As a new player, it can be overwhelming to jump into a game that has been running for over a decade and has hundreds of different expansions. The new change in format doesn’t make things easier either since you might end up buying duplicates and have to resell some items. But that’s even assuming you can find the expansions in the first place! So in order to streamline the process a little bit, I came up with this article to point you to the places where you can best acquire expansions for the game. This is not a buying guide since I already made one that will be kept updated as new repackaged material is released. This article aims to answer the question of HOW to buy the game instead of WHAT to buy from the game. So let’s get started.
The state of LOTR LCG in 2023
I am not going to keep this section updated since I assume that the state of the game is going to remain the same, with some reprinted content being released as the years drag on without proper funds for LOTR LCG. The game has come out of a 2 year hiatus between the final new pack released and the revised Core Set. Since then, FFG has released the Revised Core, The Dark of Mirkwood scenario pack, 4 Starter decks, and repackaged cycles from before the hiatus (Angmar Awakened being the first, followed by Dream-chaser). The LOTR Saga has also been repackaged, combining two Saga boxes into one.
Because of this focus on the revised content, production on original expansions for the game has seemingly stopped, and for a while, we only got reprints of certain expansions during the hiatus. But last year, it was announced that FFG is only going to be (re)printing the revised content and will no longer reprint old expansions (Deluxe, Saga, Nightmare, POD, Adventure Packs). This has caused quite a run on the old packs, with some of them selling upwards of 10x their MSRP on eBay. The packs that got hit the worst were the newest (at the time) that were released from the Vengeance of Mordor cycle. These only ever had a single run, which due to COVID, never made it to some parts of the world. Aside from these packs, some Dwarrowdelf packs and the Hobbit Saga boxes are rare finds these days since no reprints will come, and the community expects that no revised versions will be released. If they do, then they will take several years to arrive, looking at the current rate of release.
So the community has to come up with more creative ways to get their hands on expansions for the game. Right after the announcement came out that the Adventure Packs would not get released, players and scalpers bought pretty much all of the old APs that they could still find at their FLGS. The scalpers put them up on eBay, and players hang on to them for their own collections. This did mean that many players ended up with incomplete collections, which caused a greater demand for the more rare packs. This gets us to today, where you have to be lucky to get some older expansions in your collection. But it is not impossible. Let’s start with the first way to get your hand on them.
Buying secondhand collections
As I mentioned, the game has been around for well over a decade now. And many people who started the game will have either outgrown it or are now seeing that those pieces of cardboard are actually going for a pretty fair price these days. Thus we saw an increase in offers of secondhand collections when the hiatus began, and people knew that no new stuff was going to be released. The secondhand market is also fueled by newer players that picked up the game when the Revised versions came out, but they found that the game was not for them. These collections can be found on various places on the internet, but I advise you to take a first look at the community’s own pages since scalpers and scammers are more rare there. This is still the internet you’re dealing with, and you’re not buying from a webshop.
The following pages are worth saving in order to potentially find a secondhand collection:
- The Buy/Sell/Trade group on Facebook. Yes, you have to dust off your Facebook account for this, but it is one of the most condensed pages with daily offers of people finding duplicate packs or selling their old collections.
- Buy/Sell/Trade channel on the COTR Discord. While less posts than on Facebook, it helps to join this server for other interactions with community members as well.
- LOTR LCG Reddit page. Not only do people sell their collections here, but you are also being kept up to date on reprints hitting stores worldwide.
- BGG Geekmarket for the game. I personally have little experience with this platform, but it might save you some time looking across other websites where all the packs you are looking for are out of stock.
Lastly, there is eBay. I am really hesitant to recommend this as a place to find your missing packs since this is where I have heard most horror stories come from. Scammers that send you Netrunner decks instead, or people asking $200+ for a single AP. It’s not something I have used, but it is the most well-known place to get secondhand items so you could find a gem there. All I can say is to be careful when seeing a deal that seems too good to be true.
When it comes to buying secondhand collections, it is also good to know what the approximate price should be for individual items. This is more difficult to calculate for larger collections, so you will have to debate with yourself whether or not the asking price is fair. But as a rule of thumb, here is a pricelist of each expansion in the game, with their original retail price. You might not get this price from everyone, but you can see how much extra you would be paying.
- Old Core Set – $45
- Revised Core Set – $70
- Collector’s Edition – $100
- Adventure Pack – $15
- Deluxe/Saga expansion – $30
- Revised Saga expansion – $70
- Starter Deck – $20-25
- Nightmare Pack – $7
- Print on Demand Pack – $20-25
- Scenario Pack – $20-25
- Hero Expansion – $45
- Campaign Expansion – $70
Playmats and alt-art heroes really depend on which one it is; there’s no real indicator of how much they are worth since some can go for upwards of $500, but use your instinct to see whether or not that is worth your money. Remember that alt arts are also available online for you to print, and playmats can be custom-made for $25 as well. These prices are just guidelines, as proper care for the cards, original packaging, included storage solutions, and other factors can increase the price a lot. This is just to inform you of what the packs are roughly worth.
Buying reprints from GameZenter
There is an exception to the entire “no reprints” situation going on at FFG. When the old FFG Center was sold to the original owner of FFG in the Asmodee merger, they adopted a card printer as well. This one was used in the past to print the Print on Demand scenario packs, as well as the Nightmare packs. Somehow, this printer is still active, and they have the license to reprint those same packs. This means that POD and NM packs see regular reprints about 2-3 times per year. All of these are sold via the GameZenter (rebranded the store) site or in their physical store in Roseville, Minnesota. These reprints usually sell out within a few days (or hours at times…), but they are a cheap way to get your hands on POD and NM packs.
A few notes here, though. International shipping is very expensive via this site, so it is usually best to go for one large order of all the packs you are missing. Alternatively, combine your order with other players in your area to split the shipping costs. Players in the US get off easy here, but us Europeans might have to think twice before we pay for cross-Atlantic shipping.
Another note is that these packs are not really new-player-friendly. The Nightmare decks require the base version of the quest (AP and Deluxe) to be playable. If you do not have the base version of the quest, all you can do is stare at the pretty art of these cards but not play the scenario. If you do own the set, then this pack will make that quest even more difficult. This can be a welcome change in some scenarios, but if you are new to the game and do not have a complete card pool, these packs might not be worth buying right away. The POD packs are a better purchase, offering a unique thematic quest for you to beat. They stand on their own, requiring no other packs to be owned.
GZ can only reprint the POD and Nightmare stuff, not the Adventure Packs or bigger expansions sadly. Whether that is a licensing thing or physical constraints with the printer, I do not know, but you won’t find other expansions on their site as easily.
Because these packs are reprinted a few times each year, it is worth waiting for a reprint wave to buy them. Do not give in to scalpers that ask $50+ for a NM pack that’s worth $10 at most. Save your money for other expansions to grow your card pool and then get what you can when the reprints arrive.
“If you can’t buy the packs, why not have them printed?” That’s the way some players have been thinking these past few years when supply was running short. Before this, proxying cards was only really ever done when you needed more copies of some staple cards and didn’t want to put in another $15 for your fourth copy of Steward’s Fear. So people started to print cards themselves at home, slapping them to unused cards in their collection (many Brok Ironfists were sacrificed in those days) and having a brand new copy of the card for their collection.
These days, printing proxies has grown to the size of entire expansions being stuck to common TCG cards or printed on cardboard sheets. It’s not uncommon to come across people just writing the title of a card on another for a quick and easy proxy. But there are also printing companies out there that people have tried to persuade to print high-resolution images of entire packs. Usually, this is caught by the printing company, which is not allowed to do this because of copyright. I also do not recommend you try this via a company, but I would rather incentivize players to get creative and make their own cards. Perhaps it is only temporary until you finally get the pack you are looking for.
Another unofficial way to still get to play the expansions that are not getting reprinted and are difficult to find is to go digital. There are several websites and programs that have loaded the game’s images in their database and allow you to play the game on your computer. It is always recommended to only play with the cards that you own since this way of playing should not become a replacement for the actual game. But if FFG is not reprinting their old packs and you already bought into the game with at least a Core Set, I can see no harm in you trying to beat some old quests. Otherwise, all the hard work put in by the designers, artists, and playtesters will not be enjoyed by as many people.
Common platforms for playing the game on your computer are DragnCards, OCTGN, and TableTop Simulator (TTS). There you can also connect with other players to get some more multiplayer games in if you are unable to find fellow players in your area for physical games.
For those of us able to understand several languages, it might be an option to mix your collection a bit with expansions in a different language. These are far less popular than the English versions, making them easier (and cheaper) to find, while the cards still have the same effects. It does require some quick swapping between languages, but if you are willing to have a bilingual collection, then this is an easy way to profit from that. German, Spanish, and French copies of the game can all be found online, though you might have to go to some more obscure websites. And if you do not speak another language but you know what the cards do (from experience or having a translated copy online), then you can just use them and learn a new language through the game!
Go for fan-made expansions
At the beginning of the game’s hiatus, plans were drawn by several groups in the community to continue the game after the final official expansion was released. We didn’t know at the time whether or not the game would return or even in what format. During those years of relatively little content from FFG, the groups started to release their fan-made expansions, which are very enjoyable to try and beat. The good thing about this is that the physical versions of these fan-made items are not bound to FFG’s “No More Reprints” way of thinking. There are various folders on the internet where you can find the high-resolution images of the cards and rule sheets, and you can have these expansions printed by official printing companies without running into the copyright roadblock (usually. There have been some issues in the past with some fan-made stuff looking identical to official content). For a list of fan-made content and whether or not this would fit your collection, go to this page.
Find local players
You might not own all expansions, but perhaps there is someone near you who does! Not only can you start to get some more multiplayer games under your belt this way, but you can also try to play scenarios that you haven’t seen before. It will not be a likely solution to expanding your own collection, but you at least get to experience the game some more with potentially new friends!
The best way to get started is to just go to one of the main community outlets (Discord, Reddit, Facebook, Forums) and ask if there’s anyone in your region. You might have enough to get a group together for regular meetups, during which you can also borrow someone else’s deck to see decks that you haven’t seen before. It really is a good way to make the best out of a bad situation when it comes to this game.
I hope this article has motivated you to find some new ways to grow your collection and that you haven’t given up on plugging those final hopes into your collection. It can be difficult at times, and you might get burned by a scammer along the way. But all you need is a lucky break, and the community does its best to support players in getting those final pieces. Don’t give up, and hopefully, one day, you can help others with some leftover bits of your own collection!
This article is not complete, though. If you have any idea on how to ensure more people get to enjoy the game in these times of scarce supply and high demand, let me know in the comments.
One thought on “Buying LOTR LCG in 2023 (and later)”
Just got a couple nightmare packs from GZ! Thanks for the recommendation.