ffg lotr

In the second of a series of articles, Fantasy Flight Games designer Matthew Newman discusses the design and game elements in the second scenario of the Angmar Awakened cycle of the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game. The Lost Realm deluxe expansion and the scenarios of the Angmar Awakened cycle explore the north of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth which encompasses Eriador and the lands that once belonged to the Kingdom of Arnor, the sister kingdom of Gondor, established by Elendil and Isildur in the lands between the Misty Mountains and the Blue Mountains, before the kingdom declined and was destroyed by the Witch-King of Angmar. A land of desolate moors, mountains, trolls, orcs and wargs, and considered by the inhabitants of the Shire and Bree to be haunted, it is a natural setting for the LOTR LCG to explore.

Mount Gram, at the northern end of the Misty Mountains is an orc stronghold mentioned in the Appendices to the LOTR and in The Hobbit. Newman, in using this location, has designed a game based on ‘prison break’ video game sequences in card form. At the beginning of the scenario, you have been captured by orcs and taken to the Mt. Gram dungeons. You task is to escape. Sounds easy, but wait; you get no allies, items, mounts or artifacts at the beginning of the game. They are all shuffled into a separate ‘Captured Deck’ and cannot be used until liberated. In addition, you get only one hero to start. Any other heroes are included in the Captured Deck—one on top, any others shuffled in with the rest of the cards. And, in a multiplayer game, each player starts as if they are playing solo, with their own staging area to struggle against, unable to help each other. So, you are all alone with one hero and only a deck of skills, events, songs and condition cards to draw from.
If this seems daunting, there is a silver lining. Many of the encounter deck cards have the “Capture X” keyword. This allows you add X cards underneath the encounter card. Defeating an enemy or exploring a location with the Capture keyword lets you take the cards and place them in your hand—with certain events, you can even put them into play immediately.
Newman says that one of fun, but tense, aspects of the game will be balancing your actions with only one hero available. This can be daunting, but starting with only one hero means that you start with a very low threat level. Starting at this level can makes it possible to reserve your strength for combat rather than exhausting during the quest phase—the increase in the threat level is still low enough that the player is not in immediate danger of triggering disaster if they take some damage during the quest phase.
Ultimately “through clever action and risk management—and the skilled use of events—you must recover your allies and equipment and meet up with the other players”, at which point the real prison break is underway, and the difficulty increases as the players seek final escape from Mt. Gram. All in all, this promises to be a tense, but exciting addition to the LOTR LCG storyline and scenarios.

Escape from Mt Gram is available for pre-order. The complete article is available here.

warriors of middle earth

The classic fantasy epic Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien can be experienced in a very immersive way in Ares Games’ War of the Ring, an epic board game in which players can play through Tolkien’s grand saga as they take on the roles of either the Free People of Middle Earth or The Shadow (forces of Sauron).  To date, War of the Ring has had only one smaller expansion, Lords of Middle Earth, but now Ares Games has announced a second expansion for the game, Warriors of Middle Earth.

In the core game, many additional characters appear other than the Free Peoples and the armies of the Shadow, but have not been “playable.”  Now, this new expansion will include Ents, Dead Men of Dunharrow, Great Eagles of the Misty Mountains, Corsairs of Umbar, Wild Hilmen from Dunland, and Giant Spiders.  Each of these character and creature groups will feature miniatures and special abilities.

In Warriors of Middle Earth, new game mechanisms will be introduced to the game, including Faction Dice and Faction Events.  As in the core game and first expansion, Warriors of Middle Earth will be illustrated by John Howe.  This new expansion is set for release in the Q4 of 2015, in or around November.

For more information on this new expansion for War of the Ring, please visit Ares Games’ website here.