Living Card Games

Many of you will be familiar with the Collectible Card Game (CCG) concept that was first unleashed on the world by the phenomenon called Magic: The Gathering. The idea was that you could buy a starter set, then buy ‘booster’ sets that included a random mixture of cards. As a result, an extra dimension of collecting—and hunting down and trading for cards depending on their rarity—was added to the gameplay.

Of course, despite the huge success of this idea and the fact that many enjoyed this collectible aspect, other people began to tire of not actually knowing the contents of the booster set they were buying. A solution arrived in the form of a new format created by Fantasy Flight Games—the Living Card Game (LCG). Now every booster set had the same number and type of cards, and you could expand your decks as much as you desired without worrying about the trading and rarity aspects of the game.

The LCG format has been a huge success, and Fantasy Flight moved their existing CGGs to this new format as well as creating more. Let’s have a look at Fantasy Flight LCGs, and check out an exciting new game on the horizon.

Call of CthulhuCall of Cthulhu LCG
The Call of Cthulhu LCG was FFG’s first duelling card game and is still going strong. Designed for two players, it draws on the rich and detailed background of the stories of master horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, pitting human and monster factions against each other in a game where you can not only lose your life, but your sanity! Agency detectives, Miskatonic University students and faculty, and the members of the mysterious Syndicate all join the fight against otherworldly beings including Cthulhu, Hastur, Yog-Sothoth, and Shub Niggurath. The cards feature some truly stunning artwork from a wide range of artists that really immerse you in the theme.

The place to start with this fantastic game is the Core Set, which includes a nicely-illustrated game board, rulebook, story markers, plastic Cthulhu domain markers, 10 Story cards, and 155 deck cards. The Call of Cthulhu LCG is fully playable out of the box, but when you get hooked you’ll want to start expanding the game with any number of booster Asylum Packs of fixed card supplements (these were once 2 copies each of 20 unique cards, but recently FFG has updated all of its booster packs for all these games to 3 copies each of 20 unique cards).

A Game of ThronesA Game of Thrones LCG
Another big success for FFG has been the A Game of Thrones LCG, which is based in the world of George R. R. Martin’s bestselling fantasy novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire. FFG has produced a lot of games based in the world of Westeros—the A Game of Thrones boardgame and the new BattleLore variant, Battles of Westeros.

A Game of Thrones LCG is an exercise in intrigue, diplomacy, and strategy. Players control one of the four major houses of Westeros, each with different strengths and weaknesses, and compete for power with military, intrigue and power challenges. The game is full of the strife and backstabbery that fans of the books have come to love. Additionally, each player has a Plot deck, which can trigger special, thematically driven effects that have repercussions for all players throughout the coming round and beyond.

Warhammer InvasionWarhammer Invasion LCG
The Warhammer Invasion LCG is the latest FFG card game, and it’s been hitting the table a lot on my gaming nights. This one draws from the incredibly detailed Warhammer world in which all of Games Workshop’s fantasy games are based. The Core Set features a rulebook, 4 Capital boards, numerous tokens, and 220 cards in 4 factions—the Dwarves, Empire, Chaos, and Orcs. Battle Packs add factions like the evil Dark Elves, the Elves, and the rat-like Skaven.

The goal in Warhammer Invasion is to set two of the three locations on your opponent’s Capital boards to burning, and you’ll have to cleverly allocate your resources to not only attack your opponent in strength, but defend your capital from your opponent’s attacks. Of course, as in all these games, there is plenty of opportunity to craft your own ‘killer’ deck by mixing cards of various factions—though in this case it must be made up of either those forces following Order (good) or those following Destruction (evil).

The Lord of the RingsThe Lord of the Rings LCG
The most exciting new development in the world of LCGs is the upcoming new game set in J. R. R. Tolkein’s Middle-earth: The Lord of the Rings LCG. The exciting new twist in this game is that it is a co-operative card game that allows 1-2 players (or up to 4 with 2 Core Sets) to select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts, and coordinate their efforts to face Middle-earth’s most dangerous adversaries. By building a party from a set of 12 hero cards, players can focus their decks on any combination of four ‘spheres of influence’: Leadership, Lore, Spirit, and Tactics. Then cooperate to overcome the obstacles drawn from the encounter deck, complete the quest, and claim victory!

The Core Set will include 226 cards and 3 quests, and monthly Adventure Packs will introduce new quests, heroes, allies, attachments, events, and encounters.

As you can see, the Living Card Game format is most definitely alive and well, and provides the perfect framework for very casual players happy with the occasional game all the way up to competitive ‘hardcore’ gamers who want to collect every card available for a game and meticulously craft game-winning decks.