‘The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game’ Takes You From the Shire to Mount Doom

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Sauron’s shadow has fallen across Middle-earth, and the One Ring must be destroyed. Lead your fellowship from the Shire’s green pastures to Rivendell, survive the Mines of Moria, march on Isengard, and finally reach Mordor. Along the way you must avoid the temptations of the One Ring as you deliver it to the fiery heart of Mount Doom to destroy it once and for all. Now you and your friends and family can relive the adventures of the Frodo, Gandalf, and the rest of the fellowship of the ring in the new game, The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game.

What Is The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game?

The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game is a family friendly cooperative game for 1-4 players, ages 10 and up, and takes about 20 minutes to play each chapter. The game is based on the trilogy of novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Players work together to complete eight chapters, each of which is its own mini-game. It’s currently available exclusively at Target and runs $34.99 for a copy of the game. The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game was designed by Jason Little and Marcus rose and published by Ravensburger, with illustrations by Wigwam Studios and Vlad Rodriquez.

The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game Components

Here is what you get in the box:

  • 7 Character miniatures
  • 1 Adventure game book
  • 1 Corruption track
  • 88 Game cards
  • 52 Counters
  • 4 Reference cards
  • Rulebook
Each miniature comes in its own color. Photo by Michael Knight.

The game comes with seven detailed miniatures, each in a different color. They represent some of the main characters you will be using during the various chapters of the game. They include Frodo, Samwise, Merry, Pippin, Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli

adventure book
The adventure book is the gameboard. Photo by Michael Knight.

The game boards are contained within the adventure game book, which contains all 8 chapters and is made up of thick board book pages. Each chapter has the play area across a two page spread as well as special setup and rules for the chapter as well as the challenges the players need to complete to win the chapter. 

story cards
Story cards are used to complete challenges and move characters. Photo by Michael Knight.

Story cards are used to complete challenges and can also be discarded to move characters. There are six different types of story cards: Courage, Mystery, Adventure, Insight, Warfare, and One Ring. 

special cards
Special cards can provide some powerful abilities to help you complete the challenges. Photo by Michael Knight.

Special cards are kept separate from the story cards at the start of a game. As players complete challenges, they can gain special cards as rewards which are then added to their hand. These earned special cards remain in the players’ story deck from chapter to chapter until the end of the game. However, if you lose a chapter, you do not get to keep any special cards you earned during that chapter. 

plot cards
Plot cards act like a die roll but each number only comes up once. Photo by Michael Knight.

The game comes with 15 plot cards, each with a number from 1 to 15. These are used with the plot chart cards to advance the game. They also act as a timer for the game since if the deck of plot cards runs out, the players must replay the chapter before they can continue to the next chapter in the game. 

plot chart cards
The plot chart cards control the actions of the game against the players. Photo by Michael Knight.

Each chapter has its own plot chart card. Towards the end of each player’s turn, a plot card is drawn and the result is checked against the plot chart card to see what occurs. Think of the plot chart cards as the game playing against the players. 

corruption track
While using the One Ring cards can be helpful, they come at a cost as you must advance the corruption marker along the track. Photo by Michael Knight.

As players use One Ring story cards to complete challenges or move a character, the One Ring token is advanced along the corruption track. If the One Ring ever gets to the final space on the track, the players lose the game. 

Eye of Sauron cards
Nothing good comes when you have to draw an Eye of Sauron card. Photo by Michael Knight.

As the One Ring token advances along the corruption track, there are certain spaces along the track that require the players to draw an Eye of Sauron card. Each of these cards is different, but all have a negative effect on the players. 

Even the counters look great and have some detailed artwork. Photo by Michael Knight.

The game comes with a variety of counters. Almost all of them are specific to the eight chapters. Therefore, you will only use a few at a time.

How to Play The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game

The Goal

The goal of the game is to complete all eight chapters without the One Ring on the corruption track reaching the final space of the track. 


While each chapter has its own special setup instructions, all of them are generally setup the same way. Start off by placing the adventure book in the middle of the play area and turning it to chapter 1 if you are starting a new game. Place three challenge completed counters to the right of the book. Ensure that all special cards are removed from the story card deck. Then shuffle the story cards and place the deck above the adventure book. Shuffle the special cards into a deck and place them to the right of the book. Next place the corruption track above the book with the One Ring corruption marker in the starting space. Shuffle the 5 Eye of Sauron cards and place them face down in a stack next to the corruption track. Shuffle all of the plot cards and place the deck to the left of the book. Now find the plot chart card for the current chapter and place it below the plot deck. Give each player a reference card to complete the common setup. Finally ready the special setup instructions for the chapter at the top left of the adventure book. It will let you know which miniatures and counters to use for that chapter. 

game setup
A three-player game setup and ready to play. Photo by Michael Knight.


The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game is played in turns with each player taking a turn in clockwise order. Turns consist of five steps. The first step allows a player to move a character 1-2 spaces or move two characters one space each. Players do not assume the role of a specific character. Instead they may move any character they wish. They may also choose not to move any character as all. 

The second step, called Storytelling, has five different actions a player make take. You can take any or all of the actions in any order. One action is to trade one card from your hand for a card from another player. You can only do this once per turn. Another action allows you to discard as many cards as you wish from your hand and move one character one space for each card. This can be completed more than once per turn. A third action is to complete a challenge. This usually involves having characters as certain locations and then discarding specific story cards. One Ring story cards can be used as wild cards when completing a challenge. However, this will cause the corruption marker to move a space along the corruption track. Players may also play a special card from their hand during this step or use a One Ring story card from their hand to perform the chapter’s special One Ring ability listed on the chapter page in the adventure book. Using the One Ring ability moves the corruption marker. 

The third step requires the player to draw two cards from the story deck. If the deck ever runs out of cards, shuffle the discard pile to form a new deck. The next step is the Plot. Draw the top card from the plot deck and then check the number on the front of the card with the actions listed on the plot chart card for the chapter. Resolve the corresponding action. If you get to this step and there are no plot cards remaining, the players lose the chapter and must play it again. Finally, the player must discard cards if they have more than six in their hand down to only six. If they discard a One Ring card, then they must move the corruption marker one space along the corruption track. Once a player has completed all five steps, the next player to their left takes a turn. 

There are special rules for each chapter that may affect movement and the actions players can take during the Storytelling step. These vary from chapter to chapter and can always be found along the left side of the adventure book page. 

Game End

The players win a chapter when they have completed all of the challenge. If they run out of plot cards when one must be drawn, they lose the chapter and must attempt it again to move on. Chapters may also have additional ways that players can lose. In order to win the game, the players must complete all eight chapters. If the corruption marker ever reaches the last space, then the players lose the game and must start over at chapter 1. 

players win
The players have completed all of the challenges and won Chapter 1. Photo by Michael Knight.

Why You Should Play The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game

The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game is a perfect game for families. I have always been a fan of cooperative games and they were great to play with my children when they were younger. I really like how this game tells the story of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and lets players play out eight of the main events. Whether or not players have read the novels or seen the movies, the game is enjoyable to play. In fact, the game may even create an interest in watching the movies or reading the books in children. While there are many games out on the market themed after The Lord of the Rings, this one is the most approachable for new and younger players and does the best job of portraying the storyline. While the suggest age is 10 years and older, children a bit younger could still enjoy this game with the help of an adult or older sibling. The cooperative nature makes it very easy to teach this game and help younger players get into it. 

Another aspect that makes this game a good choice is that is can be setup quickly. The main rules are fairly simple and the key elements are contained on the reference cards. Any rules specific to a chapter is right on the gameboard for that chapter in the adventure book. Since the plot cards limit the number of turns, each chapter only takes about 20 minutes to play. Therefore, if you lose a chapter and need to replay it again, you don’t feel like you wasted a lot of time. Also, with a short time for each chapter, you may be able to play several chapters in a sitting. If you want to stop and play at a later time, just keep the story deck with the special cards you have obtained separate from the other special cards and you are ready to play next time. Having short games or games that can easily be broken down into parts are great for families.

Chapter 2
Starting Chapter 2. Photo by Michael Knight.

If you don’t have anyone else to play with, you can also play solo. The solo rules follow all the normal rules with the exception that there is an additional hand of six story cards with which the player can trade.  Since trading is an important part of completing challenges, this is a great way to provide that opportunity to the solo player. In fact, I found the solo game a bit more challenging since that additional hand of six cards does not draw or discard cards during the game. It instead acts as a way to access some cards at the start and then save cards for later so they don’t fill up your hand. This works great when you need those cards for later challenges and don’t want to risk discarding them and not being able to get them again later. 

Whether playing solo or with my family, I enjoyed playing The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game. This game has great art and just looks great on the table. The fact that is quick to learn, easy to teach, and fast to setup while letting players choose how long they want to play at one sitting by dividing the game into chapters means that this game will be hitting the table more frequently. It makes a great after dinner game where you can play a chapter each evening until you win the game. Finally, I really like the storytelling feel of the game where each chapter offers unique challenges to overcome while players interact and follow the story. If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings and would like to play a casual cooperative game that lets you feel like a part of the story, then I recommend The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game as a great addition to your game collection. 

For more information, visit The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Book Game page at the Target website!

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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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