"LotR: Journeys in Middle-earth" - anyone love it?

So I’m just about ready to forgive FFG for some of their past misdeeds against me (Game of Thrones 2nd ed lcg, I’m looking at you) and I’m currently enjoying solo/co-op a lot (including the very underrated Marvel Champions).

One I’ve been considering is LotR JiME, but some reviewers have said it’s not worth it. NPI said the enemies are just differently sized damage sponges, and most of the rewards are the same inspiration tokens every time.

Has anyone played it? Is it fun, or does it get repetitive? The theme will definitely work for me, but not if the underlying game is paper-thin and essentially always the same after you’ve played it once.


Hrmm… I did actually enjoy Game of Thrones… :grimacing:

But I enjoy a wide variety of games, so maybe I am not best to judge.

I also enjoyed playing LotR: Journeys, the game is fun with a group of people and choices are (somewhat) meaningful. Then again: it’s difficult to ‘explain’ the merits of a game, why it worked for us maybe makes it so that it doesn’t work for you.

On the subject of combat you mentioned: I fear it isn’t as intelligent or strategic as in, for example Gloomhaven. But if you refer to combat in this game as “different damage size sponges”, I believe a lot of other games’ combat would qualify as well. Replay value might be an issue, we played it extensively for some nights but it hasn’t been touched since that period so we kind of “grew over it”. In the end I guess I am mostly on board with the NPI review. It is fun but not seriously good or anything.

However, if you want to try an almost similar boardgame experience with an app and a narrative that actually succeeds in keeping you interested and involved in whats going on: I suggest you try Mansions of Madness 2nd Ed. instead.


Yeah, I loved GoT 2nd, until time went on and it became obvious they had no interest in balancing it! Absolutely gorgeous, great mechanics, but “If you have X card you win” and “this faction never wins” just became too big for me.

I’m seeing reviews for the LotR big expansion box which has new characters (including Gandalf and Arwen) and an entirely new scenario, which might help with replay value. It’s almost the same price as the core set, but it’s also got nearly the same amount of content! So now I’m wondering if that might keep it fresh, if I know in advance it’s going to be an ongoing money sink :slight_smile:


So, opening disclaimers:

  1. I work at a game store (I’m a writer, but editing and cover art is expensive)
  2. I own a lot of games I wouldn’t otherwise because of that employee discount (the store I work at is already priced extremely competitively, and then I get about 20-40% off cover price on top of that)
  3. I am a huge FFG fanboi.

So, with all that stated: I own Journeys, and I would happily recommend it (and often have) with a few warning caveats.

First, my favourite RPG-lite board game is Imperial Assault, the same fundamental game in the FFG RPG-lite series (Mansions of Madness, Descent 2nd Ed, Imperial Assault, Journeys in Middle-Earth). The main difference between the games boils down to campaign length: Mansions has no campaign but the best variety of single-shot missions, Imperial Assault has a 5 mission campaign (with “interstitial” choose-your-own-adventure decisions), Descent is 10 or 12 missions long as memory serves, and Journeys is 14 missions (albeit of variable length… some are 30min missions, most are 2-3 hours).

But they’re all basically the same behind the curtain. Which is a good thing! The rules have been refined and cleaned up a lot with each iteration, and as much as I love IA (for its RPG-mode, the skirmish game is weak), it’s mostly because of the setting over any specific “betterness” of the game itself.

Now, all that stated: my co-op gaming group played through the original JiME campaign, one game a week every week for 3 months. It was fun! We had fun. There’s no way you do everything on a given map, and while the “main” notes are the same (ie: the first mission you have to catch some thieves)where they are hiding and what the map looks like seems to be mostly randomized. So there is some replayability in there by default, plus an additional campaign they have released already and a 3rd on the way.

That stated, there are a few weaknesses. I wouldn’t say what you pointed out is one in my opinion (the enemies feel significantly different, with different tactics and choices to tackle them most effectively), but the heroes don’t have the same “campaign arc” that some other RPG-games have. Aragorn starts as an orc-blender (insert orcs at one side, get orc-pulp at the other end) and he ends the game as a slightly-more-efficient orc-blender. That’s not to say you can’t lose a mission, you certainly can, but it’s usually time-related (the game pushes a brutal pace that takes a few missions to get used to) and not bad guys as threats (which is thematically appropriate most of the time… goblins and orcs are speedbumps, cave trolls and bosses are big speedbumps). It’s unfortunate that the game has no option for a human controlled bad guy (I’ll be honest, I recommend all of them as app-driven anyway, but the lack of OPTION is really unfortunate), and it is expensive on a per-mission basis compared to Gloomhaven (I mean, so is everything).

Last comment: I can recite all 5 missions from the default IA campaign by memory because they were AWESOME… that last mission? chef kiss
I remember about 2 or 3 of the JiME campaign missions that were particularly strong (there’s a great one that takes place at an Inn which was brilliant). I remember exactly 1 Gloomhaven mission total (it has slimes). To me, this is the more critical factor in your game selection: do you want a lot of pretty-good missions, or a smaller selection of artisanally selected choice missions? JiME is a pretty good halfway point between the two extremes of IA to Gloomhaven.


I think I’m sold :slight_smile: I love FFG’s production values, the card art here is amazing, and I’ve just seen that they added an “adventure mode” which reduces the frantic pace and lets you explore a bit more without having to constantly run because the threat level is so unforgiving.

That and the promise of more missions/expansions seems very worth it.

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