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The Tech Deck

How about Risk: Lord of the Rings?

The evil forces of Mordor have emerged and are laying siege to Middle Earth in search of the One Ring. Will you hold them back or take command of the forces of Sauron?

Good morning everyone, this week on “What to play tonight?” on the “Tech Deck” blog, I present ‘Risk: Lord of the Rings’ (R:LotR). Risk is a classic game of world domination. Pitting massive armies against each other over control of territory and its resources and people. R:LotR keeps to the trusted design of the original game and adds a few pleasant features which changes the game in fun and interesting ways.

For those not well versed in Risk, at the start of your turn you count up the number of territories your troops control. From there you get some infantry you can deploy, additional troops can be gained from cards and holding whole continents/countries. From there you move your soldiers into neighboring countries. Each player rolls 1, 2, or 3d6 dice, then compare the highest dice, who rolled the lowest loses troops, ties to defender.  Leaders and fortresses add +1 to the highest dice rolled for your side. It’s a fast simple mechanic that has stood since the first edition of the game.

Battle across Middle Earth
The two forces clash over the One Ring

Now what you’re interested is what makes R:LotR different. Well the first and most important is that instead of our Earth, you battle across Middle Earth. Covering Middle Earth are rivers, mountain ranges, places of power, and fortifications each has a noteworthy effect on the shape and strategy of the game. There are also ocean passageways allowing troops to move rapidly across the coastline. The countries are also much more intricate with each other making it very difficult in many cases to holding, which promotes an aggressive mind set then a typical turtle mind set.

I suggest getting the Trilogy edition or the basic edition as it greatly expands the board and adds cards to use. That and if you get the original version of the game, the board doesn’t have Mordor or Gondor on the map at all, and these are arguably the most important countries in the Lord of the Rings mythos. The base game simply feels incomplete.

There are multiple colors for the different armies and two beautiful different sets of figures one for good and the other dark. As Uruk Hai and Cave Trolls battling against Elven infantry and giant eagles. The game emphasizes the forces of good vs the forces of evil mentality, however that rule is optional if you’d prefer a more chaotic game.

The One RingOne of the biggest problems with Risk is the long games that can last for hours as a stubborn player holds up in his last fortress (typically Australia) only stalling his doom.  On the other hand R:LotR has a built in timer. Frodo and the One Ring will slowly traverse the table once Frodo leaves the board the game is done. Setting a reasonable time limit for the game. Still the full trilogy game will last you several hours so this would be the main focus of the night.

Lastly, there are cards that can be played which allows units to attack across rivers or mountains, speed up or slow down Frodo, gain additional leaders or troops, and a number of other abilities. Adding another layer of strategy to a fast moving game.

I recommend picking up and playing “Risk: Lord of the Rings – Trilogy Edition.” It is a much improved version of the base game of risk requiring more tactics and strategy then the original Risk game.

Quote of the week:

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – Gen. George S. Patton

Andrew Smith is one of The Spokesman-Review's IT gurus and resident dungeon master.