LOTR TCG

I'd never played a "trading card game" before.... But one of the joys of having children is the excuse to indulge in games and activities that childless adults (unlike childish adults :-) might never have the nerve to attempt.

These games are different from games involving a standard deck of playing cards, in that there are many cards that people collect, but a small subset is selected for one's "deck" to play a particular game. Deck selection is part of the strategy.

My son has some friends that have taken to the "Lord of the Rings" TCG. It is an amazingly complex and strategic game that actually mirror's Tolkien's story line quite well. Two or more players can play. Each person's deck will have 30+ good guy cards (your Fellowship) and 30+ bad guy cards (the Shadow force), a Ring-Bearer, and 9 "Site" cards, which represent locations in Middle Earth.

The object is to get your Ring-Bearer thru site #9 first. You get there first by having your Fellowship of Companions and Allies fighting your opponent's Minions. You can also win by having your Minions kill your opponent's Ring-Bearer, or "corrupting" him. So in a sense, there are two games going on at once.

Each turn has 7 phases, in which you fortify your Fellowship, allow opponents to position their forces, adjust weapons and conditions for battle, perform archery actions, then assign all surviving Companions and minions for combat, and finally perform the actual skirmish, and then regroup for the next turn.

This is a fun game with lots of dynamics and strategy.... And having a 9 year old gives me a good excuse to play :-)

When he was younger, he went thru a "phase" when kids in the neighborhood collected Pokemon cards, sure that their cards would be worth a fortune someday! And not really knowing how to play (if there even was) a game associated with the cards. Now, the "worth" of a LOTR card is its ability to help secure victory in the game, not some hope in future riches or presteige in intrinsic "cuteness" or "coolness". Maybe a sign of maturity? Not to dis all those beany baby collectors out there ;-)

The LOTR  TCG  was developed by Decipher. They publish "free" starter decks you can download, print out, and cut to size. There are a dozen or so strategy articles that discuss each "phase". There are suggested "deck" designs depending on your strategy (swarming orc minions, hobbit or men based fellowship, lots of archers, trolls, etc). There are detailed color images of ALL 1200+ cards on-line. And there are starter instructions, as well as the 22-page Comprehensive Rulebook 4.0.

A $10.00 starter deck (per player) is all that is needed, if you don't want to print out the free decks. But you'll soon want to augment your deck with other card types that assist your Fellowship or your Shadow Minions. Again, purchase 11-card booster packs, or just print out high-res card images from Decipher and cut to size.

There is a video tutorial, as well as a downloadable interactive tutorial for the PC. The release schedule for new expansion packs goes thru 2007:

http://www.decipher.com/lordoftherings/index.html

Click on "card list", "strategy", "rules", etc.

BTW, the new extended version of the last LOTR movie (Return of the Kings) will be available next week. I've put off buying the DVDs. Now I should be able to buy a package with all three extended versions.

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