I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, The Lord of The Rings is one of the most epic stories of all time, so when I learned there was a card game based on the thrilling franchise by J.R.R Tolkien, I was first in line to buy it.
In The War of The Ring card game, you can create your own adventure, take part in dramatic conflicts, and attempt to defeat Sauron to free the people of Middle-Earth.
I hope you’re ready because, as Bilbo Baggins once said, “We’re going on an adventure!”
What You’ll Need to Play War of The Ring Card Game?
Before anything else, you’ll need to get your hands on The War of The Ring card game set, which includes everything you need to get going. The game contains the following:
- 120 Factation Cards (60 Shadows and 60 Free Peoples)
- 21 Location Cards
- 16 Corruption Tokens
- 4 Ring Tokens
- 20 Combat Tokens
- 1 Starting Token
- 1 Turn Order Tracker
- 1 Turn Order Marker
- 4 Player Aids
- The Rulebook
Next, you’ll need to call up three of your die-hard Lord of The Rings fans and tell them to get around to your house ASAP!
Hey, why not tell them to bring the drinks as you’re hosting?
That’s it; that’s everything you need to play. Now, let’s learn the rules.
1. Setting Up
The setup is very straightforward, which is always a good start. Each player is given a deck of cards and given the name of a character from the series, which are as follows:
- Frodo (Free People): Hobbit, Dwarf, Wizard and Rohan
- Aragon (Free People): Elf and Dunedain
- Saurman (Shadow): Monstrous, Southron and Isengard
- The Witchking (Shadow): Mordor
Each player should prepare their decks by shuffling the cards and picking the coordinating factions.
Next, everyone receives a Ring token and one player aid. Whoever the Frodo player is takes the starting player token.
2. Preparing the Path Decks and Battlefield
Now, you need to divide the Free Peoples cards from the Shadow cards and assemble the path deck. The path deck should be stacked as follows:
- Three Path 1 Cards on the Top
- Three Path 2 Cards
- Three Path 3 Cards
And so on, right through to path 9.
3. The Deal
Lastly, each player takes seven cards each before cycling two of them, leaving everyone with five cards each in their hand.
How to Play War of The Ring? Rules and Gameplay
There’s quite a lot of strategy involved in this game, including themed and immersive scenes, so a good imagination will go in your favor.
The aim of the game is to free the people of Middle-Earth by destroying the one true ring and defending the homelands from Sauron’s encroaching evil powers.
Players must take turns playing the cards, each representing a character, army, props, or events from the Lord of The Rings. Each card either has the power to help or hinder your quest.
The first player kicks things off by activating the battleground and the first path. Next, everyone else takes their turns, starting with the player holding the player token.
You can perform actions or choose to pass depending on the current scenario in the game.
The game continues in turns until the Action Step is signaled, which happens when all four players pass consecutively.
At the end of the day, the idea is to act quickly and make the right decisions at the right time to complete your quest and prevent Frodo from being wounded or lost during his mission to destroy the ring.
Overall, there will be nine rounds played, one for each path laid. Throughout each round, there will be four steps.
Step One: Location Step
In this step, you get to choose where the action happens. Once the battleground and path cards have been activated, the starting player chooses the battleground from their deck.
The paths, on the other hand, are selected at random from the cards marked with the current round number.
Both the path card and the battleground card will have particular actions and offer a specific number of victory points.
Whichever side has the most victory points wins the round.
Step Two: The Action Step
During the action step, players get to perform actions, starting with the player holding the starting token.
The actions are cards played from your hand to either the path or the battleground, and only one action can be taken per turn.
It’s important to note, at this point, that you can only pass once your hand is below the carryover limit, which means, unfortunately, sometimes you’ll be forced to play cards you’d rather hang onto, which can be somewhat annoying.
However, card economy is essential; you must cycle cards whenever you play a new one. Your goal is to control the battlefield without wasting your cards along the way.
Step Three: The Combat Step
The combat step is where you’ll find yourself in the midst of a battle, counting defensive shields and putting others under attack.
Battles occur when players eliminate cards with shields that match the swords; if any cards remain, they’re cycled, and all attackers are eliminated.
On the paths, Free People cards defend against shadow cards, and shields cancel out skulls. If the Free People cards win, the Shadow player receives corruption tokens, which also count as victory points.
Step Four: Victory Check
This is the easiest step of them all. Players simply add up their victory points and corruption tokens. If, at this point, one team is 10 points ahead of the others, they win.
Tips and Strategies
Below are some handy tips I’ve picked up while playing War of The Ring that can help you beat your opponents.
- Hand Management: Remember, your hand size is limited, so choose your cards wisely, balance your cards well for defense and offense, and cycle your cards strategically.
- Card Types: Thoroughly read the rulebook before you begin, and familiarize yourself with the cards and their meanings for the most effective and smooth gameplay.
- Timing: Timing matters in this game, so ensure you play your cards at just the right moment for maximum impact.
- Observation: Watch closely what the rest of the players are doing, look out for the moves they’re making, and adapt your next move accordingly.
The Final Journey
As we’ve established, The War of The Ring card game is designed with Lord of The Rings fans at the forefront of its story.
It requires strategy, imagination, and lots of decision-making along the way.
Overall, I love this game and would recommend it to anyone who loves all things Middle-Earth, but a word of warning: once you pop, you can’t stop; it’s very addictive, so allow yourself plenty of time to become fully immersed in the quest. If you’ve enjoyed learning how to play War of The Ring, consider taking a look at the best Star Trek board games of 2023.