News from Bree

“Strange as News from Bree…”
The Lord of the Rings Chapter 9


Welcome to News from Bree

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the New look News from Bree website. We're looking for articles, contribitions, questions and anything and all that might be of interest to Tolkien fans in general and Middle-earth players in specific.

ClintSome news of note, we're sorry to say that after many years of service to the community Rob has effectively moved onto new pastures, not quite the Grey Havens but close enough. He's helping out in this transition phase, whilst we bring back an old hat to the fray - your's truly Clint. Dean and Ed are ably assisting, along with Dave in the background coding.

So we've got big plans that you're no doubt aware of and I'll continue to keep you posted.


JOverseer Version 1.6.0 Released

JOverseerJOverseer is the officially supported, results viewing/order writing software for MEPBM. Version 1.6.0 has been released and will check every week or so for further updates. So visit the software page on the website and download now to be automatically kept up to date!

Below is a screenshot of what JOverseer looks like. It shows the position of your armies, navies and characters. It will show similar information from the turns your allies send you and all the known information on your enemies.

JOverseer Screenshot

The movements of your orders appear on the map as your write them and there is a built in Orderchecker in the program. Visit the JOverseer webpage for more information

Game and Rules Tips

Orc RaiderQ: Hows does the newly modified spell, 412 Research Artifact, work?

A: The new 412 spell allows you to cast the spell on multiple items using one order. One 412 per 10 Mage rank you have (minimum of 2 and maximum of 6). (If you're using JO then it will throw up a warning yellow box message if you put in more than one, ignore it, it works fine.)

So a 87 Mage you can do 6, 412s in one order.

Fred 940 412 101,102,109,89,54,67
If you're below 20 Mage rank you can do 2.

Q: Regarding order 500 recruit double agent, the rules state quote ... "Success is based on the relations that the target's Nation has toward your Nation"... unquote. Does that mean that the relations of my Nation toward the target nation are irellevant?

A: It means that relations that nation have to you are key, but the rules don't include any comment on whether or not your relations impact on the 500 order.

Q: Can I form multi national companies between my two nations in gunboat (provided of course that are friendly to each other)?

A: Yes, and if you can get other Friendly nations to join you that's possible - hard to arrange in a GB game though.

Q: In the KS guide there is a section that states you can only recruit one NPC per character naming phase. Then there is a screen that shows the character limits that show between turns 11 and 15 you can have 3.

I have some allies telling me it isn't based on the character limit screen, but is instead based on the Free NPC Slot statement.

A: Yes, 0-5 is 1, 6-11 is 2, 12-15 is 3 etc... Well that's also correct in that if you have slots free you can recruit NPCs into them.

Q: Does KS use the normal rules for economy, encounters, combat etc?

A: There is no change to the basic rules for the game nor mechanisms. Terrain/Climate modifiers for nations are often something to look at though.

Q:Agents What happens if you try a steal from a PC that is captured by another player? Is there 0 gold to be stolen (assume no gold production, so will the order fail?)

A: My advice, try it and see. You should be able to steal gold in most player's opinions.

Q: Similar, what happens when subsequent steals get nothing because the target has run out of money. Does the agent rank still increase?

A: If the order is successful then yes.


Q: I am wondering under which circumstances my agent might be challenged. He is located in my camp. As far as I know, any foe must be sure that this char is an enemy. So far I think that information is only available if:

-my agent was an army commander and being noticed by another army
-it is a starting char
-he was detected per order 930 with its nation
-was targeted by a spell that gives away his nation
-overpowered once a guard of the enemy

A: Double agent, encounters come to mind but there might be other ways of finding out. If in an army divine forces might work etc.
Yes, and there's likely more out there - some players speciailise in this sort of information gathering... :)

Note When putting in 285 reactions, you need to capitalise the first letter, so instead of meek (or MEEK) put Meek. With the new PC orders you don't need to worry but if you're on the Mac then you do.

Player Wisdom

Articles written by players to share their experience and wisdom with all.

Designing Nations in Kin Strife

By Gavin Kenny

SouthronThe Kin Strife module falls somewhere between the very fixed start-ups for the 1650 and 2950 modules and the extremely freeform start-ups in Fourth Age games. Kin Strife only has fourteen nations instead of the twenty-five in the other modules, but uses the same map size. This gives the game much more space and has implications when playing the game. The game has two teams of six players each known as the Loyalists (Good) and the Usurpers (Evil) and two neutral nations. The game is set around the civil war in Gondor around 1450. The Usurper Castimir and his allies have seized control of Gondor who are being opposed by the Loyalist realms supporting the true King Eldacar. The Khazad (Dwarves) and Line of Tirkhor (Men) are two neutral nations that are heavily encouraged to join a side early via means of various early turning bribes.

Unlike the other modules (even Fourth Age), the game has a fairly complicated offering of set-up options for each nations that allow you to customise your nation (within certain parameters). To be able to work out what effects the options have on your nation, a setup spreadsheet is provided to both ensure that you are under the various spending limits as well as show you what your characters and pop centre setups will look like once you are done. Due to the variety of options, the same nation can come out looking pretty different from game to game making the Fog of War aspect all the greater. To aid beginning players each sheet has three viable default start-up options that can be selected to avoid having to worry about all the points or even give pointers to some ideas of other players.

There are a number of concepts that you will need to consider when designing your nation and I will go into each below.

Short Term versus Long Term Needs

NorthmanThe first concept that you need to think about is balancing the extremely short term needs of the first few turns against the longer term things that you need to make the nation viable. Short term needs include defending your nations against enemy armies. Many nations start with vulnerable pop centres that enemy nations can pounce upon and capture. However within the set-up spreadsheets there are ways of protecting them, whether it be making the pop centre larger (to stop the enemy successfully taking it) or even putting a fortification on it.

Secondly you need to start thinking about recruiting more characters. Kin Strife has two ways of doing this. The first is the normal orders for recruiting more characters that are available in all the other modules. Since many starting characters start off relatively weak (and not necessarily at the capital) you can use options in the spreadsheet to not only make them better, but also move them to your capital so that you can recruit new characters on turn 1. The other way of recruiting characters is unique to Kin Strife. In this game the NPCs that you meet can be recruited as characters. For instance Gandalf and Saruman can be recruited by the Loyalists and the Nazgul can be recruited by the Usurpers.

These NPCs usually come with better than starting statistics as well as several artefacts. Therefore a longer term strategy is to track down these NPCs, encounter them and recruit them. Even more intriguingly, some of these NPCs are Champion characters who have three orders rather than the usual two, making them even more enticing to recruit. Several spreadsheet options allow you to know the SNAs and artefacts held by an NPC whilst will give you a leg up in tracking down these characters. This is also one of the many reasons in Kin Strife that give mages more value in the game.

Having a level 30 point or greater emissary in the capital at game start can mean that you can recruit more emissaries and go building camps in the initial camp rush much quicker and cheaper (than wasting a 725 order on this). In my limited experience the camp limit is reached about turn 4 or 5, so it is important to try and grab your share of the real estate whilst you can.

Most of the nations will start with about 3 or 4 turns’ worth of money given their default burn rate of money at 40%. Now this does not include tax rate hikes, bonus gold from mountains, any successful steal orders or sell orders. Options to improve characters and fortifications will make that debt worse, whereas options to improve pop centre sizes will improve that debt state. There are also options to downgrade and upgrade close nations as well (on some nations) to change the tax rate. This will some on precious command orders early on, but long term could be seen as a waste of points.

Boosting the Individual versus Boosting the Team

LadyAll Middle Earth Games have a balance between helping yourself and helping the team overall. Team play is essential to get you into a winning position and therefore helping other members of the team early is probably a successful strategy. The Table N and Table V options all only boost your nation via making your characters better (Table N) or your SNAs better (Table V). There are however options on Table F and Table R that can boost and help the team as a whole. As a neutral, you may not think that this advice applies to you, but it does, even if it is not as immediately relevant. There are options in these tables that give you IDs for artefacts, SNAs for NPCs and even (for some nations) the ability to double friendly characters. All these abilities will not seem like a good cost to spend ratio for your nation, but will be excellent things for the team as a whole.

There are two nations that take this concept even further. The Line of Castimir and the Line of Eldacar has a series of options called Castimir’s bribes and Eldacar’s Gifts that allow the leader nations to spend their option points to boost other nations in the team. These can be a little chancy if you are not part of a grudge team, but a clever player should be able to work out the best places for these to go to boost the team. For instance, the Line of Morlean (on the Usurpers) is that side’s best agent nation. The Line of Castimir can give a boost to an agent through these options and it may well be best placed with one of this nation’s confirmed agents. Similarly Rhovanion for the Loyalists is set up as an emissary based nation with good market sales similar to the Northmen, so an emissary bonus would be good to send to one of their characters.

In addition to giving away bonuses to characters, the leader nations can give away free pop centres and gold. The Rebels on the Loyalist side could really benefit from this (as well as a cash bonus). On the Usurper side the Hithlum is fairly strapped with economy at game start and could benefit from the additional population centre or gold.

Boosting Survivability

One of the crucial aspects of setups in Kin Strife is the ability to make the Fog of War a little foggier. The best ability in this regard also tends to be the costliest and that is to hide population centres. The Hithlum are the Kings of hiding pop centres and make them really difficult for the Loyalists to take apart. However other nations can also hide a pop centre (option 48 on Table F), effectively making a potential backup capital hidden.

It is however an expensive option and it might be better to move some of your population centres instead to prevent early attacks and make the opposition find out where you have dug in. It’s always worth knowing the area that the opponent’s maps can see. Ensuring that you move a pop centre so that it’s not visible on an opponent’s map is something to really keep in mind.

Army Pressure

Table J has a number of options for your nation to boost your starting armies at the game start. Given that you have decisions here to make, just need to look at where you can use these excess troops to their maximum use. Can you take a pop centre that you couldn’t previously by adding those 400 HI? Can you change HI into LC and thereby have a complete cavalry army that can move that much further?


These are just some of the general things to consider when building your nation. There are individual things that each nation individually needs to consider given their position and role in the game, and I may look at these in a later article.

Past Glory

Player articles from the past, sharing wisdom that is still relevant today.

Strategy: Multi-classed characters

by Gavin Kenny (first Published in Ed.1)

Dwarven KingNaming a single class character is easy, you know what to expect, but what of the more interesting options open when you name a multi-classed character? This article explores the different combinations of multi-classed characters and looks at the different strategies that each one can bring to the fore. First we'll look at the multi-classed character named most often - the command agent.

Old Faithful - Command/Agent

The command agent that typically gets named is a 10 commander and 20 agent. This configuration is often used as a backup commander in an army or a potential company commander. The command rank is deemed secondary to the agent rank which is used to guard either the army commander or the best agent in the company. Where this type of command agent is used in an army as a backup, the command rank can be improved not only by character doing a train troops (430), but also by the army commander doing a train army (435). In this way the command agent can get a bonus of between 5 and 10 to his command rank, making the lower initial starting level of his command rank less important. The other two configurations that I have seen are C15/A15 and C20/A10. These are sometimes seen where the nation is short on commanders, but does not want to name a pure commander for the long term.

Alternatively they are sometimes named by nations that get a bonus for stealth who want a commander, but don’t want to waste and stealth bonus they might get. Often in the short term the agent rank is not improved and the character is to be heavily involved in combat early on. I must admit to not being a fan of this configuration, but accept that it is sometimes used.

Bridging Characters - Command/Emissary

The bridging character term I used in the title does not refer to the creation or destruction of bridges in the game. What it actually refers to is establishing a bridgehead in another area of Middle Earth. Command Emissaries are excellent characters for moving in to a population centre gained in another area of Middle Earth from the one your nation starts in. Often in these situations the loyalty is lower than you would hope, and the command emissary is the perfect character for raising an army on the pop centre and raising the loyalty at the same time. Meanwhile your pure emissaries can go off doing other upgrades (550) or influencing you own (520) or others pop centres (525). Additionally they can transfer the army once it is large enough to another army commander and the whole process can begin again. The second use for a command emissary is as an emissary commander, although I must say I would still prefer a command agent for this role since the scout can provide you with invaluable information about agents from the other side who need to be double agented by your team.

War Mages - Command/Mage

Elven ArcherWar Mages tend to work better in the 2950 or 4th Age scenarios where the army numbers that can be maintained are a lot tighter and where spells cast during combat could potentially make a huge difference to the result. A C10/M20 with the right starting spells could immediately go in the back of an army and cast either offensive or defensive spells. Alternatively (if the battles are raging near your capital) you could have the command mage on you own pop centre until the turn before you know a battle is about to take place. A move and join army (870) order will get your war mage into the army in time for the coming battle. For all the DS players out there it can be quite useful to have sickness or weakness as a spell for the war mage. That way any enemy commander who gets injured during the battle might well get sick as well and die from it. This could well swing a battle your way that you thought you would lose, although is perhaps only appropriate in tight hard fought battles where the commanders stand a chance of getting damaged.

Saboteurs - Agent/Emissary

The most offensive of the combinations, the agent emissary has the power to reduce an enemy pop centre loyalty (525) and steal gold from it (690). Later on it can influence other (525) and assassinate enemy characters (615). The only problem with this type of character is that it requires a fair time (as with most of the multiclassed types) to get up to a reasonable level. Also when you have to move the character you have to sacrifice one of its two skill orders unless the character is in a company.

Stationary Standard Bearers - Emissary/Mage

The worst combination of skill ranks. The problem with it is that the ranks are counterintuitive. An emissary really needs to go out and create camps or influence away other nations pop centres. Your mages really need to be on your own pop centres prenticing magery (710) or learning spell (705). The best use I can see for this type of character is to have it sit on one of your own pop centres influencing it up to a level that a pure emissary can come along and upgrade it. This is quite a defensive and long term character that can be used to do sell orders as it really needs to sit somewhere where it will get bonuses to both ranks.

I would name this as a E10/M20 if I was naming this type of character. For example the Cloud Lord has a character Ar-Gular who is perfect for sitting on one of his towns performing inf own (520) and prentice magery (710) until it is ready to become a major town and thus a backup. In the long term I would see this type of character becoming mainly an emissary with the mage rank not improving much above 50-60. Once it has all the spells it needs it will move around doing emissary actions and casting spells.

Blinking Assassins - Agent/Mage

The key word with this combination is ‘Teleport’. In 1650 or 2950 Teleport can be learnt through having the correct artifact. In 4th age you can gain this special nation ability during the start up. Agent mages with teleport can go anywhere around Middle Earth and assassinate. They are very much a long term character since the character will have to prentice magery (710) and Guard Location (605) for quite some time before it is good enough to learn teleport and good enough to kill. Naturally a few handy artifacts in the right skill areas will help this character becoming more effective faster.

Jack of all Trades

Sometimes I have seen people name 10/10/10’s of the various different configurations. The only reason I am aware of for people to do this is that late in the game they can get more character points on the useless remaining skill which may help them get ahead in characters. I am really against this type of character as in my experience you can never really get more than two areas up to a sufficient degree at one time. I’m sure there are people out there already leaping up in the air about to violently disagree with me.

Good luck to one all in your battles to either dominate Middle Earth or restore the land to freedom!

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