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Subject: An unusual game of War of the Ring rss

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David Boeren
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Have you ever played a game with someone who feels when you're hopelessly behind, it's time to get dangerous? That is, play all out and hope for something extraordinary to happen.

Well, that's kind of what happened the other night. I was playing a 4p game teaching three new players (I was on the Shadow side). We decided to forego the normal 4p rules for simplicity and just let each team of 2 discuss what they wanted to do.

Gandalf the White had just entered play and chained two Ent cards onto Orthanc (dealing below average losses, and Saruman survived). With no third Ent card in hand, they wanted to see what other use they could put him too. Hey! There's a bunch of Nazgul attacking Minas Tirith over there and we could cancel their leadership! Might help them hold out a couple of turn longer...

Unfortunately, we were holding a card that gave both sides +2 on their Combat roll and our dice were hot. Even without Nazgul leadership Minas Tirith fell on the very next attack.

After losing Gandalf the White and his all-important die, the bad news didn't stop there. Corsairs brought a large army up from Umbar to assault a lightly garrisoned Dol Amroth, while the Witch-King marched towards Pelargir.

The last city of Gondor fell just before Strider could get there to be crowned King. I mean, he measured and was one region short. The plan was to more the Fellowship one more time, THEN play the card to separate Strider with +1 movement to arrive there. But, one turn later the city was gone.

That pretty much did it. With the Shadow at 5VP's and no opportunity for the Free People to get any extra dice, they decided to go on the offensive and play all out for a Military Victory. Frodo was left standing in Eastemnet while Strider, Legolas, and Gimli split off to reinforce Helm's Deep. The Fellowship never moved again.

What followed was definitely NOT in the books I read. Rohan moved up to assault Orthanc while Rivendell was emptied to march against Moria. The Shadow mustered an Elite into Moria and threw Rohan back. We attacked them until they retreated to Helm's Deep. The Rivendell folk were rebuffed from Moria, and caught in a pincer between the men of Dunland and the Moria forces.

Rohan mustered and made another surge, pushing us back into Orthanc again, where they laid siege upon us.

While this was going on, we played Monsters Roused to recruit an unexpected force near Rivendell (still empty) and then The Shadow Lengthens to consolidate them in the Trollshaws to attack. Rivendell had only managed to find time to muster a lone Regular unit and fell quickly. Lorien was under siege now, representing 9VPs if we captured it, but it was pretty well reinforced.

After repeated attacks from Rohan supported by Strider, Gimli, and Legolas - Orthanc finally fell and Saruman was destroyed. 2VP for the Free Peoples! However, two more were nowhere to be had quickly, long distances and mountains lurked between them and anything else of value.

Putting Lorien on hold, the armies of Dol Goldur sprung upon the Elves of the Woodland Realm backed by reinforcements marching north from Mordor - the Elves had begun moving South to attack us first but didn't expect the reinforcements to arrive so quickly - thankfully a corrupted Elven Ring gave us the extra army die we needed and they were forced to retreat North back to their sylvan homeland.

The Free Peoples were in disarray. They needed to mobilize their armies but I had 6 Orcs in South Dunland so they couldn't leave Rohan without me taking Helm's Deep. The Dwarves were at war but still in their starting position in Erebor - too slow to reach the Woodland Realm in time to help or to get to Dol Goldur while it was lightly guarded.

It didn't take long for the Woodland Realm to fall, followed by the town of Dale for the 10th and final VP. Lorien was still under siege but untouched and Rohan remained unbowed, but the Shadow had subjugated enough lands that they were mere islands in a sea of blackness.


Personally I think they would have been better off moving the Fellowship with all haste towards Mordor and going for the Ring victory, but it was interesting to see how thing progressed with them putting all their dice into war.

One thing that hurt them significantly was trading movement dice with the Shadow. On several occasions they would move an army out of its stronghold, then we would move an army towards the (now empty) stronghold to threaten it, then they would move back into it. Both sides used a die, but the Shadow side can afford one die much more readily - trading 1:1 with them is a losing proposition.

In all likelihood the original catastrophe of moving Gandalf the White into Minas Tirith was probably a bad move to begin with. Yes, he could do some good there, making the Shadow player burn extra dice, but I think the key point that was not obvious at the time is that it's going to cost the FP player another character die to move him out. This is a die they can ill afford since they also need it to move the Fellowship, PLUS just spending a die in general is bad, PLUS you have to time it right or else you either lose Gandalf the White (as they did) or you pull him out too early and don't get the full benefit of his presence.

I think the total die cost is too high for what you can safely get out of it and the risk makes it too dangerous to push for a greater benefit. If you're going to do it (and canceling all the Nazgul *IS* a big deal) then you've got to make sure to only do it if the stronghold is already strongly defended, AND for maximum benefit it's useful if you are also using the same die to move other Companions towards other missions so that you're getting more mileage out of your character die.

Anyway, it was an interesting learning experience and an unusual game path that I probably won't see again soon
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Kristofer Bengtsson
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Just a quick rule clarification which it seems you misplayed:

Companions cannot move into a region containing a FP Stronghold if it is besieged (unless done so through the use of an Event card that allows it).

See this thread for more info: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/750064/companion-movemen...
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David Boeren
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Thanks for pointing that out, hopefully our next game will be 100% clean. I just reread the full rulebook last night and uncovered a couple other things I was unaware of.

For instance, at some point in one of our games we probably used two Elven Rings in one turn which is disallowed.

Also, I hadn't realized at first that the Witch-King provides *two* points of Leadership and not just one (so does the Mouth of Sauron, but I don't think we've had him at a battle yet).
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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dboeren wrote:
Have you ever played a game with someone who feels when you're hopelessly behind, it's time to get dangerous? That is, play all out and hope for something extraordinary to happen.
Played with them? I am that guy. Seems to me like the only logical course in those circumstances.
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David Boeren
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I believe that's often true, but with the caveat that you should check and make sure it really does look fairly hopeless first before deviating into highly unusual and non-standard strategies
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