Author: unknown

Publisher: ICE 1983

Awards: none



FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING is 2-player-game based around the efforts the Fellowship of the Ring took to bring the One Ring to the vicinity of Mordor and destroy it in the Flames of Mount Doom. Thus, it is the aim of the Fellowship-Player to bring the One Ring from the Shire as close to Mordor as possible, and the closer he gets the more Victory Points he will get (there is also a possibility to win by actually reaching Mount Doom and destroying the Ring there). The Sauron Player must seek to prevent this by using his Nazgul, Guardians and Agents for at least 20 Turns.

The complexity of the game is quite overwhelming during the first rounds, but once players have developed some understanding the gameplay will run fluently. It comes with character cards depicting many of the characters known from the books, random events and about playing pieces, used for representing a group of Fellowship or Sauron Characters or just rumors of them. The pieces show in which movement-mode a group is: Sneaking, On Foot, Riding, Using a Ship or Flying. The rules-system for movement of the counters, for searching and for battles is very complex and includes many different gaming situations. Once the rules are mastered, the game offers in-depth gameplay and a very good adoption of the story of the Fellowship of the Ring.

G@mebox Special: Expert Comment


Bill McKinley
(Australia) writes about the game:

Fellowship of the Ring is a complex and now out of print game about the fellowship's long trek across Middle Earth. Unlike SPI's War of the Ring, it does not cover the military aspects of Lord of the Rings.

Fellowship of the Ring uses a quasi-hidden movement system, so that neither player is really sure where their opponent's main characters are located. In this regard, it is superior to War of the Ring, where the location of the fellowship is usually obvious.

The objective of the game is for the Fellowship player to advance the Ring as close to Mordor as possible. The Fellowship player does not have to reach Mount Doom to win the game, which in my view is a great improvement on the SPI classic. I think most experienced War of the Ring players would agree that it usually degenerates into a winner-takes-all brawl on the volcano.

Fellowship of the Ring uses a myriad of small six sided dice as playing pieces. The idea is that every unit (group of characters) in the game is assigned a unit number on a hidden display. Each dice represents one of the units, and has an identifying sticker affixed to the "1" face. The two players sit opposite one another across the board with the stickers towards themselves. It works like Stratego: you know where your opponent's units are, but you don't know what they are.

The task of finding the enemy is made even more difficult by "rumour" dice that don't represent a real unit, just a wild story about black riders at the ford (or wherever).


The Fellowship player in the game has at his or her disposal the familiar characters from the Lord of the Rings, as well as a number of unnamed elves, dwarves, hobbits, and humans (can you spell Nazgul-fodder, boys and girls?).

The Dark Power player controls both Sauron's and Saruman's forces, as well as an assortment of monsters (such as the Balrog and the Watcher in the water) that are positioned at the start of the game. A cunning Dark Power player can cause havoc to the Fellowship's plans by positioning the monsters carefully. In one memorable game, for example, I placed the Watcher beneath the Brandywine Bridge. "Ulp," the Fellowship player said, "that's a very, er, aggressive tactic."

The Dark Power player is also benefits from the random encounters that periodically afflict our heroes, ranging from puny bats and crows (in Eriador) to elephant-equipped Southrons (in Ithilien).

The game is considerably more complex than War of the Ring, but in my view is not overly difficult to learn (I know Frank disagrees with me on this point). Moderately experienced wargamers will have no difficulties at all. The best way to play it is in a number of sessions: I have found that most of my games have lasted 6-8 hours.

Fellowship of the Ring has a number of deficiencies; in particular, it is too easy for the Fellowship player to withdraw from combat. The Fellowship player has to make a roll, it's true, but the odds are overwhelmingly in the good guys' favour. There is nothing more frustrating, as the Dark Power player, to set up a cunning ambush only to see the hobbits flee without taking any losses at all.

Fellowship of the Ring is sadly out of print, but it's a worthwhile purchase if you can find it. In my view, it is a better game than War of Ring, which is interesting more because of its setting than because it is a good even contest.

I would like to thank Frank for giving me the opportunity to post this review on his website.

7 March 1997

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany