• bgg-golden-geek
  • platinum

War of the Ring 2nd Edition

RRP: £99.99
Now £75.45(SAVE 24%)
RRP £99.99
Expected Restock Date 30/04/2024
[yith_wcwl_add_to_wishlist]
Backorder Item Notice

Please note the expected date shown above is a guideline only. Backorder items will typically arrive within the next 2 months, however, in some instances they may take longer. Any orders that contain a Backorder Item will not be dispatched until all items in the order are available. Please keep this in mind before you place any orders that contain both in-stock and Backorder items. Please place a separate order to receive in-stock item(s) sooner! For more information please see our Backorder FAQs.

Nexy Day Delivery

You could earn

7545 Victory Points

with this purchase

In War of the Ring, one player takes control of the Free Peoples (FP), the other player controls Shadow Armies (SA). Initially, the Free People Nations are reluctant to take arms against Sauron, so they must be attacked by Sauron or persuaded by Gandalf or other Companions, before they start to fight properly: this is represented by the Political Track, which shows if a Nation is re…
Read More
Share
Share this

 

 

Awards

Golden Geek
Dice Tower
Golden Pear

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Replay-ability.
  • Beautifully presented & thematic.
  • Excellent & challenging game play.

Might Not Like

  • Bendy plastic figures - some of which are hard to tell apart.
  • Long set-up.
  • Initial steep learning curve.
Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

Related Products

Description

In War of the Ring, one player takes control of the Free Peoples (FP), the other player controls Shadow Armies (SA). Initially, the Free People Nations are reluctant to take arms against Sauron, so they must be attacked by Sauron or persuaded by Gandalf or other Companions, before they start to fight properly: this is represented by the Political Track, which shows if a Nation is ready to fight in the War of the Ring or not.

The game can be won by a military victory, if Sauron conquers a certain number of Free People cities and strongholds or vice versa. But the true hope of the Free Peoples lies with the quest of the Ringbearer: while the armies clash across Middle Earth, the Fellowship of the Ring is trying to get secretly to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring. Sauron is not aware of the real intention of his enemies but is looking across Middle Earth for the precious Ring, so that the Fellowship is going to face numerous dangers, represented by the rules of The Hunt for the Ring. But the Companions can spur the Free Peoples to the fight against Sauron, so the Free People player must balance the need to protect the Ringbearer from harm, against the attempt to raise a proper defense against the armies of the Shadow, so that they do not overrun Middle Earth before the Ringbearer completes his quest.

Each game turn revolves around the roll of Action Dice: each die corresponds to an action that a player can do during a turn. Depending on the face rolled on each die, different actions are possible (moving armies, characters, recruiting troops, advancing a Political Track).

Action Dice can also be used to draw or play Event Cards. Event Cards are played to represent specific events from the story (or events that could possibly have happened) that cannot be portrayed through normal game-play. Each Event Card can also create an unexpected turn in the game, allowing special actions or altering the course of a battle.

Player Count: 2-4
Time: 150-180 Minutes
Age: 13+

 

War of the Ring is an area control strategy war game based on the events of Lord of the Rings. The game plays best with two players, on one side is the Free Peoples, on the other are the forces of Shadow.

It uses Action Dice,  which allow players to do things like move armies, play event cards, move specific characters and so on. There are two possible routes to victory; the first is the military route which comes down to conquest and capture of enemy cities and strongholds. The second is the ring, if the ring gets destroyed by throwing it into the cracks of Mount Doom then the player of the Free Peoples wins, if the Ringbearer fails in this quest then the player of the Shadow wins.

This game is huge in more ways than one. Firstly the board is 41 by 54 inches so you are going to need a big table. Then there are a mass of plastic figures representing military units, blue for the Free Peoples and Red for the forces of Shadow. There are also figures for the main characters and others, and four decks of character and event cards. There is a 48 page reasonably well written and illustrated rule book. War of the Ring is a complex game and after set up which can take some time, play takes somewhere in the region of three hours.

So is it worth it? In my view yes.

Why Is War Of The Ring Worth It?

The board is a beautiful depiction of Middle Earth. The character and event cards really bring the theme of the game to life, the figures are solid if nothing special, and the action dice mechanic forces players to constantly make decisions based on what actions are possible.

Combat is relatively simple, as in truth are most of the rules, there are just a lot of them. Play is true to the theme, the player of forces of Shadow is likely to start gobbling up strongholds and citadels as his armies start to rampage across the board, (although the Free Peoples may have the odd victory here and there), whilst at the same time the Shadow will be searching for the Ring.

The player of the Free Peoples has the Fellowship of the Ring and will be trying to sneak the ring into Mordor and ultimately to Mount Doom, whilst trying to mount a holding action with considerably fewer military forces.

Play is compelling and challenging, and the experience really does immerse the players in Middle Earth and bring to life various events and characters. The use of action dice means that each player has to make decisions as to which action to take depending on what face of the die is rolled. This can be things like move armies and start battles, play an event card, hunt for the ring, move the fellowship or a character in it and so on. Usually there is more than one thing which can be done with a die, so there are always decisions to take.

On the characters and the Fellowship, each character has a special ability, Gandalf the Grey for example if slain can come back into play as Gandalf the White, if Merry or Pippin die they “escape” and come back into play, and obviously Strider can become Aragorn.  Then there is the Witch King, bring him into play and laugh at your enemies, but doing so has a cost. Each of these come with their own card describing what these characters can do and an associated plastic mini figure.

In the event cards there are beings like Ents, Grima Wormtongue, Eagles, Tom Bombadil and of course a Balrog, and various items such as the Mirror of Galadriel, all of which have a direct impact on play and are true to the theme. Cards can be used in one of two ways, as events, or to help influence the outcome of a battle. Once again, there is always a decision to take.

If I have any gripes the figures representing the armies of the Free Peoples are difficult to tell apart and I’m not a great fan of bendy plastic figures – but at least they will not break. Secondly War of the Ring does take some time to set up. Lastly towards the end victory or defeat can hang on a single event or dice, it can feel tense, it can feel random, but there is strategy in avoiding the random.

War of the Ring will not be a game for everyone, I’m happy to spend three hours playing an area control strategic war game, especially one this good. Equally I am happy to go through a 48 page rule book, and spend time learning how to play.

It is not a simple game, some people might like to watch the walk through on BoardGameGeek, it explains a great deal:

Variants And Expansions

I have been discussing War of the Ring second edition, obviously there was a previous edition but you’ll not see it in many shops. There is also the Anniversary Edition which comes with painted figures, it’s beautiful, hard to find and if found will come at a very hefty price.

Currently there are five expansions, these do things like add new characters, or new cards, and some make rule additions – Although none are essential to play.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately War of the Ring is a two player strategic war game driven by action dice and event cards, which despite the asymmetrical nature, is extremely well balanced. The 96 event cards ensure every play of War of the Ring is going to be different. The game is fairly complex because there is a lot going on, and there are a lot of rules although each rule is simple and the two sided player aid card helps a great deal.

The base of War of the Ring is a solid, challenging and not over complex, two player area control strategic war game. On this alone War of the Ring is a seriously good game. Add to this the lovely presentation and components, how well it brings to life the events and characters in Lord of the Rings and immerses the players into Middle Earth, it really is a winner.

This blog was originally published on April 4th, 2017. Updated on April 27th, 2022 to improve the information available.

An impressively sized war game, War of the Ring pits 2 players (or 4) against each other in a battle for Middle Earth comprised of all the favourite races and characters you love from the original trilogy. So, grab your Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves and Men. And an ungodly amount of Goblins. It’s time for War!

So, we all know how this thing goes right? Chances are if you’ve clicked on a review for this game, you’re well versed in Tolkien mythology and all he can bring to a table, which is where this review may differ from the original… because I’m not well versed at all. Don’t get me wrong, I have knowledge of the films and books, and have played other Lord of the Rings themed games but the setting has never found a place in my heart. I still find the ideas amazing, the places magical, and the characters brilliant but this second opinion review will be looking at the game and how it plays as an outsider to the setting.

Does It Look Good?

Oh, for sure! The artwork is brilliant on all of the cards and the board itself, and really draws a good distinction from the films. It’s a little quirky in some of the illustrations, namely the character cards, but I feel it fits the theme well and pulls more from ‘fantasy illustration from the 80s’ than any of the modern films. The individual models are well made if a little confusing, giving decent forms to the main fellowship as well as the different races you have control over. The bold colours of blue and red let players see from a glance who has the most control over this land. Even the dice look impressive, giving each player their own coloured set covered in gold/silver symbols, ready for them to roll and spend as their precious actions. If Tolkien is a bit alien to you then have no fear, this game looks great on its own merits and all the illustrations will add to the game guarantee.

There are a few issues, again as an outsider looking at the game. It can be quite hard to tell the miniatures apart, and this is important as it determines the amounts of which races you can play. The bright red colour helps in knowing your land ownership, but trying to figure out how many Isengard units are in play across the board had me asking for clarification from my friend a good number of times, leading him to get an idea of my next move. Also, the board is amazing but when we played it, we had the upgrade of the mat which is considerably larger in all dimensions, and even then we had trouble making all of the troops fit in the locations. Now I am aware of the sections to the side that you can place the troops on and replace their location with a cardboard marker, but there are only 3 of these and we ended up using them a lot, so I’m sure on a smaller board they will be filled quick!

Does It Play Well?

Definitely! I’m no stranger to big war games after having played regular games of Twilight Imperium, dabbling in old classics like Warrior Knights, and loving an epic miniatures game when you have a free day. And with all that said, this has got to be one of the best out there. The mechanics used for your actions are the classic dice roll, requiring different symbols to be revealed to allow them to be spent as those actions. Sauron’s side start with more dice as they are more prepared to take the world by force. The Fellowship have an extra symbol on their dice that allows it to be spent as any other symbol, giving them more flexibility to react to impending doom!

Each side of the battle also has special individuals that can either perform special actions with certain dice symbols, or upgrade dice spent to perform better with set parameters. For example, I was controlling Sauron’s minions and had been able to claim Saruman as a follower who allowed me to spawn extra troops in certain areas with stronger warriors, at the cost of Saruman himself never being able to move around the map. This gave me a good advantage for a while, spawning loads of orcish men everywhere, until the Fellowship player managed to get the help of the Ents. As Saruman was alone at the time, they beat him up and killed him. I’m told this is very true to the tales, but I liked my slightly creepy wizard man.

Should I Buy It Then?

If you aren’t a fan of Lord of the Rings and think playing one game for roughly 6 hours with only one friend (the rules allow 4, but it’s just two teams so it might not work as well) is a bit too much, then I wouldn’t advise it. The game is long and can be a bit dry when learning it/teaching it to others.

As a Lord of the Rings fan, it would be a solid purchase. My friend, the one who owns the copy I played, loves the setting and really enjoyed reading the cards that have links to the scenes and characters from the original material, and he enjoyed the traditional looking artwork found throughout. A lovely addition for a collector even if they don’t love boardgames. If the duration or war game style is what puts you off, and you’d like something set in the world have a look towards Journeys of Middle Earth for something more co-operative that does great work with the source material.

As a war game fan, definitely pick it up! The mechanics work well against each other, the cards people have usually combat one another giving the feeling of retaliation in a battle, and the dice spending for actions adds just enough chance and luck to keep each turn feeling special. Each player has special troops that change the game when they enter the field and although the Sauron player gets a hefty advantage at the start, the game is still really well balanced giving the Fellowship player the easier ways to win. If you’d love a big war game but really hate Lord of the Rings (for some reason?) try Twilight Imperium, one of the best war games set in space and also allows up to 6 players. If you want to keep the 2-player aspect, pick up Star Wars: Rebellion. Very similar play style with the rebels trying to fight the Imperial troops all while keeping their secret base hidden.

As a war game AND a Lord of the Rings fan. Of course, you should. Have you not read the rest of this review?! There’s a second on the site if you don’t believe me, go read that as well! Buy this game, you’d bloody love it it’s called War of the Ring btw! I’d also recommend the game mat and organizer. Both make the game easier in play and set up, and both are for sale on the site. Now go! The beacons are lit! Gondor calls for aid!

 

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Replay-ability.
  • Beautifully presented & thematic.
  • Excellent & challenging game play.

Might not like

  • Bendy plastic figures - some of which are hard to tell apart.
  • Long set-up.
  • Initial steep learning curve.