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Subject: The day the Ring certainly did NOT reach Mordor rss

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Simon Lundström
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The day the Ring didn't reach Mordor.

A session of Lord of the Rings with expansion Friend and Foes.
Sauron starts at square 15.
Game mechanics details in [italics in square brackets]

In this game, very much cut down, you move across "scenario boards" with several "activity lines" on them, one main and some sub-lines. Each turn, you must draw an "event tile". This can either be good (making you move along the activity lines) or bad (advancing the "events", which are generally very bad for the group). The catch is that you must continue drawing tiles until you reach a "good" one. Once you reach a good tile, move along the designated line, and then you can play 1 or 2 cards from your hand. These cards also move you along the activity lines, and some other cards have other effects.

These "scenario boards" and the intermissions in between form the general story of the Lord of the Rings. The different activity lines represent details in the story.

The beginning
Sam and Frodo were set. It was time to leave. In all secrecy, so as not to worry or rouse suspicion.

In fact, they were so secret that not even Pippin and Merry noticed that they left. [We were two players] For the time being, they could enjoy stealing from farmer Maggot's crops. Little did they know that their joy would be rather short. And the Ring had already started to take its hold on Frodo.

The journey to Bree [first scenario board]
From the start, the two hobbits realised that luck was not at their side. Friends and acquaintances were not scarce, but time was not their ally. During the journey they met with farmer Maggot, got into Bree where Strider were waiting for them, and at Weathertop Fire Brand came into their hands. However, they did not succeed in hiding themselves, and events caught up with them. The Ring pulled harder and harder at poor Frodo, whose soul slowly ventured towards the Dark.

Frodo was caught by the Ring's evil as they met with Tom Bombadil [die roll showed advance on the corruption line], and though the hobbits trotted on the long journey all while hiding, it mattered little. They had scarcely begun the long journey until the Nazgûl attacked Bree [event 3]. Only Sam's Valour kept Sauron from rushing much closer [Sam's special ability was used].

Once at Weathertop, the Nazgûl stroke again [event 4], luckily the little two had enough fighting spirit and defence to protect themselves, but little to avail. A knife in the dark [event 5], and Frodo had to discard his last protection against the evil of the Ring.
Before they knew it, they had to rush to the Ford, but the journey had made them too tired - Sauron came closer [Last event, we didn't have 7 travelling cards, so Sauron came 3 steps closer, and was now at step 12. We had barely had time to react, bad Event cards all the time, bad die rolls and a huge lack of Life tokens as the events overtook us had caused both to already be at step 2 on the Corruption line. And this was only the beginning!]

Rivendell
As if by miracle, they managed to reach Rivendell, were they enjoyed a much deserved rest [4 Rivendell cards each] but there were enmity during the forging of the new Fellowship [discard friendship cards or roll die – Frodo rolled 2 dots, making him go forward to step 4, Sam discarded a Friendship card.]. Frodo decided it was too dangerous for him to carry the Ring, so Sam took it [Sam had had more Ring tokens than Frodo after Bree board]. And so they set off.

The disaster in Moria
The friendship was all but completely exhausted [we had virtually no cards left after the catastrophe in Bree, some Events had been avoided with discarding cards and such] and the fellowship came to the gates of Moria [event 1, we discarded friendship card and joker]. But as they stood there, the Watcher in the Water attacked them [event 2]. Sam managed to hide, but Frodo couldn't, and as the creature struck him, he could feel The Eye stirring [Sam discarded a Hiding card, but Frodo rolled the die, resulting in an Eye. Sauron was now on step 11].

It was then that it happened.

Once inside Moria, the Evil of the Ring caught Sam [tile: move 2 spaces, Sam now on step 4]. As they found the grave room, they knocked down a stone in the Well, arousing the whole of Moria and Sauron's attention [we drew a joker from the deck, I was Sam and didn't have a double joker, Sauron moved to step 10 and next event happened automatically] They were completely trapped, and had neither come far and they were absolutely not hidden. Sauron noticed and came closer. The Evil of the Ring pulled at Sam. [Travelling and Hiding lines must be complete, otherwise Sauron moves 2 steps, ending up on step 8. Ring bearer Sam rolled the die getting 2 dots, moving to step 5. During this time, we had moved but 1 step on the main line due to a tile, and 4 steps on the Hiding line, 3 from Bombadil card and 1 from a tile]

Before anything else could happen, the Orcs attacked. For the exhausted companions, there was no stopping them. Sauron's power flooded over them [that was event 5, we didn't have 5 fighting cards, so Sauron came closer, ending up on step 6!]

That close, poor Sam could do nothing. Darkness engulfed him and he succumbed to Darkness [next tile showed "ringbearer moves forward". Sam got to step 6 and Sauron got him - Game Over. We had a grand total of fabulous 11 points, having made 1 step on the main line of the Moria board.]

------

Analysis: A grand total of NINE steps were taken by Sauron and Sam together in one single turn, just by drawing tiles, before Sam even had a chance of playing any cards whatsoever. It's true that we had some specials we might have done, but we checked the next tile and it was another event. Counting the tiles, there are 11 bad ones (of which 8 event tiles) and 12 good. They did NOT show up according to that probability. We drew something of 2 or 3 bad tiles before each good. We actually played another time with the same result: Events flooding us on both the Bree and Moria board, both ended prematurely. Second try we got to square 23 (Isengard board), but there was nothing to do, we didn't stand a chance.
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Roberto Arbelaez
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Yup, I've had games like that. This game certainly shreds you to pieces every now and then. It either makes you wanna come back for more, or pisses you off and makes you trade it. It's one of those games you never feel like you've mastered it, It can kick your ass anytime.

I never get people that say that it's easy, or that they delivered the ring 4 or 5 times in a row... maybe dice and event tiles really dislike me


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Larry Welborn
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I got this game for Christmas the year it was released. My wife and I played this 7 or 8 times before we finally won. It did get easier after that but it is never a sure thing, especially with two players.
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ART
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I think the people who say it's easy have never played with just two players. Granted, some of that challenge can come through a heavy, unfair luck bomb...

Was there anything you could have done to stop this? I'll have to read again to make sure, but if not, that's not exactly nice of the random elements to do that to you :)
 
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Simon Lundström
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We had some small tricks left up our sleeve, I believe, and we didn't play 100% optimally, but when we checked (both times!), the next event tile would have inevitably killed off at least the non-ringbearer, leaving the ring bearer at Sauron's toes before the next turn. And that was after only having started the respective scenarios. So no, maybe we could have held out one more turn, but not longer than that.
 
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Tommaso Franco
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Interesting session report.

I agree with other comments, playing with just 2 hobbits IS more difficult. You have to plan ahead all the time.

It is true that this game depends on luck, but not the way people think. This is most like Backgammon, if you know it. Although at any step there is a big random component driving the game, you have to be flexible, so that you can adapt your strategy to the random outcome.

A lot of events at the beginning of a scenario? maybe you have to forget about the main track and prepare to cope with the nasty 5th and 6th events and finish just through events (prepare Gandalf cards, etc.). Lucky tile draw? Be quick and rush to the end, you're likely to get a lot of sundials soon!

With two people it gets a bit more difficult to find the right timing for everything: less cards and less corruption means that it would be interesting to finish boards through events, BUT in many cases you have to finish side tracks quickly to avoid very bad event outcomes, which turns out not so interesting because with just two you don't need that many life counters.

Again, it is a matter of flexibility, just try to handle bad luck and be prepared to minimize bad luck impact, always.

Just one more thing: IMO, F&F with 2 hobbits is very doable with Sauron at 15 and still ok at 12. What I have big problems with is F&F + Battlefields, no way with 2 hobbits! I follow a suggestion that I found somewhere around the forum: draw all cards in Rivendell and Lothlorien, I think it evens out the whole thing a bit.
 
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Wilhelm Person
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Just played a two player game with the gf. Same thing happened, everything went ok until Moria, then the sledgehammer hit us. Event after event. The gap to Sauron closed to nothing and the gf saud "This is no fun, can we please stop?".

She was right, it was no fun.

Any house rules out there to fix the situation? I consider going back to the misunderstanding I had before, and only ever draw one Event per player. What sort of gamer hell awaits me for making the game so easy that it is fun?

 
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Rauli Kettunen
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wilper wrote:
Any house rules out there to fix the situation? I consider going back to the misunderstanding I had before, and only ever draw one Event per player. What sort of gamer hell awaits me for making the game so easy that it is fun?



For me the challenge and the fun comes from trying to salvage a situation that looks bleak (or even hopeless). Most of the games where everything goes smoothly (which I sorta think the 1 Event per player would lead to) are boring. I agree the middle ground is the best, but with random tile draws, extremes can happen, though shouldn't that often.
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