Jackson's O.P.R #1
Welcome to Jackson’s One Page Review!
In my first post im going to be reviewing Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth!
Continuing with the revolutionary system established by Fantasy Flight Games in Mansions of Madness: Second Edition, Lord of the Rings is an app-assisted tabletop game. Players will take on the familiar faces from the Tolkien-universe (but no Gandolf *sadface*). Players will be sent on a quest, collect a deck of cards specific to your character, and the app does all the heavy lifting while you kill goblins, search caverns, and fight against time to satisfy your goals.
The app. I cannot stress enough how revolutionary and helpful the app that FFG designed for this game has been. I played through the first four chapters with a coworker who had no experience with tabletop. Except Monopoly, Risk, and the like. No issues arose. We were able to learn the base rules in five minutes and the app did all the heavy lifting. It tells you how to set up, keeps track of damage markers on enemies, and tells the story! We barely had to check the rulebook.
The lore and component quality is excellent. As we expect from Fantasy Flight Games, all cardboard and software is top quality. Gameplay? Great. The app makes everything streamlined and accessible. No more worrying about placing a counter in the right spot, forgetting a keyword, or trying to remember enemy movement characteristics. Lastly, two things I found interesting and refreshing in the game was first the skill deck. Actions are taken in combat using a specialized deck called a “Skill Deck”. Your skill deck is unique to your character and the class you choose. I thought this was an interesting turn away from a normal dice-chucking dungeon crawler. Finally, the thing I found to be most cool was the lack of a losing condition. Your progress is tracked by a “threat level” and you don’t ever lose the game. If you take too long to accomplish a quest, the app takes note and something happens later in-game for you. Nothing is more frustrating than going through hours of a cooperative adventure and losing and having to start all over. When you play a game like Lord of the Rings, it should be for the story. This helps with that.
While I think the game was polished, immersive, and accessible for the heavy, new, and casual gamers, it did have it’s wonkiness. My friend and I found the combat system to be not the most polished. Combat rather than a challenge or a strategy felt more like hoping the right card in the deck would be drawn. While getting rid of dice was an attempt at sidestepping luck as a determinant, it simply replaced the fun of rolling dice with the hopes of drawing the right cards. I will say, when the deck works, it works well. Watching combos come up is fun, but that’s a minority in our experience.
Should I Buy?
If you like LoTR, yes.
If you are looking for a heavier game to introduce to your friends, yes.
If you want a light dungeon-crawl experience but are intimidated by big box games with a thousand pieces of cardboard and rulebooks thicker than textbooks, yes.
I hope this review helps you decide if this is a game for you or not :) Be sure to follow, like, and subscribe to all things Card Culture.