Jonathan Straw
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Hullo. This is my first post here. Well met, everyone.

My wife and I play LotR:LCG together, and because the game is a bit more challenging than she would care for, we've been playing by some house rules to make it feel more balanced in her eyes. Me being a professional game designer, I had fun tweaking the experience for her.

We've just purchased all the expansion sets for the first cycle, so now we're getting into the possibility of playing in campaign mode.

Anyway, here are the variant rules I've come up with so far that we've been playing by. I'd love to hear feedback and suggestions... and of course, you're welcome to steal any of my ideas for your own games.

We actually play with four starting heroes each, per my wife's request, so that's the first house rule we use that reduces the overall challenge.

Extra Heroes-- Spare Heroes are shuffled into the decks. They are purchased into play like Allies as neutral cards for half their threat cost, rounded up. Once in play, they assume their printed sphere of influence and start generating resources at the beginning of the following round.

Staging Phase--
--Draw one additional encounter card for Sauron. (I insisted)
--If a duplicate land is revealed, stack it on the existing land. Each stacked land increases the threat and quest cost by +1. Stacked lands still count as one land in the staging or quest area for other card text. [edit]Also: the duplicate land gains a surge effect.[/edit]
My wife and I HATE land locking.

Encounter Phase--
--Enemy Forced actions that are triggered by engagements now only trigger if they engage a player due to an Engagement Check. (Players can nullify these effects by taking the initiative with their engagement option.)
My wife felt that the wording of these actions should be affected by whoever initiates an engagement. I agreed... we like the change.

Melee Mechanics--
--When an enemy becomes engaged with a player, they can be locked into a Melee with one of the player's character cards. When an enemy becomes engaged, an unexhausted character can be assigned to the unopposed anemy to lock them in Melee.
--Characters locked in Melee...
---...do not exhaust from attack or defend actions.
---...only attack or defend against the enemy with whom they are locked in Melee (so long as they are not exhausted-- which can happen from treachery and shadow effects.)
---...can take no other actions during any phase other than the Combat Phase.
---...can not participate in questing.
---...resumes normal play rules once his opponent is defeated.
--Non-locked characters can assist in defending and attacking as normal, exhausting to add their attack or defend value to the Melee character's total. Assisting characters exhaust when they take an attack or defend action.
This came about because my wife felt it was unfair that enemies could attack AND defend every combat round, but epic heroes could only do one or the other.

I'm always thinking about how to improve these rules. I kind of think that only Heroes should be able to engage in Melee, but my wife points to strong allies and says they should be able to Melee, too. To avoid making things confusing, I insisted we pick one or the other... either just Heroes, or ALL characters can Melee. Currently, we do all characters. What do you think?

Also, I was thinking that maybe Heroes in melee don't generate resources... and so far, floods of enemies tie up our characters nicely. It'd be interesting to vanquish a few enemies and have this glut of cards in our hands to start playing.

...

Since we're going to begin playing campaign style games now, I took a few rules from you fine folks and amalgamated our custom campaign rules to try.

We've always randomly picked two influences and two heroes from each influence, then shuffled our influence decks with two Gandalfs in each.

With the expansions, I'm thinking that we'll set up as follows:
--Make a pile for each influence non-hero cards.
--Deal all heroes randomly to each player. Players choose their starting 3 or 4 heroes from this deal, then the remaining are added to a pile of neutral cards and shuffled.
--Deal the neutral cards and spare heroes into 4 piles of 5 cards. Set the rest aside.
--Add 1 Gandalf to each pile
--For each starting hero in play, draw 12 cards from his sphere of influence pile into a new influence pile.
--Shuffle each new influence pile with 1 of the neutral+Gandalf piles.
--When players draw a card, they can draw from any influence pile they want.

And finally, we're thinking that any surplus progress tokens played on a quest stage reduce each player's threat.
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Quylthulg
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This sounds promising. Almost gave LOTR:LCG another chance recently, but then Mage Knight came quicker than expected and knocked it back onto the shelf. These rules may yet rescue this game for me.
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Ryan Buerger
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These seem like very complicated changes, is her issue really the difficulty or the core mechanics? If it is just difficulty, adding resources, reduce encounter cards, lower initial threat, easy mode cards only, additional cards in and seem like good ways to do that without making a ton of changes to the core.

Sorry for not talking about specific changes you have made but honestly they are so broad I think I would need to try them. In general I do like the concept of melee lock, but it takes a lot of strategy out of the game.
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Jonathan Straw
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ryandb2 wrote:
These seem like very complicated changes, is her issue really the difficulty or the core mechanics? If it is just difficulty, adding resources, reduce encounter cards, lower initial threat, easy mode cards only, additional cards in and seem like good ways to do that without making a ton of changes to the core.

Sorry for not talking about specific changes you have made but honestly they are so broad I think I would need to try them. In general I do like the concept of melee lock, but it takes a lot of strategy out of the game.

I think it's a little of both. The extra hero helps with the difficulty... we set initial threat to the sum of our three highest threat cost heroes.

The land rule came about while we were trying to balance the staging phase to our liking. We could have solved a lot of our issue with either the land rule or the melee lock rule... but we came to like both of them, so we kept them.

The Melee Lock rules actually lead to a lot of strategy. We talk about who can grapple who and what the melee lock will mean for our tactics down the line. Strategy comes into play when you consider what abilities you'll be losing in other phases while a particular hero grapples with an enemy.

It also gives us a lot of drama... like having Legolas locked in battle with a hill troll. In our mind's eye, the system paints a cool tableau of the heroes individually felling giant beasts while their allies scramble around helping where they can.

quylthulg wrote:
This sounds promising. Almost gave LOTR:LCG another chance recently, but then Mage Knight came quicker than expected and knocked it back onto the shelf. These rules may yet rescue this game for me.

I hope you enjoy them. This has been the one game that my wife regularly wants to play. We tackled the base set quests several times while we tweaked the rules to our liking.

I think my wife wants to make a long term hobby out of this game... which is cool by me.
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Ira Fay
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Out of curiosity, before adding all these complicated rules, did you try the simpler changes mentioned above?

Obviously the great thing about coop games is that you can house rule however you want, and however is most fun. It doesn't really matter except for possible fellowship events and playing with others, but that's probably unlikely.

Personally, I favor simpler changes over the more complex ones, but it also seems like you found what works for you. Enjoy!
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David Banks
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Hi Jonathan,

From someone who loves this game but is sick of losing so often (due to lack of skill) I really like some of these and will try them out.

Briefly first on some of the fixes mentioned by others:
- I don't like easy mode because, although it works great for lowering the difficulty, I hate missing out on some interesting (if totally evil) cards. I'd rather have the evil cards, but give myself a fighting chance against them, and
- adding an extra resource per hero at start-up is fine, but I find it tends to just help you avoid very quick losses (and, in my case, end up with a longer-term loss instead).

On your ideas:
- 4 heroes just sounds fun, provides more choices, and will free up deckbuilding options a bit more. Definitely going to try this.
- extra heroes in the deck I fear could become overkill with 8 heroes out already. Some heroes have some very powerful abilities and I reckon this might just lead to steamrolling almost every quest. Besides many heroes have good ally versions too.
- extra card in staging seems like a must with 8 heroes.
- the location lock fix is a brilliant idea I am definitely stealing. Such an annoying way to lose. Although the Hills of Emyn Muil is likely to be a bit of a walkover with this rule in play. Not sure how it will impact quests revolving round locations, e.g. Assault on Osgiliath.
- I'm not sure about the forced actions bit; feels a bit one-sided as some heroes (e.g. Sam and Pippin) also have forced on engagement effects. Could those only apply on optional engagement to even things up as it feels like this is trying to capture an essence of who surprised whom?
- melee mechanics: I can see the thematic issues your wife has with combat, but I feel there are enough ways to get round this with chump-blocking, readying effects, sneak attacks etc. To get over the thematic disconnect in strength of heroes vs. enemies in combat, I like to think of it as splitting enemies into buckets:
1. Some enemies are just rock-solid and require teamwork, e.g. the Hill Troll,
2. Some enemies are highly skilled and dangerous to any hero, e.g. the Nazgul, and
3. Some enemies are pathetic and easy to kill, but there are loads of them represented by one card, e.g. anything Orc or Goblin.

The campaign rules I didn't quite follow, but I like the campaign rules in the Saga expansions already, or in the brilliant fan-made Tale of Years, so I'll likely stick with those for now.
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R B
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Glad this is working for you. My family plays "fellowship rules" style (basically everyone gets 6 heroes, plus the change to the combat phase listed below).

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/79104/fellowship-rule...


Compare your characters’ cost to the enemies’ engagement cost In order to see who attacks first, add your unexhausted heroes’ total threat to your unexhausted allies’ total cost, and subtract any damage tokens you have. Then add up the engagement cost of all the enemies in the staging area. If your total is higher, then you can attack first. If the enemies’ is higher, or equal, then you must defend first. The attacking step is always optional, but defending is not.
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Jonathan Straw
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dpb100_12 wrote:
Hi Jonathan,

From someone who loves this game but is sick of losing so often (due to lack of skill) I really like some of these and will try them out.

Briefly first on some of the fixes mentioned by others:
- I don't like easy mode because, although it works great for lowering the difficulty, I hate missing out on some interesting (if totally evil) cards. I'd rather have the evil cards, but give myself a fighting chance against them, and

Ok, just so I'm clear... there's not some list of cards that are easy/normal mode tagged, right? Here, you're referring to losing the shadow effects?

...and I just googled it and discovered we haven't gotten to expansions with "difficulty" indicators yet.
Quote:

On your ideas:
- 4 heroes just sounds fun, provides more choices, and will free up deckbuilding options a bit more. Definitely going to try this.

This was settled on because the way we were playing the basic set was to pick 2 influences and shuffle them together. And since we were essentially playing as 2 decks strong, and we felt all 6 heroes for that uber-deck would be overkill, we backed it off to 4. Originally, we just put the extra heroes aside. But my wife wanted the chance to pick them up as allies... so in the deck they went.
Quote:

- extra heroes in the deck I fear could become overkill with 8 heroes out already. Some heroes have some very powerful abilities and I reckon this might just lead to steamrolling almost every quest. Besides many heroes have good ally versions too.

Right, well... with the core set, we're talking about 2 heroes shuffled into our 60 card decks. Most times we only saw one or two new Heroes even come to our hands... and then we have to make sure we have the resources to play them. They cost between 4-6 resource points. This is why the neutral piles are limited to 6 cards possibly containing heroes (in our campaign deck rules.)
Quote:

- extra card in staging seems like a must with 8 heroes.

This was a pre-emptive balance and it might not be quite enough.
Quote:

- the location lock fix is a brilliant idea I am definitely stealing. Such an annoying way to lose. Although the Hills of Emyn Muil is likely to be a bit of a walkover with this rule in play. Not sure how it will impact quests revolving round locations, e.g. Assault on Osgiliath.

I'll keep this in mind when the time comes... see how it holds up. Thanks.
Quote:

- I'm not sure about the forced actions bit; feels a bit one-sided as some heroes (e.g. Sam and Pippin) also have forced on engagement effects. Could those only apply on optional engagement to even things up as it feels like this is trying to capture an essence of who surprised whom?

I would be fine with that tweak. Your assessment is about right. For my wife it was like, "well, am I attacking him or is he attacking me? It says 'when so and so engages the player.' I engaged HIM!" And then the game is sour for a few rounds because she feels the game is cheating her.
Quote:

- melee mechanics: I can see the thematic issues your wife has with combat, but...

Yeah, we just got frustrated with having a lot of enemies that felt like they started with the high ground. We'd bring out allies and be like, "well, he has a nice ability... too bad he has to die this round."

My wife put it thusly, "I don't get why orcs are awesome combat multitaskers, and Aragorn, who fought with both the Dunedain and the Riders of Rohan isn't."
Quote:

The campaign rules I didn't quite follow, but I like the campaign rules in the Saga expansions already, or in the brilliant fan-made Tale of Years, so I'll likely stick with those for now.

Eh-- our campaign rules so far are just a way to auto-deck build and spend less time deliberating over who and what to start playing with. Basically, divide the cards up into influence decks of proportional size to the starting heroes. The decks are separate so we can choose cards from piles that are relevant to our heroes.

1 Tactics hero makes a tactics deck of 18 cards, 2 Lore heroes makes a lore deck of 30 cards, 3 Spirit heroes makes a spirit deck of 42 cards.

Basically, if we play with 4 heroes each, then we're looking at 8 heroes to start, 6 neutral cards per deck, 12 cards per hero. That's (6 * 4) + (12 * 8) cards... 120 cards divided proportionally by influence of the heroes. It gives us our core 60 card's per player that we were using, but just reconfigures them from expansion cards into 4 communal piles.

I just know that if I make my wife sit around and build decks manually, she'll quit, and if I make them myself, she'll just blame me for tactical short comings

I will read into the Fellowship Rules and Tale of Years more thoroughly. Thanks.
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Jonathan Straw
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ira212 wrote:
Out of curiosity, before adding all these complicated rules, did you try the simpler changes mentioned above?


Which simpler changes, specifically?
 
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Greg Burkett
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Also curious, do you ever lose now? With so many changes to make things easier, I'd wonder if there's any tension any longer to make things interesting.
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Jonathan Straw
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grex22 wrote:
Also curious, do you ever lose now? With so many changes to make things easier, I'd wonder if there's any tension any longer to make things interesting.


We still lose occasionally, but not often. But we also play beyond threat loss... so like, we can still finish a quest, but we just consider finishing with negative threat to be sort of a too little too late outcome.

We also still lose allies and heroes to battles and negative card effects.
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David Banks
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Quote:
And then the game is sour for a few rounds because she feels the game is cheating her.


Oh, I know that feeling arrrh

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Bloody Cactus
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Sinaz20 wrote:
dpb100_12 wrote:
- I don't like easy mode because ....

Ok, just so I'm clear... there's not some list of cards that are easy/normal mode tagged, right? Here, you're referring to losing the shadow effects?

...and I just googled it and discovered we haven't gotten to expansions with "difficulty" indicators yet.


you dont need expansions for easy mode, even Passage Through Mirkwood has an easy mode!

Easy mode is in the Core box, if your core is old printing its not as easy to tell. Newer core has a different colour on some of the cards.

check out http://lotr-lcg-quest-companion.com/

click core or quest then easy mode and it tells you which cards are to be removed for easy mode.

also ffg has a easy mode card list thats reflected in newer card printings.

https://images-cdn.fantasyflightgames.com/ffg_content/lotr-l...

Your house rules seem overly complex, I'd rather go with easy mode myself. but as long as your having fun and keep your wife interested (mine has 0 that no amount of house ruling would fix)..

house rules + happy wife > easy mode tho.
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Paul Harper
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We use a house rule also. It bugged us that the defending hero just stood there taking lumps, and was totally against what we were used to in MTG, and wasn't very heroic feeling. So we added that the defending hero applies his damage also.

Yes, it makes the game a bit easier, but that's not all bad.
 
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