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.
 Thumb up

Khazad-dum scenario 1 - Into the Pit - Warm welcome in the mines of Moria?

Wojtek Wojcik
flag msg tools
Board Game Designer
I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
Metallum ... game I most proud of.
Microbadge: Terraforming MarsMicrobadge: Metallum fanMicrobadge: Podcast listenerMicrobadge: Plays Games With FamilyMicrobadge: 15 Year Geek Veteran
Here is a compilation of my comments on the scenario, note that they were made some time ago and I have not edited them much so they tell a story of how my view point changed (but my current opinion may differ). They are presented chronologically in each section.

[Session Reports]

Date: 29 Oct 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 5 times - Won, lost twice, tweaked my deck and won twice

First play seemed like doomed cause from the start ... on the very first card from encounter deck (sudden pitfall?) I lost Frodo. I decided to carry on just to get a feel for the scenario. It was though but slowly my fellowship grew and despite missing the hero I was making a progress. I was a bit scared when the second scenario card instructed me to look for Patrol Leader but he seemed fairly harmless and the boon of discarding new enemies drawn from the encounter deck solidified this felling. Sure enough it was not so ... his swing killed one of my Northern Trackers (with a little help from shadow card) and my killing attack was canceled by his ability. I calculated my chances and saw that I will not be able to kill him in one go next time around as one of my attackers would have to stand down to defend. Two swings in turn meant two chances that some damage will be be cancelled. Luckily for me I draw Gandalf and with his help I was able to kill the orc (no cancel this time). Last stage surprised me again with no resources generation but Theodred skill helped me to get few crucial cards out and I won. I was about to declare the scenario easy (well wining with only two heroes from the start made me fell confident) when next to plays happened:

First loss was due to the threat dial exploding ... treacheries and enemies kept my team down to only heroes and the amount of damage that had to be converted by Frodo to threat soon enough put me into high 40s. At the same time locations kept piling up (I was unwilling to explore Zigil Shaft using its threat raising ability and unable to overcome it in the staging area) and I made no progress ... 50 was reached soon enough.

Second one was lost by enemies chopping my team into pieces. I told you about the boon of discarding enemies in stage two? Well it turns out that enemies can show up from shadow effects as well - I had 3 goblin swordsman show up this way and this combined with Patrol Leader resistance to damage ...

After those two tries I spotted 2 cards that were littering my deck (song of kings and dunedain mark) so I replaced them with more useful stuff (added 2 more copies of Elfhelm, 3x Zigil Miner and Lorien Guide). This made resource demand of my deck more balanced (more spirit cards since I have two heroes from this sphere) and in the evening I made two more attempts and this time was more successful.

I would call this attempt - slow and steady way through the mines. I was able to menage my threat quite well and cancel some nasty shadow cards/treacheries with hasty stroke/strength of will.

Next one was probably my favorite play of this scenario. I would entitle it: "Everything goes well until ...". It was going extremely well I had ton of resources, quite a number of allies in play. I was about to take down the patrol leader when his attack shadow effect killed two of my heroes (Frodo was discarded as a defender and than Theodred had to die as a result of undefended attack). What was even worse damage from my attack was again canceled by Patrol Leader. I was about to quit ... but for the last time I looked at my hand, the table. I had ton of cards but half of them was unplayable anymore with Theodred gone but I had Gandalf in hand and ton of resources on my last hero (Eowyn had a Steward of Gondor attached). I had last chance ... play Gandalf and instant kill the Leader. It was cancelled of course but this time normal attack went through. Next it was a race to exit (well race up to find the book). Of course enemies started to pop up from the encounter deck and watchful eyes that were placed on Eowyn. Next turn though I was able to complete this very exciting play and congratulate myself on the win and best score despite two dead heroes.

Date: 29 Oct 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 5 times - Won 3 times, lost twice

Last time I went overboard with describing how my plays want so this time I will keep it short.
- Thread exploded (although I kept playing and my final threat level would be 48)
- Enemies overwhelmed me. I had 3 goblin swordsmen (their shadow effect is strong) and Patrol leader engaged at one time. At this point it didn't matter that I had 5 or so allies in my fellowship. I made a mistake here of traveling to Khazad Bridge and was unable to explore it next
I will not comment much here. The deck works quite good although I should consider few more cards that can put progress tokens on locations in the staging area (ex.: replace Zigil Miner with Ridermarch Finest) to be able to move through stage one faster if I do not draw Northern Tracker or Snowburn Scout).

[General Thoughts]

Short thoughts:
- I have a strange felling about this scenario's difficulty. I won it twice despite loosing heroes. I lost it twice despite avoiding the worst treacheries.
- I guess it follows from the fact that in this scenario is very dangerous if you draw too many enemies at the same time. This in turns follows from the shadow effects which are frequent and quite brutal (discard defender) /annoying (cancel damage on this enemy). This makes relatively weak enemies (as Goblin Swordsman) quite powerful and unpredictable at times.
- I want to bash instant kill treacheries (especially sudden pitfall) but due to my experiences I am not ready to do it yet.
- I love some treacheries that force you keep strong guys ready (exhausted hero at the end of combat=another card from the encounter deck, exhaust character and see if he is not strong enough you have to discard him).
All in all I like this scenario even if it is a bit too swingy for my taste.

Here I planned to put my final thoughts on the scenario but it is hard. Why? Because I do not like it so much but I can't seem to pin down why. Maybe bullet list will help:
The Good:
- Excellent and thematic first stage - you need to enter through a gate, visit the first chamber and traverse the bridge.
- Nasty treacheries that you have to take into account when planing your quest phase (ex.: The one that forces you to exhaust a character and by flip of a card check if he dies can be easily avoided by committing all characters but if you get an enemy instead? By a similar token sudden pitfall forces you to send some disposable characters on the quest not to loose your strong quester with same trade off)
The Bad:
- Although the scenario really tries to tell a story of entering the mines, grabbing a goblin and looking for a book for some reason it all feels a bit forcefully put together.
- Nasty, instant kill shadow effects (sudden pitfall, goblin enemies get +3 - they all are, +2 when last player is attacked - I always am solo) ... I can see how to try to deal with nasty treacheries but here there is little you can do against shadow (there is only so many hasty strokes you can draw ... except see final remarks bellow*)
- Stage 3 (and a second one once you get its start under control) are a bit boring to tell the truth. Yeah resource ban at the end seems hard but usualy at this point you do not need much anyway as you racing to the end.

*I wonder if this scenario would play better with lore sphere. I can see several cards that would work great (Denathor, burning brand, Riversong, strider path, forest snare etc.). Especially Denathor's skill could offset some nasty strings of enemies and their deadly shadow effects while spirit would take care of location and questing. Yes I guess it would work better but two of my points of criticism would still stay the same.
Twitter Facebook
Subscribe sub options Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:00 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}