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Subject: Is LOTR typical of Euro Games? rss

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Richard Clarke
United Kingdom
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My gaming group play Arkham Horror, Fury of Dracula and 40k with much pleasure, however I have struggled trying to get them to play LOTR.

Normally they complain it is:

A) Too random (In Arkham for example if you draw a few tough monster chits - you have at least a slight mathematical chance of beating it - in LOTR you can lose the game with a few bad draws with no possibility of stopping it)
B) Too difficult (Only games we have won felt like we were lucky with drawing chits)
C) Bears little relation to the Lord of the Rings story (other than artwork)
D) Gives little individual involvement

I argued they should give it more time to understand it and treat it with a more open mind but now after a handful plays there is real resistance to any suggestion that we ever play LOTR again. Just glad I only paid a few pounds for my copy of LOTR!

I am concerned as I was hoping to get Settlers of Catan and Puerto Rico - but am worried that they will end up getting the same reception. So back to my original question - is that what we should expect from a Euro and should my gaming group steer clear?
 
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Geoff Hall
United Kingdom
Yate
Bristol
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LotR is not typical of any type of game really. It's a co-op game (like Arkham Horror), something that is really its own class of game, one which doesn't have too many members right now. Now to your points:

A) Euros are renowned for, among other things, an almost complete lack of luck or randomness.

B) Euros are not co-op games, the difficulty of winning any given Euro is far more dependant on your skill at whatever the game is doing vs the skill of the other players. Sure, some games are heavier than others, which generally means that they are more complex and difficult to understand. That is not, however, in any way comparable to the difficulty (or otherwise) of beating a co-op game.

C) Euros are often derided for their lack of theme, which may be an issue. Still, it's not something that you'll know is a problem until you try and it may be that, for your group, the fact that it's LotR is the issue. LotR is, after all, a very well known property. Plus it's entirely possible to get hybrid games with Euro-style mechanics but more direct interaction and heavy themeing.

D) Again I think this is more due to the co-op nature of the game than anything else. LotR (moreso than some other co-ops, i.e. Arkham Horror) is a real group activity where the welfare individual players are far less important than performing the optimum move for the group. That isn't even remotely the case in most Euro games.
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Simon Lundström
Sweden
Täby
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Can't say for other people but for me…

Lord of the Rings is the most weird game in my collection. Not only because it's a "cooperative against the rulebook" but also because of the strange abstract mechanics. The only thing that comes close is Shadows over Camelot, and that is a lot more concrete.

I would never call it a typical Euro. Very few games are cooperative with the rulebook as the opponent, and Euros are no exception. Catan and Puerto Rico are as far away from Lord of the Rings as Fury of Dracula is. Or even more.

So you can safely try to get some Euros to your group. Lord of the Rings is a strange game in all aspects. You like it or you don't.
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Mike Kozlowski
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I think of LOTR as being far more like Arkham Horror than it is like Settlers or Puerto Rico. I don't know whether your friends will like PR or SoC, but the reaction to LOTR doesn't really tell you anything in that direction, unless they just don't like games that aren't narrative-focused.
 
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Walt
United States
Orange County
California
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I have to agree that LotR is not a typical Euro. Really "typical Euro" is a contradiction since one of the characteristics of Euros is variety. So keep shooting Euros at your players. You might start with fillers since their investment of time is very low. For example, you might start with For Sale, then if that is liked, go to other auction games like Ra, Dream Factory, Goa, Amun-Re, Container... (roughly in order of increasing complexity). Settlers of Catan I would place at low-to-medium complexity, but Puerto Rico I would say is high complexity, especially when you go beyond rules into strategy--it also has a lot of exception rules.

I have to disagree with the assertion that Euros have "...an almost complete lack of luck or randomness." What they have is a usually a very carefully controlled amount of luck in them: Enough so that the game won't be scripted, but not so much that you can't push the game in the direction you want to go: you control the game, the game doesn't control you. But in line with the variety of Euros, some Euros have little luck (like Puerto Rico) and others quite a lot (like Settlers of Catan).

As implied by my recommendation of For Sale, you can choose how complex of Euros you want to play. Generally, Euros are designed to be learned quickly: this is necessary due to the volume and variety of new Euros introduced every year. Someone familiar with the rules can typically teach a Euro in 5-15 minutes; for a more complex game it is always a good idea for one person to become familiar enough with the rules to teach a new game quickly, or for every player to read the rules. Rules are usually posted here on BGG or on the publisher's web site. Note that BGG ratings tend to favor more complex games, so don't take the ratings too seriously if you're looking for low complexity games.

Eurogames are usually relatively unthemed, but some have strong themes. A difference is that strongly themed Euros often put their theme in the basic mechanics rather than in a lot of extra rules or events than invoke theme (called "chrome").

Eurogames, because of the randomness limitations, tend to involve players with their own part of the game. The amount of player interaction varies (as Euros tend to vary in general), however player interaction tends to be indirect, such as not stealing from another player, but taking the last of something that player wants--or winning an item from that player in an auction.

The best way to experience the variety of Euros available is to find a local gaming group so you don't have to buy games you end up disliking. If you're in the Southern California area, I can give you (or anyone else) pointers to gaming groups, usually free. In the last two sessions, I've played four new games (maybe $150 worth) for a little gas, and I help organize my group and regularly teach or loan my games to others.
 
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Jeff Finazzo
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I enjoy LOTR very much, but I've always viewed it more a group puzzle than a competitive game. When I introduce it to new people (especially non-gamers) I try to frame it like that. As to your points of it being too hard and having too litle individual involvement, I think they are somewhat releated. Our games require involvment from all the players to overcome the obstacles the game throws at us. A truly disatourus series of draws can shut the game down early, but most bad runs can be dealt with if the group is working together to provide a solution.

 
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Tim Stellmach
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ced1106 wrote:
As an AT!er, I'd consider it a *gateway* Euro game...


I tend to think of LotR as Knizia's take on a Euro/American hybrid, actually. By the standards of his usual fare, it's got loads of theme and narrative (remember, when I say this, what his other games are like). And the co-op adventure is pretty firmly an American thing. But of course where an American game might approach narrative by indexing die rolls on tables, or drawing event cards, LotR has these board tracks and set collection (which are things I think are more typically European).

Mind you, it's nothing like a lot of the other games that people consider "hybrids," but then it's not really quite like anything.
 
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Tim Stellmach
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AndersSchm wrote:
B) Too difficult (Only games we have won felt like we were lucky with drawing chits)


In my experience it's downright brutal for the first few plays, and then gets much easier to beat. You really have to go to a higher difficulty at that point, in fact. But, of course, if those first few plays put your group off that doesn't help you.

This is the one way in which it really is like Arkham Horror (aside from them both being co-op games, of course), which is tone. The big bad evil guy is coming, and you are pretty screwed. Mind you, Arkham Horror manages to create this impression while not actually screwing you as badly as you think, which ironically is more the sort of thing you'd ideally want for LotR.
 
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