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War of The Ring

Long in the making, this massive game based on J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings allows players to experience the dramatic events and epic conflict that occurred before the end of the Third Age of Middle Earth.The War of the Ring allows players to not only control the military might of Men, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, and the forces of Sauron, but also Tolkien’s legendary characters, making the fateful decisions of the Fellowship of the Ring or guiding the dreadful servants of Sauron as they hunt for the ringbearer.

War of the Ring is usually playable in under three hours but can last longer if played with more than two players. In the game, players will either take command of the armies of the Free Peoples or the dark host of the Shadow. Over the course of play, armies will clash on the field of battle, while a brave group of companions, the Fellowship of the Ring, advances towards Mordor. As the Fellowship approaches the fastness of the Dark Lord Sauron, they will seek to complete their desperate quest to destroy the One Ring, the master ring forged by Sauron himself.

But the journey is long and dangerous, for the Eye of the Enemy is upon the Fellowship’s every move, and time grows ever shorter. As the Fellowship finds its way through the perilous wilderness of Middle Earth, the armies of the Shadow threaten to sweep across Middle Earth, laying waste to all resistance.

As the ringbearer moves towards Mordor, his companions will be needed elsewhere to rouse the free nations of the West and lead them to war. Yet, by leaving the Fellowship too soon, the fate of the ringbearer and his quest becomes more uncertain and will carry a more dreadful risk with every step closer to the mountain of fire. On the opposing side, the Dark Lord and the forces of shadow must balance political and military action against the need to search for the Ring or risk its destruction.

Faithful to the epic flavor of the books, characters and strongholds play a major role in the flow of the game and represent the main focus of the action. A simple, fun, dice-based resource management mechanism is used to determine the various types of action possible for each player. Smooth, original mechanics have been devised to handle the hidden movement of the Fellowship and the Hunt for the Ring.

images © Fantasy Flight Games

User Reviews (4)

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Miniature Painter
Expert Advisor
Advanced Reviewer
144 of 155 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 3
“Highly Thematic Wargame Masterpiece”

Overview: War of the Ring is a thematic wargame for 2 to 4 players based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, allowing players to not only conduct the battle for Middle-Earth, but also the journey and hunt for the One Ring.

Gameplay: One player controls the Free Peoples (Men, Elves, Dwarves) trying to rally nations to war and defend against the forces of evil long enough for the Ringbearers, guided by the Fellowship, to reach Mount Doom. The Shadow (Sauron, Isengard, Southrons) player must use his significant military advantage to capture key locations before the One Ring is destroyed, or he can attempt to hunt the Fellowship and corrupt the Ringbearers. These asymmetrical goals create the main strategic dilemma as players decide how to use their limited resources, either to further themselves or to hinder the opponent. Games can vary widely based on which agenda receives more focus.

Players roll “Action Dice” at the start of each round to determine what they can do. The results include moving and attacking with units, creating units, advancing the Fellowship, and playing event cards which provide surprise thematic advantages. The Shadow player gains the upper hand as he almost always has more actions than the Free Peoples. Some of these actions can be diverted towards searching for the Fellowship, thereby slowing their progress or causing their demise if they push on too quickly.

The Free Peoples strength lies in the companions of the Fellowship which may be separated to directly assist in defending important battles or encourage nations to join the war. Companions in battle provide leadership, enabling rerolls of combat dice, and facilitate the playing of certain character driven event cards.

The battle system is very simple, keeping the focus on theme and not military details. Strongholds, such as Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith, may become “besieged”, limiting the quantity of defenders but giving them strong bonuses. This provides a feel for the importance that these locations had in the story.

– Two large board pieces depict the map of Middle-Earth.
– Over 200 plastic figures representing eight different races.
– Asymmetrical victory conditions put game “on the clock” and prevent traditional wargame glut of forces.
– Multiple military targets and variable pacing of the opposing win conditions helps replay value.
– Game delivers the flavor of The Lord of the Rings immersing players in Middle-earth.

– The rules are fairly complex and it took our group several plays to iron out overlooked details.
– The multi-player rules seem to be an afterthought. This game is best for two players.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Andy Serkis

Fans of Tolkien will love War of the Ring. The theme oozes out of Mount Doom right onto your gaming table. The unique victory condition “race” will cause many gamers to go there and back again and again.

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Movie Lover
Comic Book Fan
104 of 123 gamers found this helpful
“One Game to Rule Them All”

I know, strong title, but I do believe this is a masterpiece. It certainly is at the top of my collection.

The game is asymmetrical, with different strategies and victory conditions for each side (the Shadow vs. the Free Peoples). There are some obvious choices, but it is possible to surprise the opponent and adapt to events. Both the action dice and the cards are key. Each side rolls their dice pool to trigger their actions available each round, then players alternate choosing one die and taking one action (move, attack, muster, take cards, play cards, activate characters). The cards also have two functions: the top part is an action effect and the bottom part is a combat effect. The characters for each side have strong abilities that can really boost an army, and the FPP has the Ring Bearer that can move in secret across the map and whose objective is, of course, to bring the ring to Mordor and try to destroy it.

That’s just a short summary. There is a lot to do in this game, as you can work on a strategy, but tactical play is also necessary depending on the opponent’s choices and the cards drawn. The rules are well written and detailed, with enough examples. Combat can slow things down a bit, but it is an essential part of the game… and the story. That’s a big plus for me too; it really feels like you’re helping a story unfold. And even though certain known events are triggered, it doesn’t feel scripted at all. No two games are exactly the same, so replayability is very high. You have to commit enough time though. The 2-hour playing time is way too conservative. Maybe if both players (yes, it can be played with 3-4 players, but it is mostly a 2-player game) are very well versed in the game, it could be done in 3 to 4 hours, but based on the games I’ve played, it’s more a 4 to 5 hours affair. You won’t notice though, the experience is that immersive.

One last thing: the production quality of this game is quite impressive. The map is huge and both beautiful and functional. The special action dice are very nice (there are also regular black and white dice for combat). The cards are well designed and the various cardboard tokens are thick. The many miniatures are detailed and easily identifiable. The overall artwork is perfect.

So here you go, my quick take on this very deep and thematic awesome game.

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101 of 134 gamers found this helpful
“A splendid game...if you have the time”

If you like the LoTR universe, play this game. If words like strategic, deep, time-consuming, thematic and beautiful make you salivate over a game, play this game. If you like to mod a game and make it your own by painting pieces, upgrading components, etc, buy this game.

If you’re opposed to fun (or long games), don’t buy this game.

My wife and I play this game relatively regularly, and it is well worth the initial investment. You will play as either the Free Peoples (Elves, Gondor, Rohan, Rangers, Dwarves) or as the forces of darkness, evil, and no-niceness-whatsoever (Isengard, Sauron, Southrons/Easterlings). Both sides have a win condition based on military achievement (more difficult for the free peoples, but occasionally an option) and a win condition based on the status of the One Ring. The free people are trying to destroy it (like you do), and Sauron is desperately searching for it, attempting to regain his full strength.

The game plays out as an exercise in balance, as you seek to progress militarily and in the search for/destruction of the Ring.

I cannot recommend highly enough to you that you go find a copy and play this game now.

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Mage Wars fan
89 of 120 gamers found this helpful

It is much to easy to corrupt the RingBearers in any senario. I have been able to get the Ring Bearer’s to Mordor with 0 corruption and still have 5 companions to kill of corruption. But sometimes thats just not good enough, due to a combination of Red Hunt Tiles, Eye Tiles and a host of nasty Even Cards. For Exp. lets say the Shelob Hunt tile is drawn, well the fellowship doesn’t get to move one space like they thought they could and the SP gets to roll a dice and add that many corruption points. So if a 6 is rolled then the SP is half way to victory because of one hunt tile. Some tiles will reveal the Fellowship allowing the SP to play Event Cards because its revealed, that can separate companions, add corruption and really **** off the FPP.

The FPP has no defense in Military. If the SP plays it right then he can put FP nations Strongholds under siege before they ever get to War to muster in some kind of defense. Victory points come all to easy for the SP if he gets the right combination of action dice (which is normally the case). There has been many times where Gondor has been completely taken by the SP before I can roll one Will of the West to bring in Aragorn. The SP can basically pick out any strong hold he wants and take it over without to much trouble. He just has to make sure he can do it before that ring is destroyed.

Talking about destroying the ring. Its a sweet victory when the SP has 10 or 11 victory points, the corruption is on 11, and a rare blue hunt tile is drawn to prevent frodos corruption and claim saurons defeat. The ring to the SP is a ticking timb bomb heading right for him. Most games I can make it tough for the SP to get even close to 10 Victory Points before I get into Mordor. Then the problem for me is getting it throught Mordor with all the corruption hitting me. In my opinion it is much to easy to corrupt the Ring Bearers in Morodor. There has been a few times when I have gone in with Gollum and keep the SP from revealing it so much. There are some Event Cards that really help if Gollum is the guide. And it prevents the SP from putting so many eyes in the hunt box.

This game is very overwhelming but just a ton of fun. I have lost alot more than I have won. But I keep finding myself trying new things to help the Fellowship do thier job in destroying the One. Alot of People complain that the pieces arent different colors and its to hard to distinguish them apart from one another. Well Im glad they made them like that cause I had a blast painting them in full detail. This is by far my number 1 game of all time, and i do reccomend it to anyone who is a Tolkien fan or just a war gamer. If your both, then you have to get this game. It will make you forget about all your other ones.


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