This is my second time playing it and the first time with my painted colour scheme (as discussed here). When my friend W.K and I played it for the first time, it was very hard to tell the difference between all the pieces, especially for the Free People's side as they all looked alike. This time with the new colour scheme it was much much easier.
I asked Jim to look at the instructional videos from Box of Delights on Boardgamegeek as it saves a pile of explaining to do. There are lots of tracks in this game to keep in mind, so the video like last time was a big help.
Jim played the Free Peoples of Middle Earth, and I played Sauron, the liberator of Middle Earth from those filthy Elves, those obnoxious Dwarves and especially from Men. Say what you want of Men, you can't get rid of them. You kill one of them, and a dozen more maggots come out of the woodwork.
Jim and I fought a long war and it ranged on for many hours.
The first major event was my eventual capture of an Elven stronghold Lothlorien in the North, after several unsuccessful attempts.
|My occupation of Lothlorien.|
A tougher nut to crack though was Rohan and Gondor, but slowly but surely I was tightening my noose around them.
|Looking at the Map from West to East.|
Some of the battles were getting huge, so we made use of the army boxes on the left.
Jim though kept me guessing about the whereabouts of the ringbearers and I wasted enormous resources in terms of action dice looking for them. It was hilarious, but after about 10 turns, I still could not locate them. It was so ridiculous it was funny.
Even my lucky Sasquatch-Bigfoot coin that I brought out failed me in rolling a successful hunt roll.
Somehow, I missed almost every damn roll to find them until they were practically on the doorstep of Mordor. Jim jumped on the Mordor track and was only about 5 turns away from throwing the precious into the Crack of Doom and he didn't have a single point of Corruption!! I don't know if that is unprecedented in this game, but he looked like he was about to win.
|Finally, I located the Ring Bearers and Peregrine Took, at the gates of Mordor|
|On the Mordor Track|
When Jim went on the Mordor Track, I was putting the squeeze on Rohan and Gondor with the strength of my Majestic Armies, but I only had 7 VPs, and to win, I needed 10 VPs. That means I had to conquer at least two cities before Jim reached the Crack of Doom.
I rushed and threw my available forces (yellow Isengard, Red Sauron and Orange Southerlings) to do a final do or die battle.
Here I conquered Pelargir for 1 point, bringing my total to 8 VP and then besieged another town just south of Minas Tirith, where naturally Jim was doing a delaying action by constantly retreating into Siege mode.
When Jim reached the last step on the Mordor Track, I left one trooper just south of Minas Tirith and threw all my Orange troops to Minas Tirith. Again, Jim declared a siege and I was forced to burn elite troopers to keep the siege up. If I stopped, Jim would win the next turn as you can see, he was one step away from the Crack.
|Jim about to enter the Crack of Doom in the next turn.|
I had like 4 troops left besieging Jim's 1 guy remaining. I needed to roll a 6 while he needed a 5 or 6 to hit me. I pressed the attack sacrificing all I got, urging my troops to greater sacrifice.....
Luckily, I eventually rolled a 6, capturing Minas Tirith with like 2 or 3 guys left, just as Jim was about to enter the Crack. That brought me up to 10 VPs.
A close call and a good nail biter of a boardgame. I can see why this game is rated about 8.5 /10 on Boardgamegeek.
We had a bit of time left, and I ran two training modules of Duel of Ages II with Jim, the same as I did with W.K previously; one for teaching melee and one for ranged weapons. We both enjoyed this game as well. I'm seriously thinking of picking up the expansion to it.