Tirith Forces, and used every Army die and Will of the West die in his pool to march them all the way to Dagorlad, playing The Last Battle. I can't see why he would go to all this trouble just to play that card. I suppose he's getting desperate and counting on stealing a win by taking two of my home strongholds. Rather a long shot, if you ask me – I can see some strongholds which would be easier to take.

At that point, we really had to adjourn, but we're keeping the game set to be continued next week. I'm pretty pleased with my position, really. Some battles didn't go as well as I planned, but I still have 3 times Manu's strength, and can always muster more, while Manu's reserves are getting depleted. The Fellowship has moved 4 times since its last reveal in Eastemnet, but having lost all its fighting heroes and wasted all its powerful It is a Gift cards for their other effects (while in Lorien), I don't see how they could be very useful in battle, wherever it is they finally declare themselves.

As I said in the beginning, it's just a matter of fighting it out, patiently and carefully, and we all know how that's going to end, don't we?

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The Fiend
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Re:Session Report
yaron (#82324),
As I said in the beginning, it's just a matter of fighting it out, patiently and carefully, and we all know how that's going to end, don't we?


Yeah, you now can only allocate 1 Hunt Dice to the FSP and if they're carefull and you don't roll many EYES or 6's those sneaky Hobbits will toss that ring right into Mt. Doom.
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Ben Harris
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Re:Session Report
yaron (#82324),

How did it end up?
 
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Ben Harris
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Re:Session Report
yaron (#82324),

How did it end up?
 
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Yaron Racah
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Re:Session Report
Hallow (#82978),

Read the session report carefully, and see if it reminds you of anything. If it does, you should know how it ends...

Sauron Yaron

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Rich Moore
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Re:Session Report
yaron (#84115),
It reminds me of the novels...you've played it out perfectly (almost too perfectly...hmmm). And if my memory serves me correct, Sauron comes in second.

You certainly played with the overconfidence of Sauronsauron!

Rich
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Yaron Racah
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Re:Session Report
rcmoore4 (#84613),

Quote:
you've played it out perfectly

Yes, as perfectly as possible - using the timeline at the end of RotK.

I wondered how the novels read in game terms, and when I started writing it, I realized it would have to be written from a newbie Sauron's point of view, as that would be the only way to explain completely ignoring an FP ring strategy (in game terms, of course).

I was worried I've underplayed it when nobody seemed to notice something was weird about this game, though... glad you came to the rescue.

Yaron
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Rich Moore
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Re:Session Report
yaron (#85583),
Yes, it finally hit me as I re-read it to figure out who won! It's a fine write-up, and nobody yet has tried to describe the plot in game terms in such detail as you have. At least it is "possible"

Rich
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Dave J McWeasely
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Re:Session Report
Oh man, nice report. You totally fooled me. I read the first paragraph and the last paragraph and mentally labeled you as "newbie chump". Now *I* feel like the chump. Nice work. Currently your article is rated as 4.5 out of 4 ratings, I guess that means either 5/5/4/4 or 5/5/5/2. In either case, those low-raters obviously didn't get it. You definately deserve a 5.0 for this.
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Sean McCarthy
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Re:Session Report
MrWeasely (#85700),

Fooled me too. Awesome report.


I know I didn't get it the first time, so why have I already rated it a 5? This is confusing...
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Eric Brosius
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Re:Session Report
SevenSpirits (#85706),

Check out the session date. That's a pretty big hint.

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Yaron Racah
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Re:Session Report
The date is a hint indeed, as is the name of the FP player. I admit the latter is a somewhat obscure and twisted reference, though - think of it as a bonus question...

Reading back, I realized the seed for this idea was planted by MrWeasely, in his "Books as Optimal Free People Game?" thread.

Thanks MrWeasely, and thanks everyone for your kind words!
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Chris Shaffer
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How can you see the session date? I don't see it anywhere.

Great report.
 
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Eric Brosius
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TheCat wrote:
How can you see the session date? I don't see it anywhere.

Great report.

It appears that the new versions of BGG have eliminated the session dates, which used to be displayed.
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I gotta say,

That was BRILLIANT!

I did realize that the events of your game were somewhat similar to the books, but never realized that you based the whole session report around them! Thumbs-up and a big tip for this masterpiece!
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Per Sylvan
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This is marvellous reading indeed! A great treat!
Thanks for sharing!!
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Brian Evans
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That was really well done. I started getting suspicious towards the end but didn't quite catch it. haha. Love it. The noob like overconfidence of the Sauron player was a really nice touch.

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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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1 for the excellent session report, and 1 for Mr. Weasely, whose comment led me to go back and resume reading (I had stopped at "The game does seem a little broken").
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birchbeer
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yaron wrote:
The date is a hint indeed, as is the name of the FP player. I admit the latter is a somewhat obscure and twisted reference, though - think of it as a bonus question...

Reading back, I realized the seed for this idea was planted by MrWeasely, in his "Books as Optimal Free People Game?" thread.

Thanks MrWeasely, and thanks everyone for your kind words!

I know I've seen this thread "Books as Optimal Free People Game?" somewhere before, but I can't seem to find it now. Anyone know where it is? I recall that it discussed how poor a military strategist Sauron was, based on his actions in the books.
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Izya Kazman
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yaron wrote:
by the obviously broken card Dead Men of Dunharrow

LOL WUT?
 
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Miikka Sohlman
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I live in the city of Gulf, on the shores of Lake Water. This fun fact has nothing to do with this badge you're pointing at.
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alex_monk wrote:
yaron wrote:
by the obviously broken card Dead Men of Dunharrow

LOL WUT?

Relax, it's all part of the joke.
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Christopher Yaure
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Just got pointed to this thread - excellent! Well-conceived and well-written!
 
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Potife Potife
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Same here ! Did you guys play the game again ?
 
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