Flinch: First off I have to congratulate you and the entire team on winning the Nigel Award this past February! It’s been well deserved and couldn’t have gone to a better game. What have your initial thoughts been surrounding the popularity of the game and how it’s been received among both the classic Tolkien fans and those that have been inspired by the films?
Tom: Thanks for the kind words. We were thrilled to be recognized by the kind folks who award the Nigel.
We’ve all been very satisfied with the reaction to LotR TCG. I wouldn’t say we were surprised, as we would have been disappointed if the reaction had been too much different. While we working on the game, we started to suspect that we had something unique and fun on our hands, so the release was a lot like waiting for Christmas morning. We knew we were getting something good, but we didn’t know how big it was going to be.
Flinch: When developing a game on a property such as Lord of the Rings was it difficult to maintain the balance between what the classic fans would ask for, and what would be more appealing to the movie fans?
Tom: Well, it was an added requirement for the project. I think I may have approached this a bit backwards from some of the other guys. I figured that if we gave people a great game that continuously pulled people back into the work and the story, it would be easier to handle the sticky points between the movie and the book. Fans just wouldn’t mind as much if we had to downplay a story element, as the game would always bring them back to a fun place. I focused pretty heavily on the core game engine not producing story problems. I can’t imagine a more rewarding and fun challenge!
Flinch: Of the characters in The Two Towers, who do you look forward to working on the most? Which aspects of each individual personality will play a role in the strategy and story line of the game?
Tom: I am a huge Faramir fan. His nobility and wisdom should translate to some fun cards. The Ents should be a blast. Hopefully we’ll be able to replicate their unique speech patterns and have some fun with that. It seems like a great place to immerse players in the story.
Flinch: In developing the character cards it is noted that the standard card game element of putting the main characters up as rare chase cards is not an issue with the Lord of the Rings TCG. How did the decision come about that there would be editions of the cards that were common, uncommon as well as rare for each of the highly sought after Fellowship Cards, and the anticipated characters like Elrond, Arwen and Galadriel?
Tom: Well, it really just flowed from our philosophy on this game. We wanted to make this the most player friendly TCG that Decipher has produced. With that as a guideline, we looked at the policies of our past games, as well as those of other TCG companies. Most of the best data was from our own games though, as we have the most experience in the industry with licensed TCGs. We just asked ourselves what we, as players, would need to be convinced to stay in the game once we tried it. Obviously, the Fellowship characters scored very high.
Flinch: Having Worked on Trading Card Games in the past, what was the strongest influence on what paths wouldn’t be walked with a game such as this where the expansions won’t follow the same set of nine locations and won’t have the same flavor of event cards as the film before it would?
Tom: Hmmm, not sure there is any one “best” example. We did something a little similar in SWCCG with Death Star II and Endor, and I learned some things from that. Most TCGs that are around for a while have to adapt to changes like this.
Flinch: Of all the accomplishments and innovations accompanying this game, which
element are you most proud of?
Tom: Two things really. The Twilight Pool is pretty cool, but enough has been said about that I guess. I really like the integrated site path. It is the element which allows each player to have their own Fellowship, while still feeling like they are in the same game. It is the glue to the game, and let us sidestep what was a major issue, uniqueness of characters. How much would the casual fan have wanted to play if they couldn’t have Frodo, or the Ring? Also, originally each player had their own site path and this created a real mess for the footprint of the game.
Besides, it is a great scoreboard, and allows the players to show a lot of creativity. The guy I played in the tournament last week had a tiny catsup bottle for his marker. I still don’t get it, but it made me laugh.
Flinch: Again I must congratulate everyones accomplishments in making this game the highest sought after card game available today! Thanks for talking with me and I hope to hear from you in the future as this game develops and we get closer into Two Towers and Return of the King!
Tom: My pleasure!