I dusted off War of the Ring last weekend- I hadn't played it in three years. I printed out some excellent aide-memoirs from Universal Head as well as a 3D Mount Doom from Thingiverse, and set it up. I was The Shadow, Amnese was the Free Peoples.
The Shadow has to crush Middle Earth militarily or corrupt the Ringbearer, whilst the Free Peoples have to endure as the Ringbearer creeps to Mount Doom. It is an engrossing race against time, as concentrating on one aspect allows your opponent to get ahead in the other.
The pressure was on the Fellowship as the Nazgûl found them early, having taken the High Pass. Strider died protecting the hobbits.
|Fellowship tries to sneak over the High Pass.|
Saruman declared his allegiance with a successful assault at the Fords of Isen, following up with a siege at Helm's Deep.
|Saruman seizes the Fords of Isen.|
The Fellowship remained in dire straits, as both Boromir and Gandalf the Grey died. However, Gandalf the White then appeared in Lórien. Meanwhile, an evil army marched north from Dol Guldur to threaten the Woodland Realm.
|Fellowship limps past Lórien.|
The Fellowship broke, and Gollum led Frodo and Sam towards Gondor...
|Breaking of the Fellowship.|
... where a mighty horde bore down upon Minas Tirith. After a devastating journey, the Ringbearer rested here for several turns, giving The Shadow time to manoeuvre his armies.
|Hobbits get only brief respite in Minas Tirith.|
Helm's Deep finally falls after a bloody siege.
|Saruman gloats as Helm's Deep is his.|
Osgiliath falls, and Minas Tirith is besieged as Gandalf commands the defenders.
|The hammer falls on Gondor.|
Minas Tirith falls to the Witch King and Gandalf the White perishes.
|Minas Tirith under siege.|
But the hobbits sneak through the encircling armies...
|Taking the Morgul path.|
...and begin to climb Mount Doom.
|On the slopes of Orodruin.|
The Shadow pushes the Gondor remnants back to Dol Amroth.
|Fall back to Dol Amroth!|
Capitalising on a tactical error, Southrons seize Lórien. Edoras falls to Isengard. Shadow Victory is imminent!
|Lórien is ravaged.|
And then Frodo, aided by Samwise and Gollum, destroys the Ring of Power. Middle-earth is saved!
|It is done.|
Cue stirring music! I really like this game, and it is a pleasure to play with painted figures. Inspired, I went home and slapped paint on Mount Doom.
As the Shadow, I'm always aware that I can have certain victory ripped away from me by insignificant Shirefolk. I built up some big armies that took terrible losses as I drove them across Middle-earth. I put great pressure on the Fellowship, killing Gandalf and Strider and Boromir. The winning action was statistically unlikely but thematic- we worked out afterwards there was a 10% chance of Free People victory and a 90% chance of Shadow victory, hanging on a chit draw from a cup.
The unsung heroes were the defenders of Dol Amroth. They blunted the Witch King's offensive which, if successful, would have won me the game whilst Frodo was only halfway up the mountain.
The game took three hours. I didn't add in the expansions, because I'm not really familiar with the new rules.