After a game of Quebec 1759 (in which I was defeated playing the French side, BTW), my friend Guille and I decided to play a little game of LOTR: TC, DE, with the classic characters and rules. We randomly assigned sides and I got the Fellowship.
I deployed Frodo, Sam, Gimli and Legolas in The Shire, Gandalf in Cardela, Merry in Arthedain, Aragorn in Rhudanur, Pippin in Eregion and Boromir in Enedwaith.
Pippin soon found Shelob in Moria and quickly retreated to Rhudanur with Aragorn. From then on, all the encounters in the game ended up in mutual defeat of the pieces. I was not very sure if that was good or not for me at the moment. Now I think it was.
We went on changing one piece for another until eventually all I had left were Legolas (in Fangorn) and Frodo (in Eregion), and Sauron had the Flying Nazgul (in Gondor) and the Cavern Troll (in Cardahras). My good cards were all gone, while Sauron had kept Magic.
At this point in the game, with a real Fellowship’s victory threat, there were only three possible moves for the Sauron side. Only one of them would give them victory, and it was not that obvious either. Let’s analyze them, from the Sauron side, in which that side ignores which piece is which:
Option one: The cave troll attacks in Eregion. This is a mistake no matter what.
Supposing Legolas were there, the Fellowship would lose one more character, but the next move would be to move Frodo (in this scenario to Dagoriad), and even if the Flying Nazgul attaked him there, he could always use his retreating ability to move to Gondor and then, in his turn, reach Mordor.
In the actual scenario, where Frodo is in Eregion, when attacked, he would retreat to Rhudanur, and then the fellowship would attack Gondor with Legolas, instantly defeating the Flying Nazgul, and from then on, it’s a peaceful stroll all the way to Mordor for Frodo.
Option two: The flying Nazgul attacks Fangorn. Again, this is a mistake no matter what.
Supposing Frodo were there, he would use his special ability to retreat to either Mirwood or Rohan, in his next move he goes to either Dagoriad or Gondor and when attacked again by the Nazgul escapes again using his ability and then reaches Mordor.
In the actual scenario, where Legolas is in Fangorn, the Nazgul is instantly defeated, and so the next move for the Fellowship is to use the tunnel of Moria to reach Fangorn and from there, Mordor without further opposition.
Option three: The Flying Nazgul uses his special ability to attack Eregion.
Supposing Legolas were there, the game is again lost by Sauron because the Nazgul dies and Frodo reaches Mordor unopposed in two moves.
However, in the actual situation, Frodo would be pretty vulnerable in Eregion. He would lose the fight, so he would have to use his special ability and retreat sideways to either Rhudanur or Enedwaith. Now Frodo is in a tight spot, because if he moves to the mountains he is no longer allowed to use his special ability, so if he did, the Flying Nazgul would attack him immediately and he would lose the battle, thus losing the game for the Fellowship.
So the Fellowship has to move Legolas to either Dagoriad or Gondor. The next best move for Sauron is to either move the Troll to Eregion if Frodo had moved to Rhudanur, or to directly attack Enedwaith if he had moved there. In that case, Sauron wins the game, because Frodo cannot retreat to Eregion since the space is occupied by the Nazgul. In the former case (Frodo had moved to Rhudanur), again, the Fellowship cannot risk fighting the Nazgul in the Mountains, and therefore has to advance Legolas to Mordor. The next move for Sauron, of course is to attack Rhudanur with the Flying Nazgul, while keeping the Troll in Eregion to negate Frodo’s special ability.
So what really happened? Well, Guille attacked Fangorn with the Nazgul from Gondor, lost the battle and I moved Frodo through the Tunnel of Moria for a lucky victory!
Once you have some time to analyze a position in this game, the best logical move can sometimes be deduced, especially when there are only few pieces on the board and most of the cards have already been discarded. As we see, in this case there was only one logical move for Sauron (not knowing where Frodo was did not matter, for if he had been in Fangorn, there was no way to stop him, so only assuming he was in Eregion was worth giving it a shot)
A couple of random thoughts on the game:
-Frodo’s special ability is quite amazing, especially when there are few pieces on the board. He can be really hard to stop!
-Because of that, I think a 1 on 1 exchange of pieces is usually good for the Fellowship.
-If the Warg is still alive at the end of the game, you better have kept a good card to play when he attacks Frodo!