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Leo Zappa
United States
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Session Report: War of the Ring
Date: January 29, 2005
Participants: Tim, Rick, Legend, Leo

For our January session, we decided to try War of the Ring for the first time. Tim and I both own copies of the game; we used Tim’s for our first attempt. We made the decision to use the Quick-Start (QS) rules so that we could learn basic game concepts. We played the game in two teams, with Legend commanding Sauron and I commanding Saruman. Tim and Rick commanded the FP (Free Peoples), and though it was not always clear as to the division of command, for the most part I think Tim commanded Gondor and Rick the forces of Rohan.

It took us about an hour to set up the game and read through the QS rules. The QS rules are only four pages long, but the print is small! We began the game by 2:00 PM, with our assignment of a couple of action dice to the Hunt Box, and then both sides rolled their first Action Dice! The streamlined QS rules allowed the game to move along at a surprisingly good pace despite it being our first game. The SA (Shadow Army) quickly moved to take out Helms Deep, which the FP had not been able to reinforce. The SA also worked to bring all of its three factions to war as soon as possible. The FP team was very aggressive militarily early in the game, counterattacking in Rohan and moving armies into attacking positions elsewhere. The FP did not seem to have a lot of enthusiasm for advancing the Fellowship, nor advancing either the North or Dwarves to war.

My Shadow teammate and I massed our forces and began a series of advances into Gondor, Rohan, and Rivendale. The FP reclaimed Helms Deep and mustered a number of elite forces there, so that for awhile we had a standoff. However, my evil partner Legend launched a major assault on Minas Tirth from Mordor while I gathered up the Southron armies and launched a thrust into the southern flank of Gondor.

It was not too long before the FP suffered a general collapse across the entire map, as their inability to restock their reinforcement pool translated into rapidly dwindling armies. Their aggressive offensive tactics became their undoing, while the SA’s ability to regenerate their eliminated troops allowed them to overwhelm the surviving FP forces. Legend and I claimed a Shadow military victory.

It became clear that the Quick Start rules, while permitting players to become familiar with the mechanics of the game (action dice resolution, army movement and battle …etc), do not provide a rich playing experience. These rules also shortchange the great strongholds such as Helms Deep, a point which is very nicely addressed in the standard rules with the provision for siege warfare. All in all, a good introduction to the game, but it left us wanting to move to the standard rules for our next play.
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