Hassan Lopez
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Khazad-dum is the first “deluxe” expansion for Fantasy Flight’s Lord of the Rings LCG. It includes 165 cards, including 2 heroes (Dwalin/Spirit and Bifur/Lore), 3 different Leadership cards, 3 Tactic, 2 Spirit, 2 Lore, and 1 Neutral. There are 3 copies each of all sphere cards (not including heroes). The rest of the set is 9 different decks of Encounter cards, one of which (Misty Mountains) is not actually used in any of the included scenarios. The scenarios are: Into the Pit (DL = 5), The Seventh Level (DL = 3), and Flight from Moria (DL = 7).

The Heroes



For a solitaire player, especially one focused on building a dwarf deck, Bifur has some solid potential. I've generally found that my strongest decks are tri-sphere, so any hero or card that helps me gather and spread resources is greatly valued. With Steward of Gondor on Dain Ironfoot and Bifur in play, you'd live comfortably in Leadership and Lore. Dwalin, in contrast, is more challenging to use in solo since if I choose Spirit, I need a heavy quester - not a fighter. But I like his ability a lot (especially if he's wielding an axe) and you're guaranteed to find a use for it in these scenarios. Threat reduction is incredibly useful, especially in Flight from Moria which has the potential to run a long time.


Player Cards

With regards to the player cards, I don’t want to give a card-by-card analysis – but for those of you considering a purchase, I thought it might be helpful to at least highlight the “heavy hitters” that have made an appearance in this box.



Zigil Miner is almost certainly the most controversial inclusion, since some are already considering his ability (when combo-ed with deck peeking, via Gildor Inglorion, Keen Eyed Took, or Gandalf's Search) overpowered. Please see this thread for more discussion on the topic:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/750553/zigil-miner-is-th...

I personally also like these two, since Tactics is probably my favorite sphere:



Both can be used on either heroes or allies and are dirt cheap, so can be easily splashed into bi- and tri-sphere decks. Plus, I love imagining Gimli going all beserker on some trolls.

Generally speaking, most of the new player cards in this box make “Dwarf” decks feasible, and I suspect a lot of players are having some fun putting these together. Does it mean that you need Dain Ironfoot from the Return to Mirkwood expansion? Well, obviously you don’t need him – but it can’t be denied that he’d be quite useful in a deck that fully relied on dwarves for combat and questing.


The Quests

As mentioned in my title, I’m approaching this review from a solitaire player’s perspective. Probably 90% of my games with LoTR LCG are going to be solitaire, so I primarily judge whether I want to buy a new expansion for the game based upon whether reviews suggest the scenarios play well with one (3 heroes total). I can say right off the bat that Khazad-dum is great for solitaire players. The first quest in the pack, Into the Pit, is fast becoming one of my favorites. The second is very challenging (more than its lowly 3 rating suggests) but winnable with a tightly designed deck. The third is very difficult, and possibly only winnable with a healthy dose of luck. But definitely fun, and not as frustrating in solo play as Dol Gildur.

Into the Pit

This is a location-heavy scenario that still offers up enough goblins and orcs to feel diverse and threatening. It is extraordinarily well-paced in solitaire play. You do need to worry about questing quite a bit, since many of the revealed locations have high threat values and even higher quest-token requirements. However, you’ll have the benefit of a Cave Torch that will let you add 3 quest tokens to any “Dark Location” once per turn, if you’re willing to take a gamble on turning over a new encounter card (if it comes up an Enemy, you have to add it to the staging area). The first stage of the scenario is very thematic, as your party attempts to travel from the East Gate to the First Hall and finally the Bridge of Khazad-dum. Each is a unique location with special effects on gameplay, but none too frustrating or exhausting. The second stage requires you to kill everything in your path, including a challenging Goblin Patrol. The third stage prevents you from collecting any more resources (during the Resource Phase), and so your party better be ready before you trigger it. Theoden and Steward of Gondor are also your best friends here. Each time I’ve played this scenario, I’ve experienced a wonderful tension and engaging sense of exploration – you feel the Mines of Moria around you, and cringe as allies are lost to cave-ins and collapsing stairways. A fantastic quest.

The Seventh Level

The 7th Level is very different from Into the Pit, and it would be challenging to win both of these scenarios with the same deck. The 7th Level is composed of a very thin encounter deck that is largely full of enemies (and yes, there are cave trolls). Furthermore, many shadow effects within this deck add more enemies to the staging area – so if you let too many build up, you’ll quickly get swarmed and overwhelmed. The pacing is fast and furious – there are only 2 stages to the scenario – but it’s winnable if you plan carefully and tune your deck accordingly. Unfortunately, you can't ignore questing and stack your deck with psychotic dwarrows, since you need 17 quest tokens to win the final stage! Boromir shines in this scenario, as does the previously useless Longbeard Orc Slayer. Imagine the scene in The Fellowship of the Ring where the fellowship has to fend off a horde of goblins and trolls in the Tomb of Balin. This is that scenario.

Flight from Moria

Ahh, the Balrog looms! The Nameless Fear sits within the staging area, unassailable, and his threat grows as you collect more Victory Points. A novel and creative twist that adds a new element to the game. Flight from Moria also features a variable quest structure, whereby your progression through the scenario will vary from game to game, depending upon how the cards get ordered. There are 7 different quest cards that get shuffled into a mini-deck prior to starting the game. You won’t know what to expect until you begin the journey. Generally speaking, there are two pathways to victory. In one, you need to find some Abandoned Tools, and then use them on a later quest card to escape the mines. For the second, you need to take a massive risk that may well eliminate you from play. More than any other quest released, Flight from Moria has the potential to be highly variable in how it plays out – and your success driven by the luck of the draw. To some this may be a turn off, but so far, I’m enjoying the variability it offers.



Final Thoughts

Admittedly, I’m somewhat of a LoTR LCG addict and really enjoy the base experience. I own 2 copies of the core set, 3 of the Shadows of Mirkwood expansions, and Khazad-dum. I love deck-building, and the challenge of a tough scenario (it took me around 20 plays of Journey Down the Anduin to win it solo). But I think this is a great expansion for the game. It adds a wonderful new theme, with a focus on indoor exploration of threatening dwarven mines, in contrast to the bleak outdoor meanderings of the Mirkwood cycle. The player cards are heavily focused on our bearded friends, so if that’s a draw for you (it is for me), this is probably a must-buy. Most importantly, the quests are well-designed and wonderfully paced. All three are eminently playable solitaire. They haven’t added too many new mechanics, so there’s nothing to muck up the system here – but each of these quests feels like an evolution of the system. After the disappointment of the Mirkwood quests that many of us experienced, I’m feeling more optimistic about the future of the LoTR LCG based upon this Khazad-dum expansion. Recommended.
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Michael
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Re: Fly you Fools! a solitaire player's review of Khazad-dum
Thanks for the review! Looks like I'll have to spend some more bucks on this game after all. But then, in order to play some elves on their way to Rivendell, I need to get the basic dwarf expansion anyway. I was hoping for a proper balrog card, but this might still be released in the Long Dark or another adventure pack.

Could you answer three questions of mine, please?

- How does Khazad-dum compare in difficulty to the Mirkwood games? E.g. does Flight from Moria feel similarly difficult for solo play to Return to Mirkwood and/ or Dol Guldur which are all at DL 7?

- Are there any sort of restrictions or penalties for creatures (eagles, horses) upon entering certain underground locations?

- What is the advantage of purchasing 2 of the same expansion set?

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Hassan Lopez
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Re: Fly you Fools! a solitaire player's review of Khazad-dum
Zwerg wrote:
Thanks for the review! Looks like I'll have to spend some more bucks on this game after all. But then, in order to play some elves on their way to Rivendell, I need to get the basic dwarf expansion anyway. I was hoping for a proper balrog card, but this might still be released in the Long Dark or another adventure pack.

Could you answer three questions of mine, please?

- How does Khazad-dum compare in difficulty to the Mirkwood games? E.g. does Flight from Moria feel similarly difficult for solo play to Return to Mirkwood and/ or Dol Guldur which are all at DL 7?

- Are there any sort of restrictions or penalties for creatures (eagles, horses) upon entering certain underground locations?

- What is the advantage of purchasing 2 of the same expansion set?



1. I haven't played Return to Mirkwood, so I can't comment. Flight from Moria seems significantly more winnable than Dol Gildur solo, mostly because you aren't forced to play with 2 heroes right off the bat. It's still damn difficult, and I don't expect to win for a long time - but most importantly, it's still fun and interesting to play. Into the Pit seems aptly rated a 5, and the Seventh Level should almost certainly be rated a 5 as well (in my opinion).

2. No, there are no restrictions on creatures or any other card in the underground locations.

3. There is no advantage to purchasing two of this, or any expansion set. You get 3 of each player card. Thank you to FFG for that.
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KD quests is much more harder then Mirkwood cycle. But they are also very interesting and fresh. After you try ans play KD most quests from Mirkwood looks very boring and annoying.
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Jonathan Pickles
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Glaurung2 wrote:
KD quests is much more harder then Mirkwood cycle. But they are also very interesting and fresh. After you try ans play KD most quests from Mirkwood looks very boring and annoying.


They are like that before you play it too
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Rauli Kettunen
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Glaurung2 wrote:
KD quests is much more harder then Mirkwood cycle.


Only completed my rotation of Into the Pit so far, but it was easier than half of the Mirkwood quests (Hunt for Gollum, Journey to Rhosgobel and Return the Mirkwood). Easier too than two (Anduin and Dol Guldur) of the Core Set quests. Seventh Level, which is next, is listed as diff 3 while ItP was diff 5.
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Pawel Gutowski
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The difficulty level can't be really compared. Quests feel different, they are combat focused so if you played decks designed to quest and fight with locations, you will struggle a lot in Khazad. I played rather universal deck during Mirkwood and for me, personally, the difficulty is perfect.

Both Into The Pit and Seventh Level seem manageable but they can steal a win sometimes. They are both slightly harder than Anduin quest for me. You need some different tactics than you used before, so it is a very good thing. There are some existing quests like Marshes , Carrock or Gollum that I simply do not like (they are boring and too easy). Those 2 Khazad quests offer a lot of replayability so it is worth getting them.

Flight From Moria is harder than Carrock (which is one of the easiest solo quests), but is much easier than Dol Guldur or Return to Mirkwood. Sometimes it offers no challenge due to randomness, but sometimes everything may go wrong. Personally, I like this quest because it gives you a nice feel, almost like if you were running away from Balrog.

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Hassan Lopez
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Another thing about difficulty levels:

Difficulty can range drastically depending on how many player cards you are using to deck-build. I assume that FFG rates these scenarios based upon ownership of a single core set + whatever expansion cards are associated with the scenario - but obviously I don't know that. For someone with 2-3 core sets + every other card published, the difficulty of Anduin or Into the Pit or whatever is going to feel very different from someone who's only working with the minimum.
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Rauli Kettunen
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But you can compare difficulty between the quests for you personally, since you probably own the same number of cards (player cards) each time (unless you only bought 1 Core and later added another). I've been using pretty much the same decks since I first put them together, swapped a hero here and there and altered them with each APs cards as they seemed viable (and recently added a fifth deck, but that was mostly made up of leftover cards). So I've played the same decks through Core, Mirkwood and now Into the Pit (with a failed dabble at Osgiliath as well). And it still doesn't account for some of the really baffling printed difficulties, mostly Carrock at 7 is a huge . Other 7s (Return to Mirkwood and Escape from Dol Guldur) pretty much just ate up the decks that were undefeated against Carrock (barely got a win during my six play rotations for each of them).

Cherry-building for each quest would probably turn almost all of them to too easy.
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denny prijadi
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could you beat KD's scenario using only core set decks and heroes?
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Hassan Lopez
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dprijadi wrote:
could you beat KD's scenario using only core set decks and heroes?


Sorry for the late reply! Maybe this answer will be helpful for current readers. No, I don't really think these scenarios are winnable with a single solo hand of core heroes/cards. Maybe 2 decks/hands, but even that seems unlikely. But really - in the core set, only the first scenario was winnable solitaire with only those cards. You kind of need to invest in the system a little to get the most out of it.

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denny prijadi
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severian73 wrote:
dprijadi wrote:
could you beat KD's scenario using only core set decks and heroes?


Sorry for the late reply! Maybe this answer will be helpful for current readers. No, I don't really think these scenarios are winnable with a single solo hand of core heroes/cards. Maybe 2 decks/hands, but even that seems unlikely. But really - in the core set, only the first scenario was winnable solitaire with only those cards. You kind of need to invest in the system a little to get the most out of it.



thank for info

i agree with others here, KD and Dwarrowdelf scenarios are way more fun than SoM cycle... what a great (for dwarf lovers) journey..
 
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