For those of you who don't know, I'm hopelessly addicted to boardgames. Not your typical Monopoly/Risk style of 'roll and move' game, but Euro games. If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, take a look at www.boardgamegeek.com. If you have fond memories of playing Monopoly all night or Risk always ending in a fight, but don't really see the appeal as an adult, you might be the next Euro-gamer. Trust me on this, folks. I had NO idea that this world existed 5 years ago. I thought, like many, "Yeah, boardgames... like Monopoly and Risk. Yeah, I like those." So my friend had me come over and play some games. Peurto Rico? Never heard of it. Torres? Never heard of it. Settlers of Catan? Nope, I got nothin'. El Grande? Isn't that a river somewhere? I played. I liked. I never looked back.
Anyway, you'll notice that War of the Ring is not in the list of games that I own: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/viewcollection.php3?username=ejmowrer&own=1&rated=both&comment=both&trade=both&want=both&rating=&startletter=&orderby=quickrating&dir=-1.
I was thrilled to be able to try it out yesterday. I really don't like wargames. They're too long. The rule books, or in some cases rule tomes, are way too long. They're too fiddly. They cause too much contention, etc. You get the idea. In spite of all of this baggage going into it... I LOVED IT. It's fantastic. The theme is SO well integrated into the game, and I'm SUCH a fan of Lord of the Rings, it was honestly like living the book on a little board in front of me. Granted, the plot line was slightly different. The free peoples didn't do so hot at Helm's Deep, for instance. Anyway, if you like Lord of the Rings, and you like boardgames that were invented in the last 10 years, I think you'll like this one, too.
It takes about 3 hours to play once you figure it out. That's a bit long, but it's worth it, IMO. Consider it a really long movie. Six hours shorter than Lord of the Rings, no less (and that's not counting the extended editions). One guy plays the free peoples (Humans, Dwarves, Elves, etc), and the other plays the shadow forces (Orcs, Haradrim, Ring Wraiths, etc). It's absolutely dripping with theme. The bad guys win by finding the fellowship and getting the Ring, or by pretty much wiping all free peoples off the map. The good guys win by getting the ring to Mt. Doom. I suppose they could win a military victory, but I wouldn't count on it. Remember the book? There are so many clever game mechanics that I can't list them all. All I can say is that they all come together to make you feel like you're in the book, but at the same time, you have some control over what happens.
Here is a link to the game on BGG. Check it out: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/9609. PS that rank 13 is out of thousands, which is pretty darn respectable, and I think we're past the 'hype bubble' that tends to push new games up.