Under the Mallorn Tree with Elbren - The Tolkien Geek Barometer--Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit Game Review
I am a Tolkien geek; most everyone who knows me, is aware of this fact. Hmm, actually everyone who knows me is aware of this fact. Truth is, I'm actually a Tolkien snob, self professed and proud of it, and I've been known to go on and on for hours if the subject of Tolkien or Middle Earth arises. Be warned: I can also get very passionate about it and occasionally the "on and on" part could be described as a rant. Albeit, they are knowledgeable "rants", but "rants" nonetheless.
So be it.
So, when my Lord of the Rings geeky friends invited me to play Lord f the Rings Trivial Pursuit with them this past weekend, they were (understandably) worried that I would either dominate the game and/or go off on a few rants about the questions..and most likely, the possible answers provided by the game.
On the eve of this much anticipated gaming event, I was presented with a bottle of honey mead, not as a gift, necessarily, but a designed deterrent for both my memory and my emotional outbursts.
The game took place just this past Saturday night, in Toronto, Canada, where we had a few Gathering of the Fellowship meetings. We had spent the day immersed in our upcoming convention, (complete with brainstorming sessions for our Tolkien Jeopardy categories and some specific questions.) We were ready to split into teams and give the new Trivial Pursuit Lord of the Rings game a "go".
We poured the mead generously and gathered round the table. Splitting into three teams of two Tolkien geeks each, we prepared for the upcoming melee. The game itself is VERY cool: the figurines are quite nice, complete with the LOTR designed board and category names, and you have a One Ring and Nazgul available if you want to play the LOTR specific version of the game.
What's the LOTR specific version of the game? Well, it's also quite cool. The first person (or team) to answer a question correctly gets the One Ring draped over their play piece and you become the "Ringbearer". You carry the One Ring around with you until you fail to answer a question correctly. At this point, you roll the dice again and the Nazgul begins to move and follow the Ringbearer. If he catches you, you lost a "pie". However, the next person to answer a question correctly, gets the One Ring, and when/if they miss, they roll and the Nazgul begins following them.
Did you notice that I used the word "if" they miss a question? It's a big "if", mellyn. For movie geeks, the game, quite frankly, is child's play. Easy. TOO easy. In fact, we were bored; even the Peter Jackson worshippers were laughing at the questions.
Now, this says one of two things:
1) We need to get a life and stop watching the movies so often.
2) We are absolutely brilliant and have photographic memories.
Perhaps a bit of both, even.
Case in point: the first team, consisting of two confirmed and informed movie fans, (shall we say "Revisionists"?), got EVERY piece of pie and the One Ring before anyone else even got the chance to play.
Sidenote: I drank A LOT of mead while waiting for their turn to expire. And I was sipping.
My team partner and I, (self professed Tolkien -Purist but also movie fans), got almost all of our pies and the One Ring, and the Nazgul chasing us, (thanks to the first team's eventual wrong answer), before we got one of the "stupid movie questions". In fact, honest to Eru, it wasn't just me using that phrase, "stupid movie question", before the game was halted. Some of the questions are...well...just dumb.
So, the turn passed to the final team. They are self professed movie, hardcore fans and, within that turn, their only turn, they won the game. Fair and square.
Make sure you're counting correctly: Each team got one turn. Period. Then the game was over.
Now, take into account, we ARE all Tolkien geeks. We are indeed well informed. We obviously have pretty darn good memories as some of the questions are really movie scene specific, (How many arrows does Aragorn shoot in the Tomb of Balin? How many sides to the well in Balin's Tomb? Who, of the Fellowship, wears full fingered gloves?)
Then you have the "stupid questions": What shape is the One Ring. I kid you not, it WAS a question.
Some of the "harder" questions even give you three possible answers from which to choose.
Now, this is not to say that the game is not fun and that it won't be challenging for...some. You only have to read the reviews at www.amazon.com to gather that information. But, I am telling you, unless you were wearing blinders while watching the movies, this game is WAY too easy for you to feel the least bit challenged.
To be fair, we could say that, based on each team getting one turn during our game and all of the pies that we acquired, probably 1 in 10 questions is even slightly challenging. Even that slightly challenging question will probably be missed due to either book/movie differences, (go with the movie answer), or due to a large consumption of honey mead.
Now, we did play LOTR Monopoly as we still had lots of time on our hands after the Trivial Pursuit game, and we did enjoy Monopoly. It's good ole Monopoly with strongholds, castles, LOTR Pewter game figures, and LOTR cards, and properties. It was nostalgic in many ways, and we had a good time. One of the funniest episodes during the Monopoly game was discovery that the "get out of jail" card is actually a "Faramir has a change of heart" card. No kidding.
Of course, when we decided to put The Two Towers on the television as a background and atmosphere enhancer, we quickly abandoned the Monopoly game and settled in to watch the film. Once again, great dialogue was heard as the Purists...errr.....Purist (me) bantered with the Revisionists about various aspects of TTT.
Most notably, actually, was my change of heart about Frodo "offering" the Ring to the Nazgul; clearly, he was not offering the Ring: It looked to me, as pointed out by the Revisionists present, that Frodo is about to put it on his own finger.
Okay, he's still a dead Hobbit if he does that, but I agree, he's about to put it on. Again.
Frodo, what part of Gandalf's words, "Never put it on", didn't you understand? Oops, sorry.
Or, was Frodo about to do (SPOILER ALERT) what he does in the books at Mount Doom? Is he about to claim the Ring and perhaps even try to control the Nazgul?
He's still a dead Hobbit.
Okay, enough about that, (see? I told you I could go on and on with my Purist rants!)
The bottom line is this: Tolkien Trivial Pursuit is a great gauge to determine if you are really paying attention to the Jackson movies. Apparently, I, along with all of my Revisionist friends, are paying a lot of attention, thank you very much. Don't buy it; just find someone who has and give it a go yourself. I think you'll see what I mean.
LOTR Monopoly is fun and rather like a revisiting of your childhood, but if you put on The Two Towers (or FOTR, I would guess), the game quickly becomes dull.
What's to be learned from this? Probably any number of things, but most importantly, for me, is this: If you're going to give LOTR Trivial Pursuit a try, make sure that you have plenty of honey mead and a backup plan for further entertainment.
NOTE: There IS a cool contest that you can enter by either buying any Hasbro LOTR game or mailing a SASE to (US Residents only!):
Hasbro LOTR Sweepstakes Code
P.O. Box 6709
Saddle Brook, NJ
And here are the props that you can win, (send in your SASE!)
Aragorn's Strider Sword