The Lord of the Rings has inspired a lot of very good PC games (opens in new tab) spanning nearly every genre, from RTS to text adventure, open-world game to MMORPG. You can now add card game to that list: a digital, free-to-play version of Fantasy Flight's physical Lord of the Rings card game is coming to Steam next year.
The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game is the first game from new developer Fantasy Flight Interactive, ably assisted by publisher Asmodee Digital, and will focus on single-player and co-op campaigns rather than the multiplayer action we're used to in most PC card games (opens in new tab). If, like me, you're not familiar with the term 'Living Card Game', then it differentiates itself from a collectible card game (CCG) by the way it distributes cards.
In CCGs you expand your deck by buying packs that contain random cards of varying degrees of rarity. LCGs are more structured: you buy expansion packs containing a fixed set of cards, often surrounding a particular theme or play style.
In The Lord of the Rings LCG you will lead a team of up to three heroes through a number of different campaigns, earning new cards, customising your 30-card deck and purchasing new card packs as and when they are released. You'll battle against computer-controlled decks, and when the game fully releases you'll be able to team up with a friend to take on Sauron's army co-op style (Early Access is single-player only).
It will enter Early Access early next year and should be ready to release within five months, Fantasy Flight says. You'll have to pay for Early Access by purchasing one of three tiers of Founder's Packs, but after launch the base game will be free-to-play. Extra cards will be available for purchase in the game's store, and the developer will add new card packs and campaigns over time.
You'll also be able to purchase the extra cards with in-game money you earn by playing through the campaign, which is good news (providing earning that currency doesn't take too long).
The teaser trailer at the top of this post doesn't give away too much, but below you can see the first in-game screenshot:
If you want to know more, the developers go into a fair bit of detail about how you'll build your decks in this blog post. (opens in new tab)
Check out the Steam page here (opens in new tab).