How To Play The Middle-earth CCG

While we were recently learning the Middle-earth CCG on a Throwback Thursday stream (watch below), I mentioned having a reference note with quick rules reminders and descriptions. I’ve had a number of people asking if I’d share that reference note since then, so I cleaned up my notes and have included them in this post.

If you’re more of a visual learner like I am, you can watch Steven and I (with major help from the stream chat) learn the game in the video below.

This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive set of rules, but really just key rules broken down by major category for easy reference. If you are looking for the full rules, I recommend checking out the rules page on The Council of Elrond website.


  • The player with the most Marshaling Points (MP) after the Free Council meets wins.
  • At the start of the game, the players decide how many ‘decks’ the game is going to be. This represents the number of times a player must exhaust their deck (run out of) to ‘call the Council’. When both players have exhausted their deck equal to the set number, the Council must be called. If a player makes it through their deck and already has 25 MP on the board, they can also optionally call the Free Council.
  • At the Free Council, either player can reveal unique cards from their hand that their opponent has in play. Each such card reduces their opponents score by one.
  • If your opponent has 0 or negative points in a category (character points, item points, faction points, ally points, kill points, misc. points), your points for that category are doubled.
  • No more than half of your points can come from any one category.

Turn Structure

  • Untap phase – Each tapped character rotates 90 degrees, back to their standard orientation. If at a Haven, each wounded character also moves from 180 degrees (upside down) to 90 degrees (tapped). The latter is called healing.
  • Organization phase – During the organization phase you may:
    • Play one character or call in your Wizard (must have enough available influence).
    • Reorganize any companies (groups of characters) that are at the same location.
    • Decide where to move for each company by putting new locations face down next to the current location or announcing you’re moving a company to a location already on the board (can be a facedown location).
    • Pass items from one character to another at the same location (the character must make a corruption check).
    • Store items at Havens (a corruption check is required and stored items count towards your point total at the end of the game but don’t give you any effects).
  • Long event phase – Remove any of your long events and play new ones.
  • Movement/hazard phase – One at a time for each company:
    • Reveal their new site card or move them to a location on the board. If moving to non-Haven, draw cards based on the site you’re moving to. If you’re moving to a Haven, draw cards based on the site you’re moving from.
    • Opponent plays hazards one at a time that key to the site path (more on this later), hazard limit = company size (min of 2).
    • Once all hazards are played and resolved, remove the previous site if there are no characters in play at that site and return it to your site deck. If the previous site was tapped, discard it instead.
    • Both players draw up to 8 and/or discard down to 8. You only draw if your Wizard is present or if your total mind is 3 or greater.
  • Site phase – Now that each company is at their new site, one by one and in the order of your choice they may decide to enter that site. When they enter the site:
    • All auto-attacks trigger and resolve.
    • If site is successfully entered, you may tap a character and the location to play specified item types. You can always tap a second character to play a minor item.
  • End of turn phase – The active player may discard a card and then draw back up to 8.


  • When you exhaust your deck, you can add 5 cards from your sideboard to your deck before reshuffling.
  • During the organization phase, you can tap your Wizard to bring 5 resource cards into discard pile or shuffle 1 into your deck as long as you have 5 or more cards left in your deck.

Playing characters

  • Before your Wizard is in play, characters can only be played onto their homesite or any Haven.
  • After you play your Wizard, characters can only be played onto the site where their Wizard is present, and that site must also be the character’s homesite or any Haven.
  • You may discard a character instead of playing one while at a Haven or their home site.


  • You can move to sites with up to four regions between them.
  • The starting site, regions moved through, and ending site icons (Wilderness, Stronghold, etc.) represent the ‘site-path’. A lot of cards have site paths printed along the top left of the card going straight down the card. All of the icons, outside the one in the very top left, only apply if you’re using ‘starter movement’.
  • You can play hazards that key to the site path, meaning they share at least one icon with the site path unless there are multiple of the same icon in which case the site path must have that many of that specific icon.
  • When you arrive at a site, both players draw based on the location (unless moving to a Haven, then base it on the previous location).
  • Decide to enter the site you’re at or not, resolving as indicated in the Site Phase.

Combat & Strikes

  • When strikes are generated, the defender chooses where to assign hits, must assign evenly, and can only assign one per character. Can’t assign to tapped characters.
  • Any strikes that remain after untapped characters are assigned strikes are chosen by the enemy.
  • Untapped characters not targeted by hits can tap to add +1 prowess to a specific attack.
  • When a character is taking a hit, they must tap to use full prowess. Not tapping is -3 to prowess.
  • Any unassigned strikes may now be applied to a strike to give the defender -1 prowess.
  • When resolving a strike, make a roll of 2d6.
  • If your roll + prowess < attack, you are wounded and make a body check (see below).
  • If you tie, the enemy is discarded.
  • If your roll + prowess > attack, you set the card aside and “score it”.
  • If a character is already tapped, apply -1 prowess instead of -3 for not tapping. If a character is wounded, apply -2 instead.

Body Checks

  • If you are hit by a strike, Roll 2d6.
  • If value > body stat, character eliminated.
  • Wounded characters that are hit apply +1 to this roll.
  • If value < body stat, your character remains in play.
  • If a tie, your character remains in play.

Corruption Checks

  • If you are required to make a corruption check, your Corruption Points (CP) start at 0.
  • Items will have a corruption value in the bottom right, which is added to your total CP.
  • Untapped characters at the same location may tap to add +1 before you roll.
  • Roll 2d6.
  • If result > CP then nothing happens.
  • If result = to or 1 under your CP, the character is discarded.
  • If result is > 1 less than your CP, the character is killed.

Influencing Characters

  • During the site phase, one character at the same site as an opponent’s character can tap to attempt to influence the other character.
  • To make an influence check on a character, both players roll 2d6.
  • If the influencing character’s roll + unused direct influence – opponent’s unused general influence is > opponent’s roll + any other mods, check “mind” of target character.
  • If the result > mind of the target character, it is discarded. Otherwise, nothing happens.
  • If you have a copy of the discarded character in your hand, you can immediately play it at that location.

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