Here’s mud in your eye !

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There is a joy in setting out a game. Arranging all the pieces just so in
anticipation of the coming clash. The bigger the game the better. It
feels just right when everything is laid out correctly and easily to hand.

War of the Rings takes a bit of setting up, it also takes a bit of space too, but oh boy is it worth the effort!

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I spoke recently about this game having played a couple of games of it
and been completely smitten. It’s a really really good game. Even if
you weren’t a Lord of the Rings fan (that lone gentleman at the back you
can leave now) the mechanics and flow of the game are still sublime. I’d
happily play any setting with this setup. Being Lord of the Rings and
being so close to what you would expect of that world it makes a
brilliant game stellar.

So why you might ask am I back here? Well…. I lost again, or more
correctly team Evil lost again, but you know what? It was fun! Let’s go back to the events of the night while they’re still fresh and I’m still bitter.

Myself and my team mate (collective responibility for losing) took the
Shadow side with the previous two good players taking their places
again.

The game was very different this time around. If you recall the nasty
hobbiteseses won last time by getting to mount doom (only just). Well we
were determined not to let this happen again and vowed to throw a bit
more resource at corrupting the ring bearer. It almost worked too (damn meddling kids). In addition to this plan we went straight out (zero kissing) at Minis Tirith in an effort to break it and take it before Strider arrived to give it all that. Again we almost did it

The good players had obviously been reading up on their strategies since
last time (evil players don’t read) and quickly Gandalf got hosed and
replaced by the new shine white version. Gandalf the white is a pain
in the codpiece

This time around very little happened with the dwarfs, they wandered
around a bit but never got roused into war, ditto the northerners.

Gondor quickly joined the fray with combined actions against them from
the southerners and Mordor hordes. Minis Tirith was surrounded in siege
and the south of Gondor was taken by a large force of Southerers despite
a few spirited defenses and sallies from them. A relief force of
gondorians waylaid the Mordor forces but a counter attack saw them greatly reduced and destroyed but not before they relieved the siege of Minas Tirth and Strider got in and assumed the role of Isildur (curses)

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The second siege of Minis Tirith saw good orcs die with not much to show for it and a little over extended the Sauron forces limped away went west and north while fresh troops moved in from Mordor to keep Isildur contained. It was too little too late, Isildur and his boys wiped the floor with these but still weight of numbers beyond Gondor held them back from coming out and attempting an attack on Mordor proper.

Not so Rohan, which having joined in the war swelled it’s ranks and
turned it’s gaze on Isengard. Saruman raised a large army of elite
troops to defend and the remaining Sauron orcs bolstered with nazguls
and the Witch king took a couple of Ronan towns and harassed the large
rohan army snapping at it’s heels and threatening to take helms deep
unopposed.

The Ronan army turned it’s attention to the anoying Sauron gnats and hammered seven shades out of them while Sarumans forces battened down the hatches and awaited Ronan’s advance.  Secure and outnumbering in their defenses.

Then disaster struck as Whitey Gandalf with the aid of pippin coaxed the
Ents into not one but two attacks on Isengard, followed by the Eagles
(non the band) who devastated the uraks and followed up by a swift
approach by the reduced but still very effective Ronan army finally fell and gave up the keys for the tower.

At this point Rohan, Gondor and d’elves were doing well but paying for
their actions in troops that couldn’t be replaced (unlike the shadow
player whom had a bottomless, albeit slow pit of them).

The fellowship at this point had retreated to Lorien (because they’re
worth it) and were healing corruption, hanging out and partying while
the armies clashed all around.

Moria and Dol Guldor raised a huge host and marched on Lorien, planning
to crush them and take away support for the resident fellowship.

In the north a last ditch offensive had been put forth by the elves of
Rivendell. A plucky attack on the shadow bases of Mouth Gram. Shadow
armies were quickly raised. This was it, Isengard Uraks were mustering
to retake Isengard and it was only a short time before they would accomplish this.  Ronan was bruised and bloodied from so much fighting. Lorien was about to fall and the fellowship was still quite a ways off it’s goal. If the northern shadow fortresses could repel the elves for a while it was all over for the now diminished forces of good.  The nearby Shadow base was raising elites to throw into the fray and relieve the siege….

Didn’t work. Some fast play from the elves saw them take Mount
Grundabad in quick order and with Isengard still in their keep they won it by military victory….

What a stupendous game. The tension, the planning, the huge battles.
This was just as epic as the original trilogy and it all flew by in just
over three hours. Not bad. Not bad at all.

I’ll tell you something else. Even though we lost (again) we’re even
more fired up to play again. War of the Rings is a wonderful game. I
can see this hitting the table for a long time to come

Huzzah!

Vic

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War of the Ring (second Ed)

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Just like Sauron I’ve had my beady eye on this game for a long time. I was glad to acquire it recently second hand but altogether perfect

War of the Ring sees between two and four players reenacting the titanic struggles of the lord of the ring series.

The free people must band together and fight off the unwelcome advances of the shadow players allowing the fellowship time to get to the cracks of doom with the one ring or with a lesser force conquer a number of shadow players fortresses. The shadow player must take over enough of the free people’s turf or corrupt the ring bearers in order to win.

So it’s capture the flag with hairy feet.

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I’ve played two games of this so far. A 1v1 and a 2v2. Both of them have been epic and both have been right down to the wire. (The free people’s just making it before the shadow player engulfed middle earth)(Boo hiss)

The game is pretty straightforward once you’ve learned the rules (all of which fit on a single handy cheat sheet provided), that said it it did take two full games before every little niggle was ironed out. There’s a couple of really good instructional videos out there and I recommend you either play someone who knows this game or study the videos or you’ll find yourself reading the rules a few times over before it sinks in. (Universal head do an exemplary rules summary well worth a look). Just like twilight struggle knowledge of the rules won’t save you from ignorance of the event cards and a number of run throughs will be required and a few visits to the strategy forums. No bad way to spend a few hours.

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The game itself is beautifully presented.(More so if you sell the house and buy the collectors edition). There are a ton of models for the various good and bad guys all cast in reasonable quality given the amount in the box. It can be a struggle to recognize the difference between say an isengard uruk versus a Mordor orc but since you’ll probably paint all 100 plus models straight off the bat it won’t be an issue for you.

This is a clever game. It captures the feel of the books magnificently. The way the game played out each time was perfectly believable. Gandalf the grey pops his sandals in moria. Isildur defends minis tirith like a boss. Gimili rouses the dwarfs in the iron hills to war. No two games play out the same and it’s possible to try out a few what ifs.

For the amount that happens in a sitting the game is surprisingly fast. Three hours saw us setup, played and finished and we were still chasing a couple of rules during that. There is no down time in this game. You’re either planning a few moves ahead or watching in horror as something unfortunate befalls you (more so if you’re the free people)

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I like this game. The two sides play out very differently. The shadow player WILL rule middle earth. It WILL overpower the free people given time. It’s all about shock and awe. The free peeps are all about holding out, sacrificing and crowd surfing the hobbits to a victory. It’s desperate times and hopefully you have enough left in the tank for that final push when you eventually get to Mordor.

It’s also thrilling. From start to finish something is going on. No matter which side you’re always stretched to achieve what you want, making do, taking risks, setting things up for next turn, reacting to events, taking the best worst choices. It’s glorious and its my very favorite type of game.

Map based conquest, big battles, and a forgivable solid set of mechanics. Layer in a familiar world and we have a classic.

I was lucky enough to snag the second edition which sports a few improvements over the first. I know it’s an oldy (Boardgames never age they just get more expensive) but it’s my favourite game this year and I can’t wait to play again. Probably as the bad guys because well. You know. Highly recommended, doubly so if you’re a rings fan.

Huzzah!

Vic

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