The following article was posted in the rec.games.board USENET group. Rob from Hasbro is a reliable source of information. Hasbro has been getting more imaginative with their tried-and-true games recently as in Risk:2210 and the Star Wars Game of Life (of all things), which turned out to have some interesting features of its own. So this game may not fall into the “make-a-buck franchise knockoff” category so easily as it might seem.
“Lord of the Rings RISK will be released in the US in November. It is for 2 to 4 players and encompasses, geographically and thematically, the first two movies/book in the series. The game was designed by our UK office and is being picked up, largely unchanged, for US released (most changes are things like ‘colour’ to ‘color’ and ‘centre’ to ‘center’.)
The things that are like RISK are as follows: 42 territories on the board, grouped into 6 ‘continents’. Battles are the same. Troops movement is the same. Army generation is the same. Basically a RISK core.
Now, the things that are different…
There are two evil armies and two good armies. Other than set-up, where some spaces are always evil, some always good, and some could be either and other than two different types of pieces (elves vs. orcs for example), the difference is largely cosmetic.
The game is a ‘timed’ game in that a token representing the Fellowship starts in the Shire, moves through 13 territories on a prescribed path, and exit the board. When they do so, the game is over. The exact length of their journey is never quite known because some spaces require a die roll to move on (e.g., the Mines of Moria) and there is cardplay that can be used to slow them down. BTW, the Fellowship is represented by a cool pewter life-size ring that has inscribed runes in and out to look like the One Ring.
When the fellowship leaves the board, the person with the most territories and ‘card points’, wins. ‘Card points’ are points you get for playing some cards (I believe they called Adventure Cards).
Adventure cards are obtained by capturing a territory that contains a Site of Power. Some Adventure cards are immediate-play effects that are then discarded, some are cards that you can hold an play on the start of your turn (mostly to hold up the fellowship or otherwise mess with other players), but many are Missions that need to be completed.
In order to complete a Mission, you need to send your leader to the place listed on the card. Then you get to play the card and reap the benefit.
Leaders??? Yes, each player gets one leader, which gives certain bonuses in battles but is largely used to move around completing missions. Commanders get an extra ‘free move’ at the end of the turn to give them more mobility.
So lets say I take the space that contains Weathertop, a site of power. I draw an adventure card. In this case, I get the one that lists the Halls of the Elven King. On a later turn, I manage to capture the territory with the Halls and move my leader into that space. I now turn in my mission card and get 3 troops for doing so. I also get a point at the end of the game for playing the card (completing the mission).
Throw in a few spaces with defensive fortresses that help you hold them and you have Lord of the Rings RISK.