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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Long dark - Will it be really that long and that dark?

Wojtek Wojcik
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Board Game Designer
I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
Metallum ... game I most proud of.
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[Session Report]

Date: 20 Jan 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Aragorn (lore), Frodo (spirit/lore)
Played 10 times - won 9 out of those

Since I played the scenario 10 times in one seating details on particular attempts are a bit hazy so I will only touch on the most memorable moments:
- The one that I lost - The most dangerous card in this encounter set is a location that prevents you from putting progress on it unless you pass an orientation test. In this particular attempt I was very low on cards (spiders!) and didn't even attempt to get rid of it. This meant that I had a huge drag on my questing (-4 at least) and had to use torch often just to avoid total disaster. This combined with 3 huge swings from cave troll (he got nasty shadow effects) that had to be absorbed by Frodo pushed me over 50 (despite that I've already reset my threat with Aragorn). After this attempt I've adjusted my deck by adding more card drawing abilities (wealth of Lorien, Gleowin) for some less useful cards (Protector of Lorien and some healing lore card).
- The one I've almost lost - I was sure that I am location locked but this time I've had enough cards in my hand and was quite lucky with the torch. I was also able to use Riversong combined with Northern Tracker and Twisting Passage is staging to discard nasty cards from the top of the encounter deck. Once I was able to pass the test on Twisting Passage (I've used 5 or so cards) I was in high 40 as far as threat goes (again after already reseting it) but after that I was able to finish the quest.
- After optimizing my deck I was able to win fairly easily and quickly with a consistent results. Most of those attempts were fun despite the fact that I was not particularly threaten by the encounter deck.
- In two of my games I was in serious fighting situation. Almost always Frodo would defend (even twice if equipped with Fast Hitch and boosted by Arwen). I was able to win those fights although I usually has my threat rise quite substantially (Fordo + shadows boosting attack strength).

[General Thoughts]

This was first time ever (since I've decided to play each scenario 10 or more times) to finish one during single long session. As you can gather from this I've really enjoyed my attempts. Here are some random thoughts.
- Orientation test mechanic did work fairly well although was not that threatening in single player mode (few encounter cards in play at the time). I could afford to let the tests fail most of the time as consequences were weak (ex: discard a card, add a card to staging). There were few exceptions:
You need to past the test to get rid of Twisting Passage location which will be a must for most of the decks (unless you can pull enormous will power).
Foul Air can really reduce your party down if you fail the test. Good thing (for my deck) is that you can cancel when raveled effect to ignore it entirely
Goblin Warlord will force you to discard an ally. Can be deadly at the start of the game.

- This scenario forces you to have a good card drawing abilities. Mostly to take care of the above effects. What is fun - spiders put huge drag on your hand forcing you to discard 4 cards!
- Long Dark is fairly easy with one player. Many shadows, encounter cards etc. scale with the numbers of players and tend to be very weak in solo. Also as it is location heavy it is much easier to avoid location lock (especially with the torch).

Overall I did like the quest. It was nice to be able to win fairly easily for a change. This scenario will not be returning to your table very much because of that but this nice casual sort of scenarios that should appear from time to time in adventure packs. It is good occasionally not to worry about every single card in your deck and just go through the adventure and have fun.

What are your opinions on this scenario? Do you like the orientation mechanism? Are my theoretical observations that this is much harder multi-player correct or am I completely wrong here?
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