The Good: Easy to learn, Good image quality, Fun to play, Rarity
The Bad: Problematic collectibility issues (foils offer nothing new), Numbering issues
The Basics: One of the last and most difficult sets to find, "Treachery & Deceit" sloppily supports the end of The Lord Of The Rings TCG.
There is some irony to the idea that what I might argue was one of the best of The Lord Of The Rings Trading Card Game sets was actually its penultimate and the final one where cards could be bought in boxes with packs. There was one set after this, but it was sold as a complete set and while it capped of the game well, "Treachery & Deceit" was the last by-the-pack set. And while I considered knocking this one up to prefect status, I then remembered the sloppy numbering in the middle of the set.
It's too bad because overall, "Treachery & Deceit" are good cards, but they are not the wonderful ones the series deserved as it wound down. No, Decipher seemed rushed in the production of this set and as a result there is a sloppy quality to the printing of it, despite it having some very cool characters, like The Gollum Affiliation returning to the game!
"Treachery & Deceit" set was the eighteenth set of The Lord Of The Rings Trading Card Game cards created by Decipher. Envisioned as a game played by two to four people, players created decks of cards utilizing their own version of the Fellowship and prepared to seed the adventure path with obstacles to thwart other players' Fellowship. For those unfamiliar with the concept, CCGs (or TCGs) are basically a late-teen oriented product designed to capitalize on the youthful desire to play with the acknowledged maturity of the target audience. The result is something that is a midpoint between the freedom and creativity of action-figure free play and the structured rules and rigidity of a board game.
Players might prefer that I describe the game instead as a strategy game that is like a Role-playing game with cards. The break here is that the characters, artifacts, and scenarios are all already conceived by others. The original concept was to find a way to make play socially acceptable for an older audience and it generally worked.
"Treachery & Deceit" is a 167-card set focusing on characters, location, artifacts, villains and scenarios presented in the The Lord Of The Rings films. Released following the debut of the Extended Edition of The Return Of The King on DVD and a bit of a hiatus from producing new sets, this card set utilizes material from all three films, presenting a well-rounded playing environment from Middle Earth. The set consists of 40 common cards, 40 uncommon cards, and 60 rare cards, with the most popular characters being presented as rare cards. This provides a sense of balance and allows different character traits to be exploited among the various versions. As well, there are twenty-seven foil reprint cards of the most popular rare cards, which receive additional exposure as Legends and Legends Masterworks foil cards.
The 140 card non-foil set features 3 Dwarven, 14 Elven, 10 Gandalf, 10 Gollum, 23 Gondor, 18 Men, 16 Orc, 12 Rohan, 8 Shire, 18 Uruk-Hai, and 2 Wraith Affiliation cards, and 7 Site cards. These are generally broken down evenly between Fellowship (your cards you play with) and Minion (cards you set upon your opponent) cards. Within the various affiliations, there are: 2 Artifact (unique items found on Middle Earth, in this case, Galadriel's Silver Ewer and the Crown Of Gondor), 16 Companion (cards depicting primary characters and those who may join your customized Fellowship, like Boromir or Gil-Gilad), 24 Condition (cards illustrating long-term changes to Middle Earth that remain in play more than one turn, like Gandalf declaring this is Our Time or the manner of Orcs being Destroyers And Usurpers), 29 Event (cards depicting temporary effects on players, like the Pull Of The Ring on wraiths or the Rohirrim being forced to Fall Back To Helm's Deep), 6 Follower (supporting people who aid the Fellowship, but do not join it, like a Robin Smallburrow or Elendil's Army), 27 Minion (cards depicting villains used to obstruct your opponent, like a Shagrat or a Wary Orc), 28 Possession (cards depicting objects used to enhance the natural strength or endurance of a character, like Lembas Bread or a Fleet Of Corsair Ships), and 7 Site (cards depicting locations in Middle Earth, they form the "board" for the game).
This set continues the game with a very broad sense of the Middle Earth universe as characterized by The Lord Of The Rings films. The booster pack boxes are comprised of thirty-six packs per box with eleven cards per pack. The eleven cards are portioned out with seven common, three uncommon, and one rare or foil card. A foil card replaces a rare in approximately five packs. The foils are simply reprints of the standard rare cards; there are no cards that are uniquely foils in this set.
At its most basic level, this is a board game where one constructs the board and pieces out of a selection of cards. The purpose of the game is to survive to the end of the ninth site in the Adventure Path, which (theoretically) indicates the end of the Ring Bearer's quest. The basic idea is to assemble a sixty card deck, lay out the board (Adventure Path) and play against an opponent. The deck is evenly split between Fellowship and Shadow cards, so players ought to have a hand that allows them to play and attempt to thwart their opponent at any given time.
This game uses a "payment" system where cards have a cost. The rulebook recommends something like poker chips or glass beads to establish the twilight pool and wound indicators and I've found small poker chips (not included) work very well for this.
Sites form the board for the game, known as the Adventure Path. Sites are seeded in accordance to the rules of bidding (all of this is clearly established in the rulebook, which is available in the starter decks). The rulebook clearly defines what each deck must possess in terms of numbers of the card types. But basically, one starts by laying out a board, determining which player goes first, then setting them off through a Fellowship Phase (wherein the current player adds any characters they can and moves to the next site), Shadow Phase (Shadow players seed Minions to set against the current player's Fellowship), Maneuver Phase, Archery Phase (archers fire and it becomes the first chance to try to take out enemies), Assignment Phase (villains target Fellowship Companions), Skirmish (they actually battle) and then Regroup.
This is a fairly complex trading card game, but it represents a level of gaming sophistication designed to appeal to younger adults and actually challenge them, which is a decent idea given the complexity of Middle Earth. The problem, of course, is that most people who would be most stimulated by this game do not have the time or effort/interest to learn to play it. As a result, the mid-teens that basically run the CCG players world seem to have had mixed impressions about this game. Many players seem to enjoy that cards have a "cost" to them, adding a sense of risk to playing many of the better cards.
It takes a great deal of time and energy to learn the game, but once one has played a few hands of it, it is a pretty easy concept for an adult to master and the challenge becomes assembling a strong fellowship and accompanying minion deck and being creative (and lucky) about how the cards from one's hand are used.
There is no rulebook for this set. There were no rule changes and this set simply follows the rules as revised back in "The Hunters" (reviewed here!). There were no new game mechanics or rule changes in this set, though there was the return of the Gollum affiliation as a full and developed grouping of cards.
Players, collectors and fans of The Lord Of The Rings franchise will appreciate the image quality of the characters and scenarios from the films. "Treachery & Deceit" almost none of the principle cast of The Lord Of The Rings, with only Aragorn, Gimli and Faramir appearing from the recognizable Fellowship. The set also features Grima, Lurtz and Gothmog from the other side. This set fleshes out the diverse characters and scenarios in Middle Earth and it does so with larger images than many other trading card game cards have.
The highlight is easily 18R34 Shelob, Menace, though. Shelob is the giant spider that attacked Frodo in The Return Of The King and in the game, Shelob is a powerful Gollum-affiliated minion who can pretty easily kill any Ring bearer. As well, when paired with 18R35 Sting Of Shelob, the Minion becomes one of the easy ways for a Shadow Player to win the game by crushing their opponent!
Rares are evenly distributed in the booster packs, with no starter decks.
Beyond that, die-hard, obsessive collectors who want the thrill of collecting can collect the Legends and Legends Masterworks foils. These are eighteen and then nine foil reprints of the most popular characters. The problem here, though, is that they picked the eighteen and then the nine are foil reprints of the foil reprints with an alternate "O" numbering, so essentially the most valuable foils (Legends Masterwork, which are on average only one per box) are also the most reprinted rares within "Treachery & Deceit" set. As well, it is somewhat disappointing that if Decipher is going to bother to alter its annoying tradition of making foil reprints of each and every single card (yea for that!) that they would not follow a late Star Trek Second Edition model and make a few cards that are unique to the foil set, perhaps previewing the subsequent series.
This set also seems to have been VERY shortprinted, enhancing its overall value. Despite this there were a few printing errors, most notably the numbering for several of the cards in the 80s and 90s where there are a few missing numbers and then different cards in the Orc and Men cards that have the same numbers. This is just plain sloppy and it drags down an otherwise decent set.
"Treachery & Deceit" is a pretty wonderful support set of The Lord Of The Rings Trading Card Game cards and were it not for the printing errors, it would be a real doozy. Regardless, its status as the last boxed, by-the-pack The Lord Of The Rings TCG product guarantees its future collectibility and success in the secondary market!
This set culls material from the The Lord Of The Rings Extended Edition Trilogy, reviewed here!
This set was preceded by Rise Of Saruman (reviewed here!) and followed by "Age's End" (reviewed here!).
This is a set of cards I sell in my online store! For my current inventory, please click 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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