Lay the gameboard out on the table. Set the Adventure cards face down near the game board.
Make sure that the 2 Wild Cards are not in the Territory card deck. Sort the Territory cards into Good cards (grey shield), Neutral (no shield), and Evil (black shield). Shuffle each deck separately and keep them face down near the board.
Each player takes the set of plastic tokens of their colour. Yellow and Green are the Free Peoples while Red and Black represent Sauron's forces. (In a 3-player game, one player will control the Free Peoples while the other two will represent Sauron).
Each player will start with a number of battalions. 2 players start with 60; 3 players start with 52 and 4 players start with 45. (Note: rules on 2-player game may be referred to in the rulebook and are not included here). Smaller figures represent 1 battalion, mounted figures represent 3 and large figures represent 5. Put these figures in front of you. Also, take your 2 leaders (shield figures) and keep them in front of you.
In a 4 player game, deal half the Evil Territory cards to each Sauron player. Likewise, deal half the Good Territory cards to each Free Peoples player. In a 3 player game, deal Territory cards similarly to the 4 player game, except the Sauron players also get half of the Neutral deck each as well.
Each player puts 1 Battalion into each Territory that is listed on their cards. After all players have done this, shuffle all the Territory cards back together (including the 2 wild cards).
Each player rolls one die, with the highest roll going first. This player places one battalion in a territory that is vacant. This player now owns this territory. Continue in a circle with each player placing one figure into a vacant territory. This is done until all 64 territories have been filled. (It is okay if a player owns one more territory than another at this point).
After all territories have been claimed, the next player places a reinforcement battalion into a territory they already control. Again, this is done in a circle, with each player placing one battalion, until they no longer have any left.
After all players have placed all their battalions, you must place one Leader in a territory you control.
Players go around in a circle (as usual) until all Leaders have been placed. You cannot place two Leaders in the same territory. Leaders will give combat bonuses during the game.
Deal 1 facedown Territory card to each player.
Deal 4 Adventure cards to each player. If any say 'Play Immediately', the players return any of these cards and receive new Adventure cards until they have 4 cards that do not say 'Play Immediately'.
Afterwards, shuffle these Immediate cards back into the Adventure deck and place the deck facedown near the board.
Place the One Ring in the Shire. This Ring represents the location of the Fellowship.
Each player rolls a die. Highest roller will go first.
Object of the Game
The war between the Free Peoples of Middle-earth and Mordor are upon you. Decide the fate of the peoples of Middle-earth.
The player (or team) that scores the most points before the One Ring reaches Mount Doom will win.
Each turn has seven parts:
- Receive and place reinforcements
- Fortify Position
- Collect a Territory Card
- Collect an Adventure Card
- Replace a Leader
- Move the Fellowship
I. Receive And Place Reinforcements
Place 1 battalion into each territory with a stronghold that you control. Strongholds are those symbols in a territory that gold in colour.
Count the total number of territories you control and divide that number by 3 (ignoring remainders).
This is the number of reinforcements you receive. Note that you can never receive less than 3 battalions.
If you control an entire region (that is, you control all the territories within one region) you get bonus battalions. A chart on the gameboard shows how many bonus battalions you get for controlling regions. Add these battalions to your pile of reinforcements.
You also can get reinforcements by turning in Territory cards. If you have collected at least three cards that show all different symbols or all of the same symbol, you can turn in these cards for bonus reinforcements. Note that the number of reinforcements you receive depends on the type of symbols that shows on your three cards. 3 Elven archers = 4 battalions; 3 Dark Riders = 6; 3 Eagles = 8; one of each symbol = 10. Wild cards can be used as any type of card. If you have 5 or more cards at the beginning of your turn, you must turn in a set.
Place the reinforcements that you just received into the territories that you control. You can either place them all in one territory or spread them out into multiple territories. You must place all of the reinforcements that you received at this point.
You may attack adjacent enemy territories. Attacking is always optional.
Select one of your territories that contains at least 2 battalions (one must always stay behind). Note that Leaders are not considered battalion pieces. They only give attack and defense bonuses and must move with a battalion.
Select one, two, or three of your battalions to attack. Your invading force may be larger than three troops, but no more than 3 can attack at one time.
If your leader is available in the attacking territory, you receive a +1 bonus to your highest attack die.
The defender chooses how many battalions will defend: 1 or 2 battalions.
If the defender has a Leader in the defending territory, they receive a +1 bonus to their highest defense die. As well, if you are defending a Stronghold, you receive a +1 bonus to your highest defense die. As such, with both a Leader and defending a Stronghold, you receive +2 on your die.
Each side rolls 1 die for each battalion committed to battle.
Both sides order their dies from highest to lowest. Compare your highest die to your opponent's highest die. The higher number wins, with defender winning ties.
The loser removes a battalion from the territory.
Compare your second dice. The loser removes one battalion. If there is no further die to compare to, then ignore that die.
If the defender still has battalions in the territory you just attacked, you may attack it again. This attack is optional. You may also select another territory to attack.
If the defender has no more battalions in that territory, you must move the battalions that you just attacked with into that territory. You may also move additional battalions from the attacking territory, if you like. Remember, you must always leave at least one battalion behind. No territory can ever be left empty. Fully complete one attack and move before commencing another attack.
If you attacked from a territory with a Leader, that Leader must also move into the new territory. If a Leader was located in a territory that was just defeated, that Leader is removed from the board.
Players received Mission Cards at certain points during the game. If you have moved into a territory or were already in a territory that shows a Site of Power that matches with one of your Mission Cards, turn that card in to collect its reward.
You can eliminate another play if you defeat their last battalion on the board. As a reward, you get that player's Territory Cards. You do not get their Adventure cards; they are immediately discarded.
Note that if you have more than 5 Territory cards now, you must turn them in for reinforcements.
You may now place these reinforcements into your territories.
You may play as many Adventure cards as you want during your turn. There are several different types. Mission Cards allow you to claim rewards when entering a territory with a leader that includes a Site of Power. Turn them in when you can to claim your reward. Power cards help you during combat. Make sure to keep Adventure cards as they are worth points at the end of the game.
III. Fortify Your Position
Take as many battalions as you like from one of your territories and move them to one other connected territory. Remember not to leave a territory empty. You can only move battalions from one territory to another if you can connect them through a line of friendly territories.
You can not move battalions through enemy territories. When moving your Leader, make sure it does not end its move in the same territory as your second Leader.
IV. Collect A Territory Card
If you have conquered at least one territory, you may take one (only one) Territory card from the top of the deck and add it to your hand. These can be traded in later for reinforcement battalions.
V. Collect An Adventure Card
If at any time during your turn you conquered a territory with a battalion that included one of your leaders, you may draw an Adventure Card from the top of the deck. If it is an Event card, follow the direction immediately.
Then, draw a new Adventure Card. Continue to draw Adventure cards until you draw either a Mission or Power card. If by drawing a new Adventure card your hand of cards goes over four, you must discard back down to four. Once a card is drawn, no other cards may be played. As well, only one Adventure card may be drawn per turn, regardless of the number of territories you took over with sites of power.
VI. Replace A Leader
If you have no Leader pieces on the board, place one Leader into any of your territories.
VII. Move The Fellowship
The One Ring represents the position of the Fellowship in Middle-Earth. At the end of each player's turn, the Fellowship follows their path, ending in a new territory each time. Some territories have a die symbol on them.
Before attempting to move the Fellowship, the current player must roll one die. If the result is 4 or more, the Fellowship may continue, if the roll is 3 or less, the Fellowship must stay there until the next player attempts to move them out with a roll of the die as before.
End Of The Game
When the Fellowship reaches Mount Doom, one die must be thrown. On a roll of 3 or higher, the Ring is destroyed. Otherwise, at the end of the next player's turn, they must again attempt to destroy the Ring by rolling the die as before. Once the Ring is destroyed, the game ends and scoring takes place. Each player receives:
1 Point for every territory they control
2 Points for every stronghold they control
Points for Adventure Cards that have been played (the number of points shows on each card). Points are not awarded for Adventure Cards still in hand.
Points for each region that is completely control. Points are equal to the battalion bonus of each region.
The player with the highest number of points wins.