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Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game (Digital) Review



Quick Look: Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game (Digital)

Designer: Nate French
Artists: Even Mehl Amundsen, Erfian Asafat, Tiziano Baracchi, and many, many more
Publisher: Asmodee Digital
Year Published: 2011 (physical game), 2019 (digital game)
No. of Players: 1-2
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 30-60 minutes

Review:



I first read The Lord of the Rings as a teenager. It was right before the movies were being released, so I wanted to read them first before seeing the films. It’s been all downhill from there, as I have fallen neck deep into not just Tolkien’s fantasy world, but all fantasy worlds. The Lord of the Rings has always been a very close second when it comes to favorite IPs and universes (Star Wars always wins…but it’s close).

I had heard great things about the Lord of the Rings LCG, but I never had a chance to play. The opportunity to review the digital version was very exciting to me, but I was confused…Why is it called the Adventure Card Game? The name is a bit different from the physical game, although I do believe it is the same game (with some minor differences). Since I haven’t played the physical game, I will have to leave you, fair reader, to discover any differences on your own. But, I will give you a solid look into the digital version. 

Before that, I would like to express my delight at this game. Each mission has narrative text to set the stage for what’s about to happen in-game. While they could have simply left it as text, it is fully narrated, with various characters speaking in unique voices. These voices remain throughout the game as well, so when you play cards, attack, etc., you have your characters and allies saying a little line.

The art is big and full, as it should be on my monitor. Even the play area is covered in detail. If you want an immersive LotR experience, I daresay that this is it. I’ve been playing this digital version for countless hours now, experimenting with various types of decks, playing missions, and exploring the game (as much as is possible—it’s not exactly “open world”). I am very happy with it. It’s engrossing, there’s literally no mess to clean up, and it’s very easy to get the hang of (at least, it is after playing through the tutorial).

I think Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game is a fantastic digitized game. If you enjoy digital versions of tabletop games, I believe this is one that will stand the tests of time. It also comes with both the first and second scenarios free of charge. There are also random encounters you can play through, each different than the last. There’s a lot of play time in this game, and with the ability to create many differing decks, you most likely won’t get tired of it anytime soon. I know I haven’t!

But enough preamble. Let’s talk about the game itself.

Setup:



Download the game on Steam and you’re ready to go!

But, before you dive into it, I do recommend playing through the tutorial campaign first. Not only will you receive additional cards once you complete it, but it’ll also help familiarize you with the controls. Even if you’ve played the physical game already, learning the layout of the digital game will certainly help your overall experience.

After finishing the tutorial campaign, you’ll want to build a deck or two. Of course, there are some pre-constructed decks, so using one of those is fine and dandy. But if you want more control over your experience, build your own. 

Gameplay:



The gameplay is easy to learn, both in concept and execution. That’s important, as games such as this can be rather intimidating upon first glance. Fortunately, the tutorial campaign helps a lot. 

I won’t discuss the minutiae of the rules, but I will talk in brief about how the game is played.

First, and as mentioned previously, you must construct a deck. There are certain rules you must follow in building the deck, including not having more than 30 cards in your deck. Likewise, your chosen heroes will also dictate which cards may or may not be used in your deck (depending on their type), so you must consider your choices carefully.


Playing through quests grants in-game currency which allows you to acquire more cards.

Once you’re happy with your deck, start a campaign. Or do a random encounter. Follow your heart. Each campaign consists of five quests, and each quest will see you “traveling” through various locations. In order to move on, you must first complete one or more requirements in your current location. Some locations have location-specific benefits you can take by paying Willpower. Of course, Sauron also has location-specific threats that come about if you take too long to finish the quest. It’s quite thematic in that way, which I very much enjoy and appreciate.

Each location will have you facing off with enemies and, more than likely, objectives. Defeat enemies with attack power, and resolve objectives by spending willpower. You have strategic options as well, such as cards to play (i.e. event, weapons, etc.), making a character defend (i.e. forcing Sauron’s next attack to be on that character), and more. 

The game ends in defeat if Sauron’s threat meter reaches 50. You win if you complete all the locations in a quest. Once you have successfully completed all five quests in a campaign, you have finished the campaign.




Theme and Mechanics:



The theme is Lord of the Rings to the core. From the narrative to the cards and actions and everything else, the theme is incredibly strong. The mechanics add to it as well, by fighting creatures sent by Sauron, playing thematic cards to aid in your quest, and finding the best strategy to complete each quest. The theme and mechanics work together in splendid harmony.

Artwork and Components:



The art is everything you could ever want in a Lord of the Rings game. It’s vivid and really draws you in. 

As for components…there are none. It takes zero time to setup or take it all down, which makes it even easier to get into a game.

The Good:
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Thematic to the core
  • Gameplay sucks you in
  • Strategic
  • Solo play
  • Cooperative play
  • No setup or teardown
  • Full-cast voice overs
  • Beautiful art
  • Deck construction
  • Pre-built decks
  • LORD OF THE RINGS
The Other:

I don’t believe there’s a way to save your progress in the middle of a quest, which is kind of a drawback if you’d like to play a short game but don’t have time to go all the way through a quest.

Final Thoughts:


I really love this game. I’ll get on to play one game and get sucked in to the story and the game. I love that there’s no setup or teardown. I love that it’s an excellent game for solo play. I love that it’s a Lord of the Rings game but that it explores scenarios undiscussed in the books. I just really love this game.

Players Who Like:

Fans of Lord of the Rings will certainly enjoy Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game. Fans of the physical game will also enjoy it. If you like a good strategic solo (or cooperative) game, this is it. If you like constructing decks and seeing how they fare in battle, look no further. And, if you’re looking for a digital board/card game to play, this is so worth it (in my opinion). Again, it comes with two campaigns and then random scenarios, so you’ll have a lot of time to invest before you get through it all.



Check out Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game on:

              



Benjamin Kocher - Editor and Reviewer

Benjamin hails from Canada but now lives in Kentucky with his wife and kids. He's a certified copyeditor through UC San Diego's Copyediting Extension program. He's a freelance writer and editor, and covers everything from board game rule books to novels. An avid writer of science fiction and fantasy, it comes as no surprise that his favorite board games are those with rich, engaging themes. When he’s not writing or playing games, Benjamin loves to play ultimate Frisbee, watch and play rugby, and read the most epic fantasy books available. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminKocher and Instagram @Kocherb, and read his board game-inspired fiction at BenjaminKocher.com.


See Benjamin's reviews HERE.
Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game (Digital) Review Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game (Digital) Review Reviewed by Benjamin Kocher on January 10, 2020 Rating: 5

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