The Good: Some very cool cards (especially rares), Compelling themes, Easy to play game
The Bad: Absolutely nothing new in this box, No guarantee of a rare/foil in a pack
The Basics: Despite the possibility of pulling a few starter deck exclusive cards that are challenging to find, the Fellowship Draft packs are a dud product.
For those who follow my reviews of gaming cards (thank you for that, by the way!), you would know that in my vigor to be thorough here and review every product within a certain franchises' Customizable Card Game (or Trading Card Game as the case is with The Lord Of The Rings), I often end up reviewing products that do not quite fit my structured reviews and I end up stretching a bit to make a review that is both thorough and informative. With many of the gaming card sets that are released as anthologies, there are additional cards, unique to the set or package I am reviewing, which allows me to flesh out the review. Unfortunately, sometimes a product is just a cheap, worthless repackaging of older cards and those reviews are brutal to try to write.
So, for example, with the completion of the Fellowship block of The Lord Of The Rings cards (the Fellowship block being defined as the first three sets of The Lord Of The Rings gaming cards), Decipher decided to clear some of its stock and it released the first The Lord Of The Rings anthology product, the Fellowship Draft Packs. This is a terrifically lazy product, which simply presents a random assortment of gaming cards from the first three sets.
Decipher released the Fellowship Draft Packs which were simply collections of twenty-nine random cards from the first three sets. This product combines cards from the Fellowship Block, which were the "The Fellowship Of The Ring" (reviewed here!), "Mines Of Moria" (reviewed here!), and "Realms Of The Elf-Lords" (reviewed here!) sets. There are no cards unique to the packs, there was no guarantee of a foil card or rare in any of the twenty-nine card packs and they were originally released in boxes that held twelve packs. This was a cheap repackaging solely of already released cards and it pretty much sucked.
Of course, I won't do that, so . . .
Not even technically a set of The Lord Of The Rings TCG cards, Fellowship Draft packs followed the "Realms Of The Elf-Lords" set. It was a clear attempt to sell-off extra stock before the release of The Two Towers. Fans who already had master sets of "The Fellowship Of The Ring," "The Two Towers," and "Realms Of The Elf-Lords" quickly figured out that there was nothing unique in these packs and they avoided them. Yet, strangely, when Decipher was overstocked following The Two Towers Block of sets, they tried the same thing again . . . hard not to admire that level of gumption.
It is possible, one supposes, to collect the entire standing 609 cards set (the first three sets had 365, 122, and 122 cards, respectively) by opening Fellowship Draft packs, but it would take quite a bit of time and would be greatly disproportionate to the value of these packs.
The Fellowship Draft packs are, in fact, completely random assortments of cards from all three sets of The Lord Of The Rings the Trading Card Game. The only benefit one might see to this is that virtually every pack has at least one of the Starter Deck Premium cards in it. In fact, many have duplicates, as well as feature duplicates of other cards in the sets. So, it was not unheard of to end up with a pile of common cards with six of the same common and three of a starter deck premium rare.
What is the point of the Fellowship Draft packs then? Decipher - always adept at marketing - tried to sell these to the players. The concept of the draft pack was that despite the appearance of being random, there would always be enough such that with one draft pack and any one starter deck, a player could make a complete, perfectly playable deck of The Lord Of The Rings gaming cards and be ready to play.
The concept here was to shake players up and encourage them to occasionally play away from the safety of their carefully-constructed decks that they had painstakingly created. No, in this fashion of play, they had to make do with whatever fate handed them and many players rejected this because . . . well, they had spent so much time and money assembling their decks the way they wanted it for a reason; they knew the strategy they liked to employ.
But players who were eager to try something different or who were eager to think on their feet welcomed the Draft packs. And despite the obvious attempt to try to sell more starter decks, this is a pretty sound strategic concept on the part of Decipher, trying to keep the original purpose of trading card games in mind; to create a game that stimulated the players. Being forced to think outside one's deck certainly stimulated players!
The rulebook for this game is forty pages long and it does not come in this box. This - again - compels players to buy starter decks. There are, however, no rule changes in this packaged set and the game is played essentially as it was when the "Fellowship Of The Ring" (see link above) set was released.
There are no rules changes or card type additions in the Fellowship Draft packs because every single card is a previously-released card.
Strangely, I do have a highlight for this set. Because the "Realms Of The Elf-Lords" cards are so dang hard to find, the Fellowship Draft packs may be a good way for collectors now to hunt down cards from that set. Specifically, the 3P121 Legolas card. Originally exclusive to just the "Realms Of The Elf-Lords" starter decks, this Legolas card is almost impossible to find now because those starter decks have long been out of print and gobbled up on the secondary market. 3P121, though, does pop up in Fellowship draft packs, making it possibly the most probable way to track one down now.
The Fellowship Draft packs are fairly hard to find now, even in the secondary market. Collectors do not truly need them, so very few people stockpiled these; they seem to be a product that mostly just came and went very naturally. Every "The Fellowship Of The Ring Anthology boxed set included one of the Draft packs, but largely, this repackage was seen for what it was and collectors and investors wisely avoided it.
The possibility of pulling a single card (as well as the occasional foil card for the insane collectors who are still trying to complete foil sets from the Fellowship block) is all that keeps this product from being deemed completely worthless. As it is, only the truly die-hard and desperate fans will use this to try to complete or enhance their collections. Given that there are no guarantees on odds or contents, this truly is the ultimate The Lord Of The Rings Trading Card Game crapshoot!
These cards use images from The Fellowship Of The Ring, which is reviewed here!
This set was preceded by "Realms Of The Elf-Lords" (link above) and followed by "The Two Towers" (reviewed here!).
For other card reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!
© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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