A second attempt at the expansion with Sauron starting on level 10. This time Nick (Frodo), Shannon (Sam), and myself (Pippin) actually had a slim chance of victory but we were ultimately denied again.
Bad luck struck early in Bree and, though we were able to gather a fair number of useful feature cards we were already close to being one Hobbit down as Frodo was a mere two steps from Sauron when all was said and done. We opted to not skip Moria on purpose so as to gain all the Lothlorien feature cards. We hoped to hold onto Firebrand (defeat any one foe) and save Gandalf's Firestorm (defeat any two foes) so that we could skip Helm's Deep and Shelob's Lair back to back...needing those special cards to defeat the four foes that come out between the two boards.
Frodo sacrificed himself taking die rolls for the Fellowship in Moria but otherwise we fared well. Sam and Pippin had an abundance of cards, getting six each in Lothlorien. Pippin used his special ability to play four cards at once and finish both the Travel track to get the Pipeweed in Isengard as well as finish a good portion of the main Hiding Track. Pippin also defeated the lion's share of the many Foes that had accumulated (ending with a total of 9) to clear them from the board so as to skip Helm's Deep, but needed to use Firebrand to do it. Fortunately Sam (as ringbearer) was able to defeat the four new Foes singlehandedly between Helm's Deep and Shelob's Lair with the help of Firestorm. Pippin then discarded his last card, the Book, to finish the requirements for skipping Shelob's Lair and advancing straight to Mordor.
Mordor started with Sauron on step 7, a mere step away from Pippin who was on 6 and the ringbearer Sam on step 4. Sam opted to use the Phial to skip flipping tiles and used the free turn to collect two more cards, as she would be making the trip almost entirely alone. Pippin then received the first tile flipped, which was the choice of having Sauron take a step forward or having one hobbit opt to take two stepf forward. Pippin sacrified himself leaving Sam alone. Unfortunately Sam did not have enough Travel to get close enough to try to use the ring for a final burst at the end and time caught up with us as the final event - The Ring Is Mine - was revealed with Sam frozen on space 52 of the main track.
Final score - Space 52/ 20 defeated Foes
Much closer than we expected to get, considering the bad luck in Bree, and it was only bad luck in Mordor that kept us from winning still. A little more luck and the Fellowship may have succeeded. We have vowed to defeat the expansion on level 10 before the Sauron expansion is released.