Alex Rockwell
United States
Hillsboro
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks go out to this thread:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/470524
For also discussing the idea, and for many good ideas.

To skip to the rules for my Variant, go down to the 'Enough Gabbering, what are the bonuses' section below.



Here are the goals I want to achieve:

1) The War of the Ring game needs to still be relevant, it should be winnable by either side even if someone dominates the MEQ game.

2) Chance of victory in the WotR game should be something like 55%-45% for the winner of a final battle in MEQ, or 66%-33% in favor of the winner via a 'major victory', via the point track.

3) I am only going to make rules which assume the players have the Battles of the Third Age expansion to War of the Ring. This is because the game plays better and is much more balanced with the expansion.

4) The modifications to the WotR game should be thematic based on the outcome of the MEQ game, based on track advancements, etc.


Here are my thoughts on War of the Ring balance:

* The base game is heavily in favor of the shadow, by a factor of more than 60-40. I dont know the exact number, but 66-33 or 70-30 wouldnt surpise me. The "DEW North" military strategy is one primary part of this, and heavy use of the Witch King to draw character cards to corrupt the fellowship is the other.

* The expansion largely addresses these issues, weakening the Witch king specifically (by adding drawbacks, such as FP access to Galadriel). However, in BotTA testing (which I was a playtester for), we did not tend to heavily use the DEW North strategy. This came out later on in posts by Magic Geek. We DID tend to attack DEW with Dol Guldur forces and possibly more (easterlings card, etc), and we tended to get ~3 points there, sometimes more sometimes less. We usually took Minas Tirith and Pelargir with the Mordor troops, and then some in Rohan, Lorien, or mayube somethign wierd. This is close to the best strategy however it is not as good as sending a group of 10 mordor orcs north to DEW instead of attacking Minas Tirith. The extra 2 points in DEW is easier to take this way than MT.

* Therefore I believe the expansion is probably a LITTLE bit in favor of the shadow military victory. I know there are a variety of opinions on this. I also know its much closer than it is in the base game.


Some of my modifications will have the effect of strengthening FP defense in DEW, to help balance the game. That is, fortifying DEW will be a common result of the outcome. One of my goals will be to provide slightly more benefit to the FP on average than to the Shadow, from an 'average' MEQ game reuslt.


How to award the setup bonuses in War of the Ring?
Initially, the thinking was to determine the winner of MEQ, and award various bonuses for 'minor' or 'major' victory. However, I believe that it is an even better idea to reward each side bonuses for completion of certain goals!

For example:
* Each side will get a bonus for pushing their story marker to the end. This can result in BOTH sides getting this bonus. (If Sauron gets two markers to the end, they choose either of those two bonuses, not both). There is a different bonus for Sauron based on which of the 4 results they get - Red/Yellow/Black, or all three to the shaodw falls space.

* Each side will get a bonus for completing their quest. The bonus will be quest dependant, to help balance out harder/easier quests!

* A side will get a bonus for winning the final battle.


The result of a 'major victory' is thus that only one side gets the score bonus, and possibly only one side will get a quest bonus. The second tier of victory is when both players get to the end on scoring but one has the mission and the other doesnt. This results in one player gaining the mission victory. The third layer of victory is a final battle win. In this case players will be even in the first two categories but only one will get the final battle bonus.

In general, score bonus > mission bonus > final battle bonus.


Note that if you see that you are losing the MEQ game, this rewards you for playing to fulfill as many bonuses as possible - try to get your mission done, etc.


Enough gabbering, what are the bonuses!!!

Play a game of Middle Earth Quest. Then, based on the results, modify the setup of your game of War of the Ring (with expansion) as follows.

There is a reward for getting your score marker to the finale (for Sauron there are different rewards for each type of score marker - if you fulfill mutliple at once you get your choice of one of them).
There is a reward for completeing your quest.
There is a reward for winning a ringwraith battle.

BOTH players get all rewards that they qualify for!

For example:
The free people got their score marker to the finale. Sauron got their Red marker to the finale. Both players completed their quest. Sauron won the Ringwraith battle, with 7 damage dealt to the hero during that battle.

The rewards in this case would be:
Free people gets the 'finale score' reward, and the 'quest' reward that is specific to the quest they had.
Sauron gets the RED 'finale score' reward, the 'quest' reward for the quest they had, and the 'ringwraith battle win' reward, which for Sauron is scaled based on damage dealt to the hero during that battle.

Note that all 'search for a specific card and play it' type bonuses are performed before players draw their initial cards.



MEQ GAME WINNER BONUS:
To the winner of the MEQ game, by the standard MEQ rules, award the following:

Shadow player: No bonus (Sauron is favored already in WotR - winning MEQ prevented the FP from getting the bonus below.

FP Player: Once during the game, at any time, the Free People's player may take a free 'Will of the West' die action. They may use this to take two consecutive turns, or in place of their normal turn, or between shadow turns while they are out of dice. They may use this even if thye are normally using 6 dice a turn. They may use this after the last shadow action of the turn, even if they are out of dice. They essentially have one free Will of the West result during the game, used at a time of their choice, and which is allowed to be used to take two consecutive turns. This action is represented by an imaginary die. It is not effected at all by the Shadow card which removes all Free People Will of the West die results.

Note: Yes I know that this 'double turn' can be very cool when attempting things like an FP military victory. Yes I know that it can do crazy things when combined with certain offensive FP cards. Yes I know that you can use it to hide the fellowship at the end of the turn when the shadow player revealed you onto Minas Morgul/Morannon in attempt to 'turn stall' you from entering Mordor. That is why it is a big deal! Try to win the MEQ game!


BERAVOR 2 PLAYER HANDICAP:
If playing a 2 player game of MEQ, if the Free People player chooses 'Beravor' as their hero, then make the following change when setting up War of the Ring:
Add four Mordor regulars and one Nazgul in Angmar.

Note that this is an attempt to balance the MEQ game, as Beravor is much stronger than other characters in 2 player MEQ games (as agreed by a poll of a large number of BGG users in the MEQ forums). Do not make this modification for using Beravor in a 3-4 player game.

This puts an additional small army into play in an interesting place, near Berevor's home, which might assist with attack that do not normally take place in War of the Ring.



SHADOW BONUSES:


Score Marker Bonuses:
Red/Military: Begin the game with the Mordor nation and Southron/Easterling nation in the 'At War' box. Place the Corsairs of Umbar faction into play. Instead of the normal starting ship placement, place a ship in the following locations: Umbar, Pelargir, Andrast. Place an extra Mordor elite in Minas Morgul.

Black/Corruption: Begin the game with Saruman in play (ignore the requirement to have Isengard at war to muster Saruman). Note that this means Sauron will roll 8 dice on the first turn. Search the Shadow character deck for the card 'Wormtongue' and immediately play it. Search the Shadow character deck for the card 'The Palantir of Orthanc' and play it.

Yellow/Ring: Begin the fellowship in Bree instead of Rivendell, with only Gandalf, Strider, Merry, Pippin, and the Ringbearers in the fellowship. Place Legolas in the Woodland Realm, Gimli in Erebor, and Boromir in Minas Tirith. If the Fellowship is Declared into Rivendell, the FP player may form the fellowship, by moving these three into the fellowship from their current location (if alive), AND heal all corruption. Note: Legolas/Gimili/Boromir all move into the fellowship, even if in a region under siege.
If the Fellowship is declared into a free people Stronghold, or is declared or revealed into a free people City, the Free people's player may also form the fellowship (moving Legolas/Gimli/Boromir into the fellowship), however, do not heal all corruption if the Fellowship is not formed in Rivendell. The fellowship may only be formed once. Note: Activate the Elves, Dwarves, and Gondor at the start of the game, since appropraite characters begin in those regions.

Darkness Falls (all three to the specified score or better): Begin the game with one of the 'Elven Ring' tokens in Sauron's command. ONCE during the game, before the Hunt Allocation phase (after the Fellowship phase), if the Fellowship progress marker is above 0, you may spend an Elven Ring to reveal the fellowship. (The fellowship reveals as normal, using their current progress to move). Place an extra Southron Elite in Umbar, and a Mordor Elite in Dol Guldur. Search the Shadow military deck for the card 'Threats and Promises' and play it.

Mission Bonuses:
Red to stage 3: Muster the Dunlandings faction and follow the normal setup rules for mustering the Dunlandings, but ignore the setup rule that Isengard must be at War to muster the Dunlandings. (Note: You may not muster more Dunlandings or move them out of Isengard teritory until Isengard is at War). Place a Sauron elite in Moria.

Black to Stage 3: Search the Shadow character deck for the card 'Denethor's Folly' and immediately play it. Ignore the requirement for Minas Tirith to be under siege.

Yellow to Stage 3: The fellowhip becomes corrupted if corruption reaches 11 instead of 12. (Note: Don't just give them 1 corruption, since that could easily be healed be declaring into Rivendell to start turn 1. The goal of this is to essentially give them one 'unhealable' corruption).

Ringwraiths or 6 Influence in Shire: Place a Nazgul in the regions of the Shire, Bree, and Hollin. Take an additional Shadow die and place it on the 'Character' side. Use this as an extra action on the first turn (only on turn 1).

3 Plot cards in play: Draw an additional Muster and Character card on the first turn. Take an additional Shadow die and place it on the 'Palantir' side. Use this as an extra action on the first turn (only on turn 1).

Ringwraith Battle Win Bonus:
(A Ringwraith battle bonus is only awarded if such a battle is actually fiught, via MEQ rules).

If the Ringwraiths survive the battle, count the damage dealt to the hero during the battle. For every full 3 damage dealt, place an extra Nazgul in Minas Morgul.



FREE PEOPLES BONUSES:

Scoring Marker Finale Bonus:
Place an extra Dwarf elite in Erebor. Search the character deck for the card 'Wizard's Staff' and put it into play. On the first turn of the game, place all of your four dice on the 'Will of the West' face, instead of rolling them. The Shadow player may not play the card 'The Day without Dawn' on the first turn.


Mission Bonuses:
(Note these rewards vary greatly based on the difficulty of the quest. Minas Morgul kept at bay is much harder and thus gives a bigger reward, for example).

Noble Blood: (1 or less Corruption cards): Search the character deck for the 'Elven Rope' card and play it. (Do not add the tile to the hunt tiles until reaching Mordor).

Against The Shadow: (No more than 2 monster tokens in play): Remove a Sauron elite from Dol Guldur, a Southron elite from Near Harad, and an Isengard elite from Orthanc.

Isildur’s Secret: (5+ favor): If Strider is moved to Minas Tirith, immediately promote him to Aragorn. This does not require a 'Will of the West' die.

Minas Morgul Kept at Bay: (2 or less minions in play): The Sauron player may not muster 'The Witch King: The Black Captain' into play during the game. (They may still muster the Witch King: Lord of the Ringwraiths).

The Spear of the West: (Complete all quests): For each hero, move the nation of that hero it one space towards 'At War' on the political track. (Argalad = Elves, Thalin = Dwarves, Berevor = North, Eometh = Rohan, Eleanor = Gondor) (Note: You get this for each hero in the game, so one hero in 2 player gives one reward, three heroes in 4 player would give three rewards. This compensated for the increased difficulty of this card if there are more heroes).


2 player game Ringwraith Battle Bonus:
This is the hero reward in a 2 player game. See below if it is a 3 or 4 player game.

The reward granted is based on the hero that defeats the Ringwraiths. Note that the rewards are intentionally less beneficial for characters like Berevor who are the best to play (in 2 player at least), and more beneficial for characters that are difficult to play (in 2 player) like Eleanor.

Beravor: Place a North Elite and Leader in Bree.

Argalad: Place an Elf Elite in the Woodland Realm. You may move the Elf leader in the Grey havens to the Woodland Realm.

Thalin: Place a Dwarf Elite and Leader in Erebor. Activate the Dwarves and move them down one space towards 'at War' on the political track.

Eometh: Place a Rohan Elite and Leader in Edoras.

Eleanor: Place a Gondor Elite and Leader in your choice of Minas Tirith or Dol Amroth. Activate Gondor and move them down one space towards 'at War' on the political track.

3-4 player game Ringwraith Battle Bonus:
This is the hero reward in a 3-4 player game. See above for a 2 player game. The rewards for 3-4 player game give more beneficial rewards to characters who are initially weak at fighting.

Beravor: Place a North Elite and Leader in the Dale.

Argalad: Place an Elf Elite in the Woodland Realm. You may move the Elf leader in the Grey havens to the Woodland Realm.

Thalin: Place a Dwarf Regular in Erebor.

Eometh: Place a Rohan Regular and Leader in Edoras.

Eleanor: Place a Gondor Elite and Leader in your choice of Minas Tirith or Dol Amroth.


CONCLUSION
Yes, thats a ton of rules and bonuses to the War of the Ring setup.
No I dont expect you to memorize them (Just print them out!).

This should result in a wide variety of possible War of the Ring setups, which should feature interesting things that you might not normally see.

21 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Hillsboro
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
As a note: I have thought a lot about these rewards, to try and balance them relative to other rewards in their category, or to make more dififcult victory conditions/quests intentionally give bigger rewards.

I have also tried to make them cause the WotR game to sometimes be played in different and interesting ways.

For example, Sauron Yellow victory leads to the fellowship not being formed at the game start, putting the Fellowship only in Bree and losing Legolas/Gimli/Boromir. They can either race to Rivendell and form the fellowship and healing all corruption (wasting movement time, probably ~1 game turn wasted), to achieve the normal start position. Or they can move south to Hollin (the same 2 spaces from Bree as Rivendell), and proceed without those characters, having deploye those characters to their home board locations!

The Red victory musters the Corsairs to start, among other things and puts a boat halfway to the Grey Havens at game start!

The Shadow Falls victory allows the shadow to force an early fellowship reveal, so they can play with Nazgul/units harrassing the fellowship.


For the heroes, the Minas Morgul Kept at Bay quest, which is very difficult, gives a big reward in not allowing the 'fighting' version of the Witch King into play. Sauron will have to use the weaker ring hunting version!

And so on...

The resulting War of the Ring setups should be varied and lead to some interesting things which you would normally see very rarely in War of the Ring.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sean McCarthy
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
This looks pretty cool!

I noticed a couple things which don't work:
- 1 corruption at the beginning is completely pointless if they start in Rivendell.
- Removing an elite from Umbar is useless unless you're adding one from another effect, since it has no elites.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Hillsboro
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
SevenSpirits wrote:
This looks pretty cool!

I noticed a couple things which don't work:
- 1 corruption at the beginning is completely pointless if they start in Rivendell.
- Removing an elite from Umbar is useless unless you're adding one from another effect, since it has no elites.


Thanks, modifying slightly to fix these. Now '11 corruption needed to corrupt the fellowship instead of 12' for the first, and remove elite from Near Harad not Umbar. Wherever the heck that Oliphant is!!

I also tweaked a couple things, like adding the Beravor 2 player handicap.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kris J
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
. . . or just let me nibble your soul . . . .
badge
Electra Bellum. Electra Gloriosum.
mbmbmbmbmb
One thing I'd like to know is if, according to Tolkein "canon" (sorry to use that word), MEQ was "won" by the heroes or the shadow . . .

. . . because I think makes more sense if it was won by the Heroes . . . ?

In which case a Hero's victory should mean a normal game state in WotR?

I'm putting a lot of questions here, because it may just be that the "canon" events are that the invisible would-be "MEQ" events were a stalemate or just never happened.

Back to the show. . .
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Hillsboro
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Its 'Canon'.

Its hard to say whether MEQ was won by heroes or shadow 'in the real story'.

But the real sauron sucked pretty bad at the war of the ring game. He didnt bring out the witch king forever, and he didnt even manage to start attack gondor until near the end! Did he even get 1 VP?
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Drake Coker
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
This is my tank for Combat Commander
mbmbmbmbmb
Neat idea Alex, you've obviously put some thought into this! I look forwards to trying it out.

My only comment at the moment is that the 2-player Beravor balance tweak looks a little high to me. At least in my experience, she isn't all *that* scary. Maybe consider replacing it with a bidding mechanism?

Regardless, great job!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Hillsboro
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
On Beravor: I really do think its a lot easier to win the game with her. She is well balanced all around with good movement, high defense, and a great power that helps a lot in winning battles later and winning the final battle. There is a significant reward for winning the MEQ game, and I would be inclined to always take Berevor in 2 player to win the MEQ game to set up well for the WotR game. I'd rather see people have incentive to choose someone else.

4 regulars and a Nazgul in Angmar isnt really that big. they are pretty out of the way. A muster of dunlandings and they can hit the shire just as easily. Its hard to get them into play from Angmar. The Nazgul of course can fly away and is always useful, so there is always some benefit.

I think its pretty interesting. We'll have to try it to see how useful it is, but I like that it allows Sauron to do some things they cant normally. The goal is to scare some people away from always picking Beravor, so in that sense I guess its successful.

I'm more worried about the Saurpn yellow victory condition's balance.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aron Phillips
msg tools
mbmbmb
According to middle-earth canon Sauron lost the MEQ game as it is set up and he lost it in a "major" hero victory (no Ringwraith battle). The purpose of MEQ is to allow Sauron to try to break the 17 year timeline of the books and ready his forces sooner (red marker), discover the true nature of the ring before Gandalf and find its location sooner (yellow marker), or fully corrupt the leaders of middle-earth sooner (black marker). Shadow falls space represents partial success in all three, which would also have been a great advantage for him. For the heroes, they are simulating Gandalf's friends/acquaintances that he may have called on or that may simply have taken up the duty of pushing back the shadow long enough for him to race around and track down Gollum, research the ring, and get back to the Shire. The fact the it is a set amount of time (17 years) is noted by the constant movement of the hero story marker. That marker moves at a rate that approximates that amount of time, in theory; it also constant, as time is (for the most part). So if the other markers beat it to the finish, then the Sauron player essentially changed the history of the books by getting the forces of darkness in a better position to win, ultimately. If you were to tweak the interaction of the games according to canon, this is the basic breakdown of the canon.

Note: There is a gap between the games, as Frodo has not left the Shire at the end of MEQ, so there is a time-lapse in which he departs and gets to Rivendell, at which point WOTR begins.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Hillsboro
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks Aron! (So Sauron sucked at the MEQ game AND the WotR game!)


For game balance purposes however, in this case we are going to treat the War of the Ring start position as a middle of the road result from MEQ.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kris J
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
. . . or just let me nibble your soul . . . .
badge
Electra Bellum. Electra Gloriosum.
mbmbmbmbmb
Thoronsul wrote:
According to middle-earth canon Sauron lost the MEQ game as it is set up and he lost it in a "major" hero victory . . . . So if the other markers beat it to the finish, then the Sauron player essentially changed the history of the books by getting the forces of darkness in a better position to win, ultimately. If you were to tweak the interaction of the games according to canon, this is the basic breakdown of the canon.


Ah ha! I'm not the only one who thinks this way! Thank you for the reasoned explanation!

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoff Speare
United States
Bedford
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
tee hee, that tickles!!!
mbmbmbmbmb
It seems that Sauron should "suck" at both games -- in the story, a great deal depended on missing information (nature/location of the One Ring). Had Sauron but known, he probably could have easily (in the story) infiltrated or overwhelmed the Shire. In the game, OTOH, things have to be balanced so that's either not possible or not relevant.

(Hm, actually, had *Saruman* only known, he would have had an even easier time than Sauron...)


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Barlow
United States
Fort Collins
Colorado
flag msg tools
The greatest political storm flutters only a fringe of humanity. But an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children literally alter the destiny of nations. - GK Chesterton
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
If the Fellowship is declared into a free people Stronghold, or is declared or revealed into a free people City, the Free people's player may also form the fellowship (moving Legolas/Gimli/Boromir into the fellowship), however, do not heal all corruption if the Fellowship is not formed in Rivendell. The fellowship may only be formed once. Note: Activate the Elves, Dwarves, and Gondor at the start of the game, since appropraite characters begin in those regions.


Why would you activate those nations at the start of the game, before the fellowship is formed?

The reason the fellowship (or characters who have been separated from the fellowship) activates nations in WotR is because it has the Ring (and Ringbearer), and brings tidings of war, etc.
Before the characters go to Rivendell, they are pretty much minding their own business and wouldn't have any news or sway able to 'activate' their nation/helping it prepare for war.





1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Smith
United Kingdom
Wigton
Cumbria
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Alexfrog, am I misunderstanding something or isn't it possible with your variant to sometimes get more bonuses by winning as Sauron after a Ringwraith battle, than by winning outright? You could get the Finale bonus + mission bonus + win ringwraith battle bonus in some circumstances (if you reach finale space after the other player as a result of the "free" advances from the Finale section of the rules p34 and win the battle). Whereas you would only get finale bonus + mission bonus for an outright win. This seems to reward a lesser level of victory!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Smith
United Kingdom
Wigton
Cumbria
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
If Beravor is favoured wouldn't it be better to give the Sauron player a compensation in MEQ rather than in WOTR? For example, more influence or plots at start?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Smith
United Kingdom
Wigton
Cumbria
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Alexfrog, my son and I used your variant to good effect yesterday. I might tweak it a little in future games, but very enjoyable! Thanks.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.