Lord of the Rings TCG is a fun, easy to learn game of adventure
and peril. Each player's deck is a mixture of good and evil. On
your turn, you play only cards from your hand that represent goodness,
like the fellowship. On your opponent's turn, you play Orcs, Trolls,
bad weather, burdens on the Ring-bearer, and the like, in order
to slow your opponent's progress.
Each player controls a fellowship of major characters from the
story. Fellowships begin in the relative safety and civility of
The Shire, then move to Rivendell, Moria, Lorien, and finally Amon
Hen. The first fellowship to reach this final destination on the
adventure path wins, which represents the urgency of their mission.
The harder you push your fellowship, the more vulnerable they
are to minions of Sauron, Saruman, and the depths of Moria. If your
Ring-bearer is killed, or becomes corrupted and runs off with The
One Ring, you lose. The player who maintains the most optimal balance
of safety and urgency usually wins. But even if your Fellowship
is woefully behind on the adventure path, your minions and Ring-bearer
burdens might still kill or corrupt the competition's Ring-bearer.
Each player can have any character in play. For example, all players
begin the game with Frodo bearing The One Ring. There is no competition
between players to get unique characters on the table. The game
allows each player to form the fellowship of nine, but it also allows
a player to form a smaller fellowship which will not attract as
much attention. A few characters can travel with the fellowship
who did not in the story. These let you specialize your deck along
a particular culture, such as Dwarves or Elves. (By the way, a fellowship
with only the 4 main Hobbits is certainly viable, and a lot of fun
The central theme of The Lord of the Rings TCG is risk, which
manifests with the play of every card. The more cards the fellowship
plays to help their cause, the more attention they draw from the
forces of Shadow; the more minions they skirmish, the more temptation
the Ring-bearer faces. Risk is handled through a central receptacle
of pitch-black glass tokens called the twilight pool. Each card
the fellowship plays adds tokens to twilight pool equal to the card's
cost. A powerful character like Aragorn adds many tokens; his sword
adds a few more. If you need a little athelas for healing, this
adds a twilight token, as does a simple spell from Gandalf, or Bill
the Pony to carry your baggage, or a sudden tactic during a skirmish.
Twilight tokens are the "money" your opponent uses to play shadow
cards against you. A shadow card's cost is the number of twilight
tokens an opponent removes from the twilight pool to play this card.
Typical shadow cards are minions, so you can imagine that the more
cards played to help your fellowship, the more minions your fellowship
may face. You must also add tokens to the twilight pool for every
move for each character in your fellowship and for the shadow number
of the site they are moving to.
Taking another look at the Hobbit deck, stealth is the key. This
means using the Hobbit natural stealthiness to keep the twilight
pool low and to avoid the minions that do get played.
By Michael Reynolds courtesy of Decipher
TCG Game Designer
September 4, 2001