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The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game» Forums » General

Subject: side quest and design space rss

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Chris McDonald
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I've been reading up on side quests, and it seems like they occupy exactly the same design space as locations - a sink for your quest progress tokens. Like most locations, they give you some incentive to explore them (either they do bad things as long as they are out, or give you a good thing when you finish exploring them).

Can someone explain why they exist as a separate card type?
 
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charles wohlganger
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Locations, once they've been filled, put progress onto the main quest. Side quests do not. Player side quests effectively allow players to pay for high-value effects by delaying quest progress. Scenario side quests are similar to locations, but aren't exactly the same mechanically, and are very different thematically. They open the design space slightly, but not by a whole lot.
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Dale Stephenson
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There's several differentiators:

1) There are (currently) no player locations. Side-quests as a player card add a new element to the player arsenal.

2) While active locations serve as a limited progress sink for the main quest, side-quests are an unlimited progress sink. You can clear the active location *and* the main quest while questing, but you can't simultaneously clear a side quest and the main quest.

3) Only active locations serve as a progress sink, and there typically is a limit of one active location and one chance per turn to replace an active location that has been explored. There is no such restriction on side-quests, having chosen a different side-quest last turn imposes no restrictions on your choices this turn.
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Greg Burkett
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While I agree with the distinctions between locations and side quests made above, I can't help but also agree with your initial assessment.. They really don't feel all that unique enough from locations to justify the design space.

I'm not looking forward to the next cycle very much because of this.. It seems to be focusing pretty heavily on side quests when we *just* had a big focus on them a cycle ago. And wow... I just don't care enough about most of the effects to justify adding an entire turn between winning or losing the scenario.
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Dale Stephenson
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If you don't care enough about the effect to add a turn, then I can see why you aren't excited by the new batch of player side quests, or other cards that key off them.

However, I think the player cards that key off the presence of side quests in the victory display will be very handy against the Angmar Awakened cycle, and likely will be against the new cycle if it also uses encounter side quests.

For player side quests, while I get that you may not think they are worth playing (and in the case of "Delay the Enemy", who could blame you?), I don't see the argument that they don't open new design space. While the effect of encounter side-quests is broadly similar to locations, on the *player* side there's nothing broadly similar to locations, and the ability to delay progress on the main quest in exchange for a beneficial side effect *the player chose* really has no class of similar cards.

Independent of the effect, any quest that rewards a turtling approach (going slowly through an early quest stage while building board state, before progressing to the boss fight) can benefit from side-quests, which allows you to quest without fear of overquesting. It can also be beneficial in the Against the Shadow cycle to allow questing with willpower instead of attack or defense. Finally, there are quests with boss-fights that have little or no progress requirements but require boss removal, use of side-quests in those allows you to get a bonus from the questing you have to do anyway (to avoid threat increase), instead of just piling more progress on a stage that needs none.

There are a few quests where side-quests are useless or even harmful (because you have to quest hard and quick to win, or because the presence of side-quests is punished by encounter cards), but I think such quests are in the minority. I've been putting a copy of Gather Information in all my decks and I'm rarely sorry when it comes up.
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Chris McDonald
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Thanks for the input, guys. I hadn't understood all the subtle mechanical differences. I don't think the fact that there are hero-deck side quests is a very meaningful difference - the designers could have just as easily made hero-deck locations.

On balance they still seem a bit superfluous. I guess the biggest problem with using locations is the name (it's weird to have a 'location' called "Make Camp" or "Gather Information"), in that sense the original name of the card type put the designers in a bit of corner.
 
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Dale Stephenson
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cfmcdonald wrote:
Thanks for the input, guys. I hadn't understood all the subtle mechanical differences. I don't think the fact that there are hero-deck side quests is a very meaningful difference - the designers could have just as easily made hero-deck locations.

On balance they still seem a bit superfluous. I guess the biggest problem with using locations is the name (it's weird to have a 'location' called "Make Camp" or "Gather Information"), in that sense the original name of the card type put the designers in a bit of corner.


The designers certainly could have made hero-deck locations, with victory points that are placed directly into the staging area. But even in this case there would be some subtle changes:

1) You would be able to use Asfaloth or Northern Trackers (or similar cards) to clear it in the staging area.

2) Absent such cards, you wouldn't even be able to progress on it until you made it the active location.

3) The hero-deck location would compete with encounter deck locations for the lone active location slot.

#1 would make them more desirable in a few decks, but #2 and #3 would be a drawback in all the other decks, and it also would detract from the card's ability to avoid overquesting. So while they could've done direct-to-staging locations, I'm glad they didn't do locations...

And from the perspective of "design space", the important point is that they *didn't* do player locations, so player side quests are exploring *fresh design space*. Whether it's worth doing is a separate question, but the player side-quest is *very* distinct from allies, events, and almost all attachments. Maybe the difference between what the designers did do and what the designers could have done instead may be small (who could know?), but the difference between player side-quests and other player cards is quite significant IMO.

Another card that exposes fresh "design space" is the player encounter card. Objective allies that fall out of the deck for some positive effect are nothing new, but being able to insert them in the encounter deck by player action certainly is, and Ranger Summons/Ranger of the North certainly (IMO) does expose fresh and interesting design space -- even though the effect is too weak for me to use in any of my decks thus far, and I'm annoyed that the Range of the North doesn't have a beneficial shadow effect. This sort of mechanism is the route I would expect true player-side locations to enter the game, a beneficial location inserted into the encounter deck via event. But if those ever showed up they would have something more interesting than a "when explored" event, possibly a powerful active location benefit to compensate for not traveling to an encounter deck location instead.
 
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Chris McDonald
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Yes, the player encounter card idea seems underdeveloped. Weird that they didn't follow it up at all after that one card, as far as I can tell.
 
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