Well, it's been a while since I've written a session report here on BGG, or played a game of War of the Ring. However, after breaking the latter trend, I have to record the results, as the game was one of the most unusual ones I've played in quite some time.
Muster to war:
The game starts fairly simple. Saruman comes out almost immediately, and the SP brings out the Witch King shortly afterwards on turn 2. Meanwhile, although turn 1 is fairly standard for the FP (move the fellowship, muster the elves towards war, etc.), turn 2 made it apparent that this would not be a normal game. After separating all the companions to Moria, playing Fear, Fire, Foes to send the North to war, and then using a WoW to claim Gandalf the White, it was clear the Free Peoples wanted a military victory.
In the following turns, both sides built up their armies. Rivendell and Lorien converged to attack Moria. Dale and Woodland Realm joined, making an imposing force to stare at both Mt. Gundabad and Dol Goldur. Meanwhile, Sauron mustered up his Mordor armies and the S&E's, and Saruman whipped his own orcs into a frenzy. No amazing clashes happened just yet... but it was clear this was going to be interesting.
The battle begins:
The elves of Lorien, led by Legolas and Merry, strike first, leaving their home empty as they force Moria under siege. Gandalf the White and Pippin join them shortly, with the Rivendell elves close behind. However, though the defenses of Moria themselves were small, Sauron was not about to give up his stronghold so easily. The forces of North and South Dunland combined, 8 orcs strong, and the Witch King himself flew in to lead them. However, it was very nearly a disaster for Sauron, as Gandalf's troops routed the orcs of Saruman, and then gave chase. The army was reduced to the last orc when the Witch King finally took flight, to battle another day.
Meanwhile, in the south, Boromir urged his countrymen to war, and crowned Aragorn as the king of Gondor. They then proceeded to muster some elite troops for the coming storm. And storm it did, as Sauron's forces broke upon them multiple times. The Witch King flew in to lead the battle himself, as the forces of Minas Morgul and Barad-dur combined to assault the white city. However, the King and his men continued to drive Sauron's forces back. Finally Sauron played out the remainder of his hand. Calling up the Southrons for reinforcements, he finally forced Minas Tirith under siege, and played Grond, hammer of the underworld to crack open Gondor's stronghold.
Sieges broken and desperate flight.
The second siege of Minas Tirith was a complete and utter disaster... for Sauron. He had underestimated the resources of the Men of the West in the Deadly Strife that followed, as though Gimli fell, Aragorn slew the Witch King on the steps of the Citadel while his men routed Sauron's last followers. Though reduced vastly in number, they had withstood the assault and destroyed Sauron's second in command.
Meanwhile in the North, things were not going so well. The army of Dale and Woodland Realm continued to stand there, as both Mt. Gundabad and Dol Goldur were heavily reinforced, leaving them without a target. Meanwhile, Gandalf's forces returned to Moria to find that the orcs had multiplied in their absence.. what was once a lightly guarded fort was now a heavily reinforced stronghold. They joined the battle regardless, thinning the orcs ranks down to a single unit. However, Saruman had not been idle, and sent his personal guard of wolf-riders up to break the siege. With the elves numbers finally dwindling, Gandalf and his companions fled to Fangorn, leaving the remnants of the elves to die.
However, Saruman had forgotten about the ents, as they came up to knock on the door of his stronghold... before getting bored and walking away, having done absolutely nothing of any consequence.
With all nations except the Dwarves having taken up arms against Sauron, a horde from the east appeared. The Easterlings ended up razing the Iron Hills and putting Erebor under siege, pushing the Dwarves into war. Of course, this was all part of Sauron's plan, as the Mouth of Sauron revealed himself in Minas Morgul. As the king was revealed in minas tirith, Minas Morgul took reinforcement from Morannon, and broke towards the white city one more time.
Preparations in Rohan:
With his armies all but shattered, the free player looked to where hope might be found. Surely not with Frodo, still but a space from Rivendell. The Dale/Woodland realm army could help, but lacked a convenient target with the wargs in Moria, and both Dol Goldur/Mt. Gundabad heavily reinforced. So where might he take two shadow strongholds?
The center of the board held the answer, most of Saruman's forces were up guarding Moria, leaving the free peoples a chance to strike.
Gandalf, Legolas, and Pippin moved into Helm's deep, leaving Merry in Fangorn in case the Ents reappeared. Eomer and the riders of theoden showed up, boosting the army to respectable, if hardly amazing proportions. Still, with a full complement of orcs in Orthanc and a guard at the fords, things still looked grim.
Additionally, in the south, Minas Tirith was in deep trouble. The elite forces of Gondor were all but depleted, and still armies of the Mouth of Sauron advanced. In desperation, Aragorn mustered one last unit and made preperations... When the forces of the Mouth struck, Aragorn's forces were pushed to the last man, and the city fell... for rather than spend their lives in a doomed (though valiant) effort, Aragorn, Boromir, and the last unit of Minas Tirith fled towards Rohan.
A race against time:
Sauron knew, if he could destroy Aragorn now, while his forces were weakened, he would deal a crippling blow to the remaining free nations. With this goal in mind, the Mouth of Sauron sent a force of trolls and orcs west after them, while Saruman's wargs closed in from Moria. However, it was not to be. The men of Gondor fled to Edoras, before traveling through a day and a night to meet up with Gandalf at Helm's Deep. Thus united, they routed the guard at the Fords of Isen without difficulty, and put Orthanc itself under siege.
Though Saruman's forces looked intimidating inside those walls, a sudden strike routed the better part of them before they could put up a defense, and the following attack destroyed the remaining resistance and killed the corrupted wizard
Although that move gained the FP two victory points and eliminated another of Sauron's commanders, Gandalf and his group were not to leave Orthanc. The pursuing army of wargs and trolls caught up with them shortly after they killed Saruman, and attacked viciously, reducing Rohan's numbers and besieging them in Orthanc.
Meanwhile in the north, the time of the Dale/Woodland Realm forces had finally come. Moria had but a token guard on it with the wargs tied up down at Orthanc. Gaining some small reinforcements from Carrock, they headed South, but were confronted by the Dol Goldur army.
After a brief battle where both sides took losses, the men of the north retreated west, only to be pursued. Again battle was joined, and again they retreated, heading closer to Moria. Despite the losses they'd taken, they still commanded a respectable host, and took Moria with a charge from their calvary.
The third age draws to a close:
With both Moria and Orthanc taken, suddenly it was Sauron's position that was desperate. The forces of Dol Goldur bled to death in the mines, while the remaining wargs of Saruman met a bloody end on the walls of Orthanc. Against all odds, Middle Earth was free.
Now if only Frodo would get around to destroying that ring.
This was one of the most exciting games I've ever played, with enormous forces being mustered all over the board. Literally every nation except the Dwarves took part in some titanic struggle, and both sides were pushed to their limits, with the Elves and Gondor being all but wiped out by the end. Although the final position looked like a rout, the board hardly tells the entire story. The free peoples were running out of forces to throw at the shadow player by the end, had Sauron held on a little longer, his advantage of infinite reinforcements would have likely proven to be decisive.
Nice session report. Thanks!
Was it played online or in person. If the former, you should post the log file.
This particular game was played with a hard copy. Sure, I could have done it online, but I just wanted to use an actual board and pieces this time around.
nice read, thanks for posting it