August 2006 Newsletter Contributions (prep and discussion)

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Post by Frodo »

Last call for articles!

Here are my length guidelines for the maximum word count of your article:

3480 words for four-column articles (4 newsletter pages)
1740 words for four-column articles (2 newsletter pages)
870 words for double-column articles (1 newsletter page)
450 words for single-column articles
610 words for “Fellowship” column (and any cover article)

You may write an article of any length, but I will be publishing very few articles of 2 to 4 newsletter pages long, so please query about those first.

Wolfgang, you can use up to 4 newsletter pages for yours (3480 words).


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Post by thorondor »

okay,so fianlly i am presenting an article about spiders. i hate it to work under pressure ;-) also i hope, that the size is okay ( for 2 newsletter pages). of course i didn´t pay attention to the size when writing, so in the end i had to cut it down again. now it´s still more, so if if it´s still too much, just cut the parts that are underlined.
i am sure, the text needs a lot of editing. i am sorry for you, joe, since obviously you have to do this unpleasant work. feel free to change whatever seems to be in need of changing.

Arachnomania in Middle-earth
I am starting with a column, that wants to give you some insight into Tolkien´s life and his works, given the topic is not totally alien to our beloved card game.
There are many spiders in the middle-earth tales, some of them quite prominent. Ungoliant is the one, who is incited by Morgoth to destroy the trees of Valinor, that gave light to the world. In The Hobbit there are the Great Spiders of Mirkwood, that brought Bilbo and the dwarves into a dangerous situation. Then there is Shelob in The Lord of the Rings, who lies in wait for Frodo and Sam at Cirith Ungol. She is also known as a descendant of Ungoliant and as the ancestress of the Mirkwood spiders; thus she is the genealogical link between the very first spider Ungoliant down to the lesser creatures we all know. Finally also the tale of Roverandom is not devoid of spiders: masses of them are living on the moon, where they are chasing the moon beams and devour everything that encounters them.
So one might think of a love for spiders of Tolkien as a writer, since his use of those creatures extends beyond having some scary monsters in a thrilling tale.

Spiders in Mythologie
All over the world spiders take an important role in the myths of various cultures. Best known to us is probably the tale of the girl Arachne, who has dares to challenge Athene for a duel at the loom. After the woman has won, the godess became enraged in such a manner, that she transformed her into a spider, so she is able to pursue her artistic skill for all eternity.
The Myths of the Hopi Indians know a spider woman called Kogyangwuti. She servant to the earth creating sound, motion and life on it and also filling it with meaning and purpose.
There are other indian tales telling of a spider, who brought fire to the world, or who gives shape to all things and holds them together with her net.
Dream catchers have become very common during the last years in our sleeping rooms. They are rooted in an indian legend, where a man, who is haunted by evil powers in his sleep, is instructed by a spider to built a dream catcher, which will watch over his sleep letting the good dreams pass through only.
In the mythology of India the spider´s web is a symbol for Maya, the divine power that both sets up and shapes the world. One presupposes the other continually. Thus in the middle of the web there is a spider, stylized to a horizontal eight, a symbol for infinity. The radial-symmetric designed web corresponds with the cosmic order, in the middle of which the spider as a weaver keeps alive this order and cares for its onward renewal.
In the norse (northern germanic) mythology there are the Norns: three females, who are weaving the fates of all livings. Urd is responsible for starting the thread of life (reflecting the past), while Werdandi weaves the individual pattern of life into the thread (the presence), and finally Skuld cuts it in due time (the future).
There is another spider woman in the myth of Atlantis. After the downfall of the continent it is her task to lead the inhabitants to a new home.
Finally there are oceanic legends speaking of a god Nareau, who appears in two different manifestations: on the one hand as an old spider, who creates, and on the other hand as a young spider who shapes.
So far this rather rough overview over some myths, which shows, that the spider as a mytholocial figure is know to a very large extent among all sorts of cultures. Some recurring motifs are eyecatching, such as the spider being a woman with creative power.
Of course there are two sides of every coin. Especially during the middle ages the spider becomes demonized as a sort of witch animal. One might think that a female creative power does not fit Christian patterns. The superstitious belief in central europe tells of women, who are able to change into spiders carrying off virgins used for ritual sacrifices. Also the Anglo-Saxons know of impish spiders.
In the japanese mythology there is a gigantic spider demon, who is defeated by the fabled hero Kintaro.
This negative picture of spiders is also used in modern psychanalysis. Thus Sigmund Freud takes the spider as a symbol for the devouring womanliness, that lures and excites, but then prevents thriving. The very same idea was used before by Friedrich Nietzsche, calling god a spider.

Spiders in Middle-earth
We may assume with a safe conscience, that Tolkien was aware of most of those traditions about spiders in mythology. Also his idea of creating a sort of modern myth was fundamentally based on transforming conceptions of reality, that have been reflected in myth and legend, from the past into the presence.
However, having a first glance at spiders in Middle-earth, it is hard to find any parallels between them and any mytholgical ideas as described above. Of course noone expects Tolkien just to copy or plagiarize. On a second glance we will find, that his idea of spiders is a true mythological one, mixing characteristics and habits of real spiders with qualities and attributes ascribed to them in various legends.
Let´s have a first look on his biography, which is also often taken as a proof of Tolkien´s attitude towards spiders. It is known, that he was bitten by a tarantula, when he was still a baby in South Africa. For Michael Coren, a biographer of Tolkien, this was the very reason for his arachnophobia, which is reflected in his works. This argument is rather weak, especially since we have a letter from Tolkien to W.H. Auden, where he states, that his remembrance of this event is existing only because of other people telling him about it. He even likes those little creatures, and whenever he finds one in the bathroom, he helps it to find a way out into freedom. Also for Tolkien as an author it was very important to create stories totally disengaged from his personal situation and interests.
Of course the subconscious is not to be neglected, and it may have had some influence to a certain degree. Still it´s much more reasonable to assume, that Tolkien as an expert in myths of all sorts wanted to create his own mythological spider figure. It had to be decided, if his spider would play a postive or negative role. I couldn´t find any explanation, but obviously he accepted the prevailing opinion of his time and surrounding: spiders are loathsome, evil and causing horror. Especially for The Hobbit these attributes came in handy and he used them on full purpose.
Above all it is Ungoliant, who embodies many aspects of a mythological spider appropriately, while as such she meets the requirements of the story. Her gluttony is insatiable, when she consumed the light of Laurelin and Telperion. Her deadly venom is capable of poisoning the trees incurably, after all a creation of Yavanna, not the least among the Valie. There are not many besides her that have been able to imbue Morgoth with fear. Besides the Dark Enemy it is mainly her who brings sorrow to the world. She is known for leading a life in solitude, because she prefers her own company above all creatures in the world. Since we know about her offspring, there had to be some male partner once. But speaking of spiders the idea of having devoured the male after mating is close at hand. It may have been similar with Shelob (though never mentioned in the books).
Many spiders are active at night preferring the darkness. This characteristic was suitable, since destroying light the predominant feature of Ungoliant and the moon spiders in Roverandom. On the other hand light, especially when having its origin in the prime light of the Two Trees, is their worst enemy: it is neither Sams heroic vigour nor the blade of Sting, but the Phial of Galadriel, filled with the light of Earendil, that made Shelob give way and thus vulnerable. Another convenient characteristic of Shelob is infiltrating her victims with a poison of a special qualitiy, that makes them seemingly dead. Ideal for Tolkien to create some climax in the storyline.

Names and their meaning
Tolkien was a true master of inventing names. Creating a new word for something has to meet many requirements. Of course there has to be a meaning of the word. The sound of the word has to match the meaning of it. While the word has to be alive within the larger context of a language, it may not be just a synonym. While the invented name tells you something of what it names, it should also hide something and thus make the reader curious to learn more about it. Ideal is a mixture of both the languages of reality and the languages of the created fiction. Finally the invented word must follow to a certain degree the grammar of the language.
We know the names of two spiders: Ungoliant ans Shelob.
To find a translation of Ungoliant is rather difficult. “Ungol” means “spider” in Sindarin . But there is also a Quenya word “ungwe”, that describes shadow, darkness. Thanks to an older sript we know, that the name “Ungoliant” is a development of “Ungweliant” or “Ungwe Liante”. Now it is interesting, that “Liante” means spider in Quenya. The exact translation into Sindarin would be “Delduthling”. So it is most likely, that “ungol” was never a genuine Sindarin name for spider, but that the Quenya “Ungweliant” was taken as a loanword. However, the name of Ungoliant reflects “spider” and “darkness”.
From the beginning Ungoliant was also called “Gwerlum” or “Wirilome” (“Gloomweaver”), which is very fitting, since the english word “gloom” reflects both dimness as well as sadness. And though there is no philological proof, the sound of –lum and lome reminds of the english word loom. That leaves gwe- and wiri- as a first syllabe, and both have a significant similarity of sound to the scotish “weird” or the german “werden”. So Ungoliant also becomes a weaver of fate filled with sorrow and gloom.
To decipher the name of Shelob is much easier. Tolkien himself explained it in one of his letters to his son Christopher: “Do you think Shelob is a good name for a monstrous spider creature? It is of course only “she+lob” (=spider) , but written as one, it seems to be quite noisome.” Tolkien quite liked the german translation Kankra, which reminds of the english and latin word “cancer” with the typical female suffix –a.
Finally even The Hobbit is not devoid of Tolkien´s love for etymologies. When Bilbo sings his taunting verses on the spiders, he calls them “lazy lob”, “attercop” and “tomnoddy”. No need to explain the first. Both “attercop” and “tomnoddy” are oldenglish names for spider as well as for a foolish person. Finally “edderkopp” means spider in Norwegian.

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Post by thorondor »

and finally here is a shorted version of my worlds report:

World Championship 2006 in Barcelona, Spain

I was really looking forward to this event, since during the last few years I was getting quite close with many spanish players, who frequented Lure of MECCG very strongly. Also I loved it to be the one to ask questions, as well as when being asked (by Patric all the time) to be able to say: go ask the organizer!
Now I had a first funny situation at the airport in Girona. Marc Roca, who told us all a lesson in hospitality, promised to fetch all the non-spanish players from the airport. So I was waiting for him there. After an hour has passed, I started to get nervous. Half an hour later I finally phone him up. This resulted in a meeting of both of us with mobiles in our hands – he has arrived in exactly that moment. To save his honour: he was delayed because of a car accident.

Marc told me, that we have to hurry, since he left behind the swedish player Martin Karlsson among a spanish group, where he was doomed to talk with signs and gestures. Well, if they had been clever, they could have started with playing!
For me this day was over soon after arriving at the location. Being on the way for more than 24 hours (night train + plane) finally took its toll and made me search for some sleeping place early (which is 1 am).

On Friday I didn´t have to play any qualifier tournament, so I was able to have some sealed deck fun. I can´t remember any details except, that my Theoden was able to get killed in every game. Not really surprising though …
Then there was also a hero one deck tournament. Heiner played his famous unbeaten&unbeatable deck, with which he used to become second at Lure of MECCG several times. I was only short of 1 MP to beat this unbeatable deck, which became beaten again in the end …

Saturday was the big day then. As an excuse for my lack of skill I use to tell people, that I prefer to play decks with a few surprising moments. I played a FW Pallando deck, designed around Surion, who should go south gathering factions there. Since Fallen Pallando allows to bring into play masses of characters, another company starts collecting some items and allies around The White Towers. I used both Concealment and A Nice Place to Hide, so I was able to engage such a nice fellow as Ghan-buri-Ghan; Perchen was another one. And even Denethor made it into this deck.
First round: Manuel from Spain. I can´t remember any details, but we both were able to play mostly what we wanted to, ending in a rather close 4:2 for Manuel. While it was very pleasant to play Manuel, he couldn´t but tell me again and again, that this “Hoarmurath Unleashed” was just purchased from me a few days before Worlds ;-)
Second game: Martin from Sweden. After i rather "normal" game i was winning 5:1.
Now in the third round I had the pleasure to play Mark Alfano. We Europeans are lacking of self-confidence compared to americans. So when meeting him my thoughts were “World Champion?? Ha! This one will be easy to beat!!” Obviously I mixed up self-confidence with self-overestimation. He gave me a lesson in shutting down a deck completely keepinig into play A Heart Grown Cold almost during the whole game. Bane of the Ithil-stone prevented any recycling of Voices of Malice/Marvels Told. I didn´t think of my Double-dealing in the sideboard first, later I preferred another Marvels Told, which was cancelled by Blind to the West of course. AARGH! Then I exhausted my deck, lowering the chances to draw Double-dealing, which finally made it into the playdeck. My tapping hazards were able to annoy him a little bit, still it was ending in a 6:0 fiasco.
Next game I was facing another world champion: Patric Laxander. Ha! Another easy victory of course!! Patric was playing a dunk deck. So speed was needed. Things went really fine for me, since his hazards couldn´t do me any harm. And I was rushing through my deck, being able to bring into play a decent amount of MPs. When the end came near, he had everything ready for dunking the ring. He looked quite confident, since he was sure of succeeding. Looking at my hazards I had good reason to be confident of victory myself.
I planned for my last turn. I didn´t even think of counting my marshalling points, since I had so many MP cards in play. I have also exhausted my play deck, so obviously all those stage cards, that make resource cards worth something, have to be in play. No need to check this. Then why risk anything, if it isn´t needed?? No need of any mischief at some border hold. Just stay at home, waiting for a safe victory. And at the end of the turn I called the council. Even Patric didn´t bother to count my MPs here. He was confident of dunking anyway. So he made his dwarves travel to Mount Doom. There is plenty of Hazard Limit, and I have Adunaphel in play, Mouth of Sauron in my hand, as well as three (!!) rivers. Of course the dwarves became lost somewhere on the way to Mordor. Patric was very disappointed right now, since this meant, that he won´t be able to reach finals (only one dunk after 4 rounds). But then he started to count my MPs. And there was no Great Patron in play. And in the end I had exactly 24 MPs!! Of course it was easy for him to dunk next round.
This game left me very exhausted and feeling as the World Champion of Silly Playing! Well, I was happy for Patric, since we know each other since such a long time. While my chances for finals had been very low anyway, he was still in with one final dunk.
The last round was against Pedro. His deck was very interesting. Soon his Vilya wheeling Elrond started to influence away my company in the south. I was able to pick some stuff with my second company in the north-east. Leaving only two minor characters (one wounded) he thought he had done enough damage to my southern company, so he started to do something for his own record. There he really surprised me when playing a golden ring. I always thought, speed is the law when trying to dunk! Anyway: leaving the south brought him into more dangerous regions, and soon his wizard became food for a dragon. Since I was able to bring into play some more characters, things were really fine for me then. I focused on hindering him to play a faction, which ended in a 6:0.

The evening was spent with some minion sealed tourney. Not any interesting stories to tell (=lack of brain has not left anything!).
After this tourney a very strange feeling fell upon me: I wanted to drink a beer. Actually I really dislike it, but maybe I felt the need of preparing for things yet to come …
Mark was sitting in a corner brooding over his cards. Martin and I suddenly felt Mark´s desperation, so we joined him offering him some bottles of beer and as well as good advices. All of it help a lot of course, so also Martin and I felt partly as World Champions. But to be true: congratulations to Marc for becoming Champ despite our “support” ;-)

Sunday started with the most important question: will Patric be playing his oh so innovative Radagast squatter deck?? On Saturday evening we were allowed to have a free cabaret show, starring Heiner “Patric always plays Fallen Radagast!” Viefhues and Patric “I will never play Fallen Radagast again!” Laxander. It was great fun watching them teasing each other again and again. People were even betting on the choice of Patric´s deck.

The next day revealed: Patric was going with a Balrog deck. As did two more finalists (Heiner and Mark) leaving the spanish player Agustin with Hoarmurath.
There are already some tourney reports from the finalists at, so go there to read this story.

When this last tourney was finished, many happy people were applauding the champ and especially Marc Roca, who was able to organize a perfect event!! His endeavour to care for the personal interestes especially of those not from Spain was amazing!! But it´s too early for me to say thanks here, since I had planned to stay a few more days with Mark, Marc and Martin. We stayed together at some hostel in the very centre of Barcelona. I didn´t mention yet, but it was really very hot all the time!! So: We felt the need of drinking a lot because of the weather. Also our hunger for MECCG was not satiated yet. And all of us somehow had the feeling, that something was still missing. Of course: Drinking Game!!
The most important title is not yet awarded! Martin had some starting problems, obviously not being used to drinking games. We had to explain him, that drinking really helps a lot! In the end also he was able to finish all his supply of drinking stuff, so all of us succeeded. The honour of winning the tourney and becoming the Drinking Champ was for me ;-)
This was really great fun. And since all of us stayed another day in Barcelona and the weather hadn´t changed so we were still thirsty, we felt to have another round of Drinking Game on Tuesday! Having larger supplies this time didn´t prevent us from finishing all Drinking resources again. Another big victory for all of us, while I was happy to pass the honour of being the Drinking Champ to Marc Roca! He really deserved this, since he was able to beat Mark even when he started to use a very special rule: eating the card is the same as cancelling it. Only a few professional Drinking Gamer know about this, still that doesn´t mean, that it doesn´t exist! Poor Thorin though …
The end was coming near, and there is one other title not yet claimed. So we gathered at some café to play this years MECCG Region Card Memory Worlds Tournament. And obviously it help not to win any Drinking Tourney. Martin was the one whose brains were still working a little bit, so he beat the rest of us completely.

That was Barcelona 06 for me. I cannot describe it in a few words, how enjoyed this week! It´s really one of the best time of the year coming together for some competitive MECCG games within such a highly esteemed community. Thanks again to Marc Roca and team for making this possible. I hope that many of you will join for Worlds 07 in the US.

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Post by thorondor »

Distribution: I think we should send out a note to the silenttower listserve saying that the newsletter is available online at whatever address we agree to host it at, but we should not send the newsletter itself as an attachment to the list. We should also probably start a google or yahoo group exclusively for people who want to subscribe to the newsletter. This could eventually be the new silent tower list. We also need to at least post announcements of it at, although I think the attachment of it should probably go there as well.
a yahoo/google egroup would be fine! but it will take some time to have this ready. only up to 10 new people may be added by the group owner per day. up to 100 may ask for being subscribed to the group per day, but i know from experience, that people are very lazy about actively subscribing.
also: are you sure, that it is possible send the newsletter via egroup? what about the format?

right now i suggest to have this newsletter send to all the addresses i have in my lists. we can do this witht the first few issues of the newsletter. it has to be mentioned, that in future this sort of newsletter will be sent out, but only to people, who told us explicitely, that they would like to receive the newsletter.

by the way: the name of the newsletter right now is "COE newsletter". we really should hurry with our other projects, since it may be soon, thyt the newsletter will be named after the Council of Arda!

fianlly: i still think, speaking of a journal would be more proper.


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