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Lord of the Rings: Sauron» Forums » Variants

Subject: Auto-Sauron variant ('minimalist' version) rss

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Marty Wißmath
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Here is another version (edited) of the Auto-Sauron variant, with fewer rules changes than the one listed in the 'Files'...

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SETUP
As per the rules.
-->Place the Sauron character card next to the Sauron decks.
Sauron should have four decks of cards:
-->Sauron card draw deck placed faced down.
-->Sauron card hand deck; two cards are drawn and placed here face-down at start.
-->Nazgul card draw deck placed face-down.
-->Nazgul card hand deck; two cards are drawn and placed here face-up at start. Hobbits may look at these cards during the game.



BEGINNING OF HOBBIT TURN
SAURON CARDS
At the beginning of a hobbit's turn, before an event tile is drawn, the active player takes a Sauron card randomly from the Sauron hand deck (face-down) and plays it as per rules for minor cards (choose one condition to fulfill).

If there are no Sauron cards in the hand deck at the beginning of a hobbit's turn, the active player takes one card from the top of the Sauron draw deck and places it (face-down) into the empty hand deck. In this case, no card is played and the turn continues with event tiles.


NAZGUL CARDS
Whenever the Black Rider meets the Ringbearer on the corruption track, and at the end of every adventure, the Ringbearer draws one card from the top of the Nazgul draw deck and places it face-up into the Nazgul hand deck.

If a hobbit was given the Sauron character card (see below), at the beginning of his turn a Nazgul card immediately comes into play:
the active player shuffles the Nazgul hand deck, places it face down, then the player to his left draws one Nazgul card randomly and plays it as per rules (if playing solitaire, simply shuffle and draw one card randomly yourself).

After a Nazgul card has been played out, the active player returns the Sauron character card, no Sauron cards are played or drawn, and the turn continues as per rules.

If a player has the Sauron character card, but there are no Nazgul cards in the Nazgul hand deck at the beginning of his turn, then the Sauron character card is returned and play continues with Sauron cards (see above).

If a hobbit was given a red event tile (see below):
the active player passes the Sauron character card to the next player on his left, and the red tile is placed back into the discard pile, unless the next player already has the Sauron character card in which case the red tile is kept for another round. The active player's turn continues as per rules.



SAURON ACTIVATED IN PLACE OF A DIE ROLL
When a hobbit activates Sauron in place of a die roll, the player takes a Sauron card randomly from the Sauron hand deck (face-down) and plays it as per rules for major cards (all conditions fulfilled as far as possible--except Sam).

If there are no Sauron cards in the hand deck when a hobbit activates the die roll, the player takes six cards from the top of the Sauron draw deck and places them (face-down) into the empty hand deck. As above, no card is played and the turn continues.



SAURON CHARACTER CARD
-->the Sauron character card is used solely as a mechanism to remind players whether or not they may have to play a Nazgul card at the beginning of their turn (see above).

When a red-bordered event tile is drawn from the bag on a player's turn,
or whenever the Black Rider meets the Ringbearer on the corruption track,
or there are 5 or more cards in the Nazgul hand deck,
or the Fellowship is in Mordor and there are any Nazgul cards remaining in the hand deck:
the active player immediately gives the Sauron character card to the player on his left. Play then continues as per rules.

If the next player already has the Sauron character card when a red-bordered event tile is drawn, then after it is dealt with (accepted or rejected when using Dark Tiles):
the active player passes the red tile to the left--clockwise in the sequence of turns--to the next player who does not already have one, including himself. The active player's turn then continues as per rules.

When an adventure ends, all the hobbits given red event tiles simply return them, and play continues as per rules.

[NOTE: in Mordor it is not necessary to pass red tiles.]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

This might look somewhat more complicated at first glance then it actually is. As the subject suggests, this is the 'minimalist' approach, changing as few rules as possible while using all the material in the Sauron expansion without an individual Sauron player.
Aside from the random--as opposed to intelligent--play of Sauron, the only really significant difference is the restriction of Nazgul cards, being 'triggered' by red event tiles (EDIT: or Black Rider), rather than allowed at the beginning of any hobbit turn. One could always add more 'triggers', however!
(EDIT: I've further added conditions for Nazgul cards to automatically be played whenever there are 5 or more in Sauron's hand, or if the Fellowship is in Mordor).

Comments/criticism welcome!
 
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Alfred D.
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I only had a quick read-through but it sounds quite decent and logical. Does it work well when you tested?

I probably won't try this as we don't play the LotR game at this point anymore. Heck, even my own Auto-Sauron ruleset hasn't been fully finalized (~90% done, needs some final ironing) and probably won't before the new expansion comes out.

Thanks for sharing though.
 
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Brian Schlichting
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I've used my own Auto-Sauron variant about 10 times, which is quite a bit simpler than yours, I think. It works well enough, but I'm going to change mine a bit because of your post.

Right now, I play without any "hand" rules. When a player calls Sauron or activates him with a die roll, he draws the next Sauron card from the deck and applies it appropriately. I figure the inability for Sauron to pick a better card from his hand roughly negates the advantage the hobbits get from occasionally not having to suffer a card (because Sauron is drawing cards).

I incorporated Nazgul cards, as follows, but never liked how it worked. The first time Sauron is called by the ringbearer on each scenario board, he draws and applies the next Nazgul card in the deck instead of the usual activation, guarantees 6 Nazgul will be played at minimum. If the Nazgul meet the ringbearer on the corruption track, the next Nazgul card is drawn and applied immediately. If all Nazgul cards have been drawn and applied, no action is taken in these situations.

I'm going to leave regular Sauron deck the same, since I don't want to bother keeping track of a "hand" as you suggest. However, I like the Nazgul card/red tile idea, so I'm going to try the following. When a red tile is drawn AND accepted (not turned over), or when the Nazgul meets the ringbearer on the corruption line, a Nazgul card is placed face up in the play area. Whenever Sauron would have the option of playing a Sauron card OR applying Nazgul card, and there is at least one face up Nazgul card, a random Nazgul card must be drawn from the face up Nazgul cards and applied.

I think this change has two advantages over my original way. First, you get to see what the Nazgul might be up to, just like in the non-auto rules. Second, the Nazgul cards would now be applied only in situations where they COULD have happened in the non-auto version.

Thanks for posting your version. You have inspired mine.
 
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Marty Wißmath
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Thanks for your comments! I like your ideas Brian, as my concern with this version is that (especially when using Dark Tiles) the red event tiles may be too few 'triggers'.
I've edited my first post to change the way that the next player is reminded to take a Nazgul card at the beginning of his turn, and added your use of a Nazgul card being played on the next turn whenever the Black Rider meets the Ringbearer on the corruption track (which fits thematically).
 
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Marty Wißmath
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Okay after some extensive play-testing and tweaking, I've edited my original post again (several times as you can see ) to allow for all the Nazgul cards drawn in a game to be played without being wholly dependent on luck, considering this is [usually] what a thinking Sauron player would do. If there are 5 or more cards in his hand, or if the Fellowship is in Mordor, the active player must play a Nazgul card. In effect the Auto-Sauron should 'simulate' a real Sauron player as closely as possible.
The first condition is simply a logical mechanism to keep the Nazgul hand deck from getting bigger than any intelligent Sauron player would let it, and the second is in the same sense logical, as well as thematic, since it adds intensely to the challenge and drama of Mordor--the 'home' of the Nazgul. sauron

I think this variant works great now:
the red tiles provide suspense in the earlier adventures;
the 5-card limit prevents the Sauron player amassing too many unused Nazgul cards by the middle game;
the Black Rider and Mordor add a thematic element, and the latter ensures that all Nazgul cards drawn will be played by the end game (unless the Fellowship is really fast, i.e. within 4 turns). Of course, I'm not averse to any further refinements!
 
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Brian Schlichting
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Hey Marty,

I really like what you've come up with here. Our next game, I'm going to stick with my use of the Sauron cards (no Sauron 'hand') - but I'm going to play the Nazgul cards exactly as you suggest and see how it goes. I'll let you know. Thanks again.
 
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PK Levine
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I like the idea behind the Nazgul cards (count me in with the belief that there doesn't need to be a Sauron "hand", just a Nazgul one), but I think I'd want to add a touch of randomness to it. As written, players know in advance when Sauron is going to play a Nazgul card on them, and can plan ahead for it. One of the scariest parts of facing a live Sauron is knowing what's coming but having no idea when he'll actually use it.

Therefore, I think it would work best with a random roll instead. My suggested approach:

1. At the start of the game, shuffle both decks. Place the Sauron card face-up and deal two Nazgul cards next to it.

2. On each player's turn, if the Sauron card is face-up, roll the die; on an eye symbol, play a random Nazgul card and flip the Sauron card face-down. Otherwise, play the top Sauron card from the deck.

3. Whenever a Nazgul card is drawn for any reason, flip Sauron face-up if he isn't already. Do the same thing whenever a Red Tile is drawn (whether accepted or not), unless there are no drawn Nazgul cards.

4. In Mordor, Sauron cannot be turned-face down as long as there are Nazgul cards drawn. In addition, play a Nazgul card on any die roll except the blank (in which case play a Sauron card.)

I haven't playtested the above, but I plan on doing so next time I have a chance to play. I think this version is somewhat simpler and the randomness makes it harder to plan around Sauron. I love the idea of the Red Tiles as a trigger along with most of the other events that you used.

(And before any randomness-hater points out that "theoretically, Sauron could never get a roll that lets him play a Nazgul card", I'll point out that theoretically, one could play an entire LOTR game and never roll anything but the blank, breezing on through with ease. Now, the odds of that happening are pretty darn slim. Anyways, any reduced frequency of Nazgul cards is made up for by the much greater frequency -- if not precision -- of Sauron cards.)
 
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Anthony Martins
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This variant is similar to one I was writing up. The only think I'd put in is that if Sauron is activating a black square, he should really "skip over," cards that have only one symbol. If all cards are skipped, then he should draw to six (or, in the rare case that there are six or more singles; just trigger one of the singles). The reason for this is that an intelligent Sauron would never do that.
 
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