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This question is about the old game called 'War of the Ring', released by SPI in 1977, not the later game that shares the same name. I did not include that tag, which is meant for the other game.

The game can be 2 or 3 players. In a 2 player game Sauron and Saruman are controlled by the same player, in a three players they are played by separate people. The rules for victory conditions in the 3 player game are noted below.

Dark Power Player. To win the game, the Dark Power Player must have the Ring brought to the Barad-Dur hex. Or he may win a military victory by controlling the citadels of Barad-Dur, Durthang, Minas Morgul, Dol Guldur, Minas Tirith, Dol Amroth, Helms Deep and Isengard, plus the hexes containing Hobbiton and Thranduil's Palace.

Fellowship Player. The Fellowship player must destroy the Ring to win the game.

Saruman Player. The Saruman Player must control all existing Nazgul, plus the citadels of Isengard and Helms Deep and the town of Edoras.

Note: that if either Aragorn or Gandalf becomes a semi-ringwraith, the Dark Power Player wins automatically, unless the Saruman player has worn the Ring and is still in existence, in which case the Saruman player wins.

More than one player may win the Three-Player Game, but it is unlikely that this will occur.

This question is about the last line, I saw the question asked on another forum, where no one could figure how it could happen and I don't see it either, but I also don't have a lot of experience with the game (one person guessed it may have been that the rules went through a number of last minute revisions, that this was going to be possible but they removed the method and forgot to remove this line at the same time).

I'm asking in case something was missed that I/they could not see, or if there was some known rule revision that would confirm the other person's guess.

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  • Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I hadn't thought about this game in years, and only knew where to find it because I had recently unpacked it after a move. Sadly, I seem to have misplaced the cards (and I'd be surprised if some of the counters weren't lost as well), so my copy is no longer playable. Not that that's a huge loss; it wasn't a very good game. – Nobody Apr 2 at 12:23
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Subsection W.2 of the rules gives the procedure for Saruman to gain control of Nazgul. Halfway through the first paragraph it says:

... If Saruman loses the Ring, the Nazgul that he controls remain with him. ...

Saruman's victory condition requires that he control all surviving Nazgul. If he does that and subsequently loses the ring, then he would retain control of the Nazgul he had captured. Therefore, if he also held Isengard, Helm's Deep, and Edoras he would fulfil his victory condition, even if the Fellowship player managed to destroy the ring. Note that in this unlikely scenario, Saruman himself would be dead, since section M.1 provides (emphasis original):

A Ringbearer may never voluntarily surrender the Ring. The only way a different Character can become the Ringbearer is if the first Ringbearer is killed.

This restriction is reaffirmed for the three-player game in subsection X.2.

Note, however, that if all of the Nazgul were destroyed, then Saruman could fulfil this part of the victory condition without ever having possessed the Ring, and could therefore be alive for a shared victory. That is, it appears to be possible for Saruman to ally with the Fellowship player and play explicitly for a joint victory.

The only remaining question is whether it's possible to have these events happen simultaneously without the game ending first. Section U gives the victory conditions for the Campaign Game, but it is vague about when those military victory conditions are checked (for ring victory conditions, Section U references the Character Game victory conditions in section O, which state that the Fellowship ring victory condition is checked at the beginning of the Ring Phase). Section O does state in its preamble (outside of any subsection) that in the Character Game, the game ends immediately when a victory condition is met, but since section U references subsections O.1 and O.2, but not section O in its entirety, it's unclear whether that provision applies in the Campaign Game (the three-player option is only available in the Campaign Game). Section Z, which gives the modified victory conditions for the three-player game, does not clarify this matter.

In summary, a joint Fellowship-Saruman victory appears to be possible, provided that satisfying military victory conditions does not end the game immediately. The fact that the rule writers explicitly called out the possibility of a joint victory suggests, albeit indirectly, that this is the intended interpretation.

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If all Nazgul are destroyed, and Saruman holds Isengard, Helms Deep, and Edoras when the Ring is brought to Barad-Dur it would seem that a joint Dark Power / Saruman victory is possible, although again whether the game would end before both sets of conditions could be fulfilled at once is unclear.

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