Monday, November 3, 2008

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation - Session Report

Here (and below) is my description of a session of a game I wrote a while back (I wrote the description, not the game). Like Loot, this is a Reiner Knizia game because, well, he seems to have designed pretty much everything. Seriously, this guy has something like three-hundred games under his belt!... And most of them are really good!

Anyway, this particular game is one of my favorites, and the particular session I wrote about was absolutely priceless. Also, the approx. 75% win-ratio cited below goes to show how AWESOME I am.

If you want a yet-more distilled version of The Lord of the Rings, go here. (Warning: spoiler alert... if you're weird and don't know what happens at the end of Lord of the Rings. Also, my session report might be counted as a sort of inverse-spoiler because that's not what happens.)

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Okay, so I just got this game and have played maybe a dozen times, and I LOVE it! This is quality two-player gaming. The two sides seem very well balanced (I have won roughly 75% of my games thus far as both sides, though it's a little early to give a final verdict on the balance). This is definitely what Stratego tried but never hoped to achieve. I must retail what is possibly one of the shortest and most epic instances of this game ever. We played with classic characters, but added special cards for the first time. Please excuse my cheesy prosesauron:)

A shadow was growing in the east; Gandalf could feel it in the very air around him. He had tried his best to rally the free peoples, and attempted to impart upon young Frodo the urgency of his task, but the enemy was already moving, and he came to the realization that he must act alone before all was lost. A dark force prevaded the passage through the Mines of Moria, and he feared it was one of the Balrogs of old. Wasting no further time trying to rouse his decadent allies, he set off alone into the mines to rid them of this ancient curse.

It wasn't until Gandalf reached the bridge of Khazad-dum that he saw not the adversary he was expecting, but rather a different, though no less deadly foe, the Witch King! Locked in an epic battle of steel and magic, both combatants were eventually hurled into the deep black of Moria.

But it wasn't the end. No, Gandalf's aid was still needed in Middle Earth. He felt himself rejuvenated, and stepped out onto the padded ground of Fanghorn Forest. He felt new life in him, but he could feel that time was short, and he had none to spare. He sensed the forest moving around him. Were these the great Ents? Perhaps they could aid him in his desperate push into Mordar. With solemn resignation, Gandalf realized that these were not the sights and sounds of Ents; the forest was alive with Orcs! They had swarmed around him, cutting off his retreat. There was nothing now but to face the onslaught. Gandalf stood alone as the tide of Orcs fell upon him...

"More tea, Mr. Frodo?"
Frodo had been absent-mindedly gazing out the window of his little house at Bag End.
"Sometimes I worry, Sam. What if we haven't taken this ring thing seriously enough?"
"That's silliness, Mr. Frodo," Sam replied resolutely, "You know how Mr. Gandalf gets worked up about these ancient prophesies. Next week those nails you ordered to fix the gate are sure to arrive, then we can go to Mordar. I'm sure there will be no trouble. Besides, even if there really is some army gathering in Mordar, we have men and elves on our side. They're nearly twice our size. There's really nothing to worry about."

At precisely that moment, as Frodo reached for a third biscuit, the roof to Bag End was rent asunder, and the terrible Balrog unleashed his blazing fire-whip on all that lay within.

Okay, so what actually happened. Black moves a piece over Moria. Meh, let's send in Gandalf, I can always resurrect him later. The Witch King, huh? "Noble Sacrifice!" (kills both combatants.) Hmm, the space in Fanghorn is vacant, and that might not last for long. Better rez him now. Hopefully he can tear up the opposing lines a little bit. Black's turn. Orcs! Well crap. A few uneventful turns pass. Then I'm feeling clever because I successfully snuck Gimli through the mines to dispatch the Orcs. (For anyone who hasn't played this, Orcs kill any single character they attack automatically, and Gimli kills Orcs automatically.) Unfortunately I foolishly left my lines open, and who does he manage to slip into the Shire undetected? The Balrog! Who's still in the Shire? Sam and Frodo! I don't remember the exact sequence of cards played, and whether the outcome was the result of my incredible stupidity, or because I'm forgetting another battle that happened somewhere in which I had used "Magic" (which would have saved me here), but the Balrog ends up crushing Sam, and then Frodo, under his big flaming hoof, thus ending the shortest and most awesome game of this I've ever played (I'm sure it clocked in well under five minutes, not counting setup). I look forward to many more memorable quests in the land of Knizia's Middle Earth.

Thank you and good night.

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