Author: unknown

Publisher: Parker 2003

Awards: none



It has been a few years since I last reviewed a special edition of the classic boardgame Monopoly, but now the new Lord of the Rings Special Edition has captured my interest. The game does not only offer a newly designed gameboard and playing pieces, but also a set of special rules to align the game more closely to the Lord of the Rings.

I guess that most of you will know the game Monopoly in one version or another, so I don't think that you will be interested in a review of the standard Monopoly-rules which, of course, can be used for playing this game. However, what should be more interesting by far is the answer to the question what is new in this game?

As I could discover, there are a lot of differences which can be found upon opening the box and browsing through the parts of the game. Thus, the new game features...

  • a new gameboard where places from Middle-Earth have replaced the traditional properties;
  • six Lord of the Rings figures as playing pieces: Frodo, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Gandalf and Galadriel;
  • People- and Adventure-Cards, replacing the usual playing cards;
  • Power as the currency used in the game;
  • legendary Horses which replace the Train-Stations;
  • Castles and Fortresses, replacing Hotels and Houses;
  • the Wizards Gandalf and Saruman as replacements for the two power plants;
  • two special dice showing the Eye of Sauron instead of a "1";
  • the One Ring.

However, not only these new playing pieces will capture the interest of Lord of the Rings fans. As outlined above, the game also contains some specially-designed variant-rules.

To play this additional variant, the One Ring will be placed at the space of Bag End (the first property) at the beginning of the game. Whenever a player rolls an Eye of Sauron on one of the dice while rolling for his movement, the One Ring will be moved around the gameboard to the next property which has not yet been bought. After the One Ring has been moved, the player will be allowed to move his playing piece.

If a player lands on the property which contains the One Ring, then he may take it for free, provided it does not yet have an owner. If it has an owner, then the player will have to pay double rent for landing on that space.

The game ends once the One Ring has reached Mount Doom, the last and most expensive property on the board. When this happens, each player has to calculate the value of his accumulated wealth (Power) and the game will be won by the wealthiest (most powerful) player.

As can be seen, these rules do not largely alter the traditional Monopoly rules. Basically, the new elements which were introduced serve one major purpose: the duration of the average game shortens considerably.

It could not be said that this shortening of the game also means that a player has much less time to develop a strategy, but here it can be replied that Monopoly in essence is not a strategy game. The game is mostly based on luck, and this factor does not change by the introduction of the additional rules. To my mind, a game with less duration that usual rounds of Monopoly certainly offers some attractivity, since it becomes easier to find fellow players who are willing to play through a full game.

In total, the new Lord of the Rings Special Edition convinces more by the quality of the new game parts than by new rules. The graphical design of the game was done rather well, and fans of the movies certainly should like the game. As for the new rules, these do not greatly improve the general atmosphere of the game, but they certainly improve the factor of average playing duration.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany