As I've mention on occasion, I've played LOTR:TCG exclusively monosphere with three other players (my children) over the past couple of years. We've all had a blast, and I've recommended it repeatedly. Further, we only used one core set. When we cracked open an adventure pack, we'd simply divvy up the new cards according to sphere (and haggle over the sphereless ones). Again, this worked very well for us.
Necessity is the mother of invention. It's perhaps also the father of change. Upon tackling the third quest in the Khazad-dum deluxe expansion, we had hit a wall. We simply could progress no further. So we gave deck building a try.
That helped, but it wasn't enough. So I broke down and picked up a second Core set for some needed reinforcements - more Gandalfs, more weapons, etc. First time out of the gate with all these additional cards, we prevailed against the final Khazad-dum quest last night.
A lot has been written about deck-building, and I'm not going to repeat everything here. While they're still fresh, however, I would like to share my initial impressions.
The first question for me was: what heroes to go with? Since we play monosphere, that certainly narrows things. Nevertheless, knowing who your heroes are can influence the cards you'll select for your deck - especially attachments, for example, which are sometimes limited in to whom they can be attached. Further, one's heroes also set forth a constant presence throughout the game (unless they're killed!) that one's deck can either reinforce or complement. I suggest you attempt to do both: select cards that take advantage of your heroes' abilities, while at the same time rounding out your heroes' deficiencies to the extent possible.
Our decks had become quite bloated - perhaps nearly 80-90 cards per player. Over the course of a given game, we typically draw no more than 20 cards per player. This means that there's less than a 25% chance that any given card will be drawn (that increases, of course, with multiple copies of the same card).
Reducing one's hand to the recommend size of 50 cards has a dramatic effect. From the get-go, one's first draw will be impressive. And that continues throughout the game.
Weeding out cards to get down to 50 is quite difficult, however. I think virtually every card I own is a good one. I found it a brutal process to say goodbye to cards with which I've traveled for over two years!
To guide me, I asked this simple question for each card: is this one of the best 50 cards I have for this particular quest?
So, I laid all my cards out on the table, and separated them into two basic piles: "absolutely essential" and "not absolutely essential". The "absolutely essential" pile filled up about half my deck. With the remaining cards, I laid them out again into two piles: "more critical" and "less critical", and so forth. I finally had my 50 cards.
Then I went back and considered the deck's overall balance. Did I have too many costly cards, and not enough cheap (1 or 2 resource) cards? If so, I'd swap a few out.
In doing so, I revised my initial question as follows: is this one of the best 50 cards I have for this particular quest GIVEN THE OTHER CARDS THAT ARE ALREADY IN THE DECK?
As others have wrote, multiple cards can serve the same function. 50 great cards that all do the same thing (e.g., defend well) does not a balanced deck make. So, you need to make sure you have cards to cover your multiple needs in the game.
Once you've done that, another question arises. Imagine if you have 12 cards in total (including multiple copes) that all will serve you well in combat. Do you simply take 3 copies of your favorite 4 cards? 2 copies of 6 cards? Or perhaps 1 copy of 12 different cards? Here's how I approached that question.
No two cards are perfectly identical. Each differs somewhat, however slightly. These nuances could come in very handy in particular situations. As such, I leaned toward card diversity. I tended not to include 3 of each card (unless it was head-and-shoulders better than all others), but rather 1 or 2 of each card. My logic was that so long as I had a critical mass of cards "like this one" I'd have my bases covered, as indicated earlier. I liked the diversity that selecting 2 copies of 6 similar cards gives me over 3 copies of 4 identical cards because one never knows when a card's particular nuance will come in handy in a given situation. I wanted to give myself a chance, at least, of having the exact right card in my hand at the right time.
If you're playing with others, a consideration must be how they're constructing their decks. I play Spirit, so I made it very clear that I'd contribute very little in terms of combat. Indeed, the best I expected to hope for is to defend myself until someone with ranged characters can help me out! My focus would be on countering treacheries and questing. I'd be the laboring oar on those fronts.
CUSTOMIZE PER ADVENTURE
I think some players try to build the best possible well-rounded deck. I have decided not to. As mentioned, I'm part of a team, and that affects my choices.
Further, I fully expect to tweak (not overhaul, however) my deck for each new adventure pack. I imagine that this is what most folks do in response to the challenges that a new adventure pack throws at them.
I won't know that until I've played the new adventure a few times. I don't study the new encounter decks ahead of time. I like to be surprised. So my old deck will try its best for a few games. Based on those experiences I may swap out some cards in the deck for others that I've kept out on the sidelines.
What will be a challenge, undoubtedly, is fitting in new cards for my sphere as they become available. I'm pretty happy with my deck right now - and am still basking in the glory of its success (it's batting 1 for 1!). As I rip open a new adventure pack, and am offered new cards for my deck, I'll have to give something up to fit them in. I think that will be very difficult to do. I look forward to and dread that at the same time!
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
I now appreciate the attraction of deck-building. It's an entirely new dimension of the game that I had previously ignored. It's quite a challenging undertaking, but one that really stresses an individual's ability to plan, strategize, and think creatively. And there's simply something very fun about putting together your own deck for a given adventure. With my children / team-mates each a couple of years older, they're, fortuitously, ready to take on this challenge as well (albeit with some assistance).
There's no going back!
- Last edited Fri Sep 4, 2015 7:25 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Fri Sep 4, 2015 1:13 pm
Next stop: Dualsphere!
Nice read! Glad you found the joy of building your own decks; it really is half of the game.
Weeding out cards to get down to 50 is quite difficult, however. I found it a brutal process to say goodbye to cards with which I've traveled for over two years!
So, totally, know what you mean.
Thank you. I don't think that will take two more years.
We now have a robust assortment of spare cards to choose from, and some are very tempting!
- Last edited Fri Sep 4, 2015 4:39 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Sep 4, 2015 3:32 pm
Welcome to the game outside of the actual game.
Nice description of what it means to grok this game. Have some GG.
I too grew to appreciate and understand deck construction with LotR:TCG.
It's speaks to the depth of the game that the base game, while still difficult, provides a very approachable introduction to the game. And when you become familiar with the game, mechanics, and cards, confidence and necessity lures you into developing more complex strategies and card combinations to meet the ever increasing challenges of new adventures.
I love this game!