14 January 2019
Descent into the Fallout of Mansions of Madness
Fantasy Flight has revealed its next Lord of the Rings board game, an app-powered co-op title that has echoes of Descent, Mansions of Madness and Fallout.
The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth sends up to five players on an adventure across Tolkien’s fantasy universe, separate scenarios forming an ongoing campaign during which the characters can increase their abilities and diverge down branching story paths.
It doesn’t look like the game will simply be a retelling of Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring’s trip to Mount Doom, either. Of the six characters included in the core set, dwarf Gimli and a young depiction of The Hobbit hero Bilbo Baggins have been revealed – suggesting that the story will take place sometime between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as with Fantasy Flight’s The Lord of the Rings living card game, which appears to share some of this new game’s artwork.
The game’s main map has some similarities to the recent Fallout board game, with double-sided tiles making up a hex-based overworld for players to traverse. Some scenarios will take place just at that zoomed-out scale but, when combat does occur, fights and closer-quarters encounters can potentially play out on a separate ‘battle map’.
Speaking of combat, despite the nod in its nod and thematic similarities to cube-chucker Descent: Journeys in the Dark, it’s entirely diceless; instead of rolling for hits and misses, players perform skill tests by revealing cards from the top of their individual deck of cards, adding together drawn success icons to determine if they pass or fail, making it more akin to something like Gloomhaven. The cards can also be used for abilities – though this removes those cards from the chance of being drawn during checks.
These decks can be expanded and customised during the course of the campaign, being influenced by each hero’s personal skills and their selected role within the team, from an exploration-focused pathfinder to a combat-orientated hunter.
The human players will be up against the forces of Sauron controlled by a required companion app, as with the second edition of fellow co-op exploration/combat storytelling game Mansions of Madness. The app will throw up story decisions and handle the differing behaviours of enemies, as well as randomising the layout of the map and events that pop up during each playthrough.
The game’s first campaign, Bones of Arnor, consists of 14 linked adventures concerning a search for missing relics and a mysterious threat to Middle-earth’s Free Peoples.
Despite its digital elements, Journey in Middle-earth’s box comes packed with plastic, too. There are 25 enemy miniatures and six hero figures in the set with the boards, cards and tokens needed to play – that’s a relief, given the whole set costs $100.
The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth is due out in the second quarter of this year. In the meantime, see a teaser of the game in its first trailer below.