After starting with 10 of 15 Action dice being Eyes, and only mustering a single Elite unit and 2 Towers during the whole game, the Shadow military machine finally comes up big, capturing 7 VPs in the last turn to steal a victory. Here's how it happened.
Ok, here’s the set up:a recap of the first 6 turns:
The Fellowship of the Ring (FSP)
The FSP headed over the High Pass and took the Old Forest Road to avoid 3-4 extra draws through Moria and the Balrog. Worn With Sorrow and Toil had dogged the FSP from turn 2, but they forged steadily ahead playing Character cards whenever possible to avoid discards (for example, Dead Men of Dunharrow was randomly discarded). The FSP made it to Dagorlad (1 step from Morannon) with only 3 corruption, and Sméagol, Gimli, and the hobbits still in tow. Rolling 6 dice with Sméagol the guide, the FP was set to enter Mordor and likely dunk the ring in 2 turns.
Personalities and Action Dice
The FP got off to a quick start with a first turn Aragorn, using We Prove the Swifter and a Ring, and then taking the Ring back the next turn with Three Rings of the Elven Kings. Turn 3 saw Gandalf dieing on an Eye (only 1 damage) but then immediately coming back in at Fanghorn, rallying the Ents. 1 Ent card scored 4 hits on the Orthanc garrison, leaving only 2 regulars. Too few early musters along with Stormcrow left Galadriel out of the game.
In contrast, the SP got off to a slow start as 4 Eyes were rolled in both the first 2 turns (8 of 13 dice rolled), but was still able to mustered the Balrog, then Saruman, and then finally the Witch-king (WK) in the first 3 turns. Turn 4 saw the Corsairs appear.
Not really that much military with the only action in Woodland Realm (WR) and Gondor. The SP was unable to muster any troops--either by Event card or muster die in the first 6 turns as every muster needed to be used politically or to bring in Minions (and 1 Tower).
Turn 3 saw a failed attack by the Dol Guldur (DG) garrison (5/1/1) on the WR garrison (1/1/1 + Trebuchet) as even with the WK, couldn’t score a single hit with Desperate Battle (only 3.9% chance! whereas 3+ hits has 55.2% chance) while receiving 2 hits. WK and his Nazguls abandoned this fight for greener pastures in Gondor.
Turn 5 had the WK and Southrons army (8/2/3) used The Corsairs are Upon Us for a surprise attack on Dol Amroth (DA) to try and trap and kill Aragorn. Rather than retreating into DA, he Scouts away up the coast to Anfalas and the WK takes the empty DA. Then Aragorn flees, abandoning his troops, and moves to the safety of the Fords of Isen (Fords). SP mops up Gondor as the Mordor army (9/1/1) takes Osgiliath, then Pelargir, puts Minas Tirith (MT) under siege, and then takes Lossarnach. No more mustering Gondor troops and both the SP (6/1/1) and FP armies (4/1/1) build siege equipment in MT.
With the Orthanc army decimated and Rohan still barely defended, turn 6 sees the WK moving up the coast, finishing off the DA regulars along the way. The SP runs out of dice (another 3 Eyes rolled) as the WK sits next to the Fords in Druwaith Iaur. I'm praying that the FP doesn't have any more Ent cards or Dead Men of Dunharrow.
The Stage is Set.
The FSP is sitting good with Sméagol in charge outside of Mordor with only 3 corruption while the SP sits only at 3 Victory Points (VPs)--DA and Pelagir. The FP has all of the Elven Rings and the SP still has Worn With Sorrow and Toil and The Palantir of Orthanc on the table.
FP rolls CCCPWW while the SP rolls CCAMPPHHH. I look at the FP’s roll and see doom and gloom as the red carpet’s out for the FSP. It seems like the FSP will surely destroy the ring next turn. I conclude that my only shot is to somehow do the impossible--get 7 VPs this turn. My puny brain just about explodes trying to figure out a plan. It’s a good thing the SP only needs 10 VPs, as I only have 10 fingers to count, and recount on.
As expected, the FP immediately starts out on his clear path to victory. FP moves unopposed into Morannon, then Declares (using Sméagol’s guide ability), and moves 2 spaces on the Mordor Track (O and Or draws) and hides. It looks like FSP will certainly win next turn, especially if the FP using a Ring (change remaining P to C die) to move an additional space (only 1 SP special in the mix and corruption is only at 3).
It took me awhile, but here is what I think was my only chance to get the remaining 7 VPs with my 9 Action dice. The Southrons (5/2/3) + WK kill Aragorn at the Fords (2/0/1) using Relentless Assault (+2 on my combat roll) , then move in and take HD (3/1/3+WK whiff with Cruel as Death, and thankfully score a hit after reducing leaving only 3 regs left) [2-3].
Next I play Half-Orcs and Goblin Men to add an Isengard elite in WR . (Note: this was the ONLY muster card or die played to recruit Shadow armies or Nazguls). Then The Ringwraiths are Abroad send the WK and 2 Nazguls to MT and a Nazgul to WR and I attack WR (5/1/1 v. 1/1/1 + Trebuchet) and Deadly Strife supplies the killing hits, but I also take 3 hits (Last Defenses) leaving only a 4/0/1 army .
Next I muster a second tower in MT , and then triple jump (Shadows Gather) 3 guys in  so the battle is now 9/1/3 + WK + 2 towers v. 4/1/1 + trebuchet. Deadly Strife scores 4 hits while taking only 3 hits (DS was the only card I had to play and I was afraid of taking 5 hits so I triple jumped the extra guys in; otherwise I could have had another attack), then no card for a hit, then reduce and play Great Host for the sure hit .
Finally on my last die, the 4/0/1 WR army attacks the Dale 1/0/1 army and gets an easy "6" .
Thus it's HD, WR, MT, and Dale for 7 points on the last turn. Pretty amazing if I do say so--I don't think I've ever gotten 7 VPs in one turn nor only mustered a single Elite for additional troops for the entire game. I had only 3 regulars left in HD, only 3 in WR/Dale, only a single regular in DA and Pelagir, and 6 in MT--that's cutting in close. Deperate times call for desperate measures. The 5 Strategy cards I drew the last turn using the Palantir and the WK were invaluable as a source of combat cards as I drew the second Deadly Strife and Great Host. Really an amazing combination of Action dice, Event cards, Combat cards, and luck to pull this off.
This game just never gets old.
That's an even more insane ending then the time I took 8 corruption on the last step of the mordor track... (Shown here, if you want to see. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/486695/an-unbelievable-e... *shameless plug*)