It is time to close another poll and look at the results! I quite enjoyed this month’s poll, as we got a ton of reactions and discussions about what playmat is best. I also received my copy of the Balrog playmat this month, which is looking amazing. Unfortunately, I did already cast my vote for the poll before the mat arrived, so it didn’t quite make the cut. I now own a ton of playmats for this game, and I therefore can do a pretty good side-by-side analysis of these mats to see which one I like best. But since art is subjective, I wanted to do a poll on this topic so that everyone can vote for their favourite official mat. I didn’t include the mats that can be bought from local game stores for this poll, only the mats that were handed out as a part of official events over the past 10 years.
In total, the poll received 236 votes, which is quite a lot, even if you take into account that people could vote twice (on different playmats) for this poll. This is making me want to compare all the alt art heroes as well, which I think will make for a very interesting poll. There are certainly some heroes that are more favoured by the community than others (alt art Lorefindel…). So it would be nice to check how those heroes stack up against each other, and if the new 2020 alt art heroes range high on the list. But for now, let us analyze the ranking of the collectable playmats!
Well, I didn’t expect this outcome, as the winner by quite a wide margin (26 votes or >10%) is the Map of Middle Earth that was a part of the 2017 Fellowship kit along with Attack on Dol Guldur and alt art Galadriel. This mat has been reprinted since as a part of the Collector’s edition that was released nearly a year later. This second print of the map was identical, but had a different border below the artwork promoting the digital card game. This map holds some sentimental value to me, but wouldn’t have been my first pick. It is the only mat I have received at an actual Fellowship event that I attended, and we eventually broke through Dol Guldur during the event after having tuned our decks after hearing the horror-stories from other community members. The map is also really nice, though it is not the most detailed map of Middle Earth you can get. But I really do like that this mat exists, as I think that otherwise people would have made their own version by now. If only we could find the penguin hiding in the art…
The second place really surprised me, as I would have ranked the 2018 mat quite low on my list. It features reused artwork from the Gandalf hero from the Road Darkens, but it does show a lot more of the artwork. I think the reason that this mat is so high on the list, is because it is the most recent mat that was widely available at Fellowship events. In 2019 and 2020, there were no Fellowship events, causing people to miss out of the respective playmats. The Gandalf mat is also pretty iconic, which is also true for the Map of Middle-Earth. Everyone recognises this art for LOTR, which is more difficult with some of the older mats like Hands Upon the Bow and Dwarrowdelf. While we in the community may recognise the artwork, regular people might confuse it with other IPs.
The most recent playmat from the 2020 Fellowship event takes the third spot. This mat is a lot more rare than the regular Fellowship playmats, due to FFG OP thinking that it was a good idea to include 1 playmat in a fellowship kit designed for 4 people… Regardless, the mat features the Magali Balrog artwork that is also printed on the Escape from Khazad-Dum box-art, the threat tracker, and the deckbox that came with the kit. The detail of the artwork up close is really stunning, with the embers flying around the Balrog. Hopefully many of you can see this mat in person some day, and can get the mat at a fair price once the dust has settled around the Fellowship 2020 kits.
The third place was tied between the Balrog and the Helm’s Deep mat though. And I really think that the Helm’s Deep mat had a decent shot towards winning this poll. It is one of my personal favourites, and thus received my vote. This is one of the mats that features custom art that is not found anywhere else in the game, except for this playmat and the two 2015 Alt Art heroes (Gimli and Legolas). The artwork is quite dark, but I love the attention to detail with all the Orcs surrounding Gimli and Legolas. This mat is also sought after by many in the community, even though this is one of the regular Fellowship mats. Because of its age, most mats will have found their way into the hands of collectors by now, which makes it difficult to find the mats online. But with each Fellowship kit having had 4 mats, there are a lot more out there, so hopefully you can find the mat at some point. In the mean time, here is the concept art of the mat, which I found during the writing of another article.
Going down the list, we get some of the more generic mats that have been released. These mats are often made with the box-art of a Deluxe (Khazad-Dum, Heirs of Numenor) or Saga expansion (Flame of the West, Black Riders) and some will have had copies made available for general purchase. This reduces the rarity in my eyes a little, but gives newer players the chance to get some decent LOTR LCG playmats without having to spend upwards of $100 for an older one.
The mats on the lower end of this list are more rare, but because of this, don’t often find their way into the collection of many players who can enjoy these mats. The old Game Night event mats are all in the bottom 4, and the Bilbo-Gollum playmat is arguably even more rare, as it was only ever released at GenCon 2019. Estimations are that only around 400-500 were made of this mat, which is nothing compared to the mats released for events. These mats also all reuse art from other items in the collection, ranging from player cards, to quest cards and expansion boxes. They are pretty valuable to collectors trying to get all the mats, but other players looking for a regular LOTR LCG mat can find some higher on this list for less.
While I will be looking to do an Alt Art poll in the near future, I won’t do these back-to-back. I like to space these polls out a little more. So for April, I will be returning to the topic of last month’s poll. Where we looked to the top-ranking quests, we will now do the opposite. I have compiled a list of each cycle’s least favourite quest, and am giving you all 2 votes for your least favourite quest of the nine. Let’s see what quest you would rather chuck into Mount Doom before playing it again. The poll is open now in the side-bar of the website!
Remember that the scenarios in this list are there because they were ranked lowest in their respective poll. In case there was a tie, I broke it with my personal least favourite of the 2 (or 3 in case of Against the Shadow).