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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Keywords and game concepts - LOTR:LCG development in review.

Wojtek Wojcik
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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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Today let me do something slightly different - I usually tend to look at a specific expansions and try to review them separately. This time I want to make some more "cross section" observations. I decided to look at current development of more important keywords and two of the game concepts. I have to say that I am very curious what other people think about those keywords/concepts - please feel free to comment.

Keywords


Eagles -
Eagles was one of the first keywords explored by FFG. I have to say that I was not impressed when I was unpacking first adventure packs. Tactics was almost a dead sphere in solo at this point ... but now ... Let me tell you eagles are quite strong and despite the fact that synergies are not as great as I would like them this keyword still has some very fun and useful things in stock (Vassal of the Windlord in battle quests turns from ok to GREAT!!!). The only thing that is a bit negative is that we have not seen any eagle development since the first cycle and if this continues ... they might become obsolete.

Rohan -
I am of two minds on Rohan keyword. On one hand it has a great mixture of allies and events that has some nice synergies and we see new Rohan cards from time to time. It also seems that we should be getting more Rohan in the next (Saruman Voice) deluxe expansion. So with all of that, why do I give it only an average rating? It is because for me as a solo player this keyword is just too single purpose: quest and explore locations. This is too limited for solo but great for multiplayer. That said I still have high hopes for Rohan as appearance of Tactics Hamma can signify that we will see more fighting horse lords. This promises a great solo Rohan deck combining great questing with great fighting.

Dwarf -
Can I say anything new about dwarves? No I do don't think so. This keyword has so many great allies, events, attachments and synergies that it dwarves (sorry for a poor pun) every other keyword. My only complaint is that huge amount of "dwarven stuff" slowed development of other keywords.

Noldor/Silvan -
And here for some controversy. The winners for the worst keyword are elves. Mind you, there are some tremendous Noldor/Silvan cards, some of them are up there in top cards ever but the synergies are almost non-existent (one card for Silvan?). What is even worse for elvish folk is that none of the announcements made by FFG suggests much improvement in foreseeable future.


Currently under development so I am not ready to give my rating yet:
Gondor - very promising
There are quite a few heroes/allies with a Gondor trait and there some cards that only work (or are better when played on) Gondor characters. So what this card pool needs is some more cards that will bind the them together (effects for all Gondor characters, cards courting other Gondor chars). I am predicting that once such cards will appear we will see Gondor as strong as Dwarves - this the one to watch! BTW: I do not like citadel custodian card but I like the way his ability is intended I hope to see more chars like this in the future)

Outlands - very interesting
This a tough one to judge. Those cards are all about synergy - i.e. in group they can be crazy powerful and on their own they are laughable. At first I was quite sure that those guys will only work in multi-player but with Hirluin and secrecy ... I saw some people using it with great efficiency but at this point it seems that this deck would be too luck dependent for my taste. Please also observe that this is a smallest set of cards that deserved a space on this list.


Hobbit - not too thrilled about it
This is almost pure speculation at this point but for some reason I see hobbits more as an individuals with very unusual skills (that is why I love Frodo) than a cooperating group. Of course this is just my bias. One thing that I still want hobbits to have - very unique abilities. I just do not want them to have "if you control at least X hobbits" type skills. FFG already did that for dwarves so I want something new.

Game concepts:


Secrecy -
When I was starting to write this article I was about to declare it dead as a game concept. We haven't seen any cards boosting it since the Dwarrowdelf cycle. On paper idea of smaller fellowships gaining some bonuses sounded great but it never materialized completely*. There are some tremendous cards in secrecy mode ... but as a whole it is not quite there because:
- most of the secrecy cards are dead outside secrecy mode i.e. if game pushes you over 20 ... halof of your cards are useless
- only one or two of secrecy cards are worthed the hidden price you have to pay for them i.e. one or two less heroes in your team
So why is not dead yet? See outlands section above.
* One note here. It would be much better if secrecy = you control one (two?) heroes. In this way it would not only be more reliable than 20 threat but also one could imagine very intense climactic game ends when you are down to one hero but due to secrecy power he can really do some awesome things.

Battle/Siege -
This is, in my opinion, the only major game concept introduced since the game was released. Yes, there were quite a few others introduced for particular scenarios and some of them were brilliant (separating players in FoS, Cardahras in Redhorn Gate) but none of them shares amazing simplicity that has tremendous effect on game play with battle/siege. I am waiting for this one to be extended to combat (i.e. enemies that can be only attacked/defended via willpower and/or progress tokens) and explored for expansions to come!

As I said before I am very curious on how do you feel about various new game mechanisms and keyowrds? Did I miss something important in my recap?
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