This is my first project I ever backed on Kickstarter. When I saw that it was The One Ring, being developed by Free League and they had Martin Grip and Alvaro Tapia doing the art I HAD to throw money at it. And I am happy I did.
How does it compare with 1e?
I liked TOR 1e for how it appoarched the source material. But it did have it's faults and I had a hard time getting a group to the table because of that.
One of those faults was layout and the content bloat. I think 2e is a great improvement. It has kept many of the sub-systems that were added to 1e over time, like Treasure and The Eye, but has shed a lot of the parts that were tedious. For example, in 1e there were dozens of Fellowship Phase Undertakings and Journey Events peppered throughout the books. They were not easily referenced and seemed to bog things down. Now both of those systems have been cleaned up dramaticly.
Often when a new edition for a game comes out we describe the changes as "Streamlined". I wouldn't say that is the case with TOR 2e. I would describe it more as "Tuned Up". It is more efficient but is doesn't try to hymoginize all of the mechanics into one or two systems.
It takes one or two steps away from more fiddly mechanics and steps towards a more narrative feel. Which I think is a good thing, especially for trying to capture the feel and tone of the books. Its not so far on the narrative end to be like a Powered by the Apocolypse game. Its closer to a Year Zero Engine game in balance of Mechanics vs Narrative.
I have seen some people in the Discussion asking about magic. True to the books, there are no playable 'caster' classes. In fact, there really is no magic system. Elves and magic items can produce a 'Magical Success', which is an automatic success that is clearly uncanny in the fiction. So magic is more of a narrative device then a quantifiable system, which I think fits perfectly.
[5 of 5 Stars!]