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Subject: Hero Strategy? rss

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Karington Hess
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Recently I picked up MEQ to play with my game group. For the most part everyone has been very receptive. They enjoy the theme, the combat system, movement system, and battling the dark lord. Due to the fact that I have had the most experience, I have been elected to dawn the guise of the Dark Lord every single time. The first game was a 2 player game and felt close. It ended in a win for Sauron. The second game was a 3 player game and was pretty close too. Again a win for Sauron. The third game I CRUSHED the heroes under my boot heel.sauron I defeated a fully rested Eometh by playing a timely Morgul Blade card. The fourth game was another win for the Dark Forces and I crushed Eometh again in the same manner.

Many of my friends are arguing that the game is unbalanced and greatly favors Sauron. I am inclined to disagree but I cannot offer them any strategies other than, "learn to work together better" or "collect favor faster." As Sauron, I am not doing anything special other than keeping my plots defended and backhanding heroes every so often. I keep a fair amount of shadow cards in my hand and I try to keep corruption cards on the heroes to make my shadow cards stronger. So my question is this: is the game unbalanced or are my hero players not working well together?

Most of all, Is there any advice that anyone can offer my hero players?

I really like this game, I just want to see the Heroes win sometimes.
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GodRob
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While primarily used for killing vampires, a wooden stake to the heart is also highly effective against most other opponents.
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Corruption is bad. Very bad. Get that corruption removed as soon as possible, no matter what it takes. Corruption can be removed by some encounters, not just by resting. Corruption is Sauron's friend!

Also, it would help to know what your missions were, as well as which heroes were playing (other than corruptionmagnetEometh) and what their missions were.

Robert
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Tim Kelly
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Our group seems to have about a 50/50 Split on Sauron/Hero wins. Are the heroes concentrating more on "leveling up" than turning off plots? Do they work as a team to take out plots? (One hero to clear out the plot "guardians", another to shut down the plot).
Sometimes the events can favor one side or the other. I'll bet the heroes catch a win soon.
TK
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Karington Hess
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The first game was Argalad vs sauron
Hero Victory Condition: Noble Blood ( 1 or less corruption cards)
Sauron Victory Condition: Where the Shadows Lie (Black Marker to Stage III)

Second Game Argalad & Eometh vs Sauron
Hero Victory Condition: Spear of the West (Complete both Quests)
Sauron Victory Condition:In Darkness Bind them (Yellow Marker to Stage III)
Eometh kept challenging the respawning ringwraithes
I couldn't complete my objective before the shadow fall finale kicked in.
Ringwraithes won the duel

Game 3: Thalin (who did absolutely nothing but collect favor and not spend it) Eometh, Argalad vs Sauron
Hero Victory Condition: Against The Shadow (No more than 2 monster tokens in play)
Sauron Victory Condition: Where the Shadows Lie (Black Marker to Stage III)

Game 4 Thalin Beravor and Eometh(Corruption Magnet) I ended his turn early like 3 or 4 times.
Hero Victory Condition: Isildur's Secret (Heroes have 5 Favor)
Sauron Victory Condition: To Rule them All (Red Marker to Stage III)


 
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Karington Hess
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it seems that they do not try as hard as they could to shut down plots. The first few times we played it seemed like the heroes were more concerned with lvling up than plots. Likewise, when we played the last game, it seemed that the heroes were all off doing their own thing. I can see now the value of clearing a path for the 'plot closers'. I hope that the next game will cause the heroes to win. I have vowed not to play Sauron sauron again until the heroes have won a game. shake
 
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GodRob
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Closing down plots is important, but it could be more important deciding which plots to eliminate.

As long as each plot is moving only one or two spaces per turn, it's not that imperative to remove a plot. As the heroes, I like to keep the starting plot in play as long as possible because it only moves a marker one space. If Sauron plays another plot that moves that same marker 2, I may consider removing the first plot if it's easier to get to. Either way, it's not catching up to my marker.

The players should discuss these things openly. Is Thalin going to waste four turns travelling to the Blue Mountains? Call him out on that. It's not worth it (even if that's your mission, just complete it later and keep Sauron guessing). If Eometh with only one card in hand and a corruption wants to move to Dol Guldur, don't let him!

There are lots of choices that should be made as a team. One choice that seems to work well is removing influence from the Shadow Pool whenever you get the chance. There's a few Shadow cards that require 4 influence in the pool and reducing it to three can save you some headaches.

I'm sure there's tons more advice you'll get, but there's a start for you.
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Sam Butler
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The one way to guarantee winning is to dominate and achieve your mission. The only time your mission matters is if you can stop the other side from achieving domination. The one sure way to stop the other team from winning by mission is also to ensure the other side is not dominant. This also can slant the final battle toward/away from you.

Dominance is almost entirely determined by Sauron's plots in play. Therefore, the heroes should consider their *primary* quest (and implicit mission) to limit the movement of Sauron's plot markers, keeping in mind that at in Stage II and especially Stage III, Sauron's plot markers are going to start really haulin'. This takes priority even over your mission card, because if you can't get dominant, your mission is irrelevant. (In reality you need to do a little of both simultaneously or you won't get your mission either, of course...but whenever there is an opportnity to gather favor and discard a plot or to do some small step toward the mission or leveling up, the heroes should lean toward discarding the plot unless they can already be relatively certain Sauron can't catch up, even with the more powerful cards that become possible toward the end of the game.

As the previous poster said, it is also important to look at what plots to discard. There are three factors that affect the heroes: difficulty to reach, marker movement, and favor cost. Difficulty to reach is variable, determined mostly by location (which is fixed for most plots) but also by the variable of monster/minion presence. Favor is pretty well set by the card. Marker movement is fixed for each plot card, but its value depends on game conditions. At the beginning, all markers are roughly equal. From the midgame on, assuming Sauron's markers are numbered from 1 to 3 with 1 being closest to Finale (with current plots in play) and 3 being furthest from finale (with current plots in play), Sauron's marker #1 is the biggest threat, and marker #3 (NOT #2) is the second biggest threat. The reasoning is #1 is closest to reaching Finale (and may correspond to Sauron's mission as well), and #3 is the widest gap to close to achieve Shadow Falls.

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GodRob
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Also (let's be honest, I'm not stopping soon), only you can help Sauron reach the Shadow Falls space. That's right, all that resting and healing you do during Stage I when you're so far ahead in dominance could be causing you to lose the game. Once in a while you'll get defeated and cause one of them to move. That's ok.

As Sam mentioned, during late Stage II and Stage III, those markers are going to start flying up the track. DON'T HELP THEM! Only rest when you absolutely have to.

Robert
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Artie Heinrich
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Hi Karington,

I had an experience quite similar to yours. As the most experienced player I always get to play the dark lord. At New Years I finally got the chance to play against 2 heroes - and I crushed them three games in a row (with my winning marker being way beyond the hero marker). We got to a point where my two opponents were really frustrated and found the game to be unbalanced. We then discussed what the heroes could do to tip the scales.

We found that the most important point is to stay flexible and re-evaluate the in-game situation over and over. There is no fixed strategy ("always do X") for the heroes. They more or less have to react to Sauron's actions and the events. Sauron on the other hand can really plan his actions and apart from the odd event or encounter can mostly stick to it.
As some other poster has already said: removing influence from the shadow pool is a real pain in the behind for Sauron.

So when we played again two days later the heroes did a real good job of containing me and not letting me get out of hand, and the game went to the final battle (that I could win).

Oh - one more point: I think that the configuration of the heroes has some influence on their chances of winning. Choosing a good fighter together with "favor monster" Eleanor seems to be the way to go.

Just my 2 (euro-)cents,

Artie

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Drake Coker
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Here's what I suggest...

Now that everyone has played enough to be familiar with the game, switch sides. Have someone else play Sauron.

The best way to see what hero activities pain Sauron is to play Sauron and see what you end up worrying about.

Also, you might be able to help the hero side engineer a win with your knowledge about Sauron. That will help mitigate the "game is unbalanced" feeling.

Here is another thought... as an experiment, don't have the heros look at their mission card. See what they can do if they focus only on dominance. That might help highlight what is really important to accomplish (gaining favor and killing plots) vs the distractions.
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Karington Hess
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Thank you all so much for your help. I am playing MEQ with an old friend of mine to night (who has never played the game) I have suggested that he play Sauron sauron (I hope that this will work to balance out the game as I have yet to play as the heroes.) As for my regular game group, we will play again soon and I will pass along your suggestions to them. (I have already spoken with my Eometh Player and have suggested that he avoid being crushed repeatedly by the minions.) Hopefully my next report will be a win for the Heroes! I will let you all know how it goes.

"There never was much hope... Just a fools hope..." -Gandalf RotK
 
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Nathaniel GOUSSET
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Very important thing for the Heroes to win :

KILL SAURON INFLUENCE !

When you are not going to reach your goal in one turn, finish your move in a 2 or 3 points area or try to sever an influence line.

Why ? because removing a plot cost you favor, but cancelling Sauron attemps to put it into play is free.

A lot of Sauron plot require setting 6 to 8 influence around havens or the shadowkeep in the north. Look where Sauron is putting influence and try to have it removed before he can play his card. That will seriously slow him down, Sometimes losing one turn or more of this Red counter cruising 3 cases by turn...

It also cost him action, as everytime your remove 6 influence you are canceling one of his actions.

In a recent game I lose because the Heroes (inadvertadly ) managed to remove Influence I needed to play my plot, more than 3 times, right before I put the plot down on the table. It cost me great time in influence placing and forced me to set up to be able to play 2 different plot at the same time, which slow me down too...
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Karington Hess
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I promised an update once I had played my next game. My friend and I chose to have me play as both a hero and as Sauron. I was able to successfully split my focus between Eleanor and the dark lord. The heroes sped around the table and collected all the favor we could muster and discarded several plots. The two plots that killed us were Denethor's madness and another black plot card. Eleanor came up one card short of discarding a plot that would have ended in victory for the heroes. So I can now see how hard it is to play as the heroes. I think that the next game that I play with my regular game group will end in a victory for the heroes.
 
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Sam Butler
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So close! Sounds like the heroes are playing a much better game already. Keep us posted!
 
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