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Subject: Critical Mass, 6 May 2005 rss

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John Farrell
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After Star Wars Epic Deuls, Dan suggested that we play Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation, as he wanted to see what it was like. With a far too short explanation of the rules, we jumped in with Dan as dark and me as light. Dark is best for learners - you can rely on strength rather than trickery. Pippin did some scouting in the mountains, revealing Shelob. The Flying Nazgul was killed, but not by Legolas, and the Witch King was killed, but not by Merry. The Orcs rampaged into the light side of the board to be met by Gimli. Overall, the light was succeeding at wearing the dark down, but at great cost to themselves as you'd expect.

In the end, it came down to Saruman and the Balrog against Merry, Frodo and Sam. Frodo and Sam were moving together, which made it obvious to Dan which they were. All of the hobbits slipped past the Balrog who occupied the Shire quite forlornly - after all, it was really no use being there. Saruman waited in Mirkwood while Frodo and Sam tried to cross the mountains from Rhudaur. Eventually Sam headed into the Misty Mountains to try to entice Saruman to attack, but he didn't fall for it. Frodo advanced into the High Pass, and Saruman pounced.

A glorious and very tense victory to the Dark, who successfully chose which of 3 hobbits was Frodo. If Frodo had adventured into the Misty Mountains, I think Saruman would have killed the wrong hobbit. Next time I must be trickier against Dan.

Dan thought that was a pretty good game (the tension was awesome as we tried to out-think each other), so we switched sides and played again. I loaded up my front row with Orcs, Troll and Shelob, with Balrog in the second row so that he could step up to guard Moria without being scouted by Pippin. I started with an Orc rampage, destroying Pippin, but then falling to Gandalf. Gandalf proceeded to advance all the way to Dagorlad, wreaking havoc all the way. Eventually, the Warg slipped out of Moria into Gondor, leaving Gandalf with nothing he was able to attack, which was a pretty poor solution to the Gandalf problem on my part. The Flying Nazgul spotted a lone character in the Shire, so flew over and attacked... Boromir. Dan hadn't meant that as a trap, but it turned out to be a very good one. The Black Rider boldly sallied forth as well, and was massacred by Aragorn. The Dark had some quite dreadful luck, and was well and truly outplayed by the Light's card play, resulting in another tense ending.

Frodo and Sam were stuck in Rhudaur with the Witch King in the Misty Mountains. The Witch King could attack forward or sideways, so if either Frodo or Sam moved into the High Pass, the Witch King could attack the High Pass and kill them, then attack the Misty Mountains on the next turn and finish off the other. But then we remembered that you can't ever move sideways in the mountains, and Frodo skipped gaily into the High Pass and Dark conceded. Another victory to Dan!

In summary, two very good plays of an excellent game. I have already rated it a 9, and there is no reason to change that rating - the combination of strategy and outguessing your opponent is sublime. Dan thought it was excellent as well, and is looking to procure his own copy.

EDIT: I found out that the official name of the group is "Critical Mass", so I changed the subject of this report.
 
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Alan Kwan
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Re: Indooroopilly Uniting Gamers, 6 May 2005
Friendless wrote:

In the end, it came down to Saruman and the Balrog against Merry, Frodo and Sam. Frodo and Sam were moving together, which made it obvious to Dan which they were. All of the hobbits slipped past the Balrog who occupied the Shire quite forlornly - after all, it was really no use being there. Saruman waited in Mirkwood while Frodo and Sam tried to cross the mountains from Rhudaur. Eventually Sam headed into the Misty Mountains to try to entice Saruman to attack, but he didn't fall for it. Frodo advanced into the High Pass, and Saruman pounced.


Why isn't this a sure victory for Light? Doesn't Merry and Sam together have more moves than Balrog? Just push Merry and Sam forward until the Balrog has reached the Shire, and Saruman is forced to move, and then Frodo can just slip through.
 
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John Farrell
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Re: Indooroopilly Uniting Gamers, 6 May 2005
I wondered the same thing myself as I was writing it up. I must have remembered something slightly wrongly. Maybe if Dan reads this he will remember more details.
 
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