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Subject: SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR INEXPERIENCED HOBBITS rss

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victor pla
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This is a translation of an article I published on labsk. net. The original text (in Spanish) is here: http://labsk.net/index.php?topic=194798
English is not my native language, do not hesitate to contact me if you find any mistakes. Thanks.
meleke


WAR OF THE RING SECOND EDITION
SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR INEXPERIENCED HOBBITS




o. BEFORE YOU START
Winning.
The whole text below is focused on achieving one single goal: to reach victory. What a mistake!!! If you are a competitive guy or you are obsessed with winning, War of the Ring is not your game. It's so random it will frustrate you. More strategic, more "manageable" games, such as the magnificent Twilight Struggle, will satisfy your needs better. In War of the Ring winning or losing is totally secondary. When you play, what you do is to buy a front row seat to enjoy a superb show. You obviously want your side to be victorious, but the reality is that as in a good book or an exciting series, no one knows how the story will end. I have seen dwarves from Erebor join the northerners of Dale to liberate the Woodland Realm and thus give it that extra time Frodo needed to destroy the Ring... just to see how the hobbit was then devoured (or corrupted) by Shelob. I have thrown the Corsairs of Umbar against Dol Amroth, with an insulting numerical superiority to see how one last Gondorian, against all odds, was resisting the attack and giving victory to the Free Peoples. This is epic. This is War of the Ring. Enjoy the ride. Don't obsess about the result.


i. INTRODUCTION
Let's go. As a general rule, if it's your first game and you play with me, I'll say: "You take the Shadow better, which is easier to carry". This is true... halfway. For you, an experienced gamer you are, the operative of the Shadow will be very intuitive. To win you must conquer a certain number of strongholds. You recruit troops, mobilize armies and wipe out whatever needs to be razed. And all of this with an overwhelming numerical superiority. It's a mechanic you've seen in other games and you won't find it strange. Recruit, move, attack. In a couple of turns, you'll know what you want to do. Yeah! But the reality behind the game is different: running a military campaign with the Shadow competently is not easy, it requires experience. You have to know the cards, you have to evaluate correctly the strength of your armies and the resistance of the defenders, you have to plan for the long term and so on. In other words, making your debut with the Shadow, you will conquer strongholds, hunt Frodo, stay close by, but victory will surely slip through your fingers.
On the other side, winning with Free Peoples is more affordable, but it involves a much more confused mechanics. You know that your goal is to reach Mount Doom, that corruption is bad and that hordes of enemies are rushing against your depopulated settlements. The general idea is simple, but then the micro-management is not very intuitive: how to deal with corruption, which companions to separate, when to advance, how the hell to defend this uninhabited strongholds, and so on. The problem for the Free Peoples player is that almost all of his decisions are involved in uncertainty. Risk assessment is a complicated task. It's hard to take decisions when you don't know the game and what to expect. But listen to this: if you are constantly advancing, if you manage corruption properly, if you defend well, you will put the Shadow in trouble. Sure. Let's see how we do it.


If Gandalf had given the ring to Kilian Jornet instead of Frodo, the Lord of the Rings would be a short film and not a trilogy.
Wikipedia: Kilian Jornet


ii. THE BIG PICTURE

WE HAVE A PLAN
You're going to take Frodo and Sam to Mount Doom and destroy the One Ring. Or else, you're gonna die staying really close to it. That's the plan. The military victory of the Free Peoples is a utopia for which you are not qualified. You can forget about it.

You're roughly going to split the game in two. In the first part, the from Rivendel to Mordor, your goal will be to run. Reach the land of Mordor as soon as possible. The second part, the way through Mordor to Mount Doom your goal will be to manage the tempo of the game and control corruption. You will advance when it is most favorable and avoid succumbing to the attraction of the Ring. And while all the way through, I'll show you how to deal with corruption and some tricks to slow Sauron down.


iii. FROM RIVENDEL TO MORDOR

WHY RUN?
There are two reasons to run.
Initially you don't know how efficient (or lucky) Sauron will be in his conquest. You don't know if you have seven turns or twelve. Your obligation is to get to the end of the game with options. With options means to be alive and with some remote possibility of destroying the Ring. I'll tell you a secret that every veteran of War of the Ring knows: The hunt pool is the wildest lottery in the entire spectrum of board games. We've all seen them win impossible games and lose games that were won by that damn pool.
We must therefore reach Mordor. You have to give yourself the chance to win, unlikely as it may be. Once in Mordor, you'll study the situation and see if Sauron has one, two or four turns left to finish. Based on that, you'll risk more or less. You'll see if you can move forward with your head or if you have to go crazy. What is unforgivable is that the Shadow is about to win and you are still incorrupt and picking flowers near Lorien.

The second reason to run is simple: you must put pressure on the enemy.
War of the Ring is two races: the Free Peoples striving to destroy the Ring against Sauron sprinting to achieve the 10 victory points.
Both paths are strongly interrelated. I'll tell you Sauron's plan: he wants to take it easy, strengthen himself, reach your strongholds with thousands of orcs and also with armies of men coming from the South and the East, with a numerical superiority of 5 to 1 so as not to fail in the conquest.
Fortunately, your strongholds are far from where the Shadow recruits. When you run, you're telling Sauron: "Baby, if you want to win you must move now. You can't get any stronger. You must leave now, with the troops you have.

But enough stories, let's get down to business.

HOW TO USE DICE
We want to run. Ideally, you should advance twice per turn. And this must be done regardless of the corruption level or the number of eyes in the hunt box. There will be turns when our dice will only allow us to advance once, other turns we may advance three.
What we want is to cross the 10 regions that separate Rivendel from Morannon in 5 turns.


The novice player may be tempted to manage the progress efficiently. That is, I move a lot when there are few eye dice in the hunt box and the risk is low, I move little or nothing when there are many eyes and the risk is high. This is a mistake. War of the Ring is not an eurogame.
Action dice are capricious. By the time you want to move, you may not have the dice to do so. Therefore, in this initial phase, you must take advantage of all the opportunities (= dice) you have to advance. Forget about corruption and the risk of getting caught. In this first part, focus on just one thing: running.

Your priority tree will be:
d10-1 Resurrect Gandalf
d10-2 Hide the Fellowship
d10-3 Move the Fellowship
d10-4 Recruit
d10-5 Play event card
d10-6 Draw character card
d10-7 Advance political track

So, you'll use the dice like this:



WHEN TO USE DICE
Usually, the Shadow has more action dice than you do. Therefore, there will be times when you will have the chance to pass. In general, to pass to equal number of dice is a good idea. This is because we don't want to run out of dice and let Sauron take several consecutive actions to do whatever he wants. It is interesting to keep ammunition to counteract possible tricks of the Shadow.
The problem is that this general idea (pass whenever you can) is full of exceptions. These are things you can only imagine if you know the game well, if you have enough experience and if you control the event cards that have come out and can come out.
Later on, with experience you can decide for yourself, for now I suggest this tree of priorities:

1 Recruit (if you can) if you will be immediately attacked.
2 Hide the Fellowship
3 Move the Fellowship, if it's not in a friendly stronghold.
4 Pass to equal the number of dice.
5 Everything else.

The explanation:

1. Recruit
This one is obvious. If we're dead or under siege, we won't be able to recruit. We need to be reinforced before we're attacked.

2. Hiding the Fellowship
The Fellowship is very vulnerable when revealed, as it allows the Shadow to play some really harmful cards. You should hide at the first chance you get.

3. Move the Fellowship, if it's not in a friendly stronghold.
The (figure of the) Fellowship is safe in the friendly stronghold.
On the other hand, it is vulnerable in the open field. Sauron can make her situation worse, basically in two ways: 1) by placing a Nazgul or an army in the same region to win rerolls in the hunt, or 2) by playing some cards that may reveal your position. Therefore, if you are out in open field, it is advisable to move the Fellowship to the first opportunity you have, before the situation worsens.

4. One more thing: The Day Without Dawn
There is a Shadow card called The Day without Dawn that makes you painfully discard all the unused Will of the West dice you have left. To play this card, the three Shadow nations must be at war. Therefore, if Sauron, Isengard and the Easterlings & Southrons are at war, you must play the Will of the West dice immediately at the start of your turn.


THE GUIDE
Let's keep it simple. There are three good guides: Gandalf, Strider and Gollum. The rest are fodder.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Fodder: One whose sole existence is to absorb projectiles
By Urbandictionary.com


The general plan is to start with Gandalf, kill him at first and replace him with Strider. Hold Strider as long as possible and finish with Gollum.

So, you start with Gandalf, but don't get attached to him. His ability to draw cards is fine, but its greatest utility is to die and be reborn as the White giving you an extra die. The first time they hunt you down, kill Gandalf and place Strider as guide.
To run, Strider is brutal. His ability allows you to use any dice to hide the Fellowship. This lets you use the character dice for what you want: move forward. And it allows you to use the army/muster dice to hide if you're discovered. Dead Strider, you're interested in placing Gollum as soon as possible.

In short, the management of the guide and corruption is as follows:
1 You place Gandalf as your initial guide.
2 If Gandalf is the guide: Kill him at the first tile that comes out. Don't manage, don't optimize, just kill him. Strider is the new guide.
3 If Strider is the guide: 1 damage tiles add corruption. 2-3 damage tiles take out random companion. If Strider dies, bad luck.
4 Boromir, Gimli, Legolas is the guide: 1 damage tiles take out random companion. 2-3 damage tiles kill the guide.
5 Merry or Pippin is the guide: kill them always.
6 Gollum is the guide: remember Gollum's double skill. 1) Numbered tiles do not reveal the Fellowship and 2) you can discover the Fellowship to save one point of corruption. Example: The tile 2r becomes 2 or 1r.
How to use Gollum?
- I have plenty of time and many character dice: I reveal the fellowship and save 1 corruption point.
- Corruption level is low: I don't reveal the fellowship.
- I have neither time nor corruption left: I choose what does not kill me immediately and I believe in miracles.



Crown Aragorn?
No. Forget it, too expensive.
To crown Aragorn, you must spend two good dice (of those that allow you to run). One to separate him and one to crown him. You also lose 1) his guiding ability and 2) up to a maximum of 3 points of corruption if you use it as a shield. Damn... what a lot of resources. In return you get one extra action die and some military muscle.
It's not worth it. Aragorn is a very powerful figure in the military aspect. But to make the most of it, you must have an experience you lack.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
If someone is interested in how to play with Aragorn, I advise you to watch some Barbarisco games. You can find game logs in the annual tournament organized on this forum


Separate companions?
In general, don't separate companions. It's better to use them as a shield, to absorb corruption.
Just like Aragorn, this is a tip only for the first few games, for those of you who don't yet have full control over the game.

The Book of Mazarbul
The only exception for which I would separate companions is the Book of Mazarbul (move the companions who are not with the Fellowship. Then if there are any in Erebor or Ered Luin, put the dwarves at war). It's a bit complicated to execute, but if you manage to do it in the first two or three turns, having the dwarves at war so soon is a bargain (because they alone are able to defend the 5 points of DEW line). Anyway, if you have to spend more than two dice, if the Shadow has already conquered something in the Northeast (Woodland Realm, Dale or Erebor), if corruption is very high and you need fodder... in short, if it makes your life complicated, forget it.


THE ROADS TO MORDOR
Spoiler (click to reveal)
WotR Dictionary: Reveal vs. Declare
Revealing is mandatory. That's what happens when you pull out a tile with the reveal icon. You reset the fellowship counter to zero, move the Fellowship that many regions, and also flip that counter to indicate that the Fellowship is revealed.
Declaring is voluntary. This is what happens at the beginning of the turn, in the Fellowship phase. You reset the fellowship counter and move the Fellowship figure to the corresponding regions. This action does not reveal the Fellowship.
So, revealing is bad. Sauron discovers the Fellowship either by a succesful hunt or by an event card. On the other hand, to declare is good, is when we voluntarily say where the Fellowship is, usually to leave some danger behind.


There are two valid ways to reach Mordor. These are these:


a) Moria: it is the shortest way, but to cross Moria revealed involves draw an extra hunt tile.
b) Old Forest Road: It is a region longer than the road through Moria, but it does not cross enemy strongholds.

Remember that when the Fellowship advances what moves is the fellowship counter, not the figure. Only when the hunt is successful and the tile that comes out has the reveal icon is when you must move the figure to place it where it really is. So, until a tile with the reveal icon appears, you don't have to say which way you've gone.

My advice is: take the short road, that of Moria, and declare your position as soon as you cross that stronghold. I would only go down the Old Forest Road if you reveal your position and fall right into Moria. Therefore,


iv. FRODO & SAM IN MORDOR

THE ASCENSION TO MOUNT DOOM
Once in Mordor you must ascend five steps to win. Each one of them means drawing a hunt tile.
Once here, there are two key parameters that you must control and always keep in mind:
1How many turns do I have left?
2How many eyes are there in the search box?



1. How many turns do I have left?
You must control how the military advance of the Shadow is and evaluate how many turns are left. Or at least know if the Shadow is able to win military this turn or the next.
It should be remembered that the military victory of the Shadow is not given until the end of the turn. Therefore, even if the Shadow already has 10 points, you can win if you manage to destroy the Ring in this turn.

2 How many eye dice are in the hunt box (and how many eye tiles are in the pool)?
Crossing Mordor is hard. It's a constant wear and tear. You're going to add corruption every step of the way. But it's the eyes that usually kill you. An eye tile with four or more dice in the hunt box and you can give the game for lost.
Note: it is legal to check which tiles are left in the pool. You can do it whenever you want.

If we join both concepts...
If the Shadow is about to win and this is the last turn, forget the corruption, the eyes and whatever. Go forward and trust in luck.
If the Shadow is still missing a turn or more, you can manage the tempo. Try to advance when there are few eyes (1,2 or even 3) and retreat when there are many (3,4 or more).


THE ELVEN RINGS
The dice will hate you. It always happens. That's the way it is. The other day, playing with Melko, he was able to roll four palantirs in the first roll. 1 out of 1296 possibilities. 0.0007716. This, which seems funny at the beginning of the game, can make you remember Maggi, di Meglio and Nepitello's mother if it happens at the end, when you have been playing for more than three hours and the game is very even.
The Elven Rings are there for this, to change the result of the action dice if necessary. My recommendation is twofold: save the dice for when you are in Mordor and once in Mordor, use them.
Earlier, in From Rivendel to Mordor, I said that you should not manage corruption, that you should just move forward. This is because in that first stretch, the eye tiles are deactivated and the maximum damage is 3. Not now, now an eye tile hits you as much corruption as the number of dice in the hunt box. What I mean, you have to take advantage when there are few dice in the hunt box, and if you need an elven ring for that, just take it and use it. That's it.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
ADVANCING MORE THAN ONCE PER TURN
From Rivendel to Mordor
Maximum damage: 3
Possibility of drawing hunt tile: random
Every time you move: you increase the probability of being succesfully hunted

In Mordor
Maximum damage: high
Possibility of drawing hunt tile: 100%.
Every time you move: the damage increases if an eye comes out.



PLAYING CARDS 1: CORRUPTION
So far everything you've read seems very nice: we have a plan, we're going to run, we know the way... but the reality is that you're going to be overwhelmed with corruption. You're going to need the help of some cards if you want to get to Mount Doom.
The general idea is that any card that reduces corruption should be played as an event, never as a combat card. And of course, it should never be discarded.

You need to draw and play these character cards:
Elven rope / Elven cloaks / Phial of Galadriel / Sméagol helps nice master: "good" tiles to the pool.
Mithril Coat and Sting: discard one tile, draw another one.
Athelas: roll 3 dice, heal 1 corruption for every 5+ (3+ if Strider is the guide).
Bilbo's song: heal 1 corruption, if Gollum is the guide heal another one.
There is another way: heal 1 of corruption, if Gollum is the guide you may move or hide the Fellowship.
Axe and Bow / Horn of Gondor: discard from the table to avoid 1 damage.

You need these cards like you need to breath. This means that, as the game is near the end, if you're very high of corruption, the event dice, the Wills of the West and even the Elven Rings must go to draw character cards.


PLAYING CARDS 2: KEEP CALM
During the game you'll draw some cards with powerful names and bizarre effects. I'm talking about things like The King's Challenge, Dead Men of Dunharrow or Path of the Woses. Don't go crazy. The good cards, the ones you are looking for, are those I have detailed above, the ones that deal with corruption.
Its bad when you have to deviate from your objective, just to meet the requirements of a card. Better forget that card. You're learning, focus on running, on controlling corruption. The heroics for later, when you know the game well.


v. THE MILITARY CAMPAIGN

THE MAP
Know your enemy, Sun Tzu said. The Shadow needs 10 points to win. Where will he attack?

DEW line, in the northeast Dale, Erebor and Woodland Realm are probably the 5 most greedy points on the board.
Rohan, with the undefendable Helms Deep and the city of Edoras are three points.
The Gray Heavens and the Shire, in the far west, are three points that rarely fall.
Gondor, right next to Mordor, has five points.
Lorien and Rivendell, elven strongholds are 2 points each.

In general there are 4 points that are practically free. Helm's Deep, with Saruman recruiting like no tomorrow, is impossible to defend. Then, two of these three cities (Edoras, Pelargir, Dale) will fall easily. That puts you 4-0 practically before you start. But... the other 6 points are really hard to get.

DEFENDING STRONGHOLDS
In battles, your role as a defender will be rather passive. It is the Shadow, the attacker, who decides where, when and with what to attack. Basically, you'll be throwing dice and trying to survive. Even so, there are small details, decisions, that you can make and that can have a big impact on the game. Remember that you don't want to win the battle, you just want to win a turn. Sauron having to stop a siege to bring in more reinforcements is a major success.

Before the Siege
The defences confer two advantages: they impact us with a 6 and the battle lasts one round (unless it reduces an elite unit). This in practice means that a defender is worth as much as three attackers.
Therefore, the first rule is obvious: As soon as Sauron attacks a stronghold, we retreat to the siege. We don't like open field battles.

The second rule is also obvious, but much more difficult to achieve: try to recruit before the attack. Each additional defender you manage to put in increases the stronghold's resistance exponentially.

Finally, almost all strongholds have recruit cards in the strategy deck. Remember that the text of the card prevails over the rules. If the card says "Recruit a unit and a leader in Minas Tirith" you may do so even if you are not at war or under siege. So, don't hesitate to play these cards.

During the siege
Once in the strongholds, your decisions are limited to choosing whether or not to play a combat card and see if you roll the dice with your right or left hand. Not much.
About combat cards, keeping your cards for later it's not a great idea. Later you'll be dead. If you have a chance to play a card, do it. And do it in the first round of combat. Don't wait.


Each region also has its own tricks.

Gondor - Minas Tirith: advance political track.
To besiege Minas Tirith, Osgiliath must be conquered first. It's interesting to go ahead and advance Gondor's political track one step. This way when the Shadow takes Osgiliath, Gondor will be at war and you can recruit at least one elite unit in Minas Tirith before it is besieged.

Gondor - Dol Amroth: recruit if you see activity in Umbar
Dol Amroth is far away. By the time the Shadow gets there, Gondor will be at war and you will be recruiting a ton of troops in Dol Amroth.
Unfortunately, there is a card called Corsairs of Umbar that teleports Umbar troops to a coastal region of Gondor. If you see the Shadow armies gathering in Umbar, recruit in Dol Amroth if you can.

Rohan: Retreat Fords of Isen troops to the Deep
Helms Deep is indefensible. Saruman recruits at a hell of a speed, there's no defense possible against that. However, it is a good idea if you use an army die to move a regular and a leader from the Fords of Isen to the Deep.

Edoras: grow an army.
With Helms Deep conquered and Rohan at war, if you have army dice left, it is interesting to create an army in Edoras. Reconquering Helms Deep or even taking Orthanc is not a utopia.
If, on the other hand, after the battle of Helm's Deep the Shadow is still strong (5 or more units standing, several of them elite), it may be foolish to recruit in Edoras because you won't be able to reconquer anything.

Dale: retreat
Dale has no defense possible. If you survive the first attack, remember that you can (and should) retreat the surviving units to the Woodland Realm or Edoras. Dale is the perfect place to play the Scouts combat card and retreat, before combat, to Erebor or Woodland Realm. (Yes, that's legal even if you're not at war).

Woodland Realm: recruit Gandalf
Woodland Realm is hard to defend, too. Too few elves to resist the onslaught. It's a bit risky but my advice is to resuscitate Gandalf there (The White always scares).

Erebor: Pray.
Erebor, the same problem, dwarves don't go to war until they have been practically wiped out. If you have any army move left, you can move the dwarf from the Iron Hills to the stronghold. If Erebor falls and the Shadow does not conquer the Iron Hills, it is a good idea to recruit there and assemble an army of dwarves.

Lorien, Rivendel, Woodland Realm, Grey Havens: advance political track
Elven strongholds share a common characteristic: they are extremely short of troops. All you can (and should) do is avoid being besieged all at once. That is to say, you must advance the elves in the political track, so that when the first stronghold is attacked, you will have the opportunity to recruit in the other elven strongholds.


BOTHERING SAURON
If the Free Peoples are experts in anything, it's in touching Sauron's balls (spanish expression that means: annoying Sauron). Remember, you're not trying to win the war, you're just trying to win a turn.

Raiders of the lost point
The Shadow doesn't usually have time to spare. That's why, sometimes, after conquering the stronghold, he gives up his job and devotes himself to something else. He forgets to raze nearby settlements.
Examples:
Conquer Erebor and leave the Iron Hills
Conquer Helms Deep and Edoras and leave Folde
Conquer Woodland Realm and Dale and leave the Carrock
Conquer Minas Tirith and Pelargir and leave Lamedon/Lossarnach

You, as Free Peoples, will find that many times you don't know what to do with the army dice. Well, it is interesting to recruit and assemble armies at those points (Iron Hills, Folde or Edoras, Lamedon...). Or even in Minas Tirith or Woodland Realm.
Towards the end of the game, always in desperation, you can try to reconquer something just to earn a turn. The easiest thing is to take one of the cities you have lost: Pelargir, Dale or Edoras. You know what I mean, those dwarfs from the Iron Hills attacking Dale, the army of Minas Tirith recovering Pelargir... All to steal Sauron that one point he needs. In the next turn Sauron will crush us, but you will have won that beautiful turn you need.

Scare
As the game progresses and Sauron sees that you're just running, you'll see him depopulating their strongholds to focus only in attacking. It is usual to find Dol Guldur, Moria or Minas Morgul completely uninhabited.
Free Peoples military victory is very hard to achieve. But sometimes it's interesting to scare Sauron. Simply having the elves leave Lorien and head for Dol Guldur or Moria already causes Sauron to shiver and spend a few dice strengthening his settlements. The same thing if an army of Gondor goes to Minas Morgul or Morannon. Or the elves of the Woodland Realm go down to Dol Guldur.


Retreat
Retreat does not always mean going backwards. Sometimes you can take advantage of a retreat to move forward.
An example:

You are attacked in Osgiliath from South Ithilien, you don't die and you retreat to... North Ithilien, of course. Clearly, those two units aren't going to conquer all of Mordor, but well... there they are. Sauron having to spend dice to chase them, annihilate them and all that.


vi. OTHER ISSUES

The rules
In the first games (and in all of them) it is usual to forget to advance the political track when you are attacked. It's a rule to remember.

Two Shadow Cards: Worn with Sorrow and Toil
This card is a toothache, because it makes you discard a character card every time you sacrifice a companion. Here are two options:
1. If you can declare the fellowship in Lorien, Minas Tirith or Woodland Realm, do so and remove it from the table.
2. If you can't declare in a friendly stronghold, play all the vital character cards (those I have listed above) before you move the Fellowship.

Two Shadow Cards: Palantir of Orthanc
This card (draw an event card when you play a card with an event die) can get you in a lot of trouble. As soon as it hits the table, you should spend an elf ring or Will of the West and remove it from the table

The Shadow tries to corrupt Frodo!!
We're screwed. I'd need another wall of text like this to explain what you can do. Just two tips: Draw as many character cards as you can and speed down, you don't need to run so fast.


vii. LET' S FINISH
A lot of text. I'm going to summarize everything in six lines:

1 From Rivendel to Mordor: Run
2 In Mordor: control eyes in the hunt box and run when there are few.
3 The Guides: don't separate companions, start with Gandalf, kill him at first and then go killing random.
4 Cards: Try to draw and play character cards that heal corruption.
5 The War: try to advance Gondor and the Elf Nation in the political track and then recruit there.
6 Combat cards: Do not save for later. Later you'll be dead.

God! Awesome tochopost!
I end as I started: don't get obsessed with victory. Enjoy the game.



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Christopher Yaure
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Re: THE INEXPERIENCED HOBBIT SURVIVOR GUIDE
Excellent post! Both well thought out and entertainingly written.

As Victor notes, there are times when you should violate his suggestions. But first, you need to understand why he makes those suggestions. Until you understand why he makes a suggestion, you cannot understand when to violate it. And you will win quite a few games simply by following Victor's guidelines in full.

One minor quibble - Gondor advances on the political track when the Shadow Player attacks Osgiliath, not when the Shadow Player conquers Osgiliath (Osgiliath is not a settlement).
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neko flying
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Re: THE INEXPERIENCED HOBBIT SURVIVOR GUIDE
actuaryesquire wrote:
One minor quibble - Gondor advances on the political track when the Shadow Player attacks Osgiliath, not when the Shadow Player conquers Osgiliath (Osgiliath is not a settlement).


Related: If you vacate Fords of Isen to reinforce Helm's Deep, you forfeit the opportunity for Rohan to be activated and advanced when Isengard attacks it. I don't think it's worth it. You may want to leave one Regular there.
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Daniel Blumentritt
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Re: THE INEXPERIENCED HOBBIT SURVIVOR GUIDE
Quote:
Woodland Realm is hard to defend, too. Too few elves to resist the onslaught. It's a bit risky but my advice is to resuscitate Gandalf there


Well that's why Helm's Deep always falls so easily.
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victor pla
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Re: THE INEXPERIENCED HOBBIT SURVIVOR GUIDE
flying_neko wrote:
Related: If you vacate Fords of Isen to reinforce Helm's Deep, you forfeit the opportunity for Rohan to be activated and advanced when Isengard attacks it. I don't think it's worth it. You may want to leave one Regular there.

meleke wrote:
it is a good idea if you use an army die to move a regular and a leader from the Fords of Isen to the Deep.

Actually, that leaves one regular in Fords of Isen. The starting setup in that region is 2 regs + 1 leader.
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Bog Zal
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Re: THE INEXPERIENCED HOBBIT SURVIVOR GUIDE
Great job, thanks for the effort!

But now the orcish younglings look at you as if they were waiting for something.
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Steve Dara
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meleke wrote:
Retreat
Retreat does not always mean going backwards. Sometimes you can take advantage of a retreat to move forward.
An example:

You are attacked in Osgiliath from South Ithilien, you don't die and you retreat to... North Ithilien, of course. Clearly, those two units aren't going to conquer all of Mordor, but well... there they are. Sauron having to spend dice to chase them, annihilate them and all that.

I can't stress retreating to victory enough! Like Victor said earlier, sometimes the shadow player will completely neglect a shadow stronghold in their pursuit of 10 VPs. When that happens press any die-advantage you might have to seize it! When the FP are only 2 VPs away from victory the Shadow Player will spend many dice ensuring you can't slither yourself into another stronghold. Remember, a retreat and a move is essentially a double move with no enemy response (since after your retreat it's your turn)! If you are besieging a measly 1 elite (from a last second muster) that's the perfect time for cards like 'No Quarter', 'Mighty Blow', 'Nameless Wood' or 'Anduril'...

Dilemma's like 'attacking your routed force again to try and wipe you out, risking you retreating into their abandoned stronghold' or 'recruit an Elite in their empty fortress that is within your reach, having just delayed their response force by an entire action' are things any shadow player cannot afford! While Sauron enjoys wielding fear like a weapon, it is much more effective when used by the free people of Middle Earth!
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Falenthal Greenleaf
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Amazing guide for this game, that implies millions of small decissions during each game, that are difficult to asses for us newbies.

¡Muchas gracias, Víctor!
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Luke Heidebrecht
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I just want to say - this is such a well written and thoroughly researched bit of academic work on War of the Ring! I enjoyed reading it and you inspired a few ideas that I've already attempted in a game of War of the Ring this week. So thank you!

I found one thing that I wanted to clarify. In section iv. Frodo and Same in Mordor, You said:

meleke wrote:
Earlier, in From Rivendel to Mordor, I said that you should not manage corruption, that you should just move forward. This is because in that first stretch, the eye tiles are deactivated and the maximum damage is 3.


You are completely correct, regarding the eye tiles, that there is a difference in threat level when journeying across middle-earth as compared to Mordor. However, the eye tiles are not "deactivated" as much as they are inconsistent in their power. Prior to Mordor when an eye tile is drawn the hunt damage is equal to the number of successes rolled during the hunt (or equal to 0 if drawn as a result of a card or leaving or entering a stronghold). Often there is only one success (especially when the Shadow player must roll 6's for a successful hunt). In some cases, as I experienced not too long ago in a game - the shadow player may allocate two dice to the hunt and during the action roll they may roll 2-3 more eyes. It's not all uncommon for there to be 4 or more eye dice in the hunt pool. Again, rolling 6's there is little risk of more than one success, however, moving twice in a turn is something that requires more consideration as the possibility of the hunt damage could be much more - and, given the reveal on each of the eye tiles they become a much higher threat. In addition - the shadow may devote resources to the hunt - moving Nazgul and/or armies into the region of the fellowship to give re-rolls. This, i have found is an effective strategy - made more explicit with the Lords of Middle earth expansion and the inclusion of the "hunty" witchking.

I hope these thoughts come off as further appreciation for the work you put into writing this - I think there is a lot of room to discuss strategy in what you wrote!

Thanks!
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Andy Latto
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Excellent strategy guide! The only thing I'd take issue with is:

meleke wrote:

The whole text below is focused on achieving one single goal: to reach victory. What a mistake!!! If you are a competitive guy or you are obsessed with winning, War of the Ring is not your game. It's so random it will frustrate you. More strategic, more "manageable" games, such as the magnificent Twilight Struggle, will satisfy your needs better.


Despite the randomness of the card draws, hunt tile pulls, and die rolls, the better player wins remarkably often. Take a look at the World Boardgaming Championship tournament results at http://boardgamers.org/eventhistory/wor.html. Despite the fact that there are a lot of other good players in the tournament, you sure see the same people winning the tournament a lot! And this only shows the winners, but you'll see those same player coming in second or third a lot when they don't win.

I think this is important in a strategy guide, because in my experience, when people attribute their losses to luck, they don't look for ways they could have played better, and they stop improving.
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David Boeren
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I agree, there is more than enough impact from player skill in War of the Ring. I also play a variety of games and LCGs. All of them have luck factors too, and all of them also have the same strong players showing up in the winner's circle repeatedly.

Specifically for War of the Ring, I've played probably a dozen or so games against another local player and haven't lost one yet. If there was truly a large luck factor that would be pretty unlikely.
 
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Ira Fay
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Great article! Obviously you can't summarize all the strategy of a game this complex in a single article, but I thought you did a wonderful job giving s great intro for beginning players. Well done!
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Franjo
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Muchas gracias, meleke, por esta guía y por el resto de ayudas. Me han animado mucho a sacar el juego del armario.
 
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