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Subject: 2nd edition Review: A Side-by-Side Comparison rss

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Grant Johnson
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War of the Ring is my top rated game and has been since its original release. I was looking for information on the game and stumbled onto Board Game Geek back in 2004, and I grabbed my copy of First and Second editions on the first day they were available. I didn't get a Collector's Edition (because I couldn't justify the expense) but have played on it enough times to be familiar.

This review is a side-by-side comparison of the First edition components with the Second edition. It will document what items have changed. Hopefully it will help buyers of the old edition decide how much of the upgrade they are interested in grabbing. I'm only providing information on different items- if they look identical to me I'm leaving it to better photographers to provide. Each of my photos will generally show the First edition on the left, and the Second edition on the right. And I apologize for the low quality of the photos- I'm not a great photographer and my equipment is somewhat lacking.

On to the review!

Packaging



The game boxes have the same basic artwork, with some different text on the box front and back. You'll also notice that the first edition had a blue/black backing vs. the red backing on the new edition. Having them stacked makes me feel like there's a Free Peoples and a Shadow edition.



The insert has changed a little. The card holder is larger to accommodate the larger, tarot sized cards. The other central storage bin is smaller to compensate. The cardholder slot does not have the recess below (I stored my character tokens this way in the first edition box) and it is shallower. When the cards are inside they are just about even with the top of the insert.

Rulebook and Board



The Second edition rulebook is a bit thicker. It contains the original game rules, along with a brief summary of the game updates, and a lot more artwork. It is based on the Collector's Edition rulebook. The index is much improved, and it should make referencing items a snap. The book has a misprint in the artwork for the backs of the Elven ring tokens and the Fellowship Revealed token (they're swapped) but the pieces themselves are printed correct and match the board. This appears to be a carry-over from the Collector's Edition rulebook.



The Second edition board matches the Collector's edition board, at a smaller scale and without Elvish names. The biggest improvement is the overall readability of the map- the mountains pop out more, and the territories are more friendly for seeing boundaries and fitting necessary armies. Several boxes for besieged armies have been added, including two for Shadow strongholds. There are reference markers for larger forces. There is also a victory point track, which was not provided in the first edition.

Counters





The counters have had a few improvements made. The round tokens (used for marking army units) have been replaced with numbered Elvish tokens, 3 for each side. The first player tokens (for use in 3-4 player games) are much larger. There are also new tokens in the Second edition for keeping track of victory points.





The character tokens are similar, but it appears they were printed a little more accurately in the Second Edition. The artwork is the same.

All the tokens seem to be the thickness and material. The Hunt tokens appear identical.

Dice


This is my only real area of complaint. The Second edition dice appear to be made of a softer material. They're also not marbled like the First edition, and have been done in an easier to read color scheme. I felt like they were lighter the first time I picked them up but having compared them they seem about the same weight now.

I really do not like the new combat dice. The look appears off and they appear to be a cheaper plastic than the original. The numerical layout isn't traditional (especially on the 2) and the one is an oversized eyesore. I will probably replace mine as soon as possible with something similar to what came in the First edition.

Figures


There are two changes in the figures. First, the Nazgul sculpt from the Collector's edition was used. I happen to prefer this one as it is less prone to falling over. Second, a Gollum figure has been included.

The rest of the figures seem to match in type and color of material (minus a slight variation in shade), and are unchanged in sculpt. There is an update to the base size for the Isengard Regulars, but the model above the base is unchanged.

Cards


This is where the meat of the changes occur. The new cards are much larger in size, and easier to read.

The rules changes are as follows:

1. Witchking: Cannot enter play unless Sauron and one Free Peoples Nation is at war (Previously only required Sauron at war).
2. Gandalf the Grey: Guide ability allows draw of new event card if event die is used to play it (previously only applied to character deck).
3. Merry/Pippin: When taken as a casualty in the Fellowship can be placed on the board as if they'd separated (this previously cost an action die).
4. Gollum: Has a slight clarification on which tiles reveal the Fellowship (I do not see much beyond a wording clarification here).
5. Path of the Woses: An army from Rohan can use to reach Minas Tirith under any circumstances (previously required a friendly army be present at Minas Tirith)
6. The Last Battle: Now restricted to Aragorn, who must be with an army in a region outside a Free Peoples nation (previously could be Aragorn or Gandalf the White, with a Free Peoples army in North Ithilien, South Ithilien, Dagorlad, or any region in Mordor)
7. Ent cards: Now only require that Gandalf the White be in play, and a Companion be present in Fangorn (previously required both Gandalf the White and Saruman, and that Gandalf be present in Rohan or Fangorn)

Other rule changes
A couple of other big rule notes:
8. There is an extra Dwarf elite placed in Erebor in set-up.
9. The Shadow player is required to place a die in the Hunt Allocation if the Fellowship moved the previous turn.
10. The combat card playing sequence has been clarified. There are also priorities added to the combat cards to help clear up confusion on the order of effects.
11. When the Fellowship has reached Morannon or Minas Morgul, they can decide during a Fellowship phase to enter Mordor. This does not require the Fellowship to be hidden, as in the First edition, and prevents turn stalling through cards that reveal the Fellowship.

As far as I can tell that covers all of the changes to the game. I'm overall really happy with the new edition (minus the combat dice), and can't wait to break in the updated rules.

I'd be happy to answer any other specific questions regarding the difference between editions.

Thanks to Veldrin for some of the updated information.
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Kristofer Bengtsson
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tallgrant wrote:
11. When the Fellowship has reached Morannon or Minas Morgul, they can decide during a Fellowship phase to enter Mordor. This does not require a start of turn declaration, as in the First edition, and prevents turn stalling through cards that move the Fellowship back.


Small correction, in your otherways excellent comparison: The new way to enter Mordor "protects" the Fellowship from Shadow Event cards that reveal the Fellowship (as they no longer need to be Hidden to enter Mordor).

The Shadow Event card that moves the Fellowship back on the actual game board (i.e. "Cruel Weather") can still be used to "turn stall" the Fellowship, unless the FP player takes measures to avoid it.
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Doug Epperson
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Thank you very much for taking the time to writeup and post this for us wee people. Your article has answered all my lingering questions I had about this new edition.

My copy from Coolstuff Inc. should arrive by TUESDAY (12-20). I can't wait to get it now.

Epp
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Kristofer Bengtsson
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VonEpp wrote:
My copy from Coolstuff Inc. should arrive by TUESDAY (12-20). I can't wait to get it now.


Happy Gaming!
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Darin Shaw
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Great job Grant! I just got my copy in the mail. Sitting under the Christmas tree for me. Maybe you'll have to help me break my copy in.
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Brian Baird
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dhshaw22 wrote:
Great job Grant! I just got my copy in the mail. Sitting under the Christmas tree for me. Maybe you'll have to help me break my copy in.


I've been talking to someone up in Round Rock who is getting this game at Christmas him & his son, and he's desperate to be taught the game. Sounds like we need a WotR session or two.... I'm itching to play it again too.
 
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Kevin Chapman
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Nice review, Grant! It should be mentioned, however, that the Rulebook has been updated to include all of the FAQs from the 1st Edition.
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Gordon Watson
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New edition? sauron Upgrade Kit? sauron New Edition? sauron Upgrade Kit? sauron sauron Oh the dilemma.

Nice review - I thought I read somewhere that the bases for one of the figures was different - might be imagining it.
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Kristofer Bengtsson
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domus_ludorum wrote:
Nice review - I thought I read somewhere that the bases for one of the figures was different - might be imagining it.


I believe you are referring to the Uruks' (Isengard Regular Army units) bases as the first print run of the First Edition had them with Elite size bases (same as the Dwarven Elites). This was a mistake though and the majority of the printed First Edition games have the Uruks on the correct smaller bases.
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Mike Smith
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In my copy of 1st edition the blue and red figures were of a different plastic to the leaders/nazgul (a hard and easy to paint plastic) and Fellowship/Minion pieces (softer than the leaders, but not as bad as the red and blue pieces). The red and blue pieces were soft and rubbery. Is this still the case?
 
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Gordon Watson
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Veldrin wrote:
domus_ludorum wrote:
Nice review - I thought I read somewhere that the bases for one of the figures was different - might be imagining it.


I believe you are referring to the Uruks' (Isengard Regular Army units) bases as the first print run of the First Edition had them with Elite size bases (same as the Dwarven Elites). This was a mistake though and the majority of the printed First Edition games have the Uruks on the correct smaller bases.


Yes that was it - need to check my first edition to see whether it had this issue - never noticed it so probably not.
 
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David Nichol
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Cheers for the review. Answered all of the questions that I had over this purchase. The board looks so much better now (a little bigger wouldn't have hurt...) - makes the old one look like a bit of a dustbowl really.
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Mont A.
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Ohmigosh, this is the most amazing timing ever. My new copy is sitting on my table — I got it late last night at my FLGS — and my gaming buddy is driving an hour to come play it with me today; but I don't have time to wade through the rulebook to spot changes before he arrives. This is perfect.

A couple of questions, if I may?

(1) Gandalf the Grey's new ability: Does this mean if he uses a Palantir to play a Strategy card, he can draw a new Strategy card, and if he uses a Palantir to play a Character card, he can draw a new Character card? Or does it mean that if he uses a Palantir to play any kind of card, he can draw a new card of any kind?

(2) I'm afraid I'm confused about the Fellowship entering Mordor. If the Fellowship reaches Morannon or Minas Morgul, can they just declare on the spot that they want to enter Mordor, and immediately jump to the first spot on the Mordor track?

Thanks in advance.


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Kristofer Bengtsson
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Typhon wrote:
(1) Gandalf the Grey's new ability: Does this mean if he uses a Palantir to play a Strategy card, he can draw a new Strategy card, and if he uses a Palantir to play a Character card, he can draw a new Character card? Or does it mean that if he uses a Palantir to play any kind of card, he can draw a new card of any kind?


He draws from the same deck as the played card came from!

Typhon wrote:
(2) I'm afraid I'm confused about the Fellowship entering Mordor. If the Fellowship reaches Morannon or Minas Morgul, can they just declare on the spot that they want to enter Mordor, and immediately jump to the first spot on the Mordor track?


No, they still enter Mordor during the Fellowship phase at the beginning of a turn, but they no longer need to be Hidden to enter the Mordor track (i.e. if they are Revealed in Morannon or Minas Morgul they can still enter Mordor at the beginning of the next turn).
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Mont A.
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As always, Kristofer to the immediate rescue! Thanks oodles.
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Mont A.
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One more important change to note: the Witch'King's "Sorcerer" (card cycling) ability has been slightly nerfed. It now reads:

"If the Witch-King is in a battle and you use a Combat card during the first round of the battle, after doing so you may immediately draw an Event card from the deck matching the type of that card."

This should prove interesting. Will hamper the previous freedom the WK had to always draw Leadership cards for purposes of hammering the Fellowship.
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Mont A.
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Does the new, more explicit order to resolving hunt tiles have any bearing on using Merry/Pippin's ability? As it stands now — and assuming I understand correctly — they can use their ability to separate from the Fellowship before the Fellowship is revealed, which means that they can potentially travel much further through that separation, moving from the Fellowship's last known location rather than moving from the Fellowship's newly revealed location.
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Nate Merchant
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Nice comparison, but am I the only one who favors the 1st Ed Nazgul? Yes, they may knock over more easily, but look at the pose!!
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Natus wrote:
Nice comparison, but am I the only one who favors the 1st Ed Nazgul? Yes, they may knock over more easily, but look at the pose!!


Yeah based purely on looks, much more dramatic!
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Evgeny Reznikov
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Typhon wrote:
Does the new, more explicit order to resolving hunt tiles have any bearing on using Merry/Pippin's ability? As it stands now — and assuming I understand correctly — they can use their ability to separate from the Fellowship before the Fellowship is revealed, which means that they can potentially travel much further through that separation, moving from the Fellowship's last known location rather than moving from the Fellowship's newly revealed location.


This was always the case. Their guide ability kicked in during damage resolution, which comes before the reveal icon is dealt with, even in 1st edition rules.
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Grant Johnson
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Thanks everyone for the positive review- that's over 200 thumbs in under 24 hours. I think the lesson here is that if you think of something no one's posted that would be really helpful, sit down and write it. I realized Friday that I badly wanted to know what was new in the box and I'm glad I decided to act on it Saturday.

Got in a play tonight with my good buddy
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He hasn't had a play in about 2 years and was a little rusty. That said, everything went pretty smoothly for me in the first half of the game. We got a heavy Ent hit at Orthanc that I weathered, but it was via Gandalf in Fangorn so no rule change there. We also saw Pippin separated out after a successful hunt, but he kind of got stranded and sat in Dimrill Dale (Lorien fell pretty early). Horvath on average rolled 2 WoW per turn, and offset it by constantly getting caught in hunt rolls (with multiple successes on Eye tiles draws) and getting destroyed in combat.

The changes to the Witch King were evident right away. He was more difficult to get out early, as I had to start rampaging through Rohan before I could snag the extra die. I missed being able to draw from any stack with the Witch-king's ability, right up until I lost him (4 hits late in a siege of Minas Tirith followed by an equally awful field battle). The Fellowship made up some good ground and used the new declaration rules to enter Moria while revealed. That is looking to be a much bigger deal than I'd originally anticipated.

And fans of the Eye rejoice- we took care of the pesky hobbits on Step 1 in Mordor. Final captured points were Helms Deep (Saruman early), Edoras (right after Helms), Lorien (Hill trolls and some great rolling), the Shire (good Isengard combos), Pelargir (Southron conquest), Dale (Easterling goodness), and the Woodland Realm (Elves busy defending the Grey Havens and Rivendell). That extra Dwarven Elite in Erebor was a pretty strong deterrent, even with the Dwarfs not being moved down the political track. The Iron Hills unit retreated in pretty early and made a decent defense force for almost no cost.

And in conclusion, I hope my dice are not weighted while I play Shadow. When Horvath had 6 action dice I saw him roll 4 WoW in one turn. And that unfortunately means that when I play as the Free Peoples I will be completely unable to roll them.
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Kristofer Bengtsson
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tallgrant wrote:
The changes to the Witch King were evident right away. He was more difficult to get out early, as I had to start rampaging through Rohan before I could snag the extra die. I missed being able to draw from any stack with the Witch-king's ability, right up until I lost him (4 hits late in a siege of Minas Tirith followed by an equally awful field battle). The Fellowship made up some good ground and used the new declaration rules to enter Moria while revealed. That is looking to be a much bigger deal than I'd originally anticipated.


Those changes (W-K and entering Mordor) are indeed the two most important changes to the Second Edition!

tallgrant wrote:
And in conclusion, I hope my dice are not weighted while I play Shadow. When Horvath had 6 action dice I saw him roll 4 WoW in one turn. And that unfortunately means that when I play as the Free Peoples I will be completely unable to roll them.


You will be unable to roll any Will of the West results because (contrary to what science states) dice do indeed have a memory!
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I hope they (Heidelberger Spieleverlag) will release the upgrade kit for the German edition.
I will certainly not buy the whole box again (the units still only have two colours). Unfortunately it is entirely possible that they won't release it (still undecided though), in which case I will skip this edition.
 
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David Boeren
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Just got my copy from CoolStuff, I never played the original edition.

Played through a few turns and then reread the entire book now that I had some more context so I could understand it better, I think I'm ready to go. Currently trying to schedule a friend to come over this week to try it out, but with the holidays it may not be for a while longer...

Components look pretty good. A number of the minis are going to need hot water treatment or something to unbend them, and honestly I wish a harder material was used because they'll always be too flexible. Maybe I will not bother painting them after all, or perhaps only the special characters? Not sure yet, but it seems like it might be too easy for paint to crack and flake off of the flexible bits like the archer's bows.

The combat dice are cheapish as stated in other reviews, so I swapped in some other d6's. Not a big deal.
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Mont A.
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I find myself wondering why the Ent cards were changed for the revised edition....

To echo tallgrant's OP, to play an Ent card now requires only that Gandalf the White be in play, and a Companion be in Fangorn. (Previously it required that both Saruman and Gandalf the White be in play, and that Gandalf be in Rohan or Fangorn.)

But to immediately play another Character card for free afterwards now requires that Gandalf the White be in Rohan or Fangorn. (Previously it required only that a Companion be in Fangorn.)

So if you want to really take full advantage of the Ent cards, chaining them together, you'll need a Companion in Fangorn, and Gandalf in Rohan or Fangorn (the latter taking care of the former, of course). Whereas before, you needed.... a Companion in Fangorn, and Gandalf in Rohan or Fangorn. Exactly the same thing.

So I find myself wondering why the requirements for the two parts were switched around at all. Or rather, when the altered order would make any difference. In the first edition, it was possible to play an Ent card with no other companions anywhere nearby as long as Gandalf was in the area — say, helping to defend Helm's Deep. But that's no longer an option in the 2nd edition. On the other hand, now it's possible to play a single Ent card with a Hobbit in Fangorn, even if Gandalf is bolstering the defenses of, say, the Woodland Realm or Lorien.
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