LotR Risk: Trilogy Edition
Trilogy Edition Risk is, sadly, just another game released to cash in on the movie merchandising market. Risk is generally viewed as a flawed game, and this version does nothing to lessen Risk’s annoyances while managing to add a few more.
The components are slightly below average quality, but serviceable. The map is squished in a disconcerting way, but you may only notice if you are a real LotR fan. Of course, if you are reading this review on CoE, then you are and it will bug you. The cards are of a strange, unshuffleable thickness that calls out for an electric shuffler. On the flip side, the army pieces are well done and (thankfully) don’t require clipping from sprues before your first game.
Setup is extremely long, but can be sped up by bending the rules. You start by claiming the lands that are traditionally good or evil, which is interesting, then you rotate through everyone and claim un-claimed lands. Then you rotate again and add single guys to places you own. With 60 guys that’s a lot of turns, so placing down 3 at a time is just as good. Then the rules inexplicably tell you to take all the Play Immediately cards out of the deck, deal four to everyone, then shuffle them back in. Just deal four and tell people to turn in Play Immediately cards for a replacement to save time there.
The main game is basically like traditional Risk. The same three dice versus two dice that win ties mechanic controls the fights. But then the game adds Leaders and Strongholds that can “add one to the highest die rolled”. It’s a bit annoying to have to remember the plus one on each die roll; Risk 2210′s version of rolling an 8 sided die as the upgraded roll is much more elegant.
On top of the main game are random power up cards. These are earned by having a leader take a Site of Power during the preceding turn. That is already an incredibly tweaky way to get a card (Risk 2210′s energy system is far superior), but to make it worse the powers themselves are too erratic. A card that kills two evil guys in Fangorn specifically can’t compete with a card that allows 4 troops to be placed for free at the start of an attack.
Besides the academic analysis, the most important (okay, only important) question is how fun it is. And this game is just not fun. To be fun you need to have important decisions to make. In Risk, you get your 15 new guys and use them like PacMan to gobble up a string of 1-unit territories like the dots of that game. To be fun, both players need to be able to win small victories throughout the game. In Risk, one person loses a single fight to break in to a continent, and the other person steamrollers them in a single turn. To be fun, every action should be significant. In Risk, one player rolls a single die to lose territories to a PacMan army over and over. While it may seem unfair to penalize this game for Risk’s general shortcomings, Trilogy Edition is at fault for failing to remedy those problems.
So overall, you have the same frustrating game of Risk with some out of place, unbalanced injections of LotR-ness. If you want a Risk variant, get Risk 2210, and if you want a LotR game, get anything else.
Review by: Boneless