Pete
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Northbrook
Illinois
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Session Report: Pete v. Brett
Date: 4/11/10

Players, Teams, and Opening Strategies

Pete – Sauron (game owner)

Because the Elves of Middle Earth start the game active, and because Brett was a new player, Pete’s strategy was to drive fast and hard toward the elven strongholds of Lorien and Rivendell, and overwhelm them quickly. Pete hoped by showing a great deal of force quickly in the game, he could force Brett to concentrate on the defense of the Elven territories rather than advancing the ring or attacking his positions.

Brett – Free Peoples (first time player)

Even after the game was over, Brett wasn’t entirely sure what his strategy was going into it. Whatever it was, the rolls of the dice and opportunities given him by Sauron ultimately made him change his mind and fight a largely offensive military battle.

Early Game:

As per Pete’s initial strategy, Sauron’s forces advanced with great speed toward the center elven cities, nearly emptying Mordor of forces. However, Pete’s plans went slightly awry when Brett rolled an uncommonly high number of “Character” results on his action dice. Completely uninterested in advancing the fellowship, Brett immediately detached nearly all of the members of the fellowship and sent them to the free people’s nations, hoping to activate their armies quickly. (A beginner’s mistake, Brett left Strider to be the Fellowship’s guide and sent Boromir to Gondor, a mistake he would later regret, as he was unable to employ Aragorn as a leader for the pivotal battle). Meanwhile, Lorien held for several turn, delaying Pete’s attacks and buying a great deal of time for the Free People’s armies.



Mid-Game:

With his flurry of diplomatic activity completed, Brett now had nearly all the armies of the Free People’s at his disposal (all except the North) and stridently took the offensive. He marched on Isengard (Orthanc) and Minas Morgul simultaneously with Rohan and Gondor forces respectively. Isengard had little more than it’s starting forces to defend with, while the bulk of Mordor’s armies were either decimated or regrouping in Lorien. Pete was forced to use hasty reinforcements via strategy cards just to muster enough troops to withstand the assault, and had to hastily withdraw forces from Dol Guldur and the Southerlings to break the Gondor siege on Minas Morgul. In response, Brett marched units of the North and Dwarves to Dol Guldur, and all three Sauron strongholds were besieged with overwhelming force. Gandalf was perched in Fangorn and Brett used no less than three of the Ent cards on Isengard. Military victory was incredibly close for the Free Peoples’ armies!

In the end, an outrageously bad set of dice rolls and some timely reinforcement cards prevented a Free People military victory. Both sides were decimated, including 5 of the 8 Nazgul, Boromir, and Legolas. Pete took advantage of the power vacuum and a coastal raid card and easily marched a Southerling army into Dol Amroth, securing another stronghold for the forces of evil.



Late Game:

With most of the armies on the board wiped out, the final turns consisted more of jockeying for position than actual warring. Pete marched an Easterling army into Erebor and into the Woodland Realm, and took both strongholds without much resistance…those armies had already impaled themselves on Dol Guldur’s gates. Brett retreated those armies and mustered a small force which itself easily overtook a long-neglected Moria.

At this point, both Pete and Brett were achingly close to a military victory, each needing two points to win the game. Brett and the Free People mustered an army of Rohan and Gondor troops and besieged Isengard again, hoping to secure its 2 points and victory. Saruman was hopelessly outnumbered and it was only a matter of time before Isengard would fall.

Knowing that Isengard would not last, Pete used smaller bands to seek out less well-protected points. Two pitifully small armies of Southerlings secured the victory points at Pelargir and Edoras, and the forces of evil were within one point of victory. But Isengard was faltering, and Sauron needed one more point, and Pete knew he couldn't ultimately hold either of Pelargir or Edoras.

The final battle of this particular War of the Ring took place, curiously enough, in the Shire. A small band of Sauron’s troops from Mount Gundabad met with a similarly small group of elven and dwarven defenders from the Grey Havens. The battle was close, but the red pawns outlasted the blue, and the game was over. Only one elite trooper and Saruman remained in the besieged Isengard…the Free Peoples once again came achingly close to winning, but were denied.



Other Notes:

Fans of War of the Ring might think this session report is incomplete. “What about the Fellowship?” they demand. Pete did not overlook the Fellowship…Brett did. At no time during the whole game did Brett make any effort to get the Fellowship to Mordor, save an initial move from Rivendell, which was costly because the Fellowship spent most of its time in a space occupied by a Nazgul and a red army, which triggered some nice strategy cards for Pete. In fact, the final position of the Fellowship, after the game was over, was a mere two spaces away from where it started:



This was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever played. Throughout the whole game, Brett and I were laughing at how badly we screwed up what is “supposed to happen” in this game. The Battle of Helm’s Deep was, for us, the battle of Minas Morgul, where the Witch King, not Gandalf, had to show up with a relieving army to save the overwhelmed defenders of Sauron. We ignored the ring completely, mostly because Brett learned early that if the ring didn’t move, no “search” check was triggered. And despite the fact that the forces of evil are supposed to threaten nearly every stronghold the Free People have, it was the Free People who besieged and nearly conquered four of the eight red strongholds in the game.

As for Brett, he was just happy to see dwarves in control of Moria again!




Maybe we didn’t play it by the book, but it’ll be one of the more memorable games we’ve ever played.

Pete (struggled mightly to stave off the blue armies, and was victorious…barely)
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Josiah Leis
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Merino
Colorado
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I spent 100 GG and all I got was this stupid overtext.....
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Heh, thanks for the fun report, sounds like a very different sort of game! I especially liked the way you used pictures to make the war maps, was a very nice visual aid, one of the better session reports I've seen to be sure, thanks for posting it!
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John Hathorn
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San Antonio
Texas
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I may be missing something and I love the report and the maps you used, but if the Free Peoples "almost" conquered 4 of the Shadow strongholds, does that mean that they held 3 of them at once? If so, that should have given them 6 VP - 2 more than they need to win a military victory?
 
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Christopher Yaure
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Plymouth Meeting
Pennsylvania
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The (highly entertaining) after action report indicates the Free Peoples captured Moria and besieged the other three Shadow strongholds.

Also note, if the Free Peoples conquer two Shadow strongholds but does not hold them at the end of a turn, the Free Peoples have not achieved a military victory.
 
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Nicholas
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Ah, the enjoyment of playing for a military victory. It is quite tempting to go that way... even though it's incredibly hard to pull off.
 
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Pete
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Northbrook
Illinois
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Actually, they Free People only managed to take Moria, but they left maybe 1-2 units standing at the other locations.

Pete (checks in six months later)
 
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George Hall
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Fallston
Maryland
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I love that grayscale map, and how you used it to tell the story. It really gave your report a Napoleonic feel. I'd like to get a clean version of that for recording my own game notes. Can you provide me a link to a fresh version?
 
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