Posted by: gschloesser | January 1, 1971

Lord of the Rings: Risk

This latest addition to the family of Risk games is surprisingly good and VERY quick.  Several variants have been suggested for the game, including a few that have been put forth with the assistance of Hasbro’s own Rob Daviau.

The following set of variants have been devised by Greg Schloesser and Rob Daviau of Hasbro.

Normally, I’m dubious at best whenever a new version of Risk is released.  Don’t get me wrong — I used to LOVE Risk.  The critical words here, though, are “used to“.  I played Risk dozens and dozens of times while in high school and college, but have long since left the game behind.

However, the new Lord of the Rings Risk caught my attention, mainly due to my enjoyment of the recent movie epics and a fond rememberance of the Tolkein novels.  However, I initially passed on the game, fearing it was little more than warmed-over Risk.  I did give the game as a Christmas gift to my good friend’s 11 year-old son Paul, figuring he was at the right age to really enjoy the game.  The one caveat I gave him, however, was that he must invite me over to play. 

A few weeks later we played and I was pleasantly surprised by the game.  It maintained much of the mechanisms of Risk, but added some interesting new and enjoyable twists.  Further, the game played to completion in 2 hours, a BIG plus, especially considering a game of basic Risk could often drag on for 6 hours or more.  After our one playing, I purchased my own copy as I knew several in our Westbank Gamers group would enjoy the game.


Still, in spite of my enjoyment, a few aspects of the game were troublesome.  After discussions with Rob Daviau of Hasbro, the following variants are proposed for your consideration:

1) My one BIG concern with the game is that it is possible … indeed, probable … that one or more players may have more turns than their opponents.  The game utilizes a variable ending mechanism that is clever, but can cause this unfair situation.  The player who has an extra turn will have a HUGE advantage and will, in all likelihood, win the game. 

A suggested solution is to simply divide each player’s final score by the number of turns they had during the game, maintaining fractions only to break a tie.  For example, if Tom finished with 30 points and had 4 turns, his final score would be 7.  If Ann fisished with 25 points, but only had 3 turns, her final score would be 8.  Ann would claim the victory.

2) Game length is also a bit problematic.  After EACH PLAYER’S turn, the Fellowship moves one space forward on its journey.  When the fellowship exits the board, the game ends and players tally their points.  There are 13 spaces on the Fellowship track, but some spaces require the roll of a die in order for the Fellowship to continue past that space.  There is usually a 50/50 chance that the roll will be successful.  There are also a few cards which, if played, can slow the progress of the Fellowship.  Still, it is possible that the game can end in 13 or so turns, meaning in a 4-player game, each player will get 3 – 4 turns.  That’s simply not a lot of turns and the game ends before things really get cooking.

As a variant, before the ring begins to move from its initial starting location, each player could roll a die after his/her turn.  On the first roll, a ‘1’ is required in order for the ring to move.  If it does not move, then the next player must roll a ‘1’ or ‘2’ for the ring to move.  If it still doesn’t move, then the next player must roll a ‘1’, ‘2’ or ‘3’ for it to move; etc.  Once the ring begins to move, then the normal rules apply.  This may delay the movement of the ring a few turns and possibly give the players another turn or so.

Another idea is to not move the ring at all until each player has had 1 or 2 turns.  This would also lengthen the game a bit and give each player 4 – 6 possible turns during the game.

***

The following variants have been suggested by Don Woligroski and published here with his permission.

Alternate Rulesets: “Rings of Power” and “Good VS Evil”

The following contain two separate alternate rulesets for Lord of the Rings RISK.  These two rulesets can be played independently, or combined with each other, depending on your preference.

“Rings of Power” rules Overview:

Anyone whose played “Risk 2210 A.D.” knows that Energy Tokens are integral to the game and really add the strategic element that vanilla Risk is missing.

In my opinion, the most important element of game play that energy added was the “bidding for turn order” element at the beginning of each turn. I have therefore added this to LOTR: Risk using a “Rings of Power” resource while hopefully keeping it’s distinct Lord of the Rings flavor. 

“Good VS Evil” rules Overview:

In “Good VS Evil”, players ally with the other player on the same side. Players never attack their allies and can swap territories to help each other defend or get entire regions. 

Have fun with ‘em! 

Rings of Power: 

Overview:

Anyone whose played “Risk 2210 A.D.” knows that Energy Tokens are integral to the game and really add the strategic element that vanilla Risk is missing.  In my opinion, the most important element of game play that energy added was the “bidding for turn order” element at the beginning of each turn. I have therefore added this to LOTR: Risk using “Rings of Power” while hopefully keeping it’s distinct Lord of the Rings flavor.

To symbolize “Rings of Power” you can use whatever you like… pennies, poker chips, or just keep track of them on a piece of paper. I personally use cheap children’s toy rings. 

1. Players now earn “Rings of Power” in addition to new armies:

–          In the “Reinforcement” phase, Rings of Power are given to players in an amount equal to the number of armies they receive according to the total number of territories they occupy (number of territories divided by 3, rounding down, a minimum of 3)

–         If a player successfully completes a mission on their “Mission Card”, that player also receives “Rings of Power” equal to the number of armies they receive for completing that mission

–         A “Ring of Power” is received in the “Draw Cards” phase if a player has moved a Leader to or through a territory that contains a point of power during their Combat or Redeployment Phase 

Rings of power are NOT given to a player when:

–          Any bonuses for controlling entire regions in the reinforcement phase earns extra armies but does NOT earn extra “Rings of Power”

–         A player does NOT receive any “Rings of Power” when playing a set of territory cards to receive extra armies 

2. Rings of Power are used to bid for turn order:

The first turn, die are rolled to see play order.

At the beginning of each subsequent turn, players participate in a closed-fist bid by placing a number of Rings of Power into their hand and revealing them simultaneously. In order of most Rings of Power bid to the least bid, players choose which position they wish to move during that turn. Ties are resolved with die rolls.
Players must surrender any Rings of Power they bid with to the “Bank”. 

3. Rings of Power are required to play “Power Card” type Adventure cards:

In order to play a Power Card, you must spend a number of Rings of Power equal to number on the bottom, right hand corner of the Power Card. 

4. A second Leader can be purchased for 6 Rings of Power:

At the end of the reinforcement phase and before the combat phase, a second leader can be purchased if the player has only one leader on the board. A player can have a maximum of two Leaders on the board at any time, and a minimum of one. If a player has two leaders on the board, and one is killed, it is not replaced unless the player purchases a second. If the player’s only remaining leader is killed however, they are entitled to place a new one wherever they choose in the Redeployment Phase, without cost as usual. 

5. An Adventure Card can be purchased for 2 Rings of Power:

A maximum of one extra Adventure Card can be purchased at the “Drawing Cards” phase of a player’s turn. Since the possible maximum adventure cards taken per Drawing Cards phase is one, spending Rings of Power on this has no effect if the player was already entitled to it by moving a leader on or through a territory with a Point of Power during their Combat or Redeployment Phase.

Good Vs. Evil 

Overview:

In “Good VS Evil”, players ally with the other player on the same side. Players never attack their allies and can swap territories to help each other defend or get entire regions. The following rules are used: 

1.There must be an equal number of players on each side:

If there are 3 players, two will play one side (i.e. “Good”). The third player plays as though he is two separate players on the opposite side.

If there are 2 players, there is no neutral army. Both players play as though they are two players, one controlling two good armies, one controlling two evil. 

2. Players on the same side cannot attack each other:

If they own territories they wish to swap, they can do so in the redeployment phase (Explained in rule 3). 

3.Players on the same side can swap territories by redeployment:

In the redeployment phase of their turn, a player can choose to redeploy by swapping the entire armies occupying one of their territories with the armies in one of their ally’s territories. Even though the swapping territories do not have to be touching, a path MUST exist between them of territories that are controlled entirely by the allies. Both allied players must agree to such a swap, or it cannot take place. 

4. The game ends when either good or evil control the entire map:

Because the game plays more like a two player game, the ring is not used at all. All adventure cards that have anything to do with the location of the ring are removed from the Adventure Deck before play. Points are not tallied at the end of the game, there is only one winner: Good or Evil. 

5. Adventure cards played are NOT kept after they are played:

Used Adventure cards are put on a separate, “used” Adventure Card deck after played.

If the Adventure card drawing deck is emptied, the “used” Adventure card deck is shuffled and used.

Because Adventure Cards are re-used, they are NOT used to tally score at the end of the game. Score is irrelevant because the game ends when either good or evil control the entire map.

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