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I taught the game to two new players today, and both were confused by why locations remained in the staging area and contributed threat when the players travel to a different area (active location). How do I explain thematically how that makes sense? Enemies adding threat makes sense--they are lurking nearby, and you must have high willpower to skillfully complete your quest with so many monsters lurking around looking for you. But locations? The concept of "location lock" where locations contribute huge threat to the staging area and overwhelm the heroes, also doesn't really make sense. If the threat counter is a rough track of Sauron or Saruman or some Other Big Bad's ability to sense the heroes, why is it that locations do that work for them?

I suppose generally locations adding threat could represent the phenomenon of urgent exploration (i.e. locations that the party feel they must travel to and/or explore in order to proceed with their quest / find their quarry while in danger), but that's not really a satisfactory explanation to them I think.
 
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Charles Wohlganger
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Threat abstractly represents the likelihood the heroes will fail their quest. One way to consider locations in the staging area is that these are areas that are starting to come under the influence of Sauron. If the enemies know where the players aren't, soon enough they'll know exactly where they /are/ and can ambush them in numbers they can't defend against.

While LotR LCG is a great game mechanically, it's a mess thematically. I hope that doesn't turn you off of playing it.
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John Mackenzie
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I think of it as places that the heroes know lie ahead of them in their quest - you have to summon your will to keep moving forward knowing the dangers that lie ahead.

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Good thoughts all. I agree it is a thematic fall in a way--my friends were confused as to why we were not obligated to travel to each location in order, for example.

And this in a way kind of cuts against the theory that the locations represent places the heroes know lie ahead of them--if the locations really did lie ahead of them, would they not go to those locations? And if not, it seems odd that uncovering / discovering more locations makes it that much harder to move forward (with willpower) when having more information in dark places is generally a good thing...
 
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Josh Murphy
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charek wrote:
One way to consider locations in the staging area is that these are areas that are starting to come under the influence of Sauron. If the enemies know where the players aren't, soon enough they'll know exactly where they /are/ and can ambush them in numbers they can't defend against.


Nice! That's a pretty solid interpretation.
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Fred Buchholz
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My 2 cents worth:
The Locations are places you "here rumor of or that have enough in them to influence your task" (the ones that do something when in staging area).
You are being presented with more and more choices of your path to accomplishing the Quest, thus the "threat" represents you not making decisions fast enough and once you "threat out" the "Eye" comes to rest on you and causes the endeavor to fail. Once you be "known" as a major threat, Mordor will keep tabs on such high threat heroes, while its plans unfold in that quest.
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Greg Darcy
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A couple of examples from the books, not the game. I haven't progressed very far in the game so not sure if they apply

While in Mirkwood, Bilbo climbed a tree and could see Lake Town and the Lonely Mountain in the distance. Both of these were obstacles yet to be faced, but he climbed back down the tree and still had to deal with spiders in the forest.

When he went to the lookout on Amon Hen, Frodo saw Mordor in the distance and all the threat he had to contend with there. But he still had to deal with crossing the Anduin, Emyn Muil, the Dead Marshes, etc, etc.
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patrick mullen
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charek wrote:
Threat abstractly represents the likelihood the heroes will fail their quest. One way to consider locations in the staging area is that these are areas that are starting to come under the influence of Sauron. If the enemies know where the players aren't, soon enough they'll know exactly where they /are/ and can ambush them in numbers they can't defend against.

While LotR LCG is a great game mechanically, it's a mess thematically. I hope that doesn't turn you off of playing it.


I will take this a step further. I feel location lock is VERY thematic from the viewpoint of the books. A theme in the books is that if you put your head in your hobbit hole and try to ignore the bad things happening in the world, the problems will eventually find you. Sauron's eye is passing over the whole of middle earth. It is a problem for all, you can't just ignore it and hope that someone else will step up and be the hero.

Your threat failing is not just your particular heroes failing some particular quest. It is an indicator that all free and good people's of middle earth have succumed to the dark lord's influence, and eventually evil will take over the land.

The locations in the staging area are under the most danger of being lost to the influence of evil. You have to travel to them to show the enemy that there are still good people in the world willing to stand up for freedom and resist.
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secoAce -
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I've always thought "the Staging Area" was thematically a terrible name for the game. What in the world is a "Staging Area" in an adventure quest that you're trying complete?? I could accept a "Staging Area" as a preparation area, like a base camp, for your party of adventurers, but one in which is filled with potential enemies, creatures, locations, and treacheries just doesn't make any since.

Instead, I've always called this area "the Horizon." The Horizon is what stands in front of you that you have to go through filled with the enemies you'll potentially be engaged with, the treacheries that will doom your party, and...the locations that you will have to travel to and explore in order for you to progress far enough to complete your quest.

You have to look up and gaze into the Horizon to chart your path to your quest. The more you can see before you in the Horizon (as revealed from the Encounters deck), the more daunting your quest becomes because you can see so much of what you'll have to face, and the more you know you will have to face, the more overwhelming and threatening your journey becomes. That's why you have to show your commitment to your quest. Knowing the more challenges lay ahead of you in the Horizon, the more commitment you have to muster to overcome the looming threat before you.

I still can't believe how well this game captures the theme of the pressing threat, and sense of urgency, faith, strength, courage, and commitment your adventuring party needs to do what is needed to complete their quest.
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Jim . K
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Have you ever heard of the expression "the hills have eyes"? Each location could be considered a threat because Sauron has his agents scouring that area, looking for information for him. The longer it goes unexplored the more it continues to be a threat to the party.
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Tim Martyn
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secoAce wrote:
I've always thought "the Staging Area" was thematically a terrible name for the game. What in the world is a "Staging Area" in an adventure quest that you're trying complete?? I could accept a "Staging Area" as a preparation area, like a base camp, for your party of adventurers, but one in which is filled with potential enemies, creatures, locations, and treacheries just doesn't make any since.

Instead, I've always called this area "the Horizon." The Horizon is what stands in front of you that you have to go through filled with the enemies you'll potentially be engaged with, the treacheries that will doom your party, and...the locations that you will have to travel to and explore in order for you to progress far enough to complete your quest.

You have to look up and gaze into the Horizon to chart your path to your quest. The more you can see before you in the Horizon (as revealed from the Encounters deck), the more daunting your quest becomes because you can see so much of what you'll have to face, and the more you know you will have to face, the more overwhelming and threatening your journey becomes. That's why you have to show your commitment to your quest. Knowing the more challenges lay ahead of you in the Horizon, the more commitment you have to muster to overcome the looming threat before you.

I still can't believe how well this game captures the theme of the pressing threat, and sense of urgency, faith, strength, courage, and commitment your adventuring party needs to do what is needed to complete their quest.

Excellent! 'Horizons' is a great term to apply to the staging area. From now on, that's what I'm going to call it. Thanks!
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Kelly Bass
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secoAce wrote:
I've always thought "the Staging Area" was thematically a terrible name for the game. What in the world is a "Staging Area" in an adventure quest that you're trying complete?? I could accept a "Staging Area" as a preparation area, like a base camp, for your party of adventurers, but one in which is filled with potential enemies, creatures, locations, and treacheries just doesn't make any since.
I assumed it was the enemy's staging area, not mine.
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Very good thoughts everyone! I do like the change of terminology from "staging area" (which sounds too procedural) to "horizon" (which has nice metaphoric/poetic/analogical applications). Shame we can't change all the cards saying "staging area" to saying "horizon" instead.

I think the concept of the new explanation I will give my friends will be focused on the idea that all the locations are daunting and add to the sense of scale the heroes are confronted with, which must be overcome by will. Of course, the darker locations (ruined towers, crypts, etc) add threat because they generate baddies and dark magic--those are the easier ones to explain.
 
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Alex
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I always like the idea that you know a location is nearby (staging) and unless you travel direct to deal with that location, then the additional time spent avoiding it (its scary threat) is what makes your journey longer (hence extra threat).
Even if you are at one location (say Mirkwood) it would still take longer to travel through Mirkwood IF you were specificaly avoiding, say, the eastern side where there was a small populated village and slightly West where there was an ominous clearing. The act of avoiding these locations, picking a more select pathway and being forced over less ideal terrain, takes longer in your journey, so the existence. .The "threat" of those locations makes your journey harder or longer.

Similarly, if you are in a tavern planning to go straight to the docks, but while you are there you hear of other buildings along the way that would affect your overall mission, then you start to think you need to visit those buildings and thus start planning your route differently and so having to pick up those locations along the way makes your route more indirect and takes longer, thus represented by the threat score.

I see each revealed card at questing stage as new information gained by the heroes as time passes. Rumours they hear, info from spies and allies, party members on lookout, scouts etc.. As more time passes, you gain more info of what's around and thus you alter your plans accordingly. Whether it's nearby locations or nearby enemies, you plan ahead to avoid or deal with.
The longer you avoid it, the more you have to go around it and so the longer is threat delays you by stopping in staging.

If you knew you needed to go to a western location, you wouldn't run from the city through the easy eastern gate, you would (simplified) push and barge through the crowds to the western gate, thus taking longer to exit the city location (or you'd go out the eaten gate but then have to go all the way around the city perimeter still taking extra time).

Funding out about a nearby location (staging) affects your plans, causes changes and more time (threat).

"Let's go straight to X-location"....*replies* "Oh, but what about B-location?, that's nearby so let's go around a bit, even though it will mean we spend longer in this current place"

That's my general take on the situation thematically.
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