I read the manual once and have looked at images over at Board Game Geek.
Am I wrong to assume that this is more of a strategy game about influence than a questing adventure game?
Do you earn money, xp, items by questing? Can you level up your characters, equip weapons, armor, items?
I guess with a name like Middle-Earth Quest, I hoped this would be a game where you form a party and explore Middle-Earth looking for treasures/artifacts and have a heavy emphasis on battling Balrogs and other nasties. Yet it truly looks like any fighting or character stuff is secondary to Influence over Middle-Earth ie the Dark Lord ie. the exact thing that Bilbo and Frodo did. Not sure I like the 100% card-driven gameplay either.