Lord of the Rings - Journeys in Middle-earth Review

Lord of the Rings - Journeys in Middle-earth Review

Lord of the Rings - Journeys in Middle-earth Review

Want details on the how Fantasy Flight GamesLord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth plays?  Check out the Game Overview.  Want to know what we think of this game – keep reading below.

The Game – Lord of the Rings – Journeys in Middle-earth

The Lord of the Rings - Journeys in Middle Earth

In Lord of the Rings – Journeys in Middle-earth, you and your fellow players are a fellowship of characters. You go on a grand adventure, set in the world of Lord of the Rings, which spans many game sessions. It is a cooperative, adventure game that is definitely worth your time! 

Players work together, forming a fellowship that travels Middle-earth helping other game characters, fighting enemies and sometimes investigating mysteries.  A series of games forms a campaign. So watch out, your choices in one game can impact your merry band in future games.  The modular board system and app (more about that later) adds to the re-playability of the game. 

In the core game box you will have between 12 and 14 scenarios making up your adventure across Middle-earth. Why a variable number? Your campaign can end early depending on how you play!.

Modular, variable – How does it do this? 

Lord of the Rings - Journeys in Middle-earth App displayed with character cards and miniature

The game and the story are managed by an app! Yes…technology in board games… and it is a good thing!  We know the argument that “We play board games to get away from technology!” – us too – but this game would be nowhere as good without the app, it would be so complex to manage. Anyone remember Mansions of Madness (First Edition)? Long and fiddly set up, one Keeper role has this responsibility and their one error can ruin the whole game! This approach isn’t really cooperative for all players. Here, the app takes care of all of that. All the players are working cooperatively agains the game to achieve their goals. 

The App

The app is beautifully designed, incorporating Lord of the Rings themed artwork, music and sound effects.  It can also manage multiple campaigns at once. This is a super feature if you are playing with multiple groups. 

The app tells you what tiles to place where to make up your board. It also tells you what special features you need to add as you place them.  The app knows which characters are in your fellowship. It knows what enemies are in play, how strong they are and how close you are to defeating them.  The app doesn’t know who is where or who is doing what.  That’s what keeps it a board game!!

The app really comes into its own when you look at re-playability of the scenarios. When you play the same scenario over and the app will re-design the board layout each time! The overall objective doesn’t change but everything else does. The location of items you need and actions you need to perform to be successful are all different.  Enemies also appear in different places.  So your previous winning strategy may turn into a disaster the next time round.


The miniatures in this game are really fancy Lord of the Rings themed pawns. Both for the heroes and the enemies. You are moving them around the board to track the action. The moves are clearly marked “spaces” on the board (no need to count hexes or measure). 

Lord of the Rings - Journeys in Middle-earth game in progress

The miniatures themselves have a great quality and really add to the theme experience of the game. If you are that way inclined you can also paint them – check out Sorastro’s The Lord of the Rings Painting Series on YouTube – it truly is amazing to see what can be done with these miniatures.

Game Setup

Setup is quick and easy.  The most complex setup is before you get started with a campaign and that is only about 10 minutes.  You only have to do the full setup once per campaign for your chosen characters. Setup is much quicker for each game after the initial.  

During setup each player chooses their character and collects their deck of 15 starting cards. This is your skill deck and you will use it throughout the game to resolve certain tests. When you are ready start up the app and select the campaign you want to play and the difficulty level. You tell the app what characters you are playing and any changes to the standard weapon or armor choices. Name your fellowship and embark on your adventure!

Game Play

Game play is excellent.  We love the fast paced action, unexpected twists and the between game branched in the the campaign.  We especially love the Lord of the Rings driven story.

Each individual adventure (game) has its own objective. These all add into the overarching campaign story that takes you from battling enemies on a small battle map to traveling and exploring forests or abandoned towns.  

The phased play is made up of Action – Enemy – Rally phases. That and the skill deck that you assemble for your character to resolve tests, combine to let you feel like you are in control of the game.  That is until the app springs an unexpected enemy or location twist on you!  The skill deck is one of the real winning features of this game. 

Your characters skill deck is made up of different card types, basic cards, the same for each player, character cards, with skills specific to your character and class cards, related to attributes assigned to your character during game setup.  Throughout the campaign you have opportunities to gain, remove and improve skills in your deck.  During the Rally phase of play you can choose which cards to put in play, as skills to be used, and which to leave in your deck to be used to resolve the tests.   Making that decision gives you a feeling of being in control of what will happen in the round.  Similar games, Fantasy Flight’s Mansions of Madness (Second Edition), for example, use the roll of a variable number of dice to resolve tests. The dice role feels much more random than the draw of a card from a deck you have compiled.  

This game is perfect for groups who want to play a board game regularly and continue the story over multiple games.  We play it as a couple and think it is great. Especially as its cooperative. So there is never any fighting at the gaming table – unless the other doesn’t do what they are supposed to do!   

Overall Impressions

If you can’t tell by now, we really love this game.  With an app everyone may not consider it a pure board game. We think the app makes it better, allowing you to focus on the story and become immersed in the the narrative. The gameplay is quite varied across a campaign.  Sometime adventures are full of fighting enemies, other time there is zero fighting and more focus on investigation. The game components get reused quite often, but it never feels repetitive due to the varied narrative. 

You do need to know that this game does have a lot of rules.  This is intentional and is usually the case with any really good cooperative game. When every player working together to beat the game, it needs some defense. There is a “How to Play” tutorial book and a “Rules Reference”. We use these a lot to remind us what is allowed and what is not. If you don’t like games with tons of rules, this may not be for you.  If you do like getting immersed in the world of Tolkien for an hour or so. Don’t mind occasionally checking the rule book. Then this game is really fun!

We Love

  • The stories – really fun and engaging.
  • The Miniatures – are really detailed and beautiful.
  • Modular board – flexibility that never fails to impress. 

Could be better

  • Rules, rules and more rules – there are a lot of rules to remember!
  • Legolas is kind of broken. (He is too good at fighting without getting hurt – he is the only character SheHawk will play).
  • Difficult battles – Thank goodness for Adventure mode!

Can’t wait to get your own copy to start playing?  Check out our product page

$20 cart discount coupon - expires Jun-21-2021 - JDFU4SE2

To use the coupon you will need to order at least one copy of this game and have a Detective Hawk Games account. This offer is valid for one week from the time of this post and is limited to one use per account. 


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