Thursday, June 01, 2006

War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age

I just spent yesterday riding an airplane back from North Carolina, studying the rules to the new expansion to Fantasy Flight Games' War of the Ring, entitled Battles of the Third Age. Besides providing a balancing patch to the main game, the box includes two additional mini-games: The Battle of Rohan and the Battle of Gondor.

My out-of-the-box impressions were quite good. The map boards for each mini-game were painted by John Howe and are among the best I have seen in a board game. The miniatures were as good as in the original game. Artwork on the cards is fantastic. I was surprised at the size of the rulebook for the mini-games, which is approximately 30 pages. For the battle scenarios, significant depth has been added to the combat system and each unit has a special ability that can be activated under special circumstances. Terrain effects are much more prevalent as well. Another thing that impresses me is how strong the Ents are made to be in the Battle for Rohan scenario as well as the main game. Remember when the Entwood devours Saruman's entire army at the end of the battle for Helm's Deep? Well, this is now very possible.

Even with the Ents, I'm skeptical that the Free Peoples have received enough of a boost in the main game. The Shadow forces receive Corsairs, Dunlendings, the Balrog, and another version of the Witch King in the patch, which only seem to make them stronger. Still, I trust that balancing was a major focus of the patch, so I'm sure there's subtle advantages present in the new event cards present in the game.

So, who wants to play? I'd like to coordinate a game of the Battle of Rohan with someone this coming Monday if possible.


At 4:33 PM, June 01, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Received wisdom on BGG says that the free people got a (statistically) significant boost. What with Galadriel and the new Ents, I agree. I wouldn't mind trying out the battle game, but I'm itching for the main game w/expansion, myself.

At 4:46 PM, June 01, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I'm sure I'll be trying to play lots of all of the above, but the battle games seem to add a lot of tactical juiciness I'm hoping to try first.

The new additions to the main game definitely open up a lot more optional paths to victory. With the Corsairs, the Shadow player can get the Southrons in the game much more easily. The Balrog makes Moria a solid launching point for Shadow attacks into the Northwest. I especially like the Ringwraith version of the Witchking... his absence from the battlefield doesn't seem like too high a price to pay for putting the extra pressure on the Fellowship. On the other hand, Galadriel makes Lorien a much tougher nut to crack...

At 7:22 PM, June 02, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

I would love to play WotR w/ or w/o the expansion, never having done either.

This monday, however, I am still hoping for a Knizia-fest.

Put me down for being definitely interested, though.


At 9:49 PM, June 02, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I forgot about Kniziafest... I'll bring a small pile of Knizias... I don't want to be unsupportive of such fun initiatives.

At 5:46 PM, June 03, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

I want to try the tactical game pretty badly so you can count me in Ben. The expansion is intriguing but doesn't look to be the focus (kind of weird). So I'm more interested in the mini games right now.


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