April 27, 2006

Battles of the Third Age Expansion - Tactical Gameplay Preview

BattlesThirdAge.3.2.06.gifFantasy Fight games will soon release an expansion to the very successful War of the Ring "Big Box" boardgame. The original title was a game of massive scope and only resolved after hours of play. "Battles of the Third Age" expands on the strategic portion of the title by providing new units and new cards, but it also includes two new tactical-level games: The Battle for Rohan and the Battle for Gondor.

If the scope of the original War of the Ring is comparable to WWII's historic battle for Europe, then the expansion's battles for Rohan and Gondor are on the same level as the Battle of the Bulge or the Normandy campaign. These aren't short affairs that end when the victor takes a hill - but campaigns of battles for terrain, positioning, and the occupation of towns.

The 'mini games' (let's face it, they're not so mini) come with their own boards and rules but borrow the dice and pieces from the main game. New heroes and anti heros are added to the mix (including the nasty Gríma Wormtounge), and the new game boards sport two new gameplay tracks: "Fate" and "The Power of the Shadow". These guys tug at each other to trigger set events for the side of good and evil, respectively. It's a age-old Yin/Yang relationship of life and death. G..G..Grima.. Wa. Wo.. WormtongueFor those folks unfamiliar with the game, the tracks are a simple series of numbers which keep track of certain momentums. "Fate" grows over time (its accelerated by the Dark player's use of the "Power of Shadow" track) and gives the Free Peoples that needed extra oomph just when things start hitting the fan. The "Power of Shadow" track is consumed by the Dark player to exercise some extraordinary abilities which seriously weaken the Free Peoples' defense. It's all somewhat reminiscent of the War Fever and Jihad gauge from "A Line in the Sand" (1991), if you ever played that one.

From "Battles of the Third Age: Preview of the Tactical Expansion": In the Battle for Rohan the Shadow must take control of enough of Rohan’s Settlements and Strongholds before the Ents destroy Orthanc. To accomplish this Saruman has a host of Uruk-Hais, Warg Riders, Half-Orcs and Dunlendings as well as some support from Mordor Orcs. In their way stand the Lords and Captains of Rohan, their Riders, Archers and Foot soldiers as well as some of the Companions of the Fellowship of the Ring.

Will Saruman attack swiftly through the Fords of Isen to invade the Westfold, or let Gríma poison the mind of old Théoden King first? Can Éomer rally enough Riders to keep the Rohan Plains free of Orcs and will Merry and Pippin be able to rouse the Ents in time?

Read more from "Battles of the Third Age: Preview of the Tactical Expansion" on the official Fantasy Fight Games website. It's chalk-full of nuggets of tactical deliciousness, and yet not dry in the least.

Battles of the Third Age is currently slated for a May release, and is available for preorder at Funagain Games.

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Posted by Critical Gamers Staff at April 27, 2006 10:10 AM

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