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Der Herr der Ringe: Die Gefährten: Das Kartenspiel
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Der Herr der Ringe: Die Gefährten: Das Kartenspiel

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Product Awards:  
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 2002

Ages Play Time Players
9+ 30-45 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): Ravensburger Germany

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Product Description

Reiner Knizia's second game based on the Lord of the Rings. The cards from this charming game are from the movie Lord of The Rings. The objective is to build Middle Earth and accumulate points. Very simple rules, but gameplay is challenging and fast.

Product Awards

Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 2002

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): Ravensburger Germany

  • Year: 2001

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 30 - 45 minutes

  • Ages: 9 and up

  • Weight: 454 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components contain foreign text that does not impact play. An English translation of the rules is provided.


  • 88 cards (in 4 colors)
  • 10 place cards
  • 6 ring tokens
  • 30 victory point tokens
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Lord of the Rings
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.8 in 4 reviews

Awesome Abstract Strategy game!
January 06, 2004

I am not an experienced gamer, so I am not able to compare this game with other games. I bought this game for my friend, and the reason was that it was cheap. When I read the instruction of this game, the first thing that comes to my mind was that 'can this game be fun?' It is indeed fun!. I am addicted to this game, since no game that I have played before (such as Monopoly, Risk and Clue) has given me so much enjoyment. I enjoy the process of thinking of winning strategy in this game. The game provides pretty of options for you to choose, and you must adapt your strategies in each turn. But be careful! Other players also have their own agendas and may trick you, as a result. Luck does not play as much in this game as in other classics (e.g., Monoploy).

Another merit of this game is that the game rules are simple. Although lots of different options exist in the game, the rules are not hard to understand at all, even to non-gamers.

I briefly explained them to my friends and they knew how to play.

The third merit is that strategies change when you play with different number of people. You will find the gameplay for 2 people different from the gameplay for 3 or 4 people, because the rules change. I find that this game is fun no matter how many people you play with. It is unlike Clue or Monopoly, in which a 2 player-game is boring.

Overall, I give this game a score of 4.5, since it is undoubtedly a well-designed game. Even you have bad cards on your hand, you can still win with clever strategy. Have I told you that I won Clue and Monopoly nearly every time I played, but I lost this game for five consecutive times? This game let you think, and you have to play smart to win. For gamers who hate the element of luck (like me), I strongly suggest this game.

by Rolf
A perfect game if you like simplicity (Knizia's simplicity!)
June 22, 2002

If you are looking for a theme-based, deep-going cardgame, then you'd better skip this one. Personally, if a cardgame with this title appears, for some reason I expect an adventurous game, at least a game where some RPG-elements are a part of the gameplay. The bad thing about this game is that it has not much to do with the theme, at least not to the extent as one may expect.

However, if you are looking for a game that plays fast, and if you like abstract gameplay (but not to abstract) this Knizia game is a pretty nice one. What I like about tis game, is the easyness of it, yet at the same time offers more fun then can be determined from reading the game-rules. Like other Knizia games, the fun of this game can only be discovered by actually playing it. Let me put it in another way: after having read the game-rules, I found myself wondering 'should this game be fun?'

But all I can say is that it IS fun indeed. This is due to the fact that it isn't complex, yet it offers enough absorbing gameplay to stay far away from a label like 'boring'. Ok, I have played this game only for 6 times now, but I just feel good about this game. The point is in fact: just don't expect an Euphrat & Tigris, only because it says 'Reiner Knizia' on the box. But do expect 'Reiner Knizia', because it says so on the box. In other words, some abstractism, but nice solutions that connect to the theme somehow (visiting Villages is translated very well).

So, this game isn't going to blow your mind, like E & F. Your braincells will be left intact. What do I say, this game will refresh your overstressed mind, and that is the best way I can put it. You will be surprised by the originality that goes with this game.

The thing is that every player has the same set of cards. Meaning that every player has the same possibilities and chances. However, the cards come random to you. This means, that it may happen you have drawn a 'bad hand', at a given time. Meaning that you'd wish you had drawn better cards. But a Knizia-game wouldn't be a Knizia-game, if there were no escape-routes under the given circumstances. What I am trying to say is: it is not your hand of card that are responsible for succes, it is what you do with the cards! Even a bad hand can be transformed to your benefit, if only you play carefully and wellthought. This games offers a feature like: if you are not the strongest, then be the smartest. The challenge of the game is to make this statement happen. Loose a round or two, but come back surprisingly strong!

The cardgame can't be compared with the same-called board-game from the same designer. There is absolutely no similarity between them. The boardgame is a real nailbiting adventure, the cardgame is pure fast fun. But quality-fun, in my opinion. The only thing I can say (to convince you) is: just play it, and you know what I mean ( a typical Knizia trademark).

A good card-laying game from Knizia
December 30, 2001

This game is a tie-in to the first Lord of the Rings (LotR) movie, so let's talk first about how it ties in. It follows the plot of this first third of Tolkein's epic, in that the game, like the fellowship, goes from Bag End to Amon Hen, visting in between sites such as Rivendell and Moria. The cards feature stills from the movie.

Each of the 10 sites is represented by 2 cards, which are placed adjacent to each other. The first site is Bag End, so the game starts with these 2 cards placed in the centre of the table. At this site, as at every site, there are victory points at stake. At Bag End, as at some--but not all--of the sites, there is a ring at stake.

Each player has a deck of 22 cards, with each deck having the same distribution of cards (with respect to value--the stills on the cards differ a little from deck to deck). You shuffle your deck and deal yourself a hand of 6 cards. On your turn, you place one or more cards in one of the 10 spaces that surround the current site, and then you replenish your hand to 6. Most of the time, you will place a single card. But some of the cards--the 1s, the zero, and the Nazgul--allow you to place more than one card on a turn.

When the site is completely surrounded, it is scored. You count the number of points on cards of each colour around it, and compare counts in order to allocate victory points--and rings, if any. Then the player who played the last card at the site places the next site adjacent to the growing mass of cards on the table, and competition starts for this new current site.

I think of this game as the decadent, Western cousin of an earlier Knizia game: Samurai. If you've played Samurai, you'll be able to see the similarities from the above description. If you haven't, then it's about time you did! I don't like this 'card-laying game' as much as I like Samurai. But then, I like very few games that much. So my comparison leaves plenty of room for this to be a good game. Indeed, on the basis of 4 plays in December 2001, it does seem to be a good game.

Here are some reasons why I rate the LotR card game lower than Samurai. It is less strategic and more tactical; you have to play at the current site, whereas in Samurai, you can wait until the endgame and select from a wide variety of locations to play. It is less clean with respect to rules. There are different rules for safe (white) sites, such as Bag End and Lothlorien, and for dangerous (black) sites, such as the Ford and Amon Hen. There are special rules for 3 of the sites, and each ring has a different power (with one exception). Those who prefer theme to simple rules may like these things. However, those who like theme may be disappointed by the game overall; it's really another abstract game with a thin layer of theme from Knizia.

It seems on the basis of the games I've played so far that there may be a particularly big advantage to a strong start. If you can finish Bag End and take first place in doing so, you get not only a couple of points and a ring, you also get the right to place Bree. You will place it next to some of the powerful cards you've already laid, so that they affect Bree as well. Thus, you have a good chance of also winning Bree and its ring, or at least finishing among the points. I may be wrong here. I must admit that I've only played 4 times before writing this, and that the later sites carry more victory points than do the earlier ones.

I don't like the cards for this card game. Most of the movie stills don't work for me as card art (although I enjoyed the movie). You may well hit the edge of the table unless you play on a very large one. When you do so, you either have to move all the cards so far laid, or play the semi-official variant that if a site is at the edge of the table, 3 of the 10 slots around it simply don't exist, and so you score it after 7 cards have been laid around it. I wish the cards had been smaller, rather than standard card size; I'd have made them the size of the cards in Wyatt Earp (and, by the way, I wish the cards for Wyatt Earp had been the size of these).

Having said all that, I do like this game. I like tile-laying games, and that's what this really is, despite being a card game rather than a board game. Everyone I've played it with has liked it. There is extremely little German on the cards, just a sentence on each of 3 of the sites. The game would be helped by a player aid sheet to provide a summary of the rules and translations of these site rules and of the ring powers. It would also be helped by an FAQ. There are a couple of points at which I'm not sure how to interpret the rules (e.g., when ring powers clash, which ring trumps the other?), but we haven't had real problems at such points.

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