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

Subject: Saruman the Wise (a Saruman/Isengard variant) rss

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William Taylor
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Quote:
"Will he shoot at us, and pour fire out of the windows; or can he put a spell on us from a distance?"

"The last is most likely, if you ride to his door with a light heart. But there is no knowing what he can do, or may choose to try. A wild beast cornered is not safe to approach. And Saruman has powers you do not guess. Beware of his voice!"

- Pippin and Gandalf on Saruman


During the opening stages of the War of the Ring, the treachery of Saruman was not yet evident. Saruman began to gather a force of Orcs from the Misty Mountains, including at least some of the powerful Uruk-hai, and used his arts to breed these Orcs, resulting in strange creatures known as Half-orcs or Goblin-men. Seeking to expand his power, Saruman made plans to conquer Rohan to the south. He turned Gríma Wormtongue to his cause, and Gríma gained great influence over Théoden, King of Rohan, while secretly aiding the plans of his master in Isengard. Meanwhile Saruman stirred up the Dunlendings to the north, who had ancient grudges against the Rohirrim. Joining the Dunlendings to the Orcs and Half-orcs already in his service, Saruman built a great army in preparation for an open assault against Rohan.

All this was done in secrecy. It looked as if Saruman would have gained full control over Rohan through subterfuge alone, and the Rohirrim would have been enslaved or destroyed by the ensuing invasion.

However, Gandalf escaped from the tower of Orthanc, and Saruman was forced to reveal his hand early, as The Grey Wanderer revealed his treachery to Rohan and the White Council. Proclaiming lordship over all of Rohan, Saruman dispatched his vast army of Orcs, Half-orcs and Dunlendings from Isengard to march south along Isen to attack the Rohirrim defending the Fords that guarded Rohan's western border. The rest is history...

But what if Saruman's treachery had not been exposed? Or what if he had continued to act in secret?


RULE MODIFICATIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS

The original Saruman Minion is now known as Saruman the Ruler.

A face-up Companion Counter in the Hunt Box may only be chosen as a casualty if that Companion is still in the Fellowship.


NEW FACTION - THE WHITE HAND

The White Hand Faction represents the different forces under Saruman's command and influence: political (rumors, sabotage, spies), physical (Orcs, Dunlendings, Half-Orcs), magical (the 'Old Man', his voice and will), or otherwise.

Factions are special unit types that follow new rules.

Each White Hand is represented by one of the extra red counters and/or the extra white counter that came with the War of the Ring Second Edition game (check both sides!). White Hand units follow all rules concerning Shadow Army Regular units, with the following exceptions:

1. The White Hand Faction is always considered to be "At War", and its units may move and attack as such.

2. White Hand units may only be recruited through the Treachery Special Ability on the Saruman the Wise Character card, and may only be recruited in the following Free regions: Any Friendly Isengard Settlement, Fords of Isen, Gap of Rohan, Hollin, Parth Celebrant, Dimrill Dale, Gladden Fields, Old Ford, Eagle's Eyrie, Goblin's Gate, High Pass, Fords of Bruinen, Trollshaws, Ettenmoors, and Mount Gram.

3. If a White Hand unit is in a battle, add 2 to the Combat Strength of the Shadow Army (you can still roll a maximum of 5 Combat dice) for every White Hand in the Shadow Army.

4. Each White Hand unit is considered to be one Isengard Regular for the purposes of any Special Ability, Event, or Combat card, and is considered to be two units when calculating the stacking limit of a region.

5. White Hand units cannot capture Settlements, but may move onto free Settlements to restrict Enemy movement and recruitment.

6. White Hand units can cross mountain borders, and any two regions seperated by a mountain border are considered adjacent.

7. If a moving Shadow Army is composed of only White Hand units, you do not activate a Nation as a result of the Army moving into its region.

8. If an attacking Shadow Army is composed of only White Hand units, the attack advances the Nation(s) of the attacked army on the Political Track, but does not flip the Nation(s) to "Active"

NEW CHARACTER - SARUMAN THE WISE

Quote:
Saruman the Wise
Head of the White Council

Level: 0
Leadership: 0
Action Dice Bonus: 0

Saruman the Wise, Head of the White Council may start the game in Orthanc. Flip the Isengard Nation to "Passive" and remove all Isengard units that are not in Orthanc.

If Isengard is activated and "At War", replace Saruman the Wise with Saruman the Ruler.

Saruman the Wise and Shadow Army units cannot leave Orthanc.

Distrustful. If the stacking limit in Orthanc has been reached; or the Fellowship moves into an Isengard or Rohan region; or a Companion moves into Orthanc, activate the Isengard Political Counter and move it directly to the "At War" step.

Treachery. During the Action Resolution phase, you may use a Character, Muster, or Event Die result to take one of the following actions:

Character. Move an Army with a White Hand unit, or Attack with an Army with a White Hand unit.

Muster. Recruit one White Hand unit, or recruit one Elite in Orthanc, or one Regular in Orthanc and one Regular of an "At War" Shadow Nation in any region with a Shadow Settlement controlled by the Shadow.

Event. If Gollum is the Guide of the Fellowship, Reveal the Fellowship. Otherwise select a face down Companion Counter from the Fellowship Box and place it face up in the Hunt Box. When the Shadow Player is selecting a face down Companion Counter for a random casualty, he may select one of the face-up Companion Counters in the Hunt Box instead.


Edit 1 (6/30/14): Some general cleaning up.
Edit 2 (6/30/14): Clarified the Event action of the Treachery Special Ability. A face-up Companion Counter in the Hunt Box may only be chosen as a casualty if that Companion is still in the Fellowship.
Edit 3 (6/30/14): Edited the Muster action of the Treachery Special Ability. It should be a bit more clear now.
Edit 4 (6/30/14): Edited Rule 8 of The White Hand. No rule change, just made it clearer.
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Josh S.
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Hm, seems interesting! Have you playtested it at all yet?
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William Taylor
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Legolas105 wrote:
Hm, seems interesting! Have you playtested it at all yet?


I've done three plays, though I would like to do more and would definitely like to see some playtesting done by other War of the Ring players (one does tend to become blind to the flaws in their work after all).

Saruman the Wise has an interesting effect on the game, and is quite thematic. You can no longer afford to ignore the powers of Saruman, turning him into a legitimate threat for the Fellowship and the Free Peoples. For example:

Using an Event Die to 'reveal' the round Companion Counters evokes the feeling of looking into the Orthanc-stone and spying the different members of the Fellowship. In turn, this makes the early game feel very oppressive for the Fellowship, as you constantly feel like you're in Saruman's hand. Sometimes you might even feel pressured to separate a certain member from the Fellowship early, just because they've been revealed, which of course evokes the feel of Frodo leaving the rest of the Fellowship to protect them.

In one game, I recruited two White Hand units in Trollshaws, and followed it up by playing "Monsters Roused". This had the effect of suddenly creating a full Combat Strength army right outside of Rivendell (2 White Hand units and a Sauron Elite), which felt like Saruman used his magic to awaken a massive beast to take the Elves by surprise. On later turns, I recruited White Hand units near Lorien and The Shire, paving the way for a pincer move using the forces of Dol Guldur and the Witch-king in Angmar (after using "Return of the Witch-king"). This felt like Saruman had given these forces some secret weapons or information.

And then I had a shriek of realization, I had spent so much time meddling in foreign affairs that I had utterly ignored Orthanc and Rohan, allowing the Free Peoples to play multiple Event cards over the course of the game to both recruit Rohan units and move Rohan to "At War". I had been blind to the fact that a massive army of Rohirrim had been gathering on my doorstep, though I suppose treachery can't be hidden forever. Orthanc quickly found itself under siege.

Unfortunately that particular game ended there, due to my running out of time. But I tell you, even at that point it looked like it could have been anyone's game, for any victory condition.
 
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King in Green
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Interesting stuff. White Hand units could really harry the FP too. If it proves overbalanced to the Shadow then Gandalf's decision to meet Frodo first and protect him could be represented by removing an extra Nazgul or two at start-up and/ or starting Frodo at -1 corruption. It would be nice to have some more Saruman variants for an unequal 3 player game as he really should be independently treacherous...
 
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