Middle-earth Collectible Card Game

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Middle-earth Collectible Card Game
Middle-earth Collectible Card Game cardback.jpg
MECCG card back portraying the lidless eye of Sauron.
DesignersColeman Charlton, Mike Reynolds
Years active1995–1998
Players1 or more
Setup time< 15 minutes
Playing time> 1 hour
Random chanceMedium
Skills requiredCard playing
Dice rolling
Strategic thought

Middle-earth Collectible Card Game (MECCG) is an out-of-print collectible card game released by Iron Crown Enterprises in late 1995. It is the first CCG based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, with added content from ICE's Middle-earth Role Playing Game.[1]

The cards used in the game feature original artwork by a multitude of artists, many of them longtime Tolkien illustrators such as John Howe, Ted Nasmith, and Angus McBride.


In its basic form, it is a game for one to five players, each choosing one of the five wizards to represent themselves. A turn in the game consists of one player's wandering around Middle-earth with the help of famous characters of Middle-earth, trying to gather influence and power to aid in the battle against The Dark Lord, while another player tries to harass, and ultimately kill his characters with specific hazard cards. Then, for each player's turn, the roles change clockwise around the table (the player who was moving his characters then throws hazards at the player to his or her right).[1] Any player may also win by acquiring and destroying the One Ring after a complicated set of events.

Later expansions have added the possibility to take the role of a Ringwraith of Sauron (MELE),[2] a corrupted wizard playing by his own rules (MEWH),[3] the malevolent Balrog (MEBA),[4] or even Sauron himself. The game is somewhat distinguished from most other CCG's with the use of two six-sided dice for a random factor[1] and also by the actual map of Middle-earth, including regions your companies travel through, and site cards they visit.

MECCG won two Origins Awards: Best Card Game of 1995 for MECCG: The Wizards[5] and Best Graphic Presentation of a Card Game or Expansion of 1996 for MECCG: The Dragons.[6] The game's production ended in 1999, when ICE lost the license that allowed them to use the content of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.[7] This license was later bought by Decipher, who used it to bring out another CCG.[4] MECCG still has a relatively loyal and active fanbase of players.

Online activity[edit]

The game can be played online through the use of the Generic Collectible Card Game (GCCG), allowing normal or sealed games. MECCG online events are organized several times a year and every player is free to participate in them. A web-based game variant is active at https://cardnum.net/

Card sets[edit]

  • The Wizards (METW) (1995): The first basic set, dealing with the good side, including most main characters from the books, like Gandalf, Frodo and Aragorn. Pretty straightforward gameplay with relatively simple marshalling point cards and hazard creatures.[1]
    • The Dragons (METD) (1996): The first expansion set for METW. As the name implies, deals mostly with dragons, their treasure and the northern regions.[8][9]
    • Dark Minions (MEDM) (1996): Adds many powerful hazard cards including more undead and introduces the agents - a subtle group of Sauron's servants, concentrating on intrigue and influence. Also adds an underground network of site cards, The Under-Deeps, which later becomes The Balrog's realm.[10][11]
  • The Lidless Eye (MELE) (1997): The second basic set. Adds the possibility to play as a Ringwraith of Sauron.[2][12]
    • Against the Shadow (MEAS) (1997): The only expansion to MELE, although it also contains hero cards. Mostly balances the game by adding resources for and hazards against the minion player as well as some support resources for the hero. Notable are the hazard creature versions of the five wizards.[13]
  • The White Hand (MEWH) (1997): Introduces a third faction, the corrupted Fallen-Wizard, whose player can use both hero and minion resources and characters, although with restrictions.[3][14]
  • Middle Earth Challenge Decks (MECD) (1998): 10 pairs of decks for tournament play. Cards are re-prints from earlier sets.[15]
  • The Balrog (MEBA) (1998): Adds a new sub-faction to the minions, Balrog, who mainly depends on the brute strength of his orcs and trolls. It is argued by the player base that since the production of MECCG ended after MEBA, the set remains a bit overpowered because it didn't get a "balancing set" published afterwards.[4]


ICE Publications:

  • Middle-earth: The Wizards Companion (#3333):ISBN 1-55806-275-0
  • Middle-earth: The Wizards Player Guide (#3334):ISBN 1-55806-257-2
  • Middle-earth: The Dragons Player Guide (#3337):ISBN 1-55806-290-4
  • Middle-earth CCG Maps (#3338):ISBN 1-55806-291-2
  • Middle-earth: Dark Minions Player Guide (#3339):ISBN 1-55806-294-7
  • The Lidless Eye Companion (#3341):ISBN 1-55806-315-3
  • The Lidless Eye Player Guide (#3342):ISBN 1-55806-339-0[16]
  • A Long Expected Party: Meccg Sites & Scenarios (#3343):ISBN 1-55806-352-8[17]
  • Middle-earth: The Wizards Casual Companion (#3340):ISBN 1-55806-312-9

Independent Publications:

  • Mastering Middle-Earth: Strategies for Middle-Earth : The Wizards ISBN 1-55622-559-8


Andy Butcher reviewed Middle Earth: The Wizards for Arcane magazine, rating it a 7 out of 10 overall.[18] Butcher comments that "If you're willing to put in the effort (and buy quite a lot of cards), there's plenty here to make it all worthwhile. At the end of the day, though, I for one can't help wishing that one person got to play Gandalf while the other took on the role of Sauron, leading to a far more direct and involving conflict."[18]

Andy Butcher reviewed Middle Earth: The Dragons for Arcane magazine, rating it an 8 out of 10 overall.[19] Butcher comments that " Impressively, Middle-earth: The Dragons manages to emphasise the positive aspects of the game, without adding greatly to the already weighty rules."[19]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Miller & Greenholdt 2003, p. 374
  2. ^ a b Miller & Greenholdt 2003, p. 379
  3. ^ a b Miller & Greenholdt 2003, p. 383
  4. ^ a b c Miller & Greenholdt 2003, p. 384
  5. ^ "1995 list of winners". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design. Archived from the original on 2009-05-04. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  6. ^ "1996 list of winners". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design. Archived from the original on 2009-05-06. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  7. ^ Appelcline 2011, p. 141
  8. ^ Miller & Greenholdt 2003, p. 377
  9. ^ Varney, Allen (May 1996), "Reports on Trading Card Games", The Duelist, no. #10, p. 9
  10. ^ Miller & Greenholdt 2003, p. 378
  11. ^ "Inside the Industry", The Duelist, no. #12, p. 74, September 1996
  12. ^ Varney, Allen (February 1997), "Inside the Industry", The Duelist, no. #15, p. 84
  13. ^ Miller & Greenholdt 2003, p. 382
  14. ^ Varney, Allen (October 1997), "Inside the Industry", The Duelist, no. #19, p. 78
  15. ^ Varney, Allen (March 1998), "Game News & Updates", The Duelist, no. #23, p. 67
  16. ^ Varney, Allen (December 1997), "Inside the Industry", The Duelist, no. #20, p. 90
  17. ^ "Game News & Updates", The Duelist, no. #21, p. 86, January 1998
  18. ^ a b Butcher, Andy (March 1996). "Games Reviews". Arcane. Future Publishing (4): 62–63.
  19. ^ a b Butcher, Andy (August 1996). "Games Reviews". Arcane. Future Publishing (9): 71.
  20. ^ "Backstab Magazine (French) Issue 01".


  • Appelcline, Shannon (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  • Miller, John Jackson; Greenholdt, Joyce (2003). Collectible Card Games Checklist & Price Guide (2nd ed.). Krause Publication. ISBN 0-87349-623-X.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hannes, Jeff (July 1996). "The conquest of Middle-earth". Inquest. No. 15. p. 72-76.

External links[edit]