14 September 2018 | The Lord of the Rings LCG

Heroism in All Its Forms

Preview Leadership and Lore in The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game


The path to adventure is open before you. The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game—a brand-new digital Living Card Game from Fantasy Flight Interactive—recently entered early access on Steam, and you can already get started taking on the entire first campaign. But even the wise will discover a map before they venture forward.

Today, we’re going to offer a look inside The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game, and specifically, at two of the familiar spheres that you’ll use when you’re building your decks!

Return to the Familiar

Fans of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game will immediately notice that your decks in the digital game are built around four familiar spheres of influence: Leadership, Lore, Spirit, and Tactics. Each sphere represents a different form of heroism in Middle-earth. Leadership inspires courage in others. Lore focuses on the power of knowledge and perseverance. Spirit embodies all things courageous and clever.  Finally, Tactics uses superior battle techniques to outlast the opposition and achieve victory through combat.

This Sphere system is the heart of deckbuilding in The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game, and understanding it is crucial to succeeding on your quest. Over the next two previews, we’ll explore the sphere system, going in-depth on the individual factions and what makes them work. But first, let’s talk about how this sphere system is different from The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.

Not All as You Remember

Fans of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game will immediately notice some differences with the digital game. Instead of heroes generating their own pool of resources, you’ll get three universal resources at every upkeep. These resources can be used to pay for any card or ability, regardless of its sphere. What’s more, this single resource pool means that you will always have access to resources, and the only time you’re unable to play cards is if the cards are too expensive or don’t have a target.

In the digital game, the spheres impacts deckbuilding directly. If you choose a hero of a certain sphere, they can now include Level 1 cards of that sphere in their deck. Similarly, if you take two heroes of a sphere, you can take Level 2 cards!

Level 2 cards are inherently more powerful, because they’re more specialized. They’re better at playing a certain role, but their effects are more narrow than Level 1 cards. Ultimately, this sphere system in The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game makes deck construction a dynamic challenge while also eliminating the resource restrictions from gameplay!

Lead from the Front

Leadership is the sphere of commanders and rulers, and it values strength through unity. A Leadership hero is someone who courageously leads allies into battle, but still takes the time to be cautious and careful in their planning, too.

Fans of The Lord of the Rings won’t be surprised to see that Aragorn is our marquee hero for Leadership. The future king is a noble and proud leader, and though he is adept in combat, he is apt at questing, as well. Aragorn highlights Leadership’s ability to inspire greatness in others while leading through example.

In The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game, action economy is key to success, and this is one place where the Leadership sphere excels. Gameplay passes back-and-forth between your hero and Sauron, with each action (such as using a character or playing a card) composing a single turn. Once Sauron is out of actions, he’ll pass until the next round, at which point you’re free to take as many actions as you like, until you too are out of things to do.

As a result, one of the most powerful things that you can do is take more actions by using effects to grant your characters extra activations. Cards like Ever Vigilant can ready exhausted heroes or allies, bringing them back into battle even after they’ve already attacked! Overall, it boils down to one simple point: make more moves and you’ll win more games.

Actions govern how much you can do, but resources allow players to activate powers, play allies and events, equip attachments, and more. They are the lifeblood of The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game, and they come at a premium. Typically, you’ll only gain three resources every turn, though any that you don’t spend stay in your pool for the next turn.

However, Leadership has a few effects that grant you extra resources—cards like Zigil Miner, who can exhaust to excavate a resource as an action. While other spheres have to worry about their cost curve during deckbuilding, Leadership can easily avoid those concerns with its resource ramp.

Leadership Strengths and Weaknesses

Leadership tends to be the most flexible Sphere, able to take on more aggressive or more controlling roles, depending on what the situation calls for. Leadership heroes can use extra actions to outlast the opposition, or they can spend their resources to flood the board with allies and aggressively rush enemies.

This flexibility comes at a price. Leadership cards are usually wider in scope, and so they can feel less focused than cards of other spheres. They are good enough at many things, but they don’t excel at any particular task, so they can fall behind when a quest demands a more focused approach. Many times, Leadership will act as an excellent support sphere for a deck that contains cards from a more focused sphere, like Tactics or Lore. Leadership cards are easy to splash and especially powerful with high-stat heroes like Gimli or Arwen, as they create extra actions with those powerful heroes.

Deep Knowledge

Leadership may inspire your characters for a battle or a quest, but Lore heroes favor learning and intellect over agility or might. But that doesn’t mean they slouch in combat; instead, Lore Heroes like Faramir use their superior knowledge of the battlefield to outwit enemies. Lore encompasses more than just knowledge gleamed from books—it’s about any sort of experience, wisdom, or specialized learning.

But knowing, as they say, is only half the battle. Wisdom is nothing if not properly applied, and the challenge with playing Lore comes from properly using the sphere’s reactive and narrow effects. Lore players will need to turn their superior knowledge of the battle into a significant, advantage. If they can, however, they can conquer any challenge, given enough time and resources.

In The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game, like in all card games, more cards mean more options. Knowledge and learning translates mechanically into card draw for Lore. Faramir’s Vanquish ability is a great example of how Lore cards can churn through your deck, finding the perfect card for the current situation. Be careful, though: once a player runs out of cards, their options begin to dwindle fast.

Lore is also built to last, and so the Sphere has access to the best forms of recovering health in the game. Whether it’s the hands of an Imladris Caregiver or a quick bite of Lembas, the Lore sphere’s knowledge of anatomy and healing allow you to protect your Heroes and recover from big attacks, living to fight another day. Since Lore favors the late game, it needs to use these healing effects as tools to survive the early turns.

Lore Strengths and Weaknesses

Lore decks always want to make it to the endgame, grinding out advantages over Sauron’s minions and building a strong defense. Most Lore builds are control decks, and Lore typically acts as the main sphere, with another supporting—when paired with Tactics or Leadership, Lore creates an impenetrable battle machine, capable of building a massive army or toughening up its Heroes to make them unstoppable. When paired with Spirit, however, Lore protects its intrepid party of Heroes, carving its way quickly toward the objective while healing heroes and exhausting enemies along the way.

Lore decks are sometimes slow to start, so they can falter when facing quicker, more aggressive enemies. Often, the best strategy involves stalling for multiple turns while loading up with extra attachments and allies. Finally, Lore can often find itself starved for resources, since their bountiful card draw provides access to more cheap, interactive cards than they can afford to put onto the board. When building a Lore deck, it can be tempting to include all the powerful, expensive cards that the sphere allows. But the most successful Lore players will find wisdom in their scrutiny, building decks with modest or reasonable curves and a couple of haymakers at the top end.

Lead Through Knowledge

Next time, we’ll talk about the Tactics and Spirit spheres and how they come to life in The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game. We’ll see you there, but in the meantime, you don’t have to waste to get your first taste of the game. Start playing The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game through early access on Steam today!

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