Code:
                         From the Mouth of Sauron

Issue:    E-21
Date:          06-05-94

Note:  all authors retain exclusive rights to their material. 
Reprinting is allowed for non-commercial game use only.

The Mouth is edited by Brian Mason and Tom Walton.  All
correspondence can be sent to them at:

Brian Mason    - mason@chara.gsu.edu
Tom Walton     - kazandar@aol.com


                                First Word


Those of you wanting to hear how good the Free Peoples are doing in
game 97 are kindly directed to Last Word.

Those of you who remained, let me report on the continued siege of
Rhudaur. 

It was an interesting event at my capital this past turn, with three
of my characters going into the netherworld three different ways:
challenge, curses, and assassination. Quite a balanced attack
wouldn't you say? 

Rhudaur continues to stand, and with any luck, I might have some
good news to report after next turn.

But then, I've said that before.

Finally, I had someone pose an interesting question to me last week.
Do we have mosaic or World Wide Web servers for "From the Mouth of
Sauron?" We do not at the moment, however, one could be added if
there is sufficient interest. Those of you who have mosaic
capability and might be interested in this type of service, email
me, and if there is a sufficient number, I'll see what I can do.

I don't want to get into the "What is mosaic?" answering business
from all our list subscribers, however, I offer the following:

If you have problems or comments concerning NCSA Mosaic, please send
email to one of the following addresses: 

   mosaic-x@ncsa.uiuc.edu: For X-specific help. 
   mosaic-mac@ncsa.uiuc.edu: For Mac-specific help. 
   mosaic-win@ncsa.uiuc.edu: For Windows-specific help. 
   mosaic@ncsa.uiuc.edu: For problems or comments unrelated to any
   particular version of Mosaic. 

Thanks, and keep those submissions flowing!

Brian


                                  Dragons

Corlagon:  state ALLEGIANCE = injured/killed for Dark Servants.

Thanks to Brian Lowery and friends for this info.


                                Encounters

This note was received from Ed Grimm.  I decided to reprint it in
full for you:

Was reading the Mouth "201" and I saw the reference to Saruman
attacking a good

army...I had an encounter in game 132 as the Noldor and I will type 
it below... Essentially, what it did was to give Elladan, Elrond,
Erestor each 16 points ofmage skill and the spell weakness...This
occurred in a spring turn @Goblin Gate(2409)

"Yesterday, a Mage dressed all in white stood across our path and
demanded that we make way for him.  He declined to give his name and
merely ordered our troops off the road so that he could get by. 'I
am on important business and can not be detained by petty soldiers,
so move aside!' He then attempted to just walk through our midst as
if we would merely move aside. My guards, of course, immediately
moved to detain him. As the guards converged, he looked up and a
smile crossed his face. 'Well , at least, you don't scare too
easily. Now take me to your Commander.' He was led to me quickly and
he approached me easily. I approve of your troops, Commander, and,
if you have any mages[was he blind, elrond was there], I may be able
to aid your cause this day. He searched for Mages among my
companions, and for each that he found , he increased their
knowledge of the magical arts. 'Remember this day,' he said, ' and
give thanks to Saruman the White!' And with that he was gone,
although I still don't know how he left or in which direction he
went."

Maybe there is a difference in the level of character that reacts 
with the NPC...

anyway, hope this helps...ed grimm...CSERVE:74022,3102

[Tom's note:  could be that Saruman reacts differently to different
nations.  Maybe the Elves and Dunedain are good enough to hobnob
with, but the Eothraim are just another bunch of barbarians.]

                                Other Notes

>From Keith Petersen

In game #31, we have twice had three dragons in the same army. 
Needless to say, there wasn't much left of the opponent. 
 
Bill F. once told me that the hard orders are assuming there is a
guard. Otherwise they are only avg or so. (Consider how easy
stealing gold is). I would say that kidnapping is easier than
assassination, and sabot. fort (esp. castles or higher) is tougher
yet.
 
Not all orders take place in exact order sequence. Consider the army
cbt orders: they all take place simul (you'll get to use your
tactics, even if the other guy's orders is earlier).
 
I have talked with Bill about their sending us turns via email. He
has always said, "Not now; maybe later."
 
Compuserve people can request a receipt (put /r behind your
address). there is a small charge involved. otherwise post it
(privately) in the forum, and it will get marked when GSI views it.
 
Some people in the forum report that having a character as hostage
BEFORE that nation has collapsed apparently will extend the time you
have to recruit them. (Apparently hostages don't get toggled at the
same time). There is a limit to how long you can do this, however.
 
Kidnapping them after the nation has collapsed would have no effect.
 
I have a question for people though: Is it possible for two nations
to share the same character as a victory condition? (eg, can both
the WK and CL need to kill Elrond?)
 
And has anyone ever needed to kill more than 2 or 3 characters?
(most I've seen, I think, is 3).

>From Ed Bailey

>                            From Sauron's Bakery
> 
> Tom's note:  Brian received the note below from someone at his
> university.  I saw it about six months ago in paper form, and we
> decided to print it in the Mouth simply to annoy people
> small-minded enough to charge $250.00 for a cookie recipe. 
> We urge you to cut this out of the Mouth and send it to as many
> people as you can, so that the author can have the satisfaction
> of knowing that her revenge has, at least in part, been achieved.
> 
> By the way, if you can't guess this has nothing to do with ME-PBM
> (unless you eat cookies while filling out your orders, like I do).
> 
>  
>       SUBJECT: "Expensive Lesson" - $250.00 Cookie Recipe
>  
> 
-------------------------------------------------------------------

This is an urban legend.  It did not happen!!

Contact with the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban will confirm this.

This is is one of the most persistent rumors circulating the
Internet (only the Craig Shergold and the Eddie Murphy/Las Vegas
stories top it).

Please print a correction in the next Mouth.  Ideally, I would like
for you to send out a brief correction now, before people start
cutting & pasting.

All that said, it's a good cookie recipe.

Reply to Ed Bailey
>From Tom Walton

Despite Ed Bayless' claim that this is simply a legend, I recently
talked to a woman who claimed to have written the original text (she
also offered to send me a copy of her Visa bill, which she
apparently framed after the absurd incident).  This was in response
to a search on my part to track her down; strangely enough, it turns
out that she knew my mother some years ago when they were both at
college (the path which I embarked upon to find her was so full of
oddly twisted coincidence I won't bother to recount it here).  She
thanked us for reprinting the article in the Mouth.

Yesterday, I got the copy of the Visa bill in the mail.  It does,
indeed, list a charge for $250.00.  I promised not to reprint her
name nor to give this information out, as there seems to be some
question as to the legality of her actions.  I think she'd be highly
amused to know that her cookie email (which was actually done in
paper first, then transferred by an unknown party to the net) has
reached the status of 'legend'.

Still, they are VERY good cookies....

>From Mike Barber

Yesterday I received and read all 19 issues of The Mouth, and the
background info - all of which is really excellent. I had it all
printed out too (not at my cost) which took about 6 cm thickness of
paper. I reckon there must be about 100-150 000 words there already
- which is about the length of a doctorate - cool huh ? The reading
took all day, to the obvious (though hopefully not fatal) detriment
of my finals preparation.

And now start the dreaded questions. Some of the answers to these
may already lie within the Mouth, but I couldn't spot them.

Army / Navy Questions.

What size makes an army "small","large" or "huge" ?

[From Tom:  the size varies upon the average troop strength of all
armies in the game at the time.  If everyone has smaller forces,
then a lesser number of troops will make up a 'large' army. 
However, if most nations are running around with 5,000 troops packed
into a single army, then achieving 'large' status will take quite a
bit more in the way of soldiers.  In the first case, you might be a
'large' army if you only have 2,000 troops; in the second case, it
might take up to 3000 or more troops to get the same designation (in
which case the 2,000 troops would be just 'an army' and not a 'large
army').
     From my experience, there also seems to be an absolute limit in
numbers both ways.  For example, regardless of how small the average
army is, 900 or less troops always seems to be a 'small' army.  No
matter how large the average army is, it appears that 3500+ troops
is always 'large'.  Below I give you a very rough table that I used
to estimate combat strength (varying for what I believe to be the
average number of troops in all armies at the time):

100 - 900:     small
901+ - 2,000:  medium (listed as 'an army')
2,000+ - 4,000:     large
4,000+:        huge

Again, this is just a guesstimate and I don't give much credence to
it.  Anyone out there have a better idea on the ranges?]

Does the size of a navy depend on the number of ships it has with
it, or on the troops it is carrying?

[From Tom:  navy size is determined by the number of ships present,
not the troops the navy is carrying.]

Can a navy THREATEN a town that doesn't have a port or harbour ? 

[From Tom: nope.  A navy can't affect a town that it can't land at. 
Note that it COULD threaten a town without a port/harbor, IF that
town was in a shore/plains hex.]

Is there a bonus to having more than the minimum no. of troops
needed to threaten? That is, if I have a 5000 troop army to threaten
a major town, are my chances any better than when I have a 2500
troop? This seems intuitively likely: the formula you give did not
reflect this. Also do people ever successfully threaten towns/major
towns/ cities - or is this just useful for camps and villages?  

[From Tom:  I'm still confused on the numbers thing.  Excessive
numbers don't seem to help much, at least when I'm doing the
threatening.  Anyone out there want to give this a shot?
     As for threatening towns/major towns/cities, this can and has
been done by yours truly.  It's generally much harder, though,
because the loyalties for these pop centers tend to be considerably
higher than those for camps and villages.
     It's been my experience that if you have the minimum numbers
required for a threat, the rank of the character and the loyalty of
the target are the primary determinants of success or failure.]

If I am sitting outside another enemy nation's capital - say a
city/citadel - which I can't hope to capture, BUT I can confidently
beat any armies that are likely to  arrive, is there anything
stopping me splitting off 100 troops per turn (or 200 - whatever)
and issuing 255 with these, knowing that they will die but will
effectively siege the population centre ? Is my  commander likely to
be captured / killed as my  enemy garrison sallies forth to take
advantage of my seeming folly ?

[From Tom:  this tactic has been suggested by several people, and I
believe it was printed in the Mouth just a few issues ago.  It works
quite well when you can't otherwise capture/threaten/destroy the
target.  The only danger here is that commanders who lead failed pop
center assaults stand a much better chance of getting injured or
killed than they do in normal army combat.  In other words, don't
have your Nazgul lead the assault.]

It was mentioned in one of the issues that Destroying a population
centre is easier than Capturing it. I have not found anything in the
rulebook to confirm or deny this - any clues as to how the mechanics
of this work? The rulebook only states how a capture would work!

[From Tom:  this is in the rulebook, I just can't remember where at
the moment.  My experience tells me that destroying a pop center
reduces the defensive strength by about 10% prior to combat.  That
is, if the pop center has a defense of 10,000 if you try to capture
it, it'll act as if it only had a defense of 9,000 should you
attempt to destroy it.  This is simply for the purposes of
determining if the assault is successful or not; the casualties
inflicted upon your troops seem to be the same (10,000 points in the
above example) regardless of the order chosen.]

What governs the chance of me taking hostages in combat ? It seems
that I need an agent in the  army, and that I have to win
convincingly, but I know no more than that. On the one occasion I
have so  far taken a hostage, the Commander of the army, who did NOT
have agent skill, was listed as being in possession of the hostage.

[From Tom:  I can't answer the first part of the question, other
than to paraphrase GSI.  In response to my asking this question,
they said that whether or not a character is captured depends on a
comparison of the total challenge ranks of all characters on both
sides.  They wouldn't be any more specific than this.
     I can tell you that you don't need an agent in the army to
capture enemy commanders.  I can also tell you that in my
experience, the victorious army commander always ends up with the
hostages.]

Character Questions

Wrt emissaries - how easy is recruit double agent for a level 30
emissary, on a friendly nation's character? Is there any reason why
a friendly nation might be disadvantaged by me having one of their
nation's characters reporting to me? One idea I am specifically
thinking of trying is having a character that regularly uses a
scrying artefact as a double agent, so that his reports get shared
with my VERY good ally.

[From Tom:  if you want to see how relations affects your skill
levels, take a look at the relations chart in the book for combat;
the bonus/penalty seems to be the same for skills.  That means your
30-point emissary would get a +25 for trying to double the character
of a friendly nation, making him an effective 55- point emissary. 
     People double allies all the time to share scouting/scrying
info and to increase emissary skill.  The factors involved are the
skill of the doubling emissary and the highest skill rank of the
target character.  I have no idea how these are related (I just make
a guess), and hope one of the readers of the Mouth has some firm
data on this.  One thing:  the order was recently changed and it
looks like its actually harder now than it was before (either that
or I'm just having some really bad luck).]

Throughout the Mouth, influencing other's loyalty seems to be
thought of as being hard, yet my level 28 emissary managed to do
this on a nation whose attitude towards me was only neutral. Was I
really lucky, or can my lvl 30 emissaries go to 'train' at an ally's
town and expect to succeed (especially if he is 'friendly' towards
me)? 

[From Tom:  see above note for relations.  You were lucky against a
neutral pop center.]

What governs a character's chance of escaping when held hostage ? If
I have a character with, say 30 agent as a hostage, and the holding
character is also of 30 rank, how likely am I likely to hang on to
my prize? Is this improved if I imprison him in a population centre?
I assume that cities make better prisions than villages? 

[From Tom:  your chance of escaping is based upon the agent rank of
the holding character, the highest skill rank of the hostage, and
any stealth the hostage might have.  I can't give you a relation
because I generally execute my prisoners immediately after I take
them.
     GSI says that it's almost always better to imprison a character
than to hold him hostage, if you want to make sure he doesn't
escape.  They never mentioned whether or not the size of the pop
center had anything to do with it - frankly, I didn't think to ask.]


ON recruiting dragons:

Do I have to recruit a dragon with a character that is in an army,
or can I  recruit and then move that character to an army ? If I
offer the dragon artefacts, then do I have to have those on me at
the time, or can they be with another character / at the capital ?

[From Tom:  you can recruit a dragon with any character, not just
one in the army.  In fact, you can't react to a dragon if your
character is in an army; the computer will give you an error message
if you try.  The dragon will then join one of your armies, though
exactly which one is a point of contention (no really good data
exists to support any one assertion).
     If you offer artifacts, they need to be on the recruiting
character.]


                             News from the Net

 ----------------------------------------------------------------
Post #1
 ----------------------------------------------------------------
From: freeman@cae.wisc.edu
Subject: MEPBM Game 163
Date: 24 May 1994 15:40:39 GMT

I just got my set-up for game 163 and am looking for any other
players 
in this game.

Samuel Freeman

 ----------------------------------------------------------------
Post #2
 ----------------------------------------------------------------
From: jurin@aol.com
Subject: ME-PBM Game 164
Date: 26 May 1994 22:53:06

I have just received the first turn for game 164, and I am looking
for other players in this game.

Jerry

-----------------------------------------------------------------
reply from TomTG (tomtg@aol.com)
-----------------------------------------------------------------

I  am the Dragon Lord in game 164.  Who are you ??                 
 
                       TomTG

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Post #3
 ----------------------------------------------------------------
From: panamon@netcom.com
Subject: ME PBM - Question
Date: Tue, 31 May 1994 17:57:18 GMT

I am looking for VERY good experienced MEPBM grudge game teams to 
play against.  My team has been beating our opponants so badly that 
we are starting to get bored.  If you feel you are very good and 
want a challenge in playing.  Please let me know.

Ian Cerhaegen.

-----------------------------------------------------------------
reply from Patrick McGehearty (patrick@convex.com)
-----------------------------------------------------------------

I would be interested to know more about this grudge team that is 
too good for your average opponent.  How many matches have you 
played as a team? I might be interested in signing up as a neutral. 

I have some MEPBM experience, and lots of strategic, economic game 
experience.  I would think that high skill grudge matches need 
experienced neutrals to keep things interesting.

 ----------------------------------------------------------------
Post #4
 ----------------------------------------------------------------
From: tomtg@aol.com
Subject: ME PBM   - 165
Date: 1 Jun 1994 00:48:03

Anybody out there in game 165  ?                                   
 

                      TomTG  -- Cardolan

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


                         GSI and Customer Service

Last issue I asked for reader comments and criticisms to see if we
could get some kind of feel for the general nature of the problems
being experienced.  Below are a few of the notes that were emailed
to me, which are somewhat representative of the overall batch so far
(a more comprehensive breakdown will be done sometime over the next
couple of issues).  I've used names where the author allowed, and
quoted anonymously where the person in question didn't want to be
identified.  I'm still looking for more comments; rest assured, I
WON'T identify you if that's what you want.

Let me clear on the fact that the editors of the Mouth aren't taking
sides here and simply wish to determine if there are problems with
GSI's customer service and what they might be.  Let me also say that
we asked for people to relate their difficulties, not their good
experiences, so this article will seem uniformly negative.

One more point:  I've been in 12 games now (!) and completed over
200 turns.  During that time, I've seen GSI make about a half-dozen
mistakes with my turns, most of which were relatively unimportant
(relations with a nation changed for no apparent reason, etc.). 
That comes out to one error per 35+ turns, or one per game.  This is
significantly better than any other PBM game I've been in to date.

On the other hand, I've also witnessed a couple of snafus of truly
major proportions happen to other people (one army marching right
through a blocking force at a critical point in the war comes to
mind).  The question here doesn't seem to be about GSI's error rate,
which is pretty small, but what they do about the errors once they
occur.


>From Brian Lowery

GSI Customer Service: 

It  seems lately that turns are being special serviced or not
arriving more than ever.  In the last two weeks I have had to
request two faxed turn results myself and know two people who were
"special serviced".  The first of these players mailed his turn nine
days prior to the turn running.  The second mailed a check with his
orders. This turn was run on a Thursday and his bank statment showed
the check cleared the very next day.

I believe GSI is running more games than their staff can handle and
the players are suffering.

Also heard recently that all the FP players in game #150 just
dropped game 150 and seven of the players dropped all of their
games.  I heard it was because of consecutive special service turns
for two players and the resulting conversations with GSI.  This info
is all second hand if any of those in 150 are still reading I'm
interested.

Most of the players I communicate do not bother calling GSI anymore
as it has invariably resulted in more frustration than already
existed.

Good Service:

I know only one case were GSI actually changed a turn for a player.
This change was done over a year ago.  A friend of mine was playing
the Witch King and had Murazor encounter one of the nastier dragons.
Reading the rulebook he decided he could react to the dragon with
another character in the hex.  What he did not know was he could not
do this if the other character was in command of an army.  Anyway
Murazor was killed by dragon.  Needless to say friend was a bit
upset.  He phoned GSI and they resurected Murazor and put 10 or 20
thousand gold in his reserves.  They also said they would review the
rule book.

This is the only case I have ever heard of where GSI actually hung
up the receiver with a happy customer on the other end.  Any other
examples?

Done rambling!

Brian L (Dragon Lord-87,
Witch King-97,
Easterling-143,
North Gondor-151,
Cloud Lord-152)

So many games, so little time.

[Brian's note: I have only had to call GSI three times vis a vis a
customer service issue. All three occured early in my first game of
me-pbm. In the first case I was special serviced (around turn three)
and called to see if there was anything that could be done. No
surprise as to the response here. In the second case I did not have
an army move to where I expected it to, and called GSI. The person
I talked to went, hex by hex, explaining movement points in every
hex and was quite polite in pointing out my error. In the third case
I  had issued an upgrade armor the turn after a make armor order.
The armor was in stores, the army was on the move and there was only
one kind of armor possible to make. Nevertheless, I had failed to
specify the armor type. On talking with GSI and explaining the
impossiblity of upgrading to any other armor they changed the armor
of my troops (but gave me a warning to follow prerequisites to the
letter in the future). All in all, I have been rather pleased with
their service. Since that first special service I've always mailed
my turns in a week ahead of time (estimated mail delivery two days)
and checked and re-checked my orders. This has limited my contact
with GSI recently, however, all my experience in the past has been
positive (and fair).]

[Tom's note:  the number of special service complaints has risen
over the last few months, along with complaints of another nature. 
I don't know if this is an actual increase in special service turns
or that people are simply more willing to vent a little anger over
them.  I also can't say who's responsible:  GSI, the postal service,
or both.

However, I've seen several stories wherein a player called and was
told that his or her turn wasn't in, but upon insisting that GSI
look around for it, the turn was discovered to be misplaced.  Now,
if the turn is misplaced and found AFTER the game is run that week,
does this count as a special service?  If so, is the player
compensated in any way?  Is the player even informed?  I assumed
that that the blame squarely rested with the postal service in all
cases until I heard of these incidents.]

>From Darren Beyer

>Also at that time I suggested an automated confirmation of turns
>being received.  BIll seemed to feel this was not a good idea.  I
>also tried to explain that I hated to bother them by phone about a
>turn being received or not and this could eliminate that work for
>them....

I made the same suggestion to GSI and received the same answer.  I
would even accept a charge for a return mail message.  When you
figure that my  phone call to GSI to check my turn status (which I
do every turn) takes about 4 minutes during prime time AT&T hours
and that GSI is taking time to answer the phones, check turns, etc.,
an e-mail reply really makes sense for both parties.

I also would like to relay an e-mail story that happened the other
day.  I  had just mailed my turn off to GSI early on the day before
it was to be run. Shortly after doing so I got a "Failed Mail"
message.  Concerned that my turn did not get to GSI I sent it again
and something very strange began to happen...

I found out that the mail system here looks at all messages and
determines if they are in-house or headed for the internet.  All
those that go to the internet are routed to a door which checks to
make sure the other end can receive the messages then sends them on
their merry way.  If a message can't be delivered it is sent to a
"smart" host which will re-send the message after 3 minutes.

Evidently, something was porked with the message I sent and upon
reaching  the gateway it was rejected and sent to the smart host. 
The weird thing is  that the message also actually DID go through to
GSI and not only did it go  back to the host to wait to be re-sent,
but a duplicate containing an error  message went back as well. 
Three minutes later TWO messages were sent to  the gateway, both
went to GSI and each returned TWO to the "smart" host.   Three
minutes later FOUR messages were sent and so on, and so on...

After about 120 of my turns were sent to GSI the problem was found
and  fixed, needless to say, GSI was not amused.

Other Comments

As someone who has about 175 turns or so in ME, I have grown
increasing frustrated at GSI's lack of honesty. I know of at least
3 times they have recently outright lied about certain things.
(Though I'm sure they'd say they were "misunderstandings.")
 
I was particularly outraged about the letter in the last Mouth from
GSI. They said that cost wasn't a factor in fixing problems. A good
friend just had a conversation with GSI (ie, Bill F) about what
would GSI would do if they realized they had a turn but *they*
forgot to process it. Would they do what they could? At first, they
said they would. Then Bill said it would be expensive (in terms of
their time) and he'd have to charge the player $20. Then he said
they couldn't do it at all, because they'd have to fix everyone's
mistakes.
 
In a letter sent to the FP, Bill denied *ever* calling anyone a liar
over the telephone or using the phrase "I don't want to call anyone
a liar, BUT ..."   I had earlier discussed this with Bill on the
phone. And he *admitted* that he and his staff (because they had
heard him use it so many times!) using that very phrase. For him to
tell me that he did this and then write a letter to us and say he
never said it is unbelievable! 
 
In another case, GSI invented a bug to cover up a mistake. Further
phone calls about this "bug" uncovered that there was not a bug of
that nature, nor had there ever been such a thing.
 
Bill recently told someone over the phone they couldn't fix their
own mistakes (ie, GSI's) because "they'd never be able to do
anything else." What does this say about how many mistakes they are
making and KNOW they are making?
 
What do I think of GSI's customer service/relations? I give them an
"F" If they lie to me about some things, how do I know they don't
tamper with turns, not run key turns, foul up my orders to keep the
game going, etc? I can't.
 
[Tom's note: an unexpected number of players wrote in a similar vein
as the above letter.  Some were suspicious that their turns were
special serviced or had mistakes made in them simply to screw up key
orders and give the enemy team a break (thus prolonging the game,
which in turn results in more money for GSI - or so the suspicion
goes).  A few of the examples given (and not presented here, to
preserve anonymity) do show a highly odd pattern of bad breaks for
a winning side, but aren't conclusive evidence of tampering.]

>From Tom Walton

As players, we must admit that we also makes mistakes.  Or perhaps
not.  Here's a story I'd like to relate which happened to me in game
68, where I play Harad:

In that game, the Free Peoples had a large army with many siege
engines moving on Morannon.  In response to the threat, I dispatched
over 3,000 heavy cav north along the road, timing both movement and
food reserves to arrive at the Gates on the same turn the Freeps
did.

At that time, the Dark Servant that held Osgiliath had yet to
upgrade relations with me from 'Neutral' to 'Tolerant'.  Given the
critical timing of my maneuvers, it was imperative that he upgrade
relations so I could bypass the town without being stopped by the
fort.  I went to great lengths to secure his assurance that he would
issue the upgrade order with a commander skilled enough to get a
near-automatic success.

On the following turn, I received the message that my army's
progress had been halted by the fort as Osgiliath.  Calls to the
player went unanswered, but he talked with another Dark Servant and
said that he had indeed upgraded his relations, so the mistake must
be on GSI's side.  I then called GSI and asked them to fix the
mistake with respect to the relations change, but didn't request
that they move the army (a previous request in a different game was
refused, so I didn't bother to try).  Needless to say, Morannon was
burned to the ground and the Dog Lord nearly driven out of the game.

GSI investigated the incident and found that the Dark Servant who
owned Osgiliath never bothered to issue an upgrade order, so there
was no mistake to correct.  They suggested that I take it up with
the player in question.  It turns out that the Dark Servant forgot
to give the order, despite numerous requests from myself and another
player to do so, and was so embarrassed over his error that he
shifted the blame to the company.  He also didn't want to take the
flak for seeing Morannon gutted, which wouldn't have happened had he
done what he was supposed to do.

A simple lesson, really:  sometimes a player will screw up and lie
about it.  Who better to blame than GSI?


                     Strategy & Tactics: The Fire King

>From Brian Mason 

Basic Data
 
Go to your bathroom, pick up a bottle of shampoo, and bring it back
to this article. I'll wait...
 
If you take a look at the back of the shampoo bottle they give you
directions (I've always wondered if the people who need directions
for shampoo can even read, but I digress). The directions typically
say: lather, rinse, repeat (I've also wondered if programmers,
always aware of infinite loops, die in the shower, but I digress
once more).
 
Now, allow me to present what I call the 'shampoo strategy' for the
Fire King: recruit, die, repeat.
 
If you remember these precepts, you'll play the Fire King to about
its fullest potential. The unity of purpose in this position is
quite refreshing. All you do is guard the Ithil Pass and pound
Northern Gondor. You may have a chance later on to actually get
creative, but unless you do these two things, all other strategies
are pointless.
 
Given the simplicity of the strategy, continuing might seem vain,
however, there are a few ways to optimize the strategy, and these
will be discussed below. However, as in past offerings, we'll start
with an analysis of basic data.
First, consider how the Fire King compares to other positions
(Allegiance Comparison Tables, Tom Walton, "The Mouth," #3):
 
item for comparison among all      among Dark Servants
=================== ============== =========================
Total Tax Base      tied for 22nd  tied for 7th
Resource Base       tied for 15th  tied for 3rd
Combat Strength     tied for 17th  tied for 7th
Character points    17th           10th
Artifacts           15th           9th
 
The Fire King has fair production in some areas, very poor in
others. Expected production (Population Center Development, Brian
Mason, "The Mouth," #2) which has not been adjusted for climate for
the nation of the Fire King would be as follows:
 
material    le    br    st    mi    fo    ti    mo    go
=========== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== =====
production   588   678   344    31               152  3948
 
This is a list of below of Fire King characters, their starting
abilities, and their assignments.
 
Name             co   ag   em   ma   st   assignment
================ ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==================
Nazog                 30                  agent
Ren the Unclean  20        10   50   30   army #1 backup
Rozilan                    10   30        army #2 mage
Shagrat          30                       army #2 commander
Shogmog          30                       army #3 commander
Skargnakh        30   10        10        army #2 backup
Uklurg           40                       army #1 commander
Uthmag                          40        army #1 mage
 
The Character Situation
 
Of all the Nazgul, Ren is one of the weakest. When going into battle
with Northern Gondor, it will be necessary for Fire King characters
to refuse personal challenge, for if there is a Northern Gondor
commander at the location with the command artifacts you will
probably lose. As you can see, all characters (with the exception of
Nazog) are assigned to armies, there to supplement and improve army
abilities. Early creations for the Fire King should include
emissaries, possibly up to all four slots, if not this, then three
emissaries and an additional agent.  
 
The Economic Situation

As most of the Fire King population centers are unfortified, it
would be unwise (especially with the new, more randomized, loyalty
changes) to raise taxes very high, 55% is about as high as you can
afford to go. This can leave you with a substantial shortfall,
however, much is uncertain here because of the gold production
uncertainty. Essentially, the plan would be to keep hiring troops
until you cannot afford anymore, and then march them off to die in
Ithilien. The economy will be substantially improved when you take
Minas Ithil (and this you should certainly be able to do on turn
two). The emissaries have the opportunity to improve the economy,
both through creating camps which produce gold and by improving
population centers. Get these beasties in action early to improve
their skill ranks where they can be a potent offensive force later
in the game.
 
The Military Situation

You start with three armies at Barad Ungol. These are the suggested
moves:
 
Turn One

Have Nazog guard something or someone and move steel or bronze to
Barad-wath or Barad Ungol. Have Ren tranfer the Helm of Sen Jey and
a combat artifact to Uklurg and then join Uklurg's army. Have
Rozilan prentice magery and join Shagrat's army. Have Shagrat
transfer all but 100 troops to Uklurg and raise taxes. Have Shogmog
transfer command to Uklurg and move to Barad-wath. Have Skargnakh
name a character with 30 emissary skill and join Shagrat's army.
Have Uklurg recruits 400 heavy infantry (use steel or bronze at the
hex for armor rather than weapons) and moves onto Minas Ithil.
Uthmag can prentice magery and join Uklurg's army.
 
For prentice magery above you may want to substitute research spell.
 
Other actions:
 
1.   Make contact with all your Dark Servant allies,
     especially those in Mordor. To make a successful early
     strike on Northern Gondor requires the concentrated
     troop strength of two or more Dark Servants.
 
     Find out if the Cloud Lord and Blind Sorcerer are
     sending their troops to fight the Gondors or around the
     east side of Mordor North to the Eothraim and Northmen.
 
     Possibly arrange with the Cloud Lord or someone else a
     strategy where your agents can steal gold from each
     other. This will allow Nazog and the other agents to
     improve into offensive forces considerably earlier than
     if you simply guarded.
 
     The way to keep the Gondors off the Ice King's sole big
     population center is to attack and keep them busy at
     Osgiliath. Point this out to him.
 
     Determine if the direction of attack for the Dark
     Lieutenants and Dog Lord will be West or North. If
     North, make sure they protect Northern Ithilien at the
     least.
 
2.   Capture, Destroy, or Threaten?
 
     Once you reach Minas Ithil you will be faced with this
     question. As Ithil will form a buffer to protect your
     capital, destroying it is probably not the best idea.
     Getting it in your hands early is of paramount
     importance, so if Northern Gondor has foolishly
     committed troops here you may to capture. If there are
     no armies there to defend it, threatening is possible.
     Uklurg will have a good command rank (50) and will
     have many (5100) troops. Having the recruiting and tax
     base of a third major town is also worthwhile.
 
3.   Conjure Hordes, Combat Spells or Fearful Hearts?
 
     When going into and preparing for combat, you will need
     to consider which of these spells you should be using.
 
     At the start of the game, Rozilan adds about 150 troops
     per turn, each increasing the offensive/defensive
     combat value by 105/300 points (by comparison,
     recruiting 400 heavy infantry adds 1391/4000 points).
     However, these troops cost only 150 gold per turn, and
     the number conjured should go up. As this increase,
     while small, is non-zero, it is probably a good idea
     for the army at Barad Ungol. After Rozilan has
     researched both Fearful Hearts and a good combat spell
     Conjuring Hordes will be a good idea.
 
     When in combat, your mages should have the option of
     casting Fearful Hearts or a combat spell. Which one
     you do is strictly a matter of the numbers. Calculate
     the combat strength of your army and determine which
     produces the greatest increase, then do that one.
 
Turn Two
 
You are now in a position to capture or threaten Minas Ithil, you
have mages in your armies, have a recruiting army at Barad Ungol and
a commander ready to hire one at no extra cost at Barad-wath. You're
sending steel to one recruiting center and bronze to the other to
use as armor for your troops. You've begun training Ren, so he is no
longer the whipping boy of the other Nazgul, and soon, will be
feared by all. Hopefully, you've made contact with your Mordor
allies and are fiendishly plotting the fall of the Gondors. What's
next?
 
Send your emissaries out to create camps. When they get good enough,
have them act offensively. Have them influence away a Gondorian
town. Have a commander there to hire an army right away. This will
upset them to no ends, as they must deal with troops on their side
of Anduin. Repeat.  

>From Tom Walton

When Brian suggested doing the Fire King I said "okay, that'll be
easy:  raise troops, march to Osgiliath, and die.  Repeat as
necessary."  Brian apparently felt the same way about the position,
as you can see from his article.

I don't have a whole lot to add.  There really isn't anything tricky
you can try with the Fire King in the opening game.  Unless you've
got some real thick-witted opponents playing the Gondors, the first
ten or fifteen turns are usually devoted to soaking the Ithilien
with blood, trying to see how high you can stack the bodies
(sometimes I think the Fire King should really be called 'The
Buzzard King' or 'The Maggot King', or something in a similar vein).

Just a couple of notes:

(1)  Whether you live or die entirely depends upon your Mordor
allies.  Despite the constant combat this position is involved in,
there's little (if any) room to exercise any military genius you
might harbor.  Strange as it may sound, the Fire King is a great
position for a diplomatic player and a lousy one for a military
player.  Get on the horn as soon as the game begins, and stay there
until both Gondors are bittersweet memories.

(2)  Don't forget about your ability to raise armies at no cost and
call up hordes.  I've seen players take a town behind the lines via
emissary action, build an army of a thousand men at arms in record
time, then go on a 'threat' rampage back and forth across the enemy
nation.  I've even seen one player do this using camps in the
mountains against Southern Gondor (to great effect, I might add;
it's a real bitch trying to root out all those little pop centers).

(3)  Finally, you can use the abilities in (2) above to support a
distant ally.  In one game, I saw the Fire King transfer part of his
recruitment efforts to Angmar.  While the Witch-King ground
Arthedain and Cardolan down in mutual destruction, ol' Ren would
avoid the fighting and jump into the rear, swiping pop centers from
the enemy with threats.  Of course, the more pop centers he had the
more men-at-arms he raised, and the more armies there were running
about causing the enemy to pull his hair out in frustration.

That's all I have to say on this position.


                   Strategy & Tactics:  The Easterlings
                         By William "Rock" Chasko

The Easterlings are the only neutral to share the perpexling
problems faced by the Dwarves and Sindar: highly dispersed pop
centers.  This makes the development of a reasonable opening
strategy difficult until the first few turns have been played, when
the stance of the FP and DS toward the Easterlings becomes a little
more clear.
            

BASIC DATA
           
The Easterlings stack up like this versus the other nations,
according to Tom Walton's Allegiance Comparison Tables, published in
"Mouth" #3.
            
CHARACTERISTIC        AMONG ALL         AMONG NEUTRALS

Total Tax Base          5th (tie)            3rd 
Resource Base           7th                  2nd
Combat Strength         5th                  1st
Character points       20th (tie)            3rd
Artifacts              19th                  3rd

The Easterling production levels are quite reasonable; the only
potential problem will be trying to generate 6,000 units of food per
turn to keep the 3,000 cavalry mobile, but that will only be
necessary if the Eastelings pursue an aggressive military strategy.


POSITION ADVANTAGES

- - Commanders can begin with rank 40.

- - E'ling troops without food still gain 1-2 morale point 
  per turn when stationary, will only lose 1-2 morale   
  points when moving.

- - E'ling troops lose only 1-2 morale points for force   
  march (2-5 if without food).

- - E'ling characters have a chance of possessing greater 
  challenge ranks.


EASTERLING STARTING CHARACTERS:

Name           co    ag    em    ma    mission

Gorovod              10          40    lore mage        
Hos Harf                         30    Combat/lore mage 
Huz of Amov    30    10                Backup CO #1 
Kav Makow      20    20                Company CO
Nazrog         30    10                Backup CO #2 
Ovatha II      40    10                Army commander #1
Tros Hesnef    40                      Army commander #2 
Urdrath        10                30    Capital orders/  
                                         combat mage


CHARACTER PLAY

The Easterlings are equipped with two good commanders and two good
backup commanders.  Unfortunately, all four of these commanders are
in command of separate armies at the beginning of the game. 
Cautious players should consider having Kav Makow and Urdrath
move/join the two cav armies to insure they are not eliminated by a
sudden DS agent assault early in the game.  The Easterlings have 60
points of agent rank scattered over five characters; this should be
adequate for defensive purposes, particularly if the E'lings go DS. 
Emissary rank is ZERO - a deficiency which must be rapidly remedied. 
Mage strength is adequate for combat use and limited lore use. 
Gorovod is a medium strength mage with agent rank.  I have often
considered how interesting it would be to develop such a
character to, say, 0/40/0/65, get him the "curses" spell, and then
have him scout army and cast "curses" on the   enemy army commander
turn after turn...but I've never found the time to make the
investment in character development - and "Spirit Mastery" artifacts
are not exactly common...

Assuming that the E'ling is not attacked in a coordinated fashion by
either (or both) allegiances early in the game (often turn 1 in
grudge games), I would recommend that the first four new E'ling
characters all be emissaries. 

Spend 10k on turn one to build a pure emissary.  Have him build
another on turn 2, and have both of them build two more on turn 3. 
Get all four of these guys working putting in camps in the rough
hexes south of hex row 36 (exclusive) where the Blind Sorceror can't
see them.  Also put camps in the rough and mountain hexes along the
east map edge.  The Blind Sorceror can't see the even numbered hexes
in hex column 43 or any hexes in column 44.

You might consider spending 10k to build *ONE* pure agent, if you
want to play the offensive agent game, but I don't recommend it. 
With the new agent rules, it takes too long to develop an agent into
an effective, survivable thief.  The extra emissary should provide
a much better return on your investment.

Only Gorovod has a reasonable chance to play the artifact game, but
why bother?  Artifact hunting is an order- eating, time-consuming,
character-killing endeavor. 
Consider: a 20 point command artifact might take 8 to 10 orders to
secure; placing a CO as a subordinate commander in an army and
having him issue three or four 430 orders, while the commander
issues 435's generates the same effect, with fewer orders and no
risk to the characters involved.  If your individual victory
conditions include terminations or acquisition of several artifacts
- as is common for the E'lings - you may decide that acquiring some
artifacts is still a good idea.   In that case, I'd suggest
wheedling some aid from your allegiance-mates.  Have them locate the
artifacts you need in exchange for something you provide for them. 
This is still better than developing your own artifact- hunting
capabilities.

ECONOMICS 

The Easterlings have a reasonable tax base and resource base. 
Unfortunately, retaining their widely scattered pop centers may
prove a problem.  The rule of thumb is if E'lings go FP they lose
the south, and if they go DS they lose the north.  These effects can
be reduced by appropriate timing of the allegiance change. 
Regardless, serious loss of pop centers is likely when (and often
*BEFORE*) you make a declaration.  To compensate, the E'lings should
institute an aggressive camp creation program.  Start with the
invisible hexes listed above.  If you turn DS, you can expand
throughout the rough hexes around your capital.  If you go FP, you
should negotiate territory in Gondor, Enedwaith, and/or the far
northwest for camp placement, and be *SURE* to have the FP's give
you a secure backup capital (2223 in South Gondor would be primo).

Because the climate will remain HOT throughout the game year in your
southern regions, you should experience little effect from the
change of seasons.  There are some modest exceptions.  Any camps you
place in the mountains will drop from 100% to 60% production in
winter.  This could have a serious impact on your gold and metals
production.  If you are dependent upon the sale of non- metal
resources to keep your economy afloat, a crisis could arise during
the transition from fall to winter.  Your LE-FO-MO production in
your northern pop centers drops, in some cases, from 80 to 30%,
while your GO-BR- ST-MI production in your southern mountain pop
centers goes from 100% to 60%.  Watch out for this; it will not be
a problem if you are prepared.

You have two reasonable options regarding tax rates.  You can change
to 39% (getting 0-2 increase in morale at each pop center each turn,
mean of 1).  Or you can change to 59% (getting -1 to +1 each turn,
mean of 0).  [Tom's note:  these are pre-change figures, the range
is wider now.  Also note that 59% and 60% are in the same bracket.]

If you are pursuing an aggressive strategy, building armies and
making an early declaration of allegiance, consider increasing to
59%.  If you are going to increase taxes, do it on or before turn 4;
that way, you will not lose any of your new camps due to the loyalty
changes from the 19% tax increase.  If you are pursuing a more
conservative strategy, you won't need as much gold, and the 39% tax
rate will insure that you won't need to guard against loss of the
first camps you place due to random loyalty changes.  

Another dramatic economic option that bears consideration - -
especially if you are pursuing a conservative strategy - - is
dumping some or all of the food in your armies into your pop centers
and selling it.  The E'ling armies start with 37,000 food - that can
be converted directly to gold, and, if you are very lucky, you might
get two gold apiece for some of it.

MILITARY SITUATION

The E'ling military situation...words like "complex", "difficult"
and "impossible" come to mind.  There is little that I can say that
would be very helpful because so much depends upon the actions of
the other players.  I have seen or heard of anti-Easterling military
blitzes being launched on the first turn by both the FP and the DS. 
In game 56, a grudge game, this was done by *BOTH* allegiances on
the first turn!  While this kind of action is more common in grudge
or team games, with the advent of e-mail, it is not uncommon for
players to be in contact before turn 1 is played even in
non-team/non- grudge games.  ...and the Easterling is so spread out,
the temptation to hit him, especially in the north is hard for the
FP to resist.  Unless you know which allegiance you want to join at
the beginning of the game, there is little concrete advice I can
give about military options until you have seen the results of a
turn or two and can guage the wind.

Assuming you don't have a definite idea about which side to join,
mull over these ideas.  You have two strong cav armies and two
pitiful leg armies.  One of each is located north of Mordor, and one
of each start the game in your capital.  In the north, on turn 1,
consider moving the army at Ilanin to Riavod (4014) with the intent
of concentrating your forces at your most defensible northern pop
center.  Stay off the roads as you do this; follow the route 3714,
3814, etc.  An unexpected collision with either allegiance on turn
1 can cause a lot of frustration and resentment, and may get you
into a battle you don't want.  If either side is trying an
anti-E'ling blitz in the north, combining your armies on your only
northern fortification gives you the best chance of holding
something and/or doing your enemies some damage.  In the south,
consider moving the cav army to Khand Amu (4228).  This defends your
MT
should the DS be trying an anti-E'ling first turn blitz (that evil
eye symbol on your map at 4324 is a Long Rider cav army) and also
prepares for further northward movement and the combination of your
two cav armies should you decide to join the DS.  There is no way
you can defend everything in the north, especially if the FP attack
you early in the game.  If neither side shows aggressive intent
early on, and you decide to ride the fence for a while, consider
posting your northern cav army at Mistrand (4318).  This puts your
two cav armies just one turn away from each other with both able to
react to aggression from either allegiance in both the north and the
south.  Also, if you are going to stay neutral for awhile, consider
retiring the leg armies - especially the one in the south. 

As you anticipate the beginning of military operations, recruit more
cavalry.  You are initially a formidable military power.  Make
yourself *MORE* formidable. 
Discreetly leak that fact to the other players.  Deter aggression. 
If you turn FP, a tower or fort at Khand Amu is also a very good
idea.

DIPLOMACY

Diplomacy is the heart of the game for me.  If there are no blitzes
forcing your hand early on, how well you do diplomatically will
strongly affect your success in the game.

The biggest difficulty you will have diplomatically is convincing
the FP that you are seriously considering turning FP.  One way to
make this option seem realistic to the FP players is to start
negotiations for a backup capital in a safe part of FP territory. 
This should be a place where there is also potential to put in some
lucrative camps.  I recommend sending out 3x5's on turn 1, stating
that your price for turning FP is an MT in a safe location.  See if
anybody comes up with a concrete offer.  If they do, give it serious
consideration.  You can turn FP successfully around turn 6 - 10
provided that the Cloud Lord, Blind Sorcerer and other Mordorion DS
armies have moved off to war and have been attrited in combat.  Be
sure and have agent guards prepared for your army commanders and
capital if you make this choice.  The DS can really work on your
isolated capital with character actions, and you are several turns
removed from any quality FP character assistance.

Your problem negotiating with the DS is their *PRESUMPTION* that you
will turn DS.  You have to be coy enough with them to make them work
for your allegiance, but not so coy as to make them believe you will
turn good and are just toying with them.  Usually, it is sufficient
to say something like: "I'm seriously considering several offers
from players of both sides" (almost always the truth!) to make them
take you seriously.

The Easterlings is a difficult position which should be played by
someone who is flexible and who likes coping with the unexpected. 
Almost anything can happen with this position; even early in the
game, your armies may be fighting anywhere: Mirkwood, Rhun,
Rhovaion, the Ithil Pass, Khand, Harad, Umbar...  If you are jumped
by one of the allegiances early on, you may face a long fight back
to the top.  Some players thrive on that kind of challenge - if
you're one of them, try the Easterlings!


                    Tabs, Spaces, and Screwed Up Tables
                             by David Foreman

The following is a reply to a writer's complaints in the formatting
of tables for this and other publications. Formatting is a nearly
global irritant while riding the info superhighway.  There are a
number of issues that contribute to problems with document
formatting, most of which involve the standards used to display
and/or print text.

Many systems (generic internet nodes included) use a display system
that uses fixed width fonts (typefaces), and standard, 4 character
wide tabs. A fixed font uses a little box of pixels to display all
characters regardless of their width (an 'i' is the same width as a
'w', it just has some white space around it). These systems display
tables on the screen in nice, blocky, easy to manage columns.  On
these systems, you can freely mix 4 spaces with a tab in alternating
lines of the table, and to the eye, everything works nicely. If you
look at a straight ASCII dump of the data, you will see 4 ASCII
spaces on some lines, one ASCII tab on others.

Another type of system (Macs and windows based PC's frequently) uses
a proportionally spaced font and tabs to display to the screen.  In
this case, characters each have their own specific width.  An 'i' is
narrow, a 'w' is wide.  A ' ' (space) is frequently VERY narrow.  On
these systems, you HAVE to use tab characters to line columns up,
because tabs are defined as points on the page (1", 1.5", 2", 2.5",
etc) rather than as a number of spaces counted from the left margin.
Fortunately for us, most proportionably spaced fonts use fixed width
NUMBERS (0-9) so that numeric tables can be created. Un-fortunately, 
tables with numbers are hard to right justify (making all the one's
digits line up), so tables can still be ragged. 

Then there are the hybrid systems that do or don't use tabs, do or
don't use the same tab WIDTH (3,4,5 characters wide) or fail to
translate odd characters like the vertical bar or double quote.
There are something like 22,000+ nodes on the internet.  Go figure. 
[Tom's note:  Dave, I recently saw a figure of 30,000+ nodes, I
think in "Computer" magazine or one of the clones.]

American On Line is notorious for being a pain with this issue. 
When you display a message on your terminal, it is displayed in a
proportionally spaced font, and all tabs are translated into spaces. 
In addition, it word wraps based on the size of font you are using
and the size of the currently opened display window.  GADS!  

Printing then adds another wrinkle.  The print font size and/or
typeface isn't always the same as the display font on the screen.
Again using AFL as an example, when you PRINT a document it uses a
straight fixed width font that allows tabs (I think this can be
changed through the windows printer setup process).  As a result, a
nicely formatted memo on the screen looks awful, and a horrible mess
on the screen can look great when printed in 12 cpi courier! 

I guess we should all be glad email exists.  HOWEVER...  Let the
user beware! Unless you and your mail destination use the same
fonts, formatters, and page sizes, expect the data and tables to be
trash.

Hope that clears it up for some of you...



                            THE ALL EMAIL GAME
                             by David Foreman

In the last issue of the Mouth, one writer suggested an all email
game, with turns submitted & received via internet.  I will tell you
from personal experience that Bill says no.  I went so far as to
propose some ideas for a piece of software that would 'catch' the
data from a turn on the PC end, and turn it into a turn report on
your home printer.  It would also send your turn in to GSI via email
in a format that they could read directly, rather than having to
type it all in.

I am a software developer, and am part of a three person 
partnership that writes Foxpro applications.  We currently write DOS
and Windows apps, and are working on porting to MAC as well.  When
I proposed the idea of a system as described above, the response was
less than favorable.  These were the reasons given:  

1) Costs too much (I offered to fund the development work...)
2) 'Customer Service' would be lessened for things that are
   misspelled like answers to riddles (so check those
   manually...)
3) Not technically feasible (I work with 180,000 rec databases
   all the time.  No sweat...)
4) The quality graphics would be compromised. (True.  But his
   program is written in turbo pascal. If I could get the map
   engine code from him and adapt the bitmaps for the
   pictures...)

As you can see, this is another aspect of the sometimes odd customer
service credo at GSI.  I'd like to see the interface (dare I say
client/server???) even if I have no part of the action!

BTW:  In fairness, Dan Loveland and others on compuserve have a
nifty paradox program that does much of what I had pictured.  The
only problem with theirs is that you have to do the data entry each
turn.  I highly recommend it for those of you (me too) who write 434
instead of 435 when writing orders.  It does some nice error
checking and formatting for you.  Talk to Keith Peterson or Dan on
compuserve if you are interested.  It was free last time I checked. 
I can be reached at ELDACARR@AFL.COM. 

[Dave later sent this note just before the Mouth was sent out:

I have been told by Dan Loveland that the appropriate person to talk
to (and credit) for the software that was written to process turn
reports is Kevin Erskine.  Please mention this/add it to my article.


            Speculations on player positions in the 2940 game:
                            Ranger of the North
                              By Brian Mason
 
Tom has discussed in a couple of different Mouth offerings (see "The
New Game" in issue 16 and "More Comments on the New Game" in issue
17 as well as comments by Darin Fitzpatrick see On the new
information about ME-PBM 2950 [sic] in issue 19) the problems
associated with this position. Those being numbers (there are not
enough of them) and population centers (they aren't even a nation).
GSI is clearly going to be altering "history" here, so the guesses
below are simply guesses of how they are going to alter it.
 
Speculations on population centers:
 
There is actually no shortage of population centers in Eriador. The
problem, of course, is that most of them are controlled by Hobbits.
Here is a possible listing:
 
Dwellings of Hobbits
 
1109      Hobbiton            Town
1209      Frogmorton          Village
1309      Bucklebury          Town           Tower
1010      Michel Delving      Major Town?    Tower
1110      Tuckburrow          Town           Tower
1210      Stock               Village
1111      Hardbottle          Village
1211      Sackville           Village
 
Most of these would be villages, a few possibly towns. There are
actually a few population centers per hex, so the ones I have chosen
to name are somewhat arbitrary.
 
While Hobbits do not have fortifications in the traditional sense,
their smials (for example, Brandy Hall in Bucklebury, the Great
Smials of the Tooks in Tuckborough, or the the Lockholes in Michael
Delving) would certainly provide the
fortification-like defenses.
 
Dwellings of Men
 
1409      Bree                Town           Tower
1509      Archet              Village
1407      Fornost             Village?       Fort
1307      Rood                Village
 
The problems then are two-fold. One, most of the possible population
centers in the area are of Hobbits, not of men. It is difficult to
imagine the Rangers reruiting armies from a Hobbit population center
and ending up with men. Two, there are no true large population
centers to serve as a capital. The best choices for a capital are
the following three possibilities:
 
1.   Michel Delving
 
     Pros:     Probably has a large enough population in
               this and the surrounding towns for it to
               qualify as a Major Town.
     Cons:     It's controlled by Hobbits. How can the
               Rangers recruit 400 men per turn in a
               population center controlled by Hobbits?
               There is not even a report of Rangers going
               to Michel Delving.
 
2.   Fornost Erain
 
     Pros:     The old capital of Arthedain and Arnor. It
               is known that Rangers went here.
     Cons:     It's ruins. Why do you think it was renamed
               "Deadmen's Dike?"

3.   Imladris
 
     Pros:     This is the only place the Rangers of the
               North ever really rested. The Chieftan was
               raised here.
     Cons:     It is the home of Elrond, and many other of
               the characters of another nation.
 
These are probably the most likely choices, however, none of them
are really good locations.
 
I don't know how GSI is going to pull this off. It is likely,
however, that the position will start off very weak but may have the
best opportunity for population center development in its immediate
area with little or no threat of immediate attack.  
 
The characters will be difficult to determine. It 2940 the Chieftan
of the Rangers was Aragorn II from "The Lord of the Rings," but he
is only nine years old. It is possible that GSI may choose to
liberally use the "circa" descriptor and keep Aragorn's father,
Arathorn II (who died in 2933) as a character, or they may choose to
prematurely age Aragorn. Other possibilities for characters include
Halbarad, Aragorn's standard bearer. Also, the sons of Elrond,
Elladan and Elrohir, often traveled in the company of the Rangers.
It is not inconcievable that they will be characters of the Rangers.
 
The Rangers are likely to start off with characters well skilled in
command and agent skill (but few mages and emissaries) and a very
poor military. Depending on the number and importance of the
population centers of Hobbits, there may or may not be Hobbit
characters. For example, in 2940, Bilbo is 50 years old, Fortinbras
II is Thain of the Shire, and Gorbadoc Brandybuck was Master of
Buckland.
 
Name       co   ag   em   ma   st
=========  ==== ==== ==== ==== ====
Chieftan   50   20   30   10
Halbarad   30   20
Ranger     30
Ranger     30   10
Ranger     30   10
Ranger     40
Ranger     20   10
Ranger          30
Bilbo           30
Fortinbras 30
Gorbadoc   30
 
The command artifacts of Arthedain (the Sceptre of Annuminas and the
Ring of Barahir) are possessed by the Chieftan as well as the shards
of Narsil and the Elendilmir, a silver circlet. Narsil is probably
a +1000 or better combat artifact while the Elendilmir may be a +20
or better mage artifact. The palantir's possessed by Arthedain in
me-pbm 1650 were lost in the Ice Bay of Forochel in 1975.  

Their starting army is probably extremely small, possibly only 100
light cavalry at Bree. In several places within I.C.E. products, the
Rangers are specifically described as never numbering "more than
several hundred." It is possible that only cavalry will be given
descriptions as "Dunadan" while heavy and light infantry and
men-at-arms will be "mixed eriadorian." It is possible that archers
who are recruited, especially if there are many population centers
in the Shire, may be Hobbits. There is some historical evidence to
support this (there is a reference in "The Lord of the Rings" to
bowmen being sent to the aid of Arvedui, the last King of Arnor in
his final battle with the Witch-King).

[Tom's note:  hobbits, in conjunction with the Rangers, some
Eriadorian levies, and the elves of Imladris, managed to defeat an
invasion of orcs from Mount Gram late in the third age.]
 
Going any further would go far beyond speculation and enter the
realm of pure fantasy. However, let me point out that to support 100
light cavalry and the first eight characters listed above (with the
additional expense of 2500 gold for
fortifications) would only require one major town and three towns at
a 40% tax rate.


                 Dark Servant Pop Centers in the New Game
                               By Tom Walton

It'd be impossible to speculate on the composition of Dark Servant
nations in 2940.  While we've ample information on some of the major
population centers, artifacts, and characters, there's nothing at
all on how these were divided up into specific kingdoms.
 
Indeed, the sources on the subject conflict.  Tolkien states that
only two Nazgul semi-permanently resided in specific places (the
Witch-King at Minas Morgul and Khamul at Dol Guldur), with the
others being assigned from place to place where needed.  I.C.E., on
the other hand, gives the Nazgul kingdoms to the east and South off-
map, with Sauron in direct control of Mirkwood and Mordor through
other, less qualified servants.

In consideration of just how silly it'd be to try to come up with a
list of kingdoms (though I attempt this at the end of this article),
I've decided to instead give you a run-down on new pop centers and
changes to old pop centers.  Hopefully this will give you some idea
of where the balance of power lays for the Dark Servants, allowing
you to more accurately guess where individual nations are located.

Eriador

Sauron had little power in Eriador in 2940.  This wasn't due to the
influence of the Rangers or Noldo Elves, or the loss of Angmar; fact
is, he simply didn't care about the region.  With most of the land
empty of people, the Dark Lord couldn't see the point in diverting
resources to the area when they could be better used elsewhere.

There are only a few sites which could qualify as Dark Servant pop
centers:

- Mount Gram (2006):  Mount Gram is still occupied by a hefty
population of orcs, which infrequently raid into Eriador.  They're
primarily opposed by the Rangers.  Mount Gram would certainly
qualify as a town/fort, perhaps a major town/fort.

- Carn Dum (1804):  Carn Dum was sacked by Gondor and the Elves
about a thousand years before the beginning of the new game, but
orcs soon returned to the city. Carn Dum is most likely a town/fort,
but may be a major town/fort (the fortifications were never fully
repaired).

When Angmar fell, food supplies were no longer transported to the
region from the East.  Since Angmar was a barren land that couldn't
support a large population, the numbers of orcs never returned to
the levels they stood at under the reign of the Witch-King.  The
plains on the shelf of Angmar were abandoned, with the remaining
orcs concentrating at Carn Dum and Gundabad.  There shouldn't be any
pop centers at all on the plains or in the rough around Angmar.

Rhudaur is described as being nothing more than the haunt of wolves
and trolls in 2940 (as Bilbo and crew found to their dismay). 
During the destruction of Angmar the Allies also swept through
Rhudaur, killing the remaining hillmen (whose numbers had been
declining steadily for centuries).  When the Allies were done, the
few remaining hillmen that hadn't been slaughtered fled to other
parts of Eriador.  Neither orcs nor men remained, so Rhudaur should
be barren of pop centers in the new game.

If the Dark Servants hold any more population centers in Eriador,
they'll be minor at best and most likely concentrated in Angmar,
former Rhudaur, or the west side of the Misty Mountains.  Most
likely these will non-historical 'game balancers'.

Gundabad and the Mountains

The Misty and Grey Mountains are grouped as a single region because
of the influence and power of Gundabad during 2940.  Prior to the
Battle of the Five Armies outside Erebor, Gundabad was mightier than
it had ever been during its long history.  Indeed, the orcs of the
mountain and their allies nearly defeated the combined forces of the
Sinda Elves, the Northmen, the Dwarves, and a Woodmen contingent at
the Lonely Mountain (victory only being snatched from them by the
timely arrival of the Eagles).

Led by Bolg, Gundabad managed to force the submission of the orcs of
the Grey and Misty Mountains from the far north all the way to Moria
(where the Balrog held sway).  United into a single kingdom,
Gundabad represented the greatest threat to the Free Peoples of the
region since the rise of Angmar.

Population centers are discussed separately below:

- Gundabad (2305):  definitely a major town.  Probably a fort,
though it should be a castle or better.  The defenses of Gundabad
were so daunting that only the Dwarves proved capable of sieging the
place.  Even after they broke through its defenses, so many died in
the final assault that the Dwarves had to beat a hasty retreat to
avoid being destroyed by reinforcements marching to Gundabad's
relief.  Though Gundabad has existed since the beginning of the
Second Age, it was only sacked once.

- Goblin-Gate (2409):  a major town, again probably a fort.  Goblin-
Gate's defenses were almost as good as those of Gundabad, and it was
only sacked once (by the Dwarves).  Again, the Dwarves proved
incapable of holding the place, and had to retreat because of the
losses suffered in breaching the gates.

- Grey Mountains:  three specific tribes of orcs are mentioned in
the Grey Mountains, all owing fealty to Gundabad.  These orcs
settled in after the Dwarves were driven out by the dragons.  They
didn't occupy the former dwarvish holdings, as these were then the
homes of said dragons.  I'd guess that each tribe is represented by
a town/tower or town/fort, and that they'll be spaced relatively
evenly along the southern face of the range (2604, 2804, 3004).
     Kala Durlakarth (2703) is still around and going strong as
well.  Another town/tower or town/fort.

- Northern Misty Mountains:  one tribe is mentioned to the south of
Goblin-Gate, and is subject to the Great Goblin.  Another town/tower
or town/fort, probably a couple of hexes south of Goblin-Gate on the
east side of the Misty Mountains (2310 or 2311).
     There's also a tribe 'to the west' of Gundabad, which answered
Azog's call to arms for the battle at the Lonely Mountain.  This
isn't Mount Gram, which was independent, or Carn Dum, which wasn't
actually ruled by any single tribe.  In the new game, this might be
represented by another town/tower a couple of hexes to the northwest
of Gundabad (2104 or 2205).

No other major tribes are mentioned in the mountains north of Moria,
but this alone accounts for three or four major towns and six or
seven minor towns (if Mt. Gram and Carn Dum are included).

Moria

Moria is a major population center in the Misty Mountains, the home
of several different orc and troll tribes all ruled by the Balrog. 
Though the Balrog wasn't subject to Sauron, it did serve him
indirectly by causing death and mayhem to the Free Peoples.

The population of Moria rivals, and perhaps exceeds, that of
Gundabad.  It's most definitely a major town and might even be a
city (but I doubt this).  The fortifications are as impressive as
they ever were, but I expect them to be reduced to a keep or castle
in the new game (many traps are in disrepair and the orcs aren't as
organized as the Dwarves were).

There's some indication that the Balrog also held sway over some
tribes outside of Moria, but the information is so slim that I won't
conjecture over yet more pop centers in the Misty Mountains.

The Southern Misty Mountains

After Saruman turned rotten, he started recruiting orcs from the
Southern Misty Mountains.  Apparently there were quite a few in the
area, because in combination with the Duns they nearly destroyed
Rohan in 3018.  These same orcs were also used in Saruman's breeding
program which produced the Uruk-hai.

I would assume that even though Saruman is neutral, he must have a
pop center or two in the Misty Mountains north of Orthanc.  Because
these are based upon orcish tribes, I'd be inclined to set up two
more town/towers in the area (both on the east slope, 2116 and
2118).  Note that these aren't yet Dark Servant population centers,
but they do deserve mention.

Mirkwood

Mirkwood is the haunt of orcs in 2940.  Aside from the small area
under Thranduil's control in the north, most of the forest is ruled
from Dol Guldur.  

As far as pop centers are concerned, we can expect Dol Guldur (major
town/keep) and at least two town/towers to represent resident orcs. 
I'd be inclined to have two in southern Mirkwood (2813, 2914), along
with Sarn Goriwing (town/fort, location 2809).  More would crowd the
area too much (and make Bilbo's journey as recounted darn near
impossible).

Mirkwood was strong, but not strong enough to challenge the powers
in the region.  It was clearly incapable of conquering Lorien, and
though the orcs managed to force the gradual withdrawal of the Sinda
they could never penetrate Thranduil's core area in the northeast. 
It certainly wasn't as powerful as Gundabad and its tributaries.

West of Mordor

Aside from the pop centers listed here, there are no other bases to
speak of west of Mordor and environs.  Eriador was empty, while
Gondor and Rohan kept the White Mountains clear of orcs.  The
Northmen in the northern Rhovanion and the Woodmen in the Anduin did
the same.  Treebeard and company also kept orcs from venturing too
far into Fangorn Forest.

Mordor

Virtually all of the pop centers listed in 1650 still exist in 2940. 
There have been a few changes and some build-up.

- unfortified pop centers should be given at least a tower.  Much of
the work of the orc tribes leading up to the War of the Ring
involved rebuilding the defenses of Mordor, destroyed by retreating
Gondorian engineers.  This work was complete by 2940.  Barad-dur,
for example, was one of the greatest fortresses around, bolstered by
Sauron's magical might; it should at least be a castle, and more
likely a keep (actually, it's a citadel, but I don't think GSI will
go this far).

- in the 1300 years since 1650, the orcs have established and built
up much of Mordor.  Consider the sheer numbers sent forth for the
invasion of Gondor, as well as those stationed at Morannon alone
during the final battle.  I'd guess that many of the camps of 1650
are now towns, and that a half-dozen or so new towns can be found
scattered about Mordor (exact hex locations unknown).  Dark
Servants, rejoice!  You're no longer in danger of going bankrupt
starting turn 1.

- Minas Ithil was captured by the Witch-King and renamed Minas
Morgul.  It's a major town/fort and the capitol of the Witch-King's
nation.  From here, the First of the Nazgul ruled Mordor under
Sauron's direction.

- orcs raided into the Ithilien regularly from Mordor, which implies
that several holds were established in the mountains on the
Gondorian side.  Expect a few villages or towns along the west flank
of Mordor.

Further speculation on the composition of pop centers in Mordor is
pointless.  There just isn't any real information other than what's
already given for 1650, except that Mordor was much tougher and had
a far larger population than before.

The South

In 1650, the Quiet Avenger has pop centers in the South.  In 2940,
there's no mention in the trilogy of a Nazgul being stationed here. 
I.C.E. has two Nazgul in the region, both holding sway over areas
off-map.

Given that Harad is gone and the Easterlings are split into two
tribes, I'd assume that there's still a Dark Servant nation in the
area.  Without this nation, the entire area is held by neutrals and
that runs contrary to GSI's placement logic.  My guess is that we
can look forward (hah!) to another position like the Quiet Avenger,
only with more substantial holdings.

Final Appraisal

That's a run-down of the pop centers I could find info on, minus
those already detailed in 1650.  Now delving into sheer fantasy,
I'll make a guess on how the Dark Servants are divided up:

Misty Mountains/Grey Mountains:  two nations:

     - Fire King:  capitol is Gundabad at 2305.
     - Ice King:  capitol is Moria at 2212.

Mirkwood:  One nation under the Dragon Lord.  Capitol is Dol Guldur
at 2715.

The South:  One nation under the Quiet Avenger.  Capitol is Lugarlur
at 3034.

Rhun:  One nation under the Long Rider.  Capitol is Tol Buruth at
4215.

Mordor:  five nations, mixed up and confused like before:

     - Witch-King: capitol is Minas Morgul at 3124.
     - Dog Lord:  capitol is Morannon at 3221.
     - Cloud Lord: capitol is Kal Nargil at 3630.
     - Blind Sorcerer:  capitol is Luglurak at 3929.
     - Dark Lieutenants:  capitol is Barad-dur at 3423.

Notice that the Ice King and Fire King have been relocated to the
Misty Mountains.  Together, they'll have to fend off the Noldo and
Rangers to the west, as well as the Sinda Elves, Lorien Elves, and
Woodmen to the East.

The Dragon Lord has a stronger nation than before, though he labors
under the same exposure to multiple FP attacks.  However, he now has
the opportunity to be supported by two strong Dark Servants who're
both nearby.

Should the division fall this way, I'm willing to bet that
individual Dark Servants will have a more equal chance of placing
than they did in the 1650 game.  It will also concentrate almost all
of the action east of the Misty Mountains, which was true in the War
of the Ring as well.


                                 Last Word

Another enormous Mouth off to our loyal readers.  Thanks one and all
for your many contributions!

It's become a regular feature for Brian and I to razz our opponents
in game 97; the gods forbid that I should break a budding tradition! 
This turn saw the capture of Methir (2730) from the Dark
Lieutenants, the destruction of Khand Amu (Easterling major town at
4228) and Laorki (Easterling town at 4330), and the positioning of
my mighty Corsair armies to destroy both Ovatharac (Easterling town
at 4335) and Sturlutsu Khand (Easterling capitol at 4133).  To think
I was worried that the enemy would mount an invasion from Khand! 
Now the question is, will the Easterlings still be in the game after
all this?  Will they be in any shape to do the Free damage if they
are?

And look!  Scouts report that there STILL aren't any forces guarding
Mordor's back door....(yum yum, says Eadur).

There's a high demand for articles which detail how a game went from
a player's point of view, but no one seems to be writing them.  We'd
like to do 97, but it's nowhere close to the end and our opponents
(well, two in particular) are giving us one hell of a fight.  We
couldn't divulge much of what we know or did, because it would wreck
some of the operations currently under way.

If anyone out there has finished or almost finished a game, and
would like to tell the tale of it, we'd be ecstatic to see it in
print.  Of all the requests I get, this is the most common one. 
Such an effort would no doubt make you one of Sauron's favorites!

That's all this time around.

Tom