The Lord of Rings Board Game

Review by Mike Williams

With the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) movie looming on the horizon, a new LOTR board game was recently released by Sophisticated Games. The game artwork was contributed by John Howe. The game was design by Reiner Knizia. Sophisticated Games has a superlative web site that describes and depicts everything about the game. You can order the game in the US from
. If you would also like to see a video of the game designer discussing the creation of the game and how to play it, click here: Reiner Knizia Explains The Lord of the Rings Board Game.

The game consists of a Master playing board, four scenario boards, five Hobbit figures and sets of action and resource cards.The outcome of action on the scenario boards determines how close you move to the shadow and Sauron on the Main board. Of course, you must keep the ringbearer from capture by Sauron.

The most compelling aspect of the game is the visual design. The graphics are exceptional and the design layout works perfectly. Although much of the artwork has appeared in other publications, these images fit the game format. The entire design, including playing pieces, cards and board artwork have an integrated appearance that is superior to any Hobbit or LOTR board game I have seen. The production quality is also high and the game is an excellent value. Once it becomes available in the US, you should not hesitate to buy it. Given the popularity of Tolkien collectibles, this game will surely keep its value.

The game play follows the style of a role-playing game. Up to five people take on the roles of Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin and Fatty Bolger. The players face a variety of challenges as they attempt to return the ring to the fire and evade Sauron. Others characters from LOTR, such as the other Fellowship members, Faramir, Eowyn and Theoden, play minor parts through the use of action-based playing cards. In a very simplified form, the characters are confronted with a problem. If they work together, pool their weapons and resources, they will overcome the problem and keep Sauron at bay.

In general, I found the game play to be easy and rather dull. The instructions were also moderately ambiguous and we wasted a lot of time trying to figure out the rules. The game play should have been tested more among the non-game-playing crowd. Someone who plays these games all the time can probably anticipate the instructions and not get bogged down. The cooperative nature of the game contributed to the dullness in game play. Although this is consistent with the quest nature of LOTR itself, it is inherently more interesting to play a competitive game. Given all the battles in LOTR, a competitive game would still be in the spirit of the story. In contrast to my feelings about the dullness of the game, my children, aged 8 and 9, loved the game and wanted to play it again and again.

There are three styles of game that I think would be popular as Tolkien-based games. The first is a war game that is less complex than the old War of the Ring game that was published a number of years ago. The complexity should be reduced to approximately the level of the game of Risk. This makes the game play proceed at a reasonably quick pace but complex enough to make it interesting. The second type of game that is desperately needed is a Lord of the Rings trivia game. Now that there are millions of LOTR readers, such a game would be very popular. Finally, why has there never been a riddle game, that would mimic the game actually played by Bilbo and Gollum? There is room for a creative riddle game that would spark the imagination and could be gauged for children and adults.

In the end, I highly recommend the game as a collectible. The only games that compare in production quality were the ones made by Iron Crown Enterprises. I expect to bring it out to play with other Tolkien fans from time to time but I donŐt think it will replace the major after-dinner games, such as Monopoly, Risk or card games. My children clearly enjoyed the game. Since few games for children have a cooperative style, this feature may be attractive to parents who want their children to play less competitive games.








  A very high quality, beautiful sword. This would make a great decorative gift for the shield maiden in your life, or someone who just loves equestrian design.


  Now that the movies have largely run their merchandising course, this may be the best time to purchase high quality jewelry at discounted prices. Use these as gifts for years to come.


  It appears that any game that could possibly have a Lord of the Rings theme has been produced. These include Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Backgammon and Dominoes.



  Figures from the movies include a large action figure series. There are separate figure sets and color schemes for each movie. The highest quality figures were made by Sideshow WETA. Although these are expensive, they sell out quickly and will likely keep their values.

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