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Around December of '10, I had quite a bit of games in my collection for most any size group. But I had very few 2-player only games in my collection, no modern ones anyway. I did have Chess, Checkers, and the early 90's war game Battlemasters.

I wanted a 2-player game that had a lot of variability and replayability, and after some research, I decided I wanted Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. I liked the [=strate]Stratego[/] style gameplay of the unknown opposing characters, and how this seemed to go way beyond with all the different abilities. And then I found out Fantasy Flight Games had a deluxe version that added a whole slew of new characters and abilities, and so onto my Christmas list it went. And that Christmas, it was one of my gifts from my wife's family's Secret Santa exchange. So was it worth it? Let's find out.

I have played the game 25 times so far.

The Premise:
For those of you that haven't read the books or seen the movie, Frodo the hobbit comes across a ring which is very powerful and must be destroyed before it winds up in the hands of the enemy. Each player plays as an opposing side. And so, the Fellowship (good guys) must make sure Frodo makes it to Mordor. Sauron (bad guys) wants to stop Frodo.

The Components:
There aren't a lot of components, but what is there is fantastic. You get the game board, which is an abstract view of the lands of Middle Earth. Each player gets 9 plastic holders that hold the character tiles in them and prevent the opponent from seeing who they are. The Fellowship have white holders with the tree of Gondor on the back, and Sauron has black holders with the eye of Sauron.

The 18 character tiles are thick, and are double-sided. On one side are the original characters with their powers and attack strength as originally designed by Reiner Knizia (9 characters per team), and on the back are alternate characters that can be used in several variants, either as a full team of alternates, or you can mix and match. You also get 18 tokens that correspond with the characters so that the opponent can know who you are using on your team if you mix and match.

There are two reference sheets that show all the characters, their powers, and the attack cards. The last thing you get are 26 cards. Each time gets 9, which are used in battles, and the other 8 are special cards that give each team 4 special powers. These 8 cards are optional and can be used in any combination.

The Gameplay:
The instructions are available online, but I will go through the general flow of the game. Both sides set up their half of the game board by placing their characters where they want them, and put their 9 attack cards in their hand. As mentioned, the holders hold the tiles, so that the opposing team will not know which characters are which. They will only know that an enemy is at a location, but won't know who it is unless that character is confronted.

The Sauron player will always start, and then will alternate turns. All you have to do on your turn is move a character. Most of the time, the movement must be forward, but certain characters have powers that allow them to move a different way if the condition is met. As stated, the goal for the Fellowship is to get Frodo into Morder (the very back of the game board). They will win as soon as this happens. The other Fellowship characters are used to protect Frodo by battling or throwing the enemy off.

The Sauron player wins if Frodo dies, or if Sauron can get three of his characters into the Shire (the opposite end of the board from Morder). Anytime a player moves his character into a space with an opposing character, a fight occurs. When this happens, both characters are revealed to the opposing player. The Fellowship character's power than takes effect if it is relevant to battle. If this does not end the battle immediately, than the Sauron character's power takes effect. If the battle is still not over, than both players will play an attack card face down, and reveal them simultaneously.

This time, if the Sauron player's card has an ability, it is used first. If the battle continues, than the Fellowship player's card uses its ability (if it has one). If the battle is not over yet, than the players add up the attack strength of their character and card played. The character whose total strength is lower will perish and is removed from the board, and the other character remains. If it is a tie, than both characters perish.

Overall, the Fellowship side has weaker characters, but several of them have powers that can automatically kill certain Sauron characters. Their attack cards are also weaker, but they have more cards with abilities that help them. The Fellowship also has some extra help on the board by being able to move a direction other than forward from certain spaces. They can bypass a space by taking the Mines of Moria, and can go sideways along the river. Both sides are pretty evenly matched, and I haven't seen any evidence that would put one side at a great advantage over another.

Final Thoughts:
This is a very simple game to play, but it a lot of fun. Both player's know all the abilities and cards that are held by the other, they just don't know which character is which, or which card they will play. It is a great game of bluffing and second guessing.

And the replayability is quite high. I haven't even tried out the alternate characters yet, which replaces new powers to some of the characters, and switches some characters out for others from the Lord of the Rings mythology. And with the many combinations of different characters to play as, it could be never ending.

I wanted this game because I wanted a 2-player game, and that is also it's only downfall as far as I am concerned. And it isn't really the game's fault, but mine, because I rarely have the chance to play 2-player games. My wife is OK with it, but there are other games she would prefer to play with 2, so it doesn't see the table as much as it should.

Following the BGG rating guidelines, I give this game an 8. I hope to get to try out the alternate characters soon. Although the original characters and game are very well balanced, it's tough to switch from what works.

Thanks for making it this far, and check out A Year With My Games if you want to read more.
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Mark Raciborski
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Gee, you lucky dog, where did the person get it? Edit: Oops, did you get it last Christmas?

It is out of print and an email from FFG said they have no plans for a reprint. Amazing, given the game. I purchased a copy as a gift year before last year. Everyone who has seen it purchased a copy. This is one of those games that people who have a clue have it and I guess sales dropped. How often do you buy a second copy? I have no doubt it would sell well to the Wally-Mart, ToyRus, crowd in the word got around. Look how much parents still buy Stratego. This is a whole lot better.

The problem is the theme. I hate Lord of the Rings. The books, movies, they are like getting a root canal to read or watch.

I balked at buying it as a gift because of theme. Turns out, you can just ignore it. Maybe FFG should go Monopoly on it, i.e. turn it out with different themes, Harry Potter the Confrontation, Star Wars the Confrontation, The Simpsons the Confrontation, would love to see a graveyard Halloween theme, villagers vs things coming out of the graveyard. :)



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Patrick C.
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Quote:
graveyard Halloween theme


Love it. As a collector/player of games appropriate for Halloween (it's my b-day), I have been so far very disappointed in options to play. Fluch der Mumie is probably my best game for that night.

I have an extra copy of the deluxe version and you have me wondering if I can somehow completely alter it. Hmmmm.
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danamark wrote:
Gee, you lucky dog, where did the person get it? Edit: Oops, did you get it last Christmas?


Yeah, I got it for Christmas '10. I didn't realize it was out of print, and it is surprising they won't reprint. I'm glad they got me this instead of the other two games I asked for, Through the Desert and Red November, both of which I ended up getting elsewhere.
 
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Stephen Sanders
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I played the base game 68 times before getting the Deluxe Edition. It is still going strong for me, and also rate it a solid 9 for what it offers.
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danamark wrote:


I balked at buying it as a gift because of theme. Turns out, you can just ignore it. Maybe FFG should go Monopoly on it, i.e. turn it out with different themes, Harry Potter the Confrontation, Star Wars the Confrontation, The Simpsons the Confrontation, would love to see a graveyard Halloween theme, villagers vs things coming out of the graveyard.



There are so many theme-specific mechanisms that I think re-theming it would be difficult, unless they change some of the rules.
For example:
- The balrog and moria
- The flying nazgul that can "fly" over everyone.
- The dark riders that can ride forward (but can't "fly").
- Boromir who goes berserk and takes down everyone with him.
- Sam gets stronger when he's with Frodo.
- The instant-kill combos (Legolas really did take down a Nazgul).
- The win conditions of Frodo just entering Mordor, vs. Sauron either capturing Frodo or occupying the Shire.

I just think it would be hard to find a theme that fits these mechanisms so tightly.

Now, it would be kind of cool if they revamped the game for each theme, and had different thematic rules for the different characters, like they did for the variant ones. As long as they put thought into the balance and playtested it well.

Like the OP, I have only ever played with the original characters. But this is one of my Top 10 games and I enjoy knowing that I've only scratched the surface, and there are a whole other host of variant characters to explore in the future.
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Rauli Kettunen
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DoomTurtle wrote:
This is a very simple game to play, but it a lot of fun. Both player's know all the abilities and cards that are held by the other, they just don't know which character is which, or which card they will play. It is a great game of bluffing and second guessing.


After the learning game or two, we only really played using random Draft variant so neither side knows exactly which characters the other side has until they are revealed. Basically each side takes their nine double-sided small tokens and tosses them, whichever side is up, that's the character you use. Each side does this hidden from the other side.

Sadly for LotR: Confrontation, my friend tends to get AP-prone in it, so a normal pair of games (once on each side) took 45-60 min, hence the game has gotten less than 20 play and not expecting any more in the foreseeable future, not with Revolver providing a similar 2-player experience but in 15 minutes or less (and hitting 60+ plays after just over 2 months of owning it).
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Mark Raciborski
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Dam the Man wrote:
Sadly for LotR: Confrontation, my friend tends to get AP-prone in it, so a normal pair of games (once on each side) took 45-60 min, hence the game has gotten less than 20 play and not expecting any more in the foreseeable future, not with Revolver providing a similar 2-player experience but in 15 minutes or less (and hitting 60+ plays after just over 2 months of owning it).


Try a chess timer. You can get an app. The physical clock is more fun.
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Richard Ngo
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Its still not difficult to find. I got a new copy for $30 about 3 weeks ago. Granted I heard it was going for $10 when FFG was clearing out the last of its stock, but its still not impossible to find, and under MSRP!

Also, I got this because I adore the theme! I am a Tolkien nut. I poo pooed this game when I was in my ameritrash phase as too simple, but as my tastes have mellowed, I was really drawn to this game. I love the stratego + combat card mechanic, and I think the LOTR theme works well with it.

But I do agree with you that a Harry Potter or Star Wars Confrontation would be interesting, so long as they tailored the card powers to the theme, and maybe added something novel to keep it fresh(er).

danamark wrote:
Gee, you lucky dog, where did the person get it? Edit: Oops, did you get it last Christmas?

It is out of print and an email from FFG said they have no plans for a reprint. Amazing, given the game. I purchased a copy as a gift year before last year. Everyone who has seen it purchased a copy. This is one of those games that people who have a clue have it and I guess sales dropped. How often do you buy a second copy? I have no doubt it would sell well to the Wally-Mart, ToyRus, crowd in the word got around. Look how much parents still buy Stratego. This is a whole lot better.

The problem is the theme. I hate Lord of the Rings. The books, movies, they are like getting a root canal to read or watch.

I balked at buying it as a gift because of theme. Turns out, you can just ignore it. Maybe FFG should go Monopoly on it, i.e. turn it out with different themes, Harry Potter the Confrontation, Star Wars the Confrontation, The Simpsons the Confrontation, would love to see a graveyard Halloween theme, villagers vs things coming out of the graveyard.



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Paul G
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Is this good enough to be worth getting if I already have the non-Deluxe version (and love it)?
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SadisticFishing wrote:
Is this good enough to be worth getting if I already have the non-Deluxe version (and love it)?


If you plan on playing it a lot, and depending on the price you can get it for, than I would say yes. You get a whole new set of alternate characters and alternate card powers (not the 9 main attack cards, but 2 new variant cards for each side) on top of everything that comes in the regular version.

And since you do get everything, you can then sell your regular version to help offset some of the cost.

But if you don't plan on playing it enough to really get into the alternate characters and learning them, then you're just fine with what you have.
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DoomTurtle wrote:
SadisticFishing wrote:
Is this good enough to be worth getting if I already have the non-Deluxe version (and love it)?


If you plan on playing it a lot, and depending on the price you can get it for, than I would say yes. You get a whole new set of alternate characters and alternate card powers (not the 9 main attack cards, but 2 new variant cards for each side) on top of everything that comes in the regular version.

And since you do get everything, you can then sell your regular version to help offset some of the cost.


Actually I have both original and deluxe, I use the original as a travel version. If you love the original, another benefit to the deluxe, apart from gameplay, is aesthetics. It really is a lush, beautiful version with tall, carved stands, and the artwork is very striking, different, and more varied from the original. All of which I appreciate every time I play it.
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Mike Stevens
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Nice review. I got to play my first 2 games of this tonight at Monday Night Gaming at my FLGS. Even though I lost both games, I really enjoyed it and it plays really fast.
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Anssi Niemi
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Also, for what it's worth, please for goodness' sake play the Classic version with the Classic oneshot power cards. Without them the game's a bit black favoured and a tad too defensive. The power cards get Frodo across mountains, help Black to scout and Gandalf the White and Recall to Mordor encourage aggression. It's just a much better game with the one-use power cards included.

Iäm still amazed at how this game manages to be light while being such a mechanical kitchen sink O_o
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Guillaume Gaudé
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Just got my copy of the Deluxe Edition from an american shop online !
Brand new, mint condition.
Even knowing that FFG will sell a new version (no text on characters' tiles, improved board, smaller box as original size), I WANTED that Deluxe Edition !
It cost me an arm but that game should be in every ludotheque because it is really reallyy good !
Enjoy it !
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