Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lord of the Rings Card Game, fun!

Years ago I thought of this blog as a place to describe new games for families. Soon enough it became apparent that younger children can be better entertained by creative play than by a sixty dollar eurogame. Over time my emphasis has also shifted towards subjects that are more interesting to, well, me! I think it's better for me to review games and activities that I like even as that strays into old school role playing and miniature games. It does comfort my conscience, though, to mention a game that is a good choice for families, teens, and even younger children.

The Lord of the Rings Card Game is a cooperative game in which players try and accomplish some mission in Middle Earth. In our game we had to defeat a troll, take a raft onto a river, and then deliver a message. In the basic game each player has a deck of cards and each turn you use the cards in your hand to add allies to your party, defeat creatures, or explore. Each turn also presents the players with new adversaries to defeat or locations to explore and if the players don't act quickly then all the new threats will soon overwhelm them.

The game has several elements that make it a real winner. The first is the cooperative element. I felt like each player had something to offer during the game and each of us got our moment of glory. Not all cooperative games really allow all the players to have their time in the sun but this one succeeds.

Secondly, each player's deck of cards has different strengths. We had one player who was good at fighting, one that was good at exploring, one that was a mix, and one (me) that was there to quest and snipe. I don't like aggressive games so the questing deck was terrifically fun. Now if you have four players who All want to be mighty dragon slayers this will be a problem but we found that each player got to do the things that they enjoy.

The game mechanics themselves are pretty simple and the monster illustrations are spooky in a fairly low key fashion. Unlike Warhammer:Invasion there are no cards that will shock or horrify anyone, and all the good creatures and elves are quite lovely. Thus, the game is really appropriate for younger players and families with an aversion to trendy, crass illustrations of elves with whips.

Finally, the theme of the game seemed appropriate. When I played the Star Trek Deckbuilding Game the litter of Ferengi and Romulons teaming up with Ro Laren and Data just made no sense. For whatever reason the character cards in the Lord of the Rings seemed more compatible. Granted I hate Next Generation anyway so that may have colored my feelings but this game feels less haphazard overall.

The Lord of the Rings Card Game supports two players although you can easily expand to four. There are quite a few expansions already released so you should find lots of replay value and there are drafting rules for the more advanced players. For a family that likes this set of stories this is a terrific game.

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