WotR was published by the paper-wargaming company Simulations Publications Inc. (SPI) in the 1970s. It was one of their most elaborate presentations, with a large mounted map, cards, a gazillion little cardboard counters representing the armies of the War of the Ring, and artwork by (then) popular Tolkien artist Tim Kirk. You can look at the rules and board at http://matrix.dumpshock.com/tzeentch/Tolkien/tolkien.htm(“Rules” and “Maps” tags; the “Playaids” tag will give counter and card lists).

SPI eventually went bankrupt and was eaten by TSR. The boardgame license, of course, reverted to Tolkien Enterprises, but it appears that co-designer Richard Berg has some control of the intellectual property
associated with the game itself, and has some interest in reviving the product.

Thanks to Greenbooks staff member Ostadan for the overview on WotR, and for alerting me to the new developments below.

From rec.games.board:

The designer of the original, Richard H. Berg, is off on his annual trek to Essen. On www.consimworld.com, he mentioned that he had been asked by a German company on the possiblity of a revamped WotR in the future. Thus while at Essen, RHB will be discussing with company officials and the Tolkein estate on this issus. Mr. Berg has said that he hopes that the project will be a go but will probably not be likely.

Obviously though, WotR is on life support and there is a glimmer of hope that gamers will get to see it on store shelves once again.