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War of the Ring (first edition)» Forums » Sessions

Subject: 18-turn Free Peoples ring victory rss

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Mark Ashton
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The Set-Up

My first round game against Coyote13 in the War of the Ring tournament proved to be very interesting. We played a game previously in which I mistakenly told him he couldn't split an army after attacking. This led to Saruman being alone in Orthanc, which inevitably led to his speedy death. As soon as I learned out what a big rules mistake I had made, I offered a replay. It turned out to be an 18 turn barn burner that came down to a single hunt tile pull.

Early Action

Turn 1 started out innocuously enough. The fellowship set out from Rivendell, almost immediately running into some Cruel Weather that forced them to shelter in the Trollshaws. A nazgul shadowed them, and when the FSP moved again they were revealed with an eye tile. I chose to take the safer route through High Pass -- the first of many delays in this game!

In turn 2 the Fellowship hid again and started to move. A 3 damage tile caused some hand-wringing, as I had just switched Strider to Guide to make use of his "hide using any die" ability. I decided to take the corruption. The FSP was now at 4 corruption, in the High Pass, at 1 on the Fellowship track. I played Athelas, and rolled 2 1 2 -- Aragorn's healer's hands must have been numb from the cold temperatures in the mountains. The Shadow gathered some Southron and Easterling armies and moved a Sauron army into South Ithilien.

Moving Against Great Odds

Both sides continued mustering for a while. The biggest event of note was a fellowship move with five (yes, FIVE) eyes in the box. Luck was on my side this time and the hunt failed. The turn after that, Sauron rolled four eyes and ended up with six in the box. This stalled things nicely for the Free Peoples to continue playing muster cards. Feeling some (perhaps false) urgency a few steps away from Lorien, I decided to move the Fellowship twice. What was I thinking? The hunt caught Gandalf the Grey on the second move, but he immediately returned to life in his more powerful incarnation.

On turn 5, Coyote13's eye rolling streak continued. In retrospect, the large number of rolled eyes almost certainly contributed to the length of the game. He added two eyes to the hunt box and rolled three more. Feeling saucy (what was I thinking again?) I moved the fellowship, which resulted in a successful hunt and a reveal. I decided to bypass Lorien and make for Minas Tirith. Sauron continued to build up his forces in preparation for a big attack on either Gondor or the DEW-line.

Defense of the North

Seeing the gathering S&E threat in the north, I moved the Beornings I had earlier played into Old Forest Road and summoned King Brand's Men to the defense of Dale. Dale was beginning to look like it would be a tough nut to crack. Meanwhile, Boromir and Strider made a break for Minas Tirith, where Strider declared himself king. Between them and the earlier arrival of Faramir's Rangers, I hoped I could stall out the southern offensive as well. The hammer blow fell as a large S&E army crushed the pathetic defense in Pelargir. First VP for the Shadow. I hurriedly mustered two consecutive elites in Dol Amroth to try to bolster that Stronghold's defenses. It seemed clear that the major action was going to be around Gondor.

Seeing some danger still in the North, Gimli rode the back of Gwaihir the Windlord up to the Old Forest Road. He then trekked to Erebor to show the Dwarves the Book of Mazarbul. Everyone knows dwarves hate books. Enraged, they declared war. The Witch-King made his appearance in South Ithilien in Turn 7. The game was shaping up to be a hot one -- the Fellowship was chilling at Parth Celebrant, shadow armies were moving all over, and the Free Peoples had benefited from a plethora of muster cards. It looked like there was plenty of military action and hunting to go -- little did I realize how much of both. While all this mustering and feinting was going on around Gondor and the DEW line, another combined army of Sauron and Isengard units was mustering near the borders of the Shire.

The Fellowship Finds a Temporary Haven

The fellowship kept moving and was caught in a hunt in Druadan Forest, one shy of their chosen safe haven. They were at 6 corruption now, with only two companions left (an earlier breaking of the fellowship had split Merry off). Shortly afterwards, the second major attack of the game began, with another S&E army besieging Gimli and his troops in Erebor.

Shortly after catching the Fellowship with an Orc Hunt, the Witch King attacked Osgiliath. Faramir and his rangers fought bravely, easily repelling the captain of the Nazgul in the first round of combat, and then strategically fell back to MT. A huge army of five regulars, three elites, and Boromir and Aragorn now awaited the Shadow's attack. Gandalf, seeing the opportunity to buy more time for the Fellowship, left Merry behind in Fangorn and joined the defense of Minas Tirith. The Fellowship made another move which would allow them to stumble exhausted into Minas Tirith at 7 corruption. It was time to rest and make the final push.

The shadow pressed on to Minas Tirith. An unlucky set of rolls meant the Witch King survived the first round of combat despite my Fateful Strike (only one hit and no leader hits!). The Shadow pressed and the Siege of Minas Tirith began. Candles of Corpses meant that the Fellowship declared in a besieged Minas Tirith the next turn at 8 corruption. Not ideal!

Hoisted on Their Own Petards

A bit of mustering and shifting armies around, and Grond came calling for Minas Tirith. This would be a pivotal battle -- if the Shadow could take the city, the Fellowship would have no place to recover from its crippling corruption. The combination of Gandalf and some good combat cards meant that the brave defenders of Minas Tirith completely wiped out the attacking army, killing the Witch-King in the process. That meant valuable breathing room for the Fellowship. We were now in Turn 9 with the Shadow at only 1 VP, down a minion, with plenty of time for the FSP to heal up. I liked my chances, but I'd have to bide my time.

Then the Fighting Uruk-Hai showed up in the same turn as Grond! A rare double-whammy. There was a single Isengard elite with the army besieging Erebor, thanks to Half-Orcs and Goblin Men, and that's where the attack fell. Some absolutely brutal rolls by Gimli's defenders rapidly wore the attackers down, and without Nazgul their chances of flushing out the entrenched dwarves were not great. We weren't sure if Fighting Uruk-Hai would allow the shadow to withdraw, but we decided thematically it made sense (turns out we were wrong), so the Shadow ceased the attack. The large army of Northmen in Dale then came to Erebor's rescue and wiped out the remaining defenders. Two besieging armies wiped out in one turn -- not bad!

All's Quiet on All The Fronts

Now began a very cagey phase of the game. It was almost like we were starting a new game with different positions. The Shadow had to muster a lot to get his armies back in fighting shape. I, meanwhile, began digging through my character deck looking for the good hunt tiles. I also knew I had to rest and hold out for at least a few more turns.

By turn 11 the Shadow had a big enough army to attack Lorien, which was well-defended with a regular and four elites. Once that attack started, though, my good die-rolling skills abandoned me. Sauron's two strongest weapons are the Balrog of Moria and the Regression to the Mean, and they both came into play. Lorien stood for one turn, but would soon fall. The Shadow was at 3 VPs, the fellowship at 3 corruption.

I continued drawing character cards like mad, but decided it was time to start moving again. By turn 13 I had sacrificed my last companion (Legolas), the FSP was at 3 corruption, and I had all the good hunt tiles except for the Phial. The second siege of Minas Tirith began, and the Corsairs of Umbar attacked Dol Amroth. There was plenty of military danger, but I managed to move the FSP the three spaces I needed and they were still only at three corruption, so I figured it was okay. On turn 14 I drew my last character card -- it was finally the precious Phial of Galadriel. Phew.

It All Goes Terribly Wrong

Turn 14 saw the Fellowship declare in Mordor with only three corruption, one eye in the hunt box, and three character dice available for moves. SLAM DUNK, right? Wrong. My first move resulted in Shelob's Lair. A lucky roll meant I only took 1 corruption, but the Stop icon was of more concern. My second move resulted in an eye tile -- two corruption and a reveal. After hiding the Fellowship, I used an elven ring to move a third time. The third pull was The Ring is Mine! 3 damage, a reveal, and a stop icon. Yipes.

At the start of Turn 15, the Fellowship was now at 9 corruption and revealed on Mordor Track 1. I did not like my odds one bit. My first move resulted in another eye tile -- two corruption and a reveal. I was now at 11 corruption and revealed on the second track. I hurriedly put Plan B into action.

Plan B Almost Sort of Kind of Works

Over the next several turns, a huge combined Dwarven/North army lead by Gimli took over a lightly defended Dol Guldur and pressed on toward the Morannon. A small elven army feinted toward an empty Moria, but was cut off by the Shadow army in Lorien. I still had to move the Fellowship once a turn to avoid the final point of corruption. My first pull was finally a lucky one -- Smeagol Helps Nice Master put me at Mordor Track 3 and 10 corruption.

Soon the Grey Havens and Rivendell both were put under siege. As Gimli approached the Morannon, I had to make another Fellowship move to avoid the one corruption penalty. I got lucky again with a 0r.

Let's Just Decide With a Coin Flip

Turn 18 saw the thrilling conclusion to this epic game. The Morannon siege began, but a timely Hill Trolls insured that Gimli and his troops would not take it. I looked at the hunt pool and miscalculated my odds -- forgetting Gollum's reveal ability, I figured I had a 30% chance of success on a move. I took the risk and he pulled a 2. NO! Corruption victory for Shadow!

But wait! Gollum! I can reveal to only take one damage! I went from thinking I had just lost the longest, weirdest War of the Ring game I'd seen yet to realizing I had won. My odds of a successful ring dunk were actually 50/50 on that tile pull. After four hours, 18 turns, and drawing every card in my deck, it was almost anti-climactic, but I'd take it.
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Marc D
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Amazing! Congratulations!
 
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Bill Desmarais
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Epic. One question:

Using Cruel Weather to force the fellowship from Rivendell to the Trollshaws is HELPING them, isn't it?
 
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Mark Ashton
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bosoxbill wrote:
Epic. One question:

Using Cruel Weather to force the fellowship from Rivendell to the Trollshaws is HELPING them, isn't it?


I think so, although it did open them up to a nazgul re-roll.
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Jordan
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So then it's more like sorta-cruel-but-mostly-just-misunderstood-weather?
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Bill Desmarais
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War of the Ring (first edition) » Forums » Sessions
Re: 18-turn Free Peoples ring victory
Sure, also there are multiple cards which could come into play given the difference between "fellowship in stronghold" vs "fellowship not in stronghold."

But my gut feel at this point is still: don't use shadow cards to move the fellowship towards mordor. Wait, and use those cards (that card?) to move the fellowship AWAY.
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Kevin Wojtaszczyk
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TrophyChase wrote:
So then it's more like sorta-cruel-but-mostly-just-misunderstood-weather?


It was cruel weather from the view of an Orc... sunny and bright out. The hobbits however thought it was great and made good time.
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vincit omnia amentia
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mvkhaos wrote:
I had to make another Fellowship move to avoid the one corruption penalty.


Okay, after over 30 plays, I am apparently still missing rules. What is this one corruption penalty you speak of?
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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BagpipeDan wrote:
mvkhaos wrote:
I had to make another Fellowship move to avoid the one corruption penalty.


Okay, after over 30 plays, I am apparently still missing rules. What is this one corruption penalty you speak of?


If the FSP doesn't attempt to move at least once per turn in Mordor, you take a corruption. If the FSP is revealed at the start of the turn, just hiding is also enough IIRC to not get corruption.

How can people go 30+ plays and not get the rules right surprise ? Going 3+ plays would give me an ulcer probably.
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Mark Ashton
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I've got at least 14 or 15 plays under my belt and I'm pretty confident I know the rules well, but I still catch little wrinkles that I missed. Because simulation is such an important goal, it's a fairly complex game!
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vincit omnia amentia
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Dam the Man wrote:
How can people go 30+ plays and not get the rules right surprise ? Going 3+ plays would give me an ulcer probably.


Well I only play with the same two players, so it's not like anybody is going to call me out on it

Also, this is why I read session reports.

edit: and if you want a real ulcer, I've been playing this regularly since it first came out, so I'm guessing we're way over 30 plays devil
 
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