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LoTR: Journeys in Middle-Earth: Shadowed Paths Review

LoTR: Journeys in Middle-Earth: Shadowed Paths Review

LoTR: Journeys in Middle-Earth: Shadowed Paths Review

Welcome to our review of Fantasy Flight Games‘ The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth – Shadowed Paths expansion. This marks our first review specifically of an expansion to a game that we’ve previously reviewed. We won’t go into detail about the core game here, however if you are interested in finding out more check out our Review and Overview of that game.

The Lord of the Rings - Journeys in Middle Earth: Shadowed Paths

Shadowed Paths – Overview

If you enjoyed the core game, then you’ll love this expansion. In Shadowed Paths you get a whole new campaign, module board pieces, hero characters and enemies along with more skill cards. All of which (except for the new campaign) are backwards compatible with the core game and Downloadable campaigns. We’ll be going over all the new pieces here.

In Shadowed Paths, you and your fellowship will be adventuring into Mirkwood and the Mines of Moria in search of Shelob and the Balrog. As with all Journeys in Middle-Earth campaigns, this is set between the events of the Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Rings and the campaign pulls from elements of both.

The campaign consists of 10-12 scenarios that have a branching narrative. At the end of each scenario, the fellowship will be asked what they want to do next. This determines which scenario you take part in. In some cases it simply alters the order of the scenarios, but there are opportunities to entirely skip scenarios. Doing so, will either help or hinder your progress in the future.

Game Components

Overall the game components hare what we’ve come to expect from Fantasy Flight Games. We especially liked the Shelob miniature that really looks like it could be a real giant spider in the world. The Balrog is also amazing We love the size of the miniature and it’s huge wingspan. Besides these two characters there are other miniatures that help add to the overall experience of the game.

We also like the new terrain tiles in the game specifically the cliff edge and the rules around that. (If your character has a ranged weapon and your ontop of the cliff, you can reach one extra space with your character.)

Also included in Shadowed Paths are 5 new heroes – Balin, Gandalf, Arwen, Dis and Eleanor. We especially like Gandalf’s default skill. He’s a “Meddler” which allows him to change his deck mid turn and to also remove weakness cards. That said he doesn’t have many true successes, so you will have to rely on “inspiration” and “fate” which sounds a lot like how Gandalf was in both the books and movies.

Finally, the new journey tiles add more caves, insides of buildings and more visual theming to the overall story. We are continually impressed by how Fantasy Flight Games utilizes details in the journey tiles to further the story. Like a tower on the board in one game represents a specific tower you must climb, but in another that same tower can represent something completely different.

Game Play

This is where this new expansion really shines. First, the campaign is not linear and and a number of points usually at the end of scenarios, your group will get a choose what you do next. This offers variety to the overall campaign and what’s even more interesting is how decisions you make earlier in the campaign have direct consequences to how later scenarios play out.

What surprised us also was HOW some scenarios played out. Without spoiling the story, there is a scenario which utilizes the battle maps in a new way and its really cool.

The overall story is pretty good. You are initially tasked with entering Mirkwood and helping the elves. Then the story switches to the mines of Moria and finally you return to Mirkwood to take on Shelob. As with the core campaign, some scenarios have you fighting a ton of enemies while others are more investigative and you are asking questions of characters to further the story. This intermixing of styles of play help add to the immersive nature of the story.

The actual game play is the same as the core game. They do add in “difficult terrain” which simply hinders you from moving further during your turn. There are no rule changes, just some additions. If you want to know more about how the game plays, we’ve created a Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth Overview article that goes into detail.

Overall Impressions

Overall this new expansion is a great addition to the expanding Universe of Lord of Rings games from Fantasy Flight Games. They have shown that they are able to take the core game and create brand new campaigns for it. This is nothing new for FFG as they have successfully done this with their Arkham Horror Series.

We love the new story and how they’ve been able to add branching narratives to the overall story. This is most noticeable on the scenario choice screens where you can decide which you want to do next. One thing we’d like to see more of is the ability to make decisions within a scenario that then get used later in the campaign. The team at FFG has done this with Descent: Legends of the Dark Act 1.

We also really love when this game surprises us. The new use of the battle map within the mines of Moria is definitely innovative and we’d love to see more of that. In fact, we’d love to see the battle maps to be extended to 4 maps in future expansions. We think there is a lot more that could be done with four maps.

We can’t wait to see what comes of newer expansions. We’re currently playing through the DLC “Haunting of Dale” and have our copy of Spreading War that was just released. We’ll review that later in the year!

If you enjoyed this review and are thinking on picking up your own copy. We have it available in our store!