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Tried this game with two of my boys many months ago - as with another reviewer, the Eye of S. got "stuck," on one sector, crippling the game. I thought perhaps we'd just missed something and so was looking forward to trying it out again.
Tried again with 3 other adults tonight. Probably the most disappointed I've been in a game in many years. The rules are very bad - others have mentioned the Army ambiguities. To say the least. And the Sauron card - and, and, and...
The disappointment comes from the fact that this could have really been an excellent game - RoseArt was on track and innovative in several design features. Simultaneously developing story lines; graphics are very good; components are fine. Don't know if the two earlier entries, based on the first two books/movies, fared better, but I wouldn't spend a cent on them after this, though it is tantalizing to picture the gigantic 3-game board all together.
I would be interested in knowing if there is consensus on "The Best" LOTR game or series. This one certainly isn't it.
If you want a "good" LOTR rings game, look up "War of the Ring", LOTR-The confrontation, or even the Knizia game LOTR will be better than what these 3 you mention could offer.