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.

Archive for New Player

Recommend
39 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Black Riders review for Core Set players

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
flag msg tools
designer
I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
badge
Metallum ... game I most proud of.
Avatar
Microbadge: Terraforming MarsMicrobadge: Metallum fanMicrobadge: Podcast listenerMicrobadge: Plays Games With FamilyMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek Veteran
NOTE: New players please check first A guide for new LOTR:LCG solo players
NOTE: Alternative buy: Hobbit Saga expansion #1 - review from a core set only player perspective. Can this be the first expansion to buy?

Throughout this article I assume that you have the core set of LOTR:LCG (and nothing more) and that you are a solo player. Additionally I assume that you've played each scenario you have at your disposal at least several times and enjoyed most (say at least 2 out of 3) of those.

Maybe you were a little disappointed by the fact that the game did not refer to LOTR books directly? Are you wondering if you should get some more adventures and player cards? Should you go with this expansion and join Frodo and his hobbit friends embark on the journey that sparked imagination of so many readers/viewers of Lord of the Rings? If so this review is for you.

Two notes:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
1. Methodology: I played each scenario several times with 50 card decks recommended in the rules (which uses just core + black riders cards)
2. It is very hard for me to judge how hard those scenarios are for players that have played this game few dozens of times. With 400+ games under my belt certain strategies, combos and tactical plays are fairly easy to spot and this surely makes scenarios easier to deal with it for me. Please do keep this in mind when reading my comments on the difficulty.
3. I've read some post of a player that tried to do the same as I did and had very little success with the deck from the rules. We were not able to find out why is that ... just a word of caution


New concepts
Easy Mode - this expansion introduces so called easy mode to the game also known as thematic mode (as it allows thematic decks to be successful). It changes two things in the game:
- Your heroes start with extra resource
- Some copies of most deadly cards (marked in new expansions with gold circle) are removed from the encounter deck.
I do not play the easy mode but, man it is something that should have been in the game since day 1 period. There are no strange rules or complex setup but the easy mode really does work great (some players say that additional resource is already big enough boost and they do not take the cards out of encounter deck). If you struggle with the game you can use easy mode without this expansion see here: Easy mode rules

Camping rules I do not want to spoil anything here so I will not go into many details. Let me just say that as you progress you will get good and bad cards that will continue with you to the next scenarios. It works quite good to give the feeling of development ... but I think that it could be done even better.

Scenarios
In general scenarios in this expansion are very thematic and you will see a lot of places and characters that you probably know from the books. So this is a definite plus for many players that are really into the first LOTR book or movie. This also has a surprising drawback you will see very few enemies outside of the titular black riders which makes the scenarios a bit less varied and thus less interesting that they could have been otherwise.

A Shadow of the Past
Will Frodo leave shire in time before the black riders will catch-up with him?
Pros:
- Interesting theme integration
- New hide test mechanics (if you have not played Dead Marches)
Cons:
- A bit tedious/long at times

A Knife in the Dark
Bree and Weathertop
Pros:
- Climactic finale.
- Very thematic
Cons:
- Some nasty treachery cards
- Encounter cards give you some options but one of those is so terrible in solo that you are always left with the other choice
- One card that starts in staging is very hard to deal solo with limited card pool so you will need some very good luck with your initial draws.

Flight to the ford
Frodo is dying ... run to Rivendel.
Pros:
- Time pressure due to Frodo dying
- Climactic finale of the first part of campaign
Cons:
- None really.

Heroes and player cards
Most of the player cards and heroes are tailor made for hobbit deck that with just this cards can be very powerful. Especially in this box due to additional boosts given by additional hobbit hero - Frodo - that you get control of. Only few cards are really usable outside the hobbit deck but those are fairly good.

Hobbit deck can be also quite good in other scenarios under one condition: you need enemies with high say (30+) engagement cost. Unfortunately the developers were not always very diligent when planing older scenarios and some of them are riddled with powerful, low cost enemies that render hobbit deck quite weak. Nevertheless I am giving very high rating on players and hero cards especially for solo players. This is nothing to sneeze at as this is one of the few "solid deck in one box expansions". If not for a very weak spirit hobbit this would be amazing!

Conclusions
Overall let me say that this so far is the best entry point for Core Set players into the game.
Strong points:
- player cards and interesting heroes (even if mostly limited to hobbit decks)
- interesting and mostly beatable scenarios
- easy mode
- solo deck that works included in the rules
Weak points:
- so-so camping integration
- enemies tend to get repetitive (how many times you can kill a Nazgul without getting bored?)

THIS IS THE BOX TO GET if you want to expand your Core Set without spending too much on it. Highly recommended.

Did you try Black Riders with just core+BR cards? What was your experience?
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Mon Apr 20, 2015 12:17 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Hobbit Saga expansion #2 - So you have the core game and #1 Hobbit. Should you buy this expansion?

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
flag msg tools
designer
I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
badge
Metallum ... game I most proud of.
Avatar
Microbadge: Terraforming MarsMicrobadge: Metallum fanMicrobadge: Podcast listenerMicrobadge: Plays Games With FamilyMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek Veteran
NOTE: New players please check first my: A guide for new LOTR:LCG solo players and Hobbit Saga expansion #1 - review from a core set only player perspective. Can this be the first expansion to buy?
NOTE: I stated to write this review long time ago and finished it just recently so please excuse any disjoint tones/styles/informations.

Throughout this article I assume that you have the core set of LOTR:LCG and Hobbit: Under hill and over hill expansion (and nothing more as far as LOTR:LCG goes). Additionally I assume that you played each scenario you have at your disposal at least several times and enjoyed most (say at least 4 out of 6) of those.

Are you itching for some more adventures and player cards? Wondering if you should go the second saga expansion and see Bilbo and his dwarven friends complete their amazing journey? If so this review is for you.

Two notes:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
1. Methodology: I played each scenario several times with 50 card decks composed of two core sets and hobbit box cards. In most cases (except the second scenario for which I have separate discussion) a player owning only one core set and hobbit should be able to construct decks that will perform in a similar way using 35 card limit.
2. It is very hard for me to judge how hard those scenarios are for players that have played this game few dozens of times. With 350+ games under my belt certain strategies, combos and tactical plays are fairly easy to spot and might make scenarios easier to deal with it. Please do keep this in mind when reading my comments on the difficulty.


Scenarios
In general scenarios in this expansion are very unique and interesting. This is both a con and pro - on one hand they are more complicated than more typical ones but on the other hand you are guaranteed to see something new in them. They mostly do seem thematic.

In my comments I will try to give you some general ideas on the scenarios without spoiling main twists which are very fun to discover on your first playthrough.

Flies and Spiders
Will Bilbo and the dwarves be able to survive meeting of poisonous spiders?

Despite the theme similarity this scenario is much different than what we saw in core set in Passage through Mirkwood. The key mechanic in the scenario is venom (spiders and other effects will poison your character which will make them less reliable or could even make them unusable for a while). I will not tell you much more because there is very nice twist during this scenario which I don't want to spoil.

Pros: Interesting poison mechanic, not so difficult in solo.
Cons: Confusing quest cards (see Errata & FAQ). More interesting with more players

The Lonely Mountain
Finally we are approaching the Smaug and his treasures.

I have some bad news about this scenario while it has so many great ideas it also very under-tested. This results in very random and unsatisfying conclusion. While the initial journey toward this finale is interesting with limited card pool you will be forced to skip some interesting parts due to limited willpower of the cards you have.

Pros:
- Interesting ideas
- Interesting treasure getting mechanic with push your luck feel ...
Cons:
- ... but with limited card pool you will not be able to get more than 1-2 treasures anyway (in solo)
- Huge random element in the finale
- Main mechanic (burgle) is a bit confusing


The Battle of Five Armies
Ah the famous battle. How well your heroes will do?

This is by far the most interesting quest. You will see concepts that are quite new to the game (questing with other things than willpower). It does not feel very "battle like" but on the other hands your heros are not regular soldiers or commanders so maybe this is a good thing. I only wish it was a bit less hard at the start/easy near the ned type because otherwise it is great.

Pros:
- Very varied scenario that requires balanced deck (while still being beatle with limited card pool)
- Nonlinear
- Shows some of the best modern (Heirs of Nummenor) mechanics in a friendly manner

Cons:
- Hard at the beginning
- Anticlimactic i.e. easy towards the end

Heores
We have three dwarves and Bard the Bowman (tactics). The latter is pretty weak in solo sadly as his ability only works in multiplayer so we are left with three to consider:
Balin - Leadership - breaks the mold of if you control 5 dwarves then X. He comes with build-in (almost) shadow card cancellation for a resource that does come handy in some brutal shadow ridden scenarios.
Bombur - Lore - counts as two dwarves. That sounds ridiculous. Nevertheless if you consider the main theme of dwarves cards and heroes in hobbit boxes it turns out that he can be very useful when paired properly. Latter in the scenario you will curse that he is nothing more then a resource generator but he can go and speed up your dwarven deck erly which might be critical.
Oin - Spirit - 5 dwarves and he gets +1 ATK and tactics. Seems a bit weak to me but I can see some people using this guy to add a little bit of tactics cards to their Spirit centered decks. So personally I do not like him but your milage may and should vary.

In general I was not too impressed with the heroes here. They have their uses but the first Hobbit box was much better here.

Player cards
Varied lot here. I would divide it into following groups:
1. Dwarves:
- Three unique allies that have nice responses when they enter play while you control 5 dwarves. They are very nice if not for two downsides
a. They are unique
b. Gloin has his hero counterpart
- King under the mountain - amazing card draw (take one out of two cards) if you have leadership and dwarf hero. Autoinclude in this situation.
- To me! O my kinsfolk! - AKA dwarven sneak attack from the discard pile. Very good and again leadership.
2. Ranged
- Three cards and while one of them allows for attacks in staging area for ranged chars in general I would say for solo they are not great.
3. Other
- In general this lot is quite weak and varied. Only ones that I consider worth mentioning:
a. Expert treasure hunter can provide you with very decent if a bit unreliable card draw.
b. Straight shot - discard enemy with zero defence. Although there are not very many of those it can really help in some of the quests. One note to mention it does combo with Bard.

In general I would say that this box does have some very nice cards but nothing too ground breaking. The trick here is that they do nicely round up some holes in your dwarven decks. So if you feel like you are few cards away from great dwarven deck then this box should get you covered. Otherwise, if you got your dwarven fix with the first box ... then player cards in box (and heroes) will disappoint you.

Conclusions
So the question appears
- "I have Core Set and Over Hill and Under Hill, should I invest in the On the Doorstep to continue my LOTR experience or am I to look somewhere else?"
Ahh the dreaded question. One I was constantly asking myself (for the sake of this review) from the moment I opened the expansion's box. What is worse I still am unsure. I did like the scenarios in this one (except the second one) and I think that they would be very interesting (albeit a bit confusing) for players with limited card pool. On the other hand the player cards and heroes left me unimpressed. Ultimately I will answer the above question in the following way:
- "Get second Hobbit box only if at least one (preferably two) of the following is true:
a. You love dwarves and your dwarven decks are almost there, they just need couple of cards to get great.
b. You look more for the scenarios then player cards.
c. You really, really enjoyed the first part of hobbit.
Otherwise look somewhere else (hint: review of Lord of the rings saga nr.1 Black Riders is coming soon) and give this one a pass"

Did you try 2nd hobbit with just core+1st hobbit cards? What was your experience?
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:55 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
37 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Solo player buyers guide (for those that have only the core set)

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
flag msg tools
designer
I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
badge
Metallum ... game I most proud of.
Avatar
Microbadge: Terraforming MarsMicrobadge: Metallum fanMicrobadge: Podcast listenerMicrobadge: Plays Games With FamilyMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek Veteran
This post is in a sense a follow-up to my A guide for new LOTR:LCG solo players article. I assume that you played the core game enough times and you sure that you love the game. You are faced now with one overwhelming problem ... where to go from here? There are so many expansions! What to buy first? Can I pick and choose? If so what I should be getting first? First you might want to check how expansions for LOTR:LCG work (see How expansions for LOTR:LCG work) and when you already know that let us dive-in.

Below I post 3 ways to approach expanding LOTR:LCG. For each I present you with a list of pros and cons and a shopping list (you should stick to the order on the list). I strongly believe that in any case you should not buy multiple expansions (despite the savings on shipping) at the same time. First you should have played scenarios in previous ones at least 7-10 times. Remember you may burn out on the game at some point and without following the previous advice you would be left with expansions that you haven't even played!

My recommended purchase order
Go (mostly) in order of release skipping POD expansions and Nightmare decks.
Pros:
- Scenarios will have the intended difficulty level
- You will play as intended/playtested by FFG
- First expansions are usually easy to get second hand (saving you decent amount of money)
- No need to buy skipped expansion later on when the old cards get a boost due to release of new cards (example: Rohan is getting a lot of new love in the The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – The Voice of Isengard while before they were mostly restricted to first cycle and many of their cards could be considered weak without newer cards to interact with).
- You will get the complete set of player cards

Cons:
- Some of the expansions might be harder to get especially if you want them new (depending on FFG reprints)
- Frustration with difficulty with some of the early scenarios in solo (Escape from Dol Guldur, A journey to Rhosghobel, Return to Mirkwood)
- If you are cult of the new member you might be annoyed by the fact that you are always behind (I am assuming that you will play each scenario at least several times before moving to the next)
- You will be quite close to the full collection which might turn you into collector (which is pricey!)

Shopping list:


Minimalist Route
I feel very strongly that the above is the way to go but since it generates a huge drag on your gaming budget I have another option. This list is designed in such a way to give you maximum "bang for your buck" and in short it states: Buy only the saga expansions, forget about the rest.

Pros:
- Relatively cheap
- Quickly gets you up to speed with some of the current releases (which might be a huge thing for the cult of the new crowd)
- Best "use of your dollar" (as far as this games goes)
- Best if you are only interested in stories directly taken from J.R.R. Tolkien's

Cons:
- You are pretty much stuck with playing 30-35 card decks
- You might be forced into playing easy mode
- You will not be able to get the full experience on some of the scenarios (example: with a limited card pool it is impossible to get more than 1-3 treasurers in Lonely Mountain scenario in second Hobbit box)
- You might get burn out on constantly seeing the same player cards as their variety will be limited (as will your deck building options)
- You will be tempted to buy an AP or two just to get some awesome card (and usually those will contain a scenario that will be unbeatable with your pool of cards so you will paying 15$ for couple of player cards)
- If you decide to get the rest of expansion those might turn out to be too easy with your extended card pool.
- Some of the scenarios might be a bit more tricky to manage (a lot of effects that you need to keep track of) without experience from previous releases.

Shopping list:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Hobbit saga: Over Hill and Under Hill, On the Doorstep
Saga box: The Black Riders (at the point of writing there are no more Saga's available but The Road Darkens should be out soon).

Option: After one or two Hobbit Sagas you could get a Khazad Dum expansion.

Pick and Choose way
This is the way that I bearly recommend because of its flaws (see below) but it might be something that people actually look for because of combination of its pros. Remember that this list (much more than others above) is geared toward solo players and is very subjective.

Pros:
- Not as expensive as complete purchase list
- Decent player card pool
- Decent scenario pool
- Brings you closer to current releases faster

Cons:
- Quite expensive
- Balance will be off (some scenarios will be too easy others too difficult with your card pool)
- Quite a few "dead" player cards (due to the fact that you will be missing some other cards that make them work - uncomplete themes/keyword pool)
- This is probably the most subjective list hence you might find that my recommendation are not ideal for the decks that you want to play.


Shopping list:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
NOTE: expansions in italic can be skipped if on tighter budget
Conflict at the Carrock
A Journey to Rhosgobel
The Dead Marshes
Hobbit saga 1:Over Hill and Under Hill
Return to Mirkwood
Deluxe box: Khazad-dûm
The Watcher in the Water
The Long Dark
Foundations of Stone
Hobbit saga 2: On the Doorstep
Saga box: The Black Riders (at the point of writing there are no more Saga's available but The Road Darkens should be out soon).


So this concludes my buying guide. Please feel free to comment, add your prefered purchase order and/or point out why I am wrong.

Why this post
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Seems to be a bit out of place at the end but I didn't want to interrupt the flow of my advice above. This post was directly inspired by mistakes done in a following buyers guide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_GZgFQ9He4 (those include suggesting to buy expansions that are not playable without having some other boxes). Don't get me wrong I understand why creator made them and what was his intent but I think those are just not acceptable and the video should be updated or at least commented in order to save frustration to people that might follow its advice. I also have seen other buyers guides including: Tales of the cards and Couple vs Cardboard and while I consider both of them great, in my opinion they are not geared toward solo players. That is why I decided to create one that it is optimized for those of us that enjoy playing the game alone.
Twitter Facebook
5 Comments
Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:49 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
26 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

How expansions for LOTR:LCG work

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
flag msg tools
designer
I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
badge
Metallum ... game I most proud of.
Avatar
Microbadge: Terraforming MarsMicrobadge: Metallum fanMicrobadge: Podcast listenerMicrobadge: Plays Games With FamilyMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek Veteran
What I am about to write here will be obvious to any seasoned LOTR:LCG player. The trick is that if you shift your perspective a little bit it turns out that the releases for this game are highly unusual. In fact I am sure that most of new people WILL be confused and might even buy something that they can't use! I myself was surprised by what came in Massing at Osgiliath when I first got it. Here let me give you the tour:

Deluxe expansions
Examples: Khazad-dûm, Heirs of Númenor, The Voice of Isengard
Contents (around 165 cards in total):
- 2 hero cards
- 11-16 player cards (each in 3 copies)
- 3 scenarios
- Encounter cards (several sets)
Remarks
Those boxes are required to play adventure packs (see below) from the cycle that follows them directly. Price wise they tend to cost around the same as two adventure packs which if you do the math is very good as far as new scenarios go but so so if you are looking for more player cards.

Adventure packs
Examples: The Hunt for Gollum, The Blood of Gondor, The Redhorn Gate
Contents (around 60 cards in total):
- 1 hero card
- 9 player cards (each in 3 copies)
- 1 scenario and some of the encounter cards for it (the rest of them is found in corresponding Deluxe Box)
Remarks
Adventure packs (APs) require corresponding (preceding) deluxe box in order to play contained scenario. They are supposed to be released monthly (although this rule is often broken due to other releases for the game) and are linked into so called cycles that consist of 6 adventure packs.

In theory they APs within the cycle are independent of each other but they tend to tell consistent story and the player cards usually have some theme/mechanics that becomes fully developed only when you get all of the expansions from particular cycle. Example: in the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle tactic sphere gets a lot of Eagle allies and boosts for them. Only when you have full cycle the "Eagle deck" becomes a reasonable build.

Saga expansions
Examples: Over Hill and Under Hill, On the Doorstep, The Black Raiders, The Road Darkens
Contents (around 165 cards in total):
- 5 Hero cards (1 is unusable outside of its expansion)*
- 11-14 player cards (1-2 might be unusable outside of its expansion)
- 3 scenarios and encounter cards for it,
- Various number of expansion specific cards (treasures, boon, burdens etc,)
Remarks
Intended to tell the stories directly from Tolkien's books. Those expansions are in a sense separate from the rest of releases and they are playable (and mostly winnable) when combined with just the core game because of that those can be treated as entry points for the expansions for game. Player and hero cards in those tend to be strongly linked to each and work very well when combined although some of them might be much less useful outside of corresponding scenarios. Saga expansions are priced the same as deluxe expansions and seem to be more cost effective (as you get more hero cards in a saga box than in a deluxe box).

Two series can be distinguished here:
Hobbit - finished, consists of two boxes (OHaUH, OtD).
LOTR - one released, second one announced and few more are supposed to follow to tell the story of Lord of the Rings.

*Note: the content of saga boxes is about to change with release of The Road Darkens that will have only 2 heroes (and one will be unusable outside of its scenarios) and only 9 player cards. If FFG continues this with later releases it will make those boxes much less cost effective.


Print on demand expansions
Examples: The Massing at Osgiliath, Battle of Lake-town, The Stone of Erech
Contents (around 45 cards in total):
- 1 scenario and the encounter cards for it
Remarks
No player/hero cards. These scenarios are first released as GenCon exclusives and later you can buy them separately as POD. Cardstock and colors are different than regular cards but you do not have to mix them with regular cards so it's not a problem. Usually scenarios in this expansions are very hard! They cost roughly the same as adventure packs (though tend to be more expensive internationally). This makes them cost ineffective.

Nightmare decks
Examples: Nightmare Deck: Journey Along the Anduin, Nightmare Deck: Conflict at the Carrock, Nightmare Deck: Dungeons Deep and Caverns Dim
Contents (around 20 cards in total):
- Nightmare mode card (modifies the rules for the corresponding old scenario)
- Encounter cards
Remarks
Requires original expansion that introduced the scenario. Those cards are intended to make old scenarios difficult again. Cardstock and colors are different than regular cards and you have to mix them with regular cards encounter cards (sleeving might be required). Two of them cost slightly less than an adventure pack which makes them pricey considering the content and quality (again international buyers might be forced to pay more due to availability).

Game Night Kits
Examples: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Game Night Kit 2013 Season Two, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Game Night Kit 2013 Season One
Contents (around 60 cards in total and various other stuff):
- 3 x Nightmare decks
- Playmat or other accessory
- Rules for organized play
- Poster
Remarks
Those can't be officially bought (but you may come across them on ebay so I am including them here) and are only for retailers. Cards inside of those can be latter obtained as Nightmare decks (see above) and accessories (while nice) are nothing more than collector items. Tend to be very pricey due to their collectible nature and no official distribution.

EDIT: Adjusted price remarks and added a note about saga boxes content thanks to comments by John85.
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Fri Mar 14, 2014 12:04 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
25 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Hobbit Saga expansion #1 - review from a core set only player perspective. Can this be the first expansion to buy?

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
flag msg tools
designer
I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
badge
Metallum ... game I most proud of.
Avatar
Microbadge: Terraforming MarsMicrobadge: Metallum fanMicrobadge: Podcast listenerMicrobadge: Plays Games With FamilyMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek Veteran
NOTE: There is another expansion that I would recommend to get as a first one to buy: Black Riders review for Core Set players (unless you love dwarves but hate hobbits in which case read on )

There are quite a lot of players that do have just a core set and play the game every now and then using original scenarios and possibly some custom ones. The game is perfectly playable this way. Most of those players do not play this often enough to warrant buying monthly expansion packs. Here the hobbit comes into the picture as FFG suggested that this box should be fully playable when combined with just a core set. Is this really the case? If so is it worth to buy it? I will try to answer those questions in this article.

Two notes:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
1. Methodology: I played each scenario with 50 card decks composed from two core sets and hobbit box cards. In most cases (except the third scenario for which I have separate discussion) a player owning only one core set and hobbit should be able to construct decks that will perform in a similar way using 35 card limit.
2. It is very hard for me to judge how hard those scenarios are for players that have played this game few dozens of times. With 250+ games under my belt certain strategies, combos and tactical plays are fairly easy to spot and might make scenarios easier to deal with it. Please do keep this in mind when reading my comments on the difficulty.


We must away, ere break of day
8/10 - In this scenario you will encounter there very nasty enemies and you will need to prepare for this. I think that this scenario is very interesting as it gives you two option to deal with it (path of traveler and path of warrior). It might be hard and interesting trying to figure out how to deal with such tremendous enemies (in a sense of their abilities, not necessary stats). You will need several attempts to discover some of those things so be prepared for some initial beatings.

Getting treasures in this scenario was made much more reliable and frankly more interesting due to latest FAQ/Errata.

Over the Misty Mountains Grim
8/10 - Two very different (but excellent as far as theme goes) challenges await you in this one. Start of this scenario might feel a bit like Journey down the Anduin but the challenges it offers make it very different. You might find that first part of the quest tends to be very hard at times (there are some instant-party-kill card combinations in the encounter deck). Second part should really appeal to you if you like some fair but intensive fighting.

You should use treasures in you deck in this one otherwise you are at a great disadvantage.

Dungeons Deep and Caverns Dim
7/10 - This scenario is very very interesting. Riddle mechanic forces the player to make many interesting choices. Unfortunately I am afraid that core plus hobbit card pool is too limited to deal with this scenario on a fairly regular basis especially that limiting deck size is almost not an option. It will (more often than not) be an exercise in frustration as answering riddles will be hard. In some games you will get very lucky and win easily but most of the time Bilbo will perish. I still think that it will feel close and exciting so I am not totally bashing this scenario.

Heroes
You will get additional hero for each of the spheres which is very good as it will give you more choices no matter which decks you like to play. Three of them are very much oriented towards dwarven decks but your card pool is barely able to make use of that. Beorn could be very handy to initially stabilize the fighting situation on the board (by defending and then attacking) which might be very helpful for some of the scenarios (Anduin comes to mind). Overall I think that heroes in this box alone are far from being worth on its own but they do increase your options and round out the spheres nicely.

Player Cards
You get three cards per sphere (each in 3 copies), new version of Gandalf and one card from Baggins sphere. In general I would say that tactics got the best cards (which is very good as it is the weakest of the spheres in core set). Leadership cards are also nice. Lore and Spirit cards are ok.

It is worth noting that Fili/Kili combination reinforces Spirit/Leadership decks that were fairly strong solo in the core set.

Final Rating:
Here are the greatest strengths of this box:
- Interesting new scenarios extending game life
- Good selection of player cards

Treasure concept linking all three scenarios together is good but a bit weaker than what I expected from it.

Ultimately I think this is good expansion for core only players as it will not only give player new scenarios but also allows for new strategies (dwarves, stronger tactics) for old quests. I would even go as far as to say that is better in this light as those players will not see rehashes of some of the ideas and will probably find scenarios much more fresh and engaging. So if you want to extend the life of LOTR:LCG without spending tons of money on regular adventure packs this box is the way to go (much much better than Khazad Dum in this respect).

How about you? Is this the first expansion that you bought? If so is your opinion similar to mine?
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:00 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
478 
 Thumb up
212
 tip
 Hide

A guide for new LOTR:LCG solo players

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
flag msg tools
designer
I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
badge
Metallum ... game I most proud of.
Avatar
Microbadge: Terraforming MarsMicrobadge: Metallum fanMicrobadge: Podcast listenerMicrobadge: Plays Games With FamilyMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek Veteran
Welcome
First of all welcome to the game. So what is this guide about? Really its just something that I would have loved to read before diving into this game - how to approach it. I made some sections hidden so you could really concentrate on what you might need and read other stuff only if you find it interesting.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Intro - know who I am so you could understand how I am writing this.
I will not be reviewing the game. I assume that if you are reading this you already found several of those (if not look here on BGG) and you are wandering on how to approach this "giant of a game".

Just to be brief. I've had almost no LCG/CCG experience I've known the concept, played few games here or there with pre-constructed decks (3x times Magic, 1x Warhammer Invasion). I was intrigued by this kind of games (as I do like card games in general ex. RFTG, Dominion, Settlers Card Games) but quickly realized that if you do not have a friend that is into them as much as you are pretty much collecting cards not playing them. Here the LOTR:LCG comes into the picture.

I was introduced to this game by a friend. I've enjoyed it very much but got it only few months later. Possibility of solo play really made it for me as I realized that this game will not suffer from the syndrome above, I immediately got really hooked and played the game more than 200 times in under 9 months. I am playing game in order it was released and I am slowly catching up although I am still behind the new releases. All things below are based on my approach and things I've learned by trial and error (or maybe read somewhere).


First things first

One thing that is intimidating about this game is the amount of expansions it has. So my first and most important advice is: Forget about them! You do not need them to enjoy the game.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Core set should be enough for you to enjoy the system and deckbuilding enough to warrant expansions. You might be tempted to get the game and few expansions to save on shipping but to tell the truth I would recommend to get the base game only. There is no guarantee that you will love the game as much as I do so do not risk it. It will also make it easier to follow the advice below without being tempted to go ahead to the new stuff without getting full value from the core set.


Here are first steps that I would recommend:

- Watch the tutorial on FFG website (or here LINK) - it shows the basics and is fun/short enough for you to enjoy and give a general sense on how the game plays that will be helpful in next step.

- Read the rules
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Don't be be intimidated by the amount of rule questions that are here in BGG. Rules are written very clearly and although they might seem like a lot they are not much harder than typical semi-complex board game. Most of the rules questions are about some corner cases that you will not encounter for a long time.


- Download (and preferably print out) this (Universal Head THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE CARD GAME Rules Summary & Reference) Rules Summary & Reference. Read through it and now you are ready for your first game.

- Take Leadership pre-constructed deck from the game and prepare Passage through Mirkwood scenario. Play it. Consult the reference or the rules if you encounter any problems. If you do not find answers just make a ruling and continue. No matter if you win or loose play it again. Try to concentrate on turn flow (either use reference or the one in the rules) see if any new questions will come up and deal with them as before.

Second look

Unless you were unlucky you should have won at least one of the games (if not do not worry and play few more times or carry on). Time to enjoy the next steps in your journey.

- Re-read the rules and check if you were playing correctly

- Play Passage through Mirkwood scenario with pre-constructed Spirit, Lore and Tactics sphere decks. Play at least twice with each deck. You should be able to beat the scenario at least once with Spirit and possibly Lore. With Tactics it might not work!

- Watch fantastic video series "Watch it Played" LINK on LOTR:LCG. Presenter goes through Passage scenario, makes several errors on the way but those are corrected.

Fun and Structure

At this point you should have all the basics down so it is time to explore the game further.

- Visit NinjaDorg's scenarios file page (Ninjadorg's LOTR: LCG scenarios) and download his first scenario The Old Forest. I recommend printing it out on a single sheet (you do not need to cut it)

- Play through the above scenario with few of the decks and see if you can beat it (might be easy or hard depending on your deck and luck)

- Download and print out excellent Clarified Turn Sequence (Clarified Turn Sequence and Quick Reference w/ FAQs) reference. Read it carefully.

- Play Passage scenario two more times with your favorite sphere following each step in the Clarified Turn Sequence reference and observing closely when you can and can't play actions and what effect it has on the game.

- Download Unofficial Comprehensive Card List and Unofficial FAQ (Comprehensive Card List and Unofficial FAQ). It should answer most of the question you might have about particular cards.

Deck building

Now we get to the very important part of the game - deck building.

- Take three favorite heroes from two spheres (I recommend that you choose Theodred, Eowyn and some other hero from either Leadership or Spirit). Take all the cards from chosen spheres add 3 Gandalf cards, go through them and put aside around 20 cards that:
You consider too expensive (cost 5 or higher except Gandalf should be a warning sign)
You consider weak (both in stats and ability)
Always take out all the copies of a card that you consider not so great


- Play through Old Forest Scenario few times with this deck. Observe what works and what does not. After each play you should either:
Remove copies of a card that you find unable to play (even if it sounds awesome)
Add copiers of a card that you removed before but now you see usage for (example: you can add more expensive cards if you see a lot of resources on your heroes that you do not use)
Consider switching out one of the starting heroes for a different one form the two spheres.


On your way

That is pretty much all you need me for but before you go your own way let me give you some advice on how to proceed from here:

Forget about the tournament legal deck "rule". Play with 30 or 35 card decks (it makes deck building with core only more interesting, it lowers the difficulty level) until (and if) you buy few expansions.

What to play next
Spoiler (click to reveal)
- Play second scenario from the core set. Be prepared for though time and do it many times. One hint here: keep your starting threat low and adjust your deck often!

- Play through all other NinjaDorg's scenarios. Those are excellent introduction to the game (see the link above)

- Try some other custom quests. Many of them should be fun (you might try Feonix's one). List of custom scenarios with ratings is kept here (The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - Adventure Database)

- Third scenario of the core set is very hard solo. See for your self why once you have the second scenario (which I consider being one of the best) beten several tiles.


Community
Spoiler (click to reveal)
- Ask rules question if unsure (I recommend BGG forums for LOTR:LCG as best resource, FFG LOTR:LCG forums as a second one). People will answer and help you out but do check out Unofficial Comprehensive Card List and Unofficial FAQ first as it will keep you covered many a times.

- If you feel like it you can read some strategy/deckbuilding articles (look here at BGG for example or check out. I do not recommend reading discussions, session reports on the scenarios that you have not played. I find that feeling of discovering a scenario without prior information tremendously fun. If you played a scenario go ahead and post your thoughts about it. People will jump in most of the time.

- Do not worry that you can't jump into some conversations on-line (as many are about new stuff). There are plenty of people starting from the core set at the similar time as you and more eperienced players are often very patient and even interested in core set discussions.

- Only active podcast (http://cardboardoftherings.com/) is full of spoilers so I only listen to episodes about the adventure packs I've already played but your mileage may vary. I very much recommend now defunct podcast (http://thefellowshipofthecards.com/) that mostly deals with the Tolkien lore in the game.

- Keep a log of your plays - it is fun to look back at that (FFG quest log is ok, BBG record a play functionality is also decent)

- Try to find a friend or two to play it with. The game is even better multiplayer.

- There is a way to play the game on-line. I personally do not do this (as I want to get of the computer in my free time) but you can investigate. You can find video introduction here on BGG in video section.

- Use lotrlcg.com or cardgamedb.com to lookup cards on-line. The second one is tremendous as it has many strategy articles, deckbuilder/deck and many other features. First one is basic and easy to use.

- Do not use decks that you find on-line unless you hate deck building


Expansions
Spoiler (click to reveal)
- Do not buy expansion before you play the base game and custom scenarios many times (personal recommendation at least 40 plays)

- Do not skip expansions if you decide to follow down the rabbit hole. You might be excited about particular part of Middle Earth so you will be tempted to do this but difficulty level of this game rises with each expansion pack so you will be up for frustrating times. Virtually all expansions have at least one good player card and most of the scenarios are very fun.


Thank you for your attention and good luck!

If you found any mistake, have some comments on my recommendations or have your own - please let me know in comments below or in PM.
Twitter Facebook
68 Comments
Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:00 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Introduction to this blog. Who am I and what is my LOTR:LCG experience so far?

Wojtek Wojcik
Poland
Kraków(Cracow)
Malopolska
flag msg tools
designer
I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
badge
Metallum ... game I most proud of.
Avatar
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
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:25 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

Subscribe

Contributors