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Subject: So, what's the verdict? rss

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Tom Stewart
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The expansion game has been out for several years now, and played many many times I'm sure. It appears that no reviews have been written in the past two years, so either the newness and excitement has wore off, or there is nothing new to add.

I'm thinking about getting Battles of the Third Age, but am wondering if people are still as excited about it as they used to be. I have read posts from a few folks that have decided not to use the expansion game, but [older] reviews were written with such enthusiasm that the expansion seemed a must-have. I don't have too much interest in the battle games - I love wargames but these battle games seem on the light side and also seem to have far more randomness than I typically like in a wargame (based solely on comments here on BGG). Maybe I'm wrong..?

So after several years, what's the verdict?
Thanks!
 
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Richard Young
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People had different reasons for liking the expansion - primarily I think the extra stuff for the base game is what drew most of the attention. A lot had concluded the game was slightly unbalanced in favour of the Shadow Power and there were elements in the expansion that addressed that. If you use them all, I'm told it can change the balance to favouring the Fellowship Power. I can't comment on the validity of that one way or the other (and I think the balance in the base game was fine as it was). But, you may want the stuff anyway if only to provide you with options.

Not everyone was as enthusiastic about the two tactical scenarios that were included which stood alone from the base game (although they could conceivably be integrated into the base game for people with way too much time on their hands). I don't mind the scenarios and think that they still work thematically and allow you to focus on the war game side of WotR without the distraction of the interior character game. The downside is that there is a lot of set up time involved and a fair amount of sifting and sorting through the base game for figs and counters you'll need to play the scenarios beside what you are given in the expansion.

Frankly, unless you are a total fan you could probably live without this...
 
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Dave J McWeasely
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If you don't mind the extra choices the expansion provides, get the expansion. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the base game, steer well clear of the expansion.

War of the Ring is something special. $60 is not too much to spend to get up to speed on everything else. Though if the collector's edition ever comes out, its rumored to have all the elements from the expansion that you'll need for the big map.

I'm not sure how you got the impression that the two operational games are "light". They are quite heavy. I consider them to be harder than the base game, personally. But then again, I play the base game much more.
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Dirk Heinz
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I just played the MT scenario with a friend earlier this week. We did Rohan about 6 months ago. We both enjoyed the battles and found them to be a perfect fit for an evening game. First time thru with either of them was about 4 hours for a first play, you could probably cut 45 min off of that once you have a game or two under your belt.

Each present a different puzzle and challenge both players. We felt that they both favor the Fellowship side initially, as the Shadow side has some choices to make with the Witch King or Sauraman (depending on which scenario you are playing) that will take a couple of plays to figure out. Not sure either one falls into a perfect plan trap, at least to us.

If you enjoyed the base game, in my opinion, these are definitely worth buying.
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Joachim Pehl
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My opinion (but I'm rather new to WoT). If you have no balance issues with the base game. you don't need the expansion (unusual for a FFG game).

But the additon and both scenarios are well worth your money.
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Tom Stewart
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Thanks for your responses. I had thought/hoped to get a bigger set of replies for a bigger variety of points of view, but I guess some of the excitement has worn off. I should have posted this a year or two ago.

I have played only ~6 or 7 games of WoTR so far, and so far have not noticed much of an imbalance (I realize though that 7 plays isn't alot...). Upon our next game we will institute a house rule that will essentially guarantee that each side will recieve at least one action of their choice every other turn, just so no one goes too many rounds waiting to execute a desired move (there is a little more to the rule, but not much). Otherwise we are very happy with the base game. I do however love decisions, and I was mostly trying to determine if the expansion adds much in the way of meaningful decisions to the game. I'm still not convinced either way. It looks like I will have to find someone who owns the expansion and give it a try.

As far as the tactical games, again it sounds like a split decision. I am a little suprised though Fragfritz to hear your opinion. A quick look at your profile shows you like some substantial wargames, and to hear that you enjoyed playing the tactical games is certainly interesting. Do you and MrWeasly think that they are fairly good in the wargame category - offering tough decisions, not too much random influence, and good replayability? If so, I admit that I am suprised, in a good way. I guess a few semi-negative reviews coupled with my [false..?] assumptions convinced me that these would probably not be quality wargames. If they actually are, I think that'd be enough to cause me to add one more game to my collection.
 
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Roberto Di Meglio
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I honestly think that the Rohan/Gondor games are really under-rated in terms of how they're perceived.

It was very probably a big error to just bundle them in as "expansion" material also given the amount of work we put into them cry

Of course playing them is not as engaging as War of the Ring, given the broader scope of the main game, at least for me (I always enjoyed grand-strategy games more than operational-level games).

But I think we achieved to make them a good re-enactment of the two book's episodes, also considering that it was not so easy to make them more playable by increasing the number of strategic choices available to players, while keeping them close and true to the source material.

The Strategy Expansion mostly comes in to go into greater depth in all the elements where players of WotR would say "It's just a card!" (The ents, balrog, corsairs) and to give a better development of certain characters (Gollum, Galadriel, the WK).
At the same time we took the change to twist balance a little bit given the amount of stress the original game was put to by certain die-hard fans
But that 'balancing' element is not probably to be recognizably there unless you play WotR every week or so!

I'd say, if you love WotR, I can't see why you should not like the expansion. It's not NECESSARY but it's certainly good value for content.




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Peter Hutchinson
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I have really enjoyed playing WOTR and having played with the expansion a few times I would not often choose to play just the base game now, except perhaps to introduce a newbie to it. It brings a nice range of new decisions and playing characters/pieces... but I am a fan of the theme so perhaps no surprise.

As for the Rohan/Gondor scenarios, I have only played then through once, but liked them and would certainly play them again if I could find a willing opponent. They look good and are aquite different playing experience to the strategy game with a good range of tough decisions and a nice "special ability" mechanic for different units.

If you really enjoy the theme and you are likely to play it it is a worthwhile expansion to get.
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Dale Quimpo
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Four words.

"A Balrog Is Come!"
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Richard Young
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cybernex wrote:
I honestly think that the Rohan/Gondor games are really under-rated in terms of how they're perceived.

It was very probably a big error to just bundle them in as "expansion" material also given the amount of work we put into them cry

Of course playing them is not as engaging as War of the Ring, given the broader scope of the main game, at least for me (I always enjoyed grand-strategy games more than operational-level games).

But I think we achieved to make them a good re-enactment of the two book's episodes, also considering that it was not so easy to make them more playable by increasing the number of strategic choices available to players, while keeping them close and true to the source material.

The Strategy Expansion mostly comes in to go into greater depth in all the elements where players of WotR would say "It's just a card!" (The ents, balrog, corsairs) and to give a better development of certain characters (Gollum, Galadriel, the WK).
At the same time we took the change to twist balance a little bit given the amount of stress the original game was put to by certain die-hard fans
But that 'balancing' element is not probably to be recognizably there unless you play WotR every week or so!

I'd say, if you love WotR, I can't see why you should not like the expansion. It's not NECESSARY but it's certainly good value for content.


Good points and I agree that the two operational level scenarios would have made a great stand alone addition to the franchise, and the base game expansion could have been a separate smaller bundle strictly aimed at providing the options you mention for the base game.

There might have been issues however in providing all the materials for the operational scenarios so as not to have to state on the box that "ownership of the base game is necessary to play." That makes it look like an expansion again and could have led to confusion. Or, folks would have ended up having to buy a lot of stuff they already had if they owned the base game and wanted the scenarios (not to mention the additional cost factor). Tough call and, on balance, I think you probably made the right decision. And, I also very much agree that the scenarios are indeed "under-rated..."
 
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Dirk Heinz
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Tom,

I thought they were pretty tight out of the box and forced you to make some tough choices, when to push with a unit that had taken damage vs retreating to rally. I see their value more as stand alones than as an add to the base game. They were definitely "wargamey" enough for me, especially as something that you could play in an evening.

The dice force you to make some choices, in our game, I came up short of character dice at what I felt was a crucial time. I adapted by trying to get some decent story cards and devoting as much as I could to recruiting. It ended up paying off, but if my opponent had realized I was scrambling like that, he could have punished me for it. That to me is a sign of a good game, wargame or otherwise, there are multiple ways to win and you have the ability to adapt to the fate part of the game (dice) and still pull out a win.

Heck, I enjoyed it enough that I spent the weekend painting up some of the fellowship figures to try and entice one of my stepsons to give it a spin.
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Sam Butler
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Tom:

I am still just as much in love with the expansion (and base game) as ever before. I don't play it as much, because Agricola or LotR: Confrontation are more likely for my wife to want to play with me, but whenever she says "yes" or "maybe" or "ok, but you owe me" or "ok, but that means you're doing the dishes for a month!", or anything even remotely like that, I will jump on the opportunity

I play the base game with expansion stuff for the strategic game most frequently, although the scenarios are fabulous as well.

Some people complain about the new Witch King being weaker, but I find it is stronger than the impression reading these boards gives, especially when coupled with the Balrog (so the FSP is most likely going to take a longer route). Some people posted analysis how it will result in about 1-2 extra tile draws over the course of the game. That may not sound like much, but seeing how the Fellowship *usually* wins by dunking the ring, any help in that arena is welcome. I usually wait and see if I can catch the FSP in the hunt toward the beginning, and if I do, the new Witch King comes out; if not, the old Witch King comes out. Sure, I use the old Witch King more than the new, but it's about 2/3 old, 1/3 new for me, better to have the choice. I have had at least one game where the new Witch-King definitely gave me the victory -- FSP moved to last space on Mordor track, tile drawn just pushed the FSP into the loss column for corruption. The new Witch-King had hunted the FSP for most of the game, and forced them to take a turn resting in a FP stronghold. Without the new WK I would have lost; with it, I won. There are other times when the new WK has helped; I mix him up between hutning the FSP and battling more than the average player here probably does. The new Witch-King can switch to helping in battles, which he is still pretty good at -- not quite as good as the old WK but still very helpful. Just because you *can* hunt the FSP doesn't mean you necessarily always *have* to hunt the FSP with the new WK, but the extra choice of having a WK-hunter if the situation on the board presents itself can make the difference between winning and losing in some games.

Hope that helps!

Sam
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David Male
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Hello Tom

The additions to the strategic game are excellent, particularly in that it gives you a sensible option to keep Gandalf alive with the Fellowship.
However do not neglect the tactical games.I have had many terrific, and nail-biting experiences with War of the Ring, but my most memorable game of all-time was the Siege of Gondor, when Gandalf emerged from the ruins of Minas Tirith with the remnants of the defenders to kill the Witch King and save the city from certain destruction on a final turn.
It is a great credit to the Game designers that realistic narratives emerge in the middle of cliff-hanger games, almost every time I play these games - just brilliant.
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jeff h.
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We always use the expansion when we play WOTR, even though we rarely bring out the CoTR or the Corsairs. I've also never played the seperate scenario games. Even though we're not using 90% of the materials in the box, I prefer always including the expansion rules in a game.

The expansion just adds some great stuff to WOTR. I love the new cards, the Ents and Galadriel. The Balrog is especially cool, as are the siege engines.

In essence, the expansion simply gives you more options.
 
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Paul Leigh
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Those of you who have the expansion, but have not tried the scenarios - give them a whirl.

They are excellent tightly focused games, with hoards of strategy, tactics, hard choices, heroic last stands and climactic big battles.

They will involve learning a few rules, but let's face it, if you have troubled to learn and like the rules for WotR, these won't faze you.
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Alex Rockwell
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I highly recommend using the expansion to the base game, it adds a lot of interesting depth to the game and improves game balance.

I feel like I dont have enough experience with Rohan and Gondor scenarios to comment on them much. I love the main game so much that I never get a chance to play them. I do think they are worth playing but I think they dont have as much going on. They dont have the military versus ring advnacement race going on. (The fate tracks simulate this race, but I prefere the actual pushing of the ring!).

The 'main' game with expansion is really, really good. Battles of the third Age is worth it for that, even if you dont ever play the side scenarios.
 
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Tom Stewart
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Well I finally took the plunge and purchased the BoTTA game. Thanks for all of your comments, they helped convince me that BoTTA was a worthwhile purchase - and you were not wrong. As its late now, i'll just copy the comments from my profile page and paste them here:

Ironically when I purchased this game it was only for the WoTR expansion. I had no interest in what I thought was going to be some cheesy, ultra-light, dice-fest, Risk-like, battle game. Man was I off! I have played the Rohan scenario about 5 times now, and I have to say I like this game as much as WoTR. It is, of course, on a much smaller scale than WoTR, and does not have the same epic feel that WoTR does, but it has just as many tough decisions to make. THe smaller card set makes the battle games easier to become familiar with as well (after 2 games or so you've likely come across every card in the game, and the smaller count makes it easier to remember what types of cards your opponent might play against you). The battle games have the same story event system as WoTR (via the event cards); the same action dice mechanism - actually slightly improved as you have a little more control over your action-selection; and includes the main characters and the associated profound effects they can have in the game; but also add a whole additional layer to the combat aspect, which is simple but very effective. The Rohan scenario (the only one I've played so far) also has several very different victory conditions for the FP side, which has the effect of making each player have to pay very careful attention to their defensive positions as well as their offensive. I really am suprised at how little relative press the battle games have received. I'm eager to try the expansion, but thats gonna have to wait awhile I'm afraid.
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Bill Allen
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MrTom wrote:
Well I finally took the plunge and purchased the BoTTA game. Thanks for all of your comments, they helped convince me that BoTTA was a worthwhile purchase - and you were not wrong.


Great to hear MrTom. I envy your opportunities with the operational games - I have only managed 2 games of the Gondor scenario after quite a lot of time!
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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I've enjoyed the Rohan scenario far more than the Gondor one.
 
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