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I love cooperative games, and Lord of the Rings seems to be fairly high on the list. (I have Pandemic, Forbidden Island, and Shadows over Camelot. I'm considering Space Alert and Space Hulk Death Angel).

I love the Lord of the Rings series, but how deep does the game get into the story line? If people who don't really know the Lord of The Rings books (however few of them there may be) can't play it I'll probably go with something else. How will having little familiarity with the books affect the other players' enjoyment?

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Just curious: how can you think they would make a game which somehow required you to know the book to play it? What could possibly cause that? Either it's a quiz game (and it patently isn't), or there's no sane way to have that requirement. – o0'. Jan 23 '11 at 22:57
@Lo'oris Sure there are sane ways. Imagine an LOTR game with event cards that affect particular characters in specific ways, such that players who know the books make better choices. For example, a "Boromir delays the party if he possesses the ring" card. A player who knew the books would know that Boromir is easily tempted by the ring's power and so would never put the ring in Boromir's possession. A player who didn't know the story could make that mistake and feel screwed when it comes up. I wouldn't design a game that way, but it's perfectly sane. – Matthew Frederick Jan 24 '11 at 7:24

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It's absolutely not necessary for game play. Players that don't know the book will not get many of the story line references, but I don't think it means they can't enjoy the game.

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+1 Knowing the story will make the game more involving, but you need no knowledge of it whatsoever. – Matthew Frederick Jan 23 '11 at 9:23

As Erik P. said it is not necessary to know the story to play the game. I would add that it can be a good way to be introduced to the Lord of the Rings world.

I think the games goes quite deep into the story, but not in a way that gives an advantage to who has read the books. There are 4 maps: Moria, Helm's Deep, shelob's lair and Mordor (plus Bree and Isengard with the expansion Friends & Foes). Each takes you through an episode of the book. You'll face many events, gather shields, hearts, rings and suns, meet some famous characters - like Tom Bombadil, Glorfindel, Aragorn, Gandalf or Gollum - and call for Gandalf's help many times.

If you know the books (or even the movies) you'll know who these characters and places are. In the case of Gollum, that means you know that he's neither a friend nor totally a foe. This is made clear in the game as the card for Gollum has three stars and one die (dies are dangerous), so you won't be wronged by this lack of knowledge.

So while knowing the story will give you the reasons for why this event happens there and why this character has these specifications, the game will introduce newcomers fairly well.

In the end, even if you know the books very well, you'll be nothing more than a bunch of hobbits facing too great a destiny. In my case, this meant meeting Sauron in the Moria, many, many times...

Beside, Howe's illustrations are awesome!

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