This time on GS Table Games, we join on their journey across Middle Earth to reclaim their gold from the dragon Smaug in this fun and easy board game from Imagination.
The board game is based on the original book rather than the film adaptation and is perfect for kids, newbie gamers or, in fact, the whole family.
The game board is set out to represent young Bilbo and his companions’ journey with various locations dotted along the path until you reach the Lonely Mountain, where Smaug awaits. The board is a nice size, does not take up too much space on a table and even with all the cards, gems, resource and character cards is still a nice fit.
Each player gets a player’s card displaying three columns onto which you place a cub marker. Each column represents a skill or resource that will help you along the way. The idea is to gain each of the various resources to build up your character in order to be prepared for what happens when you reach a location. One column is strength – shown as a fist – then cunning is displayed as the fox and finally, initiative is represented by a leaf.
To move, you take an Event card from the first pile. There are four piles of cards, which are used at various stages on the board. On the event card it will say what you need to do. Hopefully, you will get a move card and this will mean you can all move forward along the board with Bilbo. This is where it gets interesting, as each space on the board has a different image which leads to you getting more resources or skills. The image can also take away your skills so you need to land on one you want.
The way this is done is that each player has a deck of Dwarf cards with numbers. If you want to land on the first spot, then you want the lowest number but if you want the middle spot, then you need an average number – but so might the other players, so you need to decide what number to play. This can get quite exciting, especially for younger players who try to outwit each other. Once all players have revealed their cards, they move little Bilbo along the path and each player is given their reward or perhaps their punishment, which would mean losing resources.
Every so often, you get to a location on the path from the book, and at this stage you remove the Event cards from the first pile and then you need to play all the Adventure cards for that location. The first player picks up the top Adventure card. On this card you will see what the actual adventure is, so it could be escape from the dragon’s breath. But how do you complete a quest, I hear you ask?
DICE! Yes, we have a set of dice with various symbols on them that match the symbols on your character card. Up until now, you have been building up your resources or skills and this is where it comes into effect. The Adventure card will say that to complete the adventure, you will need two axes or one shield, which relate to the skills on your character card. You roll the dice to see if you can complete the adventure, but if the dice is not enough then you can bump it up from using the stats levels on your character card. If you have enough, then you complete it and you take the amount of treasure it says to collect by taking one of the pretty looking gems. Now, if you fail, then you have to take a dragon token which will either have nothing on it, which means you got lucky, but if you picked a token with symbols on it then it is bad news. It could mean losing some resources but also that Smaug, who until now has been happy to stay on the Lonely Mountain, moves one space from the other end of the board towards your party.
This game is aimed at 10+ but am sure a 8 year old could pick it up, and it can be played for 2 to 5 players – however, 4 seems like the perfect number for this game. A single game should last just under a hour, so you could even play twice in one session to see how you can change tactics.
Overall, a fun family game for all ages that I would be happy to keep on the game shelf and recommend to others.