Code:
        From the Mouth of Sauron

Issue:    E-11
Date:     	   03-07-94

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


          Editorial

This is late.  I've been very busy.  The news of the week:

Brian Mason has graciously accepted my request to become co-editor 
of the Mouth.  Brian has been a frequent contributor in the past and 
will be adding his own thoughts in the editorial section from this 
point on (along with his articles, I hope!).  He will also be 
mailing the Mouth out to some of the new subscribers, as he doesn't 
have to go through a sysop to do so.  I've no doubt the Mouth will 
become much better than it is with this change.

Some people have mentioned that they're still getting bizarre 
formating problems when they receive the Mouth (trailing lines, 
weird margins, etc.).  If you're experiencing any of these 
difficulties, drop me a line and I'll see if we can't fix the 
problem.

Last issue I suggested some format changes for submissions.  Ignore 
these; some of you tried them and they resulted in mangled 
manuscripts that were very difficult to correct.  Please, return to 
your old way of doing things - my ideas just didn't pan out.

Big News #1:  GSI is going to start running a new game set in the 
year 2940, about 70 years prior to the War of the Ring.  The game 
should be up and running by this summer.  This is not rumor, this is 
fact; Brian Mason confirmed it directly in a conversation with GSI, 
and Bill has reconfirmed it.  The game system will be the same; 
nations, major characters, encounters, etc., will not.  For those of 
you who like new stuff and a completely level playing field, this is 
the ticket for you!

Big News #2:  There won't be a Mouth this upcoming Friday.  After 
today, I'll be in Portland with my girlfriend for the remainder of 
the week.

During this time, my supervisor will have access to my account.  
She'll be reading all of my mail.  That means YOUR messages, about 
the game or anything else.  As you can imagine, this could have some 
rather serious ramifications where my job security is concerned.

So, until I come back please route all submissions to Brian Mason, 
the new co-editor.  His internet address is:  mason@chara.gsu.edu.
Brian, having gotten into deeper water than he might've realized, 
will keep your articles until I get back.
I need to emphasize this for you all.  I won't be here.  I won't 
answer your messages, take submissions, or do anything else.  A 
complete stranger will read - and delete - your mail.  This 
stranger, if she suspects that what you send is not work-related, 
will take advantage of the situation to not only get me in trouble, 
but you as well (yes, she'll call your place of work after tracing 
your address to tell YOUR supervisor what YOU'RE doing on company 
time - she works for the gov't, after all, and can do this easier 
than you might think).

So, until I get back:  DO NOT SEND ME ANY MAIL.  Let me repeat this:  
DO NOT SEND ME ANY MAIL.  If you can't restrain yourself, send it to 
Brian.  But:  DO NOT SEND ME ANY MAIL.  And take me off any mailing 
lists I'm currently on.  I can't stress this enough; please, please, 
please, DO NOT SEND ME ANY MAIL.

Once I'm back, I'll send out a note to all concerned that my account 
is back in my hands and that the Mouth is once again in business.  
Until that time:  DO NOT SEND ME ANY MAIL!!!!!

And if that isn't enough:  anyone who forgets to NOT SEND ME ANY 
MAIL will be removed from the Mouth mailing list - permanently (the 
last time I requested this, I came back to find over 50 messages in 
my mailbox).  I can't jeopardize my job over a game, and will take 
this measure to ensure that errant mail doesn't arrive in the future 
when I'm gone from work.

My apologies in advance to those who're inconvenienced by this.

Until real life becomes less interesting,

Tom



	          Encounters

Here's a tidbit that may clear up some of the confusion concerning 
whether or not you can force an encounter:

You can issue order 285 and give a reaction, rather than 290 and 
waste a turn.  However, this doesn't give you any better chance of 
finding the encounter than order 290 does.  So if you drop in on 
Amon Llhaw and do order 285, it's still a roll of the dice whether 
or not you locate the chair.  It still makes more sense to do 285, 
just in case you get lucky.

As for encounters that've already been revealed, ANYONE in the hex 
can react to them.  That is, if someone finds a dragon, the dragon 
is open to all characters in the hex.  Same goes for Amon Lhlaw/Hen, 
the Balrog, etc.

Just think of it as a light bulb.  If the encounter is 'on', 
everyone can see it; if it's 'off', we all have to fumble around in
the dark until we find the switch - unless the light bulb comes on 
by itself.


           Dragons

Nothing this time.


 Other Corrections and Notes


Answer to Question #1 of Holger Eichmann from "The Mouth" #9 from 
Brian Mason:

For those who do not have access to the startup info sheets, I 
provide this list of data. I hope there are lots of you out there 
that do not have this data. This was a lot of copying!

Terrain abbreviations: sho = shore, pla = plains, rou = rough, for 
= forest, des = desert, swa = swamp, mou = mountains.

          WOODMEN

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  90  90  90  95  87  85  85|
          |severe |  92  92  92  97  90  87  87|
          |cold   |  95  95  95 100  92  90  90|
          |cool   |  97  97  97 102  95  92  92|
          |mild   | 100 100 100 105  97  95  95|
          |warm   |  97  97  97 102  95  92  92|
          |hot    |  95  95  95 100  92  90  90|

          NORTHMEN

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  87  87  82  80  77  77  80|
          |severe |  90  90  85  82  80  80  82|
          |cold   |  92  92  87  85  82  82  85|
          |cool   |  95  95  90  87  85  85  87|
          |mild   | 100 100  95  92  90  90  92|
          |warm   |  97  97  92  90  87  87  90|
          |hot    |  95  95  90  87  85  85  87|

          EOTHRAIM

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  87  97  87  77  82  77  77|
          |severe |  90 100  90  80  85  80  80|
          |cold   |  92 102  92  82  87  82  82|
          |cool   |  95 105  95  85  90  85  85|
          |mild   | 100 110 100  90  95  90  90|
          |warm   | 100 110 100  90  95  90  90|

          |hot    |  95 105  95  85  90  85  85|

          ARTHEDAIN

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  90  92  90  85  85  82  85|
          |severe |  92  95  92  87  87  85  87|
          |cold   |  95  97  95  90  90  87  90|
          |cool   |  97 100  97  92  92  90  92|
          |mild   | 100 102 100  95  95  92  95|
          |warm   | 100 102 100  95  95  92  95|
          |hot    |  95  97  95  90  90  87  90|

          CARDOLAN

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  92  90  90  85  85  82  85|
          |severe |  95  92  92  87  87  85  87|
          |cold   |  97  95  95  90  90  87  90|
          |cool   | 100  97  97  92  92  90  92|
          |mild   | 102 100 100  95  95  92  95|
          |warm   | 102 100 100  95  95  92  95|
          |hot    |  97  95  95  90  90  87  90|

          NORTHERN GONDOR

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  92  92  87  85  85  82  85|
          |severe |  95  95  90  87  87  85  87|
          |cold   |  97  97  92  90  90  87  90|
          |cool   | 100 100  95  92  92  90  92|
          |mild   | 102 102  97  95  95  92  95|
          |warm   | 102 102  97  95  95  92  95|

          |hot    |  97  97  92  90  90  87  90|

          SOUTHERN GONDOR

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  90  90  90  85  85  82  85|
          |severe |  92  92  92  87  87  85  87|
          |cold   |  95  95  95  90  90  87  90|
          |cool   |  97  97  97  92  92  90  92|
          |mild   | 100 100 100  95  95  92  95|
          |warm   | 100 100 100  95  95  92  95|
          |hot    |  95  95  95  90  90  87  90|

          DWARVES

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  92  95 100  85  92  92 105|
          |severe |  95  97 102  87  95  95 107|
          |cold   |  97 100 105  90  97  97 110|
          |cool   |  97 100 105  92  97  97 110|
          |mild   |  97 100 105  95  97  97 110|
          |warm   |  97 100 105  95  97  97 110|
          |hot    |  95  97 102  90  95  95 107|

          SINDA ELVES

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  92  90  87 100  87  85  85|
          |severe |  95  92  90 102  90  87  87|
          |cold   |  97  95  92 105  92  90  90|
          |cool   | 100  97  95 107  95  92  92|
          |mild   | 102 100  97 110  97  95  95|
          |warm   | 102 100  97 110  97  95  95|

          |hot    |  97  95  92 105  92  90  90|

          NOLDO ELVES

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  95  92  90  97  90  87  87|
          |severe |  97  95  92 100  92  90  90|
          |cold   | 100  97  95 102  95  92  92|
          |cool   | 102 100  97 105  97  95  95|
          |mild   | 102 100  97 105  97  95  95|
          |warm   | 102 100  97 105  97  95  95|
          |hot    |  97  95  92 100  92  90  90|

          WITCH KING

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  90  90  90  85  82  82  87|
          |severe |  92  92  92  87  85  85  90|
          |cold   |  95  95  95  90  87  87  92|
          |cool   |  97  97  97  92  90  90  95|
          |mild   | 100 100 100  95  92  92  97|
          |warm   |  97  97  97  92  90  90  95|
          |hot    |  95  95  95  90  87  87  90|

          DRAGON LORD

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  82  87  85  85  80  80  82|
          |severe |  85  90  87  87  82  82  85|
          |cold   |  87  92  90  90  85  85  87|
          |cool   |  90  95  92  92  87  87  90|
          |mild   |  95 100  97  97  92  92  95|
          |warm   |  95 100  97  97  92  92  95|

          |hot    |  95 100  97  97  92  92  95|

          DOG LORD

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  90  92  87  80  85  82  85|
          |severe |  92  95  90  82  87  85  87|
          |cold   |  95  97  92  85  90  87  90|
          |cool   |  97 100  95  87  92  90  92|
          |mild   | 102 105 100  92  97  95  97|
          |warm   | 102 105 100  92  97  95  97|
          |hot    | 102 105 100  92  97  95  97|

          CLOUD LORD

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  87  87  85  82  85  82  85|
          |severe |  90  90  87  85  87  85  87|
          |cold   |  92  92  90  87  90  87  90|
          |cool   |  95  95  92  90  92  90  92|
          |mild   | 100 100  97  95  97  95  97|
          |warm   | 100 100  97  95  97  95  97|
          |hot    | 100 100  97  95  97  95  97|

          BLIND SORCERER

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  90  87  85  80  85  80  85|
          |severe |  92  90  87  82  87  82  87|
          |cold   |  95  92  90  85  90  85  90|
          |cool   |  97  95  92  87  92  87  92|
          |mild   | 102 100  97  92  97  92  97|
          |warm   | 102 100  97  92  97  92  97|

          |hot    | 102 100  97  92  97  92  97|

          ICE KING

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  92  92  90  90  85  85  90|
          |severe |  95  95  92  92  87  87  92|
          |cold   |  97  97  95  95  90  90  95|
          |cool   |  97  97  95  95  90  90  95|
          |mild   | 100 100  97  97  92  92  97|
          |warm   | 100 100  97  97  92  92  97|
          |hot    |  97  97  95  95  90  90  95|

          QUIET AVENGER

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  90  87  90  82  87  77  80|
          |severe |  92  90  92  85  90  80  82|
          |cold   |  95  92  95  87  92  82  85|
          |cool   |  97  95  97  90  95  85  87|
          |mild   | 102 100 102  95 100  90  92|
          |warm   | 105 102 105  97 102  92  95|
          |hot    | 102 100 102  95 100  90  92|

          FIRE KING

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  87  87  87  82  87  80  85|
          |severe |  90  90  90  85  90  82  87|
          |cold   |  92  92  92  87  92  85  90|
          |cool   |  95  95  95  90  95  87  92|
          |mild   | 100 100 100  95 100  92  97|
          |warm   | 100 100 100  95 100  92  97|

          |hot    | 100 100 100  95 100  92  97|

          LONG RIDER

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  87  92  87  77  85  80  85|
          |severe |  90  95  90  80  87  82  87|
          |cold   |  92  97  92  82  90  85  90|
          |cool   |  95 100  95  85  92  87  92|
          |mild   | 100 105 100  90  97  92  97|
          |warm   |  97 102  97  87  95  90  95|
          |hot    |  97 102  97  87  95  90  95|

          DARK LIEUTENANTS

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  87  87  85  82  85  82  85|
          |severe |  90  90  87  85  87  85  87|
          |cold   |  92  92  90  87  90  87  90|
          |cool   |  95  95  92  90  92  90  92|
          |mild   | 100 100  97  95  97  95  97|
          |warm   | 100 100  97  95  97  95  97|
          |hot    | 100 100  97  95  97  95  97|

          CORSAIRS

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  90  87  85  82  85  80  77|
          |severe |  92  90  87  85  87  82  80|
          |cold   |  95  92  90  87  90  85  82|
          |cool   |  97  95  92  90  92  87  85|
          |mild   | 102 100  97  95  97  92  90|
          |warm   | 102 100  97  95  97  92  90|

          |hot    | 100  97  95  92  95  90  87|

          HARADWAITH

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  90  87  90  80  87  77  80|
          |severe |  92  90  92  82  90  80  82|
          |cold   |  97  95  97  87  95  85  87|
          |cool   | 100  97 100  90  97  87  90|
          |mild   | 102 100 102  92 100  90  92|
          |warm   | 105 102 105  95 102  92  95|
          |hot    | 102 100 102  92 100  90  92|

          DUNLENDINGS

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  87  87  92  85  85  85  92|
          |severe |  90  90  95  87  87  87  95|
          |cold   |  92  92  97  90  90  90  97|
          |cool   |  95  95 100  92  92  92 100|
          |mild   | 100 100 105  97  97  97 105|
          |warm   |  97  97 102  95  95  95 102|
          |hot    |  95  95 100  92  92  92 100|

          RHUDAUR

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  90  90  92  92  85  82  85|
          |severe |  92  92  95  95  87  85  87|
          |cold   |  95  95  97  97  90  87  90|
          |cool   |  97  97 100 100  92  90  92|
          |mild   | 100 100 102 102  95  92  95|
          |warm   | 100 100 102 102  95  92  95|

          |hot    |  95  95  97  97  90  87  90|

          EASTERLINGS

          |       |    T  E  R  R  A  I  N     |
          |climate|sho pla rou for des swa mou |
          |-------|----------------------------|
          |polar  |  87  92  85  80  85  77  77|
          |severe |  90  95  87  82  87  80  80|
          |cold   |  92  97  90  85  90  82  82|
          |cool   |  95 100  92  87  92  85  85|
          |mild   | 100 105  97  92  97  90  90|
          |warm   |  97 102  95  90  95  87  87|
          |hot    |  97 102  95  90  95  87  87|

Answer to Question #2 of Holger Eichmann from "The Mouth" #9 from 
Brian Mason:

On page 60 of the rule book the values of troop terrain modifiers 
are specified to range from 60-100. So, I have always assumed the 
following:

   Good      =    100
   Average   =     80
   Poor      =     60

Answer to Question #3 of Holger Eichmann from "The Mouth" #9 from 
Brian Mason:

On page 60 of the rule book the values of troop tactic modifiers are 
specified to range from 90-115. Again, arbitrarily, I have assumed 
the following:

          Best           =    115
          2nd best       =    110
          3rd best       =    105
          3rd worst      =    100
          2nd worst      =     95
          worst          =     90

 The combat example given in the rule book on pages 57 and 58 also 
provides some more data. In the example, the modifiers for heavy 
cavalry and light infantry with charge as the combat tactic are 
given. Also, the modifiers for heavy infantry and archers with flank 
as the combat tactic are given as well. I find it interesting that, 
although flank is the best modifier for heavy infantry, the modifier 
is only 110, not 115.

However, despite this apparent discrepancy in the algorithm  
described above for the assignment of troop tactic modifier, it 
works for the other three troop types described. So, as a starting 
point, I'll stick with it.

It seemed reasonable to select standard as 3rd worst, such that it's 
modifier is 100. This allows standard to be an unmodified attack. 
So, if we assign them in this manner, you get a matrix something 
like this (using standard abbreviations):

               |    CH   FL   ST   SU   HR   AM
          -----|-----------------------------------
          HC   |    115       100             90
          LC   |              100  115        90
          HI   |         110  100   90
          LI   |     90       100       115
          AR   |          90  100  115
          MA   |     90       100       115

Assigning the other values is a bit more problematic, as there are 
no other examples of which I am aware, and no hard and fast 
descriptors. For estimating combat results I have used the above 
base values, and taken all others to be equal to 103 (the average of 
the remaining values). While this is a bit crude, the predicted 
versus actual losses in combat has always been within five percent, 
so as a first cut, this is not too bad!

Regarding the other point made in Holger's question: I would not 
assume that tactic versus tactic modifier "isn't so important." In 
most cases the troop types within your army will make the choice of 
combat tactic obvious, if you have an eclectic group of combat 
types, scouting ahead can provide you with an advantage.

For example, on turn 8 of game 62 (in my first ever combat) I had 
scouted before-hand and knew I was facing about 600 heavy cavalry 
and about 400 light cavalry. In my army I had 900 heavy infantry, 
300 light infantry, and 1600 archers.  The offensive value of the 
troops of heavy infantry and archers were about the same, meaning 
that either flank or ambush would be an acceptable strategy. Since 
I knew I was facing primarily heavy cavalry, I guessed the combat 
tactic of my adversary to be charge. Since the worst tactic versus 
tactic modifier for charge is ambush, I selected ambush as my combat 
tactic. The combat was successful.

Editor's note:  I believe Brian is referring to the incident where 
he as Cardolan trounced my cav whilst I was playing the Witch-King.  
Knowing Brian to be a crafty opponent, I thought to myself:  "he 
knows my most likely tactic is 'charge', and he also knows that I 
know he might choose 'ambush', in which case 'flank' is the way to 
go.  So he'll try to counter my 'flank'.  Therefore, I should charge 
anyway."  No dice.  I out-thunk myself (is that a word?) and got 
creamed.  To add insult to injury, the army commander also died.

Reply to Doug Bergstrom
From Darren Beyer

Sounds like Doug is playing with a bunch of total S*@theads.  I 
disagree totally with this style of play and would be advertising 
them to the MEPBM community as non-trustworthy allies(?).

I don't know if you are still playing, but if you are, there are 
some things you can do to get back in it.

1)  Ally with the Dark Servants.  Call them up and tell them the 
story.  Even though you are good and they may not trust your motives 
at first, make them believe.  Send them gold, trade pop centers, 
they'll believe you soon enough.  This happened in Game 45 where the 
famed (*) brothers coerced(forced) the Harad to go good (I'm evil) 
and he very quickly regretted his decision.  He wanted nothing to do 
with his teammates and he and I struck somewhat of an alliance, he 
even offered the DS's a 10,000 gold bounty for each of the (*) 
characters killed!  He gave map info as well which allowed me to 
catch up with a Corsair navy (he's a FP) and nail the commanders.  
I believed him and it paid off for both of us (until he dropped).

(Editor's note:  where you see (*), Darren provided a name which I 
removed.  Refer to my standing rules on naming individual players, 
as outlined in the first edition of the Mouth).

2)  Try and play a character game.  Its tough with Harad early, but 
if the FP leave you alone, and I'm guessing they will after they 
think you are totally down and out, with a DS alliance you will have 
time to build your characters back.

3)  Buy products, lower your taxes, disband armies.  If you get an 
alliance with the DS's you won't need your armies.  If you lower 
your taxes and buy products you won't have any money for the FP's to 
steal.  Without armies or money, your victory points will go way 
down and you won't be as much of a target for the FP.  You need to 
call them and say "OK enough is enough, my victory points are 700, 
you've done your damage now let me play."  They may even forget 
about you.  This also has the side effect of setting you up for 
later, you can always build good armies and you have the products to 
sell to get your money back.  In the meantime, you've built your 
characters and your pop center loyalties will be high as a result of 
the lowered taxes.

If you just want to screw the FP's consider:

4) Move 2 of your armies (with guards) onto a FP army.  Both armies 
issue stand and defend.  Since you will have "Neutral" relations 
with this nation (although you are "good"), I believe, but am not 
sure, that the Stand and Defend order will prevent them from moving 
past you.  If each of the armies issues the order for an opposite 
direction you will trap his army.  He can't attack you to get away, 
he'll have to move agents into destroy your armies by 
assassination/kidnap.  If you've got good guards you could survive 
for a while and possibly take out an agent in the process, you could 
even lay a trap by contacting a DS agent power.

5)  Use your commanders and agents to provide scouts/recons for the 
DS's.

6)  Transfer all your money, supplies, and pop centers to the DS's 
then retire your characters and drop.

Reply to Doug Bergstrom
From Tom Walton

I have a simple philosophy for the game:  winning takes a far second 
place to enjoyment.  If you choose the wrong side and don't mind 
losing, there are any number of ways to take suitable revenge.  
Darren beat me to the punch on most of them, but here's a couple of 
more:

(1) Pretend to be an eager ally.  Get info on the locations of all 
forces and characters on your side, then feed this information to 
the 'enemy'.  Set up your allegiance for devastating ambushes.

(2) Use your agents for covert attacks, gold thefts, and so forth.  
Make sure your agents aren't among characters that started the game, 
or are characters your 'team' knows about (in case they show up on 
reports or rumors).

(3) Use your emissaries to double the agents and emissaries of the 
team and pass along all the relevant info.  This will really hurt 
the Free Peoples in your particular case.

These are low-down, scum-bag tricks.  However, if your team has 
stabbed you in the back as you've said, they're fair game for a 
taste of their own medicine.  There's no requirement for 'nice' play 
under these circumstances; all bets are off (remember that, my 
allies!)

From Doug Bergstrom

Watch Out!  Maybe GSI has corrected all the gliches, maybe not....in 
one game the following occured to my wife's position.

Turn 3                 Turn 4
camp loyalty 25        disappeared (no nation message)
camp loyalty 8         emissary inf loy. now loy - 5
camp loyalty 10        disappeared (no nation message)
Army 1
Training 44 HI         Training 45
  "      33 LI                  32
         33 AR                  32
         31 MA                  32
* no recruiting, combat or training was done
Emissary 2022 (didn't do an emissary com)
Commander 60           58
  +agent secondary 23  23 (guarded)
Emissary 2822 (influenced loyalty)

A character wasn't available due to lack of funds, but showed up on 
the turnsheet to be sent in.

She called them and they refused to do anything until she made 
copies and sent (next day mail) them in.  Yes, they apologized and 
did do corrections (plus some free turns).  Point being everyone can 
have a bad day - even GSI.


      ME-PBM Wish List

From Dan Arai

Well, here's my idea to balance the game out for the Dark Servants.

To balance out the Quiet Avenger, make the Corsairs evil, and the 
Haradwaith good.  This would give the Dark Servants some much needed 
naval strength, while lending some support to the Quiet Avenger.  
The Harad would just about balance out the Corsairs.

I think Cardolan is much more viable as a neutral than either 
Dunland or Rhuaur, so make Cardolan Neutral, Dunland good, and 
transplant a dark servant to Rhudaur's territory.  (Note--I think 
that no matter who gets displaced, whatever he had should be 
distributed among the remaining DS in Mordor.)  This change might 
actually make the Witch-King and Dragon-Lord positions viable.

I think Cardolan would be a much better neutral than Dunland, for a 
variety of reasons.  I think they have more to offer--a strong 
economy and the ability to raise and maintain immense armies.  With 
Rhudaur and the Witch-King already evil, it makes the fighting in 
the NW much more unsure, so it would be possible for Cardolan to go 
either way.  As it stands, however, Dunland is too easy to be taken 
out of the game (1 MT), and really isn't viable to go Dark Servant, 
considering it's surrounded by the free.

This would make for two teams of 11, with two true neutrals left 
(Easterlings and Cardolan.)

I'd like to hear other suggestions on how to re-balance the game as 
well. I'm particularly interested in keeping good-evil-neutral
balance among what I see as the 5 geographical regions:
NW, (Witch-King, Rhudaur, Noldo, Arthedain, Cardolan, and to some 
extent Dunland and Dwarves)
Mirkwood (Dragon Lord, Sinda, Woodmen, some Eothraim, Dwarves, 
Northmen)
West Mordor/Gondors (N Gondor, S Gondor,  most of the Dark Servants) 
East Mordor/Sea of Rhun (Long Rider, Blind Sorceror, Easterlings, 
Northmen, other Dwarves.)
South (Quiet Avenger, Haradwaith, Corsairs, elements of 
Easterlings.)

From Doug Bergstrom

I will throw this one out for you experts to do the calculations and 
come up with a reasonable theory (if you even think it is a good 
idea).

IDEA:  How about giving a graduatated scale of points per turn if 
you belong to an alliance?  Like maybe 10-25, points (you experts 
can figure out what might work) per turn.  Why?  this would press 
the neutrals into joining a side quicker, plus it would keep them 
from sitting out till end game to decide ex. in one of my games it 
is turn 34, Harad has just joined the FP, he has 2000VP.

(the following section arrived the next day)
Changes:  I wrote you about the points per turn system but didn't 
really elaborate, or did I.  Anyway looking at it I think 10pt per 
turn belonging to an alliance will work.  So if a neutral sat out 
(not declaring) for 10 turns he is behind 100pts, not insurmountable 
given their advantages, he sits out 20 turns he is behind 200 pts 
(or rather alliance members are ahead 200pts) still not 
insurmountable but his can make a difference.  But if he sits out 
till game end to try join alliance (ex. game 27 alliance members 
would be ahead 340 pts) his is definately something to think about. 
What would this accomplish?

1)  Neutrals would be more inclined to chose a side earlier.  But 
not enough effect that it would force them to choose immediately.

2)  An undeclared neutral would be less inclined to sit out to game 
end and declare-expecting an easy 1st place.

3)  This would eliminate serious game changes like forcing only so 
many neutrals per side, all this might accomplish is drops from the 
neutral that doesn't get to join who he wants-which is his right.

4)  Alliance nations get somewhat of a bonus for being in the battle 
per se from the beginning.

Problems (as I see them):

1)  Would this remove the freedom of being a neutral?  Force them to 
declare immediately?

2)  Would they automatically go to the winning side? Depends on how
long they wait.

3)  Would it stop neutrals from undercover support to one side? (I 
don't think so for in return for their sneakyness they could get 
consesstions and after 20 turns I doubt if anyone would not know 
their real inclinations).

4)  Would GSI do this?

5)  How do you guys perceive this action?

From Dave Rossell

It'd be great if GSI were to make available a book for sale 
containing  the set-ups of every nation.  New players start off with 
a serious  disadvantage in ME-PBM.  The biggest disadvantage is a 
lack of  information.  And newbies don't know that other people know 
where their stuff is.  A new Dragon Lord player might rejoice that 
he has a hidden pop center in the middle of Mirkwood, and be sorely 
puzzled when  a Sinda army shows up there.  Give newbies a chance- 
give them the option of having some of the same info the veterans 
do.

Give the Woodmen a break!  They are easily the weakest of the Free 
People nations.  A determined Dragon Lord should be able to take 
them out relatively easily, unless the Woodmen work *very* closely 
with the dwarves.  The woodmen don't have a single character that 
can stand up to even the Dragon Lord's midrange.  And the Woodman 
economy requires sell orders. If the Dragon Lord stations a good 
character on Maethelburg, the woodmen won't have enough orders left 
to keep their heads above water.  If GSI won't alter the woodmen 
setup to improve its economy or characters, at least change that 
deceptive advertising in the book.  "Deft agents" my ass.  The 
woodman nation is weak both economically and character-wise.  No one 
has ever won playing the woodmen.  This should tell GSI something!

From Tom Walton

Some of these may be a rehash.  Sorry about that.

- make dragons rare, and recruiting them even rarer.  The dragon 
list that's been painstakingly built from many sources here in the 
Mouth makes recruiting these monsters much too easy.  And there's at 
least one other list that I suspect is good and even more extensive, 
though I can't include the data missing from the Mouth's list 
because it's impossible to confirm the results under my own rules 
(in any case, the number of recruitable dragons doesn't change).

Historically (speaking in Tolkienish terms), dragons didn't 
participate in organized battle after the fall of Morgoth.  Not at 
any time.  So why can we recruit them in this game?  It's been 
suggested that it balances the Dark Servants against the Free 
Peoples, but if this is true it's rather lame.  First, as a 
balancing mechanism it isn't affected by the skill of individual
players (all you need is a good dragon list and a little luck); 
second, dragons are the ME equivalent of nukes - a no-brainer 
battle-winner.  To put it bluntly, that sucks.  It counters the 
skilled play we've spent hard-earned money on, and puts the new guy 
at a real disadvantage should he get surprised with this.

- expand the encounter set.  Make some encounters one-time-only 
events.  Add encounters which may benefit the nation several turns 
down the road, rather than immediately (so it takes some thought to 
put together cause and effect).

- as others have said, make training and commander skill much more 
important than what weapons/armor the troops are carrying.  Make 
morale more important as well (perhaps have the army break and 
dissolve once casualty percentages exceed current morale).

- as an alternative, remove arms/armor from the equation altogether.  
Infantry with no arms/armor are militia (2/2), infantry with bronze 
weapons/armor are light (5/5), infantry with steel arms/armor are 
heavy (10/10).  Makes more sense than the current system, has the 
side benefit of making training/command rank/morale the primary 
determinants of army effectiveness.  A combined example of the last 
two would be:

Step 1:   determine base troop strength by type
Step 2:   multiply troop strength by the average of training and 
     command skill as a percentage.
Step 3:   combine troop strengths to find army strength.

So, 500 men with bronze (arms/armor would be one characteristic, not 
two) would qualify as light infantry (5/5).  Basic strength is 2500 
points.  Give them a training of 40 and a commander with a skill 
rank of 70, which produces a mean score of 55.  Multiply this as a 
percentage (55%) against base strength and you end up with an actual 
strength of 1,375 points.

Now, use morale like this.  Average it with the mean score found by 
adding together training and command rank to produce a route 
percentage.  For this example, let's say morale is 65.  With a mean 
score of 55 added in, we get an average of 60 as the route 
percentage.  This army will stand up to 60% casualties (1500 points 
of damage) before it breaks and dissolves.  Or better yet, before it 
has a CHANCE of breaking and dissolving (checked by the computer 
each round).

You see that training, command rank, and morale make BIG 
differences.  A skilled and energetic army is quite capable of 
defeating an unskilled and demoralized army several times it's own 
size; perhaps many times it's own size.

- rather than have combat weapons increase army damage, have them 
increase morale.  There aren't any instances in Tolkien's works 
where magic swords 'deflect many a blow', etc.  The weapons were 
more a tool for inspiring the troops than anything else (men cheered
the appearance of Anduril outside the walls of Minas Tirith because 
it meant the King was on the field, not because it would 'kill a 
score of troops before they knew what was happening').

- add encounters which allow a character to summon aid.  For 
example, a character encounters eagles, which promise to help him in 
the future.  The character later issues an order to 'call' the 
eagles, which then arrive and join his army.  Kind of a trump card.



 How I Got Shafted in ME-PBM

Nothing this time.


           Chucking Woodmen, and All That

Dan DeYoung's article on the Woodmen sparked a comment this issue:

From Brian Mason


This was a great deal of fun to read! It was great to get out the 
maps and setups and look things over, plot out moves, and see how 
things would go.

I must agree with Tom Walton's comments that the strategy relies on 
the Dragon Lord doing those specific things. I'm not sure that 
(especially given Dan's Woodmen strategy) the Dragon Lord should do 
these specified moves. As a matter of fact, were I playing the 
Dragon Lord, I would read this article as a strategy session on what 
NOT to do. Also, let me point out that in my (albeit flawed) Dragon 
Lord strategy from "The Mouth" #8, the Dragon Lord concentrated his 
forces on the Sinda Elves. While the Woodmen is a tempting target 
for the Dragon Lord, attempting to destroy cities which have no 
fortifications (once the more than adequate Dragon Lord spell 
casters learn "Reveal Population Center" was too tempting a target.



        Strategy & Tactics: The Quiet Avenger
       by Brian Mason


How does the nation of the Quiet Avenger compare to other nations? 
At the start of the game they rank as follows (Allegiance Comparison 
Tables, Tom Walton):

                              among all players   among DS
          Total Tax Base      20th                 5th
          Resource Base       19th                 7th
          Combat Strength     22nd                10th
          Character points     9th                 5th
          Artifacts           17th                10th

Oddly enough, the position of possibly the weakest of the Dark 
Servants, the Quiet Avenger, probably has most in common with the 
strongest of the Dark Servants, the Witch-King. What I mean by this 
is that the fortune of the Quiet Avenger, like that of the Witch 
King, is almost completely dependant on the actions of her 
neighboring neutrals.

Given this overdependance on what the neutrals may or may not do, 
too much advance planning is probably not advisable. What here 
follows is not so much a complete plan, but rather, a collection of 
observations whereby the Quiet Avenger might be able to get off to 
a good start.

The Quiet Avenger is the weakest of the Dark Servants, and the 
chance of the Quiet Avenger to play a significant role in the early 
party of the game is virtually non-existant. The Quiet Avenger is 
surrounded by three neutrals, any one of which is vastly superior.  
Offensive navy opertations become impossible due, not only to the 
neutrals, but also to the significantly greater naval force of North 
and South Gondor, as well as the Sinda and Noldo Elves.

Because all but one of the Quiet Avenger population centers has some 
type of fortification, increasing Quiet Avenger taxes is a viable 
option.  Going to 70% will get her "in the black", and additional 
gains can be made by getting rid of unnecessary troops and taking a 
great risk and developing economically for a late game surge.  While 
this is a "high risk" approach, it is not as foolish as it may 
initially seem because of the vast armies which neighbor her. If 
they come after you "full bore" it is really immaterial how much you 
have recruited to stop them, because it will not be enough. The idea 
here, then, is to develop the nation into a tremendous economic 
force, and allow the rest to follow behind that.

Specifics:

          Turn one: Get combat artifacts into use, get
          backup commanders into armies. Retire all light
          infantry, archers, and men-at-arms. Get the navy
          in one location. Change the tax rate to 70%. Other
          orders to develop character skills, Adunaphel as a
          mage and emissary.

          Turn two: Continue repositioning forces such that,
          at the end of this turn you have all light cavalry
          in a army at Lugarlur, while all the heavy
          infantry, along with the navy, is at Vamag. While
          this is only 1500 troops total, having troops is
          not as important at this point, as having South
          Gondor and the neutrals see icons. Name first
          emissary.

          Turn three: Name another emissary. First emissary
          moves off to develop in the left three columns of
          the Quiet Avenger map. These are off everyone
          elses map, and the rough terrain promises to
          provide a variety of resources for future army
          development.

          Turn four onward: These continue as those above.
          I would have the Quiet Avenger fill all character
          slots available, up to turn 10 with emissaries,
          and create camps, develop camps into villages, and
          villages into towns, with a major town or two as
          backup population centers. As the camps spring up
          in rough most will produce gold, and this will
          quickly have this emissary production in a "paying
          for itself" mode. Then, available gold should be
          spent on timber to place a tower on each
          unfortified population center.

Reply to Brian Mason
From Tom Walton

I consider the QA to be in pretty much the same position as the 
Dragon Lord.  With two neighboring neutrals and a third just a hop, 
skip, and jump away, the actions of others will make or break your 
nation.  Given that, you might as well play as if the neutrals will 
go evil and leave your nation be.

For those who think the QA capable of taking on Harad or the 
Corsairs, such is only possible if these positions are being run by 
less than skilled players.  In three of four games playing Harad or 
the Corsairs, I've been forced into an attack on the QA; in two 
games I easily conquered the position in just a few turns, while in 
the third my rash opponent (who thought he could beat the Corsairs) 
is about to go down.  The QA isn't even a challenge for a Southern 
neutral with a grudge (in fact, the position is so weak you can 
divert just a portion of your forces to do the job, while carrying 
on business as usual elsewhere).

In my last game I went DS and the QA position, incredibly weak at 
start, is now quite powerful.  After a joint conquest of the 
Corsairs and the forced declaration of the Easterlings for our side 
(yep, we actually THREATENED the guy into submission; must've been 
the 5,000 heavy cav I had marching to his capitol), his position is 
now among the safest and strongest among the DS.  In fact, he just 
mounted a rather large naval landing in Southern Gondor, much to 
everyone's surprise.

Given time and a friendly, powerful, neutral ally, the QA can do 
quite well.  If a neutral attacks and allies aren't forthcoming, or 
(Morgoth forbid), both neutrals attack, you might as well call it 
quits.  Not a position for those who don't like taking chances or 
who aren't good at diplomacy.

A final note:  the navy can be effective if Southern Gondor fumbles
the ball and doesn't eliminate it right off.  A landing in western 
Gondor off-map can cause considerable havoc, as can a surprise 
landing in Cardolan.  The potential for establishing a permanent 
base of operations is slim due to the low transport capacity, but 
you can be one hell of an irritation to your enemies.



      Flopsy the Nazgul

Editor's Note:  Brian Mason sent this to me for kicks.  I laughed so 
hard I had to put it in the Mouth.  I don't know who the original 
author is, and apologize profusely for using his/her material 
without permission - but I just had to show this to you.


Tom,

I ran across this poem which was performed at last year's Mythopoeic
Society Conference which is sung to the tune of "Frosty the Snowman"
and thought I'd pass it along to my favorite Witch-King.



Flopsy the Nazgul was a nasty, wicked beast
With two eyes of red in his ugly head
And he flew out of the East

Flopsy the Nazgul, oh, a hobbit he did seek
`Cause he had THAT Ring so he took to wing
and havoc he did wreak

        Oh there must have been some magic in
        that Ring that Sauron made
        `Cause even in full sunlight
        The Nazgul didn't fade

Flopsy the Nazgul went flying o'er the land
The he saw that Babe, with her sword she played
As she tossed it hand to hand

Flopsy the Nazgul didn't want to fight that day
But she looked so fine, he said, "What's your sign?
And together we can play!"

        Oh there must have been some magic in
        that blade that Merry drew
        `Cause when he struck it in his knee
        The Nazgul screamed, "Boo Hoo!"

Flopsy the Nazgul, though a hobbit he would slay
Lost his iron crwon, saying: "Don't you frown,
I'll be back again someday."

        Floppity-flop-flop, floppity-flop-flop
        Look at Flopsy flee
        Floppity-flop-flop, floppity-flop!
        With a sword stuck in his knee...