Der Herr der Ringe: Die Gefährten
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Four Hobbits, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin, set out with the One Ring in an effort to elude the grasp of Sauron, the Dark Lord. With the help of the Ring, he would subjugate the whole Land. In Bree, they meet with Aragorn, who then accompanies them. In Bruchtal (Rivendell), in the house of the elven king Elrond, they are joined by more allies, Gandalf, Legolas, Boromir and Gimli. Together, they journey through dark Moria before resting in legendary Lorien, the empire of the elven queen Galadriel. They continue their quest down the big river to the mountain of Amon Hen, where this first part of their journey ends.
- 1 double-sided game board
- 88 playing cards
- 4 Hobbit figures
- 9 dice
- 1 Ring tile
- 32 hero point chips
- 32 movement point chips
Xmas Day, open Reiner Knizia's Lord of the Rings. Boxing Day, start reading the rules. December 27th, consign to the Boot Fair. Not in this household, mind you, but in thousands of other homes who assume the road from [page scan/se=0061/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]Trivial Pursuit to something that looks vaguely like [page scan/se=0003/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]Monopoly can be bridged in an instant. This experience usually finishes the non-gamer. They've been to see the film, and can now re-live the experience with figures and dice. Or rather, they can't, because, ironically, it is usually only tv themed capers that cater for the spontaneous consumer. Kosmos, sensibly, have deduced this, because in Der Herr der Ringe they have a far simpler offering available covering the same topic.
Conversely, this type of game would normally be given short shrift, but there is much to admire in the author Hering's design, not least of all the compact but adroit tactical options and abundant atmosphere.
Having dealt the player cards which provide your character for the hour or so of gametime, players line up at Hobbiton to commence proceedings. This is by way of a dice throw (two die), in which one provides movement, the other a combat rating. When all have chosen their preference, moves are made (counting only open spaces) toward the first destination.
The player heading the party at the end of each movement phase must turn over a Foe card, all of which have a three-pronged rating. The chosen combat die is added to an additional throw (plus modifiers, see below) and compared with the first number of the enemy plus die roll. Equal or exceed, and this card provides a reward by way of Hero Points (effectively victory shields, and your sole objective) or movement/weapon bonuses. Fail, and you are forced back to the first available open space. If this leaves you still heading the party, then you may take a second stab. Otherwise, the following Hobbit has an attempt, using the second printed number. Each adversary has three "lives" thus providing your team ample opportunity for glory. Striving ahead is fraught with danger, but is imperative when it comes to seizing the goodies. And if you are muttering about poor die rolls, then additional movement tiles are given as recompense.
Progress continues in this fashion until one of the locations (four in total -- Bree, Rivendell, Lorien and Amon Hen) is in sight. These provide additional victory points and, in Bree and Bruchtal, companions to aid your quest. However, conditions apply to the Settlement's accessibility. For example, the player holding the Gandalf card needs to surmount the Balrog monster on the Bridge at Moria prior to Amon Hen. The results are achieved by a simple die roll, and although luck plays a significant role, it is not intrusive. I have found that the family and younger groups quite relish this element of Der Herr der Ringe.
Each stage of the game introduces a new set of adversary and event cards (the latter denoted by the marked spaces on the gameboard) which provide excellent imagery of the movie. I am not one for glossy mug shots, but the artwork is pleasantly tempered, and the board suitably muted. Oh, did I fail to mention the ring? It is here is all its cardboard splendour and provides the holder (initially Frodo) a sneak preview of the cards.
Although DHDR does not have the finesse of Reiner Knizia's game, it cannot be marked down for its specific intentions. Let's be clear. No film, no game. But this is an ideal foray for those tempted by the celluloid images.