Session Report – August 3, 2004
My first time playing this baby, and boy did we screw up the rules.
Our local wargaming society featured this game last week. Hadn’t played it before, in fact, hadn’t played with the society before either.
Most of the hard-core gamers were playing something with little tanks and trees. Three of us pulled out the map of Middle-Earth.
The owner of the game had played a couple of times before (the other two of us, not but once). He said that in a three player game, Good always gets its ass kicked. So, having realised there was a major balance problem we decided to give Good a 50% bonus to his starting armies. We considered other more complicated fixes, but wanted to err on the conservative side.
Good was soundly trounced in about one hour. He was red and black all over. In fact, all the 50% bonus did was create a boom in the funeral chapel business, bringing undertakers unexpectedly high annual returns.
Anyhow, I knew something was wrong. The designers couldn’t have possibly intended us to have a three player game with set alliances – either that, or they never actually play tested the game (and I couldn’t believe that).
So, having bought the game myself I read the rules on alliances – sure enough the alliance business was only for 4 (four) players. And I can see why.
LESSON: If game balance appears to be problematic, read the rules again to make sure you have not misinterpreted something. It is often easier to re-read the rules than it is to re-design the game.