Thursday, July 28, 2016

Lembas Land.

My kids have been OBSESSED with Candy Land lately.

I had no idea I could hate a game this much.

We play it about eighteen times a day.  And, inevitably, at least once a day, someone will draw one of those stupid candy cards when they're on literally THE LAST SPACE before winning, and we'll have to reshuffle the whole deck because we ran out of cards AGAIN which means that ALL THE CANDY CARDS are back up for grabs and it's the candy-filled hell that never ends.  Oh, and if my three-year-old wins, my five-year-old insists on continuing to play until we've ALL reached the stupid candy castle, so the three-year-old sobs until we're done because he has nothing left to do and he has to wait until we start a new game for him to play again.  AND I'm trying NOT to eat all the junk food right now, so I can actually fit into my Dragon Con cosplays in less than two months, and this game makes me want ALL THE CANDY.

It's the worst. game. ever.  (It almost makes me long for Monopoly.)

So, I had an idea the other day.  If I have to play this horrible game over and over and over again, maybe I should create a version that has SOMETHING that I like about it...

And Lembas Land was born.

Lembas Land: A LOTR-themed Candy Land game (free printable).

It's not perfect.  I'm pretty amateur at this, and I threw this together in the space of a few hours while my kids were taking naps and while I was supposed to be making dinner (...we ate leftovers).

This was the first version; I've since moved the shortcuts.

I tried to follow the approximate path of most of the Fellowship, but I did add some loops and swing out further than the actual locations, as I was shooting for the length of the game to be comparable to the original, and I wanted to fill out the board a little more than it would have been if I'd stuck religiously to the actual path of any of the characters.

Shortcuts: This was the first version.  I've since modified the shortcuts to better fit the context of the story.

I adapted elements from the original, like these shortcuts.  I tried to keep the shortcuts in this version logical within the context of the Lord of the Rings theme: the first shortcut is the name of a chapter before the Hobbits escape to Bree; the second references the mountain pass that the Fellowship tries to take before Saruman sends storms to force them to go through the Mines of Moria instead; and the third refers to Merry and Pippin's kidnapping by Uruk-Hai, allowing you to bypass Edoras and Helm's Deep, which Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli traveled to before reuniting with the Hobbits at Isengard.

I did make some minor changes to the board after printing it the first time--you'll notice that I moved two of the shortcuts (it makes more sense for the pass at Caradhras to allow you to bypass the Mines of Moria, and for the last one to come out between Helm's Deep and Fangorn Forest) and added arrows on all three shortcuts to make it clearer which direction they move you.

I added an alternate route that can only be accessed by a single location card.

I also made some minor changes, like adding this section.  If you draw the "Shelob's Lair" location card, you get to travel on this alternate route, which is much closer to the end (Minas Tirith) than any of the other location cards take you.  Unless you draw another location card before you reach the end, of course--which seems to happen more often than it should in the home stretch in the normal game!

I added "lose a turn" cards to the deck.

In addition to the single and double squares cards, and the special location cards, I also added a few "lose a turn" cards...because I realized after printing the board that I'd forgotten to add spaces equivalent to the "stuck in licorice" spaces on the original.  Oops.  (When I reworked the board later, I decided to stick with the cards instead of trying to fit tiny writing on spaces.  I may update this later with a third version...if I do, I'll post it here.)

The board is sized for Lego minifigs.  Lord of the Rings characters are not necessary, but are more fun.

I tried to size the spaces on the board for using Lego minifigs as placeholders, since I have numerous "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" Lego sets (I have all nine minifigs for the Fellowship...and a lot of others).  The spaces are a little on the small side, printed off onto four sheets, but it's pretty close for a shot in the dark....I was too lazy to figure out a reliable way to accurately measure and size it while I was making it, so I just eyeballed it. :-P

All right, so you came here looking for the free printable I promised, right?  Well, here it is:

Lembas Land: Game Board Printable PDF

I tiled the PDF to print off onto four sheets (which I duct-taped together on the back), which maxed out at 193% for me.  I am horrible with computers, though, so if you have trouble figuring out how to blow it up to print onto multiple sheets...Google it. :-P  Sorry.  I'm not going to be much help.

Also, I suggest using card stock for durability.  If you're actually playing with kids, definitely play on a hard surface, or put something under it (I put our board on top of a cutting mat that happens to be the perfect size).  If you're NOT playing with kids...well, I won't judge. ;-)

For the cards,you have two options.  First is what I did: I used these printable business cards.  After downloading the template, I added the squares and text in Word.  Here are the files:

Lembas Land: Playing Cards - Singles (Word)
Lembas Land: Playing Cards - Doubles (Word)
Lembas Land: Playing Cards - Locations (Word)

It appears that uploading these did away with the font I was using--it's called Ringbearer and can be downloaded here.  You'll have to download the font and manually change it in the Word doc before printing.  Sorry!

However, if you want to go the cheap-but-time-consuming route, you can print off the cards on normal cardstock, and cut them yourself.  But you'll need to use these PDFs (since the lines won't print from the Word docs showing where to cut--it's a template specifically for those business I made PDFs with lines showing where to cut):

LembasLand: Playing Cards - Singles (PDF)
LembasLand: Playing Cards - Doubles (PDF)
LembasLand: Playing Cards - Locations (PDF)

Please keep in mind that the PDFs are NOT formatted for the business cards; they are slightly smaller, and will not print correctly on them.

I printed off one sheet of the location cards, two sheets of the doubles, and three sheets of the singles.

It's still not what I'd call a "fun" game...but at least now I can spew Tolkien trivia at my kids while we play! ;-)

Lembas Land: Because I'd rather be stuck in Middle-Earth for an hour.

If you print and use this game board, I'd love to see it!  Comment here, or tag it with #LembasLand on social media, and I'll find it. :-)  After putting the work into this for my own sake, I'd love to see other geeky parents sharing their Lord of the Rings love with their own little geeklings! :-)