Sean and Jessica had been itching to host a gaming session since we first met them so we decided to meet at their place tonight. Earlier in the week, I thought for sure we were going to have 14+ people but in the end, we only ended up with 6 (Sean, Jessica, Sheila, Lyle, Heather and myself).
Lyle and I went to see Sean's healthy game collection downstairs, and after ooing and ah-ing for a few minutes, we settled on 2 or 3 games we were keen on playing. Out came LOTR, El Grande, Pitch Car and Samurai. In the end, we opted to start off with LOTR.
We started our quest slowly as Jess hadn't played the game in a year or so. She had to refresh herself on the rules so Moria gave us the opportunity to get a feel for what Middle Earth had in store for us. As this was the first time for most of us, we started Sauron on the 15. I was Merry, Heather was Pippin, Lyle was Frodo, Jess was Fatty and Sheila was Sam. Sean sat out (what a trooper) and ended up playing the role of the wise hair-deficient Gandalf whenever we needed a rule explanation.
I'll just say at this point that Middle Earth is one tough place to live. Generally speaking, the event tiles came up rather quickly throughout the game. Pippin was definitely the trouble-maker. Whenever it came to Heather's turn, we'd often flip up 2 or 3 event tiles in a row. Tough sloggin'! We also had some pretty tough rolls early on and by the time we finsihed Shelob's Lair, Sauron was already at the 8 with 3 of us only two steps away.
Quite amazingly we did manage to all make into Mordor. We looked at the events on the board though and we all thought our future looked gloomy. Fortunately we had enough shields to call on Gandalf twice, once to move Sam(Sheila) back 2 spaces on the corruption track and once so that Sam could rearrange the tiles. Both Gandalf moves were required to keep us in the game. By the time we got to the end of the Mordor track, only Sam the ring holder was left. Sauron was on the 4 space and Sam on the 3. We needed two good rolls in a row to win. First throw, Sheila rolled a blank enabling her to walk up to Mount Doom. On her next roll, she threw another blank and we all erupted in cheers! Good had vanquished evil! (final score: 65)
The game was a bit long as we were all new but we all really enjoyed it. We felt the game really captured the hopelessness of the fellowships quest. I'm sure we'd play this again soon.