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Sets are collections of cards released together in a single batch. Sets normally have various themes or mechanics that cards emphasize in an effort to give the set an identity and focus.

There are three major kinds of sets: base sets, expansion sets, and supplemental sets. For example:

  • The Return of the King (set 7) is the base for King Block, as it establishes the King Block site path, reprints cards from earlier sets that are necessary workhorse cards for the new block, and otherwise lays the foundations of the new block's identity.
  • Siege of Gondor (set 8) and Mount Doom (set 10) are expansions for King Block, building on ROTK's foundation and pushing the limits further.
  • Reflections (set 9) is a supplemental set, which cannot be used on its own and instead introduces small groups of special cards which must be injected into some other block.

Each block was defined as one tentpole set and two expansions, with supplemental sets cropping up here and there as necessity demanded. The Promotional set (set 0) was a special supplemental set which repeatedly had new cards added to it which were reprints of cards from other sets, usually with alternate images or foiling or handed out in special circumstances.

Initially, official Decipher sets were centered around the movies that they were released with and named after: sets 1-3 around The Fellowship of the Ring, sets 4-6 around The Two Towers, and 7/8/10 around The Return of the King. This era is appropriately dubbed Movie Block.

In November 2004 the new base set, Shadows, marked a turning point in the game in more ways than one. For the first time, a single set would have cards with imagery and concepts drawn from all three movies, forcing the sets to forge their own identity in something other than plot. In addition, Decipher reworked several core mechanics of the game, including introducing a more dynamic Site Path and reorganizing the Shadow Cultures along different lines. These changes were controversial, and created a permanent rift between the Movie era and everything that came after.

Block # Name Release Date Size Cultures Introduced Notes
Fellowship Block 1 The Fellowship of the Ring 6 November, 2001 365 standard + 365 Foil + 3 Oversized + 15 Tengwar Culture Dwarven.svg Dwarven, Culture Elven.svg Elven, Culture Gandalf.svg Gandalf, Culture Gondor.svg Gondor, Culture Isengard.svg Isengard, Culture Moria.svg Moria, Culture Sauron.svg Sauron, Culture Ringwraith.svg Ringwraith, Culture Shire.svg Shire Established the baseline of the game.
2 Mines of Moria 6/13 March 2002 122 standard + 122 Foil + 4 Oversized + 3 Tengwar - Introduced Artifacts, Twilight Nazgul, the Balrog, and the Creature race and Tentacle keyword.
3 Realms of the Elf-lords 19 June / 3 July 2002 122 standard + 122 Foil + 2 Oversized - Introduced Saruman, Isengard Orcs, and Ring Artifacts.
Towers Block 4 The Two Towers 6 November, 2002 365 standard + 365 Foil + 2 Oversized + 14 Tengwar Culture Dunland.svg Dunland, Culture Raider.svg Raider, Culture Rohan.svg Rohan Established a new Towers Block site path. Divided all companions into unbound and Ring-bound, and introduced Site Control, culture tokens, discarding companions from play, playing characters from the dead pile, and the mounted state. Introduced Faramir and the other Ithilien Rangers, Treebeard and the Unhasty keyword, and Grima and the Isengard Men subculture. Introduced Eomer, Eowyn, and Theoden, the Theoden signet, and the keywords Valiant and Villager. Introduced Fortifications and Machines, Easterlings and Southrons and the Ambush keyword, and Battleground sites. The first set to not have cards for every existing culture. (This set has no cards for Culture Moria.svg Moria, Culture Ringwraith.svg Ringwraith, or Culture Sauron.svg Sauron.)
5 Battle of Helm's Deep 12 March 2003 128 standard + 128 Foil + 2 Oversized + 4 Tengwar Culture Gollum.svg Gollum Introduced both Smeagol and Gollum, and the first Ent companions. Introduced the Knight and Warg-rider keywords.

The 3 random rares in Starter Decks were replaced with fixed rares, which also had alternate image reprints in Booster Packs.

6 Ents of Fangorn 2 July 2003 128 standard + 128 Foil + 3 Oversized + 1 Tengwar - Introduced the Wraith race and the first Ent companions that are not Unhasty.

Continued the fixed rares in Starter Decks.

King Block 7 The Return of the King 5 November 2003 365 standard + 365 Foil + 1 Oversized + 7 Tengwar - Established the King Block site path. Introduced the Initiative and Threat mechanics, and the Support Area and Phase subtypes. (Previous cards said "Plays to your support area" or began their gametext with (for example) "Skirmish:".) Introduced Denethor. Introduced the Culture Sauron.svg Sauron keywords Engine and Besieger. Introduced Morgul Orcs.
8 Siege of Gondor 10 March, 2004 122 standard + 122 Foil + 6 Tengwar - Introduced Corsairs, the Enduring keyword, Culture Gondor.svg Gondor Wraiths, and Shelob.
- 9 Reflections 12 May 2004 52 Foil - Introduced alternate Ring-bearers besides just Frodo, and included many Weta-designed concepts that never made it to filming, such as Tom Bombadil, The Master (9R+52)LOTR-EN09S052.0 card.jpg, Radagast, The Brown (9R+26)LOTR-EN09S026.0 card.jpg and The Red Arrow (9R46)LOTR-EN09S046.0 card.jpg. Also introduced Second Age characters as playable cards, such as Gil-galad, Elven High King (9R+15)LOTR-EN09S015.0 card.jpg, Elendil, The Tall (9R+32)LOTR-EN09S032.0 card.jpg, Isildur, Bearer of Heirlooms (9R+33)LOTR-EN09S033.0 card.jpg, and Sauron, The Lord of the Rings (9R+48)LOTR-EN09S048.0 card.jpg himself. The first set that isn't part of a block, and the last set with allies and Culture Dunland.svg Dunland culture.
King Block 10 Mount Doom 14 July, 2004 122 standard + 122 Foil + 5 Tengwar - The only set with Culture Sauron.svg Sauron uruk-hai. The last appearance of Culture Raider.svg Raider culture.
War of the Ring Block 11 Shadows 3 November 2004 266 standard + 18 RF Legends + 6 Tengwar Culture Men.svg Men, Culture Orc.svg Orc, Culture Uruk-hai.svg Uruk-hai Established the Shadows site path, doing away with numbered sites. Restructured all Shadow Cultures to follow racial lines rather than faction ones, and renamed Culture Ringwraith.svg Ringwraith culture to Culture Ringwraith.svg Wraith culture. (The other old Shadow cultures were retired except for occasional cameo appearances.) Introduced the Resistance mechanic to all companions, not just ring-bearers, adding resistance icons to all companions and borne cards that modify resistance. Introduced the Dwelling, Lurker, Muster, and Toil keywords.

Starting with this set, sets no longer had a parallel diffraction Foil set alongside the normal one. Instead, Rare Foil (RF) Legends cards would be selected among the highlights of the set.

12 Black Rider 18 March 2005 194 standard + 18 RF Legends + 9 Legends Masterworks + 6 Tengwar - Reprinted many workhorse cards from The Fellowship of the Ring that had been lost with the introduction of rotation into Standard, a practice that would be continued in later sets.

In addition to RF Legends cards, a selection of those Legends would be reprinted an additional time as Legends Masterworks, which were foil and received an alternate template for their culture (first used in the Countdown Collection).

13 Bloodlines 12 August 2005 194 standard + 18 RF Legends + 9 Legends Masterworks + 6 Tengwar - Introduced Followers.

After this set, Decipher's financial troubles began to impact the company's output. From here onward, quality control issues and major delays plagued set releases.

- 14 Expanded Middle-earth 17 February 2006 15 standard - A small, one-pack set that included more Weta-designed cards, mainly featuring characters that did not appear in the films. While this wasn't the first set to have Culture Gandalf.svg Gandalf men, it developed them into a subculture of their own.
Hunters Block 15 The Hunters 9 November 2006 194 standard + 18 RF Legends + 9 Legends Masterworks - Introduced the Hunter keyword.
- 16 The Wraith Collection 26 August 2006 6 Foil - A stop-gap measure in the face of major set delays, this very small one-pack set included various non-Nazgul Wraiths, including Weta-designed Barrow-Wraiths.
Hunters Block 17 Rise of Saruman 1 March 2007 148 standard + 18 RF Legends + 9 Legends Masterworks - Includes a Culture Rohan.svg Rohan version of Aragorn, the only companion that appears in a different culture from the character's first appearance. Also includes no less than 5 versions of Saruman. Riddled with errors and typos.
18 Treachery & Deceit May 2007 140 standard + 18 RF Legends + 9 Legends Masterworks - Rushed to print in time to beat the expiration of Decipher's license, this set and the previous one had very low print runs and remain rare to this day. This set had several errata issued almost immediately to cover oversights, including one that made it impossible to play Frenzy of Arrows (18U79)LOTR-EN18S079.0 card.jpg at all.
- 19 Age's End June 2007 40 Foil - This final farewell set included versions of every major character as a last hurrah, as well as an ill-timed introduction of a Fellowship keyword.
Official Sets Promotional Promotional
Fellowship Block Fellowship of the Ring Mines of Moria Realms of the Elf-lords
Towers Block The Two Towers Battle of Helm's Deep Ents of Fangorn
King Block Return of the King Siege of Gondor Mount Doom
War of the Ring Block Shadows Black Rider Bloodlines
Hunters Block The Hunters Rise of Saruman Treachery & Deceit
Additional Reflections Expanded Middle-Earth The Wraith Collection Age's End
Unofficial Sets Player's Council Shadow of the Past
The Hobbit Draft Game Main Deck Shadow Packs Supplementary Packs
mLOTRO MLOTRO Promo Cards MLOTRO Reflections II
Journey Continues The Journey Begins