Category Archives: Middle Earth Quest

First Look – War of the Ring

It’s my son’s birthday which means more games.  The big game I picked up for him this year was War of The Ring 2nd Edition and I had a chance to flip through the rules last night and here are my initial thoughts.

The rule book is pretty thick but it’s not too crazy because there are a lot of pictures and examples.  It’s put together well and the game looks like a lot of fun.  You have the army aspect to the game but then each side has characters (or for the Dark Lord, minions) that also add an extra element to the game.  Sauron’s side has a lot of military might but the good guys have the Ring-Bearer and the fellowship to even things out.

The game is driven by action dice.  Each turn, the players roll their dice to see which actions they can take.  Sauron can allocate dice before rolling to looking for the ring.  Then within each roll, the player have a choice or three to do.  For example if you roll the “army action” you can either move two armies, attack with one, or use a military oriented card.

Speaking of cards, they play a big role as well.  You can use them to bring in reinforcements, help you in battles or use them to activate nations to help in your war effort.  There’s also a very light diplomatic angle to the game as well because not all armies are willing to fight for your cause right off the bat.

One of the knocks of the game is that there’s too much randomness.  Combat is random (determined by dice) and even which actions you can take are random based on the roll at the beginning of the turn.  I’m curious to see how that plays out because on the one side, I can see a person getting good roles early having a distince advantage but on the other hand, it also lends itself to more replayability.

The game looks fun.  In fact if we have a rainy day this summer, my son wants to have a Lord of the Rings day where we play Middle Earth Quest which leads into the events of Lord of the Rings then play War of the Ring to play out what actually happened during the books.  Look for more on this game soon as we get into the game more.

Board Game Blog Hiatus

Thanks everyone for stopping by but I’m a brief hiatus.  I’m still getting in a game now and then with my son (played Harry Potter Hogwarts House Cup Challenge last night and got smoked and I will get in a game of Middle Earth Quest once in a while) but I’m a CPA so this is my busy time of year.  Look for new content (maybe videos?) after April 15.

Middle Earth Quest – Sauron Strategies

My son and I have now played seven games of Middle Earth Quest and all seven times I played the Sauron side.  He’s 5-2 but all but one of his wins was pretty close and had I done a thing or two differently, I might have gotten a better outcome.  Still, here are some of the things I learned.

Know your opponents – Since the hero side has a choice between five different heroes, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each is important.  The dwarf has a low wisdom so you can throw a quick road block for him just by throwing down influence.  With the female noble who has a wisdom of three, influence isn’t going to do it unless you use a big investment so using monsters is the way to go.

Get a nice influence base down – One of the mistakes I made in earlier games was concentrating my influence.  This made it easier for the heroes to knock out stacks at a time.  What I started doing is going for a wide base, putting one influence down on as many spots as I could.  Then if I knew a hero was going to make a play at a particular spot later in the game, I could throw down an obstacle or two to make things more difficult for him.

Keep the plot cards going – you can’t win if you don’t move on the story track so getting as many plot cards down as early as you can is important.  Make sure you’re one step ahead of the heroes here. Don’t get caught without a plot card on a turn where the heroes can take an existing one out because then it’s basically a two turn replacement (you use your actions to get a new plot card (turn one) and move the story marker (turn two) before you get to place your plot cards) so always keep one or two in reserve.  And when you choose your beginning plot cards, pick the ones you can play as quickly as possible.  I made the mistake one time of holding on to some stage 2 plot cards thinking I can come back late in the game but I ended up losing one to an encounter card and the other one wasn’t as effective because the heroes took it out quick.

The shadow pool helps but not as much as you’d think – In the one game where I won handily, I only ended up with six influence in the shadow pool.  Yes, those higher cost shadow cards can be wicked but they’re usually one shot things and they don’t come into play until later in the game.  In the game I won, I took advantage of some lower cost shadow cards early and that helped slow the heroes down enough for meto pull in front in the second stage.  In addition, while the higher shadow cost plot cards can give you a huge bump, they’re usually not played until later in the game when they make less of a difference.

Keep the heat on – Whenever you can, attack the heroes.  The ambush stage is your friend and unless you’re fighting the dwarf, if the hero can’t beat the creature or minion, then he loses his turn.  And the more times a hero fights, the quicker they have to rest or heal and the more times the story marker moves up.

Divide and conquer – while you don’t always have control over this, try to spread out your plot cards as much as possible.  When there are two or three heroes, it forces the heroes to split up and makes them less effective.  Nothing is tougher to defend than a group of heroes going after a common cause so having them on different sides of the map can be big.

Hopefully this helps.  Feel free to post your own Sauron strategies in the comments section.

Middle Earth Quest Review

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.