If you're familiar with Risk, you know the basics of this game. Armies move across a map, fighting each other in an attempt to gain control of the world. But LotR Risk adds some new elements, including:
- All territories are places found in Middle-earth.
- Mountains and rivers on the map create impassable barriers.
- The armies represent Elven Archers, Orcs, the Riders of Rohan, the Dark Riders, the mighty Eagles, and Cave Trolls.
- Each player has a Leader, which allows players to add 1 to any die roll.
- Sea ports allow greater movement of battalions.
- Sites of Power give players the chance to complete missions for rewards.
- The One Ring moves from the Shire along a pre-determined path. When it leaves the Dead Marshes, the game ends.
Lord of the Rings Risk is for 2 to 4 players (original Risk is for 2 to 6). The board is divided into 6 regions of Middle-earth, taken from the first two books of the trilogy (so Gondor and Mordor are not featured): Rhun, Mirkwood, Eriador, Rohan, Rhovanion, and Arnor.
There are 42 territory cards, along with 2 wild cards. These are used in a manner similar to the territory cards in original Risk, to earn reinforcements. Unlike original Risk, the number of reinforcements is constant (4, 6, 8, or 10 armies depending on the mix of cards you have) -- it does not increase as the game progresses.
The game also has 40 adventure cards, of which there are three types: mission, event and power.
Examples of each type of adventure card:
- Mission: "Grey Havens - Mithlond - Receive extra battalions in Mithlond." (Move your leader into Mithlond to receive extra battalions.)
- Event: "Winter Storms - Play immediately. Draw the top 3 Territory cards. No player can attack from or into these Territories until the start of your next turn."
- Power: "You Shall Not Pass! - Play at the start of your turn. Choose one bridge to block until the start of your next turn. No battalions may cross the bridge unless accompanied by a leader." (Some rivers have bridges over them.)
Six of the 42 territories are designated as strongholds, and defenders get to add 1 to their highest defensive dice roll.
The winner can be determined one of two ways. If one player takes control of the entire map before the One Ring leaves the Dead Marshes, that player is the winner (this is the less likely outcome). More often, the winner is determined by adding points at the end of the game: one point for each occupied territory, extra points for complete regions, two points for each stronghold, and extra points for played adventure cards played.
I've played Risk many times, and Risk 2210 AD several times. Lord of the Rings Risk falls somewhere between those two in terms of complexity. If you or someone you know enjoys both Risk and the Lord of the Rings, give serious consideration to picking up this game.