The play is almost unchanged from regular Monopoly: roll the dice and advance your tokens (in this case, metal figurines of Fordo, Aragorn, Gandalf, Gimili, Legolas, and Galadriel) around the board, buying up "territories" (instead of "properties") and charging rent from the other players to try to bankrupt them. Instead of money, this edition uses "power," but the values are exactly the same: for instance, each time you pas GO, you collect 200 power, just as you would collect $200 in the regular game.
Almost all the spaces are changed to fit the world of Middle-Earth. The territories are locations along the journey of the Fellowship. Park Place and Boardwalk are now Bard-dūr (The Dark Tower) and Mount Doom. The red properties are now Gap of Rohan, Helm's Deep, and Edoras. The four railroads are horses: Bill the Pony, Shadowfax, Brego, and Asfaloth. The two utilities are the Wizard's Staffs. Luxury Tax is Shelob's Lair. Income Tax (the bane of all players!) is now "Seen by the Palantír." The Community Chest cards and Chance cards are changed to "Events" and "People." An example of a typical card: "Winged nazgūl attack! Lose 150 power." The houses and hotels you build on properties are now fortresses and strongholds. The white plastic stronghold miniatures look quite impressive on the board!
Strangely, the four corner spaces on the board look exactly the same as in the regular edition: GO, Jail, Free Parking, and Go to Jail. This is odd, since pictures of a car and a policeman clash with the theme of the set. This is really the only flaw in the game presentation.
There is a special "Lord of the Rings" variation you can play if you want a quicker game with an interesting twist. One of the dice has an Eye of Sauron on it instead of a one-spot. When playing the variation, every time the eye pops up on a roll, a special One Ring icon moves one territory around the board. When the Ring reaches the last territory (Mount Doom), the game ends and the player with the most power wins. If a player lands on a territory where the ring is sitting, he/she either gets the territory for free if no one owns it, or else owes the owner TWICE the amount of rent they normally would. This is a fun way to throw variety into the game, but ignore it if you want to play a full-length game.
Parker Brothers has made many Monopoly special editions, but this is the one that got me back into the game, and if you love "The Lord of the Rings" (movie or book), I guarantee it will pull you in too. Just be cautious that you don't start pawing the other players' money and croaking "My precioussss! Givessss us power so we can liftses the mortgage, my precioussss!"