The All-New Lord of the Rings Board Game!

I know, I know; you want to relive the excitement and drama of the Lord of the Rings with your family and friends, but the role-playing games all take weeks to play and require a medium-size basement to hold all the rulebooks you need. Even if you make it past that, you still have the problem that everybody wants to play Gandalf - and nobody at all wants to be Legolas or Pippin. To top it all off, even if you get a game going it's still no fun because most of the other players don't know Tolkien's works the way you do... and when you point out that Gondor would never attack Pelargir like they insist on doing, they just don't believe you.

Well, now there's a solution.

Melkor-Bradley
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Melkor-Bradley®, the world-renowned board-game company, is pleased to announce the release of its' newest board game. Straight from the company that produced such classic literary board games as Clue II: Murders in the Rue Morgue, Jane Eyre's Chutes and Ladders and Anna Kareninanopoly, comes a new game of action and adventure for young and old, friends and family alike: the Lord of the Rings Board Game!

Read on to learn all about the game, or jump directly ahead to the following sections:

I. Object Of The Game
II. What You Need To Play
III. How To Play
IV. The Plot Complication Cards
V. Advanced Rules
VI. How To Order!

I. OBJECT OF THE GAME.

Each player in the game starts at Rivendell with their very own Fellowship of the Ring. The object of the game is to be the first player to defeat the powers of evil, save the countries of Gondor and Rohan, and return to the Shire to write the Red Book of Westmarch and thus preserve your honored place in history.

To win the game, you must accomplish the following Six Goals:

The first player to accomplish all six goals and return safely to the Shire is the winner. Once a player wins, all the other players have to Praise Them With Great Praise!


II. WHAT YOU NEED TO PLAY.

Here's what you'll need to play the Lord of the Rings Board Game:

picture of the board The specially-designed Middle-earth gameboard, a portion of which is shown at right. To look at the gameboard in detail, just click on the picture.

A deck of plot complication cards. There are 72 cards in the deck, described later. For games with five or more players, though, you might find it useful to use more than one deck.

A set of checklists, one for each player, so they can keep track of what goals they've accomplished. Obviously a few pencils might be a good idea, too.

A set of appropriate markers, used to represent each of the players in the game.

Lastly, you'll need an ordinary six-sided die.


III. HOW TO PLAY.

Starting the Game.
To begin, all players place their markers at Rivendell. Each receives a checklist from Elrond (or whoever the owner of the game is) listing the Six Goals they have to accomplish to win. The Plot Complication cards are shuffled and set face down on the table. It's up to you to decide who goes first.

Movement.
Players move by rolling the die and moving the number of squares indicated in whatever direction they wish to go. For the most part, it's that simple.

There are, however, Plot Complications which may cause a player to move faster, or slower, or back up, or indeed even drop what they're doing and go in a different direction entirely. There are also special squares on the gameboard which affect movement; these are described in detail in the next section.

If a player decides before rolling the die that he doesn't want to move, then he can stay put without penalty. However, once the player rolls the die, they are obligated to move. (Particularly clever players, however, can stay put anyway by just moving repeatedly back and forth between the square they're on and the immediately-adjacent square.)

The different kinds of squares.
There are a handful of different kinds of squares on the map. They are listed below in no particular order:

Common squares.
Most of the squares on the map are common, ordinary squares.
Extra-Turn squares.
There are only two of these on the entire board: one is at Lorien, and the other at Fangorn. If you end your turn by landing directly on one of them, you immediately get a free opportunity to move again. (In addition, landing on the extra-turn square in Fangorn can be beneficial in dealing with Saruman.)
Squares of the Rohirrim.
The land of Rohan is demarked by orange squares. There are certain Plot Complications that only affect movement while in Rohan; those take effect on these squares.
Squares of the Dead.
Between Erech and Pelargir is a succession of grey squares. When a player is accompanied by the Dead, they must stay in this area; the Dead will not follow you around through Rohan or past Pelargir.
Squares of Mordor.
The squares within Mordor are filled with a dark red. It's a really really really bad place.
Plot Complication Squares and Goal Squares.
A number of the squares on the map have red borders; these are the squares where Plot Complication cards are dispensed. You cannot pass through these squares without stopping; regardless of the roll on the die, you must stop when you arrive on one of them.
On the Plot Complication squares, you stop and draw a Plot Complication card. The Plot Complication squares are:
  • Weathertop;
  • Dunland;
  • the Dead Marshes;
  • the Black Gate;
  • Osgiliath; and
  • the Pass of Kirith Ungol.
The Goal squares are more complex, and will be described in detail later. However, you still have to stop at them. In no particular order, they are:
  • the Mines of Moria;
  • Isengard;
  • Helm's Deep;
  • Edoras;
  • Pelargir;
  • Minas Tirith; and
  • Mount Doom.
Erech.
Erech is the square where the Dead wait whenever they are not otherwise occupied.
Rivendell and the Towers of the Teeth.
Rivendell is only special in that you start the game there. The Towers of the Teeth are only special in that the square has a name. Apart from that, they're common squares.
The Barad-dur.
Sauron's dark tower of Barad-dur can be walked into just like any other square, though it's hard to imagine why you would want to. Leaving it, however, is more difficult. If you are trapped in the Barad-dur, you may only leave it by:
  • rolling a six on the die during your turn, which allows you to move one square outside; or
  • sacrificing two Plot Complication cards you have in your hand, allowing you to roll the die during your turn and move normally; or
  • taking three more Plot Complication cards from the deck.
If you've been stranded in the Dark Tower for three consecutive turns, Sauron will give you a single Plot Complication card on the fourth turn and let you go free out of the goodness of his heart.
Tom Bombadil's square.
When heading for the Shire you must stop when you land on this square, and you must lay down all the Plot Complication cards you may be holding so that all can see what secrets you've been hiding. Tom didn't get a chance to meet you on the way to Rivendell in this game, so it's only fair you should stop there and say hello on your way back.
The Shire.
Once you've completed all your goals and returned to the Shire, you win the game. However, you have to land directly on the Shire; if you're standing one square away from it and roll a two or a four, for example, no amount of clever finagling will get you onto the proper square during that turn.

The Goals.
Each of the players has to accomplish the Six Goals which will free Middle-earth from tyranny and make for a really exciting book. The goals can be accomplished in any order. As each player completes a goal, they check it off of their list and continue with the other goals. Once all six goals are completed, they can race to the Shire to win the game. Be warned, however, that there are Plot Complications which may force you to do certain goals over again.

Each of the goals is covered below.

The Balrog in Moria.
Once you have landed on Moria, roll a six-sided die. The results are as follows:

If you make subsequent trips through Moria after the Balrog is defeated, you have to stop when you reach the square but you don't have to take a Plot Complication card.

Edoras and the Healing of Theoden.
Once you have reached Edoras, roll a six-sided die. Interpret the results as follows:

If you make subsequent trips through Edoras after Theoden is healed you do have to stop when you reach the square, but you don't have to take a Plot Complication card.

Helm's Deep and the Healing of Theoden.
Helm's Deep is a standard Plot Complication square most of the time: you have to stop when you reach it, and you have to take a card. In the event that you have been sent here from Edoras while seeking Theoden, however, you may roll the die with the results as follows:

On subsequent trips through Helm's Deep, it acts as a standard Plot Complication square as described above.

Saruman at Isengard.
Once you have landed on Isengard, roll a six-sided die. The results are as follows:

If you make subsequent trips through Isengard after Saruman is defeated, you have to stop when you reach the square but you don't have to take a Plot Complication card.

Pelargir, Erech and the Paths of the Dead.
In order to defeat the black fleet of the Corsairs, each player has to summon the Dead Men of Dunharrow from their uneasy resting-place at Erech. Once a player brings the Dead to Pelargir, their victory is assured. The problem, however, is this: no matter how many players there are in the game, there is only one group of the Dead available to do all the work.
Special rules apply to the Dead, and to the grey squares comprising the road between Erech and Pelargir. Once a player lands on Erech, the Dead will accompany him; he must then take the Dead to Pelargir to stop the black fleets of the Corsairs. In these squares, the following rules apply:

Once a player has successfully taken the Dead and landed on Pelargir, the Dead will return to Erech to await the next player. Meanwhile, the player who has defeated the Corsairs may cross them off his list and take a Plot Complication card.
If you make subsequent trips through Pelargir after defeating the black fleet of the Corsairs, you have to stop but you don't have to take a card. If you pass through Erech again, note that the Dead will never accompany you again once you've captured the fleet.

Minas Tirith and the Removal of Denethor.
Once you have arrived at Minas Tirith, roll a six-sided die. Interpret the results as follows:

If you make subsequent trips through Minas Tirith after Denethor is supplanted, you must stop at the square but you do not need to take a Plot Complication card.

Mount Doom and the Destruction of the One Ring.
Once you land on Mount Doom, roll the die. The results are as follows:

If, for some reason, you make subsequent trips to Mount Doom, you must stop on the square and you must take a Plot Complication card.


IV. THE PLOT COMPLICATION CARDS.

Whenever you land on a Plot Complication square, or you're instructed to take a card by a Goal square, you take a card from the Plot Complication deck and read it. Unless the card specifically says "Hang onto this card", you must immediately reveal it to the other players, announce its contents, and take whatever action is described on the card. The card then goes into a "discard" pile.

If the card says "Hang onto this card", however, you keep the card in your hand until you decide you're ready to play it. To play a card you're holding, you likewise reveal it and announce its contents, act on it, and then discard it. You can play the cards you are holding at any time.

Sacrificing Cards.
Towards the end of the game, you may have a player who has completed all six of their Goals and is on their way back to the Shire. The other players in the game may wish to slow them down. Therefore, once a player has completed all of their Goals the other players can slow them down by sacrificing any two Plot Complication cards they may be holding.

It works like this: By revealing and sacrificing two Plot Complication cards they are holding, a player can force another player to lose a turn. As well, two players can sacrifice one card each in order to make a third player lose a turn. The instructions on the cards themselves are not acted upon, with the lone exception of the Narya card (described below). The sacrificed cards are added to the discard pile, and the player selected as victim loses their turn.

This tactic can only be used on players who have all of their Goals completed.

The Narya Card.
One of the cards you are permitted to hang onto is the Narya card, Narya being Gandalf's Elven Ring. If you hold this card, be careful not to show it to anybody. It's a secret. If you ever reveal it to anybody, you lose a turn. If someone correctly guesses you have it, you lose a turn. If someone guesses you have it but you don't, they lose a turn. If someone else takes this card from you, it is immediately revealed to all and discarded and both of you lose a turn.

Note that having this card will automatically force you to lose a turn when you are compelled to reveal it at Tom Bombadil's.

Precedence of cards.
Hopefully, you won't have any situations where cards conflict with one another and make a horrendous tangle of the rules. If you do, however, straighten it out with this rule: Cards played later in the game take precedence over cards played earlier. Hopefully that'll straighten everything out.


There are 72 Plot Complication cards. In no particular order, they go like this:

1 Orcs Ambush The Fellowship.
The Fellowship is broken. Boromir dies. You're
following the book perfectly. Take an extra turn.

2 Eagles.
A sign of divine intervention from Manwe.
Take an extra turn.

3 Eagles.
A sign of divine intervention from Manwe.
Take an extra turn.

4 Fickle Eagles.
Hang onto this card. Any time another player plays
an "Eagles" card, you can play this card on top of it.
Instead of gaining a turn, they lose one instead.

5 Go To The Barad-dur.
Go directly to the Barad-dur.
Do not pass GO.
Do not collect $200.00.

6 Get Out Of Mordor Free!
Hang onto this card. If you get a "Go To The
Barad-dur" card, you can cancel it with this.
This card can also be played any time you're within
the borders of Mordor. When played this way,
you will immediately move out of Mordor
to The Black Gate.

7 Get Out Of Mordor Free!
Hang onto this card. If you get a "Go To The
Barad-dur" card, you can cancel it with this.
This card can also be played any time you're within
the borders of Mordor. When played this way,
you will immediately move out of Mordor
to The Black Gate.

8 Boromir Steals The Ring.
You must proceed directly to Minas Tirith, forsaking
all other goals until this is accomplished.
(Ignore this card if you have already destroyed the
Ring.)

9 Wrong Ring!
Bilbo has given you a perfectly ordinary gold ring
and kept the One for himself. You must return to
Rivendell and get the real Ring. If you've already
thrown a ring into Mount Doom, you'll have to go
get the right Ring and try it again.

10 Tom Bombadil.
Hang onto this card. Next time a plot complication
appears that's not to your liking, play this card
and Tom Bombadil will skip and prance and
eliminate it for you.

11 Tom Bombadil.
Hang onto this card. Next time a plot complication
appears that's not to your liking, play this card
and Tom Bombadil will skip and prance and
eliminate it for you.

12 Somebody Else's Problem.
Next time you land on a Plot Complication square,
you may either draw the card yourself or make
another player of your choosing draw it instead.

13 Frodo Succumbs to the Lure Of The Ring.
Lose a turn while Gandalf beats some sense into him.

14 The Nazgul.
Go back three squares in the direction you came.

15 Black Riders.
Go back three squares in the direction you came.

16 The Sword That Was Broken Breaks Again.
Lose a turn while Aragorn glues it back together.

17 The Voice of Saruman.
The Voice has lulled you into a false sense of
security. If you've already gone to Isengard and
confronted Saruman, you'll have to go back and
do it again.

18 Radagast the Simple.
Radagast deceives you with false information from
Saruman. Back up two squares.

19 Radagast the Fool.
Radagast stupidly tells Saruman where you are.
Lose a turn.

20 Radagast the Bird-tamer.
Radagast agrees to help you in your Quest, but then
wanders away into the forest to look at the trees
at a critical moment. Next time you draw a Plot
Complication card, draw a second one to go with it.

21 He's Not Quite Dead.
The Balrog was only wounded. If you've already
defeated the Balrog, you'l have to go back and
kill it again.

22 Ent Vengeance.
Gimli bows before Treebeard, his axe falls to the
ground, and Treebeard mistakes him for a woodsman and
stomps him. Lose a turn.

23 Rabid Horses.
All players currently within Rohan lose a turn.

24 Rabid Horses.
All players currently within Rohan lose a turn.

25 Hoof-And-Mouth Outbreak.
Once this card is played, all movement in Rohan is
restricted to a maximum of three squares per turn...
for the rest of the game.

26 The Hands of a Healer.
Hang onto this card. It can be used at any time
to remove the Black Breath, Rabid Horses,
Hoof-And-Mouth Disease, or Pipe-weed cards from play.

27 The Hands of a Healer.
Hang onto this card. It can be used at any time
to remove the Black Breath, Rabid Horses,
Hoof-And-Mouth Disease, or Pipe-weed cards from play.

28 The Black Breath.
The hobbits become violently ill. No matter what
the dice say, you can move no more than three
squares per turn for the next three turns.

29 Dernhelm.
Just when you think everything's going fine,
Eowyn shows up and starts trying to seduce Aragorn.
If you haven't healed Theoden yet, you must drop
whatever you're doing and go and heal him now.
If you've already healed Theoden, you just lose a turn.

30 The Witch-king.
Everybody gets all scared.
Lose a turn.

31 The Witch-king.
Everybody gets all scared.
Lose a turn.

32 Smeagol Brings Nice Fishes.
Take an extra turn.

33 Smeagol Brings Nice Fishes.
Ptomaine poisoning. Lose a turn.

34 Killer Rabbit.
Sam tries to stew a rabbit. It goes for his throat.
Lose a turn while he recovers.

35 Shelob Bites Frodo.
Lose two turns.

36 Shelob's Web.
Next turn, you can only move one square no matter
what the dice say.

37 Gollum Meets Grima.
The two learn much from each other. The plot
becomes unstable. Take two more cards.

38 Ghân-buri-Ghân.
Hang onto this card. When you're inside the
borders of Rohan, you can redeem this card and
the Wild Men will give you an extra turn.

39 Grima the Thief.
If you are holding any Plot Complication cards,
you must give one of them up.

40 Gollum the Thief.
If you are holding any Plot Complication cards,
you must give one of them up.

41 Baggins the Thief.
You can steal one Plot Complication card out of
the hand of another player (assuming someone
has a card to steal).

42 Baggins the Thief.
You can steal one Plot Complication card out of
the hand of another player (assuming someone
has a card to steal).

43 Cats of Queen Beruthiel.
You have to backtrack to avoid the feline hell-cats.
Roll the dice and immediately go that many spaces
back the way you came.

44 The Blue Wizards.
Alatar and Pallando return unexpectedly from the East.
They bear surprising tidings. Take two more cards.

45 Lembas.
It nourishes both body and spirit.
Move three more spaces.

46 The Deed of the Three Friends.
Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli run for four days without
rest. Move three more spaces.

47 The Sea-longing.
Legolas hears the sea-gulls and waxes poetic.
Lose a turn.

48 Arwen.
She shows up unexpectedly. Aragorn gets all side-
tracked, but later on goes forth with fresh resolve.
Lose a turn. The turn after that, take two turns.

49 Arwen Meets Eowyn.
They get in a big fight over Aragorn.
Lose a turn.

50 The Witch-king.
Everybody panics and runs.
Go back three squares the way you came.

51 The Witch-king.
Everybody panics and runs.
Go back three squares the way you came.

52 Eowyn.
Hang onto this card. You can play it to stop any
Witch-king card or Arwen card that comes into play,
regardless of whether it's yours or somebody else's.
(Note: This card will not affect the
"Arwen Meets Eowyn" card.)

53 Arwen Sends Aragorn Tidings.
Also a banner and flowers.
Move three extra squares.

54 Pippin Uses the Palantir.
He gets terrified by the Enemy.
If you haven't defeated Saruman yet, lose a turn.
If you have, Gandalf is in haste; take an extra turn.

55 The White Rider.
Gandalf returns from the dead.
Take an extra turn.

56 Wisdom of Galadriel.
Hang onto this card. If you lose a turn for
whatever reason later in the game, you can use
this card to get it back.

57 Faramir.
Hang onto this card. It doesn't do anything, but
hang onto it anyway.

58 Eomer.
Hang onto this card. It doesn't do anything, but
hang onto it anyway.

59 Narya.
Hang onto this card. Don't show it to anybody. It's a
secret. If you ever reveal it to anybody, you lose a turn.
If someone correctly guesses you have it, you lose a turn.
If someone guesses you have it but you don't, they lose
a turn. If someone else takes this card from you, both
of you lose a turn.

60 Aragorn Uses the Palantir.
All secrets are revealed. Look and see what cards are
being held by every other player.

61 The Black Stone.
Hang onto this card. If you are on the Paths of the
Dead, you can play this card and the Dead will accompany
you - even if they have to leave another player to
do it. If you are not on the Paths of the Dead,
you can still play this card during your turn to cause
the Dead to forsake another player and return to Erech.

62 Lore of Elrond.
Hang onto this card. You can redeem it at any time to
move an additional five squares.

63 Blasting Fire.
Hang onto this card. If another player takes it from you,
it explodes and they lose two turns.

64 Bill Ferny.
Sam insists on going back to punch him.
Go back two squares the way you came.

65 Smeagol's Birthday.
Give this card to the player of your choice.
They lose a turn.

66 Pipe-weed.
Roll the die immediately and interpret the result thusly:
1: You're out of pipe-weed. No effect.
2-3: You have a very refreshing smoke. Take an extra turn.
4-5: Coughing fit. Lose a turn.
6: Severe coughing fit. Merry gives up smoking. Gandalf
continues to smoke nearby. Merry gets short-tempered, goes
berserk and tries to kill him. Lose two turns.

67 Bill The Pony.
Move 2 extra squares for each of your next two turns.

68 Mirror Of Galadriel.
Hang onto this card. You can play this card to stop one of
the following six cards from taking effect:
"Go To The Barad-dur", "Wrong Ring!",
"Boromir Steals The Ring", "The Voice of Saruman",
"He's Not Quite Dead" and "Dernhelm".

69 Phial Of Galadriel.
Hang onto this card. You can play this card to stop one of
the following six cards from taking effect:
"Go To The Barad-dur", "Wrong Ring!",
"Boromir Steals The Ring", "The Voice of Saruman",
"He's Not Quite Dead" and "Dernhelm".

70 Mouth Of Sauron.
He tells you really bad depressing stuff, and you believe it.
Then uncounted thousands of your enemies come
forth from nowhere and besiege you.
Lose two turns while you straighten things out.

71 The Eye of Sauron.
The Eye is seeking for the Ring. You have to hide from its' gaze.
Go back three squares in the direction you came,
and then lose a turn.

72 The Burden.
The Ring is almost too heavy to bear. Once this card is
played, all movement in Mordor (for players who have not yet
destroyed the Ring) is restricted to a maximum of three squares
per turn... for the rest of the game.


V. ADVANCED RULES

If you're playing this game with a group of other Tolkien fanatics, you can choose to make the game more interesting by implementing some or all of the highly-unstable Advanced Rules given below. They will make the game a great deal more difficult to play sensibly or fairly, but on the other hand the game will be good for a lot more laughs.

If you play a particularly silly game as a result of these rules, feel free to
e-mail me and tell me about it.


VI. HOW TO ORDER!

When I first put up this page about the Lord of the Rings Board Game, one thing I didn't expect was the sheer number of people who would write to me asking where the game was sold. "None of the stores in my town can find it," people would write. "Even Toys 'R Us says they can't get a hold of a copy."

At first, I thought this would just be a few isolated letters... but more and more people wrote in asking where they could buy the game, and to this day they still keep on writing.

For the record, I've only got one copy of the game - and I'm not willing to part with it (unless somebody offers me a brand-new Venus Encore concert harp in trade, or maybe a Lyon & Healy Salzedo). So please don't write to me and ask for a copy unless you're sitting right next to, say, a $15,000 pedal harp that you don't really want around the house.

For those who are still bound and determined to shell out their hard-earned money and purchase the Lord Of The Rings Board Game for themselves, however, you might try visiting the Official Melkor-Bradley Home Page... where you might succeed in purchasing the game, but then again you might not.

To those of you who are so eagerly seeking a copy of the game, I wish you all the best of luck.


The Melkor-Bradley Home Page
How To Design Better Games Than This One
Examine the Gameboard / Back to the Tolkien Sarcasm Page
You're going to need it.
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