War of the Ring (board game)

War of the Ring (board game)

"War of the Ring" is a strategy board game by Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello, produced by Nexus Editrice (Italy). Since its first print-run it has been produced in many languages: Fantasy Flight Games publishes the English edition. It was released in 2004. An expansion called "Battles of the Third Age" was released in 2006.


* One Rulebook
* One simplified rulebook called "The War of the Ring Begins Here "
* The game board depicting a large map of Middle-earth (in two sections)
* The Player Aids folder
* 10 red Shadow Action Dice
* 6 blue Free Peoples Action Dice
* 5 white six-sided Combat Dice
* 204 plastic figures representing the Armies and Characters of The War of the Ring
* 137 cardboard counters
* 96 Event Cards (divided into 4 decks of 24 cards each)
* 14 Character Cards (10 Free People Characters, 3 Shadow Characters, Gollum)


"War of the Ring" is a 2-4 player game that takes approximately 3 hours. The primary rules are for two players (one as the Free Peoples and one as the Shadow Armies) but there are variant rules for 3 or 4 players. The rules described below are for two players.

Setting up the game is the same every time. Each player has two decks of event cards that need to be shuffled and placed on the board. The fellowship starts in Rivendell with all companions in the party and the party being led by Gandalf the Grey. Armies are distributed throughout the board as described in the manual. The Free Peoples player starts with the three Elven rings on their side of the board. A marker indicating how far the Fellowship has moved since it was last revealed starts at 0 as well as the corruption counter. Each nation starts with a marker on the political track. The Shadow Armies (Sauron, Isengard, and the Southrons and Easterlings) all start activated with Sauron and Isengard one step from going to war and the Southrons and Easterlings two steps from war. All of the Free Peoples (Gondor, Rohan, Elves, Dwarves, and Northmen) except for the Elves start unactivated. Gondor is two steps from going to war and the rest are three steps. The Free Peoples player starts with four action dice and the Shadow Armies player starts with seven.

Each turn of the game has six phases.

Event Phase: In this phase each player draws two cards, one from each of their event card decks. Each player is limited to six cards in their hand at any given time so they must discard if pushed over.

Fellowship Phase: This phase applies to the Free Peoples. If the fellowship is in either Minas Morgul or Morannon then the player must declare it and move the Fellowship into the final Mordor track. Otherwise, the player can declare where the Fellowship is, may heal the Fellowship, may change the Fellowship guide, or may do nothing. If they declare the Fellowship's location the counter for how far they've moved is reset to zero and the player may place the Fellowship token in a region on the board that many spaces away from the last location. If the Fellowship ends up in the stronghold for a Free Peoples nation then that nation is activated on the political track if it isn't already. If the user heals the Fellowship, they must be declared in a city or stronghold and one point of corruption is removed. If the player changes the guide of the Fellowship, they must pick between their companion characters with the highest levels as indicated on their cards.

Hunt Allocation Phase: This phase applies to the Shadow Armies. The player may put any number of action dice up the amount of companions in the Fellowship in the Hunt for the Ring box on the gameboard. These will be used to hunt for the ring if the Free Peoples player chooses to move the Fellowship.

Action Roll Phase: Both players roll their action dice. If the Free Peoples have Gandalf the White or Aragorn in play they may roll an extra dice for each. If the Shadow Armies have the Witch-king, Saruman, or the Mouth of Sauron in play they may roll an extra dice for each. All Shadow Army rolls that end up with Sauron's eye must be placed in the Hunt for the Ring box.

Action Resolution Phase: In this phase players take turns using action dice starting with the Free Peoples player. If a player has less action dice left than the other player they may pass. There are six different symbols that come up for each player:
* Army: Move up two different armies to adjacent territories, attack a territory, conduct a siege, or play an Army event card
* Character: Move or attack an adjacent region with an army that contains a leader or character, play a Character event card, or use one of the army's special abilities. The Free Peoples may flip the fellowship counter to hidden if it is visible, move the Fellowship (which initiates a hunt), separate a companion or group of companions from the fellowship and move them amount equal to the fellowship counter plus the highest level of the characters leaving, or move all companions on the board. The Shadow Armies player may move all Nazgûl anywhere on the board except a Free Peoples stronghold not under siege.
* Muster: Move a nation forward on the political track (they cannot go to war unless they are activated), if a nation is at war units can be recruited. When recruiting the player can choose to get two regular units, two leader units, a regular unit and a leader unit, a character (if all necessary requirements are met), or an elite unit. When recruiting two units they must be placed in different settlements.
* Event: Draw an Event card from either pile or play any Event card
* Army/Muster: Pick either Army or Muster as the action
* Will of the West: (Free Peoples only) Can be any other action or used for special cards

Victory Check Phase: Players win in this order:
* Corruption counter reaches 12, the Shadow Armies win
* Fellowship reaches Crack of Doom, the Free Peoples win
* Shadow Armies control 10 victory points worth of Free Peoples settlements, the Shadow Armies win
* Free Peoples control 4 victory points worth of Shadow Armies settlements, the Free Peoples win


This game has been mildly criticized for shipping all the Free Peoples armies as blue when there are five different nations with different pieces and all the Shadow Armies as red when there are three different nations with different pieces. When looking at the game board from a distance it becomes difficult to distinguish which armies belong to which nations. Each nation does have a specific color assigned to it, though:
* Gondor: Blue
* Rohan: Dark Green
* Elves: Light Green
* Dwarves: Brown
* Northmen: Light Blue
* Sauron: Red
* Isengard: Yellow
* Southrons and Easterlings: OrangeThis has caused some players to paint their pieces, or at least their bases, to be the color of the nation they belong to.

PI's "War of the Ring" boardgame

A completely separate board game, also entitled "War of the Ring", was published by Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI) in the United States in 1977. Despite having the same title and subject matter, the 2004 game bears no relation whatsoever to the 1977 game in terms of game play and design.

This game pits the Dark Power player, who controls the forces of Sauron and Saruman, against a Fellowship player, who controls the forces of all the free peoples of Middle-earth. There is also a three player version wherein the Saruman player and the Sauron player are distinct.

At one level, SPI's War of the ring is a giant strategic war game that attempted to balance the massive resources of Sauron against his limited ability to micromanage them. To reflect this, the Dark Power Player is given a limited number of 'shadow points' each turn which can be allocated towards moving troops or Nazgûl. The game takes place at two levels, the army level, where an odds-based combat system results in each side taking a certain percentage of losses, and at the character level, where characters can fight each other and (in the case of Fellowship characters) acquire magic items. Characters with leadership abilities can modify the die rolls of army combats that take place in the same hex they are located in. The Dark Power player has a "search phase" in his turn, where if he is lucky he can spot Fellowship characters to engage them in combat or have army units capture them. Both sides have the ability to play event cards, which are events directly taken from "The Lord of the Rings" story to modify play.

The Fellowship player wins if he manages to destroy the Ring, while the Dark Power player wins if he can bring the ring to Barad-dûr. Both sides can also win a military victory, which is considerably more difficult to achieve.

This SPI game won the Charles S. Roberts Award for "All Time Best Fantasy Board Game of 1977". [cite web
title=Charles S. Roberts Awards Winners (1977)
publisher=Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design


External links

* [http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/lotrwar.html Official "War of the Ring" Homepage]
* [http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=21 Official "War of the Ring" Forums]
*bgg|9609|"War of the Ring"|18034|"Battles of the Third Age" (expansion) (Nexus Editrice/Fantasy Flight Games version)
* [http://www.warofthering.webb.se Site of one of the "War of the Ring" playtesters, with an extensive FAQ and useful articles]
*bgg|2228|"War of the Ring" (Simulations Publications, Inc. version)

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