Middle-earth Collectible Card Game (MECCG) is a collectible card game released by Iron Crown Enterprises in late 1995. It is the first collectible card game based on J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, with added content from ICE's Middle-earth Role Playing Game.
The cards used in the game feature original artwork by a multitude of artists, many of them longtime Tolkien illustrators such as John Howe, Ted Nasmith, Angus McBride, et al.
In its basic form, it is a game for two to five players, each choosing one of the five wizards to represent themselves. A turn in the game consists of one player's wandering around Middle-earth with the help of famous characters of Middle-earth, trying to gather influence and power to aid in the battle against The Dark Lord, while another player tries to harass, and ultimately kill his characters with specific hazard cards. Then, for each player's turn, the roles change clockwise around the table (the player who was moving his characters then throws hazards at the player to his or her right). Any player may also win by acquiring and destroying the One Ring after a complicated set of events.
Later expansions have added the possibility to take the role of a Ringwraith of Sauron (MELE), a corrupted wizard playing by his own rules (MEWH), the malevolent Balrog (MEBA), or even Sauron himself. The game is somewhat distinguished from most other CCG's with the use of two six-sided dice for a random factor and also by the actual map of Middle-earth, including regions your companies travel through, and site cards they visit.
MECCG won two Origins Awards: Best Card Game of 1995 for MECCG: The Wizards and Best Graphic Presentation of a Card Game or Expansion of 1996 for MECCG: The Dragons. The game's production ended in 1999, when ICE lost the license that allowed them to use the content of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. This license was later bought by Decipher, who used it to bring out another CCG. MECCG still has a relatively loyal and active fanbase of players.
The game can be played online through the use of the Generic Collectible Card Game (GCCG), allowing normal or sealed games. MECCG online events are organized several times a year and every player is free to participate in them.
- The Wizards (METW) (1995): The first basic set, dealing with the good side, including most main characters from the books, like Gandalf, Frodo and Aragorn. Pretty straightforward gameplay with relatively simple marshalling point cards and hazard creatures.
- The Dragons (METD) (1996): The first expansion set for METW. As the name implies, deals mostly with dragons, their treasure and the northern regions.
- Dark Minions (MEDM) (1996): Adds many powerful hazard cards including more undead and introduces the agents - a subtle group of Sauron's servants, concentrating on intrigue and influence. Also adds an underground network of site cards, The Under-Deeps, which later becomes The Balrog's realm.
- The Lidless Eye (MELE) (1997): The second basic set. Adds the possibility to play as a Ringwraith of Sauron.
- Against the Shadow (MEAS) (1997): The only expansion to MELE, although it also contains hero cards. Mostly balances the game by adding resources for and hazards against the minion player as well as some support resources for the hero. Notable are the hazard creature versions of the five wizards.
- The White Hand (MEWH) (1997): Introduces a third faction, the corrupted Fallen-Wizard, whose player can use both hero and minion resources and characters, although with restrictions.
- Middle Earth Challenge Decks (MECD) (1998): 10 pairs of decks for tournament play. Cards are re-prints from earlier sets.
- The Balrog (MEBA) (1998): Adds a new sub-faction to the minions, Balrog, who mainly depends on the brute strength of his orcs and trolls. It is argued by the player base that since the production of MECCG ended after MEBA, the set remains a bit overpowered because it didn't get a "balancing set" published afterwards.
- Middle-earth: The Wizards Companion (#3333):ISBN 1558062750
- Middle-earth: The Wizards Player Guide (#3334):ISBN 1558062572
- Middle-earth: The Dragons Player Guide (#3337):ISBN 1558062904
- Middle-earth CCG Maps (#3338):ISBN 1558062912
- Middle-earth: Dark Minions Player Guide (#3339):ISBN 1558062947
- The Lidless Eye Companion ():ISBN 1558063153
- The Lidless Eye Player Guide ():ISBN 1558063390
- Middle-earth: The Wizards Casual Companion (#3340):ISBN 1558063129
- Mastering Middle-Earth: Strategies for Middle-Earth : The Wizards ISBN 1556225598
- http://www.councilofelrond.org/ - World governing body
- http://www.solicitor.de/gamebox/reviews/metw.htm - Review
- http://www.lureofmeccg.org/ - Biggest yearly event (held in Germany)
- http://meccg.tolkien.com.pl/forum/ - Polish MECCG forum
- http://gccg.sourceforge.net/ - GCCG Official page