Wednesday, July 04, 2007

War of the Ring, Jul 1, 2007

Steve and I met again to roll out War of the Ring (with expansion) at Dragon's Lair. For a change, we had the store completely to ourselves, and the pristine quiet of the surroundings enabled us to focus closely on the task at hand.

We rolled for sides, and Steve took the Free People. Remembering our last game where Steve successfully rushed the Fellowship to a ring victory, I suspected Steve would push them hard once again. I was correct and almost before I knew it Steve had them on the other side of Moria. I mounted the Witch King up on a Nazgul beast and sent him and his boys to go hunt. Gandalf the Grey died quickly, and a long series of successful hunt rolls and draws shot the Fellowship up to 8 corruption. (Cue evil laughter)

On the military front, I focused everything on Saruman. I took Helms Deep almost without a fight and was about to sweep up the rest of Rohan, when almost out of nowhere Steve played card combos and dice to bloom a huge Rohan army in Edoras. I kept Helms Deep, but he beat my main force all the way back to Orthanc. The crowned Aragorn rode up to join in the final assault. I hatched wolf riders like mad along with Hillmen to fortify Saruman. Steve launched three full assaults (using two cards) of Ents upon Orthanc, eventually killing Saruman. Luckily I was able to muster a garrison before he was able to claim my stronghold (i.e., we truly battled to the last man), but the power of the White Hand was gone. Argh!

Steve and I continued to trade body blow for body blow for the rest of the game. I took Minas Tirith and finally cleaned out Rohan. He took Dol Guldur, which I eventually reclaimed. I moved up to squash the Wooden Realm, but it was all taking far too long.... Steve had parked the Fellowship in Dale and healed them from 8 corruption all the way down to 1, then shot them down to Mordor in just a few turns. I hit him a few more times, but that little bugger Smeagol helped him more than once, as did Galadriel. Alas, though I was perhaps two turns from taking Dol Amroth and the Wooden Realm to win, Steve dunked the ring quite handily.

What a crazy, tough game that was! We totally beat the snot out of each other the entire game, killing off a good portion of the game's pieces and burning through most of the cards. I think we are both at the level of play now where every game is going to be a very brutal cage match. We were both on the edge of our seats the entire game, and by the end of the game I felt I had been on a 4 hour roller coaster ride.

In the end, I failed to close the deal quickly enough which will always be one's undoing in WotR. I had Steve on the ropes early where he positively couldn't afford to move the Fellowship. Knowing this, I should have totally switched over to military mode. Instead I continued to put dice aside for the hunt, though it was very unlikely he'd move. Steve played an excellent game all the way around, and I'm going to have to work very hard to reclaim the victory laurels.

We followed this game with Zooloretto and Colosseum, both of which Jon ran away with. Zooloretto is still a very light tasty snack, and Colosseum I'm not quite sure about... Right now I'd say it too is in the light, fun category, but I was never that excited while playing it. Perhaps that was due to it following the most taxing game of WotR ever, so I'm reserving final judgement.

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At 7:24 PM, July 04, 2007, Blogger jbarreto said...

Sounds like you two had a blast. Hope I can get to DL next Monday early enough to watch the next one.

What do you think of the 3 and 4 player rules? Are they as balanced as the 2 player game?

At 7:39 PM, July 04, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

I think the general consensus in our group is that the 3 and 4 player rules dilute the decision-making and fun of the 2 player game across more players without adding anything. I don't recommend playing with more than 2. At least based on my experience so far, I'd say Tide of Iron has pretty much the same issue.

For a good multi-player Tolkien experience, try Knizia's Lord of the Rings game, though expect to be humbled more often than not in cooperative play versus the gamebox.

At 8:12 AM, July 05, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Nice report, and cool art.

I think Ben, based on the games I think you like and such, that Colosseum ended up being not what you thought it was....a cool gladiator game. From what I've read, it sounds like it's a true euro (it's more about the mechanics than theme). But even from the esteemed reviewers who only play these types of games, I've seen mixed reviews.

At 11:28 AM, July 05, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

Thanks for the write-up, Ben. Sounds like it was a good one for you and Steve. Based on the amount that you are playing this, the $250 will not stop you from getting the delux set.

At 12:52 PM, July 05, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

I will pre-order the deluxe set the instant I am able to.

At 1:52 PM, July 05, 2007, Blogger Schifani said...

This was definitely an oddball game and reinforced that the "book solution" is by no means mandatory.

Some examples:
Peaceful men of the south and east.
No Gandalf the White.
A long vacation in Dale.
Every Rohan piece mustered and killed but one lonely spearman who finished the game in Edoras.

We both tried a number of military campaigns that initially looked promising but ultimately failed at the final crucial moment.

Exhausting, but fun and quite a memorable duel.

And then as normal I totally reeked at Zoolander and Colosseum.


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