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More Star Wars Galaxies Woes

I have gotten many great e-mails from folks both supporting and knocking Star Wars Galaxies, while it is a fun game, the bug issues really makes a grown man cry. Today I had this experience that I thought I would share, it is a great testimat to how Sony’s Customer Service has been handling these issues.

CSR-TerryH: Greetings this is CSR-TerryH. Do you have a moment to discuss your ticket?

Flinch: Yes I do.

CSR-TerryH: I understand you lost many deeds [houses, mining factories, etc], I have gathered the list from your comment. Is there anything else you would like to discuss with me today?

Flinch: Well, you guys don’t support pet recovory and are unable to verify that the item Enhancement had what I said it had… so… this makes me really come of feeling like only a portion of the game is actually supported.

CSR-TerryH: I can understand your frustration.

Flinch: I can’t concievably see how a game can have so many features yet not actually support them.

This was met by a long pause.

CSR-TerryH: I am sorry you feel this way.

Flinch: Additionally, I reported that I found users running a strip club here on Naboo, and was mocked and insulted for expecting this game to be clean when i reported the issue on the Official Forums.

CSR-TerryH: At this time we are doing our best to address the issues that affect the greatest number of players.

Flinch: I can understand that.

CSR-TerryH: We will be addressing the inappropriate behaviors.

Flinch: My only response to that is will it be in time? How would mothers of these players feel if they knew that their children were being invited to watch Digital Avatars take off their clothing in exchange for in-game currency. How would Sony expect mothers to react to this?

This was met with no response whatsoever.

CSR-TerryH: I can either place your items in your home, or in your personal inventory.

Flinch: Inventory would work best.

CSR-TerryH: Please remember to delete your ticket when you are through with it.

Flinch: Could I possibly ask you about another issue while I have you? A good friend of mine has lost his entire in-game lifes work as his house containing a museum which we all put a great amount of time into just randomly went missing.

CSR-TerryH: I am sorry to tell you that we are not able to reimburse for lost pets. We are not authorized to address another players issues.

Flinch: Well it is my issue as well, though us only being able to open one customer service ticket at a time means I could not create an issue for this as well.

CSR-TerryH: Have you looked in your inventory to verify the deeds I placed?

Flinch: My original issue is solved yes, could you please speak with my friend about his problem if you will not speak to me?

CSR-TerryH: Thank you for your time. I would like to take this opportunity to once again apologize for the inconvenience.

CSR-TerryH: I hope you are able to enjoy the game as it was meant to be, a fun experience.

CSR-TerryH would not respond to any of my messages after this. My friend’s very expensive home is just missing, with several hundred thousand in-game credits worth in Bio Engineered Pets and Rare items. My friends issues and my own were only partially addressed and we cannot help but feel that our time in this game is wasted as even Sony who has every power to fix the issues that befall us, won’t even follow through and support their product.

Many of you have e-mailed me telling me that as you played Asheron’s Call you feel the service I am mentioning from Sony will be emulated by Vivendi. I can only say that I trust Chris Taylor, and respect him, and if it is possible to release an MMORPG smoothly into this gaming industry then he will find a way.

Again, only time will tell.

If you’ve had adverse experiences in a game, or on the off chance that you actually are ENJOYING Star Wars Galaxies, please e-mail me directly at Flinch@TheOneRing.net.

Posted in Old Special Reports

Star Wars Galaxies: Glimpse into our future, or just an isolated failure?

With War of the Ring on the Horizon, and Middle-earth Online following in late 2004, fans of online games will have all of Middle-earth at their fingertips. Is Star Wars Galaxies paving the way for another new generation of Online Titles, or is it a grim look into our own disgruntled futures? I, for one, am somewhat concerned.

A good friend of mine got me into Star Wars Galaxies. Naturally many fans of Tolkien’s mystical world also have a soft spot for that galaxy far far away. Even rings star Sean Astin has confessed that he has love for both universes and couldn’t lean towards one or the other. So Star Wars Galaxies was supposed to hold me over until Chris Taylor and his magicians over at Vivendi Universal would give us all a piece of Middle-earth to call our own. Unfortunately, what I found upon logging in is a depressed and deprived world filled with obvious bugs and Customer Service Reps who just don’t seem to give a damn.

My experiences started off on the planet of Corellia. My good friend Jaero who talked me into making the leap to Star Wars Galaxies is part of a Guild of Players who exist on Naboo [Avian Technology and Trade], and already the game was frustrating as it wouldn’t let me choose Naboo as my starting location. Something about overcrowding. So I piddled along doing delivery missions in a foreign world quite oblivious to the hours of tedium that stood before me. Well, needless to say I worked to get my Shuttle Ticket to Naboo and was soon running around with my pals in this lush beautiful environment.

Since that day one month ago I’ve seen many things, many disturbing things, and Customer Service Representatives and Developers alike carrying on as if it was the best game ever made. I guess the best example of this is a Tech Support Forum post in which a player had stated that he was having difficulty with his Imperial Trooper, well after he explained his problem a CSRRobyn comes on with a long response about Creature Handling and how it had recently been changed. That’s great, if he had asked anything about Creature Handling. I posted a response on the thread questioning why she answered his question with non-applicable information and they simply deleted the thread including the gentleman’s original complaint!

Is this the level of customer service we can expect when Vivendi makes their jump to MMORPGs? Some would say we could be walking into the same kind of chaos. Even after my experiences with Galaxies, I’m still optomistic that with the skilled guidance of Chris Taylor, an avid MMORPG player himself, Middle-earth Online will truly be the place to go to find out own little corner of Middle-earth. No one really knows, and no one will know until that fateful day rolls around towards the end of 2004.

…uhm…

…is it the end of 2004 yet?

…no huh?…

…how bout now?

Posted in Old Special Reports

Toy Madness!

With the release of Peter Jackson’s epic Trilogy fans of the Lord of the Rings have never had an easier time finding a collectible to suit their needs, but in this new found abundance of options it also becomes extremely confusing figuring out just what is available, when each item comes out, and what exclusive pieces will be available for each series. So, to help ease the confusion, we’ve written out this guide to let you know what is on the way, and what is already here!

ToyBiz

Among the first of the Lord of the Rings movie tie-ins, ToyBiz’ line of action figures will soon be releasing Sam in Orc Armor, and Frodo in Orc Armor as the first wave from their Return of the King line. Luckily our lives will soon be complete as the last of the Two Towers releases will include the much anticipated Shield Surfing Legolas figure.

Play Along Toys

Easily one of the most exciting of the new toy lines has to be Play Along Toys’ Armies of Middle-earth series. The first wave of these multi packed figures include Frodo, Sam & Ringwraith, Eowyn, Eomer & Rohan Soldier, Two Ringwraiths and Twilight Ringwraith, and a Moria Goblin 3-pack. The line also includes a mounted line with Aragorn on Horseback, Gandalf on Shadowfax, Ringwraith on Steed, and Sharku on a Warg. What makes this even cooler is KB Toy Stores are now running a special promotion giving away a Free Gollum figure [shown here] and a Free Moria Goblin 3-Pack for all orders of $40 or more of Armies of Middle-earth Product. I got a chance to see the Gollum figure up close at ComicCon, and it simply rocks. Fans attending the Conventions this summer will also have a chance to get their hands on a special Convention Edition Twilight Frodo with Ringwraiths 3-pack from the Play Along booth. You can order the first wave of 3-packs by clicking here and the first wave of Riders by clicking here.

Releases for Armies of Middle-earth

3-packs Wave 1 pre-order now
Frodo, Sam and Ringwraith
Ringwraith, Ringwraith, and Twilight Ringwraith
Eomer, Rohan Foot Solider, Eowyn
Goblin Bowman, Goblin Sneak, and Goblin Runner

3-packs Wave 2 pre-order now
Ugluk, Mauhur, and Uruk-Hai Warrior
Pippin, Merry, and Boromir
Haldir, Elven Soldier, and Elven Warrior
Grishnak, Snaga, and Orc Scout

Riders Wave 1 pre-order now
Dark Rider (Ring Wraith) #1 on Steed
Aragorn on Horseback
Sharku on a Warg
Gandalf the White on Shadowfax

Lord of the Rings Deluxe Helm’s Deep Environment
Coming Soon – pre-order now

Bridge at Khazad-Dum with Balrog, including Gandalf the Grey and Goblin marksman
Saruman’s Chambers and Balcony, including Saruman and Wormtongue
Coming Soon – pre-order now

Posted in Old Special Reports

Where’s Bombadil?

That’s a question many Lord of the Rings fans asked about The Fellowship of the Ring film, which omitted this popular character from the first novel of the trilogy. But even though he didn’t appear on screen, he’ll be coming to The Lord of the Rings TCG – and you’ll be able to get an exclusive preview version of his card as a bonus when you complete the Countdown to the King! Here’s how it works.

Decipher has selected 18 rare cards, representing some of the most important characters, possessions, and artifacts from the Fellowship and Tower blocks – from The Balrog, Terror of Flame and Shadow, to Aragorn, Defender of Free Peoples – for reproduction with new lore and alternate template artwork. (There is no duplication with the Fellowship Anthology cards.) Each week of the Countdown to the King, you’ll be able to get one of these exclusive cards from participating retailers with a $10 (or €10) purchase of Fellowship or Tower block booster packs. With your first purchase, you’ll receive an oversized checklist card to track your progress toward earning these rewards

At the end of six weeks, after you have collected the first six cards, you will receive a Fellowship of the Ring poster depicting every card in the Fellowship block.

At the end of 12 weeks, after you have collected the second six cards, you will receive a Two Towers poster depicting every card in the Tower block.

After the full 18 weeks, when you have collected all 18 cards, you will earn an exclusive collector’s binder to house your 18 cards – plus four bonus preview cards depicting characters that did not appear in the motion pictures, including Tom Bombadil!

The countdown begins August 25th and runs through December 29, 2003. Offer available through participating retailers only, while supplies last. Talk to your local retailer today to make sure they’re on board, and watch www.decipher.com for weekly previews of the upcoming week’s new card.

Join us in the Countdown to the King, and get your very own answer to the question, “Where’s Tom Bombadil?”

Posted in Old Special Reports

Games Workshop’s Online Policies

Manelmacar wrote in to tell us that Wargames Workshop has officially closed down business. Wargames Workshop was a very popular online store allowing fans to purchase miniatures, and often times at pretty good prices. Fans have been e-mailing us since Games Workshop announced they were no longer going to permit online sites to sell their product, many of these fans were insulted, and confused, not sure why Games Workshop would close stores that have served them so well. I felt this was a good opportunity to explore the various sides of this story, and hopefully everyone will understand why the choice was made.

From the Consumers stand point, this change came as quite a shock. Many fans have relied on Online Retailers for their Hobby needs, especially fans who live in smaller towns and do not have Games Workshop Hobby Centers. These are the fans who truly loose from this change. Games Workshop Mail Order is of course the alternative for fans who live outside of the range of one of Games Workshop’s Hobby Centers, but many fans have been disapointed in the quality of service of Games Workshop’s Mail Order service. These smaller Online Retailers did not have the volume of orders as Games Workshop’s services, and thus were able to fill orders quickly and often times with a personal attention to each customer, something that you do find in GW Hobby Centers, but not through their automated services.

From the stand point of the Retailer, the Online Market Place has been consuming sales as items have been so readily available online, point, click, have. It was that simple. The question we have to ask ourselves is, where do we game? Across the country Retailers and Hobby Centers alike have been pouring money into making areas available for Wargamers to play. Terrain tables are not cheap, and setting aside an extra room to facilitate players is not something that is easily done for many places. Players then spend their money online, buy their hobby supplies online, and then take their armies into a Hobby Center to play. Thus taking advantage of the Gaming Tables in their local Hobby Centers, without spending a dime in the actual store.

The economy is hurting, money is not in abundance, so every way we gamers can save some money is a great thing, but at the same time by saving that money we are starving the profits of the gaming stores that house us. So in time, if we do not support those gaming stores, they will slowly disappear and take the Terrain Tables with them, leaving us players no where to play. Obviously, not every retailer hosts their gamers to the best of their abilities, and that unfortunate lack of customer service is why many gamers turned to the Online Marketplace for their Hobby needs in the first place.

So we’re in an odd place, while us gamers are trying to save money every way we can, the retailers suffer as our purchases are made outside of their establishments. So Games Workshop made the call of limiting Online Retailers in an attempt to bring sales back into the Game Stores, and hopefully revitalize the War-gaming Hobby. We here at Gaming Havens want to hear your thoughts on the subject, as I’m sure everyone has mixed feelings about this recent decision. So please feel free to e-mail us at Havens@TheOneRing.net and share your individual experiences, be it with an experience purchasing from an online retailer, an experience with a gaming store near you, or an experience purchasing through Games Workshop’s Mail Order. We want to hear what you have to say, and we will be sharing your comments here on Gaming Havens.

Posted in Old Special Reports

July MEO Team Letter

Screenshots, interviews, it’s a Middle-earth Online frenzy! Take a read through July’s letter from the MEO Team!

Hi all,

Close your eyes and picture Bag End. Chances are that you can see it almost as clearly as many of the places that you go every day. The homes that Tolkien visits throughout The Lord of the Rings are described in such vivid and loving detail that they are almost characters in and of themselves. One of the tasks of the MEO team is to recreate these dwellings so that players can live as well as adventure in Middle-earth. This month we’ll be sharing more information on the MEO housing system.

The first step with every aspect of MEO game development is to look at how a feature fits into the work of Tolkien. In this case one of the things that immediately springs to mind is that the races of Middle-earth live, for the most part, in distinct towns and regions, such as the Shire or Rivendell. At the same time, individuals of every race wander through the world, and frequently take up residence with new friends. To conform to this vision each race in MEO will have separate housing areas within the game, but any characters of any race will be able to stay close to their friends by purchasing housing in any town they can reach.

Another question that had to be addressed was the issue of who could claim a house. There had been some thought that only Kinships should be allowed to own housing. Ultimately, we thought that this system would be overly restrictive – after all Bilbo owned Bag End all by himself. So players in MEO will be able to inhabit individual houses, which they will have to pay individual rent on.

But there are some areas of the world where paying rent would conflict with our goal of staying true to Tolkien’s vision. For instance, gaining a house among the Elves will be based on proving your usefulness to their cause and your importance among your peers, as measured by Kinship size, not by paying rent!

Those are just some of the issues that we wrestled with in designing the housing system of MEO. Each week this month we’ll be releasing more info about the houses; their look and style, how they’ll be rented, and even some artwork. Stay tuned!

Namarie,
-The Middle-Earth Online Team

So who wants to come crash at Camp Flinch? Middle-earth Online is just going to be one awesome Tolkien Gaming Experience!

Posted in Old Special Reports

Designer Diary #2 – Multiplayer

Designer Diary by Level Designer Paul Pettross.

I’m responsible for the paper design and scripting of several levels in The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, as well as some general design duties. This covers everything from early level design and planning to actually assembling the levels in the game environment.

Paper design is an early stage of level design in which we map out the general game space and plan the player’s experience in various sections of the level. We’ll go so far as to specify enemy types, special props, and combat setups. This stage of level design is really exciting because in our heads we start to see the levels and the surprises they’ll hold.

Scripting involves actually implementing the things we call for in paper design. We use an in-house tool that works in conjunction with a 3D authoring tool to place elements in the level. We’ll place enemies and plan their movements as well as placing animated doors, bridges, catapults and other objects the player can interact with.

One really exciting aspect of The Return of the King is the co-operative multiplayer (co-op) gameplay, which I’ve been working on. I wrote the documentation for co-op play, and I’ve been testing new co-op features as they come online. We built a special level just to show off the multiplayer action, and that level was featured in the demo at E3.

Players will be able to fight co-operatively against hordes of enemies as they make their way through the game. They’ll have the ability to choose characters that complement each other’s fighting styles, and we’re even discussing the possibility of offensive combo moves and defensive back-to-back positions that players can deploy together. Players will also be able to help each other out by picking up power-ups that boost the other player.

We’d also like to have certain props in the game that both players need to work together to activate, such as large gate winches and powerful projectile devices like ballistae or catapults. However, since we know a lot of siblings are going to play the game, we decided that some objects that are activated by one player should be able to inflict damage on another player. This will lead to some good “gotcha” moments and slightly competitive gameplay.

I think co-op gameplay will have a tremendous impact on the game’s “fun factor.” It will allow players to truly immerse themselves in the experience—because they will not only “live the movie” themselves, but also share those moments with friends. It’s certainly a hit with our team. It’s been a treat to see other team members shouting and laughing as they play co-operatively and fight off swarms of Uruk-Hai. They’re obviously having a good time, and the experience is only going to get better and better as development continues.

I hope you found this informative. It’s always a pleasure to share my work with the people who love it, and to generate some excitement for a great project like this.
_________________________________
Stay tuned for next month’s design diary!

Posted in Old Special Reports

DESIGNER DIARY #1 – GLEN SCHOFIELD

My name is Glen Schofield and I am the Executive Producer on The Lord of the Rings™: The Return of the King™. I’m here to tell you a little about what I do and the work we’ve done on the The Return of the King demo that was shown at E3.

My responsibilities change from time to time but right now I am directly responsible for getting the game levels designed and completed. The process we go through to create levels starts with a great design and then continues with pre-production for each level. We recently finished designing the levels and are starting the process of building them.

Here’s an example of the steps we take to build a level. First, we look at the movie script and determine what the highlights from the film will be for that level. Then we determine what mission or missions will be included and how much action we want for that particular level.

Once we’ve determined what elements will be in a level, we sit down and have many brainstorming meetings. After throwing around a lot of ideas, we determine the main bullet points for the levels, design a map, create many drawings, and grab all the references from the movie. Based on these ideas and references we create an animatic for the level, which is like an animated storyboard showing the level’s key moments. We try to do as much design as we can on paper so that when we get into the building phase we have most of our questions about the gameplay answered. This also allows us to troubleshoot a lot of problems in advance.

Right now, the biggest challenge we are encountering is just trying to match the breathtaking look and feel of the movies. The movies are so grand and beautiful that we need to create something just as spectacular to do the films and Peter Jackson, the movie’s director, justice.

The focus on movie authenticity has been challenging because it enters into all aspects of the design process. Because of this, we’ve been working very closely with New Line Cinema, getting the actual reference photos, drawings, models, and other props from the movie and using those as our guide. We go so far as to get lighting studies and motion-capture data from the creators of the movie themselves. We even hired the same stunt doubles from the movie to help us render the most realistic movements in the game. We are always trying to outdo the work we did on the last game.

Our work on the E3 demo was difficult, but rewarding. Like I said, we are always trying to create a bigger, better game experience than ever before. For E3, this meant that players got to see even cooler moments, more expansive scenes and levels, incredible explosions, a brand new lighting scheme, and a state-of-the-art camera design. I think we blew people away.

This year the E3 demo featured six playable characters instead of three. We have added Gandalf as a playable character, complete with his own range of magic effects and weapons. We have even added a two-player, cooperative mode. These new features, we expect, will be huge, and we’re definitely very excited about them.

Obviously we hoped to impress any E3 attendee that experienced The Return of the King demo but we also hoped that attendees walked away from the demo thinking we have created one of the most spectacular games they have ever seen. For us, the hours are long and the work sometimes seems endless, but everyone knows the rewards are worth it.

Well that’s about it from my end. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this fantastic game we are building and the steps we took to bring fans the exclusive demo for E3. Stay tuned for next month’s designer diary!

Posted in Old Special Reports

A Fan Letter about the LOTR TCG

This letter comes to us from ElfStone, who is having a difficulty keeping up with all of the rules and changes to Decipher’s Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game. Take a read:

Dear Havens,

I have seen the link to voice my opinions many times on Gaming Havens and finally decided it was time to make my voice heard.

Last year at the TOR.n oscar party I received two starter decks, for the trading card game, in my goodie bag and grabbed a handful of booster packs from a large punch bowl. Of course at the time i had no idea what the cards were for I just liked looking at the pictures and oohing over the foils.

A couple weeks later I decided to find out what these beutiful cards were actually for. so i took a rule book form a starter deck and sat down to read it. i even got the cards out so i could follow along. Well within a few pages of instructions I was thoroughly confused. and I know I’m not a stupid person the rule book was just impossible to follow, and I was not the only one who thought so.

Well not totally discourged yet i went and bought a few more booster packs and collected a few more cards and finally I was taught how to play. I loved It! it was fun and a great game. I began collecteing more and more cards to build more decks and attended a weekly leauge in my area.

However as more and more expansions came out and rules began to change, or get added, and cards like Sting became illegal to play, I was finding it more and more difficult to keep up with. Not only was i supposed to be learning new rules and new cards every few months but often times there were disagreements over the meaning of the card text. And soemthing that once was fun for me was no longer fun and i found myself no longer wnating to play, or even collect the cards.

And I am not the only one who found that having a life meant it was impossible to try and keep up with the game. I simply cannot put the tiem and effort into soemthing this complicated. And while I would
love to someday play again, as long as the game remains confusing and complicated there is no way that i can.

Sincerely,
elfstone

Well Elfstone, hopefully our resources here at Gaming Havens can shed some light on the cards and some possible tactics, but if you’re looking for a card game thats easier to understand but still has the same fantasy feel of the Lord of the Rings, you might want to try WarCry, which is made by the creators of the upcoming LOTR Tradeable Miniatures Game. We actually just posted our WarCry review today, it can be found here. Hope this helps!

Are you having trouble with a game? Want to share your comments with the readers here at Gaming Havens? We want to hear what YOU have to say! Send in your comments to Havens@TheOneRing.net today!

Thanks Elfstone for writing in!

Posted in Old Special Reports

PREVIEW: LOTR Tradeable Miniatures Game

This week I had the joy of traveling to Seattle, WA, to learn about a very exciting new Tradeable Miniatures Game based in Tolkien’s Middle-earth that’s slated to hit stores shortly before Return of the King. What is a Tradeable Miniature Game? Well, unlike the existing Strategy Battle Game from Games Workshop, a Tradeable Miniatures Game will feature pre-painted miniatures that you buy in Booster Packs and Starter Sets similar to your favorite card games. The Game is being developed by our new friends at Sabertooth Games, and has been designed by Ryan Miller, who’s work you can see on their Warhammer Collectible Card Game: WarCry. The first expansion set will contain about 120 40mm miniatures including Frodo, Aragorn, and the rest of the Fellowship, and fan favorites like Eowyn, Arwen, Saruman, and many more. I asked about Haldir and Gamling, and it looks like they’re being held for the second expansion.

So how does it work? If you’re familiar with grid games like HeroClix and Mage Knight, you should take to The Lord of the Rings Tradeable Miniatures Game (TMG) quickly, but even if you’re new to this genre the easy to understand design will have you involved in no time. Unlike HeroClix or MageKnight, the LOTR TMG is played on a Hexagonal Grid, and to go along with this each figure is attached to a Hexagonal Base that fits on the grid perfectly. Each base describes the attributes of the character, and each character is given a points value based on their usefulness in battle. Aragorn, being the tank that he is, costs more than say, a Gondorian Soldier. The attributes tell anything from the number of attacks the character has, to the number of spaces he can move in a turn. The Game is played on a fold-out grid that comes with your starter box. When you lay out this grid along side a friend’s grid, it creates one massive Hexagonal Grid to deploy your miniatures on.

The Game itself will come in booster-pack form, featuring 1 Rare, 1 Uncommon, and 2 Common miniatures, and a specially designed Starter Set will include a set of miniatures that you won’t find in the boosters. Sabertooth, in their dedication to the players, wanted to make sure you didn’t end up with more copies of a miniature than you wanted, so they chose good starting miniatures to go into the Starter Set, with a rarity separate from the Rare, Uncommon, Common scheme you’ll find in the boosters. The exception to this is Minions, which will remain the same in both the starter and the booster packs, while starter packs will contain special heroes and main characters that are not available in the booster packs. The Heroes in the starter deck have a special colored slider that indicates whether they came from the Starter Set, but minions like Easterlings and Rohan Soliders will be colored normally, which makes sense since you will definitely want to find as many of them as you can to field against your friends.

While magic plays a roll in the LOTR TMG, the emphasis is on Combat and the fateful acts of the heroes on both sides. For example, Gimli being very well armored has a defense of 6, meaning that in combat the only way your opponent can wound Gimli is to roll numerous sixes to wear him down. One version of Gimli even has the ability to attack in a 360 Degree arc via a Berserk Attack that can hit adjacent models without him facing them. Archers and Ranged Combatants play a heavy roll in the game, as well as Spearmen who don’t need to be adjacent to an enemy to strike, and can add 1 attack to a friendly model it’s adjacent to that is engaged in combat. A Standard game of the Lord of the Rings Tradeable Miniatures Game takes about an hour, or longer depending on how many points you wish to deploy.

The Lord of the Rings Tradeable Miniatures Game is planned to hit stores in November, and we’ll have all the details for you as we get closer to the release date. If you have any specific questions, or even just comments that you’d like us to hear, then shoot an e-mail to Havens@TheOneRing.net and you just might find it posted in our Lord of the Rings Tradeable Miniatures Game Mini-Site!

Posted in Old Special Reports

REVIEW: The Warhammer CCG: WarCry

Warhammer has been challenging hobbyists for years, the lore and world behind it has been carefully protected by the master designers at Games Workshop, so trying to create a Customizable Card Game based around this game of Elves, Dwarves, and Orks is a project that promised to challenge even the most seasoned game developers. So Games Workshop summoned the Designers at Sabertooth Games, Seattle based Development company behind the Warhammer 40,000 CCG, as well as the upcoming Lord of the Rings Tradeable Miniatures Game. Shortly after, WarCry was born.

If you’re familiar with card games, you’re also familiar with the pages and pages of rules that accompany even our favorite games like Decipher’s Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game and Magic: The Gathering. Well when I opened my Grand Alliance starter box, the rulesheet that unfolded in my hands is only one double sided page, slightly longer than your average sheet of printer paper. These short easy to read and easy to understand rules explained what each characteristic of a card did, and how to understand the tactics described on my action cards. Thanks to a demo from WarCry Designer Ryan Miller, I walked away with a basic understanding of the cards, so to make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s take a look at some of the great features that WarCry has to offer.

Just the Starter Box alone is a tribute to the great artistry behind WarCry, when you take your Grand Alliance Starter Box and set it next to your Hordes of Darkness Stater Box the combined artwork on the two boxes create one grand scene of Men, Elves and Dwarves going to battle with Orks, Dark Elves and the armies of Chaos. Inside the Grand Alliance Starter Box is 30 Unit Cards, the heroes and soliders of your army, and 30 Action cards, which when luck sides with you can tilt the tide of battle in your favor. Let’s take a look at one of our hero cards, one of the more stunning cards in the set, also happens to be one of the rarest.

Imrik, Dragon Prince of Caledor is a favorite Miniature of many a Warhammer Hobbyist, and also happens to be a very beautiful Foil card in WarCry. Starting off, Imrik is a Flying Unit, which allows him to block cards regular Infantry and Calvary cards cannot. Imrik’s Strength is 5, a very respectable value, he has 6 Tactic Points, and a Leadership Value fit for a Prince: 5. Not only will his 5 Strength allow him to start off ahead of your average Infantry and Calvalry, but with 6 Tactic points you will be able to play numerous Action Cards to put more of a scare into your opponent. Lets take a look at some of those Action Cards.

Strength of the Forethought is an Action card that fans of our man Imrik will greatly appreciate. Basically, this card rewards you for using it alone as your Combat Tactic. It costs 1 of your Tactic Points to play, and gives the unit +1 Strength for each Unspent Tactic Point at the end of the Tactic Phase. On our bud Imrik, if you only play Strength of Forethought during your Tactic Phase, you can get +5 Strength just by playing this card and sitting back sipping your Starbucks. How does combat work? What is Strength and why do we want to keep our strength as high as possible?

The Combat phase is a very unqiue and very special element of the WarCry Collectible Card Game. On the table is a strip with the icons for the dark, and light side strength bars, when you begin a combat, you move a counter up towards your opponent or closer to yourself depending on the strength of your unit, verus the strength of your opponents unit. As you play Action cards the token can move either way, as strengths rise and special abilities play out, this is an amazing way to simulate the struggle of battle and a feature that sets WarCry appart from other games of its kind. So our man Imrik, in a battle with the Dark Elf Flyer the Archon of Twilight, would start off with an advantage of 1, as Imrik’s Strength is 5, and the Archon’s strength is 4. From there action cards can make Imrik bend the Dark Elf to his will, or leave Imrik wishing he’d stayed out of the battle. As soon as both sides have played out their action cards, each player “rolls” by drawing the top card of their action deck. There is a die logo on the bottom left corner, you add your die roll, and the total strength of your unit, against your opponents, and the higher player is victorious. A tie ends with the slaughter of both units.

Overall the WarCry CCG is a great easy to learn Collectible Card Game that really captures the struggle of war that Warhammer Hobbysts demand, yet still be an experience that new fans to the Warhammer way can easily enjoy again and again. Designers Luke Peterschmidt, Ryan Miller and the rest of Sabertooth Games really built a great system that anyone can pick up and enjoy for hours at a time. You can pick up WarCry in your local Gaming Shop, and when you do shoot us a line with your thoughts on the game and we’ll post em up right here on Gaming Havens at TheOneRing.net.

until next time…….

Posted in Old Special Reports

Let’s Talk TCG: Ents

In Peter Jackson’s film epic The Two Towers, the towering Ents unleash a fury of stones upon Saruman’s tower of Orthanc, and with the latest release to the Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game you can too! Early on in Decipher’s preview of the new set, we were shown Ent Horde, which at first glimpse is a very worrying card. FIFTEEN TWILIGHT!?! Yessir, but our Ent Horde is Twilight -2 for each Ent and Unbound Hobbit you can spot in your fellowship, so a key tactic to this is use Pippin: Hastiest of All with Merry: Impatient Hobbit, as by including these 2 Unbound Hobbits in your starting fellowship, you can launch Quickbeam: Breglad for only 2 Twilight! That’s a very powerful Starting Fellowship! An Ent with Strength 8 and Vitality 3, your ringbearer, and both Merry and Pippin allow you to play out your Strength 10 Ent Horde at -2 for each Ent and Unbound Hobbit, thus -6 already, down to a cost of 9.

I’ve heard arguments in various playing circles that Quickbeam: Breglad will replace the ever present Aragorn card in the starting fellowships of decks across the board. There are a few ideas behind this, first cards like The Last Alliance of Elves and Men and The Saga of Elendil make Aragorn a reputable tank, but with so many cards chastizing players for laying down support conditions, I feel that Quickbeam: Breglad’s ability to benefit an overall Ent strategy makes him of more use than the one man wonder Aragorn, as once hes dead, so is your chance of victory. Also, both Quickbeam: Breglad and Ent Horde are not bound by the Unhasty keyword, so they can participate in Skirmishes no matter the location, unlike the Two Towers Ent representative: Treebeard: Earthborn.

Another great new card in Ents of Fangorn is Skinbark: Fladrif. This card puts an emphasis on the Ents’ ability to turn the tide of battle for their Hobbit companions, If an unbound Hobbit is about to take a wound, exert Skinbark to prevent that wound. So as long as you pump your Hobbits up enough to keep from being overwhelmed, this tactic allows them to slip in and out of danger just as they do during the film. Last but not least is Ent Moot, a condition that adds 2 to the strength of an Ent, and only requires you to exert an ubound Hobbit to play.

Overall the Ents present in Decipher’s The Ents of Fangorn expansion truly live up to the strength and grace that we would expect after watching their destruction of Isengard on the silver screen. Ents of Fangorn will hit stores on July 2nd with the release of 2 starter decks, first featuring a Faramir theme, and the second based around The Witch King: Deathless Lord. Don’t forget to check out our Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game Mini-site here at Gaming Havens, and as always don’t hesitate to send in your comments and deck ideas to Havens@TheOneRing.net!

Until next time………

Posted in Old Special Reports