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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > March 2019 (#28) > Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth

Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth

Embark on an app–powered quest across Tolkien’s fantasy world in a Lord of the Rings adventure that will take you from Mansions of Madness to Middle-earth


“When I was asked to start designing for a Lord of the Rings game, I was deeply excited and deeply terrified,” admits Nathan Hajek.

You can understand his trepidation. Hajek and co-designer Grace Holdinghaus’ The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth is far from the first tabletop game to tackle J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic tale of hobbits, elves, orcs and magical rings. Fantasy Flight Games, the studio at which both developers work, has alone been responsible for a number of games set in the sprawling fantasy world, including its Lord of the Rings living card game, which has been continually expanded since its release eight years ago. Between decades of lore and dozens of games, finding fresh turf to tread in Middle-earth’s already sacred ground isn’t an easy task.

“For so many, so very many, it is the holy grail of fantasy,” Hajek continues. “If not our introduction, it was probably the precursor of our introduction to fantasy. It is deep and wide and lovely. Vast lands and ancient histories. Intimate moments between companions and friends.” Hajek and Holdinghaus have managed to find a corner of Middle-earth to make their own, however.

What makes Journeys in Middle-earth different from what’s come before is its pairing of a boardbased adventure with a companion app. The digital side handles the complex behind-the-scenes work, generating unique map layouts, story events and enemy encounters on the fly, giving the players the freedom to explore the world as they please.

“This game offers a scope of Middle-earth that other games haven’t been able to fully portray because the components needed would be mindboggling,” Holdinghaus enthuses. “With the app on our side, we can do some pretty heavy lifting to offer an experience of the world that feels different and alive each time you play. Enemies behind hidden corners, treasure buried beneath the hills and choices to be made by the heroes enhance that wonderful feeling of being in the story.”

The app-enhanced format is an evolution of Fantasy Flight’s experiments with combining digital and physical in games such as dungeoncrawler Descent: Journeys in the Dark, where the Road to Legend app replaced the antagonistic overlord player, allowing all the humans to face off against the AI together. Hajek acknowledges Journeys in Middle-earth’s title is a deliberate nod to the earlier fantasy adventure game.

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About Tabletop Gaming

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