Staff member Ostadan writes:

It’s a good time for LotR boardgamers. Only a few weeks ago, the fine two-player “Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation” was plubished in a U.S. edition by Fantasy Flight Games. Designed by Reiner Knizia (designer of the multiplayer boardgame and many outstanding games like Modern Art and Ra), this fine little game plays a bit like Stratego, with an interesting combat mechanism using cards that adds an intriguing element of bluffing and strategy into the mix. Each character on the board has its own unique ability, and there is just enough LotR “chrome” (including John Howe’s artwork) to make this a worthwhile addition to anyone’s game collection.

This week, Fantasy Flight has announced the availability of the U.S. edition of the “Sauron Expansion” for the multiplayer Lord of the Rings boardgame, once again by Knizia and Howe. In this expansion, one player may take on the role of Sauron and play nasty cards of his own to defeat the Fellowship. There are also new event tiles and some new cards for the Fellowship; these can be used in a “modular” fashion with the original game, or with the previous Friends and Foes expansion. I have not yet played with this expansion, but UKers have been very positive about it. The following information is paraphrased from a review on Boardgamegeek.

The over 20 new tiles are all evil events — no activity tiles — but there is now a new rule whereby you can reject the first tile you draw from the bag (yes! there’s a bag!) but must accept the next one. This should help reduce the feeling of being controlled by the draw, but on the whole, they make the game tougher.

The Sauron expansion itself comprises cards for Sauron, Nazgul cards, a Black Rider piece for the main board, and several new cards and tokens for the good guys. The new tokens represent resources picked up on the tracks _other_ than the main track, so the old ‘sprint on the main track’ strategy is now rather less attractive. Sauron gets to play (or draw) cards before the Fellowship player, and this will typically require the hobbit to discard a card, lose a life token, or move along the corruption line. Tough stuff, so those extra resources will be more important.

I’m really looking forward to this one. If nothing else, the Sauron part will help bring in players who disliked the non-competitive aspect of the original game — let ’em be Sauron!