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The Return of the King: Knizia's The Lord of the Rings Being Released in Q4 2020

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: The Lord of the Rings
U.S. publisher Fantasy Flight Games has announced that in Q4 2020 it will release a twentieth-anniversary edition of Reiner Knizia's classic co-operative game Lord of the Rings under the new title The Lord of the Rings: Anniversary Edition.

For those not familiar with what is arguably the second most influential co-operative game of all time, Pandemic being the first, here's an overview of the setting and gameplay:
Quote:
Lord of the Rings is a co-operative game in which the object is to destroy the Ring while surviving the corrupting influence of Sauron. Each player plays one of the Hobbits in the fellowship, each of which has a unique power.

Over the course of the game, you make your way across four conflict game boards, representing some of the most memorable conflicts from the entire trilogy: Moria, Helm's Deep, Shelob's Lair, and Mordor. Each conflict board tests your small Fellowship to the utmost as you must play your quest cards to advance along multiple tracks. These tracks represent fighting, hiding, traveling, and friendship, and by playing quest cards from your hand with matching symbols, you can keep moving forward and push closer to victory.

Board Game: The Lord of the Rings
Cover of the anniversary edition

The master game board indicates both the physical progress of the fellowship across Middle Earth and the corrupting influence of Sauron on the hobbits. If you're able to slip past your foes, you can hope to escape with minimal corruption, healing your hurts at safe havens along your path, such as the forest kingdom of Lothlórien. By playing your cards right and advancing quickly, you can collect powerful runes, unlock legendary cards to aid your journey, or find life tokens to help stave off corruption — not to mention advancing quickly through the conflicts. As you travel, the One Ring can be a crucial tool in your journey, allowing you to hide from sight, but repeated use will draw the attention of Sauron and corrupt the heart of the Ring-bearer.

Your journey leads you deeper into the darkness with each passing conflict, and safe havens become few and far between. You must carefully watch the corruption track because if the Sauron miniature ever meets a Hobbit, that player is eliminated — and if the Ring-bearer is eliminated, all players lose as Sauron reclaims the power of the One Ring. To win, throw the One Ring into the volcanic fires of Mount Doom.
FFG notes that the gameplay of this new edition hasn't been altered from the original release, but some of the punchboard components are being replaced by miniatures:
Quote:
The Hobbits setting out on their journey are shaped with careful attention to detail, from their hairy feet to the top of their sturdy walking stick. The Sauron token has now been replaced with a menacing Black Rider figure, racing forward at a dead gallop and representing the constantly growing threat of corruption. The threat die now represents Sauron's power in a menacing black. And finally, the One Ring is now a beautiful miniature, graven with Elvish script and perfectly sized to fit over the Ring-bearer's miniature when they choose to use the One Ring.
Board Game: The Lord of the Rings

FFG doesn't mention whether any of the expansions — Friends & Foes, Sauron, and Battlefields — will return to print. I'll update this post if I receive a response to my question about their status.
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