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Subject: Thunderstone Advance vs. Pathfinder vs. LotR LCG? rss

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Has anyone played all three?

Which is your fave?

 
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Ryan Keane
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I have played a little bit of all 3 (just original Thunderstone though, not Advance). Pathfinder is the only one I really enjoy. It feels most like an adventure with evolving characters.

Thunderstone was too vanilla, I would just prefer to play themeless Dominion. Advance may fix that.

LotR was ok mechanically, but being big LotR fans, my wife and I didn't feel as immersed as we wanted to and that detracted from our enjoyment.
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James C
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My group has played Pathfinder and LoTR.

For what it's worth:

We were underwhelmed by Pathfinder.
We found most of our choices pretty obvious.
(In fairness we only played three times ... but didn't want to play it again.).

We absolutely love LoTR.
There's tremendous tension and lots of decision making.
The game designers have done some really impressive things with the system, and at times it's quite thematic.
Victory almost always feel like a very well earned accomplishment.
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John Curtis
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I have played all three is here is my observations:

Thunderstone: Advance -- My favorite deck-builder out there (right now). I love the feel of the game. Build up your deck (going to the village) so that you are strong enough to fight the monsters in the dungeon. All around works for me.

Pathfinder ACG -- Not a deck-builder, but an adventure game. I really like how your character "improves" by completing adventures... making future adventures more interesting. I love the sense of character advancement... and the progression of the story across many adventures. Even playing the same adventure again... with different characters is fun.

Lord of the Rings LCG --- This was really disappointing to me. I wanted this game to be more like Pathfinder. I absolutely LOVE the cooperative concepts and mechanisms in this game! However, what I absolutely hate is that your don't play a character through a series of stories. With every scenario, you build a deck to beat the scenario. You do not carry the same character/deck through a story arc. You are simply playing to beat the game. If that is okay with you, then this game is actually fine. It just wasn't what I wanted in a game of this type. I wanted to feel like my character/deck was advancing through a story/adventure. And the first couple of scenarios sort of supported that. But towards the end of the first story arc, we discovered that the character combinations we were playing could not beat the scenario. We tried four times. The first time we got really unlucky on the monsters to fight. The second and third times it was a tough battle, but we lost. The fourth time, we got REALLY lucky on the monster draws... and still lost. That's when I got online and read about the scenario(s) to figure out what we were doing wrong. the net result of the advice was... change your deck to have X or Y... or change your character mix to have cards A or B. <sigh> That was disappointing.

So... my recommendation would NOT be LotR LCG (in my opinion). And between Pathfinder and Thunderstone: Advance... it depends on what you are looking for. Thunderstone is definitely a deck-building game and plays like such. Pathfinder is a different beast entirely. It starts off slow... but builds into a very cool game. There is a progression in both character/deck development and story.

Hope this helps!
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Johnny B
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If you are interested in Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin or any sequels & expansions, You should might want to wait until early next year for Thunderstone Quest.
Thunderstone Advance (2012) plays a little slow compared to today's deck builders. Quest is supposed to be more streamlined, quicker to level up your heroes, & have more stuff. It should be available to buy after all the Kickstarter backers are fulfilled (estimated in March 2018).
Thunderstone Quest Kickstarter page
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Dan Renwick
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I'd say that Thunderstone was my favourite, followed relatively closely by LotR. I didn't like Pathfinder at all.

Thunderstone seemed to demand the most strategic decision-making in game. You feel like you're building up, leveling and equipping a party as you play.

LotR relies on building a deck before you start playing, something I'm less interested in. The theme is, unsurprisingly, more evocative and immersive than Thunderstone.

Pathfinder seemed to lack difficult decisions to make, so I could never really get into it.
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Kenny Felts
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Not Pathfinder. The set-up, continual shuffling, and tracking dice types and bonuses is really annoying. Play the app instead, it's pretty fun when the app takes care of the tedious parts.
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Miguel
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I disliked Pathfinder a fair bit. It is is really, really fiddly. As an app, it's better, but still not great.

Thunderstone (not advanced) was fun, but too long and it felt a little underdeveloped. It might be better now, but I haven't tried it.

LOTR is great fun, as long as you enjoy building decks. There are tons of missions, many of them quite hard. You need to find that part fun (sorting through cards and building decks), because it needs to happen all the time if you hope to succeed at the different missions. This is easily my favourite of the three.
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secoAce -
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As you can tell from people's response, all 3 games are very different, each appealing to different styles of play so it really depends on how you like to play.

I've only play Thunderstone Advanced once, a few games of Pathfinder ACG, and a whole lot of LotR LCG, so it's easy to tell which is my favorite. Note that I'm primarily a solo player so my perspective if from playing these games solo.

Thunderstone Advance: This is the only true deck building game of the 3 mentioned games. Deck builders are popular because it requires no prep time before playing and building your deck in-game puts all players on the same playing level. So it's the quickest game to get to the table and start playing. You keep improving your player deck to beat tougher monsters until you can clear the dungeon. I think there were different scenarios to the game (those more familiar with the game can comment), but I only played the basic intro game and I found it was really boring. But of the 3 games, this is the most self-contained that you can play with a single box.

Pathfinder ACG: The best thing about this game is the character development and campaign play. It's really satisfying to be able to watch your character group and build up your character to how you want to develop it. If you're familiar with the Pathfinder RPG, the settings and characters will be very familiar. Each of the stand-alone series (which comprises of a big base box and 6 adventure packs) follows the exact same 6 chapters to the equivalent Pathfinder RPG Adventure path. The story element can be hard to immerse in from just the game cards alone, so it's recommended to at least get the custom Adventure Guides to help with the narrative storyline. It requires a little bit of prep time to build your character's player deck for each game, but it's guided by a list of what card types to include for each character. The gameplay can get quite repetitive after a while though. And the rulebook while organized has a lot of fiddly elements. You really have to be all in to get all the adventure paths for the full campaign and developed characters do not carry over to the next Adventure Path. Of the 3 games, this one works best for multiple players. It's a fairly easy game though I hear the later series are harder.

LotR LCG: I absolutely fell in love with this game. Artwork is unbelievably gorgeous with card text and scenarios dripping with immersive flavor. I'm impressed how each scenario plays so differently that you can't just apply the same strategy to every game. But this is more of your traditional CCG/TCG/LCG deck construction game where you have to build your deck before the game. This is the biggest drawback for many people but I came from MtG so this is standard fair for me. It allows you to properly prepare your playing deck before facing the next scenario which adds to the replayability. There is definitely a learning curve to this game. The game is HARD. Expect a high fail rate. This is not a casual game you can just pick up occasionally. You really have to understand your cards and develop a new strategy for each new scenario. The core box for this game gives you the least bang-for-the-buck where only 2 of the 3 included scenarios are really playable with the core box alone, but that's enough of an intro for you decide if you want to continue or not. And it's only for 1-2 players. If you do want to continue, there are tons of expansions for it already, so spend some time on the game page to learn about the different types of expansions and how you might want to get.
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James C
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For what it's worth, my four-player group had a grand time playing LoTR with just the core box. We each played one monosphere deck. We continued playing that way through the first several adventure packs as well (dividing all the new cards into whatever sphere's deck they belonged). Kept up busy for months.

By doing this, we really learned the game without spending much time at all on deck building.

Ultimately we broke down and picked up a second core set, and dove into the game's deck building side in earnest. Although that was something we avoided for months, it's a major part of the game and something we now very much enjoy: going through our binders upon binders of cards to perfect each of our decks for whatever adventure we're currently confronting.

I can't say enough good things about LoTR. The game really is fantastic. The only downside, as mentioned, is that it can be punishingly difficult - especially with four players.

And it can also become a bit addictive and expensive....
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I've played all three:

- Pathfinder is a pretty bad, boring game - not recommended.

- LotR: is mechanically complex and requires pre-game deck construction. I enjoyed playing it for a while until the scenarios got too hard for my taste (when the Heirs of Numenor expansion was released). Like PAthfinder it can also get quite expensive quickly.

- Thunderstone is probably my favorite of the three. Note that the base game is not co-op, though. It's a great deck-builder. IF I have one criticism it would be that games can take a bit long.
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I have to ask why such a strange question? Comparing these 3 games is absolutely pointless, they are fantasy card games and that's it Pathfinder has some vague similarities with LotR but Thunderstone has nothing to do with them.

1. Thunderstone is a deckbuilder but with hero progression, but still not that far off from Dominion. It is competitive with solo/coop variants which are not as good. It does not have any campaign and plays as a one-off. The least involved of the games, playing it from time to time is fine Pathfinder and Lotr are lifestyle games.

2. Lotr is purely coop/solo, while it can be played as a campaign it plays well as a one-off. It mostly comes down to pre-building the deck, seeing how it fares and building a new one when you fail.

3. Pathfinder only works in a campaign, the base box is just a teaser, without buying all the expansions you get a part of the product. Here you very, very slowly change the deck as you play, so you have more interactivity but less control than in Lotr, but the game mostly is based on the thrill of opening the box with the new adventure and rolling lots of dice. You can be the best player in the world and from time to time lose because of the dice.
 
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Dan Renwick
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borsook wrote:
I have to ask why such a strange question? Comparing these 3 games is absolutely pointless, they are fantasy card games and that's it


Possibly because he's thinking of buying a fantasy card game and wants people's opinions to help him decide which one to get.
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Darby_ wrote:
borsook wrote:
I have to ask why such a strange question? Comparing these 3 games is absolutely pointless, they are fantasy card games and that's it


Possibly because he's thinking of buying a fantasy card game and wants people's opinions to help him decide which one to get.

Maybe. I guess I look at games more from perspective of mechanisms than theme and it is very hard to advise without knowing more about what the person wants from the game.
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Matt Brown
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Pathfinder requires dedicated players. LotR requires time. Advance requires the least and the one I would go with.
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borsook wrote:
Darby_ wrote:
borsook wrote:
I have to ask why such a strange question? Comparing these 3 games is absolutely pointless, they are fantasy card games and that's it


Possibly because he's thinking of buying a fantasy card game and wants people's opinions to help him decide which one to get.

Maybe. I guess I look at games more from perspective of mechanisms than theme and it is very hard to advise without knowing more about what the person wants from the game.


Hey, OP here.
Thanks for all the responses - I really appreciate the help and insights.

Darby is correct. I like fantasy and most sci-fi, but my wife prefers fantasy genre games. Also, we like card games, as they tend to be more flexible / portable. I'm open to various game styles - I started out on D&D, Cyberpunk, and Shadowrun back in the day, but then moved on to M:tG for a decade or so. Now, I'm looking for a solid game for myself and my wife that I can play solo if the mood strikes. We're open to co-op as well as competitive games and we prefer deckbuilders, in general, although I find some of them don't make you feel quite as involved as you might with a Magic-esque game.

So, that's how I ended up at this question / line of thinking. Hero Realms feels too random. I just got Rune Age and like it a lot, but, as a one-off battle game, it feels a little stop-and-start. Of the three I mentioned at the top, I'm leaning most toward TsA, but as it's less accessible, I'm open to suggestions. I know TsQuest is coming out, but from what I've seen of it, I don't think it's going to suit my tastes (too many meeples, etc).

Anyway, thanks again to all!
 
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Andres Montanes-Lleras
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I have only played Thunderstone Advance, but I have thought a lot, at different points, about getting the other two, but finally decided not to.

As a fan of Tolkien's literary works, and everything connected to them, I obviously find the theme of LotR LCG fascinating. I also love that it can be played solo, since that is the way I usually play.

However, I didn't liked how, as someone mentioned before, you had to build your deck around every adventure. Though I like tweaking my decks for MtG, for example, I also like to keep them and playing over and over with them, making small changes as a I go.

Another thing that stayed my hand was the amount of material available. One of the things I like about true deckbuilders like Thunderstone Advance is that is relatively self-contained (as opposed, again, to MtG).

In the case of Pathfinder, I was actually very clos to get one of the sets (even put it in my virtual shopping cart). I like the idea of character development and adventure nature of the game, as well as the fact that it can be played solo. I finally decided against it, because I was not looking at the time for a campign style game like that and read some reviews that said solo game was best with multiple characters (which I don't love).

As mentioned above I finally decided to go with Thunderstone Advance and got Worlds Collide and Into the Abyss, which work particularly well together.

This was my first deckbuilder and I was really interested to try the mechanich, particularly as a self-contained, build-your-deck-as-you-go alternative to MtG, and I comletely fell in love with the genre. I also liked that it can be played solo (contrary to what a previous poster said I do like the solo mode) and combining this with the Epic mode of play makes it even better (and easier to set up).

While the game is still one of my favorites, I think it should be highlighted how it takes a relatively long time to play (at least playing solo), which means I tend to play more often some lighter deckbuilders like Hero Realms and VENOM Assault (though this last one is not fantasy).

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Kenny Felts
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If a card game with an RPG feel is what you want, I'd recommend Arkham Horror: The Card Game over any of those listed. It's a fantastic game played solo or duo (you can play up to 4 but would need multiple sets). The core box is a bit limited (and you'd probably want to buy 2 of them), but the Dunwich Legacy campaign is great and you only need to buy one of everything else to fully support 2 players (assuming you don't take overlapping investigator classes).
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montanus wrote:
While the game is still one of my favorites, I think it should be highlighted how it takes a relatively long time to play (at least playing solo), which means I tend to play more often some lighter deckbuilders like Hero Realms and VENOM Assault (though this last one is not fantasy).


Interesting, you find Venom Assault lighter / faster than TSA.

I haven't played it, but I have seen the rules and it seemed pretty involved.
 
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picklethehutt wrote:
If a card game with an RPG feel is what you want, I'd recommend Arkham Horror: The Card Game over any of those listed. It's a fantastic game played solo or duo (you can play up to 4 but would need multiple sets). The core box is a bit limited (and you'd probably want to buy 2 of them), but the Dunwich Legacy campaign is great and you only need to buy one of everything else to fully support 2 players (assuming you don't take overlapping investigator classes).


That game looks really cool, but I think I'm looking for more of a dungeon crawler* than an rpg.

*Or even a card-battler with solo options. (Keeping an eye on Gruff: Rage of the Trolls, for example.
 
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Kenny Felts
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ZUR13L wrote:
picklethehutt wrote:
If a card game with an RPG feel is what you want, I'd recommend Arkham Horror: The Card Game over any of those listed. It's a fantastic game played solo or duo (you can play up to 4 but would need multiple sets). The core box is a bit limited (and you'd probably want to buy 2 of them), but the Dunwich Legacy campaign is great and you only need to buy one of everything else to fully support 2 players (assuming you don't take overlapping investigator classes).


That game looks really cool, but I think I'm looking for more of a dungeon crawler* than an rpg.

*Or even a card-battler with solo options. (Keeping an eye on Gruff: Rage of the Trolls, for example.


In that case I wouldn't recommend any of them as they aren't really dungeon crawls in the usual sense. For fantasy dungeon crawls I'd go with Descent (with the app) or Sword and Sorcery for dungeon crawl goodness.
 
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Vayda
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I've played all three (all of Thunderstone, and only the core set of Thunderstone Advanced).

If you were only buying one it depends on the play style you prefer.

LotR is the best of the three in terms of theme, mechanics and scope. Is co-op and intense. This is a much more hard core game. It's also not a deckbuikder like TS. I prefer that fact.

Thunderstone is more more casual, but still very fun. Also typically plays out faster than LotR. I liked original TS enough to get it all and we are always happy to play to. Think of this like Dominion with an actual game attached to it.

Pathfinder is a weird game mechanically and thematically for me. I don't know if they fixed it with subsequent releases, but the core set felt very disjointed and random. I had the least fun playing this one.
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John Curtis
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ZUR13L wrote:
picklethehutt wrote:
If a card game with an RPG feel is what you want, I'd recommend Arkham Horror: The Card Game over any of those listed. It's a fantastic game played solo or duo (you can play up to 4 but would need multiple sets). The core box is a bit limited (and you'd probably want to buy 2 of them), but the Dunwich Legacy campaign is great and you only need to buy one of everything else to fully support 2 players (assuming you don't take overlapping investigator classes).


That game looks really cool, but I think I'm looking for more of a dungeon crawler* than an rpg.

*Or even a card-battler with solo options. (Keeping an eye on Gruff: Rage of the Trolls, for example.


Thunderstone does have a "dungeon" element. You are "building" your deck to take on the dungeon bad guys.
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Andres Montanes-Lleras
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ZUR13L wrote:
montanus wrote:
While the game is still one of my favorites, I think it should be highlighted how it takes a relatively long time to play (at least playing solo), which means I tend to play more often some lighter deckbuilders like Hero Realms and VENOM Assault (though this last one is not fantasy).


Interesting, you find Venom Assault lighter / faster than TSA.

I haven't played it, but I have seen the rules and it seemed pretty involved.


While Venom Assault has a turn sequence that might seem at first a bit complicated, and includes dice combat, missions and events, I do feel it is lighter and faster game than TSA (though this can vary a bit depending on the mission and the setup, as you can get stuck with some tricky enemies, or waiting for a specific reward card to appear).

One of the things that I think make me feel this way is the fact that you can buy cards (plural), attack an enemy and scrap a card from your deck all in the same turn, whereas in TSA you have to choose between them. This makes the game progress a lot faster and also makes it a bit easier to win.
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Dave Horn
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This is a weird grouping of 3 as none of these are like the other. One is deck construction (LotR), one is deck builder (TA), and one I wouldn't call either I would call it RPG-lite (Pathfinder).

My rankings

1. LotR
2. Pathfinder
3. TA

what I actually still play of these 3

1. Pathfinder

Overall I think LotR is the better game in terms of full scope. But for me, Arkham Horror LCG completely and fully replaced LotR so I'm done with it.

My opinion, but so many other deck builders out there are better than TA. It also doesn't feel like a dungeon romp to me at all. I'm hoping Thunderstone Quest fixes that problem, but who knows. If I want a dungeon romp deck builder, Clank is the way to go.

Nothing has replaced Pathfinder for me, except the Pathfinder app. The campaigns, the character growth, the RPG-lite qualities. Its an easy go to game when I want those features in something that is quick and easy to play and to teach and is not a brain burner.

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