Re:What's the deal with ports and ships
There is a mention of sea-lines on page 3 of the English rules. The example given (in the rules below the sea-line statement) is very clear, if you need further clarification. Its just like normal Risk, you must follow the dotted line to the places they touch and in LOTR Risk they only touch on the ship illustrations ('ports' as people like to call them).
I know everybody wants to attack anywhere along the coast but you simply are not allowed, just like in normal risk!