GenCon 2015 ran from July 29th to August 2nd. As always, it was a time for game fans to try out new games, hear news of upcoming releases, and in some lucky cases, get their hands on a product a little way ahead of release.
Fast-forward two-and-a-half-months to late October, and I am sat here in England reviewing my Lord of the Rings collection, trying to put together a new article for the blog. I decided to do a piece on the undead in the LotR LCG, an interesting sub-theme, which has been growing in prominence over recent expansions.
The trouble is though, whilst many of the American bloggers and podcasters have had Land of Shadow in their hands since July, here in England, we still don’t even have a release date.
This is irritating – there are cards that my Rohan deck has been waiting for for months (Snowmane and Gamling being the most notable) that are out there, and that many players have using since before the summer, which I simply don’t have access to.
On top of the restrictions in deck-building, it also means that when I try to talk about a subject like the undead, I find that there’s a whole new quest full of them which I haven’t had a proper look at.
Obviously, in this day and age, there are card spoilers available all over the internet, but I don’t proxy quests, and don’t want to talk too much about a quest I haven’t played – for all the analysis I can do of stats and mechanics, I don’t know how The Passage of the Marshes, will really play out.
I think it’s good for the game that the company behind it want to do these big events: the increased profile probably helps to boost sales, and good sales figures reduce the likelihood of the game being mothballed, but there needs to be a balance.
I try to get away on holiday somewhere once a year, but it’s certainly not guaranteed: foreign holidays in particular are a challenge for the budget. Given how little my wife would enjoy spending three days at a games convention in Indianapolis, the prospects of making that the family holiday for the year are not good.
It would be nice to see some recognition from Fantasy Flight that there are people who are fans of their games, committed customers who have spent significant sums of money who can’t get to the interior of the USA regularly to get things. I certainly haven’t heard of anyone at Spielfest in Essen managing to get a copy of Land of Shadow, so this looks like an issue affecting entire continents, as well as individuals who aren’t able to make 1000-mile multi-day trips for their latest expansion.
A Lack of Fellowship?
Last year’s fellowship event posed a similar difficulty: I think that Fog on the Barrow Downs finally landed in the UK in July, with neither sight nor sound of a playmat anywhere. The owner of our FLGS has been assured by the distributor that we are down on the list for this November- we’ll believe it when we see it.
Lord of the Rings falls in a slightly odd place for FFGs Organised Play, in that it doesn’t really have a competitive format (there are the official Against the Shadow and the unofficial Keeping Count versions, but I don’t feel like they make up the majority of organised events). That can make it feel like the Fellowship events are more of an afterthought than in something like Game of Thrones where the store championships are front and centre, and receive some fairly solid prize support. When the swag for our game falls behind the other LCGs to begin with, having to miss out on getting some of it due to an accident of geography really doesn’t feel like fun. We’re already used to waiting 6 months or more for the GenCon quest, but it would be nice to see the standard boxes on general release a bit sooner.
Hold your Horses…
I’m aware that this post has turned into a bit of a moan, and I want to finish on more of a positive note. Perhaps FFG have some genuine logistical difficulties which we, the players can help with. As a small token of our aid, here’s a custom card I created a while back (apologies if I’ve posted this previously, I don’t think I have), that might help with location lock around the shipping depot…