The Lord of the Rings: Trading Card Game
Published in 2001 by Decipher
First released by Decipher Inc. in November of 2001, The Lord of the Rings: Trading Card game was set to follow and recreate the events of the the Lord of the Rings film trilogy while drawing from the larger universe penned by Tolkien in his novels of the same name. Using footage from the films and images produced by Weta Workshop, the game depicted Tolkien’s Middle-Earth as seen upon the big screen. During the game’s almost six-year life span before the expiration of the license, Decipher produced a total of 19 sets for the game, the last being Age’s End, a special promotional set to close out the game.
With the loss of the license, however, Decipher was no longer able to produce, advertise, or sell any product for the game, leaving two expansions – The Great Eye and Shelob’s Lair – unprinted. That didn’t stop players from continuing to play the game, however, with many players focused on the original nine sets (dubbed the Movie Block) for their preferred format. Play continues to this day, bolstered with the creation of GEMP to provide an automated online play experience.
In this modern day and age, you can actually play instantly (and completely free) online against other opponents without ever having to purchase any cards. There are several programs available for this, the most popular of which is GEMP.