With 25% of our game group still on their honeymoon, we chose to continue our adventures in Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth, published by Fantasy Flight Games. I talked about this in last week’s Weekly Report, detailing the first adventure in the Shadowed Path expansion, so if missed out on last week’s post, check that out before reading on!

The night started with a “social” map. Several character tokens and exploration tokens were scattered around the map, and the heroes were tasked with gathering information before approaching Thranduil and offering our assistance. Choosing which of us should talk to each person token and interact with each interaction token felt random and arbitrary. Snippets of meaningless fluff and red herrings were interspersed between the characters we actually needed to talk to, in order to gain the necessary talking points to convince Thranduil with allowing us to assist him in dealing with the encroaching evils. This didn’t feel particularity engaging. We tested our skills as necessary, didn’t fail a single time, and even had Legolas treat with his father to get a bonus lore point. It’s disappointing that we spent 40 minutes following red herrings to earn nothing but lore points and to continue the story when this whole chapter really could have just been a paragraph of text.

The next mission was a battle map. A river cut through the terrain and 4 enemies stood on the cliffs over us. We rushed forward to close the distance between us and the enemy, and quickly repaired a bridge. On almost every tile was a spider web that we needed to investigate. In addition to investigating these spider webs, in order to move away from a space containing a spider-web, we needed to pass a strength test. Should we fail to get a single success, we’d forfeit the move action. While this mechanic barely slowed us down, it did make our scouting almost useless. At the beginning of every round, players can scout, they draw a number of cards, may preparing one as a skill and returning the others cards to either the top or bottom of the deck. This gives you knowledge about what’s at the top of your deck and allows you to make an educated guess as to how many successes you can achieve when you go to interact with something, be it an exploration token or attacking an enemy. The webs stole that feature from us, but it didn’t really matter in the end. We searched every spider web on the map to end the mission before the game timer was even half finished.

Playing these two missions back to back was fine. I’m glad the social map wasn’t our only play of the night, as that would have been downright disappointing. I generally enjoy the battle heavy scenarios as it feels good to slay monsters, but having the successes sucked out of your deck just to move around the map was frustrating. Arwen ended up taking a single corruption to force a success. Maybe this was a bad choice, but the ramifications for taking these corruption tokens has yet to reveal itself. Also, as far as we know there’s no way to remove these corruption markers, perhaps their uses will reveal themselves soon.

Over the weekend I broke out some dexterity games. First up was good ol’ Crokinole, this time with 4 people playing in teams of two. I just delight in seeing how different people approach this wonderful game. I really enjoyed playing in teams because sometimes when you’re playing just one on one you and your opponent can get stuck in a situation where neither of you have a good shot on your opponents pucks. By having a teammate sitting across the table from you, it alleviates that problem. A puck that would require a very narrow shot is in plain view of my teammate. Of course, that also means you have no where to hide.

After Crokinole, a Jenga tower was erected. If you’ve never played Jenga before, it’s the dexterity game the induces the most anxiety in me. In the centre of the table a tower consisting stacks of blocks stands tall. The goal of the game is to poke out a block, then place it on the top of the tower, until someone ends up sending the whole tower crashing to the floor. I don’t know what it is about Jenga that causes me to flinch every time someone goes to poke a block, but it’s not a good anxiety in me. For some reason, it’s a favourite of my wife, so I should try to bring it out more often.

To wrap up the night we played Tokyo Highway, published by Itten. In Tokyo Highway everyone is constructing their own highway, zig-zagging around buildings and weaving over and under other roads. For every road that you cross over or under, you get a point, which is represented by a little car that you have to place on your road. The first player to get 10 points is the winner.

Mechanically, each player has a bunch of popsicle sticks and little cylinders, and you just take turns placing a stack of cylinders somewhere on the table, then place a popsicle stick connecting two of your stacks. You cannot merge with your opponents highways, making it easy to know whos road belongs to whom. I really enjoy Tokyo Highway, but it ends up dragging at four players with huge gaps of time inbetween your turns. . And while there are rules for rebuilding the city if someone knocks the road over, it’s just not fun to bring the game to a screeching halt as you all watch the person who failed try and rebuild everyone’s works. We scrap the city and start again if significant damage has been wrought. If you’re interested in reading more about this delightful game, I’ve already reviewed it!

And that’s all I played this week. I did get my copy of Bullet❤️ in the mail this week, so I’m hoping I’ll find time to get that played. Unfortunately I am camping this weekend, so it might not happen. Until next time, have a happy Wednesday!