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Weekly Trash - War of the Ring

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20 May 2008 02:06 #6759 by metalface13
War of the Ring has been on my want list for quite some time. My brother had it for a while and he sold it before I ever got the chance to play it (we live in different states). I'm a huge LoTR fan and I've always wanted to play a game like this -- being able to control factions at war and the actions of the Fellowship. Frankly, LoTR Risk did not even begin to scratch that itch.

How long does gameplay last? I've heard it can be pretty long. Right now my regular gaming group is just me and my buddy, but I'm pretty sure he'd lap this game up. But when we do get together and play, it is generally for only 2-3 hours. We've been playing Descent: RTL. Do you think we could get a full game of WotR in one night?

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20 May 2008 06:51 #6767 by Matt Thrower
I bought this game after playing a PBEM game using Cyberboard. As a big LotR fan I was obviously really interested prior to trying it but I'd always avoided it because of the two player tag and the complexity. But I enjoyed the PBEM game so much I just had to buy it.

However, I've only played it face-to-face once. Partly this is due to a dearth of opportunities for two player games but I've heard the team game (particularly with three, with the "team" being on the shadow side, which makes sense given the book) can work well. So why haven't we tried it again?

Basically because it *is* too complicated. My usual limit for satisfactory complexity is a one game learning curve and I thought I'd got it after that PBEM game, but it turns out not. We had a blast playing it but we were fighting with the rules the whole time, even though we had kick-arse player aids to help us. There's just too much fiddly stuff to remember, especially if you're not going to play regularly, and I've not been inspired enough to want to teach it to anyone else - yet.

The game does look great on the table but I'm not entirely satisfied with the physical design. Telling the different nations apart is awkward. We often found that we wanted to put more pieces in a given area than would actually fit, which was damn annoying. I found the most irritating thing to be the nation symbols, many of which don't make direct sense even if you know the books pretty well.

All that said it's a lot of fun to play once you put in the time and the effort. I love the way it mimics the feel of a CDG in the way it limits your choices through the dice and the theme is implemented really well. There's quite a lot of challenging strategy to consider as well. It also seems built to rise to a tremendous climax with the FP player running up mount doom as fast as possible while the shadow player tries to get that last city or stronghold for a military victory.

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20 May 2008 08:19 #6769 by Aarontu
metalface13 wrote:

Frankly, LoTR Risk did not even begin to scratch that itch.

How long does gameplay last? I've heard it can be pretty long. Right now my regular gaming group is just me and my buddy, but I'm pretty sure he'd lap this game up. But when we do get together and play, it is generally for only 2-3 hours. We've been playing Descent: RTL. Do you think we could get a full game of WotR in one night?

LotR Risk was probably the biggest gaming disapointment I've ever experienced. The pasted-on theme makes T&E look like Ameritrash.

Even with a new player, games usually run about 3 hours. I've made up some variants for the "intro game" that make it actually playable, and it takes about an hour and a half to two hours to complete. I've played it with a couple people who aren't familiar with war games and we had a great time.

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20 May 2008 08:48 #6773 by Ken B.
Gary Sax wrote:

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.



War of the Ring was my first 'major' boardgame purchase after getting full-time into the hobby in 2005. When I found out about it, I could not believe such a game existed. You look at stuff that's on Wal-Mart shelves and then look at this and it blows your mind. So in a way you could very well say that WotR was my 'gateway game' and I haven't looked back since.


Thanks for the props on the review, barefoot killer...if I had to do it over, I would have spent more time on the opinion parts. I'm glad people enjoyed it, it was fun to write.

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20 May 2008 09:37 #6779 by Shellhead
Anybody here ever try the original War of the Ring, from SPI? A friend of mine got it when we were in junior high. We played exactly once. It was long, complicated and had an odd hybrid system of armies plus individual heroes and monsters. The army part was like a conventional wargame, with stacks of chits and a huge hex map of Middle Earth. The heroes and monsters functioned more like rpg characters than as mere chrome to the military action. They even had tiny simple character sheets with hit points. (Or "health" or something like that.) My impression of the new War of the Ring is that somebody took the old game and massively streamlined it for playability.

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20 May 2008 09:51 #6781 by Matt Thrower
Shellhead wrote:

Anybody here ever try the original War of the Ring, from SPI? ... My impression of the new War of the Ring is that somebody took the old game and massively streamlined it for playability.


I played it once. I found it virtually unplayable and really rather dull. I don't see a whole lot of relationship between the two at all, although I can see where you're coming from given the RPG-like aspects of both.

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20 May 2008 10:10 #6783 by JoelCFC25

I found the most irritating thing to be the nation symbols, many of which don't make direct sense even if you know the books pretty well.


That's a good point about the usability issue that I haven't seen mentioned before--I completely agree with you. There's something a little too stylized about them.

Before I finally broke down and got glasses about a year and a half ago, this game would have been impossible to play without a magnifying glass (the cards and some map text).

On the learning curve issue, it is a complex game to be sure. For some reason the rules just clicked with me when I spent a few turns solo-ing to get the feel of it. I don't expect that everyone would grok it at the same pace.

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20 May 2008 12:02 - 20 May 2008 12:03 #6788 by Bulwyf
War of the Ring is all sorts of awesome. If my house were on fire it would be on the short list of games I would save. However it does have some faults.

First, it's rulebook is a mess which has resulted in a large FAQ. I wish FFG/Nexus would take a page out of the Ed Beach playbook and re-write it modeled on the rulebook from Here I Stand. It's easy to read, well organized and every procedure is explained in a step-by-step style. If that wasn't enough, there are lots of sidebars that have in-game expamples of the rules in action. Good stuff.

Second I think WoR suffers from too much plastic. (Wait don't ban me yet!) I like my plastic as much as the next ATer but sometime the WoR board can get seriously crowded. Not to mention that knocking over the Nazgul gets old real fast. What if they used high quality tokens or linen finished counters for the regular and elite army units? You would still have plastic for the fellowship, leaders, minions, etc., but now the board would be a lot less cluttered and easier to "read". You don't believe that this can be awesome? Check out what this guy did with his WoR set:


www.boardgamegeek.com/image/246227

www.boardgamegeek.com/image/246229

-Will
Last edit: 20 May 2008 12:03 by Bulwyf.

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20 May 2008 12:29 #6790 by metalface13
Not being a dedicated wargamer, I always prefer plastic over cardboard.

Also is everything THAT hard to read? I mean I'm young (27) with good eyesight and have made my living as a copy editor so I'm used to staring at text for hours on end. So is the text on WotR really going to be a problem?

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20 May 2008 12:46 #6791 by pbwedz
I just picked this up... er, well, my wife picked it up for me as she somehow knew the reprint was out before I did. She rocks!

Anyway I plan to play it for the first time this weekend in a 4-er. It's not a bad idea to pick up the java client at www.warofthering.webb.se/ and then replay a few other people's games to make sure you have your head around the rules (well, it helped me at least).

It's not that hard, but like FoD there are a few times you might go 'Oooooo...' as the light bulb goes on. :)

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20 May 2008 13:20 #6793 by ChristopherMD
metalface13 wrote:

Not being a dedicated wargamer, I always prefer plastic over cardboard.

Also is everything THAT hard to read? I mean I'm young (27) with good eyesight and have made my living as a copy editor so I'm used to staring at text for hours on end. So is the text on WotR really going to be a problem?


I don't find the text hard to read at all.

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20 May 2008 13:48 #6794 by Schweig!
I can't complain about the usability. The miniatures are hard to distinguish, but you won't have more than one type fighting in one area that often. And even Rohan and Gondor which look very similar, still have different emblems on their shields. Finding areas on the map is sometimes hard, but as mentioned above the action is concentrated in few areas, and you can always spot for those on the map while your opponent is plotting strategy. Small print on cards - I think a counter pusher shouldn't complain about this, when even the rulebooks are printed in 6pt.

And all this is still *a lot* better than having and an expansion printed in lighter colors than the base game !!1eleven

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20 May 2008 17:46 #6802 by Merkles
I love this game---first "heavier" game I played (before any Card Driven wargames or anything)--still love it.

Unlike most people, I've actually enjoyed the three player games that I've played. Four player wasn't as good--but three player (dividing up the dark side between forces under Saruman and Sauron) works very well thematically and for game play. Sure, it slows things down and makes things more difficult for the dark player, but the division mirrors problems in alliances and imperfect coordination, I think.

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20 May 2008 18:15 #6804 by jur
This is definitely the greatest game of the last years. I tend not to be bothered by the look of the bits, but indeed they are not always practical.

The rules are pretty complex, there is a steep learning curve. I found that friends who grasp and enjoy games like St Petersburg, Memoir 44, Funkenschlag and Attika have difficulty with this one. They even seem a bit scared of it. Too bad. With my regular game group, it is THE favourite, although the challenger cup matches have become more rare.

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23 May 2008 10:13 #6976 by ChristopherMD
If anyone wants to take out next weeks trash just say so. Otherwise I'll post something.

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