Mark - Shadow player - 1st game
Badger - Free Peoples - 2nd game
Marks strategy was apparently to feint towards Minas Tirith with his Mordor armies, but come round the back through Rohan with the Isengarders to hit me in the rear. I did explain that Sauron doesn't need to feint but there ya go. He wanted me to spend time building up Gondor whilst the real thrust came through Rohan. Didn't really work as I was of course building up Gondor to stall him as much as possible while the fellowship moved a bit closer to their target.
My strategy was to move the fellowship whilst healing as much as possible along the way. Militarily, I wanted to move the North and hopefully Elves to war and try and take Moria and Gundabad or Dol Guldur.
I managed to move the North to war early with use of Legolas and a card. The Dwarves followed next turn but were never activated. Elves rapidly followed after some musters and incursions by Sauron and the arrival of Strider. In short, all were at war very early in the game.
Isengard stormed through Rohan with the valiant warriors crumbling like a dunked biscuit, again. Minas Tirith fell when Denethor went ape, an unfortunate side effect of the card was the death of Strider in Minas Tirith just as they were polishing the crown. (Didn't know about the effect of the card that takes out one of the companions in MT. Guess there wasn't one in there when we played).
Pelargir also fell to a second Mordor army and Dol Amroth was reinforced heavily with fleeing soldiers and elven ships and all sorts. Mordor closed in on the coastal regions. Saruman had an unfortunate episode when a tree fell on his head (Ents attack, orchestrated by Gandalf the White in Fangorn).
All this time, the ring was making its busy way to Mordor taking minor damage along the way (for which of course Boromir paid the price. Merry died along the way too).
Gundabad and Moria had been reinforced when my objectives became clear and the hordes now swept out of Dol Guldur, casting aside the Power too Great en route. The elves of Lorien were reinforced and Gandalf came to the defence. The Witch King and three more Nazgul assaulted Lorien. Whilst Gandalf held back the tide for awhile, the result was inevitable. Lorien fell.
But, those sneaky elves strolled into Dol Guldur and set up shop.
So, at this stage, Mordor = Minas Tirith, Pelargir, Helms Deep, Edoras, Lorien for 8 points. Free Peoples = Dol Guldur for 2 pts. The fellowship led by Gollum was before the Cracks of Doom with 2-3 points of corruption.
This was going to be the last turn. The siege of Dol Amroth commenced. The orcish hordes were mauled in the first round and elected not to continue the siege.
Frodo entered Orodruin and bagged a victory for the Free Peoples.
The biggest single mistake was calling off the siege of Dol Amroth. Shadow had elites to burn. I doubt that the citadel would have fallen, there were no decent battle cards to play for a start, but he had absolutely nothing to lose at that stage. The turn of the dice could have won the game.
No shadow hunt tiles were added to the pool at all. Put this down to the Shadow players first game. Free peoples had a couple of special hunt tiles in the pot.
It was very interesting to see Shadow player strongholds emptied of forces. At one stage or another, Orthanc, Minas Morgul, Morannon, Dol Guldur and Barad Dur were all empty. A roving band of free people could have made a run for one these… perhaps pulling Rohan back right from the start and keeping these as a mobile unit would have worked better.
The shadow players Hunts were very unlucky. At some points there were six dice in the pool and a Nazgul to boot, but no success.
All in all a really enjoyable game. Couple of rules I need to get sorted.
Love the way that this game bore no resemblance to the previous.
Just a note, Denethor's folly allows for the removal of a Free People's Leader (one of the grey figures), not a companion (which may have a leadership value, but isn't in the same category as the leaders). I sounds like it was used to take out Aragorn, which is incorrect (and a bit overpowered if it were). Of course Aragorn still goes down if MT falls to siege, but at least he gets to go down fighting.