Lord of the Rings

Hasbro, 2000, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up. This is a terrible game. I guess that shouldn't come as any surprise. After all, what movie tie-in game is ever any good? My mistake was, I bought this months before the movie opened and it never even occured to me that it was, in fact, a movie tie-in game. Oh well, live and learn. Just how bad is this game? I don't even know where to start... the rules are obtuse, hard-to-follow, poorly organized, and darned near incomplete. The game play is at first complex and frustrating, and once you finally figure it out, boring and stupid. Here's how it goes: each of the players takes on the role of one of the hobbits from the Fellowship of the Ring. You attempt to advance through various scenarios that follow the story of LotR (Moria, Helm's Deep, Shelob's Lair, Mordor, et al). You draw little tiles and "hobbit" cards that allow you to advance counter tracks on the scenario board and fend off assorted challenges, and eventually, somehow, complete the scenario, and hopefully with a minimum of fuss.

Meanwhile, the main board has what is called the "corruption" track. At one end is Sauron and at the other are the players. Various events within each scenario can cause Sauron to move closer to the hobbits and vice versa. Should Sauron meet one of the hobbits, the game is over and Sauron has won. If it sounds confusing, believe me, it is. That is until you finally figure out how to play, then it just becomes a huge excercise in no-brain tedium. I swear, the game mechanics feel so disjointed and nonsensical, it almost seems like they cannibalized some other existing game from some other genre and just Tolkien-ized the game pieces. I mean, how does it makes sense that the stout-hearted hobbits of LotR can somehow become so corrupt that they allow Sauron to defeat the good peoples of Middle Earth? Oh, and here's another bit of hilarity: Gandalf is, for all practical purposes, a mercenary in this game. That's right, he's there to help out the fellowship, but only if you can pay him...

So, to sum up: avoid this game!

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