Code:
                         From the Mouth of Sauron

Issue:    E-25
Date:          08-19-94


                                First Word

Thus begins our final issue of "From the Mouth of Sauron." 
First of all, let me say that with all of this First Word / 
Last Word swapping Tom and I have been doing, it worked out 
for the best with Tom getting the last say in the last issue.
I've been on this ride as co-editor since issue 11, and while
I've done a fair amount, Tom has always done the lions share 
of the work, and any kudos for what we've done go to him and 
his seemingly never ending supply of vim and vigor.

Rather than harp on the new game and other stuff (we'll save 
that for later in the issue) I'd like to take this opportunity
to thank a few who have made this game fun for me.

First of all, my hats off to GSI. You've designed marvelous
game, and while being in Middle-earth might get people to play
once, only having a good game could keep people coming back.

And I keep coming back.

Thanks to Glen Mayfield for being a good ally in my first game.
Were it not for his help, I wouldn't know as much as I do now,
and were it not for fun people to play with, like Glen, this
game wouldn't be as good. Hey, Glen, dispite our record in 62
and 131, I'd love to try another with you in the future.

Thanks to Jeremy Richman who assisted in the drubbing of
Cardolan and the Freeps in game 62. Jeremy, you have taught me
alot, and while you claim to disagree with my strategies (I
never received any submissions to that effect :-)), I think we
did a pretty good job, given the hand we were dealt in game 
131. Let's do it again sometime.

Thanks also to Brian Lowery and Steve Latham. I couldn't have
asked for a finer set of enemies, or a better game than what
we're in right now in game 97. I hope it lasts for a long time.

Thanks to the many others who have been so helpful in all of my
games, Jeff Holzhauer, Chris Evans, Mark Graham, and Gordon
Griffith.

Finally, a hearty thank you to Tom Walton. Tom has had a
tremendous influence on my playing, and aside from all the
gaming related praise which I could heap upon him (and there is
quite a bit!), he's also become, I'm glad to say, a good 
friend.

And that's probably the best thing I've got out of this game.

Thanks to all of you for reading my tribblings and scribblings,
and hope to see you when "The Mouth" returns, 1300 years in the
future.


Brian


                                  Dragons

Lomaw:  Offer TEN thousand gold = recruited into army for Dark Servants.

Thanks to Chris ? for the information.


                                 Personals

 - --------------------------
CAN YOU SWIM THE ATLANTIC WITH ONE HAN TIED BEHIND YOUR BACK?
 - --------------------------
CAN YOU DERIVE THE UNIFIED FIELD THEORY IN YOUR HEAD?
 - --------------------------
CAN YOU DO BRAIN SURGERY WHILE GARGLING?
 - --------------------------
If you can, then what are you doing wasting your time reading this?  You 
should
be somewhere making
***************
***BIG BUCKS***
***************
On the other hand, if you're just a poor struggling MEPBM 
player like the rest of us, just wondering why YOUR emissary
orders always fail, then we need you. We've got a 5x2 team (5
players to play the 10 positions of each allegiance, + the
neutrals) looking for some opponents, and frankly, we're
desperate. 

That's why we came up with this stupid ad.  We's prefer to 
play the Free Peoples unless you really want us to play the
Twisted Freaks of Nature.  If you've never played a 5x2 why
don't you find another 4 people who're equally deprived and get
in touch?  Two of us are clueless newbies so don't be
intimidated.  But we're good, so don't expect a pushover.  Besides, if you have a team, and contact Payton Turpin at
70337,1627@compuserv.com you won't have to put up with us
posting this goofy message over and over and over and over 
and over and over and over... (Hint to the dense -- this is a
threat!)

We are:  David Ruzic, Rich Eisenman, Jim Adams, Payton Turpin,
& Sheldon Campbell.


                             News From the Net

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #1
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: look_out@delphi.com (Just Me)
Subject: Re: ME-PBM Game #172
Date: 21 Jul 1994 03:58:08 GMT

>Hail ME-PBMers:
>
>    The realm of the Dark Lieutenants in Game #172 seeks
>to open lines of communication with any other lords/ladies
>of Game #172 who frequent this newsgroup...
>
>                    And so shall rise the Shadow of Mordor,
>
>                     Urzahil, Lieutenant of the Dark Tower
>
>
>
>*********************
>Carl Grosspietsch II
>grosspie@cae.wisc.edu
>

 Just sent in my orders last night,

    The Grey Druid,
        Ruler of the Woodsmen

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #2
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: forester@mozart.srl.ford.com (Brian Forester)
Subject: ME-PBM and the One Ring
Date: 22 Jul 1994 17:15:08 GMT

        I managed to locate The One Ring while playing the Dark
Lieutenants.  The character I have searching for it this turn 
is Carrog (Agent 85 (+45), Emis 20, Mage 41 (+80)).

       Anyone care to speculate on my chances of actually finding it?

        I was also suprised that Urzahil managed to locate it
all.  He has  Locate Artifact True @91 + 30.

 --

Brian (forester@elvis.srl.ford.com)

  -------------------------------------------------------
response from freeman@cae.wisc.edu (Samuel Freeman)
 --------------------------------------------------------

Only rumor I heard is that powerful characters have a hard time
holding on to the ring. They tend to lose it. If you do locate
it, try transfering it to a grunt character. And please keep us
posted on the outcome.

The rules changed recently concerning Locate Artifact  spells.
GSI said that the One Ring would now be easier to  find; they
obviously wanted it to play more of a factor in the game.

 -------------------------------------------------------
response from dpd@iisc.demon.co.uk (David Darling)
 -------------------------------------------------------

How close was Urzahil to the Ring when he succeeded at the
locate? The rumour I have heard is that the proximity to the
ring of the character casting the locate is significant.  I 
have also heard that picking up and keeping the ring is 
extremely hard. Keep us posted.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #3
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: bcash@netcom.com (Brian Cash)
Subject: pbm-me dragons
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 1994 04:03:10 GMT

Any idea how to recruit the following?
Ruingurth
Turukulon

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #4
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: stomljen@ux4.cso.uiuc.edu (You Better Work!!)
Subject: MEPBM: changing icon
Date: 26 Jul 1994 18:32:36 GMT

I want to change my icon.  However, I am still neutral with
everyone and I am pressed to pick alliegence in two turns.

Should I:

          1.  simply try to change it with a 60 commander

          2.  first change my relations with one of my
              nieghbors to tolerant and then try. (does
              having one neighbor at tolerant help any?).

                   thanks
                     steve

 -------------------------------------------------------
response from millera@MCS.COM (Alan Miller)
 -------------------------------------------------------
You Better Work!!  wrote:
>       I want to change my icon.  However, I am still
>       neutral with everyone and I am pressed to pick
>       alliegence in two turns.

Something to remember:
Declaring allegiance to one side or the other has _NO_  effect
on your relations with other nations. Don't depend  on this to
help you avoid DnStNat, because it won't. There may be
limitations on whether you can join an alliance when you have
Disliked or Hated relations with one of the nations in it, I'm
not sure about that.

 -------------------------------------------------------
response from trubador@aol.com (Trubador)
 -------------------------------------------------------

Have your 60 commander issue Order # 175, ChAlleg (Change 
Allegiance). It's an Average Difficulty order so it should 
work.

Any of your new allies to whom you may have previously been
non-friendly, non-tolerant will be toggled back to neutral
automatically.

Good Gaming, Doug.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #5
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: shpark@rodan.syr.edu (Sheeyun  Park)
Subject: MEPBM  new scenerio
Date: 27 Jul 1994 15:52:25 GMT

I and a couple of friends are trying to start up a three week
game of the new MEPBM scenerio. If you're interested send email
to kellnerbl@50cts.afab.af.mil or shpark@mailbox.syr.edu.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #6
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: tomtg@aol.com (TomTG)
Subject: ME 158
Date: 27 Jul 1994 17:23:06

I have a friend out there who just picked up a Dark Servant
position in game 158. He is not on the network but would like 
to get in contact with other Dark Servant players ASAP.  If 
you will Email me your phone nos. , he will get in touch with
you shortly.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #7
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: tps@shadowrun (Tim Schroeder)
Subject: ME: recruiting dragons w/o armies
Date: 29 Jul 1994 22:28:09 GMT

I know I can recruit dragons into my armies by responding to 
the encounters appropriately (demanding obedience, offering
gold, etc.). Supposing, though, that I don't have any armies? 
Is there any benefit from the dragon encounter then?

Here's my situation. I have a character in a hex with a
recruitable dragon, and received the encounter. However, my 
last army is going to be crushed by the enemy this turn.
Therefore, by the time the encounter reaction order happens, I 
will be army-less.  I can hire a new army later in the turn, 
but that happens after the encounter.

Is there any hope for me to get the dragon?

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #8
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: jurin@aol.com (Jurin)
Subject: Forming a Team for New ME-PBM Circa 2950
Date: 31 Jul 1994 21:46:01

A friend and I are forming a team for the new game. We have not
decided on Dark Servants or Free Peoples at this point. If you
are interested in playing, please drop me a note and let me 
know who you are interested in playing as Dark Servants and 
Free Peoples.  I want to get the team formed by the middle of
August and have setup info and checks to GSI by the 20th of
August. We are aiming to have this as an all internet team so 
as to avoid AT&T!

Thanks,

Jerry

 -------------------------------------------------------
Response from rbtg5094@uxa.cso.uiuc.edu (Bob Turkot)
 -------------------------------------------------------

Is circa 2950 being played now?  I am playing 1650 and  have
heard only rumors about 2950.  What's up and how do I get in 
on it???

 -------------------------------------------------------
Response from dpd@iisc.demon.co.uk (David Darling)
 -------------------------------------------------------

A word of warningg here. GSI seem to be only accepting US are
only accepting US players so you'll have to wait for the new
version to be released be GSI on if (around December I think) 
if your outside the US.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Response from aray@cwis.unomaha.edu (ALAN WAYNE RAY)
 -------------------------------------------------------
        Wrong, They are accepting people who live in Canada. 
I've played with someone who lived in Canada, and I've
personally asked them about that also. They do accept people
from Canada, and from what I understand there is a European
version of this pbm run by someone else in europe, though I
don't know who.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #9
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: Colin@suilven.demon.co.uk (Colin Forbes)
Subject: ME-PBM DRAGONS!
Date: Mon, 1 Aug 1994 13:01:24

Can anyone help with the following dragons:
Gostir (met with a Dark Servants, meek gets awat, but can
        he be recruited?)
Scatha:
Nimanaur:
Scorba:
Angurth:

please port up, if you wish, but also reply via e-mail, as I 
do not always check this group!

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #10
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: v313mdm8@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu (ROCHELLE NEWMAN)
Subject: ME-PBM Game #175 (circa 1650)
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 1994 02:18:00 GMT

Just checking:  Is there anyone out there in Game #175?  I'm
playing the Ice King...

 -------------------------------------------------------
response from v011l6fc@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu (DAVE ROSSELL)
 -------------------------------------------------------

I'm playing the Long Rider in 175.  Any other players on the
net?

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #11
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: phredd@casbah.acns.nwu.edu (Phredd Groves)
Subject: MEPBM #175:  Anyone out there?
Date: 2 Aug 1994 16:43:51 GMT

I'm playing the Dwarves in MEPBM #175.  I'm looking for anyone
in that game.  I can be reached at:

khazad@nwu.edu

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #12
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: sjmar3@giaec.cc.monash.edu.au (Steve Martin)
Subject: ME-PBM Game #1 Australia
Date: 4 Aug 94 02:14:32 GMT

Middle Earth Game #1 in australia still has 7 positions
avaliable, there are no neutral positions left but there are
still some good and evil positions left. If you would like some
more information about Middle Earth contact SFGA Pty Ltd. by
e-mailing me or writing to :

SFGA Pty Ltd
P.O. Box 351
Newbrough, 3825
Vic

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #13
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: tolkien@aol.com (Tolkien)
Subject: New ME-PBM team game challenge
Date: 6 Aug 1994 12:04:04

ME-PBM, circa 2950 Grudge game challenge is announced. We, an
experienced team of 12 players, wish to face a team of 13
players in the new version of Middle Earth PBM that starts in
September.  This game would have no neutrals, the kingdoms 
being split up among the two teams. We have played ME-PBM this
way and find it very enjoyable. Since all kingdoms are
immediatley filled set up time is as soon as GSI receives both
teams set-up checks. Just think, no more neutrals to waste 
phone calls on. This is PBM at its finest. We wish to play the
Goods. We can provide 13 players on our team vs 12 players 
from your team, but we enjoy the challenge of being the
underdog.  Please, experienced teams only. Also let it be know
we have never lost a 12 on 13 game. Just to tempt you, we
usually win the game by turn 15.  So, all you great teams out
there take up the gauntlet. We can be contacted at
Tolkien@AOL.com  The first experienced team to respond will
be accepted, but we will keep all teams addresses and provide
them to other teams that respond so that everyone can enjoy 
this type of game.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Response from etlplcr@etlxd42d.etl (Paul Comber XD/MS 4235)
 -------------------------------------------------------
hi,
        Surely this is not the game as it was meant to be
played, neutrals are an integral part of the play balance.  I
also believe that the good side getting 2 neutrals is pretty
good going certainly in the 1650 game they are lucky to get
1 . Rhudaur, Dunland and Easterling being all almost bound to 
go Evil.

Are the set ups and characters already known for the later 
game ? If not then how can 2 equal sides be determined ??

 -------------------------------------------------------
Response from Patrick F. McGehearty 
 -------------------------------------------------------

Neutrals in 1650 is not nearly so cut and dried as all that.  
In game 146, the Corsairs and the Rhudaur tried to jump the 
Duns early in the game. The Duns and Easterlings had already
indicated they were leaning towards the Dark side, so the 
Darks provided the Duns with a backup MT. Then the Harad and 
the QA jumped the Corsairs.  So we have a 3:2 split.

In another game, the Rhudaur took out the Duns on turn 4 and
then were taken out themselves a few turns later.  The 
Corsairs and Easternlings both have dropped, leaving only the
Haradwaith.

There are many other possibilities.  I agree that splitting up
the neutrals before the game simplifies play considerably,
especially given the unknown nature of the 2950 game.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Response from tolkien@aol.com (Tolkien)
 -------------------------------------------------------
Paul:

True, equal sides can not be determined for the new game.  That
is why we like to play 12 kingdoms vs our opponents'  13.  We
prefer to be the underdog. We have learned the hard way that
Neutrals are not always what they seem. It is common practice
for certain teams out there to try and plant friends into 
neutral positions, thus truly destroying sportsmanship and the
game balance.  After having this happen to us, we decided to
divy up the neutrals before hand, so 

everyone knows who's who.  Nothing is worse than wasting big
dollars on phone calls to neutrals, just to discover later
they're laughing behind your back because they already knew 
the other side and were just trying to get info out of you.  
I must say GSI does a GREAT job on trying to weed out these
planted neutrals, and I hope just punishment is dealt to the
offending team also.  SO if anyone is interesting in fielding 
13 players against my team of 12 in a great game of ME-PBM,
circa 2950 e-mail me at:

Tolkien@aol.com

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #14
 -------------------------------------------------------

From: eichmann@ceres.amp.uni-hannover.de (Holger Eichmann)
Subject: MEPBM: When can an army force its way past another army
Date: Tue, 9 Aug 1994 16:53:10 GMT

Hi!

I want to stop an enemy army (around 900 HC, 1000 HI) with a
part of my troops. Does anybody knows how many heavy infantry 
I need for this task? I fear, if I send only 100 HI, that the
enemy army forces its way past my troops and rout them.

Thanks for your help

 -------------------------------------------------------
Response from Patrick F. McGehearty 
 -------------------------------------------------------

I would expect such a force would walk over 100 HI without even
noticing them (but you would lose the 100 HI and their
commander).  I don't have hard data, but have heard that 500 
HI is the minimum to have good expectation of stopping a large
enemy army.  Anyone know more?

 -------------------------------------------------------
Response from wang@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu (Wei)
 -------------------------------------------------------

This is all hearsay but from several sources (not connected to
GSI tho). I've heard that only numbers matter, and something
like a 10:1 or better ratio will overrun your army.  So I would
send at the very minimum 200 troops,  and probably more like
400.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Response from marc@shum.cc.huji.ac.il (Marc A. Volovic)
 -------------------------------------------------------

To answer your question - unless the ground is EXTREMELY 
advantageous (i.e. Thermopilae, etc), there is precious little
chance of actually BLOCKING an eney army (Agincourt does NOT
count, by the way - the French were seeking battle) 

with 100HI. If the ground is somewhat advantageous, use HI and
missile troops, preferably long range capable (archers). If 
the ground is neutral, you WILL have to use cavalry to block,
even if it is only LC (which, by the way, will take heavy
casualties in a pitched battle against HC, but can block their
advance pretty well by maintaining scirmishing contact)...

Have fun, you have a problem :-)...

Seriously, a final thought: Send a minimal *C/HI/MI unit. 
Maintain harassment fire against the Cavalry by the archers 
and use HI to protact same from the enemy HC. Use your OWN *C 
to prevent the enemy HI from attacking the archers by
threatening your rear but DO NOT allow your own cavalry to
become embroiled with the enemy HC.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Response from v011l6fc@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu (DAVE ROSSELL)
 -------------------------------------------------------

As an aside, I believe that it's impossible to overrun an army
with more than 900 troops in it, and I think the ratio is less
than 10:1, although maybe 10:1 in strength points might be
right.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Response from dcd@nasa.kodak.com (Dennis DeYoung)
 -------------------------------------------------------

I believe you can be overrun if the enemy has 5 times as many
men as you.  I don't think troop type or quality has anything 
to do with it.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #15
 -------------------------------------------------------

From: bcash@netcom.com (Brian Cash)
Subject: ME-PBM Game #178
Date: Sun, 14 Aug 1994 07:55:24 GMT

Yo!  This is Harad from game #178 (the old generation): any
other 178ers out there?

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #16
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: panamon@netcom.com (Ian Verhaegen)
Subject: New MEPBM circa 2950
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 21:12:49 GMT

As many of you are aware, there is a nice artifact list
circulating for the Circa 1650 MEPBM.  This particular list 
is organized into two sections.  The first section  is a list 
of artifacts by their artifact number, including their power
and secondary power.  The second section is a list of artifacts
by artifact type, thus the artifacts are divided into
agent/mage/2000 weapons/750weapons, etc...

This list was devised and made by myself and my companion and
destributed to a single grudge match team. Over the last year 
or so I have learned that this particular list has been
destributed to a much wider audience.  If any of you who
have seen or now possess a copy of this particular list would 
be interested in seeing a similar list for the new 2950 
scenario developed, please contact me. The more agents we have
working together on this, the faster this list can be developed
and destributed.  All contributing members will receive a copy
of the completed list as soon as it became available.

 -------------------------------------------------------
Post #17
 -------------------------------------------------------
From: stomljen@ux4.cso.uiuc.edu (You Better Work!!)
Subject: MEPBM: Help on the dragon Lamthac
Date: 17 Aug 1994 20:25:14 GMT

    how do I recruit Lamthac for the Dark side?


        thanks

           steve

 -------------------------------------------------------


                     Strategy & Tactics: North Gondor

>From Brian Mason

Allow me to digress once more.

In my first game of me-pbm (game 62) the Northern Gondor
position was dropped early on, and despite the heroics of
Celdrahil and friends under Glen Mayfield the fate in the 
North (and then for the rest of us) was sealed.

In my second game of me-pbm (game 97) the Northern Gondor
position was dropped early. Paul Mihok has again done a
workmanlike job with South Gondor, but without the assistance 
of the Corsairs under Tom Walton the South would also have 
fallen.

Therfore, when joining my third game of me-pbm with Glen and
Jeremy Richman I decided to see what the fuss was about and try
Northern Gondor for myself.

Dave Holt offered some very elegant and beautiful strategy for
the position in issue 19 of "From the Mouth of Sauron" and a
typical strategy and tactics article would carry much 
extraneous data.

Nevertheless, allow me to do two things: one, to briefly list
the basic data so familiar in this column, and two, to discuss
some of the specific strategies I've implemented in game 131.

Basic Data
==========

How does North Gondor compare to other nations? At the start of
the game they rank as follows (Allegiance Comparison Tables, 
Tom Walton, "The Mouth," #3):

item for comparison among all      among Free Peoples
=================== ============== =========================
Total Tax Base      1st            1st
Resource Base       1st            1st
Combat Strength     2nd            2nd
Character points    7th            3rd
Artifacts           tied for 9th   4th

North Gondor has very good production in the materials made by
plains, but very weak in other areas. The variety of terrain
types is not nearly as nice as that of South Gondor. Expected
production (Population Center Development, Brian Mason,
"The Mouth," #2) which has not been adjusted for climate for
North Gondor (usually excellent, I might add) would be as
follows:

material    le    br    st    mi    fo    ti    mo    go
=========== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== =====
production  2976   274   118     9  10066  346   653  4235

Tactics in Game 131
===================

I'll discuss specific tactics I've used in this game which the
enemy certainly knows about. Others I'll keep to myself.

As in all games, this one had some pecularities, some of which
are detailed below.

 - As mentioned in my Ice King S&T elsewhere, I opted to have
   my armies assemble into a big force at Osgiliath. I blew
   the bridge at Pelargir (only one road to Gondor!) and did
   not attempt to hold Minas Ithil.

 - My Initial character allotment was heavy in
   commander/agents to guard against the inevitable agent
   actions to come, and to eventually replace the commanders
   which will be assassinated or kidnapped.

 - After the first couple of turns, I began to move my armies
   in an erratic manner. I tried to not ever go straight at a
   target, but to always have two or more targets in range.
   Again, this is to protect from agent action.

 - I attempted to establish relationships early with all the
   neutrals. Unfortunately, this has been a very bizarre
   game, with the Harad the only neutral left in the game by
   turn five.

 - We had the misfortune of joining this game with four
   players who worked for GAD (or so they claimed). They were
   playing the Woodmen, Eothraim, Arthedain and Noldo.
   Despite the very fine play of some of the Dark Servants,
   if we eventually lose this game it will be from the
   inactivity and unreliability of the GAD players. Despite
   having a CI$ address, they would not respond to email and
   missed turns with consummate regularity. Even after about
   seven turns when two of them decided to play, they still
   would not communicate by email and still missed turns.

 - All that was to get to this. To be able to stand against
   the combined might of Mordor it is necessary to have
   reliable allies. There have been two battles at Osgiliath
   where the battle would have been lost were it not for the
   timely arrival of Amroth and the Sinda from Edhellond
   (thanks Glen!) While Southern Gondor has missed a couple
   of turns in my game his agressiveness is a boon to our
   side.

 - It is likely that you can hold off Mordor by yourself for
   awhile, however, good support allows you the luxury to
   begin other adventures. For example, in my most recent
   turn, two other armies of mine met an army of the Sinda at
   Dol Guldur and destroyed the place.

This position is by no means a cakewalk. However, because of
your vast starting economic and military strength you have lots
of options. It is a great position to play, especially if you
know you have some allies to count on!

>From Tom Walton

Actually, I have nothing.  The strategy for Northern Gondor,
other than what Brian covered, seems pretty self-evident to me.


                     Strategy & Tactics: The Ice King

>From Brian Mason

Lets start this with a look at the basic data.

Basic Data
==========

How does the nation of the Ice King compare to other nations? 
At the start of the game they rank as follows (Allegiance
Comparison Tables, Tom Walton, "The Mouth," #3):

item for comparison among all      among Dark Servants
=================== ============== =========================
Total Tax Base      tied for last  tied for last
Resource Base       tied for 11th  2nd
Combat Strength     14th           5th
Character points    tied for 12th  8th
Artifacts           tied for 10th  6th

The Ice King starts in a pretty poor position. The only areas 
he is good in, resource base, is the very reason his tax base 
is so low: most of his population centers are camps. Expected
production (Population Center Development, Brian Mason, "The
Mouth," #2) which has not been adjusted for climate for the 
nation of the Ice King would be as follows:

material    le    br    st    mi    fo    ti    mo    go
=========== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== =====
production    33  1015   397    44  1223    405   42  7134

This is a list of below of Ice King characters, their starting
abilities, and their assignments.

Name           co   ag   em   ma   st   assignment
============== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ====================
Abdahkil                      30        Mage #3
Baltab         30                       Attack Commander
Gaurhir             10        30   30   Train into Agent #3
Gorthog        10   40                  Agent #1
Hoarmurath     30   20        50   30   Supermage
Hukor          30                       Defense Commander
Kathog                        40   40   Mage #2
Virsh               20   10             Train into Agent #2


Army Strategy
=============

The Ice King military is the primary reason why the Ice King
starts in such a disadvantageous position economically.

An interesting strategy was put forth by the Ice King in game
131. He moved all but 100 men-at-arms to Osgiliath.  I was
playing Northern Gondor and had decided to send four of my six
armies to Osgiliath to regroup. Since neither the Fire King, 
nor any of the other Mordor nations can reach Osgiliath on turn
one, the result was decided quickly: a complete victory for
Northern Gondor.

Doing this makes the Ice King capital of Durthang (and thus the
entire position) very vulnerable. Fortunately for the Ice King
player in this game he was able to secure a backup capital from
one of the other players before Southern Gondor destroyed the
location.

A more difficult plan from an economic standpoint, but possibly
a safer one would be to hold on until some other Mordor nation
(certainly the Fire King, and maybe others) is also prepared to
move onto Osgiliath.

It is important, both for the Ice King and also for the rest of
Mordor, that Durthang be held. This means a significant 
garrison force (say about 2500 heavy infantry) well equipped.

One of the biggest problems to an effective army strategy is 
the lack of locations to recruit.

A possible move, for a defensive standpoint, would be to post a
camp and fortify at 3023. This location will impede the 
progress of armies from the Gondors towards Durthang from
Osgiliath and can give you an extra turn to recruit more troops
and for you and your allies to get agents in location to deal
with armies.

However, all this is mere prelude to what is probably the forte
of the Ice King. Getting into the character game.

Economy
=======

To be sure, you are hurting. Sells can be important to you, and
the lack of fortifications at your camps prevents raising taxes
to a high value. Losing your army is the best thing to do. But
as a Klingon would say, "they should die well."

Character Strategy
==================

You will need some cash to name some characters. A couple of
emissaries to go out and place camps and a couple of agents
because of your bonus and possible stealth rank.

I'd name two emissaries in the initial allotment and two 
agents. I'd strongly consider making agents all my subsequent
creations.

You have one excellent and two pretty good mages. I'd load all
the mage artifacts onto Hoarmurath and have him start locating
artifacts right away. The other two can train, learn and cast
lore spells, and go get the artifacts which Hoarmurath finds.

Gorthog should name an agent and then go out and get to work.
Guard his way up to 50, and then begin stealing. Possibly work
up an arrangement with another Dark Servant to steal from each
other until such time as you are both ready to go steal from 
the wealth Gondors. Virsh can also be ready for agressive
actions before too long. However, the greatest gains can
possibly be made with Gaurhir.

It will take him (her? it? look at that mug shot!) a while to
get into a decent rank, however, the 30 stealth is marvelous,
and if you are unlucky at getting stealth with your agents,
Gaurhir may be your only one. Always have him train in
agent rank but don't forget his mage ability. With his mage 
rank he can learn the movement spells, and if you can get a
teleport that would be marvelous. A teleporting assassin,
wowzers!

On a personal level, this stikes me as a fun position. If you
watch your economy and don't put yourself in a sweating 
bullets position, you can have alot of fun here.

>From Tom Walton

The Ice King is yet another one of those positions I avoid like
the plague. Like the Fire King, the fortune of this nation 
rests entirely upon the competence of your neighbors. Get stuck
with a bad draw and you're history even before the first turn
comes back in the mail.

Still, it is a nice little nation to play if you can expect 
some reasonably skilled strategy from the other Dark Servants.
For example, the Ice King is one of the few nations wherein 
you can indulge both in the character game (agents) and the
military game at the same time (well, you pretty much don't 
have a choice but to play the military game, at least not until
the Eothraim and the Gondors are beaten).  And unlike the Fire
King or Dog Lord, you generally get to pick where, and even
sometimes when, you want to engage the enemy.

The biggest drawback to the position at start is the fact that
it has only one major town - Durthang.  This tempts the Free to
come and destroy it in the first few turns, in the hopes that
the Ice King will be forced out of the game. And sometimes it
actually works.

Still, this drawback isn't as dire as it first appears.  If 
even a couple of your neighbors are competent, they'll realize
that allowing another Dark Servant to be eliminated early will
seriously hurt their own war efforts, and so will be inclined 
to provide you with a backup capitol in a pinch.  Should this 
be the case, the Free troops committed to Durthang will
essentially be wasted and will probably weaken one of the two
major fronts enough for a counterattack by Mordor to punch
through.

An example:  in one of my games, the Eothraim marched on
Durthang with their army and destroyed it, but not before the
Ice King got a new capitol.  While the horse-lovers were 
engaged in wanton mayhem, the Dark Lieutenants and the Dog Lord
found themselves essentially unopposed in the Rhovanion (it
takes nearly the entire Eothraim army to capture Durthang).
Seizing the opportunity, these two players sped into the
target-rich plains and quickly managed to take every pop center
within marching distance.  The Eothraim never recovered
sufficiently to counter them (after losing all those troops at
Durthang) and were eventually forced out of the war.  The Ice
King, on the other hand, went on to become a major power - 
after exacting suitable revenge via agent actions on the enemy.

So, Durthang isn't really threatened unless your allies aren't
allies or the Free aren't aware that diverting troops will hurt
them elsewhere.

The only other comments I have concern characters.  Invest in
agents.  Lots of agents.  You'll never match the Cloud Lord, 
but with a few good artifacts you can place a close second.
This not only furthers your own goals but protects you from any
players who might be inclined to pay you a 'visit' in the
end-game to knock you down a few places.

Also buy up a few emissaries.  With such a weak economy and
little chance of gaining pop centers through military action 
(at least early on), your only way to get things moving are to
place a host of camps.  Put most down in safe places in Mordor,
but a few in the mountains elsewhere (as a prelude to a second
recruiting center) might be a good idea.  The southern Misty
Mountains, or the Grey Mountains, are particularly tempting.



                        Strategy & Tactics: Rhudaur

>From Brian Mason

As this is the position I've played the longest of all in a 
game of me-pbm, I suppose I feel a close kinship with the
position. Conventional wisdom, as I have heard regarding this
position, was that you could not afford your military and
you needed to decide early. Before discussing specific
strategies and recommendations, let's take a look at the

Basic Data.
===========

How does Rhudaur compare to other nations? At the start of the
game they rank as follows (Allegiance Comparison Tables, Tom
Walton, "The Mouth," #3):

item for comparison among all      among Neutrals
=================== ============== ==============
Total Tax Base      tied for 14th  tied for 4th
Resource Base       tied for 12th  4th
Combat Strength     6th            2nd
Character points    tied for 23rd  tied for 4th
Artifacts           tied for 15th  1st

Rhudaur has pretty good production, mostly because of the
terrain types on which population centers are located. 
Expected production (Population Center Development, Brian 
Mason, "The Mouth," #2) which has not been adjusted for climate
for Rhudaur would be as follows:

material    le    br    st    mi    fo    ti    mo    go
=========== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== =====
production   692   217   103        4986   1178  179  2998

Rhudaur is a one of the few positions to never have "placed" in
a game of me-pbm (Winners & Losers in Middle-earth, Tom Walton,
"The Mouth," #8).

This is a list of Rhudaur characters, their starting abilities,
and their assignments.

Name           co   ag   em   ma   assignment
============== ==== ==== ==== ==== ====================
Arfanhil       40                  Army commander #1
Briam          20        10        Capital command
Broggha        20   10        10   Backup commander #1
Marendil       30                  Army commander #2
Paddro         20   10        10   Backup commander #2
Seammu         30                  Army commander #3
Sispar         20   10        10   Capital commander
Valadan        30   10             Backup commander #3


Rhudaur and the Witch-King
==========================

The discussions below are based upon the assumption that 
Rhudaur will maintain neutrality until at least turn five, and
possibly as long as turn ten. Of all the armies in the Eriador
area, those of Rhudaur are the strongest. However, joining a
side and attacking early will probably result in you bearing 
the brunt of the retribution. Some of the discussion from and
earlier S & T article on the Witch-King bears repeating. Of all
the neutrals, none has a position which is so closely linked
with that of an alligned nation than Rhudaur and the 
Witch-King. The share virtually the same map, and all of
Rhudaur's population centers are well within striking distance
of the Witch-King. Should Rhudaur join the Free, all of his
population centers become prime targets for the Witch-King,
being the closest enemy. Should Rhudaur join the Dark Servants,
her population centers are more vulnerable to attacks from both
Cardolan and the Dwarves than those of the Witch-King.

It is not difficult for me to see why this position is so
difficult to play.

Should Rhudaur join the Dark Servants, many places open up for
camp placement, as you really do not care what the Witch-King
sees. Again, the the jumping off spots where the Cardolan and
Dwarf maps do not overlap: 1808, 1810 and 1812 are good.

Should Rhudaur join the Free, the issue of camp placement is a
bit more problomatic. It is certainly advisable to place some 
on the Witch-King map (if only so he will think that you are
developing mostly near home), but most of your population 
center development should be far offmap, to protect them.

While it is difficult for Rhudaur to maintain her very 
expensive armies, wise use of resources and selective 
retirement can make this possible.

Army Strategy
=============

The Rhudaur army is very strong, and given time to redistribute
troops (as any neutral does), you can organize them into three
effective battle groups. The first step is to retire all the
men-at-arms. Assuming you are going into battle immediately, 
you might want to keep them: however, the cost (not so much in 
gold, but in food) is rather high if you are attempting to
maintain your neutrality.

     Army group 1 (600 hc, 600 lc): This is the area where
     you should attempt to make the greatest growth, taking
     advantage of low prices in necessary commodities and
     recruiting at Fennas Drunin (on the plains). Either
     West and North against the Witch-King, or West and
     South towards Cardolan a large Cavalry strike force can
     be your primary offensive weapon.

     Army group 2 (1500 hi): This group is not very
     effective fighting in the rough terrain of Rhudaur,
     nevertheless it can take quite a punch. Build this one
     up with more heavy infantry to be used as a defensive
     force if you attack the Witch-King or as a second
     attacking army if you go after Cardolan and Arthedain.

     Army group 3 (1800 li, 1500 ar): These are kept
     together as they both have better modifiers than the
     other two in the terrain of Rhudaur. While they would
     form an effective defense if you attack Cardolan and
     Arthedain, they would make a formidable strike force if
     you go after the Witch-King. Your primary objective
     here would be the Major Town of Mt. Gram.

Character Strategy
==================

Of the characters listed above, two were listed as "Capital
commanders." First of all, two of your exposed population
centers have no fortifications. Using your very good timber
production you can rectify this situation pretty quickly.
Second, once you decide which side to join you will need lots 
of orders for downgrading relations. Having multiple characters
for this is necessary. Third, you start with no adequate 
agents, mages, or emissaries. Spend the gold to make some good
ones and get them cracking improving their abilities. In the 
interval Briam can improve his emissary rank while Sispar
improves his agent or mage rank.

Each of the three armies has a good commander and an adequate
backup. Every turn, the back-up commander should do GrdChar and
TrpsMan while the commander does ArmyMan and possibly buys +/or
sells at the population center where he is stationed.

Your production also allows you to make war machines. After you
have fortified Fennas Drunin and Nothva Rhaglaw, it will be
possible for you to make a large number of these. When 
attacking either the Witch-King or Cardolan, they are blessed
with good fortifications, which will make your position
difficult and expensive in troop losses unless you are prepared
to destroy the foritifcations.

This is one of the more difficult positions to play well. If 
you come out on the winning side in Eriador, you may emerge
strong into the endgame, however, should the Eriador campaign
drag on, you are bound to lose much, as yours is the most
vulnerable position to attack, no matter which side you join.

>From Tom Walton

Rhudaur is a loser nation, no doubt of that.  It also appeals 
to me as just about the worst underdog one could possibly pick
to play.  As such, if I ever opt to take this position I plan 
to go evil on turn 1.

With this in mind, my notes here probably aren't very useful. 
If I played Rhudaur, I'd do so just to see if I could beat the
Free and emerge intact. I can't see any other reason to 
actually CHOOSE this nation over the other 24 in the game.

The situation is desperate in Eriador, not only for you but for
the Witch-King. In order to have some small hope of actually
beating your economically (and militarily, when combined)
superior opponents, you must strike hard and fast right away. 
Here's a rough idea of what I might do:

 - declare allegiance immediately.  This assures the Witch-King
   you aren't bluffing and allows him to deploy his full might
   against the Free.  It also means that you can place camps 
   in the Misty Mountains without having them constantly
   under attack by dragons (in fact, the dragons will now RAISE
   loyalty instead of lower it - a big plus against those Noldo
   emissaries).

 - send the bulk of your army southwest within striking 
   distance of both Arthedain and Cardolan.  Scout out the
   terrain to see if Cardolan is massing quickly or slowly.  A
   quick build-up means trouble for you, a slow one means that
   you can pivot and hit Arthedain with your forces.

 - march a second army into Imladris to destroy the Noldo army. 
   Continue on to Goblin-Gate.  With luck, you'll be in time 
   for the inevitable Free People barbecue held at the town, 
   and just might be able to save it for the Dragon Lord.
   Very good for you, as this essentially secures the pass
   against the Free. Extremely good for the poor Dragon Lord,
   another loser nation.

 - limit character creation to commander-agents and emissaries. 
   Make a point of building camps in the mountains, then
   improving them to villages and towns. This effort can make 
   it quite difficult for the Free to track down and root out 
   your pop centers, should things go bad in Eriador.

 - work on the Duns constantly to come in on your side.  If the
   Duns go good, you're...well, done for.

Other than that, fly by the seat of your pants and pray to
Morgoth for divine aid.  You'll need it.


                           The Case For Archers!
                         by William "Rock" Chasko

In game 26, some shrewd DS players assembled a large force of
archers, who marched out north of Mordor and dragged their
coattails around picking off camps held by the FP, until they
attracted the attention of the Eothraim, played by a friend of
mine.  The horsemen rode down the hapless bowmen, but suffered
so greatly that the Eothraim military agenda was set back for
many turns. Accenting the victory, the DS had chose "ambush"
tactics to the Eothraim "charge". This clever and economical
employment of archers is a trick that all ME-PBM players should
add to their bag.

The conventional wisdom in ME-PBM is that the only troop types
worth recruiting are HC and HI.  This article puts in a strong
plug for the utility of archers, both as offensive and 
defensive weapons.  Archers are certainly more economical
than HI - you get more attack strength per unit gold spent in
maintenance, and they are superior to HI in troop/terrain
modifiers in rough, desert, and mountain terrain.

The advantage of archers stems both from their "automatic" 
steel weapons and also due to the fact that they cost half as
much to maintain as do HI.

Assume that you recruit an army of 2000 in an MT over 5 turns,
move it twice (total of 7 turns) and then fight (8 turns), with
all of your troops dying. The maintenance on this 2000 man 
force is 32000 gold if they are HI and 16000 gold if they are
archers.

Fighting in the plains, with training at 10%, and assuming a
modifier of 100 for both forces for troop tactics, the base 
army troop strength for the HI is 11,000 while for the archers,
it is 8,100.  This is an advantage of 2,900 (36%) strength
points for the HI.  Is that worth 16,000 gold?  Depends.  If
that 2,900 was critical to winning the battle, it might be - 
but most of the time, I doubt it. If you fight the battle in
rough terrain, the HI  strength slips to 10,000, an advantage 
of 1,900 points (23%).  Jacking the  training levels to 50 (not
likely in the time allowed) increases the HI advantage some
4-6%, depending on the terrain.

Of course, the archers die *MUCH* faster than the HI - and that
may be an advantage or disadvantage depending upon other
factors.  For DS in the middle-game, getting those archers
killed off in the course of completing their mission may be
desireable.

The archers may be used defensively, to gut an enemy army in 
the field as described at the beginning of this article.  They
can also reduce an attacking army to a level where pop centers
with minimal fortifications can resist the decimated attacking
army.  They are also useful as a nuisance force to threaten
away enemy pop centers and force a military reaction.  They are
an economical way to constitute an effective fighting force 
when your operational goal is to inflict casualties and 
survival of your army is either unimportant or undesireable. 
Use them!

In Response to Rock
>From Tom Walton

Rock makes a good point concerning the usefulness of archers in
certain situations.  He also admirably justifies the cost
savings in terms of maintenance when compared to the expense of
heavy troops, especially for cash-poor nations riding on the
edge of bankruptcy.  However, there are a number of other
factors at work in the game which make archers less of a 
bargain than they appear to be.

(1)  The vast majority of battles in the game occur in plains
     terrain.  This is because the natural focus of the 
     conflict tends to be near certain hot spots: the area just
     south and west of Angmar; the vales of the Anduin; and in
     the Rhovanion south of the River Running.  This terrain
     favors heavy infantry and heavy cavalry, giving them their
     full strength in combat.  For most battles, then, archers
     have no terrain advantage over the heavy troops.

(2)  The defensive strength of the archer is 2, which means 
     that giving archers armor of any sort is prohibitively
     expensive in comparison to the benefit (an increase of 
     0.6 points for bronze, 1.2 points for steel).  Giving 
     armor to heavy infantry results in an increase of 3 points
     for bronze and 6 points for steel. That means that the
     average heavy infantry troop with bronze armor is worth
     13 points in defense, while the average archer with no
     armor is worth only two points.  In other words, the heavy
     infantry troop can soak up seven and a half times as much
     damage as his archer counterpart.  Even without armor, the 
     infantry can take five times as much damage before being
     destroyed. So, when comparing maintenance with regards to
     DEFENSIVE strength, the heavy infantry is two and a half
     times more efficient than the archer, more so if he has
     armor. This is an important point.  A high defensive
     strength means that the enemy must inflict more damage to
     kill the troop, in turn keeping the rest of your army
     live longer.  The longer you survive, the more rounds you
     live, and the more damage you do to your opponent.  An
     archer which survives one round will do six points of
     damage (unmodified); a heavy infantry troop which survives
     two rounds will do twenty points of damage (unmodified).
     This is a better than three to one ratio in terms of harm
     inflicted upon the enemy, again more efficient in
     comparison to maintenance costs.  You can run some sample
     battles yourself with various forces to see why heavy
     infantry has a decided edge over archers in this regard.

(3)  It takes the same number of orders to recruit heavy
     infantry as it does archers.  As most people discover, the
     Dark Servants especially must recruit like mad just to 
     keep even with the Free in the early-to-mid-game.  The 
     only way they can do this is to match the Free
     troop-for-troop.  Now, if the Free are recruiting archers,
     then the Dark Servants can do the same and rejoice at the
     lower maintenance; but if the Free are recruiting heavy
     infantry they'll soon own Barad-dur.  When production of
     combat strength is critical, lowering maintenance costs by
     substituting archers can be suicidal.

There are a couple of good reasons to recruit archers.  First,
they're definitely more efficient than Men-at-Arms, and thus
make a good threatening force.  If they run into opposition,
they'll at least be able to bloody the nose of the enemy before
they go down (those MA, on the other hand, will simply provide
an opportunity for the opponent to increase his army morale,
training, and leader command ranks).

Second, archers can work well as a complement to a standard
heavy infantry force. For example, if you have an army of 2,000
HI, adding another 500 archers will do two things:  it'll
increase your first-round punch in battle at a minimal
maintenance charge; and it'll keep the rest of your troops 
alive longer to smash the enemy in the second round.  An
attached archer force can be a cost-saving addition to the main
army.

I rarely use archers myself because they're too inefficient in
comparison to heavy infantry (and I usually need all the combat
strength I can muster). But there are certainly valid
opportunities to employ them with good effect during the game.



                    COMMENTS ON 'TOLKIEN AND THE GAME'
                          By Paul Erik Lundstroem

I think that what bind all us gamers most together (apart from
good opponents and a good game), is our love for Tolkien's 
world and work. There has been a lot of 'complaints' in the 
last issues of the Mouth (maybe all of them), that this and
that hasn't been true to Middle-earth, and this and that are pure 'fiction' (sure is!), and so forth. I think, people
forgets, that Tolkien never described things so detailed, that
you could make a game, or a 'simulation', of his world! What
has become true for us gamers, is not true for Tolkien's work,
as such. Some complain about the number of Dragons (Tolkien
named only 3 or 4 Dragons), and their power in the game, and it
being non-Tolkienish. Also in the guessing about the new game,
there has been some talk back and forth. Remember that the
designers have to 'make things up', so the world becomes as
detailed as we, the gamers, can play in it! For instance: the
Witch-king spent several centuries building up his forces to
remove the Dunedain from Arnor (and just barely made it!!) - in
the game he'll recruit 1200 trolls every forthnight (and he 
should!)!! I don't think there even was 1200 trolls all in all
in Tolkiens mind - they would have been much too powerful (in
ICE's module on Mt.Gundabad, there is an elite unit of 200
trolls, and that's it! The Witch-king has about the same size 
of force at Carn Dum. I know ICE isn't the Professor, but 
that's as far as THEY pushed the amount of trolls!). Consider
how many trolls can be recruited by all the Dark Servants evry 
2 weeks - nobody questions this aspect of the game! Heroes
spring forth every other week; Kings and Nazgul gets killed 
once in a while; bridges blow up; impregnable fortresses gets
sabotaged(!) to nothing; Gandalf killing off a thousand orcs 
(or trolls!) - all this is not how things are in Tolkien's
world, but we have accepted it as the truth, in the game! And 
that's what it is - a game. And a very good one, as that! So,
all the talk about 'realistic' and 'not the Tolkien spirit' and
all that, is a little bit of waste, I think. It's still fun to
read all the comments about it, and it's sure worth discussing
the differences between the game and 'the real thing' - just 
don't get all worked up about it - if you do, you need to get
everything into perspective!


                                 WISHLIST
                          By Paul Erik Lundstroem

A comment in an earlier Mouth, got me thinking (a lot of them
actually has!). There has been some remarks on the military
aspect of the game being too rigid - everybody knows that HC 
and HI are best value for money! Several people has already 
made some very good articles on it, and what can be done about
it. What sparked me off, was this: one guy had a traumatic
experience in his first game (haven't we all??!). He played
Northern Gondor, and had run into his first Dark Servant army.
He (rightly!?!) presumed, that his Dunedain character was
unbeatable for his orcish opponent, and didn't refuse 
challenge!  He lost his character, his army (and a good deal of
confidence!). This got me thinking a bit.

Basically he was right in his assumptions, I think, but as
mentioned above, this is a game - and the Orcs should also have
a chance (do I detect the beginning of an 'Orcish Rights
Movement' here??).  But couldn't you differentiate the
different nations characters?? The Woodmen shouldn't be able to
have as powerful characters as the Gondors or Noldor! I know
that the starting characters are reflecting this, and that some
nations can buy better characters than others, but if a Noldo
elf can have 100 in Mage skill, then a Woodman Mage should have
a maximum of maybe 50 or 60, or something like that! Similar
with a North Gondor Commander and the Woodmen.  Wouldn't that
make the Woodmen even more vulnerable than they are now?? Yes,
but there should be some compensation. Maybe they could have
more characters, or the characters could be cheaper! Both in
initial cost and maintenance.

It should be possible to balance it in some way. Every nation
starts with 8 characters, but there shouldn't be any reasons,
why there couldn't be a difference here as well. It would also
help the weaker nations, if they initially had more Orders
available (at a lower quality!), and reflect the fact the
nations with powerful characters rely (or depend) more on those
characters. I know this is certainly a wargame, but some of the
nations are definitely more aligned for a 'character' game. I
think the arguments in earlier articles on the rigidness of the
types of troops, could also, to some extent, be used on the
character side of the game. The differences there is between
nations advantages are very minor (some more minor than 
others!) - and both troop types (as mentioned in previous
articles), and character differences (as mentioned above), 
could contribute to a more versatile game. What do you 
think????

(the Woodmen, Gondor and Noldo were just examples - no hard
feelings to all Ye happy Woodchoppers out there!!).


                 The Blind Sorcerer strategy and tactics.
                             by Michael Thomas

The following are my suggestions on how to play the opening
moves for the Blind sorcerer position and while it is not the
strategy I employed, it is the one I now wish I had. I welcome
anyone's critiques.

WEAKNESSES

Armies(Navies):

     You start with a large (and expensive) army made up of
primarily worthless troops. You have weak commanders and are
four turns of movement (with food) away from your nearest
target.

Characters:

     You have no emissaries or agents to speak of as well as
crummy commanders, but you do have an abundance of the weakest
class in the game, namely mages. 


Economy:

     You start with a large deficit, no enemy population 
centers within easy reach, no agents (to steal gold) nor any
emissaries (to create camps) and expensive characters 
incapable of producing revenue for your nation. Also most of
your population centers are unfortified making raising your
taxes a bad idea.

Special abilities:

     These range from mediocre to completely useless.

     With all this in mind should you now be demanding your
money back from GSI? Not necessarily, you do have one thing
going for you.

STRENGTH

Location:

     Your position inside Mordor is an excellent one from a
defensive standpoint. Your capitol is unlikely to be menaced
militarily at all, barring a near total collapse of your Dark
servant teammates. And you have wonderful defensive and
productive locations in the mountains in which to place your
camps.

These are my suggested moves for the first two turns...

Turn 0

CHARACTER              ORDERS

Akhorahil              520       785

Ethacali               725       785
Gastmorgath            705       710
Leardinoth             725       740
Mardrash               325       740
Morarthdur             325       740
Naldurgarth            705       710
Pochak                 345       425

Turn 1

CHARACTER              ORDERS

Akhorahil              300       520
Ethacali               430       705
Gastmorgath            705       710
Naldurgarth            705       710
Pochak                 325       435
New Agent              325       605
New Emis.              325       734

Overall strategy-

     Get rid of expensive and useless characters and armies and
create emissariesas fast as you can.  Also natsell off
everything right away (prices are at their highest for most
items on the first turn) and dump your armies food to natsell
when food reaches 2. This will quickly turn around your economy
allowing you, later on in the game, to become an effective 
economic and military power.

CHARACTER:

Akhorahil-
     Use him, at least early on in the game as an emissary. As
soon as he reaches 30+ emissary create camps. With the order
#300 you should lower your tax rate to 39%, this will cause a
0-2 point increase in loyalty in each of you population centers
every turn. This is very important for a nation of camps.

Ethacali-
     Name a new 30 point emissary, then join the army and
improve as a commander, also research some useful spells.

Gastmorgath-
     Research locate artifact true as fast as you can and get
out there and retrieve them.

Leardinoth-
     Have him name a new 30 point agent then retire this 
useless character whose slot is much better filled by another
emissary.

Mardrash-
     Same as Leardinoth, retire immediately.

Morarthdur-
     While not useless you just have too many mages, retire 
him.

Naldurgarth-
     Same as Gastmorgath, find artifacts.

Pochak-
     Dump all your armies food for natselling, then retire all
of the troops except 100 H inf. Retiring these troops saves 
you 10,700 gold a turn plus allows you to natsell off the 
armies food. Then train the remaining army to increase command
ranking of himself as well as all commanders with the army.

New Agent-
     Guard your capitol and increase your rank.

New Emissaries-
     Name these guys as fast as you can until you reach your 12
character max. (6 total new 30 point emissaries). Get out there
and fill up those mountains with camps. This will give you gold
as well as tons of metals to natsell.

Q: Throw away a 60 point mage are you crazy?

A: Simply put mages are the weakest class in Middle earth. All
   other classes can make money for you while improving their
   skills, agents steal gold, emissaries create and improve
   population centers, commanders capture enemy population
   centers. The only way mages can make money is to get hold of
   the lost conjure mounts or food spells and cast them for
   natselling. But alas while doing this they don't improve
   their ranking. In fact their ranking barely ever improves,
   1-2 points from a 710 order big deal. Any new emissaries you
   create will undoubtedly have their "natural" ranks end up
   passing by any of the straight 60 point mages you keep.

Q: Dump my army!?! Won't I be defenseless?

A: Yes, but you're practically defenseless against most free
   people nations with your army intact anyways and it's
   bankrupting you. If you try to use it offensively you must
   march four turns (spending 10,000+ gold plus food costs each
   turn) to reach the nearest enemy population center. Assuming
   you don't run into the Eotraim cavalry on the way you might
   be able to take one or two population centers before losing
   your army. But since your recruiting base is so far away you
   can't possibly expect to hold them for long. So all you have
   gained is the income from a couple of population centers for
   a few turns while you've spent around 80,000 to 100,000 gold
   in army wages and food costs. If you wish to use the army
   defensively what are you protecting? You might have one
   village, one camp and maybe your backup capitol attacked
   early in the game. (I think a threat to your backup capitol
   is unlikely unless your Dark servant brothers are folding
   around you). And if you kept your army intact you might be
   able to resist one ill though-out attack by a free nation.
   However the income from these population centers, at a 40%
   tax rate, is roughly 5000 gold a turn with natsells. Is it
   worth spending 10,000 gold a turn to guard them? And yes I
   realize the negative effects the loss of these population
   centers would have on the loyalty of the others, but I feel
   it is worth the gamble.

SUMMATION:

     With a little luck you should escape the first few turns
relatively unscathed. Remember your enemies won't know you have
no army and it's no sin to ask your allies for help. You'll 
also have some gold to spread around your allies which will
create good feelings in them towards you and then in turn
they'll probably be willing to help defend you if you need it.
     In a relatively short time you'll have quite a nice little
army of emissaries who can take away enemy population centers 
in more strategic locations. Then you may recruit armies from
more accessible locations and begin your military campaigns.

P.S.   Thank you to all the players whose ideas I may have
incorporated into this article, especially you Ji Indur!


                   Hope you enjoyed it!

                          Mike

                   Akhorahil @ aol.com

Reply to Akhorahil
>From Tom Walton

It seems to me that Mike's plans for the Blind Sorcerer are 
more appropriate for a neutral nation than for one that belongs
to an allegiance.  Though Mike talks about asking for help from
allies, I ask:  why should they give you any?  If you get rid 
of your mages and your army, what do you have to offer in
return?

I have trouble with two points.  First, the ability to create
40-point mages is enormously useful if done correctly.  These
mages can learn scrying spells and scout out areas your allies
can't see, locate characters/artifacts, and so forth. In return
for these services, it's only appropriate that said allies
supply you with sufficient gold to keep your nation 
operational.  You obtain the information and artifacts, they
supply the gold and pop centers.  Not a bad trade really.

For this reason, I see little value in retiring Blind Sorcerer
mages.  Quite the opposite; I'd take every opportunity I could
to train them up, making them more efficient (and more
valuable).  Note that they can both train and cast spells at
the same time, as outlined in the rulebook, so you give up
nothing by doing both each turn.

The mages can also be turned into offensive weapons once they
get a hold of an artifact they can learn curses off of.  In
fact, the Blind Sorcerer is the only nation that can regularly
count on creating two complete curses teams, possibly three
with luck.  In combination with locates/scries and
teleportation, these teams can jump around the map causing
incredible havoc to all.

The second point I disagree with concerns the army.  While 
Mike is quite correct that the most appropriate thing to do 
for the Blind Sorcerer is disband it, it's just about the 
worst thing to do for Mordor.  Mordor as a whole needs those 
five thousand troops in battle to give them the edge over 
their opponents. Without these troops the Dark Servants start
just about even with their foes in the area, a terrible
position to be in for an offensive.  Disbanding the troops 
will almost undoubtedly put an early end to Mordor's ability 
to mount a strike against the enemy.  Lose the troops fast,
yes; but don't disband them.


                            Personal Commentary
                         From Paul Erik Lundstroem
Hi Brian!

I was just sitting here and casually reading through the many
past Mouths. I don't know if this is going to make it, for the
last Mouth, but I sort of 'rated' all the stuff I've learned
through the Mouth this last half year - and I came up with a
peculiar list! I've learned a lot of ME-PBM through all you
fellow gamers out there, but I've also learned something else!
I think (if you had a prize!), that the most important stuff
written in the Mouth, and some of the highest quality, must
have come from Leslie Foreman! I think she has hit the spot, 
on a lot of us gamers - when you first read her comments, you
sort of laugh uneasily, but then you realize that this is one
woman that hits spot on!! There has been too little praise for
her! I realize, I have missed her spot-on observations these
last couple of Mouths, but understands that she has been very
busy with even more important things! I just wanted to wish 
her (and her fortunate family!), the best of luck - with hopes
that I'll stumble across her sharp wit again! Thanks!

Best Regards Paul Erik Lundstroem


                         The Art of Naval Warfare
                              By Ron Cudworth

Navies are one of the most wasted and misunderstood tools in
Middle Earth. As such, they often sit idle, anchored in some
harbor or port, forgotten except for their maintenance cost.
What most players don't realize is that those idle ships can
play a major role in achieving a decisive victory over an 
enemy or preventing a route of your forces.

At the start of the game only the following nations have any
type of naval strength.  For the sake of this article, I
grouped the ships for each nation by location.

Great Sea Area

    Nation         Warships       Transports          Location
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Noldor Elves      12              10                0708
                       8               4                0611
    Sinda Elves       20              10                2325
    Southern Gondor   10               5                2527
                      20              10                2227
                      20              10                2227
    Northern Gondor   14               7                2927
                      14               7                3024
    Corsairs          18               7                2438
                      10               4                2136
                      16               6                2137
                      16               6                2236
    Haradwaith        16               8                2734
                      10               5                2730
    Quiet Avenger     10               5                2135
                       8               4                3034
    Cardolan           8               4                1614
                       8               4                1219

Sea of Rhun

    Nation         Warships       Transports          Location
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Long Rider         6               6                4215
    Northmen          12               6                4017
    Sinda Elves        6               3                4413

Inside Mordor

    Nation         Warships       Transports          Location
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Blind Sorceror     0              21                3929

ADVANTAGES

As you can see from the list, there are three different
theaters in which naval combat can occur; Great Sea, Sea of
Rhun, and Mordor. Of these three areas, most naval actions 
will occur in the Great Sea area.

Navies in MEPBM are for the most part a quick and efficient 
way to move troops, particularly infantry.  With a navy you 
can move troops from the Arnor region south to Mordor in 4
turns.  Infantry attempting this same feat would require 7
turns to reach the gates.

Of course this is not the only useful feature of navies. 
Navies provide a means to cross large rivers whose bridges 
have been destroyed.  They are also handy at preventing a
population center from being threatened away without having to
face an enemy armies.

Probably the feature I like the most about navies is their
ability to strike coastal population centers and disappear
before enemy nations can respond. This ability plays havoc on
many of the good nations in Arnor. Imagine the surprise of
Cardolan if a Corsair navy shows up at 1219 and destroys the
town.  Even if Cardolan arrives the following turn with an
army, the Corsairs will have already sacked and burned the 
town and returned to the safety of their ships.

One final advantage of navies is that they can be used to keep
valuable characters out of the line of fire. If your
characters are travelling with a navy at sea, then you don't
have to fear any attacks by enemy characters.  Just make sure
that you aren't adjacent to any shore hexes or you might find
them getting cursed to death.

DISADVANTAGES

The most noticeable disadvantage of navies is their 
maintenance cost. At 50 gold per warship or transport, these
costs run anywhere from 600 gold per turn for the Long Rider 
to 3650 gold per turn for the Corsairs.  While that may not
seem like too much, in a game with a poor market, these cost
can quickly put a nation with a sizeable navy into heavy debt
or even out of the game.

Navies also run into problems if they want to capture or
destroy enemy population centers.  When a navy issues an
attack/capture/destroy order, the troops anchor the ships and
depart.  After the combat the troops do not board the ships. 
A separate order must be given to pickup the ships. At this
time you might be saying, "But what about the Move Navy 
order".  Well while that order is nice and all, it does not
pick up any of the warships in the hex. This would leave you
with a bunch of transport defenseless and at the mercy of
anyone with a few warships.

Another disadvantage of navies during combat is character losses. 
Unlike normal army combat, naval combat can be very
disastrous to the loser. If you lose a naval battle at sea,
your characters are dead and their artifacts are basically
lost.  This can be very bad if you happen to have several
characters travelling with the navy when it goes down.

Finally, although you can obtain great fun and use from 
navies, their role in Middle Earth is very limited because of
map geography and game rules. I would love it if navies could
play a larger role in the game, but for now I will have to
settle for their current uses.

TACTICS

Navies can carry 250 infantry or 150 cavalry troops per
transport ship. Now the number of troops that you will want
aboard your navy will depend entire on what you will use the
navy for.  For example if you are going after an enemy navy
then you will only want a few hundred troops and one or two
characters travelling with the navy.

For the more aggressive player seeking conquest, you will want
to carry as many troops as possible.  First though, you have 
to decide between either capturing/destroying pop centers or
trying to threaten them away. This choice will affect the type
of troops you will want aboard.  If you plan on threatening
population centers, and this works quite well with navies, 
then you will want to carry only men-at-arms because of their
cheap cost.  To conquer or destroy pop centers, you will want
heavy shock troops.

The choice of shock troops will depend on whether you plan on
anchoring your ships at some point.  With or without armor,
heavy infantry are better than heavy cavalry if you will be
carrying max troops.  For example, ten troop transports filled
to capacity can carry 2500 HI with a defense of 25000/40000
depending on whether they have steel armour or not or 1500 HC
worth 24000/37500. As you can see the heavy infantry can take
and deal more damage.  Therefore you will always want to carry
heavy infantry unless you plan on anchoring you navy and 
making a strike inland.  Then the speed of the cavalry will
become important.  Light cavalry and Light Infantry can also 
be carried, but only if you are concerned about the cost of 
the troops.

Defending against Navies

The best defense against naval attacks is to either remove any
harbors or ports, if you are in a non-shore hex, or just have
an army present.  This works well and is almost essential to
nations like the Quiet Avenger and the Long Rider. Both of 
them need to destroy the ports at their capitals or run the
risk of large navies showing up to capture them.

Another tactic that works to defend small navies is to place
them in a hex with a large army.  Even though the larger navy
could destroy the smaller one, they would then have to fight
the army troops present after the naval battle.  If they
lost then they would also lose their ships.

Finally even though enemy troops may be safely aboard their
ships when the good (No I don't mean Free People) guys arrive,
that doesn't protect the commanders from character attacks if
the navy hasn't retreated to sea.

Final Comments

Finally navies can also be used as good bargaining tools to
cement relationships. While the Quiet Avenger may have the
second weakest Navy in the Great Sea area second only to
Cardolan), Haradwaith or the Corsairs would probably be very 
happy to obtain the Quiet Avenger ships if they were planning
to turn evil.  The same goes for Southern Gondor.  As long as
the Corsairs remain neutral, Southern Gondor has to fear the
threat of a naval invasion by a superior Corsair navy. If the
Sinda Elves or another good nation gave their ships to 
Southern Gondor then it would help to remove some of the that
threat.

I hope this article  helped out some people.  Please feel free
to mail any comments, criticisms, suggestions, or
congratulations to me at RCC6@Jaguar.UofS.EDU

An Additional Note
>From Tom Walton

One point I would add:  if your side has achieved permanent
naval superiority (e.g., you're the only one with a fleet on
the Great Sea), don't disband your warships.  While you no
longer have to worry about enemy players, sea monsters and
pirates will still be just as active as ever.  The more
warships you have with the fleet, the less likely it is that
you'll be attacked; and if you are attacked, your casualty 
rate will be lower if you pack a hefty punch.

Also, in one Q&A with Bill Feild at GSI about a year ago, he
said that transports and warships which were lost (navy
disbands, nation drops, etc.) were added to the pirate fleet 
in the game, making it more dangerous.  In a later Q&A he
refused to confirm or deny this (let something slip, did you
Bill?), but if true that means that you'll have more need than
ever for those warships in games where large fleets are lost 
in this manner.


            Speculations on player positions in the 2950 game:
                               The Neutrals
                              By Brian Mason


The information we have for these nations is very scant. In 
the 1650 game we have the Corsairs, the Hardwaith, the
Dunlendings, Rhudaur and the Easterlings. In the 2950 game has
replaced these five positions by the Corsairs, the Rhun
Easterlings, the Dunlendings, the White Wizard, and the Khand
Easterlings.

It is not possible to do the kind of "in-depth" analysis
presented in earlier issues of this series, nevertheless, 
we'll take a look at each position in turn and discuss its
strengths and weaknesses.

The Corsairs: This will be the absorption of the Corsairs and
Haradwaith of the 1650 game. If it were to have all of these
population centers, we are clearly dealing with an unbeatable
foe. This, therefore, is very unlikely.  This position will
need to have many (if not most) of these population centers
lost or degraded to make this position not too powerful. It is
likely to start the game like the Corsairs of the 1650 game:
with a large number of ships but very few troops.

>From Tom:  I would expect the Corsairs to hold a number of
town/towers along the coastline of Umbar and Harad, with a few
major town/forts (most likely Kas Shadoul and the Havens).
It's clear from the 1650 game that the Corsairs are too
powerful, so the degradation in power should be rather
significant.  This will make the Corsair position less
defensible as well since their economic might won't be
concentrated in a single easy-to-defend, hard-to-reach, place.

I also expect that their characters will be significantly less
capable than those in the 1650 game, more closely approaching
those of Harad in the earlier era.  Sea power, however, will
probably be even more overwhelming; Cardolan no longer exists,
Southern Gondor's navy has declined over the centuries, and 
many of the Noldo ships (and the Noldo) have left for the 
West.  The Sinda are also no longer a naval presence.

Rhun Easterlings: If you take the position of the Easterlings
from the 1650 game and give all population centers north of 
the 21 row to this position you have a pretty viable nation
with five town and one camp. Take one (or more) of these town
and make it into a major town and poof! you have a nation.

>From Tom:  I believe that GSI will move many of these pop
centers west into former Eothraim territory, to fill the power
vacuum in the Rhovanion.  This will leave the Rhun easterlings
exposed to attack from many directions, but also able to make
their own strikes in any direction.

I see the Rhun Easterlings as character weak but with a good
mounted force, at least in comparison to regional players.
They'd need one just to defend themselves.

The Dunlendings: In the 1650 game this position has four
villages, four towns and a major town. This might be a bit too
big for the 2950 game, but otherwise the position will 
probably be pretty much unchanged.

>From Tom:  I agree.  Saruman will most likely own a couple of
the pop centers, but I bet the Duns won't be altered much.

The White Wizard: The changes you are likely to see in the
Dunlendings will involve population centers being passed to
this position. With Saruman as a player character, you have
(probably) one of the four or so best player-characters in the
game. It is also likely that you will have population centers
in the Southern Misty Mountains, and on either side, possibly
just extending into the borders of Fangorn. This is probably
the only neutral position which has good artifacts:  you will
likely have the Palantir of Osgiliath, Glosovagil (+1500
combat), and a lesser Ring of Power. (Note to those who are
Tolkien purists: in the Council of Elrond, Gandalf describes
Saruman as having a Ring on his finger and refers to himself 
as "ring-maker.") As a character, Saruman is likely to have
stats something like: Command (30), Agent (10), Emissary (70),
Mage (100). The capital of this position is, pretty obviously,
at Angrenost.

>From Tom:  sounds on-target to me.

The Khand Easterlings: Like the Rhun Easterlings, this 
position is probably just the southern part of the 1650
Easterling position. With a city, a major town and three towns
you are in a pretty good position.

>From Tom:  don't see any major changes here.  Nice military,
lousy characters, little choice but to go evil.  Kind of a
boring back-water.



                                 Game 97:
                       From Rhudaur's Point of View
                              By Brian Mason

A few months ago, a few of the players in game 97, namely Tom
and I (on the Free Peoples side) and Brian Lowery and Steve
Latham (on the Dark Servants side) agreed to give some kind of
summary evaluation of the game. At the time, I suppose both
sides felt the game would be further along than it currently 
is, so this is not a summary report. Rather, at least in my
case, it is a story of the development and destruction of a
postion. I've chosen to go through it for the first 20 turns,
from turn zero to turn nineteen, as this will adequately
demonstrate my development and subsequent failure in my attack
upon the Blind Sorcerer and Witch-King.

The format of this is as follows: First, I'll list the
following evaluative numbers: victory points, total population
centers (by type), character points (by type), and offensive
and defensive combat ability. Then, on each subsequent turn
I'll list activities responsible for the changes.

Turn 0: Population Centers: (Major Towns: 2, Towns: 4,
        Villages: 1, Camps: 1), Character Points: (Command:
        230, Agent: 40, Emissary: 10, Mage: 30), Army
        Strength: (Offensive: 31490, Defensive: 51960).

Significant Actions: Retire all Men-at-Arms. Move all armies
to capital. Name emissary.

Turn 1: Victory Points: 600, Population Centers: (Major
        Towns: 2, Towns: 4, Villages: 1, Camps: 1),
        Character Points: (Command: 232, Agent: 43,
        Emissary: 44, Mage: 35), Army Strength:
        (Offensive:27002, Defensive: 41400).

Significant Actions: Regroup armies into three groups (as
per this months S&T article), name second emissary.

Turn 2: Victory Points: 575, Population Centers: (Major
        Towns: 2, Towns:4, Villages: 1, Camps: 1),
        Character Points: (Command: 263, Agent: 45,
        Emissary: 77, Mage: 38), Army Strength:
        (Offensive: 27542, Defensive: 41400).

Significant Actions: All armies keep high maintenance
schedule. Name third emissary. Create first camp.

Turn 3: Victory Points: 550, Population Centers: (Major
        Towns: 2, Towns: 4, Villages: 1, Camps: 2),
        Character Points: (Command: 296, Agent: 50,
        Emissary: 115, Mage: 41), Army Strength:
        (Offensive: 28514, Defensive: 41400).

Significant Actions: All armies keep high maintenance
schedule. Name third emissary. Create first camp.

Turn 4: Victory Points: 600, Population Centers: (Major
        Towns: 2, Towns: 4, Villages: 1, Camps: 2),
        Character Points: (Command: 322, Agent: 63,
        Emissary: 124, Mage: 45), Army Strength:
        (Offensive: 29199, Defensive: 41400).

Significant Actions: Again, the regular increases in agent
and command ranks are due to each army group (with two
commanders) executing three character improvement orders
(ArmyMan, TrpsMan, GrdChar). First emissary dies in
encounter with Dragon. Two camps created.

Turn 5: Victory Points: 633, Population Centers: (Major
        Towns: 2, Towns: 4, Villages: 1, Camps: 4),
        Character Points: (Command: 362, Agent: 75,
        Emissary: 106, Mage: 45), Army Strength:
        (Offensive: 30009, Defensive: 41400).

Significant Actions: Again, the regular increases in agent
and command ranks are due to each army group (with two
commanders) executing three character improvement orders
(ArmyMan, TrpsMan, GrdChar). First emissary dies in
encounter with Dragon.

Turns 6, 7, 8, 9, 10: Victory Points: 667, 667, 667, 600,
        808, Population Centers: (Major Towns: 2, 2, 2, 2,
        2, Towns: 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, Villages: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1,
        Camps: 4, 6, 7, 9, 9), Character Points: (Command:
        388, 410, 430, 450, 514, Agent:84, 94, 104, 141,
        203, Emissary: 112, 121, 128, 138, 84, Mage: 51, 51,
        81, 87, 90), Army Strength: (Offensive: 30798,
        51558, 32433, 33658, 33660, Defensive: 41400, 41400,
        41400, 41400, 41400).

Significant Actions: One commander/agent, one commander, two
agents, and one mage named. Five camps posted. Armies and
attributes of army commanders and subcommanders continue to
improve.

Turn 11: Victory Points: 867, Population Centers: (Major
         Towns: 2, Towns: 4, Villages: 1, Camps: 8,
         Character Points: (Command: 522, Agent: 207,
         Emissary: 115, Mage: 90), Army Strength:
         (Offensive: 35220, Defensive: 43950).

Significant Actions: Decision made to attack Witch-King and
Blind Sorcerer. Plans for an assault on Mt. Gram. One camp
dissolves. One emissary named. 400 light infantry recruited.

Turn 12: Victory Points: 875, Population Centers: (Major
         Towns: 2, Towns: 4, Villages: 2, Camps: 7),
         Character Points: (Command: 543, Agent: 207,
         Emissary: 117, Mage: 90), Army Strength:
         (Offensive: 38510, Defensive:57906).

Significant Actions: One camp improved to a village.  One
emissary named. 400 archers recruited. 400 heavy cavalry
recruited. Steel armor added to all cavalry troops. 36 war
machines built.

Turn 13: Victory Points: 950, Population Centers: (Major
         Towns: 2, Towns: 4, Villages: 2, Camps: 7),
         Character Points: (Command: 555, Agent: 211,
         Emissary: 117, Mage: 92), Army Strength:
         (Offensive: 45767, Defensive: 68746).

Significant Actions: 300 light infantry recruited. One camp
improved to a village.  400 heavy cavalry recruited.  Army
moves on Mt. Gram.

Turn 14: Victory Points: 950, Population Centers: (Major
         Towns: 2, Towns: 5, Villages: 3, Camps: 6),
         Character Points: (Command: 568, Agent: 221,
         Emissary: 117, Mage: 96), Army Strength:
         (Offensive: 47022, Defensive: 74748).

Significant Actions: Capture Mt. Gram. One camp improved to
a village. Cavalry army moves around West end of Rhudaur
towards Witch-King. One village lost, one town gained, three
camps dissolve.

Turn 15: Victory Points: 729, Population Centers: (Major
         Towns: 2, Towns: 6, Villages: 2, Camps: 3),
         Character Points: (Command: 571, Agent: 240,
         Emissary: 125, Mage: 101), Army Strength:
         (Offensive: 38031, Defensive: 63495).

Significant Actions: Army facing five Dark Servant armies,
as the Witch-King fails to downgrade relations. Only have to
fight one army. One character assassinated.

Turn 16: Victory Points: 700, Population Centers: (Major
         Towns: 2, Towns: 6, Villages: 2, Camps: 3),
         Character Points: (Command: 494, Agent: 216,
         Emissary: 128, Mage: 105), Army Strength:
         (Offensive: 38609, Defensive:67995).

Significant Actions: One character killed in army combat,
one assassinated, two kidnapped. First attacking army
destroyed.

Turn 17: Victory Points: 667, Population Centers: (Major
         Towns: 2, Towns: 6, Villages: 2, Camps: 4),
         Character Points: (Command: 395, Agent: 194,
         Emissary: 128, Mage: 107), Army Strength:
         (Offensive: 36340, Defensive: 68220).

Significant Actions: Second attacking army destroys two Dark
Servant armies. One character assassinated, one character
executed. One town lost to emissaries.

Turn 18: Victory Points: 575, Population Centers: (Major
         Towns: 2, Towns: 5, Villages: 2, Camps: 4),
         Character Points: (Command: 255, Agent: 147,
         Emissary: 128, Mage: 87), Army Strength:
         (Offensive: 27351, Defensive: 47215).

Significant Actions: Second attacking army destroyed. One
character killed in combat.

Turn 19: Victory Points: 400, Population Centers: (Major
         Towns: 2, Towns: 5, Villages: 2, Camps: 4),
         Character Points: (Command: 175, Agent: 155,
         Emissary: 131, Mage: 89), Army Strength:
         (Offensive: 13961, Defensive: 24700).

What were the costs/gains of the attack?

Cost: Rhudaur lost 36 war machines, 2530 light infantry,
      2200 archers, 1400 heavy cavalry, 600 light cavalry,
      two commanders (70, 66), and three commander/agents
      (75/46, 22/32, and 80/35).

Gain: From this, Rhudaur destroyed troops totaling 5580
      heavy infantry, and 750 men-at-arms. No commanders
      or subcommanders are believed to have died. One
      Major Town/Fort was captured, a Town/Tower and a
      Camp/Tower were threatened, and a Village/Tower was
      destroyed. The more substantial cost was the
      evisceration of the military might of Rhudaur, and
      the opening up of it to subsequent attack, both by
      the military of the Witch-King and Blind Sorcerer,
      but also to their corp of emissaries.

What could have been done differently to make it succeed?

      The plan, as originally conceived by me, was a
      three pronged thrust, whereby, the Witch-King would
      lose all three of his starting population centers:
      Mt. Gram falling to Rhudaur, Mt. Gunabad to the
      Dwarves, and Carn Dum to a coalition of the Noldo,
      Arthedain, and Cardolan. Only the attack of Rhudaur
      went off on schedule, subsequently allowing the
      Dark Servants in the North to attack and destroy
      the forces piecemeal.

Future course of the battles:

      Subsequently, the Blind Sorcerer moved in and
      destroyed my backup capital. My starting characters,
      painstakingly improved were quickly decimated by the
      vastly superior characters of the Dark Servants. There
      has been some ebb and flow in the region, but
      currently the Dark Servants have a significant upper
      hand.

      To the best of my count, there have been at least
      eight different instances of dragons involved in
      combat for the Dark Servants since turn 18.


                                 Game 97:
                         The Corsair Point of View
                              From Tom Walton

Over the 25 issues of the Mouth, the request I think I've 
heard most often is for articles summarizing how a game has
progressed.  Players want to hear about what other players did
and what they planned, and how everything ultimately turned
out.  Alas, while the demand was high the supply of such
articles approached a number close to zero.

For this final issue, we have for your reading pleasure a set
of such articles from several nations representing all three
allegiances.  Finally, you'll get to see how other people
actually play the game and why they do what they do.

Game 97 is somewhat unsual.  It's my experience that in most
games a side takes an advantage early on and general retains
it, with the losers dropping out in increasing numbers as they
each realize what the final outcome will be.  In many of my
games it's been painfully apparent who's going to win by turn
10, which of course kills the excitement.  Not so in 97.

This game has swung back and forth among the allegiances for 
28 turns, with no decided advantage yet in the hands of Mordor
or the Free.  Many people have dropped, yet in such a way as 
to leave each side fairly well balanced.  And the balance is
quite classic:  economic and military might belong to the 
Free, while characters/artifacts/dragons are definitely the
realm of the Dark Servants.

One note before we get going:  this game is still very much
alive, with critical (and thus secret) operations being 
carried out by both sides.  As such, there are certain items 
of interest we can't reveal to you here as they would
essentially end the game for that allegiance.  This may leave
you wondering 'well, why the hell didn't he do this?'  He
probably did, but he can't tell you about it just yet.

In addition to that, I know that some of these operations 
under the Corsair banner are in part due to planning that took
place near the beginning of the game (under the 'what do I do
if I'm forced to go Free again' header).  This means that a 
few of my most interesting developments, which have been in
progress for the entire game, will simply be omitted.  It's
unfortunate; I'd love to gloat over them with you, to be sure.
Guess they'll just have to remain secret until the end.

Pre-Game

I came in biased to game 97.  In games 55 and 59 I played 
Harad and the Corsairs, and was both times forced into the 
Free game by obnoxious Dark Servant players who's egos far
outstripped their actual skill (as I soon showed the little
rodents).  So, when I got the Corsairs I said "damn!  I want 
to go evil and sack the Free coastline!  Time for a little
viking!"

Think about it:  why play the Corsairs?  For that huge navy, 
of course.  The ability to beat any other single opponent, to
land nearly 6,000 men anywhere you like, is enough to get the
blood pumping.  The problem:  there aren't any real Dark
Servant targets.  If you really want to have fun with the
Corsairs, to indulge your fantasies of pirating and pillaging,
you need to go evil to do it.

These two factors were weighing heavily on my mind when I got
the packet, and so most of the plans I made involving possible
strikes against the Free at various locations and times
depending on what they did.  My plans to battle the Dark
Servants were vague at best, as I was intent on joining their
ranks.

So, after several hours of thinking out the position I wrote 
up my cards to send out to the other players, putting in my
token 'demand for stuff' to see who was actually interested in
having the Corsairs as allies.  The demands were quite small,
involving a few +15/+20 command artifacts, a couple of combat
weapons (so my commanders wouldn't have to 'refuse challenge'
all the time) and as a bonus one emissary artifact if I went
evil.  I didn't ask for enormous amounts of gold, thousands of
units of product, major towns, the Ring of Wind, or anything 
else of critical value.  In comparison to what many other
neutrals ask for, I thought I was being extremely reasonable
(both sides could easily afford the artifacts, and in return
they get one of the most powerful nations in the game to join 
their ranks).

Funny thing is, this token demand was to cause problems far 
out of proportion to it's worth later on.  You can't imagine 
my surprise...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Turns 1-5:  The Nation

Never being one to play it safe, I opted for the most 
expansive economic growth I could possibly cook up in the 
early game.  It was my intent to become the strongest power in
Middle-Earth in record time, with an economy that would allow
me to field enormous forces and still run a surplus.  The plan
was ambitious, to say the least; I'd never attempted anything
so expansive so early in the game, nor had I witnessed anyone
else try it.

Specifically, I wanted to double my tax base as quickly as
possible and purely through emissary action.  Since the
Corsairs already start with a base of 60,000 gold, adding
another 60,000 meant the creation of 24 new villages or twelve
new towns - no mean feat.  This would also vastly increase the
available resources, which the Corsairs are quite poor in at
start (all of their pop centers except one is a major town or
better at the start of the game).

To do this, I realized I'd need a large number of pure
emissaries - six, to be exact.  And they all had to be created
within the first seven character slots. Fortunately, the
Corsair characters are quite good and are multi-classed; I
already had seven commanders, and these commanders could act 
as agents by improving their secondary skills.  This meant 
that I didn't have to worry too much about being agent bait by
foregoing the creation of pure agent characters.

I also realized that despite my already-large tax base and an
increase in tax rate to 60% (the highest you can go without an
automatic loyalty drop), I'd need extra cash in quantity to
finance the creation of camps and upgrades to villages. Once
six of the villages came online they could in turn support the 
expansion effort on their own, but until then I needed money.

I found the cash in three ways:  first, I raised my tax rate 
as mentioned above; second, I sold everything I could from my
stockpiled resources; and third, I disbanded all of my army
excepting the fleet and 900 heavy infantry.  This last may
cause many players to cringe, but consider:  I was a neutral 
in territory that wasn't even close to the front.  No one in
either allegiance had the resources to spare to start a war
with me.  That meant that the only possible early-game threat
was from the Haradwaith - and I was willing to roll the dice
on that one.

Besides, I figured that by the time anyone came looking to see
what I was doing, I'd already be building the army back up.  I
hoped.

So, in the first few turns I consolidated my army and fleets,
stationing a force at 2136 to counter the army at Vamag and
another at the capitol.  Three emissaries were created, as was
one pure agent.  The emissaries didn't train; they immediately
left to go start putting down camps.  I had every one of my
characters train in a secondary skill (especially agent) to
improve their abilities and their challenge ranks, while 
Meriot started learning how to locate artifacts.

Turns 1-5:  The Diplomatic Scene

Of the 25 cards I'd sent out, I received a scant few replies. 
To my surprise, no one seemed at all interested in recruiting
me to their allegiance, and some had been downright
threatening.  A couple of the Dark Servants also commented, in
rather unflattering terms, on how silly I was being by making
such outrageous artifact demands for my services(!).

I was shocked.  Knowing how powerful the Corsairs are, and how
critical their location is (they can hit almost every Free
position fairly quickly, or sail right up to Osgiliath and 
bang on Mordor's doors), I thought I'd see the allegiances
trying to get me to come in as quickly as possible.  The lack
of response, along with the threats, were utterly unexpected.

(Note:  threatening a neutral in the early game is just plain
stupid. There's no other way to describe it.  Someone who does
this sort of thing is a moron of the first order and should be
silenced by his allegiance before he pisses off the unaligned 
- and powerful - nations.  It's also been my experience that
those who threaten are consumed by an irrational belief that
they're quite good at the game - one that I've never seen
supported, since everyone who's done this to me plays like an
idiot.  Just thought I'd get my two cents in here.)

Since I wanted to join the Dark Servants so I could turn the
Free coastline into a wasteland, I decided not to vent my
natural urge for revenge by immediately declaring war.  I did,
however, start drawing up more concrete plans for a war with
Mordor (sigh), thinking that perhaps some dickless wonder 
might eventually push me past my rather low tolerance for
over-inflated egos (note the somewhat bitter tone here; Dol
Amroth once again ISN'T mine).

During this time, the only high point in communications with
either side was the discover that Brian Mason, my most 
esteemed foe in game 62, was playing Rhudaur. I immediately
offered to exchange information and such, and started working 
on him to come in with me as a team for one allegiance (with 
my sights set on Mordor).  At this time, I didn't know Brian
that well and the Mouth had a few months yet to start up.

I also found that the Harad player was something of a dweeb 
and was playing at a less-than-respectable level.  His actions
spoke of plans either so obtuse I couldn't discern his intent,
or of a complete inability to think beyond one turn. Though 
you should never underestimate your (possible) opponents, I
placed my bets on the latter possibility.

And a bit of bad news:  the Dark Lieutenants player turned out
to be the same quy that played Harad in game 59.  As the
Corsairs, I'd made a sneak attack on him while he was fighting
the Dark Servants; he didn't take it in a very sportsmanlike
manner, so to avoid any conflicts I kept my identity secret in
game 97.


Turn 6-10:  The Nation

The plans to build up the economy were moving like clockwork. 
I put down a number of new camps and my emissaries were
increasing their skills rapidly. I also had similar luck with
my other characters, all of which were making large gains with
each order.

Meriot actually learned the 'locate artifact true' spell
quickly and determined soon after that most of the nifty items
hadn't been grabbed yet.  I targeted a few of these for 
pick-up and send a couple of characters out to retrieve the
goodies.  This made me wonder if perhaps many of the players
were new, since veterans snap up the better mage and agent
artifacts right away.  The fact that they were still laying
around by turn 10 made me think that either there'd been big
drops or that the better mage nations were being played by
less-than-experienced souls.

My economy was stable enough by turn 7 that I started
recruiting again.  All new troops were either heavy infantry 
or heavy cavalry, and new production from camps in various
rough hexes allowed me to equip them with good arms and armor 
fairly cheaply.  By turn 10 my army was stronger than it had
been at start, and much more durable.  I breathed a small sigh
of relief, since some tense diplomatic moments made me think
that I might get hit while I still had only 900 HI to defend 
my nation with.

Everything was going great, and I was actually ahead of
schedule on the buildup at this point.

Turn 6-10:  The Diplomatic Scene

Despite my hopes, the diplomacy with both sides was terrible. 
Most of the Free wouldn't even respond, and when they did it
didn't even qualify as lukewarm. On the Dark Servant side, 
some players were enthused about having me join Sauron's ranks
but didn't want to part with even the most petty of artifacts. 
Others wouldn't talk at all, while a few (most notably the
Quiet Avenger) continued to make threats.

I had planned to join a side by turn 10.  There's no reason in
the world why a neutral shouldn't be prepared to declare
allegiance by this time, and in games where I play an
allegiance power I mark a neutral for death if he fails to
declare at this point.  In my opinion, such a player is simply
trying to rack up victory points without doing any of the
fighting; so even if he joins my side, I'll come visit him 
with agents and emissaries and take him out of the top ranks.
I'd much rather go down myself and take the offending neutral
with me than have the neutral win because he sat on his ass 
the whole game.

By this time I was primed to declare allegiance - and no one
wanted the Corsairs to join them.  At least not enough to
deliver a couple of artifacts to my commanders so I wouldn't
have to 'refuse challenge' at every battle.  I'd toned down my
demands to a couple of +10 command artifacts and a few combat 
weapons, with again no takers (and a host of negative comments
about how greedy I was!).

I was also pretty damned bored.  I play the game to FIGHT, not
to pick my nose and watch others have all the fun.  Ten turns
is five MONTHS without a good battle, and I was hankering for
some death and mayhem.  Unable to curb my violent impulses, I
looked towards my neighbor - the incompetent (and still
neutral) Harad for a bit of fun.  I figured I'd occupy myself
with his conquest while the allegiances got their act 
together.  And perhaps they'd take me a bit more seriously if
my nation included the mighty Haradwaith.

Among the Dark Servants, I was having a few problems.  The
Witch-King made some suggestions to me that I should drop the
game, as he liked it the way it was and didn't want me to 
spoil it; the Cloud Lord was always willing to brandish his
"I'll come punish you with agents" stick; and the Quiet 
Avenger was making threats of conquest on a regular basis (now
this guy was truly out-to-lunch; the Quiet Avenger conquer the
Corsairs?  Give me a break.)  Despite the fact that these are
fighting words, I was still holding out the hope that Mordor
might actually recruit me into the war; Southern Gondor's
coastline was ENTIRELY undefended, enough to make any Corsair
drool.

Among the neutrals, the Easterlings had gone evil, Brian
declared for the Free on turn 11, and the Duns dropped the 
game (with just about everything degrading before anyone could
reach it).  I knew Brian fairly well at this point, and I was
disappointed that he'd gone good since that meant I had a fair
chance of fighting against him again, not with him.

Players in both allegiances had also dropped out at this 
point, but I'm no longer clear on the order in which this
happened.  I do remember that Northern Gondor, a player about
as bad as Harad, had dropped after losing almost all of his
armies, characters, and artifacts to the Dark Servants.

Turns 11-15:  The Nation

The economy was really booming at this point; I'd just hit the
target level where new camps and villages were essentially 
free (because of previous build-up). My emissaries were having
a heyday, with even the ones created on turn 6 being good
enough to go on the offensive because of skill increases.

My other characters were also doing quite well, with some 
agent ranks exceeding a score of 50.  I determined that this
would be adequate to defend against most assassinations and
kidnappings, but named two more pure agents for additional
protection.  Since it looked more and more likely that I'd be
going Free, these agents would be necessary to protect the
prime characters from Mordor's assassins.

The army went from large to outrageous, as I built up to slam
Harad but good with a three-pronged invasion.  It was quite
nicely planned to take every single town and major town in 
just two turns, and I believe it would've worked; but I never
got the opportunity to test it out.  Harad dropped the game
while my forces were in mid-transfer, out of position, and all
of his towns had degraded to camps or nothing by the time I
marched.  While I eventually ended up taking all five of his
major towns, I lost 40,000 gold in tax base and 24 resource
points because the player dropped.  Needless to say, I was
quite peeved at being deprived of even a token fight.

I also just about finished picking up the artifacts that I
wanted, and had transferred most of them to the appropriate
characters.

Turn 11-15:  The Diplomatic Scene

I'd pretty much figured out at this point that I was never
going to get any command or combat artifacts from either side
and was so bored that I had to declare simply to avoid losing
interest in the game.  It was still a toss-up; Brian was doing
his best to recruit me to the Free while a couple of the Dark
Servants (especially that annoying Quiet Avenger) were
regularly ticking me off. But Southern Gondor was engaged in
the Ithilien and had almost nothing left to defend his 
homeland with.  I estimated I could take Dol Amroth, 2527, and 
four minor towns in two turns with little in the way of
opposition.  How often does that sort of opportunity drop in
your lap?  Better yet, the Noldo had opted for a military game
and almost all of their forces were away; that meant I could
conquer Southern Gondor in about three turns, then be in 
Lindon three turns later - smashing those silly elves.  I 
never saw anyone else do that as the Corsairs, and I wanted to
be the first to take the entire coastline of Middle Earth as
mine.

In the North, Brian's addition to the Free nearly spelled the
doom of the Witch-King and his ally the Blind Sorcerer (who 
had towns up that way), both of whom were hanging on by the
skin of their teeth (along with the aid of numerous dragons 
and Cloud Lord agents).  Near Mordor, Southern Gondor was
kicking various butts by himself, as his opposition was less
than skilled in military endeavors. However, a number of Free
had dropped, including the Northmen and Eothraim, so Mordor 
was expanding unchecked in the Rhovanion.  The Easterlings 
were also causing problems, though not nearly as many as he
should have been capable of.

My most pressing concern in Umbar at the moment was the Quiet
Avenger. After I sent armies into Harad to take the major
towns, the Quiet Avenger moved in a couple of forces of his 
own and again threatened to conquer me if I didn't declare for
the Dark Servants (he also demanded that I give up the towns 
that I took).  Now, I've never been very tolerant of that sort
of thing, and have always attacked and destroyed anyone silly
enough to actually display their foolishness on their sleeve;
but Gondor beckoned...so I talked to the other Dark Servants
and asked them to please reign in their cohort before I lost 
my temper.

The reply was mixed. Half of those who answered said they
thought the Quiet Avenger was a jerk and sure, go ahead and
conquer his ass.  The other half said the Quiet Avenger was a
jerk but he was also a Dark Servant, so any action on my part
to curb his invasion would be construed as a declaration of 
war on Mordor. Talk about unity among the Dark Servants.

Turn 16-20:  The Nation

Umbar was enormous at this point.  I had 500 victory points 
for pop centers, 500 victory points for armies, and 500 
victory points for characters.  I didn't have that much for
gold, as I was at this point buying enormous quantities of
stuff to outfit my troops and to keep the treasury low to
discourage agent theft.

(A note:  Since turn 6 or so, Mordor had been making 
occasional forays into Umbar to steal gold.  Some of the theft
was conducted by the Dark Lieutenants, more by the Cloud Lord.
I had essentially ignored these acts because they were 
sporadic rather than constant, and never more than one agent 
at a time.  I had also beaten the crap out of a couple of 
their agents with my guards, a most satisfying retribution.)

It was at this point that I made my intent known and declared
for the Free. Ignoring my overwhelming might (which involved
moving some mighty big armies into the Quiet Avengers range so
that he could scout out their size), my southern neighbor
marched right into the heart of Umbar and again threatened to
take me out if I didn't go evil and give him stuff.  I was
speechless; was this guy suicidal, or brain-dead?

In any event, I said 'to hell with it' and attacked the Quiet
Avenger.  On the first turn I took Vamag and destroyed most of
his army, wrapping up with the capture of his capitol a couple
of turns later.  His resistance was so pathetic I took only
minor losses during the campaign, and actually had a MORE
troops after the final battle than I had when I first attacked
(because of recruitment). A couple of Dark Servants responded
with declarations of war and that pretty much put me in the
Free camp whole-heartedly.  No more diplomacy because I'm not
neutral anymore.

Turn 16-20

The problem here is:  how to best support the other Free?  If
the pressure can be taken off the remaining players in my
allegiance, we can simply bowl over the Dark Servants with our
superior economies.  This means that I need to in some way
distract Dark Servant characters and armies so that my allies
can recover and go on the offensive.  During this time, the
battles are pretty much dead-locked everywhere but no-man's
land (the Rhovanion, what's left of Northern Gondor).

With this in mind, I decide to go with a two-part plan I'd
envisioned earlier in the game.  The first part involved a
massive landing in the Ithilien with an army large enough to
attract some notice; the second part required a medium-sized
heavy cav force to move into Khand from off-map and wreak a
little devastation. This two-pronged attack would no doubt 
draw off Dark Servant armies and agents, who'd think that they
were responding to an imminent Corsair invasion of Mordor.

While I had the armies required for the campaign, everyone was
out of place because the Quiet Avenger campaign scattered my
forces.  I spent the rest of this time period reconsolidating
the expeditionary forces and moving the home guard off-map and
away from probable scout/scrying areas.

Turn 21-25

The invasion didn't quite go off as planned.  While putting
together the fleet, I found I lacked a single agent order to
cover everyone at the consolidation site.  I picked the least
able commander and left him without a guard for the turn.

Up until this point, I regularly guarded (and often
cross-guarded) every single commander and prime character at
all times.  With the agents and commander-agents at my
disposal, this didn't present a problem.  During this one 
turn, I found I needed an extra order to transfer some troops,
which shorted me a guard order off that commander-agent.  And
wouldn't you know it?  The Dark Servants picked Adumir, the
unguarded character, to assassinate.

This in and of itself was of little concern, but the fleet
sailed that turn to Osgiliath and Adumir was selected to be my
sacrificial lamb for the invasion force.  With Adumir dead, 
the fleet commander arrived with no one to split the army off
to.  Really, really unfortunate.

At the same time, my cav in Khand made a sudden appearance 
from off map on to a major town and town of the Easterlings.
My opponent had left nothing to block road access should I 
take this tack, nor did he even bother to scout or scry the
terrain that I'd obviously have to march through to see if I
was coming. Though I'd come from off-map, I had threatened 
away 3538 on the march and that should have tipped him off 
that something was up.  Apparently it didn't.

In Khand then, I destroyed both the major town and town,
marching to the remaining town and the Easterling capitol.
Again, no one tried to block me, nor did any agents from 
Mordor show up to contest my actions.  Rather confused, I
wiped out the small Easterling army at the capitol, destroyed
his other town, and put the entire army at Sturlurtsa to draw
some attention.  No response.  I said "what the hell" again,
burned the Easterling capitol to the ground, and took off for
Mordor's back door.

In the Ithilien, I'd drawn a new back-up for the navy and 
moved up a third army into position for strike.  I then moved
two forces into 3028 and 3026, making sure I had enough troops
in each to qualify as 'huge' on the Dark Servant pop center
reports.  My thought was that if that didn't get their
attention, they were already asleep at the wheel.  I 
threatened away both sites and again marched on Osgiliath, 
this time taking the road so that I wouldn't miss any oncoming
armies that might want to defend Mordor.

While the military campaign was underway, my emissaries were
hard at work stealing away pop centers from the Dark Servants.
In a few turns I'd grabbed two major towns and a town, again
with no response by agents (who should've been covering likely
targets in order to catch the group coming in).

Remember, the point of this whole invasion was to get Dark
Servant armies and agents off the backs of my allies and
arrayed against my nation.  It was never intended that they do
any real damage; they were simply supposed to distract the
enemy while the other Free recovered.  So their success, due
mostly to the fact that the Dark Servants did NOTHING while I
attacked, was entirely unexpected.

By the end of this time period my forces had burned a city, a
major town, and two towns; and had taken two major towns, a
town, and two villages.  That's a total loss of 52,500 gold in
tax base and 24 resource points, all from a campaign which I
thought (and intended to be) doomed from the start.  I was
quite happy with the damage done, but most displeased that
Mordor's agents had decided to continue bothering my allies
when they should've been busy countering my moves.

I was also mightily perplexed; did Mordor think the Corsairs 
so ineffective they didn't even bother to show up?  And why 
did no one come to fight for the Easterlings?  In fact, where
the hell were the Easterlings?  I knew from my own scouting
that losing over 50,000 gold in taxes was damn near a mortal
blow for the Dark Servants, so why didn't they put up some
resistance?

Turn 26-29

More players dropped between turns 21 and 29 from both sides,
leaving whole regions undefended.  This was worse for the Free
than for the Dark Servants, as the entirety of Mirkwood and 
the Rhovanion lay open to conquest without opposition.  Also,
no one was left to contest passage through Northern Gondor
into Eriador.

The Dark Servants once again took the advantage in the north,
primarily because the Cardolan player was being a putz and
refused to help in the fight.  This allowed Mordor to sweep
through Rhudaur and do considerable damage, though a bit too
late to affect that nation.  In the South, Southern Gondor
proved more than able to hold his own, keeping his nation
intact despite repeated invasions and agent strikes.

The army in the Ithilien ran into a very nice Dog Lord force 
of 3,000 well-trained heavy cav in steel - obviously his pride
and joy (for me, 3,000 heavy cav in steel is about one out of
six of my armies).  Though the Dark Servants might think
otherwise, I was overjoyed - finally I get to destroy some of
Mordor's forces!  I was sure that they'd simply hit me with
agents and waste the two armies I had (both had lousy
commanders and no backups), so the opportunity to inflict yet
more harm before the armies went down was a welcome boon.  In 
the ensuing battle I did indeed wipe out his army, though I
lost all of my troops either to battle or the army commanders
being kidnapped.

At this point I implemented the second phase of the plan I'd
drawn up, since the first phase had gone so well.  While most
of that second phase is still in progress and can't be talked
about yet, here are a few things which'll happen before this
goes to print:

 - the cav force which destroyed Khand moved off-map and 
   north.  Rather than fly through Mordor's back door and 
   get hit by agents, it's now in Rhun destroying all the 
   nifty - and unguarded - pop centers in the area.  Yet 
   more damage to Mordor. Especially that poor Easterling
   bastard, who STILL hasn't moved to block my armies.

 - a secondary invasion force landed in Gondor to take back a
   major town that GSI mistakenly gave the Dark Servants.
   Linhir (2527) was lost to emissaries even though Gondor had
   an army there during the turn - a computer error which 
   wasn't corrected.  I decided to do the correcting for GSI.
   Where shall this huge army sail to next?

 - emissaries are at yet another major town and will take that
   before Mordor can respond.  These same emissaries have put 
   a number of other pop centers into jeopardy with loyalty
   reductions, allowing any single good character to move in
   and swipe them.  This scatters the targets and makes it 
   more difficult for the Dark Servants to figure out where 
   I'm going (watching Dark Servant agents move to the wrong
   pop centers is quite funny, actually).

 - there are more Corsair armies on the march.  Where might
   they be?  In the obvious places?  I don't think so.
   Remember, Mordor managed to take out two of six standing
   forces, both of which I've already replaced.  They can see
   two; where are the other four?  Are you guys using your
   palantirs?  Aren't you a little bothered that the South
   isn't brimming with forces?

A Word on Info Gathering

One distinct advantage we've had over Mordor is in our
information gathering activities.  The Free (those of us who
actually play, that is) have been quite diligent in
scrying/scouting/locating/uncovering secrets, giving us a very
good idea of where Mordor's forces and characters are, and 
what they're up to. We've also scouted out most of the new pop
centers that the Dark Servants have built (quite a few,
actually; Mordor proper is brimming with new camps/villages 
and even major towns!).

These operations have helped us enormously in our endeavors. 
For example, my emissaries have avoided agent ambushes on
several occasions because said agents were tracked by us.  
This is easily done, as we know most of the names and can
always track agent/curses artifacts to see where the
concentrations are occurring.

The Dark Servants are keeping par with us in the north but are
doing an abysmal job in the South.  A single scout/recon/scry
would've located my infantry army on the march prior to moving
into the Ithilien; a single good agent could've nailed it
before it could act.  The same goes for my cav in the east,
which could have been found by one or two agents scouting from
key positions a half-dozen turns running (now that force is in
the open and will be harder to hunt down).

Oh, and never underestimate the power of the double-agent....

In Conclusion

There's a great deal I couldn't relate or even hint at in this
article.  At this time it seems that the war is a bit dicey in
the North, but in a few turns that will definitely change.  In
the South, Gondor is intact and I hold a marked edge in troops
and position over Mordor, despite the fact that I'm only one
nation.

Earlier, both Southern Gondor and Rhudaur were suffering
because of character losses.  Now that's no longer a real
concern.  With the gold at our disposal, we can each afford 
to move our capitol every turn and still have a combined 
surplus of more than 50,000 gold in revenues - not to mention
what we could sell to raise more cash (I think I need to buy
new warehouses; what the hell am I going to do with 30,000
leather?).

So, now that we're all set character losses are no longer a
concern.  Like the Harad in any game, we can simply replace
them each and every turn.  Agents at the capitol?  Send in a
sacrificial lamb and move it; no big deal.  And of course I
still have a slew of very skilled agents and commander-agents
to give Mordor a bad time (as the Dark Lieutenants well know).

It's been my experience that once the Free are past the point
where character losses are a concern, Mordor loses much of 
it's power.  If assassination does little except cost you 
gold, if you can destroy just one target with that army, then
eventually the Dark Servants will fall.  With most of their
might concentrated in the character game, their advantage in
this department can simply be ignored by the Free with their
relatively enormous economic strength.  We probably won't
outfight them; like Grant, we'll simply wear them down by
throwing army after army at them until there's nothing left.

We also have a few other weapons which we can't speak of as
yet, but here's one I've hinted at.  The Corsairs have some of
the best emissaries in the game (90+) and are using them to
good effect; other Free powers also have comparable emissary
teams.  Mordor might wonder what these teams are doing if they 
aren't on the offensive, and how they're going to guard 
against them all when they join in the fun.  If I alone can
swipe a major town every turn - with just three characters, or
only half the team - how will they fight the rest of the full
teams that we have?

And Thanks

I couldn't help but do a little gloating in the article. 
Still, there wouldn't be a reason to gloat if some of the
opposition wasn't so good.  Without the absolutely heroic
efforts of Brian Lowery (Witch-King) and Steve Latham (Blind
Sorcerer), this game would've been over for the Dark Servants
ten turns ago. I'm not only impressed with their ability to
hang on under the bitterest of conditions, but also with their
consumate skill in recruiting dragons.  How many times did you
guys save your butts that way?  Seven, eight?  Jesus, I lost 
count. Too bad GSI fixed the bug about tagging dragons, eh?

Though I've had a few personal clashes with both of my
opponents, they've given me my most enjoyable game to date.
Without good opposition, there's no point in playing; and 
these guys have proven time and time again that they bound and
DETERMINED not to lose.  Hence the fact that Mordor isn't a
province of Gondor again.

I still think you're doomed, my enemy.  But even if you do go
down, you fought one of the best campaigns I've ever seen in
Middle-Earth.  Out of the twelve games I've been in, you've
definitely made this one the most enjoyable of them all.

And hell; if I do end up losing to you, I certainly won't have
anything to be ashamed about....

Tom


                     Game 97:  From the Point of View
                           of the Blind Sorcerer
                              By Steve Latham

As the readers of the *Mouth* have been given quite a biased
opinion (for obvious reasons) of game 97 for the past year 
(and because the editors asked me to) I am writing this 
summary of game 97 from the Dark Servant perspective.  First 
off let me set the stage and summarize the players involved.  
I play the Blind Sorcerer and my friend and co-worker Brian
Lowrey is playing the Mighty Witch King. Most of my knowledge
of game 97 stems from these two positions.  The Ice King, The
Cloud Lord, and The Long Rider all live in Ontario Canada.  
The Dragon Lord lives in Florida and the original Dog Lord
lives in Ohio (I say original because this position recently
changed hands due to financial concerns on the first player's
part).  To be honest, I forget where the Easterling resides. 
These are the positions remaining active for the Dark 
Servants.

TURNS 1-6:

The BS's strategy at game start was to establish an economy 
and find artifacts. Most of the army was retired on the first
turn and work was begun.  The WK's strategy was a mixed bag.
The cavalry was combined and Cykur was sent out to threaten
towns in northern Mirkwood and the plains.  This tax-base 
would subsidize the war-effort in the West.  Meanwhile
Ashdurbuk was sent into Arnor on a suicide run to keep
Arthedain from striking right away.

The Eothraim did not come in the back door so the retiring of
the BS army did not turn into a disaster.  Mt Gram was given 
to the BS by the WK and an army was begun in Angmar.  The Ring
of Wind was retrieved on turn 6 and the career of the infamous
(I like to think so) Sharpkathoz was born.  Ashdurbuk's head
was handed to him (on a card sent by the Arthedain player) and
he returned to Carn Dum (which had been made into a city) to
plot revenge.  Zarak Dum was threatened away from the Dwarves
and also made into a city.  During these early turns no 
attacks were made on Angmar.  Camps were laid down in the 
Misty Mountains for Dragon spotting.

In Mordor the the war faired well in the early going.  The NG
did not use the refuse challenge order and lost many a
commander to the Dark Lts. and the Fire King.  The Ice King 
and the Long Rider's southern army cover Osgoliath early but
lacked the resources to take it at this point after a battle
with NG. The Fire King stepped in and finished the job.  At
this point the QA had never been heard from (it turns out that
this position was dropped right away and not picked up by
somebody until around turn 5).  Also, communcation with the
Dark Lts was difficult as he would only communcate through the
mail or with cards. The Cloud Lord attacked the towns along 
the south-western edge of Mordor and also appropriated the
first Dragon for the DS.  SG found out about this the hard 
way.

In Mirkwood, the Woodmen never materialized (I like to tell 
the WK that it is because Akhorahil stopped in Buhr Widefiras
on his way to receiving Mt Gram and intimidated him into
dropping).  The Dragon Lord and the Sinda were very timid
players and did basically nothing but stare at eachother.  The
Dwarves caught the Dragon Lord just west of Mirkwood and
destroyed his Goblin Gate army.  On the plains the Dog Lord 
and the Eothraim duked it out.  Not much is known about the
goings-on in this theater.

In the East the Long Rider pummeled the Northmen by killing
every character in site.  He did not move his capital and lost
every starting character by turn 8 or so.  He dropped 
somewhere in there.

The Neutrals:

The Corsairs said they would not turn until the end of the 
game in order to keep options open in case of back-stabbing.
Some of us were offended by this attitude so it was decided to
just leave the Corsairs to their own devices.  (Some mildly
nasty mud-slinging went on in here but we won't get into 
that.)

Rhudaur was courted in a big way by the WK but could not be
swayed.  This should have been a big signal to the WK as to
Rhudaur intentions, but it was played straight (by both sides)
until icon change.  Then, naturally, the gloves were off.

The Easterlings were persuaded to turn DS with gifts of metals
and artifacts. He changed his icon on turn 8 and
did....nothing.

The Harad and Dunlengings dropped.

TURNS 7-12

Angmar:

On around turn 8 Cardolan finally attacked Angmar.  They were
met by Ashdurbuk Zalg and crushed, losing a few characters in
the process. Cardolan has not been seen in Angmar since.

On turn 11 *The Battle of 1805* took place between the forces
of Arthedain and the Witch King/Blind Sorcerer.  4200 
Arthedain troops under Marl Tarma vs. 2800 under Rogrog, 1400
under Ashdurbuk, and 2100 under Leardinoth.  After the battle
the WK was greatly depleated but victorious.  In the 
after-math of this battle Arthedain lost 4 characters to
kidnapping and personal challange.  Also on this turn the 
Noldo lost Elrond in personal combat to Murazor.  Arthedain 
was hurting after this but would be back...  The Noldo
influenced away a WK  town and hired an army under Glorfindel.

Mordor:

Southern Gondor raged into the Ice King capital and captured
it.  Olbermarl was handed over by the Long Rider as a 
temporary capital.  Also on the same turn the Ice King turned
his town just north of Osgoliath into a MT.  The Dark Lts
helped the Ice King repel SG from Mordor.  Meanwhile the FK 
was building a HUGE army to march on the SG capital after
having captured Minas Anor.  The BS took Pelergir with
Emissaries (with help) and handed it over to the IK.

The East:

Pochak of the BS marched north to help the LR with mop-up duty
and continued on to the Iron Hills.  Eventually removing the
Dwarven presence from there and continuing on to Mirkwood.
Smaug was added to his army while in the Iron Hills.

Mirkwood:

The Sinda and the Dragon Lord finally met in battle.  
Celedring was killed by Thranduil in PC but the 4000 strong
Sinda army was wiped out by a dragon. The Noldo attacked 
Goblin Gate and moved toward Dol Goldur.  Cykur of the WK
continued to threaten pop-centers and be chased around by the
dwarves.  The WK handed Mt Gundabad off to the Cloud Lord so
that another DS could have a presence in the North.  The Dk 
Lts and Dog Lord continued a mystery war with the Eothraim.

The South:

The Corsairs annexed the Harad territory.  The QA position was
picked up and this player attempted to annex part of Harondor
also.

TURNS 13-20 (or THIS GAME REALLY HEATS UP)

Angmar:

On turn 13 Rhudaur moves to Mt Gram and turns good.  However,
the BS sensing this may be coming has vacated and met up with
the Witch King at Morkai (2005). Here they have caught
Glorfindel's army of 900 HI.  Morkai became known to the DS 
as the Blood Hex (probably something worse by the FP).  On 
turn 14 many things happened.  Rogrog is killed by Glorfindel
in personal Challenge (a misunderstanding of the challange
rules caused this as Ashdurbuk challenged Glofindel with a
larger challenge rank, but who goes first is actually
determined by *natural* challenge rank, no artifacts).  Rogrog
had no back-up commander and the WK lost a 1500 HI.  
Glorfindel was defeated at Morkai by the remaining 3600 DS
troops.  Pelendur of Cardolan was in the hex and was killed by
Akhorahil in PC (I believe he was leading a company of
emissaries). Rhudaur captured Mt Gram and moved into Morkai.
The WK moved all his remaining Angmar forces (less recruiting
100 troop armies) into Morkai.  Meanwhile in Arthedain's
capital, Argeleb II personal challenges Sharpkathoz (who was
not refusing because Murazor was in the hex and challenging
Argeleb.  GSI says the name was mis-spelled). 

Sharpkathoz pulls off the miricle upset and only takes 9 
points of damage. Scratch one Dunedain King.  Sharpkathoz 
moves and joins Akhorahil's army at Morkai.  The stage is set
for turn 15.


Game 97 turn 15 was the turn from hell for the Blind Sorcerer
and the Witch King. The BS had already down-graded Rhudaur to
Hated.  The WK, suffering from delusions of persuasion, had 
not downgraded.  His *easy* order given by a 40 commander
failed (can you imagine the Witch King's populace not
supporting something he told them to do?).  The BS was left to
attack the Rhudaur forces on their own while their ally WK's
three armies stood there and watched. Needless to say, it was
ugly.  Sharpkathoz was captured by Arfanhil, turning over the
Mantel of Doraith (stolen from Elrond earlier), a palintir
(taken from a kidnap victim, the Ring of Wind, and freeing
three hostages (2 Arthedain and one Cardolan).  It was a major
mistake having him in the army but it was assumed that the
battle would be won and he would move with the army to the 
next battle. The bright spot was that he escaped to Mt Gram
(where he could not attempt to steal the ring back the next
turn!).  This second battle of Morkai set the DS back in
Angmar for at least 10 turns as the BS presense was whiped out
and Arfanhil's army still present.  Fortunately there were
Cloud Lord and WK agents present in the hex to
kidnap/assassinate/steal the next turn as we know that 
Arfanhil had to refuse challenge along with everybody else in
the hex.  This hex was a HOT bed.  Ji Indur, Khamul, Murazor,
Akhorahil, and other assorted evil luminaries were present.
Also there was Aivnec the Dragon in a WK army, who sat by 
with an amused smile as Akhorahil's forces were beaten by
Arfanhil and his Thoronrim Eagles.  It is hard to discribe how
badly the one failed downgrade order hurt the DS cause in
Angmar.

Most of the WK forces had moved away assuming victory to face
an on-coming Noldo force some 2500 strong.  Dancu remained to
defeat Arfanhil the next turn, who was killed in the battle.
His backup Valadan was killed by Ji Indur.  The Rhudaur agent
present was killed by another CL agent.  The ring was stolen
back by a WK agent.  The Mantle was stolen back (or recovered)
by a CL agent.  As this army was defeated, Regent Marendil
showed up in Morkai with the next wave of Rhudaur troops.  The
last of the WK troops returned.  The BS hired a 200 HI army 
(Morkai had been turned over by the WK) and battle number four
at Morkai loomed on the horizon.

The WK and the BS had a mere 2100 troops left at Morkai.  Due
to poor planning and a lack of orders the exact troop count 
of Marendil's army was unknown. The DS thought they might win.
An emissary was on hand to make Morkai a town. Khamul, Ji
Indur, Murazor, and Akhorahil were all still there.  Marendil 
attacked with 1400 HC and 600 LC which were well armored and
well trained and proceeded cut through the rag-tag DS army and
destroy Morkai.  However, neither he nor Arfanhil's successor
Broggha left the hex alive.  The next turn the emissary
reserected Morkai as a camp, but alas Elladan showed up a few
turns later fresh from Rivendell to destroy it once again.  
All in all at least five Rhudaur, one Cardolan, and one Witch
King minion lost their lives in Morkai.

Where was Ashdurbuk with Aivnec you ask?  Well, he had to move
to Cargash to stop Gaerdae of the Noldo who was arriving from
the West.  Aivnec whiped out the proud Noldo but Ashdurbuk's
army was destroyed in the process.  Sharpkathoz showed up on
the scene to relieve Gaerdae of his life and his artifacts.  
He also received the Ring of Wind back from the WK.

While the WK was on the defensive all of the pop-centers in
Angmer were gobbled up by Rhudaur and the Noldo.  Only Carn 
Dum (Capital), Zarak Dum, and Cargash remained to the WK in
this theater.  Constant dragon recruitment would prove the
only defense against the coming on-slaught of the Noldo,
Rhudaur, Arthedain, and the Dwarves (I believe the Cardolan
player was pronounced brain-dead somewhere in here, he decided
to turn his attention to Mirkwood).

Around turn 16 or 17 Din Ohtar of the Long Rider and company
left the feeding grounds of Lothlorien for Angar.  The agents
struck and Fornost once again, in one turn attempting to kill 
9 characters through personal challenge and assassination (I
believe 6 were successfull).  The Cloud Lord was also very
active in the region.

On turn 20 the disaster at Morkai was balanced.  An army of
1600 HC under Baydor the Blank of the BS landed on Fennas
Drunin (1910), the Rhudaur back-up capital. On the same turn
Harnalda (2010) and Thuin Boid (2009) were influenced away 
from Rhudaur by emissaries.  This prevented any armies from
attempting to re-enforce Fennas Drunin.  Indeed Herubrand of
the Noldo was stopped in Harnalda by the tower as he rushed
from Rivendell.  Fennas Drunin was destroyed the next turn and
Mt Gram was avenged.

Meanwhile Seammu of Rhudaur captured Cargash and 1500 
Arthedain HC caught a poorly outfitted WK army of the same 
size and destroyed it.

Mirkwood:

The Noldo, with an army most likely built at Rivendell and
Goblin Gate captured Dol Goldur from the Dragon Lord
effectively ending his military presence in the game.  The Dog
Lord continued to attempt to take the Eothraim major towns in
eastern Mirkwood.  The Long Rider and Pochak of the BS headed
for Aradhrynd (2908) of the Sinda.  There 700 BS troops with
Smaug and 1900 Long Rider troops with Aivnec (fresh from 
eating Noldo at Cargash) defeated 4100 Sinda and captured
the city (doesn't seem fair does it?).  Amroth was captured by
the Long Rider. The Sinda made a major tactical error in this
battle.  He had two armies (1000 and 3100).  He intentionally
split his attack, attacking  Pochak with the smaller army and
attack Uvatha with the larger army.  This prevented him from 
killing enough of the LR army to prevent him from taking the
city/fort.  He must have known that there were two dragons
present from his pop-center report (unless he mistaked them 
for player characters, Smaug? nah..)  This gave the Long Rider 
a descent recruiting base in Mirkwood.

Cyker continued continued his threating ways, still having an
army consisting of all the starting WK cavalry.  He threatened
both Sinda towns in Northern Mirkwood, Buhr Fram, and the
northern Northmen pop-centers.  During the game he ranged from
Carn Dum to the Iron Hills.  He was assassinated by Arantar, a 
Sinda (we believe) agent on turn 22 while recruiting troops 
for an offensive across the Misty Mountains.  His army was
destined to retake Goblin Gate and capture Rivendell.

The Dwarves Marched out of Moria (well, it is now) under 
Thelor II and threatened Buhr Fram and captured Mt Gundabad
from the Cloud Lord.  Also during this time-frame all of the
hidden pop centers in the Mirkwood area were revealed by the
Ice King.

Morder and the South:

The Ice King with the help of the Dark Lts. removed SG from
Mordor, the Ice King having recruited Lamthanc.  The Fire King
raised a HUGE army and began the long, hard march to the SG
capital.  He was running his nation on the edge of bankruptcy.
Unfortunately he was defeated by the US Postal Service and 
*special serviced* dispite having mailed his turn a week 
before its due date. His economy blew and he was out.  On the
very next turn the Dark Lts did the same thing, although it 
was more from a lack of planning.  This all happened on or
around turns 15 and 16.  About this time the Corsairs must 
have decided to turn FP to make it more of a game in the south
as SG was basically having to stand alone agains the IK, the
FK, the CL, and the DL.  The QA was attempting to annex some
Harad territory and the Corsairs used it as an excuse to 
remove him from the game, which was accomplished in 2 or 3
turns.  Of course he could not have know yet that the Fire 
King and the Dark Lts were out of the game.  When these three
events happened the DS thought the end was near.

(Tom's note:  being a co-editor and this the last issue, I can
make comments with impunity.  How much of an "excuse" did I
need to attack the Quiet Avenger? He marched into the heart of
Umbar and threatened to conquer me!  Jeez, and Ithought I'd
been patient with that guy....)

Angmar was hanging on by a thread, the Noldo looked strong in
Mirkwood (and the Sinda still had two cities to recruit with),
and the Ice King was suddenly alone at the front door.  The
Easterlings, the Dragon Lord, and the Dog Lord were all fairly
ineffective at this point in the game.

Turns 21-25:

Angmar:

The Dwarves swept over Mt Gundabad and to the north of Zarak
Dum.  He moved onto it with a huge army commanded by Thelor 
II.  With him were two agents (Grais being in the 70s) and one
or two back-up commanders.  Spike of the WK was there with a
paltry 500 troops.  Murazor was there to add challenge power.
Ji Indur was there along with the Long Rider Company.  Thelor
II was known to have a challenge rank of at least 160, 
probably around 190.  Murazor challenged the agent Grais (who
refused but was killed by assassination).  Ji Indur was warned
to refuse challenge but neglected to do-so (though an order
change was called in, but was not processed for some reason).
Thelor II killed Ji Indur in personal combat. The Dwarves,
bolstered by there General's personal victory captured Zarak 
Dum, freeing the dwarven slaves and capturing Murazor. The
celebration was short-lived.  Thelor II was killed by Din 
Ohtar the next turn, freeing Murazor, and only one of the
Dwarves left the city alive (Bombor I believe).  Zarak Dum
was retaken by emissaries a few turns later and then finally
destroyed by Arthedain/Noldo.

While this was taking place the Ashdurbuk was busy at the Carn
Dum defending it from Sarkar of Arthedain.  Sarkar was 
defeated (basically by a dragon) and killed by Sharpkathoz, 
who wounded both Argeleb II (an new imposter who is a woman) 
and Meneldir on the mission.  The first assault on Carn Dum 
was turned away. Sarkar had come very close to capturing the
capital.  He had shown-up with a large enough army to defeat a
dragon, and war machines.  His attack on the city reduced the
castle to a fort but was not enough to take it.  His army did
survive and retreated out of the city back towards Arnor.

The second assualt came a few turns later.  Seammu of Rhudaur
attacked Ashdurbuk's army.  Each had a dragon.  It was a
devestating battle for both sides.  Seammu was killed in the
city.  The WK army was once again destroyed. However, the
fortifications have since been raised up to a Keep and Carn 
Dum has not been attacked again (yet).

Mirkwood:

The Sinda met the Long Rider at 2410, just southeast of Goblin
Gate, and the Sinda were defeated.  The door to Lothlorien was
now open.  The Noldo swung around to Eastern Mirkwood and
Elrohir reclaimed the Eothraim pop-centers (who it seems gave
up at some unknown time).

Mordor and the South:

The Corsairs, having destroyed the QA, made a feint at Mordor
and raized Khand to the ground.  The Easterlings put up a
futile struggle and were beaten. Help did not arrive from 
other DS who were engaged too far way to be of service.
However, the Easterlings still carry on the fight from their
new capital at ****** (yah, like I would reveal it).

Epilogue:

This brings me to the end of my scattered naration of the 
first 25 turns of game 97.  There may be a few in-accuracies 
as to exact turns, but the highlights of the game from the
Angmar point-of-view are all covered.  My hat is off to the
Free People, especially Rhudaur and Arthedain who have lost
many characters each so far.  The Dwarves have recently 
joined them in that department as well as losing Khazad Dum 
(I wonder where his capital is now?). I hope that all players
can experiencs a game like this one with basically equal 
teams.  I have been involved in 5 of these games and none
approaches this one as far as enjoyment and challenge (which 
is not to say that the others were bad, except 150 were I was
the Duns).  I was also the Sinda in game 104 which spurred the
debate in the bytes of this magazine about the neutrals (I was
not one of the players who irritated the Harad).  I am the 
Dark Lts in game 152 (still haning onto Osgoliath by a thread)
and the Long Rider in game 156 (just put the Northmen out but 
we are getting our butts kicked otherwise).

If you are in either of these games feel free to reach me at
ozz@majiq.com.  It look like 97 is going to be a long and
bloody campaign.  I can't wait...


                            Index to the Mouth
                          compiled by Brian Mason

[Tom's note:  if there was ever an example of Brian's crazed
passion for the game, this is it.  He did all of this himself,
going through every issue to create the index.  An enormous
effort I wouldn't even have attempted.  Thank the Valar for my
co-editor, eh?]

Below is a list of articles contributed to "From the Mouth of
Sauron" over the past 25 issues. The articles are more or less
grouped by type and alphabetized by title. Editorials, 
queries, riddle, dragon, and encounter information is not
included. In the case of the latter, these have already been
encorporated in the general info files.

SPECIFIC GAME DISCUSSIONS
=========================

A Lost Cause (or how the Ice King Bit It in 7 turns in game
     101) (or, Justifying the Early Demise of the Dark 
     Servants in Game 101) (23) - Nunya B. Sness
What Fun I could Have Had if I had Stayed In? (24) - Ronald C.
     Cudworth

FICTION, HUMOR, ETC.
====================

A New Nation (14) - Brian Mason
Attolma (15) - Patrick Wynne & Carl Hostetter
Capital Pun-ishment (20) - Darin Fitzpatrick
Commentary (10) - Leslie Foreman
Commentary (12) - Leslie Foreman
Commentary (14) - Leslie Foreman
Commentary (15) - Leslie Foreman
Commentary (5) - Leslie Foreman
Commentary (6) - Leslie Foreman
Commentary (9) - Leslie Foreman
People's Midwinter Meeting (13) - Jeff Holzhauer
Reports on Game 158 (24) - Jeff Holzhauer
The Council Debate (3) - Brian Mason
The Lighter Side (3) - Jeff Holzhauer
Tolkien and D & D (14) - unknown
Top Ten Rewards for Mouth Submissions (19) - Darin Fitzpatrick

GENERAL STRATEGY
================

Allegiance Comparison Tables (3) - Tom Walton
Arriving at an Equation to Represent Skill Rank Increases (5)
     - Brian Mason
Building a Framework for your Team/Nation's Success (16) - Wes
     Fortin
Diplomacy in Middle-earth (19) - William "Rock" Chasko
Drops, bankruptcies, and other defeats (19) - William "Rock"
     Chasko
Economics in Middle-earth (2) - Tom Walton
Food and Army Movement (8) - Jeremy Richman
Looking for Statistical Trends in Data (5) - Brian Mason
NPC skill ratings (2) - Tom Walton
Population Center Development (2) - Brian Mason
Team Play by the Dark Side (19) - Patrick McGehearty
The One Ring (22) - Tom Walton
The Problem with Army and Troop Training (4) - Brian Mason
The Problem with Army and Troop Training, II (5) - Brian Mason
The Problems with Dragons (14) - Tom Walton & Brian Mason
The Role of the Neutrals (19) - William "Rock" Chasko
Winners & Losers in Middle-earth (8) - Tom Walton

NATION STRATEGIES
=================

Comments on the Sinda S&T, Issue 19 (20) - Dave Holt
How Many Woodmen Could a Dragon Lord Chuck if a Dragon Lord
     Could Chuck Woodmen...? (9) - Dan DeYoung
N. Gondor Strategy (or how game 101 was won in 20 turns) (19)
     - Dave Holt
On the Witch King S&T Article (23) - Paul Comber
Strategy & Tactics: Arthedain (13) - Tom Walton & Brian Mason
Strategy & Tactics: Cardolan (5) - Brian Mason
Strategy & Tactics: Northern Gondor (25) - Brian Mason & Tom
     Walton
Strategy & Tactics: Rhudaur (25) - Tom Walton & Brian Mason
Strategy & Tactics: South Gondor (24) - Brian Mason & Tom
     Walton
Strategy & Tactics: The Blind Sorcerer (8) - Brian Mason
Strategy & Tactics: The Cloud Lord (15) - Tom Walton & Brian
     Mason
Strategy & Tactics: The Corsairs (14) - Brian Mason & Tom
     Walton
Strategy & Tactics: The Dark Lieutenants (18) - Brian Mason &
     Tom Walton
Strategy & Tactics: The Dog Lord (24) - Tom Walton & Brian
     Mason
Strategy & Tactics: The Dragon Lord (8) - Brian Mason & Tom
     Walton
Strategy & Tactics: The Dunlendings (17) - Tom Walton & Brian
     Mason
Strategy & Tactics: The Dwarves (9) - Brian Mason & Tom Walton
Strategy & Tactics: The Easterlings (20) - Brian Mason & Tom
     Walton
Strategy & Tactics: The Easterlings (21) - William "Rock"
     Chasko
Strategy & Tactics: The Eothraim (8) - Brian Mason
Strategy & Tactics: The Fire King (21) - Tom Walton & Brian
     Mason
Strategy & Tactics: The Haradwaith (24) - Brian Mason & Tom
     Walton
Strategy & Tactics: The Ice King (25) - Tom Walton & Brian
     Mason
Strategy & Tactics: The Long Rider (16) - Brian Mason & Tom
     Walton
Strategy & Tactics: The Noldo Elves (12) - Brian Mason & Tom
     Walton
Strategy & Tactics: The Northmen (23) - Tom Walton & Brian
     Mason
Strategy & Tactics: The Northmen and Other Comments (13) - 
     Dave Rossell
Strategy & Tactics: The Quiet Avenger (11) - Tom Walton & 
     Brian Mason
Strategy & Tactics: The Sinda Elves (19) - Tom Walton & Brian
     Mason
Strategy & Tactics: The Witch King (22) - Brian Mason & Tom
     Walton
Strategy & Tactics: The Witch-King (14) - Wei Wang
Strategy & Tactics: The Woodmen (3) - Brian Mason
Strategy and Tactics:  North Gondor (20) - Dan DeYoung
The Woodmen (4) - Wes Fortin

OTHER NON-FICTION
=================

Customer Service (20) - From Bill at GSI
How I got Screwed by GSI (24) - Tom L.
My Experience with GSI, Or "Customer Service in a Monopoly"
     (19) - David Foreman
News from the GSI Seminar at Origins (24) - Willam "Rock"
     Chasko
Of GAD games and Middle-earth in Europe (16) - Darin
     Fitzpatrick
Place Names (8) - Brian Mason
Proper Usage of Nation Titles in Middle-earth (16) - Darin
     Fitzpatrick
Questions and Answers with GSI (24) - Jeremy Richman
Tabs, Spaces, and Screwed up Tables (21) - David Foreman
The All Email Game (21) - David Foreman
What Would J.R.R. Have Thought? (19) - William "Rock" Chasko

CHARACTER STRATEGIES
====================

Emissaries in Middle-earth (9) - Tom Walton
Mages in Battle (10) - Tom  Walton
More Character and Skill Improvement (3) - Tom Walton
Naming Less than Ideal Characters (23) - Darin Fitzpatrick
Personal Challenge Combat Results (4) - David Foreman
Train Your Characters! (2) - David Foreman

THE 2950 GAME
=============

On the New Information about ME-PBM 2950 (19) - Darin
     Fitzpatrick
Speculations: More Comments on the New Game (18) - Tom Walton,
     Eric Schnurr, & Brian Mason
Speculations for Middle Earth PBM 2940 (22) - Lucas T. Cuccia
     II
Speculations on player positions in the 2950 game:  The
     Rohirrim (20) - Tom Walton & Brian Mason
Speculations on player positions in the 2950 game: Further
     Comments on the Dark Servants (25) - Tom Walton & Brian
     Mason
Speculations on player positions in the 2950 game:
     Imladris/Mithlond Elves (22) - Brian Mason
Speculations on player positions in the 2950 game: Lothlorien
     (19) - Brian Mason
Speculations on player positions in the 2950 game: Mirkwood
     Elves (20) - Brian Mason
Speculations on player positions in the 2950 game: North and
     South Gondor (24) - Brian Mason
Speculations on player positions in the 2950 game: Rangers of
     the North (21) - Brian Mason
Speculations on player positions in the 2950 game: The 
     Neutrals (25) - Brian Mason & Tom Walton
Speculations on player positions in the 2950 game: The
     Rhovanion Free Positions: Woodmen, Northmen, and Dwarves
     (23) - Brian Mason
Speculations: The New Game (16) - Brian Mason & Tom Walton
Speculations: Encounters in the New Game (18) - Tom Walton
Speculations: Dark Servant Pop Centers in the New Game (21) -
     Tom Walton


                  On Resuming "From the Mouth of Sauron"

We have both enjoyed both the work we've put into this project
as well as the interaction with so many players of the game. I
hope that our goal of "leveling the playing field" has been
adequately met.

I believe all of you have been made aware of our position on
why we are stopping "The Mouth" now. Both of us are eager to
start the new game, and to maintain in it a certain degree of
mystery and suspense for ourselves and for others for as long
as possible.

Nevertheless, with the work of some intrepid people (some of
whom, who shall remain nameless, are subscribers to this
publication), it is likely that the "New Game" will also lose
its novelty and that once more the "list owners" and
"information hogs" will gain a significant advantage in the
game.

At that time (and our guess that it will be 6-12 months from
now), it will be time for "From the Mouth of Sauron" to resume
publication, for it once more to provide information to all
subscribers and smash the illuminati.

Our request of you is to, periodically, keep us posted on the
"New Game" as you play it. To collect your data, and to hold 
on to it. Sometime, in the not to distant future, we will send
out an "all call" to subscribers of "The Mouth" asking that 
you send us all relevant information on the new game, setups,
population centers, characters, map ranges, encounter
information, riddles, artifact abilities, and anything else,
and we will then, as before, bring all up to date.

Until that time, may all your games go well (unless you have
the misfortune to be playing against us!).

Tom & Brian


                                 Last Word
                                 From Tom

Now would be the time to get maudlin', I presume.  Let's 
travel down memory lane a bit, shall we?

"From the Mouth of Sauron" first started out as a paper rag 
for a team which eventually started in game 117.  This was 
back in May of 1993.  The Mouth changed from that point into
"The New Player Packet", which saw five separate editions and
eventually grew to a size of 150 pages.  This packet was put
together to 'level the playing field', so to speak, between 
new players and veterans. The info advantage that veterans had
was enormous and virtually precluded any new (or relatively
new) player from having a chance at winning a game.  I thought
to change that.

In late September or thereabouts, I found the New Player 
Packet becoming far too expensive and time consuming to 
produce and mail out.  My address was freely distributed and 
I was getting requests for it left and right.  Hence the move
to email, and the birth of the new "From the Mouth of Sauron"
as well as the information files that we provide free to
everyone who asks.

Originally, the email Mouth was simply meant as an info
distribution center wherein you could contribute or not as you
wanted, but everyone would have access to it.  Many email 
lists were out there, but most veterans refused to share them
with anyone but their friends.  What was different about the
Mouth and the files was that anyone - anyone at all - could
have them for the asking.  Even people I didn't like (pretty
big of me, eh?).

The response to the Mouth was far more vigorous than I ever
anticipated. Overwhelming, you might say.  In the space of two
issues, the Mouth went from a simple "here's some more
encounter info" file to a full-blow email magazine, in 
response to subscriber demand.  And subscriber demand was very
high.  I was both thrilled and somewhat daunted, as I didn't
really have the time to actually produce an email magazine.

This situation lasted for ten issues, with the workload
becoming more burdensome than I ever intended.  But in a sense
I'd given my word to do the Mouth, and so I kept at it.  The
most frustrating part of this process was that subscribers
demanded a whole bunch of stuff, but weren't particularly
willing to write much of it.  Thus, I had to hunt down writers
and solicit articles, hoping that their good will would move
them to bail me out (thanks, David and Leslie!).

Which brings me to Brian Mason.  I met Brian as an adversary
and game 62 and was impressed both with his skill and his
consumate wit (you should see some of the cards we exchanged).
Brian started contributing to the Mouth, and as I got to know
(and like) him, I thought "hey, maybe I can sucker him into
becoming a co-editor, then pawn the work off on him!
Hmmmm...."  (I treat my friends well).

So I proposed this joint venture, all the while praying to
ancient Norse gods, and was blessed with a positive response.
Brian came on board and took up much of the work that I'd been
doing, also bailing me out when the AOL mailer became
overloaded with the number of lists I was keeping (resulting 
in frequent, disastrous crashes).  Brian not only did most of
the work, he also improved the Mouth enormously, making it a
far better email mag than I was capable of producing on my 
own.

Brian's presence also made it possible to produce another 15
issues without having to end the Mouth prematurely.  This 
puppy tends to be alot of work, even with two people; without
Brian, I would've had to shut down much sooner because of a
lack of time (I was actually considering it right before Brian
said "yes" to becoming co-editor).

So that's the history.  The Mouth has been alot of work, alot
of frustration ("okay, we're about to print; so where's that
article that so-and-so promised me?"), and a whole lot of fun.
I also take great satisfaction in the fact that Brian and I
have made it a bit easier for a few new players to hold their 
own in their first games (my hate mail from some veterans 
tends to confirm this). But most of all, I enjoyed the Mouth
because I got to talk to literally hundreds of different 
people from all over the world and found that I pretty much
liked almost all of them (well, you can't like EVERYONE, can
you?).

I'd like to thank all of those people, especially the ones I
got to know well, but the Mouth would be another 3 or 4 pages
long.  And I'd probably forget a few names, which wouldn't be
good.  So to all of you who've I've played with and against -
and haven't had any terrible spats with, ahem - I thank you 
and hope that you really kick some ass in all your games
(unless you're fighting me, of course).

I'd also like to thank Brian for his tireless devotion and
work, which he continued with even though he's a busier man
than I am - and has a family, to boot (and Brian, I'm STILL
jealous that you have a job I can only dream about, you lucky
dog).  Brian is not only the best ally I've ever had, he's 
also a good friend outside of Middle-Earth, in the real world 
- even though we've never met face-to-face (I don't even know
what Brian looks like).  Someday I plan on rambling on down to
whatever far part of the world Brian happens to be in at the
time so I can actually have the pleasure of shaking his hand
and shooting the breeze over a cup of joe.

A couple more things for this last issue.  First, the Mouth
will be back at some time in the future, when the new guys are
once again getting creamed by veterans with secret lists they
jealously guard.  And second, you'll see me in one of the very
first of the new games.  I won't be advertising, but I can 
tell you that I'll be playing a Free nation - and most likely
burning everything in sight, much to Jeremy Richman's dismay.
So if you have a crazy barbarian ally or enemy going hog-wild
with molotov cocktails, yet refuses to identify himself, you
might just be right in thinking that it's me.

And if any of you devoted Tolkien fans feel the need to
experience the rustic charms of the great state of Oregon, 
drop me a line and perhaps we can get together to recount our
most glorious victories or our most tragic defeats. Or maybe
simply argue over the merits of the Broncos and 49'ers (the
Broncos will win the Superbowl someday, I swear).  The first
round's on me.

Tom