Lord of the Rings:LCG - reviews and general thoughts

It all started with accepting 100 plays challenge and pledging to comment each play. Soon my thoughts outgrew the BGG comment format and also FFG's forum. I decided to post them in a form of a blog here. In time I got rid of session reports and replaced them with expansions reviews. Enjoy.

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Polish version of LOTR:LCG - current status + future of the game in general

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
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Polish version - current status
Polish publisher of LOTR:LCG, Galakta, announced that it will continue to publish all the expansions for at least the next year (after which they will asses the sales and decide where to go from there). All big box expansions (deluxe + saga) will be published in a regular way at the same time when FFG. Adventure Packs will be published in a POD format i.e. the same way that Gen Con/Nightmare scenarios are printed in English. Galata is also planning to reprint some of out-of-stock APs in this format. POD expansions are at this moment delayed with respect to English version but Galakta already announced that they will try to close in the gap.

So this all a great news for us and most of Polish players are very happy with this solution. One grain of salt in all of this is that expansions are now more expensive (both regular and POD). Again most of the players are ok with this as we treat the increased price as our contribution to keep the game alive in Polish. Initially I was a worried that this will kill the game for the new players (as it was already very expensive for PL standards) but I think that second hand market is saving the day here. Some players drop out and sell their collections so new players are able to buy old expansions cheaper and continue to purchase the new expansions.

POD Quality and future of the game
I have to say that when this plan to move forward was announced I was a bit hesitant. I had only experience with very old POD content (first printing of Massing at Osgiliath) and I considered quality of those cards very poor. Luckily FFG made a lot of progress. The new expansion in POD format are much better. Even if paper is slightly off the difference is marginal and I am ok to mix POD and regular cards in one deck as it is very hard without side by side inspection to distinguish them. I am not totally satisfied with the print it self (image quality for some reason seems much lower) but if FFG continues to improve in this way I should be happy in no time .

One interesting note comes from "Polish" solution to the players worldwide: even if in the future FFG decides to stop publishing the game they can still provide us with new content by printing scenarios in POD format. I am not sure if this would be a good enough reason for FFG to keep the LOTR license but I am optimistic. Even if FFG's will be forced/decides to close the game ... we already see fantastic and huge in scope fan-created content and with POD quality raising ... the game might "live for a long time to come".

Happy gaming and happy Easter (for all that celebrate it).
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Sun Apr 5, 2015 6:00 am
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Five hundred plays and counting ...

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
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So I have not played the game for 4 months (since the end of September last year till the end of February this year). Two main things caused it:
1. I went all-in into organizing the fight for Polish version of LOTR:LCG (you can read more about it here: Fight for Polish version of LOTR:LCG). It was a glorious effort and I am proud that I helped but all the posting, organization and communication did wear me down (and in part the feeling went toward the game itself)
2. Our kid is growing up and he needs more and more attention (and less sleep )

Nevertheless one evening I decided to set the game up again and ... I was hooked like first time I played it. I managed to play the game 70 since then and enjoyed every moment with it. I have to admit I am a bit worried that I will burn out again if I continue to play it so much but on the other hand ... I try to enjoy it as much as possible.

Few days ago I managed to log my 500th play. YAY! I am just enjoying this "milestone".

I will not try to analyze how the game changed in this time but I wanted to give you two points:
Most disappointing thing about the game - the game lost its portability that I really enjoyed when I got into it. In the times of Core Set I was able to take all the cards from two spheres and a scenario into one or two deck boxes and play the game on the go (I was "traveling" then a lot). Now with difficulty level and amount of cards this is not feasible. Even if I can usually fit my deck and a scenario into a deck box (most often but not always, especially with sagas) then I really need a huge selection of cards to be able to tweak my deck. The game has became purely "at home" activity for me. As a follow-up disappointment I will say that the game is a pain to store at this point (so many cards, so many boxes!).

Most exciting thing about the game - its development. So many clever mechanics, interesting themes and super cool experiences. Nate French definitely created a masterpiece with this one ... but what is as much as important is that the developers took it even further and this way created the game that does not stop to amaze me.

For this I salute you all!
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Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:01 pm
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Fight for Polish version of LOTR:LCG

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
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I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
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As you might already know (probably from my post here: Polish version of LOTR:LCG is no more. What does it mean (if anything) for the game?) Galakta - publisher of Polish version of LOTR:LCG announced that they will no longer publish new expansions for the game. As you might expect this announcement was met with quite a disappointment/outcry/rage by the Polish fans. This was letter (mostly) soften by publication of sales figures that were pathetic for the latest expansion to say the least.

Nevertheless the publisher kept talking to the fans that were arguing that many people are still behind the releases (playing old expansions) and many of us were wishing at least for continuation of Saga expansions. Those arguments did not go without the response from Galakta. They gave us 3 weeks to show the mobilization of fans - the goal seemed quite modest: 50 copies of Polish Black Riders sold in the allotted time = Road Darkens PL. I have to say that I was sceptical at first as apart from few declarations on forums of purchases there seemed to be nothing much going on.

There was two things that kept bugging me:
- In the future I would love to play this game with my son ... and Polish version would really make this easier/probable
- Why can't we (fans) do something for the game WE love. It is always publisher that gets the blame but at the end of the day WE are playing this game.
Those two things finally put me over the edge and I proposed (on two main forums for the game) to fund 1/2 of any expansion for one of those that will buy Black Riders PL in the allotted time.

Yes, this started it all for some reason and I was appointed (unofficially) the leader of the action "Save LOTR:LCG PL". Here are the things we were able to do/arrange:

Contest - people that bought the Black Riders during the action were eligible to enter the contests with fabulous prizes:
- Fans founded two expansions one big and one small (so many people declared to pitch in that in the end I had to start declining offers)
- Mariusz Gandzel offered 9 autographed graphics (from our game as well as from a Hobbit game)
- Badger's Nest offered one copy of their new game 7 Ronin
- Polish boardgame shop Tropem gier offered Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill

Media support - Most of Polish boardgame blogs/sites mentioned our action and this way we were able to reach some of the people that only played the core set and convinced them to check out Road Darkens. Two blogs decided to support us all the way and become media sponsors and helped greatly in the running the action, contacting prize sponsors, stores and making the action visible on FB etc. those were: Board Times, Przystanek Planszówka

Articles - Series of articles were written and published at that time promoting the game, Black Riders as "stand alone" expansion, unboxings, reviews of expansions, custom quests/cards etc. Few of them were my own but I was glad that many other fans joined.

Stores support - Many online retailers made a special offers for the expansion lowering its price significantly and thous pushing some undecided buyers to get the game. Some of the most popular game shops had to restock Black Riders once or twice during the action.

All and all we made a huge noise and were able to get the required amount of purchases: Road Darkens will be published in Polish version. This shows that fans of LOTR are a strong bunch despite the lack of tournaments and many people playing only solo. What we need to remember though is to try show our passion and the game to other people - we need new players to keep the game alive.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
One thing though. With all this support behind us and dedication of many fans I am a bit disappointed that we didn't blew through the goal. We made it but not by much and this shows that the game is still not as healthy as I would like at least not in Poland.


As you might expect since I had to throw most of my time on the "Polish front" I was unable to update this blog. I hope to be able to write opinions Against the Shadow some time soon.
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Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:47 pm
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Blog update & 2 years and 400 logged plays of LOTR:LCG

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
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Blog update:
Since my look at the game and my approach towards it evolve overtime I made some little redesign of the blog. It should be mostly invisible to people that occasionally look at the blog but maybe it is worthed to mention for those that subscribe to it.

1. I've changed the categories to reflect the articles that I am writing. Now the blog posts can be effectively divided into:
- General Thoughts - my thoughts on the game's evolution, development and direction it is heading
- Review - reviews of expanions (either bigger boxes or whole cycles)
- New player - this is by far the most popular catgeory. It groups articles, guides and reviews directed toward people that are beginning their adventures with LOTR:LCG
- Updates & Stuff - Mostly stuff directed toward people that follow my blog on more regular basis and some occasional post that do not fit everywhere else.

There is also a now mostly dead category of Session Reports.*

2. I've changed the titles of some of the articles, the name of the blog itself and its description to better reflect the contents. I've also updated the first introductory post for the same reason: Introduction to this blog. Who am I and what is my LOTR:LCG experience so far?

3. * I no longer keep detailed session reports from my playthroughs. Mostly due to the fact that even I rarely looked at those (and they seemed to be least popular posts of mine). I really enjoyed writing them when I first started Item for GeekList "The 100 Play Challenge: In Support of Deeper Exploration of Games (Update: Now with GeekGold!)" . Recently I feel myself mostly drawn towards more general look at the game.

As for plans for the future:
0. Second hobbit saga from new player perspective (article is half written so I hope to finish it soon)
1. By the end of May I should have the review of Against the Shadow Cycle
2. After that I hope to delve into Balck Riders (both from dedicated and new (core only) players)
3. As for more general thoughts I need to put down my thoughts on Nightmare scenarios (for this I will need to play some of them first which is low on my priority list)
4. I am quite eager to organize some event for LOTR:LCG players in my home town. On the other hand I am very limited in my time so this may be only wishful thinking on my part.

Anniversary:
May 2014 will mark second anniversary of playing LOTR:LCG for me. It is also fortunate that nearly at the same time (few days ago) I logged my 400th play of the game.

So based on this I came up with few random statistics that I consider fun:
A. Stats:
- 400 plays, at an average .5h a play, means that I've spent 200 hours that is 8.3 days spent playing the game.
- This also averages to 16 and 2/3 game a month. Hence I am very slowly catching up with FFG (assuming that they would release 18 scenarios i.e. 2 big boxes and 12 APs per year and I am playing each scenario 10 times)

B. I am currently ranked #4 in the number of logged plays on BGG - please check the current standings

C. Here is a graph of my # of plays during particular months:
From gallery of Wojo

See this huge gap between Apr 13 and Jan 14 - this is when we were working almost full time on my game Metallum. If you want to be a game designer be prepared that it will hugely cut down your time playing time (I consider it worthed but be ready for this).

D. As part of my "celebration" I am planing to write the review of the game - both base and as a collectible product. This is huge undertaking for me (as I have to put all my chunks of thoughts together) so do not expect it anytime soon.
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Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:41 pm
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Quick update including second Hobbit box initial impressions

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
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Metallum ... game I most proud of.
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I've been quiet for last two weeks but this does not mean that the blog is dead or anything. Just to keep you up to date what I am up to and not let myself get out without writing anything about the game for too long ... here is "state of things":

1. I am two-thirds into the second Hobbit box. Just to give you an idea of my initial reactions:

a. I like the first scenario - spiders delux. It was a bit confusing at first on how it should be played solo and even the errata was not answering my questions. Once I got it straight though I very much liked it. It has two high points (namely "Captured by spiders" and "Battle with spiders" and because of this it brakes the standard flow of other scenarios which is great.

The scenario is fairly beatable with core + hobbits cards and is also exciting with "up-to-date" card pool. Great job.

b. I do not like the second scenario. The set-up with treasures and lonely mountain is great and I love that you can decide how hard you want it to get. On the other hand the Smaug infinite attacks skill is just too absurd (I've already suffered 9 and 8 attacks in a row in my games). Simply put you can not do anything about it. It feels that you play this wonderful game in the second stage just to go to stage three through random series of card flips you get destroyed (show me a deck that can survive 9 attacks from Smaug) or you get out for free (no burgle on first card).

Additionally it is clear that the Mountain was not tested with one player in mind - 10/12 + number of questers is hard to pull off solo even with pure spirit deck (and good luck in killing Smaug with this deck).

Since the main difficulty lies in random nature of Smaug it is equally hard with full card pool and restricted (core+hobbit boxes). One note though: you would have to be crazy lucky to get all the treasures with restricted card pool. With full card pool it is possible to get all the treasures solo (I've managed to do it twice - but in both cases lost in stage 3 after >5 attacks from Smaug).

c. I am looking forward to playing the battle of 5 armies scenario.

2. As I already mentioned the main reason for slowing down with the blog is the fact that my new game is going to have its premiere this Essen. Hence my "hobby time" is fully booked. I will not write much about Metallum here but please have a look at it here: Metallum. Thanks in advance!

3. I am eager to come back to the Against the Shadow cycle. I like the sagas but "Heris ..." box really wetted my appetite for what else is coming.

4. Because of the above I am not too keen on dwelling into "Black Raiders" yet. Although I am pretty sure this will change once I get my dose of "rear-end" kicking from the encounter deck in "Against the Shadow".

5. "The Voice of Isengard" looks awesome. New doomed mechanic on player cards is GREAT idea. It brings the very thematic concept "power corrupts" in to our game. Very thrilled.

4. At the moment my prediction is that until the end of the month I will not have much to report on LOTR front but hopefully after the Essen fair is over with things will pick up again. Until that time let me know what you are looking forward to in LOTR:LCG!
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Mon Oct 7, 2013 1:36 pm
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Season 2 Game Night Kit - sneak peek

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
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Metallum ... game I most proud of.
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Due to very fortunate turn of events I got a chance to look through the Season 2 Game Night kit for LOTR:LCG. What follows is just a summary of things that caught my eye. I was not able to play any of the nightmare decks so "reviews" of them are just based on quick look at the cards (I am also writing from memory so some things might be off).

Contents of the Game Night Kit
Pamphlets (tournament rules and how to use the game night kit)
Poster
Playmat
Nightmare decks (for Hunt for Gollum, Conflict at the Carrock, A Journey to Rhosgobel)

First impressions of additional components
Poster - It seems to be roughly A3 size (2 x letter size paper). It has the same art as Glamdring treasure card from Hobbit Over and Under Hill. The art looks very nice in larger format and I think it would look nice on one's game cave wall. The poster comes folded so it would require some smoothing before hanging. It is ok, nice addition but nothing to write home about:
Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill


Playmat - It is a wide rectangle made from mousepad-like material. It has the same art as Khazad-Dum expansion box. I have to say that in larger format this art looks even more impressive - it really brings up what Moria once was and is able to evoke both the ave and dread that dwarves might have felt when entering it.
Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Khazad-dûm

Just to test the mat functionality I've lied down some cards on it according to my typical solo play area. I have to the following observations:
- It is very easy to exhaust cards (they rotate easily) and at the same time cards won't slide by them self, they rest in place.
- Width: roughly 3 rows of cards: staging area, cards engaged with a player and single row of player cards.
- Length: I was able to place 7 cards (without cramming them) in a row. This of course means that some allies (and attachments) would have to go to the second row (i.e. below the mat).
- I didn't see much problem with cards "blending" into the background too much.
- It rolls nicely and it should be easy to store/carry
As a whole the mat is very thematic and highly functional. Unfortunately it is just a bit too small to handle my full play area witch deducts half point:

Nightmare decks
Please note that impressions mentioned are based purely on single read through cards. It means that I am only speculating here.

In general each deck comes with 20 cards, one of witch is a quest card that has a constant effect(s).

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT
Hunt for Gollum
Main trick is that now Mordor enemies will guard any clues unclaimed by heroes and if at any point they control 4 or more of them the players loose. As for particular encounter cards I remember three of them (each coming in few copies):
- In this scenario you look through more cards that you put in play. One enemy will enter play when you just "look" at him
- There was a location that would boost defence of Mordor enemies guarding clues.
- Enemy (warg) that summons other Mordor enemies.
The deck didn't seem so hard but of course I might be totally off on this. I have to say that my initial impressions are so-so but the fight for clues might become very interesting so who knows.

Conflict at the Carrock
It seems that this scenario was really reworked and I get the feeling that it will be even better than it was before. There were three main changes:
- If players do not put progress on a quest stage one will be placed there automatically. It means that you will not be able to linger too long in stage 1.
- We got new versions of named trolls. They have there own abilities but now boost other trolls when they are in Victory Display (i.e. dead). This means that a troll will get more dangerous the more others you have killed. I very much like this change because previously the 2 stage worked exactly other way around: it was hard at the begging but once you killed a troll or two it become easier. I like the new flow much, much better.
- Third stage was added with an additional (two headed) troll. His stats were not as impressive by them self (slightly stronger that other named trolls) but you need to remember that at this point you will have many trolls in Victory Display buffing him. Also he becomes more dangerous with more players (attacking current engaged player, engaging next player and attacking him).
As for cards:
- More unnamed trolls (again buffing other trolls when killed)
- Devilish location (Hives or something) that will damage every characters if you put progress on it! Be sure not to travel there unless you have some mass healing available (or Thor's key)!
This seems to be the most interesting quest change. It takes care of the standard way to deal with this quest (lingering in stage 1) but also should make the fight with the trolls more climactic. Very much looking forward to try this out.

A Journey to R.
I remember only one thing about general effect: Athelases from discard pile get shuffled to the encounter deck - which is great as it should make this quest much less random. I am sure there was some bad effect as well but I do not seem to recall it.
Cards:
- Surge, some more surge and even more surge.
- Cards that remove ranger keywords, remove eagle keyword (i.e. prevent you from defending/attacking from "flayer" creature that damage Wilyador)
- Cards that further limit healing (enemy that prevents it totally, attachments that reduces any healing done to 1 HP)
- Some archer enemies that damage Wilyador when in play.
I was not impressed on paper. Although bringing back Athelas to the encounter deck is very nice the amount of surge seemed to be out of control.
END SPOILER ALERT

All in all it is hard to judge those scenarios just from the cards but I have to say that I am very excited to try the new Carrock - it seems that it might become one of my top favorites scenarios in the nightmare version. Other two didn't impress me much.

One additional comment. Since nightmare decks are "print on demand" quality the card stock and the colors are quite different from the regular cards. For standard Gen Con scenarios this is not an issue as they form complete encounter deck but for Nightmare decks it is an issue as you need to mix them with a standard encounter cards fir a particular scenario. FFG suggests sleeving the encounter cards when playing nightmare but I have to say it is a bit annoying.

Final thoughts
In general I was very excited to get a chance to look through the game night kit and I secretly dreamed about getting it but ... after writing this review I am not so hot anymore. Nightmare decks are great way to refresh the old quests and I very much like that not only they address the difficulty but also try to make the quests more enjoyable by getting rid of things that were missed first time around. When judging the Game Night Kit though you have to take into account that you will be able to get those decks later on without any problem so they do not add much value to the kit (well you are getting them earlier). Taking the decks out of the picture you get a mat and a poster. Of the two only the mat seems attractive enough to compel me to try to seek out a Kit but to get it you really need to be on good terms with a gaming shop (officially the kits are not for resale) and probably pay an arm and a leg for it and this makes the mat alone just plain not worthed (especially that it is not ideal). So do not despair that you can't get it at the end of the day you are not missing much.
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Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:05 am
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What is up with the blog and how to rekindle your interest in LOTR:LCG?

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
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I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
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State of the blog

As is the case with many blogs in general mine went to a bit of a dormant state. I am afraid I am not here to say that this is over yet but still I want to provide you with status update and some content.

Main reason for my silence is something that I mentioned (maybe in passing) in one of my posts before, mainly mysterious project that I started to working on. At that time I suggested that it might slow down my writing/playing. Now I can give some details:
Few months ago one of the Polish publishers (Galakta, that also publishes Polish version of LOTR:LCG) announced a boardgame design contest. They called on designers to submit their prototypes for consideration in one of the three categories. As you can see from my badge I do fiddle around with designing games and I even had some of them published. Hence this opportunity was just too good to pass up. Together with my partner in game designing crime ... we've taken out a game that we were working on for several years, polished it some more and sent of.

Our game won (ex-aequo but still) first prize in Science Fiction category and we are working together with the publisher on releasing it in Essen. This of course means tons of playtesting, tweaking and other time consuming activities. As game design is just a hobby for me it basically took over my free time reducing my LOTR:LCG playing down to zero.

At this point I will not promise you that I will soon return to regular posting although there are several post brewing in my mind so something might come up here and there.


Rekindling your interest in LOTR:LCG

The fact that I was not playing the game for a while had a side effect. I caught myself playing some video games when I did get some idle time instead of LOTR:LCG. I realized that probably game designing and testing is only part of the reason why I did not play LOTR for a while. I suspected that I burned out on it a little (I played it like crazy in March). I still felt that I want to play and explore it more, I was following FFG's website for any news about the game ... but I could not get it to the table. I decided to make a concentrated effort to rekindle my interest in the game. Here are some things that worked for me ... maybe you also feel a bit tired with the game but do not consider quitting. Then those "tricks" might prove useful to you:

- Following FFG news - even if at the moment I was not feeling like buying anything new for the game I did follow publisher's site. Even announcements of new products were interesting as FFG is are good at highlighting new mechanics that sparked my imagination. Additionally they do post regular non-product related content (Second breakfast series) which is well written and does give interesting insight into game developer's view of things.

- Lurking around the game forums - I suggest BGG although I mainly followed Polish boards. I've read the posts from people that are excited about the game and I have to say that it can be contagious. Also it is nice to help other people with their rules questions even if I am not up to date with current releases (on the other hand I never was up to date).

- Re-reading the books - I've actually started to listen to the audiobook. It is nice to find inspiration for the cards in the story that the game is based on. It really helped to get back into the theme.

- Organizing your collection - I've finally clearly labeled the card boxes, sorted out encounter cards to the respective expansion boxes. Arranged player cards, sleeved new cards that I have not yet opened. Looking at the artwork I got excited again and making game faster to "access" allowed me to finally play it again.

- Creating a deck - I was still a bit weary of playing but decided to build a deck. It was fun to look through cards from the newest expansion (I git Heirs just before stoping to play the game). Compare them with old favorites (some of card's sleeves do show wear after so many games - yes I am looking at you Test of Will).


All of the above helped me to play Peril in Pelagir yesterday. I have to say that after 3 month break from the game I was a bit shaky on the rules (Universal Head's player aid and Kirk Bauer's timing sequence had to be handy) but surely I got back on the saddle. Now I am hoping that my time does allow me to play some more in the near future. I missed playing LOTR:LCG without even realizing it.

Have you gone through burn-out phase with LOTR:LCG? Do you have any additional tips for me?
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Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:35 pm
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[Cards] Aragorn in his lore role

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
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This is the first article in a new sub-series tagged Interesting Cards. It is intended to have a closer look at a card that I found quite intriguing for whatever reason. I will try to present at least few uses of presented card, possible combos and potential pitfalls. Please note: All discussions I present are in a restricted card pool (namely up to the current expansion I am plying - in this case The Watcher in the water)

Card: Aragorn (The Watcher in the Water)
Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – The Watcher in the Water


It has been quite long since I was excited about a hero card (I guess really since Boromir in Dead Marches, although I do acknowledge that Dain Ironfoot is strong), many of them seem to only make much sense in a multiplayer game (eg.: twin elf brothers). At first glace I was not too thrilled about new version of Aragorn, as I am very weary (ever since Journey down the Anduin) of high threat cost heroes. Soon enough I discovered that his ability to reset threat is very strong especially in a good combination (i.e. with Frodo).

Uses of the card itself
- Strong stats make him useful for almost all tasks (quest, attack and defend)
- High hitpoints should keep him alive and even help with unexpected undefended attack
- Huge threat reduction possibility (as far as high 30s although just below 20 seems more likely)
- Allows you to skip questing few times if you have a big fight coming up, threat gain can be negated by reset later on.

Uses in its sphere
- Lore has few strong attackers at this point so his very useful in this regard
- Lore has (almost) no threat reduction abilities so his ability is a great asset.

Very strong against
- Return to Mirkwood - This scenario is brutal solo due to huge and constant influx of threat. Using lore Aragorn will almost double the amount of turns you have to complete the quest making it much easier as it gives you needed time to prepare at its start.

Card combinations
- Frodo in a Spirit/Lore deck. Such combo inspired this article - Frodo can convert damage into threat that can be latter reduced by Aragorn. This gives you a great option of letting quite a few attacks go undefended provided that they do not happen in one phase (especially that in newer packs undefended attacks are not as deadly as far as shadow effects go). This in turn saves you decent allies that would have to be sacrificed to stop those attacks. After your threat reaches dangerous area of high 40s you reset it and in the mean time you can establish firm supremacy on the table. I had a great success using this strategy in The Watcher in the Water (especially because of the tentacles that can have undefended attacks anyway)

- Combination with Aragorn specific cards if quite weak in my opinion. You will need to play Lore/Leadership or songs as both of Aragorn friendly attachment (Stone and Sword) come from Leadership. This sphere combination is quite difficult to pull off solo (at least for me)
- Cards that rise threat in order to accomplish something (eg. Boromir)

Replaces in your deck
- Threat lowering cards loose a lot of appeal
- Cards that ready all characters after questing (we do not sleep, grim resolve) or reduce penalty for questing unsuccessfully (Ever Onward) as you can usually suffer the threat rise few times to have your characters ready for battle.
- Due to high attack may decrease the need for high cost/high attack allies in Lore heavy deck (together with Glorfindel they can swing for 6 which is very respectable for non-tactics deck)

Pitfalls
- Aragorn with his huge threat cost is secrecy unfriendly despite his ability that seems to support it

What combination have I missed? Or am I putting too much stock in the "new" Aragorn?
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Thu Jan 3, 2013 11:57 am
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Random thoughts about the game in general (player cards, player type, second core set)

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
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I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
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Microbadge: Terraforming MarsMicrobadge: Metallum fanMicrobadge: Podcast listenerMicrobadge: Plays Games With FamilyMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek Veteran
My blog mostly concentrates on session reports and thoughts about the scenarios but from time to time I do make more general observations. I am planning on gathering them in this Editorial sub-series. This first installment collects some of them that appeared through out my comments i promise that in the future I will make those shorter.

So you write about scenarios a lot, how about player cards?

I am curious what other people think but I am starting to think that most of the player cards we get in adventure packs are pretty weak (some frankly useless). This becomes even more of an issue if you are restricted to solo gaming as I am. This is not a huge issue for me as I am more into the new scenarios but still I would like some more interesting cards for underutilized spheres (lore and tactics in my case). I understand that part of an issue comes form the fact that I am only looking to build a single deck that is efficient against a scenario during multiple attempts. Some other players might be more interested just exploring the interactions between their cards and have tons of fun trying various possible combos even if those work only every now and then. Now after typing that I think that maybe the current model is ideal - cards for me (new scenario) and cards for combo players (say that each card means at least one attempt gives 9 attempts which is roughly the same as I am doing). Still I found some post by people that were so disappointed with quality and quantity of new player cards that they've quit playing the game (Khazad Dum contents was a deal breaker for quite a few it seems).

Cards "on paper" might look weaker/stronger then they actually are in a particular deck. Need to try several cards that I consider bad/not worthed and see if they are actually that bad or am I not seeing their full potential.

NOV 2012: This is a main weakness of my exploration of the game. I do not try all new player cards. I concentrate only on the scenarios and most player cards are only seen on paper.

Are you sure that you keep your rules straight?

Discussing the game on Polish message boards I discovered that I was counting my points wrong (starting with round 1 instead of zero and according to the rules you are supposed to tally a round only at its end). I was pretty sure that at this point I had all the rules down and I still discovered something. This is not a big deal as it only affects scoring which is not that important but ... it makes me think. What else am I missing or playing wrong? This is a major drawback of solo game (or if you only play games in the same group) - there is no one to correct you. In other games (CCGs/LCGs especially) you have tournaments, fairly regular plays with different people and that soon enough allows you to discover if you play something incorrectly. There is nothing like that in this game (at least for me) so I am left to hope spotting my mistakes during some discussions at the forums. Mind you I am not interested in the tourneys and even playing this game with others (well I would like to do the former but I don't see me finding time for that) but I think that getting all rules right for this game is important to get the difficulty level planned by the designer. On the positive note - my games are pretty though in most cases so I am satisfied with difficulty anyway even if I am slightly off at some things.

What kind of player am I?

Fantasy Flight prepared a list of players archetypes for this game at some point. They've given them some LOTR names but in short those are:
- Flavor player - builds his deck according to LOTR reality (e.g. will never use Frodo as he was not active/alive during official period of time).
- Combo player - enjoys finding synergies between the cards
- Must win player - enjoys winning and this is most important for him (or goes for the lowest score even at the risk of several losses before getting it).
I find my self in between those categories. I am not a hardcore LOTR fan and I do not care if cards are in accordance to book timeline but I do enjoy the stories that this game tells. I like to find combos and synergies and I am usually quite impressed with them but I do not actively seek/invent them and test them out - I am more of one card at the time guy who is often pleasantly surprised when two cards work in concert. Finally I do construct decks to win but I am more for consistency (high percentage) of wins then about high score or 100% success rate.

Musings on threat.

Threat is an excellent mechanic in this game introducing very hard and interesting choices. Do you go for better heros that will be able to do a lot of cool things latter ... the trade off is that enemies will start pounding at you from the turn one and will most of the time overwhelm you by killing your allies and wounding heroes. Then you are so weakened that treacheries will slowly kill you off unless you are very lucky. On the other hand ... if you choose only weak heroes you will have time to prepare but will lack the strength to take care of the stronger enemies. Of course it all depends on the scenario but as a general observation it seems to be correct.

So is second core set worthed?
Random thoughts:
- Using cards from two core sets gives your ("tournament legal") deck a huge boost.

- I started with merging two sets into a "tournament playable" pool of cards 3 copies of player cards. With two CS I am missing around 12 player (3 or 4 per sphere) cards to complete it. It was nice to obtain more copies of some of my favorite cards (feint, sneak attack come to mind). I felt pretty good getting the game "again" at this point.

- I packed all of the surplus cards, tokens and rules in one of the boxes in order to store them at the bottom of my closet. When I was closing the lid on this second box I saw so many components that I will not get to use and to tell the truth felt disappointed that so many things will be pretty much useless.

- Then the newly constructed card pool went into a "transport" deck box (it should hold close to 200 sleeved cards) followed by encounter cards and tokens (with d10s replacing threat counters). To my great disappointment I discovered that there is no space left in the box. I realized that now my game will not be as portable as it used to be with a single core set and the adventure packs will make it even worse. I am afraid that this will impact amount of plays. I will be hesitant to carry a huge box of cards with me just in case I have some free time to play it (so far it yielded +10 plays so not bad at all).

To sum up I have mixed feelings about the second core set - on one hand I am glad that my card poll increased as it makes deck building more interesting. On the other hand I feel that there is a great waste of space, cards and value here. This solves the problem of the third core set - I will not be getting it.

NOV 2012: After so many more plays I do think about getting missing cards. I will not buy the whole set though (even used) I want to find someone to share it with (preferebly a person who plays with more players and does not care about single cards but does want the extra cards, tokens etc.
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Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:08 am
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Introduction to this blog. Who am I and what is my LOTR:LCG experience so far?

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
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I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
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Metallum ... game I most proud of.
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Microbadge: Terraforming MarsMicrobadge: Metallum fanMicrobadge: Podcast listenerMicrobadge: Plays Games With FamilyMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek Veteran
NOTE: This post will be occasionally revisited and updated. As I play the game more and more my view on it changes and so changes this blog. I will try to make this post relevant.

First of all let me start by saying 'hello'. IMPORTANT NOTE: I am a gamer from Poland so please excuse many grammatical mistakes that I will surely make in my posts.

Goal
This blog contains mostly reviews and my general thoughts about The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game as per its title. I also try to be helpful for new players so I write articles that are dedicated for those that are just starting with the game. Occasionally I also include some articles that do not fit any of this categories but I keep it relevant for LOTR:LCG.

Because of this I have few tags/categories that you might use to get to the content you might be interested:
New player: /blogcategory/2828/new-player
General thoughts: /blogcategory/1325/general-thoughts
Reviews: /blogcategory/2826/review
Updates & Stuff: /blogcategory/2827/updates-stuff

NOTE: I do not have any kind of regular release schedule for my articles they show up when I have something interesting (at least for myself) to write. If you are interested in what I have to say consider subscribing.

How do I approach the game?
1. I play the game exclusively solo (never simulating two players)
2. I play the game mostly in the order of release (I do skip many of PODs and occasionally will finish a cycle before jumping into Saga that was released in the middle of APs).
3. My personal goal is to play each scenario at least 10 times before moving to the next one.
4. I adhere to the rules to the best of my abilities. Occasionally will allow myself to use a card that I forgot to play (in the same round) provided it wouldn't change anything.

How this blog started?
My deeper look at the game started with the 100 play challenge:
I saw a geeklist on BGG - The 100 Play Challenge: In Support of Deeper Exploration of Games (Update: Now with GeekGold!) - that asked for players to pledge to play a game 100 times and write down thoughts/comments about each play and the chosen game in general. I decided to join the fun with LOTR:LCG as my game of choice. It is quite interesting to me to see how my perspective on the game changes as I play the new scenarios and expand the card pool at my disposal. Posting comments forced me to look at the game experience from a more analytic point of view.

That is why in my first posts you will find session reports detailing my playthrough and thoughts about a particular scenarios and the whole game. In time I found that session reports itself were becoming less and less interesting (even I stopped looking at the old ones). Slowly those were replaced with my reviews of the scenarios and player cards.

I also observed that there is a huge demand for guides for new players that is why I started a series of articles for those that begin their time in LOTR:LCG.

My (analog) gaming background:
- Gamed a lot in my childhood (Chess, Checkers, Polish Monopoly clones, Talisman, Fury of Dracula etc.) mainly with my brother
- Had a long break in tabletop gaming as I went to high school and to college/university
- Got back into it while staying in the Netherlands (mostly eurogames but also A Game of Thrones, Warrior Knights)
- I came back to Poland and expanded my collection, started my own gaming group (which is still meeting bi-weekly and is highly competitive)
- My wife enjoys gaming so we play two player often.

My LOTR:LCG experiences and collection:
- Played LOTR: LCG with a friend at the end of 2011 and was intrigued
- In May 2012 got my own core set and played it more than 50 times. Later I traded for the second core set and two expansions.
- Slowly I was getting more and more expansions.
- I completed 100 plays challenge and the end of October 2012.
- I failed to convince my wife to play the game. She is not very big on fantasy, card games and co-ops so it was not surprising.
- As of today: I have everything that was released except Voice of Isengard and several PODs. At the moment I am playing through the Against the Shadow cycle


Some stats:
1. Currently I've logged almost 400 plays of LOTR:LCG
2. My most popular post: A guide for new LOTR:LCG solo players - almost 100 thumbs, one of the most popular blog posts in 2013 on BGG.
3. I've written almost 50 posts on this blog
4. May 2014 will mark two years with LOTR:LCG for me
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Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:25 am
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