As much as I love this game, there are inevitably still some things about the game and the community around it which still irk me on occasion. These can vary from widespread tendencies to just individual incidents. I’m sure you reading it feel similarly about some things, which may or may not be the same as mine. Anyway, I think it’s worth talking about at least a little, so these are my pet peeves about the LotR LCG.
As some of my pet peeves do relate to the community as well as the game itself and FFG/Asmodee, I should stress that just because these things annoy me doesn’t mean you can’t continue doing them. I’m just one person, same as you, so you needn’t take it to heart.
When they named the digital game LotR LCG just to make everything confusing
I was reminded of this one as I was writing the introduction to this post – while they have since renamed it to ‘The Lord of the Rings *Adventure* Card Game’, the digital Steam-based card game by Fantasy Flight Interactive was originally named ‘The Lord of the Rings *Living* Card Game’. Although technically this was not the same name as our game, which is named ‘The Lord of the Rings: *The* Card Game’, it is one of FFG’s living card games and calling it LotR LCG is very widespread, so who exactly thought giving that exact name to a different game (being significantly marketed towards the same fanbase, no less) was a good idea at the time?
People using the wrong terminology
This one is not an absolute. I have no problem with people talking about turns where the rulebook calls them rounds; calling the Encounter phase the Engagement phase, fine, that is after all what you do in that phase; referring to an enemy’s engagement cost as its threat is an understandable mix-up since your threat is what you compare to it; and I can deal OK with people talking about tapping and untapping cards rather than exhausting and readying them. The last two irk me a little, and I personally try to be a stickler for the correct terminology, but overall it’s fine.
However for some reason it just really bugs me when people refer to the spheres as colours. Yes, they’re colour-coded for ease of recognition, but they’re called spheres, and they have names. I mean, they’re also denoted by symbols, but you don’t refer to them as Rune, Sword, Star and Book, do you? I get that Magic the Gathering casts an all-consuming shadow over every other nerdy card game in existence, but remembering the words Leadership, Tactics, Spirit and Lore shouldn’t exactly be hard.
Lack of communication/organisation
Honestly, this is one which doesn’t bother me anything like as much as I know it does other people. I’m easy-going enough not to be overly frustrated by lengthy gaps between product releases or news articles, and I’ve never been to GenCon so I didn’t have to deal with the unexpected absences in separate years of The Road Darkens and Shadow the East (though I do have to sigh and roll my eyes at the fact that even FFG people were surprised by those). The only reasons this appears on my list of pet peeves is firstly because I don’t understand why we can’t have the new FAQ if new errata are already appearing on more recently printed cards; and secondly because of the debacle with Fellowship events last year.
Of course a lot of people playing this game may consider any amount of Surge to be excessive. Personally I’m fine with a bit of Surge, but there are some quests where the proportion of Surge in the encounter deck seems unreasonably high when playing with more players, and there are very notably some specific cards which just do not deserve the Surge they have. I’ve brought this up in a couple of The Line Unbroken posts on Nightmare quests (Escape from Dol Guldur and Battle of Five Armies are the two I remember), but it can also apply to some treacheries. I mean, I get it. There are certain specific conditions under which those treacheries could end up doing absolutely nothing and you don’t want them to just be a dead card. But conversely the vast majority of the time they end up being severely debilitating effects which are worse than most other encounter cards you could have revealed, and then you have to reveal another card. I can’t think of specific examples off the top of my head, but I’m sure a large number of people reading this will immediately recognise the feeling.
I mean, I wrote a whole blog post about this one. I was originally going to make this just “X where X is the number of players” or something, but then I realised that really it’s basically the whole category of annoying stuff that I talked about in that blog post.
The Stand and Fight ‘errata’
Honestly, this one mostly bugs me because I’m somewhat naturally inclined to be pedantic, and it bothers me for two reasons:
The first is that as written, it’s not an errata – it doesn’t alter the text of the card, it merely clarifies the limitations on it.
The second is that although it is presented as a clarification rather than an errata, the clarification doesn’t really make sense and it would make much more sense if it was an actual errata. The card says “(The chosen ally can belong to any sphere of influence.)” The word ‘can’ indicates a lack of restriction rather than the presence of one, and as such nothing in the text actually supports the ruling that it can’t be used on Neutral allies. This is instead simply a case of a card’s text permitting a use the designers didn’t intend it to have. *This is exactly what errata is supposed to be for*. They should have just errata’d the card to say “Choose an ally belonging to any sphere of influence in any player’s discard pile.” etc. That would actually support the ruling because the text indicates the ally must belong to a sphere and Neutral isn’t a sphere (it would still be worth keeping the clarification to that effect in the FAQ as some players could still be confused on the subject).
When the designers haven’t learned their lesson
By this I don’t mean things like excessive Surge or bad scaling as mentioned elsewhere. Here I’m specifically thinking of cases where earlier cards exhibit a problem, later cards avoid it, suggesting that the designers *have* learned their lesson, but then still later cards exhibit the same old problem again.
One not-quite-example of this I would bring up is the aforementioned Stand and Fight problem, because Reforged uses the exact same phrasing, but presumably can’t be used on Neutral attachments by the same logic. It’s not quite valid because there wasn’t an intervening card really doing the same thing, but the “Choose an [X] belonging to any sphere of influence” phrasing does appear on many cards to specifically avoid them being used on Neutral targets (e.g. Sword-thain).
The two clear examples, however, are Eagles and Radagast:
One of the biggest frustrations with Eagle decks is always the fact that Support of the Eagles doesn’t have the Eagle trait and therefore couldn’t be fetched by The Eagles Are Coming! This problem was then avoided with Ents, with the Ent trait appearing on everything, including Ent Draught and Boomed and Trumpeted, so it seemed like the lesson had been learned, until the sudden appearance of Flight of the Eagles, once again notably lacking the Eagle trait.
Meanwhile, one of the frustrating and potentially nonsensical things about hero Elrond is that since his ability merely allows you to use his resources to pay for allies rather than giving you a sphere match, he can’t play out-of-sphere allies if they’re free. Adding in cost reduction you can have allies which he can play sometimes but not others just to make it even weirder (This makes it also apply to Hirluin the Fair). More recently we had Bard Son of Brand, who is considered to have additional sphere icons while playing Item attachments, and King of Dale and Thranduil not requiring sphere matches – both of these ways of phrasing allow for 0-cost targets and so it seemed once again that the lesson had been learned. Until at the end of the cycle we got hero Radagast, where once again “You may use resources from Radagast’s pool to pay for Creature allies of any sphere.” To make matters worse, he has his own associated cost reduction (of 2) in Radagast’s Staff so reducing the cost of a Creature to 0 and thus being unable to play it is pretty easy to achieve. (Caleb has been asked about this and confirmed that Radagast and his Staff were supposed to still work with 0-cost Creatures, but while this is favourable in terms of gameplay, in terms of my annoyance it just shifts it from “Why did you screw it up again” to “How did you not realise you were screwing it up again?”)
Endless community doomsaying
This has felt like a nigh-constant component of discussion about the game since I got into it, and has never stopped annoying me.
THE GAME IS NOT DYING.
I could possibly add to the list if I spent more time thinking about it, but these are the things which spring to mind. I’m sure there’s some overlap but also that a lot of people must find themselves irked by entirely different things in this game. Everyone has their own pet peeves, but the above are mine.