OK, so most followers of the blog will know that I am not as smitten with War of the Ring as most. I think it’s just OK. I wish there was more flexibility; really, once you know what you’re doing, there just are not that many choices (push the Ring for the good guys, or Gondor/Rohan/Lorien for the bad guys), and too few of the event cards are interesting.
After slogging our way through some 4-player Doom these issues hardly seem worth mentioning, really.
We played with 3 players. Rich & I were the bad guys, Kim the good guys. Rich & I stared at the board. We tried to make the math work so that going after Dale, Woodland Realm, etc. – anything but the usual southern stuff – made sense. We couldn’t do it, and we didn’t have any cards that helped things. So we went with the standard rotation: Saruman beats the snot out of Rohan. Sauron then crushes Gondor. The Southrons go after Dol Amroth. Remnants finish off Lorien.
I’ve been told that there are some advantages to going after Erebor and such first. But every game I’ve played, Saruman has rolled over Rohan in no time flat. Without special cards (and that risk exists with any strategy), there is absolutlely no way Rohan can muster the guys in time. The Fellowship won’t even be much past Moria by the time Saruman has taken up residence in Helm’s Deep. Without perfect cards, I just can’t see any way in which a northern strategy is remotely competitive.
Anyway, this game turned out to be very close. Saruman took Rohan early, and Sauron then took Minas Tirith. Meanwhile bad hunt luck meant the Fellowship skated pretty much unscathed through Amon Hen, with the standard lack of any detachments except for Gandalf. Lorien fell in short order, and then there was the long, fairly dull trek of the Southron army up to Dol Amroth. It was a race against time; would Dol Amroth fall before the Ring was dunked? There was some appaling bad luck on both sides: the Fellowship got virtually no character or Will of the West dice for the last three turns, and so couldn’t make progress. On the other hand, when they did move, they managed to exclusively pick fairly benign hunt tiles from the bag even though we had loaded it up with every nasty bonus hunt tile in the deck. Apparently, the inability to move was worse, and Dol Amroth fell in a very close game.
I enjoyed this game, which was fun, and not too long (3 hours and a bit). Some of my fears about the 3-player game were abated as this was an interesting and close game. It’s still not hard to wish War of the Ring were better – maybe even a lot better – but it seems to be settling down into the “solidly OK” range, despite a distressing lack of variety in how the games play out, and it’s something I’ll likely keep playing as long as I’ve got friends who want to play.