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Subject: First Playing since 1979 rss

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Lewis Goldberg
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sauron

Through an act of kindness and generosity, I was able to acquire this long-lost game from my former collection. I've been telling my kids about it for years, and many is the time that I was asked to get it so we can play it.

Thank you:

Russell Gifford
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Two weeks ago, we finally got it to the table. I played the Dark Powers, and my 15 year old son, Peter, took the Fellowship. Here is a look at the map (and Peter) from that first session two weeks ago.



Unfortuately, we made a few mistakes that weekend. Even though we got to turn 5, we decided to scrap it and start over the following weekend. In the intervening week, I spent a little more time pouring over the rules, and watching the series of videos by Calandale, which are VERY helpful, by the way. I highly recommend them.

Among the mistakes were, doing search incorrectly, not picking up magic items from the hexes containing them, and forgetting about the Dark Power player's capability to execute search during the Fellowship player's movement.

With renewed confidence, we picked it up again at turn 1 last weekend, and finished yesterday. The quick summary: game lasted 10 turns, and ended with Frodo pitching the ring into the lava. Following are some of the highlights.

In the commentary below, Peter=(P), Lewis=(L).

Turn 1:

(L) The Fellowship left Rivendell in three groups: a few to the north, through Forodwaith, and the balance to the south, with part cutting through the Gates of Moria, and the rest turning east through Rohan.

(P) I made the decision to split The Fellowship into three groups right at the last minute. Dad had mentioned that this was what the player had done in the videos he had watched. It seemed like a good idea, so I had group 1 (Frodo, Gandalf, and Eragorn) head south to Isengard, group 2 (Legolas, Merry, and Sam) go through The Mines of Moria, group 3, the canon fodder group, (Borimir, Gimli, and Pippin) when north around the Misty Mountains altogether. At the start of our first failed attempt to play I forgot to collect my three magic cards from Rivendell. This time, however, I remembered.

(L) I held the "Gollum Tries to Seize the Ring" card, so I thought, hey, why not! Gollum struggled mightily with Frodo, but in the end, Frodo prevailed, and Gollum was killed. Somehow the Fellowship would have to struggle along without their 'guide'. I don't think I realized I did the Fellowship a favor until later.

(P) I was thrilled that Gollum died. I was worried he would be a problem later on (like Dad holding on to the "Gollum attempts to seize the ring" card till I was right at the edge of Mt. Doom and then whipping it out with a smirk. So it was satisfying to see the little creep taken out so soon.

Turns 2-4

(L) Sorry that I didn't keep better notes. I think I did the first time through the previous weekend, but this will have to do. Turns 2-4 consisted mostly of the fellowship trying to inch their way closer and closer to Mordor, and the Dark power throwing speed bump after speed bump in front of them, using Nazgul. Somehow I neglected to use the Dunlendings and Saruman's Orcs to provide more speed bump opportunities, but such is war.

(L) In the Mines of Moria, the Fellowship fought a fearsome ... rumor! So they managed to pass through unscathed, much to my dismay.

(P) What a joke! You hear all about the fierce nasties in Moria and when you get there, what lies in wait? A lie. I got all worked up and everything. Then the fool parked his Nazgul outside the exit (to no avail, fortunately).

(L) Mobilized Mordor on Turn 3, so the evil armies began converging on Minas Morgul for a big showdown.





Turn 5

(L) The siege of Helm's Deep began on turn five, led by Saruman himself, against Theodred's weak defense. Unfortunately, Saruman's die rolls were not real devastating, resulting only in 10% reductions in the enemies' forces.

(P) So nice to see the neighbors coming for a visit, shame they brought a nasty wizard with them. I think I'll sit in my castle and brood while he attacks. Yeah, that works.





Turn 6

(L) Search reveals Gandalf and Aragorn in Anorien. Siege on Helm's Deep continues, with another 10% loss for the defenders.

Turn 7

(L) The ill-advised Siege of Minas Morgul begins, with the Fellowship burning both the Dead Men of Moria and Orcs in Battle Frenzy cards. Siege of Helm's Deep continues, but I can't remember the result.

(P) Not much to say about the siege. It was a clever distraction. He toted Frodo and the rest of the Fellowship along and threw them into Mordor. They had to fight a Barrow Wight at Minas Morgul, but Gandalf quickly slew it. Servants of Sauron not very intimidating so far.


Turn 8

(L) Saruman KILLED in battle! His troops are in utter despair! Gondor starts to think that going against Minas Morgul was not such a grand idea and pulls out to hit the road to the Black Gate instead. And Rohan's reinforcements are amassing to the east. This is not looking good.

(P) Killed Saruman, pulled an event card that let me waltz right through the Black Gates. Things are looking up.

Turn 9

(L) Armies of the Fellowship player enter the Black Gate and fight their way through the small defenses there, with Aragorn stopping to kill a renegade troll that got in the way.

(P) The troll was a wimp.

(P) He left 15 strength points of orcs at the Black Gates, 15! It was easy to squash them and march right into Mordor. Not that it really mattered, as Frodo (having been spirited into Mordor on the backs of the other 5 Fellowship members)was feeling like doing some mountain climbing. The orcs can't catch me. (I do not capitalize the word orc, they are vermin).

(L) Oh, and meanwhile, a few short fellas have been seen crossing Mordor on foot and heading for the volcano. I wonder what they're up to! Been marching Orcs all across the plain, but can't seem to catch any of these guys.

Turn 10

(L) Hey, why is the eyeball tower falling over?

(P) I decided to clean out my jewelry box.





Conclusion:

(L) The romance of this game is alive and well. Calandale had some criticism related to the seeming futility of the Dark Power player's options, but I would say that it is as it should be, the Dark Power having a pretty slim chance to win 'historically', due to Sauron's having no idea that anyone would ever destroy the One Ring on purpose. The game manages to guide the players down the most sensible path without "idiot rules", and I think that's quite a feat for a design that was thrown together so hastily.

(P) The game was certainly fun (and no less for being heavily slanted in my favor right from the start). I hope to play again, and I have promised Dad that next time he can be The Fellowship. As he has promised my 9 year old brother Walter that he will play with him he will probably be playing the Dark Powers for a while.

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Matt Bowles
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Brilliant commentary. Enjoyed reading it.

And you've made me want to play again soon. I've only played once with a friend who owns it.. but it's been too long.

i never thought of the Free People's as having a significant advantage, I'll have to pay attention to that when I can play next.
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Lewis Goldberg
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Brilliant? I am rarely accused of that, but I will try to endure it gracefully

I'm going to play again next weekend with two other of my kids. The 3-player variant where Saruman is a player.
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chuck reaume
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Really enjoyed reading this! This was the first war game I played as a kid and will always hold a special place in my gaming heart. When I got back into the hobby last year it was one of the first ebay purchases.

It really is a beautiful game. So awesome you can share it now with your kids!!
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Lewis Goldberg
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reemer wrote:
Really enjoyed reading this! This was the first war game I played as a kid and will always hold a special place in my gaming heart. When I got back into the hobby last year it was one of the first ebay purchases.

It really is a beautiful game. So awesome oup can share it now with your kids!!

Welcome back! And glad you liked the report. We had fun putting it together.

I like just staring at the map. The detail is awesome. Playing the game really helps you learn your Tolkien geography too.
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jumbit
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Wow, if the Dark Lord doesn't have a chance, then Saruman REALLY doesn't have a chance. I'd like to see him win legitimately, though. Please post another session report!
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Lewis Goldberg
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jumbit wrote:
Wow, if the Dark Lord doesn't have a chance, then Saruman REALLY doesn't have a chance. I'd like to see him win legitimately, though. Please post another session report!

Depends who the Saruman player is. I've got a nine and eleven year old to play with, so we'll see. Likely Saruman will be me, though.
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Dan Beckler
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Thanks so much for the session report! I've always been a little curious about this game, and now I'm starting to get the itch to acquire it.
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Lewis Goldberg
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wedgeantilles1971 wrote:
Thanks so much for the session report! I've always been a little curious about this game, and now I'm starting to get the itch to acquire it.

Glad you're interested. It's always mystified me a bit that this game doesn't get much love on BGG. Today's gamers are more enchanted by plastic, I guess. shake Well, I like plastic (and wood) as much as the next guy, but I was raised on cardboard

SPI WotR is as much of a simulation as it can be. The strengths and weaknesses of each side, as described in the books, are depicted as accurately as possible. So there are minimal balancing mechanisms. And maybe this is why SPI WotR is not more widely played. Like a game on D-Day, the Germans can win, but they have to work pretty hard at it. LIkewise with Sauron in this game.

I'm saying all this having no idea what the balancing looks like in the newer games (War of the Ring (First Edition) and War of the Ring (Second Edition)), but I assume that there are a lot more possibilities for the Dark Power player built into those games.
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Enrico Viglino
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jumbit wrote:
Wow, if the Dark Lord doesn't have a chance, then Saruman REALLY doesn't have a chance. I'd like to see him win legitimately, though. Please post another session report!

The Dark Lord DOES have a chance - he just has to get the ring.

The military option is a false choice in the advanced game. It
works okay in the basic game though. Actually, I rather like the
character game, but never play it (my nature is to always go for
the whole boat - and the ICE Fellowship of the Ring game does
it better, IMO).
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Kyle Mann
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Curse your sudden but inevitable action denial!
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Great report. Very enjoyable.
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Sergio Mandiola
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Hey Lewis ! I just (re-) added this game on Ebay 2 weeks ago, cost me pretty penny. In '05, a nasty ex- gf kept my original ( c. 1978) trilogy set with the Gondor and Sauron game..NOW WAY can I afford to buy all three--yet. We played the charcter game today in my clssroom!

S.
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Lewis Goldberg
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I didn't know you were on BGG too! Cool.

So how did you work WotR into the curriculum?
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