Friday, November 30, 2012

Fili, Brother to Kili

I was getting really excited about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey coming out in December. Then I heard that they are showing the first 9 minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness during the trailers and my excitement went through the roof.

To help temper my anticipation, I've started making The Hobbit TCG Dream Cards. Here's my first pass, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Play LOTR TCG Online For Free with Gemp-LOTR

Guest post by Evelyn Robinson

Do you find yourself wanting to play LOTR TCG at times when there is nobody about to play with? This can be highly frustrating. Fortunately there is a solution, as an online version of the game is available that allows LOTR TCG fans to play against enthusiasts from all over the world. It is known as Gemp-LOTR and according to site officials, there are usually around one hundred and forty people playing it during any given week. Development of the game began in summer 2011 and soon afterwards, the first version was released, which only included cards from the Fellowship of the Ring set. The current version features all cards released and there are plans to add new features. Unlike previous online LOTR platforms, Gemp-LOTR is completely browser-based. No downloads are required and players can even log in from some mobile phones. It is the most popular online LOTR TCG environment, with nearly two hundred active players, and offers both casual gaming and competitive playing in the form of leagues.

Deck Builder and Card Merchant
In addition to providing players with the option to play using all cards that have been released, Gemp-LOTR also offers the option of using a deck builder in order to create a pack. You can choose to play with ‘my cards’, which means that only the virtual cards that you have collected will be available, or you can choose a limited pool of cards. Another nice touch to Gemp-LOTR is the ‘card merchant’ function, which enables you to buy virtual cards using virtual currency. You are given two hundred virtual gold coins when you first register and fifty gold coins on your first login of every week after that. The only other way to gain gold coins is to sell cards. Boosters can be bought for ten gold coins, the exception being reflections boosters, which cost twenty gold coins. Starter decks are priced at twenty-five gold coins and don’t contain random rare cards like the physical starter decks contained. Ents of Fangorn and Battle of Helm’s Deep starter decks cost thirty-five gold coins each and contain three fixed rares. The price of single cards changes over time. Foil cards can be sold for double the price of non-foil versions of the cards. Four non-foil versions of a card can also be traded in return for a foil version but when you do this, you have to pay an additional fee of four gold coins. This might sound quite complicated but it is easy to pick up.

There are various different leagues available for online players to enter, which adds a competitive element to the game. Sometimes prizes are even given out to the winners, improving motivation to win and upping the excitement levels. There are three varieties of league: collector’s leagues, sealed deck leagues and constructed leagues. In collector’s leagues, players are only permitted to play using cards that are part of their ‘my cards’ collection. A constructed league allows them to play using all cards that are legal in that league format and in a sealed deck league, they can only use a limited set of cards. They can be single cards, starter decks or booster packs. All players get the same booster packs and single cards, though card pool can vary for each player due to different contents of booster packs and also possibly different starter decks being given. Each participant builds a deck using only the cards from this limited pool.

Overall Impression
The main downside to Gemp-LOTR is that playing online can never replace the pleasure of playing with actual physical cards. There is something satisfying about holding cards in your hand that is impossible to simulate. Playing with virtual cards is comparable to only reading the free books that come with eBook readers as a means of saving on books. Sure you might not have to fork out for the physical items and it will be more convenient but it still can’t compare to the real thing. Gemp-LOTR is however a good way of enabling yourself to have a game of LOTR TCG when you are unable to play in real life. It might not quite be able to replicate the excitement of playing with an actual pack of cards but it is still a lot of fun.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sealed League

I've recently started playing Magic: the Gathering again as, sadly, there just is not enough interest in Lord of the Rings to get a consistent game going.

The good news is that it's introduced me to many formats, one of which I think is particularly good for the remaining and dedicated LotR TCG Fan Base.

The format is called Sealed League and works like this: At the beginning of the league, everyone opens 6 packs. You are paired up with one opponent each week and play on your own time. At the end of two weeks, you open up a new pack and change your deck accordingly. At the end of four weeks, you open up another pack, and so on.

This works great for Lord of the Rings players since it lets you spend a minimal amount to play (1 Sealed Deck and 6 boosters costs less than $10 these days). And it also lets you play in an environment where everyone is on the same playing level, and does not need to be present all at the same time.

If you've got 3 or 4 friends who want to play, but it's hard to get them all together at the same time, give this format a shot!

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