This beautiful image, used here only for illustration purposes, was made by BoardGameGeek user Legynd, and was originally posted on the Lord of the Rings BoardGameGeek page.
Part roleplaying game, part card game–that’s the best way to describe the LOTR card game in a nutshell. If you like the Lord of the Rings books and you love fantasy, you’re going to have a blast with this game, a self-described “Living Card Game” that bridges the gap between booster-pack-driven card games and static dungeon crawls.
This cooperative card game is for 1-2 players using one 226-card Core Set; you can also have up to 4 people playing if you have two Core Sets. All players, using constructed decks, work together to defeat the challenges on each of several epic “Quests” included in the game (thus, why I said it’s sort of like a roleplaying game such as Dungeons and Dragons). Yet part of the game is also the luck of the draw every turn, which makes it a card game quite like Magic: the Gathering.
Players don’t directly play through the events of the LOTR trilogy in order, but there are plenty of Middle-earth and Mordor-themed challenges and stories to see. Plus, you’ll see a lot of familiar heroes and enemies as you play through each quest, so the flavor of the trilogy is not lacking in any regard!
There are four different starter decks to choose from, or you can create your own as well. (For first-timers, it’s easier to use one of the prefabs to get the hang of the game.) Each prefab uses different characters from the Lord of the Rings books, combined together to help the deck achieve its specific goal to help the group. But if you want to build your own deck, you certainly can using the Core Set’s selection!
Different Types of Strength
Remember, all players work together, so not every player’s deck is meant to kick as much butt as possible in a short time–a good team of players requires various strengths to survive. In the LOTR card game, there are four basic strengths, called “Spheres:”
You will more than likely find that one of these spheres is easiest for you to play. For me, I played the Lore sphere really well, especially the prefab deck which served as the group’s “healer.” The other players I played with did better at the Leadership and Spirit spheres, respectively–the Leadership sphere has a lot more ranged attacks, and the Spirit sphere is more about taking damage and keeping on truckin’. Together we made a pretty sweet team! It just takes a little experimentation to figure out which sphere is right for you.
Adventure Packs: The New and Improved Booster Packs
You can play a full game with just the Core Set, but Fantasy Flight Games is also going to be releasing expansions called Adventure Packs every month, which will have new Quests, characters, items, etc. to add to your Core Set over time. Unlike booster packs, the cards will be known ahead of time, as far as I know, so you can pick and choose which Adventure Packs you want to add to your LOTR card game collection.
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