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The Indefinite Article.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Lord of the Rings Risk Game

From the comments of a previous post: Yesterday I finally played the LOTR Risk game Killy gave me for Christmas (2?) years ago. I played with the guys who accompany their significant others to knitting Sunday. The game is complicated, idiosyncratic and interesting. Basically, it is like Risk, but with a twisted map, different piece counts (1,3,5 instead of 1,5,10), a special piece that must attack and win specific territories to get cards that are kind of like mission cards but which can be played at any point as circumstances or the card itself warrants, and the game play is limited by the ring's progress across the board. Additionally, there are territory cards that you save, match and turn in for additional re-enforcements like regular Risk, but the numbers of additional troops don't scale up and distort the game like the traditional game.

The ring moves into a new territory with each player's turn and if it is moving from a territory controlled by the 'dark' forces, then that dark force gets to roll to 'find' it. The roll has to be 12 on two six sided die (some exceptions apply), so there is a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless, that the game may end on the first turn--after you just set up 45 pieces apiece plus 2 special piece--188 pieces on the board to start! I'm not certain how many territories the ring has to go to reach Mount Doom, but once it does, the game is over. There are a few spots on the board where the "good" forces must roll more than a 3 to keep the ring moving forward.

The board is really interesting because it is a rectangle with no around the world travel. However, on the west there are some sea lanes with specific ports to travel from one to another noncontiguous space to another. Additionally, there are mountains and rivers that block travel between bordering territories, so you have to watch the map carefully.

The rules do not allow for 'rolling' attacks, so you can't just put all your pieces on one territory and go on a trip around the world in a turn to wipe everyone out. Instead, you have to spread your attacking forces out to move forward in a line, since you can make multiple attacks in a single turn.

In addition to gaining a special card when conquering certain territories, the special pieces add one to your highest dice roll, attacking or defending and there are certain territories with a 'place of power' that also add a plus one to the highest die of the defender (for a total of two if you have the special piece there). The special pieces can also be lost if a territory is conquered. You start with two and if you lose both you can place one with re-enforcements on your next turn. You also get an extra troop on each "place of power" that you have in the re-enforcement stage of your turn.

[Update:] At the end of the game, you count up all your assets, kind of like Monopoly, only the house and hotel like troop characters don't count. It is kind of depressing when "good" essentially wins because the ring got to Mount Doom, but one of the "dark" forces won because of territory holdings. However, it is kind of nice to avoid the bitter end of classic Risk, with epic-length dice rolls.


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