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Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Fellowship starting positions rss

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John Clark
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This thread is meant to be a discussion starter on the pros and cons of starting each piece in each place. Obviously there is no 'best' starting set up, since so much depends on what the opponent will do and how the battles go. In addition, if the Shadow knows the 'best' Fellowship starting setup - and that you are doing it - then he will have a huge advantage

However, I think that certain characters are better suited to starting in certain places.

The first, and biggest, problem is: who is best in the front row? The answer is 'nobody', but that is not allowed

Let's consider the options:

Frodo: I have never put Frodo up front, but would be interested to see how it would work. Unlike other characters, there is no reason to hold Fordo back, waiting to discover where certain Shadow pieces are. On the other hand, there is no reason at all to have Frodo up front, and he probably would not move for a long time - unless attacked. The biggest advantage of Frodo starting in the Shire is simply that you have more options as to which of the four mountain areas he will go through - depending on how the game plays out.

Sam: Sam's only strength is when he is with Frodo, so the discussion above is also relevant. However, Sam does not HAVE to be with Frodo, and can simply be used as a suicide piece, provided the game provides the opportunity. I prefer to start Sam with Frodo, just to keep the options open, knowing that Sam will almost certainly die along the way. But a case COULD be made that Sam is mostly useless and therefore makes a good pin-cushion up front at the start of the game.

Gimli, Legolas, Merry: These three can be discussed together, since they are all intending to do the same thing: wait for a particular Shadow piece to reveal and then kill it. All three of these Shadow pieces are very powerful, and you want them dead. Therefore, none should commit to one side of the board too early, before knowing where their target is. Legolas should start on his own and not in the Shire, since an early Flying Nazgul attack may find him (experienced players won't do this anyway so its not a big deal). Merry could conceivably start in the second row on the left (Arthedain), knowing that WK will generally not cross the mountains, and send Merry across the mountains at either the High Pass (and head down stream) or Misty Mountains, directly to Fangorn. Gimli is difficult - the Orcs are very strong, and many players put them in the front row and then sit them in the mountains. An up-front Gimli is perhaps not a bad option. However, once the Shadow knows where Gimli is the Orcs can be big trouble.

Pippen: An obvious choice for starting in the front row, and that is where he is in almost all of my games. His skill is partly in finding out the identities of Shadow pieces, but equally in providing a turn stall, forcing the Shadow forward. Thirdly, Pippen causes a headache for the Shadow - they must kill him, but how much do they risk a good piece? The Black Rider could attack Pippen, but might actually lose. regardless, the BR is then revealed such that Boromir can avoid it and hit a good Shadow piece (any except BR and Warg). A 5-strength character can attack, risking Noble Sacrifice/Retreat or the 5 card. Saruman is the best Pippen killer, which is why I often start him up front, but Saruman provides Aragorn with a rare target. In all three senses, Pippen is ideal for making the Shadow reveal their plans and pieces early, allowing G, L and M to do their stuff.

Aragorn: Possibly the weakest Fellowship piece, whose main ability is as one of the few options for Elven Cloak. I usually play him up front, as a counter for an early Saruman rush, and simply because everyone else has better claims to be down back. An argument could be made to put him down back, in the hope that the big Shadow characters might be gone later in the game, but that seems a bit hopeful to me.

Gandalf: how bold are you? Gandalf is uber-powerful and can work anywhere. Play him up front and knock the Balrog out of Moria. Play him down back to run through the Shadow in the late game (provided you have not taken too many big losses already). Once you know where the Orcs are then Gandalf will be ok. You can potentially start G at front middle and Gimli in Cardolan: move Gimli up with G, sit G in the mountains and kill whatever comes, except the Orcs, which Gimli then takes out. Because Gandelf is the number one target for the Orcs, keeping the two Gs together is pretty usefull.

Boromir: Against new players I always put Boromir up front - they will always move the Balrog to Moria and then Boromir kills it. More experienced players might put the Black Rider in Moria as bait for Boromir, which is a very bad result. The Pippen/Boromir combo early on is excellent, so wherever you put Boromir, make it near Pippen.

So, where does that leave us? I normally start with a 'default' set up and then modify it a bit for variety. The default set up reflects the stuff above and looks like this:

Row 1: Aragorn, Gandalf, Pippen
Row 2: Gimli, Boromir
Row 3: Legolas, Merry, Sam, Frodo

Sometimes I will switch Gandalf and Boromir, or Legolas and Gimli.

Pippen, Gandalf and Boromir can go in any combo I guess (with Pippen in the first row).

Sometimes I even put Sam in the second row and move Frodo up with him early.

Aragorn mostly stays in Rhudaur, because I can't think of anything better! My default setup is much weaker down that side, but it rarely seems to matter in games.

An alternative, risky starting set up is this:

Row 1: Boromir, Aragorn, Pippen
Row 2: Gandalf, Gimli
Row 3: Legolas, Merry, Sam, Frodo

This would be used for a full-on Fellowship attack down the left side, opening up a path for Frodo and a rapid win. I have never seen this used, but it would be interesting - relies heavily on the element of surprise!

Open to comments and suggestions!
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A.J. Stephani
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Great post, johnclark . . . As you imply, Light has less flexibility in the choice of starting positions than does Dark, as the winning strategy for Light is almost always to create open space and scamper to Mordor (in the basic game).

One other consideration is whether you're playing with the Variant Cards, and specifically, Gandalf the White. A common mistake for Light playing with the Variant Cards is to keep Gandalf in reserve, and by the time the board has worked itself out, it's often too late to have Gandalf die tactically AND use Gandalf the White effectively. Better to get Gandalf involved early, inflicting what damage he can and "dying" a relatively early death, giving you ample time to resurrect Gandalf and inflict further damage.

When I don't play with the Variant Cards, I tend to keep Gandalf back a bit and let Pippen, Aragorn, Boromir, and one of the "targeted" pieces (usually Merry) clear out some of the board and reveal as much of the Dark position as possible.

The starting positions of the Dark characters, OTOH, lend themselves more to a deliberate strategic choice in how the game will proceed. . . .

Regards,

Dopp
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John Clark
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Yeah, I should have discussed the variant cards as well. Generally we play with both, but if we choose then the Shadow player will always choose none, simply to eliminate Shadowfax.

Doppleganger's comments are quite correct - if you are playing with GTW then you can afford to be more aggressive with Gandalf. However, the Shadow will not readily leave Fangorn unoccupied. Often the guard piece is the Witch King, so Merry is even more important.
 
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tom glass
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I tend to not think of Aragorn as quite as weak or useless as you do. there is a great potential in aragorn to force the high numbered card out of the shadow players hands. Although this can entail using up your retreat and magic early, it can significantly weaken the strength of the shadow army.
 
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