Second Breakfast at the Edge of Angmar
Giving Life to the Northern Wastes of Angmar
"In the westlands of Eriador, between the Misty Mountains and the Mountains of Lune, the Hobbits found both Men and Elves. Indeed, a remnant still dwelt there of the Dúnedain, the kings of Men that came over the sea out of Westernesse; but they were dwindling fast and the lands of their North Kingdom were falling far and wide into waste."
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
In their Second Breakfast articles, the developers of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game share their thoughts about and insights into the game, addressing whichever topics catch their fancy or whet their appetites for the moment. In the past, these articles have explored the new mechanics coming to the forefront of various cycles of Adventure Packs, offering deck lists as examples; they've addressed the introduction of Easy Mode and Nightmare Mode; and they've offered behind-the-scenes looks at different elements of the design process.
Today, developer Matthew Newman invites you for Second Breakfast and a look behind-the-scenes at the development of the Angmar Awakened cycle. Specifically, he turns our attention toward some of the ways the cycle explores this region that featured very little in Tolkien's epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, starting with a look at its portrayal in The Wastes of Eriador.
Lead Developer Matthew Newman on Exploring Arnor and Angmar
This article is the first in a series in which we'll explore the world of Middle-earth and The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game by discussing some of the key areas of Arnor and Angmar that players can look forward to in the upcoming Angmar Awakened cycle.
We already saw some of the North in The Lost Realm, the deluxe expansion that introduced the struggles of the Rangers of the North. Its scenarios allowed you to defend the borders of Bree-land from Orcs, track your foes through the Weather Hills, and fight your way through hordes of the undead in the Ruins of Fornost. But when the Ranger Iârion is taken captive, your heroes must venture further north to rescue him, all the while discovering the ancient evil stirring the forces of Angmar. This leads us to the Angmar Awakened cycle and The Wastes of Eriador.
In The Wastes of Eriador, our heroes embark on their journey to rescue Iârion, traveling through the North Downs and into the long stretch of land between civilized Bree-land and the Mountains of Angmar. Since Frodo, Aragorn, and the Fellowship's other heroes never venture this far north in The Lord of the Rings, these lands are generally not described in Tolkien’s work. We do know that this region was largely uninhabited, and that the lands further north were dreadfully cold.
While we developed this scenario, we wanted to create the feeling that your heroes are on a long and arduous journey, without making the game long and arduous for you as a player. In terms of gameplay, this is achieved through the use of a double-sided objective, Daybreak / Nightfall. At the end of each round, this objective is flipped over from one side to the other, marking whether it is daytime or nighttime during that round. In addition to providing an avenue for interesting card effects, this Day / Night cycle gives each round a chronological perspective that helps frame your heroes' journey.
One thing that really helped us to achieve our vision is the scenario’s artwork. We wanted the art to evoke a sense of vastness, where the hills and wastes seem never-ending, barren, and covered in snow. Our Art Director, Zöe Robinson, looked to real-world inspiration and found that the Badlands in South Dakota were a perfect fit for our collective vision of the northern wastes. Accordingly, many of the locations and quest pieces in this scenario are modeled after or inspired by that region, creating a cohesive setting that really captures the mood of the scenario.
Of course, this scenario isn’t entirely about trekking through snow and foul weather. Because it's an adventure in Middle-earth, your heroes must overcome the forces of evil. In this case, they are hounded by wolves and wargs from the North – remnants of the Fell Winter that froze the lands and brought white wolves from Forodwaith and the lands beyond. Unlike the wastes themselves, these creatures vary wildly in visual style. Some, like the Wolf of Angmar (The Wastes of Eriador, 22), are more traditional predators, while others, like the White Warg (The Wastes of Eriador, 21) are more intelligent, warg-like, and terrifying.
With these Warg enemies, we wanted to create the sense that your heroes are being hunted by an intelligent pack. During the daylight hours, these enemies pursue you but do not attack, waiting instead for nightfall, at which point they pounce. This creates sudden spikes in tension, as well as moments of relief whenever you survive the darkness long enough to see the break of day. On the other hand, you may find yourself with three enemies in the staging area at one moment, and all three of them engaged with you in the next. Bloodthirsty Warg (The Wastes of Eriador, 19), for example, can jump out of the darkness and attack a player, only to retreat into the staging area when the sun rises in the morning. Clever girl.
The result is that The Wastes of Eriador tests you in many ways, with dangerous beasts and foul weather, but also offers moments of respite, with ups and downs that help relate the full story of a lengthy trek across the region's wastelands.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this delve into the design and development for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. In our next Second Breakfast we'll continue exploring the realms of Arnor and Angmar, as we take a look at Escape from Mount Gram – or as some have dubbed it, “the prison break” scenario!
Visions of Middle-earth
With each of its scenarios, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game draws you deeper into Middle-earth, placing you amid its many notable locations, heroes, and monsters. But it's not just the game's scenarios that invite you to explore the richness of Tolkien's fictional world. Each new hero and player card translates some element of the world and places it before you on the table, so while Matthew sheds some light on the development of the Angmar Awakened cycle, we encourage you to head to our community forums and join the game's other fans for a discussion of the regions of Middle-earth you've most enjoyed exploring and what scenarios, enemies, locations, heroes, or other cards most fully brought your favorite region to life!