I must first congratulate you and the team on winning the Nigel Award, the game is very well deserving and thats thanks to the excellent direction and creativity of those on the team. I know you joined the team later in the game, how has it been jumping on board a game such as this that is different in many respects from your past projects?
Joe: First of all thank you for the congrats! While I wasn’t on the design team for the first LoTR set, I witnessed a lot of people around me pour their heart and soul into this game, and it certainly shows.
There are actually quite a number of differences between this project and others that I have worked on before. I think the biggest difference revolves around staying true to Tolkien and his works. A literary property such as LoTR demands a lot of respect, and it takes a lot of work to make sure everything on a card has a good ‘feel’ not only with regard to the movie, but to the books as well.
Flinch: Had you stepped into this project with a fair knowledge of Tolkien’s works? Were you a fan of the series before hand?
Joe: While I’ve never been a big book reader, it was Tolkien’s works that made me pick up a book for the first time in years! I’ve skimmed through the trilogy but have only given the first two books of the trilogy a detailed read (still working on it though).
Flinch: From your perspective which elements of the film were the most difficult to adapt to card game form? Was it difficult to stay true to the concept as presented on film, or did it come as a second nature having done similar work on the Star Wars TCG?
Joe: It really has been second nature so far, but I think I’ve been lucky in that regard. Most cards fit right into the game engine, while others might be a bit of a stretch. I think those stretches can be ok though as long as gameplay isn’t sacrificed – it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Coming up in The Two Towers though, the fact that the Fellowship is essentially broken up will be a fun challenge to try and integrate into our current game!
Flinch: What can we look forward to in regards to the next expansion Realm of the Elf Lords? I’ve been hearing through the rumor mill that Saruman will finally come into play, as well as Nenya and the other Rings of Power, any truth to popular things like this becoming available to us in the set?
Joe: Everything you’ve stated is true. Saruman will make an appearance along with the three Elven rings. Orcs from Isengard make their first appearance as well, and they will have their own cultural ‘feel’ to them like other cultures that currently exist in the game. Basically, if the Fellowship can’t kill these guys in a skirmish, they’re going to be in a lot of trouble…
Flinch: Of the characters in The Two Towers, who do you look forward to developing the most? Which aspects of each individual personality will play a role in the strategy and progress a player can make in the game?
Joe: I’m a big fan of Frodo and his dedication. The fact that ne never wanted the Ring, but took it upon himself for the sake of others is a big inspiration for me. There are a couple of cards that reflect this idea in Realms of the Elf-Lords and I’m sure we’ll do a few more in The Two Towers as well.
Needless to say though that the endless list of personalities that are in The Two Towers will certainly play a big role in the next set. I think it’s great that we as designers enjoy exploring different personalities extensively so that in the end every character has their own look and feel to them, not only story-wise but gameplay-wise as well.
Flinch: Of all the elements present in the LOTR TCG what have you been most proud of in regards to how it’s been received by the general public and by the fans of both book and film?
Joe: I think the twilight pool beautifully represents the current ‘danger level’ in Middle-Earth. Not only does it make sense story-wise but gameplay-wise it has its own unique feel to it that no other CCG has done.
Flinch: Again I must congratulate you and everyone on the team for making such an accomplished card game as the LOTR TCG. Not only is it the most sought after card game on the market but I’m even hearing that it has the highest female following of any card game to date, which is no easy task when talking games such as this. I look forward to speaking with you in the future as the game expands in future sets!
Joe: As do I!
Make sure to stop by #Havens Thursday May 30th to speak with Joe about the upcoming release: Realms of the Elf-lords!
What are you looking forward to with the LOTR TCG? Tell us about it! Drop Flinch a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.