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War of the Ring: A Two-Player Game With Strategy to Spare

One of my favorite games, especially two-player games, is War of the Ring. As a Fantasy Flight game, the level of rich detail and the number of fun pieces to play with remains excellent. It contains an extensive collection of miniatures, cards, and boards.

There's an added bonus, as well: If you are used to Fantasy Flight Games, you know that they are rife with typos, errata, and other problems. War of the Ring is not a Fantasy Flight original, so seems to have much fewer problems with these issues than many of their other games. That said, this is a complicated, but beautiful game. And since it is complicated, I think that there are some guidelines to be followed when playing (many of which are similar to the Twilight Imperium rules).

  • Only play with 2 players. Even though the box says 2–4, it is a 2-player game. Playing on teams for this sort of game is a bit silly.
  • Make sure you have both read the rules thoroughly. This is one of the more complicated 2-player standard games (i.e., non-wargames). There are lots of nuances to remember, and it's best to have read through the rules yourself to help you get through them.
  • Remember those defense bonuses! One of the most-forgotten rules (for me, least) is that fortifications, strongholds, etc., provide special defense bonuses on the first round of combat.
  • Read some of the strategy information on Fantasy Flight's website. Some of the subtleties of playing either side can be elusive to new players, so it helps to know some of the standard sorts of strategies you can try.
  • Finally, if one of you has played before and one of you hasn't, it might be best to let the new player be Sauron. In my opinion, Sauron is a little easier to play and is a little more straightforward, whereas the Free Peoples player is torn in half a dozen different directions and has some hard choices to make early on (such as, should I concentrate on moving the ring so early? Should I move the Fellowship through Rohan and Gondor, or take the shortcut across the plains? Should I try to fortify Rohan, or just let it fall?).

Any other advice for playing and enjoying War of the Ring?



  1. Evgeny on Friday 19, 2010

    “War of the Ring is not a Fantasy Flight original, so seems to have much fewer problems with these issues than many of their other games.”

    Umm… Have we read the same 30-page FAQ/erratum/card clarification file?
    Don’t get me wrong, War of the Ring is one of my top five, but it has the dubious honor of having an FAQ that’s longer that the rulebook. The rules are also very easy to get wrong.

    Best advise is to get an experienced player to teach you the game – much lower chances of atrocious gameplay errors :)

    Other than that, it’s a magnificent game, rich in strategy and dripping with theme. Have a blast playing it.

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