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His Eyes Opened!

Puzzle created by Thorin N. Tatge

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation 1.0 Solution

(Click here for a summary of how to play Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation.)

You're the Good player. Things are going well for you, especially with Frodo's path to Mordor practically clear. Frodo is in Arthedain, with Legolas nearby in Cardolan. Also standing guard are Gimli and Merry together in Mirkwood. The bad news is that the Cave Troll and Black Rider have already reached the Shire. If another Dark character gets there, the game is lost. Fortunately, the only other remaining Dark characters are the Orcs in Dagorlad and the Balrog guarding the tunnel in Moria.

Your unplayed cards are the 3, the 5, Retreat, and Magic. The Dark player has the 1, the 2, the 3, and Retreat. It's your move. How can you guarantee victory for yourself?


Attack the Orcs with Merry and use Retreat to move him into Fangorn. If the Dark player moves the Orcs into Fangorn and defeats Merry, now or later, you can destroy them with Gimli. If the Dark player Retreats the Orcs into Gondor and later moves them into Rohan, attack them with Merry and play the 3 to defeat them (and perhaps Merry as well).

If the Dark player moves the Balrog into Enedwaith, simply move Gimli, defeating the Orcs if they are still alive (or moving into Fangorn if they are in Gondor). Then the Dark player will be forced to attack Legolas with the Balrog. Play the 5, or alternately use Magic to retrieve the Noble Sacrifice. Since Frodo is still in Arthedain, the Balrog cannot retreat. Once the Balrog and Orcs are both defeated the Dark player will lose immediately, having no moves left.

If the Dark player moves the Balrog into Eregion, attack it with Legolas. Play your Magic card. If the Dark player reveals a Strength card, replace Magic with Noble Sacrifice, winning the game as above. If the Dark player plays Retreat, replace Magic with your own Retreat. Since the Dark player's Text cards take effect first, he or she must choose which way to retreat the Balrog first. Retreat Legolas backwards in the same direction. Then the Balrog will be forced to attack Legolas, and you can defeat the Balrog by playing the 5. The Dark player will be left without moves and you will win.

If you make any other initial move, the Balrog can move into Eregion and you will have no choice but to attack it with Legolas, lest it pass through Arthedain into the Shire. But if you play Magic or a Strength card, the Dark player may play Retreat and move it into Rhudaur and then into Arthedain. And if you play Retreat, the Dark player may stay put with a Strength card and then move into the space Legolas did not retreat into. Your only guarantee of defeating the Balrog is to use Magic and see what the Dark player plays before making your decision, and for that to work you must have Retreat in your discard pile. Finally, retreating Merry back into Mirkwood fails because the Dark player may Retreat the Orcs into Gondor and then move them through the Gap of Rohan to attack Legolas. There are many variations, but the Dark player always gets a character into the Shire just before Frodo makes it to Mordor.

GGA - There were many entrants to this puzzle and quite a few "it can't be done!" responses. Several people got the main thrust of the solution but missed the requirement that Merry must retreat to Fangorn if the Orcs also played retreat.

Congratulations to Robert Jones who was drawn from the pool of winners for an item from The Fabulous Prize Vault.

- Thorin N. Tatge

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