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Subject: Do the expansions help? rss

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John Prewitt
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I've played the base game before and rather enjoyed it, but there were a few things I didn't like: Linearity, lack of variance between plays really. After I beat it once or twice I never struggled again to win because I felt I figured the game out.

Do the Friends & Foes / Sauron expansions add a lot to the game to address these issues? Can they be played together, or does that make it way too hard? Are these two expansions recommended to "beef up" the base game? Can you still play co-op with the Sauron expansion, or does it strictly turn it into a competitive game? Thanks.
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Brad Miller
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Friends and Foes makes it much tougher, and the two "skip able" boards add some strategic decisions. You can add both. Saturn is very hard, but no, it's not co-op then, as someone is Sauron. Using both is really, really, difficult.

I always use Friends and Foes, rarely ever use Sauron.
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Andrew MacLeod
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And when, exactly, are we playing Churchill again?
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And how often do you use the Saturn expansion?
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Richie Freeman
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Windopaene wrote:

I always use Friends and Foes, rarely ever use Sauron.


Ditto. I also really enjoy the challenge that Battlefields adds - but not sure of the consensus on here regarding that.
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Paul Schulzetenberg
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If that's your experience with the base game, Friends and Foes is unlikely to help. It does make the game a bit more challenging, but it's a "more of the same" kind of expansion. Because it's so similar to the base game, it's also the most popular expansion -- players who like the base game almost always like that expansion. In your case, however, it'd be unlikely to address your issues.

Sauron changes the game a lot, and turns a co-op game into a competitive experience with everybody playing against one player. I play with this expansion sometimes, but not frequently, as I don't like to throw new players into it, and usually there's at least one person who's new to the game. In your case, this expansion might address your issues, as it adds a different type of tension that isn't present in the base game.

There's also a third expansion, Battlefields. It ups the complexity. I'll play with this rarely, only as a change of pace. It might address your concerns.

I don't usually play any of the expansions together -- they each increase the difficulty, and all three of them is nearly guaranteed death for the hobbits.

The last thing you can try doing to ramp up the tension is start Sauron lower. With experienced players, you can start Sauron on 9 or even 8, and suddenly you're playing on a knife's edge.
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Paul Bradshaw
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Wow, stretching in to the memory banks for this one. I bought the game back in the day and also purchased FF and Sauron when they came out. As for the former I pretty much always played that as an addition and felt that it added a healthy degree of challenge. I have never been in a position to play it with Sauron, though my understanding has always been that this would add a positive dynamic to any multiple player experience....what with a real thinking enemy rather than a very loosely considered AI one. As far as I can tell the addition of the Sauron expansion would still completely support a positive co-op experience as I simply do not see how one player acting as Sauron would change that.

It's funny in some ways looking back on this game and the whole wider LOTR theme in relation to your enquiries on this game for me. I am 46 and had read the Hobbit by the age of 11 and thoroughly enjoyed it. By the age of 14 I had read the trilogy and was just dumbfounded by the impact that Tolkien's work had on me even at a still young age. I had always hoped (fearing that it would not happen) that a stimulating film version would be made, above and beyond the 70s animated version that already existed. The films were made and elevated a story that was once largely an underground treasure into a very public one. As a BG'er I had purchased in my early teens ICE's LOTR game and their Hobbit based BOT5A and Lonely Mountain efforts. All have their merits and weaknesses, but they do tend to follow a rather dungeons and dragons-esque basic thematic hex to hex experience that was prevalent in 1980s fantasy board games.

Coming back to Knizia's effort, it does not have a particularly high rating on this site and in the ever evolving world of our collective hobby may well seem rightly a game from about 15 years ago in technicality. For me though it's basic co-op struggle lends a more 'Fellowship' based approach to the theme and nature of the game that other LOTR games struggle to replicate. The potential repetition issue may well be more dictated by the numbers you can gather for any given session of this game and is an issue that I am also aware of in my own experience. Nevertheless, I have two young lads growing up and cannot wait until I have these sorts of conversations with them over who plays what and how that changes a game dynamic.

Coming back to the initial post, I do believe that the aforementioned expansions offer enough to the base game experience to be worthy of consideration. The extent to which they do that I think depends on how in to the LOTR theme you are.


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Teeka
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For me, base game + F&F is one of those instances where I feel like I'm playing the 'true base game'. As if at some point they removed some parts to make the base game more accessible. Like you, I found the base game by itself too samey and easy after a few plays.

One of many things I like about F&F is the unique one-off ability card you get for each Hobbit. It adds a little roleplaying aspect I think. More boards / longer game really helped to make it a good game for me as well.

The only thing I thought kindof missed the mark is the 'military victory', where you can also win if you defeat all foes. It's a bit too easy and IMO it feels unthematic.
But there are some good house rules around to fix it a bit (most importantly the added rule from the Lord of the Rings: The Black Gate promo). Or you could just play without the rule entirely, which is what we often do.

I own but have hardly ever played Sauron. I felt like if I couldn't play this game full co-op, I'd rather play a whole different game instead.
I've never played Battlefields as it was never available in my country back in the day.
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GodRob
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While primarily used for killing vampires, a wooden stake to the heart is also highly effective against most other opponents.
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Teeka wrote:
For me, base game + F&F is one of those instances where I feel like I'm playing the 'true base game'. As if at some point they removed some parts to make the base game more accessible.


Based on the numbers shown on the main tracks I think you're exactly right.

Bree (expansion) has numbers 1-10 (starting space has no number)
Moria 10-20
Isengard (expansion) 20-30
Helm's Deep 30-40
Shelob's Lair 40-50
Mordor 50-60

The 10's, 20's, etc. aren't really duplicated since you finish one board on that space and you start on the same number for subsequent boards.
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Teeka
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robertg611 wrote:
Teeka wrote:
For me, base game + F&F is one of those instances where I feel like I'm playing the 'true base game'. As if at some point they removed some parts to make the base game more accessible.


Based on the numbers shown on the main tracks I think you're exactly right.

Ha, I totally forgot about that (it's been a long while since I last played)!
 
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roger cox
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79strat wrote:
I've played the base game before and rather enjoyed it, but there were a few things I didn't like: Linearity, lack of variance between plays really. After I beat it once or twice I never struggled again to win because I felt I figured the game out.

Do the Friends & Foes / Sauron expansions add a lot to the game to address these issues? Can they be played together, or does that make it way too hard? Are these two expansions recommended to "beef up" the base game? Can you still play co-op with the Sauron expansion, or does it strictly turn it into a competitive game? Thanks.


I think expansions ALWAYS help. Co-op games are fine for some, but they aren't my cup of tea and Sauron adds conflict in spades. Battlefields helps as well.
 
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