From LOTR-TCG Wiki

Cultures are a core component of The Lord of the Rings TCG. Excluding sites and The One Ring, every card in the game belongs to one of sixteen distinct cultures. A culture's function is to easily distinguish cards that are likely to be related to one another (usually by a thematic element, such as race or locale). There are plenty of cross-culture strategies to be had, but for the most part cards of one culture play best with other cards of that culture. Each culture naturally has its own strengths and vulnerabilities; for instance, the Elven culture excels during the Archery Phase, but the Shire culture—having no access to bows or bowmen—struggles in that phase but makes up for this in other areas.


Free Peoples Dwarven Elven Gandalf Gollum Gondor Rohan Shire
Movie-era Shadow Dunland Gollum Isengard Moria Raider Ringwraith Sauron
Shadows-era Shadow Men Orc Uruk-hai Wraith

Except for Gollum culture, all cultures are exclusively Free Peoples or Shadow cards. As such, Gollum culture gets its own section, below.

When the game's first set, The Fellowship of the Ring released in 2001, it brought with it the first nine cultures: Dwarven, Elven, Gandalf, Gondor, Isengard, Moria, Ringwraith, Sauron, and Shire. The second base set (and fourth set overall) The Two Towers added three more: Dunland, Raider, and Rohan cultures. With the fourth base set and eleventh set overall, Shadows, Decipher consolidated the various Shadow cultures. They retired most of the existing ones, and created three new ones divided along different lines: Men, Orc, and Uruk-hai.

Free Peoples[edit]

Except for Rohan and Gollum, all of the Free Peoples cultures were introduced in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first set. Rohan and Gollum were instead introduced a few sets later, in Towers Block. While new cards were added to each faction over time— Gandalf and Shire cultures in particular went from having relatively few companions to many varied ones—no new Free Peoples cultures were added Gollum.

Pre-Shadows Shadow cultures[edit]

Shadow cultures came in three waves: the initial cultures in the first set, then two new cultures (plus Gollum, below) in Towers Block, then a fundamental reorganization in Shadows.

Fellowship Shadow cultures:

Towers Shadow cultures:

Gollum, playing both sides[edit]

The Gollum culture is unique in being the only cross-alignment culture, having both Free Peoples and Shadow cards. Free Peoples cards from this culture represent Sméagol as he serves Frodo and Sam as a simpering guide and scout, while the Shadow culture cards represent treacherous Gollum, as he schemes to betray them to Shelob and steal the One Ring for himself. Those three characters are the only ones in this culture. (While Sméagol and Gollum are the same person in The Lord of the Rings, they are considered separate characters for the purpose of this game, representing Gollum's tendency to act at cross-purposes with himself.)

This was the only culture to make its first appearance outside of a base set, due to timing with the release of the movie The Two Towers. As part of Decipher's licensing agreement, they were not permitted to reveal any "spoilers", and so Decipher needed to wait for the Battle of Helm's Deep expansion four months later to explore Gollum's split personality. It would be the last new culture of the Movie Block years.

Post-Shadows Shadow cultures[edit]

With the release of the eleventh set, Shadows, Decipher consolidated the various Shadow cultures, mostly retiring all of them except for Ringwraith (renamed Wraith) and Gollum cultures. This reorganization was largely along racial lines rather than factional ones. hese new cultures could draw, from their first appearance, upon images and material from all three films, and were structured to avoid the limited scope that plagued some of the niche older cultures that only appeared in a few scenes.

Dunland and Raider cultures were entirely retired. Isengard, Moria, and Sauron cultures occasionally appeared in post-Shadows sets, but only on unique characters that didn't fit neatly into the new cultures, like Sauron, the Balrog, and Saruman. These cards mostly weren't decks unto themselves, but rather meant to be splashed into a deck that was primarily a different culture.

This cultural reorganization was controversial with established players. While the new cultures incorporated the characters and names from the previous cultures, cards from the old and new cultures were still considered separate. For example, if you already had a Sauron besieger deck, the new Beastly Olog-hai (11R108) wouldn't work well in it, even though the Olog-Hai is part of the besieging armies of Sauron. If you wanted to use Beastly Olog-hai, you'd need to build a new deck, one using mostly new Orc cards. Wraith decks and Gollum decks avoided this pitfall, but other Shadow cultures were sharply split into pre-Shadows and post-Shadows cards that largely did not work well with each other due to incompatible cultural enforcement.

Following the Shadows reorganization, no further cultures were added to the game.

See Also[edit]

Card Layout
Tokens Twilight Tokens Culture Tokens Wounds Burdens
Characters Twilight Cost Culture Strength Vitality Resistance Signet Home Site Site Number Game Text Lore Collector's Info
Other (Modifier Layout)
Sites Shadow Number Site Arrow