We had the crew over on Saturday evening for Cyberpunk, but we didn't play. Two of the PCs had to be finished, and the other two needed to finalize equipment. We mostly BS'd and prepped for the next session, which (God willing) will be the 17th. Yeah, a Sunday, I know, but with the holidays approaching, gaming is going to take a back seat to Christmas carols, Yule logs, and eggnog.
I finally got to play out a game of War of the Ring, too. We overlooked a couple of rules here or there which might have contributed to Sauron's victory over the free peoples, but we'll know better next time. Overall impression: it's a good, good game. The event cards really add a lot to the game's mood, while at the same time being useful.
At first blush, it seems that the Free Peoples have the crap end of the stick. For the most part, their forces are scattered and underpowered, they have fewer action dice, and the Shadow has a lot of units. As I played (as Sauron), I began to realize that I had a few distinct problems. For one, aside from the four Nazgul I started with, I didn't have any leaders. Between the members of the Fellowship and numerous leader figures, the Free Peoples have a lot of leadership to spread around.
What leaders do is allow for re-rolls after combat. Say you roll your dice to attack, and you have two leaders in your army. This means you get to re-roll two (or more, in the case of some of the companions) of your failed combat dice. Aside from the Nazgul (each of which has a Leadership of 1), the Shadow only has three other figures with any sort of Leadership: Saruman (who can't leave Orthanc at all), the Witch King (who activates all Free People nations when he comes out), and the Mouth of Sauron (who only appears if all the Free People nations are At War).
This means that you have to use action dice to juggle the Nazgul around if you want one or more leader re-rolls, which takes time away from actually moving and attacking. Plus, a lot of the Shadow's combat cards require one or more Nazgul to be present in the combat before you can use them.
There are a bunch of event cards that the Free Peoples' player can get that are a real kick in the goonies, too. For instance, Robert pulled a card that had the Ents tearing down Orthanc. I didn't expect it, and since I only had a single unit there in reserve (along with Saruman), the day ended with Saruman dead. Quite a blow, indeed, especially when combined with my losing Dol Guldur due to an invasion of dwarves from the north.
The victory was purely military on my part. I pressed the advantage of numbers, which is pretty much all I had past a certain point. I massed a lot of forces around Minas Tirith, but that was more of a decoy meant to keep Robert busy reinforcing the city while I set my sites on Rivendell (the defeat of which ultimately won me the game).
Next time, I want to try my hand at the Free Peoples. I see some potential in one or two military strategies, but they're risky and will require a lot of luck.
Anyway, time to go back to work.