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War of the Ring (Second Edition)» Forums » Sessions

Subject: War across Middle Earth [2nd; CE; LoME] rss

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Itamar Parann
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Our last game was somewhat unusual, both in FP strategy and length.
I won’t list a blow by blow, but would like to concentrate on several points of interest, and relevant strategies.

Opening Position: FP starts with all classic 2nd ed characters, except for Boromir Captain General of Gondor who’s placed in Minas Tirith; SP takes the political-track counter.

SP hoped for quick political mobilization of all Shadow Nations, and to get Gothmog into the game by 2nd turn at the latest. If all went well, Harad forces will climb north to Pelargir and the conquest of Gondor would begin. These hopes were soon crushed on the Rocks of Horrid Dice Rolling…
The fact that SP got 5 eyes in the first turn, and 4 in the second, caused FP to concentrate on political mobilization and army mustering during the first two turns, and to plan for the possibility of a military victory, due to the large head start: Legolas was separated from the Fellowship and sent to Mirkwood, where There and Back Again was used, the elves were advanced on the track once more, and Galadriel was brought into the game while Boromir [as Captain General] did his own in Gondor, bringing it to war and mustering units; Guards of the Citadel boosted Gondorish mobilization even more.
SP decided on army allocation according to Elite Units’ flow: while it is clear that SP has military superiority over FP, the main SP problem is that large armies are needed in several areas of the game, and Action Dice dictate the rate in which armies are assembled and how quickly they can be moved. With FP mobilizing forces so quickly, defense had to be given a thought as well. So, from the start, SP decided to holdoff/win Gondor with Easterlings, while using Sauron’s forces in the mid to northern parts of the map. This allowed about 5 Mumakil to wreak havoc in Gondor, while freeing Trolls to aid in conquering/defending the north Shadow Strongholds. The strategic plan was to try and mop up Gondor from the south, then move into Rohan with Isengard’s forces, while the Southerners are blocking Gondor and Mordor and Harad. It should be noted that by the end of 2nd turn, Isengard had not yet mobilized and Gothmog had not entered the game.

Both sides continued to follow their respective strategies for a few turns. FP moved the party [they were revealed, allowing the Witchking Ringwraith to enter the game], crossed Moria [using Wizard’s Stuff to block the Balrog’s search], mobilized forces in the north east [edit: north west! Of course we are talking north west! And FP used Cirdan’s Ships to quickly bolster the forces there] and prepared Gondor for war. SP followed his plan. Sent Mumakil and regular Southerlings to Minas Tirith [with Gothmog and a few Sauron regulars], while mustering Trolls in Gundabad.



Rohan was advanced towards war, with Red Arrow and Riders of Theoden quickly increasing its forces.
While SP took Minas Tirith and Pelargir and began moving to Dol Amroth, FP took Angmar, and sent a contingent of Elves and Dwarves from the Woodland Realm and Erebor south SP still felt the effects of the first two turns, and had few forces in the north, thus the DEW line was pretty safe from attack. At this stage, FP had 1 VP, SP 3.
At turn 6, SP was still moving slowly – he had to muster carefully both in the South and in Gundabad and Dol Guldur, as FP military victory seemed feasible. At this stage FP decided to abandon advancing the Fellowship [placed at Path Celebrant] in favor of pressing to get a military victory point, and finished preparations a large army in the far north [7 elites, 3 regulars, 3 leaders] while amassing forces in Edoras [Gandalf and Strider left the Fellowship and joined this force].
SP was very glad of his ‘parser strategy’ – even though this slowed him down, he had enough Elites in the north to have a fighting chance, while his Harad units were slowly rebuilding after the successful war at Gondor. Mordor was lightly manned – but it *was* manned; and this proved fortunate indeed:



FP, with a masterful use of both ‘Path of the Woeses’ and ‘Dead Men of Dunharrow’, managed to free Pelargir, raise several Gondor units and send a large contingent of Rohirim into Osgiliath. SP responded by mustering more forces in Mordor and redirecting his own forces south, while FP took to the south as well, skipped over Umbar and entered Near Harad.
SP, having more action dice, chased after the FP, but poor action dice rolling prevented additional mustering in Umbar, and FP managed to raise a Gondor Elite in Pelargir and conquer Umbar, raising his score to 3 VP. FP then took Far Harad, with an army that included both Strider and Gandalf the Grey. SP arrived right after that, and in an epic battle, in which both Gandalf and Strider died Heroic Deaths to cancel Army Hits, managed to retake Far Harad with a single regular Southerling left standing.
Disaster was temporarily averted.
Here, FP made the strategic decision to continue with military pressure and all but abandoned Fellowship movement. The army of Dwarves and Elves turned east and conquered Moria, easily overcoming the Balrog, even though Durin’s Bane was used in the battle. Bad dice rolling for SP again…
FP now had 5 VP! But a contingent of Haradrim was quickly raised in Far and Near Harad – and Umbar was retaken, lowering FPVP to 3. SP was breathing hard, FP even harder. But FP was in trouble now – in Gundabad there was a force of 5 regulars and 5 Elite Trolls; Gondor was entirely occupied and could not muster what meagre forces it had remaining. But SP was stretched out and weak as well – forces were gathering in Isengard, but Rohan was still very strong, the north was threatened, Dol Guldur capable of defense but not offense.
At turn 8, SP got 4 Muster dice and used them to rebuild forces, but that was nearly not enough – a Rohan contingent arrived at the Morannon, attacked the Stronghold and had to end the attack with only one regular Sauron unit remaining inside! An SP Haradrim force was sent to battle the Rohirim and destroyed the contingent.



SP now felt safer, especially since FP did not even try to move the Fellowship for 3 turns. With enough forces, Gothmog and the Mouth of Sauron [black Numinorian]SP turned to Moria – and discovered that no amount of preparation can stand against bad luck – one Elven Elite and two Dwarven regulars, with Legolas and an Elven leader, stood against a force of 9 Sauron regulars and a Sauron Elite, even though the Mouth coud prolong the battle and each time the Elite was destroyed, Gothmog replenished the unit. 6 Action Dice later, FP had a single regular in Moria, with Legolas and the Elven leader, and SP had to halt battle and await reinforcements.
FP was still trying for a military win – and this time attacked Isengard with a contingent of Free Men and Elves down from the north. Saruman was brought into the game, and the invaders were defeated even though two Ent cards were played for their combat effect.
But now, Moria did fall, even though Legolas and that last regular Dwarven unit took out 5 more enemy units before succumbing.
Only now, with one VP left, did FP resume moving the Fellowship.
The remaining game was a mop up job for the SP; game ended with the Ring bearer on step 3 of Mount Doom and with 11 corruption points, and SP winning a military victory [after taking, in order, Pelargir Minas Tirith, Dol Amroth, Helms Deep, Edoras, Woodland Realm].
The strategic pivotal points of the game were the SP decision regarding strict rationing of forces to map area, and the FP’s decision to continue and pursue a military victory after the defeat in Far Harad, to the extent of not advancing the Fellowship. These decisions decided the game despite FP’s excellent card use and luck with combat rolls - the FP’s double event-card punch which led to the attack on Harad was brilliant, quick to develop and well executed: the battle at Far Harad was amazingly epic, leaving both sides shaking when it was over; the attack on the Morannon was equally stressful, though slightly less epic since the only companion involved was Peregrin.
It should also be noted that the game was lengthy, and FP reached a point where he had no more Event Cards in either deck, and SP was not far behind in that regard.





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Mark Bauer
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what's 'lengthy'?
 
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Itamar Parann
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We played beyond the point where FP ran out of all Character and Strategy cards, and by the game's end SP ran out of Strategy cards and had only 3 more Character cards; this was spread out over 22 game turns. The game itself took 5.5 hours.

To compare, our average game takes 16 game turns and about 4 hours of play. This average includes 26 games, not including this last one.

Had the dice rolled a little differently, the game would have ended in Far Harad, 3.5 hours into the game, at turn 13 or 14.
 
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Gerhardt Schroeder
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Paramar wrote:
mobilized forces in the north east [using Cirdan’s Ships to quickly bolster the forces there]


Doesn't Cirdan's Ships require that the reinforced space border the sea? (Since, you know, ships). How can you reinforce the landlocked northeast with Cirdan's Ships?
 
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Itamar Parann
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My bad. North west, of course. Those forces helped in taking Angmar and in threatening Gundabad, ensuring SP will mobilize extensively in the north. It was a Mexican stand off, though I think FP was mistaken in not attacking there at some point.
 
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