I got contacted by another member of our community with a storage solution article this week. This solution is one for a larger collection, and includes storage for alt art cards as well. For those trying to find suitable binders, Marc has a short comparison in the article as well. I am still accepting storage solution articles for the storage hub, so if you want to do the write up for your solutions and send some pictures, I will make sure it gets added to the hub. With that said, let’s get to the article!
September 2015 – How it all began…
Me: Walks into a local games shop.
Employee: What can I do for you?
Me: I’m looking for a game for my girlfriend’s birthday.
Employee: Well, we’ve got lots of games. What kind of games does she like?
Me: She likes fantasy games. Machiavelli, Mascarade and games like that.
Employee: Well in that case maybe this is…
Another costumer, interrupting the employee: If she likes fantasy-games, maybe the Lord of the Rings, the Card Game is an option?
Me, totally ignoring the employee now: Lord of the Rings Card Game? Say what?!
Long story short: I walked out of the games shop with a core set, two Deluxe Expansions and eight Adventure Packs. And zero presents for my girlfriend…
Since that day in 2015 I’m fascinated by the game. I was already a hugh Tolkien fan, but the LCG brought something extra to my Middle Earth Fantasy. I started to collect the game and looked everywhere for the stuff I was missing. Finally I’ve got a complete collection, with all the regular cards, all Nightmare Scenario’s and all but two playmats. I also started to print and collect the many fanmade scenarios (I’m the very proud owner of hardcopies of the amazing First Age Custom Expansion and some amazing stand alone scenarios) and I’ve got the Core Set, three DE’s and 10 AP’s in the German language, which is fun to combine with the English cards. In total I’ve got a little over 12.000 cards now and although I would prefer to keep them lying around the living room 24/7, my girlfriends demands them to be stored. But how do you store so many cards?
Storage Solution Evolution
Like all new players, the Core Set box was my first storage solution, but I noticed pretty soon I had trouble overviewing my collection. In addition to that: I love to stroll through my cards like a book. So I bought my first Collectors Album (3-ring binder) and stored everything in there. I sleeved all the cards – player and encounter cards – in the original Fantasy Flight Sleeves. As pages I used the Ultra Pro Silver series.
But my collection grew and grew. I had a few years to catch up, but it didn’t take long before my collection was up to date. My cards (originally stored in one binder) were divided in two maps with player cards and encounter cards, and soon after that all cycles were stored with two in one binder.
That’s when the great hunt for Nightmare Packs started, and two cycles in one binder was just too much, so each cycles got it own binder. The same goes for all Saga Expansions, PoD’s and of course every player cards sphere had it’s own map by now. When math is your thing, you’ve probably concluded that with nine Cycles, four Saga expansions, one PoD collection and five spheres my total mapcount is 19 at the moment. But wait, there’s 26 here!
Yeah, I had to divide some maps (the PoD’s didn’t fit in one map anymore) and all my heroes deserved their own binder. As I’m a huge fan of fanmade scenarios, the First Age Custom Expansion has three binders; one for player cards, one for the First Age encounter cards and one for the Doom Mastered encounter cards. There are also two separate maps for other standalone scenario’s, like Dragon Hunting, the Battle of the Last Alliance, A Light in the East, Into Fangorn, the Anduin and the Pursuer and others. I’ve also got two smaller binders: one for the extra cards when you play the Mega-Campaign “A Tale of Years” and one for the extra cards needed for “The Campaign Project”.
That brings a total of twenty-six large 3-ring binders and four smaller 9 pocket albums. On top of that I’ve got several Ultimate Guard boxes to store my most popular decks, playmats, tokens and other accessories.
Let me take you through this collection, and tell you more about the pros and cons.
Dragon Shield Classic 3-Ring Binder (12)
The binders that my local games shop in Utrecht (NL) had in stock when I started collecting. The ring-system is pretty cheap and broke in one or two occasions, but the leather-look made me buy them anyhow. Great feel and size.
In nine maps I store the nine cycles from the original game. The encounter cards of the first six cycles are accompanied by their Nightmare versions.
And don’t you hate it to re-organize all the encounter cards from the Core Set when you move on to the next scenario? Okay, to be honest… neither do I. But, because I own twelve Core Sets, all the Shadows of Mirkwood quests are pre-build with their own encounter sets from the Core Set. Just one pile of cards per scenario, so no need to mix them up when moving forwards.
The same goes for the Wilds of Rhovanion map; there’s a set of each encounter icon their as well, so the cards from the Core Set don’t have to switch maps.
Dragon Shield 9-pocket portfolio (4)
I bought these albums to store all my heroes at first, but soon they were too small. I now use them for the “projects” that have their own player cards, but not that much. All the cards for the Tale of Years and Campaign Project are in there, nicely together. In another map I store my “special” cards, like the Pre-Order Promos that came with the Limited Edition Two Player Starter and some Vengeance of Mordor AP’s.
Ultra Pro Collectors Alum (8)
When my local games shop switched to Ultra Pro, so did I. But to be honest, I don’t know why exactly. The have a plastic-feel, when you use them often, everything tears and they’re not as pretty to look at, as the Dragon Shield. But, they’re cheap, and that makes up for it.
In these eight maps I store the cards that did not get a promotion to the better-looking ones. My plan is to replace them some day, but since the Dragon Shield binder is nowhere to be found anymore, and the Ultimate Guard is pretty expensive, I think these bad boys will be in my bookcase for quite some time.
Ultimate Guard Supreme Collector’s Album XenoSkin (6x)
A long time I have looked for more Dragon Shield binders, but in vain. Dragon Shield stopped producing them, and in Holland they are nowhere to be found anymore. For that reason I recently switched to Ultimate Guard, since I’m very pleased with their deck cases.
I now use the Ultimate Guard for my player cards. The UG maps are pretty expensive, but the quality is top notch and the maps with my player cards are the ones I use most often by far. I now pull them out and put them back in the bookcase as often as I wish, and they’re still as new. If you only want to have maps for your player cards, and store the rest in boxes, I would definitely advice you to spend a little more on those four / five maps, and I promise: you will be very satisfied.
Ultimate Guard deckboxes
I also have an Arkhive case pre-set with three scenarios, the two pre-built decks from the collector’s edition and tokens/threat dials, just in case I run into someone who likes to play.
There are a few smaller cases where I store my custom tokens and other memorabilia, like The One Ring, Lego Gandalf (First Player Token) and Middle Earth coins.
For my playmats I also use Ultimate Guard (7 pieces) and the original box from the Limited Starter (6 pieces). Three bigger mats (JiME, the four player mat and one custom map) I store in their original boxes.
Since Daan himself already told everything you need to know about Ultimate Guard, please see his article for more details about this awesome storage solution.
Alternate Art Cards
One of the reasons I love this game so much, is the artwork. In most cases FFG did an outstanding job picking images for the cards, but to be honest: not all artwork was a success. The artwork of Thorin Oakenshield, Tactics Boromir and Spirit Aragorn is just not in line with the great heroes the cards represent. Thank God a part of our community knows its ways with Photoshop, and tadaaaa: there came Alt Art cards. Although FFG introduced their own Alt Art versions in the PoD’s, the fanmade cards really stole my heart and that’s why I started collecting them. First it was just a few heroes, but I went further and today I have over 1500 fanmade Alt Art cards in my collection.
You’re not a real LotR–fan if you’ve not heard of the First Age Saga, made by Ian Martin from Tales From the Cards. Since I love the Silmarillion and I read the book about every year, I just had to have hardcopies of this amazing scenario. Solo I’ve played as far as the cycle goes, but The Seat of Morgoth in four player mode is really, really tough, so my buddy and I are still trying…
Besides the First Age, I have eight fanmade scenarios, stored in a special binder. As we speak I’m printing more scenarios, so I hope to have a couple more in a few months.
Heroes are the main reason I started collecting Alt Art cards myself. In my Hero map I store 270 heroes, of which 103 are original ones and 167 Alt Art. I use them for variety in my hero setup, and because of some cards I like the Alt Art version more than the original. I have to say that my favorite illustrator, Magali Villeneuve, is almost always in my line-up, most of the time with an “Alt Art” version of the original hero.
Player cards are a bit trickier to make. My since I print the images and glue them on original cards I get from extra Core Sets, the Alt Art playing cards are a little thicker than original cards and therefor you can feel the difference in a normal player deck. I don’t have any advantage because of that, but maybe some other players find that disturbing. For me, the amazing artwork of my 24 different Steward of Gondors and my 20 different Unexpected Courages totally makes up for that sleight inconvenience. I also have all Ents, Eagles, Silvans and a bunch of popular allies in Alt Art form.
Making Alt Art Cards yourself
The last couple of paragraphs are maybe not really “storage solutions” but, I’ve decided to put them in this article. Since Facebook posts of me playing hardcopies of Dragon Hunting and the First Age got a lot of comments saying, “How did you made your cards?” I figured some of you would appreciate a little guideline of how to make those cards yourself.
Disclaimer: there are some better ways to create alt art cards in better quality (by (online) printshops), but that has two disadvantages: the back of the cards cannot be printed with the same back as the original cards due to copyright, and secondly: it’s quite expensive. Therefor I choose the following method:
- Download the images (or make them yourself)
- Make a PDF with eight cards on each page (make sure they are the right size when printed – every printer is a bit different, so this is a bit trial and error)
- Print them by a good quality color-printer
- Cut them by hand
- Glue them (with a glue stick) onto original cards (I use cards from extra Core Sets) so the back from both encounter cards and player cards are exactly the same as original cards
- Cut the edges (your print should be a little bigger than the actual cards) with a sharp scissor
- Sleeve them in the same (transparent) sleeves as the rest of you collection
- Play those pretty images!
Other Tolkien Storage
Of course I have to admit that, although I’m as enthusiastic as one can get about this game, I’m by far not the biggest “collector” of the Card Game. With great admiration I follow Seastan, Beorn, Daan, Ian and the guys from Cardboard of the Rings, and I realize I’m just a rookie.
When it comes to collecting Tolkien books, that might me a different case. As a Fantasy Author myself, I started collecting Tolkien books back in 2009 and now, over ten years later, I own over 600 books of Tolkien.
In my collection is a very First Edition of The Lord of the Rings including slipcase, a numbered Folio edition, the complete first print of the History of Middle Earth and some signed copies; not by Tolkien himself unfortunately, but by Peter Jackson and illustrators Alan Lee and John Howe. The most special books are stored in a separate case in my living room, accompanied by illustrations by, who else, Magali Villeneuve.