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

Subject: Test driving 2nd edition's rule tweaks rss

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Raf B
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[Note: This is a session report (and a partial one at that), not a review or rules posting.]

Although Ares has yet to release the modified event card texts, I've been itching to see what the new edition's dynamics would be like. My occasional opponent Jim and I agreed to play the Base game using the released Rules Changes at http://www.aresgames.eu/1518 and test out their feel, even if we lacked the changes to the Ent cards and a couple others.

Jim took Shadow. Though not a dyed in the wool practitioner of the DEW North strategy, he has never been averse to snatching VPs from that part of the board, so I was thankful for the extra Dwarven elite as part of the new set up. I even looked forward to the rebalancing of the game playing out in my favor a bit.

A subtle change in flavor...

The 2nd edition's little tweaks, and the anticipation they aroused, gave the game a very different feel starting out. I was looking forward to capitalizing on Gandalf's modified card-cycling Guide ability that is no longer limited to just Character event cards. Unfortunately I did not roll sufficient event dice before he met up with a 3-tile at the end of Turn 2, so that ability did not see play.

The requirement for a FP nation to be at war before the WK can be mustered had a significant impact on the early game's dynamic, though less on the board than on our strategic calculations. The effect of this rule change would have persisted longer had it not been for trusty Gimli lugging the Book of Mazarbul to Erebor and bringing the Dwarves prematurely to war, paving the way for the WK's entry on Turn 4.

Why didn't I bide my time with Gimli's mission? Well, I didn't want to risk the FSP revealing too far south for me to use the Book effectively, and the Action Dice were decidedly not in my favor: for Turn 3 the SP was required to allocate an Eye (per the tweak to the Hunt Allocation rules), and amazingly Jim rolled an additional five eyes!!! I got two swords, a muster and an army/muster versus just two Shadow actions for him: a Palantir and an army/muster. Rather than risk a sixth step on the Fellowship Track on such miserable odds, I separated Gimli to the Old Forest Road and then sent Boromir and Merry to the massed Rohirrim at the Fords of Isen.

...for a familiar set of conundrums

Since I had not moved the FSP, Jim chose to allocate no Eyes on Turn 4. I rolled two swords and two WoWs and thought the way was looking clear for a Strider sprint with no Hunt rolls. Alas I had used an Elven ring on Turn 1 which Jim now used to change one of his dice to an Eye after my initial move. The Witch King made his appearance in Lorien at this point, but rather than unleash his fury, the cautious Shadow built up forces in Isengard and brought the Southrons & Easterlings to war instead. Likewise, I advanced the FSP only two steps and brought Gandalf the White back in Fangorn.

Turn 5 the Shadow had to allocate and Eye and rolled a second one. I only rolled a single sword, but with Strider as guide I could easily hide if revealed. I passed, allowing the SP to play Worn With Sorrow and Toil. Then a double success on the Hunt roll drew an Eye, so I bumped Corruption up to 3 rather than lose a Companion and a card. Not so bad, I thought. Not worth revealing in Osgiliath, as that lies directly in the path of the host assembled in Minas Morgul. So I revealed in Eastern Emyn Muil. Though we were using the online client, I could sense Jim's glee as he played Morgul Blade and pushed me to 5 Corruption. With only Strider, Legolas and Pippin in the FSP, and WWSAT on the board, I was starting to wish I'd revealed closer to Minas Tirith after all.

On Turn 6 again one Eye was rolled in addition to the one required by the new rules. I had only one sword this turn and my move with the FSP triggered a successful Hunt. The tile was a 2r. With so much Corruption and so few Companions, I chose to take a random casualty. As luck would have it, Strider fell and the FSP revealed in North Ithilien, both to avoid the Mordor Alpha army sitting in Dagorlad and to inch nearer to Minas Tirith. To add insult to injury, the Breaking of the Fellowship caused Pippin to separate, leaving Legolas alone with the Ringbearers. I burned another Elven ring to hide the FSP before any more evil was visited on them, though the worst cards had already been played by then.

Initial thoughts

As an experienced player of the expanded game, it was hard to keep the impact of the 2nd edition changes at the forefront of my thinking. I'd grown used to the Balrog supplying the Shadow's ninth Action Die early in the game, so I undervalued the impact on the SP of delaying the WK's arrival. Later, as I sat two steps from the Black Gate contemplating my Action Dice, I didn't fully consider that I could enter Mordor even if I got revealed on the last move.

Although Jim was still at 0VP with just Lorien besieged and only the Dwarves at war, his forces were massed into five large armies and his progress to a Corruption victory well advanced. I'd had an easy run for the FSP for four turns, only to find myself at Mordor's welcome mat ill-prepared for the exertions to come. Jim had chucked two red tiles into the mix already, to my one blue. The hour was late, so the outcome would have to await another evening, but already there was a freshness to the Base game's flow, thanks to just a handful of small 2nd edition changes.
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Ian Johnstone
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Thx for sharing your thoughts on this. I am looking forward to getting this game even more now.
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Kristofer Bengtsson
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War of the Ring: Official FAQ Master! Webmaster of www.warofthering.eu Author of the War of the Ring Companion
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It looks like Rafamir "stumbled" on one of the more important rule changes; the late arrival of the W-K due to his new muster condition. This will result in fewer Action dice for the Shadow, and paired with the new "forced" Action die in the Hunt if the Fellowship moved in the previous turn can result in much fewer Shadow Actions in the early game.
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Raf B
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Unless I actually manage to get some use out of the Dwarves, 'stumbling' onto this will turn out to have been something of an own goal.
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