Cultural Enforcement is the mechanism used throughout the LotR-TCG to enforce the use of specific cultures (similar to the use of colored mana costs in Magic: the Gathering). Cards with cultural enforcement require you to play them as part of a deck that focuses on that specific culture to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the intended power level of the card. Usually this takes the form of spotting, exerting, or targeting cards of a particular culture, but in some cases this is done more indirectly.
Such indirect methods include:
- Referring to a specific Race that only appears in one culture: Dwarf for the Dwarven culture, Nazgul for Ringwraith.
- Referring to unique individuals by name who are only part of one culture: Gandalf for Gandalf, Theoden for Rohan.
- Referring to keywords or combinations of keywords which are exclusive to a particular culture: besiegers for Sauron, Ring-bound Rangers for Gondor.
- Utilizing mechanics which are used primarily by one culture: roaming minions for Gondor Rangers, mass archery for the Elven culture.
The more cultural requirements, the stronger the enforcement is (and theoretically, the stronger or more thematic the effect you purchase as a result). Denethor, Lord of Minas Tirith (pictured at the right) is an example of a card with very strong cultural enforcement. He has to spot two other Gondor men just to be played, and once on the table his ability doesn't even work except with Gondor culture cards. On the other hand, your investment into that culture earn you the ability to pull any Gondor cards you want from your deck, which cannot be underestimated.
In contrast, Legolas, Greenleaf (1R50) has very weak cultural enforcement. Splash him into any Free Peoples deck and he just does his own thing, cheerfully wounding and killing any troublesome minions without needing any other Elven cards to function. He can certainly fit into an Elven deck, especially one that can heal him after he's exerted with cards like Elrond, Herald to Gil-galad (3R13) or Shadow Between (7R28), but he fits just as well into a rainbow deck like Rainbow Wounding.
Cultural enforcement is often layered or stacked, such as with Madril, Loyal Lieutenant (17S30), which not only refers to Gondor culture, but also the Ranger keyword (which is almost exclusive to Gondor) and manipulation of minion site numbers (an exclusively Ranger-y thing to do). Madril was designed for a very specific deck, full of Gondor Rangers that cause minions to become roaming then uses cards like What Are They? (1C119) or Ranger's Bow (4C131) against them.
In general, "cultural enforcement" is only used when referring to cards that look at or affect your own cards. Cards that harm a particular culture that your opponent is playing are called hate cards.