If you are looking for how many copies of each set were printed in total, see Product Box Counts.
When cards were printed, Decipher ordered them in large batches called Print Runs. Additional print runs beyond the first were a rarity, but when they did happen the opportunity was seized to fix typos, incorporate Errata and Clarifications into the game text of cards, remove obsolete helper text, and at the very least alter the print run mark in the lower right-hand corner of the card to indicate the card had been reprinted.
Besides various unplanned print runs, the most common source of a new print run for a particular card was its inclusion in a Starter Deck from a later set. For instance, Hobbit Sword (1C299) shows up not only in the starter decks from The Fellowship of the Ring, but also features in at least one starter deck from Mines of Moria and Realms of the Elf-lords, meaning it was printed 4 times (and a 5th once the Fellowship Draft Pack rolled around). All are indistinguishable except for the first, however.
Only The Fellowship of the Ring and Battle of Helm's Deep had unplanned reprints due to high sales demand: FOTR reprinted its Starter Decks once those ran out, and Battle of Helm's Deep reprinted when stock ran out after diverting some to Target and other retailers.
Identifying Print Runs
For the initial run, all cards had a little mark next to the copyright line in the very bottom right-hand corner of the card, to indicate "1st Edition". On subsequent print runs, this mark is removed (making 2nd and 3rd etc print runs indistinguishable from one another). If a card had its text altered from the original print run, then instead of no mark, an A would be put for the first revision, and B for the second revision, and so on. Only The Mirror of Galadriel (1R55) ever received a B mark, as it was the only card to get multiple errata in a short period of time while also being part of three print runs.
Fellowship Block Print Runs
For this reason, not every Common or Uncommon card can be found as a non-first-edition. The only ones to be reprinted were those that were included in the FOTR Aragorn Starter Deck and FOTR Gandalf Starter Deck, cards which were included in later Starter Decks from Mines of Moria and Realms of the Elf-lords, and the specifically-chosen draft fodder inside the Fellowship Draft Pack. Rare cards were reprinted for the 3 random rares included in Starter Decks, and then again as the single random Rare in the Draft Pack.
The following cards all received an A (or B) version as a result of one of these print runs:
- Axe Strike (1C3)
- Dwarven Armor (1C8)
- Dwarven Axe (1C9)
- Gimli, Dwarf of Erebor (1U12)
- Elrond, Lord of Rivendell (1R40)
- Far-seeing Eyes (1C43) (it was made Unique)
- Galadriel, Lady of Light (1R45)
- The Mirror of Galadriel (1R55) (both A and B version)
- The Tale of Gil-galad (1R66)
- Change of Plans (1R99)
- Coat of Mail (1C101)
- Pursuit Just Behind (1R111)
- Swordarm of the White Tower (1C116)
- Saruman's Chill (1C134)
- Saruman's Snows (1C138)
- Uruk Rager (1C150)
- Uruk Savage (1C151)
- Uruk Soldier (1C154)
- Uruk-hai Raiding Party (1C158)
- Uruk-hai Sword (1C160)
- Goblin Marksman (1C176)
- Desperate Measures (1R245)
- Orc Ambusher (1C261)
- Orc Assassin (1U262)
- Orc Butchery (1R265)
- Sam, Faithful Companion (1R310)
- Sam, Son of Hamfast (1C311)
- Pass of Caradhras (1U348)
- Sam, Proper Poet (2C114)
The Two Towers Print Runs
While the Fellowship Draft Pack was unplanned, the Towers Draft Pack was planned from the start and so excess Rare cards were printed up-front, meaning that none of those were ever reprinted. As before, the draft-specific runs of Common and Uncommon cards were reprinted, as well as any cards which were later included in Battle of Helm's Deep and Ents of Fangorn Starter Decks. All of these reprinted cards also have a copyright of 2003.
The following cards all received an A revision:
- Heavy Chain (4C278)
- Broad-bladed Sword (4C142)
- Frodo, Tired Traveller (4C302)
- Horse-country (4U326)
- Derndingle (4U330)
- Streets of Edoras (4U340)
There is a noticeable difference between the initial run of The Two Towers and later runs, especially on Rohan cards. On later runs, the saturation on the template is heavier, the print information below the collector's information is blurred, and the text is slightly thicker and heavier (see image on the right).
This also appears to be the source of the well-known "Rock Star" misprint of Aragorn, Heir of Elendil (4C109) , where a white streak covers part of his face, looking like intentional face paint.
Battle of Helm's Deep Print Runs
Battle of Helm's Deep was the first set that was sold within retail stores, specifically at Target. When time came to stock it, Target objected to the rectangular form factor of the booster box, so Decipher quickly made a square variant and repackaged already-printed boosters into the new boxes. Demand was high for the set, and because ~40% of the supply was being redirected to Target instead of local game stores, there was a shortage that quickly led to boxes going for $600 a box on eBay.
Decipher scrambled to make a second printing to meet demand, shipping the Rare and Foil Uncut Sheets that they were planning on using for prizes back to the printers to be utilized. The new printing thus contained first edition foils and many first edition Rares (although some Rare cards ended up needing to be printed). To differentiate the new box, a yellow circle sticker was affixed by the printer.
In spite of the rush, Decipher did manage to squeeze in some wording changes alongside the version change, including a wording tweak to all Berserker cards. The following cards all received an A revision:
- Berserk Rager (5U45)
- Berserk Savage (5R46)
- Berserk Slayer (5R47)
- Saruman, Master of Foul Folk (5R56)
- Uruk-hai Berserker (5U63)
- Frodo, Master of the Precious (5U111)
- Sam, Nice Sensible Hobbit (5U115)
The Return of the King
Although a King Draft Pack was planned, no physical version was ever produced (although a digital one was made for the Lord of the Rings Online TCG platform). The only additional print runs come from cards included in Siege of Gondor and Mount Doom starter decks.
Siege of Gondor
Although Siege of Gondor did not have any additional print runs (as anyone who has ever tried to collect the set can attest), Éomer, Keeper of Oaths (8C87) is an anomaly in that all of its copies are printed as revision A instead of . What happened here is that a promo preview version of the card, Éomer, Keeper of Oaths (0P49) , was printed before the set was released, and the card was altered to include the Valiant keyword before the final printing. The wording was also changed to make playing possessions optional.
[I was] asked about the rarity of the Beta/Revised/reprint/2nd edition version of the BOHD booster box. I will explain the nature of this rarity.
So As many of you know the BOHD boosters were some of the first Decipher was able to get into the major Retail chain network. I saw them at Target and a few other locations, on the shelves next to The sports cards and Yu-Gi-Oh packs. But this required a 're-packaging' required by the major retail vendors. So you find that BOHD was also packaged in a 'square' box configuration. (Can provide pics if needed). So when Decipher ordered BOHD, they ordered the Same basic quantities that they had previously ordered in relation to other print runs. HOWEVER, what they failed to consider is that a large percentage went to the Retailers in the alternate packaging format (square boxes). This had an unintended consequence. When it came time for LCS (local card shops) to re-order BOHD, there was none to be had. Decipher didn't print any less, they just changed the way they flowed thru the supply chain. instead of 100% headed to LCS, now only 60% went to them. So Decipher had a problem. There was DEMAND for BOHD from the LCS and they wanted to sell more. So they had a way to do that.... PRINT MORE! That is what they did. They did take advantage of errata and other gameplay changes when reprinting BOHD, and to protect the collectability of the original limited 1st edition run, they corrected game texts and added a revision letter (A), and REMOVED the 1st Edition Symbol from every card reprinted. So now 100% of that reprinted supply went to the Regular Supply Chain for the LCS. Decipher didn't bother to reprint the boxes so they asked the printer to put a yellow Dot, on the packaging to indicate that revision cards were contained in the identical packaging box.
So what of the foils in Revised BOHD? well, Decipher had printed enough extra foils (to include uncut sheets) that they sent the extras to the printers to utilize for the reprint run. So Uncut Foil Sheets of BOHD are virtually non-existent (a few were saved - not many). And random prize packages with Foils rarely included BOHD foils. But most of those foils still made it to the market just thru boosters vice other means. So the BOHD Revised boosters have 1st Edition Foils in them.
So what is more rare? Well the Revised print run was a significantly smaller print run. But the demand was soft despite the supply chain changes. So what remained sealed, while much more rare, was... 2nd edition/reprinted BOHD. So in hunting sealed product, it is easier to find Reprinted BOHD vs 1st Edition, because most of 1st edition was opened and used for gameplay/collections. So while it 'seems' BOHD revised is about the same to acquire sealed, it is certainly not the same total production run as 1st edition. IIRC it was only about 20-25% of the original print run.
. . .Just a side note on values of BOHD 1st Edition. I recall that during the 'shortage' that 1st Edition boosters of BOHD spiked up to $600 a box! (this also added to Decipher's decision to reprint BOHD) People started to hoard them thinking they were going to continue to spike up in value. When the reprints hit the street... Demand for 1st Edition Tanked... and the value also totally tanked. So that is why some of them are still out there.
Hey guys, so I was opening some loose HD boosters tonight and I realized all of my rares are 1st edition but rest of cards are not. So apparently they had plenty of extra rare sheets as well as foils when they reprinted the set?
So, Yes, I'm sure to keep costs down, they sent regular 1st Edition Rares along with the cut sheet foils to the printers for packaging as well. Plus the printer may have had some leftover 1st Edition rares floating around their inventory. So yes, I can see that happening, but not on many packs, and you would never know until you've opened several. IIRC, I remember some others had reported this way back in the day. But very rare/few occurances.
OK, I had posted about the Battle of Helms Deep, Reprints, and got a lot of questions, so I thought I'd clarify some collecting points. LOOKING CLOSELY at the Lower Rightmost Corner of the Card: In the first set of 3 cards shown below (Gimli) you have a 1st Edition Card next to a Reprinted card (New Copyright Date with no symbol) next to a Revised Card with an "A" alpha signifying a change to the game text. (See "Zoomed-in" Picture of the lower right Corner of the card with the copyright information)
In the second set of 3 cards (Mirror of Galadriel), you have a 1st Edition card, followed by a Revised Reprint (both new copyright and new text) getting an "A" for Alpha, and a Third printing with Additionally Revised Text garnering a "B" Beta symbol.
. . .
So for Fellowship here is the major reprint tale IIRC.. remember I'm getting old now.. FotR was reprinted for the Fellowship Draft packs. HOWEVER, it was not 100% reprinted. Just the Draft specific cards AND the Random Rare. So you have a big selection of Commons and Uncommons from Fellowship that were NEVER reprinted. Only those chosen to be in the Draft Packs. But 100% of the Rares were reprinted. They needed more rares to put into the FotR Draft packs, so off to the printers... They took advantage of the reprints to incorporate errata onto the cards. (Much like they did with SWCCG) (ie: Electrobinoculars). But for those cards with No Errata, nothing changed except the copyright date and the removal of the 1st Edition symbol (1).
. . .
For Two Towers, the story was a bit different. They knew they were going to make Draft Packs, so... they planned for it, and printed 'extra' 1st edition rares. So 100% of the Rares in the Towers Draft packs are 1st Edition. ONLY the draft cards from Two Towers were reprinted and annotated by removal of the 1st Edition symbol (1). Oooh, I need to check if any were errata'ed. (running to grab the collection binder) nope, I don't see any errata cards in TT reprints for Draft packs.
. . .And from my posting about Helms Deep. 100% of the Base Set was reprinted. Not the starters, Not the foils. So no Starter Premiums were reprinted. That post was buried in Kreg Miller's thread about a complete box collection, missing a Beta and commercial reprint versions of Helms Deep sealed boxes.
So in the Starter decks of The movies block sets (yes all the way up thru King Block, (Hence revised Eomer, KoO) there were several utility cards (like Hobbit Sword) that were reprinted from most of the sets in those starter decks, ALSO, there were additional sheet layouts for Deluxe starters as well (I happen to have that uncut sheet), the Deluxe starter decks were different than the regular starter decks (Remember, the artwork on the rulebook for Towers Deluxe was different than the Rulebook in TTT base set starters.) AND finally, there are "beta" starter Decks from FOTR. You can find a "B" beta symbol on those starter decks, and the cards inside are all reprinted.. So there are cards reprints and revisions found throughout those products. That is how we got the Mirror of Galadriel in Revision B.