The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game by Decipher
In December of 2001, Peter Jackson launched the opening salvo for one of the most ambitious fantasy franchises of all time in theaters: The Fellowship of the Ring. It was breathtaking. It changed the world.
As a proven expert in translating settings into customizable card games (having done it before for Star Wars and Star Trek, among others), Decipher Inc obtained the license to release a card game based explicitly on the Lord of the Rings movies, with enough leeway to include material from the books that was never filmed.
In the eyes of many fans, the game that resulted was a near perfect marriage of mechanics and theme. In the two years after, expansions were released following the stories of The Two Towers and Return of the King as well.
In 2004, faced with the future of the game with no further movies to be based on, Decipher made some radical shifts to the game in an attempt to grant the game longevity, which was ultimately controversial with players. The game continued releasing semi-regular expansions until 2007, when the license to Lord of the Rings expired and the financially-troubled Decipher faded from the scene.
The Player's Council
In the wake of the game's official end and decline of its parent company, the community nevertheless struggled along, rallying around The Last Homely House and later Gemp, a platform for playing the game. Over the years several attempts were made by the player base to organize into a player's committee (as had been done by the Star Wars and Star Trek communities before them), but for one reason or another each of these attempts was doomed to a slow death themselves.
In the wake of the 2020 coronavirus lockdowns, the game experienced a major revival as home-bound nerds found themselves returning in droves to the games of yesteryear. Sensing the time was right, a small group of old guard fans decided to stop waiting for official recognition and make the dream of a PC a reality, for the first and (hopefully) final time.
Calling themselves the Player's Council, they were wary of repeating the mistakes of their predecessors. They started slow by running regular monthly league events on Gemp, and only haltingly branched out into maintaining the game's balance, rallying the player base, and building up a corpus of card designs, conventions, and rules.
The rest is history--here we are, and here we'll stay as long as there's a community of players for us to form around.