Review – The Two Towers: Saga Expansion for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
You're gonna have to tap me...
|Nate French, Caleb Grace, Maxine Juniper Newman
|Fantasy Flight Games
Once The Fellowship of the Ring Saga Expansion hit the shelves, The Two Towers Saga Expansion was just around the corner. This expansion includes all the content from The Treason of Saruman and The Land of Shadow expansions, allowing players to play through a 6-part saga from the events of Tolkien’s The Two Towers.
If you’re curious about gameplay, read our original review of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game here.
The Two Towers Saga Expansion features two sections of three scenarios each. The first three focus on Aragorn and the fight against Sarumon. Aragorn tags along as an additional hero controlled by the first player. The first scenario sees the heroes in pursuit of the Uruk-hai who took Merry and Pippin, which is a simple questing scenario. Helm’s Deep is a mathfest as players will have ample opportunities to lay down allies and attack enemies. This scenario does a solid job of representing the epic battle of Helm’s Deep, while also giving players some feelings of hopelessness, which is both thematic and frustrating. The final scenario of this section sees the Ents taking the battle to Saruman at the Tower of Orthanc.
The second three focus on Sam and Frodo’s journey to and through Cirith Ungol with Smeagol. Frodo joins as an additional hero controlled by the first player. The first of these scenarios focuses on Smeagol’s taming and passing through the marshes. Next is a quest-fest to the cross-roads. The final scenario has players explore Shelob’s layer while fighting Gollum. Players can’t fight Shelob because she’s too powerful and must therefore resort to merely alluding and escaping her.
These scenarios are fine, but I much prefer the ones with Aragorn simply because those work with the gameplay better. It’s a bit odd fighting off a bunch of orcs and undead while journeying with Smeagol, but I understand why, from a gameplay perspective, the designers had to make it so. It’s simply not as thematic as rushing into battle with a bunch of allies. However, given the game mechanics and the story they had to work with, the designers did a great job of meshing gameplay with thematics.
The Two Towers includes some very helpful hero cards, including Gimli, who readies when an enemy is revealed; Shadowfax, who can ready Gandalf (once attached to Gandalf); and plenty of Ent-focused cards, including an Ent ally who can deal 4(!) base damage. There’s also some devastating cards for the bad guys, such as Saruman’s voice and Morgul Wraith.
The art is excellent, as usual, aside from a few pieces that didn’t seem like they received the finishing touches. It felt odd having Dominion-like disparity in the card art, but it’s only a few cards. The Two Towers can also be played seamlessly after completing The Fellowship of the Ring. Players can continue with their heroes, and there’s even an opportunity to swap out heroes without paying the threat penalty at Helm’s Deep.
If you enjoy Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, I stand by what I said earlier: the saga expansions are the way to go as far as bang-for-buck. If you liked The Fellowship of the Ring and wish to continue your journey, The Two Towers is the natural next step. My notes about randomness in decks hurting success percentages, having to pre-build player decks, and failed quests not allowing you to proceed are still relevant, but the gameplay remains incredibly solid.
Fantasy Flight Games (Asmodee North America) kindly provided a review copy.
The Bottom Line
The obvious next step for those who enjoy LOTR: TCG after finishing up The Fellowship of the Ring expansion.