Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
 Hide
10 Posts

Lord of the Rings» Forums » Variants

Subject: New LotR variant expansion: Minas Tirith rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: expansion [+] lotr [+] diy [+] [View All]
Bryan Stout
United States
Annandale
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'd like to let people know about a personally-developed expansion to the LotR board game. It's entirely my own product (not Reiner Knizia's), but I did get permission from John Howe to use his artwork, and from Sophisticated Games (the original publisher) to post this online.

Like Tolkien's original story, this "grew in the making": I started just wanting to add a Minas Tirith board, but more and more ideas kept coming to me, until it's at least as big as one of the published expansions.

Here is a summary from the rules booklet:
Quote:
Many of the most memorable scenes in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings take place in its third volume, when the free peoples make a desperate stand against Sauron’s invasion of Gondor, and an even more desperate counterattack to distract his attention, while Frodo and Sam deal with prisons and pursuit, desolation and treachery in their quest to the heart of Mordor to destroy the One Ring.

This expansion to the Lord of the Rings board game allows players to recreate these events in greater depth than is possible in the basic game. It plays with the same number of players, and adds about 30-60 minutes of additional playing time to it.

The Minas Tirith expansion of the Lord of the Rings board game offers you the following new features:
· Two new Scenario boards: Minas Tirith, depicting the dramatic events during the battle at that city; and a revised Mordor, focusing more in depth on the harrowing steps that led to the story’s climax.
· A red Attrition die, to bring occasional damage to individual players and to the group as a whole.
· Distraction cards, used to deflect some of Sauron’s harm because of his focusing away from the quest of the Fellowship.
· A variety of cards to depict the providential help that the Fellowship can receive: a Crisis card for each player, as well as new Gandalf cards, Feature cards and Resource chips and cards.
· Capture of players when meeting Sauron, rather than elimination, allowing the possibilities of rescue.

In addition, there are optional features to assist the Fellowship:
· Additional Resource chips to be used in the earlier Scenarios.
· Victory chits which can give the Fellowship benefits for completing Scenarios early.

You can find the expansion in the Files section, "Minas Tirith expansion.zip". It does take some assembly, mainly printing the cards and tiles on cardstock, and printing the new boards double-sized (poster printing).

I hope you enjoy it! I'm interested in your questions, comments and suggestions.

Bryan
7 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthew M
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
flag msg tools
admin
8/8 FREE, PROTECTED
badge
513ers Assemble!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'll have to check this out.

I imagine Minas Tirith will be represented in the forthcoming Battlefields expansion. My understanding is that each main board will have an accompanying side board - so while the hobbits are navigating the one the rest of the fellowship is staving off Sauron's forces on the other.

Minas Tirith and the last stand at the gate would seem like natural side boards for Shelob's Lair and Mordor, respectively. Not sure what will go along side the others.

What can you tell us about your process in developing these variant boards?

-MMM
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bryan Stout
United States
Annandale
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've been working on this on and off for about two years, long before I was aware of the Battlefields expansion. After Battlefields appears, I plan to upgrade the MT expansion with its own side boards. I have a couple of other variations to share (not as big), but I'll wait until after BF appears -- they need more development anyway.

But I wanted to release the MT expansion now, because: a) I'm pleased with the effort, and wanted to share it quickly; b) it'll give LotrR fans something new to try over the holidays; c) I hope it revives interest the the LotR game in anticipation of the BF expansion.

There's one other relation between MT & BF: I use some BF art for a couple of MT cards. All my art is by John Howe, mostly from his website www.john-howe.com. I used his art from the LotR boardgame & its expansions, from War of the Ring, from the LotR CCG, calendars, movie sketches, even non-LotR art, whatever best suited my needs. Shortly before uploading the expansion, I was very pleased to find he had posted many vignettes he did for Battlefields. And not just for its own sake: some of the art I used doesn't quite fit, and I was glad to have an actual painting of Imrahil, and of the beacon fires. For the earlier version of Beacon Fires I adapted his painting of Zirak-Zigil, blurring the firey part so that hopefully people couldn't tell it was the Balrog and Gandalf in there!

I'll write some designer's notes about how I developed this, later.


1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bryan Stout
United States
Annandale
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Here are the promised designer's notes about the Minas Tirith expansion:

The initial decision to make this expansion came from a desire to represent the story of "The Return of the King" in more detail. If we include the Friends and Foes expansion, the first volume of LotR is represented by 2 scenario boards and 3 Main board spaces; the second volume is represented by 3 scenario boards; but the third volume is only captured by 1 scenario board, which necessarily makes it more abstract. TRotK had many dramatic events that I wanted to express in game terms. I studied the LotR text and the chronology in the appendix to decide which story events I would use; these became the Event boxes, Feature cards, and some of the Resource cards.

Turning one board into two would of course entail more wear and tear on the Fellowship, so to make it worth it, I decided to have an explicit mechanism for distracting Sauron's attention, whence came the idea for Distraction cards to avoid various harmful symbol consequences. Having two more-detailed scenario boards, and Distraction cards, was the core around which other ideas grew.

In addition to including more details from the story, I also wanted to design the revised Mordor board to change its feeling from the sprint it usually is in actual gameplay, to the iron-man marathon it was in the book, including the spiritual wear on the Ring-bearer and other characters. Hence the reinstatement of Life token costs at the end of Mordor, and the inescapable damage along the main Activity line, mostly directed at the Ring-bearer.

The damage icons on the main line were originally specific: Ring-bearer discards a card, RB discards a token, etc. I was dissatisfied with the predictability of it, so decided to put them on a new die, and the Attrition die was born. It was good not only for the Ring-bearer, but other game damage, seen in the Event boxes. It also lent itself well to a game-wide effect, similar to the Foe cards and Sauron & Nazgul cards from the published expansions. Tying this attrition to Activity line use led to making it paid by the group rather than an individual, so as not to punish players for doing Activity play.

For the group Attrition, I didn't want to add lots of extra dice, which seemed against the feel of the original game, but I know that different players may have strong preferences for or against the use of dice. So, I included both options, the chits as the default and dice as an alternate way.

The idea for capture and rescue came while thinking how to make the first event of Mordor feel like an actual rescue from outside, rather than self-help. Capture appealed to me because it gave players second chances, created another source of tension, and led quite naturally to the idea of Sauron getting undeceived.

With all the additional damage, I used the Resource chip idea from the Sauron expansion. I had enough ideas to have all of the Resources be cards; non-card Resources were made an optional feature. Some ideas came from things in the story I wanted to implement, whether from volume III (e.g. Lembas Fast, Urgent Prompting, Houses of Healing), or from earlier in the story (e.g. Bombadil's Rhyme, Inner Debate), and others came from game things I wanted to do and expressed in LotR terms (e.g. Beacon Fires, Barrow-Blade, analogous to the Resource cards Red Arrow and the elvish rings from "Sauron").

Like the published expansions, I wanted a special use-once card for each
hobbit, based on events in the book. I liked the idea of making the use of the Crisis cards cancel the regular Character card use, so they would only be used in desperate situations. The types of Gandalf cards followed naturally from the new game ideas introduced: Attrition, capture & rescue, Distraction.

Somewhere in there I also thought of rewarding players for an early finish of scenarios, which would hurt Sauron a bit. Hence the Victory chits, allowing either a Distraction card or pushing Sauron back. I also included blank chits to make the decision for early finish more problematic. With all the ideas included, I wanted to make some of them optional, to allow for variable difficulty and gameplay experience, as well as something that could be used apart from the rest. The Victory seemed to be the most separable concept for this; the extra Resource chips also were made an optional help.

Just a couple more details: The new boards follow the trend of increasingly long Activity lines: 30 total spaces in Minas Tirith, 35 in Mordor. (There were 24 in Bree, Moria and Isengard; 27 in Helm's Deep and Shelob's Lair; 34 in the original Mordor.) Minas Tirith is the only board not to include a Traveling line -- I figured the Traveling demand needed a break. Mordor's lines are crowded with Attrition and Distraction icons, so the fewer shield spaces are doubled. Also, there are only 2 Ring spaces rather than 5, because Mordor is a hard place to strengthen your resistance to the Ring. Because of this, and the need for tokens at the end of Mordor, there are several more ways of getting tokens (3 cards, and the optional Resources).

In my own play-testing, I liked the increased tension of side vs. main line play: side lines are more desirable because of the Resources and the need for Life tokens in Mordor; the main line is more desirable because of Victory chits. And I especially liked the feeling of increased, and increasing, pressure on the Fellowship, balanced by the wide variety of cards to help. It made the wins feel more like the miraculous deliverance as the book conveys. The one downside is the increased playing time, but I hope that it will be fun enough to make it worth it for the players.

Regards,
Bryan
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alfred
Netherlands
Noord-Brabant
flag msg tools
Avatar
mb

Bryan, from what I have seen of it, this is a valiant and commendable effort on your part. Your expansion looks like heaps of fun ensuring many tense moments.
I am glad you persevered and brought it to completion and in such a high quality to boot. I wish I had the time to finish my Gollum/Smeagol expansion, which should be playable as an extra character with separate victory conditions as with the official Sauron player. Don't stay up for it though, it may never see the light of day.

It will be a while before my wife and I can give this a go as we've had a baby a week ago. Gaming time has plummeted obviously. meeple
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bryan Stout
United States
Annandale
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you very much for your encouraging comments. I'm pleased to see it's being downloaded by a good number; hopefully several of them will be able to assemble it and play it over the holiday break.

I would like to see your expansion, too, but congratulations on your baby (your second?), and I hope you and your wife have an extra special Christmas and new year.

Bryan
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J L
France
France
flag msg tools
Hello,
what a great idea !!
how can we download this new expansion ?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Saunders
United Kingdom
Blackpool
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent work. Can't wait to try it out...well done !
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ilja Preuß
Germany
Karlsruhe
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This expansion looks really good. Unfortunately, font size and position doesn't look right on my system (open office on windows xp). Perhaps you could make the files available as PDF? That would be really great...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob Robinson
England
Rotherham
South Yorkshire
flag msg tools
I fight lost wars, see light, fear sight
badge
I open my mind, need flesh, fear mine
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'd love to get the artwork for this, spruce it up, and release it as a straightforward .PDF.

PowerPoint is a no go for me
 
 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.