jflartner
United States
Conshohocken
Pennsylvania
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I play games almost exclusively with my fiance. I work evenings and Saturdays, so it is hard for me to get to gaming groups. Rach, however, actually enjoys playing games with me!

She would prefer that all of our games last at most 45 minutes, but she will indulge me from time to time on a game that will likely last longer. She also prefers less complexity to more, though, again, from time to time she will play heavier games, like Troyes (one of my favorites) with me.

So, I was very excited when, as part of my Christmas gift, she agreed to play War of the Ring. A game about a movie (book) franchise for which I am a fanatic and she might be called a passing fan (though even that is probably being a bit too charitable). It is also a game that has an estimated time of 180 minutes. I told her it would probably take about 4 hours. And she still agreed!! She must really love me. =P

I arrived home from work early last Saturday. I already had the board set up for us. Around 4 I started the rules explanation. At around 4:30-4:45, we started cooking and then we ate. We started playing around 6 and by 9:30 I knew I had just played my favorite game for the first time.


The beginning went a little slowly, as we kept referring to printed out guides to see what the die faces meant we could do, we walked step-by-step through our first few battles, and we learned the differences between event cards, character cards, and strategy cards.

I started off by moving the fellowship along and attempting to motivate the nations to war. In our biggest rules mistake, we played that the political track had 7 spots (including the final At War space) in stead of only 4 spots. This made it nearly impossible to get the North and Dwarves involved in any meaningful way.

Rach started by going all out offensively against Gondor. As I had done almost nothing to reinforce those positions, she took a few strongholds quite easily, and jumped ahead to 4 VPs and then 6 VPs. I was beginning to worry that the game was going to end much faster than 180 minutes.

The fellowship stalled in Lorien for awhile, as I had finally motivated Gondor and Rohan to join the effort, I began mustering troops to solidify out defense. In addition, as I'm sure many first time War or the Ring players will attest, I had still not given up on the idea of a military victory..."only 4 points!!!"

Rach also hit a wall as her forces were taking quite a few losses (more than she was expecting I think) and she realized she could only muster troops to her settlements - not to armies located elsewhere on the map.

I slowly began to realize that my anal retentive idea that this play through had to play out just like the books/films was going to make me lose the game, I finally split up the fellowship. I sent Gimli to see the Dwarves, Strider to help Gondor retake...the P nation that lets him change to Aragorn, and Gandalf to help Rohan. In a real show of n00bism, that was the last contribution my companions really made to the game. Boromir eventually was able to help with his Horn, and Pippen was sacrificed later on, but for the most part I largely wasted the abilities of my heroes.

Rach, meanwhile, was really ratcheting up her military engine. She had racked up 8 VPs and had me on the fences in almost every region. After splitting the fellowship, I finally realized that a military victory would be impossible. My reinforcements were almost non-existent, and Rach had me up against the wall. Fortunately, I was able to hold out. As Rach pressed and pressed for those last two points, she neglected the hunt pool. The ring bearers were able to move unseen and uncorrupted all the way to Minas Morgul in only a few turns. Just before the retook Orthanc from Gandalf and a few of the Rohirrim, I was able to mobilize some elves in the west to retake an unoccupied Shire.

As I started towards the peak of Mt. Doom, Rach had 9 VPs.

We rolled. And we both got ALL palantirs!!! I was able to use one of the (until now) completely forgotten Elvish rings. The fellowship moved, and a -1 hunt tile was pulled. Frodo now had a corruption of 7 and was only a few steps away from the Crack of Doom.

Rach pushed and pushed, but could not get that last point. I got very lucky with most of the hunt tiles and, though Pippen fell along the way, was able to destroy the ring.


This game is The Game. It is the one that I have pined for ever since stumbling upon this website after being absolutely WOWED by Pandemic. I've almost purchased it used MANY times - even after learning that there would be a reprint I could get if I could only stay patient.

I was completely worried that months of expectation, of excitement and build-up, would totally destroy my experience. I needn't have worried. This game is everything I have been searching for in a game and more. I prefer that it was shorter, and I especially wish the setup was easier, but unlike other games that take a long time (over 90 minutes for me), this one packs so much more game, and fun, into that time.

Rach even enjoyed it! She agrees that she wishes it was shorter, but that it was fun, and it didn't feel like it took us 200 minutes (which it did). She also said that she enjoyed it much more than Defenders (a game which I initially loved, but has since fallen from grace for me). I believe this is because of three major factors:
The two sides play very differently from each other. When I told her that I needed 4 VPs to win, she was very concerned. I think she was impressed by the asymmetrical balance in the game.
There is a lot of choice. Two ways to victory for both sides, and myriad paths to each of those. For her, Defenders pales in comparison (not that the games are attempting to do the same thing, but for her, its 1 hour+ fantasy game vs. 1 hour+ fantasy game) because it doesn't not offer a ton of choice. Just like Pandemic (which can be forgiven because it is much shorter), it can become a little "puzzly."
The game tells a story. I love The Lord of the Rings movies. Rach likes them fine. But I think the main reason she doesn't also love them is because they are so long. In the time we spent playing the game, we could have watched the extended cut of one of the films. Instead, we spent the time experiencing and influencing the entire saga.

In short, this was one of my favorite game experiences ever, and War of the Ring is definitely my favorite game ever. I cannot wait to play it again. (Rach even said we could play it again on our first snow day!!! Keep your fingers crossed for a blizzard in the NE!!! We're also going to play it for my birthday in February =P)
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Ralf Schemmann
Germany
Siegen
NRW
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Glad to hear you enjoyed it that much. It really is a tremendous game.
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John Hathorn
United States
San Antonio
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As someone who's played this several dozen times, you will eventually be able to play a game in an hour and a half to two hours. And it won't take you several dozen plays to get that down, so don't worry, maybe 4 or 5 plays. My friend Steve and I would play this twice in 3 hours switching sides for the second. Unfortunately, his win percentage is about 65%... boo, but still one of my faves.
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Kristofer Bengtsson
Sweden
Kävlinge
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Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

Check out www.warofthering.eu for more on the game!
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Dr ?
United States
Midwest
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Only played once and i was pretty sure it was my favorite...
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dave
United States
San Diego
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Ah, the WotR bug bites another. Yes, you've hit upon a gem of a game and it only gets better with more play. Once you get relatively proficient with the rules (yes, there are alot of them along with new game mechanics), you should be able to easily play in under 2 hours for the vast majority of games.

 
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Alan Richbourg
United States
Arlington
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Next you'll be painting the miniatures ... and so on ...
 
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Paul Bauman
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Santa Cruz
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I used to wonder why people paid $300-$400 dollars for the collector's ed.

After playing this edition, I've gotta say I would probably lay down $400 for this with painted minis and a bigger map.

Not that anyone would do this since the first ed collector's edition probably has a contract on this type of thing, yadda yadda. I'm just sayin'... whistle

Excellent choice for publication, some very deft revisions, and I'm hoping for expansions down the line.
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David Boeren
United States
Marietta
Georgia
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I just picked up my copy of the reprint and am currently waiting to get my first game in - hopefully I'll be posting a similar story soon

Congratulations!
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Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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This is a grail game of mine too. I'm not sure I've ever been so excited about a game purchase, and when I opened the box not only did it not disappoint, it got better and better with everything I took out.

Talk about a beautiful, EPIC board! It's so big the corners hang off my 4-foot-diameter table. Gonna need a bigger table. ninja
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Blank Francis
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It seems funny to me that there are people who profess to being huge fans of the Lord of the Rings movies as if the books are an afterthought!

Glad you enjoyed the game though. It's been number one on my wishlist for over a year and I'm sure I'll be picking it up soon after Christmas if Santa doesn't deliver it first.
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Caleb L
United States
San Jose
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Great report, thanks. My girlfriend bought me this for Christmas and I'm trying to find a good time sit down with her and play it! I hope she has a positive reaction towards it.. whistle
 
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Kristofer Bengtsson
Sweden
Kävlinge
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XcaliberZ wrote:
Great report, thanks. My girlfriend bought me this for Christmas and I'm trying to find a good time sit down with her and play it! I hope she has a positive reaction towards it.. whistle

Let her win the first time...

sauron
 
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