War of the Ring Upgrade Set Review

Upgrade your game experience to the extreme.

Join Jesse as he looks at some premium gaming upgrades for War of the Ring, from Evil Toymaker Studio, that can take your table from basic to breathtaking.

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

Join me as I look at some premium gaming upgrades that can take your table from basic to breathtaking.

War of the Ring is one of my all-time favorite games. Set in the massive world of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, its scale is as grand as its gameplay. Between the map that spans two standard sized game-boards and the slew of plastic miniatures of various characters and factions, War of the Ring is the epitome of table presence. But what if you could amplify that aesthetic appeal even higher, and turn that visual dial up to eleven?

Gondor’s Fabled White Tree

Evil Toymaker Studio aims to do just that. They graciously offered for review a full set of their available line of War of the Ring component upgrades. Well, upgrades is a loose term here, as I would consider these particular offerings straight add-ons. Instead of replacing existing components, they provide new 3D elements that exist primarily to enhance the gameplay experience.

Mountains, Both the Snowy and the Scary Kind.

The full set of War of the Ring upgrades include mountainous terrain that fits perfectly atop the printed landscape, stronghold pieces that sit majestically in their spaces, a Mount Doom piece that looms menacingly over the land of Mordor, and two Kings of Argonath statues that I’m unclear of both their designated location and designed purpose.

These Guys Really Want You to Look Over There.



The first thing that struck me when I received these was how carefully they were packaged. Not only was the interior of the box lined with multiple layers of bubble wrap, each of the 31 unique pieces were individually wrapped with a thoroughness that I can only describe as extreme. Seriously, they probably used more bubble wrap and tape here than I did when I moved out of my last apartment.


The second thing that stood out to me, although it is clearly stated on their website, is that these are not 3D-printed. They are hand-made, resin-cast models with an astounding level of detail. Each piece is unique and all of them are hand-painted. It’s clear that a lot of time and care was put into each piece. The models that feature trees or vegetation are also textured, made from a different material that feels surprisingly realistic.

Cozy Hobbit Hole Under a Giant Tree

Aesthetic Appeal

I was truly astounded by the level of detail present. From the snow-capped Misty Mountains to the quaint hobbit holes of The Shire, the lush beauty of Rivendell to the dark foreboding Minas Morgul, every model in this set helps bring to life the diverse world and landscape of Middle-Earth. I’m probably not deep enough into the miniature-painting world to judge the paint job, but to my untrained eye they are simply gorgeous.

Evil Toymaker Studio has truly captured what I envision Middle-Earth to look like, through painstakingly detailed and hand-painted high-quality resin models that are sure to enhance my appreciation for the world and gameplay of War of the Ring. They also currently have similar upgrade sets for Gloomhaven, Terraforming Mars, Star Wars: Rebellion, Nemesis, and The Battle of Five Armies. 



Since the models are resin, and not plastic, the longer, thinner pieces can be more fragile. I experienced this first hand when enthusiastically tearing into the packaged mountain pieces, accidently snapping off a chunk of one of them. I don’t blame them for my recklessness, and it’s nothing that a bit of craft glue and time can’t fix, but I think it is worth noting. I’m not yet sure how I’ll store these, but it’s definitely going to require some forethought. These aren’t things that you’re just going to toss into the gamebox and go.


There are certain parts of this set that I never want to play without again. The mountains in particular, do a great job of reinforcing the untraversable boundaries otherwise indicated by a bold black line on the board. Mount Doom prominently stands out, but also has the marked spaces that Frodo needs to move in order to ascend the mountain and destroy the One Ring. Both of these are as functional as they are beautiful. The strongholds, though undeniably impressive, can add to what is already a pretty busy board.




They also aren’t labeled, so unless you’re deep enough into the lore, you may not know which ones go where. Those two Kings of Argonath statues don’t serve any purpose whatsoever, at least not from what I can tell. I can’t think of anything in-game that references or involves them, it’s just a nice bit of extra scenery that further evokes the wide world of Middle-Earth. Additionally, if all the buildings and mountains are set on the board, it doesn’t leave much room for your actual troops.


These are not your run-of-the-mill game bits. They are a highly premium product and as such carry an equally premium price tag, running between $80 – $540 for a full set, depending on the game. This sounds like a lot, and rightfully so, but keep in mind that you are paying for both the models themselves and the labor cost of having them hand-painted. I should note here that because they are hand-crafted and hand-painted, the turnaround time between order and delivery is understandably longer than buying something mass-produced from a larger online or retail store.

Final thoughts

I suppose the big question on everyone’s mind is: Are they worth it? Well, that’s a bit of a hard question to answer. They are certainly a premium product that I dare say no one really needs in order to enjoy the game. Let me frame it in a different way. About once a year, my wife and I go to an extremely posh five-star restaurant called The Catbird Seat. The seating is limited, reservations a month or two in advance are required, with a 12-course preset menu. Both my frugal parents and my younger less-employed self would balk at the price. However, the dining experience is unparalleled and the food is divine. Could I just have easily grabbed some Taco Bell or fixed myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to satisfy my need for food? Sure. But does The Catbird Seat provide an amazing experience, enriching and enhancing my overall appreciation for food? Definitely.

Evil Toymaker Studio is the five-star restaurant of board game bits. I hate to echo the old “you get what you pay for” line, but in this case, it’s undoubtedly true. These are premium products at a premium price that while not necessary to play or even enjoy a board game, can improve your experience immensely. I always find that the amount of money I’m willing to spend on board game “extras,” is generally directly proportional to how much I love the game. I’m delighted that both Gloomhaven and Star Wars: Rebellion, both all-time favorites for me, are represented in their catalog.

So is it worth it to spend that kind of money on making you love that much better? Or should you take that money and buy a bunch of new games? I’m not sure I’ve come to an answer for that myself, but Evil Toymaker Studios has surely made its case.

About the author

Jesse Fletcher

I have loved board games since childhood. Re-discovered modern gaming in 2013 and never looked back. I enjoy stupid, silly fun as much as I do strategy, and aspire to never lose the childlike joy that board gaming provides.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Subscribe to Meeple Mountain!

Crowdfunding Roundup

Crowdfunding Roundup header

Resources for Board Gamers

Board Game Categories