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Jon W
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Ripped open the shrink and away we went. We played the full alternate game (that is, with no original characters). Had to do a bit of rules consultation, of course, but overall that went pretty smoothly. It does, however, lead into my first gripe: the box is the standard large square FFG box, but this size is only needed for the rules themselves. The board (when quad-folded) is quite a bit smaller than the box, and slides around in there.

So on to the game itself. I was Good, KA was Evil. Very evil. He opened with Wormtongue, who is weak but cannot be killed (he just retreats and lives to fight again; well, you can trap him if you get behind him). I "beat" him, but he waited in the wings. Then we had a little tussle between Smeagol and Gollum (how appropos!) in the Misty Mountains, and they went their separate ways. That left two guys effectively behind my lines who I didn't really want to attack, which sucked. On the gripping hand, Treebeard went into Fangorn but didn't manage to cause any fatalities (Retreat and Magic for Saruman and Mouth of Sauron). The Mouth then hammered Elrond before being killed by Aragorn. Gandalf moved into the mountains to evade who I felt might've been Saruman, but then he was killed by the Flying Nazgul, who are beasts in this game (strength 5, and I'd burned my 5 unwisely). Then, in the more pivotal move, Sam was killed next turn by the FN, though I managed to take him down with a Noble Sacrifice by the next character in the space (don't recall whom...). At this point there was a huge hole blasted up the middle of the board, and here came the Uruk-Hai. Frodo was trapped in the Shire with only Faramir to protect him. It was over at that point, as he could get three in the Shire in four moves and it would take Frodo 5 plus battle, etc. to get to Mordor. Not even that close, though, as the Watcher was waiting, so hats off to Evil for the first "Three in the Shire" win we've ever witnessed (and we've played the original game a hundred times or so).

The alternate/variant game feels very different than the standard game. Evil is much less brute-force, while Good seems more combat-oriented. Yet a lot of Good abilities hinge on being attacked (Aragorn, for instance, can be quite powerful, but only if attacked; Sam is as powerful as the Evil character if attacked; Smeagol can switch with adjacent Good character if attacked). The offensive traits are slippery (Faramir can immediately slip sideways when he attacks; Frodo can be strong as he ignores Evil text cards, but of course he's strength 1). Gandalf is very strong, but only in a supporting role, and Theoden is limited. Treebeard can be nasty, admittedly, but is kind of, well, tree-like once planted there in Fangorn. Elrond is pretty wobbly (strength 3, ignores Magic and Eye), and I couldn't find a good use for him that didn't involve killing himself.

Now, the components. The bases, while very nice-looking with their evil Eye and white tree of Gondor, are noticeably wobbly. Not easily-blown-over wobbly, but jiggly. They shake, they quiver, they do not sit firmly still at all times. This may be trivial, but it's annoying. The bottoms are ever-so-slightly convex instead of concave. I think a couple passes with sandpaper may be needed. Also disconcerting are some telltale marks on the sides of the black pieces where they've been joined together. I have one that is clearly different, so I knew which piece was Wormtongue. Of course it'll be different next time, but...not ideal. Maybe I'll take an Exacto to them so they're all equally gouged. And finally, the numbers on the tiles are obscured by the frames, and are basically impossible to read while playing. They'll be memorized soon enough, but it is a bit awkward. The artwork is a matter of taste, but color me unimpressed. The very large cards do feel nice, though I'd dearly wished for that unbelievably durable linen finish that Days of Wonder and Amigo use. Alas, normal varnish.

So on balance, an overproduced game that still doesn't manage to get the components just right, but the new ideas are fascinating and bring a lot of fresh considerations to the game. I strongly wish the box was smaller, or that the map was even larger and had tons of new, detailed artwork or something to justify the extra space (as is, the map is basically same old thing). I was a guaranteed sale on this no matter what, as it's such a strong design, and I'm happy overall. I just think this could've been produced a bit better, or should've come in the larger FFG Silver box (the deeper Through the Desert type) at a lower price point. Still, very eager for more plays.
 
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Eric Paugh
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The poor craftsmanship is disappointing, but I kind of expected to hear that.

Is there any chance you could spoil the remaining characters (Faramir, Aragorn, Flying Nazgul, Mouth of Sauron) for those of us who havent gotten our hands on a copy yet, since FFG doesn't feel like doing it themselves?

We'd really appreciate it. Good luck with your polishing of the pieces and your next game (although I'm sure you've already played a few since this first one).
 
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Sean McCarthy
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aggiejfreak wrote:
The poor craftsmanship is disappointing, but I kind of expected to hear that.

Is there any chance you could spoil the remaining characters (Faramir, Aragorn, Flying Nazgul, Mouth of Sauron) for those of us who havent gotten our hands on a copy yet, since FFG doesn't feel like doing it themselves?


And maybe the variant cards? Pretty please?
 
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Jon W
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Here, I'll do more. All the variant characters are:

Frodo (1): Sauron's text card is ignored. If defeated, Sam takes Ring.
Smeagol (0): When attacked alone, may switch with adjacent character.
Gandalf (5): Reveal him to add 1 strength in his or adjacent region.
Sam (1): If attacked, Sam's strength is equal to Sauron character's.
Elrond (3): Sauron's Eye and Magic cards are ignored.
Aragorn (4): If attacked, may decide no cards are played.
Theoden (2): Strength 4 in Rohan or Gondor (including attacking into)
Faramir (3): May retreat sideways when attacking
Treebeard (4): May attack a single Sauron character in Fangorn (from anywhere); strength 6 in Fangorn.

Orcs (3): Strength 6 when attacking.
Wormtongue (-1): If defeated, may retreat backwards into empty region.
Saruman (3): Instantly kills Gandalf. After Fellowship reveals card, S may force them to play a different card.
Flying Nazgul (5): May move forward, skipping over one region, to attack.
Uruk-Hai (4): May be revealed to move forward to any empty region.
Gollum (1): When attacked or attacking, may retreat forward.
Mouth of Sauron (3): After cards revealed, may swap your card with "4" card.
Witch King (2): If WK enters Shire, Sauron wins.
The Watcher (6): Once revealed, remains revealed and cannot move forward.

New Special Cards
A King Revealed: Fellowship skips entire turn. Fellowship reveals Aragorn and chooses a Sauron piece which Sauron must move on his turn (forgoing any Special Cards even). Fellowship can't pick revealed Watcher or play AKR if Aragorn is dead.

Gwaihir The Windlord: Played before a battle, before character texts resolve. Fellowship character text is replaced by "Immediately retreat sideways or backwards" for the duration of that battle. Does not work against the Warg.

The Dark of Mordor: During Sauron's turn, before moving, he can move a character forward (as long as the region is empty or contains only one Sauron character, and the moving character isn't a revealed Watcher). Then he makes his normal move with a different character.

Crebain of Dunland: Sauron skips entire turn. Sauron reveals a Fellowship character, who must remain revealed for the remainder of the game. If Gandalf is chosen, then killed and resuscitated with Gandalf the White, he's no longer affected.

There you go. Hope that sates you both! laugh
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Sean McCarthy
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Thanks!
 
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Eric Paugh
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Thank you.
 
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T. Rosen
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Thanks, much appreciated!
 
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Ben Harris
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"And finally, the numbers on the tiles are obscured by the frames, and are basically impossible to read while playing. They'll be memorized soon enough, but it is a bit awkward."

Jon,

Thanks for the session report. I have actually changed my mind and will most likely not pick this one up for awhile. Could you clarify any on your quote above? Looking at the pictures on the FFG site it looked like the numbers could be seen while in the frames.

Thanks,

Ben
 
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Christian T. Petersen
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Hi Jon.

Thanks for the session, I have a few questions for you. I was floored when I noted your comments on components. We put the very best components into the box (the German finish that you want for the cards is simply a cardstock smushed through a texture machine, and has no bearing on quality, just feel). Your two concerns about wobbly bases and numbers that cannot be seen floored me. I have seen neither problem in any of the dozens and dozens of games that we have seen opened. Please contact us so that we could remedy that problem -- which I believe must be isolated to your copy.

The size of all the components is of course relevant to the deluxe notion of the game, it is not meant for easy transport (the smaller version is perfectly capable of this, of course).

Thanks for the good comments on the game-play, hope that you will enjoy it in the years to come (and that you will contact us if these problems with components are as problematic as you indicate).

Best Wishes,

Christian T. Petersen
CEO
FFG


Jon Waddington wrote:
Ripped open the shrink and away we went. We played the full alternate game (that is, with no original characters). Had to do a bit of rules consultation, of course, but overall that went pretty smoothly. It does, however, lead into my first gripe: the box is the standard large square FFG box, but this size is only needed for the rules themselves. The board (when quad-folded) is quite a bit smaller than the box, and slides around in there.

So on to the game itself. I was Good, KA was Evil. Very evil. He opened with Wormtongue, who is weak but cannot be killed (he just retreats and lives to fight again; well, you can trap him if you get behind him). I "beat" him, but he waited in the wings. Then we had a little tussle between Smeagol and Gollum (how appropos!) in the Misty Mountains, and they went their separate ways. That left two guys effectively behind my lines who I didn't really want to attack, which sucked. On the gripping hand, Treebeard went into Fangorn but didn't manage to cause any fatalities (Retreat and Magic for Saruman and Mouth of Sauron). The Mouth then hammered Elrond before being killed by Aragorn. Gandalf moved into the mountains to evade who I felt might've been Saruman, but then he was killed by the Flying Nazgul, who are beasts in this game (strength 5, and I'd burned my 5 unwisely). Then, in the more pivotal move, Sam was killed next turn by the FN, though I managed to take him down with a Noble Sacrifice by the next character in the space (don't recall whom...). At this point there was a huge hole blasted up the middle of the board, and here came the Uruk-Hai. Frodo was trapped in the Shire with only Faramir to protect him. It was over at that point, as he could get three in the Shire in four moves and it would take Frodo 5 plus battle, etc. to get to Mordor. Not even that close, though, as the Watcher was waiting, so hats off to Evil for the first "Three in the Shire" win we've ever witnessed (and we've played the original game a hundred times or so).

The alternate/variant game feels very different than the standard game. Evil is much less brute-force, while Good seems more combat-oriented. Yet a lot of Good abilities hinge on being attacked (Aragorn, for instance, can be quite powerful, but only if attacked; Sam is as powerful as the Evil character if attacked; Smeagol can switch with adjacent Good character if attacked). The offensive traits are slippery (Faramir can immediately slip sideways when he attacks; Frodo can be strong as he ignores Evil text cards, but of course he's strength 1). Gandalf is very strong, but only in a supporting role, and Theoden is limited. Treebeard can be nasty, admittedly, but is kind of, well, tree-like once planted there in Fangorn. Elrond is pretty wobbly (strength 3, ignores Magic and Eye), and I couldn't find a good use for him that didn't involve killing himself.

Now, the components. The bases, while very nice-looking with their evil Eye and white tree of Gondor, are noticeably wobbly. Not easily-blown-over wobbly, but jiggly. They shake, they quiver, they do not sit firmly still at all times. This may be trivial, but it's annoying. The bottoms are ever-so-slightly convex instead of concave. I think a couple passes with sandpaper may be needed. Also disconcerting are some telltale marks on the sides of the black pieces where they've been joined together. I have one that is clearly different, so I knew which piece was Wormtongue. Of course it'll be different next time, but...not ideal. Maybe I'll take an Exacto to them so they're all equally gouged. And finally, the numbers on the tiles are obscured by the frames, and are basically impossible to read while playing. They'll be memorized soon enough, but it is a bit awkward. The artwork is a matter of taste, but color me unimpressed. The very large cards do feel nice, though I'd dearly wished for that unbelievably durable linen finish that Days of Wonder and Amigo use. Alas, normal varnish.

So on balance, an overproduced game that still doesn't manage to get the components just right, but the new ideas are fascinating and bring a lot of fresh considerations to the game. I strongly wish the box was smaller, or that the map was even larger and had tons of new, detailed artwork or something to justify the extra space (as is, the map is basically same old thing). I was a guaranteed sale on this no matter what, as it's such a strong design, and I'm happy overall. I just think this could've been produced a bit better, or should've come in the larger FFG Silver box (the deeper Through the Desert type) at a lower price point. Still, very eager for more plays.
 
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Jon W
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Ben,

Basically, if you play the game with your chin a couple of inches above the table surface, you'll get the approximate appearance shown on the FFG site. Otherwise, when seated "normally" (and for me, that's pretty far above the table, as I'm 6'5") you have the bar obscuring the top half of the number. The well is actually thick enough to hold two of the character tiles, which is very sensible considering all the switching out that will occur, but the tiles end up leaning on the back of the well, not the front, so this amplifies the effect.

"Impossible to read" is an exaggeration, as all it takes is a bit of stooping and peering to see, and again, not that hard to memorize, so I'm sorry about that. I certainly didn't find it bad enough to make me regret buying it, but I've now played it a couple more times, and with one other person, and we all agreed viewing the numbers was somewhat awkward. HTH.
 
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Jon W
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Flightmaster wrote:
We put the very best components into the box (the German finish that you want for the cards is simply a cardstock smushed through a texture machine, and has no bearing on quality, just feel).


Good to hear. I've had tremendous luck with the durability of linen-finished cards over the years, and I frankly prefer that very slick and tough feel. But if you're right, great, no concerns on that front, and thanks for the info.

Quote:
Your two concerns about wobbly bases and numbers that cannot be seen floored me. I have seen neither problem in any of the dozens and dozens of games that we have seen opened.


I discussed the numbers again, above. As for the bases, well, as I said, they wobble a bit, or perhaps more precisely, they quiver. Again, not a deal-breaker, but just slightly off. I'm probably too fussy about these things.

Quote:
The size of all the components is of course relevant to the deluxe notion of the game, it is not meant for easy transport (the smaller version is perfectly capable of this, of course).


If this is true, why is the map so much smaller than the box? The only component that truly requires a box that large is the rulebook, which of course could've been a different size. Perhaps you were concerned about it matching up with your other LOTR products, which is of course your prerogative. My concerns about easy transport are just that: mine, and I'm sure many, many people aren't at all concerned about such things.

Quote:
Thanks for the good comments on the game-play, hope that you will enjoy it in the years to come (and that you will contact us if these problems with components are as problematic as you indicate).


Er, you're welcome? I'm sorry to appear antagonistic in this SR, and I certainly don't think the components are "problematic." They're just not ideal, from my perspective. As I said, I'm happy overall.

As to the gameplay, I've played a couple of times since, and it's just getting better and better, as I'd hoped. Really good job on getting the new roles balanced and interesting, and we're having fun figuring out the new ways to play.
 
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Christian T. Petersen
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Hi Jon,

Jon Waddington wrote:

Er, you're welcome? I'm sorry to appear antagonistic in this SR, and I certainly don't think the components are "problematic." They're just not ideal, from my perspective. As I said, I'm happy overall.

As to the gameplay, I've played a couple of times since, and it's just getting better and better, as I'd hoped. Really good job on getting the new roles balanced and interesting, and we're having fun figuring out the new ways to play.


That is great! I just want to make sure that you get the service if there is something wrong with the components! Thanks for the detailed feedback, it is much appreciated!

cP
FFG
 
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Christian T. Petersen
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Jon Waddington wrote:


If this is true, why is the map so much smaller than the box?


I just wanted to give you an answer on this one as well. The reason we decided this, is that the board becomes too large for normal tables when its size matches our standard box size. This is, of course, due to the fact that the board is placed askew to the players. If you own our RUNEBOUND game, for example, try to place that board corner to corner, and you will see what our concerns were in terms of reach and size.

Certainly everyone is welcome to their opinion, for some it will be too large, for others too small, but the reason that we made it that size is for the above reason!

Best Wishes,
cP
FFG
 
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Matt Smith
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I have the Deluxe Edition too, and can comment on my experiences:

- The board size seems fine to me based on the size of the pieces and the reach required to reach the far side of the board. No issues here.

- My bases are a bit wobbly too, but not so much that pieces are constantly falling over. My wife did bump one of my pieces and it fell over, but I attributed it to the taller aspect ratio of the bases.

- When seated at my table I can't see the top 1/3 of the numbers, but I can see enough to know what number it is. Dropping the number down a small amount would have solved the problem, but again it's not so bad as to make the numbers unreadable.

Haven't used the alternate charaters yet, as my wife and I are still getting used to the basic set. They look fun, though.
 
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Adrian Mckinnon
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So what happens when a king revealed card is played and the Evil guy named canĀ“t move forward...game over good guy wins?
 
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Daniel Murphy
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I just got the deluxe edition as well (1.5 years after this thread was started). In response to the component complaints...

The pieces are beautiful, to be sure. The plastic stands with the Tree and Eye are awesome. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, it is difficult to see the numbers on the very back characters (Shire or Mordor), but once they get any farther forward I had no trouble at all. No wobbliness. The cards and character cards are large, with good art and quality.

As to the box being too big, I feel that one. It looks nicer (and honestly, to get a Deluxe edition in a small box might not feel right). I'm sure in the future when I have a real game cupboard, I'll appreciate the stackability, but at my current stage in life, a smaller box could have been nice. No biggy, it just makes the game feel special.

My one and only complaint is the box innards. I prefer a box with holders for everything. In this one, there is nowhere for the drafting discs (I just stuff them under the character holders) and the cards can fall underneath the cardboard component holder, which is difficult to remove and replace. On the upside, the cardboard innards let them put the nice pretty graphics on it. They chose appearance over function, which is nice and gets top marks in the appearance department. Just a preference thing - I'd rather have boring old plastic that holds the pieces snugly.

Everything else, everything, in my opinion, is top notch. The plastic character holders and board artwork take the cake.
 
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