By Reiner Knizia with illustrations by John Howe
1 Master board
2 Double-sided scenario boards with 4 adventures
1 Sauron figure
5 hobbit figures
60 Hobbit cards
5 Character cards
5 Gandalf cards
35 Feature cards
23 Square event tiles
11 Round life tokens
1 Hall of Fame sheet
J. R. R. Tolkien's famous novel is a story of personal growth and the fight of good versus evil. Sauron, the Dark Lord, creates a powerful magic ring to gain control over Middle Earth and the Shire, the home of the Hobbits. When the Hobbits gain possession of the Ring, some of them - Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry - embark on an epic journey full of perilous challenges. They are joined by representatives of the good peoples of Middle Earth: Aragorn, the rightful King of Gondor, Gandalf the wizard, Legolas the elf, Gimli the dwarf, and Boromir. Together, they form the Fellowship, whose mission it is to destroy the Ring. To achieve this, they must take the Ring to Mordor, Sauron's realm, and cast it into the volcano at the top of Mount Doom. Sauron sends his dark forces against the Fellowship to regain control of the Ring and seize absolute power. This sets the one for many dangerous adventures.
In this game you become a member of the Fellowship by playing one of the characters. This is your chance to prove that you are worthy to save Middle Earth. It is the collective aim of the players to destroy the Ring and gather as many shields as possible. The shields symbolise each player's contribution to driving back the dark forces, but they will count only if the Fellowship sticks together and is successful as a whole. Without co-operation there can be no success. There is no individual winner-the group scores points as a whole. You will play against Sauron, who is part of the game.
The Master board remains on the table and in use throughout the entire game, while the Scenario boards change as described below.
1. Place one marker on Bag End.
2. Connect the Moria Scenario board to the lower, long edge of the Master board. The Scenario boards are played through one after the other (you will not need the Shelob's Lair/ Mordor Scenario board until later).
3. Place one marker on the first space (in front of the Scenario headline), above the Event boxes on the Scenario board.
4. Place one marker on the first space of each Activity line on the Scenario board (in Moria there are only the three Travelling, Hiding and Fighting Activity lines; in later adventures there is also Friendship, so one marker is initially left over).
5. Take six shields (two each of values 1, 2 and 3), shuffle these and place them face down next to the play area.
6. Place the remaining shields, the die and the Heart, Sun, and Ring Life tokens face up next to the Scenario board.
7. Shuffle the square Event tiles into a deck. Place them face down.
8. Shuffle the Hobbit cards and place them in a deck face down.
9. Sort the Feature cards to match their locations on the Master board. The number of cards varies from location to location. Stack them face up next to the locations of the Master board.
10. Place the Gandalf cards face up, side by side next to the play area, so all players can see them.
11. Deal out the Character cards face up, one to each player, according to the number
2-player game: Frodo and Sam
3-player game: Frodo, Sam, Pippin
4-player game: Frodo, Sam, Pippin, Merry
5-player game: Frodo, Sam, Pippin, Merry, Fatty
Place your Character card face up in front of you. Each character has his own special quality, which will help you in your quest. Put any unused Character cards back in the game box as they will not be needed in the game.
12. Take the Hobbit figure matching the colour of your Character card and place it on the light step "O" of the Corruption line. Put any remaining Hobbits back in the game box.
13. Frodo is the bearer of the Ring. If you are playing Frodo, take the Ring and place it in front of you.
14. Frodo always begins the game. Play continues in a clockwise direction.
Aim of the Game
Beginning the journey
The game starts at flag End, on the Master board and the actions indicated for Bag End take place here. (In the first game, ignore the text in italics on the Master board, as it is only applicable in later games.)
Take the Hobbit cards and deal six Hobbit cards to each player's hand. Replace the deck, face down. The cards show four different activities:
Friendship, Travelling, Hiding. Fighting
Cards with stars are Joker cards and can stand for any of the four possible activities.
This is a game variant. When playing for the first time, this action does not apply. See Game Variants on page 12.
One of the players must discard two Hiding (tree) card symbols and place the cards face up on a discard pile next to the face down Hobbit card deck. Jokers (star symbol) may of course be used instead. If no player can or wants to give up the required cards, Sauron moves one step towards the Hobbits on the Corruption line.
Take the 12 Rivendell Feature cards and shuffle them. Deal them face down to each player. In a two-player game, both receive four cards. Put the remaining four cards back into the game box without revealing them. In a three-player game, each player gets four cards, and with four players each gets three. If five are playing, the Ring-bearer and the person to their left both receive three cards, and the others receive two each. Add these to your hand.
If you are the Ring-bearer, choose one of the cards in your hand and pass it, face down, to the player on your left, who adds it to their hand. This player then chooses one of the cards in their hand and passes it, face down, to the player on their left. Continue in this manner until you also receive a card.
Rivendell is the place where the companions form the Fellowship and embark on their mission to destroy the Ring. Each player in turn (starting with the Ring-bearer, in a clockwise direction) places a card with a Friendship symbol (or a star symbol) face up onto the discard pile. Any player not playing one of these cards must roll the die and accept any negative consequences that occur (see The Die on page 7).
Hints for the fellowship
There are a few things you cannot do:
Play on the scenario boards
Each scenario has Activity lines for some or all of four activities: Friendship, Travelling, Hiding and Fighting.
In addition, there are Event boxes on the left-hand side of the board. At the start of each Scenario, shuffle the Event tiles and place them, face down, in a deck next to the Scenario board. You must reshuffle all the Event tiles before each new Scenario.
Display the Feature cards belonging to this Scenario, face up next to the play area (for Moria there are only two).
The Ring-bearer starts, and the game then continues clockwise. The player whose turn it is, is called the 'active player'.
Taking tuns on the scenario boards
1. Revealing event tiles
Start your turn by revealing the top Event tile and placing it face up in front of you. An Event tile gives one of the following instructions:
Progress the marker to the next Event box down. (Sometimes players can discard cards, Life tokens or shields to prevent this).
Move Sauron or the Hobbits on the Corruption line.
Advance the marker on the Activity line that matches the Activity symbol shown.
Keep revealing Event tiles and carrying out the instructions until a tile showing one of the Activity symbols appears (see Event Tiles and Event on page 7), or until the Scenario ends.
2a. Playing one or, two cards
You can decide to play either one or two cards from your hand, face up in front of you. Each card is acted on separately, before the next card is played. Select which cards to play and in what order; if you wish to play two cards, one must be white, the other grey. For each of the Activity symbols (Friendship, Travelling, Hiding and Fighting), you must advance the appropriate marker onto the next Activity space, and carry it out (see Activity Lines on page 8).
For example, you play a card with a tree symbol, and advance the marker on the Hiding Activity line (tree symbol) by one space.
When you play a Joker card with more than one star symbol, you may only advance along one Activity line. For example, it is not possible to play a card with two star symbols and advance the marker on the Hiding Activity line and on the Travelling Activity line.
Cards with a symbol not shown on the Scenario board have no effect in that particular Scenario. Equally, cards with a symbol for an Activity line whose marker is already on the last space have no effect. (Note: Event tiles are different - they allow the marker to be advanced on any Activity line - see Event Tiles and Events on page 7.)
2b. Not playing a card
You may choose not to play any cards. In this case you can either draw two Hobbit cards from the face down deck or move your Hobbit on the Corruption line backwards by one step, towards the light. This gives you valuable tactical choices.
3. Concluding your turn
Your turn is completed by placing the revealed Event tiles face up on an open pile and any used cards face up on to the discard pile. On both piles only the top tile or card should be visible. Subsequent browsing through these piles is not permitted.
You may discard unwanted cards from your hand onto the discard pile at any time during the game.
(A more detailed description of the Event tiles, the Event boxes, the Activity lines and the cards can be found below.)
Whenever you encounter this symbol (=black square) (either through Events or
Activities), you must roll the die. This can have the following results:
(Eye of Sauron) Sauron moves one step towards the Hobbits on the Corruption line.
(1, 2 or 3 dots) Move your Hobbit 1, 2 or 3 steps into the darkness on the Corruption line.
(2 rectangles) Place any 2 of the cards in your hand face up onto the discard pile.
(Blank side) Nothing happens.
Event tiles and events
If you reveal one of the following Event tiles, you must act as detailed below:
- (Ring with black dot) The Ring-bearer's Hobbit must move one step towards the darkness on the Corruption line. If you are the active player, reveal another Event tile and place it in front of you.
- (Saurons eye and 2 black dots) One player must either advance their Hobbit by two steps into the darkness on the Corruption line, or else Sauron moves one step towards the Hobbits. The active player must then reveal another Event tile.
- (Sun dial) The next Event on the Scenario board now occurs. When that Event is concluded, the active player must reveal another Event tile.
- (Sun dial plus 3 cards) If you join together with the other players to discard 3 cards of any type between you, then nothing happens. If not, the next Event occurs. In both cases the active player must then reveal another Event tile.
- (Sub dial + card + token + shield) If you join together with the other players to discard 1 card, Life token and 1 shield between you, nothing happens. Otherwise, the next Event occurs. in both cases the active player must then reveal another Event tile.
As soon as an Event occurs, the marker progresses to the next Event box down, and that Event then takes place.
The symbols (black square) (Saurons eye) (black dot) has the same effect as described in the section.
The Die (see above). The symbol (white dot) means that you may move your Hobbit by one step towards the light, if possible.
When you come across the EACH PLAYER prompt, the active player starts, followed by the others in a clockwise direction. If the group is instructed to act (e.g. to discard cards), it is up to all of the players to decide between you who contributes which cards to fulfil the commands.
Example: an Event tile is revealed and shows a sundial. The marker progresses to the next Event box down. On the first Event box in Moria, the group as a whole must discard one Friendship card symbol and one star symbol (or, alternatively, two star symbols, either on one or on two cards). If the group fails to do this, Sauron moves one step towards the Hobbits on the Corruption line. Reveal another Event tile.
Revealing one of the following Event tiles will advance one marker on an Activity line, with no further Event tile being revealed: (fellowship) (travelling) (hiding) (fighting).
Advance the marker on the corresponding Activity line to the next space and perform the action for that space (see Activity Lines, below). If there is no such Activity line on the game board (Moria for example does not have a Friendship Activity line), or if the marker already occupies the last Activity space of that line, advance the marker on another Activity line of your choice by one space. You must advance a marker. After that, no further Event tile is revealed and the active player may now play cards.
Example: an Event tile is revealed and the Event tile shows a tree (the symbol for Hiding). The marker on the Hiding Activity line advances by one space. The player receives a Ring token.
The Activity lines of the individual Scenario boards indicate the challenges with which you and your companions are confronted. The markers are advanced by revealing Event tiles, as described above, and by playing cards.
If a card played permits a marker to be advanced by more than one space, every space it moves over must be carried out. If this includes an instruction to roll the die, this is done last, but before playing the next card.
Each Scenario board contains several Activity lines, one of which is the main Activity line. This is the curved line with the scores on it.
The Activity spaces on the Scenario boards have different effects. The images shown cause the following consequences:
(small shield) Receive a shield with a value of 1 and place it face up in front of
you. Shields with higher values may be used to replace the corresponding number of
(large shield) Take one of the special shields placed face down at the start of the game, and place it face up in front of you.
(heart) (sun) (ring) Receive a corresponding Life token. Place it in front of you until the end of the Scenario.
(other symbols like book or person) Receive a Feature card (in Moria, for example, the book).
(white dot) Move your Hobbit one step towards the light on the Corruption line, if possible.
(black square) Roll the die.
Example: You play a grey card with 1 Fighting symbol and a white card with z Travelling symbols. The marker advances by 1 space on the Fighting main Activity line and by z spaces on the Travelling Activity line. You receive 3 shields.
The power of the ring
Once during each Scenario the Ring-bearer may put on the Ring, either after a player has turned over an Event tile, or after the execution of a tile or a card by any of the players. The Ring is then placed over the current Ring-bearer's Hobbit on the Master board. The Ring-bearer rolls the die. Once the result has been acted on, the Ring-bearer must advance the marker on any one Activity line by a number of spaces, using the following formula:
Four spaces minus the number of symbols on the die.
For example, if the die showed the blank side, advance four spaces; advance three spaces for Sauron's eye, or one space if the die showed three circles. The number of spaces is not influenced by Character cards or Yellow cards (see The Cards, pages 10/11), which limit the damage of the die. Spaces moved over in this way are not carried out. The marker's advancement may stop prematurely if you reach the end of the Activity line.
The Ring remains around the Hobbit until the end of that particular Scenario.
End of a scenario
In either case, the turn of the active player ends immediately.
At the end of the Scenarios in Moria, Helm's Deep and Shelob's Lair the following happens, in this order:
Each player must now have one of each of the 3 Life tokens, as evidence that your heart is in the right place, that darkness is not overtaking you and that you resist the negative influence of the Ring. For each token missing from your collection, you must move your Hobbit one step towards the darkness on the Corruption line. Surplus Life tokens have no effect.
The player with the most Ring tokens becomes the new Ring-bearer. If there is a tie, the Ring goes to the player sitting closest to the current Ring-bearer, in a clockwise direction. If you are the current Ring-bearer, you can only keep the Ring if you have more Ring tokens than any other player. The new Ring-bearer now draws two Hobbit cards from the deck and places the Ring in front of them.
The player with this character draws two Hobbit cards from the deck.
Place all Heart, Sun and Ring tokens back next to the board. Remove all markers from the Scenario board and turn the board over for the next Scenario, or place a new board on top of it (sequence: Moria, Helm's Deep, Shelob's Lair, Mordor). Then place the markers on the first spaces of the Activity lines and above the first Event box on the new board.
The journey continues
Then proceed to the other adventure Scenarios. Each new Scenario is started by the Ring-bearer who draws a square Event tile.
When the Hobbit deck has been played through, remove the used Feature cards and Gandalf cards from the discard pile, and place them into the game box. Reshuffle the remaining Hobbit cards to form a new Hobbit card deck.
Elimination from the came
If your Hobbit encounters Sauron (by being on the same space or beyond on the Corruption line), the dark forces have caught you, and you are eliminated from the game straight away. Discard all your cards, return your Life tokens, but keep your shields.
If you do not possess the required cards or shields, you must also quit at once. If you are forced to quit, you cannot complete your turn. As long as you are not the Ring-bearer, the game continues for the other players - and you can continue acting as an advisor after you are eliminated.
If the active player remains in the game after the die roll, then the Ring has successfully been destroyed and the active player receives one of the special face down shields. This means success for the Fellowship and the end of the game.
If the active player is eliminated from the game as a result of the die roll, then the die is passed on, clockwise, to the next player, who in turn attempts to destroy the Ring, and so on.
1. If the Ring is destroyed, the Fellowship has been successful. Each player (even those eliminated from the game) scores 6o points plus the total number of shields you have collected between you as a Fellowship (e.g. if the Fellowship has a total of 25 shields, you score 60 + 25 = 85 points each).
2. If the Fellowship reaches Mount Doom, but all players fail in their attempt to destroy the Ring, you each score 60 points, because the marker on the main Activity line in Mordor is on 60.
3. If the Ring-bearer is eliminated from the game at any time, i.e. before the end of the main Activity line in Mordor has been reached, the game ends at once. In this case, all players are given a score corresponding to the point value of the current space of the marker on the main Activity line (e.g. if the marker on the main Activity line in Mordor is on space 52, everyone scores 52 points).
Use the Hall of Fame sheet to record your result.
The Character cards give each player special skills which they keep throughout the game. The skills are indicated on each card.
Frodo can use any white Hobbit card (with one Activity symbol) as a Joker card.
Sam can only ever suffer one damage when rolling the die, which means he only moves one step on the Corruption line, and needs to only give up one card.
Pippin is not bound by the White-Grey rule when playing cards and is allowed to play two cards of the same colour during his turn (see Playing One or Two Cards on page 6).
Merry, unlike the other characters, only needs 2 different Life tokens at the end of each Scenario, instead of 3 (see End of a Scenario on page 9).
Fatty may draw 2 additional Hobbit cards from the deck after each Scenario board is completed.
At any time during the game, any one player can call Gandalf for help by discarding shields with a total value of 5. The active player then decides which of the Gandalf cards to use and how to apply it:
Healing: One player moves their Hobbit backwards two steps on the Corruption line, towards the light, if this is possible.
Persistence: One player draws 4 Hobbit cards from the deck.
Guidance: The active player uses this card as a double Joker.
Foresight: One player may look at the top three Event tiles and rearrange them before putting them back.
Magic: After moving the event marker onto the next Event box, ignore the Event. If this is the final Event in a Scenario, the Scenario still ends. However, this card cannot prevent the final Event in Mordor when Sauron takes the Ring.
Each Gandalf card can only be used once, and must then be discarded.
Yellow feature cards
In addition to the Gandalf cards there are also Yellow Feature cards. They may be played by any player at any time, unless otherwise stated on the cards. The player decides how the card is applied:
Any one player may pass one card to any other player.
Any one player does not roll the die (play this card on any player who is instructed to take one die roll, before the die is rolled).
Any one player ignore the results of one die roll (play this card on any player after they have rolled the die).
If any one player is missing some Life tokens, they do not move their Hobbit on the Corruption line accordingly (play this card on any player at the end of a Scenario or in the corresponding Events in Mordor).
Ignore an Event tile showing a sundial with three items after it has been revealed. The marker is not progressed. This card cannot be applied to a sundial tile that does not show either three cards, or a card, a Life token and a shield.
Play this card on the active player before they reveal the next Event tile. As a consequence, the active player does not reveal any more Event tiles, but continues their turn as usual (playing cards).
Any one player moves their Hobbit back one step on the Corruption line, towards the light, if possible.
Any one player increases their hand to six cards by drawing from the Hobbit card deck. (While drawing, a player may not discard any of his cards.)
If, while you are the current Ring-bearer, you are eliminated from the game because you cannot play the required cards or shields, but your Hobbit is nearer to the light than Sauron is on the Corruption line, the player to your left becomes the new Ring-bearer, and the game continues.
In order to even out the number of turns each player gets, you may decide to ignore the rule that the Ring-bearer starts each scenario, and continue playing clockwise instead. Use an extra mover to indicate the active player.
Introductory game and expert game
When you are playing your first game, place Sauron on level 15 of the Corruption line. Once you have successfully completed the introductory game (which isn't easy), play future standard games with Sauron starting from level 12. (Experienced players may decide to start with Sauron on level 12 in their first game, but they should not then be surprised if Sauron is soon upon them.)
If you finally succeed in destroying the Ring in the standard game (to gain the required experience will take many games), advance to the expert game where Sauron starts on level lo. This will test you to the limit, and very few will ever succeed in proving themselves worthy to save Middle Earth on this level.
With increasing game experience, you may agree to add a competitive element to the game. In this case, keep your shields face down and do not show their values to other players. If the Ring is successfully destroyed, you each score 6o points plus a bonus equal to the number of your own shields, irrespective of whether or not you are still in the game. The Fellowship has been successful and the player with the highest score shall be celebrated in song ever after. This player is considered the winner.
In the competitive game, there is one additional rule. If you are the Ring-bearer and you possess three or more Ring tokens when your Hobbit meets Sauron on the Corruption line, then you are taken over by the powers of the Ring and join Sauron. You alone score the point value of the current space of the marker on the main Activity line, while all the other players score zero.
Remember that the spirit of the Lord of the Rings is the co-operation of the good in fighting the forces of darkness. Even the competitive game needs a lot of co-operation for the Fellowship to succeed. If the Ring is not destroyed, shields do not count and all players score the same number of points as indicated by the marker position on the main Activity line. The higher the score, the better, but there is no winner.
Lay out the Master board, and use the Scenario boards, in this order: Moria, Helm's Deep, Shelob's Lair, Mordor.
Place markers on Bag End and above the Event boxes as well as on the first space of each Activity line of the first Scenario board, Moria.
Each player takes one Character card: first Frodo and Sam, then Pippin, Merry and Fatty.
Place the appropriate Hobbits on step o and Sauron on step 12 (or i5 in your first game) of the Corruption line.
Shuffle the Event tiles and place them face down in a pile.
Sort the Feature cards by location and lay them next to the Master board.
Display the Gandalf cards face up.
Shuffle the Hobbit cards and place them face down in a pile.
Place 6 shields (2 x 1, 2 x 2, 2 x 3), face down next to the playing area.
Have the remaining shields, the Life tokens and the die ready.
Frodo is the first Ring-bearer.
Perform actions as directed at Bag End.
Move the marker to Rivendell and perform the stated actions.
Move the marker to Moria; the Ring-bearer starts the first adventure Scenario.
Taking turns on the scenario board
1. Reveal Event tiles and act on them (until an Activity symbol turns up).
Move Hobbits or Sauron on the Corruption line, or
The Event in the next Event box occurs, unless this is prevented, or
Carry out an activity: advance the marker on an Activity line and
Take a shield, Life token or Feature card, or
Move your Hobbit back into the light by one step, or roll the die.
2a. Play 1 or 2 cards (white and grey), or
2b. Draw 2 cards or move your Hobbit back one step towards the light.
Eye: Sauron moves one step towards the Hobbits on the Corruption line.
Circles: your Hobbit moves 1, 2 or 3 steps into the darkness on the Corruption line.
Rectangles: discard 2 cards.
Blank: nothing happens.
Once per Scenario, put on the Ring: roll the die, act on the result, then advance the marker on an Activity line by 4 minus the number of symbols on the die, without carrying out the indicated activity on the spaces you pass over.
Play Yellow Feature cards.
Use a Gandalf card: discard 5 shields and the active player decides how to apply one card right away.
End of a scenario
When the main Activity line is completed or the final Event has been concluded:
You must each discard 3 different Life tokens, or move your Hobbit towards the darkness on the Corruption line.
The player with the most Ring tokens becomes the new Ring-bearer, and draws 2 Hobbit cards.
Fatty draws 2 Hobbit cards.
If the Ring-bearer is eliminated from the game, the game ends and each player receives the number of points indicated by the marker on the main Activity line.
At Mount Doom (last space on the main Activity line in Mordor), if none of the players manage to destroy the Ring, each player receives 60 points.
If a player succeeds in destroying the Ring, each player receives 60 points plus the total value of all the shields that all players have collected.
This site is created and maintained by: Carl-Gustaf Samuelsson