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

Subject: Enjoyable Mode rss

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Gene Moore
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I'd like to share with everyone a variant that I have been using for a while, which I'm calling Enjoyable Mode. I named it that because, for me, that's exactly what this variant has done: it has made the game a much more enjoyable affair. I have struggled with LOTR as of late, and after trying Easy Mode (and not feeling satisfied by the changes in gameplay), I wanted something that could pack a punch in a relatively minor change.

The variant is one new setup rule, which I've made into a custom card that you can use:



Quote:
Setup: Before drawing your starting hand, for each hero you control, you may choose a card from your deck to add to your hand. The chosen card must match the sphere of that hero. If the hero belongs to no sphere of influence, then the chosen card must also belong to no sphere.

After adding all chosen cards, shuffle your deck and draw the remaining cards for your starting hand. (The chosen cards count toward the starting hand size.) You cannot take a mulligan.


This is not an original concept, of course. There has been plenty of discussion before, on both BGG and the FFG forums, about the idea of choosing the cards in your starting hand. Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn is known for having players choose their entire opening hand at the start of the game. Critics of the idea say that it won't work in LOTR, because the luck of the draw is an important component in the design of this game. A fixed starting hand threatens to turn the game into a solvable puzzle. The text for Enjoyable Mode was written with this criticism in mind.

By having the player choose one card per hero, with a required sphere match for each, this variant becomes less about eliminating randomness from the game, and more about setting up a few key moves in the first round or two. For obvious thematic reasons, I love running my Hobbit deck against the Black Riders quests... but if I can't get a Hobbit Cloak on Sam, or a Dagger of Westernesse on Merry, then I'm at risk of getting smashed in by the encounter deck. Enjoyable Mode makes these opening moves possible. It doesn't rig the deck; it simply mitigates a bit of luck at the beginning, and that's what makes it so enjoyable.

The best part is, it's not a significant departure from the gameplay found in Normal Mode. After all, even though the odds aren't great, it's entirely possible that you could draw all of the cards you're looking for at random, and the rest of the gameplay would be exactly the same as you know it currently. Yes, Enjoyable Mode does make it possible for you to safely include just one copy of a card like Steward of Gondor or Light of Valinor in your deck. You can decide for yourself whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

I am a solo player only; I don't even play 2-handed. I can't tell you if this variant would be game-breaking in a multiplayer setting. All I can offer are my experiences from using it in solitaire games. I've played around 25 games so far, including several from a saga campaign that I started. Overall, the game is still challenging, especially with the Journey in the Dark quest... it took 6 tries to beat that one. I have yet to feel like I was getting too much of an advantage.

If you decide to try Enjoyable Mode, please let me know how it goes for you!
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Michael Schwarz
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lwdgames wrote:
There has been plenty of discussion before, on both BGG and the FFG forums, about the idea of choosing the cards in your starting hand. Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn is known for having players choose their entire opening hand at the start of the game.


At least three of the Precedence CCGs did this as well. (Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game, The Wheel of Time Collectible Card Game, and Tomb Raider Collectible Card Game.)

The reason I bring them up is because they also had an additional rule, which might be worth considering. Starting hands could not include multiple cards of the same type. So, in effect, you'd be choosing an ally, attachment, and event at the start of the game.

This might be something you'd want to kick around and think about as an option.
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David Russell
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It seems like a good idea - i play solo one deck too and i have been known to take a mulligan get a new hand and after drawing again think, no that just wont work so i take another one. This largely mitigates the fact that you know you need one or two cards to have chance against some scenarios.

I would try this but i think i like the limitation to one ally, attachment, event myself.

I see this just as the heroes preparing themselves just a little before they go out on their adventure, need the cloak - well it may be likely he took one with him or Gandalf just happened to hand one out.

Personally i am not averse to changing things, i have rewritten an encounter rule here or there where it just doesnt work for solo play. Belegost for example is a lovely quest but you need to soften it to play solo.
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Robin Munn

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Another possible variant is to adjust the difficulty level of "Enjoyable Mode" by adjusting how many chosen cards you get at the start. Personally, I think that three chosen cards (one per hero) would be a bit too easy compared to the normal rules. I'd probably call the difficulty levels as follows:

1 chosen card = Normal level - similar in difficulty to the standard rules, but a bit less frustrating
2 chosen cards = Easy level - a good level to play at for a fun, but still challenging, game
3 chosen cards = Beginner level - this might be a good mode to teach newbies, but if you're experienced, you'll probably enjoy the challenge of Easy or Normal level a bit more

In the 2 or 3 chosen cards variant, each one must correspond to a different hero's sphere of influence, as in your version of the variant rules: no picking up 2 Spirit cards if Éowyn is your only Spirit hero.
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Gene Moore
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Thanks for your responses. I would encourage anyone who has suggestions for changes to try it out as-is first. I expected it to be too easy as well, and instead what I found was that the encounter deck can still make the game quite difficult when it wants to (see: Journey in the Dark). I still lost a good number of times when playing Enjoyable Mode, which is why I'm not suggesting it as a replacement for Easy Mode. I didn't want an easier game; I wanted a game that I would enjoy playing again, and this variant did that for me.

Caleb and Matt have done a great job of putting together challenging quests that are rich in theme, and I think that the game has moved in a positive direction because of them. However, I have found myself more and more frustrated with the game, as it seems like newer quests require a solo player to have a near-perfect first few rounds in order to survive. I don't want to have to run Seastan's Boromir just to get through a quest.

Enjoyable Mode has given me a game that still functions as it always has, but with the relief of knowing that certain cards that are important to my deck's success are going to be there from the start. That has made all the difference for me. Ultimately, you can tweak your game in whatever fashion makes you comfortable. This one is what I've chosen for myself.
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Sal Paradice
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lwdgames wrote:
I have found myself more and more frustrated with the game, as it seems like newer quests require a solo player to have a near-perfect first few rounds in order to survive. I don't want to have to run Seastan's Boromir just to get through a quest.


You nailed my thoughts on the present state of the game. I was telling a friend last night not to buy past the first couple cycles if he wants to play a variety of decks. I am looking forward to giving this a try - the Hobbit quests still curb-stomp anything moderately thematic I've taken up against them solo.
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Jeff Jackson
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OK, one time Randy Beaman had to take baths with his brother. So one time his little brother took a potty in the bathtub .....and now Randy Beaman gets to take showers alone. 'K, bye.
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One time, OK, see, one time Randy Beaman's little brother ate Pop Rocks and drank a soda at the same time and his head exploded! 'K, bye.
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Thanks for sharing. My daughter and I have recently begun enjoying the LotR LCG. The first two cycles went pretty smoothly, but we had issues completing some of the quests in Heirs of Numenor and the Against the Shadows cycle (we're hoping the Hobbit series isn't as rough). Rather than continue to bang our heads on the wall, we adopted a similar 'enjoyable' mode:

Draw your hand as normal, even using a mulligan if desired. It's not uncommon for us to mulligan a second time if we know the early game snowball's quickly. Where our house-rule kicks in is that we CHOOSE our first draw card. This allows us to analyze our initial hand then add that one additional card to help.


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esteban hoogma
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salparadice1 wrote:
lwdgames wrote:
I have found myself more and more frustrated with the game, as it seems like newer quests require a solo player to have a near-perfect first few rounds in order to survive. I don't want to have to run Seastan's Boromir just to get through a quest.


You nailed my thoughts on the present state of the game. I was telling a friend last night not to buy past the first couple cycles if he wants to play a variety of decks. I am looking forward to giving this a try - the Hobbit quests still curb-stomp anything moderately thematic I've taken up against them solo.


Yup, exatly my case here. Contrary to Mirkwood or Dwarrowdelf, even some Heirs of Númenor quests, current quests have become increasingly difficult the first few rounds, making any deck I'm running more and more dependant on the opening hand. I think however just choosing 1 card is enough. But yeah I fully agree.
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Ivan Sorensen
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I like this idea a lot.

If you want to scale it down, rule that the card you pick must be the only copy in the deck.

 
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simon cogan
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As I'm playing back through the Core Set again, and still finding it a frustratingly hard game for the solo player who is trying to beat quests with the cards available at the time and from 1 Core set only (and as thematically as possible), I thought I would give your Enjoyable Mode a go.

Note that I'm on Easy Mode too, so removal of some cards from Encounter Deck plus 2 Resources per Hero on the first round. Since I am only using 1 Core Set, my deck size is 40 cards too.

Although I beat 'Passage through Mirkwood' easily without Enjoyable Mode or Easy Mode, I just couldn't do 'Journey down the Anduin' that beat me to a pulp however much I tried!

So I employed Easy Mode only - it still beat me about 5 times straight!

Then I tried Easy + Enjoyable and beat the scenario at the second attempt. Yay me!

I was playing a Spirit/Lore deck with the theory that we need some good questing, initial threat reduction plus some deck draw advantage to get 'Forest Snare' to beat that nasty troll!

My starting Heroes were Beravor, Eowyn and Dunhere (2 Spirit, 1 Lore).

So for Enjoyable Mode, I chose for my initial hand:
'Galadrim Greeting' for threat reduction,
'Hennarth RiverSong' as the ability is brilliant solo, and 'Unexpected Courage' as I only have 1 copy and it's such a power card!

So here's my question:

In solo play, is this too easy??

From what I can see (and will try out), the 3 cards I chose will be, for the vast amount of quests, the best 3 for any quest? Certainly until later 'power' cards (like the Spirit 'Glorfindel', 'Light of Valinor' and 'Asfaloth' combo) only 'Steward of Gondor' or 'Sneak Attack' are as good in the Core Set? There are no great Tactics cards from Core except perhaps Beorn?

Does this ruin the challenge?

I fact, in solo, is Spirit/Lore the best, or indeed, only way to go Solo in the early quests of the game? I mean, if I could only have 1 card in my hand at the start it would be RiverSong as his ability is just amazing solo! Why not include at least 1 Lore Hero just to get him!

I'm interested to hear opinions?

Meanwhile, I'm off to 'Escape from Dol Goldur' and get my ass handed to me on a plate!
 
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Joke Meister
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No comment on the variant as I haven't tried it. However, I wanted to respond to your questions around whether it would make the game too easy and remove the challenge.

Ultimately, I think you are the only person who can answer those questions. Some people love tough games where they lose more often than not. They love going up against seemingly insurmountable odds until they get some mastery of the game system and then start to kick ass! Others are looking for a more relaxing experience.

There is nothing wrong with either approach. At the end of the day, these are just games whose purpose is to entertain you.

If using this variant makes the game fun for you, then you should absolutely continue to use it. The key point is that you are having fun. Besides, its not like you have to use this variant forever more. If at some point, you find the game is too easy, then you can easily change the variant or go back to RAW.

Either way, if you are having fun, then you are doing the right thing for you and never let anyone tell you differently.
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DOUGLAS BRUNDIN
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So do you play enjoyable mode plus easy mode? I'm still trying to beat Escape from Dol Guldur two handed solitaire or with a friend. Even on easy mode we are getting killed. I like a challenge but there comes a point when frustration sets in.

 
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Gene Moore
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Dbrundin wrote:
So do you play enjoyable mode plus easy mode? I'm still trying to beat Escape from Dol Guldur two handed solitaire or with a friend. Even on easy mode we are getting killed. I like a challenge but there comes a point when frustration sets in.


No, Enjoyable Mode is my alternative to Easy Mode. I don't play Easy Mode, because with some quests (such as Escape from Dol Guldur), it really doesn't make the gameplay any more satisfying.
 
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Dale Stephenson
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lwdgames wrote:
Dbrundin wrote:
So do you play enjoyable mode plus easy mode? I'm still trying to beat Escape from Dol Guldur two handed solitaire or with a friend. Even on easy mode we are getting killed. I like a challenge but there comes a point when frustration sets in.


No, Enjoyable Mode is my alternative to Easy Mode. I don't play Easy Mode, because with some quests (such as Escape from Dol Guldur), it really doesn't make the gameplay any more satisfying.


Easy mode removes the following cards completely from Escape:

Hummerhorns (1x)
Chieftan Ufthak (1x)
Necromancers Pass (2x)
Eyes of the Forest (1x)
Caught in a Web (2x)

This is a fairly high number of completely removed cards compared to later quests, I believe. But I don't consider any of them part of a satisfying Dol Goldur experience. Caught in a Web I found particularly obnoxious in that quest, since you're already down one hero.

Which of those encounter cards would you miss if using full Easy mode for Dol Goldur?
 
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Gene Moore
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dalestephenson wrote:
This is a fairly high number of completely removed cards compared to later quests, I believe.

That's what I mean. It has been my experience that Easy Mode either removes too few cards or too many. When it's too few, I might as well have just played the standard game. When it's too many, it's no longer any fun to me. I don't want a completely different experience than what was originally intended; I just want to take a little bit of the edge off of the quest. With Enjoyable Mode, I feel like I have more control over my destiny going into the quest, which is just satisfying enough to make the difference for me. I don't need to change the encounter deck anymore.
 
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Dale Stephenson
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lwdgames wrote:
dalestephenson wrote:
This is a fairly high number of completely removed cards compared to later quests, I believe.

That's what I mean. It has been my experience that Easy Mode either removes too few cards or too many. When it's too few, I might as well have just played the standard game. When it's too many, it's no longer any fun to me. I don't want a completely different experience than what was originally intended; I just want to take a little bit of the edge off of the quest. With Enjoyable Mode, I feel like I have more control over my destiny going into the quest, which is just satisfying enough to make the difference for me. I don't need to change the encounter deck anymore.


Certainly you have more control over your destiny with enjoyable mode. Being able to *guarantee* three cards in your opening hand is massively powerful, allowing terrific first-turn combos. It doesn't appeal to me for precisely that reason -- even though I enjoy cool combos, I value the variety the player deck gives me and with guaranteed start I don't have to adjust to what the deck gives me. (It also means that when constructing my deck, I don't need 3x of my key cards, which can make the rest of my deck better.)

But it's also true that you *could've* got those cards normally, and so even though your experience is an unlikely subset of the normal experience, it's still a *possible* outcome of the normal experience. You aren't technically having "a completely different experience then what was originally intended".

The same is true of easy mode card removal. Unless you play through the entire encounter deck, it's *possible* that you'd never see the removed cards, especially one-handed. You aren't having "a completely different experience then what was originally intended", you're just having an unlikely subset of the cards that just happens to miss whatever cards got removed.

But with respect to Dol Goldur, the essence of the experience is overcoming being down a hero and under tight ally restrictions to get the objectives, rescue the captive, and defeat the Nazgul. I don't see Hummerhorns and Caught in a Web as necessary components of it.

If I can't beat a quest on normal mode after tuning my deck, I'll drop first to semi-easy (extra resource, no removal), and then to full easy mode. The only quests I'm sure I dropped that far are Morgul Vale and Carn Dum.

Morgul Vale removes the following completely:
Impenetrable Fog (2x)
Orc Vanguard (2x)
Orc War Camp (2x)
The Master's Malice (2x)
Watcher in the Wood (2x)

Impenetrable Fog punishes more players, it's pretty harmless one-handed (not that I've ever beaten it one handed). Master's Malice punishes you for not being monosphere, Orc Vanguard punishes you for not being tactics. I don't think I'm having a "completely different experience" for not being punished for my hero's spheres.

Carn Dum removes the following completely:

Werewolf of Angmar (2x)
The Sky Darkens (2x)

So very few outright removals, just less copies of the tougher cards. Very much not a completely different experience, but a definite edge taken off the quest.

I can well believe that your Enjoyable Mode negates the need for Easy Mode, since IMO it's a substantially more powerful effect than Easy Mode card removal. (IMO, the extra resource is a much bigger deal than the card removal).
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