Josh S.
United States
Newark
New York
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For Christmas, rather than my parents buying me just the “upgrade pack” online to go with the first edition, they decided to buy me the entire second edition board game!! (Luckily, since I have first and second editions, this means I won’t be going through War of the Ring withdraw when I go off to college next year!) I couldn’t wait to crack this new edition open, and I donned my usual position as the Shadow. What made this game very interesting was the heavy focus on southern middle earth. Gondor and Rohan were war zones the entire game, as 95% of all fighting took place within their borders.

Turn 1: A successful move by the fellowship, but not much else. Isengard brought to war with Saruman entering shortly after. The Southrons take one step towards war, and the FP use some cards to bring in some units early.

Turn 2: Another successful move by the fellowship, but all Shadow nation go to war this turn. Nazgul are mustered and forces begin to amass in Minas Morgul. However, the FP take advantage of Gandalf’s ability to cycle through some strategy cards.

Turn 3: No character dice rolled, so there were major advancements on the political track. With four nazgul leading, the Minas Morgul army makes its way toward Minas Tirith. Faramir attempts to stop them, but to no avail. However, it did allow for some extra units to pop up in Osgiliath. These units were promptly moved into Minas Tirith. Before the FP could get any funny ideas to bring Gondor down that last step and start reinforcing in Minas Tirith, the Shadow Army immediately proceeded to their destination and began the assault of Minas Tirith.

It is important to note here that neither myself nor my opponent scored any hits on one another for the one-round fight of Osgiliath or in the first two rounds of battle in Minas Tirith. However, we decided we shouldn’t be mad, as we reasoned that, because this is the first time these soldiers have ever seen battle and ventured the world beyond their comfy little baggies, they weren’t as strong as the battle-experienced units of the first-edition WotR units that we were accustomed to. However, on round three they got over it. Both sides took three hits. One more round was fought, and both sides were left with 2 leaders and 5 regulars in their armies. The Gondorians decided it was wise to go into siege.

Turn 4: Once again, the FP rolled no character dice, but what they lacked in fellowship movement they were making up for in military. Through the use of “There and Back Again” and a muster die the elves went to war. By the end of the turn Rohan was one step away from being at war, though it was passive. Moving back to Gondor, the Southrons formed together and began to march to reinforce Minas Tirith. However, I lacked army dice to move them all the way there, and they only reached Osgiliath.

Turn 5: The FP rolled a character die finally, and moved the fellowship. However, the badly timed reveal made the Moria route unattractive. A small force showed up in Pelargir, and he annoyingly played “Help Unlooked For.” After my hasty retreat, the 4 regular army in Minas Tirith turned into an 8 man army with 1 elite and 2 leaders. I mustered and brought in some support from the South, and a new army was formed just north of Umbar.

Turn 6: The FP finally get some healthy character dice and move the fellowship. The one corruption taken was quickly healed by card play. The newly restored Shadow army began a second assault on Minas Tirith, seizing Pelargir on the way to the White city. Minas Tirith was once again hurled into siege. The FP spent the remaining muster on units for Dol Amroth. However, by now all Gondor forces were mustered. After a grueling fight Minas Tirith was taken, but the Shadow army was in no condition to make a hasty charge to Dol Amroth. For yet a third time, the forces of Mordor would need support from the South.

Turn 7: Gandalf and Strider move towards Fangorn, and sensing an attack from the Ents, I use “The Voice Of Saruman” ability on Orthanc troops to reinforce the oncoming assault. Upon Gandalf and Strider’s arrival into Fangorn, Gandalf turned into Gandalf the White. Then, three consecutive assaults against Orthanc were made. However, little damage was done, and 5 regulars remained in Orthanc. Meanwhile, 3 units of Mumakil were mustered in Umbar, ready to join the army in Gondor. However Gandalf and Aragorn began to make their way to Dol Amroth to help the fight.

Turn 8: The Fellowship moved again, but was successfully hunted (though not revealed). However, card play killed the corruption point they gained. The army in the South was ready to battle (Finally!) but due to my lack of army OR muster dice, the FP were adequately prepared: Strider and Gandalf were able to make a stop in Edoras to activate Rohan before arriving in Dol Amroth. Of course, the FP were lucky and over the course of the game so far had played all of the Rohan muster cards.

Turn 9: Rohan began preparing their defenses as Dol Amroth braced itself for battle. Since I had as many musters as I did army dice, I began mustering in Moria and Dol Guldur. Dol Amroth was attacked, the Witch King joining the army, and for two turns in a row, “Words of Power” was played. This was helpful, as it accounted for the failure of “Fateful Strike” and then prevented Gandalf from canceling my leadership for a round. After a long fight, 5 regulars were left in Dol Amroth and 4 regulars were left in the shadow army. I ceased the attack and used my next die to move the Witch King to Umbar so I could, yup, you guessed it, gain more military aid from the South.

Turn 10: Knowing full well the army in Dol Amroth wasn’t going anywhere; I switched my focus to the much weaker stronghold in Lorien. I combined the forces of Moria and Dol Guldur, leaving two regulars behind in each stronghold. Due to the resistance I was seeing down south, taking Lorien was a piece of cake by comparison. Since I had received some nice muster dice as well, I had the army in Umbar all ready to go. For the first time, the fellowship met some hardship, as both Gimli and Boromir met their end, and Pippin was forced to separate.

Turn 11: The Witch King moved to and reinforced the army in charge of razing Dol Amroth. I made a slight oops and played “Dreadful Spells” before besieging Dol Amroth, allowing Gandalf and the recently-crowned Aragorn to escape. They hid out in a secluded location near Pelargir, and remained there for the rest of the war. Dol Amroth was besieged, but because I had ONE pathetic little Orc with my Southrons, “The Spirit of Mordor” was played. Honestly, I knew that was probably going to happen at some point. I only took one hit thankfully. Two rounds were fought, and between those two rounds I only managed to score one hit, while the FP scored 5 between the two rounds. Dol Amroth was on the brink of destruction, but I had no elites to downgrade. I had 6 regulars remaining, so one last attack could very well destroy Dol Amroth. BUT “Cirdain’s Ships” arrived right in the nick of time to reinforce Dol Amroth with one elite and one regular, the last of the Elven reinforcements. Dol Amroth downright refused to fall!

Turn 12: I had been spending far too much time on Dol Amroth. It was time for Saruman to bring the fight to Rohan. Saruman began to use his voice to form a strong fighting force in Orthanc, while he also beckoned the Shadow forces still in Lorien to aid him. This was going to be bloody, as Rohan had also mustered all of their forces by the time I had my units in position to attack them. The armies of Orcs and Uruks divided their troops and formed a mixed army in the Fords of Isen. This great army held 3 nazgul, 2 Isengard elites, 3 Isengard regulars, 2 Sauron elites and 3 Sauron Regulars. They attacked Helm’s Deep and the two huge armies of Shadow forces and Rohan Resistance duked it out. The Rohan forces, between some nice combat cards and luck, had reduced me down to 5 regulars, but the Rohan forces were devastated as well, brining them down to 4 regulars. To make matters worse, a small Rohan force started heading north toward Lorien and Dol Guldur. Thinking the FP might be trying their hand at a military victory, I took the next die or two putting some units in Dol Guldur.

Turn 13. I was surprised to notice that the Rohan force was actually planning to take Lorien back. Once again, I had made a silly mistake. I had rolled very few eye dice, and therefore the fellowship moved successfully 4 times, although they were discovered and took 2 damage. One point was avoided through Merry separating and the other went away through the use of “Athelas.” However, I played “Rage of the Dunledings” to give me some forces to move over to help conquer Helm’s Deep. Through the use of cards that allowed me to place some elites wherever I have a Shadow Army, I reinforced both of my sieges. By the end of this turn, I had taken over Helm’s Deep and Dol Amroth. But I only had 7 points, due to Lorien being taken.

Turn 14: The Fellowship declares in Mordor, and even worse the FP plays “A Power Too Great” to make my life even harder. The Mouth of Sauron also entered play. I destroyed the last pathetic Rohan unit and took Edoras for myself. I was 2 points away from winning. All of the special tiles on both sides were in the pool except for the –2 special tile. All of the eyes were in as well, as “The Challenge of the King” did nothing when it was played a few turns earlier. It turns out Aragorn simply gave Sauron a stern talking to. After the first couple successful Fellowship moves, I was starting to sweat. The only good part was when an eye worth 2 damage revealed him, allowing me to play “Morgul Blade,” bringing the total corruption to 5. I managed to build up forces in Moria and Dol Guldur over time the past few turns and I was ready to march on Lorien, but all I had were events left and no Elven Rings (The FP were hoarding them, those selfish jerks.) I drew cards, played a couple of anti-fellowship cards (both ended up doing nothing), and finally, discarded “A Power Too Great.”

Turn 15: This was it. Everything was going to be down to this last turn. I emptied Moria and Dol Guldur, ready to take Lorien down. I needed to make sure I took it though, as I only had one shot. The Fellowship had enough dice to march into the last step of Mount Doom. He moved once, and avoided the special eye tile through the use of “Mithril Coat and Sting.” Then he only took a 1 tile. He moved again on his next turn, suffering the Shadow 3 special tile. He used another die to move again on his next turn, and was hit with the 1 Shadow Special Tile! Even with the use of an Elven Ring, there was no way for him to dunk the ring this turn!! Now I just had to make sure I could take back Lorien before the end of the turn. My forces in Rohan that were left (2 Elites, 3 regulars) moved once with an army die, and then the 2 elites of that army moved 2 regions through the playing of “Shadows Gather.” I had a huge army, 4 Sauron Elites, 2 Isengard Elites, and 4 Sauron regulars, all led by 4 nazgul. I used one die to put them into siege and then I took advantage of The Mouth Of Sauron’s ability to use a muster die result as an army die result once per turn, and attacked Lorien. Needless to say, the pathetic Rohan force of 1 Elite, 2 regulars, 2 leaders and Merry and Pippin didn’t have a snowball’s chance. Victory belonged to the Shadow!!

Minas Tirith (2)
Pelargir (1)
Dol Amroth (2)
Helm’s Deep (2)
Edoras (1)
Lorien (2)

This was one heck of a game, as it was taking me forever to take the locations with the surplus of FP muster dice/cards. However, since he was rolling so many musters, he wasn’t getting any character dice. He had a ton of musters, and had mustered EVERY UNIT of EVERY nation by the time the game was over!!! However, they weren’t muster/army dice usually, so he used almost all of the extra dice to make sure I couldn’t even consider a DEW takeover as a strategy. The positive part of me fighting all of the units of Gondor and Rohan is that once I had taken a location, I really didn’t have to worry all that much that new/existing units would come along and take them back. That tends to be a problem I have if Rohan is less threatened than Gondor, or vice versa: If one is doing well or isn’t in imminent danger, there is always a threat that they will come to the aid of the nation that isn’t doing so well. That really is a “no-duh” kind of statement, but I always hate it when Rohan units come and sneak down and try to take back Minas Tirith when many of the units have moved on to take the rest of Gondor. It’s an annoying and potentially game-changing inconvenience. This is certainly one game for the books, and was certainly an exciting first-use of this GREAT second edition!!!
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Thomas Delinck
United States
Hobart
Indiana
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Wow, that sounds like an epic game session right there. Thanks for writing that all out! I did find it interesting that you found the FP player's decision to re-take Lorien as surprising, when in the end it sounds like it was actually a really forward thinking idea considering you re-re-taking was the key to your victory. Fantastic stuff!

I can't wait to get my hands on my copy.
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Mark Ashton
United States
Elmhurst
Illinois
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Great write-up. Thanks for all the detail. I can't wait to play my copy again.
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