The Red Book of Westmarch speaks little of the Easterlings, and describes them only as enemies of the West. Indeed many among them were of wicked disposition, their hearts clouded by the evil of Mordor.
But there were those among them who resisted. A few among them rejected the rule of Sauron and the worship of Melkor. Guided by the mentorship of the Blue Wizards, they conducted a secret war through many long years, weakening the armies of the Eastrons from within. Great was their suffering, and their sacrifices, their courage unrecorded in the lays of the West.
Defiance of the East – Fan-made Player Card Expansion
Over the past year or so, I’ve become quite a fan of Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. Being me, this inevitably led me down the road of creating custom content, the game already having a thriving fan content community thanks to the efforts of A Long Extended Party and other creators.
My inspiration came from the Harad player card archetype featured in the game’s Haradrim cycle. I loved the idea of exploring one of Middle-Earth’s cultures traditionally viewed as an enemy and giving voice to those among them who rejected Sauron’s rule. It’s a great way to modernize and diversify the setting while respecting the original lore.
I thought it would be a wonderful idea to do the same for the other big faction of Men under Sauron’s rule, the Easterlings. But with the game in functional maintenance mode with no new content planned, it seemed unlikely the developers would fill this gap. Thus, I took it upon myself to explore the idea of a player Easterling archetype.
I envisioned a hidden resistance movement, sabotaging Sauron’s forces in the East and eventually revealing themselves in a glorious final stand during the War of the Ring.
I created twenty new cards, including four heroes, enough to build a full deck of Easterling characters, provided you flesh it out with a few cards from the official pool (I recommend Valiant Sacrifice). The cards have been play-tested (in true solo only so far) and already gone through a few rounds of adjustments to get the balance right.
The link in the header above contains all cards, including versions with extra bleed for easier printing. Art was found via Google image search. I’ve done my best to credit the original artists on all of the cards, but there’s a few I couldn’t track down a source for. Those are listed as “unknown” – if anyone knows the original artists for those, let me know, and I’ll add them.
When it comes to mechanics, I wanted to explore themes of resilience and sacrifice. I drew inspiration from the Dunedain archetype and the Survivor class in the Arkham Horror LCG and developed a theme around resisting or even benefiting from treachery cards. There’s also a sub-theme of sacrificial allies.
The archetype is designed with true solo play in mind, as its how I usually play and fits the themes of an isolated resistance movement. Throwing all those treacheries out could be troublesome for your allies in multiplayer. That said, multiplayer should still be possible with careful planning; the Courage Unrecorded event allows you to protect your allies from Treachery effects while still gaining their benefits.
Having now played with the Easterling deck a few times, I’ve found it does present a unique feel compared to the game’s other archetypes. The Easterlings tend to boast weak stats, but their emphasis on direct damage and progress allow them to overcome this seeming disadvantage. Their Falcons and Messengers clear locations with ease, while their Martyrs can tear through powerful foes at the cost of their own lives, especially when the Easterlings find their Rebellion Unmasked.
The way these mechanics side-step usual obstacles like threat and defense scores reinforces the idea that this is a hidden movement working behind the scenes. Meanwhile, their cheap allies, strong economy, and heavy recursion allow them to easily recover from setbacks, capturing their resilience in the face of impossible odds.
If anyone does end up playing with these cards, do let me know your experience. I’d love to hear any feedback you may have.