I was able to break out my copy of War of the Ring yesterday when my friend Casey came to visit me in Kobe for a game. I hadn't played in a while, and it was Casey's first play, so I was excited to also bring out the amazing handmade strongholds by David Nichol(sickdave)Scotland
Casey had read up on the rules, watched some video tutorials, and also gone over the UH player aids several times before coming over, so he was already quite familiar with the underlying rules and basic strategies. We decided the Shadow would be best for his first game, and he started out very aggressively!
The Shadow wasted no time in bringing all nations to war, and mustering massive forces in Mordor and the South. The Fellowship made its way slowly towards Lorien, after being pushed back by bad weather while their last location was still in Rivendell, while the Shadow Armies further massed in Dol-Goldur and Mount Gundabad.
The Shadow Armies marched on Osigiliath, bringing Gondor closer to war. At this point, Gandalf decided to leave the fellowship and head for Rohan to help in its defense, but not before transforming into The White Wizard first. Shortly after, Aragorn and Boromir split as well, heading for Gondor to try and crown Isildur's heir before it was too late. Gimli made his way to Erebor to waken his brethren in the mountains to the growing threat.
Seeing the companions actively moving about to bring their nations to war, Sauron preemptively summoned two of his minions, the Witch-King (thus activating all FP nations) and Sarumon, who began to muster his troops in Orthanc. Gondor seized the opportunity, and mustered feverishly in Minas Tirith, as a massive Southron army overran Pelagir and made its way unobstructed to Dol Amroth.
Strider and Boromir came closer towards offering the Free Peoples new hope in the form of a King, resurrected from a bloodline thought long lost. The army from Mordor waited for reinforcements to arrive before taking on the large force, now supported by King Aragorn and Boromir in Minas Tirith. Gandalf helped muster a massive force of Rohan riders in Edoras, sensing the looming attack from Sarumon, but then the Free Peoples drew the Path of the Woses card, and formulated a plan!
The Fellowship moved ever slowly towards Lorien, safely traversing through Moria, but only after taking 4 corruption points. The Shadow Armies wasted no time laying siege to Dol Amroth and Minas Tirith, but the Gondorian armies fought fiercely, causing the Shadow pause when faced with the option of reducing elite units to continue the siege. More time passed, with both sides taking casualties in Gondor, but the FP armies continued their valiant resistance, forcing the Shadow to not overextend the sieges.
During this time, the Rohan force had grown large enough to unleash a sneak attack! Path of Woses was played, and the huge force sandwiched the Witch King's force between the horsemen in Osgiliath, and Aragorn's stubborn army in Minas Tirith. It was then that Sauron realized his fatal mistake: he had left the Black Gate, and all of Mordor virtually undefended!
Sauron was caught with only two muster dice to help burgeon his defenses as the Rohan retreated from a counter-attack via the Witch King and moved towards the Black Gate, which they took easily after destroying the two lone regular guards garrisoned in its stronghold. The fight for Morannon bought Sauron valuable time, however, as Sauron was able to recruit one more elite and consolidate the remaining Shadow forces in Mount Doom to try and stop the Rohan's Ride to Ruin, which was paying dearly with reduced elites in a mad dash to finish off Morannon and capitalize on the undefended Shadow region.
It was a fairly matched fight, although the Shadow Armies lacked any Nazgul to help with re-rolls, and although the Rohan paid dearly with the lives of many brave men, they vanquished the evil forces in Mount Doom, paving the way to an unguarded Barad-Dur, and Free People's victory!
EDIT: added one more image
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- Casey NedryJapan
Cheers for the stomp down Matt! It was a very fun day of gaming and I look forward to having another go at it. I would like to add a few opinions from my perspective.
1.) Hat's off to Mr. Nichol for designing and sculpting such lovely pieces. They increase the aesthetics of the game and are wonderful to look at. The painted minis were easy on the eyes as well. You really have the game tricked out Matt and it added to the pleasantness of the experience.
2.) I should have activated Sarumon and the Witch-King faster. I waited a bit to activate them even after I had met the mustering conditions. Basically I didn't realize they added more dice or how important adding those extra dice were. I also think I should have put the Witch-King in a different army or used the army he was in better. I don't think I used his special ability to cycle through card that well and I know there was at least once that I forgot to take advantage of it.
3.) Using Orthanc and the northern SP stronghold should have been a bigger priority. I only had the south as a point of contact with your forces. I should have given you more battles to worry about so you focus wasn't solely on the southern front.
4.) Assigning 1 or 2 die to the hunt seems to have been a good choice. Several times I rolled 2-4 "eye" results so I had plenty of chance to hunt you down.
5.) I realized it a bit to late but I really needed to keep the troop engine running. Keeping a constant flow of orcs, goblins and other baddies into your territory is necessary to wearing the FP down. But I guess figuring out the balance of pumping out troops, moving them and fighting battles is all a part of the game.
Thanks again for the fun day!
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You definitely want to get Sarumon out quickly, but jumping the gun with the Witch-King can help the FP go to war quicker, which may not always be a good thing.
Spreading battles around the board is good, as it makes the FP use up valuable actions in defense, but it also spreads out e SA as well. It's a tough balance!
I've only played the game a handful of times myself, so I am by no means an expert. Perhaps some of the veteran players will chime in and offer some strategy advice for both sides.
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- King in GreenJapan
- Good stuff guys.
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- Raf B(Rafamir)United States
Nicely illustrated report! I hope Casey knew about Path of the Woses card before you sprang it on him Shadow was a good choice for a new player. A couple bits to keep in mind:
- Unless Gandalf has fallen early and there's a Will of the West die aching to bring in his whiter version, there's not much reason to delay Saruman's entry.
- Obvious to you by now, but watch where FP forces might retreat to if you press the attack (as the WK did attacking from MT to Osgiliath). It can give a still potent remnant force a chance to steal a march and threaten an empty Shadow stronghold more quickly. To that end, don't leave Mordor vacant unless you've squashed all FP resistance in the area.
- If you get a multi-move event card (Shadow Lengethens, Gathers, or Is Moving), it can improve your chances of countering a FP military push or suddenly shift the balance of forces in an area. Sometimes good to keep such a card in reserve or until you have a good use for it.
Sick Dave's sculptures are really amazing - just got mine and can't wait to play using them. (BTW, from the pics, it looks like you are using the Grey Havens sculpt at Dol Amroth, though it may not fit as nicely on the 1st edition board's waterway between Harlindon and Forlindon.)
This session report really came alive with the great illos!
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Rafamir wrote:(BTW, from the pics, it looks like you are using the Grey Havens sculpt at Dol Amroth, though it may not fit as nicely on the 1st edition board's waterway between Harlindon and Forlindon.)
Thanks for the comments and advice Raf!
Yes, I must admit that after spending 30+ minutes setting up the game, I may have flubbed the placement of one or two Strongholds! I'll be sure not to make the same mistake again though!
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