Fourth Age 3-Way Gunboat Game!

Hi Folks,

Ernie is putting together a 4th Age Gunboat game we’re filling now. 3 nation teams, 3 fixed allegiances, nations of each team spread out across the map, no diplos.

You can contact me or Ernie for details.

It’s apt to be very bloody and extremely fun. Hope you can join us.



We have five teams so far - 4 to go! It’s going to be epic.

Also, if anyone was willing to take on the task of helping set up the game, that would mean Ernie could play as well. Right now Ernie has volunteered to help set the game up, so he’s recused himself from actually playing.



Adam…sounds potentially intriguing. It’s been a long while since I’ve ventured into 4th age…how do the teams not blessed to have South or North Kingdom maps being compensated in this gunboat format? I’ll check in with you via email for more details


Tony Huiatt

Nearly full now. Looks like we have just one slot left for a gunboat combo.

Let me know if you’re interested!



Unless you counted Marty and me already in, we’ll take that.

Awwwright! You guys should have an email from us with the deets.

Welcome aboard! It’s going to be awesome.

Here are the details Ernie has worked up for our 4th age Gunboat game.

Ernie III’s Three-Sided 4th Age Gunboat Game

General Description

All three allegiances will be in play, with all 25 nations involved. Some special rules will apply in addition to ‘normal gunboat’ rules.

Need at least 9 total players/teams willing to sign up based on those rules. :slight_smile:

SNA #31 (+20 to kidnap/assassinate) is not allowed. All other SNAs allowed.

The game ends either after 52 turns as per normal gunboat rules, or when one of the three allegiances has more active nations than both other allegiances combined. For this purpose a kingdom counts as two nations. A strategic pop center victory is not allowed.

Team Rules & Restrictions

The three allegiances will be broken down into 9 teams, 3 teams per allegiance, with special rules for each allegiance, as follows:

[li] Free: 3 teams of 3 regular nations. Each team must consist of 2 nations of men and 1 nation of either dwarves or elves.
[li] Dark: 3 teams of 3 regular nations each. Each team must consist of 2 nations of men and 1 nation of non-humans.
[li] Neutral: 1 team of three regular nations and 2 teams each consisting of a kingdom and a regular nation. All neutrals have to be men as usual. No allegiance changing allowed.

The reason I am specifying two nations of men and one nation that is some other race for the Good and Evil teams is that 4th Age is supposed to be “the Age of Men” with some isolated areas of other races, so I wanted mostly men but with a scattering of others.

NOTE: the neutrals have 2 fewer nations than the other allegiances, but not only do they include the kingdoms, but each kingdom team will have its initial turn 0 recon of all non-kingdom capital areas, a definite information advantage. Also, since the kingdom locations are known, the third neutral team of 3 nations can attempt to set up taking advantage of that.

Starting relations will be adjusted so that every nation has tolerated relations to all other nations of their allegiance and disliked relations to all other nations.

Each team may be played by a single player, but if two or three players want to join up to play a single team, that would be fine too, spread the cost and the fun.

Registering to Play

I will handle recruiting of players/teams. Need 9 teams total, each team can be 1-3 players, note however that a 3-player team cannot select a kingdom/neutral combo. To sign up for this game, do not contact MEGames directly to begin with, rather reply to me, first come-first served as far as reserving a team slot, then it is your responsibility to get teammates if you want them.

I will also do allegiance assignment and region selection, but we will need to break that down into steps, for reasons outlined below. I will not be playing in the game myself, and will be supervising setup stuff before submitting nation designs to MEGames, in order to enforce some special rules etc., I’ll work with teams directly to resolve any setup questions or conflicts. Step 1 will be to establish 9 teams…

Step 1 – Assigning Teams

Email me directly at to request a team slot, providing a preference list from most to least preferable, of the following options:
[li]Good (3 available)
[/li] [li]Evil (3 available)
[/li] [li]Neutral Non-Kingdom (1 available)
[/li] [li]Neutral North Kingdom +1 (1 available)
[/li] [li]Neutral South Kingdom +1 (1 available)

NOTE: please only sign up if you are willing to be flexible on what allegiance you play, and not just be willing to play a kingdom team or a particular allegiance. With only 9 teams it may well be that I have to resolve some ties and some teams may not get their first or even second choice. I’ll roll dice as needed to resolve conflicts. Hopefully everyone will get the allegiance of their choice, but everyone who signs up should be willing to play whatever allegiance they get.

Once I have 9 teams, sorted out into 3 Good, 3 Evil, and 3 Neutral, we’ll move on to step two…

Step 2 - Nation Locations

It is important not to let a single team dominate in any theatre; 3 free people nations on the same team all in the south, say, could coordinate to a degree that would be unfair to everyone else. So region selection will be modified somewhat in order to maximize mixing of allegiances and minimize proximity of nations within a team. The setup map will consist of three areas, called theatres, as follows:

[li] Western Theatre (North Kingdom in Arnor plus 7 other regions): Angmar, Arnor, Dunland, Enedwaith, Eriador, Forlindon, Harlindon, Rhudaur.
[li] Northeastern Theatre (9 regions): Eastern Mordor, Iron Hills, Lorien, Northern Mirkwood, Northern Mordor, Northern Wastes, Rhovanion, Rhun, Southern Mirkwood.
[li] Southern Theatre (South Kingdom in Gondor plus 7 other regions): Far Harad, Gondor, Harondor, Khand, Near Harad, Rohan, Southern Mordor, Umbar.

Each three nation team must submit a separate preference list of regions for each nation. One nation must select its preferences only from the 7 available regions in the western theatre, one nation must select only from the 7 available regions in the southern theatre, and the third nation must select only from the 9 available regions in the northeastern theatre. Thus every three nation team will be split up between the three separate theatres.

For the two teams containing a kingdom and a regular nation, the kingdom will already have its region known, but the regular nation must submit a preference list of regions in the northeastern theatre. So the two kingdoms will each have one neutral teammate in the northeastern theatre, while the non-kingdom neutral team will have one nation in each region.

A nation can put down “Any” for its region choice but then indicate the theatre the nation must be located in, i.e. Any (Western), Any (Northeastern), or Any (Southern).

I will then resolve region selections, adjusted for the theatre definitions. All teams should be fairly well split up, although players can certainly try to get regions in different theatres that are close to each other in order to enable military cooperation – part of the setup strategy for a team will be to consider such options. The duos which include a kingdom will have a slight advantage in terms of knowing where the kingdom is located when submitting the preference list for their partner nation in the northeastern theatre, but that is simply part of making the duos approximately equal in total strength to the tries of regular nations.

The end result will be a mix of allegiances in each theatre. The western theatre will have 2 neutrals (including the North Kingdom), 3 good nations and 3 evil nations; the southern theatre will have 2 neutrals (including the South Kingdom), 3 good nations and 3 evil nations; and the northeastern theatre will have 3 neutrals, 3 good nations and 3 evil nations.

The idea is to have each theatre be a potential hotbed of conflict right from the start – though as always, actual region allocation may result in some advantages or disadvantages for specific nations, teams or allegiances – and at the same time, to prevent any one team from having too much immediate ability to coordinate. If a team does manage to get its nations relatively close to each other by getting their 1st choice regions, at least those nations will have less starting gold!

Step 3 - Nation Designs

Once I have assigned the regions to each nation in each team, teams will need to design their nations. Except as specified here, standard 4th Age setup rules from MEGames apply.

Again, +20 to Kidnap/Assassinate, SNA #31, is not allowed, all other SNAs are allowed, within racial and allegiance restrictions as normal.

To reiterate, it is the Age of Men! Each Good and Evil team must consist of two nations of Men and one nation which is not Men. Thus there will be 3 nations which are Dwarves or Elves, 3 nations which are Non-humans, and all the rest of the nations will be Men. Each Good and Evil team can decide which of its three nations will not be Men, i.e. there are no theatre-specific limitations, but obviously mountainous regions work better for non-Men than for Men.

However, for this scenario only, a special rule applies to Men of all allegiances – camps and villages are allowed in mountain hexes. Only non-Men can start with towns or larger in mountain hexes, but during the game, of course, Men can improve their mountain holdings as much as they want and can afford.

Harbors and ports may only be placed where ships can actually access major rivers or open water; note that it will be allowed to have a harbor or port at the “tip” of a major river, such as was the case with Esgaroth in the 1650 scenario. Any number of harbors or ports can be taken as long as they satisfy those requirements but only one of each qualifies for bonus points. (That is part of the standard setup rules but some folks don’t realize it.) So access to a major river can be a hex at the tip of the major river, or along a hexside, while access to open water requires a hexside of coast, either or both are acceptable.

Good Men normally have fewer options for their racial bonus to character skill ranks than Neutral and Evil Men, i.e. Good Men cannot use +10C to increase existing Command rank and also do not have a 30E option, while both Neutral and Evil Men can use +10C to boost existing Command rank and do have a 30E option. That was done in part to counter the fact that, for the Good allegiance as a whole, Dwarves and Elves have some nice racial SNAs etc. But for this scenario, as there is a limit on how many Dwarves and Elves are allowed, Good Men will have the same racial bonus options as Neutral and Evil Men.
I will review all nation setups and resolve any setup issues with the teams, and when all issues are solved, I will forward them all to MEGames to get the game set up officially, and work with MEGames to make sure there are no problems prior to turn 0s being sent out to the players. Obviously, discussion of setups with anyone outside one’s team is not allowed. Honor system is in play. :slight_smile:

Additional Special Rules

MEGames will list the nation numbers that comprise the various teams as per normal for Gunboat games.

There will be no diplos for this game. Each team and allegiance are on their own, and must rely on the information they can gather through normal in-game methods. Standard “no screwing around trying to send messages in funky ways” Gunboat rules…

Final Notes

It is likely that more than one nation will find itself in a position where it is near several adversarial nations and gets overwhelmed. Be prepared that you may lose one of your nations early, and if you have bad luck, possibly even two… This scenario is not for the faint-hearted! Chaos will ensue, I am sure! So please join the game with willingness to continue playing your “team” even if it is reduced by an elimination or two. Make the enemies fight for every conquest!

I would also appreciate being kept involved as to how the scenario is playing out, so if people would be willing to keep me copied at least some of the time on their results, or to allow MEGames to forward turns to me, that would be excellent. :slight_smile: I am very interested in whether or not this will work as I hope…

Huzzah, we’ve filled the game and are off to the races! Thanks to everyone who signed up - we’ll see you on the battle-field.


Looks like turn 0’s are going out Friday!

So we’re in action now. Just ran turn 1. As some of you know, the game is running on the newer PC platform which opened up interesting possibilities.

We’re using the Kin-Strife rules for Kings and Princes, giving them 3 orders each. I believe this is the first FA game to ever use these rules.

None of us set up our nations with this knowledge beforehand, so it’s a surprise to all of us and will be exciting to see how it turns out!

Turn 1 I and have a complaint already :wink:

The Setup made sure that no two nations of the same team are in the same theatres, but problems arise where theatres meet.
Look at the southeast. One DS team has two nations adjacent to each other, plus they are shielded by two other DS nations to the west. A pretty much unassailable position. Adding the fact that their third partner is located in the best defensive position in the game – Enedwaith – they are easily the strongest team in the game. This is where I’d put my Money betting for game winners.
True, we started this game knowing that some of us would end up in less favorable situations, part of the spice is that it is survival for some right from the word go. Nevertheless, one should
prevent unlevel playing chances whereever possible? Provided there will be a version 2.0, the moderator would need to review the nation distribution and hand-moderate it where necessary, with the authority to redistribute nations across the map.

My second issue is Nation communication. ATM we have no communication outside of Teams. I think it should be allowed to Exchange diplos with nations of other allegiances. So two neighboring nations could cooperate or at least arrange a limited truce when facing a Cluster of the third allegiance Close by. That could even out some of the aforementioned Problems and add some diplomatic Dimension to this game.

my 2 cents

Ernie allocated the nations and he did say that some nations would be in the thick of things. This does mean that elsewhere in the map it’s the opposite and they’ll be at a 2:1 disadvantage - pretty sure that’s just the way the game will always be - some places strong. Generally as GMs we try to balance the starting game as best we can though… :slight_smile: But like many games the strongest at the start is very rarely the strongest at the end.

Communication I would suggest the standard 30 word diplo every naming turn (as normal GB), but I think that was not allowed here.

Yeah - for sure the region picks are not particularly even. The SE DS combo is pretty tight. I’d say that Rhudaur, Lorien, Rohan look well concentrated too, as does SK, North Mordor. I’m guessing some teams thought a lot about their region picks while others may have put down “any”.

This also gets to play style and strategy. We haven’t seen everyone’s strategy reveal itself yet. Some go out fast, others slow.

I’d support the diplo’s every 5 turns if folks wanted to try that. I agree it’ll be a long game w/ no communication.

Yes some less tight regional players will have more gold. I’ll email Ernie to see if he’s okay with the 30 word diplo every naming turn.

Any News WRT the diplos? We are nearing the second naming turn.

For clarification: Diplos should be only allowed speaking for the whole Team and only if directed towards Teams of other allegiances.

The game has ended after 46 brutal turns with a DS victory. Bernd proved correct. Khand, East Mordor, Enedwaith took the game. It was a great contest and tons of fun.

From the start we had fierce fighting across the board. Both Kingdoms were knocked out by turn 15. Most nations lost their capital at one point or another. Several nations survived by the skin of their teeth to fight again due to their hidden popcens. Lots of tenacious fighting across the map - many heroes just refused to die!

But slowly the DS mastered the air war between artifacts, agents, weakness and intel spells. Eventually the evils chipped the FP and Neutrals down bit by bit, suffering many setbacks along the way.

Thanks to everyone who played this Fourth Age scenario, and especially to Ernie Hakey for dreaming it up and making it happen. Props to John Welty who played the formidable FP team in Lorien, Rhudaur, Rohan - definitely the toughest FP team. And mighty thanks to our teammates Jeremy Richman who played Harondor, S Mordor, North Mirkwood, and Tony Huiatt in a very tough South Mirkwood, Eriador, Near Harad (three of the toughest regions on the map!) Tony finished with an eye popping 61 kills for his nation Grimmish in Near Harad.

I think Clint is running the scenario again as the next FA gunboat game. It was super fun.

Cheers all,


Congrats to the game winners and kudos to all who held out for so long against unfavorable odds. Marty and me played SK/Northern Mordor and it didn’t take long for us to realize that this position was untenable. Something I really didn’t think about too much is the fact that everybody knows where the Kingdom popcenters are. I felt the nation placed in Southern Gondor was practically designed to attack SK, what makes perfect sense.
We held out until turn 12 and from what I have seen NK didn’t make it much longer. Looking back it was foolish to play that position and until there are major tweaks to the setup I couldn’t recommend starting another of this games.

Thanks Bernd. I agree your position was impossible. You had a FP team on one side and a DS team on the other, both of which attacked you all out. But I think the scenario is very playable and fun, albeit with a couple challenges.

  1. Some teams are deliberate in their region choices. Others aren’t. I see this same dynamic in every 4th age game. We chose regions adjacent to each other, or safely tucked away. Hence EMordor, Khand, Enedwaith. Others picked “any region”. Two possible changes to make a more competitive map would be:
    • Require all teams to choose “any region”, making assignment random, OR
    • Disallow any two nations of the same FP or DS team to be adjacent

Either way, it won’t be perfectly balanced.

  1. I do agree the Neutrals are underpowered by being 2 nations down, despite having both Kingdoms. 9 FP, 9 DS, 7 Neutrals is tough for the Neutrals. Possible fixes:

    • Change the team mix to 8 FP, 8 DS, 7 Neutrals, OR
    • Beef up the Neutrals w/ extra popcens & fortifications. Hidden popcens might do it too.
  2. Diplos. Since the Kingdoms start with everyone’s locations, diplos would help their team the most. We spent a lot of orders just trying to find the enemy popcens. Those turn 5 diplos could make a big difference for the neutral team coming out the gate fast.

Anyway I think the scenario is very playable and a lot fun. I hope we have the chance to run it again.



With this being a GB game it seems a pure random region and alliance selection system would be the fairest. Just join and wait to see where and with who you end up with. Let the ref set the regions as fairly as possible without player requests. I would play this.