Themed chess sets have long stirred controversy within the chess community. Some embrace the unique sets featuring iconic pieces from movies like Lord of the Rings, while others find their flashy designs distracting.
If you’re on the fence about getting a Lord of the Rings chess set, some pros include that it can be a valuable collector’s item and it can offer engaging gameplay. However, their flashy design and unique pieces may be distracting and confusing to play with.
In this article, we’ll talk about the best Lord of the Rings chess sets available for you to choose from including the LOTR Battle for Middle Earth Chess Set, LOTR Return of the King Chess Set, and LOTR Collectors’ Chess Set. We’ll also discuss their pros and cons in more detail.
3 Best Lord of the Rings Chess Sets
If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, getting a chess set inspired by the franchise can be a perfect addition to your chess set collection.
The beloved characters from Middle Earth as chess pieces can add a new and exciting layer to the familiar game.
Here are three great options for a Lord of the Rings chess set we’ve reviewed for you.
1. Lord of the Rings Battle for Middle Earth Chess Set
This chess set from The Noble Collection is highly affordable at around $50. It’s most suitable for children and casual players who’ll enjoy becoming immersed in the world of Middle Earth along with familiar characters.
The 32 pieces are durable, lightweight, and detailed. However, they’re made of cheap plastic material, which may be a drawback for some.
The white pieces feature Gandalf as king, Galadriel as queen, Frodo as the bishops, and Rohan shields as pawns. On the black side, Sauron is king, Saruman takes the queen’s spot, and Gollum characters serve as the bishops.
While the set is perfect for a fun, casual chess game, chess set collectors may find the quality lacking.
2. Lord of the Rings Return of the King Chess Set
This chess set from Parker Brothers is a mid-range option if you want a LOTR-themed chess set. You can get it on Amazon for around $170.
It features a borderless board design with 32 plastic pieces inspired by Lord of the Rings characters. The pieces for “white” have a bronze finish, with Aragorn as king, Arwen as queen, and two Gandalf characters as bishops.
The pieces for black have a pewter effect, featuring a ringwraith as king, Orthanc tower as queen, and two Gollum characters for the bishops.
While the set is attractive and durable, low-quality materials for the board and pieces may not make this suitable for a chess collection. Instead, we recommend it for casual chess players and children.
3. Lord of the Rings Collectors’ Chess Set from Noble Collection
The Lord of the Rings Collectors’ chess set is a more expensive option at around $495. However, this may appeal more to collectors with its high-quality glass, pewter, and porcelain materials.
The chess set is visually striking and meticulously crafted, with 32 detailed chess pieces made of pewter. The black and white sides are distinguished from each other by green and blue-colored rings on the bottom of each piece.
On the white/green side, we see Gandalf and Galadriel as king and queen and hobbits like Samwise Gamgee, Merry, and Pippin as pawns. On the black/green side, we see Saruman, Orthanc Tower, Uruk-hai, and other familiar characters.
The 15-inch square chessboard, made of cold-cast porcelain, features a plexiglass top to ensure longevity. It also features convenient storage slots around the sides to store and display the pieces when not in use.
Additionally, the set comes with a separate storage box and a map of Middle Earth, sure to delight fans and collectors.
Lord of the Rings Chess Sets Pros and Cons
While different Lord of the Rings chess sets may have their own pros and cons, themed chess sets in general have characteristics that are either attractive or unattractive to chess players.
We discuss each of them here.
Let’s start with the pros of getting a Lord of the Rings chess set that may convince you to buy one.
1. Collector’s Item
If you buy a luxury chess set like the Lord of the Rings Collectors’ Chess Set from The Noble Collection, it can be a valuable collector’s item.
With finely-crafted pieces which were approved by the actors in the films for likeness, it’s a worthwhile investment that can increase in value over time.
2. Decorative Display
Beyond gameplay, a Lord of the Rings chess set can serve as a display item. The unique design of a themed chess set like this one makes it an eye-catching addition to your space.
3. Engaging Gameplay
Deviating from the familiar designs of classic chess pieces may not appeal to everyone.
However, if you appreciate a fun, additional challenge to your game, why not use new, unique pieces for a twist?
You now have an added task to memorize which icon is in what position to succeed. By removing the visual elements you’re used to, new pieces in themed chess boards might make you focus with renewed energy in the game.
Despite the charms of Lord of the Rings chess sets, most chess players swear by the classic Staunton chessboard and pieces.
Here are two reasons why they avoid themed chess sets like the plague.
1. It’s Distracting
Beautiful and intricate details can be fun to look at, but some players think it can take you out of the game.
You may find yourself admiring the fine elements of the chess set too much and lose focus on the strategic side and end up losing.
2. It’s Confusing
Many chess players complain that the different chess pieces can be confusing while playing. Take the Lord of the Rings Collectors’ chess set as an example.
More than one character on each side takes the position of bishop, knight, and pawn. While playing, you might be confused about which character plays which position.
There are just too many pieces, both on your side and your opponent’s, to keep track of.
Lord of the Rings chess sets offer a visually-captivating twist to a chess game. While they may not appeal to everyone, they provide an opportunity for fans to combine their love for the fictional world with the strategic challenges of chess.
However, you should consider the potential distractions these sets pose. Ultimately, the decision to buy this chess set depends on your preferences and priorities.
Whether you choose a themed chess set or a traditional one, the best part of chess is the intellectual battle, allowing you to sharpen your skills and enjoy this timeless strategy game.