

Background
There has been a lot of writing on the subject on this forum: according to what I've read, it is a general perception that LOTR is harder with 2 hobbits, especially when playing with the F&F expansion.
This concerns my usual way of playing. Sometimes I play with my wife but I mainly play solo (very seldom we play with another couple). When playing the 2 of us we find it rather awkward to play 2 hobbits each, but then, with only Frodo & Sam, it get significantly harder. This is also true when I play solo: I find it a bit boring to keep track of 4 different hobbits, but with only 2 I have a hard time in F&F, when with 4 I win 50% of games with Sauron @12.
Therefore I decided to make some calculations to see whether it's me or the game balance... I hope that you will find it useful. Comments are very wellcome!
Summary
4 hobbits have an advantage vs 2 hobbits. In standard LOTR, the game is balanced only with Sauron @10. 4 hobbits have an advantage with Sauron @12. This advantage is as big as the advantage 4 hobbits have in F&F with Sauron @10. In both cases 2 hobbits can be helped in many ways; my suggestion is either to deal all cards in Rivendell and Lothlorien, and then discard 1 card for each Hobbit; or use also Merry and Pippin special F&F powers and normal powers as 1shot special cards. In both ways we just close the gap and give 2 hobbits the same odds and experience 4 hobbits have.
In F&F with Sauron @12 the advantage 4 hobbits have gets even bigger, so that both suggested measures should be implemented to help 2 hobbits.
Acknowledgments
You could check this thread: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/29419 which inspired for quantifying things. Also this file is interesting for an example of quantitative analysis of cards and movement: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/35446. I thank Bryan Stout and Rich Moore for their work. You could also have a look at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/367307 which addresses the same question from a qualitative point of view. Thanks to Xander Fulton for that.
Approach
I initially tried a thorough approach, calculating everything and then comparing, with any number of hobbits. It turned out to be a monster excel spreadsheet impossible to handle. So I opted for a “differential” approach: I will only consider differences between 2 and 4 hobbits play, neglecting things that do not vary.
Moreover, I will only consider 2 and 4 hobbits, as in my case it never happened to have 3 or 5.The standard measure unit is 1 black/white dot, equal to any 2 random hobbit cards according to the “not playing cards” activity, or to a generic Foe in F&F. When doubting, I will choose conservative estimates, i.e. values which underestimate 4 hobbits' advantages, as my thesis is that they do have one. There are a lot of “hidden” assumptions which are not stated for brevity, (this is too long already!). I am happy to discuss them if you are interested.
I will describe each cost/asset aspect separately, avoiding a scenariobyscenario analysis whenever possible. I will refer to standard LOTR as “Vanilla” for clarity. The results will be estimated differences between 4 and 2 hobbits, giving positive results when 4 are at an advantage, negative results when at a disadvantage.
Corruption pool
4 hobbits can absorb twice as much corruption as 2 hobbits. So if Sauron is at 12, the difference is: + 24 dots. Same applies for Vanilla and F&F. When tuning difficulty, this difference varies, so we will find different advantages for different difficulty levels.
The Eye of Sauron
Of course, each Eye is worth 2 dots for 2 hobbits and 4 for 4 hobbits.
Event Tiles, Events, Scenario turns and Scenarios
For simplicity, I will assume the same number of turns for 2 and 4 hobbits in any scenario. This is a starting point for calculations and shall be verified a posteriori. It simply means that I assume no differences in turns, strategy and actual play in any scenario, estimating the cost of doing so for 2 and 4 hobbits.
Moreover, for F&F I will assume that only 4 Scenario are played: Bree, Isengard, Mordor and a random one among the other 3, so that any value concerning those is weighted 1/3. When calculating the cost of an event, if there are more than one option, I will consider them to have the same probabilities and average them; events from 4th onwards are weighted 50% as they will not be hit in every game.
As for event tiles, if we assume that we move a hobbit in the case of “one hobbit receives 2 corruption or Sauron moves 1” then there is no difference in 2 or 4 hobbits play. Regardin the cost of Sundials with discard 3 symbols is slightly different. Discard cards has roughly the same value for 2 and 4 hobbit (0.5 dots each); same applies for shield; life tokens are more valuable for 4 hobbits, and an extra life token per board will be included in calculations regarding them.
For Foes calculation, see below.
The die
This is one of the most important elements in the game. My assumptions: Sam suffers less from the die; this is more important in two hobbit games, as he is more likely to be the one that rolls. I assume that he rolls twice as much as any other hobbit, i.e. 66% in 2hobbit game and 40% in 4 hobbit. These values will be needed later.
Vanilla – 2 hobbits Sam: (2+0.5+1+1+1+0) = 0.92 dots Frodo: (2+1+1+2+3+0)/6 = 1.5 dots Weighted average = 1.11 dots Vanilla – 4 hobbits Sam: (4+0.5+1+1+1+0) = 1.25 dots Others: (4+1+1+2+3+0)/6 = 1.83 dots Weighted average = 1.60 dots
With F&F a value for the average Foe is needed. This depends on the value of the die so that it would need feedback in the calculation. Therefore I assume a fixed value of 1 dot (1 turn to defeat a Foe with “not playing cards”).
F&F – 2 hobbits Sam: (2+1+1+1+1+0) = 1 dot Frodo: (2+1+1+2+3+0)/6 = 1.67 dots Weighted average = 1.22 dots
F&F – 4 hobbits Sam: (4+1+1+1+1+0) = 1.33 dots Frodo: (4+1+1+2+3+0)/6 = 2 dots Weighted average = 1.73 dots
The Ring and other die rolls: Corruption and Sauron movement
I refer here to die rolls and corruption due to events, the Ring and scenario boards in general, plus Gollum. I consider all rolls as they lead to differences due to the values calculated above. I just list values per board, considering the usual 50% chance from 4th event onwards, and averaging when multiple options are possible (with reasonable probabilities); blitz in Mordor is assumed. Costs are evaluated according to the assumptions stated before.
2 hobbits Scen. DR S c Ring Brd Van F&F Bree 2 1 0 1 0 5.7 100% Moria 1.25 0.5 1 0.5 4.1 4.4 33% Isen. 1.5 1 1.5 4.9 100% HD 1.5 3 1 1 9.9 10.3 33% S 1.5 1 1 0 4.8 5.1 33% Mor. 1 1 2 4.4 4.9 100%
Total 23.2 22.0
4 hobbits
Scen. DR S c Ring Brd Van F&F Bree 2.5 1 0 1 0 10.1 100% Moria 0.25 0.5 3 1 0.5 7.8 8.0 33% Isen. 2 1 1.5 7.8 100% HD 2 3 1 1 18.4 18.9 33% SL 2 1 1 0 8.8 9.2 33% Mord. 2 1 2 8.0 8.7 100%
Total 43.0 38.5
Key: R = roll (due to event) c = corruption (due to event) S = Sauron (due to event) Ring = die roll for using the Ring Brd = roll on the board
Note: Preparations is included in Bree
Therefore the difference is: Vanilla = 19.8 dots F&F = 16.5 dots
Hobbit cards
The average value is 0.5 dots for a generic hobbit card. However, wilds are worth more than other symbols; grey cards are worth more than white ones, as there are less of them and you want to play two cards each turn. Different values apply for Frodo and Pippin due to their special ability. Let us consider a generic nonwild white hobbit card to be the reference, so that it is worth 1 card unit (CU). A generic wild hobbit card can be 50% more valuable, 1.5 CU (for a detailed analysis of why 1.5, see http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/29419 . This is tricky to estimate, I agree with 1.5 because this is an average estimate for the whole game, so that I still value 2 generic symbols more than 1 wild; in a given situation, this could not be the case). For grey cards, I assume them to be 20% more valuable when played to move a marker, because they allow to play 2 cards instead of 1 in one turn; however, 1symbol hobbit cards get also played as “paying the cost” or “discards”, so that being grey or white makes no difference in this case. An average here is 10% more, or 1.1 CU per card. I still have to consider Frodo's ability: generic nonwild white hobbit card are worth 1.5 CU for him; calculating averages leads to 1.25 CU for 2 hobbits and 1.125 for 4 hobbits. Pippin's ability will be evaluated later.
Hobbit card split is: 12 wild, 20 grey, 28 other. So the average card value is 1.25 CU for 2 hobbits, 1.19 for 4 hobbits. For 2 hobbits, I will also need to convert CUs to dots, to estimate the value of extra cards that 2 hobbits have to draw to close the gap with 4 hobbits. As 2 generic cards are worth 1 dot, this gives 2.5 CU = 1 dot, therefore for hobbit cards 1 wild = 0.6 dots 1 grey = 0.44 dots 1 other = 0.4 dots
How many hobbit cards are drawn in the game? Bag end: 12 for 2 hobbits; 24 for 4 hobbits.
Preparations: according to the Die values, 1 roll by Frodo is worth 2 dots at most, so is is always worth doing = 4 random cards (2 dots).
Lothlorien: 2 card for each hobbit, assuming 50% probability = 2 for 2 pl, 4 for 4 pl.
Helm's Deep: Orcs attack the door: 1 card for each hobbit, assuming 50% probability = 1 for 2 pl, 2 for 4 pl.  negligible
Shelob's Liar: Gollum: 2 card every nonactive hobbit = 2 for 2 pl, 6 for 4 pl Event #3: 1 card each = 2 for 2 pl, 4 for 4 pl
Mordor: Sam saves Frodo = ignored (not taken)
Ringbearer: 3 times (4 boards) 2 random hobbit cards = 6 cards
Total: 28 for 2 hobbits, 48 for 4 hobbits. Converted to Card Units, 57.2 CU to 35 CU. The difference is 22.2 CU, i.e. 8.9 dots, both for Vanilla and F&F
Feature cards
I assume that play on the board is the same for 2 and 4 hobbits, so no difference here. Differences come from Rivendell and Lothlorien. To estimate them we need to convert Feature cards into dots. For nonyellow cards we have: 1 symbol grey cards = 0.44 dots (as per hobbit cards) 1 wild grey cards = 0.66 dots (10% more that wild white cards)
For 2symbol card, if used to pay the cost of anything, they are worth twice as much as 1symbol cards. However, if played to move any marker, they use less turns to do so, at a rate of 1 whitegrey pair with 2 symbols each = 2 whitegray pair with 1 symbol each + 1 extra turn, worth 1 dot. Considering grey cards to be 20% more valuable that white cards allows to solve the equation, which leads to: 2symbol (non wild) white cards =1.21 dots 2symbol (non wild) grey cards = 1.46 dots 2wild white cards = 1.55 dots 2wild grey cards = 1.85 dots
[it is not relevant here, but we can include remaining cards: Elessar: 3symbol (non wild) white cards =2.24 dots Gollum & Gandalf: 3wild white cards = 2.74 dots ]
Yellow cards are harder to value, I will stick to the 2 dots value estimated by Bryan Stout.
We can then add all cards up and estimate how much is worth 1/3 of the lot, which is what 2 hobbits miss: Rivendell = 18.4 dots; 1/3 is 6.1 dots Lothlorien = 16.6 dots; 1/3 is 5.5 dots
Therefore, for Vanilla the difference is 11.6 dots. For F&F, Moria will be skipped 2 out of 3 times; if skipped, we can visit the Elves. With 2 hobbits, we pick 2 (yellow) cards and roll once = 4 – 1.22 = 2.78 dots With 4 hobbits, we pick 4 (yellow) cards and roll once = 8 – 1.73 = 6.27 dots which means that it is always worth doing it. The difference is 3.49 dots; average difference for Moria+Lothlorien considering skipping is 4.2. So, total difference is = 9.1 dots
Events requiring cards
Considering just “each player” events gives the following list: (notice that each nonwild symbol is worth 0.5 dots because it could be played with grey card or wild cards also, even with multiple symbols)
Bree Nazgûl: 50% chances of 1 fighting per hobbit, 50% prob. = 0.3 dots
Rivendell The Fellowship of the Ring: 1 friendship symbol per hobbit = 1 dots
Moria Event #2: 1 hiding symbol per hobbit = 1 dots
Lothlorien Galadriel: 1 wild per hobbit = 1.2 dots
Shelob's Liar Faces of the Dead: 1 wild per hobbit, 50% prob. = 0.6 dots
Total difference for Vanilla = 3.8 dots Total difference for F&F = 3 dots (1/3 of each skippable scenairo)
Shields & Gandalf
I agree with 2.5 dots per card as estimated by Bryan's thread. So shield are worth 0.5 dots. There are events asking for shield per hobbit, which give differences for our study:
Bree Nazgûl: 50% chances of 1 shield per hobbit, 50% prob. = 0.5 shields
Lothlorien: 2 shields per hobbit, 50% prob. = 2 shields
Isengard Voice of Saruman: 50% chances of 2 shield per hobbit, 50% prob. = 1 shield
Shelob's Liar Faces of the Dead: 3 shields per hobbit, 50% prob. = 3 shields
Mordor: Sam saves Frodo = ignored (not taken)
Moreover, with 4 hobbits shields are split among 4 instead of 2. If we assume the same probability of having 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 shields (if I have more I buy Gandalf and have those as remainders), the average remainder is 2 per hobbit, which will go wasted at the end of the game (well, points actually). So the difference is = 4 shields
Total difference for Vanilla = 9 shield = 4.5 dots Total difference for F&F = 8.5 shields for F&F (1/3 chance of playing Shelob's Liar) = 4.25 dots
Life tokens
I have already assumed that the same number of turns is played on each board; I have already taken into account that 2 hobbits have to draw more cards to compensate the 4 hobbit advantage in cards. Therefore to be coherent I have to assume that the same number of Life Tokens is collected on each board, leading to different corruption according to the number of hobbits. (4 hobbits could play cards to avoid it but I am not going into that kind of tactic analysis here, just pricing everything). With optimal strategy it can be assumed that 2 hobbits are never corrupted due to missing life tokens, 4 hobbits receive at least 1 dot (need 11 tokens with 10 available – 5th ring doesn't count). A more realistic approach (slightly suboptimal, including discard 1 life token for conditional Sundial) is to consider 1 dot per board for two hobbits and 5 dots per board for 4 hobbits. Notice that there is no corruption in Mordor. Therefore, total difference is = 4 dots per board = 12 dots (also for F&F if 4 boards are played)
Healing There are so few cases which are “each player” that it is negligible.
Foes
In a typical play with 4 boards you will face all the Foes (although maybe you will not want to defeat them all – I assume the Black Gate variant). I only consider Foes that cause differential costs according to the number of hobbits, i.e. those that imply die rolls, Sauron movements or Life Tokens discards.
Of all Foes, 7 are the most expensive (I list they cost, not their names): Move Sauron 1, Discard 3 Life Tokens, Discard 3 wild, 3 corruption, Roll 1 die (x4). As for Event Tiles, I assume a standard strategy as a reference: using Fire Brand and Fire Storm for defeating 3 Foes of the above, and “not playing cards” to defeat other 2. You will then pay the cost of the “Roll the die” for 2 foes. As a roll costs 1.73 vs 1.22 dots, this means 1 extra dot for 4 hobbits.
Additionally, 4 hobbits will suffer more from life token discarding. We can assuming Life Tokens always cause 1 corruption for 4 pl, but for 2 pl. just 50% of the time (0.5 dots), and also that 1 spare Ring is always available. This means that only 4 Foes actually give different costs: discard 1 heart, discard 1 sun, discard 2 generic tokens and discard 2 rings (for the others I will discard the extra ring). This assumption gives an extra 2 dots for 4 hobbits.
Therefore, the difference is 3 dots.
Standard hobbit powers
Standard hobbit power have already been included in the previous calculations (Frodo: white hobbit cards value; Sam: die roll cost; Merry: life tokens needed). for Pippin, playing any 2 cards is very situational and could be worth half a turn (0.5 dots) maybe on 25% of Pippin's turns. If playing 4 boards, a good estimation could be having 9 turns per board and only 4 in Mordor. This means 28 turns, 7 for Pippin, so 1.75 turns with bonus, i.e. 0.88 dots.
F&F hobbit powers
Frodo's power has the same value with 2 and 4 pl. Sam's power, however, is more valuable for 4 hobbits. If we assume that his power is used to prevent Sauron from moving 2 steps (a good example could be in Bree) this gives a value of [benefit – cost of a full die]: 2 pl. = 4 – 1.67 = 2.33 4 pl. = 8 – 2 = 6 Difference = 3.67
Pippin's power is straightforward, 1 extra turn for 1 dot (although in some situations could be a lot more valuable, e.g. in Mordor). Merry's could be estimated to be used to defeat at least a 2lifetoken Foe, or 2 1token, for a value of 2 dots (but if used for defeating lifetoken Foes among the 4 newly drawn for the Helm's Deep + Shelob's Liar double skip, then it is priceless!). This gives a bonus of at least 3 dots.
Total difference is then 6.67 dots
Summary
The following table summarizes all previous results
Difference 4 vs 2 hobbits (dots) Van. F&F Corruption pool 24 24 Die & Sauron 19.8 16.5 Events & Tiles 0 0 Hobbit cards 8.9 8.9 Elven cards 11.6 9.1 Cards from events 3.8 3 Shields & Gandalf 4.5 4.25 Life tokens 12 12 Hobbit powers 0.88 0.88 Foes 3 F&F Hobbit pow. 6.67 Total 5.28 10.8
Conclusions
4 hobbits have an advantage versus 2 hobbits. In standard LOTR, with Sauron @12 this is estimated to be around 5 dots. However, with Sauron @10, it would be only 1 dot, and with Sauron @ 15 it would be 11 dots, so that Standard play is well balanced with 2 and 4 hobbits provided that you play with Sauron @ 10 or so. If you wanted to play with easier Sauron, with 2 hobbits you would need to implement one of the measures depicted for F&F (see below).
In F&F the advantage becomes greater: with Sauron @12 it is around 11 dots, 7 dots for Sauron @10 and 17 dots for Sauron @15.
With Sauron @10 for 4 hobbits, in order to offset the imbalance of 7 dots ONE the following could be done:  Move Sauron to 15 (3 dots x 2 hobbits = 6 dots)  Deal some extra cards: 2 hobbit card per hobbit per scenario (1 dot x 2 hob x 3 scenarios = 6 dots)  Deal some extra cards: deal all elven cards. 2 Hobbits miss 6.1 dots worth of cards in Rivendell, 5.5 in Lothlorien. One solution could be to deal half of the missing cards, i.e. 5 cards each hobbit in both places, and dealing 3 cards if Moria if skipped and the Elves are visited (3 dots + 2.75 or 2 dots = 5.25 dots). To even increase it more, you could deal 6, discard 1 card for each hobbit.  Make Pippin's and Merry's powers available, both F&F specials (3 dots) and standards ones, which could be used as specials (play any 2 cards once – 0.5 dots – and need 1 less life token, once – 1 dot). To boost the value, cards could be “pooled”, i.e. available for either Frodo or Sam, any time. (4.5 dots)
My preference goes to the last 2: slightly more cards from the elves or special powers to bring Merry and Pippin back into the story.
As F&F is harder than standard LOTR, if you wanted to play with Sauron @12 then you need to implement TWO of the previous measures to make it as 4 hobbits go.
Critiques
A lot of aspects lie outside the scope of a quantitative, static analysis. This is a list of the major ones that are pros for 4 hobbits:
 Sacrifice play: with 2 hobbits, losing one Hobbit to Sauron is a big hindrance; with 4, it could actually be an advantage, even losing 2 hobbit,s especially after Lothlorien (take all the cards, then play as 2 hobbits the last boards)  Scenario skipping: this is slightly easier with 4 hobbits due to Merry's ability, especially for the “double skip”  Actual play on scenario boards: 2 hobbits lack cards, therefore they will choose “not playing cards” to draw some, even to get out via events. This will lead to more turns than the “reference strategy”, so that the disadvantage that they have towards 4 hobbits will be probably experienced as the inability to finish the main track and facing more events than 4 hobbits do  Randomness: as 2 hobbits miss some cards in Rivendell and Lothlorien, which have very different values, there will be a huge impact of which actual cards they miss.  Mount Doom: usual good play involves having one nice yellow card (do not roll the die; ignore damage from die). With 2 hobbits you could miss the card in the first place. If you actually roll, I believe 4 roll is better than 2, although by a very thin margin.
These are the cons for 4 hobbits:  Actual play on scenario boards: 4 hobbits have more corruption pool which goes mostly to dice rolls and Sauron movements; then they lack Life Tokens, so they will play more cards than the “reference” strategy considered for the calculations on side tracks to get more tokens.  Suboptimal play: with 4 hobbits you have to face the random split of cards, which could be really nasty, especially with “active hobbit” events. Moreover, with four people you won't take the optimal decision as much as with two people (this does not apply to 1 or 2 people playing 4 hobbits)
My guess is that they overall favor 4 hobbits vs 2, but it is not a big mistake to assume that they simply even out.

Mike NZ
New Zealand LOTR New Zealand

WOW! Excellent! I've only played with 2 Hobbits...and all my games are solowhich I find the game works really well solo. I MUST try 4 Hobbits...so far I haven't made it thru...maybe my time is coming! many thanks!

Rich Moore
United States Oxford Ohio
Gotcha!

I look forward to reading this when I get the time!

Xander Fulton
United States Astoria Oregon

Wow, this article hasn't gotten nearly the attention it deserves. Fantastic analysis!

Dana R.
United States Claremont New Hampshire
Devotium Popcornicus

XanderF wrote: Wow, this article hasn't gotten nearly the attention it deserves. Fantastic analysis!
I am too busy studying it to reply....I should have it absorbed in about 6 more days.

Kevin B. Smith
United States Mercer Island Washington

Tommaso 73 wrote:  Randomness: as 2 hobbits miss some cards in Rivendell and Lothlorien, which have very different values, there will be a huge impact of which actual cards they miss. Fantastic analysis.
I believe the revised rules call for distributing all 12 cards at each special location, even for 2 hobbits: Question about a specific rule compared to Silver Line edition Rivendell And Lothlorien Clarification Please
So that would be 4 extra cards each time, or 8 cards total. That would certainly narrow the difficulty gap.

Sam Butler
United States Fort Walton Beach Florida

Tommaso 73 wrote: For simplicity, I will assume the same number of turns for 2 and 4 hobbits in any scenario.
I believe this is your biggest assumption in an otherwise exceptional analysis. Still, regardless, have to start somewhere and you have done a great job breaking things down.
I think that in 2hobbit LotR, side tracks become much less important, since life tokens are less important, and therefore the total number of turns per scenario should be decreased. So, I wonder how the analysis would change if on average it took 2 hobbits one less turn? Two less turns?
Great work in putting this together!
Sam



peakhope wrote:
It's been quite a time since I wrote this. IF I correctly understand what I wrote then (not 100% sure any more...) then with the FFG revised rule the base game becomes balanced in 2 vs 4 hobbit with @15 (not a very frequent config). With @10 and the revised card rule, you would experience 2 hobbits being easier than 4. For F&F, however, the new card rule would give a 2 vs 4 balance for @12 (most frequent config for F&F?), being slightly in favor for 2 hobbits if @10 and slightly in favor for @15. It seems that FFG knew what they were doing...
Also take into account this:
Tommaso 73 wrote:  Mount Doom: usual good play involves having one nice yellow card (do not roll the die; ignore damage from die). With 2 hobbits you could miss the card in the first place. If you actually roll, I believe 4 roll is better than 2, although by a very thin margin This is not true anymore with the new rule



butsam wrote: I wonder how the analysis would change if on average it took 2 hobbits one less turn? Two less turns? I'm not into this anymore so much as to do the numbers. IIRC, I gave it some thought and came to the conclusion I put at the end:
Tommaso 73 wrote: Actual play on scenario boards: 2 hobbits lack cards, therefore they will choose “not playing cards” to draw some, even to get out via events. This will lead to more turns than the “reference strategy”, so that the disadvantage that they have towards 4 hobbits will be probably experienced as the inability to finish the main track and facing more events than 4 hobbits do If I were to revise my numbers, I would envisage two game plans: rushing and waiting, and calculate things for 2 and 4 hobbits. The biggest assumption was this one: you play the same regardless the number of hobbits. However, I still think that the numbers stand as they were a rough measure of static costs. You should save by playing betterthanstandard, but that's up to the player's ability. I wasn't trying to calculate the best strategy (nightmarish problem!), only looking for a hard number comparing 2 and 4. Starting from a standard strategy seemed more correct.
My take on your question is this: in my experience, with 2 hobbits you do not sprint through the boards, you just play with events more. My guess is that on each board you spend MORE turns, not less. With 4 player the problem you have is that because of side tracks, you cannot do this so easily. With 2 hobbits, you can stay still for 2 turns, heal 1 dot each and compensate for a life token each, without using any resource. If your are confident you have 2 spare turn, you may do it. The same strategy with 4 hobbits costs you 4 turns, that is, you never do it. 2 hobbits is really a different game, as soon as you are 1 or 2 spaces away from the goal in the main track, time is your ally, and you GAIN by waiting. With random tile draw, this will happen at least in 1 of the first 3 boards, with some planning in 2. In F&F, you could end every board but Mordor by events! (I did it many times) With 4 hobbits you will have to actually finish the board, the game may feel longer, but you will play the same number of turns, or maybe even less.
Final thought: do not forget this
Tommaso 73 wrote: Suboptimal play: with 4 hobbits you have to face the random split of cards, which could be really nasty, especially with “active hobbit” events. Moreover, with four people you won't take the optimal decision as much as with two people (this does not apply to 1 or 2 people playing 4 hobbits) I know we are all superexpert players, but 2 is easier to coordinate than 4. Playing solo with 4 hobbits feels A LOT easier than playing with 4 people.

Randy Simcox
United States West Hills California

Remember also that in later editions of the game the card distribution of whit/grey cards is identical, and that wild cards are both grey and white. Not so in earlier editions where it it was 40 to 20 in favor of white cards.


