Tolkien Boardgames

Tolkien Boardgame Collecting

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Dungeons and Dragons (RPG/miniatures)

Originally Published by TSR Games, written by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson; Jan, 1974

Now in it’s Third Edition by Wizards of the Coast.

Also included in the category would be DnD and Advanced DnD (ADnD)


Numbers of players, 2 to infinite (a good game will have about four to six people playing)


Review by Dave Watry


Box Set 1st Ed., 3rd Printing, circa 1977


This is the famous game that is still running strong (in its third edition rules).  There are multiple editions of this game and far too numerous to name.  For a complete listing of all the editions, supplements, and variations see and   Mike has more knowledge of the history of the game than I do, but I used to play the game when it first became a huge phenomenon, the first edition DnD game. The original books came in a woodgrain colored box (later editions came in a white box) set of three books: Men and Magic; Monsters and Treasure; and Underworld and Wilderness Adventures.  This could almost be considered a boardgame as the original game “required” the use of the Avalon-Hill game “Outdoor Survival”, which has nothing to do with DnD other than it provided a game board for the Wilderness Adventures.  While this is technically a miniatures game, miniatures are not required.  In fact, as a player, all that is required to play the game (assuming the Dungeon Master has all the books) is a piece of paper (preferably graph paper) and a pencil.  An eraser is highly recommended.  It helps to have all the myriad of hexa-octal multi-sided dice, but in the “good old days” the Dungeon Master provided all the tools to play the game.  For me, the Original boxed set (along with the Greyhawk supplement) was when the game was at its best.  There were very few rules and lots of imagination.  My first encounter as a Hobbit Thief (no, his name was not Bilbo, but you can see the Tolkien influence, hobbits made for good burglars/thieves) was offered as a sacrifice for a dragon that would not let the company leave unless it got a nice juicy hobbit burger.  Suffice it to say, my hobbit was not as lucky as Bilbo.  I didn’t feel as bad as most of the company was wiped out trying to get out of a first level dungeon.  It was great fun.  Our Dungeon Master was named Elrond (I don’t have the foggiest idea what his real name was) but he was supposed to be one of the original dungeon players (he set up dungeons at the local university dorms on Saturday nights – the dorms were filled with college kids both boys and girls playing the game – this would be around 1976 when I was in High School).  His character was named Elrond.  He probably was an elf wizard, but may have been a warrior and at that time was something along the lines of fortieth level, practically a demi-god to a first level thief.  It doesn’t matter now, but you get the idea that the works of Tolkien heavily influenced this.  Although the game is not based on the works of Tolkien, it does draw upon it for ideas. 




The three books included in the original box set



For those who don’t know what the game is about (is there anybody who doesn’t?), the premise is that you role some dice to get “characteristics” such as Strength, Wisdom, and Dexterity among others.  The higher the three sets of six sided dice you roll the better.  Eighteen is the highest, although you can get “bonuses” to get it higher.  Once you have defined your character as a Warrior, Wizard, or Thief, etc and a race such as Human, Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit, etc, you go out on an adventure to find treasure and to gain experience.  You get this by going on a quest like finding the Jewel of Narcon hidden somewhere down in a dungeon.  You are given some money (gold or silver coins) to equip yourself at a local merchant (sword smith, armory, general store, etc).  Once that is done, the Dungeon Master (the person who designed the dungeon you are about to explore – designed means he laid out a series of rooms a dungeon that has usually has multiple levels along with traps, monsters, potions, treasure, and lots of surprises if it is designed well) tells you what your company (usually at least five or six adventurers) “sees”.  It is your job to try to draw out the map that he describes “the corridor is ten feet wide (one or two squares in the graph paper depending if each square is ten feet or five feet) and you can see forty feet down.  There is a door on the north wall twenty feet from where you are and a door on the south wall thirty feet down.  What do you want to do?”  Then you tell him you want to go to the door twenty feet down on the north wall then bust down the door with a Open Spell from your Wizard and run in and find you are face to face with a Green Dragon that is about to breath fire on you because you forgot to “listen” through the door before entering (see you can learn something here).  Along the way, you can encounter Goblins, Orcs, Evil Wizards, Evil Elves, Ents, Giant Spiders, and non-Tolkien type creatures like Beholders, Slime Mold, Berserkers, Pirates, Rouges, Vampires, Pixies, and on and on (even evil Tuki-Tuki Birds and Vermicious Kanids).  Of course the Dungeon Master is rolling away at the dice and giggling with joy because he says the Dragon is hungry for a nice juicy Hobbit Burger.  The game is a little more in depth than that, but that is the general idea.


Greyhawk, Supplement #1


First Edition of ADnD


The original designers (Gary Gygax, et al), published the game after the original, Chainmail, through Tactical Studies Rules (TSR).  Wizards of the Coast are the current publishers of the game.  Most people who made the game so big probably have played using the rules from Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (ADnD) of which there were two editions.  The first edition was out soon after DnD started, around 1977 (DnD came out in 1974) and eventually DnD kind of fell on the way side.  ADnD was the primary game played through the 1980’s.  There were many publications and alterations far beyond that I have any knowledge of as I liked the first edition rules the best.  From what I have seen, the third edition went back to the original idea of the first edition to make things easier again.  I expect over the years to come that the rules will fill out once again, which is fine.  It just adds to its popularity.



2nd Edition of ADnD, circa 1987








3rd Edition of DnD Core Books, circa 2000




Boxed version of the 3rd Ed. game, Circa 2001