I got to play this two-player Knizia game (not to be confused with the Sauron expansion to the multiplayer LOTR game) once right after Origins, before it really hit stores, and then extensively last week. It is, right now, my favorite two-player strategy board game. It’s like Stratego for smart people.
The bluff of Stratego is there, but the smaller number of units and types of units make it feel almost chess-like. Although really the game isn’t hugely positional. Where you place things to start, especially as the Fellowship, is probably the most positional part of the game.
Anyway, you’ve got this nice diamond-shaped board to get across, these nice billboard-looking units that are hidden from your opponent, and a small hand of cards. The special cards do things like reuse a card, automatically retreat to safety (after you’ve seen your opponent’s unit), or ignore your opponent’s special card (very Jedi to know when to use this, but not actually that difficult after a few games). The game is very much about when you do things, rather than where things are, especially because Sauron has so many units with unusual movement abilities.
I admit I’ve played more as the Dark Side, and we think they might have an advantage over Good, which kinda makes sense, but I’ve also won plenty of games as Good. For the money, the game and components you get are an excellent deal. Highly recommended.