I love board games. There are board games that I have yet to even take the plastic off of. I love video games. My digital game backlog outgrows my ability to play games. So when two of my favorite worlds collided I kind of geeked out a tad bit. I’ve been a fan of Lord of the Rings since before I can remember. I have memories of sitting on the couch watching the Lord of the Rings animated movies as my dad tried to explain to me all the characters and what was going on. When I was older my best friend and I sat and watched all of the Extended Editions back to back while playing Lord of the Rings Online together. When Fellowship first came to theaters I choose to walk around all summer barefoot to make my feet tough and leathery like a hobbit. I am a nerd, and I love the world of Middle Earth. So yes, maybe I am not an authority on card games, I suck at MTG and fell out of competitive Hearthstone quickly, but I do live and breathe Lord of the Rings.
So it’s obvious I would be all over The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game for PC. I picked the board game version up at my local gaming store years prior and devoured its contents. My friends and I played countless times and enjoyed the cooperative nature of the game. Being a “living card game” you don’t need to buy boosters or hunt down the flavor of the month style cards. Everything you need is in the box. This doesn’t stop the developers from releasing expansions sets to add new cards and adventures, although everything you need is again in those boxes as well. The hook of these living card games was a huge draw to me, a scorned Magic player, and not needing to sink hundreds of dollars into a game just to stay relevant was awesome. If any of that can be replicated or emulated in the digital space, I truly believe this game will explode on the scene.
At its core, Lord of the Rings: LCG is a cooperative experience, and I was hoping it stayed that way in the digital adaptation. Although the game sports only a single player option at the moment, the digital take on this tabletop game stays true to its roots. If players are familiar with the physical version they will feel right at home in the new digital Middle Earth. Although not a copy and paste job, Fantasy Flight Interactive does a great job adapting the digital game to be very similar to the physical one. You’ll be completing quests, fighting monsters, and recruiting allies to fight by your side. Players unfamiliar with the game will still understand how to play after the first few hands if they are knowledgeable with games like Hearthstone and Eternal. Although Lord of the Rings has many unique and notable differences from a typical card game.
The main difference is defeating the enemy is not always the main goal. Completing quests by exhausting your heroes and spending their resource power can be more important than taking down that cave troll. This brings a lot of risk assessment and management to each action you take. Do you push your luck for a board clear and then whittle away at the quest or rush through the quest while taking damage from the monsters? Each tactic has its boons and setbacks, it’s up to you as the player to decide which is best and adapts depending on the cards you have. Each match has a few phases, maybe you’re adventuring through the forest of Mirkwood and get attacked by spiders, the first round you’ll defeat the spiders then you’ll “adventure” to the next phase where your companion has been captured and you must tear open the cocoon it was wrapped in. A few more phases and you’re fighting a giant spider who is the matches final boss. Each round has a unique objective, and these rounds are tied together with a compelling, although I believe noncanonical, story to form an action-packed match.
I am thoroughly enjoying my time spent in game. Each turn starts to feel more familiar and exciting, the story is interesting and compelling, and I haven’t once felt nickel and dimed while playing. The store does have purchasable packs, but the packs contain a set of predetermined cards much like the physical game. These packs cost $1.99 usd or you can use in game currency. I am excited to see the multiplayer they add and to see a roadmap of content for expansion releases. I really believe this game has the staying power for people who are tired of the same old types of collectible card games.
Check out our Twitch page to see our live streams of the game and stay tuned to GamOctane to see more coverage of this game and others. Also if you’re looking for fun digital card game check out the Lord of the Rings LCG steam page to see how to get yourself into the game as well. Be on the lookout for the Nintendo Switch version launching some time next year as well!
Note: GameOctane editor Matthew Steigely received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of previewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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