Do you enjoy going to a museum to observe great works of art? When I do, I’m usually able to recognize the beauty of what I see, even when the styles and processes involved are beyond my scope of knowledge. Sometimes I am inspired to do some post-museum research on the subject and other times I am just glad that the beauty exists for me to enjoy. So where am I going with this?

I think that games are a true form of artistry in motion. I am often amazed at how creative and smart the designers of games can be. Some games provide such an immersive experience (e.g. video games and Dungeons & Dragons) that players actually become part of the game world and create stories each time they play. There are plenty of board games that can do the same thing. Oftentimes those are the games I enjoy the most. If you are not a tabletop gamer who plays heavier fare, you may not have paid much attention to Ares Games’ War of the Ring (2nd Edition, 2012). If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings, then you probably should.

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War of The Ring takes two players on a journey through J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy, with one playing as the Free Peoples and the other as the leader of the Shadow Armies. The Shadow Armies win if they either corrupt the ringbearer beyond redemption or win enough military objectives to control Middle-earth. The Free Peoples win by destroying the One Ring at the Crack of Doom or by military victory (which is usually more difficult). And while the game mechanics point players toward “historical” moments as portrayed in the books, players are guaranteed to alter that history each time they play in epic (and often amusing) ways.

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The map and components set the epic mood of War of the Ring right out of the box (pun intended). The card art and text literally place most aspects of the books into players’ hands. You can check out all of the coverage of this masterpiece on BoardGameGeek. There are plenty of videos and rules coverage there. I recently got a chance to play against one of my good friends and recorded the playthrough for my Youtube channel. Check out our playthrough at the following links. Maybe even subscribe to the channel while you’re there! And no matter what, keep nerding on.

Rob Fenimore
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