Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Thatch Patch and Rohan Defenders

Thanks to all the folks who responded to my crowd-sourced request for advice on some Dark Ages thatch roofing for my Sarissa model.  The consensus of the hive-mind was that my roof, made of chopped up bits of washcloth, looked too white.  I had saved some bits so used your advice and test-painted a strip, using a base coat of dlluted Brown Umber craft paint, and then, once dried, a heavy dry brush of yellow ochre.  It looked pretty good, so I went for it.

 My faithful reader Dai Dead sent me a photo of his mum’s thatched cottage in the UK, which made me think I was on the right path.   The photo reminded me of Madame Padre’s favourite mystery series, Midsomer Murders, a Netflix staple chez nous, where half of England seems to live in quaint thatched cottages, when they’re not murdering one another.   I would never venture into the English countryside, as judging by that show, the murder rate must be catastrophic. Mind you, it’s all nasty toffs killing toffs, so I guess Canadian tourists are safe.

 I now have a cottage to form the nucleus of a village to defend in my Dux Rohirrim project.   Here are two finished Rohan defenders to protect it.  These are two of the three figures I gratefully received from my 2015 Secret Santa, from the Foundry Casting Room Miniatures Dark Ages Saxon line.  I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t be Rohan Royal Guardsman or part of the retinue of a Lord of the Riddermark.

 The chap on the right, with his more ornate cloak and helmet, seems a likely captain of an elite eored (a company of 120 men) and the lancer one of the captain’s hearth guards.  They are a little more armoured than the GW Riders of Rohan models I’ve seen, but none the worse for it.  The horses are big, substantial brutes, with long bases, too long to fit on the GW plastic bases that ship with their cavalry models, so they will stand out in base width from my GW Rohirrim, but I’m not too worried about that.  Likewise their shields are bigger than ones the GW sculpts carry, and they are missing the quivers and bows that the GW Riders carry, but since these are elite shock cavalry, I can live without those features.

 I’ve tried to follow the greens and browns that distinguish my other Rohirrim, which I admit is the same palette that characterizes the Rohirrim in the SirPJ films.

 Nice embroidery on the captain’s cloak.    Makes him look suitably important.

Blessings to your brushes!

These figures bring my 2016 totals to:

28mm:  Foot Figures: 29; Mounted Figures: 3; Buildings: 1

6mm:  Mounted figures:  36;  Buildings:  2

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Your Latest Daily Dissembler, Your Guide to a Quaint and Distant World in Flames

The latest edition of the Daily Dissembler, your guide to Europe in flames, is now available for discerning readers everywhere.  (For those not in the know, this is the latest newsletter from our ongoing play by blog Diplomacy Game. This issue includes creative and much appreciated copy by the Turkish and German players.


In this issue (link here) you will find:

Miss Amelia Roosevelt, America’s Girl Reporter, describes her exclusive meeting with the Kaiser.

Sir Erasmus Blatt’s perspicacious analysis of the European situation.

An eye-witness account of the Fall of Moscow!

Also, as an extra feature, we provide the latest English language news from Turkey, a Rising Power.   While the issue is included in the Dissembler, you can find a crisper imprint of the Ankara What here.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Diplomacy Game: 1903 Build Phase Complete

Our online Diplomacy game has now finished six complete turns and we have now completed the Adjustments Phase.

Austria, England, and Italy neither had to remove or got to build units.

Two countries had to disband units because they have insufficient Supply Centres.  France removed A Bur and Russia removed F Nwy.

Two countries gained Supply Centres and got to build units.   Germany built A Ber and A Kie.  Turkey built A Con.

Here is the leaderboard:

Turkey: Ankara, Bulgaria, Constantinople, Moscow, Rumania, Sevastopol, Smyrna (7 total).

Germany: Belgium, Berlin, Denmark, Edinburgh, Holland, Kiel, Munich (7 total).

Italy: Naples, Rome, Spain, Tunis, Venice (5 total).

Austria: Budapest, Greece, Serbia, Trieste, Vienna (5 total).

Russia: Norway,  St. Petersburg, Sweden, Warsaw (4 total).

England: Liverpool, London, Portugal (3 total).

France: Brest, Marseilles, Paris (3 total).


Here are the dispositions at the start of Turn 7, S1904.


The deadline for orders for this turn is 31 March, though that date may move up if everyone gets their orders to me before then.   Watch for an issue of the Daily Dissembler to hit new stands in the next day or so.

Blessings to your intrigues.

Dark Ages Thatch Match?

 As part of my Dux Rohirrim project, this is a Sarissa model, Timber A Frame, from their 28mm Dark Ages range.  I wanted a few buildings to be tempting targets for orc raiders and this has a useful generic feel without taking up too large a footprint on the table.   

I am crowdsourcing some advice on the thatch whether to paint it or leave it alone.

The Sarissa kit comes with a plain wood roof, scored to suggest planking, but gives some suggestions for thatch.  I stole an idea from a wargaming blogger (I wish I could remember who) on using terrycloth bath towels as thatch. I found a beige wash cloth at Walmart, chopped it into sections and glued them onto the roof.   


This reconstruction of a Dark Ages hut from a dig in the Cheviots in the UK looks a little more brown to my eye, but truth be told, a google search of dark ages thatched roofs shows a variety of colours and textures.

Any thoughts?

Blessings to your buildings!


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Diplomacy Game: Fall 1903 Results

Here are the results for the Fall 1903 turn.   I received orders from all players except for the French player.

Results for Fall, 1903 (Movement)

General Notices:

Order resolution completed on 18-Mar-2016 at 05:42:28 EDT

Order Results:


F alb - gre; A boh - vie; A bud - gal; A gre - ser;

A sil - war  Bounced with war (1 against 1). 


 F iri - mao; A lon Holds; F mao - por


No order for unit at Burgundy. Hold order assigned.

No order for unit at English Channel. Hold order assigned.

No order for unit at Marseilles. Hold order assigned.

No order for unit at Spain. Hold order assigned.

A bur Holds; F eng Holds; A mar Holds;

F spa/sc Holds Dislodged from gas (2 against 1). 


 F hel Convoys A kie -edi; A hol Holds

A kie - edi Convoy path taken: kie-hel-nth-edi. 

A mun Holds;  F nth Convoys A kie - edi


A gas - spaI; F lyo Supports A gas - spa

A pie - mar Bounced with mar (1 against 1). 

A tun Holds;  F tys Holds


 F bar - nwg; A gal - ukr

A mos - sev  Bounced with sev (1 against 1). Dislodged from ukr (2 against 1). 

F nwy Supports F bar - nwg;

A war Supports A gal - ukr Support cut by Move from Silesia. 

A Mos can retreat to Liv, StP


F aeg Supports F eas -ion;  F bla -rum A bul Supports F bla - rum; F eas - ion

A sev Supports A ukr - mos; A ukr -mos


Retreat Phase 1903

French fleet Spain SC only has one retreat option, to the West Med.  

Russian A Mos has two retreat options, either to Liv or to St. P.   I am waiting on the Russian player to decide where to retreat to before announcing the Fall 1903  builds.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Baccus 6mm French Chasseurs a Cheval, 4/6 and 7/9 Regiments

I’ve almost come to the end of that pack of Baccus 6mm Chasseurs a Cheval.   I am quite pleased at the number of figures Baccus delivers in a pack, it’s quite generous.   I chose yellow facings to suggest either the 4th or 6th regiments, though truth be told, when these bases are on the gaming table en masse, I think it’s enough to recognize these as French light cavalry.   The beauty of 6mm though is that I can scale it down so that a stand represents an individual regiment, or up so that it represents a brigade.


And another unit, in pink facings to represent either the 7th or 9th regiments, because … pink facings.  Sorry, these iPhone photos are rather naff.  The clever ones among you have probably noticed by now that my grasp of French cavalry shako pom pom colours is rather shaky.


With my previous two completed stands, enough for a brigade (or division!) of light horse.


The static grass for these chaps is a bit of a departure for me.  I ordered a bag from Baccus along with this clever applicator called the UffPuff.  What is it with Brits and silly names?  And American firm would call it the Static Grass Aerolizer, I am sure.  You need some sort of container as it is a messy process.


Wheres a Swedish firm would probably just call it Uff.  Useful gizmo, whatever it is.  The top nozzle comes off, quite delicately, and then you spend forever squinting static grass through the tiny hole, and reapply the nozzle.  Finicky, but it gets the job done.


These figures bring my 2016 totals to:

28mm:  Foot Figures: 29; Mounted Figures: 1

6mm:  Mounted figures:  36;  Buildings:  2

Blessings to your brushes!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Solo Scharnhorst 4 - The Battle of Karlseck - Kaltenbach Begins

Back in February I posted a lot of guff about an experiment using Sam Mustafa’s battle generator for Blucher, Scharnhorst to play a solo Napoleonics mini-campaign.  I ended with the two sides having blundered into each other for the climactic battle of Karlseck-Kaltenbach, in which Napoleon and some fictitious Marshals, named after some innocent colleagues of mine, took on Napoleon’s equally fictitious Austrian nemesis, Duke Kurvi-Tasch, to battle for the strategic town of Kaltenbach.

You can find the account of the final maneuvers to the battlefield  here.

A reminder of the dispositions.  Austrian’s left to right:  I Korps:  Grenzer Division, Infantry Division w. Kurvi-GTasch, Cavalry Division;   Independent: Sachsen’s Lt Cavalry Division on the far righ

French right: Legros’ Infantry Division

Centre: Napoleon with the Guard and Dupont’s Light Cavalry Division

Left: Moisan’s Infantry Division

Napoleon is expecting one more division, the infantry of Lafreniere, at some time, but does not know when.  Lafreniere is one square south of Karlseck n the map.


Initial moves.  Sachsen’s cavalry cross the stream and move on the French left, while the cavalry division with its horse artillery from K-T’s Korps move in support.  Napoleon orders Dupont’s cavalry division, three light and one dragoon brigades, to move to intercept them.

In the centre, K-T marches south towards Napoleon’s position,  His plan is to pin the French centre and allow Groll’s Korps, when it arrives, to roll up the French left.  K-T’s division is very solid, a grenadier brigade and three veteran infantry brigades, supported by heavy artillery, so Napoleon has something to worry about.

On the Austrian left, K-T sends his division of three Grenzer brigades straight south to threaten Karlseck and hopefully pin some of the French there.    Moisan leaves two brigades to hold the town, and moves his other two, with his heavy artillery regiment, to support Napoleon in the centre.  Breaking Moisan’s corps up means that if I want to use the two brigades left behind in Karselck, I have to roll for them separately towards my random points cost each turn.  I hope i won’t have to move them much.

Napoleon calmly awaits in the centre.  He has three brigades of the Guard, and a brigade of Guard cavalry, as the last reserve.  The Emperor hopes he won’t have to use them, and watches events unfold calmly.  I need a better staff marker/diorama for Napoleon.  Incidentally, in a points game, Napoleon is a good investment.  As I understand the rules, he always allows a Corps to move for only two command points ut of the random total rolled each turn, which is useful.

By about 10:00hrs, things take a nasty turn for the French as Groll’s Korps arrives on their left flank.   Here Groll’s lead division of cavalry (mostly average troops) surges forward while Sachsen’s and K-T’s divisions of horse move up behind them.   Dupont braces for the onslaught and orders his horse artillery to start banging away.   His four cavalry brigades must face eleven Austrian brigades, but fortunately not all at once.  Notice that in the bottom right, my recently painted stands of Cahsseurs a Cheval are retreating to pass through their supports, to force the Austrians to come on and buy some time.

A wider view of the French left flank, showing Moisan trying to get his infantry division and guns ready to support Dupont’s horse and block Groll’s infantry which have yet to arrive.

Slowly but surely, Dupont’s cavalry brigades are asked onto the ballroom floor and begin to dance with the Austrians.  On the far left you can see the first of Groll’s two infantry divisions arriving.

Casualties mount on both sides.  One Austrian brigade is broken and several battered, but Dupont’s troopers are getting mauled and begin to reach their break points.  

Dupont’s weary brigades fall back behind their horse artillery and are withdrawn, meaning that they are removed from the game but do not count as broken units  towards the French break point.  By now Moisan’s four infantry brigades are in a line, their left anchored by artillery, and can take up the slack until help arrives.  Will help arrive?


The French pay the price for leaving Dupont’s horse artillery unsupported.  They are overrun by two brigades of Austrian horse and eliminated.  Dupont’s division has now been ruined.  

As an aside, I need to rethink my use of artillery in Blucher.  I like using the limber and cassion stands I have, but they aren’t required by the rules and don’t seem to add much to game play.  With them on the table, an artillery regiment (three batteries combined together in Blucher terms) takes up an awful lot of space.  Other Blucher players have advised me to get rid of them and just add batteries to individual brigades, thus giving them an extra dice, which would probably work well but would seem rather abstract to me.  Hmmmm.

By now it is around 14:00.  On the left, the first of Groll’s infantry divisions has arrived behind his cavalry, but the Austrian die rolls for command points are not always large, and so not every part of the Austrian plan can be implemented each turn.  That, plus the size of the table, s really keeping the Austrians from getting into the game.   Either I use a smaller table, or I give the rules a tweak and allow units that end their turn out of range (more than 6 base widths from artillery, two from infantry) of enemy units to move twice their normal movement rate - this would be a variation of the Blucher rule where units basically get a first free move of 12 BWs since they are usually considered to start hidden.   

It’s getting on for mid afternoon and Napoleon catches a break.  Lafreniere’s infantry division marches onto the table, and is ordered to move left to support Moisan.  Moisan’s artillery regiment and two brigades of infantry will have to block Kurvi-Tasch’s oncoming division by themselves.


Marshall Luigi, master of the battlefield.  He is a very social fellow, and I find that I am never stern enough to shoo him off the table.  He just wants to keep me company, I think.  Weirdly, he also hops on the bathroom counter when I am shaving and watches the water go down the sink with great fascination.  Odd little cat.


Hopefully by the end of the week I can tell you how it all ended.

Blessings to your die rolls!  MP+

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Dux Bookstorum



This little souvenir is coming home with me from Boston today.   I was strolling around Harvard Yard yesterday, taking in a beautiful early spring day and trying not to get into the selfies taken by (mostly) Chinese families.    I was sort of hoping I wouldn’t stumble across the Harvard University Bookstore, and I didn’t, but off a little side street I came across Raven Used Books (23 Church Street if you’re ever in Cambridge, Mass) and this jumped off the military books shelf.   For $6.95, I thought it a bargain.    It can sit on my rules shelf and perhaps help inspire by Dux Rohirrim project.   Nice to have for the illustrations if nothing else.

The running trails and the Charles River were both busy.

The object of my visit, the beautiful Anglican monastery of St. John the Evangelist, a 1920s era Romanesque building that brings back happy memories of Italy.

As a word of advice to those thinking about visiting a monastery, try and make sure that you stay when it’s pizza night.  The cauliflower and goats cheese pizza was heavenly.



Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Diplomacy Game: Spring 1903 Turn Concluded

Spring 1903 moves were a hot mess.  France recaptures Marseilles thanks to a surprise lunge by the Italian army into the heart of la Republique.   Germany regains Holland and destroys the English fleet there, while withdrawing from Austria.   A surprise move by the Russians into Galicia opens the Ukraine to a Turkish army, which must have shocked the Turkish General Staff.   All eyes are on Germany to see where she will commit herself.

Results for Spring, 1903 (Movement)
 General Notices:
All dislodged units destroyed; advancing to next phase.Order 
resolution completed on 08-Mar-2016 at 20:01:06 EST
Order Results:

No order for unit at Greece. Hold order assigned.Austria: 

 A bud - gal Bounced with ukr (1 against 1). 

A gal -sil; A gre Hold;  F tri -alb; A vie - boh

The Fleet in Holland cannot retreat; unit destroyed.
England: F hol - nth Bounced with nth (1 against 1). Dislodged from bel (2 against 1).

F iri Supports F nao - mao; A lon Holds;  F não - mao



 A bur Supports A spa -mar;  F eng - mao  Bounced with nao (1 against 1). 

 F mao - spa/sc;  A spa - mar

A bel - hol; A boh - mun; F den - hel; A mun - kie; F nth Supports A bel - hol


A mar - gas; F nap -tys; A naf - tun;  A ven - pieI; F wes -lyo

A mos - sev  Bounced with sev (1 against 2). 

 F nwy Holds; F stp/nc - bar;  A ukr -gal; A war Supports A ukr - gal


 F bla Supports A sev; A bul Holds;  F con - aeg; A rum -ukr; A sev Supports A rum - ukr

Support cut by Move from Moscow;  F smy - eas


Situation at the Start of Fall 1903 Turn:


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

First Take: Playing War of the Ring

Last night three of us tried War of the Ring at the club.   Vincent, who owns the store we play at, raised his eyebrows.  “That game takes a long time, you know, like, six hours”.   He was right.  We didn’t get it finished in the three hours we had, but we got much of it figured out and we had a lot of fun doing it.

Steve and Bruce took the Shadow side, and I took the free peoples.   Here I watch as the forces of evil mass on the borders of Gondor.  My strategy was to try and push the Fellowship as far each turn as I could.   It seems to take about six to eight turns for the Shadow player to get Mordor and Harad to a state of war and to get enough forces massed on the border to start the attack on Gondor.   During that time I could have detached Strider  and Gandalf from the Fellowship and moved them south.  They might have had a better chance of preparing Gondor and encouraging Rohan to get into the war.  Bruce came out last night with a sheaf of printouts of strategy tips for the game from various websites, I will clearly have to do some research.

Too late.  By about turn 10, Minas Tirith had fallen to a siege, and Rohan was more or less just sitting around watching.   I think as the Good player I need to find a better strategy for getting Rohan into the war to aid Gondor.  The only thing I had going for me was a reinforced garrison in Dol Amroth, thanks to a Muster card called Prince Imrahil and his followers.   That garrison was a rock against which the Shadow armies broke in a terrible run of dice, which would have given me a bit of a base left in Gondor had we had more time to play.   It would have taken Steve and Bruce time to muster more troops and move them into the war.

During all this time, the Fellowship had gotten very close to Dale.  My hope was to use them to activate the Northern peoples and get them into the fight, then make a run with the ring bearers from Dale all the way to the gates of Morrannon and into Mordor.   I think the only real hope of the Good player is to run the Fellowship as hard and fast as possible and trade the cities of Men for time.

Also yesterday, the first expansion of War or the Rung from Ares Games arrived in the mail, though we didn’t have time to figure it out last night.

This expansion allows the Good player to use some of the key figures of the Council, Elrond and Galadriel, as well as an enhanced role for Gandalf.   The Good player gets three new action dice which represent the three Elven rings of power worn by Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel.  The Evil player gets some additional minions, including an enhanced Nazgul King, a new baddie called Gothmog, Lt. of Minas Morgul, and of course the dreaded Balrog.

Some of the new cards that come with this expansion.  

I’m looking forward to playing more with this game and trying the expansion set.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Keeping Calm On The Battlefield

It's Monday, you need some humour.
I find this funny in part because it captures a moment in the Wilderness where Grant basically said the same thing to his staff, but also because it comes from one of my favourite military bloggers, the Angry Staff Officer.  I've featured his Star Wars based humour here before.
You can find ASO's unofficial life of US Grant here, and here is his take on famous military quotations rephrased for contemporary army life.  Hilarious.



Saturday, March 5, 2016

Your Latest Daily Dissembler, In A Handsome New Format!


The fast steamers from New York are just arriving in European ports, and bundles of America’s most prestigious journal of foreign news, the Daily Dissembler, are now on express trains heading to all of Europe’s capitals, embassies, chancelleries, War Ministries, and the better class of exotic nightculb.   But don’t worry, you can get your copy, now in a new, exciting format, HERE!

In this season’s edition:

Our usual penetrating analysis of the European Situation, with our resident expert, Sir Erasmus Blatt

The latest adventures of America’s Girl Reporter, Miss Amelia Roosevelt, including an account of what REALLY happened in Paris!

An interview with the Italian player

The latest English language edition of the leading Turkish newspaper, the Ankhara What, courtesy of the Turkish Player

All letters to the editor are welcome. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

First Look At War of the Ring by Ares Games

It’s been all Diplomacy all the time here, lately, but now for something different.

Years ago I had a copy of an old SPI game called The War of the Ring, a huge multi-map affair with two game systems in one:  a hex and counter military game, featuring the armies of Middle Earth, and a character game using cards which depicted the progress of the Fellowship of the Ring.   It was a terrific game that I bitterly regret selling in a period of hard times.

Recently my memory of that game was stirred when I was reading Matthew Sullivan’s excellent blog, Oldenhammer in Toronto.   Last month Matthew described a project where he was painting old school LOTR miniatures for Ares Games’ War of the Ring.   Matthew wrote that “I’ve never played a game that better captures the flavour of Tolkien’s work.  Perhaps the best part of it is that while staying true to the essentials of Tolkien, the game gives you the freedom to re-shape the events in his trilogy”.   This praise got me thinking of the old SPI game and wondering if perhaps there was a way to replace it after all.   So far, I haven’t been disappointed.

Last week I found this in my local games store.  It’s a heavy beast, somewhere around 2-3 pounds in a big box, and not cheap, though any imported game bought new these days isn’t that cheap here in the Mexico of the north.


The first things one unboxes are these two beautiful illustrated maps.   They are so big that I had to stand on a chair in my dining room to get them both into the shot.



I see crossover possibilities for using these maps in my Dux Rohirrim project.   Here the diamonds are Settlements, which can be used as possible locations for bringing reinforcements into the battle.  Small rectangles are Cities, which confer a slight defensive bonus and count as victory points in the military game.  The large squares are Citadels, which can shelter defending armies in sieges, and which count the most for victory points in the military game.



Some of the character cards, beautifully illustrated by fellow Canadian John Howe.  Characters include the Fellowship of the Ring and three Minions:  Saruman, the King of the Nazgul, and the Mouth of Sauron.  The Fellowship characters can be used to take the Ring to Mount Doom (as with the old SPI game, there is a sub-system built into this game for the Fellowship and Ringbearers) or characters can be detached to help in the military game.


The beating  heart of the game are these Event cards, divided into two types for both Good and Evil sides:  Army cards on the left, which confer benefits in recruiting and leading troops, and Character cards, which assist in the quest of the Fellowship and/or the Hunt for the Ring.  Both sides can play these cards for these purposes, or, they can use the bottom half of each card (the bit below the line) in army combats during the military game.  Once cards are played, they are gone for the rest of the game, so using a highly useful card in the Ring game to confer a temporary bonus in the Military game can be an agonizing decision.


The kinds of cards you can draw and play, or the actions you can take with characters and armies, are determined by the types of action dice you roll.   The Evil player gets more dice than the Good player, but the Evil player can find some of dice diverted, either intentionally or required if he rolls the eye icon, to the Hunt box, reflecting Sauron’s obsession with finding the Ring.   The more eyeball dice are in the Hiunt box, the harder it is to move the Fellowship  without detection and even damage, which can be taken either as Fellowship members dying, or the Ringbearer taking what are called Corruption Points, reflecting the Ring’s malign influence on the Ringbearer.  The Evil player can win the game either by accruing military victory points, or by maxing out the Corruption of the Ringbearer.  The Good player can win by getting the Ring to Mount Doom, and also has what seems to be a faint chance of a military victory.



The game also includes a generous amount of army tokens, in the form of these soft plastic models, which appear to be somewhere between 15mm to 20mm in scale.  Each nation in the game (Elves, Dwarves, the Northern Peoples, Gondor and Rohan for the Good player, Isengard, Sauron and the Southrons for the Bad player) has the same troop types:  Regulars, represented by the smaller tokens (the blue foot guys here), Elites, represented by the larger figures (the blue Rohan horse figure here) and Leaders, who are shown in grey plastic and which confer the benefit of re-rolls of unsuccessful combat dice (ordinary d6) in army battles.  I suppose one could either paint all of these figures (a council of madness) or replace them with larger figures from the GW or similar ranges of LOTR figures.


 The Evil army tokens are cast in this rather distressing reddish-orange.  I love the Oliphants for the Southron player.  The evil player gets Nazgul as his Leaders.

The only difference between Regular and Elite armies is that Elites can take two hits before being removed, whereas Regulars are removed after taking one hit.   The Evil player can bring his casualties back into the game as Reinforcements whereas when the Good player loses an army unit or leader, they are gone forever.   Army combat is fairly basic, with a dice rolled per side with hits on a 5 or 6, unless your target is in a citadel or city, in which case you only hit on a 6.  Armies can be as large as ten units in a map region, but you only get to roll a maximum of 5 dice per turn.    Army combat gets interesting depending on the cards players can dedicate to to fight, and depending on which Characters/Minions are present.   For example, the King of the Nazgul is a pretty bad dude, but his abilities can be largely negated if Gandalf the White is present (Gandalf the White is basically a power u of Gandalf the Grey, just as Aragorn of Minas Tirith is a power up of Strider).  

I have not yet played the game through, as it seems to be a long game, at least 3-4 hours.  My friend Bruce and I gave it a go on Monday, and liked it a lot.   We found that the Evil player can quickly get a juggernaut going, but has difficulty getting his armies rolling quickly if he wants to check the Fellowship.   The Good player has some hard choices to make in the military game, and faces some agonizing choices in sacrificing his irreplaceable units.   However, the Good player can afford to trade victory points for time, so he can sacrifice one or two Nations without losing the game on VPs if the Fellowship is successful   The Good has to use his or her armies cleverly to buy time while still leaving enough action dice each turn to move the Fellowship.

Wr of the Ring is a two player game, but 3-4 can play by dividing the Good/Evil nations amongst themselves.

There are a series of very helpful videos here which got me into the game fairly quickly, but I found the rules to be fairly simple and well written.  Tolkien fans may be disappointed that the game does not include some iconic figures, such as the Balrog, Galadriel, Elrond, or  Treebeard and the Ents.  However, Ares games offers two expansions: Lords of Middle Earth  and Warriors of Middle Earth.

War of the Ring gets the Mad Padre blessing and a bonus genuflection.


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