The holidays are now more than a month in the past and I never got caught up here but I wanted to talk about one of the games my son and I (and one other for one game) played while my son was on break. That game was Middle Earth Quest by Fantasy Flight Games. This is an epic Lord of the Rings game that is supposed to simulate Sauron’s struggle to attain the ring early and it takes place during the 17 year period between when Bilbo leaves the Shire and when Gandalf returns to the Shire to send Frodo off on his adventure.
This is an epic game and we had a lot of fun with it. The map board is huge (which is both a pro and a con) and one of the reasons we don’t play this game more is that it takes a while to set up and it’s a longer game (we usually play for 3-4 hours but it goes by in a blur). What’s also interesting about this game is it’s almost two games in one because the player who’s Sauron plays a completely different game than those that take on one of the heroes.
Let’s start with the heroes. Each good guy player takes on one of five heroes. There’s Thalin (dwarf muscle), Argalad (elf scout), Beravor (human ranger), Eleanor (human noble) and Eometh (human horseman). The heroes’ goal is simply to disrupt Sauron’s plans. Throughout the game he will lay plot cards that brings him closer to victory and the players’ goals are to knock those cards out of play. Along the way, they’re also given quests that will help them in a variety of ways, whether it’s by giving them an item, training or an increase in one of their abilities.
Sauron is given the task of trying to spread his influence through out the realm and he can also deploy creatures and his minions (advanced creatures like the Witch King) to get in the heroes way. He can also maneuver heroes with corruption cards that inhibit the hero in a variety of different ways. They also have Shadow Cards which give Sauron a variety of different ways to strike at the heroes. Still, his primary goal is the placement of plot cards which further his advancement in one of the three means of victory, whether it’s finding the ring, military dominance or corrupting the leaders of Middle Earth.
In a lot of ways, this games plays like a light role playing game. The Sauron player is kind of like the Dungeon Master and he has control over a variety of things he can throw at the hero/player as they try to save the realm. If Sauron wins, it means Frodo’s quest is essentially moot because Sauron already has control. If the hero side wins, then it means the ring stays hidden and Sauron is kept in check so Frodo can complete his epic quest.
In short, this game is very fun but be sure to have a long evening open to play it. Since it takes a while to set up, we played it a few times in succession and just kept it up in the meantime. There are also a lot of different rules and I don’t think we played it 100% correct until the last time. I suggest reading the rules once or twice, play it, then reread the rules to find out what you did wrong and adjust from there. It’s definitely one of the funnest games we’ve played in a while.