The Middle Earth Collectable Card Game (MECCG) is not an easy game to learn, but it is a great game and worth the effort to learn. It is the only CCG that I've played which is similar to an RPG. I hope to offer the beginning player some advice on how to go about learning to play.
The easiest way to learn the MECCG is to have someone else to teach you the game. There are fringe benefits to attaching yourself to an established playgroup, such as the chance to acquire unwanted common and uncommon cards, and the ability to query knowledgeable players. It is common for established players to donate their extra common and uncommon cards to a beginner.
If you are unable to find anyone who already plays MECCG do not despair, because another avenue exists for the beginning player. ICE produces the Middle Earth 2-Player Starter set that is an excellent introduction to the game. In fact, ICE uses the starter set when they run demonstration and participation games at conventions. The starter set comes complete with 2 decks, based on Gandolf and Sauruman. These decks are designed to be balanced and easy to play. Additionally, each card is numbered so you can sort the decks into a specific order that is used to play through the sample first turn in the rulebook. Also included with the starter set are a map, two play mats, and two plastic hobbit figures. The map simplifies the movement aspect of the game, which is something many beginners struggle to understand. Along with the map the players will use the plastic hobbit figures to mark the current location of their party. The mats summarize the important rules, and it contains a marshalling point track that allows the player to easily keep track of their marshalling point total. The mat will also help organize the characters.
The next stage in the MECCG learning curve is deck design. Understanding the mechanics of the game is important, but now it becomes time to learn how to design fun and competitive decks. There are various web pages that list constructed decks on the Internet, but you may still want guidance on how to play them. If you are at this stage then you are ready for a challenge deck. These are 10 pre-constructed decks, where five are based on Wizards and five are based on RingWraiths. The pre-constructed decks are quite balanced in play against each other and they can form the basis of a competitive deck. Also included with the deck is a rulebook that has valuable hints on how to play each deck. The challenge decks are also a way to sample MECCG without trying to collect most of the cards. Three or four challenge decks are all that is needed for two people play a competitive game of MECCG right out of the box. All of the Challenge decks are clearly marked as Wizard or Ringwraith. If you wanted to play with the forces of Sauron the challenge decks are one way to experience the Lidless Eye expansion.
In summary anyone considering investing in MECCG to play, rather then collecting, would be well advised to look at the starter set and the challenge decks to see if they like the game.