By John Abbott.
We had a workable mix of experienced players with several Returners from the GSI days. It was also an international mix with USA, Spain, Brasil, and UK represented. Our early push was to flip neutrals at all costs, overwhelm the WK, and send the Eothraim after the IK for an early out. We managed to turn the Duns and Rhudaur quite early, but the Eothraim’s push to the IK was a disaster. I guess we tipped our hand.
The DS were waiting for us, and the EO lost most of his good characters. The player committed nation suicide the following turn. Luckily, the Dog Lord eliminated himself the very next turn.
We distributed the extra Noldo weapons between the Woodmen and the Cardolan. Cardolan handed off his navy to the Noldo who planned a large scale amphibious assault. The artifact chase was looking like a 50/50 split on items, but we caught a break when Erestor killed Khamul in a challenge over the Ring of Curufin.
Shortly after that, the Cardolans, Arthedainians, and the newly allied Rhudaurs were pushing Carn Dum with an all-out assault. Duns sent troops for the mop up. Then we caught another break: Cardolan captured Murazor in a battle and managed to execute him 2 turns later. That was 2 Nazgul down.
The Ithil Pass was the typical meat grinder. The Northern Gondor player, Jose, did an amazing job keeping things together. He managed to push to the FK capital once and never lost Osgiliath. While at the FK capital, Jose slipped a large HC army through the Pass and landed on Barad-dur with 2500 HC against the 1000 HI of the DkLt.
The DkLt capital was burned to the ground on T5. NG moved south and landed on a CL town, but Ji Indur and Din Ohtar had tracked the army. Both commanders were assassinated right after they burned the town. We lost the NG command artifacts but had destroyed the DkLt capital. It was a good exchange for us.
We managed to move the Girdle to Osgiliath right as the DS showed up with enough troops to take it down. However, the Girdle was lost to the FP when the Noldo courier was assassinated by the CL. The Girdle was never recovered.
Noldo lost Cirdan to the combination of a dragon encounter and double casting spells on the same turn. Extremely careless of me. Luckily, Cirdan was in a company, so we retained his artifacts which included Elrond’s ring. Sinda and Noldo had a solid curse squad shortly after and managed to elude the DS cursers while starting to whittle down the DS army icons and midlevel characters. Sinda also had a super agent. Legolas had the Ring of Impersonation, natural stealth, and a couple of stealth artifacts. He was a night terror.
In Mirkwood, Sinda, Woodmen, and Dwarves slammed into Dol Guldur on T3 and never relented. DG fell to the Sinda on T9. By this time Sinda was pumping out huge HC armies, and the team sent a fair amount of gold to help with costs. Also, on T9 the Woodmen and Sinda combined to capture Mount Gundabad from the WK.
Negotiations with the Easterlings had gone very well, and he flipped our direction. That made the neutrals a 3/2 advantage for us. Harad and Corsairs went DS. Easterlings managed to distract the DS and slipped a huge HC force right up to the Cloud Lord capital. The capital was destroyed, and the cavalry went right after the Blind Sorcerer backup capital. When it arrived, the Arthedain and Cardolan had just captured Carn Dum, so Urlutsu Nurn was the WK capital.
Easterlings had enough troops to defeat the armies and destroy the pop center…..except for the dragon sitting in the DkLt army. We thought we had the WK eliminated, but the dragon swung the army battle before the pop center was attacked.
On T13 the Noldo landed a huge fleet on the Harad MT at 2730 and captured it. NG had an army working the North Harad as well. The Noldo invasion did not go very far as Harad was intact and could out recruit us. Noldo moved the force to Southern Gondor after just a few turns.
During this time, the Dwarves had established a pipeline of armies headed for the North Gate, but the Dog Capital was never in any real danger. Assassins and curse squads began lining the streets with fallen dwarven commanders.
In the North, the DkLt had taken both dwarven towns in the horseshoe and managed to hold them until around turn 40. We tried repeatedly to root him out and had a few short successes, but it never held.
The War then settled into the middle turns of 16-30.