Matthew Jensen
United States
Perry
NY
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*** Note this tournament was before they revised the hands down rule ***

Just wanted to chime in on how the Chase The Ring tournament went in Salt Lake City, Utah. The tournament was held at Hastur Hobbies on Saturday, November 17th (2001). We only had 10 players show up for the tournament but most of us realized that the tournament was being held on the day of the big in-state rivalry football game between BYU and the University of Utah. We had many reports of players not being able to swap work schedules to get the time off due to the game. So the 10 of us sat down to play our wicked little game for the Ring.

Just to let you know, my deck comprised of a Ranger/Elven combo deck with a mid-level archery component for the Free People side that started Legolas (UC) and Arwen. I was hoping to capitalize on 3 An Able Guides in my deck to allow me to run through the sites and 2 copies of Elrond to help cycle through my deck a bit quicker (2 different cards to allow Elrond to fight at other sites were thrown in for good taste). For the Shadow side, I was playing a mean Nazgul deck I threw together. No Witch-King (Im not running a money deck like youll hear about later) but about 15 total copies of the other Nazgul with an emphasis on corrupting the Ring-bearer. Deck size was 40 for each side, a bit big maybe but it served its purpose. My deck strategy was usually to bid 0 for the start and allow the other player to play their Prancing Pony site (which I would use to pull my Aragorn as well) and work on the Nazgul enhancing sites as the opponent moves.

The Ring Bearer was selected by random and Eric Myers was the lucky guy to start with it. He starts at the top table and would make the Ring a top table affair throughout the tourney.

Heres the details:

Game 1: Me vs. Mickey’s (forgot his last name) Moira Swarm deck.

This matchup was a bit ironic. Mickey had been at the tournament a bit early and we both sat at the same table as we finished putting our decks together. He saw that I was running Nazgul and I heard he had either a Nazgul or a Moira Swarm deck. We start and my strategy works as he bids 3 and starts the Prancing Pony with I believe Gimli and Legolas. He is able to move to 3 without me having much to deploy for the Shadow. I am able to get Aragon out along with an Elven Bow for Arwen and make my own process. Aragorn gets his bow and my archery makes his swarms a bit easier to get through. The Nazgul are starting to kill off his companions one-by-one and he has to burden down poor Frodo. He slows down my progress at site 6 with a massive beatdown of the Cave Troll, his Hammer and a couple other trolls. After letting Boromir take it for the team, I figure I had better stop and make him lose the Uber Troll. We are moving along when time is called we are both at site 7 I believe. He unfortunately has 9 burdens to my 2. Modified Win 2 points.

Props: Mickey was a good sport. Nazgul are nasty. You don’t swarm things but the fierceness of many can hold their own. Archery keeps swarms from hurting too much.
Slops: Not much. Good game.

Ring Update: Eric Myers holds on to the Ring through a Full Win and remains at the top table.

Game 2: Me vs. Scott Stringham Uruk-Hai madness.

Scott is a great guy. A bit eccentric about this LOTR game but in a cool way. He had driven 600-miles round trip the night before to go to St. George, Utah and play in their Chase The Ring tourney. Funny as that may sound, he walked away with the Ring certificate and so is a proven Ring Bearer player. We start and he bids 3 and starts the Prancing Pony for me again with Legolas and Arwen I believe. I know this strategy will change in a few tourneys but it sure is working for me right now. He burdens Frodo to get Aragorn. I look at my hand and it is all Shadow with 3 Nazgul glaring back at me. He moves to my Weatherhills and down comes Ulaire Toldea with a Nazgul Sword and Drawn to Its Power. This is a nasty combo. Toldea allows the Shadow to assign the skirmish if you can spot 4 burdens while Nazgul Sword is damage +1 if you can spot 3 burdens. Toldea is also Fierce. If you can’t tell, Scott is in trouble. Aragorn is assigned both times and is gone after the first move with Frodo at 5 burdens. Scott stops to make Toldea disapper. I move and Uruk Hai come but I hold my own. Scott moves again this time Toldea comes down with Black Steed. Not as potent as the Nazgul Sword but enough to hurt and transfer Black Breath on Legolas and make him go dead next turn. The Uruk Hai are pounding at my companionship as well but with Aragorn, King in Exile healing Arwen every turn and a few well timed Athelas, I am able to stick it out. Archery is not working as well but is keeping the Uruk Hai from staying too much with me. At site 5 I am getting too many wounds on my companions but Scott is down to nothing in his companionship. Next turn I think my fellowship would have been down to a minimum, fortunately the Nazgul do not relent and Frodo is overwhelmed. Full Win 3 points.

Props: Scott is always a fun guy to play. Ulaire Toldea is my hero! That was the game as Scott and I both agreed.
Slops: Archery. Its nice but not always a game turner when you play Uruk-Hai.

During the second game my wife and kids stopped by and brought me a 48 oz. bladder buster drink and burger from the Apollo Burger down the street. I suck it down during the break and wait for the results.

Ring Update: Eric Myers keeps the ring again with a Full Win.

Game 3: Me vs. Eric Myers Uruk-Hai/Nazgul deck.

So I get to play for the ring. I have known Eric Myers for a while through SWCCG. Good guy. However, he does seem to have a bit of an Eeyore complex (no offense Eric) when it comes to playing the game. We start and he bids 0 to my 1 and we do not get to start The Prancing Pony! Fortunately, my only copy of Aragorn was in my opening hand. My East Road comes out to try and up the Twilight Pool and get things going. I deploy Elrond first turn and keep Aragorn to keep the twilight pool down. He is not able to stop me much and I hold up at site 2 to deploy Aragorn on my next turn. Eric moves but I have nothing. He stops anyway. That pretty much prevents my use of the Nazgul sites for location 2 and 3. So I go back to the drawing book and just start playing. Nazgul keep haunting Eric and a few complaints come out that there is no way he can win against a money deck. This is where I had to inform him that I had bought a single box and had to borrow almost 10 Nazgul cards and 3 Free People cards (only 4 of which were rare) just to play my deck. No serious money to my strategy. The game goes fairly quickly. At Site 4 I play a dirty little trick on Eric. Its his Mithril Mine that allows me to use one Twilight Pool to play a shadow weapon from discard pile. Down comes Ulaire Nelya who grabs a Nazgul Sword from discard and then uses his game text to replace Erics Mithril Mine with my Moira Staircase that gives characters with hand weapons damage +1. It’s a tough pill to swallow as Nelya kills Gimli fairly quickly. After that, Eric is having horrible draws while Elrond allows me to cycle through my draw deck quicker and get things going. Erics predominantly Free People hands can’t compete with the Nazgul and I end up bursting through to Site 9 without much resistance at the end. Full Win 3 Points and The Ring IS Mine for now!

Props: Nazgul keep the pressure up.
Slops: Poor draws for Eric kept the game from being too close.

Ring Update: Its all me baby!

Game 4: Me vs. Product Champion Hartman Andersen Ranger/Elf Archery and Nazgul deck.

Hartman and I have had quite a bit of conversation about the game and such. We’ve been fairly close players in SWCCG and its quite interesting that we played similar decks for this first tournament without talking about it. In fact, I called him on the way to the tourney and asked if he had Nazgul cards I could borrow. My asking and his saying no pretty much let the cat out of the bag about each others Shadow portion of the deck. He chooses to start with 3 burdens and goes with The Prancing Pony as his start (thats OK with me) with Rare Legolas and Arwen. His opening hand is a doozy for the Free’s People. Aragorns Bow, Elven Bow for Arwen, a Site 1 Ally. He pushes to advance and unfortunately I do not have any Nazgul in hand. He advances fairly quickly that first turn. My hand is tight with Nazgul support cards but no Minions and not much to boost my Fellowship. I am hoping for Elrond to come out and help get to some cards but both copies of him hide at the bottom of my deck. Hartmans specialized archery is taking a good share of my Nazgul out before they can do any damage. Some where and some how my three copies of Wreathed in Shadow do not pop up and his archery is non-stop for most of the game. Even so, traveling is a bit slow for both of us. I am seeing time go by and that 48 oz. drink I had 2 hours ago is hitting me pretty hard. With about 10 minutes left I have to excuse myself for a bathroom break that probably spends less than 60 second of game. I get back and the game is coming down to the wire. I am sitting at Site 6 and Hartman is at site 5. He pushes ahead to site 6 and his archer is able to take care of my Morgul Skulker without problem. He pushes to Site 7 to help solidify his chance of winning. Two Nazgul make an appearance but don’t last long. Time is being counted down. I go to my fellowship phase do not have much and start to move. Two fierce Nazgul could have come down on me but Frodo would have survived. As we go through the assignment phase for skirmishing, time is called. Hartmans Frodo had 4 burdens to my 2 burdens. However, since I had not resolved the skirmishes I am technically at Site 6 with Hartman at Site 7. Thus the result…… Modified Loss 1 point and the Ring is all fo Hartman!!!!!!

Props: The game was tense and very balanced. Our decks matched up fairly evenly. Good intense game.

Slops: The 48 oz. drink lost me the game. Hartman was great at avoiding any appearance of stalling but the 60 second or so break cost me the game. Darn Bladder Buster cups! Darn hands down rule!

Ring Update: Hartman takes the Ring certificate!

Final: With the modified loss, I drop to 3rd overall for the tournament. Hartman takes the ring and the tourney. I am pretty ticked at myself for letting a bathroom break lose me the ring. Tough, tough thing. Overall, the Race for the Ring was a success in Utah. The Ring pretty much stayed at the top table so there was not as much intrigue as there could have been but it sure will make for a good trophy for the tourney! People finished up a bit of trading and such but with the football game and other commitments, only 4 people were able to stick around for the multi-player tournament. Wish I could have stayed, multi-player is a whole different strategy for LOTR and I would say more fun than the one-on-one format.

Final Props and Slops:

Props:
* Joe for running a good tournament
* Nazgul for their nastiness
* Athelas. No Ranger leaves home with out it.
* Mickey for slamming me with the Cave Troll and his Hammer. OUCH!
* Hartman for the tight game.
* Scott for driving 600-miles for the St. George Ring. Now that is devout.
* Eric Myers. Eeyore is my favorite A.A. Milne character.
* Decipher for a great product.


Slops:
* Apollo Burgers 48 oz. bladder buster cups. They do just as they say.
* Hands down rules. Got to change that to next regroup phase. nuff said above.
* Old taunts of people purposely timing out. While it may have been true in the past with SWCCG, you can’t help having a couple time-out games in LOTR:TCG.
* Gandalf-centered decks. They just dont seem to be very viable at this point.


Well, Thanks for reading. I had the ring…. Honestly I did. It just slipped from my fingers in the last furtive seconds of a bathroom break.
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This brings back memories................I won the Chase the Ring tournament in Lancaster PA shortly after the game was released. Thanks for the report, its fun looking back on these tournaments!
 
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