Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Lord of the Rings The card Game LCG by Fantasy Flight Games core set unboxing and review

I love the Lord of the Rings, always have since i was a very young lad and my Uncle got me a copy of the Hobbit book.  I devoured it, and wanted more in this wondrous world, so was steered towards Lord of the Rings, and Silmarillion and more all guided by my uncle, and i adored the world i found, and still do to this day.

So as you can imagine i have a deep love for the worlds of Tolkien.  And when i found out that Fantasy flight Games had created a game that can be played multiplayer cooperatively OR solo!! (you know how much i love the solo addition) i thought i have to look into this.


Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till.”
     –
Gandalf, The Return of the King
 
An ancient evil stirs in the black lands of Mordor, and the people of Middle-earth speak of a terrible doom approaching from the east. The Dark Lord Sauron is gathering his forces, and should he acquire the power he seeks, he will cast the world into eternal shadow. The only hope lies in a heroic few who must work together to stem the tide of evil…

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a cooperative Living Card Game in which one to two players (or up to four with two Core Sets) command some of the most powerful characters and artifacts in Middle-earth.
  


Select your heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts, and work together with your friends to survive Middle-earth’s most dangerous fiends. By cooperating to overcome the obstacles drawn from the encounter deck, you will complete the quest before you and claim victory!

Lets pop open the box and take a rummage......


 
 Well inside you get 226 cards..... some plastic connectors for your threat tracker, a full colour rule book, and being Fantasy Flight Games its full of tokens, all of a nice high quality.
 You build your two threat trackers, and then you have wound counters, resource counters, progress counters and the first player marker... so not too many tokens unlike some games!  These can easily be punched out and bagged up to keep them to hand in the box.

There are several different kinds of card in the game.....
 Heroes... you get 3 heroes for each of the 4 spheres of influence.  Some are direct from the books, like Legolas, Gimli Aragorn, Gloin..... some are less well known book Heroes like Theodred and Eowyn, whilst others are made for the game fitting into Tolkien lore.  The art on the cards is just fantastic, Even if you do not want to try playing the game (why wouldn't you) the art is enough to enjoy on its own.

The four spheres of influence are Leadership, Lore, Spirit, and Tactics. Each of these four spheres of influence has its own distinct flavor and play style, and they can be mixed together within a single deck to present a host of deck-building options. Most player cards fall under one of these spheres, represented with a unique icon, as well as with a unique color on its card border, and each hero has an emphasis in one of these four spheres.

A hero’s sphere dictates the types of cards that hero brings to a player’s disposal.
The sphere of Leadership emphasizes the charismatic and inspirational influence of a hero, and that hero’s potential to lead, inspire, and command both allies and other heroes alike.
The sphere of Lore emphasizes the potential of a hero’s mind. Intellect, wisdom, experience, and specialized knowledge are all under the domain of this sphere.
The sphere of Spirit emphasizes the strength of a hero’s will. Determination, courage, loyalty, and heart are all aspects of this sphere, which also reaches into the more supernatural aspects of Middle-earth.
The sphere of Tactics emphasizes a hero’s martial prowess, particularly as it relates to combat and overcoming other tactical challenges that might confront the party during a quest.
Just look at the quality of the art..... its fantastic!

Build Your Fellowship

In The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, you and your friends take on the roles of heroes attempting to complete dangerous quests. Instead of directly retelling the classic stories that have previously been narrated, this game provides you with a variety of elements—characters, settings, enemies, events, items, artifacts, scenarios—that allow you to embark upon new adventures and share new experiences with these beloved characters during this ominous period of Middle-earth's history.
 there are items you can equip to help you, or events that may happen, again each themed to a certain sphere.
 Of course a Lord of the Rings game would not be complete without Gandalf, who is neutral instead of special to the spheres.
There are also allies who can join your party to help you along the way, some to soak up damage, others with abilities and actions to help yo.

Unlike most card games in which the players compete against each other, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a cooperative game in which you and your friends work together, competing against a scenario that is run automatically by the game. In each game, you attempt to overcome the particular encounters, enemies, and challenges of the scenario, against which you either win or lose together.
Accordingly, each player gains the freedom to choose which role he will play and how he will contribute to the group’s overall success.  You can also run the games solo challenging yourself against the quest deck.
 The core set comes with 3 different sceanrios, and each of these is broken down into 3 sections that must be completed to win.  They have a number on the reverse (i do not want to ruin the plots) that must be reached with successful questing to move onto the next stage.  They also tell you what encounter cards to mix in to the encounter deck by following the symbols.
These could be creatures like giant Spiders or Orcs, other locations that you will need to pass on your journey, or treachery cards.. which are just plain unpleasant.  Some of these cards also have a shadow effect on them, and this comes into play when enemy forces attack you.. they are dealt a face down card from the encounter deck, and after you block them.. or decide not to, they are flipped over..... it could be no effect, or buff them up hugely or cause more problems for your party.

So whats i like to play? There are 7 phases.....

- Resource phase;
- Planning phase;
- Quest phase;
- Travel phase;
- Encounter phase;
- Combat phase;
- Refresh phase.

During the resource phase the players receive the resources they’ll need to spend on cards during this round. At the start of the game each player has three heroes and each of this heroes has its own resource pool linked to the sphere they are from. At the start of the resource phase each hero will receive one resource token for his pool.

When playing a card the resources to pay for this card need to come from the right resource pool. Neutral cards on the other hand can be played with all resources.

This phase ends once all players haven drawn a card from their deck.

In the planning phase, each player can spend their resources to play ally cards and/or attachment cards. Any unspent resources are carried over to the next turn.  you can chat among each other about strategy here freely and plan your moves/


In the quest phase
  players send their heroes and allies on a certain part of the quest, ne it the main quest scenario, or another location that you have traveled to in that encounter. Each players commits heroes and allies to the quest by exhausting them, this is where you need to think hard.... exhausting a character means they will not be available to defend, or attack... but you do need to put some questing power into the quest more then the threat of the enemies there or your own threat tracker will click up by the difference, and if it hits 50.. its game over.  50? that's loads you may think, but you start your tracker at the combined threat cost of your heroes, so yes you can take big beastly heroes, but your threat to begin with will be higher, late 20s or maybe 30.. so a swing of 3 or 4 threat in a single phase is huge.

For every player in the game a card is revealed from the encounter deck and placed into the staging area. If the revealed card has a ‘when revealed’ ability it is executed immediately. If it is a treachery card then its effect is resolved and the card is discarded, enemies and locations go into the staging area.

Once this is done the players combine the willpower from their characters that are committed to the quest.  Then they compare it to the  combined threat strength from the locations and creatures in the staging area.If you have a higher combined willpower than the combined threat strength you add progress tokens (equal to the difference) to the current quest card, which is good remember you want to get a number equal to or more in total then the ones printed on the quest card to progress. If you are at an active location though the progress tokens go there first.

Now what if you didn't commit enough to beat the enemy threat? well you add the difference between their threat level and your questing total to your threat tracker.  Say for example you quested for 3, but the total threat was 5 (it may be as a card or cards if multiplayer are revealed after declaring to quest) then the difference of 2 increases your threat by 2.


Once the quest phase is done (and if there isn’t an active location), the players can choose to travel to a location which is in the staging area. in the Travel Phase If they do so, the location is moved from the staging area to the active location area. which is good as it no longer contributes its threat, and there may be a good (or bad) reward for traveling there.   You will have to completely explore that location again by adding progress markers before you can discard it and add progress tokens to the quest cards.  If you complete one of the main quest cards, you then move onto the next main quest card.



Now we get to the Encounter Phase..... All these nasty creatures that have wandered into the staging area are to just going to sit there..... During this phase creatures in the staging area may attack the players, IF they are thought to be threatening enough. This is a nice way that the threat tracker works in bringing you int the game.. if you have less threat then the creatures engagement value it ignores you.. you are not yet worthy of its interest, or have not caused enough trouble... but if its less then the players threat, they are coming for you!

you do get a window before the creatures make their own decisions on attacking players, where you have  the opportunity to engage an enemy in the staging area voluntarily, which drags them from the staging area removing their threat.



Now we enter the Combat phase........ At the beginning of combat each creature receives a face dwon card from the encounter deck... this could have a shadow effect as we discussed earlier on it, or not.  Creatures will attack first. You must then decide which of your heroes or allies will defend it.  They then become exhausted. Before damage is dealt by a creature the shadow card is revealed. If there is a shadow effect on the revealed card, it must be executed immediately, then discarded.  If there is no shadow effect the card is just discarded.  The defending characters receive damage equal to the difference in strength of the creature and armor of the defending character. If a character receives damage equal to its hit points the character dies and is discarded.  So for example the Dol Gulder orcs attack Gimli, they have an attack of 3, and Gimli has an Armour of 2, so Gimli suffers one damage.  luckily he still has plenty of hit points left though.

When all the creatures have attacked, and if you have anyone left who is not exhausted, you may then attack, and this works in the same way as the enemy attacking you, you subtract the enemies Armour from your attack and the damage is the difference.  Of course some heroes have abilities that can change this... Gimli again, gets more attack damage the more wounds he has suffered, so if he has 3 wounds, he gets an extra 3 to his attack making him very dangerous.

Should one of your heroes die during combat, he takes his resource pool with him (meaning it is discarded). Should all your heroes die, then you’re out of the game.

The final phase of the game is the refresh phase. During this phase the threat level of each player is increased by one, the first player mark moves ( if its multiplayer) and all your cards are refreshed and a new turn commences, continuing til you finish the quest or die trying.  That happens a lot this game is HARD! but that's a good thing, its challenge.  The different quests all have a difficulty rating which is really handy and helps give you an idea how tough its going to be.

There is so much more to the game as well, with abilities on cards, key words and effects, and much much more, but i d o not want to spoil it all, i have gone through the basics of how to play, now its up to you to join the adventures.


So what do i think of it?? well i love it, i love the theme, the art its beautiful, truly beautiful, and nice it goes away from the films and into the book more, and the way the game plays.... Threat to me represents, well threat... and when it hits 50, its you have created so much trouble Sauron himself turns his eye on you and that's the end of that.  Its not an easy game, but out of the core set you have 4 decks, one for each sphere to try out, and then ou can add the adventure packs that provide themed scenarios and more cards and begin building your decks to fit your tastes, or just mix up the core ones to get more out of it.  All in all, its an excellent game, and as a solo and cooperative card game... its top notch, playing solo is hard but fun, but playing together means many other choices,chatting tactics, and cursing those poor draws, or unlucky encounters, whilst cheering those great moments when you succeed by the skin of your teeth.

If you are an LCG card game fan will you enjoy this... yes... yes you will, if you like board games but have never tried card games is this a good one? yes... it walks you through it easily, and can be played solo and coop like many board games.  If you are just a LOTR fan would you like this? yes... you will love it, the cards are dripping in theme with beautiful art inspired by the books, and so much more story then the films ever showed, wonderful quotes from the writings of Tolkien litter the cards really drawing you into the world.

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game Core Set includes 226 cards that can be used to assemble a wide variety of decks right out of the box. Included are three perilous quests that, along with countless combinations of settings and enemies, offer near-limitless replayability.
While the Core Set contains everything you need to build your deck, gather your friends, and save Middle-earth, you can expand your experience further with Adventure packs and deluxe boxes that further progress your story, and i shall certainly be looking to add!

Head over to your local game store and grab yourself a copy.