Lidless Eye Preview
This is it, the final hours of the final day of the Second Age of the
Middle-earth Card of the Day. I have done my best to bring enlightenment and
a little entertainment to the minds of the 'net's MECCG players and know the
three Heirs shall continue the legacy well. As Isildur I have fought to bring
light to the people of Netdle-earth, have battled back the evil forces, and am
soon departing on a journey over the sea. Yet evil still broods, Sauron grows
more powerful, and there will be all kinds of excitement once Middle-earth:
The Lidless Eye is released.
*** WARNING *** While I have agreed to release no specific information
regarding mechanics and/or card text, some readers may find this article
lessens the surprise factor once the set comes out. If you do not want any
juicy info about this expansion, stop reading now.
- "So, when will I be able to get some Lidless Eye?"
- No specific release date has been announced. The closest estimate we have to
go on is "June." If I had to be precise, I'd guess June 10th because that's
the day I leave the country.
- "How will it be packaged?"
- Lidless Eye will be sold in starters and boosters at the same prices that The
Wizards is sold at (SRP $9.95 and $2.95 US respectively). They have addressed
several of the packaging concerns that have been raised and included a little
window so you can see which fixed set you're getting and region cards have
not been included. The rarity collation will work the same way it has
(boosters will have 1 rare, 4 uncommons, 10 commons, starters 3/12/45 plus a
20 card fixed pack). Due to concerns raised, the rarity scheme will change
with the next expansion. Look for more details later.
- "So, what's it all about?"
- We've been playing the good guys, the heroes, the wizards, since the game
came out almost a year and a half ago. Sure, we got our chances to be evil
and have some fun as the bad guys through our hazard portions, but now we can
be evil through and through. In Lidless Eye you get to play a Ringwraith on
a mission from Sauron to recover his ring. At your disposal are a host of
Orc, Troll, Man, Dwarf, Elf, and Dunadan minions. They will adventure forth,
either covertly, not suspected by the agents of good, or overtly as a
screaming war band of rowdy warriors, ready to tear apart anything that gets
in the way of the power of your Master.
Almost all of the mechanics from The Wizards will carry over to Lidless Eye.
There are still companies, movement, factions, items, creatures and corruption,
all that stuff you're used to. But it's from the other side. You find
protection and healing at the Darkhavens, Minas Morgul, Dol Gildur, Carn Dum,
and Geann a-Lisch. Dark-domains and Shadow-holds are to you as Free-domains
and Border-lands are for the Enemies of Sauron. You have little to fear from
your fellow Orcs, but look out for the Elf-lord Revealed in Wrath! The guards
will easily let you pass through the doors of Barad-dur, but just TRY to
get into Bag-end.
Still, there are just a few changes in the way the mechanics work.
- "Can I use my old cards?"
- Yes, Lidless Eye is fully compatible with The Wizards and other sets. You can
play as a Ringwraith vs. a Ringwraith, a Ringwraith vs. a Wizard, or the old
fashioned Wizard vs a Wizard. You can't use Wizard resources or sites,
though, as the dark side sees them differently. Hazards from any set will
- "What sorts of cards are in the set?"
- Since this set is designed as an expansion that can be played completely
without any other cards, there are some cards from previous sets that are
included in Lidless Eye. A look at a card list (from the most recent Inquest
magazine or the WWW) shows that there are a fair number of repeat hazards.
Slayers, Cave-drakes, Twilight, Plague of Wights, and other cards which make
up the core of several strategies are returning. Also, save about 5, the
sites all appeared in earlier releases. Yet, aside from Ruins & Lairs, all of
the sites are totally different. Remember, you're working for the bad guys
now, so you've got friends where you had enemies before, and enemies in even
the safest spots from previous games.
There are many resource duplicates as well. Several of the unique items (like
The One Ring, some of the Dwarven Rings, Scroll of Isildur, etc.) appear
again, though several of them work a little differently. Also, some of the
vital resource events have been reprinted, though you may not catch them at
first, due to the new names. You've already seen An Untimely Whisper, for
- "So if I've been playing for a while, why should I buy this set? I've already
got all its cards."
- Not so! While there are a fair number of repeats, there are tons of new
cards. There are cards which work only for or against minion companies and
new hazards that can hurt heroes or minions. There's even a card which lets
you act as Sauron. EVIL. And all of the reprinted cards will have new art,
so we can look forward to Cave-drakes and Twilights with more enticing
There will be lots of new twists on old cards. There are more rings, and they
play a bigger part. There will also be some new ideas like non-unique
characters. There are, though, a few card types which Lidless Eye doesn't
touch on much like Offering and Capture Attempts.
- "Will this be fun to play?"
- Oh yes, especially if you like role playing. Now you can not only role play
the heroic deeds of the good warriors and sages, you can role play the
cowardice and commands of Orcs, the evil and corrupt whisperings of agents (to
a greater extent than in Dark Minions), and generally act as an evil minion of
Sauron (Vampire players, this may intrigue you). You can have Shagrat with a
Whip keeping your Orc Brawlers in line. You can have your Ringwraith sneaking
around executing people and orders. And you can have your companies go and
gang up on your opponent's hero companies.
- "Do the hero companies have a way of dealing with this threat?"
- Yes. Someone who has not bought any Lidless Eye will be able to take his deck
up against a minion deck. There are also creatures from the good side, Elves,
Dunedain, and the like. The set mainly concentrates on Ringwraith vs.
Ringwraith, though. The next expansion, Against the Shadow, will focus more
on interaction between heroes and minions.
- "I don't like the sound of Orcs and Elves working together. Has Tolkien's
work been compromised?"
- For a while there has been mistrust of this expansion brewing in the
newsgroup. Let me assure you, any of this expansion could have been in
something Tolkien wrote had he chosen to focus on the bad guys. The good
folks at ICE have seen to it that all of the book realism has been kept.
There are rules about certain races traveling together. A company of Orcs
attacked by an Orc-watch doesn't stand as near a danger as a company of
heroes attacked by the same Orc-watch. There are even rules to represent the
Ringwraith's distrust of crossing water for Eru's sake! Reading over the
rules and spoilers sent to me by ICE the only realism concerns that I could
see are those unavoidable in a card game. Like the fact that it's technically
POSSIBLE to wear more than 10 rings simultaneously or the fact that a dragon
will accept a Leaf Brooch in stead of The Arkenstone. Someone would be hard
pressed to find an "It couldn't have happened" complaint with this set.
- "How will this set affect the game as a whole?"
- In a very positive manner. Many of the old strategies, both hazard and
resource, will still exist, though some have been made easier or harder. And
many new strategies will spring up for minion players while there will be
new elements to consider for anybody making a hazard portion. The fun is
increased, the options are increased, and the complexity is increased (if you
are a little confused about the rules, hold off on Lidless Eye with it's 96
page rule book). Plus, if you don't like something about Lidless Eye, your
group can choose to disallow minion decks. I think that's unnecessary,
though, and way less fun.
Specifically, some of the more game-breaking strategies have been hindered
with Lidless Eye. Firstly, due to a slight change in mechanics, super speedy
Indy Jones decks are no longer as powerful as they once were. Barring the
use of a certain card, the Audience With Sauron is called once both players
have cycled their decks, meaning a productive first few turns won't give you
a landslide victory and a bad draw the first few turns won't kill your chances
too badly. Also, Coastal Seas decks aren't too effective for minions, though
there isn't much that will hinder this strategy from a hero side.
On the downside, minions may be at a slight disadvantage. Undead decks only
get better, and since minions find themselves spending a lot of time in dark
and shadow areas, they may take a beating uncompensated for by the new
creatures that attack border and free areas.
Still, exactly how this set works out remains to be seen. I expect many of
my speculations to be correct, but there are countless aspects which will only
emerge through playing with the cards, and that's what the Heirs of Isildur
are for, to inform you all of interesting stratagems regarding these cool new
So this is it, the end of my final issue. I've had fun and learned some good
bits of strategy and hope you have too. I look forward to new found time and
journeys in far off lands while I hope you find enjoyment and new perspectives
in the new blood coming to the Card of the Day seat. May your belly be always
full and the hair grow long on your feet. Perhaps fate will cause us to meet
again, a chance meeting, as we say in Middle-earth.
More back issues
Card names and text copyright 1996 by Iron Crown Enterprises, all rights
reserved. This document copyright 1997 by Trevor Stone. Permission given to
duplicate so long as no profit is made and the copyright notice is kept in
tact, blah, blah, blah.