Product Type: other board games
Newest Review: ... on how hard you want to make the game) and the hobbits start on square 1. As the game progresses on the other board I mentioned, t... more
BOARD (not bored) OF THE RINGS
Lord of the Rings Board Game
Member Name: Mauri
Lord of the Rings Board Game
Advantages: Great family board game
Disadvantages: Not for the very young, a little complicated to set up
The Lord Of the Rings board game is made by Fantasy Flight games probably the leading manufacturers of Strategy board games. The game was created by the innovative designer Renier Knizia.
As in any adaptation of a book the idea is to appeal to the current fans but also make it accessible for people who might be new to the genre. The gameplay must follow the original story but it must also be at a level that non-fans can also take part. In this respect this game does an admirable job.
As in the book the objective is to stop the Dark Lord Sauron from getting the 'One' ring (first found by Bilbo Baggins in ‘The Hobbit’) back and thus subdue all the races of middle Earth to his evil rule.
The ring has now passed on to Frodo and with the help of the fellowship of Hobbits Sam, Merry Pippen and Fatty (not in the original book!) he has to negotiate great dangers to eventually reach the Dark land of Mordor and destroy the Ring in the volcanic fires of Mount Doom where it was originally forged.
The players each take the part of one of the hobbits, each has individual special abilities and one of them Frodo at the beginning has the role of ring bearer, which gives him a further special ability in the game.
The game is placed on two main boards one the Master board that remains constant and simply plots the advance of Sauron towards the hobbits and certain events that cause the hobbits to be corrupted and so progress on the path of darkness the other board, which changes for each scenario that details the paths and event that must/can take place in order to progress the game.
As the hobbits gather movement and scenario cards they attempt to complete the scenario boards before events overtake them where they succeed or fail to complete the board they move onto the next one. Unlike most board games dice are not used to determine the rate on movement on the board instead the players need to use the movement cards they gather through the game. These allow movement on a particular path and some have the special ability of allowing movement on any path. A die is used in the game but it is not a conventional six sided numbered die, in the game the dice covered in different symbols is use to determine the outcome or consequences of the activity tiles.
Failure to complete the scenario will usually mean that the hobbits and Sauron come closer together on the Master board and once a hobbits meets or is corrupted by Sauron on this board the player is eliminated from the game if the ring bearer is corrupted by Sauron the game ends. At any time if they have gathered enough ‘shields’ on the way the hobbits can call upon Gandalf for help up to a maximum of five times but even this help comes a accost and so has to be used wisely.
Using strategy the players have to co-operate to move across the scenarios and keep Sauron as far away as possible from getting the ring. All through the game the players have to consult and agree on what strategy to follow, many of the events will require all of them to play certain cards to help each other out and often exchange or sacrifice tokens or cards for the benefit of the group. A lot of chat goes on during the game!
The scenarios follow the course of the book thus we start at Moria and progress to Helm's Deep, Shelob's Lair and finally Mordor. Along the way the Fellowship receives help from allies. The scenario boards include three different paths or activity lines that can be taken in order to win valuable resources and complete quests. An ‘event’ line is also included where the random drawing of event ‘tiles’ can cause a series of increasingly more unhelpful events to occur which again will force the hobbits to act together in order to minimise the bad consequences.
The cleverest concept of this game is that the players do not play against each other but against Sauron. Working together is essential even to the extent that at times it might be necessary to sacrifice one of the players in order to allow the ring bearer to survive (note that the role of ring bearer can change throughout the game).
The game is fairly complicated to set up initially and will not be suitable for children younger than 8 and even older children up to 11 will need some adult help to familiarise themselves with the rules.
It is a great family game and over the last Christmas holidays this was a welcomed break from the more usual PC/PS2 games and allowed my two older kids then aged 9 and 12 to play with us. The nature of the game is such that there has to be a lot of positive interaction between the players and thus many of the usual arguments that plague board games involving children are avoided. The key advantage of the game though is that because it is in a sense non competitive amongst the players you will not get tear and tantrums when somebody loses, since you all win or lose at the same time!
At the end of the game whether the ring has been destroyed or not a score can be worked out depending how far along the boards you have progressed and how many spare resources you have left with which can be noted on the ‘Hall of Fame’ sheet so that you can compare to other times you play.
Strategy and skill is an important part of the game but luck in the form of the order and nature of the random event tiles and the throw of the event dice will make the game a challenge for even the best players whilst ensuring that more inexperienced player still have fun.
Visually the board and cards are impressive the brilliant illustrations supplied by celebrated Tolkien artist John Howe. The board and pieces are sturdy and well made which is usually an indication of quality and will allow the game to play over and over again. Included with the game are two rule guides one is a quick start guide and one a more in depth version, which you will inevitably have to consult as a new player. The game can be played by 2-5 players and will take experienced players no more than between 1-2 hours to play.
Overall the game can take a little time set up and to get the hang of there are wide selection of different cards and pieces to play with but with perseverance it great fun. It is definitely aimed at the family market but could also be of interest to the more serious gamer. The game can be bought for around £25-30 if you surf around for online sources and represents decent value in terms of quality and playability. I think it is a good game for young and old in a family with some interest already in board games to play together and spend some fun quality time.
*A couple of expansion sets are now available ‘Friends and Foes’ and ‘Sauron’. The ‘Friends and Foes’ expansion allows you to increase the variety of play and characters and includes tow new scenario boards. In the ‘Sauron’ expansion one player has the role of Sauron ‘The Dark Lord’ but as yet I have not tried these so I can’t directly comment on how good an addition they are to the original game.
© Mauri 2006
Summary: A great co-operative strategy game based on the Tolkien classic
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