I've read a lot of threads that talk about the advantage of the Shadow player in the game, but I just don't see it. In the games I have played (both as SA and FP), the Shadow has only won once, and in that game the FP had miserable luck. I now believe that the game is so unbalanced (in the FP's favor) that I know I must be missing something. In the last game I played the FP threw the ring in with only a few corruption and the SA didn't have a single VP.
So school me. How should the Shadow play? (I've read the tactics section, it didn't help.)
Last Edit: Nov 29, 2004 18:20:49 GMT 1 by Bullroarer
I’m no expert, but I’ve won playing both sides (and not at the same time, either ). In very general terms, here is how I usually proceed:
Put two dice in the Hunt box. I’ll have about a 60% chance of rolling an additional ‘eye’. Three Hunt dice gives me a about a 44% chance of a successful Hunt (70% if he moves again in the same turn). That should slow down the Fellowship.
Bring Sauron to War. Move Gorgoroth to Minas Morgul and Barad-Dur to Gorgorth. Then move Minas Morgul to Ithilian (either) and Gorgoroth to Minas Morgul. Move Minas Morgul to the other Ithilian.
Bring the S&E to war. Move S. Rhun to the North (sorry, I don’t remember the region name). Move Far Harad to Near Harad. Afterwards, move the northern S&E armies westward (to the region bordering Dale and the Iron hills. Move the southern S&E army NW to the region bordering Pelargir.
Muster in Dol Guldur and march to Dimral Dale.
Bring Isengard to War, and gather in Orthanc.
You are now positioned to Rohan, Lorien, Pelargir, Dale, WR, and Minas Tirith (10 pts). The FP hasn’t had any automatic activations and therefore will not have mustered very much.
I have avoided bringing in the Minions to keep Gandalf the White from appearing (if he was sacrificed early in the Hunt, so much the better). They will probably come in now and then the fireworks begin!
I will strongly state again that these are all very TEXTgeneral principles that have worked for me. They do not account for the Dice or the Cards; both of which can accelerate your plans or bring them to a screeching halt. The thing I love about this game is how flexible it is and how it forces you to adapt your plans to conditions ‘on the ground’.
We have found the opposite. In our group, of 8 games, the FP has won only once.
Basic SP Tactics: Put only 1 die in Hunt box. Bring Sauron to war, muster the Witch King. Bring Saruman to war, muster Saruman.
This gives you more dice to win with; who cares if he can bring Gandalf in now - it will take him at least one die (possibly 2) that he could have used to move the fellowship in order to bring him in.
In Mordor, you have 20 units, perfect for 2 stacks of 10. Whichever way is most efficient (based on cards, dice, etc.) move a stack of 10 (incl. Witch King) to Osgiliath and then to Minas Tirith. This should be your priority, after mustering Saruman.
In Isengard, at the least, upgrade two Regs to Elites in Orthanc. Move the Dunland regulars toward Orthanc as the dice come (preferably after a 3 Reg muster by Saruman) but no big rush. After Minas Tirith falls (or if you need to bring in reinforcements), attack Rohan. Your unit musters are used here.
As you have the dice, begin moving entire Dol Goldur force toward Lorien. If nothing else, it puts you close enough that if a Hunt reveals the FSP, you can move an Army into their territory to get the reroll.
If the FSP is revealed, move a Nazgul to their territory, if you have the dice (preferably with one of the cards that ALSO allows an attack with a Nazgul led army).
Your military targets are Gondor, Rohan, and Lorien (that's 10 points). You should have the game won on turn 8 or 9.
Yes, you leave Dol Goldur open, but as he moves toward it, muster units there - just don't spend more dice to defend it that he spends and you'll be ok. Remember, you have more dice (9 by Turn 3, at the latest, Turn 2 if you're lucky).
It's boring and predicable, but its a solid enough steamroller that you can use it for Solo FP play - and still lose most of the time. The one victory (vs a player) was a combination of good FP dice and poor SP dice and even then, a one-die difference in the assault on Dol Amroth would have resulted in a Turn 8 SP victory.
The key to this strategy is that the SP has more dice than the FP. 2 dice for movement and 2-3 for defense are not enough to counter 2-3 hunt dice and 6-7 dice dedicated to the SP military victory, especially since the Shadow Strategy cards can provide so much of a numbers boosts with a single card (11 of them provide many more units than a single Muster die can bring in; the FP have 9 that provide Elite+Leader or 2 Elites).
At this point, we're starting to look at balance options for the FP - we've tried that the FP player selects their starting hand, but it didn't really help.
Using this tactic, my "Hunt for the Fellowship" is just target of opportunity. If I have a card that can damage the FSP (especially if I have an Event Action Die), then I'll use it. Once you reveal them outside of a Stronghold (bound to happen, even with just 2 dice in the pool) there are numerous cards that can damage them, not to mention now having the ability to move an Army and a Nazgul into their territory for the rerolls. Major thing to remember is not to use too many dice on hunting the FSP - no more than 4, unless you are causing major damage.
In all the games I have played since the final version of the rules started playtesting the mentioned strategy to not concentrate very much on the Hunt and only go for the military campaign have proven to be a win all or lose all situation.
With few Hunt dice in the Hunt box the risk is that with one good Action die roll the Fellowship will fly through Middle Earth. It is possible for the FP player to have moved the Fellwoship 5 or 6 Regions before the start of turn three and only suffered Gandalf the Grey as a casualty. When this occurs the Shadow's steamroller strategy is very likely to fail.
My advice is to always focus on the Fellowship every third turn or so just to keep the FP player in the dark as to how much effort I am putting into the military effort.
If able to halt the Fellowship one entire turn chances are that you still have enough action dice to manouver you units into position and then in the next turn only put one die in the Hunt box and strike hard and fast.
I have won more games as the Shadow by using a balanced strategy than an all out military strategy.
Veldrin. I have had that happen, but only as a combination of bad SP dice as well (i.e., rolling no Eyes for 3 turns, combined with bad hunt dice).
Assuming the FP gets 3 character/WotW dice on each of the first 2 turns, and the SP places one Eye and rolls another (1 of 6 dice rolled), that gives you 2 dice at 6 vs the first move (30% successful hunt), 2 dice at 5+ vs the second move (56% successful hunt), 2 dice at 4+ vs the third (75% successful hunt). Add in that half of the successful hunts will reveal the fellowship which causes 3 issues: 1. use of another die to hide the FSP 2. ability to play SP cards that require revealed FSP 3. ability to move a Nazgul and/or an Army to the FSP location, granting a reroll.
Is it just me, or do those odds seem like they're worth taking?
I think that you are correct in the assumption that the risk might be worth taking.
The problem here is that you place the major part of your startegy in the hands of Lady Luck. Those bad Hunt rolls and no Eye rolls on the Action roll occur more often than you would like them to.
I feel that the balanced approach of one in a while making sure the Fellowship stays put is a better gamble sine this tactics too relies on good dice rolls. If you manage to slow down the Fellowship at the same time as you are able to position your armies for a major strike and with a major strike I mean being able to grab 3 to 5 VPs in a round you stand a better chance of winning.
The first rule is:
Lay siege to two FP Strongholds you are aiming for fast so the FP no longer can muster there. Then try to slow down the Fellowship while you manouver the reinforcements that can will strenghten the sieges if things go badly for you and then in the next round strike har and fast witht he aid of hopefully good Combat Effects.
The second Rule:
Always gp for the easy VPs, i.e. the Cities close to the Strongholds you go for.
Here is an example of my basic startegy:
If I decide to hit the DEW-line (5 VPs) and Gondor (5VPs).
I try to lay siege to Minas Tirith as fast as possible and use the Southrons to take Pelargir(If possible in turn 2 and no later than turn 3). The Easterlings head for Dale and takes it as soon as possible (no later than turn 3).
Once this is achieved I spend two turns concentrating on the Hunt (adding 2-3 dice prior to the Action Roll) as well as manouvering reinforcements into Osgiliath and Dale.
After this I usually have taken Dale and either the Woodland Realm or Erebor as well as Pelargir and Minas Tirith by turn 6. 5 VPs by turn 6 is good for the Shadow.
If you have 5-6 VPs by turn 7 the FP player will be srtessed to move the Fellwoship and will take risks not normally taken at this will allow you to put less dice into the Hunt since the FP player must move the Fellowship even when you have good chances of successfully rolling for the Hunt even with few dice.
Next I go for Dol Amroth (preferably by the card "Corsairs of Umbar") and the last Strongold in the DEW-line. If things go slow up north the Dol Guldur garrison can quickly lay siege to the Woodland Realm or reinforce it to allow the S&E army to attack Erebor.
Leaving Dol Guldur open liek this has never cost be the game since I will prevent any other Settelment to be taken by the FP.
Natutally this doesn't work all the time due to "bad" dice rolling or good card play from the FP player but I think you have more control this way since you can slow down the Fellwoship if you feel the need to and you can change you targets quickly if the oppertunity presents itself.
Andy, against that strategy of sauron putting only 1 eye in the pool, I think the light side needs to counter by moving the fellowship 2 times a turn, every turn that they possibly can, and then burning through more companions than they otherwise would, avoiding damage. (i.e. splitting off less guys). If you are racing it, they need to race you...
I like to leave one regular in Dol Guldur, not take everyone. I also like to muster 1 more elite there before heading out, it makes taking Lorien (or wherever) much easier.
I definitely think the dark player(s) should muster Saruman and the Witch King ASAP. Winning the battle of who has more dice is a huge advantage. Force them to get aragorn and gandalf the white asap to keep up with you. Its harder for them to do it than for you...
I think the tactic of grouping witch king + 3-4 nazguls every time you are going to attack a stronghold (that doesnt have gandalf the white in it), is the way to go. It speeds up your attack, and makes it have a much greater chance of success. Plus you keep drawing cards to replace the ones you use, due to the witch king.
When I am player either side, nothing makes me more happy than seeing them not bring their extra die characters into play. If you do, and they dont, you win. Since dark can bring em out faster, they should. Sure they can get gandalf the white out. But If you bring yours out SUPER early, then to counter they have to bring out gandalf the white before its convenient for them. That is, they might not get to burn gandalf to prevent corruption damage, and stop drawing free event cards for playing them when he isnt the guide anymore.
Also, they need to roll will of the west in order to get their guys out. If they dont, you just keep gaining on them...
Alexfrog. I completely agree. However, while with 4 dice, the FP player will AVERAGE 2 Character/WotW dice each turn, they will sometimes have 1 and sometimes 3 (and sometimes 0 and sometimes 4). Even against 1 die, moving a 3rd time is 50/50 (assuming no reroll) and I usually have 1 plus 1 rolled. Because I tend to have a hand full of cards (mostly character from Witch King draws), any time he gets revealed it hurts him. There are plenty of cards that can hurt directly and I get the opportunity to move armies and Nazgul to his area for the rerolls. The one time I've lost with this, the FP rolled 11 character/WotW dice (out of 16) the first 4 turns and I rolled only 1 eye (out of 29 rolls) over the same period.
As a dice game, the odds are definately in my favor.