We gathered at Keith’s house last night for the August, 2006 installment of Analog Game Night. Keith, Paul, Ken, Rich, and myself settled in for a night of learning the 2000 edition of Lord of the Rings by Reiner Knizia.
Each player takes on the role of a hobbit in the fellowship and players, each with their special power, cooperate to move the ring towards Mount Doom. Along the journey, Sauron and his legion of Orcs rain on your parade causing you to adjust your tactics so that you all can win the battle against the game.
The game is fairly simplistic but the written rules really stunk. It took us a long time to muddle through them. We ended up referring to the rules throughout most of the game. It was only near the end that the event symbols started to sink in.
The game is composed of a single board that tracks the movement of each player’s hobbit as it progresses down a track towards the eye of Sauron. Sauron is also moving from the other end of the track towards the hapless hobbits. The game comes with four scenarios that must be completed to move the ring from Moria to Mordor. Each scenario is tracked on its own board. Players flip event tiles representing random good and bad events and move the scenario markers towards the ends of tracks gathering life tokens, shields, trigger ‘bad stuff’, play cards to help others or gather stuff, etc.
On the final Mordor board, players attempt to advance to Mt. Doom and thwart the onslaught of ‘bad stuff’ hoping to keep Sauron from destroying the tiny colored hobbits.
Lord of the Rings is kind of an odd game and my limited plays of cooperative games would put Shadows Over Camelot out in front as the better game. I felt the event tiles dominated the play to the extent that a bad run of tiles can really blow your ability to survive. I agree with Keith that we need to play it a few more times so that we don’t forget everything and get bogged down in the rule interpretation.
All in all, the game made for an enjoyable evening. About halfway through it though, I was starting to wonder if it was worth it and I had lost interest in the game. I was eliminated before the final round but I managed to tie for the lead after the shield count was tallied when Sauron killed the ring bearer. On a good note, I got to be Frodo which was kind of cool. In actuality, I was just glad I wasn’t Fatty. I’m interested in designating Ken as the permanent Fatty…anybody with me?