The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Gameby Aethyna Sep 7, 2018 | 1 Votes | 1 Played | 0 Reviews 9 rate Set in the familiar lands of Middle-Earth, you will set off on a thrilling adventure along with Bilbo, Gloin and a handful of heroes you know from the Lord of the Rings series in this unique single-player, collectible card-based experience, The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game. Play Now Similar Games Played
People Also PlayedNote: This is an early access review of The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game. Updates will be made to the review if there are any major changes made to the game prior to its release.
The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game is a collectible card game that's unlike any other. Containing all your favorite and familiar characters, you'll not only be testing your skills against Sauron's minions in this game but also experience a whole new adventure, featuring Bilbo and his friends, that's designed just for this digital adaptation of the popular physical card game. The game is currently a single-player game with a single campaign, but the developers are adding in more campaigns and a co-op option soon.
As with all LOTR-related games, LOTR: Living Card Game has an intriguing storyline that will keep you engrossed from start to finish. The story begins with the tutorial (so you won’t want to skip the tutorial this time around!) where our heroes, Bilbo and his friends are resting at the Beorn’s Hall while waiting for Gloin to accompany them on their journey… that is until Bilbo became restless and wandered off into the nearby woods in hopes of bumping into Gloin. However, he got more than he bargained for.
The forest is a dangerous place and is home to a manner of hostile creatures. Bilbo fought off several of them before finding Gloin who is locked in combat with his own set of enemies as well. After a few rounds of fighting, a spawn of Ungoliant descended rapidly and snatched Bilbo away.
Apparently, Gollum had spotted Bilbo much earlier and he had struck a deal with the leader of the local spider colony – he will provide the spiders with the location of some tasty morsels of meat and they are to capture Bilbo and give Gollum the Ring Bilbo’s carrying.
Of course, being the loyal friend that he is, Gloin knew he will need to muster some help before he could go after his friend. He returned to the Hall, gather whomever who’s willing to come and set off into Mistwood once again to rescue Bilbo.
LOTR: Living Card Game is not your average collectible card game. Many of the mechanics may still be familiar to anyone who has had some experience playing CCGs or TCGs but generally, you’ll still need to learn quite a bit about the game before you can dive right into the first campaign. Thankfully, there’s the tutorial to help you.
The tutorial in this game can be a tad bit long, mainly because it not only introduces every important aspect of the game to you, bit it also sets the stage for the storyline in the first campaign. Due to this, it is strongly recommended that you go through the tutorial in this game if not for the training stuff, but for the plot.
In fact, I’d say LOTR: Living Card Game isn’t exactly very easy to grasp, even with the tutorial, because it can get really complicated, really fast. Granted that I’m not exactly your go-to person regarding anything CCG, I still have substantial experience with them (it’s basically a job requirement at this point). So, if you’re really new to the whole CCG genre, and especially if you have not played the physical version of the game before, you really need to pay attention to everything that’s mentioned.
For those with some experience with CCGs, you basically only need to keep in mind several main aspects of its gameplay. First of all, each round starts with an Upkeep phase and ends with an Adventure phase. The Upkeep is where your player resource (you’ll need this to play cards) is replenished and cards are drawn from the deck (2 per round). Some cards will go into effect here as well.
On the other hand, the Adventure phase takes up the bulk of the gameplay since this is where all the exciting action occurs. You can perform a host of actions from playing ally cards to battling your foes to even setting up event cards.
Now, like any CCG, this game offers a variety of card types that you’ll need to take note. The Ally cards are basically Unit cards which you can use to attack your opponent’s unit cards. There are also Hero cards but these cards will be placed permanently on the board for you. These cards are usually stronger than common unit cards.
Most unit cards have several important information on them including health, attack, willpower, cost to play, and their own abilities (if there’s any), which could range from Guard to Fleeting. For some abilities, you will need to use the Power button to trigger while others will occur automatically. Also note that unlike other CCGs, the player is not directly involved, at least as a “Hero” with a health bar and skills, in the game. Instead, the game puts you in an overseer-like position.
Next, Attachment cards work like Power cards in some way since they help to augment a unit of your choice who’s already in the playing field. Each unit, including heroes, can “equip” up to 4 different Attachment cards; generally, one of each type – Weapon, Armor, Special and Shadow. These cards can be incredibly useful when it comes to bolstering, especially your heroes, in battle.
There are also Event cards, which consists of Preparation cards, that will only be triggered if certain conditions are met. These are great “hidden” counters if you correctly anticipated your opponent’s next move since your opponent will have no idea which Preparation card you’ve just played.
Now, every match you play has an Objective card on the board. Your goal is to complete said objective by either defeating all enemies or by contributing Willpower points to the Objective card. Not every unit card has a willpower value, but for those who have, you can use their turn to contribute their willpower to the objective if you want.
Once the objective’s completed, you can then “Travel” to the next part of the campaign. Note that your remaining units and statuses (including remaining health or adverse effects) will be brought over to the next match for the entire length of the campaign.
That’s not all, the enemy, Sauron, has one more card up its sleeve – Hazards. These cards impose a passive detrimental effect on either you or on both players. Like Objective cards, you can use Willpower to remove Hazards.
Sounds complicated enough? Well, the game’s not done with you yet! You should know about the threat and fate systems as well. Almost every card you play will contribute a certain amount to the threat meter. Once your threat reached a certain threshold, an event will be triggered, which usually increases the difficulty level of the current match by at least a notch. There are certain cards and abilities that can help you reduce your threat level though.
Similarly, the fate system will offer you special aid for a single round if you managed to contribute enough Willpower points to its meter. These special cards won’t take up a move/turn. Both meters will not be reset back to 0 even after you’ve (somehow) managed to max them out. In fact, if your Threat reached 50 (max), you will then fail the quest and have to start over from the beginning.
Oh, and one more thing, there’s a small circle at the bottom right of each unit card you have. This is the Sphere of Influence and it’ll determine which types of cards will be present in your deck (of 30 cards). In some way, they work like faction cards and restrict the types of cards you can get in your deck.
Like all collectible card-based games, you will get to build and customize your own decks. You can also obtain new cards by either drawing randomly by gazing into the Palantir (costs a Palantir View each; gives you 2 items) or buying packs of 5 cards (random card packs or Valor card packs which also cost Valor Points) from the shop. You can also purchase other campaigns here once they are available.
Winning some cards or even getting rewards from playing can be a bit tough though since the game’s real heavy on replays. You are expected to keep replaying a campaign in hopes of getting a much better score, enough to unlock the hero-associated rewards. It can get rather grindy, but there are many attractive stuff you can get.
Currently, LOTR: Living Card Game is a single player experience and as such, there isn’t much of a need to build in any social features… at least not yet. However, the game will be adding in a Co-op mode soon and that will allow players to enjoy the game in a different way, that is with their friends.
Worthy of its LOTR title, this game has some astounding art, be it card backs or fronts, or even the art attached to each story snippet, from a wide range of artists. It’s also really great that the developers credited each artwork to their respective creators.
Not to mention, this game has possibly one of the best (most similar to the movie version at least) voice acting/ narrating around. The voice narration makes each plot segment so much more immersive and engaging. I really have to applaud the voice actor who’s playing Gollum as well. He (or she) sounds so similar to the movie version, so much so, I almost thought they somehow managed to hire that same actor to do the voice acting for this game… wait, did they actually do that?
To sum it up, Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game is an impressive card game that definitely blows any other story-driven collectible card games out of the water. Despite its rather short length (only 1 campaign at the moment) and higher skill ceiling, the game is not only challenging enough to play; it also brings you along on another exciting LOTR adventure with your favorite characters from the series. It is worth every cent you spend on the game, that’s for sure!