“‘The Dead are following,’ said Legolas. ‘I see shapes of Men and of horses, and pale banners like shreds of cloud, and spears like winter-thickets on a misty night. The Dead are following.”
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

For fans of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game , the big news from Gen Con Indy 2013 was delivered by CEO Christian T. Petersen during the annual InFlight Report. There, he announced the upcoming release of the game’s third deluxe expansion, The Voice of Isengard , which will also kick off the next cycle of Adventure Packs, The Ring-maker .

However, that announcement certainly wasn’t the only event that the game’s fans could enjoy. The Fellowship Event sold-out shortly after it went live for registration, and more than one-hundred eager players showed up to meet the developers and test their skills against the year’s Gen Con scenario, The Stone of Erech , which will be made available later this year via Print on Demand .

Today, the developers relate the experience of watching players navigate the challenges of the event’s special scenario and express their appreciation for the enthusiastic turn-out.

Developer Matthew Newman on The Stone of Erech

Developing this year’s Gen Con scenario, The Stone of Erech , was a truly amazing experience for me. Since the time I first read The Return of the King , The Passing of the Grey Company has always been one of my favorite chapters. The sense of mystery and dread it evoked always captured my imagination, and I wanted to recreate the sense of terror that Aragorn’s companions experienced when they traveled to the Stone of Erech to summon the dead. However, the story of this year’s Gen Con scenario doesn’t mirror Aragorn’s journey. Instead, we introduce Derufin ( The Stone of Erech , 4), a naive, young boy who journeys to the Stone of Erech in search of the spirits who dwell there, only to find himself in mortal danger.

Lukas Litzsinger was responsible for the scenario’s initial design, and it featured some very innovative and cruel encounter card effects, which I expanded as much as I could. The idea was that the Undead break the rules of life and death, so they also get to break the rules of the game itself. This is represented by cards such as Groping Horror ( The Stone of Erech , 24) and Terror of the Dead ( The Stone of Erech , 2), which cause players to skip entire phases or steps of the game.

Additionally, every Undead enemy in the scenario has the new Spectral keyword, which forces characters to attack using their Willpower instead of their Attack. After all, even the strongest weapons won’t help you if you’re cowering in fear.

However, the scenario still needed something else to bring it all together. That led me to a mechanic for the deepening of night that truly increased the scenario’s intensity and novelty.

We added three objective cards for Eventide ( The Stone of Erech , 8), Dusk ( The Stone of Erech , 9), and Midnight ( The Stone of Erech , 10). The first of these starts in play, but once enough progress has been placed on Eventide, it is replaced by Dusk, and then again by Midnight. Many of the scenario’s encounter cards refer to the current time of night and have effects that grow stronger, the later it is. For example, the Shadow Host Captain ( The Stone of Erech , 15) grows stronger at Dusk and even stronger at Midnight, and other encounter cards share similar increases in their potency. This time mechanic really strengthened the theme of the scenario, but it also allowed us to create a quest that truly became more difficult over time, confronting players with a sense of slow, choking despair. It also differentiates The Stone of Erech from the previous two Gen Con scenarios, both of which feature extremely high-pressure setups.

All of our hard work paid off when we finally sat down at Gen Con and watched players open their packs for the first time and read aloud the story of Derufin and the task laid before their heroes. Because of the scenario’s unique difficulty curve, many players progressed deep into the quest before they realized their doom. It was great to watch the changing expressions on players’ faces as ten or more groups of players went from Eventide to Dusk.

Developer Caleb Grace on Gen Con Indy 2013

Matt and I were thrilled by the great crowds that attended each session of our The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game events at Gen Con Indy. All three of our Fellowship Events sold out well in advance, and we even had a line of players show up at the final event on Friday night, hoping they might find an extra copy and play some games.

It’s hard to describe what a satisfying feeling it is to watch players enjoying the game that we work to develop. We have fun when we’re playtesting each new player card and scenario, and we often follow player reactions online. Still, being able to meet players in person and see how much fun they’re having with the cards we’ve developed is a rare treat. More than a few attendees took the time to thank Matt and me for our efforts on The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game , which was incredibly generous, and we would just like to say, “Thank you!” You are an incredible player community and an all-around great group of people!

Gen Con Indy attendees gather outside the Exhibit Hall on Thursday morning.

Thanks, guys!

If you’re one of the fans of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game who showed up for this year's Gen Con event, we hope to see you again in 2014. However, if you weren't able to make it or didn’t get a copy of The Stone of Erech at Gen Con Indy 2013, there’s no cause to worry; the scenario will be made available later this year via Print on Demand.

Until then, keep checking back for more information about The Lord of the Rings , including announcements of new expansions, previews, Second Breakfast articles from the developers, and other news.

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a cooperative card game that puts 1-2 players (or up to four with an additional Core Set) in control of the most powerful characters and artifacts of Middle-earth. Players will select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts, and coordinate their efforts to face Middle-earth’s most dangerous fiends. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Adventure Pack expansions to the core game.

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