Short review – Lord of the Rings The Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games
This is a short review as quite frankly I don’t want to waste too much of yours or my time.
When the gimmicks of “Living rules” came out I was very suspicious as I was concerned that it was an excuse for not writing good rules and excusing the fact of this by saying, “oh, the rules are evolving”. What a load of rubbish. Sure no rules are perfect and of course there will be errata but don’t try and disguise it by claiming they are “living”. Take it on the chin that the rules weren’t good enough game designers.
Now we have “Living Card Games” and this is a whole new sinister kettle of fish.
Fantasy Flight’s Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is just such a “Living Card Game” and after playing it, I must say it was very disappointing and more so as I am a LOTR fan. One of the complaints about CCG’s (Collectible Card Games) is that they are a sink hole of never ending spend for those who get hooked on them. Hey, your money, go for it. At least CCG’s are open with what they are. Now we have Living Card Games. which they tell us are playable with the core set and you can have even more fun by purchasing numerous expansion packs.
Well the problem with the LOTR Card Game is that, beyond the introductory scenario (there are 3), it is virtually impossible to win unless you are EXTREMELY lucky and so it is not balanced nor fair. It just beats you up and you can see it all unfolding early enough so that its very frustrating.
Either the scenarios weren’t playtested for balance and fairness or else, and more sinister, is that Fantasy Flight has allowed marketing to overtake producing good games and this is a cynical ploy to get us to dig deep and buy more expansions. “Oh that’s ok. Buy our expansions and then you will be able to create decks to beat the scenarios”.
Sorry Fantasy Flight, but if the core game isn’t balanced and fair, why in the world would I trust you and buy expansions? Shame on you!
edit – On reflection and fun conversation on Twitter, and in fairness to FFG, the game can be won to a degree if you build the right deck. So I concede this. I would have preferred a fixed deck approach and the rules imply it is playable with the standard decks but the truth is it isn’t and is frustrating as a coop experience as you are fighting the baddies with the deck severely stacked against you.
I still don’t buy into the LCG or CCG thing at all. Maybe not a con, but it feels like it to me. War of Honor by AEG is a good example of a game with fixed decks that works.