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The more I think about it, the more it seems like LotR LCG is first and foremost a deck building game. When you lose a scenario, you go and change your deck. When you win a scenario, you move to the next one, which will often require you to change your deck. Or you just change your deck anyway and play the same scenario for a different challenge. There is little point in replaying a scenario with a deck that can easily win it. Basically, it seems like the whole game revolves around making decks and playtesting them over and over. Meaning the emphasis is on the deck building, and playing is just a way to see how well you made your deck, so that you can go and improve it further.

Do you think this is an accurate description of the general purpose of the game? The reason I want to know is that it seem like my fiancee will be okay with making a deck and tweaking it sometimes, but more out of necessity rather than because she would genuinely enjoy spending a lot of her free time analysing the card pool and looking for different ways to build different decks. If playing is there mostly to give you feedback on your deck and provide new deck building challenges, and deck building is what the game is all about, I'm starting to think that this might not be the right type of game for my fiancee's preferred level of commitment to gaming, and we'd be better of sticking to non-customisable games and get something like Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation instead.

Warning: New players and prospective owners. Please note that it has been suggested that a part of my question may be interpreted as an oversimplification of one aspect of the game, which ends up doing a disservice to the actual experience of the game as a whole if taken as truth. Please do not presume I know what I'm talking about, because I don't, and that's precisely why I'm asking people for help on these forums and hope they will correct me if I'm wrong.
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It is a deck-building game in the sense that ALL LCGs/CCGs require the player to build a deck to play the game. In the modern/designer boardgame hobby the term "deck-building game" is used to refer to games like Dominion where the deck-building occurs as part of the gameplay.

But to your point, yes building a deck is a critical part of playing/enjoying this game. In this age of the internet, though, "netdecking" (getting deck lists off of the internet to build) is very easy (you still need to know how to play those decks though).
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I hardly did any deck building, hell, I took pre-made decks off BGG and used those, after buying each new expansion, looked what cards could replace older cards, tweak here, another there, very minor changes at most. Only adding the fifth deck, Dwarf deck, was one I built from scratch. Plus the decks were all general purpose, meaning any two paired up should work.

Doing build a deck, play, rebuild, re-test, rinse repeat for each scenario, would've spent (wasted) way more time working on decks than actually playing the game.
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I enjoy building decks, although I'm not very good at it I really enjoy the theme though when playing the game. It's more than deck building for me. My daughter and her boyfriend enjoy playing a 3-player game with me, they are happy to use the decks I've made up. There is always a strong sense of narrative with each game played. We don't play often, but it works well and we all have fun!1

The confrontation game is a completely different proposition altogether. Whilst it's a fun game, from my point of view, the theme is not at all integral to the game, it feels tacked on, whereas with the card game the theme runs much deeper.

Hope that helps



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I disagree with the assertion that playing is just playtesting your deck. I think that's the case the first few times you play a specific build of a deck, but the scenarios are much more than simple exercises in seeing how good your deck is.

I understand where you're coming from, but you can have a deck specifically built for a certain scenario and still lose. I'm not sure there is any quest that cannot defeat even the best decks if the encounter deck synergizes too well. Especially on the latter quests, you still could likely lose even if you have the best decks playing.

I find the enjoyment of the game lies in playing the cards in your deck in an interesting way to combat the surprises that the encounter deck throws at you. Certain decks may be more predisposed to beating some quests than others, but especially if you're playing multiplayer where each player's deck is doing something different, I think you'd find that you'll get enjoyment out of playing your deck the way you want to play it.

Part of the game is learning how to play your deck as you play the game and thinking about which cards might be better fits for what you want your deck to do than others, but I think the main argument against the "I'm just playtesting over and over" mindset is that the different quests are so varied and so fun that by playing the game, while you are certainly learning about what makes your deck work and what might make it work better, you are also engaged in a battle against the encounter deck that is challenging and rewarding at the same time.

So, long story short, I guess I'd say you get the best of both worlds: as I play I'm usually thinking "what would make this deck perform better / more consistently", but I'm also thinking "man, trying to fight off these huge trolls is fun!"
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My playstyle revolves around building and refining a deck against a few quests. Then, when I'm statisfied, I take that deck against each quest in a cycle.

Winning a quest requires me to understand what the encounter deck can do and how my deck would need to be played to counter that. So I spent a lot of time not-deckbuilding. You can obviously get the same experience as I do without deckbuilding by taking a deck from the internet and then refining your playstyle and knowledge of that deck. Of course that DOES mean losing games, because beating a quest often requires you to 'get it' and know how to play against it, which needs experience if you forego tweaking your deck instead of adjusting your playtstyle.

Of course for beginning players, I feel it takes quite a long time before deckbuilding actually kicks in. You can play through the Mirkwood cycle and Dwarrowdelf cycle without much deckbuilding because there simply isn't much to choose from. Not that many player cards yet.

Ultimately, to get the most of this game, you'll have to collect quite a lot of cards. So if you want to continue playing it after the core set and adding more stuff, you'll be comitted to it if you're on a tight budget. It's not cheap if you want to get the best experience. If you are on a low budget I would rather suggest a few different games so you can switch them up. If you have a higher budget, give the core set a try at least to see if you like the feeling of it.

For me it's the best LotR game out there. I love the feeling of the different quests.

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I think both - building decks and playing them - are about on a level in this game.

Both are necessary and both are (can be) fun.

You can certainly use decks for various scenarios, it's only a few that might require very specific decks to have a chance to beat them.

The basic principles of the game... questing, fighting, etc are still the same in almost all scenarios.

When playing multiplayer, it is a good idea, usually, to specialize in one direction... i.e. be very good at questing with only some fighting power, or the other way around (usually with some Sentinel and Ranged folks). You cannot ignore one of those two main concepts entirely, but with a strong partner deck you can allow for some weakness.

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Sure this is a deck building game. One of the first solo deckbuilders produced. As such this isn't a game where the player card meta changes quickly and requires players to respond to the latest deck. This is a game played against the encounter deck designed by the developers.

This is essentially a solo and coop game and so if you want to make the game easier, then you can and you're not cheating your opponent. Similarly if, like me, you want to play a thematic hobbit deck against a tough scenario. The. You can enjoy the narrative that this great game produces, even when you get your butt handed to you over and over again.

Stop trying to win every time and enjoy the journey.
 
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I think when playing 1 player it is way more the case that your deck needs to be super tight and specialized to the current quest, but with 2 decks you don't have to be quite as careful in deck construction. As long as you have one deck that does combat really well, and one deck that quests really well, you can get through a lot of the scenarios.
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Thanks heaps guys. Sorry if I'm annoying with all these questions, but please trust me that I'm not just wasting your time, but actually trying to make a decision that is important to get right in my particular situation.

gophers79 wrote:
I find the enjoyment of the game lies in playing the cards in your deck in an interesting way to combat the surprises that the encounter deck throws at you.

This. Is it a common experience? That'd be great. Because I was thinking maybe after you've analysed every card in your deck when you were putting it together, there's basically no other interesting way to play your deck, except the specific way you built it for. And so if you want to do something interesting and new, you go and build a new deck.

My partner is probably not going to build decks very often, so it's very important that she can actually enjoy the game a lot by playing her one deck, mostly making some tweaks when she sees a really nice card as we expand our card pool. How realistic is that? Or is it the case that after playing her deck 5-10 times she'll be pretty much done with it and have to change it to keep the game fresh?
 
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I understand how one could think that the scenarios, since the deck is a fixed set of cards, could be repetitive and offer the same experience each time. This is mostly not true, especially as the later scenarios innovate and become more complex and varied. An encounter card can be highly situational, devastating in a certain context but relatively painless in others.

What really makes the play experiences different though is the fact that your player deck, even if it is a fixed set as well, comes under your control fairly randomly. The encounter deck is dealt randomly, your deck is dealt randomly (please spare the arguments about what 'random' is), and then once your cards are in your hand you are making choices and that is where the fun comes. You build the deck that gives you the choices you think are fun to play with (some mixture of sphere strengths, trait archetypes, and card synergies). The encounter deck provides the random situations and context to make decisions in, thus feeling like an adventure.

The first paragraph of the original post is a gross oversimplification of one aspect of the game, which ends up doing a disservice to the actual experience of the game as a whole if taken as truth. I know you haven't played it so I'm not blaming or shaming or anything, I'm just saying that deck building is a potential problem area for new players, but it's far from creating the monotony described.
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For me, the primary 'purpose' of playing the game is the experience of being a part of the adventuring party, single-mindedly focused on completing an urgent, imperative quest in Middle Earth despite insurmountable odds, threats, creatures and all sorts of obstacles and challenges.

I look at the pre-game deck construction as the planning and preparation for the upcoming journey--what are we going to need to help us complete our quest? We don't want to be bogged with with too much weight, so we have to limit the supply we can carry with us. If we fail on our quest, that means we have to rethink our strategy on what we need to best and quickly reach our mission goal, because try again we must. Our quest is that urgent.

Seriously, if this game wasn't this thematically immersive, it would just be playing through the mechanics with the required pre-game deck construction drudgery, which isn't very much fun, and I probably wouldn't even want to play the game.
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HanOfCards wrote:
I understand how one could think that the scenarios, since the deck is a fixed set of cards, could be repetitive and offer the same experience each time. This is mostly not true, especially as the later scenarios innovate and become more complex and varied. An encounter card can be highly situational, devastating in a certain context but relatively painless in others.

What really makes the play experiences different though is the fact that your player deck, even if it is a fixed set as well, comes under your control fairly randomly. The encounter deck is dealt randomly, your deck is dealt randomly (please spare the arguments about what 'random' is), and then once your cards are in your hand you are making choices and that is where the fun comes. You build the deck that gives you the choices you think are fun to play with (some mixture of sphere strengths, trait archetypes, and card synergies). The encounter deck provides the random situations and context to make decisions in, thus feeling like an adventure.

The first paragraph of the original post is a gross oversimplification of one aspect of the game, which ends up doing a disservice to the actual experience of the game as a whole if taken as truth. I know you haven't played it so I'm not blaming or shaming or anything, I'm just saying that deck building is a potential problem area for new players, but it's far from creating the monotony described.

Thanks mate, I completely agree, and I really like what you described. No problems at all with a random draw of the encounter deck creating a puzzle for a random draw of a player deck to try to solve. This is actually exactly what I'm expecting from a good card-based co-op. If you think that the way this is implemented in LotR LCG is fun and makes it a strong puzzle even deck-building completely aside, I sure hope you're right!

Also, I tried to fix your issue with my first paragraph, for yourself and other users. Thanks for being polite about it, I'm sure glad BGG is different from YouTube comment section. Let's keep it that way. thumbsup
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secoAce wrote:
For me, the primary 'purpose' of playing the game is the experience of being a part of the adventuring party, single-mindedly focused on completing an urgent, imperative quest in Middle Earth despite insurmountable odds, threats, creatures and all sorts of obstacles and challenges.

I look at the pre-game deck construction as the planning and preparation for the upcoming journey--what are we going to need to help us complete our quest? We don't want to be bogged with with too much weight, so we have to limit the supply we can carry with us. If we fail on our quest, that means we have to rethink our strategy on what we need to best and quickly reach our mission goal, because try again we must. Our quest is that urgent.


You have just perfectly summed up why I got this game. Like you, I am here to do my job in Middle Earth to the best of my abilities and with the resources I have been given. Which is not a lot yet, just the Core Set and some Action Packs.

At this stage I rely on what others have done before (netdecking), and as time goes on and my experience grows I will add and subtract from those decks as I see fit and am able to.

Both playing the game and building the decks are part of the learning curve. Doing one and not the other would, for me at least, take away from the sense of accomplishment I get out of my travels and immersion in ME. But I accept that this is not the only way to enjoy the game, and certainly for duo play a whole new set of factors comes in to the equation. Being a beginner I don't know how far one can get when limiting the focus on just playing or just deck building.

 
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Th334 wrote:
gophers79 wrote:
I find the enjoyment of the game lies in playing the cards in your deck in an interesting way to combat the surprises that the encounter deck throws at you.

This. Is it a common experience? That'd be great. Because I was thinking maybe after you've analysed every card in your deck when you were putting it together, there's basically no other interesting way to play your deck, except the specific way you built it for. And so if you want to do something interesting and new, you go and build a new deck.


It really depends on what you see as interesting and new. The encounter deck experience differs wildly depending on what comes out in what order, and what is turned into shadow cards, and since you start with just 7 of 50 cards and (barring card draw) only get 1 more card each turn, the cards you see in your hand will also wildly vary, even with the mulligan.

But the heroes will remain the same each time (unless you change them), so it's likely your deck will have a general strategy that remains the same each time. For example, I started with Beorn's Path and the Aragorn/Theoden/Denethor and Eowyn/Thalin/Gimli. I've run those heroes separately (and occasionally together) through all the regular quests through Lost Realm (doing that now) plus the Hobbit saga, and the general strategy is the same for each quest:

Deck 1: Use Theoden's resource to ready Aragorn for possible combat as they quest together, reserve Denethor for scyring (or defense in a pinch). Get a bunch of allies out and boost them with Sword that Was Broken and/or Faramir.

Deck 2: Quest with Eowyn and Thalin, bang Gimli up and turn him into an uber-attacker, use allies for defense. Gimli keeps the board free of enemies, Eowyn can keep the questing moving with a little help from some cheap spirit questers.

But even with the same general strategy, and with a significant number of key cards in the current deck also being present in the decklist I took from Beorn's Path (D1: Miner of Iron Hills [sideboard], Gleowine, Snowbourn Scout, Faramir, Gandalf, Celebrian's Stone, Snaek Attack; D2: Gondorian Spearman, Gandalf, Unexpected Courage, Feint, Quick Strike, Swift Strike, Test of Will, Hasty Stroke, Dwarven Tomb), I still find that the details of how my deck plays varies each time, and the quests certainly do as well.

Aside from swapping a handful of cards in or out of a sideboard (condition removal, threat lowering), I don't bother "building to the quest" at all. Some quests are harder than others, some my general strategy will work better than others. If one deck goes 0/3 but the other deck wins, I go on to the next quest. If they both go 0/3, I play both together against the quest. If that doesn't work, I drop to semi-easy (extra resource at start) and repeat the exercise. If I go 0-9 in semi-easy, I drop to easy and try again. If I go 0-9 in easy mode, I give up on the quest and move on (I've actually only had to go to easy mode on Morgul Vale and Nin-in-Eleph, I think, and haven't gone 0-9 in easy against any quest, though Morgul Vale came close).

Quote:
My partner is probably not going to build decks very often, so it's very important that she can actually enjoy the game a lot by playing her one deck, mostly making some tweaks when she sees a really nice card as we expand our card pool. How realistic is that? Or is it the case that after playing her deck 5-10 times she'll be pretty much done with it and have to change it to keep the game fresh?


Seems realistic to me. Aragorn/Theodred/Denethor have now played against 43 different quests and probably about 90 plays, with only incremental tweaks between any two quests. While I'm looking forward to trying out some new heroes in the future, with a general strategy suited to their particular strengths, I still find the play interesting with my familiar old heroes and victory far from certain.

Now, if you compiled a deck so awesome that it steamrolled everything it played in the same fashion every time, I'd expect that to get old real quick. But it's extremely easy to avoid that fate.
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Th334 wrote:
My partner is probably not going to build decks very often, so it's very important that she can actually enjoy the game a lot by playing her one deck, mostly making some tweaks when she sees a really nice card as we expand our card pool. How realistic is that? Or is it the case that after playing her deck 5-10 times she'll be pretty much done with it and have to change it to keep the game fresh?


There are plenty of decks out there so your partner won't have to faff around much between each game - particularly powerful ones are the Dwarf and Outland decks for example, but there are others. Personally I pre-construct several thematic decks (Rohirrim, Dunedain, Elves etc) for a cycle and then play each of them against each adventure. Each deck is tweaked between each adventure.

I don't find LoTR LCG a boring exercise in deck optimisation, because I find the different scenarios fun in their own ways and can lose myself in each quest. One of the good things about the game as a whole is how different each adventure is and how the locations can seem different (they can also surprise you!) - I think it does that better than the new Warhamer ACG for example.

Hope that helps.
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Th334 wrote:

gophers79 wrote:
I find the enjoyment of the game lies in playing the cards in your deck in an interesting way to combat the surprises that the encounter deck throws at you.

This. Is it a common experience? That'd be great.

...

My partner is probably not going to build decks very often, so it's very important that she can actually enjoy the game a lot by playing her one deck, mostly making some tweaks when she sees a really nice card as we expand our card pool. How realistic is that?


I'm not up for much deck optimization and I don't find that I have too much of a problem without it. I'll play with a deck through a cycle or more with only a swapping of a few cards now and then. I think everyone seeks at some point to make a "one deck to rule them all" and I think it is very possible.

While playing, my deck's strategy runs generally the same, but encounter cards and random draw make each game a challenging puzzle to figure out how to succeed with the parts I have. There are games where key cards get stripped from my hand an I have to figure out how to achieve victory without them.

My wife has been playing through the core set, the Mirkwood cycle, Kazad-dum, and half the Dwarrowdelf cycle with the same deck, except for minor tweaks. It does it's thing very well and she has never felt the need to change it. She might swap a card or two, but it has never needed a complete overhaul.
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xophnog wrote:
My wife has been playing through the core set, the Mirkwood cycle, Kazad-dum, and half the Dwarrowdelf cycle with the same deck, except for minor tweaks. It does it's thing very well and she has never felt the need to change it. She might swap a card or two, but it has never needed a complete overhaul.


I think that some of this (One Deck to Rule...), of course, depends on how much of the card pool you have available or are limiting yourself to.
 
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Thanks everyone. The game is back on the very top of my wishlist.

Another related question. Let's say my fiancee has 1 dual-sphere deck for a while, and let's say it's Tactics/Lore. Whereas I tend to make multiple decks, because I'm enjoying the process. Will the cards/heroes that she's using in her deck limit my ability to make new decks with Tactics and/or Lore spheres in them? And how many cycles in this will become mostly irrelevant and we both can share a sphere?
 
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The only limitation would be that you would not have access to the physical cards that are in your fiancee's deck. So, if you have one core set with two copies of Feint, and they are both in your fiancee's deck, then if you built a Tactics deck you wouldn't be able to have Feint in it because all the copies of that card that you own are in her deck.

You can get around that by proxying those cards (which I'd recommend, since there are certain cards that you'll both want if you're using the same sphere). I have an awful lot of proxied Daeron's Runes, as I have multiple decks built at the same time and want three Daeron's Runes in each deck I run that uses Lore.

The only true limitation is that you won't both be able to have the same unique cards in play at the same time. If you're both running leadership, you can't both have Steward of Gondor out at the same time, if she is running hero Legolas you couldn't play ally Legolas, etc. Note that there are no hard and fast rules around deck construction with multiple uniques, you just cannot have two unique cards of the same name IN PLAY at the same time. (So, you can still have ally Legolas in your deck or in your hand or in your discard pile if your fiancee is playing hero Legolas, but as long as the hero is in play you could not also play the ally).

I would say you can share a sphere whenever as long as you're okay with proxying cards. And your deckbuilding options will expand enormously within a cycle or two. But there will probably always be cards (like Feint in Tactics, Daeron's Runes in Lore, etc.) that aren't unique and that you'll both want to have in your decks.

If you don't want to go to the trouble of proxying (I just use mana from Magic and a little slip of paper saying what the card is), you probably won't have enough good cards to share a sphere until you have Mirkwood and probably Khazad Dum and the cycle (so, two full cycles). At that time you'll probably have enough cards of one sphere that are trying to do two different things that you could build two competent decks that use the same sphere but are trying to do different things.
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gophers79 wrote:
You can get around that by proxying those cards

And if I were to limit myself to not using proxies? Is it still possible for me to have a tri-sphere deck with one shared sphere with another player at some point?
 
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Th334 wrote:
gophers79 wrote:
You can get around that by proxying those cards

And if I were to limit myself to not using proxies? Is it still possible for me to have a tri-sphere deck with one shared sphere with another player at some point?

It's certainly possible. You just won't be able to include staple cards like Feint, Test of Will, or Unexpected Courage in both decks. If anything, it will force you to expand your deckbuilding horizons a bit.

But say, for example, you are running a Dwarf deck and your wife is running a Rohan deck. It would be easy to overlap spheres because you aren't competing for many of the same cards. You'd probably need at least one full cycle to make it really doable.
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Th334 wrote:
gophers79 wrote:
You can get around that by proxying those cards

And if I were to limit myself to not using proxies? Is it still possible for me to have a tri-sphere deck with one shared sphere with another player at some point?


Quote:
If you don't want to go to the trouble of proxying (I just use mana from Magic and a little slip of paper saying what the card is), you probably won't have enough good cards to share a sphere until you have Mirkwood and probably Khazad Dum and the cycle (so, two full cycles). At that time you'll probably have enough cards of one sphere that are trying to do two different things that you could build two competent decks that use the same sphere but are trying to do different things.


If you're just splashing a sphere, you might be able to do it sooner. The key is that your cards from the sphere do something different / fill a different niche than your fiancees cards from that sphere.

If she's doing tactics eagle allies and you're doing tactics dwarves you'll probably be okay. If she's doing all the best tactics allies and you're doing the rest of the tactics allies, you could do that as well but the stuff in your deck probably won't be worth playing that sphere for.

Does that make sense?
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Daniel Merrill
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Overlapping spheres is certainly doable, but the difficulty depends on the size of your card pool. "Splashing" a sphere into another deck will have little trouble, though you will want some way to move resources off the lessor sphere hero. Two decks with major sphere overlap will be very hard in a small card pool. Larger card pools will be easier to do even this, but will require alternatives and creative deckbuilding.

My wife plays a tactics heavy eagles deck (Tactics/Leadership). I can easily play with a leadership deck since that is her minor sphere and I don't have too much overlap. Only as my card pool increases have I been able to contemplate building Tactics/x decks.

With all that, often thematic or archetype considerations prevent overlap. Your mileage may vary.
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John Garrison
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I personally hate deck-building. I'm terrible at it, and by the time I'm done building a deck I'm exhausted and no longer feel like actually playing!

I love browsing through all my player cards and imagining potential decks and synergies and combos, but when it comes down to actually assembling a deck I have no patience, and the results are often horrid and broken.

So, I primarily focus on playing, and mostly use net decks that I slightly modify if I feel up to it.

The downside of this is that I don't get nearly as much benefit out of each expansion. I'm very unlikely to use the player cards unless a deck I find online specifically mentions them. And once I beat the quest with any sort of deck a handful of times I lose most of my interest in the quest.

It's very much reached a point where I get very little play out of any new expansion, and I'm burning through money just trying to get new quests so I have something to do in the game.

I now have a mountain of player cards I never use, and many quests I very rarely play. Oh, every so often I decide to try a new style of deck and will use it on a variety of old quests, which does make them fun again. And sometimes I'll get a nightmare deck to spice up a favorite quest. But overall I don't think I'm getting nearly as much value for my dollar as do those players who enjoy deck-building. Not by a long shot.

Try Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game. The theme/setting is weaker than LotR for sure, but it has many similarities, is overall a fantastic game, and has no deck building at all!
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