LOTR: Confrontation has been around for a few years, but I just recently discovered it. And as two player games go, this one will corrupt you with its power to provide loads of fun. Played on a board with only 16 spaces, with each player getting 9 characters/minions to accomplish his goal,LOTR: Confrontation looks simple. But, just like other FFG games, it packs a lot of depth below the surface. The game plays a lot like Stratego in that you can’t see an opponent’s character until you enter that piece’s space. Once that occurs, a piece will automatically be destroyed (Nazgul dies if it finds Legolas), or a battle will ensue (unless an automatic retreat is allowed – nasty Hobbitses!) Battles consist of each player secretly playing a card from 9 card decks. Once revealed, the card’s power will be compared to the other card and once the dust clears, someone’s going to lose a character or be forced to retreat. Since there are only nine combat cards for each side, you know what the other player has in his combat deck, so there is a real cat and mouse strategy in each of the battles. It is quick, nasty, and fun.
The Fellowship player wins if he moves Frodo into the Mordor space. Sauron wins if he captures Frodo or gets 3 of his 9 minions into the Shire space. That’s it. The games are tense and only take about 30 minutes, maybe less if you’ve played a few times. There are some variant rules and characters that advanced players can swap into the game to enhance the already high level of replay-ability. The best part about the game, though, is how it makes you feel like you are fighting the epic struggle to save or rule Middle Earth. The character abilities make perfect sense in terms of the books and movies. Sauron’s minions are better for quick movement and fighting. The Fellowship characters are less powerful on the whole when it comes to fighting (though Aragorn and Gandalf are still bad-asses) but have shifty movement and retreat rules that make them harder to kill. Even the board, with so few spaces, still captures the magnitude and beauty of Middle Earth. There are special movement rules for mountain spaces, Moria, and the three spaces containing the river Anduin that add to the immersion.
I was skeptical the first time I saw the components of LOTR: Confrontation. There are so few pieces and the square board is turned so it plays as a diamond! But after one play I was easily under its influence. If you are a Lord Of The Rings fan looking for an epic feeling, though not epicly time consuming fix, get LOTR: Confrontation. Try not to wear it, though. They’ll get you.