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Archive for October, 2002

Day One at the Con – DecipherCon Craziness!

LOTR geeks are running amok at DecipherCon! Scores of young people are flipping cards across hundreds of tables. From today until November 3rd, this place is a hotbed of crazed and very happy gamers! I am one of them. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

DecipherCon Craziness — Day One at the Con

Greetings — Quickbeam here.

Dateline: Norfolk, Virginia
Headline: LOTR Geeks Run Amok!
Subhead: Brand new Two Towers cards revealed!
Caption: Card Flippers of the World, UNITE!

But seriously, folks. This is what it feels like to be swirling in the chaos that is the Chesapeake Convention Center this weekend. There are scores of young people flipping cards across hundreds of tables. From today until November 3rd, this place is a hotbed of crazed and very happy gamers!

I am one of them.

Decipher has scheduled this event every year since 1998. The World Championship events that are built around Decipher’s many trading card games were originally held privately (only for qualified players) in 1996 but now these glorious competitions are open to everyone and their sister and the kitchen sink.

Are you a fan of the LOTR card game? If you can play – if you can have fun with your friends – you should be here in Norfolk right now playing for the top $7,000 prize. Yeah, you heard me, SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. And also the Chrysler PT Cruiser (which is a lovely solid black model worth about $22,000). And also the stunning solid gold replica of The One Ring itself. And the huge trophy. And the accolades of fans across the globe. No wonder the players here are so intense as they concentrate!

The slogan for this huge event: Think – Play – Be – FIERCE

The comfortable suburbs of Virginia have been turned into a buzzing hive of Lord of the Rings fans, who are all here to compete and enjoy the camaraderie. Cleaner and better organized than any other gaming convention I’ve ever attended, the DecipherCon brings the best LOTR players in the world together under one roof. They broke a record today with a mammoth number of participants in today’s World Championship qualifier.

I walk around the room and hear dozens of different accents. Those folks are speaking French. Is that Russian I hear from that table? There is even one lad from New Zealand who qualified and flew here this weekend. Good on ya, mate!

For myself and many others, the highlight of this event is seeing the brand new cards for The Two Towers card set! If you want some delicious movie spoilers then this is THE PLACE TO SEE THEM my dears. I’m sure that I will get some of these cards scanned in and published on TORN before the weekend is over.

Remember, the new Two Towers cards will not be released in stores until next week, November 6, 2002. We will bring you an EXCLUSIVE first look at the card images before anyone else. Just wait until you see this stuff! Stay tuned to this spot to get a really good look at Faramir, and the outstanding decorative armor of the Southrons, and more!

The TTT set is composed of 365 new cards, including colorful templates for these three cultures, providing the game with a mirror for the new races and nations we will see in the second film:


Let me tell you a bit about the Booster Draft product that Decipher has just created. I myself have sat down to play this unique draft style tournament. For those novices out there, a “draft” game is not the kind where you sit down using your own pre-constructed deck of cards. No, no — you leave those cards at home. What you draft to play with comes from the single booster packs you open fresh right as you sit down. You don’t know what you’re going to get until you are there! This randomness puts everyone at the table on equal footing, regardless of experience. The new Fellowship Draft Pack is indeed a special pack of 29 cards from the Fellowship set, with a perfect even number of Free Peoples cards and Shadow cards (and one randomly inserted Rare card for fun). This pack contains only “meat and potatoes” cards – basic Companions, Minions and weapons, representing the foundation of your deck. Then each player opens up regular boosters from Fellowship, Mines of Moria, and Realms of the Elf Lords, and starts sorting through to add additional supporting cards to create a fully playable deck. The new Draft Pack makes the draft style of play so much easier and fun. And for beginners who are just starting out, these Draft Packs are PERFECT for building up a good, solid collection. Even though I lost today’s games with amazing consistency, I still want to play again with this format. Splendid fun all around.

After today’s qualifying rounds for the World Championship only about 45 players will go on out of the original 254 that first sat down to compete. The competition is just as FIERCE as the evil Balrog itself. I have seen the best of the best, each player sitting down across from someone he knows is a brilliant player from somewhere else in the wide world; each sweating bullets as the giant clock on the wall runs down to zero. BUZZ! Time is up — the judge comes rushing over — tie-breaking criteria are carefully weighed and determined — then only one is announced the winner who will advance to play successive rounds with even more skilled players.

Want to see how a REAL master deck is prepared? Well, here is another exclusive. What follows is the full card list from Championship player David Malboeuf, from Quebec, Canada. He was one of today’s top players in the brutal first round of qualifiers, coming out on third after a full day of unbelievable competition. He did not lose a single game. This is his complete deck used in the tournament.

Frodo, Reluctant Adventurer
The One Ring, Isildur’s Bane

Draw Deck (Free Peoples)
1 Gandalf, The Grey Pilgrim
1 Pippin, Hobbit of Some Intelligence
1 Gimli, Son of Gloin
1 Merry, Friend to Sam
1 Sam, Proper Poet
1 Arwen, Daughter of Elrond
1 Legolas, Greenleaf
1 Aragorn, Ranger of the North
2 Boromir, Defender of Minas Tirith
4 Elrond, Lord of Rivendell
3 Ottar, Man of Laketown
1 Galadriel, Lady of the Golden Wood
1 Calaglin, Elf of Lorien
1 Orophin, Lorien Bowman
1 Rumil, Elven Protector
1 Thrarin, Dwarven Smith
1 Albert Dreary, Entertainer from Bree
1 Filibert Bolger, Wily Rascal
4 Hobbit Stealth
2 Hobbit Intuition
2 Horn of Boromir
2 Sleep Caradhras
1 O Elbereth Gilthoniel
1 Sting
1 Frying Pan
1 A Wizard is Never Late
1 Glamdring
1 Secret Sentinels

Draw Deck (Shadow):
1 Goblin Wallcrawler
4 Goblin Scavenger
4 Moria Scout
4 Goblin Runner
2 Goblin Warrior
4 Such a Little Thing
4 Goblin Armory
4 Goblin Scimitar
1 Balrog, Flame of Udun
1 Trolls’ Keyward
1 Cave Troll of Moria, Scourge of the Black Pit
2 Ulaire Nertea, Messenger of Dol Guldur
1 Guard Commander
1 Ulaire Enquea, Lieutenant of Morgul
2 They are Coming
2 Goblin Swarms
2 Host of Thousands

Adventure Deck
Site 1 Westfarthing
Site 2 Bucklebury Ferry
Site 3 Rivendell Terrace
Site 4 Mithril Mine
Site 5 Bridge of Khazad-dum
Site 6 Dimrill
Site 7 Anduin Wilderland
Site 8 Shores of Nen Hithoel
Site 9 Summit of Amon Hen

Now here is the challenge. If you have all of these cards or can trade with people to create this deck, you will have the same power and strategy that David is trying to use to claim the top prize. Try it yourself and see how it works!

But who knows if David will make it to the winner’s circle? At the end of Saturday, November 2, the final champion will be decided.

I will come back to you with more reports from DecipherCon, including special interviews with the people who created this wonderful game. More to come my friends!

Much too hasty,


For the other reports in this Series:

DecipherCon Day Two[click here]
DecipherCon Day Three[click here]
DecipherCon Day Four[click here]

Posted in Old Special Reports

TTT Exhibit Report Part II

I held Sting yesterday, the same Sting I’ve seen on the big screen and DVD countless amount of times. True it was the scale double, the one used by the small actor in the Frodo mask and makeup. Yet it was still Sting to me, and one of the highlights of my day. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

TTT Exhibit Report Part II

I held Sting yesterday, the same Sting I’ve seen on the big screen and DVD countless amount of times. True it was the scale double, the one used by the small actor in the Frodo mask and makeup. Yet it was still Sting to me, and one of the highlights of my day.

I was loitering around one of the displays waiting for my personal tour of the exhibit when one of the art directors opened the case to re-adjust it. I aksed all the right questions and got my hands on it. It was quite lightweight and very detailed. Ironically I saw Boromir’s horn, which seemed very well used, but it was rather plain.

I made my way upstairs to the exhibit…

And suddenly I was in Middle-earth.

We are first treated to the mysterious wonders of Fangorn Forest, with its old, witherd trees and mossy underfoot, you feel smothered by the intensity of the place. There was a certain mossy smell that Billy Boyd commented to me about, and Emma, my companion through the tour, said that she felt like any one of those trees felt like they could come to life at any moment.

You had to watch your head as long, gnarling branches made their way across your path, and you can’t help but look back at one of the many waterfalls and pools of water used to make the entire environment come alive.

Theoden’s chamber at in the Golden Hall was next, with a faux open-pit fire burning we were treated to Theoden’s throne and some of the massive pillars and wall hangings used on set. There are two display cases featuring Theoden and Eomer’s swords and sheaths, the Edorian style is very evocative of the Viking culture, with the two handed double-edges swords and low sloping helmets with the nose guard down the middle.

All along the walls were amazing full color photo stills from the film, massive pictures of Eomer, Theoden, Wormtongue and Eowyn. The next room continued the Edoras theme but with different elements from the battle at Helms Eeep, Elvish armour standing alongside Easterling mail suits and display cases with Legolas’ bow and fighting knives, which were much bigger than I had expected. That room opens up to a mock-up of the Helms Deep battle! Suddenly I’m on the front likes with Orc ladders being raised and lighting flashing before me, it was so much fun to pretend we were fighting the good fight!

The next room takes us to the golden glittering caves, something I thought we had not seen, I was wrong. The scene from the trialer and in a few photos with Eowyn holding a sword and hiding from the view of an Orc is indeed from the glittering caves. This room was wonderous in it’s beauty…it was so simple yet wonderfully decorated, the cave walls themselves glittered with a shimmering light that made the room seem to glow from an unknown light source. There were costumes from the refugees of Rohan, I got the chance to feel a few of the costumes and get a sense of what it must have felt like to wear this for hours on end in the mountaintops of the Edoras set.

This led us to a dark staircase with the evil ring inscription rotating on the grownd below us…and suddenly we were in Saruman’s throne room in Orthanc…I felt the sense of evil and forboding that Gandalf must have felt when those doors closed all around him when he was betrayed. The set piece itself was expertly done, I was so impressed that I actually thought this was hauled from New Zealand in one big piece, in reality it was only a re-creation.

A winding set of stairs leads you up and over the top of the Orthanc throne and into Saruman’s book room. The light pooring in from his cross-hatched window frames immediately brought me back to the film, and indeed the detials were so intricate, down to the jar of bubbling eye balls of in the corner.
After Saruman’s throne room you have to once again descend the flight of stairs and pass his throne room again (this section is so full of character and is so creepy I felt I had to scurry past in order to avoid the soothing yet evil voice!). We are brought through the horrible and dank dungeons of the caverns of Isenguard. I can see the Uruk-Hai birthing pods…is that Lurtz coming out at me…get out of here get out!

We pass into an open area and are immediately struck by the large, open swamp lake to our right, with a massive tree in the middle and the mossy growth around it. The water is so calm and still you can almost mistake it for glass…but look again..there are bodies submerged in the water!

Yes the old ghosts from battles long past still haunt the dead marshes to this day! That a treat to see the ghosts of the white city still in their leather armour!

This is followed by the caves of Henneth Annun, and the meeting of Faramir and his men, there are small nooks and crannies that you can miss if you don’t look close enough, on my second pass through the exhibit (it was VERY late at night and I basically had the run of the place…so much fun!) I noticed a small little laneway that took us behind a large waterfall and into the caves that Faramir and his men use, where we got to see the Sam and Frodo costumes in full glory and explore a little of cave life as they may have spent it for the night they were there.

Next was the Osgilath ruins and one of the most detailed environments of the entire place. We are taken directly into this ruined tower and you can really see what they mean by ruins! There is a stairwell on the right that is completely un-usable. My imagination raced as I pictured men trying to defend this place from maurading orcs rampaging and killing in the name of The Eye. This was truly wonderfull, and off into the distace was a stone carving of the white tree, bathed in light…amazing.

The last environment in the exhibit is Arwen’s bedroom, literally…the ‘Bed of Roses’ we’ve seen in trailers for years now is seen here, as well as the dress she wears and some of the very fine nick-nacs you can only find in Rivendell, like an intracatley shaped perfume bottle (which you can open, as I demonstrated and was given a dirty look for by one of the rent-o-guards) and candle-holder. Her room was very open to nature, much like the rest of Rivendell, and was indeed full of rose petals and wonderful ornate designs.

This was the end of the exhibit. I have to say that if you are in the Toronto area between now and December 1st you really should check it out. If only for a look at what you will see in The Two Towers, December 18th can’t come fast enough!.

My next report will cover the party, which mainly consisted of great music, small orderves and John Howe and I looking for a place to sit!

Look for pictures, video and more soon!

Posted in Old Special Reports

SHOP: TTT Poster For Sale

The new Two Towers poster is popping up online for sale. You can purchase it now at the Official Website, While you are there, why not use the 10% discount you got for participating in the Hat Poll posted here on! [More] [Hat Poll]

Posted in Old Main News

Vivendi Hocks Houghton Mifflin

PARIS – French media giant Vivendi Universal has agreed to sell Boston-based publisher Houghton Mifflin to a group of financiers for US $1.73 billion. Houghton Mifflin is the publisher of Lord of the Rings. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

Lee Quashes Dumbledore Rumour

Stories that Christopher Lee could fill the role of Dumbledore in future Harry Potter films have been flying about the internet faster than a flying Fell Beast on its way to Isengard. To resolve, this Lee himself has just issued a statement on his website saying these stories are untrue. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

TTT Exhibit Report!

TORN Invades Toronto!

I had the very lucky opportunity to attend the press junket and pre-opening tour of the Two Towers exhibit in Toronto yesterday. I also had the chance to interview Chris and Dan Hennah, John Howe and Alan Lee and Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan! Read on! [More]

Posted in Old Main News

TTT Exhibit Report!

TORN Invades Toronto1

Toronto TTT Pre-Exhibit and Interviews:

I had the very lucky opportunity to attend the press junket and pre-opening tour of the Two Towers exhibit in Toronto yesterday.

My day started out in Montreal as I woke up early to head to the airport. I took the ‘airbus’ hop over to Toronto (6 hour drive, 58 minute flight…amazing isn’t it?), there was no in-flight meal or any type of entertainment on these short hops between Montreal and Toronto. I had to pay for my morning tea and didn’t get a bite to eat…I landed at the huge Pearson International airport, which I’m convinced was designed by the same bloke who makes those connecting tunnels for your hamsters.

7 moving sidewalks and escalators later I arrived at my rental care desk only to get a phone call from the folks at the exhibit telling me I’m late. I calm them down and re-assure them that I will be there in no less than 45 minutes, this was at 10:45 am.

The rental car place of course lost my reservation, which I made online (so much for the internet! The desk lady said to me) so I had to argue with them to get my car….oh and my Credit Card became de-magnetized as well…still didn’t get anything to eat.

For my troubles the car rental place gave me a very cool blue PT Cruiser to make my way downtown. At 11:20 I made my way down 427 south and generally tried to point my car towards the CN tower, the heart of downtown Toronto.

Remember me telling you that I promised to make it down to the exhibit at 11:15? Well at that time I was most likely heading the wrong direction towards Hamilton and had to find a way to turn around.

I finally arrived sometime after 1pm (YES 1 PM) and managed to get myself re-scheduled alongside all the TV stations and Video reporters. I met some of the producers from the IFC Channel and Space: The Imagination Station, as well as some folks from Reel to Reel and a few other entertainment related TV shows from Toronto.

As I was setting up my camera outside to get some establishing shots of the Planetarium Alan Lee walked past me (right in front pf my camera God bless him), followed by John Howe, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan! I made my quick ‘hellos’ as they were being rushed inside for the press junkets.

Soon all the TV talent (myself included, go internet!) were ushered inside and taken in groups of 3 to interview Chris and Dan Hennah, John Howe and Alan Lee, and the hobbit boys Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan.

Chris and Dan Hennah Interview:

I was ushered into a small side-room with a huge image of Aragorn hanging on the wall and the shards of Narsil in a glass case beside me. I was admiring the sword that was broken when Chris and Dan Hennah came down the stairs from the exhibit and sat down with me to chat for a while.

Chris and Dan Hennah are the supervising Art Directors for the trilogy, and were in charge for both of the LOTR events in Toronto this year and last. They were as approachable as can be, in the New Zealand manner of laid back friendliness. We spoke about many things, they mentioned jetting off to Paris for the premiere of the Two Towers after this, then back home to work on film 3 (as Dan pointed out that film two is indeed in the can and complete).

We spoke about our Oscar party last year, they expressed dismay that they were unable to attend and made a promise to be there if they are in town that weekend. (I quote: ‘we were forced t go to that Elton John party…’)

When asked about the TTT exhibit you can tell they were truly proud of the Middle-earth magic they’ve created here in southern Canada. It took six whole weeks of hard work getting the environments just right, I will be talking about the amazing exhibit a little later.

Dan mentioned to us that most of the props will have to go back to New Zealand soon as they will be shooting almost 5 months of pick up shots for Return of the King next spring!

John Howe and Alan Lee Interview:

I was then brought into a very odd little backroom filled with boxes and electric wiring, John and Alan were sitting together making small talk, old friends catching up on all things Tolkien I imagine.

I asked them what they thought of the exhibit, they were truly in awe by the entire thing. Alan had designed the ‘maps’ used by at the venue to guide people through the various environments, but even he was shocked by what was sheer magic and ‘atmosphere’ created by the art department from New Zealand.

John remarked to me that it was great to be back in Canada, when Alan told him Toronto was wonderful, John quickly remarked that Canada was much more than Toronto…only a non-Torontonian Canadian can appreciate that comment!

The two artists share more than an amazing talent at Tolkien artwork and design; they are also two of the most soft-spoken people I’ve ever met. The fact that Peter, Fran and Philippa based their writing and design on their artwork does not effect them at all. There were no egos in that room (myself not included) as John and Alan were quick to both applaud the other’s wonderful work in FOTR as well as TTT.

Alan told me his favorite set-piece was Edoras, and the Golden Hall. He was so enchanted by the location in New Zealand, the lighting and vistas; he said it was amazing to be there.

John told me that he is most looking foreword to the ‘epic battle scene at the end of the film’, which left me salivating for more information!!!

But alas I was escorted out to meet Billy and Dom, something that I was looking forward to for weeks!

Before yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with John Rhys-Davies, and meet Ian McKellen, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Richard Taylor and a whole slew of WETA folks. But I had only spoken via emails to the others. This was my chance to sit down with Billy and Dom with no distractions! Little did I know that they’d make their own distractions without the need of outside influences!

Billy Boyd & Dominic Monaghan Interview:

I was brought into a little stairwell that leads to the event upstairs. So many items are on display here that even a small little stairwell can hold amazing items to behold! I was waiting for Billy and Dom and perused the display cases, only to see Galadriel’s mirror, her pitcher and crown, as well as Elrond’s crown and Arwen’s necklace.

Billy and Dom waltzed in and immediately started to cause trouble. One of the art decorators, Nancy, was quietly placing name cards in the display cases when Billy and Dom immediately being to rail her up

‘There’s Nancy making an exhibition of herself…’

When I finally managed to get them into a chair to talk Tolkien, they remarked to me that the exhibit upstairs was lovely to behold, and brought back the oddest of memories. ‘The smell,’ Billy explains ‘they must use the same stuff they did during the shoot, for the moss and stuff, because the smell brought me right back to the days we were filming Fangorn forest, in ways only a smell can’.

The exhibit was a great chance for Billy and Dom to get back together as Billy has been working hard in Mexico on the Russell Crowe/Peter Weir film ‘Master and Commander’ and Dom has had some work on and indie production ‘An Insomniac’s Nightmare’ in New York City.

The boys mentioned that they very rarely get their fill of LOTR stuff, because it is all so exciting.

‘We come to events like this (in Toronto) and it reminds us how cool this project was’ Dom explains.

The boys recently got together to record an audio track for the Extended Edition DVD and loved what they saw.

‘It’s great to see all those moments in the movie that give nods to the books,’ Billy says ‘Like that great scene with Dom, Orlando and myself in Lorien with the lembas, great stuff’.

The boys then proceeded to test the locks in the display cases and change the name cards around, much to my delight…but to the dismay of the art directors trying to rein them in!

I was then brought into the exhibit and later attended the opening party. Be sure to check out my report tomorrow covering the party, the exhibit itself and much much more!

Pictures to come soon!

Posted in Old Special Reports

Meda Watch: McKellen In Abercrombie Magazine

Amani writes: My sister recieved the Abercrombie and Fitch catalog today. I looked in it and found a flyer for the december catalog and Ian Mckellen is supposed to be in it. It says : “Ian McKellen works his magic”.

Posted in Old Main News

First sighting of Nazgûl Steed

Here are a few frame captures from Ringer Spy Bellerophon of the Nazgûl Steed maquette from the latest “Creatures of The Two Towers” video on !!! MAJOR SPOILERS !!! [More]

Posted in Old Main News

Don’t Miss Out!

If you have been following the activities on TORn for the last week or so, besides the insane amount of news, we have loads of opportunities for Ringer fans to win some great prizes. Next week, get together with your friends to celebrate the release of the latest film books from Houghton Mifflin. If you pre-register for this event, you’ll have a chance to win one of 20 copies of the Alan Lee Illustrated LOTR, worth $80! [More] Also, there are only a few days left to sign-up for one of 150 tickets to see the 12 hour Fellowship of the Ring Extended Version Movie Marathon! Entering is FREE with no registration required! Just submit your name and email and you are entered! [More]

Posted in Old Main News