Author: Richard Jordison

Fact and Fantasy Games

Awards: none



David Watry (USA) writes about the game:

The Siege of Minas Tirith is a hex board game similar to the games Gondor and Sauron by SPI and other war type strategy board games that Avalon Hill and TSR put out. Where the game Gondor deals with the attack on the city of Minas Tirith and the Pelenor Fields, this game deals with the forces of Sauron's attack starting from the ruined city of Osgiliath through the outer wall of the Pelenor Fields to the towers of the city of Minas Tirith. This is strictly a war game, no magic elements are used.

The map sheet represents the terrain around the destroyed city of Osgiliath, from the River Anduin to the city fortress of Minas Tirith, the Tower of Guard. Due to the scale of the map, the seven layers of the city are represented by three levels. Each hex on the map sheet represents 800 yards side to side. One turn is equal to four hours of 'real' time. There are four days of fighting. Each day consists of 6 turns for a total of 24 turns in the game. Each counter represents about 500 soldiers of Gondor (Gold), or 1,000 soldiers of Mordor (Green).

The game comes with the following:

  • 19" x 25" hex map sheet
  • 16 page rule booklet
  • Reinforcement Schedule and Time Track sheet
  • Terrain Effects and Combat Results Table sheet
  • 2 sets of 60 cardboard die cut counters
  • Ring Option rules modification sheet
  • Battle of the Slag Hills mini game and rule adjustment sheet

The counters are very simple, each shows a Unit Type Symbol and has two numbers at the bottom, Combat Strength (left; melee or missile) and Movement Allowance (right). Also, the ranged missiles (archery and catapults) have a smaller number which indicates range. The Mordor player goes first going through 4 phases; 1) Wall Breach Phase, 2) Movement Phase, 3) Archery Combat Phase, and 4) Melee Combat Phase. Gondor goes second repeating steps 2-4. Each unit may move to its maximum movement allowance taking the Terrain Effects into account (i.e. woods cost 2 movement points, roads ˝). Units may travel through another friendly unit, but may not stack at end of movement except Leader Units (ie. Gandolf, Faramir, Nazgul King, Gothmog, etc.). Units must stop upon entering an enemy Zone of Control (ZOC).

Combat is resolved by attacker to defender ratios simply by adding up all the attacking units Combat Strengths verses the defenders Combat Strength(s) (i.e. an attacking unit with a strength of 4 verses one defending strength of 3 on clear spaces would be 1-1 odds). Morale modifications are made when a friendly or enemy Leader is within 3 hexes of a unit (i.e. a friendly Leader unit within 3 hexes of a friendly melee unit would get a +1 on the die if attacking, an enemy unit would get a -1 on the die if attacking). Morale is also affected by Darkness (as indicated on the Time Track) which favors the Mordor units. Dawn of the Fourth Day favors the Gondor units. Missile units are never affected by morale. Terrain is also taken into effect for melee attacks (i.e. a friendly unit attacking up a hill or into a wooded area results in doubling the defensive strength of an enemy unit being attacked). Archery units have increased defensive strengths in certain terrain areas that melee units do not get, such as a city hex. A six sided die is rolled with the results being determined on the Combat Results Table. Odds range from 1-3 to 8-1 on a 6 sided die roll with modifications of +1, +2, -1, or -2 due to morale (i.e. Range is from -1 to 8 on a 6 sided die). The results from the Combat Table leave either the attacker destroyed (AX), attacker retreats (AR), no effect, defender retreats (DR), or defender destroyed (DX). The odds ratio is reduces to simplest terms, rounding off in favor of the defender. If a Leader is stacked with a unit that is being attacked, the Leader adds to the strength of the unit as well as morale. Except Gandolf and the Nazgul, the Leaders would be eliminated if the unit losses the attack. Gandolf and the Nazgul are not eliminated with the unit if it loses, but are removed from the board until the next turn then placed wherever the owning player wishes.

Mordor units can create Wall Breaches on the Outer Wall and its gates (no effect on the walls and gates of the city of Minas Tirith) using a Nazgul unit and a melee unit, and can only be made on the 2nd and 3rd days on the Time Track. The melee unit is inverted (considered eliminated) and designates the breach for the rest of the game. Wall Breaches do not effect any adjacent units (friend or foe). For a Gate Attack, if a Gondor unit is on the other side, a roll of 1 on a six sided die breaks the gate. If the gate is undefended, the gate breaks with a 1 through 4 on a six sided die.

The Grond (a massive battering ram) is the only device the Mordor player has to break the Great Gate at Minas Tirith (it takes two turns to break the Great Gate). The Grond may not be attacked by archery attacks. It is vitally important for the Mordor player to defend the Grond from melee attacks if you want to get into the city (victory points allotted for Mordor units that are within the city).

The winner of the game is determined by the number of Victory Points accumulated by the Mordor player. A point for Mordor for at least one unit across the Anduin at the end of the fourth turn on the first day. A point for a unit inside the Outer Wall at the end of the second turn of the second day. A point for each turn the Mordor player has the city of Minas Tirith completely surrounded. A point for each Mordor unit within four hexes of the city and within the outer walls at the end of the game. And Mordor can receive six points for destroying all Gondor units, except Leaders, within the city of Minas Tirith by the end of the game.

  • 0-7 points: Major Gondor Victory
  • 8-11 points: Minor Gondor Victory
  • 12-16 points: Tie
  • 17-20 points: Minor Mordor Victory
  • 21 - up: Major Mordor Victory

There is an optional rule called the Ring Option. This favors the Gondor player, but is used at a risk. The Gondor player can announce the intention of using the One Ring at the start of any turn before the Mordor player breaks through the Outer Wall. Gondor units get a +1 morale for as long as Gondor has "control" of the ring. The morale rules of Darkness and Dawn of the 4th Day are eliminated. Leaders keep their effect of morale. The risks are Gondor can only receive reinforcements under Aragorn and Theoden with the roll of a 1,2, or 3 at the turn of appearance. At the end of every turn, Gondor must roll a 1-5 in order to keep 'control' of the ring. Rolling a 6 'looses' control. At such a time, Gondor looses the special morale until control is regained. On every turn following, the die is rolled. A roll of a 1 regains control, 2-4 has no effect, and with a 5 or 6 control is lost at which time the Mordor player received a +2 morale for the rest of the game. The Mordor player also receives 5 points and the Gondor player can receive no more reinforcements. Once control is lost, it can never be regained and the best Gondor can achieve is a tie. A very risky venture.

This is one of my favorite hex board games. The game takes about two to three hours to play because of the number of pieces and the size of the board. It is well rounded game and does not seem to favor either side. Mordor has the advantage of the sheer number of units that pour across the Anduin River. Gondor has the advantage of a good defensive position, although towards the end of the game (4th day), the Riders of Rohan and the men of Dol Amroth (when Aragorn appears) reinforcements are greatly needed. The Gondor player needs to wipe out as many Mordor units as possible during the last five and half turns. It takes some good strategy for Mordor on how to attack the city and wipe out the units of Gondor. The Gondor player has to determine how to hold out as long as possible before the reinforcements arrive. Also, trying to destroy the Grond before it gets to the Great Gate can be a challenge (a smart Mordor player will heavily guard it). The Grond is the only way Mordor has to get through the Great Gate. It is best to try and destroy it early while there are enough Gondor units available to use. It may weaken your forces, but it deprives Mordor of precious points. The rules are fairly straight forward and the rules booklet includes examples of play. The cardboard die cut pieces are very simplified in design, but with so many, anything too fancy would clutter the board. A few of the pieces (Eagles and the Mouth of Sauron) are just made of paper which is a shame. Fortunately, these are only used in the mini game of the Battle of the Slag Hills. The board is just made of heavy stock paper. Mine has held up through the years, but I should have it coated. The folds are getting thin. I don't remember what it originally came packaged in. I think it was just a plastic bag of some sort. I now keep it in a heavy envelope with the games Battle of the Five Armies (by LORE) and Battle at Helm's Deep (another Fact and Fantasy game). I have misplaced my containers (empty medicine bottles) that hold the pieces (2 containers for Minas Tirith, 2 for Battle of the Five Armies, and 1 for Helm's Deep) a couple of times over the years when I have moved (I still have all the pieces). Now I keep the whole lot in an empty game box together where there is plenty of room and is protected from the elements, more or less. I have found this game to be similar to the SPI game of Gondor. However, there are not as many pieces and the rules of combat are simpler. Overall it is less complex while maintaining a good level of strategy and a 'feel' of what it is like to be over run by hordes of orcs and other evil creatures of Mordor. When all seems lost for Gondor, the Riders of Rohan show up, as well as Aragorn and his men. As for Mordor, there is great satisfaction of breaking down the Great Gate and destroying the citizens of Minas Tirith.

Included with the game is a mini game of Battle of the Slag Hills. This is played on a 8.5" x 11" map sheet. It is a short game using the same rules (with some minor exceptions as stated in the Slag Hills addendum sheet provided). It represents the last battle of the "War of the Ring" after the destruction of the army of Mordor at Minas Tirith, at the gates of Mordor. The purpose of the mini game is, although outnumbered, Gondor's task is to delay the forces of Mordor as long as possible to give Frodo and Sam time to destroy the Ring, as stated in the book. Gondor is supposed to hold out as long as possible, and Mordor's task is to completely destroy the forces of Gondor (except the Eagles). A short but difficult task for both sides. Gondor is limited in units, and Mordor is limited in time (nine turns).

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany