It was a toss up between this and the Angmar Awakened cycle. While Angmar Awakened did have a refreshingly dark theme, the Haradrim cycle had a series of quests that were more innovative and memorable in their execution. The Haradrim cycle isn’t known for the power level of its player cards but it does have some excellent quests and allies. Most people will probably start with other sets to boost their card pool and enhance their deck buildings choices but once players are happy with the options they have they would do well to consider the picking up this cycle for its exceptional quests.
This was the moment when the LCG started to feel special. Fantasy Flight games took their first real stab at a theme and setting that had very little focus in the books. Centering on the Noldor (Think sea elves) rather than Silvan elves, this set began to make this LCG feel distinct in its interpretation of Lord of the Rings lore. A new Noldor Archetype was created and provided instant success and satisfaction for veteran card game players with mechanics that revolved around card cycling and discard piles. The quests added a fantastic sailing mechanic that instilled wonder into players that thought they knew everything the world of Middle Earth had to offer. While not the most powerful player card pool, this cycle cemented itself in the minds of everyone that played it with its intelligent mechanics, creative setting, and unique quests.
This set would definitely get the award for the cycle that goes out of stock the quickest. One of the hardest sets to get a hold of in between print runs, the Dwarrowdelf cycle boasted many of the most overpowered cards in all of Lord of the Rings. The dwarf archetype, Glorfindel, Elrond, Arwen, were all given due respect with the power level of their cards. The quests in this cycle receive a more mixed reaction than the unanimous praise the player cards received. Focusing mostly around dwarves and mines, the cycle had a fair number of quests that repeat the “lost in the mountain” theme. However, there are a few standouts which, combined with the overwhelming power level of its cards, makes this cycle one of the early must have cycles in any collection.
2. Ered Mithrin
In 2018 the game was looking like it was winding down. The gap between cycles was getting longer, the saga sets were completed and people were unsure of where the game could go next. The Ered Mithrin cycle breathed new life into the game. The setting of the Dale wilderness was a fresh one and allowed a deep dive into some of Middle Earth’s mostly glossed over areas. A new Dale architype that revolved around equipment provided competitive decks right from the first box, making this set a decent consideration for something to pick up after the first cycle. The quests in this cycle also proved innovative and challenging without feeling unfair. It was so refreshing to have such an amazing set appear at the end of the game’s lifespan.
1. Lord of the Rings Sagas
This is a bit of a cheat here, but this group of six boxes really needs to be mentioned. New players would be well advised to look into The Black Riders, The Road Darkens, and The Flame of the West as some of the earliest purchases they can get their hands on. These boxes can provide instant competitive decks right out of the gate with The Black Riders and The Road Darkens kickstarting Hobbit and Gandalf decks respectively. Flame of the west has some of the most popular heroes in the entire game with Tactics Eowyn and Spirit Beregond. These boxes also provide some of the best quests Lord of the Rings has to offer; starting with incredibly clever and thematic mechanics and the beginning and ratcheting up to the most grand and difficult quests ever seen. Regardless of what order you start to purchase your adventure packs, these saga boxes should be sprinkled in right from the beginning.