Monday, July 16, 2012

LOTR TCG Rules Explained - Episode 1: Controlling/Liberating Sites

I've been getting questions from some of the blog's followers lately that inspired me to start doing a deeper dive into the rules of the game. Much like the Starter Deck series, my hope is that this will give me even more inspiration to post more content here, and give my readers more reasons to come back!

Today I wanted to take a look at Controlling and Liberating sites.

Site control was introduced in the Two Towers Block, but became more popular with the release of Siege of Gondor.

Essentially, site control is a tactic the Shadow Player can use to do various, powerful things called out by specific cards. For example, once you control a site, you can activate Gorgoroth Assassin's text to assign him to an unbound companion.

You take control of a site by using a card like Siege Troop.

Physically, when the Shadow Player controls a site, they take the first available site on the Site Path and place it in their Support Area.

For example, if Player 1 is at Site 5 and Player 2 is at Site 4, and Player 1 uses Siege Troop to control a site, they take Site 1 from the Site Path and move it to their Support Area. Note that if a player's Site Marker is still on Site 1, it can't be controlled. The gametext of that site can no longer be used, although it's keywords are still active (i.e. it is still a battleground).

Finally, the Free Peoples' player can liberate a site using a card like Helm! Helm!

Sites must be liberated from highest site number to lowest site number. When the site is liberated, put it back on the Site Path.

As an interesting aside, when I worked at Decipher during the summer of 2002, we were playtesting The Two Towers and creating the control mechanic. There was originally going to be an auto-win condition, saying that if a player controlled more than 5 sites, they won the game (or if I recall correctly, if a Shadow Player could spot 5 controlled sites, the Ring-Bearer was corrupted). We opted to not introduce a new rule, which I think made the mechanic less popular. Leave a comment to let me know what you think!


  1. If I recall, Sauron besiegers were the most consistant site controllers.

  2. Actually it was a bit more complicated.

    Originally, the better you could use sites, the harder it was to control. So for instance, original Raiders could EASILY take control of sites, (they had Regiment of Haradrim, look familiar?) and yet couldn't hardly do anything with them (Men of Harad is STILL the worst LotR card EVER MADE).

    Meanwhile, Dunland had some GREAT uses for sites, but it was a pain to try and get them. Especially as this was the days before "lurker", a smart skirmish sequence could screw a Dunland site-deck every time.

    Then there was Isengard which was middle of the road. Their uses for sites were mediocre and methods to take control of it about the same. One ISC deck I worked on ended up at about a 50/50 rate. (it either got a site and took off, or it would stall out and become little more than a speed bump - see: Down to the Last Child)

    Then what made it all worse was that the Freep cards which liberated sites usually had some secondary function (in case you didn't need to liberate) while shadow control cards were all/nothing.

    Sauron ended up with the best by far. They could utilize sites, but were not completely hosed if they never got one, and had at least a chance of getting one.

    I do wish they had adjusted the site control/liberation rules for the new site path when it released. I think the fear of it involving paperwork kept more people from playing it.


Please visit our sister-site: