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.