The thrift store find finally hit the table: War of the Ring, 1977.
I think mentioned it before, but the game is kind of special to me as the first board game I ever played was from the expansion to this called Gondor (polish: Bitwa Na Polach Pelennoru), so there was definitely a bit of nostalgia to this endeavor.
War of the Ring, setup
We used the original rules with two tweaks: individual combat isn’t just a series of incoherent duels, and Sauron player isn’t allowed to stack Nazgul on Mount Doom until the Fellowship is spotted in Mordor.
After a first false start (we thought the Fellowship is allowed to walk through the Misty Pass at start, realized they can’t, and had to restart) we made pretty good headway. The Fellowship split with two riding to Rohan on Shadowfax, while the rest head to Moria.
Orcs chase Shadowfax and find the party in Moria. Nazgul wait outside
In Moria the party easily kills Shelob while taking a few tiny wounds, though they lose Pippin to some orcs who set off dragging him to Mordor. Nazgul outside easily spot the Party as they’re leaving Moria, but immediately lose them as they enter Lorien. More orcs successfully identify the Rohan bound rider as Gandalf, which isn’t much a surprise: he’s trying to rally the country early.
In response Saruman rallies and immediately tries to level Helm’s deep. Just barely fails before Rohan reinforcements start showing up. A slow siege begins there, led by the Witchking.
Stupid Helm’s Deep. Stupid search parties.
Problem is that it’s rather difficult to win a siege against a large army: you never seem to get that 100% roll, even as their numbers shrink and shrink, and even as your leadership bonus averages +6 over theirs with magic. Helm’s Deep refuses to fall, despite the deaths of Merry (the hobbit joining Gandalf on the feint), Gandalf, and the entire line of Théoden.
Meanwhile the Fellowship happily traipses along avoiding every Nazgul block and completely ignoring all my search attempts.
Sauron rallies, Aragorn calls him out using the Palantir then takes off for the Black Gate. Helm’s Deep *STILL* holding.
They soon arrive in Gondor and rally it just as Sauron rallies himself and Gandalf is reborn as Gandalf the White. And they have the Black Gate card, meaning they can simply walk in to Mordor. Anytime they want to. And even avoid Minas Morgul at that.
Which they do, casually slaughtering the Troll guarding the gate.
They simply walked into Mordor
The Fellowship drops the ring in, Sauron didn’t even have the action points to properly lay siege to Minas Tirith.
It’s a cute game, but basically unplayable if you’re looking for a balanced proper gaming experience. Glad I got to play through it at least once though, a perfectly pleasant way to kill a Saturday afternoon.