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War of the Ring (First Edition)» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Countering Magic's DEW North Strategy...muster Erebor rss

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Tom Stein
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This is a proposed counter to the DEW North strategy offered by Magic Geek (i.e., all out military, focusing first on conquering the North with the Witch King out of Mordor (and some Eastherlings's), pinching Lorien and then picking up three more where easiest). There were a flurry of posts a little while back, at first, many suggestied it was flawed because an all out sprint for Mt. Doom would often beat it. Magic Geek countered with an analysis that by fine tuning the Shadow military strategy, he could often have a military victory in six turns against an all out sprint. There was then an analysis by some of how fast the "Strider Sprint" should take and others posed the question of how to best "slow down" the Shadow war machine to allow the Fellowship to get into Mordor, but the discussion petered out. In the discussions, Magic Geek claimed that, against a supposedly highly experienced Free People's player, he won 16 times in a row using DEW North. His suggestion is that the game is broken because the Shadow should always win, barring some crazy bad luck.

The strategy that Magic Geek proposed being a virtual certain win for the Shadow seemed flawed to me. I thought that there must be some way for the Fellowship to "pressure" the Shadow player -- the essence of good Fellowship play is, I believe, to "pressure" the Shadow into doing things before he wants to do it or in a less than ideal order.

The Strider Sprint mentality was, of course, a suggested way of "pressuring" the Shadow. One that Magic Geek countered. The Fellowship thus needs to then "pressure" the counter strategy and the only way to do that is defense.

DEW North is, I believe, somewhat fragile, because to do it as quickly as Magic Geek suggests, there are a limited number of troops available (the Witch King hoard out of Morder and whatever Easterling's can be brought in...of course they need to be mustered to war and with mustering the Witch King and Saruman into play, that is a lot of dice) thus, the addition of some extra troops up in the DEW area could throw off his entire timing.

The key, I think, is to start by mustering the Dwarves. This is important for the following reasons.

1) Erebor is one step farther away than Woodland Realm and one move might mean the difference between an extra elite or not.

2) By mustering Erebor, the Shadow is forced to attack there first, otherwise too many dwarves will grow.

3) This allows more time to break off Legolas and Gimili and get them to Woodland Realm (I suppose Lorien is also an alternative, but WR is probably the more ideal spot for them).

4) It also allows more time for the possiblity of getting the elves mobilized next. Magic Geek's strategy is predicated on attacking Lorien and WR at nearly the same time, so the FPP does not have time to plunk annoying extra troops into those strongholds. This makes that more difficult for the Shadow, as Erebor has to be subjegated first.

5) Once Gandalf the White comes in, pop him into either Lorien or WR.

It should be possible to do these things and still move the Ring fairly steadily.

I do not suggest that this is an absolute defense, nor that it balances the game 50/50. I have not had time to play it out (let alone repeatedly), so there are perhaps flaws to this. But, it seems to me, that following this strategy against DEW North should result in FPP victory a statistically significant number of times, if not more often. After all, all it takes is one really bad battle for the Shadow's blitzkrieg to be slowed significantly and getting some extra troops/companions in DEW vastly increases the odds of that happening; and if the Fellowship has been cruising along because few, if any, dice are in the box, then the Shadow could be in trouble.

One must also remember that there are 4 army recruitment cards for the DEW North area, as well as cards that get the North or Dwarves to war very quickly. You cannot bank on getting these cards, but you will get at least one in the first two turns a statistically significant percentage of the time and this will increase the FPP players odds as well. Also, there will be plenty of times when the Shadow rolls a lot of eyes and palantirs on the first turn or two which delays getting extra dice into play and slows the movement down. Considering all of these things, I simply cannot believe that employing DEW North against an experienced FPP player will result in 16 straight victories (or 15-1 or 14-2).

I am curious to know others' thoughts and to see how this plays out if anyone tries it.
 
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Magic. Geek
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Nice article.

I am at 17 shadow wins in a row using DEW North.

devil

Would It help to know 6 of my last 8 games were as Free?
Gimli + Gandalf to DEW sems a good Idea.
But I lost all 6, so what would I know.
 
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Dave J McWeasely
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All the military defense strategy was discussed a long time ago, probably so long ago you missed it. Before those threads devolved into endless snarkiness contests, a consensus was essentially achieved that military defense of DEW was impossible in the general case.

Exceptions can happen, due to great cards, but even the vaunted Fear Fire Foes requires two dice to get its three musters worth.

As a DEW-Norther seeing early Dwarf mustering, I'd just get "pressured" by sortie'ing Dol Guldur earlier and putting the offending party under siege before they get their first elite. It is only 4 spaces away, the first 3 of which are only half dice. Yes, in this case DEW does probably suck up Dol Guldur, Easterlings, AND a big Mordor stack, sparing Lorien. But the FP still have the problem they can't defend everywhere.

I played a game in this vein tonight, a turn 7 SP win-
SP military dice: 6-6-6-8-9-6-9=50
SP hunt dice: 1-2-3-1-0-3-1=11
FP military dice: 2-1-2-1-4-3-3=16
FP ring dice: 2-3-3-4-2-1-3=18
Conquest order: Dale, Erebor, Wooden Realm, Helm's Deep, Pelargir, Dol Amroth, Helms Deep liberated, Gray Havens, Pelargir liberated, the Shire.
Gandalf came out on turn 2, Aragorn on turn 3, FSP declared Mordor at start of 6, ended two steps away with 5 corruption and no guide. SP zapped two WOWs with Day Without Dawn on 6. From turn 5 on, FP were death-wiggling, throwing doomed companions into Dol Amroth trying to hold, retaking Helm's Deep with a perfect die roll, and spending elven rings to stay in the game. WK was playing Wak-a-Mole with progressively smaller and more wobbly moles, and a progressively bigger and heavier hammer.
 
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Ben Ibach
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Interesting.

Let's assume for the moment that you can't muster DEW fast enough to stop the Shadow from sacking it easily. Using the MDB (Muster Dice Bid) method, how many muster dice does it take to give the Free Peoples a 50% chance of winning the game?

Magic Geek, you're the biggest DEW North fan, so if you were playing a game where the winner gets $1000, how many bid dice would you need to get before you would play as the Free People? Three dice? One die?

Here's a link to the MDB thread:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/97273
 
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Magic. Geek
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I have thought for some time about this.


'Magic Geek, you're the biggest DEW North fan'
Actually no.
I would like it removed by deleting woodland realm.

3 Dice should mean DEW is fair.
Unfortunately I would put them all in Gondor and go Conquer something.




The obvious counter bid is of course "Shadow for 15" or is this just a way to play Free?
Can I go Free with -1? eg shadow removes 1 musters worth?


devil

Initially I thought you were challenging me to a game worth $1000 each.
Are you?
 
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David Engle
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Magic Geek wrote:

Can I go Free with -1? eg shadow removes 1 musters worth?


Surely not. Removing troops to balance the game is a really bad idea. The result would almost certainly be some kind on instant kill that would break the game.
 
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Magic. Geek
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'Surely not. Removing troops to balance the game is a really bad idea.'

Why?

'The result would almost certainly be some kind on instant kill that would break the game.'

LOL.

Oh yeah, because Free Military Victories are just so easy.
Removing 2 guys from Orthanc obviously just 'Breaks' the game
No! please don’t take the guys from Nurn!
Sth Rhun not having an initial elephant would be catastrophic!

All of those are so ridiculously ineffective that for the bid to have meaning it would have to be the Free players choice.

I reckon shadow at -5 might even be fair.

Besides, the actual suggested system is quite specific in the way it avoids this, so whatever.

devil

I am still yet to see a reliable way to beat DEW North. I have seen and tried to Muster Erebor. Unfortunately it requires so many dice and so much effort that the Shadow can just crush somewhere else.
Still seems like the best idea in a very wide choice of bad options.

 
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Dave J McWeasely
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If there's one place to steal troops from the Shadow, its Dol Guldur with its rediculously well-placed 7 hits of troops within 4 moves of 12 FP victory points! Its rediculously flexible.
 
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Daniel Edwards
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Mustering DEW isn't quite that simple thats the whole advantage of the strategy. Each of the humans, dwarves and elves need to be sent to war separately.

Taking the dwarves alone it takes a fairly considerable expenditure in dice to get them to the point where they can start mustering elites. Worse that expenditure only starts to pay off once you can start mustering elites. If it takes you too long or the shadow moves faster than you think (and its optimal strategy play to hit the nation you are expending the effort on even if that causes a small delay in their plans) then things can go horrible wrong as the shadow takes the fortress without expending much extra in the way of resources and your effort was wasted (as you would have been sent to war regardless).
 
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Jeff Long
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Erebor is interesting, however I still feel the most effective use of musters in this case is to muster the Elves.

Essentially, the question is what is the most efficient defense that can be mounted using only 1 muster die per turn. We can expect half the dice to be either swords or wills, all of which should be used for sprinting except possibly to bring back Gandalf if he dies early enough. Most likely you'll also roll 1 palantir per turn and then 1 muster.

At 1 muster per turn, Erebor isn't even at war until start of Turn 4. And if the Elite never comes in, all those musters were a terrible, terrible waste. I think the Shadow can easily crush Erebor by turn 4 if they put their mind to it.

The Elves, however, have multiple vulnerable strongholds, I would imagine on average at least two of them are part of a fast DEW-north win. This means that the Shadow will give you ONE of the musters you need for free, by besieging Woodland Realm. This also means the Elves are effectively ready to to go by Turn 3. I feel it would be difficult for the Shadow to besiege TWO Elven strongholds by the end of Turn 2, especially since early Army/Musters will probably be used as Musters to get the Minions out.

So with the Dwarves, we have 4 musters = 1 Elite, probably too late.
With the Elves, we have 3 musters = 1 Elite, probably just in time. It seems more efficient.

I wonder how Magic Geek's timing would change if all the Free People got mustered one closer to war for free? I play that bringing out the Witch King has this effect in addition to activating all nations, since it seems like by far the most obvious and straightforward balance change to the game (the designers obviously intended him to have a penalty). This is the equivalent of 5 free musters, although admittedly not always where you might want them.

 
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Ben Ibach
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Magic Geek wrote:
3 Dice should mean DEW is fair.
Unfortunately I would put them all in Gondor and go Conquer something.
So if you dropped an Elite in each of the DEW targets you think it would be an even up game? That seems a bit excessive to me, but I'll need more plays to have a fully informed opinion.

Gondor and conquering something: Yeah, at some point you can use those dice to scoop up four VP. The limit on one piece per territory means you can't send a conquering force out of Lorien, but you'd have to give some serious think to threatening Orthanc, Umbar, and some other Shadow regions. The biggest problems would be activating the target nation quickly and the fact that the SP should know what's coming and can ramp up defence quickly. That defense can then be turned into offense.

Quote:
Initially I thought you were challenging me to a game worth $1000 each.
Are you?
Heck yeah! Just as soon as I win the lottery. At that point I'll form a professional league.

Peace
 
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Ira Fay
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MrWeasely wrote:

I played a game in this vein tonight, a turn 7 SP win-
SP military dice: 6-6-6-8-9-6-9=50
SP hunt dice: 1-2-3-1-0-3-1=11
FP military dice: 2-1-2-1-4-3-3=16
FP ring dice: 2-3-3-4-2-1-3=18


Did you just take notes at you played the game? That's very interesting statistics.

Did you choose to put any dice in the hunt box? It seems like putting zero can be risky if you roll no eyes and the good player rolls several swords.

Ira
 
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Dave J McWeasely
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I can't remember what I did in that particular game, but in general doing DEW-North I place 0 in pool as long as Gandalf is guide. The threat of them moving 3-4 spaces is not as grave as the threat of them getting Gandalf the White and going to 5 dice.

I do like that record-keeping system, and try to use it all the time. Note that "ring dice" and "hunt dice" include both eyes, FSP moves, FSP hides, and dice used to play cards like Axe & Bow and Orc Patrol.
 
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