By Mike Sankey.
Game 69 was to be a 1650 game but with a twist. The twist was only 6 nations would be played on each side with the remaining 4 nations each side and the 5 neutral nations being inactive (rather than eliminated and removed).
The special rules to manage this were:
- Opponents not told which 6 nations are being played. To be found during gameplay.
2. No edits for any nation.
3. The unplayed nations (4 from each side plus 5 neutrals) are inactive. That is they are left unplayed to go bankrupt or eliminated during course of game.
4. The two teams do not see pdfs from inactive nations.
5. Inactive nations are Special serviced until they die.
Very quickly we got this game underway. Myself and Kim Anderssen took the free people and a team led by Ben Shusan took the Dark Servants. Our first decision was what 6 nations to take and what we thought the DS would take. Looking at the DS first we thought Cloud Lord would be taken in any pick. The DS then had a number of options. Would it be the other 5 Mordor nations to give a powerful bastion in Mordor, Would they leave the frontline Mordor nations and take all the outlying nations or would they do a mix and take Witch King and Dragon Lord for the characters and then take 3 frontline Mordor nations. For our part the choices were easier. We decided quickly on Sinda and Noldo for the agents plus North and South Gondor and Eothraim for the military might. Our last choice was more difficult. Do we go for Woodmen for the double scout ability, Dwarves for the military and map coverage on the Misty Mountains or Arthedain or Cardolan to oppose a Witch King. We went for Arthedain.
Setups duly arrived and we started with good spells. Reveal Pop with Erestor, LAT on Elrond and LA on Saerol, Tharudan and Glorfindel. Our initial plans were to assault Mordor, develop agents for Noldo and Sinda. Locate the agent artefacts initially, use palantirs to determine the active DS nations.
Eothraim cavalry to 3116 and 3316 with 1 army plus the NG cavalry to Dol Goldur to find the main Dragon Lord army gone. The reason was obvious as soon as the Sinda turn was opened as the main Dragon Lord army was on the Sinda City at 2514 which had been revealed with Murazor also showing on the pop centre. Arthedain moves armies to capital so that all cavalry can go into one army next turn. Palantir on 1705 to check there is no WiK movement just off map. A WiK army does show at 1505 however. North and South Gondor gather armies and navies at 3026 and 3028 and abandon Minas Ithil. There the forces of Fire King and Dark Lieutenants arrive as well as Ji Indur showing up. That now gives us 5 or the 6 played DS nations. Palantirs on 3120 reveal Dog Lord at Morannon has not moved or recruited and on 4117 reveals no movement from Long Rider. Luckily Sinda had created an extra army at capital which meant I had potential blocks to stop him reaching my capital. A scry from Nimrodel on Mordor revealed that the Ice King had not moved or recruited. The Sinda map however showed that the Dragon Lord Goblingate army had moved down to 2511. The Sinda capital would face a two pronged attack next turn and would probably be revealed. The Noldo placed Elrond and Erestor into separate companies which moved out to start camping. From our locates we got Ring of Wind at 1708 between Arthedain and Rhudaur, got a rough hex for Tinculin in the far south near Harad and located on one of Bain’s weapons which put him probably commanding the Dwarf army at 3707. The object here was to go steal his command artifact sooner rather than later. Overall a good first turn but with a setback for Sinda that we would turn into a big opportunity.
A change of plan to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the Dragon Lord. We put 5000 + cavalry from Eothraim and North Gondor on Dol Goldur. 1200 Eothraim cavalry also move to 2514 to block any returning Dragon Lord army. The Dragon Lord destroys 2514 and moves on towards the Sinda capital only to be blocked on route by 1000 Sinda HI. Dol Goldur is now doomed. The Sinda capital is, however, revealed By Murazor and the Dragon Lord army from Goblingate has arrived here but with 900 Sinda archers still here I calculate he now has insufficient force to take it. The second part of the strike on the Dragon Lord is also in motion with 2 Sinda forces at 2810 ready to combine and move up to Sarn Gorowing next turn as Erestor also arrives to reveal along with a character carrying the Arthedain command artefacts. In the north Arthedain put all their cavalry at 1305 to block any attempt by Witch King to move round the north. Arthedain manage to create an agent that comes in with stealth. No sign of Witch King armies in the north. In the south Minas Ithil falls and a huge Fire King army arrives at Osgiliath. Waiting there are 5000 North Gondor and 7000 Sothern Gondor troops. A palantir at 4217 still shows no Dark Servants there but the Eothraim map now reveals unknown Dark Servant armies at 3319 and 3418. The Dark Servants can take the Easterling town at 3319 if they downgrade the Easterlings (the nation is inactive but either side can attack it). A Sinda scry on the Quiet Avenger capital reveals the position intact with no recruitment so we still haven’t identified the final DS nation. Sinda learn LAT and cast it to reveal Collowhesta just north of Mordor. Noldo does LAT on Ring of Curafin and it is just 2 hexes from the Ring of Wind. Cirdan joins a new Noldo company which moves to the Ring of Wind location. In the south Southern Gondor trigger the Tinculon encounter. Food prices is up to 2. A good turn.
Dol Goldur falls to the Eothraim and their cavalry force at 2514 catch the Dragon Lord starting army at 2414 preventing it getting to the Sinda capital after it defeated the 1000 blocking Sinda troops. Better yet the local militia at Dol Goldur thwarted Ji Indur’s assassination attempt against the Eothraim. We also identify the 6th DS nation. It is Dog Lord who turns up on the Eothraim camp at 3715. In the north 1200 Arthedain troops intercept an incoming Witch King army at the ruins of 1609. There is also an incoming Witch King army at 1405. In Gondor North and South Gondor easily defeat the Fire king at Osgiliath and move 8900 troops onto Minas Ithil to be opposed only by a small Fire King army. LA by Southern Gondor puts Water Skimmer on Khamul at 3822. Southern Gondor successfully picks up Tinculin. At the Sinda capital all is good. The Goblingate army kills my 900 archers but is now only small in size. Rather than hire a new army Sinda put up a tower and re-hide the capital with Mantle of Doriah. At 2809 Amroth arrives with 3000 Sinda troops. Ersetor moves in and reveals it and an Athedain character arrives with the command artefacts. With no Dragon Lord army here this town should fall next turn then on to Goblingate. Sinda gets the encounter for Collowhesta and Ring of Curafin and casts a LAT on Celedgring’s weapon to find him on the Dragon Lord village at 3506. Noldo picks up Ring of Wind with Cirdan, already in company and that company moves to the location of Ring of Curafin where Sinda has already triggered that encounter. The Noldo LAT gets the location for Elenruth in the far South East. Food price back down to 1.
Eothraim and North Gondor cavalry move from Dol Goldur to 3018. At 2414 the small Eothraim cavalry force destroys the Dragon Lord army. Dog Lord destroys Eothraim camp at 3715. Gisulf at Dol Goldur injures Erennis of Cloud Lord thwarting his assassination. In the North Durkarian of Witch King defeats the Arthedain army at 1609 and moves onto Bree. It turns out all the Witch King cavalry are under Durkarian. Fortunately, anticipating this move Bondan commanding all the Arthedain cavalry intercepts Durkarian at Bree and should now be victorious. At 1205 Arthedain blocks a Witch King army trying to sneak round the north. The only downside of the Arthedain turn was Sarkar was captured at 1609 by Durkarian, losing a 25 command artifact supplied by Noldo. There is also another Witch King army icon at 1506. In the south the Gondors take Minas Ithil and the Gondor forces there move back and up to 3120, almost 7000 troops opposed by just one Dark Lietenant army. The next Gondor wave gathers at 3026. At Minas Ithil, now empty of FP forces there is a huge Cloud Lord army along with armies of the Dark Lieutenants and Dog Lord, a total of 9000 troops in all. A Palantir scry around Northmen capital shows no DS armies in that area. South Gondor transfers Tinculin to the Sinda. Sinda create a new army at capital where remnants of Dragon Lord Goblingate army still sits. Amroth now at command rank 128 threatens away Sarn Goriwing at moves within strike range of Goblingate which is still empty of armies. Noldo’s Imladris army has moved up here to prevent an army being formed. Sinda get riddles on both Collowhesta and Ring of Curafin encounters. Sinda map does show the Witch King Gundabd start army has moved onto Woodmen capital. Noldo company with Cirdan and ROW is at to Ring of Curafin location and scout reveals only Sinda here. Tharudan of Sinda will join the company. LAT on Cloak of the Abyss reveals it on Ji Indur at 2715. LA on Cloak of Heavens reveals this also on Ji Indur. Food price back up to 2.
FP take 3120 (capturing Feagwath in the process) and move Eothraim and Noth Gondor cavalry through onto Morannon (3700 cavalry) together with 4000 Gondor infantry opposed by a Dog Lord army, a Fire King army and a small Dark Lieutenant army (3200 in total according to a recon). At the West Gate Minas Ithil is now clear of DS armies having resisted a Dark Lieutenant threat. The Huge Cloud Lord army and the Dark Lieutenant army move on to Osgiliath where the next Gondor wave awaits with 10500 troops. At 3220 (an Easterling camp 1300 North Gondor troops intercept a small Dog Lord army. Should be a clean sweep round Mordor this turn. A palantir on 4217 reveals Bulraker with the Dog Lord cavalry force have arrived, fortunately a chasing Eothraim army is now adjacent. Dog Lord obviously looking for easy pickings against an inactive FP nation. Sinda capital is now clear of Dragon Lord remnants their army disappearing from map. My large Sinda army manages to dodge the Witch King and arrives at Goblingate. Noldo had attacked to put it under siege and the survivors of that army retreated back to Imladris. This prevented any Dragon Lord hire army there so Amroth should easily threaten it next turn. The Witch King stayed put at Woodmen capital. He obviously attacked as the Woodmen capital army disappeared and the Major town reduced to a town, We think he will probably head for the Sinda towns in Mirkwood next. Eothraim had already moved the small cavalry army that had destroyed the Witch King to 2510. I also have armies at Sinda capital and 2908 that I can move in to try and intercept. In the north the Arthedain cavalry destroys the Witch King cavalry at Bree. This means I can now plan to go on the offensive. The Witch King army at 1205 manages to defeat the Arthedain blocking force, it was 1300HI v 600HI and moves unopposed onto my town at 1006 so I will probably lose this. Another Witch King army arrives at Mallborn High (1406) where I have 3500 troops waiting. A Palantir sry on 2009 shows a Witch King army on this population centre, a clear indication that Witch King has downgraded the inactive Rhudaur and is busy taking his undefended centres. The Elf agent company is now complete with the picking up of Ring of Curafin. Tharudan joined the company, as planned, which moves to Bree where our scout reveals the defeated Witch King commander Durkatian is still here. We can kidnap him next turn removing him of his artefacts and release Sarkar who was captured by him last turn. The company contains 2 good agents – Tharudan now carries Ring of Imperonation, Bracers of the Mists, Orb of seeing and a weapon giving him agent 45, mage 85 (with LAT) 50 stealth and 103 challenge. The other agent is Cirdan who carries Ring of Wind, Ring of Curafin and a weapon for agent 104 Stealth 25 and challenge 119 Very nice. Erestor picks up Collowhesta and Elrond doubles Tharudan before moving towards Erestor. Locates track Cloak of the Heavens with Ji Indur at near 3119, and Cloak of the Abyss is with Erennis at the Duns capital. Food price is now at 1.
An Eothraim infantry army arrives at Digul to find a small army under Bulrakur of the Dog Lord and this former Northmen major town is now a Dog Lrd town. Our previous Palantir scrys on this area has allowed us to put a stop to DS expansionist plans in this area. The bigger news, however, and a bigger blow on the Dog Lord is that the Dog Lord capital at Morannon is now a North Gondor town. The battle was brutal with the FP armies much reduced and the main Eothraim cavalry force now down to under 500. Tonn Vathkur of Dog Lord was captured during the combat. A Dark Lieutenant army under Muruimor has turned up to be dealt with next turn. As well as the success at Morannon Eothraim also take the Dark Lieutenand town at 3319 and move onto Dog Lord camp at 3121. North Gondor destroys Gurthlug of Dog Lord’s army at 3220 and on the west gate at Osgiliath the Gondor forces destroy the Dark Lieutenant and Cloud Lord armies. Substantial FP timber stocks are moved to Osgiliath for potential war machine construction next turn. From Osgiliath 3500 North Gondor and 2800 South Gondor troops move on to Minas Ithil and overrun a Fire King army here. A palantir scry on 2216 reveals no lurking Dark Servants. At 3120 Camlin of South Gondor injured Ji Indur thwarting his assassination mission. In the north the Sinda successfully threaten away Goblingate and moves out to 2508, This is now a Witch King town but the Witch King army has gone. All is not lost however as the small Eothraim cavalry force intercept the Witch King army at 2609. It will probably lose but Sinda can now move other armies into the area to try and corner him. Sinda also open a new front by downgrading the Harad and moving the Edholland navy into northern Harad. One blip on the horizon is a DS icon on the Woodmen camp at 2615. We think it must be the small Dragon Lord army that escaped from the Sinda capital 2 turns ago and hid just off the Sinda map. A sinda scry on 3323 reveals Dark Lieutenant capital is still a major town without fortification. It also reveals just 600 troops at Dark Lieutenant capital and 2700 troops at Fire King capital. At 2908 Sinda transfers a weapon and Helm of Shadow to the Arthedain stealthy agent who in turn moves to Bain’s location. A locate reveals Bain is still present with the Dwarven Ring of Power. Erestor also moves here to transfer Collowhesta to Arthedain next turn. In Arthedain realms Witch King did capture 1006 but I move in 1800 Arthedain HI catching the remnants of the Witch King army. I will destroy them next turn and recapture this centre. I also destroy the Witch King force at Mallborn High and Cirdan kidnaps Durkarian and releases Sarkar. The Arthedain cavalry from Bree (still over 900 strong) move across to 1910 which is still under Rhudaur control. Arthedain army shows an incoming Witch King army at 1509. A palantir scry on 1906 shows that no Witch King troops are on Mount Gram but 1907 is now a major town and has 100 Witch King troops on. Noldo downgrade to Duns and move 300 LC down to the Dun village at 1916. I decide to do this to preempt DS actions here to take Dun pop centres. Erennis’ location here last turn suggests they may be removing Dun armies to allow emissaries to target the centres. My locates put Ji Indur at/near 3225 and Erennis at 1406 which is a blow as I have the remnants of a large Arthedain army here with no backup commander. The Elven agents move to 1910 but there are no DS characters here. I don’t want to remove the Rhudaur army commander as it provides a good buffer against Witch king. Remember that inactive nations are special serviced which means they are refusing challenge every turn. I also do a scry on 3606 and this shows the Dwarf armies in the area intact and no DS icon on the Dragon Lord village at 3506. Food price remains at 1. A good turn with major blows against the DS.
Near Rhun the Eothraim destroyed the Dog Lord army at Dilgul and took the centre. The Eothraim cavalry at Morannon retreat to 3120, after taking part in the battle, where fresh Eothraim armies gather with another 800 HC and 1700 HI. At 2609 the Eothraim cavalry are destroyed by 1400 Witch King Troops under Dancu. The battle at Morannon was quickly over with the Dark Lieutenants easily destroyed and Muruimor captured. North Gondor push on from Morannon with 1400 troops and are stopped at the Cloud Lord camp/fort at 3222 where they are met by a small Dark Lieutenant force under Bolvag. North Gondor leave 1250 troops at Morannon. The remaining North Gondor troops totaling 3300 troops are at Osgiliath along with 2800 South Gondor troops. At Morannon Elatar of North Gondor injured Cloud Lrd agent Kadida thwarting his assassination mission. North Gondor’s Palantir scry is directed at 2205 which reveals just 2 camps in the area and no Witch King army on Mount Gundabad. South Gondor have put small forces on the Dog Lord camp at 3421 and the Dark Lieutenant town at 3621, both unopposed. At the Fire King capital South Gondor arrives with 2860 troops. They are opposed by a large Dark Lieutenant army under Gothmog and a small Fire King army. There has been no dragons in any battle so far. Surely the DS armies may have Dragons for the coming rounds of battle. In Mirkwood Dancu’s now small Witch King army reaches the Sinda town at 2608. The Sinda army at Maethelburg threaten away this Witch King town and move to 2709, adjacent to Dancu. In addition Sinda have 1500 HI at 2509 and 2000 HI at 2710. In the far south Sinda take their first Harad town and move on to another town. One bonus was that at the captured town I pick up all the initial stocks plus 6 turns of production at this centre – 1500 steel and 3000 food! This will be repeated at subsequent Harad centres taken. This is probably the reason prices are still low (food again at 1) as vast stocks of goods are building up in inactive centres. The Sinda map shows the Dragon Lord army is at 2817. At 3707 the Arthedain stealthy agent receves Collowhesta from Erestor and successfully steals the Dwarven ring of power and heads south. I intend to deliver the command artifact to the Sinda commander in Harad territory so he can switch to threatening centres rather than capturing. His rank is now a39 st48. Back in Arthedain territory I destroy the Witch King army at 1006 and retake this centre. Arthedain now has 900 cavalry on the Rhudaur town at 2009. I have downgraded Rhudaur so I can take this centre. I intercept a Witch King army under Rogrog at 1408 but only with 700 troops. Minastir was assassinated at 1406 by Erennis losing me my biggest army. Worse yet my locate on Erennis’ artifact now puts him at 1006. He is going to be a pain in the butt. I use a Palantir scry on 2009 and the Witch King army in Rhudaur is located on 2008 with 1000 troops under Ashburduk Zalg. Luckily the Noldo army from Imladris has moved onto the same location with 1100 troops. Noldo also moves 3000 troops out from Mithlnd West and reach half way to Bree. The Noldo light cavalry fail to threaten a Dun town and land on another Dun town but this one has a defending army so no joy here. Noldo companies containing Elrond and Erestor rendezvous at 2708 so they can combine which will release 1 company commander. Locate from Elrond places Ji Indur at Minas Ithil. We have no forces here so that’s good. Another locate puts Ring of Binding on Kadida at 3221, so Cloud Lord has stolen this Long Rider artifact. Overall a good turn.
Eothraim cavalry pull back to their capital to regroup and infantry press on reaching Morannon. A North Gondor army stayed at Morannon and killed Kadida thwarting his assassination mission and taking the Ring of Binding from him. North Gondor threaten away the Cloud Lord camp/fort at 3222 as one of the North Gondor armies attacked Bolvag capturing him whilst the other army threatened the centre. They are now poised to move onto the Dark Lieutenant capital. At the Fire King capital South Gondor forces fought the Dark Servant armies here but lose due to the presence of a Dragon. A new North Gondor army arrives (3600HI) along with a new South Gondor army (2700HI) to take up the fight next turn, overrunning a Fire King army on the way. However with the Dark Lieutenant army and two Fire King forces still here with a Dragon we estimate that we cannot take the capital yet. South Gondor also destroy the Dog lord camp at 3421 and the move onto the Dog Lord camp at 3321. They also take the town at 3621 from the Dark Lieutenants reducing it to a village. The small Dragon Lord army that has been retreating towards Mordor arrives at the South Gondor village at 3120. South Gondor picks up E Mere Vardo. North Gondor perform 2 Palantir scries on 3922 which shows no DS army on the Dragon Lord backup at 3822 and only 1 DS camp at 4021. The second scry at 3332 shows this area clear of DS pop centres. In the north a huge Noldo army arrives at Bree. The only Witch King army on the Arthedain map is the one at 1408 which hasn’t moved. Arthedain has 700 troops here to block so that Noldo can move in next turn to destroy them. My army at 1006 is removed when Erennis kidnaps the commander and my locate on his artifact puts him to 1408. I use a palantir on 1906 which shows Witch King has armies at 1907 (500) and 2007 (800). The Arthedain cavalry fail to threaten 1908 (with a c66) and move onto the unfortified town at 1908 which is now Witch King. Arthedain is also ready to move out of capital towards Witch King next turn with around 3000 troops. The Arthedain stealthy agent arrives at the Harad town at 2731 where Lanthir of Sinda arrives with his army having taken another Harad town.. I will transfer the Dwarven Ring of power which will allow Lanthir to threaten away the whole of northern Harad from next turn. While he is doing this the Arthedain agent can steal gold and remove any Harad commanders to remove any armies. In Mirkwood Dancu tries to threaten 2608 and fails and then disbands his army knowing that Sinda is closing in and he is likely to be overrun. Sinda now have 5,750 troops in northern Mirkwood and another 1000 at my capital. My plan for next turn is to split 300 LC to Amroth (c135) who will move to 2908 where I am gathering all my mounts, leather and steel and after hiring 500HC will move up to threaten away the Dragon Lord holdings near the iron hills. The rest will gather at 2508 where I will combine pick up food and move to attack Gundabad. Ringlin with Tinculin has now learned Sickness so next turn will learn curses and move to rendezvous with the Noldo mages. The main agent company stays at 1907 which has a Witch king army here that they can remove. Cirdan kidnaps Ulrac so I am confidant the Witch King army here is on it’s last commander. Np;do rehides Impladris now that Sinda capital is secure. At 2008 Ashburduk Zalg attacks the Noldo army under Gildor but the Noldo prevail. The Noldo mage company is back at imladris so next turn I can improve it to a city, fortify it and move to rendezvous with Ringlin. The FP appear to be in a dominant position at this stage.
After turn 8 had processed the Dark Servants surrendered. Apparently turn 8 caused the collapse of the Dark Lieutenants and the strong position of the FP over the DS left them little appetite to continue the struggle. A review of their turn 8s provided after the game had concluded showed that they were on the ropes with very few camps created and no additional major pop centres taken. They had not taken over any of the inactive DS nation pop centres (although neither had we except for retaking the Woodmenn capital from the Witch King and Dilgul from the Dog Lord). Of the neutrals Rhudaur had been attacked by both sides, due I think to it’s location. Duns only had a couple of villages taken over by the Noldo and Easterlings had only lost the town just outside Mordor. Corsairs were untouched and Harad had lost a couple of towns to Sinda at the end of the game. The camp limit was never reached and I think even with more aggressive DS camping with only half the nations active it would have been a considerable time before the limit was reached. The glut of goods in inactive nations I think kept prices low and there was still financial strain on both sides and plenty of gold transfers. From the FP point of view we were in a strong position. We had many excellent characters and agents, were on the way to making a first curse squad, had some good agents with the bulk of the agent artefacts, had 3 LAT spells most turns to track artefacts and a number of palantirs and scry spells to search off our maps. In addition our camping was good. I think by turn 8 the eventual result was not in doubt. An enjoyable game and a variant I would consider playing again.