Recommend
26 
 Thumb up
 Hide
7 Posts

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Deluxe Review for Fans of the Original rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Sean McCarthy
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation

Deluxe Edition Review




Let me start by saying that this review assumes you have played the original game.
And in case you like the original Confrontation but are unaware of what the Deluxe Edition brings, I will tell you: It gives you 9 alternate characters for each side, printed on the backs of the original characters. It also gives you some new special optional cards. And of course, all the components are much more deluxe. But anyway...


Expectations

Let me also say that I really liked the original Confrontation, which I have played many times, and thought the idea of additional characters was pretty cool. However, I did not rush out to buy the Deluxe version when it came out. Why? I was honestly pretty concerned about balance. Fantasy Flight games does not, in my opinion, produce games with very good strategic balance. I own several games which Fantasy Flight published but did not design, and they are very good... but of their in-house designs, I only own A Game of Thrones, and even that one arguably needs errata. I've played Twilight Imperium 3, and Descent, and was pretty appalled at some of the development choices. The ideas are frequently quite original and even inspiring, but in actual play, the games always seem to have some really obvious flaws, in which one course of action is always superior to another - when you would expect both to be viable. Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked. Suffice to say that I am curious but wary when it comes to Fantasy Flight productions.



Previews - What the heck?

When Fantasy Flight started previewing the new characters (each of which is printed on the reverse side of a classic character), I grew even more worried. At first glance, it looked like pretty much all the choices in a draft game would be blindingly obvious. Who would choose the Uruk-Hai (strength 4, small ability) when you can have the Balrog (strength 5, small ability)? As you know if you've played the base game, having a strength five character is a lot better than having a strength 4 character, because of Gandalf.

The later previews got even more ludicrous. Let's see, would I rather have Shelob (strength 5, arguably the best dark character) or Wormtongue (strength -1)? That one seemed pretty obvious.

Anyway, you get the idea. My expectations, while certainly not low, weren't very high either. It seemed very likely there was a balanced game in there somewhere, but you get kind of tired of having to balance your own Fantasy Flight games after a while.



But Wow!

Well, I've played it now. As it turns out, playing with all the variant characters is a pretty balanced game, and more importantly, it's freaking awesome. It's a completely different game from the original, and in my opinion, it's better. It's definitely a lot more interesting, and it makes you realize just how simple and random the basic game is. (Well, not very, but comparatively...)

Here are some sample scenarios from the base game.
1. Shelob fights Pippin. The dark player will play either a 2 or an Eye, and the light player will play a 5 or a noble sacrifice. Rock, paper, scissors.
2. There are two light characters advancing into dark territory. Most likely, one is Gandalf and the other is Gimli. One of them moves into Orc range. Do you attack it with the Orcs? Flip a coin, my friend.

I was going to try to write some variant scenarios here for comparison, but they just don't work in the same format. They're too complex. The choices in the variant game tend to be important over multiple turns. I'll try to describe one from the games I played.

In one game, I was dark, and I had The Witch-King and Saruman in Mordor, and The Watcher unrevealed in Gondor. Wormtongue was in front of the Shire, ready to burn cards by repeatedly harassing whoever was there. This was good, because we each only had one card left; I had a 3, and Alex had his Magic.

Then the light character in Fangorn moved to Dagorlad. Can you guess who it was? Would you attack him? Or would you perhaps use wormtongue to cycle your last card away, so you won't automatically lose the next combat?

You would do neither, because you would realize that the guy in Dagorlad was Sam, who would defeat you if you attacked him, and you would also realize that the guy in the Shire was Frodo. If you attacked Frodo, he would Magic for the 1, thus killing himself, and Sam would become the Ringbearer and win on the next move.

What I actually did was move the Witch King up through Gondor and right up to the Shire. Meanwhile, Faramir joined up with Sam in Dagorlad. The moment of truth came when the Witch King moved within one region of the Shire, and Frodo attacked him! Frodo ignores the dark text card, so there was nothing the Witch King could do to prevent himself from dying a horrible death by Noble Sacrifice, which also conveniently made Sam the Ringbearer. Saruman attacked into Dagorlad, but hit Faramir first, thus dying and letting Sam win. Darn hobbits.



Strategic Richness

What I hope you're getting out of this is that there was a lot of complicated maneuvering and long-term strategy, and only one coin flip. In the variant game, the strengths of the characters is much less crucial, while the special abilities have a huge effect on the game. Wormtongue, for example, is like an invincible super-Pippin, who can not only scout for a very long time, but can also stall indefinitely, and burn cards if you've got worse cards than the light player. Saruman and the Mouth of Sauron make card play a lot deeper and harder to analyze, and can be quite powerful too if you use them right. And the new Witch King is deceptively powerful. With the dark's uncounterable Retreat Sideways card, he can be quite elusive, and as hard to deal with as the base game's Frodo.

The light side’s characters are a lot more interesting as well. All the “instantly defeat x” guys have been replaced by characters that actually have real abilities. Smeagol is quite complex in his own right, and having two ringbearers opens up a lot of cool possibilities.


Many, Many Options

So far, I've only played games with all variant characters and no special cards. There are quite a few other possibilities available in the Deluxe Edition. There are numerous ways in which you could mix and match characters from both editions, by various drafting techniques or by secret selection - or of course by simply deciding what to play with. Additionally, there are no less than 4 special cards per side that you can include! The new ones, by the way, look very interesting and should make the game even trickier.
In any case, the point is that this game will last you a very long time.

 


Components

OK, now that I'm done talking about the important part (gameplay), I guess I might as well mention the Deluxe pieces that you are paying for when you buy this game.
First of all, they are bigger. This is a good thing unless you wanted a travel game, in which case it is a bad thing.
Second, everything looks very nice. The artwork on the cards, especially, is quite beautiful. A definite plus.
Third, The numbers on the cards are not in an ideal position. They are in the top middle, instead of the corners. this means that if you hold your cards like a normal person, you can't read the numbers. This is my only gripe with the componentry, and it's not a really big deal.



Bottom Line

The Deluxe Edition is very good, and if you like the Confrontation game system at all, you'll certainly enjoy this iteration of it. It's a great game with beautiful components and terrific replay value. Yes, it's worth getting.

I have currently played it about 12 times, have the game on order, and rate it a 9/10.
-Sean McCarthy, 2-27-06



8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review!

(And as some of you might have figured out, I'm the Alex mentioned in the game snippet)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Philip Thomas
United Kingdom
London
London
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Good Review. Have you tried the drafting aspect? Is it balanced?
I am quite happy with the Original and there are many more games I want to buy/play these days, so this may have to wait a while...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sean McCarthy
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have not yet tried the draft game, mainly because the all-variant game is deep enough to keep my attention.

I suspect that the written draft rules are not very good, because some choices will be pretty much always superior. Alexfrog already posted some promising draft rules that alleviate this problem by allowing you to make picks for either player (http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/99046).

I think secret selection could be pretty cool as well.

And of course, there are probably several good ideas that haven't been though of yet.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derek Coon
United States
Redwood City
California
flag msg tools
What would you put thet pure varient game balance at? (Light vs. Dark?)

I had originally thought the Dark much weaker, but have come across a setup and strategy that's pretty strong for Dark.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sean McCarthy
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In my limited experience, the variant light side has had the slightly easier time of it. However, I also doubt I have the variant dark playstyle down very well yet.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel Edwards
United Kingdom
London
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
I was also leery about the draft rules after reading the expansion characters but the variant game seems very interesting.

It does seem like that neither side wants to start attacking the other.

Now I just have to wait for my copy!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.