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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Boards & Brews at Home: The Lord Of The Rings (LCG)

In this week’s segment we return home to play an intense hour and a half of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, or LCG (Living Card Game).  For our drinking pleasure, I had local Sun King Brewery’s Sunlight Cream Ale, and Claire had the Ace Pineapple hard cider.  In this 1 - 2 player living card game, players will work together cooperatively to eliminate encounter cards that consist of dangerous locations, events, enemies, and treacherous action cards in order to fulfill their sequence cards to win the game.  There is a lot going on in this game, and like our other reviews, we will provide the most important details, while trying to sum up as much as we can in a decent amount of time.

Lord of the Rings The Card Game can be played as a solo variant or a two player game, and up to 4 players if you purchase another copy of the core game.  It is an intense game of perilous journeys, and adventurous paths and plains through middle earth to complete your required scenarios before your threat tracker reaches 50.  There’s a lot more to this game than just the pictures and this review are demonstrating.  You’ll begin by choosing a scenario (card set), and work together to try and complete it.  During the scenario the encounter deck aims to harm the heroes and to raise each player’s threat level.  If all player’s threat trackers reach 50 the game is over.  If the scenarios are all completed you win.  In Lord of the Rings the LCG, there are four different spheres of influence in which each hero has an emphasis in one of these four spheres.  The following influence is 1) Leadership, 2) Lore, 3) Spirit, and 4) Tactics.  All of these individually add a unique skill set to the various cards which really demands that the players stop and think about what they are doing for each turn because there can be lasting effects both positive and negative to what you choose to play and how you play it.   The wound tokens are used to mark how many times there has been damage inflicted upon the enemies and the heroes.  The progress tokens represent progress that has been made on a quest.  The resource tokens represent how many resources can be combined to purchase new cards such as Ally’s, Attachments, and Events which can assist you in your quests and attacking enemies. 

As the game progresses, you will undoubtably gain a lot more to your paths to execute during gameplay.  The players will perform a series of actions during 7 sequential phases during their turns before 1 round is over.  These 7 phases are 1) Resource, 2) Planning, 3) Quest, 4) Travel, 5) Encounter, 6) Combat, and 7) Refresh.  Once each player has performed all of these phases in order, another round is complete and the first player marker is handed over to the other player.  In this photo as you see the cards turned horizontally, this is denoting that a player has chosen a specific card to exhaust during that round.  There is a lot to each of these elements that I’m listing on this post, so much that it would be impossible for me to list all of the content and possible strategic elements and options in this game.  Consider that making a decision immediately creates a subset of new decisions and those decisions will create another new subset of actions to perform during the current round and in the next rounds after that.  It’s a very dense hierarchy that is continually built upon and built upon in every round.  Cards can inflict a lot of damage on you and the other player simply in a single round.  An example would be that Claire was out of this game in 10 rounds and it wasn’t much longer before I was out too.   While a lot of our other co-op games are generally more simplified without the use of added mechanics, this is an LCG which means there are on-going adventure packs that are released monthly.  It’s always helpful to create an atmospheric environment for your tabletop gaming events and like many other instances and reviews, we are once again utilizing  Tonight’s stations of choice were the Elven Glade and Middle Earth Dawn which added a great ambiance to our gameplay.

Taking a closer look at some of the components, you can see the depth and beauty in the artwork of these cards.  The components are just excellent in this game.  We purchased this game a year and a half ago, and the artwork continues to amaze us.  Even though Claire and I did not win tonight, Claire put it very well when she said we were victorious in trying.  This isn’t the kind of game that you can afford to make many mistakes if any at all, because your mistakes will cause a trickle down effect throughout the rest of the game.  Let’s be honest.  This game gladly influences trepidation unless you’ve played it copious amounts of times by yourself or with the same person.  If you’re looking for a cooperative game that packs a punch, this is it.  We purchased this game because we knew we wanted a more difficult/dense cooperative game among our others, but we had not played this before we purchased it and it ended up being much more difficult than we expected.  We knew enough to know that we really wanted it, and we’re really glad we own it.  Make no mistake about this game.  This is a far cry from a gateway cooperative game, and should only be considered for gamers who are seeking much more density and complexity to their cooperative collection. 

The Lord Of The Rings: (LCG)
Overall Meeple Rating: 7.5/10

Game Mechanics: 
1) Cooperative 
2) Hand-Management
3) Variable Player Powers

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.


  1. It is fair to say that the core set of this game had a few problems and only really became more balanced and varied quest-wise as more expansions were released. Several years in of add ons later and we're sailing ships, recreating campaigns directly from the books (saga) and even playing with doomed heroes like Grima Wormtongue. The current designers never cease to amaze with the adventure packs and deluxe expansions. Take my money Fantasy Flight!

    1. Sadly for us, we've owned this game for a year and a half now and still have not managed to get any adventure packs or expansions for it yet. We're still becoming accustomed to the base game. It is crazy how the game seems to invariably stand it's ground regardless of what combination of heroes and other cards you choose during the game. Maybe there's a combination that we just haven't discovered yet, or maybe like you said, things become more balanced once we pick up an expansion or two for it. I love how there are times we can take the blow of utter defeat in this game, and still love it as much as we do and continue to keep coming back to it again and again. Such a great game!