A friend of mine introduced The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game to me this summer and I liked it immediately. I’ve mentioned before that I typically dislike board games or card games that are designed for or feature solitaire play. This game is an exception. I suppose that this is a perfect storm of theme and mechanisms for me, and that’s why this is the only game that I have really enjoyed playing solo.
This is an example of what is called a Living Card Game, or LCG, as opposed to a Collectible Card Game, or CCG. An example of a CCG would be Magic the Gathering. What’s the difference? Basically, when you purchase additional cards for a CCG, you get a random assortment of cards in a pack; however, for a Living Card Game, the additional cards are sold in larger supplements that all contain the same items. I don’t think it removes the collectible nature completely, because some cards are just more useful than others and this encourages the purchase of multiple copies of a particular supplement, but I absolutely prefer the LCG model of distribution.
The Lord of the Rings LCG was created by Nate French, a designer that specializes in these types of card games for Fantasy Flight Games. It was designed for cooperative play between two players, but can accommodate up to two additional players with the purchase of another core set. It is also a very good game for solo play as well, as I have already indicated. The game will play in an hour or so and is recommended for ages 13 and older. Solo games will take less time, especially if you start losing.
Inside the large Kingsburg sized box, you will find a whole bunch of gorgeous cards, some tokens, and a pair of dials. The art on the card is indicative of the source material, and is very well done. There is a fair amount of empty space in the box, but that may be a good thing, considering the number of expansions that are available. I’ve seen some great examples of box insert hacking over on The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game forums at BoardGameGeek. I enjoy that kind of game pimping, so I will probably do some modifications in the near future. You can purchase sleeves for the cards, of course, but I think that’s an unnecessary expense. I know some people feel strongly about sleeves for cards, but I just don’t see the need for it.
I don’t want to go into any real detail on how to play the game. The explanation required exceeds the scope of what I like to post, and there are many resources for interested players that would like to learn the basics of the game. I highly recommend the video that was produced by Fantasy Flight Games. This tutorial video is fantastic and very well produced. It is broken into five sections that clearly explain the basic rules of the game. The actor they hired to do the narration is phenomenal. He’s almost too good. His voice is so rich and powerful that it seems incongruous to the subject matter at times, like James Earl Jones explaining the steps one must follow to floss your teeth.
Where does The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game succeed where others have failed for me? It’s the theme. I can use Space Hulk: Death Angel an example of a game that plays well solo, but just didn’t keep my interest. When there is no human interaction in a game, then the game better be about something in which I have a high level of interest. I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan. I read the novels when I was 12 or 13, and I read them again every summer until I was in college. I am very familiar with the characters and locations that are featured in the card game.
I have already ordered an additional adventure pack for the game, and I think that this game will be on top of the stack for quite some time. I highly recommend this game for anyone who enjoys The Lord of the Rings and/or card games in the style of Magic the Gathering. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is available at your local friendly game store, like the Crazy Squirrel here in Fresno, or you can order it from a quality online retailer like Funagain.com.