8/20/01 - Latest News
Gaming Haven Latest News

Report on Decipher's showing at GenCon
DarthCaeser @ 5:33 pm EST

Tish sent in this awesome report on Decipher's showing at GenCon. I'll have scans of the various items Tish sent in (Thanks Tish! :) as soon as they arrive. Now, for the report:

"I attended Gen Con in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 2-5. This was my fourth Gen Con. I usually spend most of my time at the Star Wars-related events. This year, I was looking hard for anything LOTR-related.

While I've done some role-playing gaming over the years, and have written some gaming material, I'm not very familiar with the game card systems. So, this report of Decipher's LOTR Collectible Card Game (CCG) does contain some gaps. I did attend the Decipher LOTR event with people who do play Decipher CCG and they were impressed with what they saw, even if skeptical as to Decipher's ambitious release schedule.

On Friday, August 3, Decipher invited Con attendees to a "Sneak Preview of THE LORD OF THE RINGS Trading Card Game and Introductory Adventure Game." I've sent you this invitation by snail mail. It promises a sneak look at the game: "You will get to see cards and game mechanics, talk to the designers, and hear plans for League and Tournament programs as well as release schedules." Only bearers of this special invitation were entitled to attend and even then, only the first 300 would be admitted.

I was thrilled when one of the Decipher author guests gave me his card, for I thought I'd snagged something pretty darn special. As it turned out, anyone could get the admission cards. In typical Gen Con organization, the room couldn't fit the people wanting to attend. I was number 151 in line, and it was standing room only by the time I got in there.

The presentation involved commentary/explanation, a slide presentation, a brief Question and Answer with the Decipher designers, announcement of special door prizes, and then showing of the second movie trailer ("Legend tells of a Ring..").

Mark Tuttle, a radio host and Decipher exec made the presentation. He abused the gamers for carrying these giant 64 ounce plastic bottles of Mountain Dew around. Scary.

Tuttle said that they were announcing the release of the LOTR Trading Card Game and the LOTR roleplaying game. The CCG will be released on November 6, 2001 and the RPG in December 2001. The Decipher license covers all underlying property, including the Hobbit and the Silmarillion. The license goes to 2006, with the option renew the New Line contract for an additional 5 years. The license covers roleplaying games, miniatures studio, and the trading cards.

Decipher plans to release the trading cards with a 50-card starter deck and then new cards ever 4 months. The release schedule is as follows:

Fellowship of the Ring -- November 6, 2001
Mines of Moria -- March 2002
Realms of the Elf-Lords July 2002
The Two Towers -- November 2002
Battle of Helm's Deep -- March 2003
Ents of Fangorn -- July 2003
The Return of the King -- November 2003
Siege of Gondor -- March 2004
Mount Doom -- July 2004

There will also be deluxe starter sets that include playing stones. There will also be 11 card booster packs.

The game can be played with 2 players or in multi-play. Retail packs will include training and play for up to 20 players. There will be in store and arcade demos.

The cards will be in 6 languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German. It will be possible to buy the foreign language decks in the U.S.

In play, you can win by: advancing your Ring Bearer to complete his quest; or by corrupting or killing your opponent's Ring Bearer. During the Q&A, the designers said the game design is intended to be very simple, so that it can be learned in 15 minutes and that play would last approximately 60 minutes. It will be very similar to Magic.

I believe they said that you would be able to play with the starter deck; all you have to do is shuffle and start playing.

On a slide show, Tuttle previewed some cards. They were lovely, bearing film images us spoiler hounds have already seen on the Internet. The bottom of the cards contains text from the books. Other parts of the card (I think) contain icons signifying culture and race, while other symbols are included to improve the mechanics of the game. Cards shown included: Frodo, Hobbit Stealth, Gimli, Gimli's axe, Aragorn, Goblin Sneak, and Arwen.

There are plans for auxiliary products, including foil cards that will "occupy common spots." (I'm not sure quite what that meant). There will be a maximum of three copies of any card in a deck. (I think that's what he said).

As for the RPG, the beginner adventure game will be in the form of a 32-page adventure booklet. There will also be a 300 page hardcover book for advanced play. The RPG will use a simple system and 6 sided dice. It will be possible to chose the age in which you play, but the core time period is post Hobbit and pre LOTR.

The Decipher Gameboard shop is doing the miniatures.

After the Q&A, Tuttle announced that minions of the Dark Lord had been in the room and planted their tokens underneath nine seats. We all upended our seats; one lucky man in my group was a winner. The nine winners will receive all LOTR products Decipher makes, for life. It's likely to be a gift with a total value of over $1,000.

As we exited, we received a sample, promotional card. I'm sending one by snail mail. It has Gandalf on the front and an Orc on the back with promotional information. There are game icons in the corners and lower left side of the card. I also snagged a badge. It has galloping Black Riders at the Fords on the top and on the bottom, a picture of the trudging Fellowship, complete with Bill. The badge is also coming by snail mail.

That is all my notes allow me to... "decipher." Overall, the product looks lovely and experienced CCG players were very excited about it."