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Subject: Sauron's Game rss

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Ian Powell
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Glenrowan
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I really enjoy this game as it drips with theme. Just roaming middle earth and having encounters is fun in itself.

As a strategic game however, I find it too biased in favour of Sauron. I have played 14 games so far (all as the hero player) and acheived only 3 victories. Within those games I played 5 3-4 player games all of which ended in a victoru for Sauron.

In many cases it appears extremely hard for the heroes to get the favour needed to close down plots.

Sauron has many options to harass the heroes
Shadow cards
Monsters
Minions

Any of which can slow the heroes down or worse make them lose the rest of their turn.

The Sauron player has been the same one each time and he uses a lot of shadow cards.

Fundamentally the heroes have to shut down the plots to have any chance of victory; beyond that the heroes strategy depends on their mission cards and an awful amount of luck with their encounters!

Like I said before, I love the adventure part, but it just seems too reliant on luck to achieve victory.

Of course the Sauron player could be playing brilliantly each time and this could be giving me the wrong impression.

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Matthew Rooks
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Kobe
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harlequin1 wrote:
Of course the Sauron player could be playing brilliantly each time and this could be giving me the wrong impression.


whistle

Another possibility is that the heroes are being played horribly.

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Rauli Kettunen
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harlequin1 wrote:
The Sauron player has been the same one each time and he uses a lot of shadow cards.


I love my Shadow Cards too, but there are a number of pretty useless ones (those that basically require a Hero to have 5+ cards in hand that can only be used during Sauron's Action Step immediately come to mind, given how the Heroes draw their cards AFTER Sauron's Action Step). Your Sauron is keeping to the one Shadow Card per player turn restriction, right? Not uncommon to have multiple cards you could use at a particular moment and having to choose just one.
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Stephen Sekela
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Maybe your group should all take some turns playing Sauron? Playing him once or twice might help you figure out how he is most vulnerable.

Good luck!
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Craig Truesdell
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Heroes must attack plots every chance they get. They have several advantages. They move very fast and they ALL move before Sauron gets to move again. They have to play as a team to blast holes through the minions/monsters (many are blanks). Also, they can't die so what are they afraid of? Don't forget to take a dark path now and then (almost always worth it) and think long and hard before taking a character benefit over the 2 favor (this is not a character buff game! level up somewhere else, quests need to be done along the way unless they give favor). If you play the 3 player, one of the heroes can just move around and soak up all of the favor and then dish it out.

Peril doesn't bother me too much especially outside the permanently perilous locations. Sure you may pull a Balrog when going through Moria but that is unlikely so if you need to, go for it.

Also, Sauron can only play or remove 1 plot card at a time. That is a serious bottleneck. If you watch closely, you can almost guess where the next plot is going. If Sauron has a lot of shadow cards that means he isn't pulling/moving a lot of monsters or pulling influence. Sauron gets only 2-3 actions a turn so that's another bottleneck.

Don't forget that a monster tile comes off the board even if it defeats you! Makes them crap plot guards imho. Especially so if Thalin is about, you can't stop that guy with monsters.

Taking turns as Sauron is a great idea, also, play as a team when playing the heroes. Don't be a hero! And oh yeah, at least someone needs a horse.

My experience is almost all 2 human player games. I do think the rule that Sauron must hear all conversations is fun. I will say have 1 player control 2 or more heroes does make Sauron's task harder since they are truly acting as 1 force (I have to believe in some games the other heroes are wondering why you did what you did!) and with no open conversations.

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Ian Powell
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The players can move fast, however they also need to conserve cards for fighting minions.

Although heroes can't die, losing in combat is bad news (end of turn for all except Thalin and 1 Sauron marker moves).

I agree about peril - it does not stop me either.

Corruption can be terrible - especially as there is a Shadow card whose effects depend on the number of corruption cards.

What's your Sauron-Hero win ratio?

 
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Lior Kiperman
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- All players should examine the decks of cards in this game, especially the plot deck and the encounter decks. If the heroes notice that Sauron is trying to use a specific plot card on his next turn, they should do their best to make sure he can't play that card. It's also useful to know which location is good or bad for the heroes - Belfalas is good (chance to get 2 favor or boat) and Osgiliath is bad (5 damage or corruption). For the first 3-5 games it might be better not to examine the decks of cards just to make this more of an adventure game than a balanced strategy/tactical game.

- Like Craig mentioned, all players should try to play the role of Sauron. It makes it so much easier to understand both the advantages of the heroes and the disadvantages of Sauron.
 
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Stephen Sekela
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I think we are at about 50-50 split after 4-5 games, and this is with 2-3 players total, over the course of almost a year, who have all played the game rougly the same number of times, and have all played Sauron at least once.

Not a very large sampling, to be sure, but maybe a good representation for casual/new players for you.
 
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Craig Truesdell
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I have played very few games but I don't think we view the game as unbalanced or at least not yet. We play PBEM so we have lots of time to plan our moves. Also, most games are 2 player so the heroes are of a single mind which I thinks help. Any miscue from the heroes can be serious trouble.

I agree, some of the corruption cards are seriously bad news. In those cases, I have had to camp on a Haven and pray for a good card to get rid of it. But, your hero story keeps rolling along so if you get Sauron behind early, he will struggle to catch up while you are camping.

I rarely fight minions, I almost go around them. If I can't, I go through them, hoping to kill them before Sauron's next turn.

If you are defeated, your turn ends but since you were out of cards anyway, it at least saves you a heal/rest. Losing favor/item can be tolerated (don't lose that horse!) and moving the story marker one step is no biggie usually. It depends on where and why your were defeated. Taking out a minion so another hero can clear a plot is a good trade off imho.

I was kinda hoping for more thumbs for my awesome advice, guess I need to ramp up my game... whistle

All kidding aside, MEQ is one my favorite games. I have been checking but so far I have not seen anyone post a perfect strategy for either side and every game I have played has been tense. Don't get sidetracked with quests, load up on favor, and clear those plots! Sauron only gets to play 1 a turn!
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5cardstud
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I just made a similar post concerning game balance, asking what hero tactics might help and singling out some plays that seemed to be tipping the scales. Our group's heroes' have won 6 out of 21 games. In addition, 8 of those were 2-man, switching sides each game, played with a very experienced player from another game group. In that series, the heroes won once for each of us, making it 2-6 in Sauron's favor.

So, either the game is unbalanced, or the heroes need to improve, or there isn't enough data to make a conclusion. Currently, there isn't enough data, but hopfully more people will respond here or the link above with percentages. I am really hoping for option 2.

I also think the # of games played is important, as our first 5 went 3-2.

Edit: Fixed thread link.

 
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harlequin1 wrote:
I really enjoy this game as it drips with theme. ...


On which subject, and apparent pro-Sauron balance of the game, I've just commented here. As someone suggested, perhaps take turns playing Sauron.
 
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Craig Truesdell
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I will say that the Sauron player has less chances to make big mistakes. He only get 2 or 3 actions a turn. Monsters and minions can barely move so no real big strategy there. Cards? I doubt that he has a bunch of cards to choose from on any given turn. Influence can be little more interesting but not much. Once a hero gets +1 wisdom, influence has less impact peril wise. Heroes have a lot more choices and so they have a larger chance to mess up. In a face to face game, I think that matters.

In the games Sauron has won, has it been close or is he winning by a large margin? Did the heroes feel like they could have improved their chances by making different decisions?

Take a page from squad leader, have each player bid for Sauron if you feel it is unbalanced. Your bid is how many spaces you will spot the heroes on their story track at the start. That will keep things interesting in your gaming group.
 
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Craig Truesdell
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Which heroes are picked matters quite a bit also. Some of the more popular heroes are actually quite weak.
 
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Craig Truesdell
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Or you could have Sauron drop favor every time he places a monster. If it is a blank, pull the favor off the map also. Otherwise, the favor is available like any other. Even if you just serve as a punching bag for the monster.
 
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