War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age published by Fantasy Flight Games and designed by Francesco Nepitello, Marco Maggi and Roberto Di Meglio is on one hand, an expansion for the original War of the Ring game and on the other hand an additional game set of 2 Battles from The Lord of the Rings – The Battle of Helms Deep, and The Battle of Minas Tirith.
This review focuses on the battle games, in particular Helms Deep as I haven’t had a chance to play the expansion rules for WOTR or Minis Tirith yet.
The battle games come with their own well produced boards showing the geographic areas where the battles are fought. These are of the same high standard that I would expect of any Fantasy Flight game and match the standards of the original game. They are gorgeous! The figures that come with the game are compatible with those that come with the original game and are very nice indeed. The new figures include Ents, Dunlendings, and extra Rohan an, Gondor, Sauron and Saruman forces. Siege Towers, Catapults, Corsairs, Southron Cavalry, and Galadriel and the Balrog are also there for the WOTR expansion rules.
There are loads of cards and the story cards are my particular favourites as they really add flavour of the the world of LOTR to the game.
So it all looks pretty amazing but here are the problems for me – 1) To play the battle games, you need to dig out the original game and use some figures. This is just a real hassle and for my money, FF should have included everything you need to play. 2) The print on the cards is too small as was a problem with the core game.
Rules – Ok, this is a beef I had with the core game. The rules really take some work to pull them all together. They are not that easy a read. Come on guys, show me how to do it by holding my hand! Also, and this is a big one for me, the rules are needlessly complex. I would rather a core beer & pretzels game set that I can set up and start playing within 30 minutes which for this detailed game would be an acceptable minimum. Then add additional complexity as an option. I guess I’m getting too old to work at a game before I play it. Thankfully, there are short guides to the play flow to use once you master the rules.
Did it work for me?
The flow of play actually worked very well with interplay between the Sauron’s forces and Rohan’s forces working well. As a Lord of the Rings fan, I love how the flavour really works and captures the essence of the battle as described in Tolkien’s masterwork.
As a Tolkien fan, I love the depth but as a game player it is too much like hard work overall. So, fun to tinker with and play once in a while, but not one I would play often. There’s just too much work which dampens my enjoyment.
If you are a WOTR owner and a Tolkien fanatic, this is a must buy. It has all the bits and pieces and oozes of theme. However, you might be like me and it will sit on the shelf after a play or two and I’ll take it out just to read all the stuff.
Boardgames in Blighty rating 5/10
Secondary rating – 10/10 if you just can’t get enough of Lord of the Rings gaming
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