The Elements: It's like the Risk you know and love, except you will hate it. There are several major rule changes, including, but not limited to, a maximum time limit on the game and the game being restricted to 4 players.
The Crux: If you are unfamiliar with Risk, you have territories containing armies. You wish to conquer all the other players. You do this by attacking with up to 3 troops (rolling 3 dice) against a defender who can defend with up to 2 troops (rolling 2 dice). Defenders win ties. At the beginning of your turns, you get troops for the number of territories you control and extra troops for any complete continents you control. If you take a terriorty during your turn, you receive cards which can be turned in for additional armies.
The Countenance: In all fairness to the game, there are major major internal changes from traditional risk that I was not prepared for.
|My initial plan of blocking in Mordor|
was terrible because of terrible defense.
Because the attacker rolls 3 dice AND adds to the highest die with a champion, defenders around most of the board are at a serious disadvantage, except in the case where a champion is on a fortress, raising the highest die by 2!
|Things do not look good for team yellow.|
The other changes include the addition of the one ring. Each turn it travels along its path to Mount Doom, and when it reaches the target, the game is over and victory points are tallied. This leads to a shorter game than traditional Risk.
There are also a selection of mission cards, that have certain special effects. Some of these are played immediately, some are held and played at an appropriate time, still others are mission cards and are played when your hero reaches a specific target.
The effects of these cards can be fairly large. One gave me 10 extra units on a fortress (which I managed to immediately lose against a set of defenders). Others allow you to prevent movement across bridges, have the number of troops in a territory cut in half, stop the ring on its journey and other effects.
The Genre: This is a traditional table top board game with a modern twist and a lord of the rings theme.
The Final Counsel: This is a very different game than traditional Risk. This is not necessarily a negative thing. The game is suited for more aggressive players, and the time limit ensures that the game doesn't run on forever. It's safer to sit down and play when you have a few hours. It is limited to 4 players, instead of the traditional six, which is a downside.
I guess the thing that struck me most about it, is that even though you play it like Risk, the drastically different odds make it a different game. Perhaps if it didn't have the name 'Risk' attached, I would have had more positive feelings about it, instead I expected one thing, and got another. (What other company has done that with a favored brand lately? Hmmm. . .)
LotR: Risk is available in toy and hobby shops everywhere.