Little lighter on the games this week, but did get a pair of new ones.
I'm not quite sure how I managed to miss Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, but somehow a big-box release from Fantasy Flight Games managed to get by my radar without me paying much attention. I suppose that FFG has finally reached that critical mass of releases where I simply can't keep up anymore. It feels like it's really picked up over the last several years, starting with that crazy Gencon where they released Chaos in the Old World at the same time as Middle Earth Quest and Ad Astra back in 2009. Since then, I haven't even been able to play all their coffin-box releases, much less all their big box releases.
LotR: TCG is founded on one very cool combination, which is mixing collectible card game deck construction with cooperative gameplay. It's got a lot of elements of A Game of Thrones CCG, a system which I have dabbled in but never fully embraced. This game, like the AGoT: CCG game, also is built around an LCG system, where you don't need to buy everything if you're a completist. At this point, a CCG needs to be either self-contained or dead for me to even consider it, as I've been down that Magic: The Spendening wormhole before and have vowed never again after they made all my old cards with the ridiculous ramping up of power that happened during the Urza's and Masques blocks.
As for the gameplay of LotR: TCG, it's good. I only had the briefest chance to try out a bit of deck construction, but it looks like it could appeal. There's not a big enough library yet for this to be really robust, but it could get interesting if they keep adding to it. I'm not going to go out and buy this anytime soon, but I'd be happy to play it again. 7/10
The latest big hype has definitely been 7 Wonders, which is approaching the top 10 on BGG with surprising rapidity. I hadn't particularly been seeking it out, but Rob got a copy and brought it to WAGN. The game made me a convert, even though I was definitely expecting to hate it. We screwed up lots of rules, especially the one that doesn't allow anybody to build two of the same building, but I can see the interest in this game. I am really shocked that such a quick, multiplayer card game caught my attention and held it, when so many other widely-hyped games in that genre have not really entertained me, like Dominion, and Race for the Galaxy. The deal and the adjacency of the different wonders makes this game seem as if it's got a while. With the possibility for expansions, this game could become a real winner in my book. 7/10
I also got in one play of the new version of Liberte, which seems superior in every way I could think of to the old version. There are now contemporary portraits of the leaders, which makes them decidedly more interesting. The colors on the cards match those on the boards, and the wooden components look higher quality, brighter, and less generic. I've traded away my old version now, and though I don't think I'll be buying the new version, I'm glad another copy found its way into the group. 7/10