Just like Sauron I’ve had my beady eye on this game for a long time. I was glad to acquire it recently second hand but altogether perfect
War of the Ring sees between two and four players reenacting the titanic struggles of the lord of the ring series.
The free people must band together and fight off the unwelcome advances of the shadow players allowing the fellowship time to get to the cracks of doom with the one ring or with a lesser force conquer a number of shadow players fortresses. The shadow player must take over enough of the free people’s turf or corrupt the ring bearers in order to win.
So it’s capture the flag with hairy feet.
I’ve played two games of this so far. A 1v1 and a 2v2. Both of them have been epic and both have been right down to the wire. (The free people’s just making it before the shadow player engulfed middle earth)(Boo hiss)
The game is pretty straightforward once you’ve learned the rules (all of which fit on a single handy cheat sheet provided), that said it it did take two full games before every little niggle was ironed out. There’s a couple of really good instructional videos out there and I recommend you either play someone who knows this game or study the videos or you’ll find yourself reading the rules a few times over before it sinks in. (Universal head do an exemplary rules summary well worth a look). Just like twilight struggle knowledge of the rules won’t save you from ignorance of the event cards and a number of run throughs will be required and a few visits to the strategy forums. No bad way to spend a few hours.
The game itself is beautifully presented.(More so if you sell the house and buy the collectors edition). There are a ton of models for the various good and bad guys all cast in reasonable quality given the amount in the box. It can be a struggle to recognize the difference between say an isengard uruk versus a Mordor orc but since you’ll probably paint all 100 plus models straight off the bat it won’t be an issue for you.
This is a clever game. It captures the feel of the books magnificently. The way the game played out each time was perfectly believable. Gandalf the grey pops his sandals in moria. Isildur defends minis tirith like a boss. Gimili rouses the dwarfs in the iron hills to war. No two games play out the same and it’s possible to try out a few what ifs.
For the amount that happens in a sitting the game is surprisingly fast. Three hours saw us setup, played and finished and we were still chasing a couple of rules during that. There is no down time in this game. You’re either planning a few moves ahead or watching in horror as something unfortunate befalls you (more so if you’re the free people)
I like this game. The two sides play out very differently. The shadow player WILL rule middle earth. It WILL overpower the free people given time. It’s all about shock and awe. The free peeps are all about holding out, sacrificing and crowd surfing the hobbits to a victory. It’s desperate times and hopefully you have enough left in the tank for that final push when you eventually get to Mordor.
It’s also thrilling. From start to finish something is going on. No matter which side you’re always stretched to achieve what you want, making do, taking risks, setting things up for next turn, reacting to events, taking the best worst choices. It’s glorious and its my very favorite type of game.
Map based conquest, big battles, and a forgivable solid set of mechanics. Layer in a familiar world and we have a classic.
I was lucky enough to snag the second edition which sports a few improvements over the first. I know it’s an oldy (Boardgames never age they just get more expensive) but it’s my favourite game this year and I can’t wait to play again. Probably as the bad guys because well. You know. Highly recommended, doubly so if you’re a rings fan.