With Living Card Games such as this one, you know exactly what you are getting in your expansions. No boosters, no 50 copies of the same Keen Eyed Took that you are never going to play, just the cards that you want. I love this format and prefer it over the CCG or TCG formats. But this does remove a lot of collecting from the game since there are no super-mega-epic rare cards to find in your expansions. No special foil cards that only appear in one of every 100 Adventure Packs, or random alternative art cards tossed in there. The lack of competative tournaments also removes some opportunities for FFG to produce event exclusive cards, but they do still try.
This article will focus on the different things that players can collect to satisfy their collect-them-all itch that I know all too well. This is usually meant for people who have already collected all expansions of the game (which by itself is quite the collect-a-thon) and are looking for those rare items to sink their money into. This game only really has two main types of items for this, and we will go into detail on each of them.
Alternative art promotional cards (Alt arts)
This is the closest you will get to those ultimate rare cards in this game, as these cards are pretty collectable and will appear every now and then in the community. These alt art cards are made for hero cards that have often been around in the game for a long time and deserve a reskin. These alternative art cards have no other extra abilities than their regular counterparts, so they are mostly collected for their looks and to bring them to the table to show off. The cards feature a much wider art piece that is completely redesigned, often by different artists than the regular hero form. The art now bleeds around the scroll with stats and around the hero’s text box, making the card feel more immersive.
The cards are usually handed out together with a special scenario during either GenCon every year in August, or during the world-wide Fellowship event towards the end of the year (though dates may vary between years, countries, and whether or not FFG has their logistics figured out… Fellowship 2019, I’m looking at you (and seeing nothing!)). Since GenCon is much smaller than the world-wide Fellowship events, the alt arts handed out there are in a much higher price class than their Fellowship counterparts, which are relatively common and sell for far less. This gives you two price categories for collectors looking to start their alt art collection. I will run down each alt art briefly and discuss the features of that card and a ballpark number what you can expect to pay for it.
Alt art Aragorn
The very first alt art hero that we got was Leadership Aragorn. This version of him, also called “Pom-Pom Aragorn” due to the torches in his hands, was a part of the 2014 events. The Old Forest POD during GenCon 2014 and Fog on the Barrow Downs POD during the 2014 Fellowship event both featured this hero. As such, despite his age, the card is pretty common in the community. A lot more of this alt art was printed than necessary, lowering its cost to around the standard price of a Fellowship hero $25-35. The hero can also often be seen in price handouts during conventions and is a great starting point for collectors. Be sure that your copy of Aragorn has a white stat line and not a scroll one like the other alt arts. The white version is the official one, the others are fan-made recreations of the card. This can be used to sell fake alt arts that look like the real thing.
Alt art Gimli
During the next year, the alt art hero from the GenCon POD was different than the one most people got during their Fellowship event in 2015. The GenCon scenario, Ruins of Belegost, featured Tactics Gimli. This Core Set classic has become quite a rare card since it was only available at that convention alongside the scenario. Buying the scenario now will not get you an alt art Gimli. He is pretty rare and often sought after since he shares an art piece with Legolas that was on the 2015 playmat. In order to complete this art, many people will often have to pay a lot of money to get their hands on this card. Since he doesn’t often show up for sale, it is difficult to put a price tag on him. But expect to have the seller ask more than $100 for this card. The upper limit on Gimli is hard to define, as many people are willing to spend more on him to complete their collection. Keep your senses when seeing this online, and try to get the best deal you can.
Alt art Legolas
Since Legolas was a part of the Fellowship 2015 event, he is far less rare than Gimli. He came with the Murder at the Prancing Pony scenario and with the playmat of him and Gimli at Helm’s Deep. The artwork on this card is amazing, and seeing how Tactics Legolas is still a popular hero in this community, the card holds significant value. But thanks to the fact that there are more copies of this card in circulation, you can often get Legolas for less than $50. This is the oldest Fellowship-exclusive hero, so you are probably spending a little extra for that compared to more recent heroes.
Alt art Boromir
This is probably the most sought after card in the game, and is the holy grail for anyone’s collection. Tactics Boromir got a cult following during these years, so an alt art version of him was bound to be very popular. Since his errata, he is less powerful, but the combination of great art, a solid hero, and the legacy of this card, you can expect to pay top-dollar for this card. That is, if you even manage to find a copy of this card in the first place. The card was released in 2016 as a part of the GenCon event together with the Siege of Annuminas pack. Because of the low number of copies produced, and most copies disappearing into collections in the months to follow, it is very rare to see an alt art Boromir for sale these days. Even if one does pop up, you can expect to pay well over $100 for the card, and usually more than double that. You really are at the seller’s mercy at this point, as there are enough people willing to pay that sort of money for a card like this. Still, having this in your collection is one of the biggest challenges for a collector and will be one of the crown jewels of any collection. (Edit 2021: A copy was sold on Ebay for $767 during an auction. This makes alt art Boromir currently the most valuable card in the game, without it being unique (signed copies or anything)).
Alt art Faramir
The accompanying Fellowship event alt art in 2016 had less of an impact on the community. Faramir as a character suffers from having one solid ally version, and his hero versions often missing the mark with many players. That is the case with this Leadership alt art version, which does improve the art of the original hero from The Land of Shadow at least. The hero isn’t as popular since many people don’t run Faramir in their decks. Combine this with a large series of this card that got produced for the Fellowship event, and you can expect to pay between $30 and $40 for this alt art. The card is already a few years old, so not many appear for sale these days, but a Faramir won’t be as big a hit on your wallet than his brother. Faramir had his chance to show his quality, but the community wasn’t too impressed. Still, owning the alt art can make you build around him, sometimes to good results.
Alt art Celeborn
Learning from their mistakes with unpopular heroes, FFG released an alt art version of Celeborn for GenCon 2017. This hero is a staple for Silvan decks, and since those are pretty popular, so was he. Again, the small number of cards that got printed ended up in the collection of players who don’t intend to sell him anytime soon. As such, he is very rare, to the same degree as Gimli and Boromir. You can expect to pay well beyong $100 for a copy of Celeborn, which is again on the higher end of the spectrum. His art does make up for it, and you can use him in most Silvan decks right away. (Edit 2021: A copy of Celeborn was sold on auction for $407, making him the highest value card aside from Boromir)
Alt art Galadriel
This is probably the most popular hero that got an alt art version, though all Spirit alt arts are pretty popular. Galadriel joined her husband in 2017 as an alt art card. This tied into the Attack on Dol Guldur POD scenario that was also promoted during both GenCon and the Fellowship event in 2017. Galadriel remains unchanged from her version from Celebrimbor’s Secret, but her art gets an improvement. The hero itself if often used in many different decks, as her abilities and willpower cover aspects that some decks need fixed. Because of her strength as a hero, she is a very highly demanded hero to players, so getting this hero can sometimes be a little difficult. But there are more than enough copies of her made, so finding her in groups or on Ebay is relatively easy. A common price range for Galadriel is often $30-$45 because of the amazing art and the high demand for this hero.
Alt art Glorfindel
We are back at the crappy remastered heroes during GenCon 2018. Lore Glorfindel was not the hero that many of us expected, since he is one of the least popular Core Set heroes. His Spirit version would have made more sense, but we are stuck with the Lore version. This lack of popularity in the hero and the fact that he was released relatively recently lowers his price in regard to the other GenCon heroes. Regular prices of Glorfindel tend to be around $60, though some sellers will ask more just because of the low number of copies that there are. This makes it a tricky card to find sometimes for collectors, but there have been several copies sold recently around this price.
Alt art Éowyn
The hero for the 2018 Fellowship event was a community favourite: Spirit Eowyn. She was one of the best heroes in the Core Set and is still used often. As such, people were very happy to see her in her Dernhelm outfit on this alt art. The card is pretty popular, but enough copies are circulating to drive the price down to a comfortable range of $30-$45. This is the most recent alt art that was printed in large quantities, so you can expect a fair price for this card. It came together with the Woodland Realm and the Gandalf mat, so if you are looking for those items, you may find them alongside this hero in a 2018 Fellowship kit.
Alt art Bilbo
The most recent hero to this day is the alt art of Bilbo Baggins who was in the very first AP ever released. This version features Bilbo stepping out of Bag End and was released during GenCon 2019 along with the Bilbo-Smeagol playmat and the Mines of Moria scenario kit. This time, FFG was understocked on LOTR LCG product, as they didn’t even have the new Deluxe that was supposed to be there. As a result, there were far less alt art Bilbos released during the convention, so less are in circulation. Many people ended up with IOU slips from FFG, so after ahving gone through so many hoops, people ended up holding on to their copy of Bilbo. Balancing this with his low popularity though, gets you around the price of $60-$70 for his alt art. It is difficult to pinpoint, as I haven’t seen any copies for sale outside of the first 2 weeks after the convention. Should prices change, I will adjust the article accordingly.
Fellowship 2020 alt art heroes
With the pandemic of 2020 delaying the Fellowship events and other conventions, a lot was unclear about the kit. The scenario it should have come with (Escape from Khazad-Dum) got released on its own halfway through the year, without any promo material surrounding it other than pre-order bonuses (more on those later). Only in January 2021 did we learn more about the Fellowship 2020 kit and its contents. The kit comes with a set of 5 alt art heroes. Well, alt art is not really the case here. 1 of the cards is a true alt art hero, which is Gandalf, featuring completely new artwork. The other 4 heroes in the pack are some staple heroes that retained their original art, but got the extended format of previous alt art cards. These heroes are Tactics Beregond, Sam Gamgee, Arwen Undomiel, and Elrond. Each Fellowship kit contained 4 copies of each, so there were at least enough alt arts for 4 players to share the kit. Because of the pandemic and very poor communication between FFG OP and the game stores, not many kits were eventually available. This means that the alt arts are quite rare to find. I have no updates on prices for these yet, as at the moment of writing this update, no offers have gone up.
Full art pre-order bonus cards
During the Vengeance of Mordor cycle, FFG started to hand out cards with the art of some of the player cards on them. These were only available through pre-order of their adventure packs, making them semi-rare to those staying loyal to their local gameshops or are not living in the US and who are not willing to pay the huge shipping fees. These cards do not contain any game text, so you will have to remember it when using the card in the game, but I recommend to just use the regular card. These cards were made for all of the expansions in the Vengeance of Mordor cycle, as well as the Mines of Moria and Escape from Khazad-Dum POD expansions. Since these were only available for a limited time through FFG and even then didn’t always get delivered, the cards are relatively rare. They tend to be in collections of people who don’t want to get rid of them, so it is rare to see them up for sale. Since these are just art cards, I don’t value them as high as alt art cards that you can use in your game. Updates on prices can follow if some are offered up for sale.
The threat trackers that come in your Core Set tend to last a long time, but sometimes it is nice to get something new. While the community has made custom threat trackers for years now, FFG only produced a single new threat tracker with new art (this does not count the downsized threat trackers in the new version Core Sets and Collector’s Edition). In the 2020 Fellowship kit were 4 new threat trackers with the Balrog art on them. These are the smaller scale threat trackers, but could be used by players to keep track of threat in the staging area for instance. Since these were released in the 2020 kit, they will be rare to come by. Some of the trackers might make their way onto the secondary market, but I have no idea of what the cost for these would be. Could be anywhere between $5 and $100.
A very old type of collectable are official deckboxes that were handed out during Game Night events in 2013 (Khazad-Dum) and 2014 (Bard the Bowman). Because of their age, it is unlikely you will come across these often, but they can be used to store your cards in if you manage to find them. But if you are getting these second-hand, make sure that they are in good condition, since cardboard deckboxes like these are prone to being damaged over time. They are also not the best quality deckbox you can get, but it makes for a more thematic deckbox than a standard plastic one. These deckboxes are often sold together with their playmats and the event poster in case that a kit pops up for sale. It is a nice extra to get, but there are better storage solutions out there for folks looking for LOTR LCG card storage.
(UPDATE 2021): The 2020 Fellowship kit also came in a long deckbox that can be considered to be a collectable. This box was only 1 per kit, causing it to be very rare as not even all attendees of the event could get the box. The box features the well known Core Set artwork and can hold a decent amount of decks. More details on this item will follow.
Besides alt art cards, most Fellowship events also hand out a standard sized playmat with the art of the game on it. These mats are usually stamped with a border denoting that they were a part of the Fellowship event and have a year on them. But the mat layout has changed over time, with the 2018 and 2019 mats ditching the border. The mats also predate the alt arts, since they were also a part of special Nightmare events back before 2014 when Fellowship quests weren’t a thing yet.
Pricing the mats is difficult, since they usually scale with how old the mat is. The older ones are far more rare and you can expect to pay a lot for those if you ever manage to find one of them. But if you are looking for a more affordable collectable mat, then the mats from 2017 and 2018 can usually be bought for between $25-$30, depending on your seller. If you are looking for something cheaper, FFG did print some regular playmats with LOTR art on them for general purchase. These are not collectable, but are relatively easy to get for roughly $20. They also have some unique arts that do not appear on the Fellowship mats, so if you are looking for variety, they are a cheap way to grow your mat collection.
I will now briefly cover each of the collectable playmats and give classifications on how rare they are. I won’t price these like the alt arts, since they are slightly more difficult to price due to low supply. You can expect upwards of $50 for the old ones, while the more recent ones are about $30. I currently own all of the event playmats, and have displayed them on my wall. It’s a nice solution for anyone looking to display their collection.
This was the very first playmat, and is therefore one of the most difficult to find. Back in the day, before Fellowship events were a thing, there were events called Game Nights. These featured the “new” Nightmare quests and came with a lot of goodies. The Khazad-Dum playmat was handed out at the second event, during Season 2 of 2013. Because the game was pretty small then, there weren’t many made, making this mat very rare. This mat almost never appears for sale, and a lot of hoops have to be jumped through to even get into contact with someone who owns one. The mat features the cover art of the first ever Deluxe box and will be a rare sight during conventions. But perhaps there will be people selling the Game Night kit with the mat that they found in their shop or something. I got my copy after someone cleaned out their collection and were looking to sell their mat. I paid €50 for mine, but that was a bargain. In truth, you can expect to pay upwards of $150 for this mat, especially if one ever appears on aution.
Hands Upon the Bow mat
To almost the same extend, the next mat on the list was also part of these Game Night events. This mat originates from the third Game Night event in 2013. This one features the Magali art for Hands Upon the Bow, but it is spread across the length of the entire mat this time. The mat came with a poster and the second half of the nightmare packs of the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle. This one is as rare as the Khazad-Dum mat, and will almost never appear on the market, so you will have to put a lot of effort and money into finding this mat. Again, I got my copy for the low price of €50, but I expect the same price-range for this one as the Khazad-Dum mat should one ever appear on auction.
Heirs of Numenor mat
This is the final very rare mat that came along with nightmare packs. It features the box art of the second Deluxe, the Heirs of Numenor expansion. This mat is slightly below the previous two in terms or rarity, but can still be very tough to find, especially for the right price. The mat does look great on display as a reminder of that very tough cycle. Judging from the top border on this one, it might even predate the Hands Upon the Bow mat, but I am not certain since none of the mats have a year printed on them and are very poorly documented since they were only around in the early years of the game. This mat was a part of the first season Game Night of 2014, which was the penulimate Game Night event before FFG switched to the Fellowship event/GenCon format.
Black Riders mat
We now transition to the actual Fellowship mats as we know them today. The Black Riders one was the first of this series and featured the box art of the Black Riders Saga box that was released at the time. This mat came with the Old Forest or Fog on the Barrow Downs PODs and is the rarest of the “modern” playmats due to its age. But worry not, because FFG did reprint this one and offers them for sale in an extended version as can be seen by the picture I posted earlier in this segment. The rare version is the one with the bar below it saying “Fellowship 2014”. But if you are not looking for the rare one and just want the art, you can buy them right now from FFG directly!
Helm’s Deep mat
2015 marked the first time that the playmats featured art that was not found in the game but was brand new. The Helm’s Deep mat has the two alt art heroes of that year, Legolas and Gimli, standing side-by-side during the battle of Helm’s Deep. This piece of art is amazing, especially with both alt arts on the mat in the same deck. This is really one you will want to get, and is one of the cooler mats on this list, mostly because of the unique art. It is no longer really that common, and because of the art, the mat can often go for a lot of money. I have sold several of these in the past, but that was while the kit was relatively new.
Flame of the West mat
A piece of art that was not very rare was the box art on the Flame of the West Saga box. It is a cool piece, but it could be found on a lot of cards during that time. Still, having the full piece stretched out on a large mat allows you to spot more details. This is also a very memorable scene from the books/movies, and has been captured in many different art pieces. It is a good standard mat that can be a decent starting point for a collection. However, if you can’t find the 2016 Fellowship version, this is another mat that has been reprinted by FFG and is being sold through their webshop.
Map of Middle Earth mat
Out of all the mats on this list, this is perhaps the most common one because it was printed twice. Once for the Fellowship 2017 event, where it came with Galadriel and the Attack on Dol Guldur scenario. But it got printed again for the Collector’s Edition Two Player Set in 2018. There it got a different border featuring the then title of the digital game (which has changed since then). Many players got both of these mats, and ended up selling either one of them. They can be relatively easy to find when stalking ebay long enough. The mat is a great detailed map of Middle Earth that I really like, and allows you to map out your journeys as well.
The 2018 Fellowship mat was a little different than usual, since the mat now no longer featured the border at the bottom of the mat. This border got removed in order to extend the art across the whole mat, making it an amazing work of art. The art itself features Gandalf near Dol Guldur, which matched the theme of that year’s scenarios, which were the competative format quests in Mirkwood. The mat is relatively recent, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get your hands on.
Bilbo and Smeagol mat
In 2019, there was no Fellowship event, but a mat was handed out during GenCon alongside the Mines of Moria expansion and the alt art Bilbo. Due to low supply, the mats ran out and had to be reprinted, making these pretty rare and not one you will see often after 2019. Again, the mat is without border and this time features Bilbo and Smeagol during their riddles. This art was used from a quest card from the Hobbit saga, which is now shown in all its glory. The mat is pretty dark, but has great detail and is worth getting. Since this is a GenCon exclusive mat, it will be quite expensive to get through a secondary market. Prices will easily go higher than $70 for this one, as completionists are willing to spend a lot for this Magali art playmat.
The 2020 Fellowship kit was weird. Not only was the release of the kit a mess, but the contents also didn’t really make a lot of sense. The kit came with just one copy of the playmat, which is the same size and material as all of the previous mats. However, each kit is designed for 4 people so it would make sense to have 4 mats instead of 1. Why this was done, I have no idea, but for a co-op game like this, it does dampen the mood when deciding what to do with the awesome mat. The mat itself features the Magali Balrog art that was also on the custom threat tracker in the same kit, and the cover art for Escape from Khazad-Dum. The art is beautiful, making it even more difficult to decide who gets the mat. Since the 2020 Fellowship content are going to be rather rare, the mat will no doubt become rare to find as well. There is a lot of people interested in this one (including me) and not that many copies to go around. Be prepared for a long search and paying a lot to own this one.
The previous two categories were the official collectables, but that is not all that can be collected for this game. Various content creators, such as Cardboard of the Rings, Con of the Rings, CardTalk, and Vision of the Palantir have their own loot that can be collected. These include items such as custom deckboxes, custom tokens, custom threat trackers, etc. These are almost never sold online, but can be won through give-aways, attending conventions, or subscribing to the creators via Patreon. These items are often very different than what is officially licenced by FFG, but improve gameplay in certain ways. Examples of this are stat buff tokens, or mats that keep track of threat/progress. For a list of the COTR loot, see this link. You can also check out this article for a list of what community outlets you can support to get swag!
Tips for getting alt arts and/or playmats
Not everyone has been with the game since the very beginning and might now be wondering how they can obtain these items. While it will be difficult to find most of the items, here are a few tips on how to get leads on alt arts and playmats so you can start collecting these items.
- Ask. Just go to one of the forums and ask around if anyone happens to have a spare alt art for sale. It might just be that people have gotten several Fellowship kits recently and are sitting on spare copies of cards or mats.
- Look around in channels, groups, and forums. Groups like the COTR Discord server and the massive facebook group have plenty of players out there that might be selling items at some point. Checking these groups often will hopefully get you in touch with a seller.
- Attend official events. This is the best way to get the items for the lowest cost. While not everyone can attend GenCon, you can try and organize a Fellowship event when you contact your FLGS. They can order the Fellowship kit if you hurry and you will get the new alt art and playmat, on top of a great gaming session.
- Attend unofficial events. Whenever there are a lot of LOTR LCG players in one space, chances are that there are some selling alt arts or mats. The great thing about this is that you don’t even have to wait for shipping, meaning you can sit down and play with it immediately.
- Let people know that you are on the lookout for particular items. This is especially useful for those that are looking for more rare items, as not everyone might venture in the same corners of the internet. More eyes see more offers of alt arts, and with such a friendly community, people can notify you on where to be for that rare item you might be missing.
- Look on Ebay. Not all sellers are a part of the community, so they post their stuff on Ebay. This can include gamestores that are selling left over Fellowship kits, so you can usually expect a decent price. Keep to the price ranges in this article though, unless you have money to spare. There are plenty of folks out there that are asking way more than you should be paying.
- Do not expect POD scenarios to include alt arts if they are not listed. These scenarios were made after their events, and do not include the alt arts in these reprints. Otherwise there wouldn’t be much to collect.
- Contact your LGS. Game stores have to order these Fellowship kits in order to get them. They aren’t sold directly by Asmodee afterwards. So make sure that your local game store has ordered the kit well in advance. This ensures you get your mat and alt art by the time it arrives.
I hope this article has been informative on the collectables in this game. I will hopefully be able to complete my collection one day if I manage to find the last few mats and cards that I’m missing. So if anyone is selling an alt art Gimli or Celeborn, let me know! Hopefully I can one day have all the alt arts together to create some alt art decks to play on all my mats 🙂