The sheer volume of media based upon, or at least loosely inspired by, Tolkien’s writing is impressive. It speaks to the depth and detail of Tolkien’s world that there can be so many different, not to mention excellent, interpretations of Middle-earth. For some of us grey-beards, this fine LCG is not our first foray into a Tolkien-based card game. Middle Earth Collectible Card Game, by Iron Crown Enterprises holds a dear place in my heart, as I know it does for some others in the community.
At this point I believe it is fair to say that this game has far surpassed all other card games set in Middle-earth. Between deluxe cycles, Saga campaigns, Fellowship and Gen Con quests, there truly is something for everyone. The attention to detail continues to be what impresses me the most. As a lifelong fan of Tolkien, it is the little touches that remind me that the designers of this game, unlike many franchise-based games, have a deep affection for the source material.
Even so, there are some elements from Middle-earth CCG that I miss. One of the aspects of that game that I really enjoyed was the way that locations had an impact, both geographically and in terms of the kinds of allies you could recruit. This allowed for a wide variety of deck strategies, and helped keep your enemy guessing about where you might travel next. I’ve taken inspiration from Middle-earth CCG’s concept of strategic locations in Middle-earth with this wrinkle to my latest draft format.
The idea is simple: after players have finished drafting, they will have the option of selecting a haven from which there party of heroes begins their quest. This takes places immediately after players select their General and add his signature squad to their draft cards, so the decision adds to the strategy of how you will finish building your deck.
Havens are thematically and strategically tied to the group of beings which inhabit them. For example, Wellinghall is filled with Ents and Ent-related cards. On the other hand, Meduseld is where you will find the Rohirrim and their majestic steeds. Imladris is where you can find the household of Elrond have-Elven. Likewise the Grey Havens of Lindon house the shipwrights who take the Noldor to the undying lands. Any take of refuge from the horrors of the world would of course be incomplete without mentioning The Shire, bustling with the indomitable Hobbits.
Starting with whichever player last picked their General, players will choose a Haven from the list below and add those cards (in the specified quantity) to their draft cards and the signature cards for their General. All havens include six cards, just like signature squads, and players are encouraged to choose a haven which matches well with their choice of hero. For example, selecting Celeborn as your General and then choosing to start in the Haven of The Naith makes all kinds of sense.
Unless otherwise specified (e.g. x2 or x3), haven cards come with only a single copy of each card. Just as with signature squads, havens do not allow you to break deck-building rules of 3 per card by title, so players should keep that in mind when they are selecting. Each of these cards is optional – you can play with as many or as few haven cards (from your selected haven) as you want. With a wise choice, many haven cards will be beneficial to your overall strategy. As a final option, players can choose not to begin at a haven at all and take a more Ranger-like approach. Instead of receiving haven cards, these itinerant players gain one copy of Core Set Gandalf and 2 songs from this list: Song of Kings, Song of Battle, Song of Travel and Song of Wisdom.
For those interested in variant format and draft, be on the lookout for the final article in the series of Bear Draft v3, in which I detail the new draft pool. In the mean time, happy travels through Middle-earth – may you found yourself in many happy havens to rest your weary feet!
Bree: Bill the Pony x2, Hobbit Cloak, Staff of Lebethron, Taste it Again!, Timely Aid
Bamfurlong: Farmer Maggot, Ring Mail, Dagger of Westernesse, Halfling Determination x2, Unseen Strike
Bag End: Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens), Hobbit Pipe x2, Smoke Rings x2, Hobbit-sense
Buckland: Curious Brandybuck, Wandering Took, Hobbit Pony x2, Elevenses x2
The Prancing Pony: Barliman Butterbur, Fast Hitch x2, Expert Treasure-hunter x2, Take No Notice
Weather Hills: Dúnedain Signal, Dúnedain Cache, Dúnedain Mark, Dúnedain Warning, Ranger Provisions, Dúnedain Message
Amon Sûl: Halbarad, Guardian of Arnor x2, Son of Arnor x2, Heir of Valandil
Archet: Ranger Summons x3, Ranger of the North x3
Fornost: Dúnedain Hunter x2, Fornost Bowman x2, Tireless Hunters x2
Annúminas: Greyflood Wanderer x2, Warden of Annúminas x2, Northern Tracker x2
The Old Road: A Burning Brand, Elf-stone, Weather-stained Cloak, Strider’s Path x2, Quick Ears
Emyn Beraid: Gildor Inglorion, Gildor’s Counsel x3, Noiseless Movement x2
Hall of Beorn: Glóin, Fili, Kili, Cram, A Very Good Tale, Second Breakfast
Bee Pastures: Beorn, Beorning Beekeeper, Honour Guard x2, Close Call x2
Rhosgobel: Radagast, Gwaihir, Winged Guardian, Eagles of the Misty Mountains, Support of the Eagles, The Eagles Are Coming!
Emyn Fuin: Henamarth Riversong, Mirkwood Runner x2, Silvan Tracker x2, Secret Paths
Hall of the Woodmen: Mirkwood Pioneer x2, Mirkwood Explorer, Radagast’s Cunning x2, Secret Paths
Erebor (and The Iron Hills)
Lonely Mountain: Glóin, Fili, King Under the Mountain, Hardy Leadership, “To Me! O My Kinsfolk!”
Gates of Erebor: Bofur, Veteran Axehand x2, Dwarven Axe x2, Heavy Stroke
Dale: Rhovanion Outrider x2, Celduin Traveler, Warden of Arnor, Scouting Party x2
Iron Hills: Erebor Record Keeper, Miner of the Iron Hills x2, Legacy of Durin, Ancestral Knowledge x2
Trollshaws: Erestor, Rivendell Scout, Dawn Take You All! x2, Swift and Silent x2
The Bruinen: Trollshaw Scout, Watcher of the Bruinen, Rivendell Blade, Rivendell Bow, Elven Mail, Revealed in Wrath
Last Homely House: Elrond (The Road Darkens), Imladris Caregiver, Master of the Forge x2, Vilya, Lore of Imladris
Hithaeglir Foothills: Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller), Elven Jeweler, Woodland Courier, Elrond’s Counsel x2, Lords of the Eldar
Hidden Refuge: Arwen Undomiel, Imladris Stargazer, Ring of Barahir, Tale of Tinuviel x3
Dimrill Stair: Longbeard Elder x2, We Are Not Idle x2, Durin’s Song x2
Nanduhirion: Veteran of Nanduhirion, Longbeard Sentry x2, Dwarrowdelf Axe x2, Khazad! Khazad!
Zirakzigil: Zigil Miner x2, Ever My Heart Rises, Hidden Cache x2, Untroubled By Darkness
Dimrill Dale: Longbeard Record-keeper, Longbeard Map-maker x2, Thror’s Map x2, Ancestral Knowledge
Orthanc: Saruman, Keys of Orthanc, Legacy of Númenor, The Wizards’s Voice, Power of Orthanc, Deep Knowledge
Wellinghall: Treebeard (The Antlered Crown), Quickbeam, Wandering Ent x2, Ent Draught, Entmoot
Derndingle: Treebeard (The Antlered Crown), Beechbone x2, Skinbark, Booming Ent, Boomed and Trumpeted
White Council: Gandalf (Core), Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill), Radagast, Saruman, Elrond (The Road Darkens), Galadriel (The Road Darkens)
The Naith: Galadriel (The Road Darkens), Orophin, Naith Guide, O Lórien! x2, Feigned Voices
Borders of Lorien: Rúmil, Marksman of Lórien, Galadhon Archer x2, Pursuing the Enemy x2
The Nimrodel: Haldir of Lórien (A Journey to Rhosgobel), Galadhrim Minstrel, Daughter of the Nimrodel, Lembas, Tree People, Waters of the Nimrodel
Cerin Amroth: None Return, Leave No Trace, The Door is Closed!, Out of the Wild, Keen as Lances x2
Caras Galadhon: Galadriel’s Handmaiden, Galadhrim Weaver, Nenya, Mirror of Galadriel, Island Amid Peril, The Galadhrim’s Greeting
Minas Tirith: Denethor, Ingold, Steward of Gondor, Rod of the Steward, Visionary Leadership, Captain’s Wisdom
Map Room of the Citadel: Emery x2, Map of Earnil, Shadows Give Way x2, Against the Shadow
Tower of the Citadel: Knight of Minas Tirith x2, Book of Eldacar x2, Thicket of Spears, White Tower Watchman
Library of the Citadel: Master of Lore x2, Palantir, Scroll of Isildur, Mithrandir’s Advice x2
War Room of the Citadel: Tome of Atanatar x2, Strength of Arms x2, Reinforcements x2
Houses of Healing: Ioreth x2, Warden of Healing x2, Healing Herbs, Athelas
Rammas: Boromir, Defender of Rammas, Gondorian Shield, Captain of Gondor, Gondorian Fire, Behind Strong Walls
Osgiliath: Faramir, Herald of Anorien, Veteran of Osgiliath, Visionary Leadership, For Gondor!, Grim Resolve
Ithilien: Anborn, Mablung, Ithilien Lookout, Ambush, Entangling Nets, Forest Patrol
Dol Amroth: Prince Imrahil (The Flame of the West), Emery, Pelargir Shipwright, Fortune or Fate x2, Will of the West x2
Morthond: Forlong, Warrior of Lossarnach, Knight of the Swan, Ethir Swordsman, Anfalas Herdsman, Sword of Morthond, Lord of Morthond, Men of the West
Gulf of Lhûn: Erestor, Warden of the Havens x2, Mariner’s Compass x2, Anchor Watch
Ered Luin: Blue Mountain Trader x2, Ered Luin Miner x2, Hidden Cache x2
Mithlond: Mithlond Sea-watcher x3, Grappling Hook, Skyward Volley x2
Lune: Lindir, Sailor of Lune, “To the Sea, to the Sea”, Elven-light, Elwing’s Flight, Lords of the Eldar
Lindon: Galdor from the Havens (The Treachery of Rhudaur), Lindon Navigator, Narya x2, Explorer’s Almanac, Evening Star
Harrowdale: Snowbourn Scout x2, Éothain, Sneak Attack, Mutual Accord x2
Westfold: Grimbold, Déorwine, Westfold Outrider, Rohan Warhorse, Charge of the Rohirrim, Forth Eorlingas!
Meduseld: Gléowine x2, Rumours from the Earth x2, Isengard Messenger x2
Hornburg: Éomund, Gamling, Háma, Snowmane, Steed of the Mark, Mustering the Rohirrim
As a reward for those who’ve made it this far, here is the latest animal helper to join us at the Hall of Beorn: his name is Kitty.