Only a few board games have had such an impact on me as the War of the Ring, which remains to be one of the best tactical miniatures board game experiences I’ve ever had. Despite the heavy ruleset (one that has matured well across the two editions the title has released) and a rather lengthy time commitment required to play, it never fails to pull me into the epic narrative that is Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
As the Shadow Armies player, I bombard my endless hordes of orcs and trolls at the last remaining bastions of goodness on Middle Earth while searching feverously for the One Ring.
As the Free Peoples player, I hold my ground with the few brave warriors who dare stand against the expanding darkness, in an attempt to buy enough time for the Fellowship to fulfill their stealth mission and destroy the One Ring once and for all. The decisions at every stage of the game are tense, challenging and satisfying.
This experience is about to get another deluxe treatment. Earlier this week, Ares Games has announced the Anniversary Release of the War of the Ring Second Edition, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the publication of The Return of The King and the 5th year anniversary of the game’s current edition. This release comes with 206 expertly-painted miniatures, a larger 3′ x 4′ gameboard, new colors for the action dice and combat dice unique to this release, updated rules and cards, and a hardbound supplementary strategy guide filled with the same fantastic art of the current edition, from the hand of John Howe. I had the opportunity to play with a friend’s copy of the monstrous Collector’s Edition (CE), released by Fantasy Flight Games back in 2010, and that edition is an absolute beauty to behold. I, along with many others who were not lucky enough to nab a copy of the CE (and not willing to shell out the more than US $1,500 eBay price it currently sits on), am ecstatic with the new offering. The Anniversary Release won’t be as ambitious as the Collector’s Edition (that lovely engraved wooden box remains a collector’s item), but it will offer potential owners an even more immersive experience when Middle Earth goes to war one last time.
The limited production Anniversary Release will set you back a hefty US $ 369.00 plus shipping when it goes on pre-order this 20 July 2015. You won’t get it though until Spring 2016. Note that you’ll only be able to preorder within a 48-hour period. There’s a countdown timer on the Ares’ FAQ page to let you know when pre-order begins. Here I thought I’ve finally outgrown my days of salivating over cardboard and cardstock. Suddenly this comes back to haunt me. We must have it…the preciouuuuus…