Thursday, March 25, 2010

My favorite game of all time: Lord of the Rings Adventure Game

It's the Lord of the Rings Adventure Game.  Just putting it out there.  The game is a race game, with each player trying to move along the board and be the one who destroys the Ring.  There are lots of cards to control movement, combat, and doing seriously mean things to the other players.  There's also a bit of die-rolling, which can have a significant impact on the outcome.  Loosely based on Tolkein's books, it was also a tie-in product to the mostly dreadful semi-animated LOTR movie of the late 1970's.  The design is simple - it's playable by kids - but the strategy isn't completely trivial.

My brother and I have played this so much that on our original copy, the cards are thin and bendy, the board and pieces are weathered, and the ink is partially eroded on everything.  We can get a game of this done in about 15-20 minutes - every move is so automatic, it's like choreographed ballet.  But the outcome is almost always in doubt up until the end - you have a chance to come back, to catch up, even at the very end if you get the right cards.

We continue to play it to this day, whenever we're together - we've even got a sheet of paper stored in the box recording the worst games we've ever played - e.g. one player wins when the other is sitting on the Rivendell space, which is normally about 15% of the way through the game, or one player gets stuck on Gollum (the last space on the board) while the other one catches up all the way from Rivendell.  I've bought up old copies on eBay to assure that we have one wherever we might meet up for vacations or holidays, and I've even inflicted it on my students in a fiction/games-based first-year seminar class at the college where I work.

I'm sure almost everybody has a game like this, that's a family legend, a personal favorite - what are yours?  Let me know in comments.

(picture from BGG user Arthur, AKA OldestManOnMyspace)


  1. great post. found your link off BGDF, and tweaked my curiosity. Been slaving away at creating our own adventure boardgame and love the simplicity of what you describe here. now if only I could swallow the $150 price tag on E-bay :)

  2. I've picked up a couple of copies of it off eBay for $30-$40 or so, but I've had to be patient - I set up one of their recurring searches that e-mails me when one is put up for sale, and over the course of a year or so I got a couple of them.

    Shipping to South Africa might be prohibitive, though!