Lord of the Rings Card Game
We test drove a card game with hobbits in it. We beat those Mirkwood spiders DOWN, so put that in your Gandalf pipe and smoke it.
We play a lot of video games and board games here at Mookychick, even during work hours when we can get away with it. We are probably the only geeks in the world who have never played Magic the Gathering, and we like LOTR, so a card game featuring Rohan riders and elves and thieving little hobbitsies was sure to capture our interest.
This Fantasy Flight Games deck-based adventure sees you assembling a merry (or stern, or proud) band of adventurers to complete quests in Middle Earth, from the rolling fields of the Shire to the dark shadows of Mirkwood Forest and the noble kingdoms of Gondor and Rohan.
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is one or two player co-operative, so you’re battling the monsters, not yourself. You can also buy another copy of the game to play as four players. We didn’t try playing it solo because we have video games for that, but the idea of immersing yourself in a solo card game that isn’t Solitaire is pretty novel.
First you pick a random scenario from the quest deck to determine what your quest will be. Then each player chooses a Sphere of Influence, or what flavour of adventurers they want to be (Leadership is fighty, Tactics is… how can we put this… Legolas, Spirit is helpful and Lore is super-wizardly and smart). You pick the adventurers for your sphere, set up the encounters for the quest, and away you go…
But is it really that simple? It took us a few games to fully get into the swing of things. That’s mainly down to the manual. It’s hugely earnest and keen to explain every little nuance of the game in head-scratching detail, probably for the benefit of those who start getting cocky and mix up the spheres for advanced gameplay or buy expansion sets. The good news is that once we’d played a few games we realised the gameplay itself was far easier than the pesky manual had led us to believe.
Um, our only other quibble is that it would be worth getting a few extra baggies to store the separated cards in to ensure game setups happen as quickly as possible. Otherwise you end up riffling through the deck a little.
Having said that, there’s a lot of joy to be had in uniting players to battle through tricky and beautifully-painted quests in Middle Earth. The gameplay’s engaging and quite fiendishly strategic once you get going. It really helps to remember, BTW, that teamwork is key.
We also feel a massive need to point out that this game is BEAUTIFUL. Everything is exquisitely packaged, the artwork on the cards is rendered by a small number of artists who each have their own sumptuous style, and we loved how the cards are spattered with pertinent quotes from the trilogy of books. We felt pretty pumped. Also, Gandalf is in it as an ally and he is, of course, the don.
In all, expect a head-thumping half hour of urgh urgh oh noez have to learn the ruuuuuuuuuuules followed by gaming that’s rich in atmosphere and lasts about an hour per game. We got particularly involved in trying to muscle up our beloved questers with snacky armour and skills before the Bad Thing got them…
This may not be the One Game to Rule Them All, but we still had a blast and will definitely be playing it again in future.