In War of the Ring, Frodo and Sam are inseparable and are represented collectively as the Ring-bearers. As told in The Lord of the Rings, the two Hobbits are accompanied by a number of Companions, chosen from among the Free Peoples of Middle-earth.
These Characters together form the Fellowship of the Ring. While Frodo and Sam are bent on reaching Mount Doom to complete their quest, the other Companions have a choice: they can stay and protect the Fellowship, or, in time, leave the Fellowship in order to help the Free Peoples of the West in their struggle against the Shadow.
Fellowship Figures and Counters
The Fellowship of the Ring is represented in the game by a number of figures and counters.
The Ring-bearers figure (Frodo & Sam) indicates the last known position of the Fellowship. It is placed in the region where the Fellowship was last declared or revealed.
At the start of the game, it is placed in Rivendell. Whenever rules or Event cards refer to the current location of the Fellowship, it is determined by the position of this figure, regardless of the position of the Fellowship Progress counter (see below).
The Fellowship Progress counter shows how far the Fellowship has traveled from its last known position and indicates whether the Fellowship is Hidden or Revealed.
This counter is placed on the Fellowship Track on the game board and is moved a step forward each time the Fellowship advances.
The Companion figures and counters (seven individual Characters) represent the heroes of the Free Peoples. Initially their figures and counters are placed in the Fellowship of the Ring Box on the game board to indicate that they are all part of the Fellowship.
When a Companion leaves the Fellowship, his figure is moved from the box to the map and his counter is removed from the Fellowship Box.
The Ring-bearers figure depicts Frodo and Sam together, since in War of the Ring these two Hobbits can never be separated from one another or leave the Fellowship. Hence, the position of the Ring-bearers is always the one indicated by this figure.
The growing burden of carrying the One Ring to its destruction is represented by the Corruption of the Ring- bearers, a numerical score that starts at zero points but can increase to 12.
Upon reaching 12 Corruption points, the Ring-bearers are immediately assumed to have failed in their mission, succumbing to the power of the One Ring, and the game is won by the Shadow.
The Free Peoples player keeps track of the Corruption of the Ring-bearers by moving the Corruption counter along the Fellowship Track on the game board (which also contains the Fellowship Progress counter), placing it upon the corresponding numbered space.
Companion Character Cards
Each Companion and his abilities are described on his Character card. At the beginning of the game, all Companions are in the Fellowship and their cards are stacked together to form the Fellowship deck (set aside the cards of Gollum, Aragorn - Heir to Isildur and Gandalf the White).
The deck is placed in the Guide of the Fellowship Box on the game board. As long as a Companion is in the Fellowship, his corresponding card is left in the Fellowship deck.
When a Companion leaves the Fellowship, his card is removed from the deck and placed on the table in front of the Free Peoples player. Each Character card contains the following information about the depicted Companion:
His Level, a number that is used during the Hunt for the Ring and when moving the Companion.
His Nation icon, indicating which Nations the Companion is able to activate.
His Special Ability that is only in effect when he is the Guide of the Fellowship (see later).
His Special Ability that is in effect after he has left the Fellowship.
His Leadership Rating used in battle.
The Guide of the Fellowship
One of the Companions in the Fellowship is considered to be the Guide of the group during its quest. At the beginning of each game of War of the Ring that Companion is Gandalf the Grey.
The Guide must always be the remaining Companion who has the highest Level. In case of a tie in Levels, the Free Peoples player can choose the Guide between the tying Companions.
Example: During the first turn of the game, the Fellowship player may replace Gandalf as guide with Strider, since both are Level 3 Companions.
The Free Peoples player may nominate a new Guide at the end of each Fellowship phase, or when, during the course of a turn, the composition of the Fellowship changes (due to a Character being separated or eliminated from the Fellowship).
Even when changing guides during the Fellowship phase, however, only a Character that has or shares the highest Level may be designated as the Guide.
The Character card of the Companion acting as the Guide is always kept as the topmost card of the Fellowship deck, so that his special abilities are readily accessible.
When a Companion is acting as the Guide, only his special ability that is marked "Guide:" (if present) can be employed. Any other special abilities listed on the card are not available, as they apply only after that Companion leaves the Fellowship.
Gollum as a Guide
If all Companions have left the Fellowship, the Ring- bearers are alone and Gollum becomes the Guide of the Fellowship. When this happens, the Gollum Character card is placed in the Guide of the Fellowship Box.
The Fellowship Track
To keep track of the secret movements of the Ring-bearers, players employ the Fellowship Track.
The Ring-bearers figure is used on the game board to mark the last known position of the Fellowship, but only the Fellowship Progress counter is advanced on the Fellowship Track every time the Fellowship moves.
The higher the number reached on the Fellowship Track, the farther from its last known position the Fellowship is at that moment.
Moving The Fellowship
During the Action Resolution phase, the Free Peoples player may advance the Fellowship Progress counter by using a Character result on an Action die, or by using certain Event cards.
Every time the Fellowship moves, the Fellowship Progress counter is advanced one step on the Fellowship Track (keeping the Progress counter on the Hidden side).
After each time the Fellowship Progress counter moves, the Shadow player has a chance to Hunt for the moving Fellowship. The Dark Lord of Mordor hopes to regain his precious Ring by corrupting the Ring-bearers, killing the Companions, or, at the very least, locating the whereabouts of the Fellowship.
If the Fellowship moves more than once in a turn, the Hunt becomes increasingly dangerous: every time that an Action die is used to move the Fellowship, that die is added to the Hunt Box after the Hunt has been completed.
Exception: When the Free Peoples player moves the Fellowship using an Event card, the Action die used to play the card is not added to the Hunt Box.
Any Action dice that the Free Peoples player places in the Hunt Box are returned to him at the beginning of the next turn.
Locating The Fellowship
The numbered steps on the Fellowship Track represent the distance (measured in regions) traveled by the Fellowship from its last known position (the region where the Ring- bearers figure is located).
The actual position of the Fellowship is determined only if one of two things happen:
The Free Peoples player decides to declare the position of the Fellowship, or
A Hunt for the Ring is successful and reveals the Fellowship.
Both circumstances cause the Ring-bearers figure to move to a new position on the game board and the Fellowship Progress counter to be reset to '0.'
When the Ring-bearers figure is moved on the game board, it cannot cross a black border (which denotes impassable terrain).
Note: if the Fellowship Progress counter is on step '0' of the Fellowship Track when declared or revealed, the Fellowship must remain in the same region as before (as, in fact, it has not moved).
There are important differences between "declaring" and "revealing" the Fellowship that need further explaining.
Fellowship declares its own Position
If the Fellowship is Hidden (the Progress counter shows the Hidden side up), its position can be declared by the Free Peoples player during the Fellowship phase.
This declaration usually happens because the Free Peoples player wants to have the Ring-bearers heal from Corruption in a City or Stronghold, wants to activate a Nation, or wants to use an Event card that requires the Ring-bearers to be in a specific place.
When the Fellowship is declared, the Free Peoples player may immediately move the Ring-bearers figure a number of regions (from its last known position), equal to or less than the number on the Fellowship Track indicated by the position of the Fellowship Progress counter. (The Free Peoples player may choose to leave the Ring-bearers figure in its current position, if he wants).
Then, the Free Peoples player resets the Fellowship Progress counter, moving it back to the '0' step of the Fellowship Track. The Fellowship Progress counter remains Hidden side up.
Example: The Free Peoples player, during the Fellowship phase of the fourth game turn, decides to declare the position of the Fellowship. The last known position of the Fellowship, and thus the location of the Ring-bearers figure, is in Rivendell and the Fellowship Progress counter is at '5.'
The player moves the Ring-bearers through Fords of Bruinen, Hollin, Moria, and Dimrill Dale and into Lorien. The Fellowship Progress counter is returned to the '0' step of the Fellowship Track. The Fellowship is still Hidden, in the safety of the golden wood of Lorien.
If the Ring-bearers suffered Corruption, one Corruption point could now be healed as the Fellowship is in a Free Peoples Stronghold.
Note: The Fellowship may enter or leave a besieged Stronghold freely.
Fellowship is revealed by a hunt for the Ring
If the Fellowship is Hidden, its position can be revealed by the Shadow player as a result of a successful Hunt, or if the Shadow Player plays certain Event cards.
When the Fellowship is revealed, turn the Fellowship Progress counter to its Revealed side, after which the Free Peoples player must move the Ring-bearers figure (as described in the previous section), except that this movement can never end in a region containing a Free Peoples Stronghold or City controlled by the Free Peoples.
Important: Once the Fellowship has been revealed, it cannot be moved by the Free Peoples player using a Character Action die until it is Hidden again.
Moreover, a Revealed Fellowship is more vulnerable to certain Shadow Event cards aimed at hurting the Ring- bearers or hindering the Fellowship's progress.
Example: During the second game turn, a successful Hunt reveals the position of the Fellowship. The last known position of the Fellowship was in Rivendell and the Fellowship Progress counter is at '3' on the Fellowship Track.
The Free Peoples player could move the Ring-bearers through Fords of Bruinen and Hollin and into Moria, but moving into the Moria region (with its Shadow Stronghold) would mean drawing an additional Hunt tile.
So, the Free Peoples player decides instead to move the Ring- bearers through Fords of Bruinen and High Pass and into Goblin's Gate. The Fellowship Progress counter is put on the '0' step of the Fellowship Track, and flipped to the Revealed side. The Fellowship must be Hidden before it may move again.
The Fellowship in Shadow Strongholds
When the Fellowship is revealed, and its path traced from its last known position, if the Fellowship moves through, moves from, moves into, or remains stationary in a Shadow Stronghold still controlled by the Shadow player, then a Hunt tile is immediately drawn as if a Hunt has been successful.
If the path is traced through more than one Shadow Stronghold, one Hunt tile is drawn for each Stronghold involved.
This drawing of a Hunt tile is done only if the Fellowship is revealed by the Shadow player. Moreover, it is in addition to any other effects of a successful Hunt.
Hiding The Fellowship
The Free Peoples player can use a Character result on an Action die during the Action Resolution phase (or can play an appropriate Event card), to hide a Revealed Fellowship, turning the Fellowship Progress counter to its Hidden side.
Note that using a Character Action die to hide the Fellowship does not allow it to also move during that action (and the used die is not added to the Hunt Box). The Free Peoples player must later use another Character die to move the Hidden Fellowship once again.
Remember that it is necessary for the Fellowship to be Hidden in order for it to move.
Healing The Ring-bearer
The Ring-bearers can receive some relief from the burden of the Ring by resting in an appropriate sanctuary.
Thus, if during the Fellowship phase the Fellowship is declared in a region that contains a Free Peoples City or Stronghold not under enemy control, one point of Corruption is immediately removed (to a minimum of zero Corruption). The Free Peoples player adjusts the position of the Corruption counter on the Fellowship Track accordingly.
If the Fellowship remains in a City or Stronghold for several turns, during the Fellowship phase of each turn it is possible to declare them in that region and heal one Corruption each time.
Mordor is the realm of the Dark Lord. Its mountains are almost impossible to climb and its passes are well guarded. Therefore, some of the normal Fellowship rules do not apply there.
Sooner or later during most games, the Fellowship should eventually reach either the region of Morannon or Minas Morgul. It is mandatory that the Fellowship is in either of these locations during a Fellowship phase to begin the last part of the journey to Mount Doom.
Separating Companions from the Fellowship
While a Companion remains in the Fellowship, he may not have any influence on the game except for his "Guide" ability (if he is the Guide) and for his influence on the Hunt for the Ring.
To participate in battles and in the politics of Middle-earth, he must be separated from the Fellowship.
During the Action Resolution phase, the Free Peoples player can separate one Companion (or a group of Companions) from the Fellowship by using a Character Action die result (unless the Fellowship is on the Mordor Track, where this is prohibited).
When a Companion separates from the Fellowship, the figure of the separated Companion is moved from the Fellowship Box to the region on the map where the Ring- bearers are located.
The Companion may then move a number of regions up to the number of the step of the Fellowship Track the Fellowship Progress counter is on, plus his Companion Level. If the Free Peoples player separates a group of Companions, he moves their figures together to one region that can be reached by the Companion with the highest Level in the group.
The movement of separated Companions follows the same rules as that of Character movement, as outlined on page 24. Note that if the Ring-bearers figure is currently located in a region containing a Stronghold under siege that is controlled by the Free Peoples, the Companion(s) will separate into the Stronghold and may not leave.
When separating Companions, the Free Peoples player removes their Character cards from the Fellowship deck and removes the Companion counters from the Fellowship Box as well.
Example: The Fellowship's last known position is in Rivendell, and the Fellowship Progress counter is currently on the fifth step of the Fellowship Track. The Free Peoples player decides to separate Legolas (Level 2) and Meriadoc (Level 1) as a group.
Legolas and Meriadoc can be moved up to 7 regions (5+2) from Rivendell. The player decides to move them together to the Woodland Realm.
If the Guide of the Fellowship is separated from the Fellowship, one of the highest Level Companions remaining in the Fellowship becomes the new Guide (or Gollum becomes the Guide, if all the Companions have left).
Once a Companion separates from the Fellowship, he can never rejoin.