Lord of the Rings Risk has added a feature to the classic game which limits the length of play. This changes the strategy somewhat- and I think for the better. This is the Trilogy Edition which is different and larger than the standard edition. (The box of the regular one is very similar, but is marked “The Middle Earth Conquest Game.” The Trilogy Edition has more territories, and more army pieces.
The primary difference between these games and regular Risk is that the length of the game is limited by the journey of the ring. There is a physical ring playing piece which moves along a pathway on the board, in the Trilogy Edition from Hobbiton in the Shire to Mount Doom in Mordor. There are die rolls that change the speed with which the ring moves so that you can never predict whether the ring will move quickly or more slowly. When it reaches Mount Doom and is destroyed the game ends and the player with the highest score wins (based on control of territories, regions and strongholds, and completed Adventures.)
Other differences are that, of course, the map is of Middle Earth, not the real world. Also, there are two armies of good and two of evil. The pieces are much more interesting than the small geometric pieces of regular Risk, being shaped like various characters in the stories.
If you are not familiar with Risk it is much too complex of a game to explain in detail here. Basically you attempt to conquer the entire world. Each turn consists of seven steps: Receive and place reinforcements, combat (optional), fortification (optional), collecting territory cards (if you have won any), collecting an Adventure Card (if you have earned one), replacing a leader (if necessary), and finally moving the ring on its journey.
Our family has played regular Risk, the regular LOR Risk, and this Trilogy Edition, and I like this one the best of all. I think that it is a lot more interesting, and I like the fact that the number of turns in a game is unpredictable, but does prevent the game from potentially lasting for days until someone conquers everything. (If someone does conquer everything before the ring is destroyed that also ends the game.) The “romance” factor of Middle Earth as compared to real earth probably doesn’t hurt either!
It is rated for ages 9 and up, and is for 2 to 8 players. For 8 player you must play as teams since there are only 4 armies. The whole concept of Risk is pretty complicated. I think that some 9-year-olds would have the patience for this, while others might not.
We have discovered by playing at other locations, with sets owned by other people, that there were several iterations of this “one” product produced. The only difference seems to be in the rule books, so if you play with people in other locations they may disagree with you on the rules. This is not a crisis, but is fairly interesting, since one would think that the rules of a game shouldn’t change all that much.
If you want one of these sets, you will now have to pay closer to $60 to get one, although they can still be found without much trouble. We bought this a few years ago. I don’t think you can get it at Meijer now.