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Real Geeks READ The Lord of the Rings
The King of Cool
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Last night, at my college's weekly gaming group, I found myself playing War of the Ring for the better part of the night. While busily advancing my hobbits to the Crack of Doom, many so-called Lord of the Rings fans came over and started a conversation that went something like this:

Them: "Is this like Lord of the Rings? I'm a huge fan! I love those movies!"

Me: "Uhhhhh...You mean the books, right?"

Them: "Books? Those are boring, I could barely finish the first one."

Me: (growing disinterested) "Mm."

Them: "I really liked the battles in The Return of the King"

Me: "Mm." (to my opponent) "Ok, I'm going to use this character die to move the fellowship."

This happened a few times during the night. Now, it's not that I think poorly of these people, but really, every geek owes it to him/herself to read the Lord of the Rings books. "Why?" one of the people from last night might ask. Well, there are plenty of reasons.
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1. Board Game: The Hobbit: The Defeat of Smaug [Average Rating:4.80 Overall Rank:11003]
The King of Cool
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The Hobbit
or
There and Back Again

Ok, so it technically isn't part of the trilogy, but The Hobbit is the best place to start when talking about The Lord of the Rings. Until the movie comes out, LotR viewers are missing out on an integral part of the story. The upcoming movie will probably just gloss over all of the different types of cakes that those boisterous Dwarves ate in Bag End. Alas! Poor seed cakes. And I don't think that a movie will be able to properly capture Bilbo's disdain for Cram. Non-readers might never know how lucky Frodo had it with all of that Lembas.

Also, they're going to be missing out on the rather humorous relationship (well, it made me chortle) between the title of the first chapter of The Hobbit and the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring.

And finally, "What have I got in my pocket?" = BEST RIDDLE EVER!

(maybe I got a bit too excited towards the end)
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2. Board Game: Star Trek Game [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:7161]
The King of Cool
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Leonard Nimoy

His song about Bilbo alone makes it worth reading the hobbit. I would post a Youtube clip, but I fear inciting the wrath of the anti-Youtube crowd.

(oh whatever)

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3. Board Game: Fat Chance [Average Rating:5.66 Unranked]
The King of Cool
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Fatty Bolger

Come on! His name is Fatty! How awesome is that?
Plus, the movies completely skip out on the 'conspiracy' of Frodo's friends.

...

His name is Fatty!
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4. Board Game: Bootleggers [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:819]
The King of Cool
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Tom Bombadil

Pictures here say it all.

Or, in Tom's own words:

Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow;
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.


How could Peter Jackson not include Tom Bombadil? Without a doubt, he is the most b-a character in the entire series. Who else has the power to make evil trees leave poor little hobbits alone with the power of song and then invite said hobbits back to his house to get fed by his hot wife? No one. That's who.
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5. Board Game: The Battle of Helm's Deep [Average Rating:6.48 Unranked]
The King of Cool
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Elves at Helm's Deep?

Wait, how did all of the elves get to Helm's Deep? In the book, Tolkien gives us a good explanation: they didn't; Legolas was the only Elf there. But Jackson seemed to think that Elves were necessary. Maybe he just wanted to confuse me and send me to my books to see what really happened at Helm's Deep...

Okay, so most people won't care about this, but Jackson's move to put the Elves at Helm's Deep just seems to be a move to put more action in a film already heavily battle-laden.
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6. Board Game: Song of Blades and Heroes [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:1603]
The King of Cool
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The Songs

Sure, the movies have an awesome sound track, but where are all of the songs and poems? These really made Middle Earth come alive with a culture of its own. The movies just kind of have stuff without the underlying feel of history.

And most importantly, how can we forget 'Nine Fingered Frodo and the Ring of Doom'? This is by far the greatest song in all of the books, and Sam's reference to it before it's creation made it even better.

The least Peter Jackson could have done would be to use the Flight of the Conchords song:



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7. Board Game: The Bunny Rabbit Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
The King of Cool
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Rabbit Stew

The description of the stew in the books made me crave it (I have yet to have some). However, the movies just use the scene to focus on Goullum and his creepiness. Mmmmmm... savory.

This is all I have, feel free to add away!
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8. Board Game: Elfenland [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:583]
Greg Jones
United States
Washington
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The Silmarillion

The Silmarillion is the extensive backstory of Lord of the Rings. Knowing the story can give you greater appreciation of things from Lord of the Rings.

Did you know there were badder baddies than Sauron? More magical good guys than Gandalf? Elves older than Galadriel?

You can read the full story of Luthien and Beren, hinted at by Aragorn's song in the movie. Did you know that Aragorn and Arwen are first cousins, many times removed? Eww! Luthien and Beren are Arwen's great-grandparents and Aragorn's great-great-great-great-xN-great-grandparents.

Why does Aragorn live so long, and why is he so awesome, and what does it mean when he is called a Dunedain (man of the west)? His ancestors are from Numenor, which was in the west. Read all about it.

Speaking of the west, where exactly are the elves going when they sail into the west?

If you like mythology, you'll like the Silmarillion. It's not one cohesive story like The Lord of the Rings. It's a collection of stories spanning thousands of years of Middle Earth (and other Earths') history. It has gods and goddesses and the stories of the origins of men, elves, and dwarves.
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9. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:60]
Greg Jones
United States
Washington
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The Scouring of the Shire

The movie is missing this important denouement for the hobbits.

Saruman is not killed atop Orthanc as in the extended edition. He survives. Although stripped of his magical power, he still has a strong power to manipulate and command people. He uses this power to take over the Shire and transform it into an industrial center using the hobbits as slave labor.

When the hobbits return from the ring quest, they prove how transformed they are by the ordeal. Merry and Pippin are in fact kick-ass knights of Gondor and Rohan. They rid the Shire of the industrial overlords.

It's easy to understand why this was left out of the movie. It would require starting up the plot after the climax, introducing a new conflict. In the books, it is one of those things that "professional authors" wouldn't have done either, but it works. Being so long, when you get to the end, it's easy to agree to go along for one more quick adventure. Besides, you thought you were a long way from the end. There are so many appendices, when the ring is destroyed you're only about halfway through the thickness of the pages.
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10. Board Game: Name Game: The Celebrity Guessing Game [Average Rating:5.52 Unranked]
Greg Jones
United States
Washington
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Most people/things in Lord of the Rings have two or more names.

Aragorn = Strider = Elessar = Thorongil

Okay I had to look that last one up, and it's not used in the movies.

How do people who haven't read the books deal with it? Maybe it comes across. If you read the books it comes at a slow enough pace to deal with it.
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11. Board Game: Operation [Average Rating:4.02 Overall Rank:11061]
The King of Cool
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Since they were mentioned above...

The Appendices

Where else are you going to learn that Sam had 12 or so kids? There are plenty of family trees and other things in these. Since I don't have my books with me now, if some one could fill those in below, that would be great.
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12. Board Game: Weapons of Mass Destruction [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:3484]
Adam Daulton
United States
Indianapolis
Indiana
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The importance of the weapons. Glamdring from instance, unless someone has read the books, including The Hobbit, they do not understand it's history and importance in the story. The same of the hobbit's swords, since in the books they got them from the Barrow-wight's stash.
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13. Board Game: Kingmaker [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1375]
Tim McCormley
United States
SD
California
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One of the biggest crimes of the movies (and there was more than one)was to make Aragorn a reluctant king.

Fer crying out loud, the whole purpose of the trilogy is to restore Aragorn as the next King of Gondor! Aragorn knew exactly what he was getting into, and, apart from his desire to restore the line of Gondor kings, needed the kingship so that he could marry Arwen.

It's a complete joke that Jackson would need to make Aragorn unsure of himself in the movies.
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14. Board Game: HeroQuest [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:492]
Tim McCormley
United States
SD
California
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But here's the biggest problem with the movie treatment:

There were no heroes in it!

Faramir falls to temptation.

Gandalf is afraid of Moria.

Aragorn is unsure of himself.

Gimli is a one dimensional buffoon.

Elrond (who is actually half human) has had it "up to here" with the human race.

(edit) I almost forgot: Treebeard (portrayed as "yet another buffoon to supply comic relief") has to be talked into attacking Orthanc by "stumbling across" some chopped down trees.

The friendship of Frodo and Sam is corrupted by Gollum.

And Frodo? In the books, he's defiant, resilient and a real leader. (That's why he was picked, fer Chissakes!) In the movies, he's a Linda Blair (post possession) wannabe with smarmy faraway looks for his "friend" Sam.

Other than that, the movies were a good treatment. yuk


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15. Board Game: Wings of Fire [Average Rating:8.40 Unranked]
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
Bath
Somerset
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Anyone who's read the book will be well aware that Balrogs don't have wings. Yet miniature sculptors keep putting them on, and sadly Peter Jackson fell for the temptation as well - so now there are hundreds and thousands of people across the world who have a wholly incorrect picture of a winged Balrog the size of a house in their heads.

They need to read the book, and get themselves a more accurate image!
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16. Board Game: Elf-Mann-Ho [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
David Winter
United Kingdom
Hawarden
Deeside
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While we're on movie gripes

The over-inflated role of Arwen and the desperate attempts to ensure each movie in the trilogy had enough romance to check the boxes in the 21st century guide to things to include in a by the book action movie....

In the books frodo alone has to escape from the ringwraiths after being stabbed by the witch king, whilst dying from the wound, half dead and delerious he has to resist the suggestive powers of the wraiths. The crashing wave that eventually wipes out the wraiths was cast by Elrond, horse effect added by Gandalf. The books never depict Arwen as a warrior/ranger/mage but as a lady of the court. This whole scene cheapens one of Frodos biggest struggles in the book.

And don't get me started on the Aragorn falls of a cliff only to be revived by a dream vision of his one true love crap, toatally unesscesary.
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17. Board Game: Time Flies [Average Rating:5.25 Unranked]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Beneath this mask there is an idea.....and ideas are bulletproof.
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And another thing - the passage of time between Bilbo's party and Frodo eventually leaving the Shire to head for Rivendell is not explained well in the movies. There's the party, Bilbo leaves the ring, Gandalf gives it to Frodo and tells him to keep its safe. He then leaves and virtually the next scene is back saying is it safe and you'd better get out of here. In the books several years pass before Gandalf returns with his suspicions about the ring and tells Frodo to go - and even then he dithers around for a few months before leaving as Gandalf is not aware of how imminent the danger is.

Minor but irritating - could easily have been sorted with a "Several years pass" caption/subtitle to set the scene.
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18. Board Game: City Council [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
M C
Canada
Lethbridge
Alberta
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One part of the books that I was sad not to see was the part with Bilbo at the Council of Elrond where he says in essence, I started this thing, so I have to finish it. And then, "When ought I to start?"

It wouldn't have cost much time and shows the courage of the character and the resilience of hobbits. Instead they had him transform into a monster...
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19. Board Game: Gondor [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:4833]
Craig Benn
United Kingdom
Unspecified
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Okay I'm a bit of a geek. But looking at the comments about Elves at Helms Deep it looks as if I'm in the right place. Maybe you'll understand...

My favourite part of the books is at the battle of the Pelennor fields. Its against pretty stiff competition from the rest of the book but there it is...

The battle is turning against the Rohirrim, and the corsairs of Umbar are coming and they resolve to make a last shield wall and sell their lives dearly. And Eomer laughs against the despair, for he is young and unscathed and lord of a fell people...behold! upon the foremost ship a great standard broke, and the wind displayed it as she turned towards the Harlond. There flowered a White Tree, and that was for Gondor; but Seven Stars were about it...

It sent shivers down my spine when I first read it and still does...and from the ships came dour handed dunedain, rangers of the north, leading a great valour of the folk of Lebennin and Lamedon and the fiefs of the South. NOT THE DEAD.



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20. Board Game: Slobberin' Sam [Average Rating:2.00 Unranked]
Daryl Wilks
United States
Peshastin
Washington
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One of my biggest disappointments was that Samwise Gamgee, possibly my favorite character in the books, was not as big in the movies. Don't get me wrong - the character was good - but he was limited in Jackson's Frodo-centric movies. I loved him for his faithfulness to his friends - especially Frodo - and to the mission. Without him Frodo would have failed much sooner. In the movies he was a sidekick that Frodo deigned to take along on his one-hobbit mission. As I read the books I felt they were as much about Sam as they were about Frodo. The story of Sam's continuing journey after Shelob's Lair - they left out that he was a Ring-Bearer! - was awesome and exciting. His leadership in the Shire after Sauron had been defeated and the "major players" had journeyed west was important. His steady friendship and unswerving faithfulness were some of the most inspiring parts of the books but he almost comes across as an obsessed, needy, tag-a-long.
Oh well, at least he got the actor right - Sean Austin was perfect for his role (as were Sean Bean and Ian McKellan).
Loved the first movie, parts of the second and much of the third. Even with all its faults, The Lord of the Rings are still the best fantasy movies by a long shot.
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21. Board Game: ElfQuest [Average Rating:5.14 Overall Rank:9639]
Have faith
United States
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A major thing that bugged me about the movies was the portrayal of Galadriel with dark overtones, such as in the scene with the mirror in the water. I don't see her (or the elves) that way at all. I think of them, from the books, as beings of light and nobility. The do have an otherworldly quality, but for me it's not at all dark or supernatural.
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22. Board Game: Gondor [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:4833]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Denethor

All right so unlike many on this list I am a big fan of the movies. It is hard adapting a great book into a film, and while I don't agree with every decision made I think Jackson and his team did a good job. The first film is still my favorite movie of the decade and one of the best all time, but I digress.

One thing I hated though was the depiction of Denethor. In the book he is great man, wise and powerful, but ultimately overwhelmed by grief and the siege of Minas Tirinth. In the movie is he is a spiteful raving mad man who doesn't make a single good decision. John Noble was good in the part but the part was horribly written. I guess Jackson wanted us to really want Aragorn to ascend the throne. I also felt the lesson was those who oppose Gandalf must be out of their minds. Jackson fell into one of the worst character development cliches in film: anyone who doesn't agree with the hero MUST be a fool. The movies robbed viewers of one of Tolkien's more complex characters. His fall in the book is tragic on the Shakespearean level; in the movie he is practically a villain. It also doesn't make sense that Gandalf essentially MURDERS Denethor in the film.
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23. Board Game: The Battle of Helm's Deep [Average Rating:6.48 Unranked]
Eric Flood
United States
San Francisco
California
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The entirety of Helm's Deep takes 15 pages of the 1100+ page book(s). Yet it takes two hours of the stupid movie.

Why was this expanded, and so many other parts of the second and third films taken out/lessened? The third film felt entirely rushed, like there was someone in the background calling out "Next! Hurry up people, we don't have all day!" at the end of each scene.

The third movie starts out about halfway into both the second novels' storylines.
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24. Board Game: Switch-away [Average Rating:5.12 Unranked]
Eric Flood
United States
San Francisco
California
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Which brings me to the other, largest issue with the movies: the storylines in the second and third books/movies.

If you haven't read the books, the second and third novels are completely split into their respective storylines. The first half is dedicated to Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas. You have no idea what happened to Frodo and Sam, and you are suddenly thrust into the bigger world. This ends with Pippen riding out to Gondor with Gandalf. You then switch over to Frodo and Sam, lost in the mountains. This reads all the way through to Shelob's Lair, with the wonderful closing words of "Frodo was alive, but taken."

Then you switch over once more, in book three, to the events happening in Gondor, all the way to the confrontation at the Black Gate. Switch over once more to read about the destruction of the ring, and all of the endings (including the Scouring).

The timing of the stories, and the cliffhangers presented, are exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. They're wonderfully structured, and this just gets completely left out in a typical linear story, with no sense of pace or excitement (except for Aragorn's wonderful cliff-dive!).
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25. Board Game: Enchanted Forest [Average Rating:5.79 Overall Rank:3804]
Karim Chakroun
France
Besançon
Franche-Comté
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The way the Ents are depicted being "tricked" into going to war by Pippin is annoying; as is the sudden appearance at Fangorn's call of anger, of all the Ents and Huorns.

In the books the Ents come to the decision of going to war, with sadness and despair, but they go of their own will.
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