Playing „The Lord of the Rings LCG“ at the „LURE of MECCG XV“

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Foto: Lisa Roderer

Every year about 80 players come to the castle of Bacharach to play an ancient, long forgotten — but still beloved — collectible card game: Middle-Earth: The Wizards. This year something was different, the group of old friends and well known companions were joined by a group of new players. Not a sudden influx of new Middle-Earth players — who got into a complex game that is out of production for over sixteen years now — but rather a completely different breed of Tolkien fans. They instead played the still running Lord of the Rings Living Card Game (LCG).

16 Players enjoyed the cooperative LCG on the weekend of the 13th till 15th March 2015 at the so called LURE of MECCG XV. And even a Fellowship Event with the Fog on the Borrow-Downs quest was held with ten participants on Sunday. Many of the Middle-Earth players joined in for an introduction and enjoyed the game. Most even bought a core set and some expansions only moments after their first game.

81 Players showed up to play at the LURE of MECCG XV, as its inventor and organizer Wolfgang Penetsdorfer told me. After its inital hype in 2004 with 128 players the event is slowly stagnating at about 80 players. But this might change now.

LURE of MECCG participants:

tabelle Lure teilnehmer participants2(Source: Wolfgang Penetsdorfer)

The Lord of the Rings players who came to Bacharach revitalized the brilliant, but slowly dwindling LURE event, that until now seemed to loose one or two players each year. I hope the downward trend will stop. It probably already has, if this one event is an indication. Not only the Lord of the Rings LCG, but also the Middle-Earth Dream Cards from Eric and Nikolai have given a freshness to the event, that it had missed.

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Thomas (left) and Paul playing the LotR Saga Expansion Campaign Mode. / Foto: Dominik Schönleben

In total 24 quests were played over the weekend in additional to the Fellowship Event. Paul and Thomas played by far the most games this weekend and were awarded some special prices as the LURE Champions. (Other players recived prices, too.) The winners of the Fellowship Event were Wolli and Peter, who finished the Quest in only nine Turns on Easy Mode, using the combined power of two dwarf decks. Both had just learned the game the day before and were playing decks I had borrowed them.

So both new and old players enjoyed The Lord of the Rings LCG and it will be even bigger next year — I’m sure of that. Maybe the LURE of MECCG will soon have to be renamed into the LURE of Middle-Earth to accompany both games equaly. My guess is 2020 😉

This year was just a trial. And it was so well recieved, that next year I will prepare more special LCG events at the LURE. I would even like to prepare a quest that was especially designed by me for the LURE. So look forward to LURE XVI in 2016, where we will play „A Passage to Bacharach“, the first Lord of the Rings LCG quest in the LURE of Middle-Earth Cycle.

The next LURE has already been announced to be on the 4. till 6. March 2016. (But I’ll be there as usual one day earlier.) Be sure to join our Quest!

The main hall in the castle of Bacharach.

The main hall in the castle of Bacharach. / Foto: Dominik Schönleben

 

Here my personal retelling of LURE XV:

My travels to the castle of Bacherach started with a quest of my own: Middle-Earth: Quest. An old and outworn Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book. Just to get me into the mood of Tolkien’s lore. Soon my troubles were forgotten and I emerged into the world of brave hobbits, grumpy dwarves and nobel elves. While our world flew past me on the train, I became Erin, the apprentice of Saruman the white, who has learned of his masters treachery. Saruman, already corrupted by the power of the ring, is seeking an alliance with Sauron, the dark lord. But I might still be able to warn the highborn elven lady Galadriel of Lorien. Would I live to tell the tale?

Middle-Earth Quest: A Spy in Isengard book and my character sheet.

Middle-Earth Quest: A Spy in Isengard book and my character sheet. / Foto: Dominik Schönleben

And so I rolled dice and flicked through pages — my real quest had begun.

When the train stopped, I had already emerged myself into the world of Arda. Unsure if I would every return.

Der Burgfried der Burg in Bacharach. / Foto: Dominik Schönleben

The donjon of castle Stahleck in Bacharach. / Foto: Dominik Schönleben

My loyal and swift companion Lisa joined me after two-thirds of the way. And there we stood at the foot of the castle. She, allthough a well trained warrior in the ancient combat masteries of the east, had like me grown tired of all the trinkets and treasures we brought in our luggage. The way was stony and steep. As we looked up, the castle of Bacharach loomed over us, like the menacing tower of Barad-dûr.

As we lurked in the shadow to hide from Saurons spying crows, we heared a horse-drawn cart approaching. I drew my dagger and Lisa readied her gondorian shield in silence, as I suddenly heared a familiar voice. It was the sound of one of my companions. He had spent numerous evenings with me telling marvelous tales of the world of Middle-Earth.

This was the moment when we realized, that we were among friends. The darkness, that had befallen us, vanished without a trace. We emerged from the bushes, I donned my hood. But they had already spotted us: „You look exausted old friend, can we help you with the luggage?“, called my dear friend and I heared kindness in his words. He and his two companions, both rangers from the north, were heading in the same direction. They loaded our bags on their cart and off we went infused with unexpected courrage to take the last step of the way.

The view from castle Strahleck in Bacherach.

The view from castle Stahleck in Bacharach.

We were among the first to finally reach the Haven of Bacharach. But soon our fellowship should be complete. 90 fellow adventurers would join my companions and me on our yearly quest. When Wolfgang, the head of the council, arrived shortly after us in his carriage, we awaited him in the dining hall. The others brought in barrels of beer and soon we started talking about previous quests. While we ate, Alex, a witty trader from Pelagir filled the air with an endless stream of old annecdotes. We shared stories and jokes we had told many times before. It was the beginning of a wonderfull weekend.

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Bart (left) and Lisa play the Passage Through Mirkwood quest in Nightmare Mode with Thomas and Paul.

When we woke on the next morning I saw some unfamiliar faces in the crowed. One among them was an Elf who introduced himself as Bart, who had traveled far from the Grey Havens to join our quest. His two companions were Thomas and Paul. They had met him on the way and pleaged their allegiance to his quest.

We joined our forces and agreed to fight Sarumans and Saurons perils together. Middle-Earth and LCG players united in a single goal. We enjoyed the time together as it flew by. And the departure was sadder than ever, as we had made new friends and revived old friendships just to say goodbye.

I would not share my route back home with my brave companion Lisa. And as we stood there at the foot of the mountain, the dark clouds of Saurons forces again took hold of the castle behind us. We looked back, as we walked away from Bacharach, still knowing that we had to return. There were still deeds to be done, heroic sacrifices to be be made and treasures to be found. We embraced each others arms and made a pledge to return to this enchanted place, where all the free people of Middle-Earth would unite in a common goal. I waved Lisa farewell. Although still feeling a deep sadness in my heart, I turned and left.

Leaving the marvelous world of Tolkien behind, I board the train — I’m back, but still dreaming.

More pictures from castle Strahleck and the LURE of MECCG XV:

Fotos: Lisa Roderer/Dominik Schönleben

Update 21.03.15: Wolfgang provided the official LURE statistics for me, which were added. The numbers in the text were changed accordingly.

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