A question that gets asked quite often in the community is how people store their cards. This game can get out of hand really fast, and players can get buried underneath a mountain of cards before long. There are a lot of different storage solutions on the market, and many players prefer different brands. I will share my own thoughts on storage solutions here, but be sure to leave your own solutions down below.
In the early life of many players, they will store their cards in the Core Set box. This is a perfectly adequate solution for the beginning player. You will be able to store up to 2 cycles in a standard core set box. But the box can be big and hard to bring to pick up games. I have used this solution before I started to get really invested in the game. It is free (besides your purchase of the core set, but do you want to play the game or not?). After a while, the players who want to expand their card pool will want to look to invest in a slightly more advanced solution. Here are my solutions:
I sleeve my player card decks in different colour Ultra Pro Matte sleeves. I have 13 player decks sleeved in 13 different colours, so it makes for a nice rainbow of cards. The heroes are double sleeved with an Ultimate Guard tight sleeve and a sleeve from Fantasy Flight Games. They make a couple of custom sleeves for LOTR LCG, while they are more expensive than sleeves from larger brands, I only use them for my heroes, so I don’t need as many than if I were to use it for a standard deck.
Player decks used to be stored in the Core Set box or kept together using a rubber band (heresy, I know). I then switched to an Ultimate Guard ArkHive 400+ which stored 10 decks and the 4 threat trackers. This worked fine, but I had a couple of decks that didn’t fit in there anymore. These days I own a massive SuperHive 550+ that keeps all 13 decks in one place, together with 4 threat trackers, a first player token, 2/3 player mats, and enough dice to support a 3 player game.
You might be wondering: “Jeez, 13 decks, isn’t that a bit much?” And yes, you are right. I only have a single copy of each expansion (besides a second Core Set) which makes deckbuilding a bit difficult. Cards like Daeron’s Runes, Steward of Gondor, Heed the Dream, Feint, A Test of Will, Sneak Attack, Warden of Healing etc I only own 3 copies of. This makes them very rare in most decks. I do not like to use proxy’s, so I tend to include other cards that fit the same role but are less powerful. The decks I use are usually trait-based, as that is the easiest to build if you only have a limited card pool. My 2 Dwarf decks don’t use the same cards as my Noldor deck because of the traits.
At the moment I have the following decks:
- 1 Ent Deck (wanted to try Quickbeam)
- 1 Outlands deck (sorry, but I need it to beat some scenarios)
- 2 Dwarf decks (1 swarm, 1 mining)
- 1 Noldor deck
- 1 Silvan deck
- 1 Rohan deck (mounts)
- 1 Location control deck (including Victory display cards and Rossiel)
- 2 Hobbit decks (1 Spirit/Lore to keep a low threat, 1 with the Black Riders standard lineup)
- 1 Trap deck (So much fun pinning enemies in the staging area)
- 1 Ranged deck (lots of Ranged characters, and direct damage)\
- 1 Dunedain deck (doing Dunedain things)
These decks are not final, I do shift them around a lot (which is what a good deckbuilding game often requires). I therefore also don’t post all decks on RingsDB, as some decks would be better if they included power cards from different decks. Another note here is that I play with 51 cards in a deck, as each packet of sleeves came with 51 sleeves and I don’t want to store a single sleeve somewhere.
If my player cards aren’t being used, they sit in a binder. I have 5 Ultra Pro 9 pocket binders in 5 colours, 1 for each sphere and 1 black one. The black binder has alt art heroes on its first page, followed by the remaining heroes organised on Sphere (Lea, Tac, Spi, Lor, Neu) and then on threat cost and release date. Any heroes that were part of the Saga expansions are the last ones on the release list. I use basic paper sheets as placeholders in case I use one of the heroes, this makes it a bit more organised (can you tell I have OCD already?). After the heroes, I have 2 pages for the Campaign cards, followed by 2 pages with the Baggins and Fellowship heroes and player cards. These take up very little space, and I prefer them in a binder instead of with the other saga quests. This will mean I have to bring the binder if I want to play a pickup game with a Saga quest (which isn’t very often). The rest of the black binder is filled with the Neutral cards. They are organised by their type (Ally, Event, Attachment, Side-quest), Cost, and serial number (expansion number, again saga is always last). I have enough room in the binder to store most cards in each row. Having 3 copies of most cards makes a 3 lane binder ideal, as you get to see how many cards you already have in your decks at that time. Again I use the paper placeholders to keep track of it if I have all 3 copies in player decks.
For the other binders, I use the same strategy for storage. I store everything according to type, cost, and release date. Making the placeholders took a while, but it lets you look at some of your least used cards. I have enough space in the binders to hold all cards in rows of three until a cycle ago. I have now put some of the attachments in a single slot to save space. This trend can continue until all 360 pockets are completely filled with cards. Until we get 17 cycles or so, I think this can hold up for a while longer.
I do not say this is the perfect strategy though, when I made the placeholders, I updated them to all of the cards that had been spoiled up to that point. However, with new cards being released all the time, it is difficult to keep everything in order without removing everything out of the binder and putting it back together, up to date with the current card pool. I would suggest to take a free afternoon, put up some music or podcast, and just reorganise the entire afternoon. It can be quite relaxing.
Where I don’t sleeve all player cards I own, I do sleeve all of my encounter cards. This can be a lot of work, as there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of encounter cards. I use Ultimate Guard Standard Tight sleeves. These are not the best, as they are meant for inner sleeves, but they are very thin. This will be important when we get to the deck boxes. They are also quite cheap, which is another important factor as you will be buying a lot of these sleeves. All encounter cards are sleeved once and then organised with their respective encounter set. I use a little piece of paper to contain the encounter sets and write their name on it. This makes them easier to find when scanning through the collection. I have experimented with a lot of different ways to mark what cards belong to what encounter set, but this is my favourite at the moment. I am aware that there are some excellent looking dividers out there for the game made by GeckoTH, so give them a look. I do not have a good printer in the area, so I opted for this approach.
Quest cards and a couple of encounter cards that do not get shuffled in the encounter deck (such as objectives, additional rules, and cards that start out of play) get different sleeves. I use Ultra Pro clear standard sleeves for these. This makes them easier to find when setting up a game.
Now we come to the main event: Deck boxes. There are a lot of different boxes out there, but I really like those from Ultimate Guard. I use the Ultimate Guard Flip n Tray 200+ for my standard cycles. These are perfect for me as they can contain all encounter cards and quest cards of an entire cycle in one convenient box. Since I do not own Nightmare decks, these are not added. Consider using an additional box for those. I have 7 different coloured deck boxes for the different cycles, each colour kind of represents the colour of that cycle. They are: Shadows of Mirkwood (Green, forest, duh), Dwarrowdelf (Black, long dark of Moria), Against the Shadow (White, White tree of Gondor), Ringmaker (Purple, box art on Voice of Isengard is purple, and I couldn’t find anything else), Angmar Awakened (Red, the rust of the Iron kingdom), Dream-chaser (Petrol, I liked it better than blue to represent the water), Haradrim (Sand, come on, this was easy).
In the pictures, you can see how each box is organised. I use the left tray for quest cards, encounter sets and Deluxe scenario’s. The middle tray is used for either tokens or the first adventure pack. The right tray is used to store the other 5 adventure packs worth of encounter cards. Everything is ordered in chronological order, of course. Having these separate deck boxes makes it really light and easy to bring to a pickup game. Just bring one cycle and play a couple of scenarios out of the box. Everything you need is stored in one container unit. Be careful when using sleeves with this option, regular sleeves on your encounter cards will make them too thick to fit in the deck box. Inner sleeves are thinner and will make it fit like a glove.
Saga expansions had to be tackled in a different way, as they have too many cards for one box. I, therefore, bought 2 Dragonshield transparent plastic boxes, which have 4 compartments each to hold the cards. I got 3 of these delivered, so I use the free box to store my Print on Demand scenario’s and perhaps future Nightmare Scenario’s. When I got the SuperHive, I moved all of the Saga Material into my now empty ArkHive. This fits the Saga rather well, though I do still need Mountain of Fire. So if that doesn’t fit, I might switch back to the Dragonshield.
I don’t throw away these rulesheets in favour of any electronic database because these sheets still have a lot of flavour text on them. I store these rulesheets in a folder with built in sleeves to store the A4 rule sheets. It is nice flipping through these sheets every once in a while. For more rule questions, I tend to use the LOTR Quest Companion if I have a mobile device near me.
Can’t have a game without dice, right? I have a lot of dice, so I usually use them as counters. I have red d6 dice for damage, purple for resources, and green for progress tokens. Time counters are blue dice, and I have a couple of other dice in reserve to count different things. This is useful for keeping track of the number of Dwarves you have, which Silvan ally entered play this round (boosts of Celeborn and Galadriel). I also use dice to keep track of some abilities that can only be used once per round (Arwen, Bifur). I do not really use anything to keep track of threat in the staging area or willpower committed to the quest. Bit of math goes a long way.
While there are a couple of LOTR LCG mats out there, but those might be hard to get if you do not go to Gen Con or the Fellowship events. Companies do sell their own playmats that can serve your gaming purposes as well. I own a standard Space mat from Ultimate Guard alongside my 2 Fellowship mats (2015, 2017) and my Cardboard of the Rings Exclusive player mat that was part of their Gen Con swag during Gen Con 2017. This mat was special as it marked the end of the First Age of the podcast and depicts a cool scene of Journey Along the Anduin. I used to keep my playmats in a separate Ultimate Guard Mat Case alongside a couple of dice in the accompanied dice tray. But with the new SuperHive, I am able to store the mats and dice together with my player decks in one box. The Mat Case is now being used any extra tokens, unfilled sleeves, rubberbands etc until I have more mats again.
Though I have no intent to sell my collection in the foreseeable future, I do still keep my original packaging around just in case. Now, these are a lot of boxes, and it got harder to store them when they switched from cardboard to plastic shell casings for the Adventure packs. I stack all the boxes on a shelf above my bed just because I do not have a better place for them at the moment. I cannot store them all in the larger boxes, so I opted to just leave them on display.
Hopefully, I have given you enough information about my storage solutions and has it helped you a little. I will again say that no storage solution is perfect, and mine definitely isn’t. Would I have done things differently if I had to start again from scratch? Perhaps, but I feel comfortable with what I have at the moment. Feel free to share your storage solutions below, for more inspiration for new players who’s Core Set Box is about to overflow.
If you want more detailed pictures of certain deck boxes, feel free to ask.