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The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game» Forums » General

Subject: How to approach deckbuilding vs living game rss

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Sebastian Zarzycki
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So, being sucked in totally, I've obtained all the expansions, adventure packs and saga expansions (no nightmare decks or pods). I'd like to ask those who are playing for long time, how do I deckbuild here, without runing the fun? I'm obviously starting from a different perspective - I have all the cards (everything in at least 3 copies), I have all the scenarios, I can approach whatever I want. However, I've heard some voices, that some scenarios can be ridiculously easy, if you use all card pool for deckbuilding. I love deckbuilding and will definitely optimize the deck to the bone, but then again I still want the challenge. Will it be too easy? Will it still be ok? Is this why Nightmare decks were created - to basically level up the challenge, given the current cardpool? Should I limit myself only the the cards that were available up to that particular scenario?

Additionally, looking at saga expansion leaflets, for instance, in Hobbit, it ends with a cryptic message, saying that you should use thematic decks and not use certain characters, as they were "not around" at the time. This is very vague, as I'm not sure what they try to say here? Is it "build just thematic deck" or "try not to use some uber-strong heroes/allies"? I also found it kind of funny, that "some characters were not around", even if we're talking the 60y span. Most of characters in this game have really long lives - dwarves, elves, heck, even Dunedains. So the argument is really kinda moot :) So how do I approach saga expansions?
 
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David Williams
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OK, regarding your final question regarding thematic decks - I would sum it up as being 'consistent with established Middle Earth lore and history".

The instructions are referring to the fact that The Hobbit takes place long before the events in Lord of the Rings. Aragorn would have been about 8 and living with the elves. Frodo wasn't born. The human characters from LotR were mostly not born yet, and so on. (I may be a bit off on details there but you get the idea!)

Similarly some characters die in the books and so it would not be consistent with that to have them cropping up in events which occurred later.

Another approach to theme is that the deck be self-consistent. For example Dwarves and Elves typically don't get along in LotR, so it may not be very 'thematic' to have a deck which is half dwarves and half elves, or to have a 'Dwarf Deck' using events and attachments like Protector of Lorien, Elf Stone, and so on.

Playing thematically is used by many as a way to artificially re-establish the difficulty of the game, which is clearly diminished if you play early release quests with the current card pool. Another method is to do as you suggest and only use the cards which were released before the expansion that quest is from.

It's really up to you though - do you balk at the idea of a gang of dwarves weilding Elven blades? Would it bother you if Faramir were running around Middle-Earth 20 years before he was born?

Personally I'd go with thematic restrictions rather than using cards in order of release. The disadvantage of that is many people find the sheer number of cards available overwhelming and limiting themselves in that way means they are effectively evolving a deck rather than building it from scratch.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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The cardpool is fairly small by my standards, so there's no problem in there.

I'm still not "convinced". I mean, it's easy to assess which main characters could be there, but for many others, it's just "well... maybe?". What I'm trying to avoid is anticlimatic experience of playing with a highly optimized deck and finding the quests not challenging at all. I suppose, for saga expansions, it's way easier to figure out who are we taking with us. But the regular standard packs? They're not really limited in any way, but I fear that tracking which cards I could use up to that point would be way too cumbersome.
 
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Mr. D
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rattkin wrote:
What I'm trying to avoid is anticlimatic experience of playing with a highly optimized deck and finding the quests not challenging at all.


This is precisely what the Nightmare decks are for.

However, there are a couple of regular quests that are still brutal even with the expanded card pool - specifically Escape from Dol Guldur and Return to Mirkwood. If you can beat those quests solo multiple times, then you definitely need the Nightmare packs.


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David Williams
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rattkin wrote:
I'm still not "convinced". I mean, it's easy to assess which main characters could be there, but for many others, it's just "well... maybe?".


I'm not sure what you're not convinced of? I kinda laid out what people mean by thematic decks - it's entirely up to you how strict you are, and indeed whether you go for theme at all.

It mainly depends how much you are into the lore. There is a definite place in the timeline even for the cycle expansions - for example the core set takes place at a time when Aragorn was trying to track down Gollum. So that gives you some idea which characters you think make sense.

However some of the heroes and allies are completely made up by FFG, so they have no official place in the lore. Your only guide is which pack they appeared in, though I gather recently they have started giving new characters a back story.

Quote:
What I'm trying to avoid is anticlimatic experience of playing with a highly optimized deck and finding the quests not challenging at all. I suppose, for saga expansions, it's way easier to figure out who are we taking with us. But the regular standard packs? They're not really limited in any way, but I fear that tracking which cards I could use up to that point would be way too cumbersome.


I'd say you have 3 main options:

1. Self-imposed thematic restrictions on deckbuilding. For example, create decks you think are consistent with the time at which the event occurs and are self-consistent with themselves - a Gondor deck, a Dwarf deck, Hobbit deck, whatever. Don't use stuff you don't think they would have access t - no dwarves with elf-stones etc. Don't spend ages on it - just chuck it together and try a it.

2. Restrict to the available card pool - workable, but fairly arbitrary.

3. Get the Nightmare packs. I'm pretty sure all of these are at least reasonably challenging, and many are extremely difficult even with a full card pool.


Some of the quests are already pretty difficult and there is still no consensus that a particular deck can handle every quest going. I think if you have notions of making a single deck which lets you blast through every cycle, you are in for a pleasant surprise. The quests are just too different from each other, especially the later cycles with sieges and battles.

But TBH I'm not the best person to advise - I haven't played most of the quests, so I'm speaking based on other people's comments not on personal experience. Try reading some of Tales From the Cards and Hall of Beorn articles, and look at the restrictions they impose on themselves.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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By all means, thanks for the advice. I'm just thinking out loud how to proceed here. I'm well aware that I will have to re-tune my decks. I'm quite into the lore, but the lore here is a bit random and I'm not sure I like the limits it presents. I mean, sure when I go to Khazad Dum, I probably want dwarf deck and/or maybe a Fellowship of the Ring team. But these are arbitrary cards and I'm a bit concerned, that the "thematic restriction" here is mainly for creating an artificial increase in difficulty. On the other hand, I do appreciate the selft contained challenge it presents - "can I make this a viable dward-only deck?". So maybe all is not lost here. But I just wanted to learn the experience of others, possibly those who were in similar situation as me (jumping late into the game).

The lore makes definitely more sense in a thematic adventure story game. While I appreciate it on cards, let's not fool ourselves, after a while, they're more or less reduced to nice artwork sometimes, and just numbers/abilities.
 
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David Williams
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Oh - a few more suggestions instead of having to buy Nightmare:

1. Try to complete an entire cycle with the same heroes and deck.

2. As above, but also damage carries over from one quest to the next. If a hero dies, you must choose a replacement.

3. As for 2 but now allies who get killed cannot be reused (outside of certain card effects perhaps?) and must be replaced for the next quest. This forces you to not only include healing but adjust your deck with an ever-dwindling selection of allies.

4. Heck - why not carry the threat over as well, forcing you to include more threat mitigation methods?


There are probably many, many other ways to make the game harder, but if you did go with option 3 I'm pretty sure there's no danger the game will be too easy throughout. Even the best decks take damage and losses occasionally, especially if reincarnating allies isn't allowed. I suspect option 4 would be virtually impossible, but maybe someone who has tried it can comment?

More experienced players can probably advise on the actual difficulty of achieving the above.

Maybe a good approach is to play them however you like at first - be thematic if you like but it won't really matter if you're not. They might be easy - if so, try option 1, then 2, then 3 and so on. Or some mixture of these suggestions. I would be amazed if option 4 is too easy so there must be a suitable difficulty 'setting' for you somewhere!
 
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David Williams
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Also, the variety of ways the encounter deck tries to screw you is so varied, I don't think there's really any worries that you will design a killer deck 'blind' for every quest. Reliably beating most quests except the very easiest ones generally requires a fairly good knowledge of what that deck might throw at you and you need to include ways to mitigate that.

This is why playing quests sequentially with the same deck is even harder- there are more problems the same deck must overcome. Some quests might be easy with a lot of card draw and allies. The next might actually punish card draw by exhausting your deck, or have ways to kill or render useless all your allies. Some even have rules that certain cards cannot be played. You won't find a way to overcome these without first playing the quests individually a few times.
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Darren Smith
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Orion3T wrote:
1. Try to complete an entire cycle with the same heroes and deck.


This is currently my favourite way to play. I also try to keep it thematic, or at least not so broken that it doesn't make any sense. I don't take the eagles into Moria, for example.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Orion3T wrote:
Also, the variety of ways the encounter deck tries to screw you is so varied, I don't think there's really any worries that you will design a killer deck 'blind' for every quest. Reliably beating most quests except the very easiest ones generally requires a fairly good knowledge of what that deck might throw at you and you need to include ways to mitigate that.

This is why playing quests sequentially with the same deck is even harder- there are more problems the same deck must overcome. Some quests might be easy with a lot of card draw and allies. The next might actually punish card draw by exhausting your deck, or have ways to kill or render useless all your allies. Some even have rules that certain cards cannot be played. You won't find a way to overcome these without first playing the quests individually a few times.


And that is, I guess, what I wanted to hear. Thanks :)
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Sam Cook
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I think the only two kinds of decks that potentially make the game "too easy" are Outlands and to a lesser extent Dwarf decks. Both these are pretty easy to construct and straightforward to play since they just have a ton of allies with boosted stats.

I think a big part of the Lord of the Rings lore that this game taps into is the idea that people from diverse backgrounds come together to stand against a common enemy. When you are building a deck for a certain quest or cycle, I see it as having your own "Council of Elrond" to decide which allies and heroes are going to tackle this threat. So I don't see a deck that combines dwarves and elves to be anti-thematic at all, in fact quite the opposite.
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Chris Gordy
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It also gets to be difficult playing with purely thematic decks (inclusive of heroes that fit the lore) when you are playing 3-4 people as this is 9-12 unique heroes. That said, your deck could be thematic (e.g. dwarfs, elves, Rohan and Gondor) even if it does not fit the theme of the quest that well.
 
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