Lord of the Rings [AAR]

ER Bickford ermj1986 on BGG, has some fun with Lord of the Rings., another game that has issues but is just so dam fun AND evokes a bygone era for me that I love it despite its flaws. Make sure to check out more of his AARs on CSW @  ER Bickford’s Replays 

I purchased this game on ebay. It came to me with no cards and most of the character counters were also missing. So I had to make my own cards; and my own character counters.shake

Oh and did I fail to mention that the seller said the game was complete. They offered a refund if I sent it back. I declined.yuk

Since I had to make my own components, it took extra long for me to play this game. In the process I also decided to make counters for the servants of Sauron and for the implements that characters can carry. I also made some cheap Fellowship company markers to use to move the hidden forces.

We’ll see how that works. I have never played this game before so this should be interesting. Oh, and I make up a lot of my own rules. 

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Side by Side PGG and AVD Wrap Up

When I first thought to play these two titles side by side I imagined that the effort would be nominal and that I would indeed literally play turn about. One turn for AVD, then one for PGG.

That idea is not a good one! Keeping the rules straight and being able to ‘invest’ in the mechanics of each game was lost in that process.

So I elected to play each separately.  I am glad I did. In fact I was able to play AVD both solo and versus a VASSAL opponent. This dramatically changes the experience for AVD.

PGG, was a little different, lining up a player locally was not really an option given the time frame and I had a desire to try this one alone first in any case. There is something about games declared “classic” that I want to experience by myself first off then perhaps with another player, at a later date.  Most games, especially new ones I like to play for the first time with someone who is also playing for the first time. I like the Ahaaaa moments, and the oh boy this is great…or broken..or whatever.  Playing with a person who has ‘worked the strategy’, especially with CDG’s bugs the crud….well never mind. I digress.

There is a wonderfully long and rich article online regarding PGG, its back ground, details, rules, and game play.   I’ll post a link to it. the articles are worth a read for first time players.


So let’s look at scale first off. Both games use similar map sizes but the scale is clearly different.  The PGG hexes are stated to be 15kms per hex. There is no similar statement on the AVD title. But if we look at the two maps more closely we can see some key differences. I laid both maps over the current topography of the area and the came out pretty close. So despite this little re orientation they represent reality.


Yes, the orientation of the battle map is different. Note also that in AVD it includes Minsk at one end, and Moscow environs at the other whereas the PGG map has neither but stretches further North and South.

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PanzerGruppe Guderian [SbS] p2

Turn 4

Das Reich conducts two overruns, loses a step in the process. Not wise to overrun untried units, when that big 8 factor turns up! Overruns are ½’ed on offence.  Elements of 14thand 18th PD ‘s combine to envelope Vitebsk.

The 20th press down the road towards SMOL, eliminating one unit. 19th PD focus on an OOS unit and eliminate it. Being able to kill the HQ’s and or place units in isolation is key to easier odds for the Germans. The 12th PD captures Yelna.

7/4 and 10th attack units South of SMOL.

In turn 5, the Soviets move and attempt to cover holes. They are hard pressed. Fortunately the ‘random’ reinforcement arrives in the South allowing a stop gap measure there. Rail units arrive in SMOL.

At Yelnya the 12th PD retreats from stiffening resistance. The 4th and 10th encircle  units blocking the river road. The 6:1 attack kills the  Soviets.  The 7th and 3rd PD attack forces in SMOl, taking a retreat and killing on unit in the town. The 117th and GD Regiment focus on scattered forces North of SMOL, near the marshes.

Turn 6, the Soviet scramble. Pushing units quickly west.  We make a mistake here and forget to bring HQ’s with the reinforcements. This slows down the pace of reinforcements.

In the German turn the continue attack South Vitebsk with reinforcements garnering a 5:1 d1 result, and a 9:1 attack. North of Mogilev the Soviets are surrounded and OOS, and thus another unit dies. GD and the 17th kill of units near SMOL. These clean up attacks will hopefully remove any ability of the Soviets to block the now long tenous supply line. Some units far South roll along under OOS rules 50% reduction in movement etc.

In the second move phase  the  Germans press South of Vyazma.  Regiments split off to lock ZOCs with Soviet stragglers.

By Turn 7 the Soviet collapse is clearly evident.  Germans move now over the course of Turn 7 and 8 to block rail support of the Southern map, by putting a unit smack on the rail line near Vyazma. This allows the units freed from SMOL to head south then East.  This will all but guarantee the capture of the Board Edge VPs in the South.  9 divisions of Infnatry are yet to arrive for the Germans, so they have high confidence of meeting even the stiffest resistance and can now afford to take higher risk attacks against the waning forces of the Soviets. Vyazma may not fall by the end of Turn 9, but it would likely  fall prior to game end.

This ends up a German Strategic Victory.

Turn 8

Assessment.

There are a few variable here that really took a bit for me to grok.  The difference from Operation Typhoon and later titles is evident, but not immediately reconcilable into a plan of attack or defence for either side.  Well not for me in any case. The Divisional Integrity bonus is nice, but it really has to be coupled with either a lot of armor, or OOS units. Nearly everything doubles the Soviets on defence  The biggest difference (as I recall) is the Zone of Control Locking.  Once in a ZOC you are stuck until you kill or retreat away. I don’t remember Op Typhoon being this way, it was a +MPs to move into or through ZOCs(?) Is that correct?

Well it took a few abortive starts to get the system working right, so I will count them as Soviet wins 2-1 V the Germans.  There are some optional rules floating that suggest the Soviets get the 0-0-6 units as 1-1’s. Fair enough but it wont make much of a difference.

The Soviets really cannot afford to attack until such time as they know their combat status and then have one of these divisions isolated and hopefully separate.

The one 1:2 attack in hindsight was a dumb ass move. This cured my desire to attack at all as the Russians.

This is a bit brutal at first for the Germans, you are in essence playing bling for the first few turns. So the decisions to attack are fraught with angst for me. I like that. I would happily set this up again soon.  It seemed to play much faster than I thought it would too.

Good stuff.

PanzerGruppe Guderian [SbS]

Turn 1, July 3rd and 4th 1941.

Soviets roll a 4 and the 16th and 24th Armies therefor do not move this turn.  The rest of the units on the board do activate.

Germans turn. The Gemans have a different turn sequence are the Supply. Move combat,they are allowed to move again. Only Overruns are allowed though. This second movement is clearly powerful if used correctly…. That may take some doing.

The 14th Pzr Division (14PD) move into ZOCs of the 20th Army at Vitebsk. 12th and 20th PD attack North of Vitebsk. 3:1 earning a d1

Note attack results are taken either as a retreat or a step loss. Soviets have no sub steps. Elimination and engagement results are also a possibility.

The 20th Advances to the rail line west far west of Smolensk in subsequent activation.

Turn 2… The Germans in essence leave themselves OOS…..we reset.  Plus we missed placing air.

Turn 1.

7th and 12th attack Orsha4:1 d1 result. 14th PD engage the ZOCS of units around Vitebesk. Once in a ZOC you may not exit until forced to via a combat result. The tactical use of these and the timing of such is key.

20th Armoured alos moves along the woods to highway and rail towards Smolensk (SMOL).

Turn 2, 5th -6th of July.

Soviets reinforce, many units are trapped in ZOCS. They advance to lock ZOCS with the 20th to slow them down. Germans take Velizh.

Turn 3,  The Soviets have a large untried force and one 8 combat factor unit  south. They pile onto the 4th Panzer. This was likely ill advised. (I forgot the wood double…. This ends up a 1:2 attack.  It is a disaster – a 6 yields attacker eliminated.

I consider taking this back but figure that  this would be the 3rd restart of this darn game and I REALLY want to get past turn 2!!   So we let it stand, writing it off as a Stalinist mandate.  In hindsight this will be expensive.

The Germans pile drive forward the 10/17/18, Das Reich and 29th Motorized Division drive on!

3/4th PD’s and 10th MD arrive and blast away at units South of Vitebsk, securing the supply route. And clearing the road to SMOL. They then exploit to the South.

Attack upon Orsha – DE, 0717 DE, max odds at South of Vitebsk Woods is also a kill.