By Mitch Freedman
Simulations Publications, Inc. 1977
Designer – Rob Mosca
Long before the modern Hobbit craze, long before Peter Jackson, there were some books written by J.R.R. Tolkien, books in which he created his own mythology, dealt with universal problems of good and evil, and looked into the private motives and public actions of the powerful and the meek, the wise and the foolish.
Those actions and motives were really aspects of every human being, of course, and Tolkien did his work so well that the story of the Hobbit grew and grew beloved. His exercise in putting the essence of humanity down on paper – this was long before the films – required him to add dwarfs and elves and even orcs, brightening and polishing the parts of being human which needed a special mirror to see clearly.
For those who were never English majors, think of Spock or Data on Star Trek. Not human, certainly, but more human than most of the rest of the crew.
At least, that’s how I see it.
So, what does this all have to do with war gaming? Let’s take a look at Sauron and ask some questions. I won’t give you the answer to the final question – is Sauron really a war game – because you should have the fun of figuring it out yourself or, at least, fighting over the answer.
For those who don’t know the game of Sauron – and I suspect that is a lot of people – it travels the same path that more recent War of the Rings games follow, with a full complement of Elves and Dwarfs fighting off Goblins and Orcs and trying to defeat powerful foes outside the gates of Mordor. There are no plastic figures, and no cards to turn over, just some cardboard counters and some dice and a simple map to create the most important battle in the history of Middle Earth.