Here is my latest session report. I originally posted at BBG, but it was suggested I post it here as well, since not all forum users regularly visit the geek.
This was my fourth time playing WotR and my first time as the SP. I had read a little on the DEW line (a SP strategy to take Dale, Erebor, and Woodland Realm) and thought I'd take that approach if the FP had trouble moving the Fellowship. This was also my opponents fourth game and his first time as the FP.
During the first turn, I focused on mustering Isengard and Sauron to war. The Fellowship moved twice, but was revealed on the second move. Gandalf was sacrificed for only 2 corruption and the FP did not have a Will of the West to bring in Gandalf the White, so I mustered Saruman and used his ability to increase units in Isengard. I probably should have mustered the Witch King this turn, but instead moved the S&Es down the political track.
In the second turn, the FP got his Will of the West. Gandalf the White was placed in Fangorn as the first action. I started moving armies so I could eventually build up forces in Orthanc and Morannon. I also mustered in the Witch King. With Gandalf in Fangorn, the Ents attacked Orthanc, but there were enough units there to protect Saruman. I was able to play The Shadow Lengthens to moved the army in South Dunland directly to Orthanc and the army in South Rhun to North Rhun in a single action. The FP started moving the elven army out of Grey Havens. With the Fellowship's last known position in Hollin, I played "Balrog of Moria to force the FP to take a longer path. The Fellowship moved but stayed hidden as the hunt was unsuccessful.
The third turn mainly saw armies moving around the board, as I was trying to get the Shadow King to Dale and the S&Es to Umbar. However, when Boromir left the Fellowship and headed to the Shire, I was fairly certain "Book of Mazarbul" was going to jump the dwarves to war. Strider also left the fellowship. Mazarbul was played with Boromir moving the Ered Luin and Strdier to Edoras. I also managed to get Flocks of Crebain on the table. The Fellowship moved, but was revealed. To my suprise, the FP decided to take the path through Moria. He lost Legolas from the hunt, but the Fellowship suffered 4 more corruption from traveling through the mines and from the Balrog.
On the fourth turn, the FP moved Boromir to join the elves that were now in Evendim and Strider to Minis Tirith. The Witch King was now poised to begin his assault on Dale, which quickly fell. After Strider bacame Aragorn, the Witch King moved onto Erebor. It took two rounds of combat, but the stronghold was taken. The Witchking was ready to move on, but did not have the dice to wage war. Fortunlately, the FP was suffering from useless dice and used not one, but two elven rings this turn. Using the rings, I was able to take over the stronghold. With units moving on Lorien and Helm's Deep and halfway to victory, my opponent was ready to call the game, and I was feeling pretty confident.
That's when things went in the proverbial crapper.
While taking the DEW line, I simply moved my army from province to province. Well that little dwarf sitting up in the Iron Hills waltzed into Erebor and took it back. My Army of S&Es in Vale of the Celduin was able to move into the Iron Hills and half of the Witch King's army had to trudge back to besiege Erebor. I wasted two dice to do this. Also, the FP had gotten his elves to war which proceeded to walk into an unprotected Angmar. Suddenly my 5:nil dropped to a 3:1. I used The Fighting Uruk-hai and beseiged Helms Deep. This proved very costly. In three rounds of fighting, I only managed to a single hit, leaving him with 3 regulars and 3 leaders, but dropping me two 3 elites and 1 regular.
Without the Corsairs, I had this huge army sitting in Umbar. So I began focusing on Lorien and Rivendell. To further delay me, the FP played "A Power To Great" which meant I had to burn an action die and two event cards so I could attack either of those locations. To my suprise, the FP moved his armies out of those nations leaving them abandoned for me to take without a struggle. Unforunately, I had left Dol Guldur defenseless, so the elves began heading there. The elves who left Rivendell were heading to join the army that took Angmar for an assault on Mount Gungabad. Fortunately, I had Pits of Mordor which allowed me to place unit in Dol Guldur, Mt. Gungabad, and Minis Morgul. My armies were able to take the vacant elven strongholds, but this still left me at 7 victory points. Minis Tirith had been advancing and was also now at war. The army of elves moved into Mt Gram, while the Witch King was chasing down the ones who had left Lorien. The elves beseiged Gungabad, and my orc army retreated into the stronghold, but fell in a single combat. However, since I had made so many errors, I spent my actions fixing problems while the FP was free to position his army for a military victory.
With the Fellowship with zero on the track, 4 corruption and sitting in Dimril Dale, I knew I needed all my dice for actions. We drew our event cards. When I saw Corsairs of Umbar, I once again saw a chance to redeem myself. The FP moved the Gondor army from Minis Tirith to Osgilith. I played Corsairs, only to have the army retreat into the stronghold. The Gondor army moved into West Harondor. Like my other mistakes, I had left a single unit in Umbar. Fortunately, I successfully beseiged Dol Amroth. The FP attacked Umbar with the lone unit retreating into the stronghold. At 9:3, all I needed was to retake Erebor, but I had no army dice left. I only had character dice available, and the army at Erebor had no leader. I had to act now or surely the FP would take Umbar. Then I remembered, with Saruman, elites also act as leaders. I used the character die to beseige Helm's Deep. I scored a hit on my roll and a second one on my re-roll, but I had played Great Host, leaving me with 4 units to his 1, which meant a hit to the last unit, giving me Dol Amroth, and pushing me to 11 victory points. Even if he managed to take Umbar, we knew the victory would go to the SP, but we agreed to finish out the turn. The FP besieged Umbar, but the one unit proved to be a tough one. He withstood the assault and manged to take out one the Gondor units.
All-in-all, this game was a lot of fun. It went from a very one-sided match, to a race for victory points. The last couple of turns were equal parts excitement and frustration. Looking back, I'm appalled at all the bad decisions I made. It would have been down right embarrasing if I had lost, though I realized I would have no one to blame but myself if I had.
We will be playing the same factions in our next game, but trust me when I say I definitely learned from my mitakes.