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Brian Bankler
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I played Stratego as a kid. Despite being a mass-market game, Stratego at least has choices. When I look back on my childhood games, Scrabble is the only one I've played as an adult (not counting games with children). But I've played improvements of Stratego. Hera and Zeus, one of the few games I've played 50+ times face-to-face, clearly derives from Stratego (and was originally marketed as a Stratego Card Game, before getting it's mythological makeover).

Lord of the Rings — The Confrontation trims Stratego down. Each player only has 9 pieces, all different. The board shrinks to fit, having seventeen spaces arranged as a diamond: Shire at the top, Mordor at the Bottom. Each space can hold two friendly pieces (the Shire and Mordor can hold four), and pieces can only move forward (usually to a choice of two spaces, but having more restricted choices as they advance or hit the board's edge). Unlike Stratego (or Hera and Zeus), combat doesn't just compare two numbers. Each player has a hand of nine cards, and when a fight occurs, both pieces are revealed, then each player chooses a card. If both players picked a number, highest total wins (with both pieces eliminated on a tie). Of course, you don't get played cards back you've used each one. Both players also own several special cards, like "Retreat", "Noble Sacrifice" and "The Eye of Sauron". In addition, each playing piece has it's own, unique power.

Light and dark play to their strengths. The Shadow Player's cards range from 1-6, while the Free People's only go 1-5. However, light has more special cards, so it's a case of Strong Trolls, Tricksy Hobbits. [Gollum, sadly, went AWOL for this game]. The Shadow wins by capturing the flag [Frodo], but here the Flag moves, sidesteps and races towards his own goal [Mordor]. Scourging the Shire also gives Sauron the victory if he can get three pieces there. Some of his pieces move more than a space a turn, so it's a fair race. In fact, Light's best (but not only) strategy is to trade pieces one-for-one until only a few remain, and then have Frodo sidestep his way to Mordor. Since Frodo can automatically sidestep when attacked (barring a few exceptions that the Dark player will try to exploit) and pieces move inexorably forward (again, with exceptions), the end of the game may match the books: an overwhelmed light army on the brink of destruction when Frodo reaches the Crack of Doom.

So, this interesting asymmetric game captures the core of the story. Knizia discards Stratego's large swatch of relatively unimportant and undifferentiated pieces for a core set and adds in the psychological and tactical "Which card do I play now?". The overall result: a tense, quick two-player game. Highly recommended.
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