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Risk: Lord of the Rings Notes and commentary

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Risk: Lord of the Rings

Notes and commentary

I have played this game about 10 times, and have played both the Fellowship and Evil sides. I would like to offer some thoughts on gameplay and strategy.
Gameplay. For those comfortable with traditional Risk, there will be minimal transition time getting into the LOTR version. However, there are some new aspects from the game I played as a boy.

  • Time limit. There is the built-in time limit that comes from tracking the path of the Fellowship across the board.

  • New cards. In addition to more traditional territory cards, there are now mission, power, and event cards. Mission cards allow leaders to raise additional armies or otherwise help out. Event cards have effects on who can do what to whom, and power cards can be played to influence combat situations.

  • Victory points. Used in conjunction with the time limit, it expands the ways in which players can win the game even if their armies aren’t conquering Middle Earth.

  • Leaders. These individuals provide combat advantages as well as the ability to fulfill missions.

  • Terrain. The map contains mountains, strongholds, bridges, and other features that influence movement, combat, and strategy.

Strategy. In playing this game, I have noticed several aspects that players may agree or disagree with.

  • The game tends to favor the Evil player. I think this is largely because of the map layout. In traditional Risk, all but one continent (Australia) was vulnerable from at least two directions. Moreover, all territories were located in the center of the board with none abutting the edge. In LOTR, two Evil continents abut the east/south mapedge thereby largely precluding rear attacks.

  • Following on this point, most of the early action in my games has been to secure the territories to the east. The successful player is the one who controls that side of the board the longest.

  • Leaders. Proper use of leaders is critical. While they provide a +1 on attack and +1 on defense, this is not the best way to use them. Leaders should primarily be used to achieve missions, which not only provide armies but victory points as well. I have found that the Leader game is mostly disconnected from the army game and needs to be played separately.

  • Cards. With so many variations of cards, it is very important to play the “card game” as much as the “army game.” LOTR is more nuanced in this regard than basic Risk.

  • If your opponent gets a second leader, try to kill it as quickly as possible. A player with two leaders will rack up VPs through missions very fast and will also sometimes have advantages in combat if used in that manner.

I would love to hear what other people have to say about this game in general, and my comments in particular.

Phil Squair

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