47 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Good start to solid game, Core set feels incomplete,
= Durability: = Fun: = Educational:
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This review is from: Lord Of The Rings: The Card Game (Toy)
**ORIGINAL REVIEW (5/28/11)**: If I were rating the game itself, I would've given it 4 stars minimum. However, rating the core set from the perspective of a standalone product, I (reluctantly) can't give it more than 3 stars. I don't feel that what is contained in the core product is sufficient for long term enjoyment of the game. Allow me to elaborate.
Per the rulebook, if you are going to create a custom deck (a tournament legal one anyways), it has to be a *minimum* of 50 cards with no more than 3 copies of each card. What you get in this box is 4 starter decks with approximately 30 cards each. I'm not implying a deck need be tournament legal for casual play or to be enjoyable, but you'll have a difficult time dealing with the harder scenarios "as is". The reason you need a second core set for 3-4 players is becuase Fantasy Flight knows that the 30 card decks alone aren't going to cut it against harder scenarios. (You can, however, use the starter decks against the Mirkwood scenario quite easily, though players 3 and 4 will need to find another way to track their threat.)
While it is possible to mix two starter decks together of different themes, it becomes impractical to do so. You really need a second copy of the same deck (and therefore a second copy of the core set) to get cards you really want to play with in sufficient number. You can never start with more than 3 heroes (and so if you are playing with a mixed bag, you can never have anything other than a 2/1 split or an even more impractical 1/1/1 split) and since you can't play additional heros later (generally speaking, though there are events that let you play them from your discard pile), if you happen to lose your only hero of a certain resource, you can't play any card in your hand of that resource type for the rest of the game. This limitation of resource generation and consequently deck building, I feel, is a flaw of the mechanics itself which is why I wouldn't rate this a 5 star game, even if I were reviewing the game rather than the Core set product.
While I do think this game will improve over time, particularly if they address the difficulty in blending your spheres of influence for deck building (or at the very least giving all sphere types availability to cards that allow you to replay heroes), right now I believe it is enough to hinder the single Core set owner from really enjoying the game as much as he or she should be able to. I would've liked to have seen more robust starter decks (why do I need 4 starter decks in a Core set only intended for two people?) or at the very least suggested deck variations for advanced play. As it stands, you're going to have a hard time playing the middle difficulty scenario with 2 players rocking starter decks and you may as well forget the hardest scenario, while the simplest scenario is a cake-walk and isn't really very engaging for more than a play or two just starting out. (Seriously, the difficulty jump from Mirkwood to Anduin is kind of ridiculous.)
If you're planning on playing the game, I suggest trying it first, if possible, to see if you enjoy it, and then expect to pony up enough $$ for a second Core set. And even though this isn't a TCG, you're going to have to build some comfort with deck building. I like the game, I think it's fun, but I can't rate what I feel is an incomplete product higher than 3 stars. And by incomplete product, I mean, I feel that you are not given the resources required for 2 players to adequately complete the 3 scenarios supplied.
**UPDATE (7/24/11)**: After a few more weeks of playing this game, I've decided I don't like it very much. Even after buying the second Core set, I am finding deck building to be a chore. As I am attempting to stick to the prescribed 50 card decks with only 3 copies of each card, I find I can really only make two decks that are worth a da**. Even if you wanted to just make a mono sphere deck, you have to buy 2 Core sets for 2 copies of the 30 card starter decks and even then, you have so many garbage cards that are already at the 3 max, you really still can't make a deck that abides by FFG's own rules. And tying resource generation to heroes is an awful mechanic that has led to so many NPE (negative player experiences) that I am now stuck with 2 Core sets and the first expansion that nobody in the gaming group (myself included) really wants to ever play again. The Gollum expansion was highly disappointing, but I'll save that for another review.
The purpose of the LCGs was to move past the expensive hobbies of CCGs while retaining some of that flexibility of deck building and enjoyment of that style of gameplay. I feel LOTR isn't really significantly cheaper to get into (the power gamers that would spend a lot on, say, Magic are likely the ones that would buy 3+ Core Sets) and while in theory the mechanics seem solid, there a few aspects of the gameplay that make it notably inferior to other gaming experiences out there. This could have been so much better. As a fan of the book, movies and Decipher's LOTR TCG years ago, I really was looking forward to new and innovative adventures into Middle Earth but this really doesn't deliver.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 3, 2011 2:11:53 PM PDT
M. Allen says:
Don't run if you ain't being chased J. Many gamers agree that this a chintzy first offering for what has the potential to be an outstanding series.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2011 2:37:49 PM PDT
True enough, but I get stuff rated down all the time for no apparent reason. Amazon should reconsider their rating process. Also, as the game is still reletively new, I have to conceed that perhaps there was something that I missed, though as a vet of other games (playtested the TCG years ago), I really don't think so.
Posted on Dec 17, 2012 7:43:58 PM PST
M. LeTourneux says:
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012 8:57:39 PM PST
I find it interesting you would make such a comment when the first two sentences of the review are: "If I were rating the game itself, I would've given it 4 stars minimum. However, rating the core set from the perspective of a standalone product, I (reluctantly) can't give it more than 3 stars."
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012 1:54:28 AM PST
M. LeTourneux says:
I'm pretty sure you are rating the game itself :p The intention of this product review is for this singular item on http://amazon.com.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012 2:14:52 AM PST
And that's why it got 3 stars. I'm sorry you seem to have the wrong idea, but I'm not really interested in restating the obvious to you.
Posted on Jan 30, 2013 4:20:34 AM PST
I was thinking about getting this card game because of the solo play, but after reading your review, I think I will pass on it.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2013 10:59:35 AM PST
Vicky Clayton says:
Check out BGG then buy your games at Amazon.....
Posted on Jan 27, 2014 7:29:28 PM PST
Very thoughtful review, and I agree with all of your points. I've played the 2-player game twice; the first with the easy adventure (which was a cake walk) and the second with the medium adventure (which was next to impossible given the cards we had). I also agree with your comments about resource generation being tied to a card that can "die", meaning you might lose all ability to generate that resource for the remainder of the game (that's a deal breaker!). And as a veteran MTG player, I can already see that it would be very hard to mix spheres (the equivalent to having a multicolor MTG deck) because your choices are 2/1 (which is doable) or 1/1/1 (which is probably not doable).
All of that said, I wonder what your thoughts are on the game now, a few years later, when there are many expansions out there and 3500 different cards available. I wonder if the resource generation and/or other balance issues have been addressed. I wonder if you can buy the core set and a few expansions (rather than 2 core sets) and end up with lots of deck-building options. And on that note, all of this just further underscores your point about the cost of getting into this is game. It may not be much cheaper to get into than a CCG, if at all.
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