The Hotness
Games|People|Company
Spec Ops: The Line
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Contra
Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones
Borderlands
X-COM: UFO Defense
Magic: The Gathering (MicroProse)
Minecraft
Dominion Online
DUELYST
Heroes of the Storm
Sportsfriends
The Order of the Holy Grail
Avenging Angel
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Final Fantasy IV
Maniac Mansion
Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle
Doom
Adventure Island II
Dragon Age: Origins
Angry Birds
Tomb Raider Legend
Linley's Dungeon Crawl
Lemmings
Zangband
Battletoads
Pong
Tomb Raider: Underworld
Small World 2
Growlanser Generations
Portal 2
True Crime: Streets of LA
Civilization V
Everyday Genius: SquareLogic
Frozen Synapse
Black Fire
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Dragon Age: Ultimate Edition
Dark Souls
Dragon Age II
La-Mulana
Realm of the Mad God
CSI: Fatal Conspiracy
Reiner Knizia's Tigris and Euphrates
Dota 2
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga
The Last of Us
Recommend
32 
 Thumb up
 Hide
13 Posts

Lord of the Rings: The Duel» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Review of LOTR: The Duel rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Mike Fox
United States
Fort Worth
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
A Review of LOTR: The Duel

I love gaming, but my time is limited since I'm a grad student (and husband and father and worker, etc. etc.). I trust that many folks on BGG completely understand. So, my gaming group only meets a couple times a month. Therefore I try to find A)excellent, and B) affordable 2-player games that I can play on a whim with my 11-year-old son. LOTR:TD meets both of those criteria.

Concept/Theme
The concept behind the game is that Gandalf and the Balrog (from "Fellowship of the Ring") are battling each other over the large chasm that the 2 characters fall into in the book/movie. The 2 players, taking on the roles of these 2 characters, are trading blows and trying to win the battle. How cool is that? VERY.

Aesthetics & Quality
This game comes with high quality cards, a top notch gameboard, 2 wooden meeples, 2 wooden blocks/markers, and a bridge that you construct. Everything is of the highest quality . . . except the 3D bridge. Once you assemble the bridge, it's just sturdy enough to hold the meeples. A little glue could take care of the problem, but so far it hasn't bothered us enough to take action.

The game looks terrific. The board has a beautifully done scene where you're looking down at the chasm, which has the fellowship on one side and baddies on the other. The two meeples are cute, with Gandalf looking sort of like a Chess bishop and the Balrog being a bit larger and having horns. I like the cards a lot, too. The art is nice, more on the softer side, definitely feeling a bit old school.

Gameplay
The game is simple and fun, and it increases in depth the more you play. You basically each have a deck of cards, and you are laying cards to simulate battle over 4 rounds. For each round, each player first draws 9 of his/her cards. You also each place a wooden marker on a deignated spot on a long grid. You look at your hand, get a feel for what you've got, then you're ready to play. Gandalf starts round one, then the loser of each round chooses who starts the following rounds.

Rounds are played like this: You take turns laying cards. Each card has markings on its left and right sides (or blanks where there should be a marking). You're trying to get your markings to line up with places on your opponent's cards that have no markings, thus getting in a hit and moving their wooden marker closer to the negative end of the long grid. The idea is that you're hitting them in a defenseless area. Players play until A) someone gets knocked into the negative part of the grid, or B) each player has only 6 of the 9 cards left. At the end of each round, the winner will move his meeple higher up the bridge, the number of steps depending on how many spaces were between the markers on the grid. When it's over, the player highest on the bridge wins the game.

Here's where the strategy comes in. There are 27 cards, but 4 rounds. Therefore when you draw 9 cards for a round, you know that 3 of those will be saved for the final round. This creates some tough decisions - do I play this awesome card now, or save it to play in the longer 4th round? Do I go for a small victory now, or save the best cards fort he last round, where victory can be larger? Also, you each have some less powerful cards, so you have to make tough decisions about when to play those. Here's why I say it gets deeper the more you play: You eventually get a good feel for what's in each deck. The more you play, the better you can play cards with an eye towards what's already been played. This is extremely true concerning the limited number of special cards each player has, cards that do more than just attack and block. It's a surprisingly deep game once you get a handful of plays under your belt.

Overall
This game fills an important niche for me: It's a quick game for two players. Its gameplay is very smooth. The rules are so easy. And the theme (LOTR!) is terrific. LOTR: The Duel is a terrific two-player game that you should definitely add to your collection IF and only if you enjoy 2 player, player vs. player games.

I rate it 8.9/10.

EDIT/UPDATE:
After more plays, I've settled on 8 as the right rating for this game. For me, 8 is a pretty high ranking for a two player card game. This one hits the table a couple times a month (once or twice with my son, once or so with our gaming buddy).
33 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Outlaw
United Kingdom
Devizes
Wiltshire
flag msg tools
The Wing Warrior - learn more at www.facebook.com/thelegendriders
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review.

I play almost all of my games against my wife, so a good chunk of my games are two-player, and I will never consider any games that need at least three people to play.

I owned this game for a long time, because it seemed a good choice for me and my wife (she loves card games like Archaeology, En Garde, Lost Cities, Odin's Ravens, etc.) and I love the theme. I quite liked this game, but my wife thought it was bland and pointless. I tried it with other people and they felt the same. I think you are right and the game is deeper than it first appears, and it is certainly not all about luck, but I just couldn't get anyone to keep trying it. Also, I felt the theme was poorly implemented.

Sadly, this ended up being one of only a few games I have ever sold, even though I didn't think it was that bad.

9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Fox
United States
Fort Worth
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
Nice review.

I play almost all of my games against my wife, so a good chunk of my games are two-player, and I will never consider any games that need at least three people to play.

I owned this game for a long time, because it seemed a good choice for me and my wife (she loves card games like Archaeology, En Garde, Lost Cities, Odin's Ravens, etc.) and I love the theme. I quite liked this game, but my wife thought it was bland and pointless. I tried it with other people and they felt the same. I think you are right and the game is deeper than it first appears, and it is certainly not all about luck, but I just couldn't get anyone to keep trying it. Also, I felt the theme was poorly implemented.

Sadly, this ended up being one of only a few games I have ever sold, even though I didn't think it was that bad.



ah man, sorry to hear that. must have been a bummer to get rid of it. thanks for the positive words about my review.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
L H
United States
Lehi
Utah
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review Mike. You almost make me want to go out and get the game now. I have LOTR: The Card Game so I'll learn that better before getting a new one. I love most things LOTR...
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Fox
United States
Fort Worth
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
xldh wrote:
Nice review Mike. You almost make me want to go out and get the game now. I have LOTR: The Card Game so I'll learn that better before getting a new one. I love most things LOTR...


I can't wait to get into the card game. I'm holding off on it right now, though, since I need to make good progress in my studies. I think it looks marvelous. And indeed, most things LOTR are awesome.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
btw i'm maja
Finland
Pori
Finland
flag msg tools
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving. Pratchett
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you for the nice review, Mike! You got to the niche we are into as well - quick well-made two-player games. I'll have it on my radar since we both like LOTR.

Perhaps you could write a session report too...? I like reading those insights of how people are enjoying their games, especially when some others have a "blunt" experience as it was mentioned earlier.

Happy playing to you!
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Fox
United States
Fort Worth
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
xenotime wrote:
Thank you for the nice review, Mike! You got to the niche we are into as well - quick well-made two-player games. I'll have it on my radar since we both like LOTR.

Perhaps you could write a session report too...? I like reading those insights of how people are enjoying their games, especially when some others have a "blunt" experience as it was mentioned earlier.

Happy playing to you!


thanks for the kind words. i'm sure i'll eventually upload a session report for this game, maybe an abbreviated one that overviews the rounds.

good to meet another fan of 2-player games!
4 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete Jurchen
United States
Altoona
Iowa
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Just got this game today and ran it through with my wife a few times. We both love it as a quick game with just the right amount of strategy and theme. The pieces are fun and as an LOTR fan I felt it fit the scene very well. I agree with the review for sure!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Fox
United States
Fort Worth
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
pjurchen wrote:
Just got this game today and ran it through with my wife a few times. We both love it as a quick game with just the right amount of strategy and theme. The pieces are fun and as an LOTR fan I felt it fit the scene very well. I agree with the review for sure!


thanks for the nice words. definitely a great game that plays quickly and is a ton of fun. i play it with my son and we think it's the bomb!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Fox
United States
Fort Worth
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Lord of the Rings: The Duel » Forums » Reviews
Re: A Review of LOTR: The Duel
LordHellfury wrote:
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
...I felt the theme was poorly implemented.

Agreed. This should not have been the struggle at Khazad Dum, but The Battle of the Peak atop Zirak Zigil.



Instead of the winner being determined by who is highest on the bridge of Khazad Dum (Really? That's the best they could come up with?), it should have been the loser being determined by who is closest to the ledge (or gone over the ledge) of Durin's Tower atop Zirak Zigil, Celebdil or The Silvertine depending on what your fave ME race is and what they call that lofty peak in the misty mountains.

The overall theme could have remained the same, but the subtleness of the exact battle would have made far more thematic sense and feel less contrived elsewhere.
The Battle of the Peak did last three days afterall, so theme vs. mechanics this too would have made sense for each round to be a single day of that Battle with the 4th round to be the final struggle using their remaining reserves of power for each Maiar.

Despite that, this is a great and quite underrated game. Not the best, but certainly better than BGG users give it credit for.


Although I personally am very happy with its implementation of theme, I think you have some cool ideas.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Fox
United States
Fort Worth
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Score updated from 8.9 to 8 (see the bottom of the review for more on this change).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Fox
United States
Fort Worth
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Just want to add that this game is still VERY enjoyable for me and my son. We both still really like it, and it's perfect for those times when we want to play something cool but just aren't up for a big setup and stuff.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.