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War of the Ring (First Edition)» Forums » General

Subject: Fantasy Flight vs SPI rss

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Dan Newman
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The Reviews here are great fun and informative, but I missed any comparison to the original SPI game. No doubt some enterprising Geek will post a link to one, but until then...

How does this compare to the original SPI version?

Do they share qualities, or are they completely different games?
 
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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Both games have some short people trying to unload some bit of jewelry, but other than that, they're completely different.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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The new one is kindof like a new generation of the old game. It takes the basic mechanism (the fellowship is travelling to mordor to destroy the ring, while you simultaneously manage the military campaign), but improves upon it.

 
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Jim Spoto
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I haven't played the old SPI game, but my understanding is that they essentially share only theme -- they're completely different games, in terms of play. I do play the FF incarnation frequently...

If there are any similarities in mechanic, it's likely incidental.

It might be an interesting designer note however, to find out what influence the original had. But from what I know of the older game, there's very little resemblence.
 
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Andy Daglish
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There is no connection. Even Fellowship of the Ring by ICE, that game that blew away the already suspect War of the Ring [a Berg/Barasch design from 1977] was ridiculed a little bit by one of the three Nexus designers, and he had a point.

Another point was that in the book the members of the Fellowship were never directly engaged by Sauron because they and their mission were unknown to him. This was either missed by designers of the other games or even mentioned as something that could not be reproduced in their design. The Nexus game dealt with this by allowing the Shadow Armies player to attempt to impede [but not attack] the Fellowship directly, with increased efficiency coming at greatly increased cost to his war effort, or to attack them using the indirect method of split-action events that might or might not be played, or even drawn, during the course of a game.

Testing the game evoked in many of us a desire to attack the Fellowship directly. It seems previous designs fell prey to the same lure, as we say in Middle-earth, despite what is written in the book.
 
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Kevin Moody
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I haven't played the new version, but my recommendation is that you don't bother with the old SPI version unless you are a collector of things Tolkien or have some nostalgic memories from the time it first came out.

With the Moves magazine rules and some further tweaking it makes for a decent game, but probably still pales in comparison to the recent one.
 
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Tim Taylor
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I've played both SPI and FFG versions and Kevin is correct. The SPI version uses very complex systems for combat resolution, mobilizing and movement. Being a hex and counter game, each unit is a cardboard chit that contains two numbers -- a movement rate and a combat strength. Units are like currency and you can break down units to make "change."

SPI's version is much longer time-wise and the event cards do not inject the same degree of narrative flavor into the game as FFG's. It is in essence a wargame about the War of the Ring and not a narrative type game (which I feel FFG's is).

SPI's version had a random placement of magic items all over Middle Earth. For instance, Shadowfax might be in Rivendell or Barad-Dur and you'd have to go there to find out. Lots of Palatirs abounded, along with Lembas, Athelas, Elven Rope, the Phial of Galadriel (which might just as easily be in Minas Morgul as Lorien).

After playing the SPI version a whole bunch back in the late 70's, I came to think of the game as hopelessly broken. The Sauron player just sits tight and defends Mordor. This turns the game into a very long (and tedious) exercise until the Fellowship gets crushed in Mordor by overwhelming force. See, Sauron may not have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the Sauron player has...

In a way, this type of comparison is totally unfair. Game design has progressed a lot in the last 30 years. If I compared my new iMac to my old TRS-80 computer (where programs were "recorded" linearly onto audio cassette tape), we'd also have the same unfair comparison.

So in that spirit I'll offer some good aspects to SPI's design. Saruman could be a viable third player position, trying to help Sauron get the ring, until it gets close to Isengard, then all bets are off! I remember a couple games where Saruman actually snagged the ring and won! Also, the Balrog could get the Ring if the ringbearer perished in Moria. A Balrog victory was a loss to all players, but I only saw that once.

Finally, Tim Kirk's artwork for the SPI version was very good. I still own this game, and the art is the only reason I still keep it (that and fond memories).
 
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Dan Newman
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All that was hugely helpful, thanks!


Quote:
Both games have some short people trying to unload some bit of jewelry

And I thought they were carrying some sort of Near Mint collectable, single edition...


Quote:
my recommendation is that you don't bother with the old SPI version unless you are a collector of things Tolkien

That's what most folks here seem to be saying, and that's what I was wondering.


Quote:
In a way, this type of comparison is totally unfair. Game design has progressed a lot in the last 30 years

Definitely true, but sometimes new editions lose something important from the original. RoboRally seems to be that way (I haven't tried the new one), and Talisman, for instance.

But the new War of the Ring sounds like progress. I'm interested!
 
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