Well. Looks like Adventure to Mount Doom is trying the old roll and move mechanic. That’s a bold strategy, lets see if it pays off. You heard that right. Rolling dice and climbing a track. No kidding. No Jokes. Lord of the Rings, dice style.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. You see, there’s this really powerful jewellery hobby magic chap who decided to make ring for all of his pals because he was generous like that. So he gave them away like they were candy at Hallowe’en and then everything was going fine until as normal giving people presents and expecting something in return all got a bit weird and then there was a fight and the ring that the hobby boy had made got lost in a big fight and some one else found it and then he got jealous, and started eating his raw fish, and then hide in a cave until it looked like he was wearing really big glasses. Then cut to this old guy who obviously didn’t separate his whites from his dark clothes who then rocked up and took a introvert on a quest who found the ring and then was there and back again and then he had a birthday and then decided, fork this shirt, and left to go hang around with some elves meanwhile leaving his nephew with all the work to do including climbing up and mountain and hiding from some really cool robe wearing dudes with no faces and then met the previous boy who was precious about the ring and then they climbed up the mountain but Sam did all the heavy lifting and the Gollum boy decided to take a header into Mount Doom and there was other things happening but and the end of the day absolutely none of it involved rolling a dice.
It’s rolling dice. In fact, there’s a lot of rolling dice all the way through the game. You roll these dice to move and you roll the dice to fight and most of the time you’ll be rolling dice to check what encounters you have to face. You’ll play as all the characters that you know and love minus one seemingly very obvious exception. You also be walking very slowly through some very familiar areas as well. On every turn, you’ll decide which dice to roll and which characters to move and then based on the black dice you’ll activate certain encounters that might turn out to be friends who will help, or enemies that will hinder. It’s more than that, because you roll the dice and pick an encounter dice from a choice of two, and then a character dice and then you reroll the other encounter die with an extra character dice and then spend two minutes regretting your choices, such is the life of the ring bearer. Through it all, you’ll try to protect Frodo and Sam by making sure the path ahead is safe but trying not to go too far ahead into the next area of the game all the while making sure that Frodo manages to keep his heart pure for if you lose too much courage, you lose to the temptation of the ring and the game is over. Come up against resistance, and all the allies who are ahead of you can attack the potential threat, lose and there is a cost to be paid in courage. You’ll end up balancing trying to move the whole party forward and trying to mitigate any poor dice rolls from previous rounds, while trying to deal with ongoing encounters. If any of the fellowship land exactly on a stage space then your courage will rise. If Frodo and Sam arrive on a stage space then you pick up a Gandalf card, designed to even the odds against you on your journey. Once you reach the base of Mount Doom, it is then down to Frodo and Sam to climb the mountain and toss the ring into the fire. For those looking for a dice rolling exercise regime, then this is the game for you.
Get the Ring Bearer to the final square in Mount Doom and he’ll be chucking that ring into the flame and win the day and then get a lift home on an eagle. Let’s not go there though..
If I say Gandalf, then even if you haven’t seen the films, a certain face will pop into your mind. So you’ve got a real challenge to create characters that represent Tolkien’s work and not look like shoddy rip offs. Hats off to Aleksander Karcz for taking on this monumental task and doing it all justice. there are some similarities, but overall, the artwork is of a wonderful quality, more in line with an expected illustration from a book and I respect them for just diving in and giving some great looking art. The board works very well, disguising what is essential a huge roll and move one way track and I really like the overall art direction
The rulebook is condensed, sectioned out and straightforward. You’ll probably be checking some of the actions for some of the character cards due to some slight edge cases based on interpretation. Overall it’s fine just to pick up the dice and start playing and learn as you go.
You’ll get game a set up, played and put away in just over and hour maybe even slightly longer, but this isn’t something to be rushed.
Adventure to Mount Doom does something unexpected, which is to make roll and move interesting and even exciting. It does that by introducing choice and tries to mitigate luck where it can. The split and choose mechanic will have you picking odds at every point and it makes those bad dice rolls all that bit more painful but when you take risks and they pay off, then it’s extremely rewarding. What’s interesting is that it becomes the compelling reason to keep going. To see if your gambles will continue to pay off. The encounter cards at first seem like a lazy way to bring in protagonists, but by the time you are staring at the summit of Mount Doom itself, they become essential in building the tension and sometimes these cards bring in friends and allies to even the odds, which in itself adds a small amount of relief. What also works is that you’re in charge of everyone in the fellowship and you’re making the decisions who to move on the trek and it’s very easy to put yourself in the position where the ring bearer is completely vulnerable due to some poor planning and you only have yourself to blame. Adventure turns into one big huge calculation of odds and picking and choosing and living with regretful decisions. Surprisingly for all of the characters that you play, there isn’t going to be any difference whether you play solo or play in a group. You are taking your turn at the table and then giving someone else a shot at rolling the dice for the team. It is multiplayer solitaire of a game where you control multiple players. There’s no change to set up or difficulty so those expecting a big epic journey of teamwork will potentially be disappointed. That being said there are some brave design choices on show here. I really like the fact the Nazgul are just there as this subtle ongoing threat that can end the game at any point. I like the fact that Gandalf isn’t a huge part of the game but is there merely as support. I found how the Uruk-hai mechanic worked really add a lot of mid game tension. I honestly expected to not like this game as much as I did. I understand that it is no epic Journey into Middle Earth. It won’t do well when compared to the other bigger epic titles in this huge genre. However for what it does, it does things differently and it does them well. It looks like a tale of a journey just waiting to be told, rolled and enjoyed. You might end up wantsing it..
Price / Value For Money
Selling for £30 and it’s pretty good value for all the components and potential plays you will get as well.
Charge the fellowship ahead and then try to catch up with Frodo in order to make sure they are protected through any nasty encounters.
Find out more by going to https://www.thamesandkosmos.co.uk/product/the-lord-of-the-rings-adventure-to-mount-doom/
Design – Michael Rieneck
Illustration – Aleksander Karcz
Graphics – Antje Stephan
Players 1 – 4
Time – 50 Mins
This review is based on the retail version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid monetary compensation for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.
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