GTM #266 - War of the Ring: Second Edition
by Ares Games


War of the Ring: Epic Battles in the Middle-earth

“All about the hills the hosts of Mordor raged. The Captains of the West were foundering in a gathering sea. The sun gleamed red, and under the wings of the Nazgul the shadows of death fell dark upon the earth.”

War of the Ring Second Edition, the grand strategy board game based on “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, allows players to immerse themselves in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien and experience its epic action, dramatic conflict, and memorable characters.

Created by the Italian game designers Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello, War of the Ring is acclaimed as one of the best thematic games of all times. The Second Edition just celebrated its tenth anniversary, and it continues to be a best seller for Ares Games, while evolving with expansions and accessories, as well additional stand-alone games. The entire War of the Ring range of games is continually reprinted by Ares Games, trying to catch up the increasing sales, and new releases are in the pipeline – the next one is the upcoming War of the Ring Deluxe Game Mat.

War of the Ring Second Edition is a board game for two to four players, recreating the struggle of the armies of the Free Peoples and the heroic Companions of the Fellowship of the Ring against the dark host of the Shadow and the powerful Minions of the Dark Lord. In a two-player game, each opponent will lead either the Free Peoples or the armies of the Shadow, while in a three or four-player game, the players are organized in two teams. As the Free Peoples, they command the proud hosts of the most important kingdoms of the Third Age, leading the defence of the last free realms of Middle-earth. As the Shadow, they lead the hordes of the Dark Lord and his most powerful minions as they try to bring darkness across Middle-earth.

To recreate the epic story, War of the Ring presents a unique combination of card-driven and dice-driven mechanics. The dualism between placing an effort on destroying (or hunting) the Ring, or focusing on the War itself, is reflected by the action dice system. The players are faced with the constant dilemma of using their actions to pursue one path or another. Another important element is the political track: the fact that the participation of the various Free Peoples nations in the War of the Ring cannot be taken for granted, and that the Free Peoples player must use precious resources to get them to join. The event cards also play a key role in capturing the many intricacies of the story, creating a new narrative every time you play.

With original illustrations created by John Howe, one of the world’s foremost Tolkien illustrators, War of the Ring also features stunning components: a huge game board - a 70x100 cm color map of Middle-earth; over 200 plastic figures representing armies and characters, with more than 30 different sculpts, 110 cards; 21 special and standard dice.

The first expansion, Lords of Middle-earth allows players to explore different possibilities in the game, and features new characters: Elrond, Galadriel, Gothmog, and the powerful Balrog of Moria, as well as alternate versions of the Witch-king and the Mouth of Sauron. It also includes new figures for Aragorn and Gandalf the White, two special Action Dice, and new versions of all the Companions of the Fellowship of the Ring, to play the optional “Council of Rivendell” variant.

Warriors of Middle-earth, the second expansion, places the spotlight on people and races of Middle-earth which were featured only as special Event Cards in the base game. The Dead Men, Ents, and Great Eagles for the Free Peoples, and the Corsairs of Umbar, Dunlendings, and Great Spiders, for the Shadow, become an essential part of the game, with unique figures and specific abilities to be combined with new mechanics to open up new strategies when playing War of the Ring.

The expansions were conceived to be a trilogy, and the third one, Kings of Middle-earth, is now in development, focusing on the role of the Free Peoples rulers, like Theodén, Denethor, Daìn, Brand, and Thranduil, and their weaknesses. Its release date has not been announced yet.

The War of the Ring line also includes two stand-alone games, The Battle of Five Armies and Hunt for the Ring. Hunt for the Ring is a hidden movement, deduction, and adventure game that recreates the initial chapters of “The Lord of the Rings” and can be played as a prequel to War of the Ring. The Battle of Five Armies, inspired by the climactic battle from “The Hobbit”, was out of stock for a long time and is now back in a revised edition, including various improvements to rules and cards. Available now is also a new War of the Ring mini-expansion, Fate of Erebor, linking the outcome of this game with the setup of War of the Ring. What if the Free Peoples had lost the Battle of Five Armies, and Erebor was lost to the Shadow?

War of the Ring players are always interested in enriching their gameplay experience, and a new accessory is coming to provide the ultimate board to play the game: the War of the Ring Deluxe Game Mat, a beautiful game mat in high quality neoprene, almost 50% larger than the normal War of the Ring 2nd Edition game board. Other accessories in the line include the beautiful sets of Card Boxes and Sleeves, available in two different styles.

Last but not least, the War of the Ring line is going to be further expanded with a new game: the War of the Ring Card Game, designed by Ian Brody - author of the Quartermaster General series. In this multi-player game, each player will control one or more of the factions in the War of the Ring – Dwarves, Dunédain, Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits, Rohan, Wizards vs. Isengard, Mordor, and Mordor’s Allies - using a unique deck, reproducing the strengths and weaknesses of the specific cultures they represent. Strongly thematic, like the ononymous board game, War of the Ring Card Game will be simpler and faster to play, and it is expected to release in late 2022.