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]