What is it?
Epic battles, dice rolling and two sides with very different objectives in a race to rule Middle Earth or destroy the one ring.
What do you get?
Player cards, rules a large detailed map, dice and hundreds of moderately detailed miniatures.
How does it work?
This isn’t an easy game to explain in a few words. Looking for how to play videos you will find most reasonable ones are an hour or so long just to get you through the basics. The Fellowship is either trying to score 4 points, capturing enemy bases or the easier route is having the Fellowship deliver the ring into Mount Doom. Sauron is either trying to fully corrupt the fellowship or score 10 points taking over cities and strongholds. Players roll their special dice and then allocate actions to them, recruiting, moving, playing cards or special actions. Once all dice are spent, a new round is begun and you repeat this process until one side has won.
Is it any good?
War of the Ring is really good. The first game is quite slow and there are a lot of moments where you need to question did things go accordingly but that is the nature of big games with a lot of moving pieces. Jumping ahead, there are two expansions, Lords and Warriors. Lords is a superb welcome add-on and Warriors is terrible. Warriors we found took away from the dice mechanic, engaging in the actual narrative and playing the game. It became an exercise in reading. Lords on the other hand adds some really nice new cards, excellent leaders and just small welcome changes.
War of the Ring is a game that doesn’t get boring. If you feel the game is getting tunnel vision from the start, flip sides and it’s such a different experience, brilliant for both though.
I still can’t quite decide if I like it or Rebellion more and they are quite comparable games. This is high praise but is warned, it’s not a short or casual game. This is a sterner experimental and game by game experience that you will learn to love. There is a balance in the dice rolling too. Luck plays a very small part in it and at the end you know if you played well or not. I conclude that War of the Ring is borderline a perfect game with a complex underlying belly.