The Fellowship of the Ring is the key to your success as the Free Peoples player. Managed correctly, it will assure you a good chance of winning - but managed poorly, it will be your undoing for sure.

As soon as the Fellowship reaches the Crack of Doom you win. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Unfortunately the road is not as easy at it first might seem. The Shadow player will use everything in his power to slow you down, and using the One Ring to slip away has its price...

Protect Frodo

Remember that the Companions in the Fellowship are there to protect Frodo. Let them do just that! Do not hesitate to sacrifice them to keep the Corruption level low and the Fellowship moving.

The exception to this is - of course - Strider, who you want to separate and move to Gondor where he can be recognized as the rightful heir to Isildur.

Stay Hidden

Always hide the Fellowship as soon as possible: The Shadow player has some nasty Character Event Cards that he can use to hit the Fellowship with once it is revealed.

Strider’s ability to hide the Fellowship with any Action die comes in handy here. If the Fellowship is revealed at the end of a game turn, it is usually a very good move to make Strider the Guide during the Fellowship phase at the beginning of the next turn, to be able to use his ability to hide the Fellowship as your very first action in that turn.

Keep Moving

As the armies of the Shadow are conquering the Settlements of the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, in their attempt to emerge triumphant in the War of the Ring, you might say that speed is of the essence.

Try to move the Fellowship as often as you can. HOW often will depend on the number of Character results you roll on your Action Dice, and how many Eye dice the Shadow player has in the Hunt box.

When three or less Eye dice are in the Hunt box, try to move twice if you can. If there are only one or two dice, use an Elven ring (if possible) to hasten the movement of the Fellowship.

Another factor is how many Hunt re-rolls the Shadow player has managed to get; moving Nazgûl to the region with the Fellowship is easy; moving an Army unit there is not as easy. Consult the following table to see the odds the Shadow has of successfully rolling for the Hunt.

First Movement - Six or more to hit

Amount of Dice allocated for the Hunt 1 2 3 4 5
Re-Rolls 0 17% 31% 42% 52% 60%
1 31% 42% 52% 60% 67%
2 N/A 52% 60% 67% 72%
3 N/A N/A 67% 72% 77%

Second Movement - Five or more to hit

Amount of Dice allocated for the Hunt 1 2 3 4 5
Re-Rolls 0 33% 56% 70% 80% 87%
1 56% 70% 80% 87% 91%
2 N/A 80% 87% 91% 94%
3 N/A N/A 91% 94% 96%

Third Movement - Four or more to hit

Amount of Dice allocated for the Hunt 1 2 3 4 5
Re-Rolls 0 50% 75% 88% 94% 97%
1 75% 88% 94% 97% 98%
2 N/A 94% 97% 98% 99%
3 N/A N/A 98% 99% 99%

Fourth Movement - Three or more to hit

Amount of Dice allocated for the Hunt 1 2 3 4 5
Re-Rolls 0 67% 89% 96% 99% 99%
1 89% 99% 99% 99% 99%
2 N/A 99% 99% 99% 99%
3 N/A N/A 99% 99% 99%

Fifth Movement - Two or more to hit

Amount of Dice allocated for the Hunt 1 2 3 4 5
Re-Rolls 0 83% 97% 99% 99% 99%
1 97% 99% 99% 99% 99%
2 N/A 99% 99% 99% 99%
3 N/A N/A 99% 99% 99%

Decisions, Decisions, and more Decisions

If you concentrate too much on the politics and the Armies of the Free Peoples, the result will be a slow or non-moving Fellowship. However, there is also an issue if the Fellowship is moving too much, as it is not only speed, but also secrecy that matters.

Moving the Fellowship more than once per turn when there are more than three Hunt dice in the Hunt box might prove a grave mistake. The biggest threat to your Fellowship are the Corruption points you suffer, as you can only heal them one per turn when resting in a Free Peoples’ City or Stronghold (which must be still in your control).

As we are on the subject of Corruption points, let us take a closer look at how to manage them.

The first rule you must learn is that it takes longer for you to heal them than it takes for your opponent to force them on you. Try to use your Companions as shields as often as it seems prudent: When faced with a “2” or a “3” tile it might be wise to sacrifice the Guide, as long as it isn’t Strider, or to take a random casualty - but don’t sacrifice a randomly selected Companion as a casualty when your opponent draws a “1” tile.

The second rule is to plan ahead. Where can Frodo rest and heal to reduce those Corruption points he already suffered? Depending on the route you take (more about routes soon!) you will have at least one Free Peoples’ City or Stronghold to rest in, unless the Shadow captures it before you get there. If you want to survive the trek across the plains of Gorgoroth, Frodo cannot have sustained too much Corruption on the way. If Corruption is high, you should consider healing somewhere along the way. Reducing Corruption takes time, but there is no point in rushing towards certain death on the slopes of Mount Doom.

Deciding on if, and for how long, you should heal can be a difficult decision indeed. You must take many variables into consideration. How many Victory points has the Shadow accumulated? How long will it take for him to reach ten Victory points, and win the game? How much more Corruption will Frodo suffer before reaching Mordor? Which Hunt tiles are left in the Hunt Pool and which special tiles are in play?

All these things must be closely paid attention to when deciding on for how long the Fellowship can stay and heal.

Plotting the Route

There are four viable routes for the Fellowship in order to reach Mordor, let us examine them.
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The Routes - Click to Zoom

Marked on the map in green is the shortest possible way to Mordor; passing through Moria, it has a length of ten regions, and has the friendly Stronghold of Lorien directly in its path, if you need to stop to heal.

The route through the mines of Moria is a risk though; this Shadow Stronghold can prove more of a problem than you bargained for. If a Hunt tile reveals you as you are passing through, entering, or leaving you will suffer one additional Hunt tile. This can cause enough Corruption to make your chosen path a bad decision, since the time it takes to heal the Corruption might be as long as - or even longer - than if you had chosen a different path. The worst possible scenario is if you are revealed and you must end the Fellowship’s move in Moria. This will generate Hunt re-rolls for the Shadow as well as another additional Hunt tile draw if you are revealed again when you try to sneak out. Finally let us not forget about the “Balrog of Moria”: If this Shadow Event Card is in play, Moria will definitely be a challenge you might regret facing.

There is one slightly longer way (marked in blue on the map) that goes through the Goblin's Gate in the Misty Mountains and along the Old Forest Road through Mirkwood. If you are revealed on the third step out from Rivendell, this is most often the wisest choice of direction since the other option is to end your Fellowship movement in the Shadow Stronghold of Moria. The big advantage of this route is that it will easily allow you to separate a Companion to activate the North and/or the Dwarven nation and, if you need to rest, both The Woodland Realm and Dale are close by, only adding a region or two to the distance to Mordor. There is however a big risk in taking this road. The Shadow might send an Army from either Dol Guldur or Rhûn to take Dale before the Fellowship arrives. The Dol Guldur Army can also be used to occupy the Old Forest Road from where it threatens both The Woodland Realm and Dale, and provides the Shadow with some nasty Hunt re-rolls if the Fellowship is revealed there. If faced with rising Corruption and without the Woodland Realm or Dale as a healing spot, this route might prove disastrous since there is no other place to heal on your way to Morannon.

There are also two possible routes (marked in yellow) that are twelve regions long - somewhat longer than going throug Moria or along the Old Forest Road.

The first one goes through the Goblin's Gate region, crossing the Misty Mountains north of Moria, and has the advantage of Lorien being directly in its path as the Fellowship turns south. Another big advantage is that it will bring the Fellowship not too far from Erebor and the Woodland Realm if you need to send some Companions there, perhaps to use an Event Card, or simply to activate the Dwarven nation.

The other, equally long route, is due south through the Gap of Rohan. This is probably the wisest choice if you are revealed early, placing the Fellowship in Hollin, and then revealed again as the Fellowship tries to go through Moria. You don’t want to end your Fellowship’s movement in Moria and you don’t want to double back north towards the Goblin's Gate region, so you decide to head south on the western side of the Misty Mountains. This route has one very good advantage, and that is that is has both Helm’s Deep and Edoras close at hand if you need to heal. Unfortunately it also has a rather nasty side effect: Your way will be filled with Uruk-Hais of the White Hand tracking the Fellowship's every move as it makes it way south through Dunland. This could result in several successful Hunt rolls and more Corruption.

Finally there is a very seldom-used option (marked in red) and that is to move the Fellowship along the western edge of Middle-earth and then into the land of Gondor from the west. This route is fourteen regions long and has similar drawbacks as trying to move through Dunland and the Gap of Rohan. However, the situation in Rohan could be that it has been overrun by the forces of Saruman and as a result the tracking Uruks might tag along all through Rohan as well, while the havens of Helm’s Deep and Edoras might no longer belong to the Free Peoples, and therefore no longer provide a place to heal. This might force you to choose the somewhat longer route into Gondor for safe passage.

Whatever route you choose... Remember to keep the Fellowship moving and Corruption at a minimum, at the cost of the lives of the Companions if need be!

Written by Kristofer Bengtsson

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