Leo Zappa
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The Fall of Middle Earth – A Tale of Woe, Stupidity, and Forgetfulness

On Saturday, March the 10th, in the Year 2012 of the Present Age, Leo of the North, leader of the Free Peoples, met with the Dark Lord Tim to decide the fate of Middle Earth. What follows is a retelling of the events of that time, events marked by valor and bravery on both sides, as well as with an unfortunately overgenerous helping of stupidity and forgetfulness on the part of Leo of the North.

Rumblings of war were everywhere. It was said that the Dark Lord Tim (also known as Sauron) was rising to life in his bastion of power, Mordor. All he needed to complete his return was the One Ring. This ring had been found in The Shire, in the company of hobbits, and had been brought to Rivendell, the home of Lord Elrond. A Fellowship had been established to take the Ring to Mount Doom and cast it back into the fiery pit from whence it had come, in order to destroy it, and with it, any hopes that Tim had of covering Middle Earth with a second darkness. Leo of the North was entrusted to lead the efforts of the Free Peoples in this quest. In hindsight, the council might have made a better choice.



The Fellowship struck out on its long journey south. The Shadow at first did not make a strenuous effort to find the Fellowship, opting instead to concentrate on moving to war against the free nations of Middle Earth. The Witch King was reported to have appeared in the northern enclave of Mount Gundabad. This disturbing news was soon overshadowed by the shocking death of Gandalf the Grey as a foul creature attacked the Fellowship. This left Strider as the new guide of the group. Shortly afterwards, Gimli left the Fellowship, instructed to make his way to Erebor to encourage his people to go to war against the Shadow.

The Shadow made its first overt act of war against the Elven nation of Lorien. An army of orcs, led by a Nazgul, soon laid siege to the stronghold of Lorien. However, the Elven defenders fought heroically and the orc horde had to relent and maintain a siege, having suffered the loss of eight legions of warriors. Unfortunately, this success for the North was balanced by the loss of Osgiliath, the old capital of Gondor, as forces of Tim overwhelmed the town on their way west to Minas Tirith. Soon, the Gondorian stronghold was under siege, but when the Shadow made their assault, they were also repulsed at great cost.



It was soon confirmed that Gandalf, thought dead, had reappeared as Gandalf the White, and had been spotted in Fangorn Forest. At the same time, Saruman the wizard also made his presence known from his tower in Orthanc. Gandalf was able to convince the Ents, lead by Treebeard, to make war on Saruman, and they inflicted serious losses on the evil wizard. Unfortunately, Saruman survived, and he was soon breeding Uruk-hai like rabbits, rabbits with armor, sharp teeth, and a taste for human flesh, that is! Before long, the forces of the evil wizard had crossed Ford of Isen, compelling the armies of Rohan to retreat to their ancient fortress of Helms Deep, where they were joined by Gandalf the White. No doubt, there came a time when the old wizard questioned the wisdom of his decision to stand with the defenders of Rohan. Cats have nine lives, but Gandalf only had two, and he lost his second one when the Uruk-hai crushed the stronghold of Helms Deep like an eggshell, killing all inside the fortress.



Leo of the North began to worry about the military developments unfolding before him. He had certainly hoped that the Rohirrim would have put up a better fight than they did, and now it was clear that the forces of Tim and Saruman would soon join up to smash the defenders of Gondor. Leo decided that even while the Fellowship continued to make good, steady progress towards their goal, a military distraction was needed to slow down the Shadow assault. Therefore, he ordered the Elves of the Woodland Realm, along with Gimli, to advance on the Orc stronghold of Mount Gundabad, while the Dwarves of Erebor were to march south, through the Woodland Realm, and threaten Dul Guldur, another Shadow stronghold. Soon, the Elves were besieging Mount Gundabad, and fought a bloody battle, which while greatly weakening the orcs, also bled the Elves. Both sides settled in for a long siege.



Despite these threats from the North, the Shadow armies continued their relentless march through Rohan and Gondor. It was not long before the great cities of Edoras and Pelargir fell, the latter being conquered by a horde of Southrons. Minas Tirith again came under attack by the host of Tim, but once again resisted successfully. It was at this time that news came that the Fellowship had been declared in Minas Morgul! The Ringbearers were on the final path to victory, still accompanied by Strider, Legolas, Boromir, and the other two hobbits, Merri and Pip.



The wheels of war began to spin ever faster. A combined orc, Uruk-hai, and Southron army once again stormed the gates of Minas Tirith. Alas but the great city could not hold a third time, and the walls crashed down. Even while the fires still smoked in the White City, news arrived that the Elven stronghold of Lorien, which had resisted the Shadow for so long, had also fallen under a new attack. The Fellowship had to move quickly to reach its goal before all of the great strongholds of the Free Peoples fell to Tim.

The Fellowship was making progress in Mordor, but at cost. Legolas, the Elf prince, having barely escaped death once already in the lair of the Dark Lord, finally succumbed. Even so, the band of heroes soon found themselves almost at the Crack of Doom. Victory seemed in reach, but…

Far away, in the North, Leo had been slow to see the danger taking shape. The elves continued to maintain their siege of Gundabad. The dwarves remained just to the south of the Woodland Realm, having stopped their advance for awhile, perhaps becoming distracted by some shiny stones they noticed next to the entrance of a cave. While these armies spent their time milling about, great new hordes of Easterlings were mustered by the Dark Lord. Suddenly, they began to move westward, towards the Dwarf stronghold of Erebor. Before Leo could say “Son of a Warg”, the evil humans were besieging the pitifully small Dwarven garrison of Erebor. Leo had but one chance left, but it was a muster die, and there was no way to muster any more troops in the encircled Dwarf citadel. The Master of the North watched helplessly as the Easterling army crushed the outnumbered defenders of Erebor and proclaimed victory for Tim.



As Leo was being led away in chains, he was able to stick his hand into his pocket. It was at that moment that he realized his greatest mistake. Inside the pocket of his cloak, he grasped three rings. The Elven Rings, capable of changing the results of his dice rolls, had remained in his pocket, unused the entire time. It was then that he realized that had he but put on one of those rings, he could have changed that last useless muster die to a character die and almost certainly have been able to move the Fellowship into the Crack of Doom, thereby casting the ring into the pit of fire before the Easterlings could complete their assault on Erebor. Victory had literally been with his grasp, but Leo could not see it. It was with this thought in his head that the Master of the North ripped free of his captors and flung himself over a gorge, a suitable ending for a failed kingship!

My opponent, Tim, won a hardfought victory, scoring 10 victory points for the Shadow, while my Fellowship sat one space away from the Crack of Doom, with five companions left and only five corruption. Despite my ill-considered and poorly executed Northern military strategy, and my incredible oversight regarding the use of the Elven rings, I can take nothing away from the sterling performance of my opponent, who played a great game. I love War of the Ring - I just wish I could keep all of the moving parts clear in my head! There is so much to consider when playing this game, but that is, in truth, a great deal of its attraction.

By the way, notice the "Magnifying "Eye" Glass of Sauron" on the board. This served a dual purpose. First, it just looked cool, sitting there in Mordor like the great tower of the Eye. Secondly, and most importantly, it allow Tim to read the incredibly small print on the First Edition cards! I didn't need it only because I have progressive lenses in my glasses, but I can tell you, playing this for the first time in six years tells me it's time to invest in the Second Edition upgrade kit, just so we can have cards with printing that can be easily read without resorting to magnifying glasses!
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Jay P

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Nite write up.

Playing first edition rules?

Second edition requires a FP nation to be at war before Witch King can enter. And, perhaps most importantly for this particular session...gives the Dwarves one more elite in Erebor at start!
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Leo Zappa
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PapaGamer wrote:
Nite write up.

Playing first edition rules?

Second edition requires a FP nation to be at war before Witch King can enter. And, perhaps most importantly for this particular session...gives the Dwarves one more elite in Erebor at start!

First Edition rules all the way. What is the consensus regarding First Editions vs. Second - which ruleset is favored these days?
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David Boeren
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As far as I can tell, I don't think the 1st Edition is preferred *unless* they want to use the 1st Edition Expansion which would be unbalanced with the 2nd Edition rules. Virtually everyone likes 2nd Edition better.

They're working on a 2nd Edition expansion though...
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Jay P

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desertfox2004 wrote:
PapaGamer wrote:
Nite write up.

Playing first edition rules?

Second edition requires a FP nation to be at war before Witch King can enter. And, perhaps most importantly for this particular session...gives the Dwarves one more elite in Erebor at start!

First Edition rules all the way. What is the consensus regarding First Editions vs. Second - which ruleset is favored these days?

Forget the rules changes....card size alone is enough incentive to upgrade....no more magnifying glass!!!!!

From Grant Johnson's Comparison thread:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/738666/2nd-edition-review-a-...



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