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August 08, 2020

Lord of the Rings: The Board Game Anniversary Edition Announced

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Lord of the Rings: The Board Game Anniversary Edition

Game Information

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Release Schedule Information

Release Date
There Will Be Games

The classic Knizia co-op retyrns to print.

First published in 2000, The Lord of the Rings: The Board Game has been a seminal classic and an iconic tabletop retelling of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy, created by world renowned game designer, Reiner Knizia, and brought to life with the stunning artwork of John Howe. Twenty years later, the game returns to print in a brand-new anniversary edition—a faithful recreation that now includes beautifully sculpted plastic miniatures for the hobbits, Sauron, the threat die, and the One Ring.

The Lord of the Rings: The Board Game Anniversary Edition is the definitive edition of this classic cooperative board game, challenging you and up to four other players to play through the entire trilogy, from the long darkness of Moria and the ferocious battles beneath the walls of Helm’s Deep, to the shadows of Shelob’s Lair and the dusty grey wastes of Mordor. In every location, you and your fellow Hobbits must push forward, battling the forces of the Dark Lord and marching ever closer to the Cracks of Doom and the destruction of the One Ring. The road is long, the Eye of Sauron is watchful, and the threat of the Ring’s corruption is ever-present. Can you save the Free Peoples of Middle-earth and destroy the One Ring?

This new version includes a upgraded Threat Die and Ring Token, and newly sculpted miniatues to replace the cardboard hobbit and Sauron marker standees.

Lord of the Rings Board Game New Miniatures

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Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #311754 07 Jul 2020 16:18
Hmmm. First off: It's been 20 years? Ye gods. It doesn't seem like "yesterday" that this appeared, but it doesn't seem like 20 years, either.

I question the upgrades, in part, because I had the original with both expansions and there was no "cardboard standee" for Sauron. One of the most attractive non-John Howe parts of the game was the black column with the red Eye that was the Sauron figure. Did that come in one of the expansions and I'm just not remembering? And it seems like there were hobbit figures, too, but I have no clear memory of that.

But, overall... meh. I'm a Knizia fan and an LotR fan. But this one just never sold me. I loved the design concept, in that it pretty faithfully recreated much of the story and the tension inherent to trying to destroy the Ring while the Eye gets closer and closer. It's a Knizia, so it's a smart application. But there was never as much "game" there as I usually expect from his stuff (Modern Art, T&E, Amun-Re, etc.) It was mostly just drawing tiles and dealing with the inevitable poor draw. There's probably some of my bias against co-ops lurking in my reaction to it, as well.
jpat's Avatar
jpat replied the topic: #311756 07 Jul 2020 18:02
I think it's fine to put this game out there again, but I think FFG was probably ill-advised to create the expectation among the nerdly that this was somehow a definitive edition when it's clearly not. At most, it's sort of a sideways upgrade straddling the compact and totally fine but not deluxe Silver Line edition with the bigger-box predecessors that had not so great player minis but the cool Sauron figure. Not including the expansions is smart from a mass market perspective but would obviously be expected for a definitive edition. I have the Silver Line, which will always hold sentimental value to me because my wife proposed to me by subbing in the ring she'd bought for the One Ring (which confused the heck out of me, I'll tell you), and I have the older FFG version with Friends and Foes and Battlefields (not Sauron), though I haven't played the latter, so I'm not really the target audience here.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #311757 07 Jul 2020 18:40
I think the cardboard was the most recent prior version. I believe their first edition had a nice chunky ring in it as well, but I’d have to check what I have and which edition it is, and I don’t feel like going up two flights of stairs to do it.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #311758 07 Jul 2020 18:50
This game blows War of the Ring out of the water in terms of expressing the themes and subject matter of LOTR. War of the Ring is the better game for adding additional detail to the martial events that happen in the peripheral. What makes this game really great is how there are so many things that are one-use, so many things that advance corruption, and the inevitability that players have to weigh sacrifices versus the possibility for future situations. It's a game that REALLY captures the wear and tear of the Fellowship and eventually the hobbits toward the end- the Mordor board is almost always a hopeless proposition - you are out of almost everything but luck by that point and the few resources you have are painful to let go of. And eventually, someone has to die to save everyone else. The themes here- sacrifice, corruption, making the most of the time, striving against impossible situations- are what LOTR is about. LOTR is not about shuffling armies around a map and taking over Rivendell with Uruk-Hai.

But yeah, what a whiff by not making this an all-in-one release. I'd gladly pay $100 for a very lightly updated all-in-one premium package. Friends & Foes is -essential- to the game, and the Bree/Isengard board completes the story. It also adds one time powers for each of the hobbits, which means another do-or-die resource. Sauron was good but WAY too hard with a human Sauron player...but that expansion added some good stuff (including the all-important black bag for the tiles). Battlefields was...interesting. I'm somewhat of the opinion that Knizia didn't actually finish it or that he repurposed another fledgling design to make it because it kind of doesn't really fit with the rest of the design. It turns the battles into these odd flowchart-like affairs. It's definitely interesting, and I've come to like it a lot more over the years than I did to start with, but it's still a strange addition.

But why couldn't all of these be put together for a deluxe, definitive 20th anniversary edition?

The black column (one of gaming's greatest pieces) is in the base game.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #311760 07 Jul 2020 19:12
Here’s a picture showing the original components and the most recent prior version components. (Not my photo, I nicked it off BGG)
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #311761 07 Jul 2020 19:33
Missed opportunity to release a Deluxe Edition of the base game plus friends&foes in honor of the anniversary. F&F, iirc, is one more board and some cards. A lot of people would even re-purchase to replace their old copies. I've never known anyone to like using Sauron and have never tried Battlefields so those I wouldn't consider essential or reprint-worthy.
jeb's Avatar
jeb replied the topic: #311762 07 Jul 2020 20:17
Hmm. Mine had the standees for the players, but had Sauron wedge and the fat ring. How many versions of this did they make?
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #311763 07 Jul 2020 21:55

jeb wrote: Hmm. Mine had the standees for the players, but had Sauron wedge and the fat ring. How many versions of this did they make?

I have an '07 Kia Sedona with '06 headlights in it. You may have gotten what was lying around the warehouse.
Matt Thrower's Avatar
Matt Thrower replied the topic: #311772 08 Jul 2020 04:38

Michael Barnes wrote: This game blows War of the Ring out of the water in terms of expressing the themes and subject matter of LOTR.

As a dedicated Tolkien nerd, can I just say: GTFO with sprinkles on.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #311775 08 Jul 2020 08:43
I have the Parker/HASBROS original edition with minis and plastic Sauron, along with Friends & Foes and Sauron (with the Black Rider mini) expansions, and I will sell my soul and agree pretty much with everything Mikey Barnes said about presenting the real story and atmosphere of the books ... to all you Middle Earth exiles - pffffft.

I will have to say that playing the Sauron expansion with a full compliment of Hobbits is the best experience this game can produce (with his-evilness playing Sauron of course), making each Hobbit call Sauron at the beginning of their turn just to inflict more stress on them :lol: . And those Dark event tiles ... nasty.

And reading/using the expanded rules document by Chris Lawson is recommended for Middle Earthings.
Unfortunately I don't know enough gamers who like co-ops or this game to get it played much.

So, yeah, sounds like a pretty average 20th Anniversary effort.
dysjunct's Avatar
dysjunct replied the topic: #311779 08 Jul 2020 10:30

Matt Thrower wrote:

Michael Barnes wrote: This game blows War of the Ring out of the water in terms of expressing the themes and subject matter of LOTR.

As a dedicated Tolkien nerd, can I just say: GTFO with sprinkles on.

As another dedicated Tolkien nerd, I think Barnes is right and can ... stay ... and remove the sprinkles?

The themes of LOTR are friendship, endurance, and sacrifice. The Knizia game really nails this. WOTR has some aspect of this (corruption track, some of the cards) but overwhelms this with the strategic military aspect. And of course the Sauron player doesn’t engage any of those themes at all, except in opposition.

That said, I think WOTR is a much better game. There’s more interesting decisions, it’s more dynamic and less reactive, and there’s just a lot more going on. But as a Tolkien experience, Knizia is superior.
Gregarius's Avatar
Gregarius replied the topic: #311784 08 Jul 2020 14:03
I'm very happy with my original edition with F&F. I used to have Sauron, but gave it away to a friend because I didn't like playing with a Sauron player.

What's amazing to me about the 20 years since this came out is the change of attitude towards co-op games. Aside from Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective (which isn't much of a "board" game), I think this was the first ever cooperative game. I remember debates at the time about whether it even *counted* as a "game" since there were no winners! It was a radical design shift that I don't think Knizia gets enough credit for. Sure, Pandemic went gangbusters and brought it mainstream, but The Dr. was there first.