Monday, June 20, 2011

The Lord Of The Rings Reflections: A Lot Of Excess For A Few Good Foils!

The Good: Some awesome new foil cards!
The Bad: Large packs filled with leftovers from the first six sets.
The Basics: An interesting set of foil cards, "Reflections" blows out more old Decipher product!

Decipher, Inc. has always done a good job of getting rid of its garbage. The makers of the Star Trek, Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings Trading Card Games figured out early that when they were loaded up with extra stock, all they had to do was repackage it all pretty-like and fans would rebuy the same things they already had in order to get new premiums. In the case of the The Lord Of The Rings TCG, this took the form of things like The Two Towers Anthology and eventually, "Reflections."

"Reflections" was a pretty common concept from Decipher: with Star Wars and Star Trek, they had released Reflections products that included foil reprints of the most popular and powerful cards in the prior sets as parts of packs that were otherwise filled with old, unsold gaming cards. The The Lord Of The Rings TCG had a bit of a problem, though; all of their cards were already made into foil reprints with foils replacing cards one in every six packs. So, when Decipher found its warehouse overstocked with The Lord Of The Rings gaming cards, they had to be inventive. And they were! "Reflections" packs include two unique foils alongside sixteen repackaged cards.

Basics/Set Composition

The The Lord Of The Rings Reflections set includes fifty-two cards. The cards are designated as Rare or Rare Plus foils and out of the fifty-two cards, there are twenty-six of each rarity. A Rare Plus card is present in approximately one in every 2.4 packs, so by the ideal odds, it would take three boxes of "Reflections" to complete a master set of the foil cards. In addition to the foil cards, packs are filled with cards from "The Fellowship Of The Ring," "Mines Of Moria," "The Two Towers," "Battle Of Helm's Deep," and "Ents Of Fangorn." As well, approximately one card per pack is a card printed in a foreign language (Decipher made the early sets in a number of languages including Spanish, French, Polish, German and Japanese in order to capitalize on the worldwide phenomenon of The Lord Of The Rings. As well, frequently foil reprint cards can be found mixed into the packs.

Because the set needed to sell to die-hard collectors who had been collecting The Lord Of The Rings products, Decipher knew they needed something new and different. In this case, they went for characters who had been under-represented, did not appear in the films or deserved an alternate concept. As a result, the only members of the Fellowship that appear in the Reflections set are Gimli and Boromir. There is a Gollum and a Smeagol card as well, but otherwise the set is rounded out by characters like Goldberry, Tom Bombadil, Elendil and Freca. As far as the non-characters go, "Reflections" is packed with powerful artifacts and weapons, like Narsil, the Ring of Rancor, and Merry's Dagger. The set is biased toward the Fellowship players with cards breaking down with 1 One Ring card, 11 Shadow Player cards and the rest Fellowship player cards.

The set is made up entirely of foil cards and they include: 1 One Ring card, 2 Ally (cards depicting assistants to the Fellowship, who do not travel with it, like Tom Bombadil and Goldberry), 19 Artifact (cards depicting unique, ancient devices in Middle Earth, like the Ring of Ire or a Sapling Of The White Tree), 15 Companion (cards of characters for one's unique fellowship, like Radagast The Brown or Galadriel), 4 Condition (cards featuring long-standing changes to Middle Earth, like Gandalf being Sent Back or how Everyone Knows which Hobbit is taller), 4 Minion (cards of adversaries played by the current Shadow player, like Gollum or the Host Of Moria), and 6 Possession (cards featuring mass-produced items in Middle Earth like Elven Rope or a Horn Of The Mark). I still do not know why the hostile tree (Huorn) is considered a Companion and not a Minion, but that is the way of it.

The foil cards all look good.


"Reflections" cards can be played out of the pack with enough packs, assuming one pulls some Site cards in the leftovers. On its own, "Reflections" lacks too many of the essential cards needed to play, though with the addition of Bilbo and Galadriel as Ring Bearers, not having a Frodo or Sam is eliminated as a lingering concern.

As well, one ought to keep in mind that one card per pack is more or less unusable as it is not in English. (Most players will find this to be an annoyance.)

Rule Changes

There is no rule book with "Reflections," so one needs to have prior knowledge in order to play the game out of the box. The cards are written such that the rules as updated in "Siege Of Gondor" (reviewed here!) apply. There are no new rules in "Reflections."

There are, however, new options as far as Ring Bearers go! For those who might want to spice up their game, Galadriel and Bilbo from the Reflections set are now able to carry the One Ring. Galadriel has a pretty pathetic resistance of 3, so she is not an ideal Bearer, but Bilbo can hold his own for a few rounds with his resistance of 5.


For the all-foil set, the highlight is easy. Even in a set that has Gollum, Smeagol, Galadriel and cool new characters like Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, there is only one choice for the highlight of reflections. It makes for a pretty awesome foil, card, too.

The best card in the fifty-two card deck is the rare plus Sauron, The Lord Of The Rings. The armored lord of all evil in Middle Earth makes its debut in the game as a foil card, backed by the fires of Mount Doom. Sure, he costs 18 twilight tokens to play, but when he is played, he is more or less invincible, so he makes for a powerful entrance into the game to use to simply crush your opponent when he appears.


As with most anthology type products, collectibility is a mixed bag. The foil cards in Reflections have retained their value well, though they are a real pain to assemble a master set. In the process of collecting the foil cards, one is left with a slew of leftover cards that most collectors will already have more than enough of (it becomes clear when opening boxes of Reflections that some of the cards used in the filling of the packs simply came from Starter Decks - or whatever process Starter Decks were collated using).

But the foil card set remains a strong investment for those fans who are open to concepts in the larger Middle Earth setting.


I like the Reflections cards, but it is hard to get excited about boxes of cards where most of the cards inside are ones one already has. They look good, play well (better than some of the sets that immediately precede it) and they have retained the value. But with twenty four packs per box, pulling only thirty-six original cards leaves one with a lot left over to get rid of. I suppose Decipher's just happy that's not their problem any longer.

This set was preceded by "Siege Of Gondor" (link above) and followed by "Mount Doom," reviewed here!

This is a set of cards I proudly sell in my online store! Check out my current inventory by clicking here!


For other card reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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