Thursday, September 15, 2011

Very Fun, The Return Of The King Anthology Can Be A Great Way To Get Many Cards!

The Good: Interesting bonus idea, Good way to get a lot of product, Fun game
The Bad: Massively overproduced, Not at all necessary
The Basics: A good way to collect some of the expensive packs, like "Reflections," The Return Of The King Anthology boxed set is a touch sell to collectors, but a good deal for dealers.

Sometimes, there are oddities in the trading card game market. With The Lord Of The Rings Customizable Card game, there are very few mysteries. It is a very direct game with fairly strong marketing backing it up. But when they decided to reboot the game after they finished with The Return Of The King cards, it was a surprise to some that they bothered to release a The Return Of The King Anthology boxed set. After all, if they were trying to capitalize on the new game mechanic and promote that, why release a boxed set of the old product during the new push?! Mystery as it may be, it makes sense that Decipher had some product to blow out of their warehouse, much the way it did with The Two Towers Anthology (reviewed here!). With The Return Of The King block of cards, Decipher came up with The Return Of The King Anthology. Far less limited than the sellout The Fellowship Of The Ring Anthology cards, The Return Of The King Anthology is a perfect product for those looking to get a lot of cards from The Return Of The King sets of TCG cards inexpensively. They are a boon for players, have a unique item for collectors and have been blown out by Decipher in such a way that now they make a good investment for investors who are able to buy in extreme bulk.

At the end of the day, though, The Return Of The King Anthology boxed set is a very simple and direct repackaging product. The boxed set consists of:
6 packs of The Return Of The King,
five packs of "Reflections,"
and one pack of "Mount Doom," as well as 1 checklist for the cards in The Return Of The King block, and the exclusive Tengwar Reprint set.

The checklist is a real boon, especially to those who do not want to have to log onto the internet every time they want to figure out what they are missing. But the reason to buy The Return Of The King Anthology boxes are the Tengwar Reprint set. Unique to this boxed set, it features seventeen of the most popular and powerful cards from The Return Of The King block reprinted with all of the text in Tengwar (the Elven language of Middle Earth).

Basics/Set Composition

Not even technically a set of The Lord Of The Rings TCG cards, The Return Of The King Anthology followed the "Shadows" set. It was a clear attempt to sell-off extra stock after the release of The Return Of The King on DVD and the rebooting of the game. Fans who already had master sets of The Return Of The King, "Siege Of Gondor," "Reflections" and "Mount Doom" quickly figured out that there was only the Tengwar sets exclusive to this product. As a result, most only purchased one box, took the Tengwar set and dumped the rest. One supposes that Decipher was just happy it was no longer their problem anymore.

It is possible, one supposes, to collect the bulk of The Return Of The King block of 671 cards set (the four sets had 365, 122, 62 and 122 cards, respectively) by opening The Return Of The King Anthology, but it would take quite a bit of time and would be greatly disproportionate to the value of these packs. Moreover, one would be stuck with an excessive number of the Tengwar reprint sets. As well, there are no "Siege Of Gondor" cards in this boxed set, nor any of the starter decks. At best, one could eventually pull 545 of the 671 cards in this block.

The The Return Of The King Anthology Tengwar Exclusive cards are mostly reprinted from The Return Of The King, though Shelob and The King Of The Dead make it into the anthology from "The Siege Of Gondor." Because these are impractical to play with (they aren't in a real language and few will be able to read the Tengwar script!), they are clearly more for collectors and for me, the Anthology Tengwar reprint cards are what I get signed by the celebrities when I meet them. For the sake of completion, though, the reprint set includes: 1 The One Ring, 9 Fellowship, and 7 Minion cards.


What is the point of the The Return Of The King Anthology then? Decipher - always adept at marketing - tried to sell these to the collectors. Fairly transparent about simply selling off the old product and doing their best to raise capital, Decipher, Inc. presented this as a set for the collectors. While the cards in the packs are perfectly playable, the cards in the Tengwar reprint set are unplayable, save one supposes, by elves.

Rules/Rule Changes

The rulebook for this game is forty pages long and it is not this boxed set. Essentially, though, the sets in this boxed anthology product follows the rules updated through the "Mount Doom" set (see link above).

There are no rules changes or card type additions in The Return Of The King Anthology boxes because every single card is a previously-released card.


Strangely, I do have a highlight for this set. The Tengwar reprint of 8R25 Shelob, Eater Of Light is too cool to not mention. Sure, the Arwen card reprinted from "Mount Doom" might be better because it could be autographed by Liv Tyler should I ever meet her, but Shelob is such a powerful adversary and the image is too cool to not mention. Moreover, because the cards are essentially unplayable, it's a matter of what looks neat to sell this set and Shelob never suffers for its look! The giant spider creature rules this set.


The The Return Of The King Anthology 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. Largely, this repackage was seen for what it was and collectors and investors wisely avoided it.


As a buyer, I actually like The Return Of The King Anthology boxed sets. Collectors will certainly only need one, though there are many dealers like myself who sell the Tengwar sets for about the cost of a whole boxed set and open up the other packs. This is a nice way to get product in at low cost and had it not been so massively overproduced in the first place, it probably would have retained a greater sense of value.

These cards use images from: The Return Of The King, which is reviewed here!

This set was preceded by "Shadows" (reviewed here!) and followed by "Black Rider" (reviewed here!).

This is a set of gaming cards I 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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