Saturday, February 10, 2007

War of the Ring (with Expansion) - 10 Feb 2007

Jeff and I met this morning at 6:50 AM at my house to play War of the Ring (with the Expansion set). Yes, we are hardcore dedicated board gamers, willing to go to extreme measures to fit board gaming into our busy lives. I already had the game half set up, so we were able to review the expansion rules, sip some hot coffee, munch on Girl Scout cookies, and begin the epic struggle all by 7:30 AM.

Jeff took the Free People's side, and I was immediately a bit nervous, as its probably been at least six months since I ran the Dark Side. Jeff masterfully handled the Fellowship, guiding them roughly two thirds down to Moria before they were revealed for the first time. Along the way Gandalf the Grey took it in the shorts, plus Strider went down in flames fighting the Balrog in Moria. (Note to Jeff: Slight asterisk. I should have removed the Balrog when he toasted Strider; though he didn't do anything else the rest of the game other than look threatening).

As the Evil One, I brought out Saruman and the Balrog on the first turn, quickly getting two bonus dice, but moving a lot of good nations down the diplomacy track towards war. I pushed all three evil nations to war and began my march towards Gondor and Helms Deep, pretty standard stuff. In fact it may have been a bit too predictable, because by the time I reached Minas Tirith, Jeff had it fully loaded with trebuchets, armies, and Gandalf the White. I had to use more than the usual amount of torture and maiming to convince the orcs it was in their best interest to attack the walls.

Jeff launched a well-timed Ent assault on my Isengard army that had just crossed the Fords of Issen, leaving behind a nice pile of dead orcs, wolves, and firewood. This totally took the momentum out of my advance on this front, and Saruman went on the defensive.

My Southrons moved up to Dol Amroth and conquered it over about 3 turns, only succeeding with the help of 4 Nazgul and the death of about half of their number. Those darn trebuchets are a pain! Gandalf mowed down most of my first army outside Minas Tirith, and the eagles flew in and killed a good number of Nazgul with the army. As you might surmise, Jeff did an excellent job countering every military move I made. My highest VP total in the game was 3, a long way from a military victory (10 VP).

About this time, Jeff popped the Fellowship into Mordor with only around 5 corruption. The Witch King (in his Leader of the Ringwraiths mode) howled in frustration, having accomplished little in his hunt along the way. Gimli and the hobbits still accompanied the Ringbearer. What followed over the next few turns was a highly eventful journey through Mordor! First I picked off one of the hobbits with a red card. Then, Gimli bought the farm, but the fellowship was over halfway to the volcano. Next, Smeagol appeared from a hunt draw, effectively giving Jeff a free advance and another Companion. Finally, disaster struck hard. Over two turns I drew two of the special red tiles (Give Us the Ring and Shelob), giving Jeff a total of 12 corruption! Ouch! Game over. Corruption victory for the Dark Side.

I did feel this was a bit of a anti-climactic way to win, since I much prefer to conquer via military victory. I sit now pondering what Jeff could have possibly done to counteract this bad luck. Sacrificing Gandalf the Grey and Strider early (plus separating Boromir to help Rohan) did weaken the staying power of the Fellowship significantly, but did shuttle them to Mordor very quickly. I think maybe there would have been a way to go a little slower, since I was a long way from a military victory. Rolling a 5 with Shelob, plus drawing a red eye when I had seven dice in the hunt box is hard to overcome though.

Jeff, you have my sincere appreciation for being willing to come over so early! You're a great player and a true gentleman. I think we're hitting the sweet spot with this game, as we were able to finish the game (including setup) in just about 2 hours. Very nice! If we both didn't have life interferences going on today, we'd probably still playing other games.



At 11:09 AM, February 10, 2007, Blogger Jeff said...

Awesome session report, Ben.

Thanks for hosting in the predawn hours on a cold, wet morning.

Ben did a solid job of managing the dark forces. He waited until he had both a massive army of Mordor orcs and a horde of Southrons on Gondor's doorstep before moving in and attacking, thereby not giving me any free advances on the political track. Likewise, Saruman didn't push Rohan down the track. It was two-thirds of the way through the game before Rohan got off their collective butts and started recruiting more horsemen.

This was my first time to play with the expansion. I liked it. It adds a lot to the game without significantly increasing the complexity. I didn't get to see the Corsairs in action, and Galadriel stayed hidden behind a tree (I got a fairly early Gandalf the White into Fangorn instead), but we utilized most of the other new bits.

So I'm now 0-2 vs Ben in WotR. This was a Dice Tower Qualifying Event, but I failed to get on the Dice Tower list. Next time, though...

At 7:09 PM, February 10, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

6:50 am?

Dude. Seriously. Back away from the games. Slowly

At 10:29 PM, February 10, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

That was a fantastic report. I had to make sure that I read it correctly. It seems that something must have broken down when the the Hobbits were corrupted so quickly. It looks like I am going to have to break down and get the expansion.

At 12:30 AM, February 11, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

if only there was an expansion without the extra battle stuff.... I'm just going to have to get it at some point.

At 12:31 AM, February 11, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

(ie. I Only want the extra additions to the base game, not the wargame'ish new game)

At 1:46 PM, February 11, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Those red corruption tiles are very deadly... especially when the hunt box is loaded with seven dice. I also had the card in play that let me put used character dice into the hunt box as well. In addition, I had two of the three elven rings, which I used to manipulate the dice further... I think it was just too many bad things happening at once.

I actually think the two battle game scenarios in the expansion are pretty cool.

Jeff: If the record goes to 0-3, you'll get a dice tower. So, one more play...

6:50 AM actually didn't seem so early. I'm usually up at 6:00 AM anyway, and there are few scheduling conflicts on weekend mornings.

At 4:04 PM, February 11, 2007, Blogger Jeff said...

I've really been enjoying these early Saturday morning sessions.

I'm looking forward to another game, Ben!

At 5:43 PM, February 11, 2007, Blogger Simon said...

I've still never seen a Free People's victory in any of the games I've directly participated in. It always seems like the stars have to align for the ring to hit the drink. Possible, but improbable... Kind of like the whole lore it's based on.

At 7:33 PM, February 11, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

The additions of Smeagol (extra companion, plus two zero-value hunt tiles in the bag) make the ring dunk a bit easier for the FP side. The Ents, Galadriel, and trebuchets greatly help the FP player on the military side.

The dark forces player doesn't get too much in return. Dunlendings seem pretty useless for anything besides garrison troops or something to throw in front of the Ents. The Balrog prevents a cheap loss of Moria, but pushes three FP nations down the diplomacy track. The ringwraith version of the witch king is somewhat nice, but he's useless once the Fellowship enters Moria. If you take the Balrog and the military-version Witch King, pretty much everyone is going to be at war with you. I haven't used the Corsairs yet, but they're not much of a strength boost either.

I continue to think the re-balancing is very well done in the expansion.

At 7:37 PM, February 11, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

Well, Simon, I have the dubious honor of giving a Military Victory to Ben when we played WotR. Ben played the Free Peoples and I was the Shadow. Did I mention that this was a Free Peoples MILITARY VICTORY???

I was foolish enough to allow him to capture two strong holds and that was that! I should have activated the Balrog in Moria and mustered up a few more defenders.

Let this be a lesson to all aspiring orc chieftains out there.


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