For last night's game night the family and I tore the plastic off Fantasy Flight's The Hobbit board game and set to the task of figuring out how to play. The game looks and sounds a heck of a lot harder than it is ... unless we ended up playing it wrong to begin with.
The basic premise of the game is that the 2-5 players are the dwarves moving from the Shire to the Lonely Mountain. Every round the players draw one even card. If the even card is a travel card each player take a turn moving Bilbo one space on the game and collecting (or suffering) the pictured item/loss of item. Order of move is determined at the beginning of the round by dwarf card. Lowest card holder first to highest car hold (So say my daughter plays a dwarf numbered 40, I play one numbered 10 and my wife plays a 37 then the order would be me, my daughter, my wife). If the card drawing is an ability card the players choose an ability and raise it by the stated amount. If the card is a gift, the player who wins the gift keeps it (i.e. draw the highest number dwarf card gets a special power, etc).
About every 10 or so spaces Bilbo will land on an adventure (Goblintown, Warg Flight, Mirkwood and The Lonely Mountain). The player with the highest initiative score (tracked on a separate card and one of the items to be gained lost in play on the board) draws a random adventure card and tries to beat the adventure. Beating the adventures is probably as hard as the game gets as they rely mostly on dice rolls, however abilties (Initiative, Cunning, Strength) can help by adding naturals to the rolls and certain abilities (like Power of the Ring) let you change a roll.
If a player fails the adventure the next highest initiative attempts it and the losing player draws a dragon card. A dragon card is essentially Smaug's deck. The player loses the listed things and Smaug gets to move from the Lonely Mountain a certain amount of spaces. Should Smaug get to Lake town before the players the game is lost for everyone.
Once someone wins the adventure he collects the reward treasure and everyone moves one. At the end of the game whoever has the most treasure wins.
Okay so why is this game easy? Smaug never moved, no one ever lost an adventure due to powers gained from gifts and naturals gained from abilities.
Is the game fun? Yes.