Recommend
45 
 Thumb up
 Hide
26 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

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

Subject: Is this game for you if you're a Tolkien fan? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Talorien
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Since there are already several excellent reviews up on the geek, I thought I'd write one from the angle of those considering getting the game primarily because they like the books (or movies).

Ok, on to the review. Some points to perhaps consider:

1. What sort of a gamer are you?

While not Advanced Squad Leader, WoTR isn't the lightest fare - it requires at least 3 hours, and more like 5 in the first few plays.

The rules are simple if you're used to wargames, and complex if you're used to light euros (such as Settlers and Carcassone).

If you're very comfortable with Settlers + Cities and Knights, Memoir '44, or Shadows over Camelot, then WoTR probably wouldn't be too much of a stretch.

[edit: And, do you tend to like games like Axis & Allies? While it has strong thematic and story elements and a number of innovations, WoTR ultimately emphasizes the epic strategic conflict between both sides, so if you dislike dice-rolling war games, this may not be for you.]


Plenty of Dice-Rolling in WoTR!

[On the other hand, the combat system is a great deal simpler than full-blown wargames, emphasizing the strategic rather than the tactical. For example, Elven army units are functionally identical to Mordor units, though they begin with more 'elite' type units. So if you are looking for combat with lots of Tolkien-flavoured 'chrome', this may also not be for you.]

2. Who do you plan to play this with?

For play with most Significant Others, and non-gamers, Knizia's Co-op (Lord of the Rings) is a very approachable game, that also captures the spirit of the books very well (and worth considering in its own right for Tolkien fans!)

For a quick, Stratego-like game with a variety of opponents, there's Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation.

I haven't tried Knizia's game for kids, but thought it worth mentioning too (confusingly also called Lord of the Rings).

Significant Others who love Tolkien, have some level of game experience, and don't dislike strategic-level games involving fighting, might be persuaded to try WoTR, but I'm guessing would be the exception rather than the rule.

If you don't mind playing online, there seems to be a good online adaptation as well, which I haven't tried.


Collector's Edition Preview - Rohan Leader

If you have cash to blow, want the best visual experience, and don't mind waiting, the Collector's Edition is due out sometime from August onward, with painted pieces, a bigger map, possible rule updates/corrections, and will include the expansion (but not the expansion's two independent tactical sub-games).

[Update: Collector's edition may be out in Spring '09]

3. How 'book-accurate' and flavourful is the gameplay?

The game really shines here. The designers did an outstanding job of expressing the spirit and flavour of the books, told mostly from the grand epic rather than the individual point of view, while still making an exciting game.

You can tell that they are Tolkien lovers who set out to make a 'really good WoTR game' rather than just trying to milk a popular license!

Three story elements are captured particularly well. Firstly, the military asymmetry - the Shadow player has a ton more forces and action dice to take actions, and the Free Peoples player is caught mostly in a desperate defense, selling ground dearly to buy time for Frodo.

Secondly, the Hunt for the Ring. Hidden movement of the Fellowship is handled simply, elegantly, and intuitively, and with the very book-true mechanic of Sauron's military attention hampering his ability to keep his 'eye' on the search for the Ring.


Settlements and Strongholds

Thirdly, just as in the books, as stronghold after stronghold falls to the Shadow, the Free Peoples will be tempted to despair, but quite possibly something unexpected may happen (an event card; bad dice on a Shadow siege; bad Shadow action dice and a Free military victory opportunity arises) which leads to victory being snatched from the jaws of defeat!

(Ok, actually no Free strongholds fall in the books, but the mood of doom and despair/unexpected hope is captured well!)

The political track also simulates well the Free People's problems of rousing the West to war.

The event cards go an especially long way to capturing minor (and major!) characters and 'book' events like Faramir, Wormtongue, the Eagles, Tom Bombadil, Rohan arriving to save Minas Tirith ('Help Unlooked-for'), etc. Flavourful 'story moments' often happen, such as the Ents marching on Isengard, hroom, hroom!


Spot the Companions!

The Companion members of the Fellowship such as Strider and Gandalf are well-represented and suitably heroic; the presence of one or more at major sieges can often turn the tide.

One downer if you love the books is that a game-winning strategy is just to keep the Companions with the Fellowship where they remain passive, to be killed off as extra 'hit points' (actually Corruption damage) for Frodo. This helps to win, but feels cynical and is a bit boring.

Of course, no game could be a complete rendition of the books and still be fun. So some concessions to gameplay are made, for example the Fellowship starts in Rivendell, skipping the 'boring' bit of Book I.

Also, the Free Peoples score a "military" victory if they capture two Shadow strongholds, whereas the only path to victory in the books was the destruction of the Ring.

(It is assumed that Sauron's attention is so taken up in that case that the Ring automatically gets through to Mt. Doom; this is at least partially accurate since the 'taking' of Orthanc and Aragorn's revelation of himself distracted Sauron from the Hunt in the books).

On a smaller note, for ease of play (and cost reduction) the Southrons and Easterlings are considered one nation and share Southron game pieces. The Dunlendings are also absorbed into Saruman's Uruk pieces until the expansion.

4. How aesthetically pleasing is it?

If you're a Tolkien lover you may already be familiar with the art of John Howe used for the box, rules, map and cards, which I personally find quite beautiful.

If you're coming from the angle of the movies (and even if you're not), some of the characterizations may however not match your mental 'picture'.

(I dislike the King Aragorn rendition, but on the other hand love the picture of Pippin wistfully staring out of Minas Tirith. Gimli is also a hundred times more noble and dignified than the movie version)



The Howe map has been criticized for being too 'brown' and 'parchmenty', without enough green areas, though I myself have no problem with it - it is pleasing just to have a beautiful map of Middle-Earth and all its regions!

[edit: another common criticism is that the map, while huge, is still too small to handle all the game pieces; personally, I find it not to be a big issue as I just spillover large armies into neighbouring regions; it's still clear what space they're in. The Collector's edition map is slated to be significantly larger]



The counters and nation markers are simply amazing, and I still find myself just staring at them. In fact, I only just realized Isengard is a stylized hand!


The Gondor Nation Marker

One quibble I have is with unit pieces. While many on the geek seem to like them, I find some of them a bit too 'cartoony' and campish and not matching with either the Howe art or my own notions (it's easy to look through the many pics posted up to see if they suit your own taste).


Aragorn piece

The Mordor elite trolls are especially anime-ish; I dislike most of the characters (their grins are a bit silly - hey, fighting a 'terrible' enemy is supposed to be grim business!)


Big-chested, small-headed anime troll! (rear)

I also dislike the almost neon red used for Shadow armies! (The Free blue is quite pleasant; many here have also commented that they wish each nation's army were colour differentiated).

Having said that, it's still a pleasure to see so much of Tolkien materially expressed in the many pieces, such as the Southron Oliphaunts.


The Game in All its Glory - by jwboone

If you're the creative sort, the pieces are just begging to be painted!


Beautifully player-painted Dwarves - by TKTK

5. How good a game is it?

Quite apart from my love of Tolkien, this is my highest rated game. Every game seems to be close, and tense. The limited action dice mean that every move is an exercise in prioritizing; you never have enough moves.

The combination of action dice and event cards also mean a high replay value and no 'best' starting strategy. It plays in an (long) evening, and the theme means its quite likely to find an opponent if you have some gaming friends.

Having said that, there are some criticisms. Without the expansion (which I don't own), the game has been said to favour the Shadow player perhaps 60+% of games.

The game can also lose some lustre if both players play the strategies apparently most likely to win, "DEW North" vs. "Strider Sprint", which are essentially two (semi-) independent races without a great deal of interaction.

The Strider Sprint is also quite boring for the Free player. The expansion apparently corrects these shortcomings.

[edit: There is also quite a strong luck element with the action dice, combat dice, event cards, and Hunt for the Ring damage tiles, and some have expressed dislike for how at the game can come down to the single random pull of a Hunt damage tile right at the end]

I can't speak for multiplayer, which I haven't had a chance to try.

6. What's the conclusion?

If you're a Tolkien lover, a boardgamer who is comfortable with medium complexity, are likely to have an opponent, and have the cash to blow (and don't want to wait for the Collector's Edition), go for it.

[edit: and who likes epic-scale strategy games with a dice-rolling element]

It exceeded my own expectations and I hope to enjoy it for years to come.
28 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Snowball
Belgium
n/a
flag msg tools
badge
Gender: pot*ato. My opinion is an opinion.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
"If you're a Tolkien lover, a boardgamer who is comfortable with medium complexity, are likely to have an opponent, and have the cash to blow (and don't want to wait for the Collector's Edition), go for it."
I am everything of the above yet I disliked the game; I find it much too random for the length; I also have problems with the map being too cramped, and the miniatures *must* be painted or replaced by colored cubes.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Goran Topic
Japan
Kita-ku
Tokyo
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
Talorien wrote:
Of course, no game could be a complete rendition of the books and still be fun. So some concessions to gameplay are made, for example the Fellowship starts in Rivendell, skipping the 'boring' bit of Book I.

Well, the game is called The War of the Ring. It does not aim to capture the whole Lord of the Ring: the strategic scale does not come into the tale until Book II. There is not a single army in Book I, just good individuals against bad ones. The War in the books begins, as I see it, and apparently the game designers as well, with strategic Council in Rivendell, when Elves start preparing for the worst. Until then, there is no War - just like Harry Potter series is no war for quite a few books (which it certainly becomes, by the time of Deathly Hallows). It is quite similar, except for the scale: HP starts as Voldemort against Harry, but ends with an all-out battle between Death Eaters and Dumbledore's Army. Here it starts as Hobbits vs. Black Riders and Gandalf vs. Saruman, but ends in an epic war between the forces of good and evil. The first part of either one does not depict a war yet, by any definition.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Noe
United States
Wauwatosa
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Love live the Empress!
badge
For the Motherland!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
HavocIsHere wrote:
"If you're a Tolkien lover, a boardgamer who is comfortable with medium complexity, are likely to have an opponent, and have the cash to blow (and don't want to wait for the Collector's Edition), go for it."
I am everything of the above yet I disliked the game; I find it much too random for the length; I also have problems with the map being too cramped, and the miniatures *must* be painted or replaced by colored cubes.


I have to agree. I adore Tolkein, but could not find myself being drawn into this game. It felt too much like a really simple wargame (i.e. Risk), with cards thrown on to randomize it. I don't know...just not for me.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Philip Thomas
United Kingdom
London
London
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It isn't risk. The combat system is far superior (which isn't difficult), and unlike risk there is actually a game beyond the combat system.

The cards add depth and flavour, and there is plenty of skill in their play, albeit they are a random element. War of the Ring is really a dice driven game though, like Yspahan...
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Daglish
United Kingdom
Cheadle
Cheshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Talorien wrote:
While not Advanced Squad Leader, WoTR isn't the lightest fare - it requires at least 3 hours


say 90 mins to 3 hours.

Quote:
The rules are simple if you're used to wargames, and complex if you're used to light euros (such as Settlers and Carcassone).


the various condensations of the rules are not bad. The original Italian is apparently better than the English, and the German + other languages worse, angeblich.

Quote:
If you're very comfortable with Settlers + Cities and Knights, Memoir '44, or Shadows over Camelot, then WoTR probably wouldn't be too much of a stretch.


but a stretch nevertheless. With six-figure customer base, even a fraction of them attempting to play will show that its not for everyone, as the lower rated Geek comments attest.

Quote:
2. Who do you plan to play this with?

If you don't mind playing online, there seems to be a good online adaptation as well, which I haven't tried.


I wish they'd do a decent Vassal version.

Quote:
If you have cash to blow, want the best visual experience, and don't mind waiting, the Collector's Edition is due out sometime from August onward, with painted pieces, a bigger map,


I felt the map size was just right, as its the biggest area you can deal with without relieving the pressure on your bottom.

Quote:
and will include the expansion


cry

Quote:
(but not the expansion's two independent tactical sub-games).




Quote:
Secondly, the Hunt for the Ring. Hidden movement of the Fellowship is handled simply, elegantly, and intuitively, and with the very book-true mechanic of Sauron's military attention hampering his ability to keep his 'eye' on the search for the Ring.


a major success of the game is that success or failure in the Hunt merely changes how the SA player plays, rather than dictating the outcome of the game.

Quote:
The political track also simulates well the Free People's problems of rousing the West to war.


I am not sure that it does. The rule is simple, and its too easy for players to try to exploit the delay it imposes, usually in combination with the easy VP in the North. Elrond can upset all this, to the greatest degree if he's played on turn 1.

Quote:
One downer if you love the books is that a game-winning strategy is just to keep the Companions with the Fellowship where they remain passive, to be killed off as extra 'hit points' (actually Corruption damage) for Frodo. This helps to win, but feels cynical and is a bit boring.


but it is in keeping with the books, indeed with an unusual hobbit-free passage in them, where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli decide to pursue the Ring rather than returning home. Its interesting that the game denies you do this, despite the slightly evident desire of the designers to promote it, however dispersal of the Fellowship prior to entering Mordor is necessary if you have too many surviving members. Activating nations with Characters was another desire put into the rules which essentially never happens.

What the game needs now is not a Collectors edition but an advanced one, that makes use of the knowledge we have gained. The expansion could contribute Gollum and the Balrog as optionals [and not much else],
but altering the base game would require design that is equally good.

Quote:
Of course, no game could be a complete rendition of the books and still be fun. So some concessions to gameplay are made, for example the Fellowship starts in Rivendell, skipping the 'boring' bit of Book I.


its a clever design decision [but fairly obvious now we have it].

Quote:
Also, the Free Peoples score a "military" victory if they capture two Shadow strongholds, whereas the only path to victory in the books was the destruction of the Ring.


depends what you mean by "victory". Victory in the Battle of the Five Armies kept the peace for about 50 years, and presumably the War of the Ring might have ended in a variety of different ways. In the books the destruction of the Ring ended a poor start to the war.

Quote:
4. How aesthetically pleasing is it?


I'd say not very, but the miniatures are ok, mostly.

Quote:
5. How good a game is it?

Having said that, there are some criticisms. Without the expansion (which I don't own), the game has been said to favour the Shadow player perhaps 60+% of games.


With the SA I would expect to win more often than that, and this is another fortunate success of the game.

Quote:
The game can also lose some lustre if both players play the strategies apparently most likely to win, "DEW North" vs. "Strider Sprint", which are essentially two (semi-) independent races without a great deal of interaction.


the question you don't address is what do you do if something bad happens whilst on the way to a probable win? do you abandon the strategy and go defensive, or do you ignore the threat and risk losing foolishly? in our hobby we develop playing reps rapidly.

Quote:
The Strider Sprint is also quite boring for the Free player.


it is almost certainly better for Strider to sprint to Minas Tirith or Dol Amroth for the die. This is something the expansion taught me, as was mandatory to get him to Lorien for Galadriel. The Fellowship is too easily stopped, and this is my preferred method of play. Admittedly hampering your opponent is negative but it seems to work, as everthing you can't use to this end goes on the military side.

Quote:
The expansion apparently corrects these shortcomings.


No. The expansion is a mix of good, indifferent and bad design, mainly the latter, but its unconnected with the design of WotR. It exploits the financial success of WotR in standard industry fashion.

Quote:
I can't speak for multiplayer, which I haven't had a chance to try.


the major problem is you need three other good players. If you put them in, you get more out.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin Sarnecki
Australia
Melbourne (north)
Victoria
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
schuwa wrote:
HavocIsHere wrote:
"If you're a Tolkien lover, a boardgamer who is comfortable with medium complexity, are likely to have an opponent, and have the cash to blow (and don't want to wait for the Collector's Edition), go for it."
I am everything of the above yet I disliked the game; I find it much too random for the length; I also have problems with the map being too cramped, and the miniatures *must* be painted or replaced by colored cubes.


I have to agree. I adore Tolkein, but could not find myself being drawn into this game. It felt too much like a really simple wargame (i.e. Risk), with cards thrown on to randomize it. I don't know...just not for me.


I've very happily played it with unpainted figures -- and heaven save us from the abomination of the ultimate cop-out, the wooden cube.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Talorien
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the feedback -- I've updated the review to try to better reflect the elements which may cause WoTR to be disliked by some Tolkien lovers.

schuwa wrote:
HavocIsHere wrote:
"If you're a Tolkien lover, a boardgamer who is comfortable with medium complexity, are likely to have an opponent, and have the cash to blow (and don't want to wait for the Collector's Edition), go for it."
I am everything of the above yet I disliked the game; I find it much too random for the length; I also have problems with the map being too cramped, and the miniatures *must* be painted or replaced by colored cubes.


I have to agree. I adore Tolkein, but could not find myself being drawn into this game. It felt too much like a really simple wargame (i.e. Risk), with cards thrown on to randomize it. I don't know...just not for me.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron Tubb
United States
Fuquay Varina
NC
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
HavocIsHere wrote:
"If you're a Tolkien lover, a boardgamer who is comfortable with medium complexity, are likely to have an opponent, and have the cash to blow (and don't want to wait for the Collector's Edition), go for it."
I am everything of the above yet I disliked the game; I find it much too random for the length; I also have problems with the map being too cramped, and the miniatures *must* be painted or replaced by colored cubes.
For me, the minis are not difficult to tell apart. I have no desire to paint them and I have no difficulty telling what space minis are in on the board, either. And it's my favorite 2-player game!

also:
Cool minis >> wooden cubes
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Einmal ist keinmal
United States
Andover
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
You'll Never Walk Alone
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Talorien wrote:
There is also quite a strong luck element with the action dice, combat dice, event cards, and Hunt for the Ring damage tiles, and some have expressed dislike for how at the game can come down to the single random pull of a Hunt damage tile right at the end.


Good review.

Regarding the above "luck" elements, these aren't as bad as one would think.

The designers have done a great job of allowing die actions to be used for multiple actions. For example, a palantir will allow you not only to draw an event card from either deck to add to your hand, but also allow you to play an event card from your hand. Rolling a character die will allow you to move the FSP, hide the FSP, move companions (or minions), or finally, move an army containing a character.
Edit: I missed one--a character die will also allow you to play a character event card. See, the designers were more than generous with offering plenty of options for each action die result. You'll never be stuck with a bad roll.

So, at first you might feel unlucky from a certain roll, but for the most part, there will be something you can do productively with that particular die.

Cards are random, but since they can be used as an event or for free as a combat card really make them easily useful. Each side also has ways to help cycle through the cards faster as well (Gandalf the Grey, WK, Palantir of Orthanc).

The Hunt is, indeed, the most random element of the game. Again, there are ways to effect this, such as the special Hunt tiles. Also, knowing what Hunt tiles are left in the Hunt pool will give one a good idea of their likely Hunt damage outcome. Many games are very close at the end---it just shows how balanced the game really is.

I really like all of these mechanics in the game.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with your review, plus the Pippin card art is the best in the game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Farrell
United States
Cupertino
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The relative thematic success depends a bit on your point of view. I'm a Lord of the Rings fan, and found War of the Ring to be a bit of a thematic paste-up, personally. It's a good paste-up, but still a paste-up.

Firstly, the time scale is all wrong - things simply cannot unfold the way they do in the books. If Frodo sees the Witch-King leading his army out of Mordor from the gates of Minas Morgul, as happens in the books, the game will be over before the Witch-King gets to Gondor, gets killed, Aragorn marches to the Morannon, etc., etc. While the capture of the general ebb and flow is not bad, in War of the Ring the game the conflict simply cannot unfold in any way resembling the War of the Ring as in The Return of the King. Now, obviously we don't want the conflict to evolve just like the books all the time. But the flow of events in the book should at least be theoretically possible.

Secondly, the game fails to capture the fundamental dynamics of the war. Almost everything Sauron does is based on the fact of not knowing where The Ring was and what the good guys were doing about it. Every strategic decision the good guys make in the book is based around deceiving Sauron as to whether they had recovered the Ring, what they were doing with it, or concealing what they were doing from him. In the books so much is about concealment and misdirection, while in the game such uncertainties play little or no part. The Ring is just a track. I realize that gaming this stuff is hard, which is why I cut War of the Ring some slack. But at the end of the day, the key thing that drove Sauron was uncertainty about what was going on with the Ring, and fear that the Free People would use it against him.

Without having captured anything about the war fundamentally, War of the Ring's theme becomes quite superficial, in my opinion, at least compared to Knizia's Lord of the Rings game or ICE's old Middle-Earth CCG. For a superficial theme it really isn't bad, but for me it's not very evocative of the conflict in the books.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Luca Lettieri
Italy
Pomezia
flag msg tools
LL
badge
Magnus
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cfarrell wrote:

Secondly, the game fails to capture the fundamental dynamics of the war. Almost everything Sauron does is based on the fact of not knowing where The Ring was and what the good guys were doing about it. Every strategic decision the good guys make in the book is based around deceiving Sauron as to whether they had recovered the Ring, what they were doing with it, or concealing what they were doing from him. In the books so much is about concealment and misdirection, while in the game such uncertainties play little or no part.


While I see where you're coming from, I would like to know how to make this even remotely possible, considering that everyone who plays this [or any other LOTR-themed] game and has not lived under a rock for the past 20 years will know all too well that Frodo has the Ring and wants to plunk it into Mount Doom.

The only realistic way I can see is providing viable alternatives (i.e. use the Ring to kick Sauron's ass), but I'd say this is far, far worse in terms of consistency with the books.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Daglish
United Kingdom
Cheadle
Cheshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cfarrell wrote:
Firstly, the time scale is all wrong - things simply cannot unfold the way they do in the books. If Frodo sees the Witch-King leading his army out of Mordor from the gates of Minas Morgul, as happens in the books, the game will be over before the Witch-King gets to Gondor, gets killed, Aragorn marches to the Morannon, etc., etc. While the capture of the general ebb and flow is not bad, in War of the Ring the game the conflict simply cannot unfold in any way resembling the War of the Ring as in The Return of the King. Now, obviously we don't want the conflict to evolve just like the books all the time. But the flow of events in the book should at least be theoretically possible.


you need to analyse what happened in the book more carefully. There wasn't really a "War of the Ring" in the book because it all failed so dismally almost as it began. Saruman did better militarily than Sauron! The game can portray the military side in this way, but it would require an amazingly incompetent SA player, and an unlucky one at that. In one game we played, the Fellowship was first revealed halfway up Orodruin, and other games can last an hour, but these are very rare happenstances, which is as it should be in a design such as this.

Quote:
Secondly, the game fails to capture the fundamental dynamics of the war. Almost everything Sauron does is based on the fact of not knowing where The Ring was and what the good guys were doing about it.


this is wrong. Sauron was made aware that the Ring had passed out of the Shire towards Rivendell, as the Nazgul reported this a month or two later.

Quote:
Every strategic decision the good guys make in the book is based around deceiving Sauron as to whether they had recovered the Ring, what they were doing with it, or concealing what they were doing from him. In the books so much is about concealment and misdirection, while in the game such uncertainties play little or no part.


Actually it was more a case of trying not to reveal the Ring too much. The attack at Amon Hen appears to have been ordered by a Nazgul, possibly one dismounted by Legolas's arrow, who sensed the presence of the Ring.

Quote:
The Ring is just a track. I realize that gaming this stuff is hard, which is why I cut War of the Ring some slack. But at the end of the day, the key thing that drove Sauron was uncertainty about what was going on with the Ring, and fear that the Free People would use it against him.


I think the idea Sauron failed to grasp was that anyone would attempt to destroy the Ring. Sauron knew others valued it to a similar degree as himself, and he probably had no idea what it might do in lesser mortals' hands. A Saruman versed in Ring-lore & possessed of the Ring would have been a very major harrassment and an equally difficult problem to solve. Sauron knew the Ring had been found and certainly was tracking its general whereabouts.

Quote:
Without having captured anything about the war fundamentally, War of the Ring's theme becomes quite superficial, in my opinion, at least compared to Knizia's Lord of the Rings game or ICE's old Middle-Earth CCG. For a superficial theme it really isn't bad, but for me it's not very evocative of the conflict in the books.


the CCGs main failing was that the elements in it were merely victory points, they didn't actually do anything. Knizia's game is a cypher, and no good except with five players. As for the books, I think they are worth a re-read with regard to the game.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
lu.le. wrote:
The only realistic way I can see is providing viable alternatives (i.e. use the Ring to kick Sauron's ass),.


Sorry to be slightly off-topic, but I never understood this. Other than the invisibility, how were people planning on using this as a weapon? I could see maybe elves or wizards using some of its Sauron-related powers (and not even sure what those are), but what did Boromir think Gondor was going to do with it? That was never clear to me. Use it as a weapon, but how?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ken B.
United States
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A great review of a fantastic game.


Chris, I think they captured the "unknown" factor by the way you can only hunt for the ring indirectly. Sauron uses his attention and efforts to try and locate the ring. Doing this can give him an idea where it is (the eye "sees" Frodo) or inflict corruption (his agents cause Frodo to be tempted to use the Ring.) It's certainly miles better than any of the old attempts to capture this element.

The only thing that's really out-of-synch with the novels in regards to the timeline is that Sauron is encouraged to make his assault on Gondor and can do this even while the Fellowship is still climbing the mountains or wading through Mordor.


Dimitri, the Ring granted its bearer "Power According to His Stature". Invisibility was but one of its abilities. It also had the ability to control minds--as evidenced by its ability to 'reach out' to those nearby such as Gandalf and Boromir. The Ringwraiths would flock to and serve its new master. I cannot remember where I read it but I believe the Ring could also wound enemies nearby, but I think that was an extension of the "mind control" aspect.




2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Goran Topic
Japan
Kita-ku
Tokyo
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
JohnnyDollar wrote:
Sorry to be slightly off-topic, but I never understood this. Other than the invisibility, how were people planning on using this as a weapon? I could see maybe elves or wizards using some of its Sauron-related powers (and not even sure what those are), but what did Boromir think Gondor was going to do with it? That was never clear to me. Use it as a weapon, but how?


Frodo makes a hint, when talking to Gollum, saying something like: If I commanded you with the Ring to jump off a cliff, you'd do it. Admittedly, I always thought that was but an aspect of the Ring, but there it is.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Philip Thomas
United Kingdom
London
London
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The reason Frodo could have used the Ring to command Gollum to jump off a cliff is that Gollum was enslaved to the Ring.

I think a closer view can be taken by considering the Witch King. After all, the Witch King was merely a human lord once. With his ring, which is only one of the Nine, he becomes pretty powerful. The One might have given Boromir similar powers. Of course, Boromir wasn't really thinking rationally when he tried to seize the ring.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks re: the ring's powers, that's interesting info! sauron
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Farrell
United States
Cupertino
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Both Galadriel and Sam have visions of or describe what they might accomplish with the Ring, one (Galadriel) with some knowledge presumably of the nature of the Ring, one (Sam) without. Gandalf mentions that the Ring grants power according to one's stature, and that in his hands it would be unimaginably dangerous. We get glimpses of the Ring's power in Frodo's interaction with Gollum, when Sam briefly carries it, and when it is at the height of its power in Mordor as they near Mt Doom. Right at the end Frodo of course succumbs and claims the Ring for his own, and we get a very brief glimpse of its power. And, of course, Gandalf tells of how his hope of success in destroying the Ring comes from the fact that Sauron simply couldn't imagine anyone turning down the power available by claiming it.

Part of what makes the books so interesting is that the nature of its power is never explicitly described, save that Sauron put a good portion of his own power into it. Then of course to avoid corruption one has to not use the thing, so we never really know for sure what its true nature is. But we are given many glimpses.

The thing I find interesting about War of the Ring, and the Lord of the Rings movies as well, is that they seem to have ignored part of what made the books such successes. It has been argued that Lord of the Rings is so compelling in part because it breaks a lot of literary rules, as Tolkien was not a novelist by trade. But, when Lord of the Rings got turned into a trilogy of movies, rather than respect the success of the unconventional, instead lot of stuff got shoehorned back into cinematic convention, which for me didn't always work. War of the Ring likewise is a pretty conventional, by-the-numbers wargame, but the War of the Ring is not like most wars.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Freedman
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent review. I won't chime in on the details of the book.

But what I can say is that this game is chock full of theme, strategy, tactics, and replayability. Enough so that most Tolkien fans (who are gamers) are going to absolutely love it. The Tolkien fan/gamers that wouldn't like it probably fall into one or more of these categories:

1. Prefer only lighter fare games (euro's)
2. Enjoy only multi-player games (the 3-4 player option isn't that good)
3. Shy away from wargames/conflict
4. Enjoy mostly complex wargames - grognards
5. And those who are so into the books that they find ways to nitpick the slightest deviation the game takes from the books.

Everyone I've taught this game to has really enjoyed it. One of the great things is that the game can evolve in different ways than the book. I guess some see that as a weakness...I look at it as a strength.

At first I found myself embarrassed that I was liking it so much because it was hyped to the roof when it was released. I almost wanted to slam it with a "1" just because I thought it was being shill'ed. Then I played it. Wow.

Could the production have been better?...yes. The card print is too small, the Nazgul are top-heavy, and a 10-piece army won't fit neatly in a single space. But after a few plays, the game is just so awesome, I don't even care. It has become my favorite game.

I've never painted a minature...so that stuff doesn't bother me.

In terms of balance...there is a very strong SP strategy. I won't give it away in case you are new to the game. But it is possible to bid for sides if you crave an absolute 50/50 game. When bidding, higher bid takes SP giving FP that many more units to deploy whereever he'd like. So no complaints about region X being too weak. Just bid high and bulk it up. Works great!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Raf B
United States
Oakland
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Double Dan wrote:
One of the great things is that the game can evolve in different ways than the book. I guess some see that as a weakness...I look at it as a strength.


As a dyed in the wool Tolkien fan, I was pleased to find this aspect of the game its biggest draw. The game doesn't simply let you play out what ifs, it actually generates them through the randomness of 100 or so event cards coming up at different times and in different combinations in each play of the game. (That was also an appeal of the 1978 SPI game of the same name, but this one does it far better, with better production values to boot.)

As contrary to the books as it might be to lose Strider to the Foul Thing from the Deep event card, just as the Fellowship was breathing a sigh of relief from passing from Moria into Dimrill Dale unscathed, there's a sense of loss that's in keeping with the spirit of the books.

When I read some of Christopher Tolkien's books detailing the early drafts of The Lord of the Rings, I was surprised to find how much JRR Tolkien experimented with different courses of action, for instance wondering what to do with Sam once Frodo is poisoned by Shelob. WotR takes the world the author created and lets players run free, with luck, cards, dice and Hunt tiles keeping things unpredictable and a challenge throughout.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marco Braga
Italy
flag msg tools
The concept of this game is great. The LOTR atmosphere is all in. The problem is that the game, in my opinion, simply can't be won by the good party if the opponent is not dumb and without a huge amount of luck. This does not mean that it is impossible to win as "good", but it is really unbalanced. I've played about 10 times and every single play has been won by the evil party. I've done my research on the net, I've read strategies, but without success. I can admit (perhaps) that I am not the best player, but I've tested the game with other players too. I can understand a 60% to 40% unbalance for the evil, but a 100% to 0% is somehow strange. Sometimes good has been very near to victory, but never won. Once because it missed 2 more turns before victory and evil took the last points, another time because fell to corruption at Mordor. Almost every play has been a near miss for the good party. This is frustrating.
Aside from this, the game is great.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Philip Thomas
United Kingdom
London
London
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, at least the game where you failed to corruption you can see a possible set of tile draws which would have led to a win? So it can't be 0%.

It does often come down to that final tile draw on Mount Doom.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Chapman
United States
Powhatan
Virginia
flag msg tools
Axis & Allies Developer and Playtester; War of the Ring Editor and Playtester
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Marco, you've probably already done this, but I'll suggest it anyway. Carefully read through the rules and FAQ to see if there's some rule that you're getting wrong. Sometimes a small rules error can make a huge difference in the game.

One rule that I can think of right off the top of my head is that a military victory doesn't take effect until the end of the turn, while a Ring victory occurs immediately. The result of this is that even if the Shadow gets ten victory points, the Free Peoples still have until the end of that turn to dispose of the Ring and win.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
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.