Sunday, September 18, 2011

RISK-ing Middle Earth

Every time I describe wargaming to a non-gamer, they ask, "Oh, is it like Risk?" 

I tell them, yes, only more specific to particular eras in history, or within the confines of a science-fiction or fantasy setting.  Many wargames lean more towards "war-simulation," which provide a greater level of detail, but at the cost of being more complex to play. 

While Risk may be considered a basic wargame, sometimes it's good to get back to basics. 

Which is just what a few of my gaming buddies and I did last weekend.  We sat down to play Risk: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition (LotR Risk), one of the many variants of the original game. 

Shown below is a look at the initial dispositions of the four factions, vying for control of Middle Earth.  The Fellowship, bearing the One Ring, started out at Hobbiton.

Although LotR Risk can be played like normal Risk, this version contains additional rules, along with "Mission Cards" and "Event Cards" that give this game a unique feel.  Half-way through our game we discovered we misinterpreted the Mission Cards.  These cards granted a player special capabilities or additional reinforcements--IF--one of the player's leader figures occupied the specific "site of power" listed on the card.  We initially thought a player received the benefit by merely possessing the card.  While this skewed the game, we played in this format to the end, for fairness sake. 

As for the results of our game session, I'm working on a detailed after action review (AAR), that I'll post either as a YouTube movie or graphic novel. 

In the process of deciding which format would be best, I stumbled across the following information for you Risk fans out there:

LotR Risk was published in 2003 and unfortunately, is no longer in print.  Copies, though, can be found on sites like, with prices ranging from "a real bargain" ($27.99) to a "real collector's item" ($199.99), depending on the condition of the game.  Comments on Boardgame Geek are mostly positive, giving the game an overall rating of 6.5 out of 10. 
The LotR Risk website is also available for strategy tips, rule variants and other internet links, although the forum appears to be dormant.

So sound the call-to-arms and seize control of Middle Earth! 

But remember: 

“...the hearts of men are easily corrupted... And the ring of power has a will of its own.”

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