Monday, June 10, 2024

The Ferry Not Taken

I forgot to mention that as well as Rogue Trader, Stuart and I played a bit of the pithily-titled The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game the other day.

It's a fun game, that seems to scale well from small scenarios to full battles without breaking. There's some Warhammer DNA in the rules, as you'd expect, but also some innovations and simplifications that almost look like they are prefiguring Age of Sigmar if you squint. A bit. Ish. It's worth a look even if you're not into Lord of the Rings; Stuart has used it to run old Warhammer campaigns with considerable success.

You can ready Stuart's summary of our game(s) here so I won't rehash the details, but I will mention that I did manage to win the scenario when we swapped ends and played it the second time. I always lose LotR games, so I'm happy with that.

Neither of our attempts at the scenario matched the events of the book -- or even the film! -- but I must admit that I did game the system to scrape my win. I knew that Frodo had to escape for the hobbits to succeed, and I also knew that he and Sam had better game statistics than Ant and Dec Merry and Pippin, so it made sense to get Frodo on to the ferry as soon as possible and use Sam as a blocker, with the other two hobbits as support.

The scenarios are set up so that something like the canon sequence of events occur, but I was concerned only with winning and to heck with the Professor's intended story! In "my" Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Merry-or-Pippin escaped, and Sam and Pippin-or-Merry were -- probably -- shanked to death by frustrated Nazgûl on the bank of the Brandywine. So sad. Please send flowers.

This of course got me thinking about how Frodo's story would unfold with two of his friends dead-by-ringwraith. Would he even get to Rivendell? Would he go to Mordor on his own? Would the Ring -- or Gollum -- destroy Frodo without Sam there to defend him?

(If it were up to me, dependable working class hero Sam would leave landowning toff Frodo to his death and scarper with the Ring, but there's only so far you can eat the rich twist the expected outcome.)

I surprised myself a bit with this pondering, as while I'm familiar with this sort of "what if?" thought experiment, I don't think I'd ever applied it to Tolkien before. Although some have.

Part of me would like to play this alternate timeline out and see where it goes. Perhaps that's a project for another day.

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