Battle of the Five Armies Review
In 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien released the first edition of a bit of fantasy story called The Hobbit, centring around Bilbo Baggins. That book then received a few sequels in the form of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Since then, there’s no need for an introduction to the series. It has seen plenty of different iterations in media.
Game Time: 90-120min
Release Year: 2020
From video games to blockbuster movies, The Hobbit licensing definitely guarantees a degree of success. Board games are no different, and designers Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi, and Francesco Nepitello have a brilliant offering in The Battle of Five Armies.
The game is published by Ares Games and requires two people to play and pits the players in the role of the Elvenking, the Dwarves of Dain Ironfoot, and the Men of the Lake, fighting against the hordes of Bolg, son of Azog. The whole scenario is based on the conclusion of The Hobbit.
Even though it might sound like a game involving five people, the battle of the five armies is strictly a two-person affair. One player will be in charge of the Free People, and the other will control the Shadow armies. Each player will rely on the same rules and mechanics during the game. However, their goals and approaches will differ entirely. For example, the player in charge of the shadow armies needs to control 10 victory points worth of settlements. On the other hand, the free armies have to hold out until the fate track ends or prevent the shadow player from conquering the settlements in a certain amount of time.
The game features a game board, dice, and a pile of miniatures to represent the various different forces that are under their control. Each of the sculptures is well designed and features a surprising amount of detail.
There are also different decks of cards that players will draw from. The cards are divided into story cards and shared event cards. Both players will draw from their respective story cards and event decks.
It’s easy to understand the game by dividing it into multiple different phases. The first phase in the game is essentially the setup. Both players will collect their action dice and then draw two cards. One card will come from the story deck, and the other will be from the shared event deck. After that, the free people’s player will decide the number of generals they’re willing to activate. Each general will have a different ability that the player can use after activating. However, there’s a price to pay for every general that you activate.
After activating the generals, the game moves into the next phase, where the shadow player must draw a fate tile from the container. These tiles will contain numbers on them that denote how much the fate tile will move. For example, if the fate marker reaches spot 15, the free people will win. The free people’s player will also receive 4-character cards at different times along the fate track.
The fate tracker phase will end with the shadow leadership phase. In this phase, the shadow player will place leadership tokens according to the number of dice they have. They can then use these tokens to move their armies faster or re-roll the dice during combat.
The next phase is the action round, where the brunt of the game will occur. Each player will take turns rolling all of their action dice. The dice can present six different results that dictate the flow of the game.
After this round ends, the game starts from phase 1 and goes through the entire process again until one of the players achieves their goals.
While it takes a lot of inspiration from the war of the rings, it fails to live up to the brilliance of its older brother. It’s a really good board game, but it’s not on the epic levels of its predecessor. Ultimately, the battle of the five armies isn’t very complex, but it does manage to capture the whole feeling of the battle perfectly.
While the game can take around 90-120 minutes to finish, it doesn’t seem like a very long game. Each of the different phases passes by very quickly, and the action remains tense until the very end. Even though the game isn’t a very complex war game, the action will have you gripping the edge of your seat until the very end.
Despite these flaws, it was great to play this game of Tetris. We’ve been a fan of the game Tetris since we were kids, and it’s so great to see this happen in real life! The entire thing is semi-transparent and looks fantastic under the right lighting conditions. At your next board game night, you’ll have everyone asking where you got such a cool game.
Plus, the game only takes about 15 minutes which means you can use it as a warm-up before getting started on something more challenging or intense or play it repeatedly with different players! Teaching someone how to start is simple as well because there aren’t too many rules – and most people are already familiar with Tetris.
We also need to pay heed to the fact that this version of Tetris is a great way to get family time, and it’s perfect for when you’re out on the go. You can play this game anywhere without Internet access, so there will never be an issue with not being able to finish your round! It also saves your eyes from spending a large amount of time staring at a screen.
After trying out the two-player version of Tetris, we can say that it was very easy to set up and understand. It can be hard sliding pieces into their respective notches, though, because if you angle them wrong, then they won’t go in place! But with some practice on your end, you’ll soon find yourself moving on to the advanced games.
It’s equally fun to play as the army of the free people and as the shadow army. The designers of the game show excellent knowledge and respect for its source, from the brilliantly designed hero characters, to how they operate in the game. Throughout every game you play, the battle of five armies will have you feeling like you’re in a battle for Middle Earth!