In this game, you as a player tend to grow as your collection grows as well. Why we may have entered the game through different reasons, as seen in this poll, we all started with the Core Set at some point. In this article, I will try to group players in different stages of involvement with the game. If you feel like I have missed one of the classifications, feel free to let me know. I will also give some tips and purchasing guides for each group, which can help you to rise in the ranks. This post will also likely cover what you need to know for the poll of June 2019, as that is something that would be very interesting to check.
Other than the levels, there are also in my eyes certain achievements that can be obtained by players to further their commitment to the game. These are mostly meant for players of level 4 or higher, but a beginning player can also buy every expansion there is without playing it, thereby achieving a milestone without having played a single game. These milestones or achievements are listed after the levels.
The level system introduced in this article tries to describe how far advanced you are as a player. In the early stages, you are mostly ranked for your collection, but later you will need to also be active in the community and play a lot of the game in order to reach the higher levels. At the end of each level, I will give tips concerning you at the level to get more enjoyment out of the game, and I list some tips on how to advance to the next level. Keep in mind that this is all pretty subjective, and there are no final exams or badges that you must complete before moving on. This is more of an indication of where you are on the spectrum.
Level 0: Probing Player
Before being a player of this game, most of us were a probing player. These players do not yet own a Core Set and haven’t played the game yet, but are interested in picking it up. The probing players are likely not reading this article, as they are not a part of the community (yet). Not everyone was at this level, as people who first saw the game in a store and immediately picked it up, only reading the back of the box. But here are a few tips for people looking to get into the game and want to do some research beforehand.
Tips for Probing players
- Watch the game being played, that can allow you to see if this game is something you want to add to your collection. There are several channels on Youtube that can show you how the game is played.
- Save some money for expansions. While not required, you may want to pick up a few expansions down the line, so having a budget will help a lot.
- If you need convincing, then take it from me that the game and its community is amazing and definitely is worth the initial investment. If the game isn’t for you, you can always sell it.
- You can also join a part of the community before buying into the game. The other community members will likely convince you to get into the game and make your first purchase.
Tips to achieve Level 1
- Buy a Core Set
- Make a deck and play the first Core Set scenario. While you may not beat it in one go, you will be able to (eventually) with the cards in the Core Set.
Level 1: New Player
Welcome to the game! You just got your Core Set and now have the basic tools to start investing in the game. While the game has evolved over the many years that it has been around, there is no need to be afraid to be overwhelmed. You may have many questions about the game, and will struggle to beat the scenarios you already have. Luckily, there are several resources that can help you with this phase and will get you to the next level.
Tips for new players
- Read the instruction booklet that came with the game. Trust me, this will help you to understand the rules of the game a lot better and may answer some questions you have.
- If your questions remain unanswered, then you can look into joining the community already. The facebook group is the easiest to access, and is very welcoming to new players. I cannot stress this enough: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This community is amazing and will do anything they can to help you
- Don’t get a second Core Set immediately after your first, it is simply not worth it. All cards are the same, and while it allows you to play with 4 players, there is very little value in getting a second one without owning other Adventure packs.
- Play the game. even if you keep losing, you can gain experience on how the game works by losing over and over again. You will find that you will get further in your games and will eventually win. For more tips on how to beat the scenarios, check out the strategy articles on this blog.
- Get to know your cards. While not all of them are as strong as others, these are all the cards you currently have, so you better use them. See these player card analyses for how powerful some cards are, and what combos there are.
- Don’t try to beat Escape from Dol Guldur. This quest is tough, even with a full card pool and can easily take 50 attempts before you can beat it. You can try to beat it, but don’t expect to win.
- Read other, more in depth new player guides. This one by TalesftCards is good for new players. Beorn’s Path helps you through the first cycle and the first Deluxe, and will be a great help if you buy into those cycles.
- If you need a deck that can beat at least the first 2 scenarios reliably, and don’t want to deckbuild yourself, see this decklist.
Tips to achieve Level 2
- Beat the first 2 scenarios of the Core Set
- Start exploring what expansions you want to buy. While not all expansions are as good as others, there are some that are worth picking up. Check out this buying guide if you need help. In short, try to get these first:
- Shadows of Mirkwood adventure packs
- Khazad-Dum Deluxe box
- Black Riders Saga expansion
- Both The Hobbit Saga expansions
- The current Deluxe box and accompanying adventure packs
- Learn about your cards, know when to use them and what their strengths/weaknesses are.
Level 2: Beginner
You have caught the LOTR LCG bug and are now starting to expand your card pool slowly. With your newly bought expansions, you may be able to start creating decks that don’t include Brok Ironfist and can therefore hold their own against some of the new scenarios that you got as well. While your decks aren’t extremely well suited for specific scenarios, this does teach you the art of deckbuilding. During this time you can also start to experiment with adding another player to the game, whether that is a friend/SO/sibling or you playing 2 hands at the same time. Playing with 2 decks at the same time will help you with some harder scenarios, and allows you to replay the few quests you already have. With more players, some scenarios play very different.
Tips for Beginners
- Look into playing 2 decks at the same time, your card pool can now sustain it.
- Try to build a deck specifically to counter one quest, see the individual scenario analyses for tips.
- If you are able to get a synergy going with your small card pool, and you aren’t tired of it yet, look into expanding your card pool to best fit that archetype. Dwarves are a good example of a synergy that got developed early in the game’s life, and is one of the archetypes that players play first.
Tips to achieve level 3
- Increase your card pool by continuing to get more expansions. A typical apprentice has at least one complete cycle that they can play, so look into completing a cycle of adventure packs that you have started already.
- Learn more about synergies and get a feel of what playstyle fits you best.
- Start to explore more of the community by reading blogs and listening to podcasts.
Level 3: Apprentice
Now that you are properly invested in LOTR LCG, it is time to reach out to the rest of the community and join in on the fun. There are several forums and groups for you to explore, and you can also start to follow podcasts and blogs while not being confused about the cards. This will teach you a lot about how other people play and you will be introduced to cards you don’t yet own. During this time, you will find that your card pool has grown to include some strong cards, allowing you to beat several scenarios with the same deck. This can be your pet-deck for a while, which you can improve by buying specific packs. A second or third deck will also be able to be built alongside this deck, which allows you to steer away from destroying a deck between different scenarios.
Tips for apprentices
- If you have a pet-deck, you can look towards publishing it on RingsDB
- Become a member of the community by going to any of the outlets and joining in to the conversation. It is fine to just post who you are and what you already have in terms of cards.
- Look into listening to podcasts and watching playthrough videos on a regular basis. There is a large selection of resources out there that you can explore.
Tips to achieve Level 4
- Continue to expand your card pool
- Play the game more often. Just take an evening to really sit down and attempt to beat one tough scenario.
- Continue to keep up with the latest news and become a member of the community.
Level 4: Casual player
This is where most players who are sort-of into the game reside. These people own a couple of cycles worth of content and have expanded their card pool by perhaps buying a Print on Demand scenario as well. These people also tend to play other games than LOTR LCG, which means they have less time to dedicate to this game. They do keep updated with the latest news through the community, but don’t necessarily pick up new expansions as they come out. At this level, players will want to look into getting a second Core Set for more copies of important cards and to allow to play the game in 3-4 players.
Tips for casual players
- Try to make some time to play the game every now and then.
- Changing decks can make the game feel fresh, as you use different cards that wouldn’t appear in your pet-deck.
- Keep yourself informed about the latest news out of FFG by keeping an eye on the community every now and then.
- Look into finding a storage solution to fit your ever growing collection. There is a multitude of solutions out there, each with their own benefits and draw backs. You can check this hub for some solutions that are currently used by the community.
Tips to achieve Level 5
- Consider making LOTR LCG your main game (or at least one of your main games).
- Increase the number of times you play the game by at least once per week. While this isn’t a hard set boundary, playing the game at this frequency can allow you to get to the dedicated player level.
- You can start looking into joining events like local Fellowship events or larger conventions like Lure of Middle Earth, Gen Con, and Con of the Rings.
Level 5: Dedicated player
Players at this level will also be looking into playing the game online, through Tabletop Simulator or OCTGN. This allows them to play games with people online and to use cards thay don’t yet own during games. Slowly but surely, these players are completing their collection and have several cycles completed. They keep up with the current cycle and get the new pack when it is released. These people are often found in the community and have a good sense of the cardpool of this game.
Tips for dedicated players
- If you can’t get enough games with your physical cards, then look into playing the game on OCTGN. The community uses this resource a lot for games with people across the globe. There are usually people looking for games in the community’s discord servers.
- Start a campaign. By now, you should have a couple of Saga boxes and have enough time on your hands to start a campaign of this game. The Hobbit one is shorter, but the LOTR one is a mark of a really dedicated player.
- Go to one of the larger events. There you can play games with physical cards with players you’d otherwise only see in the community.
- Try collecting alt arts and official play mats for this game if you want to.
- Look into getting some Nightmare packs if you are unable to find the packs you are missing. Some Shadow of Mirkwood scenarios are worth getting in Nightmare version for balance and more of a challenge.
Tips for achieving Level 6
- Get a good grasp of the rules of this game by following the forums and reading the FAQs. While you don’t have to know them by heart, it can help with your games.
- Look into getting into the other FFG LOTR games as well. If you like the game, then the digital version on Steam can offer a slightly different experience.
- Get some LOTR themed sleeves or play mats. FFG sells both on occasion, and also releases new mats each year with their Fellowship event.
- Start doing more for the community, like sharing decks, recording playthroughs, or writing for blogs.
Level 6: Master
The game holds no more secrets for you, and you are known far and wide as an authority on an aspect of the game. At the master level, you enjoy the game a lot and are likely producing content related to the game. This can be in the form of playthrough videos, blogposts, or joining in on podcasts. Players from around the world know you and your decks, and you enjoy playing the game. While you may not own all of the expansions of the game, you at least are up to date with the recent cards and spoilers, and join in on discussions about them. While I think that you know at this stage what to do, here are still a few tips on becoming a complete LOTR LCG player.
Tips for Masters
- Help others out. Especially new players are still figuring out the game and can use some veteran’s help.
- Keep doing what you do. Especially those producing content for the game should just keep doing their thing. I think I speak for most of the players when I say that everything produced by you is appreciated by players from all levels.
- Attend events. It is great to have experienced players at conventions and Fellowship events to help more people join the game.
There are some other milestones that you can achieve during your path through the levels mentioned above. Since these can be started outside of the regular Level system, I have made these optional. If you have any additions to this list, feel free to let me know.
You have succesfully completed the LOTR saga boxes in campaign mode. You deserve a huge pat on the back, as it is quite a challenge going through these. Destroying the Ring in the final part of Mount Doom earns you this badge of honour. Bonus points are appointed to those who have completed the saga including the two POD scenarios. Super bonus points are awarded to those who have completed the saga in Nightmare mode, which as of yet is not possible.
There are a lot of scenarios in this game, with various degrees of difficulty. You are awarded this achievement if you have managed to beat every single one of the official scenarios, including Saga and PODs. Nightmare scenarios are not included in this achievement, but you’ll get bonus points if you have beaten all of those as well. If you have managed to beat everything with the same deck, then you are also awarded the New Dark Lord achievement.
Achieve a score of 800 or higher on RingsDB. Points are awarded when your decks are liked and have high levels of interaction, usually indicating that you are a good deckbuilder. I chose 800 as it will take a while to achieve, but isn’t impossible.
You have completed you collection by getting all Adventure Packs, Deluxe boxes, and Saga expansions. This allows you to play most of the scenarios in this game and gives you access to the entire card pool. An extra level on top of this is Nightmare Completionist, where you own all of the Nightmare packs as well. Owning all of the POD scenarios also grants you bonus points.
On top of owning all of the expansions (including Nightmare and POD), you also own all the alt art cards, the Collector’s edition, all official playmats, and at least a set of official FFG related sleeves. Bonus points for if you also own all of the official swag of blogs and podcasts, alt art cards you made yourself, and other LOTR stuff that you use in your games. In the end, you should have a room filled with expansion boxes, and enough cards to redecorate the entire room.
If you are reading this, then chances are that you are in one of the community groups about this game. This automatically grants you this achievement, where you can help others in the community with questions.
Those of us that put time aside from their busy lives to create content for this game are awarded this achievement. Whether it is card reviews, playthroughs, scenario analyses, entertaining podcasts, or informative sheets of statistics, the people behind this make the community a better place!
This game isn’t easy and can result in many players asking questions. Players that have read the Rules Reference and the latest FAQ, and know it by heart, are granted this achievement. Bonus points if you are continuously helping others by providing actual evidence of an answer to a question posted in the community.
I hope you can find yourself in one of these groups and that you can rise in the ranks to get more involved with the game. If you feel like I missed anything, then feel free to let me know, articles like this can always be changed. I am especially interested in hearing more tips for players at different level, and getting more achievements to add to this list. I will be returning to usual articles soon, making some more progress on the Dream-chaser scenarios.