Saturday, February 17, 2007

Newsflash: Dunlendings Don't Suck After All

Jeff and I played a third game of War of the Ring (with the expansion set) this morning, starting at around 7 AM. Jeff had already taken the time to set up the game prior to my arrival, so we were able to start the instant I poured a hot cup of his finely brewed coffee.

For this game, Jeff again took the Free People, and I took the poor, misunderstood folk of the Dark Lord of Evil. We've posted enough session reports of this game recently, so I won't go into quite as much detail this time. Here's a quick rundown of some of the highlights:
  • Gondor bites it. Taking the subtle approach, I launched everything in Mordor towards Minas Tirith and succeeded in a few turns. Jeff launched a counterstrike from Dol Amroth to retake the city from my depleted army. Before he could get there, I brought up the Southrons (from the South, of course), to slide in behind Jeff, take Dol Amroth, and encircle his Gondor Army in the field, where they would stay the rest of the game.
  • Dunlending Zerg Rush (aka Rohan also bites it). I played a combo of three cards or so that blossomed something like 14 Isengard units in one turn, most of which were Dunlendings (aka Hillmen) and elite wolfriders. Poof! Instant army. These not only kept the Ents well back from Orthanc during their two assaults, but also allowed me to solidly encamp around Helms Deep. I thought the Dunlendings would be totally weak (one hit kills two of them), but they spawn so fast and as long as you have a few orcs around to take the hits they really add mass to your army. Rohan tried to launch a rescue mission from Eldoras, but I swept down from Dol Guldur and put a stop to it.
  • A Well Planned and Executed Fellowship. I don't think I've quite gotten the hang of how to mess over the Fellowship. Jeff lost Gandalf just outside of Rivendell to a 3-tile. The Balrog was in Moria, but apparently he was taking a snooze when the Fellowship came through, as all he accomplished was to have an Eye tile permanently discarded with no effect. Argh! Fortunately, Strider fell victim to The Lure of the Ring card, and Jeff decided to kill him rather than take the tree corruption. A slight asterix goes on this game, as I forgot to stick the Smeagol tiles into the bag until after the Fellowship had visited Lorien. I actually think this helped Jeff, as Smeagol would have been eliminated by the Lorien visit. Smeagol came up on the next tile drawn, and he guided the Fellowship all the way to Mordor. Jeff did a great job leading the Fellowship and entered Mordor with only a corruption point or two and still having 5 companions (including Smeagol).
  • A Close Finish! The strong and healthy Fellowship entered Mordor with the Dark Forces having 8 military VPs and huge armies all over the board. It was going to be a race to the finish. Unfortunately Lorien was well defended with half the Elves in the game plus Galadriel. I had a moderate sized force (about 17 armies in two stacks) in Dol Guldur, so I marched them straight north towards the Woodland Realm. Leading the stacks were the Witch King, Mouth of Sauron, and 6 Nazgul. Again, I wasn't being subtle. On the final turn, I had 5 orcs left in my army vs. one or two elves in his stronghold. A second force of another 5 Easterlings was one space away. If I rolled well, I could take the game in one attack. If things went badly it might take several attacks. Jeff was one space on the Mordor track away from victory. Seven dice were in the hunt box. About half the tiles in the bag would give Jeff a win. About 25% would result in a Shadow corruption victory. Jeff decided to chance it, and we drew forth a red tile. Corruption victory for the Shadow and tough loss for the good guys.
It was a very close game, and Jeff deserves accolades for his strong play. I floundered around a bit after I took out Rohan and Gondor, when I should have already been marching north. This delay of several turns nearly cost me the game. I'm not sure what Jeff could have done differently in Mordor, as he had almost a full Fellowship plus many of the defensive cards in play. I think he could have healed them up just a bit more perhaps, but he still could have been the victim of bad luck.

In any event, a great game and a very fun morning. As an added bonus I was privileged to meet Steve in person and see Chad again, who were engaged in games of BattleLore. Thank you very much for being such gracious hosts, Jeff and Amy!


At 10:31 PM, February 18, 2007, Blogger Schifani said...

I also want to thank Jeff and Amy. It was great to meet Ben and Carlos, and Chad and I had two fun games of Battlelore. Ted will be happy to know that the spider is experiencing dark times. Two consecutive games, two attacks with two dice, two kills.

I've got Monday off, but am late in getting in on planning. Is anyone interested in Kingmaker, Battlelore, or CnC Ancients? If not, I may drop by just to visit and check out other games I don't have. I'm convinced that War of the Ring is a must have.

At 9:36 AM, February 19, 2007, Blogger Ben said...


If you can afford it, I'd recommend getting the expansion set at the same time you buy the War of the Ring base game. I have a hard time imagining being satisfied playing one without the other now. In any event, you should have a ready stockpile of willing opponents in SABG when you're ready.

At 6:01 PM, February 19, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

I have my sights set on the expansion.

At 11:36 AM, February 20, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

The $32 (on-line) price for what you get in the expansion box seems like a reasonable deal. Even if you don't ever play the two battle scenarios, the additional miniatures (siege equipment, Ents, Hillmen, Corsairs, Balrog, Witch King variant, Galadriel), tiles, counters, and cards are good investments if you enjoy the base game.

BTW, one of these days I need to try one or both of the battle games with someone... These seem to be much more straightforward dice-chucking carnage-type games, sort of along the lines of A&A or Risk. Reviews have been decidedly mixed, but at least for me the games get a few free bonus points just based on theme.


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