* Prices may differ from that shown
The latest lord of the rings collectible card game by Decipher is not the same as ICE's Middle Earth Wizards. You might wander what there is to all this card game nonsense. Well thanks to Peter Jackson's Lord of the rings films there will be a steady stream of card expansions to this card game. At the moment the only cards available are Fellowship of the ring cards which allow the player to carry out events as in the first film. I will mention the game aspect below but as to buying these cards there are some 365 cards to collect at the moment. To the newcomer to card games the whole experience can be a bit confusing. There are two starter decks called Aragorn and Gandalf decks. These are very basic and only contain some 60 odd cards with 3 rare cards inserted plus rule book. These are around £6.99- £8.99 There are also 3 different deluxe sets you can buy for around £13.99 - £15.99 which come in nice detailed boxes for storage and contain a booster pack (more about that in a moment) collectors card list, rule book, 3 random rare cards, 60 fixed cards and glass tokens. You can also buy booster packs which are seperate packs of 11 cards for around £2.40 which contain 1 rare, 3 uncommon and 7 common cards. Cards are classified for collecting purposes into these 3 groups. Whilst there are some points of confusion to the game which I figured out with common sense and re-reading the rule book several times, the game is fairly straight forward. You set out on an adventure normally with other players. The game is adaptable for solo play which I will mention as an extra note at the bottom of this review. Each players brings to the table a deck. A deck is comprised of an equal amount of free peoples and shadow cards. Free peoples are those races not under Saurons rule eg..Dwarfs,Men,Elves and Hobbits. Shadows are the Orcs, Urukhai, trolls and other nasty creatures. You play shadows against the other players which acts as
a subgame. Your main aim is to get your fellowhsip to the last adventure site of which there are 9. This represents the ending of the book Fellowship of the ring. Further card expansions will expand the adventure as in the other two books. There is stacks of strategy and cunning to this game and it allows real genius to shine through. Some Anoraks will no doubt be gloating and talking over past victories and how they had a winning game strategy....well I do anyway. A typical turn involves equipping your characters with items, fighting creatures at the current adventure site then moving on to the next stage of the journey or getting more cards up to a hand of 8. It's during something called a shadow phase that opponents get to play nasty creatures which attempt to kill your characters. Thankfully there is something called the Twilight pool which contains tokens of which the amount is decided by the level of the site you are at and what size of group you have plus what cards you played. To play a shadow card costs a certain amount of Twilight tokens so there is a limit as to what you will face as the twilight pool is reset to zero at the start of the turn. Fighting monsters can involve archery, hand to hand or even spells. The one thing which niggles me about the game is that there is no board! Why isn't there a gaming mat (representative of middle earth - map maybe?)or something to put the cards on? I'm not overly fond of card games. Whilst this game is much easier than the babylon 5 ccg (collectible card game) I found it a bit dull when playing with the basic decks. To really get a lot out of this game you want to be creating your own decks and including interesting cards. Unfortunately Decipher have smartly released 111 commons, 111 uncommons and 111 rare plus 2 promo cards in the starter decks making the 365 set. So getting those extra intersting cards will take some buying. Having said this the card
s themeselves certainly look interesting and feature scenes from the film. With the expansions every few months the game looks set to take off like wild fire. The deluxe box sets are really worth getting if not just for the card list. What is also useful are the tokens provided which represent damage (red tokens) twilight tokens (black tokens) and player tokens (multi coloured tokens). Decipher have their own website which shows what a typical table layout would look like. They also have FAQ and details of the game and expansions. Check out www.decipher.com To play a decent solo game you need a complete shadow deck with no freepeoples cards. Everytime a shadow phase begins always aim to play your best cards against your group. Obviously you would remove all shadows from your freepeoples deck. This is only worth doing if you have atleast 60 shadow cards and 60 freepeoples cards in my opinion. Overall a very good game that looks to get even better as you play out the full lord of the rings adventure. For collectors this is a nice set to collect. In every six booster packs there is a special foil card. There is a parallel set of these foil cards but who on earth will ever get a full set? Verdict...If you liked the film or are mad about the book then this is another thing to add to the shopping list. Currently available on many internet sites and auctions. This is very big at the moment and has received rave reviews. Personally at the moment I think it's just very good not excellent.