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Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
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Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation

List Price: $34.95
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(Worth 2,799 Funagain Points!)

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Product Awards:  
International Gamers Awards
Best 2-Player Game, 2003

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 30 minutes 2

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): Fantasy Flight Games, Kosmos

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Product Description

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation Deluxe Edition features gorgeous artwork, a beautiful game board with art by John Howe, large tarot-size playing cards, and 18 finely-crafted plastic "wall" pieces to hold the game characters.

Product Awards

International Gamers Awards
Best 2-Player Game, 2003

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): Fantasy Flight Games, Kosmos

  • Artist(s): John Howe

  • Year: 2006

  • Players: 2

  • Time: 30 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 1,334 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.


  • 1 game board
  • 18 plastic character stands
  • 18 character tiles
  • 18 character tokens
  • 9 Fellowship cards
  • 9 Sauron cards
  • 8 special cards
  • 2 reference sheets
  • 1 rulebook

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.4 in 22 reviews

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One-in-a-Lifetime Combination of Excellence and License
May 26, 2007

Every now and then you see a departure from the usual "licensed" movie property, where for once you don't see a mediocre product relying on the movie license to sell it, and instead you get a great license combined with a great game. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (both the deluxe edition and the original) is such a game -- famed game designer Reiner Knizia did the design, and this is one of his best. Frankly this is one of the best two-player board games ever made. It draws a bit of inspiration from the classic Stratego, but combines it with a fast "modern" pacing and a lot of creativity. You'll want to play it over, and over, and over, and over!

Brian Reynolds

A quick, intense and fun gaming experience!
November 02, 2004

1 gameboard - very artistically painted board that has very highly themed regions (ie., Shire, Mordor) and funtional details (River Anduin and Moria tunnel). Easily laid-out and folded.

18 plastic pieces (with the character cards inserted) - Simple yet functional plastic pieces that hides easily switchable character cards. Character cards includes a brief description of each character attribute. Can be prepared and stored easily.

22 cards - High quality art, medium quality card stock. I immediately need to laminate them because dirt sticks on it easily but due to the lamination, it cannot fit the box anymore. You dont need to shuffle the cards during the game so it retains its quality.

The rules are simple yet the tactical options are immense - from the game set-up to its end game. You will really need to play the game at least twice (2 each on both sides) to memorize each unit's attibutes (strength, weakness, abilities) . The beauty of the game is its assymmetry. The two sides differ on their overall characteristics.

The Fellowship exceeds in special skills like sacrifice (Boromir), counter-measures (ie., Gimli against the Orcs) and special skills (Pippin's scouting skill). The Fellowship's Text cards have an edge over Sauron's.

Sauron's forces, on the other hand is simply powerful when it comes to strength (ie., Shelob, Balrog and Witch King) and brute (ie., Cave Troll). Their Strength cards supplement their already strong fighting force.

What's really great in this game is its BALANCE despite the assymmetry. Reiner Knizia designed each character's attributes ingeniously while keeping them believable when it comes to the theme (ie., Sam is stronger when with Frodo in the same region).

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation is a very well-themed, highly tactical game of bluffing and strategy. I think this is one of Reiner Knizia's few highly-themed game masterpiece. Most of the time, you need to have a good memory to remember your enemy's units. It plays very quick (me and my officemate can play a game, 1 round for each side, in as low as 20 mins. I have never experienced a dull moment with this game even if I'm playing with a complete newbie. The game can really suck you to play it more and more. An experience you shouldn't miss!

If you don't have this game yet, do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
After each game, you simply want to play again
July 02, 2004

This is one of the best games that I have ever played. It is an awesome strategy game that can be played over and over again. I truly cannot think of any real negatives that hinder this remarkable game. Two games can be played in relatively one hour. It is very easy to learn yet difficult to master. The card element significantly adds to the bluffing/strategic gameplay.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Roy L.
Simple, Deep, and a Great LotR Game -- For All Ages
March 17, 2004

At at time when many mass market games are overly complex, shallow, and little more than cynical marketing vehicles for the latest hit film, this game comes as a welcome surprise. Not only is this a clever interpretation of the Lord of the Rings theme (with artwork by long-time Middle Earth contributor John Howe and a 'story line' that really resonates with the ringbearer's quest), but the game itself is superb.

The Confrontation comes out of the vibrant 'German' (really also French, British, and Italian) school of 'gamer's games'. Since most American gamers will be unfamiliar with this type of game, having grown up on Monopoly, Life, Clue, and Risk, it's nice to see this one so widely avaialble. Unlike these games, The Confrontation is very tightly balanced, so that only careful play can reliably win -- and careless play is always punished. Every move matters, so that play is always engaging; but the simple rules and engrossing theme keep the game from becoming sterile. Moreover, what makes this game really great is that it is accessible to all ages. Kids from 6 up can master it and win against adults. (And in a pinch, there are extra 'powers' included -- like Shadowfax or Palantir-- that can be used as handicaps.)

In short: One of the best new two-player games available (by perhaps the best game designer ever, Reiner Knizia); fast, easy to learn, and attractive -- with a fun and well-delivered theme. What more could you ask for! A superb introduction to quality European-style games for all ages.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Easily the best use of the Stratego mechanic.
November 20, 2003

This is currently one of my favorite games. It is at its best when it is played between the same two players multiple times. Because the opponent's strategy is initially hidden, it helps to know what his tendancies have been in previous games. In my experience, the game becomes richer with multiple plays against the the same opponent, as each contestent tries to infer from previous games his opponent's present strategy. One finds oneself in an increasingly elaborate 'Battle of Wits' as in 'The Princess Bride'. It's a great object lesson in Game Theory, for those interested in mathematical economics.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Paul
Masterfully simple nail biter
January 02, 2003

Amazing. The rules are so simple. The subtle differences between pieces (retreat sideways/retreat back). The vast differences between sides. The astounding balance. So many games seem to boil down to a few pieces on the map and 1 move about to determine the whole thing - and that move a psychological struggle. Was he brave enough to move Frodo first?

You can't play just once - good thing its fast.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Mark
Excellent game that is a lot of FUN!
December 02, 2002

Love Lord of the Rings? Love a good short 2 player game? This one fits the bill.

My teenage kids love it and my old die hard war gamming buddy of many years thought it was a lot of fun. We were both amazed at how a simple game really does capture the feel of the books. As the Fellowship player you see that as far as the strength of your characters go, your lacking next to the Dark Power player. As the Dark Power player you know you've got the Fellowship player out gunned, but don't assume that will guarentee victory.

The rules are simple but each character in the game has his own unique abilities. It's coming up with a plan on how to use each character to their potential that makes the difference. We also play with the variant cards as that seems to make the game more interesting.

Another job well done to the game designer! Game components are also a nice quality. Well worth the value.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Top-notch 2-player conflict
October 17, 2002

There seems little point in rehashing the game mechanics (which have already been detailed in previous reviews) so let me simply rave about the wonderful way in which this simple game packs a huge amount of strategy and tension into such a quick game.

The forces are in direct opposition and although imbalanced in strength, have special abilities and modifiers that create a perfect match to one another.

Yes, the element of Stratego is present and the playing of the limited number of value cards reminded me a tad bit like the spice duels of AH's Dune game (which is GOOD thing) the game itself does not seem derivative or a simple abstraction with the LOTR license tacked on after the fact.

Ironically I find the gaming experience in this simple package to be far more satisfying than the full-blown LOTR board game. (and the cost is a bargain!)

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Brian
Knizia got it right, again
October 14, 2002

Just wanted to add to the praise for this tightly designed, clever, well-themed gem. Very fun, quick to play, and does a good job of evoking a LotR 'feel.'

The graphics by John Howe are very nice and the components are of very good quality. This is the nicest production value I've seen out of Fantasy Flight Games and I hope they continue in this direction. Good job!

Well worth the modest price.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Randy
Knizia finally got it right.
October 11, 2002

I just finished my sixth game of Confrontation tonight and can't really come up with a single serious criticism of it, especially considering the price. I would have to say this is my favorite two player game next to Battle Cry. And that's comparing it to Starship Catan, Battleline, Castle, Carcassone, Hera and Zeus, Caesar and Cleopatra, and Lost Cities.

Other than Battleline, I haven't been a big Knizia fan. The Lord of the Rings game, which I have played now with both expansions, is far too luck driven and the characters abilities seem to only vaguely resemble those of the legendary tale. However, in Confrontation each character's ability not only seems to suit the actual literary character perfectly but all of the abilities weave together to create a mesmerizing game. The tension and subtle strategies combined with nice graphics give a real feel of the Fellowship's dilemma: how to sneak a little hobbit into Mordor while distracting the big boys (i.e. Balrogs, Witch Kings, Trolls, etc..).

Each game can be set up differently to try out countless strategies and the various cards mixed with each of the character abilities gives you as many combinations to choose from as Cosmic Encounter. Though there is a Stratego-like element to the game, there is little of the random luck and frustratingly limited movement of Stratego.

This one is worth every shilling.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Two player gem: Destroy the Ring!/Get Bagginss-ss-ss!
October 04, 2002

There are possibly two great ways to write this review.

The first way to review this game is to talk about how great this little two-player game is. A board, nine pieces each, and nine cards each. Wonderful illustrations on all components. Like Stratego, players put their pieces on the board without the other player knowing what the strength of each piece is. The only way to find out is to move your piece to your opponent's piece, which brings about a battle. The curveball to that is that each piece has a special action making battles and strategy (and BLUFFING!) very interesting. On top of the special actions, battles most often also require the use of cardplay, which adds yet another layer of bluffing strategy to the game.

You'll find yourself trying different approaches with the pieces and/or the cards, every time you play. And the unique use of the board (players start on opposite CORNERS of a square board), plus the rule that pieces can only go forward (with a few small exceptions) create a quick, tense, interactive game that doesn't let up for 30 minutes. The victory conditions for each side are different to suit the theme, and make the game even better. The pieces for each side are totally different, but the game is balanced well, almost making it like having two games, since you can get better at playing the Fellowship, and then have to learn to get good at Dark.

Learning to play the pieces well, and bluff well, AND play the cards well in battle make for a great game. And if the two players playing are of different skill levels, the weaker player can have two special action cards that fit well with the game.

Looking at this game as a two player game, I can not find a single fault with it. It is very replayable, due to two different forces; the possibility of many different piece setups and subsequent moves; and the balance of bluff, board play, and cardplay. It is currently the best two player game I've ever played, joining the elite ranks of Hera & Zeus, and Battle Cry.

Whew! I don't usually write reviews that take this long!

But the second way to review this game would be to talk about how well it suits the Lord of the Rings theme. The forces are balanced well for game play, but also for theme. The forces of Mordor far stronger, and are able to cover more of the board quickly than the Fellowship. The Fellowship, on the other hand, seems overmatched, slow, and on the verge of being destroyed at every turn, were it not for the wily Frodo, and the well-timed interventions of Gandalf.

The actions on the pieces are well themed: Boromir never lasts long, but when he dies in battle, he takes someone else with him; Sam is weak, but if he's with Frodo, his power increases by 3; if Balrog is in Moria, and someone tries to travel thru the Mines or Moria, they are instantly defeated.

The victory conditions add to the game even further: Mordor must capture Frodo, or occupy the Shire with 3 pieces; the Fellowship must get the Ring to Mordor. There are even 2 extra (variant) cards for each player that add even a bit more theme to the game. What a battle!

This game, in my opinion, capture LotR perfectly, with the pressing of forces, the seeming invincibility of Mordor, and the uncanny ability of the Fellowship to overcome all opposition...

I hope this hasn't sounded complicated. Each character has one special action, and it is printed right on the piece. And there are only 9 pieces each, so it doesn't take long to understand how they work. But using them effectively... Well, that will take a little time. :)

This is my favorite two player game. It is an EXCELLENT Lord of the Rings game. It is short -- 30 minutes. It is a very good price. Four compelling reasons to add this to your very next game order. I could not recommend this more highly.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
A fantastic little game
September 30, 2002

The Confrontation is a highly interesting game well worth spending time with.

After 30 or so playthroughs, this game still grows and constantly shows different( and somewhat unexpected )faces of strategy.

Strategy is indeed very important in this game, without it youre not going to get far, but then again, strategy alone wont get you anywhere either since there is luck involved as well + it takes txo to make the brew, which means that theres no telling whats on your opponents mind.

The Confrontation is fantastic for a small game, great - Middle Earth Tolkien - atmosphere and great duration. Every characther is well concieved according to Tolkiens writings. For instance: Sam recieves extra strength when with Frodo. And Gandalf always makes the dark player play his card first. Gimli instantly defeats the Orcs, and so on.

Reiner Knizia knows how to keep the players on edge and his intriguing games never let you be to sure of your position. There is no learning by doing in this game, as in 'well after a while things crystalize and you learn your moves', anything can happen, and of course -it does.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Fast, fun game of strategy and bluff
September 03, 2002

Lord of The Rings: The Confrontation is a Stratego-like game by Reiner Knizia based on the famous trilogy. Each player controls 9 pieces representing Sauron and his Minions and the Fellowship. The board is an accurate but clearly abstracted map of Middle Earth and arranged so that play ranges from one corner of the map, The Shire, to the opposing corner, Mount Doom. The goal of the Fellowship is simply to get the Ring to Mount Doom. Sauron must either kill Frodo before he gets there or occuppy the Shire with 3 pieces.

The pieces are modeled after the heroes, villains, and creatures of Middle Earth. Each one has a small piece of text, which prescribes an action it must take or an option it may choose upon encountering an opposing piece. Each is also assigned a numeric value which represents its base value in combat if both pieces survive their initial encounter with one anoher. The pieces are augmented by a deck of special cards which may boost the base values of pieces in combat or allow encounter-altering actions to be taken. Taken together, the pieces and the cards do a remarkable job invoking a salient character trait of a particular personality or creature from the books while making combat a very straighforward and effortless task to perform.

To start the game, players arrange their pieces within their corner of Middle Earth. The Fellowship starts roughly in the region of The Shire and Bree while Sauron starts in Morder. The basic rule for moving pieces is very simple: pieces move forward, only, and may not move in any other direction unless they have a special ability or play a special card that allows them to do so. Pieces are moved one at a time across the interlocking regions of the board (which mirrors movement across a hex map, although that is not how the art is arranged), attacking and defending against one another as they go.

The Stratego-like element appears when a player moves a piece into a region with 1 or more opposing pieces. The attacker chooses 'randomly' which piece he'll encounter. Each player looks at the character or creature encountered and applies the flavor text on the face of the piece. For example: 'Flying Nazgul: 3 : Attack any single piece that is alone on the board.' vs. 'Legolas : 3: Immediately destroys the Flying Nazgul.' Legolas destroys the Nazgul and the encounter is ended. However, if the Flying Nazgul had met 'Gimli : 3 : Immediately destroys the Orcs.' The Flying Nazgul and Gimli would have a round of combat using their special deck of cards to assist. Either player may play a numeric card, hoping to best the other. Or they may play a text card which will allow a special effect, such as retreating out of the battle, to end the fight. If the values of two opposing characters match, they eliminate one another. If one beats the other's total, the losing piece is taken off the board and the winner picks another character in that space to encounter, if any. Regardless, only one side or the other will have control of the space when all encounters are resolved.

But the neat thing is that it captures moods people have always wanted to feel in a LOTR game but have always been difficult to instill. As Sauron, you really feel like you're hunting down Frodo: probing one corner of the board, and then another. Watching how the Fellowship moves and arranges their pieces. (And this isn't too hard, there are only 9 to keep track of.) And as the Fellowship, you have to sweat over which character will be next to surrender their life in the Quest to see the Ring destroyed. Watching as Orcs simply overwhelm the first piece they encounter or dodging the Winged Nazgul and Black Rider as they range the board trying to flush out Frodo. I don't mean to exagerate or hype this feeling, but it's not really something you're expecting when you first look at the game and sit down to it.

And that's pretty much it. There are some special rules, such as using the tunnel in Moria to quickly bypass the mountains. Or the Fellowship may use the Anduin to travel across the face of the map. The elements that provide the flavor for the game are small and distill the struggle to the principal characters and the foes they meet in the books. No Army of Rohan or Gonder. No swarming Southrons and Easterlings. Not even, surprising to say, Gollum. Special rules allow for The Palantir, a Recall to Mordor, Shadowfax, and Gandalf The White.

When I think about all the other games for LOTR that I've seen and played, this one wins hands down, IMO, for it's value/price ratio. No complex combat rules. No cumbersome counter stacks to move. No odd loop-holes or 'gotchas' that make the game feel like something other than LOTR. Okay, there's one: the Fellowship can't move together as one big stack across the map. In fact, nobody can. Generally, only 1 or 2 pieces may occupy a given space. That and no Gollum. But it still 'feels' right, ironically, for those quirks in the game. All that for under $20 and about 30 minutes of your time.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Bluffing at it's best, with Tolkien mixed in.
October 17, 2006

I had heard how great a game Lord of the Rings: Confrontation (Fantasy Flight, 2003 – Reiner Knizia) was before I played it, but I was a little let down when I received the game and went over the rules. It just looked too simplistic for my tastes and didn’t seem to offer many options. Of course, dozens of plays later I will gladly admit that I was wrong, finding it to be one of the best gaming systems I’ve ever played – a true tactical game, perhaps the game that Stratego should have been.

Then I received the Deluxe Edition. Not only was this version nicely produced (probably over-produced), but it added a variant set of tiles that could be used. These added a new dimension to the game that while not necessary to folks who bought the original game, certainly made the experience more enjoyable. Lord of the Rings: Confrontation basically distills the experience from the novels into an almost abstract-like mode yet retains enough of the theme to appeal to a Tolkein fan. It’s amazing how different the two sides feel – this isn’t a symmetrical game by any means – yet still come across as reasonably balanced. Truly a great design by Dr. Knizia.

Two players set a board up between them in a diamond shape fashion, with sixteen regions placed in a 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 fashion, with The Shire on one end and Mordor on the other. Each player takes either the nine characters of the Fellowship or the nine evil Sauron characters and places them on the board – four of them in their starting region (Shire or Mordor), and five in the two rows in front of that – one character per region. The characters are tiles that slide into plastic pieces so that the opponent doesn’t know which piece is where. Each player takes nine Combat cards for their side, and the Sauron player takes the first turn.

On a player’s turn, they must move one of the characters forward to an adjacent region. Each region can have only two characters in it, except the mountain regions (middle row), which can only have one; and Mordor and the Shire, which can have four. When a player moves their character into a region containing one or more of the opponent’s characters, a battle occurs. If the defending player has two or more characters in the region, the characters are fought one at a time in a random order.

In a battle each player reveals the characters and resolves any special abilities mentioned on them – such as automatic defeats, retreats, etc. Players then look at the number on each character, and both simultaneously play face-down a card from their hand. Cards are revealed, and the number on them is added to the strength of the character. The character with the highest total is the winner, with the loser being removed from the board. Both cards played are discarded, and a player can no longer use them until they’ve used all nine cards.

A few of the Combat cards have special text, rather than a number:
- Magic (Fellowship & Sauron) – Can immediately be replaced by any discarded card.
- Noble Sacrifice (Fellowship) – Kills both characters.
- Elven Cloak (Fellowship) – Ignores a numerical card played by the opponent.
- Retreat (Fellowship & Sauron) – The Fellowship card allows the character to immediately retreat backwards; the other allows a sideways retreat.
- Eye of Sauron (Sauron) – Ignores the text on the Fellowship’s special card.

Players continue to play the game until either Frodo enters Mordor (in which case the Fellowship immediately wins, or the Sauron player gets three characters into Mordor (in which case he wins), or if Frodo is killed (in which case the Sauron player wins.)

The Deluxe version also has nine additional characters on the reverse side of the original nine. Players can either play a “variant” game, in which all new nine characters are used, or a “draft” game, in which players pick between which characters they wish to use. There are also four special cards for each player, which can be used in a variant. These special cards can only be used once per game but give some great advantages.

Some comments on the game…

1.) Characters: I wanted to compare the eighteen sets of characters and show which ones I preferred more. The character I list first comes from the classic set, and the second is the character on the reverse of the card.
- Balrog (5) vs. Urak-Hai (4). The Balrog is stronger and can immediately kill someone moving through Moria; but that seems like it rarely happens, as the Fellowship is usually wary of any Sauron character there. I like the fast paced advance of the Urak-Hai better, which can move forward as many spaces as they want – ending in an empty region, simply for revealing themselves.
- Gimli (3) vs. Theoden (2). It's nice that Theoden is power four in two territories, but I prefer Gimli's instant defeat of the Orcs, as they are annoying in all incarnations.
- Troll (9) vs. The Watcher (6). The troll can't add cards, so technically the Watcher is probably more useful. Once the Watcher is revealed, however, it can no longer move; so I'll give the edge to the Troll.
- Frodo (1 in both sets). In the variant edition, when Frodo is killed, Sam becomes the new ringbearer. For someone like me, who has had Frodo killed on many occasions, this seems to be the better choice. The original Frodo can move retreat sideways, however; which allows for some nice tactical maneuvering.
- The Witch King (5) vs. The Witch King (2). I really like the new, albeit weakened, Witch King; as when it enters the Shire, the Sauron player wins the game! Still, you give up a powerful character that can attack sideways, but the pressure put upon the Fellowship player is great fun!
- Pippin (1) vs. Smeagol (0). I'm not sure which I like better. Pippin can retreat backwards, but Smeagol can switch with an adjacent character (can you say Gandalf?) Even in my book.
- Shelob (5) vs. Wormtongue (-1). Well, Shelob is a very strong character that constantly returns to Gondor, slowing the Fellowship advance. Still, Wormtongue is tremendously easy to get into the Shire, and he's almost impossible to kill with his retreating ability.
- Merry (2) vs. Faramir (3): No contest here, because even though Faramir can retreat sideways, the fact that Merry can kill the dangerous Witch King means I'll always take him.
- Black Rider (3) vs. Mouth of Sauron (3): This is another one in which I really have no preference. The Black Rider can move swiftly forward, but the Mouth of Sauron can change any card to a "4", defeating all but the strongest of Fellowship characters.
- Boromir (0) vs. Treebeard (4): Wow, both of these guys are fantastic, as Boromir can sacrifice himself to take out anyone (Cave Troll!); and Treebeard is a "4" strength that can always attack Fangorn from any spot on the board (where he is a strength "6"!).
- Orcs (2) vs. Orcs (3): The first Orcs kill the first character they attack - great if Gandalf is wandering around, but the expansion Orcs have a strength six when attacking, making their long range usefulness better - my preference.
- Sam (2) vs. Sam (1): The first Sam is strength five when with Frodo, but the second is equal to the strength of the Sauron character when attacked. No contest here, the second Sam can take down that annoying Cave Troll!
- Flying Nazgul (3) vs. Flying Nazgul (5): The weaker one can attack any region (winning the game in many cases), while the stronger one can skip one region to attack. They're certainly both good, but the ability to strike on the board is a terrific ability.
- Gandalf (5 in both versions). The only real powerhouse of the Fellowship, he's useful in both incarnations, although I prefer his ability to make the Sauron player play their card first rather than his new support ability, giving +1 to an adjacent character.
- Warg (2) vs. Gollum (1). The Warg is a throwaway character, even though he ignores the opponent's text; but Gollum is by far the easiest to move, since he can retreat forward! Definitely one to get into the Shire.
- Aragorn (4 in both versions). A powerful character in both versions; I can't decide if I like the ability to decide that no cards are played better, or the ability to attack in any direction.
- Saruman (4) vs. Saruman (3). Okay, I like his ability to determine that no cards are played, but the fact that he can instantly defeat Gandalf AND force the Fellowship player to play a different card makes him my favorite new character.
- Legolas (3) vs. Elrond (3). I hate to skip out on my favorite archer character, but Elrond cancels two of the magic cards of Sauron, and that's better than killing the Flying Nazgul.

2.) Components: First of all, I want to congratulate Fantasy Flight games on a really top notch production in the Deluxe version, which is really well done. The artwork, done by the wonderful John Howe and others, is simply amazing and catches the feel of the Lord of the Rings quite well. The tiles stand up rather tall in the plastic holders, which look really nice and hold the cardboard counters well. Small cardboard counters are included for use with the draft game, so that players can know which characters their opponents have chosen. The cards are of a good quality and are large and easy to handle – not to mention the fabulous artwork. The board is very similar to the one in the original game, only larger to accommodate the larger pieces. My only problem with the new game is that while everything is bigger, the box size is MUCH bigger, and the pieces inside take only a small fraction of the space inside. Also, some may be saddened to know that the new expansion characters can only be gotten by completely buying the Deluxe version; there is no upgrade for the first game.

3.) Rules: The large, eleven page full color rulebook does a great job at showing and explaining the rules. More importantly, there is detailed description of each of the characters and special cards, something that is quite helpful when playing with the variant characters. More importantly, two reference sheets that show all cards and characters of each player are included, allowing players to have a good grasp on the special abilities of their opponents. When teaching the game, I use only the basic version and allow the newcomer to use the Sauron army, which seems to be slightly easier for a new player. The game isn’t that difficult to learn, but children are usually not very good at the bluffing aspect; so I usually wait until they are older before bringing this game out.

4.) Bluffing: I usually don’t do very well when playing Confrontation, if only because I have the hardest time calling the other player’s bluff. With no luck in the game, much of the outcome is a direct result of certain battles. When playing cards, a player must make difficult decisions. Go for the sure win, but using up their best card in the process, or play a lower card, hoping your opponent does the same? Bluffing also applies to characters – is that character that the opponent is pushing forward so blatantly the vicious Cave Troll or the weaker Orcs? Just where is Frodo? The uncertainty (which is really quickly resolved) is fairly entertaining, and the main reason I enjoy the game – even if I stink at it.

5.) Dark vs. Light: In my first game, I immediately decided that the Fellowship player was at a distinct disadvantage, after being totally trounced when using them. The instantaneous rematch, in which I was the Sauron player, quickly proved my theory wrong, as I lost badly that way, also. Since then, after many plays, I’m convinced that the sides are different yet equally matched. The Dark Side has shear power, with higher powered strength cards and strong characters. The Fellowship has better special cards and nicer abilities, although it may take a more experienced player to use them to their maximum effectiveness. I’ve met people who swore that the Fellowship / Sauron player could not lose, and I think that the difference in opinion proves that the game is more balanced than some might think.

6.) Special cards: The special cards are extremely powerful and really change the course of the game. I think that I would only want to play with one or two of them, because otherwise, the entire face of the game is different; and character abilities seem to be lessened. Still, considering that the game includes two variant groups of characters and these cards, the variety is there; and the game will stay fresh for quite a while.

7.) Fun Factor and Time: Part of the allure of LOTR: Confrontation is that the game can be finished in twenty minutes and still retains a heavy, strategic value. I’ve lost games in a couple moves (stupidity – I assure you I’m not good at the game) and still thought the design was brilliant and enjoyable. I’m amazed at how Christian Petersen and Eric Lang managed to make a variant set of characters that were very well balanced and seamlessly fit into the main game.

Although it’s slightly overproduced (and I say this about few games), I will give a hearty thumbs up to Lord of the Rings: Confrontation: the Deluxe Edition. Games are short and tense; and when you win, it’s because you played better! It retains the feel of the Lord of the Rings universe, while introducing a clever combat system used in many other games – such as Game of Thrones. Some might categorize it as “Lord of the Rings Stratego”, but that is oversimplifying this elegant game; it’s deeper and more interesting than that older, classic game. Even folks who aren’t fans of Tolkein may enjoy this game – one of the best two player games I’ve ever played.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games”

Very good for partners
June 25, 2007

Most of what has already been said I can only endorse: 1) Design: the elegant simplicity represents an exquisite economy of ideas and allows a wide range of strategy in play, 2) Immersion: 18 pieces, a handful of rules, and a tiny board truly convey the struggle to get the One Ring into Mordor, 3) Replayability: I do not mind losing this game at all, I simply want to set up the pieces and go at it again.

I would stress, despite the comments and misgivings of a previous reviewer, that the game seems a good fit for evenings with husbands, wives, girlfriends, or other partners who may not be hardcore gamers. My wife prefers Scrabble and an occasional round of Lost Cities. Nevertheless, we have both really enjoyed this game and it isn't difficult to get her to play. I imagine the brevity of play is a factor in this regard. Caveat: my wife likes the Lord of the Rings theme, which tilts things in the game's favor.

A perfect game for gamers looking to involve significant others.

Quick, strategic, slightly abstract, and not too lame
July 13, 2003

TO HUSBANDS AND BOYFRIENDS ONLY: I give this game an okay review but my wife still won't play it with me. Unless yours is an exceptional lady buy something else if you are counting on your wife or girlfriend to be the second player. It doesn't matter how much she liked the books or movies.

I'm always on the lookout for a good two player game. Unfortunately, most are too abstract for my taste or simply too lame. I must admit that I was skeptical at first. Games with a movie tie in are to be approached cautiously, if at all. 'Lord of the Rings' seemed like a trimmed down version of 'Stratego' with house-rules to give certain pieces some special ability.

It can be briefly compared to 'Stratego' because each piece is hidden from your opponent and it's fairly inexpensive to buy. That is where the comparison ends. Multiple characters of the same color can occupy the same space. Each game piece has a special ability. Each player also has a hand of cards, during each battle each player chooses a card and (generally) its value is added to the strength of the character, that card is then discarded. Characters can (generally) only move forward making for a short game. Once you think you have it figured out you can play the other side and have entirely new characters, abilities and cards to contend with.

I haven't yet felt like I was replaying the battle between good and evil in Middle Earth. It does have the feel of most Knizia games, that of an abstract game with the theme tacked on after the game was designed. This game could just as easily have been a 'Harry Potter' theme. Change the name of the game characters to Dumbledore instead of Gandolf, Harry instead of Frodo, change the name of the spaces on the board, to 'Hogwarts', 'Hagrid's House', or 'Weasley House'. Make the goal for the black to capture Harry, and the goal for white to get Harry to the 'Chamber of Secrets' or such.

Good game. Not destined to be a classic either. And HUSBANDS, you have been warned.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Great 2 player game
February 25, 2003

Pretty fun game. Great deal for $20. Artwork is nice and the game design is good. Some of the rules questions can get confusing. This is a game where you definatly need to read the FAQ, but once you do it should be smooth sailing. I love the idea of a 2 player game that does not have identical armies/powers, but still retains a fairly even balance between the 2. Regardless, each side takes one stab at Light/Dark, so it evens out , but obviously the game would suck if Light was clearly much better than Dark or vice versa. stuff! Bravo!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Quite a bit for such a little package
September 30, 2002

Having not been too impressed with 'Lord of the Rings:The Search', I was very pleasantly surprised with 'LOTR:The Confrontation'.

I have described the game to friends as a combination of Stratego, Chess, and Rock-Paper-Scissors, with a resource managment twist, and a surprisingly strong thematic element (especially for a Knizia game).

The Stratego element is obvious, since the pieces have numbers which help determines who wins combat. The resource management occurs with deciding which cards you will play and when. Sometimes the card choice comes down to 50/50 decision, like Rock-Paper-Scissors and trying to psyche out your opponent. Usually, however, the card choice is very strategic, but remember that short-term gains may impair your long-term survivability. The movement is very simple...reminescent of Chess with a lot of pawns; some pieces have special movement that greatly affects how they are used both offensively and defensively.

What impresses me most is how the game is asymmetric, yet extremely well balanced. The Dark Side is significantly stronger, but the Fellowship player has more movement options and ways to evade Sauron's strength. But Sauron still has a trump card (The Eye of Sauron) that can make the Fellowship player's best efforts become futile if played at the right time.

For me, the hallmark of a great Knizia game is how often you have a gut-wrenching decision to make. The Confrontation does this many times per game. And since the games are fairly short, this is another one where the first thing you say to your opponent when it is over is, 'Another game?'

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Fun game, familiar elements
August 12, 2002

I really like this game, as it's quick, very easy, and still filled with strategy and fun.

The basic mechanics remind me of Stratego, but there are additional elements and limitations that take it far beyond that. We played 4 games in rapid succession with different results each time.

I recommend this game, it's a shame it's only a 2 player, though :)

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Too predictable after a few games.
February 13, 2006
This game is fun for a bit until you get an idea of how to play, which mostly relates to which pieces to place where, thus taking away the mystery the game defines itself on, your opposing player not being able to tell which character is where on the board until an attack is declared between two players in the same square.

The game starts to get predictable after a while, and the game overall gets stale, due to the fact that things are very limited. You'll notice that a lot of the cards from the good side can force a weak character to kamikaze to destroy a stronger character, via "noble sacrifice" card etc. It is fun to bluff for a while, but eventually you’ll find it repetitive and boring after the 5th or 6th game.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
Not quite my style
December 01, 2004

The mechanics in this game are great. If you like Stratego and you like LOTR you'll probably really like this game.

The problem is this game just isn't my style. The outcome is different every time, but there is not a lot of variety or choices you can make. This game is ok, but it doesn't have a lot of replay value for me and my wife never wants to play it (which defeats the whole purpose of having a 2-player game).

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by Megan
Don't believe positive reviews!
January 02, 2009

I read the reviews on this game, and thought I couldn't go wrong. My husband is a huge LOTR fan and I was very excited to give it to him. We played it once. And it was AWFUL. I don't understand where people come from saying it's a great game! It was boring, had little strategy, and the pieces were not well made. We did not enjoy it one bit!

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