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Author: John Williams

West Coast Games 1977



David Watry writes about the game:

There and Back Again is primarily a Single Person game, but can be played with two players. It is a "West Coast Games' name for their fantasy adventure game based on 'The Hobbit'. The player attempts to maneuver the company on the playing map to the Lonely Mountain and back again to Rivendell. It is up to you which paths you take and how you handle the encounters."

The game consists of the following (as quoted):

  • 1 plastic bag
  • 1 8x10 playing map
  • 1 rule booklet (12 pages long)
  • 1 set of 100 counters (white and yellow)
  • 2 backprinted chart cards

There is no actual "Company" counter for movement on the playing map. They suggest covering the map with a clear plastic sheet and marking the movement of the company with a grease pencil. "Or you can simply lightly draw the movement on the map with a pencil". If this is considered a rare game, you won't find me doing that.

Sequence of Play (represents one day)

  • 1A - Movement (the company gets 6mp and uses them depending on terrain type)
  • 1B - Encounter (roll for encounter)
  • 1C - Capture Character Check (roll)
  • 2A - Ring Option (decide on whether to use the ring on each day)
  • 2B - Pre-Melee Escape (company or Ringbearer may attempt to avoid combat)
  • 2C - Combat Preparation (set up creature and characters counters on combat card)
  • 2D - Ringbearer "Free Shot" (can take a free shot without a counter-attack)
  • 2E - Combat
    • 1) Melee preparation (used after first round), re-set counters on combat card.
    • 2) Melee. Conduct battles.
    • 3) Fleeing option (roll).
  • 2F - Release. If all creatures are killed, all live characters or magic they capture are returned to the company.
  • 3A - Pursuit Catch-up. Roll to see if creatures pursuing from previous turns catch-up to the company.
    • 1) If creatures pursue to a clear hex east of Misty Mountains and west of Mirkwood, roll for eagle rescue.
    • 2) Combat. If creature caught up with company, proceed to 2A-2F.
  • 3B - Rinbearer Rescue. Ringbearer may attempt to rescue one group of captured characters.

Rules. There are rules for Movement, Getting Lost, Paths, Lakes, Lonely Mountain, Rivers, Beorn, Encounter, Pre-Melee Escape, Combat Preparation, Melee Round, Melee Preparation, Melee, Heros, Capture, Special Combat Rule, Fleeing, Pursuit, Ringbearer Rescue, Captured Character Check, Magic, Ring Rules, Effects of the Ring, Magical Swords, Pursuit Catch-Up, Dwarves, Elves, Eagles, Battle of the Five Armies Rule, and Set-Up Rules.

[IMAGE] As far as I could find, there are no set number of "days" to finish the game. Play until Victory Points are made and Bilbo/Gandolf make it back to Rivendell then tally the points.

Victory Conditions are awarded to the player as shown on the Victory Point Chart. If the total is a positive number, the player wins. Zero is a draw. A negative number, the player loses. Some examples of VPs" Enter Lonely Mountain Hex: 10pts. Find Ring: 5pts. Use of Ring: -5pts. Each Hero's death: -10pts., etc. For two player, Bilbo/Gandolf player may get 5pts for enter Lonely Mountain hex, but the Dwarf Player would get 10pts., etc.

The rules on the whole explain the situations well enough to figure out and makes for a fun game. As most solo games, you don't end up playing them very often, but it is fun for a few times. I never did play it with the two player mode. That adds a little more competition and hence may add a little more excitement.

The Hex board is small, but is really only meant as a reference to track your movement. It is multi-colored, but is rather plain. The green hexes are forests, yellow and brown are mountains, and rivers and the lake are blue, and so on.

The counters have very little artwork. Mostly, each counter has a unit name, attack, defense and movement factors. The Hero's have a sword, star, or ring symbol along with their name. Good guys are white, bad guys are yellow. Since these counters are only used on the combat card, they serve their function.

The game plays all right, and is nice to have in a collection, but I don't think it will go down as a famous game. It certainly isn't a bad game and I have enjoyed playing it the couple of times I have brought it out. It works well to re-live your old war-gaming days if you have no one else to play with on a rainy day. It doesn't show up very often that I have seen, so it must have had a limited distribution. I have found no references to it in any of the old war-gaming magazines of the day like Campaign. SPI's War of the Ring got the most publicity for that.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany