Kyle Mann
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In a Box on My Shelf There Lived a Board Game

From the second I laid eyes upon the Oliphaunt-sized War of the Ring box, I knew it had to be mine one day. Enough plastic bits to bathe in, a gargantuan board covered in a detailed map of Middle-Earth, and giant cards and beautiful dice and tokens and--yeah, it simply had to be mine. I received the second edition as a Christmas gift. After a solo learning play, several face-to-face plays, and numerous discussion with friends and acquaintances alike over the game’s merits, I’m ready to offer a review on this beast of a game.

If you’re unfamiliar with this now-iconic mashup of Ameritrash and wargame mechanisms, a brief overview is in order. Two players are facing off over the fate of Middle-Earth, one attempting to bring about the ruin of Sauron and his minions through the destruction of the One Ring of Power, and the other controlling the shadow armies that are quickly spreading out to conquer the world. The good guys win if they destroy the ring or if they claim 4 points worth of important areas, and the bad guys win if they corrupt the ringbearer or claim 10 points worth of important areas. On your turn, you’ll be rolling action dice that dictate what you can do and help narrow down your strategic and tactical approaches over both the short and long term. A hand of cards helps drive what happens on the board, reenacting important scenes from the book and assisting you in battle.

I Have No Memory of these Rules

Despite the apparently daunting rulebook, the game is fairly simple in each of its individual systems, with the real complexity lying in the numerous thematically-driven exceptions and the tactical considerations in how to play out a particular hand and board situation. I do not mean to understate this game’s complexity level (it’s very heavy compared to average Ameritrash, and on the lighter side compared with average wargames), but on a given turn each of the subsystems is pretty easy to get the hang of. Except the Hunt. The Hunt is a pain.



The upswing of all the chrome-plated rules is that this game really does do a fantastic job recreating the books, or at least bringing to life some alternate what-if Lord of the Rings scenario. Watching all those little dudes slowly advance across the board, the shadow’s legion spreading like a cancer across Rohan and Gondor, is enough to make any nerd drool in excitement. The first time you call Gondor to arms with Aragorn knocking on the doors of the white city, or (spoiler alert) resurrect Gandalf in the strange forest of Fangorn, all your God-given Tolkien sensibilities will be satisfied. It’s a tingly sensation.

But. Yeah, there is a “but.” When coupled with a few issues, this game is just too long for its own good. Now, I can deal with some long games: I love Here I Stand as it slowly guides you in unfolding the Reformation across Europe; I can rock Twilight Struggle to the bitter end. So I know there’s a time and a place for big, epic games. There are two reasons I feel War of the Ring 2E is just too big for its own britches. First, one of its primary subsystems, the hunt for the ring, feels too luck-based when juxtaposed with the length of the game (note: it feels too luck-based. I’ll explain in a second, but I’m not necessarily saying it has too much luck objectively). Second, I think the game could reasonably have been pared down by at least an hour and retained most of the strategy, scope, and gameplay while increasing the tension.

All We Have to Do is Decide What to Do with the Tiles that are Given to Us

First, the Hunt. Every time the Fellowship moves, you randomly roll dice to see whether Sauron is randomly tipped off to their presence or not, and you previously randomly rolled dice in part to see how many random resources Sauron devoted to the Hunt. Then, you randomly draw a random tile to see how much random corruption, if any, Cpt. Frodo & the Shrimp Shack Shooters take. While I’m being hyperbolic with all the random, it is just a bridge too far in terms of luck. Here’s the thing: the entire game basically boils down to whether Frodo is corrupted or not. The entire wargame aspect, all 4800 plastic bits, all four hours of back-and-forth Risk-style skirmishes, is a sideboard to the real game. In virtually all of my sessions so far, the wargame has simply acted as a timer, pushing along the Fellowship as they go on their little journey.



That’d be okay in itself, if the Fellowship side were more substantial, or if the game were 60-90 minutes shorter. But to end an hours-long epic struggle which I sacrificed the goodwill of my family and the entire breadth of my kitchen table to experience with a “-3 tile draw, you lose, goodbye” is just annoying. It’s a step above the Horrible Black Void card from Talisman, but without the humorous context. Now I’m sure hundreds of experienced WOTR players could rightly come on here explaining how I am missing the nuance of the Fellowship game, and how if you min-max your hand to play card A before card B hits the table (but absolutely not before card C!), you can manage the randomness like a boss. I get that. I’m probably not good at the game. But the visceral feel of drawing a small tile with its deterministic number forever etched in cardboard, to end one of the longest games in my entire collection, frankly, sucks.

The Road Goes Ever On and On… and On… and On...

The second thing that bothers me about the length is that this game is bloated. When the Ring is dunked in the fiery hoop of Mount Doom, or Frodo cackles maniacally as he claims the ring for his own nefarious purposes, it feels as if dozens and dozens of the actions I took were completely pointless. Rather than each decision feeling like a do-or-die scenario, sometimes I’m just killing off action dice, feigning advances I know I’ll never pull off, moving armies for the heck of it, just to hedge my bets. Yes, once again: I suck at this game and anyone who has played it will probably mop the floor with me. But I’m not talking about strategic incompetence. I’m talking about a game that doesn’t feel as if each action pushes the game to its inevitable conclusion.



Simply put, much of the game is stalling. Stalling for time to heal, stalling for the cards and die results you want. I want a game that kicks me in the teeth if I come up for air, and War of the Ring 2E just feels too loose in that respect. In Fortress America, moving one bomber to the wrong place or letting one laser fall can lose you entire regions of the board, and you don’t have time to blink. The invaders will come and you will die if you don’t do something right now. In Twilight Struggle, every turn feels like you will lose to the destruction of freedom and democracy if you don’t respond to your opponent’s devastating play in Europe or the Middle-East right now, but there are four other things you need to do right now. And you don’t have enough points to do any of it RIGHT. NOW. That is tension. In WOTR2E, often (not always) I have actions coming out my ears, and I can take my time doing what I need to do.

It’s Over! It’s Done!

Now, I don’t want to overstate my case--these complaints are certainly not deal breakers. In spite of its shortcomings, I can’t help but like this game, and I imagine it will see more play. Its thematic connection is unparalleled, its components are top-notch, and the wargame is great as far as 1 vs. 1 dudes-on-a-map games go. This game has many comments, many reviews (at least for first edition), and has been discussed to death, so I’m not naive enough to pretend I have all the answers or that I’m even covering new territory here. I just want to call attention to a few flaws that prevent me from embracing this game as much as I’d so love to do, were the box not too big to get my arms around in the first place.

Ultimately, is War of the Ring 2E worth owning? Yes, absolutely I’d say as much. Is it the lord and savior of thematic gaming? Eh--I don’t think so. It comes close, but ultimately the length of the game coupled with the aforementioned issues means I’d rather play Fortress America or similar fare for my Ameritrash fix, and I’d rather dig into a more focused game for my wargame hit. When it does hit the table, I enjoy the experience in spite of itself, but sadly it will gather dust far more often than it should.

Final Score: 7.5 pipe-weed barrels out of 10
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David F
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Well-written review with deeper analysis than most reviews on BGG. Not a game for every one and you give it a fair shake.

The Hunt: yes, very luck-dependent, but I find that some players like determinism while some like luck/risk to a certain degree (because only when things are improbable can they be unforgettable). My luck tolerance is very high, especially if there are ways to mitigate, and especially if the theme gives it meaning. Since the hunt was such a crapshoot in the books/movies, I also let fate smile/frown upon me in the game. I recognize there are times when it comes down to a coin flip in the end, but the journey and narrative make it mean more for me. I'm not mad that a 3-hour game came down to a coin flip, but awed by the epic rise and fall attached to the 3-hour game that came down to a dead heat after both players performed so well that neither could get a decisive advantage. I hate a literal coin flip itself since it has no meaning.

The tension here is on par with Twilight Struggle and Fortress America (haven't played the latter, but played many similar games and know the idea). The problem is the Shadow player needs to be laser-focused in terms of knowing his plan and implementing it. Sort of like how the USSR player needs to be skilled/experienced to drive tension in Twilight Struggle. If the Shadow is not sure what to do, it'll feel like inconsequential actions for him, and the FP will feel like there's no danger anywhere.
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Kevin Chapman
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I agree with David. One of the primary strengths of this game is that the two parallel struggles, the Free Peoples' moving of the Ring to Mount Doom and the Shadow's military conquest of Middle-earth, each provide a "timer" for the other. If one side is efficiently pursuing its goals, the other had better keep up, or it will lose. This is what makes the game balanced despite its asymmetric nature. In my experience, you can only waste actions and stall if your opponent allows you to.
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Kyle Mann
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selwyth wrote:
. I recognize there are times when it comes down to a coin flip in the end, but the journey and narrative make it mean more for me.

Thanks much for this perspective--next time I play I will approach it in that light.
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Kevin Long
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The fellowship in WOTR seems to get some some reaction by everyone. Some think it is boring and not much strategy to it. It gets deeper with play but initial reactions are still valid. My self - i feel like the march is the timer for the game and the real game is for the Free Peoples player to lengthen the game with good military defense.

My beef with the game is the 3 areas of chaos that make this long of a game frustrating. Action dice, combat dice, and cards which can randomly affect 2 arenas (events and combat). Admittedly i end up in unforeseen situations because of that randomness, but yah it could be faster and less chaotic, and still be a better game.

I have played against players with a hundred games under their belt and they will get very frustrated with the chaos, and they should know better. So the chaos is an issue that is extreme enough that it leaves many cold and never come back. For now i am still addicted because i can man up and not cry (too much) when games are stolen from me
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Kevin Chapman
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That's a good point about the chaos, and I tend to think that's really one of the most deterministic factors in whether any given person will like this game. I like it because it forces you to think on your feet and constantly adjust your plans. This creates a "fog of war" aspect that is lacking when you always know where your opponent is and what (s)he's up to. It also makes for a game where it's almost never over 'til it's over, as luck can quickly wipe out even a large advantage.

This is very faithful to the source material. However, people that prefer a greater degree of control over their games tend to dislike this game for that very reason.
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Craig Rose
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I'd like to add that after only a few plays, the game length is quite reasonable. From set up to clean up, time spent averages just under two hours. This became the norm by my sixth or seventh play.

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Brian Jones
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Tsugo wrote:
I'd like to add that after only a few plays, the game length is quite reasonable. From set up to clean up, time spent averages just under two hours. This became the norm by my sixth or seventh play.



If your games average under two hours including set-up, I believe you are in the minority. I agree that the game gets shorter with experience, but most games (for the majority of players) are still going to end up in the 2.5 to 3 hour territory. The primary obstacle for new players will be reading and learning the cards, so those first few plays will likely be 4 hours.

As to the review, I understand where the OP is coming from with some of his critique. There is a hefty dose of luck involved in the hunt and corruption, plus dice based combat. Prepare to be frustrated, and there will be games where everything goes wrong. But the wargame aspect is certainly not just a timer. The Shadow should win a fair amount of games via military conquest (fewer in 2nd edition than 1st). This is why it is really helpful for new players of this game to seek out a veteran player and play them from both sides if possible, observing their strategy, especially the Shadow military.

Lastly, card knowledge is supremely important for both sides, this is a game that reveals its depths only after players have some experience and know what the card decks have in store. I would also agree with David's comments on narrative and tension - these are why I enjoy WotR more than most games of this type.

Question for the OP - How many games have you played, and what was the experience level of the Shadow player?

Thanks for the well written review.
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Kyle Mann
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I believe I've played 3 or 4 times. I've logged 3 plays but I'm always forgetting to log. My most experienced opponent was

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who I am sure will offer his thoughts at some point. I think I've only played him as he took the Free Peoples though.
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Kevin Long
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tomkinsondale wrote:

The downside of the game is that people that didn't see the movie, or not a LOTR fan I think there is no way to them to be able to really enjoy the game.


Good point - How popular would WOTR be if not for the theme to get one past the chaos.
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Glenn Darrin
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tomkinsondale wrote:
My view: As this is a movie based game, it has a story to tell, and the story is yours. Luck? In the movie Frodo had a lot of luck, his journey could ended in Bree if it wasn't for strider (remember the pillows). He could be killed with the Nazgul sword, but he was healed in the last minutes of his live by Elrond. In the game it's the same, you must have a little of luck, which traduces in a little of "unexpected chapter of the story". I don't like the chess, because it's 100 percent strategy and there is no place for the own suprise, you can surprise your opponent and viceversa but never the game is surprising you. WOTR surprises you with dice, cards, opponents strategy and it's impossible not to remember the movie and think "Wow, this didn't happen in the movie! I like it!".

About the tiles, it is true that the -3 tile is very bad, and the shelob is nasty too, but remember that in the movie, Frodo really had a bad time at Mordor, he had luck among other factors.

Of course, it's only my view of the game, may be wrong. I never read all the cards, as I'm still new to the game, I really like not knowing the cards because it adds more unexpected actions.

The downside of the game is that people that didn't see the movie, or not a LOTR fan I think there is no way to them to be able to really enjoy the game.



I have to disagree with you on a couple points. First off, WotR is not really a movie based game. It much more follows the novels, which tell a much richer narrative than the films ever could. There are some characters and events that appear in the game that never crop up whatsoever in any of the films and conversely, some events in the films which do not occur or are somewhat different in the novels. Of course, this happens with most novel to film translations, but something as epic as Lord of the Rings is much more pronounced.

Second, I truly don't think you have to be a LotR fan, and most definitely don't have to be a fan of the movies, to be able to enjoy the game. Maybe a fan of fantasy in general as this is the root and essence of the whole experience. Tolkien, for the most part, created and defined the whole genre as we now know it. But at its heart, WotR is about an epic quest and the battles that are constantly raging around this quest and those undertaking it. I think anyone can get behind that.
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Andy Daglish
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tomkinsondale wrote:
Hello, excellent review and very detailed.


Or maybe not: Yes, once again: I suck at this game

I imagine if this game could rate its players the average would be less than the 7.9 of the first edition. The makers have cleverly whacked this up to 8.5 by doing a second edition, which makes me wonder, how you get second edition players?

Die rolls will of course average out. Card play is a question of skill on the occasions when their use isn't obvious. What happens in the last 30 seconds of a game is entirely dependent on player ability, which is to say the quality of play in the hours leading up to that point. Some of those less likely FP wins were secured because the SA put too many red tiles in the bag.

The films had their dire aspects, although these seem tacitly acknowledged by the director, who was panic-editing the second one up to the last moment and who wished to discard the Dead Men of Dunharrow completely on the grounds of dramatic crapness [the neon horizon that represented them seemed to me much less prominent in the DVD than the theatrical release]. OTOH hand he got the minor hobbits the wrong way round, probably because he's a New Zealander who doesn't know any better: clearly Brandybucks are Scotsmen.
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Kevin Long
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aforandy wrote:
tomkinsondale wrote:
Hello, excellent review and very detailed.


Or maybe not: Yes, once again: I suck at this game


Die rolls will of course average out. Card play is a question of skill on the occasions when their use isn't obvious. What happens in the last 30 seconds of a game is entirely dependent on player ability, which is to say the quality of play in the hours leading up to that point. Some of those less likely FP wins were secured because the SA put too many red tiles in the bag.



Your paragraph states the fantasy we all have. But the dice are not rolled enough to average out. Lets say out of 20 combat die rolls, you have just -2 on your 6s. That is enough to throw a whole battle out of 3. The FPP has the advantage here because 5s and 6s give 2 chances to even the odds. Where the SP has to depend on 6s and it becomes more of a crap shoot. And there are not enough tiles in the hunt pool to make the draws more even. Scenarios like the following are all too common - one player has 3 special tiles in the hunt and none of them are drawn. Or all of them are drawn. Happens a LOT. Far too often than is healthy for the growth of this game. My opinions
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Ralf Schemmann
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But you can't separate the luck of the combat rolls from the hunt tile draws. I do think there is enough randomness in this game to make it even out most of the games.

If you reduce the randomness in one factor, for example the action dice, you will actually increase the swinginess of the game, because the combat and hunt luck can't be counteracted by action dice luck anymore. Yes, you reduce the wildest swings of luck possible, but those are extremely rare in my experience.

The random factor in the game us just fine for me. I also don't think that reducing it will increase its popularity - it seems to me that it is about as popular as you can expect a pretty complicated, highly thematic strategy game to become.
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Andy Daglish
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treece keenes wrote:
you have just -2 on your 6s.


?

Quote:
And there are not enough tiles in the hunt pool to make the draws more even. Scenarios like the following are all too common - one player has 3 special tiles in the hunt and none of them are drawn. Or all of them are drawn. Happens a LOT. Far too often than is healthy for the growth of this game. My opinions


We tracked 2d6 rolls during the Gung Ho!: ASL Module 9 test, and we were surprised by the results. Here, very roughly, we rolling half as many dice for twice as long [which suggests War of the Ring only just gets into the medium-length bracket], and we got a nice bell curve every time.

Its worth examining the opposite: how often do you have an extreme result determine a game all by itself? I remember an early loss of the Witch-king which seemed to have profound effects, but even that may have allowed the SA to concentrate on the Ring game, which of course would have caused the Fellowship to divert to a stronghold. Unlikely happenstances always occur in mulitplicity, and never wil they be solely to the benefit of one side. Indeed the assumption that drawing three red tiles will in & of itself determine a game is not valid, as the earlier consequences of three extra blue dice may well be perceived as being even more powerful. And all this has to be seen through the prism of 70% SA wins.

What has a 100% record is the battle between player analyses of this game, these last ten years, and the erudition of the design. We haven't seen a game of similar quality recur in that time, and I wonder how often we will in the future.

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John Lloyd
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Nice review of the game, and your thoughts & feelings towards it.
I felt it was worth mentioning that I and my gaming group liked it immediately despite the issues you mentioned. This is mostly because of its (to us) amazing ability to tell a different story each time. And this, of course, is where the cards, and the dice come so much into play. When the shadow rolls too many eyes, we FEEL like Sauron just got obsessed & over-distracted by the ring. When a bad hunt tile is drawn, and a character is sacrificed, we envision that some monster (like the watcher in the lake) did it. In this way, it feels less like luck, and more like a fascinating story.

The other thing is, when the 3 hour game - with all its complexity, comes down to a tile draw at the end - that's actually rather remarkable. If it was too luck based, one side or the other should well have had a blow-out victory long before that point.


We have also had quite a bit of fun playing 3 and 4 player games which tend to force more factions into action simultaneously. But, be forewarned, the playtime is even longer. We've been into the 4-5 hour range with those!!
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Luke Heidebrecht
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VillainousEye wrote:
When the shadow rolls too many eyes, we FEEL like Sauron just got obsessed & over-distracted by the ring. When a bad hunt tile is drawn, and a character is sacrificed, we envision that some monster (like the watcher in the lake) did it. In this way, it feels less like luck, and more like a fascinating story.

The other thing is, when the 3 hour game - with all its complexity, comes down to a tile draw at the end - that's actually rather remarkable. If it was too luck based, one side or the other should well have had a blow-out victory long before that point.


This is exactly the thought I was thinking - you just captured it extremely well

The majority of my 30ish games have had endings down to the wire - with a number of those hinged on a tile draw at the end. After investing 3-4 hours into a story I must admit I have come to appreciate this "random" ending. The game didn't seem primarily about me beating my opponent or vice versa - but the two of us being involved in a story together. In this way, whether I win or lose to a draw, it makes the story that much better and exciting and I am glad to have played it.
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Think it helps to approach this game as an adventure game rather than a war game. Agree with the comments made re dual timers creating tension. The Fellowship is a clock for Sauron and the collapse of the free people's strongholds/towns is a timer for the Fellowship.
Playing as the Fellowship you use the politics track to unite the divided FP nations to buy time for the ring bearers, very much like the book. There is always the opportunity you could win a military victory and it's fun to keep an eye out for such a possibility. In a previous review its argued as unthematic that the FP can win with 4 VP. I disagree with this as if they do manage to pull off such a win its down to the ineptitude of Sauron and an inept Sauron would never conquer Middle Eath. He's been found wanting with such a superior army and basically it's game over for such a shite commander!
I have played a game where I have won with the FPs as a military victory and it was a source of much jubilation. I have also played as Saurons forces and lost to an FP miliatary victory and and realise it was due to my own short sightedness.
Playing as Sauron hands you so much power in the game and it's great fun to run amok before the pesky ring bearers got to Mordor. The battles seem desperate and there is so much more at stake than lets win this province for some useful resources. When playing as Sauron I love dishing out punishment and I feel evil : )
Yes the fellowship quest is random but the fellowship can be played well enough to limit the corruption. It's about preparing Frodo for the best chance of success and holding off that dark onslaught.As the FP player it's your job set up the fellowship to succeed. Even with the best preparation it's going to be tough and yes it may all come down to a tile flip, but isn't that what adventure is about, blind chance and the unexpected.
believe it's cited somewhere that odds of a FP victory are 40%. You should be aware when playing as them, like the books that Middle Earth is doomed, and if you save it you have done well indeed. That's what makes this game so epic.
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Raf B
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Regarding the thematic aspects of military victories...

Tiddleydwarf wrote:
In a previous review its argued as unthematic that the FP can win with 4 VP. I disagree with this as if they do manage to pull off such a win its down to the ineptitude of Sauron and an inept Sauron would never conquer Middle Eath. He's been found wanting with such a superior army and basically it's game over for such a shite commander!
I have played a game where I have won with the FPs as a military victory and it was a source of much jubilation. I have also played as Saurons forces and lost to an FP miliatary victory and and realise it was due to my own short sightedness.

The designers articulate their rationale for why it only takes 4 VP to win as the Free Peoples in the paragraphs preceding the specific Shadow Conquers Middle-earth and Sauron banished outcomes. I forgot these paragraphs long after learning the rules, but Krieghund pointed me back to them at some other forgotten post:

WotR Rules, p. 44 wrote:
In The Lord of the Rings, if Sauron had succeeded in destroying the Nations of the Free Peoples, even the destruction of the Ring could not have resulted in a proper victory for the Free Peoples.

At the same time, if the Free Peoples had successfully challenged Sauron militarily, the Dark Lord would have needed to greatly focus on the struggle against the Armies of the Free Peoples, and it would have been much easier for the Ring-bearers to reach Mount Doom.

So even if a couple Gondor regulars happen to stroll into Minas Morgul and Umbar thanks to fortuitous scouting or retreating towards Shadow Strongholds, the Shadow may still have the upper hand in the overall military balance. But the shock and distraction of those setbacks so preoccupies Sauron that it allows Frodo and Sam, and any of their surviving Companions, to waltz into Mordor and up Mount Doom unmolested.

Yet another way in which this game departs from standard wargame notions of victory and loss. Though certainly exciting, thematically speaking, military victories are "marginal" while ring victories are "decisive".
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Harvey Thomas
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This is a very good review that I think captures the short comings of the game very well. I have only played twice so far but it feels fairly limited and luck based from what I have seen so far. Nowhere near the depth of game play as I see in twilight struggle or a triumph and tragedy for example. I am still a novice and hope the game will reveal more depth once I have played it more. Hopefully, then I will understand the hype I read elsewhere and the game will start to match the lovely components and beautiful look of the game. It feels as if it may well become more enjoyable after a few more games and I am keen to try but still too early to give my full verdict.

In the meantime I am rating it a fairly decent but not brilliant score of 7 but hope I will come to love the game a lot more after a few more plays.
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Brad Miller
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There is no equivalent in WotR to two scoring cards and a handful of opponent events as Twilight Struggle can give you. But WotR is too luck based? Please. The multi-player chaos of Triumph and Tragedy equals depth? I think you are massively overvaluing those games, and giving WotR short shrift.

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Mike Davis
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Mason
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While I give credit to the poster - it was a good review, I believe - I could not disagree more with his conclusions about the shortcomings of the game.

Yes, you may win or lose at the draw of a tile on Mount Doom. But only because of the dozens of decisions you made BEFORE that point. Yes, there are dice - so there is some luck. But combat is limited to 5 dice a round - variance is not that high. Plus - if you REALLY need a combat to go your way, you can use a card to help you. YOU are in control as to how much you want to increase your chances.

I am biased - I admit it. This is my favorite game - and it is not close. Having played it a number of times, I have NEVER felt 'cheated' at the end of the game by luck - even when I have lost. Could you roll horribly an entire game - get lousy cards and have the hunt go against you every pull? Yup...could happen. Of all the games that I have played that have dice in them, the luck factor in this game is quite subdued in comparison.

I refer you to this review - which puts the beauty of this game into a perspective that I never could....there is MAGIC in this game...

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/72955/war-ring-second-ed...

Regards,
MM
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Jason Dexter
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Ever play poker? I think that War of the Ring is very comparable to poker as far as luck goes. Anyone can have a bad beat in either game. If you watch a poker tourney on TV you can see the odds that a particular player will win at any time. A good player plays with the odds. He may lose to luck sometimes in the short term, but will win with skill in the long term. War of the Ring is the same. A skillful player will win most of the time over the term. I would suggest playing with a skilled shadow player. They can really put the pressure on and make every single action for both sides of critical importance.
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Worm Johnson
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Yeah, was pretty much my reaction after trying a couple games. It felt like two half-games stitched together to equal less than the sum of their parts. A game of Risk meets a game of tile draw Yahtzee.

In addition to tile draws, it seemed like there was too much luck placed on Card draws. Cards with major effects you have no clue are coming until they come up. It makes perfect sense for Shadow to empty Isengard and quickly knock out Rohan, but then an Ent card comes up and you lose. Fun?

I've played plenty of Twilight Struggle to be familiar with that kind of system, but Twlight Struggle has everything revolve around a fairly deterministic game of Go that's compelling enough of its own. War of the Ring revolves around half a game of Risk meets half a game of Yahtzee and wasn't compelling enough as a foundation for all the other stuff.

And like the OP keeps pointing out, I'm sure very experienced players can point out stuff to the contrary, but that is what the game feels like after the first couple plays, and the experience isn't fun or compelling enough to make you want to stick it out until the game "gets good".


(The whole card system needs to be streamlined BADLY. It's way too fiddly keeping track of all those cards and the specific heroes they go to.)
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