Back in the day, I used to be a huge fan of the Magic: The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers series. As time went by, though, the series was effectively replaced by an ever-more-monetised model, and I don’t think that I’ve played a card game on console since then. I was aware of the Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game for a while, but for whatever reason, it never grabbed me. Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game Definitive Edition in hand though, I may finally have found the Duels replacement that I’ve been waiting for.
The Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game Definitive Edition has three main campaigns (each split into five or so quests) as well as a shorter Tutorial which you’ll almost certainly want to work through before you begin. This is because The Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game Definitive Edition is quite unlike your classic Magic: The Gathering experience, even if it shares a few similarities.
Most quests in Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game Definitive Edition have to be tackled based on the current situation at your location. Unlike in Magic, you’re not fighting the enemy (which is always Sauron, in single player games) directly, you’re fighting his minions and attempting to move on before he really pays attention to you.
This — Sauron’s attention — is represented by threat, which begins at the start of each quest as the sum total of the value attached to each player hero (of which there will be three in any deck). For example, you might start a quest with 30 threat, and should you ever reach 50 as a consequence of events in the game, Sauron is very angry with you and the game is automatically lost.
So I mentioned having three heroes — and this is a thing. In Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game Definitive Edition you’ll build your deck by choosing three heroes from a raft of about twenty-odd available. These guys include everyone you remember from the films, and a lot of folk who were mentioned at best in passing, sometimes in The Hobbit, and sometimes only in the darkest corners of the book. However you look at it, there’s a lot to choose from.
Each hero subscribes to one of five different classes, which work a lot like the colour schools in Magic. Adding three different class characters into your deck will give you access to cards from those three classes, but in some cases, you’ll need two or even three characters of the same class to field certain cards. The game comes with a LOT of starter decks to choose from (and these are mostly fine for the single player quests) but the deckbuilding potential is very powerful for those inclined.
The look and feel of Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game Definitive Edition when on the battlefield is very good. Information – whilst clearly driven by cards in hand — is presented in a sort of summarised way once characters, events and other spells hit the board. This makes the key stat — strength, willpower and health — all very easy to spot. The only downside here is that if a character has an ability, you will need to zoom in on them to read and/or use it. As a compounding minor issue, many characters share a similar art style, so you can often lose Arwen — for example — among “other elven characters” when three or four are laid out on the board.
Despite this minor downside, Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game Definitive Edition is otherwise very solid and it offers a good ten or maybe twenty hours of solo gameplay if you include campaigns and the additional adventure and challenge modes. If you choose to play multiplayer, your mileage may vary but is likely to extend much further, as the deckbuilding options begin to get more and more important.
Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game Definitive Edition is a much more interesting prospect than I had thought it would be, and it has even got me interested in the idea of checking out the physical card game, which shares many similar concepts and characters with the added benefit of physical tangibility (and I suppose, the downside of setup and teardown.) Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game Definitive Edition is an often overlooked game that is much better than I had been led to believe, and it’s well worth a look.
You can find Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game: Definitive Edition on PC and Xbox.