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Weekly Trash - War of the Ring

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19 May 2008 10:33 #6665 by ChristopherMD
This game came up at the end of last weeks trash and I played it on Friday night so its this weeks game.

I was on another forum last year and someone started a thread talking about boardgames. I posted the advertisement pic of WotR with no comment. Multiple people bought it based on look alone with one saying how he'd always wanted to own an LotR game like that. In short, this game has massive appeal in the graphics and bits department. Fortunately it also has kickass gameplay too.
I'm going to slack off here a bit because I've got to do some work at work today, but I do have more I want to write about this. In the meantime say anything good or bad about it, just post something. What do you like about it? What don't you like about it? Do you feel it captures the theme? How strategic do you think it is? Do you like playing 1-on-1 or as teams? Had any particularly exciting games of it?

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19 May 2008 10:57 - 19 May 2008 11:05 #6668 by Schweig!
One of my real "gateway games". :)

I think we only got the rules right after our third game, but we didn't really care, because we were consistent with our mistakes throughout the first plays.

We played this mostly with three players, and I always tried to achieve a military victory with the Free People, which is nonsensical and makes the game very long, but this was just to our liking (in fact once we even recorded down the position of all pieces, because we had to stop playing). I never won this way, but it got very close two times. One of these plays I got the Ents card to defeat Saruman, which was a very cool event and neither of the two Evil players considered that, although it happens just like this in the books. Similarly the battle for Helm's Deep (? Helms Klamm in German translation) was once very close and just like in the books with cavalry from Gondor first relieve Rohan there, and then Rohan cavalry helping at Minas Tirith.

Before playing the game, I did not read the books however, and have not seen the movies.
Last edit: 19 May 2008 11:05 by Schweig!.

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19 May 2008 11:17 #6669 by Aarontu
My most favorite 2 player game, ever. I feel it captures the theme very well. When playing with a friend (both of us LotR fans), we can't help but comment "hey, just like in the books" when stuff happens.

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19 May 2008 11:21 #6671 by Michael Barnes
I still think this is one of the best games of the last 10 years but I hardly ever play it- mainly because in a 2 player wargaming situation something else always seems to take precedence. The team game- eh.

But yes, it's up there with DUNE in terms of narrative and theme and I particularly like the change in scope- from the big, mass battles to the individual actions of the Fellowship. I think that's absolutely brilliant. I'm surprised the dice system for actions has turned up in more games since its release, that's a fun and interesting system- I love budgeting out the actions, the objectives represented by the characters that give you extra dice...I still think the political system is a little goofy though.

Strategically, there's a lot going on...the Free People are down and out from the get-go and have to play a shrewd game to win it. The Shadow has the military might, momentum, and position to make it a short game if they can get a couple of sieges going early on. But then there's that 3-point shot into Mount Doom...

The funny thing is that the game is actually pretty complex for its assumed market- it's on par with most of the mid-range CDWGs even though it seems like it doesn't want to admit it. There's _a lot_ of rules, really, and that's why the rulebook is such a bear. It really needed to be case-based rather than prose narrative, which makes it all a jumbled mess.

The expansion is cool, and it's one of those things I can't imagine playing without...it adds some cool ideas, like the Ents and Corsairs...the siege engines were a little disappointing though. The tactical games are more complex than the base game and I've never been able to get anyone to try one of them.

Anybody heard anything else about the Collector's Edition?

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19 May 2008 12:40 #6679 by Shellhead
I haven't played War of the Ring, but I watched two other guys at the local game shop play it for more than an hour. Initially, I was very impressed, but as I watched, I became dissatisfied with the physical design of the game. The figures needed paint, because from even a short distance, a group of figures looked like a random pile of plastic limbs. They were too big for the scale of the board, or at least some of the smaller map spaces. And the cards needed to be larger, because the tiny fonts were difficult to read. Maybe a higher contrast between text color and card color would have helped. Personally, I would have liked to have seen bigger cards, but replace the figs with high-quality chits like used in Arkham Horror.

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19 May 2008 12:40 #6680 by bfkiller
I'm glad this is the pick of the week because it's very likely going to be my next purchase (now that my girlfriend made a "Who farted?" face when I tried to sell her on Friedrich at the games store and she was a lot less impressed than I was with the Anti-Monitor Heroclix figure on display on our way out). I almost plunked down the money for it last night but then I remembered the dusty moths that fly out of my otherwise empty wallet when I open it.

I think this would go over well with my a friend of mine who doesn't game now but was into Axis & Allies in a big way ten years ago and who's also a fan of the movies. Is that a fair guess?

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19 May 2008 12:48 - 19 May 2008 12:55 #6682 by Michael Barnes
There are definitely some product design problems with WotR- it seems like the overwhelming awesomeness of it as a whole manages to overshadow a lot of simple matters of practicality. The text is very small on the cards, it's difficult to tell which regions are which on the board, and the figures do all look alike. It's an example of how cardboard chits would have been better than the miniatures.

I usually cut publishers miles of slack for things like this...but with WotR, there's some pretty serious oversights in terms of usability.

Some of it I kind of think could be attributed to the game's identity crisis...it's really almost a fictional historical wargame (close to a CDWG)and really the game would have been better with a more wargame-oriented presentation overall. But it's also a big-box, AT style thing, and it has those production qualities that may not have been the best choice.

Definitely worth the effort to deal with though, regardless.
Last edit: 19 May 2008 12:55 by Michael Barnes.

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19 May 2008 14:09 #6695 by Aarontu
I don't think the "all the pieces look the same" issue is an issue at all with people who have played the game more than once. All it does is increase the amount of time it takes to set up the game (separating the different armies into groups/piles), but during the game you usually know what nationality an army is just based on it's location on the map, and once you get familiar with the game you can tell apart the nations different symbols.

Painted bases would still be cool, though. It would definitley help decrease set up time.

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19 May 2008 14:18 #6697 by bfkiller

Painted bases would still be cool, though. It would definitley help decrease set up time.


I'm definitely doing this when I get it.

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19 May 2008 14:23 #6700 by Michael Barnes
I agree Aaron- after a couple of plays I guess it's not really that big a deal. The problem is that the system they chose to depict the units doesn't provide enough visual difference- at least not with 1 color miniatures.

I heard that some people were gluing pennies on the bottom of the Nazgul to keep them from tipping over...that sounds funny to me for some reason.

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19 May 2008 14:53 #6705 by JoelCFC25
I just bought WAR OF THE RING now that it finally got reprinted. I have 2 friends itching to play it.

For a long time I thought miniatures painting was right next to "Frequent nosebleeds" on the nerd spectrum, but I am seriously considering painted bases as a summer project.

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19 May 2008 17:13 - 20 May 2008 08:12 #6714 by Aarontu

the barefoot killer wrote:I think this would go over well with my a friend of mine who doesn't game now but was into Axis & Allies in a big way ten years ago and who's also a fan of the movies. Is that a fair guess?

I think he'll like it. Like A&A, starting armies all start in specific territories, and the game depicts an epic war just as it's getting to the really good part. Unlike A&A, there are two different victory conditions and you have to balance your efforts between both of them. Also, the same strategy won't be the best one every game because the cards can really cause one area to be hard to conquer and another to be easier than it was last game.
Last edit: 20 May 2008 08:12 by Aarontu.

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19 May 2008 20:55 - 19 May 2008 20:57 #6736 by bfkiller
Aaaaand I have no will power and just bought it (online, so I guess I'll get it early next week -- my local store has it priced at an insane $97.99).

Thanks and blame for my purchase go to Ken for his excellent review at BGG which I think does a great job of relaying how strongly the theme is expressed through the players' actions.

(But printing off the FAQ just gave me a pang of buyer's remorse. What a perfect game to get while plugging away on a thesis...)
Last edit: 19 May 2008 20:57 by bfkiller.

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19 May 2008 23:24 #6745 by Gary Sax
Whoever said this can be a gateway game is right. I know a bunch of people who haven't played anything more complicated than risk who would jump at the chance to play WOTR.

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20 May 2008 00:48 #6754 by Partizan
I played this for the first time three weeks ago, along with its expansion. I absolutely loved it. It was a game that brought me back in time to the days we used to play all those GameMaster wargames, like Fortress America and Shogun. And that is good thing.

To answer the original posters question, here are my specific thoughts:

1. The board and components are beautiful and there are tons of them. This had two reactions from those passing by. Mouths dropped and a stream of drool dripped out of them. Or they stared at it and said, "Wow, this looks complicated!"

2. It tells a great story and it's fun to see how your game differs to the books and movie. In our game, the free peoples won with the ring being destroyed. And who led Frodo and Sam into the cracks of Mt. Doom? Boromir. :)

3. It's hard to teach someone who has never played a game like this before. There are a lot of little rules to remember.

4. I love the components, but I agree with some of the posters above. I would like a smaller Nazgul because some of the territories can become really cluttered.

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