Code:
          From the Mouth of Sauron

Issue:    E-16
Date:     04-15-94

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

How about the shortest editorial yet?  Nothing earth-shaking going 
down, no real news to report.  So let's skip my blathering this time 
around and get to the good stuff!

Tom

                                                Dragons

I'm in the process of completing a survey on the range of particular 
dragons that move outside the normal bounds of the Grey/Misty 
Mountains, the Withered Heath,and surrounding rough hexes.  No real 
surprises here, but some information you may find marginally useful:

Rough hexes in Northern Gondor:  the group of rough hexes in 
Northern Gondor just east of Angrenost and south of Dol Guldur will 
sometimes see visits by dragons.  The most common encounters are 
with Itangast, Khuzadrepa, and other dragons that are generally 
found in the Southern Misty Mountains.  Strangely enough, these 
dragons won't be found in any of the non-rough hexes between this 
location and the Misty Mountains (i.e., no encounters in plains or 
forest hexes).

Sarn Goriwing:  Sarn Goriwing and the two rough hexes to the north 
will commonly be haunted by Nimanaur, Bairanax, and other dragons 
found in the Grey Mountains to the north.  Again, they won't be 
found in the intervening forest or plains hexes.

Iron Hills:  dragon visits are very infrequent in these rough hexes, 
but the most common encounters are with Bairanax and Gostir.  These 
dragons can also be found in the Northern Wastes between the Iron 
Hills and the Grey Mountains.  No dragons range east or south of the 
Iron Hills (with the exception of Lamthanc in Mordor).

All other dragons are encountered in the mountain hexes of the Misty 
or Grey Mountains, adjacent rough hexes, the Withered Heath (the 
plains hexes between the two branches of the Grey Mountains), or 
rarely, in the Northern Wastes north of the Grey Mountains.  Dragons 
are not found in any other location on the map, unless attached to 
someone's army (so far as I know).

If you're looking to find the recruitable dragons, the best places 
to be are pop centers in Angmar (mountains), Gundabad, Goblin's
Gate, or the mountain hexes within this triangle.  Most of the 
recruitable dragons have ranges which cross in this area.


                                              Encounters

Tom Bombadil:  Dave Rossell and Rochelle Neuman report that after a 
visit to Rochelle's army, Tom raise the morale a few points but did 
nothing else useful.  Bear in mind that it appears that Tom's 
influence may be variable.  Note that there were no encounter 
options; it was strictly an army encounter.

Balrogs:  okay folks, positive confirmation.  When recruiting the 
Balrog, it's an army encounter and not a character encounter.  The 
Balrog runs into your army (if you're a Dark Servant) and decides to 
join up for awhile.  But he cautions that you'd better fight alot, 
or bad things could happen (eat the army commander?).
Once again:  if you get this as a character encounter, you 
CANNOT recruit the balrog.  If you get this as an army encounter, 
he'll join a Dark Servant army automatically (for a Free/Neutral 
army, he'll attack and slaughter troops left and right).
That settles the quest for the balrog info, which some of you 
sneaky persons had but wouldn't divulge.  Hah!  The editors of the 
Mouth will find out sooner or later, secretive ones; you can't hide 
anything from us for long....

Ents & Huorns:  Another firm confirmation.  You can't recruit ents 
through a character encounter.  The only way to do it (and this is 
for Free Peoples) is to run an army through Fangorn Forest.  If you 
get the encounter, they'll join automatically.
Unfortunately for Dark Servants and Neutrals, an encounter 
with ents is a very bad thing and will result in massive casualties 
among the offending armies.  This makes Fangorn a great base for the 
Free, as they have a built-in patrol ready to take on any invading 
Dark Servants.

Well, we had a great week for encounter info.  These items were 
suspected since they appeared on other encounter lists, but it took 
awhile to get actual confirmation either from personal experience or 
from people we could trust not to dish us bad info.  Hope this helps 
you some.  We should also have a spate of new info on dragons coming 
soon - I'm trying out four new responses in this next set of turns 
alone.


                                            Other Notes

From Tom Walton

While many of your turn reports list email as having no additional 
charge, I recently spoke to GSI concerning the matter.  They said 
that they had reconsidered and decided to tack on $1.00 to all email 
turns.  Reason?  To cover the expenses passed on to them by CIS.

Checking with those of you who regularly access CIS, I found that 
the average charge is about $0.15 per file.  Downloading mail (or 
cut-n-paste, if that's the way you operate) only takes about a 
minute for a file the size of a 21-character order sheet (actually 
less for me, but I'm erring on the side of caution).  Since CIS
charges $0.10 a minute, this would come to a total cost of $0.25 per 
email turn to GSI.

If GSI were to do the wise thing and open an account on AOL, the 
cost would be nothing for incoming mail, plus about $0.06 per 
minute.  That's a grand total of $0.06 per email turn - assuming 
that GSI has already used up the five free hours per month it gets 
with it's AOL account.

I don't know about you, but this struck me as somewhat 
opportunistic.  Unless GSI has terribly incompetent employees who 
need 9 minutes to download/cut a file, or they write out everything 
by hand from the email (this is clearly not the case), it seems the 
company doth overcharge quite a bit for the email service.  In fact, 
it seems to be intent on making more profit (I see this behavior in 
government all the time - charging far beyond the actual cost of the 
service).

After gawking at the reply I received on my question, I told GSI 
that I, for one, wouldn't be using the email service unless it was 
an emergency, as the charge was far too much.  While it might help 
to avoid being special serviced, this has only happened to me three 
times in about 250-300 turns (I really don't know anymore).  Even 
taking the low figure, that's one special service turn per 80 
regular turns, or at email charge figures $80.00 to avoid a single 
special service turn.  And I have notoriously slow mail service, 
rivaling our Canadian cohorts (I have to turn my mail around in 48 
hours to get it to GSI on time).

So is it worth it?  I don't think so, but then, I'm in six games.  
That's $12.00 a month for me, equivalent to the cost of an entire 
new game.  I'm curious to know what all of you out there think about 
the charges and the usefulness of email turns.


                                      News from the Net

Editors' note:  this is a new column suggested by Brian Mason. Brian 
uses his access to the newsgroup rec.games.pbm to digest the on 
going conversations and provide questions and answers that other 
people may have about ME-PBM.
            
----------------------------------------------------------------
Post #1
----------------------------------------------------------------
What follows are more answers in response to Brian Lowery's post #1 
from last week.
----------------------------------------------------------------
From Doug Christensen (trubador@aol.com)
            
I'm also curious as to how this feature will work. In one of my 
games as the Long Rider I hold three major towns:  4215 (my 
capital), 3707, and 2912.  I recieved a recon report for 3707 but 
not for 2912.  Why?
            
Also, will the MT/City recons tell you the composition and leaders 
of enemy armies like the Recon and ScoArea orders?
----------------------------------------------------------------
From Brian Cash (bcash@bnr.ca)
            
Existing games are included.
            
You will not get a recon from any mt/cities on your map, even if it 
is on the edge or corner.
            
You will also not get a report if the loyalty is too low. I don't 
know what the cut-off is yet, but 15 is too low.
            
I haven't heard any input on this yet.
----------------------------------------------------------------

Reply from Brian Mason
            
Thusfar in other games of mine I've only seen it not work (with a 
loyalty of 40). I do, however, have a reliable report of results 
with a loyalty of 59. So apparently, the cut-off is somewhere 
between these two values. I am still looking for more data (hello 
out there) to firmly establish this. Send me info on loyalty of 
major towns and cities off your main map and whether or not they 
provided the info to mason@chara.gsu.edu.
            
There was also some question as to whether or not this applied to 
all games or only new games. It has apparently been applied to all 
games, new and old.
            
Also, the nagging question remains, does it provide you with only a 
map or does it also give you army information (as a recon does). As 
far as I know, the jury is still out on that.
            
----------------------------------------------------------------
Post #2
----------------------------------------------------------------
From: v011l6fc@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu (DAVE ROSSELL)
Subject: ME-PBM Long Rider encounter?
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 1994 18:18:00 GMT
            
I've heard rumors that there's an encounter that will allow the Long 
Rider get an army out of its mountain-locked major town at 3229.  
Anyone hear anything about this, or how to get it?
            
----------------------------------------------------------------
Reply from Brian Mason
            
This has been a longstanding rumor. As yet I have never heard of a 
confirmation of this. Anyone knowing anything, pass it along.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Reply from Tom Walton

As Brian said, this is a long-standing rumor.  GSI wouldn't deny or 
confirm it when I asked them, but they made it very clear that one 
shouldn't give credence to all rumors, for many aren't true (the 
reply was very strongly worded in the negative).  I found this to be 
a roundabout way of saying that the rumor is bogus and not to waste 
any effort on it.

So far as either of us know, no one has ever had this encounter.  I 
class it with the nonexistent dragons, i.e., deliberate 
misinformation passed along to confuse and annoy other players.


                                         Other Notes

From Darin Fitzpatrick

RE:  The "Kill Guard" order
            
This order already exists; it goes by the name of "Issue Personal 
Challenge." In fact, an agent good enough to be assassinating 
someone probably has a much higher challenge rank than a typical 
guard. This tactic is especially effective if the agent also has 
some command rank (easy to build up quickly) and a good combat 
artifact. Ideally, this assassin could nail an average of one 
character per turn, moving and scouting and then challenging and 
assassinating.

A corollary bit of advice is to have one's guards refuse personal 
challenges. In this case, two assassinations may be necessary 
(either with two assassins or over two turns.)
            
RE:  Nation Transport and Caravan Transport
            
If you want to send all your stores of one resource (or a given 
percentage of them) to an ally, it is most efficient to "Nation 
Transport" to whichever Pop Center has the most of that particular 
resource, thus minimizing the 10% fee. Caravan Transport can 
originate in any Pop Center, not just the capital.  This tactic 
ensures that your ally gets the most for your generosity. Also, if 
you happen to have a character in that Pop Center, you can now have 
him transport the goods, thus saving a capital order for something 
more useful.
            
RE:  Troop Diversity
            
Many writers have complained about the lack of variety in troop 
recruitment. The fact that heavy troops are always best rob the game 
of a potentially critical strategic decision. It seems difficult,
however, to come up with a simple solution, one that does not 
involve substantial restructuring of the combat system.

I have collected a few thoughts about possible directions a solution 
might take:
            
- light troops could gain movement bonuses, similar to those
  currently enjoyed by cavalry
            
- light troops could have strength of 75% of the heavy troops
  (instead of 50%)
            
- the distinction between light and heavy could be removed
  entirely, and the influence of weapons and training greatly
  increased
            
- archers could have strength higher than heavy infantry
  (e.g. 12), but retain their low constitution
            
- improved archers (as above) could require a resource to
  recruit, such as timber
            
- a minimum armor/weapon requirement could be set for heavy troops
            
- light troops could have higher strength than constitution
            
- maintenance costs could be based on equipment (armor, weapons)
  rather than troop type, or on a combination of the two
            
- certain troop types could complement each other, i.e. an army of
  only cavalry and archers could gain a 20% advantage
            
- certain combat spells could affect some troops more than others
  (a Heat Metal spell against armor, or Wild Mounts against cavalry)
            
Obviously, many factors influence most decisions in ME-PBM.  It 
would be nice if the recruitment decision were also less simplistic 
and led to many possible army configurations.
            
Reply to Darin Fitzpatrick
From Tom Walton

Only one point: if the enemy is using commander/agents for guards, 
they'll often have a higher challenge rank than enemy agents.  This 
could make a challenge order on the part of the attacker a very 
risky proposition.


                     Strategy & Tactics:  The Long Rider
                        By Brian Mason and Tom Walton

From Brian Mason

Coming rather close on the heels of the article on the Cloud Lord is 
another fun and exciting position which tends to be rather character 
based: the Long Rider.
            
Basic Data
~~~~~~~~~~
            
How does the nation of the Long Rider 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 21st  tied for 7th
Resource Base       tied for 15th  tied for 3rd
Combat Strength     7th            1st
Character points    10th           6th
Artifacts           tied for 6th   5th
            
The Long Rider has pretty poor production. Expected production 
(Population Center Development, Brian Mason, "The Mouth," #2) which 
has not been adjusted for climate for the nation of the Long Rider 
would be as follows:
            
material    le    br    st    mi    fo    ti    mo    go
=========== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== =====
production  1089   436   175    20  3414      0  234  2538
            
Among the Dark Servants, the Long Rider wins more often than any 
other position except that of the CLoud Lord (Winners & Losers in 
Middle-earth, Tom Walton, "The Mouth," #8).
            
This is a list of below of Long Rider characters, their starting 
abilities, and their assignments.
            
Name           co   ag   em   ma   st   assignment
============== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ====================
Din Ohtar           30   10   10   30   Agent #1
Drugandra      40                       Army commander #1
Goldwine Frec  10   10   10             Train this puppy
Hargrog        30   20                  Army commander #2
Lomelinde           30        10        Agent #2
Morlammen                     30        Mage #1
Uvatha         60   10   10        30   Army commander #3
Voisol                        30        Mage #2
            
The Long Rider start the game in a very interesting position. 
Because of the command skill rank of Uvatha, the ability to create 
40 commanders, the ability to summon mounts, the starting training 
rank of 20 for troops, and the impressive array of starting forces, 
this is potentially a very powerful position for armies. However, 
the Long Rider is in a rather unenviable position in two ways, one, 
the armies are scattered all over the east side of the map, and the 
only location suitable for recruiting at start (Tol Buruth) must
ferry troops to get them in play, and doing that runs the risk of 
running into two navies (the Sinda and Northmen) which are superior 
to your own. On the other hand, you start the game with two of the 
best agents (due to Long Rider artifacts). So, there might be a 
desire to run a character game. How you decide to play the position 
might have a great deal to do with what characters you develop.  For 
example, if it is possible to get your troops from Tol Buruth to one 
of the Major Towns on the Sea of Rhun and to take it (without 
encountering enemy navies en route) then it will be much easier to 
get into a military game, and you may then have the need to create 
good commanders and commander/agents to act as army commanders and 
back up commanders. If, on the other hand, you are unable to secure 
a recruiting base, you might be better served adopting a character 
based strategy. While the army you have starting at 4324 can engage 
in agressive action around the Sea of Rhun, in my opinion, you are 
still forced into a character strategy if you cannot move troops 
from Tol Buruth to the mainland freely. The only way to do that is 
by destroying the Sinda and Northmen navy, and the only way to do 
that is through the 4324 army winning an engagement along the coast 
or through direct agent action assassinating or kidnapping all 
commanders. So, the fundamental decision of how you might play the 
position depends a great deal on how the first few turns go. 
Accordingly, it is very difficult to plan strategy for character 
creation.

The Character Situation
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            
However, in this area one thing is obvious. The Long Rider lacks 
decent emissaires. One should be named on turn one and he should  
name another, although you might want to leave the other two 
character slots open depending on how you want to play the position. 
To make your two new emissaries offensively effective you need to 
get their skill ranks above 50. To do this by InfOthr would take 
eight turns (More Character and Skill Improvement, Tom Walton, "The 
Mouth," #3), however, if you can do it by CreCmp it could be done in 
only five turns (ibid), the problems of doing this are twofold: one, 
you have limited gold, two, you have few places you can do it 
safely. Because of the volitility of the Rhovanion region, creating 
camps anywhere on your starting map outside of Mordor invites their 
destruction. Even those you make in Mordor will be especially 
vulnerable. I would therefore recommend the far north (rows 01-03 
all across). It does not appear on any maps of the Free Peoples, and 
if these are not discovered accidentally, they will form nice 
population centers to be improved later in the game. From these
locations after turn 20 you can come down upon Arthedain or the 
Northmen from an unexpected location.
            
What you do with Lomelinde and Din Ohtar is very important. These 
two characters can effectively lay siege to the Northmen capital. 
Move them on turn one and scout for characters. Assassinate or 
kidnap whoever shows up, and if no one shows up then have one of 
them scout for characters while the other steals gold, sabotages 
fortifications, etc. While these two excellent agents are present
the Northmen will be unable to name new characters, raise his taxes, 
or use one of his primary recruiting locations.
            
Your mages will take some time before they can train to a sufficient 
level to get into the artifact hunting business, so keep improving 
them, and have them cast offensive/defensive spells in your armies. 

Goldwine Frec is a puppy. It will take him quite a while to become 
an effective anything (6 turns to have any skill reach 30 rank), so 
keep him safe. He can, through time, become a very effective 
agent/emissary to be used to StlGld and InfOthr at enemy population 
centers and/or as a company commander. Use him for this later in the 
game.
            
The Economic Situation
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            
You are hurting. Raising taxes much at all threatens the loss of 
camps through loyalty drops. Captured population centers will be 
very hard to keep, and your troops are very expensive. The best way 
to improve your economy is to capture population centers with 
fortifications (which will help protect them), destroy unfortified 
population centers (these will be very difficult to hold). Taking 
these actions will also lose troops, which will also improve the 
economy.Actions must be taken fast. Sells will probably be necessary 
to keep things going early in the game.
            
The Military Situation
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The armies are spread out all over the map and will be dealt with 
individually.
            
The Mordor force is weak compared to armies in the region, however,
if the primary Dark Servant forces in Mordor (Fire King, Ice King, 
et al.) can keep the Gondors occupied, opportunities exsist to take 
3028 and 3026.
            
The Rhovanion force is very vulnerable to attacks by the Eothraim. 
It simply is not big enough to hold up. There are, however, many 
population centers surrounding the Sea of Rhun which make viable 
targets.
            
The Tol Buruth army should try to reach the mainland, if only to be 
lost. The only exception to this would be if Uvatha commands it. If 
so, troops should be retired to cut costs and the Sea should be 
avoided. The chances of loss on the open sea (and thereby the death 
of Uvatha) are too great.
            
Future Development of the position and final points
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            
The position has many opportunities, but how it handles the economic 
crisis early on will determine many things. Can the Long Rider
develop population centers in the far North? Can Din Ohtar and 
Uvatha keep the Northmen from executing capital orders (thus 
weakening this position considerably)? Can the armies capture a few 
population centers and destroy the rest? All these questions are 
difficult ones to answer, and the success (or failure) of the Long 
Rider depends a great deal on them.

There remains then the problem of Olbamarl. The tendency is to get 
complacent with this population center. There is a rumor, still 
unconfirmed, that it is possible to get to Olbamarl through an 
encounter, however, even if this rumor is disallowed, keep in mind 
that very agressive emissary action by the Northmen, Noldo, or a 
blitz by some other nation could take this place. It might be 
worthwhile to keep an army of 100 Men-at-Arms here just to require 
them to assassinate the commander and delay the InfOthrs by one 
turn. Watch out for agressive action in this area! Keep in mind that 
it will take you two turns to get agents from Northmen territory to 
Olbamarl. This might give your opponents enough time to take the 
place.

From Tom Walton

Considering that Brian has never played the Long Rider, he did a 
remarkable job in covering all the critical points.  Rather than 
repeat his comments, I'll just add a few of my own:

- I emphasize economic development with this nation.  Even should 
  you lose your armies, you'll still be running a deficit at a 60% tax 
  rate.  I'd suggest building three emissaries with your first four 
  character slots and getting them out to create/upgrade camps right 
  away.  You'll need at least six villages to break even, just over 
  character costs.
     For camp development, I suggest the Northern Wastes and the 
  Grey Mountains.  Both are off-map, both within reach of the 
  Northmen.  Both areas also have lousy production, but what you're 
  looking for here is extra revenue.  Putting the pop centers close to 
  the primary targets is a good way to provide future recruitment 
  sites as well.

- I'd suggest building a new mage right away as well.  With three 
  mages in the stable, all can learn 'Conjure Mounts' while 
  prenticing, adding to your stores each and every turn.  If you're 
  doing great economically, you can use these mounts for more cav.  If 
  not, you can sell them for additional revenue.  Three 50-point mages 
  will conjure 750 mounts a turn, a not inconsiderable figure.

- Of initial characters, I'd also opt to retire Goldwine Frec and 
  replace him with a 30-point agent.  You can hand the new agent an 
  artifact and make him effective right away.  With Din Ohtar and 
  Lomelinde, your team can go forth and steal gold to give the economy 
  an added boost.

- Of the armies, I'd send the Mordor cav force into 3028 right away 
  and try to take it.  If successful, move on to 3026 and repeat, then
  disband the cav and wait for the Gondors to repossess their 
  property.  The added gold is worth it in the early game, and the 
  army isn't quite large enough to do anything else in the region.
  In the Rhun area, the cav force should hit the Northmen right 
  away.  Again, this army isn't capable of standing up to the Free, 
  but with so many available targets you should be able to burn a few 
  towns right off, hurting the enemy in future campaigns.  At the 
  least it'll prepare the way for other Dark Servants (e.g., Blind 
  Sorcerer).
     For the naval force, I'm a bit more cautious.  Sailing in the 
   limited area of the Sea of Rhun is dangerous, and can result in the 
   death of your characters if you get caught in the open.  Unless your 
   enemy doesn't know what he's doing, I'd suggest sitting tight and 
   disbanding everything but the heavy infantry.  Start recruiting more 
   heavy infantry (until you hit your lift capacity), and wait for the 
   opportunity to make a big strike.  Don't worry, it'll come if the 
   other Dark Servants are doing a proper job.

- Acquiring/trading for another major town where you can actually 
  recruit is a major concern.  If your allies are recalcitrant, you 
  may have to wait until you can create one of your own, relegating 
  your nation to the character game for some time.  If they're more 
  friendly, you might be able to get a good one (trading the Dragon 
  Lord backup for Olbamarl is a good choice).

- If Uvatha starts in the capitol with Din Ohtar, consider having 
  Uvatha transfer him an artifact and moving both him and Lomelinde to 
  the Northmen capitol.  Din Ohtar can challenge, and both agents can 
  attempt a kidnap, taking out three Northmen characters on the second 
  turn.  This will cripple the Northmen right away (with thanks to 
  Jeremy Richman for this neat little trick).  It requires a bit of 
  luck in character placement, but is well worth it if the cards fall 
  your way.

- the Long Rider position is one of the few that I favor a 'vanilla' 
  approach for, i.e., a good mix of agents, emissaries, and mages.  
  Unlike other DS positions, the Long Rider doesn't have access to a 
  great character base, and his position often requires him to act 
  without support from other Dark Servants.  In playing this position, 
  I'd say the most important rule is to act as if you won't get one 
  whit of aid from any other Dark Servant - become self-sufficient 
  early, and stay that way.

The Long Rider is one of the toughest DS positions to play, but also 
one of the most likely to win if the player is canny.  I wouldn't 
recommend it for anyone new to the game - it's just too easy to get 
your nation killed.


                    Proper Usage of Nation Titles in Middle-earth
                                  By Darin Fitzpatrick
            
In reading the various items in the Mouth, I have been slightly 
irritated by sloppy usage of Middle-earth terminology.  At first, I
thought that I was just a nit-picking Tolkien fan with a fixation, 
but I think that other players and writers may be interested.  
Evidence of respect for "flavor" and cohesion with the primary 
sources has shown up, for instance in the list of place names by 
Brian Mason.
            
My pet peeve is the incorrect usage of "the" with nations.  For 
instance, "The Arthedain moved his troops into the Rhudaur." 
Arthedain is a country (or kingdom), much like France or Germany.  
Other nations' titles are derived from peoples (Noldo Elves, 
Dwarves) or places (Haradwaith).  I have compiled a table of correct 
usage for any purists out there.
            
The column "Nation" gives the official ME-PBM title of the nation.  
"Derivation" lists the origin of the name, and "Usage" shows whether 
the definite article is appropriate.
            
Nation        Derivation       Usage
============= ================ =========================
Northmen      People           the Northmen
Woodmen       People           the Woodmen
Eothraim      People           the Eothraim
Arthedain     Kingdom          Arthedain, the Kingdom
                               of Arthedain
Cardolan      Kingdom          Cardolan, the Kingdom
                               of Cardolan
Northern      Kingdom (part    Northern Gondor
Gondor        of one)
Southern      Kingdom (part    Southern Gondor
Gondor        of one)
Dwarves       People (race)    the Dwarves, the Khazad
Sinda Elves   People (race)    the Sinda Elves, the
                               Sindar
Noldo Elves   People (race)    the Noldo Elves, the
                               Noldor
            
Witch-King    Leader           the Witch-King, Angmar,
                               the Realm of Angmar
Dragon Lord   Leader           the Dragon Lord
Dog Lord      Leader           the Dog Lord
Cloud Lord    Leader           the Cloud Lord
Blind         Leader           the Blind Sorcerer
Sorcerer
Ice King      Leader           the Ice King
Quiet Avenger Leader           the Quiet Avenger
Fire King     Leader           the Fire King
Long Rider    Leader           the Long Rider
Dark          Leaders          the Dark Lieutenants
Lieutenants
            
Corsairs      People (faction) the Corsairs
Haradwaith    Region           the Haradwaith, the
                               Haradrim (a people)
Dunlendings   People           the Dunlendings, Dunland
Rhudaur       Kingdom          Rhudaur, the Kingdom
                               of Rhudaur
Easterlings   People           the Easterlings
            
Here are some real-world examples and ME parallels:
            
"Germany moved troops into the Alsace."
"Southern Gondor moved troops into the Haradwaith."
            
"The Gauls routed Caesar's legions."
"The Northmen destroyed the Dog Lord's capital."
            
Looking at the nation titles, as established by GSI, I see that none 
incorporate "the" in the name.  On resultsheets the titles are 
printed correctly in sentences, although computer-generated text is 
notorious for this kind of error.
            
I have not found good adjectives derived from most of these names.  
"Gondorian armies" seems to work, but "Arthedainian" is bit hard to 
keep straight.  The best solution is probably to avoid the adjective 
form by rephrasing:  "Troops from Arthedain crossed the border into 
Rhudaur," rather than "Arthedainian troops crossed the Rhudaurian 
border."  Another alternative is to use the name directly as an 
adjective:  "An Eothraim army and two Northmen navies converged on 
the Easterling town."
            
I realize that usage will not be cleaned up overnight, but perhaps 
some of those who are merely uninformed (as opposed to lazy) will 
avoid sloppy grammar.

Tom's note:  no doubt I've been guilty of the sloppy usage of place 
and nation names in ME.  You've seen me use 'Arthedaini' and 
'Cardolani' for plural forms, which to my knowledge have no 
historical basis.
   My only comment is this:  as one who writes professionally on 
occasion, I've discovered that what you say is far more important 
than how you say it.  Here in the Mouth we operate under the same 
philosophy and care not a whit how you mangle the English language, 
nor what damage you do Middle-Earth names or titles.  So long as 
people can figure out what you're talking about, that's good enough
for us.


                       Of GAD Games and Middle-earth in Europe
                                 By Darin Fitzpatrick
            
I was first introduced to ME-PBM by a friend in Virginia, who wanted 
desperately to get me involved in this great form of gaming.  We had 
been forced to cancel our semi-regular MERP sessions since I am 
currently on an expatriate assignment for Rockwell International in 
Frankfurt, Germany.  I had hoped that we could play by mail 
together, but alas, that would have meant 3-week turns at GSI.  
Fortunately, Mr. Feild (the eternally revered and perpetually 
misspelled) gave me the phone number for GAD Games in the UK.  I
signed right up and have been playing Southern Gondor since August 
93.
            
GAD Games runs the ME-PBM game under license from GSI.  Their prices 
are comparable (4 pounds vs. $7, I believe) with a two-week 
turnaround.  The staff are very helpful, answering most questions 
right away and researching tough ones with GSI.  Also, they accept 
faxed-in turns at no extra charge.
            
The software at GAD is, as far as I know, identical to that at GSI.  
I imagine that changes may not be implemented as soon, but the new 
agent, emissary, and transfer orders are definitely in effect.  A 
notice announcing these changes appeared right around Christmas '93, 
along with the new, smaller format.  I have not yet seen anything 
about Recons by Major Towns or Cities, but our first April turn has 
not been run yet.  The prinout has been changed slightly to feature 
the GAD Games title, list prices in pounds, and also includes 
messages from Sean, the game manager.
            
I specifically requested a beginners' game when I signed up, as I 
had heard about the killer level of play in the US.  Since I am in 
Game 27, I assume that GAD does not have all that many players with 
more than a year or so of experience.  Several British players I 
know are involved in several games at once, but all in all the total 
number of turns played does not yet approach that of the US.  The 
result of these two factors is that the type of co-ordination and 
sophisticated play detailed in the Mouth has not been evident.  
Aside from the Haradwaith, however, no one has played particularly 
poorly, either.  Quite a few players have dropped out, as well.
            
One GAD game has finished.  Game 16 was won by the Free People 
(batting 1.000), with the Dunlendings as overall winners.  This news 
was announced in the "Special Messages" department.
            
I am leaving Germany in August, so I will most likely not play 
another game with GAD.  I will certainly finish this one, however, 
and though the postal system is slow, I may have the results faxed 
or e-mailed. I have had two result sheets faxed to me, and so far, 
I have not paid extra for this service, although GAD does list a 
charge for it.  Even with a charge, however, it may be viable to 
play from the US via fax. I would request the large format printout 
for any faxes.  Also, GAD now accepts VISA payments, so one needn't 
bother getting an international money order, like I had to.  (What 
we won't do to feed the gaming habit...)
            
All in all, I am very happy with GAD and wish them the best of luck 
in developing the European market.  To anyone heading overseas for 
study, work, or long-term goofing off, I can highly recommend their 
services.


           Building a framework for your Team/Nation's success.
                            By:  Wes Fortin

I've been a loyal reader of the 'Mouth since issue #1 and an often 
dissappointed reader of Whispers of the Wood for about a year and a 
half. I have seen lots of articles, including some fine ones by the 
two editors of this e-zine, about strategies on this nation or that 
and the various strengths and weaknesses of each.  Having played a 
variety of nations (4 currently, and another on the way) and sharing 
the experiences of others, I noticed some common ground for all 
nations and teams.  So, I decided to submit something that addresses 
these basic issues that often get forgotten in the micro level 
management of a nation.

Assumptions:

1) All statements I'm about to make assume competant play by your 
   opponents.  Giving bozos the otch doesn't take very long. 

2) Grudge (Team) Game vs. Standard (Pot Luck) Game. The only real 
   difference between these two SHOULD be that in the grudge game you 
   already know and communicate effectively with your team-mates. In 
   the stardard game, you probably have to start from scratch.  
   Hopefully, the teams of a grudge game have some sort of master plan, 
   but this is often not the case.

That said, let's get started with these survival hints.

First, The National perspective

1) Every player should prepare for a very long game.  The idea here 
   is that you need to have certain expectations about yourself and 
   your teammates in your planning.  The mind-set that guides your 
   plans are formed on the basis of your expectation of the game.  If 
   you expect to end the game in 15 turns and build your plans 
   accordingly, you will not be prepared for turn 20.

   How many teams have broken up or become ineffective because they 
   planned for 15 turns, experienced great victories, then lost 
   momemtum as nations realized the enemy was still alive?  

   There are also certain realities that each team member needs to 
   accept. If you are the Dark Servants and you expect your armies to 
   sweep over the land devastating everything in it's path, you need to 
   read the 'Mouth more often. Dark Sevants are designed to fight the 
   first 10-15 turns in attrition mode.  They will loose armies and pop 
   centers, and will often be fighting for life.  Nothing worse than a 
   ally who drops because they lost a major town on turn 5.

   If you, the Dark Servants, survive relatively intact after the Free 
   People have rammed thier starting armies down your throats, your 
   chances for victory go up dramatically.

2) Every player should seek to make thier nation self sufficient in 
   all ways.  This goal will define your character, army, and economic 
   growth plans.
             
   Characters are fairly easy to prepare for.  As a rule of thumb, 
   EVERY nation should have two Agents, one Emissary, one Commander, 
   and one Mage at 50+ rank by turn 15. If you start with these 
   already, you can build to meet other needs and take advantage of any 
   character advantage you may have.  If not, guess what your first 
   builds should be.  I recommend building multiclass characters as 
   much as possible/feasable.  They cost more at first, but by turn 20, 
   you'll be glad you did.  Especially useful are Command/Agents and 
   Agent/Emissaries.  Mage/Agents are good for quick moving agents 
   (learn transport spells) with a decent challenge rank, but real 
   expensive.  I find that paired command/agents cross-guarding in an 
   army will stop most agents in the early part of the game. As they 
   get better agent rank, they can be practically untouchable by enemy 
   agents under the new rules. 

   That brings me to my other point on characters.  Strive to train in 
   at least one skill each turn.  Mages PreMgy, Commanders ArmyMan or 
   TroopsMan, etc.

   Army needs are a bit more variable.  If you can get to the front 
   lines in two turns, you need to be building troops.  They can help 
   support your allies and if the enemy somehow gets troops into the 
   backfield, you'll be glad you had something to throw at them.  If 
   you're four turns from any possible  conflict (like the Noldo often 
   are), pick up a pop center closer to the front.  If you are all 
   alone (like the Witch King often is), build armies on as many pop 
   centers, larger than villages, as you can reasonably afford. YOU 
   WILL NEED IT!!!

   Economic needs are also fairly basic.  Every nation should strive to 
   meet all it's expenses, have two turns worth of reserve, and close 
   to a zero deficit (or, better yet a surplus) - all at 65% taxes.  
   Most nations won't meet this goal, but everyone should strive for 
   it.  If you have a -10K deficit and are relying on that Food sale to 
   save your lard, you aren't going to last long.  So, the best way to 
   do this is to add more pop centers. Emissaries should be creating 
   camps and upgrading pop centers.  You may even use an army commander 
   to post camps, but this is real expensive.  However, if you need the 
   pop center base and don't have a decent emissary, this may be one of 
   your only options.

Tom's note:  I'm not sure if the 65% tax statement is a typo or not.  
The break point for loyalty loss is 61% (at 60 or below you lose no 
loyalty, 61-70 it's an automatic loss of 1 point per turn per pop 
 center).

   Also plan on losses!  You WILL loose pop centers, characters, gold, 
   armies.  Prepare for it.  If you're neck of the woods gets hot, 
   build a MT elsewhere just in case!  If you're down to two commanders 
   - guess what you should build. If you're running low on funds and 
   can't make it yourself, you need allied help.  Don't get discouraged 
   if that 5000 HI army with the high training and morale just got 
   wacked when all 5 commanders were eliminated via assassination or 
   curses.  IT WILL HAPPEN!

3) Every player should know when they should be asking for help, and 
   when they should help themselves.  If you perpetually need money, 
   turn after turn, you need to add to your taxbase so you don't need 
   to rely on your allies.  Orders do get hosed.  But, if enemy armies 
   are moving towards your capitol, you have no backup, and no way to 
   stop them - it's time to ask for help.  Don't wait till the last 
   minute.  Emissaries need to exist/be moved.  Nothing worse than an 
   ally saying "I need a backup this turn, or I may be eliminated" and 
   you're emissary is on the otherside of the map harrassing the enemy.  
   Or, the endangered ally has NO emissaries.

Tom's note:  I have a good example for this one.  In a game where I 
play the Long Rider, the Eothraim showed up on the Ice King capitol.  
Various calculations showed that they couldn't possibly have enough 
force to blow away the IK army and take his major town.  But, being 
the paranoid soul that I am, I decided to transfer Olbamarl to him 
anyway as a back-up.
   What do you know?  The calculations were wrong, and Durthang 
fell.  Only the timely transfer of Olbamarl kept the Ice King in the 
game.  As Wes says, it pays off to plan ahead and plan for the 
worst.

4) Know thine neighbor!  If your idea of diplomacy with a Neutral is 
   "join or die" speach 336B, you are going to have another enemy.  At 
   the first turn, each nation should send cards to every player in the 
   game, even the enemy, introducing yourself.  If you need a Neutral 
   on your side (and everyone does) you need to establish good HONEST 
   communications with them.  If they lie and are, in general, 
   untrustworthy bozos, still be nice to them till your armies are 
   firmly on all thier potential capitols.  Then nuke 'em and move on.  
   Most competant Neutrals will NOT lie to anyone - neither should you! 

Tom's note:  heh heh heh - that's what YOU think, Wes!

   Talk to your enemy.  Get to know them.  You may get information.  
   But more likely, it adds to the fun of the game.  Furthermore, they 
   might be your ally in the next game.  Another good thing to keep in 
   mind if you like to  hose people over.  If you're the Witch King and 
   find out the Dragon Lord is the guy you treated in a lowdown 
   dishonest fashion in the last game, you  could be in for a short, 
   lonely, game.

Next, Team planning hints.

1)  COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION.  This does not mean 
    talking at your team mates every turn, or writing long reports.  
    This means exchanging ideas and information with the purpose of 
    mutual success.  I'm in a team game where we exchange reams of data 
    each turn, but there is no coordination of  effort.  It's just 
    useless data at that point.  And we are facing a well coordinated 
    team of Dark Servants and are slowly loosing ground.  This is the 
    single most important element to the game.  

2) YOU are responsable for your nation's success or failure.  This 
   is not to say  that a lack of assistance is necessarily your fault.  
   No one is a mind reader!

   If you need help, it is your job to be the eyes for the team and to 
   arrange for coordinated actions for your benefit.  This is a 
   survival trait for the Witch King, Dragon Lord, and Woodmen nations.

3) Be prepared to issue capitol orders.  This means you should have 
   a 50+ commander dedicated to that task.  Yes, it's annoying having 
   an expensive character just sitting there.  But it's worse when you 
   need to, for instance, upgrade relations with an allied Neutral so 
   they can pass by your pop centers and forces instead of getting 
   stopped every three hexes making them easy  agent-bait.  If you're 
   ally needs gold, you've got lot's in the bank, but no one at home to 
   issue that order - you may have just cost your team a nation, the 42 
   orders each turn that can come with it (assuming 21 characters) 
   various resources and strategic positioning.

4) Keep team morale high.  This is tied to communciation.  If you 
   are, for instance, the Noldo and no one knows what you are doing, 
   some nations are getting pounded and they ask you for help but all 
   your orders are taken with other tasks - they are going to get mad 
   at you!

5) Be prepared for disasters.  If the enemy concentrates on a single 
   nation and your ally can get to one of your pop centers for that all 
   important  pop center transfer, but you never built up any pop 
   centers to Major towns, your ally is hosed.  If you won't build up 
   your pop centers for yourself,  at least do it for your allies since 
   they may need that remote backup capitol someday 10 turns down the 
   road.

6) Be prepare to get drilled!  No nation in this game, even the 
   Noldo, is exempt from the possibility of rapid and intense strikes.  
   You can loose BIG very quickly if the enemy insists on your untimely 
   demise.  Player skill can prolong the process, and probably keep you 
   alive.  But you need to be mentally prepared for this worst-case 
   scenario.  If your answer to this is to drop the game, you've just 
   cheated your allies.  Of course, if they aren't much in the way of 
   allies it's probably no loss.  Players will remember those that  
   bail out all the time, and will not play with them long.  Player 
   dropout is probably (and I think facts will bear me out on this) the 
   single largest factor in team victory.  Even a bunch of dopes can 
   put up a decent fight if they stick together.  But if the Cloud Lord 
   drops because his pet character died, the whole alliance starts to 
   unravel.

Well, enough of my rantings.  I hope this is of value to you.  
Especially newbees.  If you want openning turn blow-by-blows, Tom 
and Brian offer sound advice in many past, and hopefully future, 
publications.  If you want to lay the framework for a successful 
nation, this should help get you started.

Fini


                                   The New Game
                                  By Brian Mason
                          with added notes by Tom Walton

What is Middle-earth like in T.A. 2940?
            
First of all, keep in mind that there are some "historical 
innacuracies" in Middle-earth Play-By-Mail, T.A. 1640 (hereafter me 
pbm 1640). For example, in T.A. 1437, the palntir of Osgiliath was 
lost, also, most of Cardolan perished in the Great Plague of 1636, 
and while it is stated that the events of take place after the 
plague the ravages of the plague do not seem too severe (it is 
expressly stated in "The Lord of the Rings" that "most of the people 
of Cardolan perished.") While this may seem like picking nits, the 
fact that Northern Gondor still holds the Palantir of Osgiliath is 
in fact an error. So, keep in mind that what is described below is 
a historical description which will strive to be as accurate as 
possible. However, it remains pure speculation, and Bill and the 
people at GSI may intepret it in an entirely different manner.
            
Probably the most specific and important difference is how exact it 
will be to the T.A. 2940 year. There were many important events that 
closely followed 2940 (many detailed in "The Hobbit" which is set, 
mostly, in T.A. 2941), specifically:
            
2941      -    Bilbo find's One Ring, Smaug killed, Battle
               of the Five Armies, Erebor re-established,
               Dain II (Ironfoot) becomes King under the
               Mountain
2944      -    Dale rebuilt, Bard becomes King
2951      -    Sauron declares himself, Barad-Dur rebuilt,
               Aragorn's ancestry revealed to him by Elrond
2953      -    Saruman fortifies Orthanc, Ecthelion II
               becomes Ruling Steward of Gondor, Thengel
               becomes King of Rohan
2954      -    Ithilien abandoned
            
So, how free and loose GSI is with dates (or how liberally they 
interpret "circa 2940") can have a great deal to do with how some 
nations, especially the Dwarves and Northmen, will be played. 
Careful reading of the nation descriptions (when these become 
available) will answer most of these questions.

Caveat Emptor - The following nation descriptions will take a firm 
start date of 2940, so none of the above events will have taken 
place. However, the complexion of things changes quite dramatically 
in some cases if some of the above events have taken place.
            
Comments about and possible changes to setups:
            
Woodmen        Could Beorn (the shapeshifter from "The
               Hobbit" be a Woodmen character? If so, he's
               going to be a very good one.
            
Northmen       Bard the Bowman (also from "The Hobbit" and
               destined to be King of the Northmen) should
               be a character. Many Northmen population
               centers lost to are destroyed by Easterlings,
               and Dale is destroyed by Smaug (2770).

Tom's note:  the Northmen pop centers around the Sea of Rhun were 
lost in the Easterling invasion.  To my knowledge, the Northmen 
never returned to Rhun in the Third Age.
            
Eothraim       After being driven from the eastern side of
               Mirkwood, the Eothraim are given Calenardhon
               in return for rescuing Gondor in war with the
               Easterlings. Now the Rohirrim, they are given
               Northern Gondor population centers (less
               Angrenost, though Calmirie is uncertain) and
               name others (Edoras, Dunharrow, etc.). In
               2903 Fengel becomes King, and they still
               possess Herugrim (artifact #181).

Tom's note:  by 2940, the Eothraim were almost as strong as all of 
Gondor militarily, though not so economically.  They were certainly 
a more vibrant people.
            
Arthedain      These nations no longer exsist. The Palantiri
& Cardolan     of Annuminas and Amon Sul were lost, while
               the Ring of Barahir and Silver Rod of Anduni
               are in the keeping of Elrond. At least one
               Arthedani population center still exsists
               (Bree) and possibly others (although Tharbad
               has been abandoned for forty years). The
               Hobbits have had self government for almost
               five-hundred years, and they should possess
               many population centers. Could the location
               of Arthedain and Cardolan be replaced by a
               Hobbit position? What of the Rangers of the
               North? Although only nineteen years old
               Aragorn is Chieftan of the Dunedain of the
               North.

Tom's note:  this may not mean much.  Rhudaur was destroyed prior to 
T.A. 1650, with the remnants firmly in the hands of the Witch-King.  
Yet it's still a nation, and a neutral one at that, in our game.  A 
few petty kingdoms remain in Eriador in 2940 (mostly in the 
southwest), yet even together they couldn't match Arthedain or 
Cardolan of old.
   I'd have a problem with a nation of hobbits.  Just can't see 
them going on a campaign of conquest, or even forming an army of any 
sort (other than a militia for self-defense).  I'll be sorely 
disappointed if the hobbits constitute a Free nation in the new 
game.
            
Northern       Many population centers of Northern Gondor
& Southern     have been lost. Is this still two positions
Gondor         or is it one? Have some of the Southern
               Gondor positions of me-pbm 1640 been given
               to Northern Gondor to keep it the stronger of
               the two? Much of Northern Gondor given to
               the Rohirrim (Eothraim), Saruman (Angrenost),
               lost to Easterlings (Southern Rhovanion) and
               to Orcs and Haradrim (Ithilien). Gondor has
               weathered numerous attacks of Mordor, the
               Haradwaith, Corsairs and Easterlings. Minas
               Ithil and its palantir have been lost (2002)
               and Ithil renamed Minas Morgul. Minas Anor
               has been renamed Minas Tirith. Gondor is now
               ruled by the Stewards (since 2050) Osgiliath
               (2475) has been overrun. Turgon (2914)
               becomes Ruling Steward and builds the secret
               refuge of Henneth Annun (a hidden popultation
               center?) and the island of Cair Andros
               fortified to defend Anorien. Denethor II born
               is 10 years old. Of the four palantir
               possessed by Northern Gondor in me-pbm 1650
               they now have one.

Tom's note:  Gondor has declined considerably in 1300 years in all 
respects.  During this time, it also lost its close ties with the 
Elves.
            
Dwarves        This position is has also seen significant
               changes. First, in 1981 Khazad-Dum falls, in
               1999 Erebor founded. From 2000 to 2590 the
               Dwarves settle in Southern Grey Mountains but
               are driven out by Dragons, mostly to Erebor
               and the Iron Hills. In 2770 Erebor taken over
               by Smaug, and the Dwarves flee to Iron Hills.
               From 2793-2799 is the War of the Dwarves and
               Orcs and in 2845 King Thrain II loses Dwarven
               Ring of Power to Sauron. The Dwarves will now
               possess several larger population centers in
               both the Blue Mountains and Iron Hills.
               The Dwarves of "The Hobbit" are all active
               characters in this time. Thorin Oakenshield
               is King.

Tom's note:  it's said that the Dwarves never really recovered from 
their war with the orcs, and continued to diminish in Middle-Earth.  
The dwarves also started several ventures in the northwestern hills 
of former Arthedain, and were rumored to have some operations in the 
rough terrain where Rhudaur used to be.  Thorin Oakenshield was a 
part of some of these ventures.
            
Sinda Elves    In 1981 many Sylvan (Wood) Elves flee
               Lothlorien and Amroth and Nimrodel are lost.
               The Sinda port near South Gondor is gone.
               However, many other Sinda characters are
               still around, and Lothlorien (and presumably
               all the Sinda?) will now be led by Galadriel
               and Celeborn. Will this be split into two
               positions, one for Lothlorien and one for
               Northern Mirkwood.

Tom's note:  the unity among elves has declined considerably.  While 
Elrond and Cirdan are still closely allied, Lothlorien and 
Thranduil's kingdom are clearly separate.  Lothlorien has a number 
of Sinda Elves, with a few Noldo thrown in.  Thranduil's kingdom is 
almost entirely Sylvan Elves, with some Sinda overlords (no Noldo).
At this time, Thranduil holds nothing south of the Mirkwood road, 
and is having problems contesting everything south of the river 
(there are LOTS of orcs in Mirkwood).
            
Noldo Elves    Strange calling these the Noldo Elves when
               the most powerful of all Noldo is not one
               of their characters (Galadriel). These
               characters will only get better over time.
               And you thought the characters were
               impressive in me-pbm 1650?
            
            
With the loss of Arthedain and Cardolan the Free Peoples are
down two positions. It is possible that there may now be
three rather than two Elven positions, making one and if
there is a nation of Hobbits (or combined Hobbits and
Rangers) that makes the other.

Tom's note:  while the Rangers are few and far between, really 
nothing more than a tribe of warriors under the command of the line 
of Arthedaini kings, they're also the real military power in 
Eriador.  It's said that they alone were responsible for the 
protection of the hobbits, and from keeping orcs and other nasties 
from occupying Eriador (which was mostly unoccupied at this time).
            
Generally, these positions will have fewer population
centers, fewer troops, but possibly better characters.
            
Witch-King     Angmar fell in 1975, so he has moved to Minas
               Morgul.
            
Dragon Lord    This position is very strong if it also
               consists of the population centers at
               Mt. Gunabad and Khazad-Dum (a Balrog is
               here). Could there be two Dark Servant
               positions in the Mirkwood area? The
               population centers could support it. Is the
               Balrog a character or an encounter?

Tom's note:  Goblin-Gate is alive and well also, and with the 
dwarves being driven out of the Grey Mountains there are several 
major holds in this area that weren't present in 1650.  While the
orcs suffered considerably in the war with the Dwarves, they 
recovered much more quickly.  In fact, the orcs of the Misty and 
Grey Mountains were so strong they nearly defeated the combined 
armies of Dwarves, Elves, Men, and Eagles at Erebor only a year 
later.
   Also of interest, Sauron was firmly established at Dol Guldur 
as the Necromancer at this time (he was driven out by the White 
Council the next year).  Unlike the years around 1650, he'd stopped 
wandering Middle-Earth, and made only one other move after this time 
- to Barad-dur.  Does that mean that Sauron won't be a wandering 
encounter anymore?
            
Mordor nations More or less the same, although they will 
move around to keep the game fresh.

Tom's note:  true, but Mordor also has Minas Ithil (now Minas 
Morgul), as well as several newly-established orc-holds in the 
mountains on the Ithilien side (Gondor has given up trying to keep 
them contained).  Orcs also travel freely from Morannon to Mirkwood 
and the Misty Mountains, virtually untouched by Gondor, the 
Northmen, or the Woodmen.
            
It is possible that these may be like the Free Peoples of me-pbm
1650. Better in starting troops and population centers, although not 
as good in characters (though each position will have at leat one or 
two EXCELLENT characters).
            
Neutrals       Corsairs, Haradwaith, Easterlings, and
               Dunlendings more or less the same. Rhudaur
               has fallen but is possibly replaced by
               Saruman (with the Palantir of Orthanc) at
               Angrenost.

Tom's note:  the Easterling suffered grievously in their war with 
Gondor and Rohan, with the alliance collapsing following their 
ultimate defeat.  Much of the Rhovanion was abandoned and left empty 
afterwards, though the kingdom of Khand remained intact.

Some final observations by Tom:

- In 2940, Eriador is a backwater of little importance, and would've 
  remained so except for the discovery of the One Ring by Bilbo.  
  Aside from the Noldo and the Rangers, there simply aren't any powers 
  of any size in the entire region.  In fact, following the final 
  conflict with Angmar, most of the residents fled to Gondor and the 
  area was thoroughly depopulated.  It never recovered in the Third 
  Age; in a conversation involving Gandalf, he refers to Eriador as 
  being almost entirely empty of people of any sort (with the 
  exception of Dunland).

- the balance of power has shifted significantly in 1300 years.  
  Mordor clearly has the upper hand militarily, with Sauron delaying 
  his invasion only because he wished to find his Ring first.  In 
  fact, the evidence points to Mordor possessing more than enough
  force to defeat the Free at this time (the final conflict outside of 
  Morannon during the War of the Ring gives a good idea of just what 
  Sauron was capable of fielding - the guy believed in overkill).

- though they may officially be neutral, the Easterlings and 
  Haradrim have been cooperating with Sauron for centuries now, 
  supplying Mordor with goods of all sorts.  The Easterlings have also 
  been hiring on to Sauron's armies in droves.

- the seeds of corruption have been planted in Saruman by this time, 
  but he has yet to succumb to the madness which possessed him during 
  the final years of the War of the Ring.  He hasn't fortified 
  Orthanc, nor started his breeding program with orcs.  I believe he 
  has secured the aid of the Duns by this point, though not in great 
  numbers.
     It could be that the Duns will be eliminated as a neutral 
  power and some of their pop centers given to Saruman.
  What would a nation under Saruman be like?  My guess is 
  mediocre economy, small army, some good nation advantages (good 
  agents/emissaries), and one of the best characters alive.

- I'm told that the 2940 game will require a longer build-up than 
  the 1650 game (in which almost every nation starts armed to the 
  teeth).  This makes sense for the Free, who're are much weaker; it 
  doesn't make sense for the Dark Servants, who're quite a bit better 
  established than they were 1300 years earlier.  What it means from 
  a player point of view is longer games and more money dished out to 
  the company.
     If this is so (and I don't have official word on this), I 
  won't be pleased.  I don't know about you, but without exception all 
  six games I'm in look as if they're going to drag on for a very, 
  very long time (the first six were getting to be pretty damn long 
  too, before I dropped out - even the ones where we whipped the enemy 
  good early on).  For example, one game just saw turn 30, and the 
  balance of power is almost exactly what it was on turn 1; virtually 
  nothing has changed, with almost all of the battles being fought 
  outside Morannon or in the Ithilien.  I for one don't want a game 
  that'll take a significant portion of my adult life to complete (not 
  to mention several hundred dollars).  My attention span simply isn't 
  long enough to find this kind of thing entertaining.


Last Word

Hello, everyone.
            
Well, as you can plainly see, we have no survey results to report. 
Some of the comments I have received so far have been quite helpful, 
however, I'd truly like to see more of them. Take a few moments to 
fill out the survey, what, don't have it? Well, that's okay, for 
Last Word, this week is dedicated to reprinting it for your  
convenience. Just `cut' it out and email it to mason@chara.gsu.edu.
And if it makes you feel any better, I haven't filled mine out yet 
either.
            
And neither has Tom.
            
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 1. Email address: ___________________________________
 2. Name:          ___________________________________
 3. Number of me-pbm games played: ___________________
 4. Number of turns played: __________________________ 
 5. Number of me-pbm games currently in: _____________ 
 6. Nations Played: __________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
 7. Top 3 Finishes:___________________________________
    __________________________________________________
 8. Rating of Editorials: ____________________________
 9. Usefulness of Editorials: ________________________
10. Rating of Encounters: ____________________________
11. Usefulness of Encounters: ________________________
12. Rating of Dragons Section: _______________________
13. Usefulness of Dragons Section: ___________________
14. Rating of Q & A: _________________________________
15. Usefulness of Q & A: _____________________________
16. Rating of Wish List: _____________________________
17. Usefulness of Wish List: _________________________
18. Rating of How I got Shafted: _____________________
19. Usefulness of How I got Shafted: _________________
20. Rating of Strategy: ______________________________
21. Usefulness of Strategy: __________________________
22. Rating of Humor Articles: ________________________
23. Usefulness of Humor Articles: ____________________
24. Other Comments: __________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________
            
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Explanation of questions:
            
Questions 1 and 2: Believe it or not, we have people to whom we mail
"The Mouth" whose name we don't even know!
            
Question 3: This will give us an idea of the experience of the
readership.
            
Question 4: A probably more accurate gauge of experience.
            
Question 5: How much does the readership play at one time.
            
Question 6: What does the readership like to play.
            
Question 7: How well has the readership done?
            
Question 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22: How much do you like these
sections of "The Mouth" on the following scale
            
0 = strongly dislike
1 = dislike
2 = neutral or no opinion
3 = like
4 = strongly like
            
Question 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23: How useful are these
sections of "The Mouth" to you on the following scale
            
0 = not at all useful
1 = rarely useful
2 = neutral or no opinion
3 = sometimes useful
4 = very useful
            
Question 24: Your chance to sound off on on things that the survey
does not adequately address.
            
            
Thanks for your time.
            
                                                       Brian