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Session Report – War of the Ring – Three Players.

Sunday morning, for the last time in a while, I broke out War of The Ring. Jay, Steve and I had played one, two, and zero times before and I’m the only ‘powergamer’ (i.e. forum reader), so things stayed creative. Watch out for three-player games, Sauron players! Jay and I won a combined SMV and Corruption, but only barely and probably only because Jay had to go home (not because Jay played badly! Read on). Only luck saved some crazy FPMV chances

Here’s what happened:
Boy, did we have trouble rolling any Musters early. All we could do Turn 1 was get Isengard to war, after which Jay promptly blitzed the Fords with everything in Orthanc. Steve had several good muster cards early, one in Erebor and one in Gondor, one in Edoras.. We successfully hunted him on his first move and he sacrificed Gandalf well before Moria.
At my urging, we brought in Saruman into an empty Orthanc on Turn 2, with Gandalf coming in immediately after him. I may have used our next Muster die to get Sauron to war – almost certainly a mistake, as Gandalf of course immediately wiped out Saruman with an Ent card. We were totally going to firm him up, man, honest. Somewhere between Rounds 2 and 3, I began lumbering out of Mordor, while a hot rolling Jay besieged, and then won Helm’s Deep despite Steve’s consolidation from. We took hits, and the nasty victory left us with 3-4 hits and 1 Nazgul, and Rohan was at war and immediately began to Muster in Edoras.

Meanwhile, south, my starting Morgul/Barad-Dur armies paused in Ithilien – Steve was bringing the Elves to war, and I saw a chance to avoid easy mustering in Gondor before I was ready. Of course, I paid for this with Faramir’s rangers just about maxing out (2 hits and the full muster).
At this point I made what may have been a mistake. I had a major, Morranon/Gorgorroth, column that went out of Dagorlad to see if Steve would hedge against a feint north. When he ignored it, I broke that towards Dol Guldur, and then before getting there consolidated all of Dol Guldur in Moria with “the shadow lengthens.”
Here’s where the three-player affect really bites Sauron. Steve emptied Lorien, and, boosting his move ability with Character die, beat my column to Dol Guldur even though it was only two moves away! Every other Shadow die HAD to go to Isengard/Southrons, making the FP twice as fast as us, given sufficient dice. To make matters worse, the fellowship supported – Steve had lost Gimli, and veered into the Goblin's Gate Path rather than pay the Moria tax thanks to a well-timed Nazgul search.. but then separated Boromir and Legolas and dumped them into Dul Guldur with a card. My eight-hit or so Mordor column didn’t have the numbers to take the 3/1/1 (3 elites) plus 2 companions (good ones, with the extra combat die) there, so I had to turn Moria around and lumber back towards Dol Guldur. At least I was able to muster the Witch King, and Jay got the Southrons to war.

Midgame – Steve had mustered like crazy in Edoras and our initial strike force did not have the numbers, so we hunkered in Helms Deep and began to slowwly muster in Orthanc, although Edoras didn’t seem worth the fight. With FP in Dol Guldur, things became tense, but they got worse fast as, with Gondor at war and Aragorn leading the defense in Minas Tirith, Gandalf moved to a muster-reinforced Dol Amaroth. I knew I needed to attack, but still was not expecting Through a Night and a Day to jump them to the border of Umbar! Large Southron forces were in Harad – 2 moves from Umbar! but with the three player-system they were just too slow, since Jay got only every other turn to counterattack! Jay used his pre-siege turn to perform a card-muster in Umbar, only to see Steve follow up with Cirdan’s ships! Famn. I was racing to combine forces on Dol Guldur’s border, but too slowly.. and we were saved by bad rolls from Steve and good from us, his boosted 4/2/2 army falling to an 0/5/0, failing to generate sixes. Even then, our split moves allowed him to retreat Gandalf with his last two hits. The FP has a hard, hard time with sieges.

Edoras then moved out to try their luck on Orthanc, but they were a 3/1/2 running into a 3/0/0, so I wasn’t too worried. It helped that I Dol Guldur was re-beseiged, and Steve only had one siege die to get the six hits before the Witch-King crushed it - at heavy cost, but with a 3/7/4 against a 3/1/1 and 2 companions, you just need a few early hits.

Sure enough,Edoras failed and settled in for a siege, even hits in and outside, while Steve began to muster in Rohan *again*.
The boot was out from under Sauron’s neck, but we still had all of 4 victory points, and the fellowship was about halfway to Mordor with zero corruption. I got aggressive, only to blow it again.
I besieged Minas Tirith, finally, with Sauron Prime then, with Jay going home, chased Gandalf back into Dol Amaroth with a huge Southron/Mordor army, reinforced with cards and too big for one space. He had had several turns to reinforce, and both fortresses had about seven hits and leaders. Mordor was empty, and I had eight Nazgul in play. I flew the Witch king over to Dol Amoroth and played Grond, followed by another (dud) combat card in an even round one, and then, for the kill, “Relentless Assault” to let me hit on a 4+. Even with 4 leadership, I completely whiffed!!, while Steve scored a devastating 4 (5?) hits. And I could not retreat (Grond!)! Steve finished me off in Round 3, and the dice fight was now seven to six. U.G.L.Y.

At this point I really thought Steve would win the game – by now he was on Mordor’s doorstep with two corruption, although out of companions. However, a combination of bad luck and a lot of good cards by me broke him in Mordor. I’d been stashing these because was unable to reveal or successfully hunt after Gollum came in, but in his first move in Mordor he drew an eye (3 in the Hunt Box, a good roll by me there on a lousy 7 die), and then, after ducking it with Mithril Coat, another eye!. I then hit him with Lure of the Ring and a crushing Isildur’s bane (another bad draw) before he could reveal. From two corruption to eight after one move, and that he had burned any healing cards on mitigating “Candles of Corpses” and.. something else… earlier.
He slowed down a lot now, and I was able to take Dale, with mustered reinforcements, and the Woodland Realm, (this began before Mordor) bringing me to eight points, using reinforcements from Rhun to keep a very nasty 4/2/3 force in Erebor in check (of course the Dwarves were at war!) I forget how the final turns went, but I finally realized I no longer needed to use the second half of my formerly massive Southron/Mordor army to block off a reinforced Dol Amaroth, and sent it over to the Minas Tirith besiegers, who battered their way through for the win (good rolls, finally). Frodo tried to push through to the crack of doom and fell to corruption on the fourth step.
A fantastic game that I won by skin of teeth. Although Steve fatally weakened Gondor and squandered the Helm’s Deep relief force going for the FPMV, he came within a bad die roll of getting it, and I was on the defensive for so long that he might have pulled off the Ring victory, if not for some bad Mordor draws. Entering with two corruption isn’t much, but it doesn’t take much card-created extra corruption in Mordor to lose you the game with even mediocre draws.

I actually like having eye tiles in Mordor – with only one die in the hunt box they’re better than most outcomes, and even with two they are survivable – at least you’re not drawing a Shadow Special. But with three in the box, they do burn. Also, the Mouth of Sauron is definitely worth mustering. I got more done in the last three Shadow Turns than in the first seven. Steve emptied four out of five Free People Reinforcement boxes.
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Izya Kazman
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About "lorien to dol guldur" move - do you remember the rule for 3-players game "no two successive action dice can't be spend for a same nation".
 
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Um, I may not.

We were going by what it says in the rulebook, or at least my skim of the rulebook, on 3-players. And what I remember it saying, or thinking it said at the time, was that the FP plays exactly as he would in a 2-player game. Is there something else / some kind of exception? And can anyone quote?

What you're quoting sounds like the rule that the Shadow Team was under.. we couldn't spend two action dice in a row on any nation, but the Free player could, since he was a one-player team.
 
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Also, I'm fairly sure in retrospect that there's no way to get from Dol Amoroth to Umbar in one move, even with Through a Night and a Day. Where does FP usually come from when showing up in Harondor unannounced, using that card?

 
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Izya Kazman
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At the end of the rule book second edition (page 46) "Three-player game"

Quote:
The Free People player cannot use two consecutive actions on the same Nation (e.g. he cannot use two consecutive actions to recruit and move Gondor troops). He can use two consecutive actions on mixed Armies but not on the same individual Army (e.g. he can move a Gondor Army once and then a Gondor/Rohan Army, but cannot act twice with same Gondor/Rohan Army).
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