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Subject: How I beat the third scenario solo. Er, sort of. rss

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Jeff Hannes
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So after much failure and experimentation, I finally built a deck to beat the third scenario solo. Well, sort of. After miserable failures in my initial attempts, I decided to scale back the difficulty, at least to start. The ultimate goal is to build a deck that can beat the scenario at full strength, but one step at a time.

I suppose you could cross-list this in Strategy, Session Reports and Variants, but since it's mostly about the deck I used and how I used it, I figured strategy made the most sense. And since it's got a deck list, I suppose this could be considered a spoiler, which makes Strategy the safest place to post it.

Anyhoo, here are the rules changes I've been using as my "starter level" for the third scenario:

* Only use two Objectives (chosen at random). In order to advance to the third stage of the quest, you only need to collect the two Objectives.

* Choose your prisoner hero by choice instead of randomly.

My rationale for these: The initial rush of 4 enemy cards (or more with Surge) is *significantly* harder than the 5 you get in a 2-player game, and the 2-player version of this scenario is hard enough! Also, in a 2-player game, you can spread the threat increase of the Objectives between the players (remember they require a total of 6 threat just to attach). In a solo scenario having to absorb all 6 threat (plus the additional 2 per turn of the Dungeon Torch) is hellish.

As for choosing the prisoner... in a 2-player game, one player is still at full strength and their deck will perform optimally, so they can make up for any slack the other player might suffer. In solo, it's manageable to get through the first stage of the quest with only two heroes, but you have to pretty much build your deck around it. Aragorn and Eowyn are so critical to my strategy that if either gets captured I've already lost. So rather than waste my time by playing a losing game two out of every three times, I just let Denethor be my prisoner. So technically I suppose whatever my win rate is, it should be divided by three. But whatever, I don't care... I just want to win!

Anyhoo... For starters, here's my deck (built from two Core sets):

HEROES (Starting Threat: 29)
Aragorn [Leadership]
Eowyn [Spirit]
Denethor [Lore]

LEADERSHIP
x2 Guard of the Citadel
x3 Faramir
x2 Snowbourn Scot
x2 Silverlode Archer
x1 Longbeard Orc Slayer
x1 Brok Ironfist
x3 For Gondor!
x3 Sneak Attack
x1 Grim Resolve
x3 Steward of Gondor
x2 Celebrian Stone

SPIRIT
x3 Wandering Took
x2 Lorien Guide
x3 The Galadhrim's Greeting
x3 A Test of Will
x1 Dwarven Tomb
x2 Unexpected Courage

LORE
x3 Miner of the Iron Hills
x2 Lore of Imladris
x3 Radagast's Cunning
x2 Self Preservation

NEUTRAL
x3 Gandalf

A couple notes on the card choices, in particular ones which were included to fill holes after repated failures.

* Since this is effectvely a tri-sphere deck, most of the allies are cheap, to ensure that I can them into play. In a perfect world Aragorn will get Steward of Gondor and Celebrian Stone to eliminate any resource worries for my two main spheres. Though in my winning contest, I never did draw a Steward and muscled through it anyway with resources to spare.

* Caught in a Web is absolutely brutal against a solo deck, so I've got a ton of ways to deal with it... best option being the Miner of the Iron Hills, but A Test of Will, Unexpected Courage and Steward of Gondor can also neutralize it if necessary.

* Radagast's Cunning is absolutely invaluable in stage 2, to take out the 5 threat of the waiting Nazgul so you can keep ahead of the curve and keep a few characters back to defend and attack as necessary.

* I put in Self Preservation as a counter to the Shadow Key's effect, but after seeing how quickly the third stage goes by when this scenario is done right, I'll probably sub them out for something else.

* I put in three copies of For Gondor! because, failing a timely appearance by Gandalf, I didn't see how I could beat the Nazgul without it. As it turned out, in my victory I managed to defeat the Nazgul over two turns without the aid of any cards -- though I was rather lucky in not drawing any shadow effects during the two attacks (both of which Denethor successfully fended off for a couple points of damage total). Still, I feel much safer having the events in the deck and am starting to realize I vastly underrated the effectiveness of this card at first glance.

As for the session report side of things, I must admit in my lone victory (so far) I was extraordinarily luck in my opening draw... The two cards "guarding" my objectives? The Necromancer's Reach. Nothing better than seeing those deadly cards show up during setup, when they add no threat and are rendered impotent. Still, this deck manages the opening stage very well, and I had even come to the conclusion that I needed to slow down a bit and not be in SUCH a rush to get Denethor into play. So while at the start my path was considerably easier than probability would normally dictate, the deck can certainly manage a regular opening.

I used an early Sneak Attack Gandalf to keep my threat down (ended up playing Gandalf a total of four times during the game) and by the time I rescued Denethor I was at 31 threat and in pretty good shape, though very quickly a pair of 35-threat enemies showed up in the staging area. As my threat crept closer to 35, I realized I could not afford to let them both activate at once. With Gandalf and Sneak Attack I had a lot of options... I could have lowered my threat to delay the inevitable, but coupled with the Nazgul that 9 threat in the staging area was dangerously high, even with Eowyn and Aragon accounting for 8 Willpower on their own.

Ultimately I decided I had to clear them out ASAP, so I Snuck (?) Attack'd Gandalf during the Questing phase, did four damages to one of the beasties, and after questing, engaged the other, using Denethor to defend and Aragorn and a pair of allies to take him out. Unfortunately, the shadow effect made me exhaust an ally, so I wasn't able to kill him in one shot. The following round I played Gandalf again (this time for the threat reduction), finished off the first baddie, and then killed the other one on the following turn. Can I take a moment to state the obvious of how amazing and useful Denethor's three defense is?

With most of the Staging area clear, I now just had to deal with the Nazgul. Unfortunately, I'd lost my For Gondor! to a random quest discard, and I was fresh out of Gandalfs. All things being equal I would have stalled until I drew one of those cards, but things were not equal. A Hummerhorns made its appearance, and as my threat crept closer to 40 it was looking more and more like someone not named Aragorn or Eowyn was going to bite it. At 38 threat I realized it was now or never, so I engaged the Nazgul. Denethor defended, and Aragorn and a couple friends were able to get 2 damage through. The following turn (now at 39 threat) the staging area was MUCH more manageable (what with the Nazgul's 5 threat gone) so I just sent Eowyn by herself to handle the questing. Denethor took the defense (luckily, another card with no shadow effect, though I had plenty of discardable characters), and with an all-out attack I had JUST enough characters to do 7 damage and finish the Nazgul off. End of turn, my threat went up to 40....

Sadly, barring a miraculous card draw, Denethor was going to be toast, though I felt confident I could get through the final stage without him.

Well, Gandalf has always had an affinity for the Gondorians, and he arrived JUST in the nick of time. (I had an empty hand, and drew him the next turn). Gandalf lowered my threat to 35, Aragorn picked up the Shadow Key to put it back to 37, and I sent an all-out questing bonanza. Boosted by Faramir, I racked up 22 willpower, WAY more than enough to overcome the staging area and active location and give me the win. So I guess Denethor wasn't actually in danger anyway (since I won the game before engagament would have taken place), but it still felt nice to see Gandalf show up to share in the victory.

Obviously there were some moments of good fortune in this game, but I also did handle some bumps well. I never drew a Steward of Gondor, so resources were tight the entire game. Caught in a Web showed up twice, but to minimal effect since I was able to counter it as I'd planned for.

Final score (if it matters) was 37 threat plus 4 damage minus 4 VP for a total of 37.

I'll continue to try the scenario with just two objectives, but if all goes well I'll step it up and add the third, and see how that goes.

And then I suppose the real goal would be to build a deck that can win with any of the three heroes taken prisoner. But one step at a time... I felt I needed a place to start, and this was a pretty good one. But of course, comments and suggestions are welcome, and I'm sure I'll continue to tinker before moving on to the next level.
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Mikko Karvonen
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Interesting to see this. I did something similar a while ago, deciding which character will be caught, with all three objectives, but with only a 30 card deck. Intriguing to see that we ended up using the exact same set of heroes for this.

Here the thread to my experiment: How to Beat the 3rd Quest Solo (Quite) Consistently
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Shem francis barnett
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Interesting report - thanks.

We also play with the chosen captive rule.
I enjoy the toughness of the 'AI' in the system, but it does sometimes mean randomness plays too large a role. Basically the 'quest' has to be 'on a knife-edge' for it to be fun - this means there has to be a good chance the player(s) fail but also a decent one that they succeed.
Thus I often play a Four-hero Dual-sphere deck (still really hard but far less random cards/events that kill the game) - and as you say, some heroes' capture in scenario III means game over.

I agree - Denethor is a formidable card (not sure it fits lore-wise though...) and your three hero choices would seem the best overall.

- I'm not sure about the Citadels... yes one needs plenty of Allies but...
- And Broc? I know he's tough, but 6 RPs when you have only one hero collecting? Without Steward seems like maybe a dead card.
- Is Steward important enough to warrant 3 cards when only 1 can be played? Well, maybe... The same could be asked of Faramir.

Looking forward to hearing of the deck's development.
 
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John Heath
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Looking at the action chart in the back of the rule book, my buddy and I determined there was no way to Sneak Attack Gandalf to quest, because there was no action step in the quest phase before you assign characters. Have we been playing this wrong?
 
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Jackofhearts4321 wrote:
Looking at the action chart in the back of the rule book, my buddy and I determined there was no way to Sneak Attack Gandalf to quest, because there was no action step in the quest phase before you assign characters. Have we been playing this wrong?


You may sneak Gandalf into questing as the "committing step" is colored in green - thus player actions are allowed here.
 
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Oleg volobujev
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Jackofhearts4321 wrote:
Looking at the action chart in the back of the rule book, my buddy and I determined there was no way to Sneak Attack Gandalf to quest, because there was no action step in the quest phase before you assign characters. Have we been playing this wrong?


Yes sure you can play Gandalf in quest phase any moment until staging phase or even after staging phase (but there is no point him cannot be commit to the quest).
 
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Oleg volobujev
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In my opinion if you make some changed like choose a captured hero or only 2 obectives cards yes you can win.But using the original rules i really doubt.
This is multy players quest and there is no way to beat it solo. IF FFG mean you can do it alone they should to give you in setup text card option: choose a captured hero randomly among the players or in the case of solo game choose a captured hero by your self. If the game text was like this is mean yes, there is the way to beat it solo. But is not. So i really doubt is possible but wish you luck anyway.

Sorry for my English hope you understand.
 
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jakub praibis
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HEROES (Starting Threat: 29)
Aragorn [Leadership]
Eowyn [Spirit]
Denethor [Lore]

LEADERSHIP
x2 Guard of the Citadel
x3 Faramir
x2 Snowbourn Scot
x2 Silverlode Archer
x1 Longbeard Orc Slayer
x1 Brok Ironfist
x3 For Gondor!
x3 Sneak Attack
x1 Grim Resolve
x3 Steward of Gondor
x2 Celebrian Stone

SPIRIT
x3 Wandering Took
x2 Lorien Guide
x3 The Galadhrim's Greeting
x3 A Test of Will
x1 Dwarven Tomb
x2 Unexpected Courage

LORE
x3 Miner of the Iron Hills
x2 Lore of Imladris
x3 Radagast's Cunning
x2 Self Preservation

NEUTRAL
x3 Gandalf

I'd advise some radical changes. You may try them on and see if they're dumb. I know you try to keep the cost low but still you're using some cards that are only marginally cheaper for a major drawback in effect, I believe.

I'd replace Lore of Imladris and Self Preservation with 3 Daughter of the Nimrodel (saving 1 card). Put in Henamarth (depends how many you own). It is a no-brainer in solo game and even more so in tri-coloured deck. It costs 1!

Cut Lorien Guide, put in Northern Tracker. Simply better.

Cut Orc Slayer and Brok - useless pretty much. Put in Beorn who you can Sneak in. Or Son of Arnor who can help you with the Nazgul threat. Guard of the Citadel is also very useless.

I'd recommend insterting some Lore cards instead of Leadership. You can always put the Steward on a Lore hero. Which should not be Denethor by the way but whatever. Lore allies are very good and cheap. Just comper the Hammersmith vs Guard, you cannot choose the Guard, can you, unless you have a tendency to make things much harder on you.

Try Ever Vigilant. Works wonders with Gandalf or Faramir. Can win you a game. And perhaps Protector of Lorien which works great on Aragorn. Beravor would then be better to get you cards.

There is more but I won't bother you any more, Good Luck!
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Jeff Hannes
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SirFrancis wrote:

- I'm not sure about the Citadels... yes one needs plenty of Allies but...
- And Broc? I know he's tough, but 6 RPs when you have only one hero collecting? Without Steward seems like maybe a dead card.
- Is Steward important enough to warrant 3 cards when only 1 can be played? Well, maybe... The same could be asked of Faramir.


I'll probably replace the Citadels... there were some good suggestions in the post above, and after several more plays it's really not necessary for me to get allies into play immediately -- I can afford to wait a few turns if need be.

With Eowyn, there are no dead cards in the deck (they can all be discarded for Willpower), so yeah, I think three copies of Steward and Faramir are ideal and worth it. Both cards have such a huge impact on the game when drawn that it's absolutely worth (perhaps even necessary) maximizing the chances.

And speaking of Steward... in any game I've drawn in relatively early, resources I've become flush with resources on Aragorn. So Brok's cost is really irrelevant. (And again, if I'm stuck in a game without the Steward, he's Eowyn-fodder.)
 
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Jeff Hannes
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jpraibis wrote:
I'd advise some radical changes. You may try them on and see if they're dumb. I know you try to keep the cost low but still you're using some cards that are only marginally cheaper for a major drawback in effect, I believe.

I'd replace Lore of Imladris and Self Preservation with 3 Daughter of the Nimrodel (saving 1 card). Put in Henamarth (depends how many you own). It is a no-brainer in solo game and even more so in tri-coloured deck. It costs 1!

Cut Lorien Guide, put in Northern Tracker. Simply better.

Cut Orc Slayer and Brok - useless pretty much. Put in Beorn who you can Sneak in. Or Son of Arnor who can help you with the Nazgul threat. Guard of the Citadel is also very useless.

I'd recommend insterting some Lore cards instead of Leadership. You can always put the Steward on a Lore hero. Which should not be Denethor by the way but whatever. Lore allies are very good and cheap. Just comper the Hammersmith vs Guard, you cannot choose the Guard, can you, unless you have a tendency to make things much harder on you.

Try Ever Vigilant. Works wonders with Gandalf or Faramir. Can win you a game. And perhaps Protector of Lorien which works great on Aragorn. Beravor would then be better to get you cards.

There is more but I won't bother you any more, Good Luck!


Some of your suggestions I agree with and will try. Certainly Henamarth, whom I feel silly for not including, and since this scenario doesn't seem too punishing on allies I'll go with the daughters as well. Making room for a couple copies of Ever Vigilant seems worthwhile as well, and I'd already been thinking i should maybe replace Denethor with Beravor, since in stage 2 not having enough cards is more of an issue than anything else at this point, and many turns I'm just holding back Denethor for defense (and therefore doing nothing with him on turns locations pop up).

For reasons noted above I may keep the higher-cost allies (unless they get cut to make room for other things) but there's no way I'd include Beorn. As effective as he can be, Sneak Attack simply has to be saved for Gandalf. The threat reduction and instant four damage have been far too important to any shot of success to this point. I'm also not sure the Northern Tracker is better in this deck... If I don't draw the Celebrian's Stone, the difference between 4 and 3 resources is not insignificant, and in my experience with this setup I rarely have multiple locations in the staging area. When the deck is singing, locations get completed the turn they are traveled to, which makes the Guide's special more effective than the Tracker's. Then again, there are sevaral locations I'd prefer not to travel to, so maybe I will give the Trackers a try.

Overall I like your suggestions and will report back once I've given several of them a try.
 
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jakub praibis
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You may be right about Northern Tracker. My experience is mostly coop but in solo he may not be as essential. And yes, the difference between 3 and 4 resources is not insignificant. However, as you pointed, there are locations like Mountains of Mirkwood that are great to explore without travelling to them. Some travel effects are nasty, like Great Forest Web or Necromancer's pass, in these cases a Tracker (or two) is very helpful.

As for Beorn, you're probably right again. I mean Gandalf is in vast majority of cases more effective for Sneak than Beorn. The situation may arise though that you have a Sneak and no Gandalf. Having Beorn gives you more chances to be always ready to Sneak something in. And Beorn can kill almost anything that way - for the cost of 1. Your reasoning is quite understandable though. You may still put 1 in just for the fun of it and see if it ever proves worthwhile. I have three in and often I flush them through Protector of Lorien but sometimes it saves my (non-changing) skin.

Do try to think of the green allies, they're very good I think, and cheap. And report back once you've tried. Good Luck, again!
 
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jakub praibis
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ps: I'd surely keep 3 copies of Steward. Sure, you need no more than 1 but the math is simple, and you need it as soon as possible. I'd even think of 3 copies of the Stone.
 
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Andrew Clarke
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Agree with most of the suggestions for improvements. In particular, Daughter of the Nimrodel is just significantly more powerful than Self-Preservation, and in scenario 3 she's also probably less vulnerable.

Not keen on the idea of Beorn, mostly because he's useless if you don't draw sneak attack, and you'd certainly rather sneak attack Gandalf anyway.

I think Northern Tracker to replace Lorien Guide is a good idea. Yes, it's a solo game, but there are a lot of locations in scenario 3 you *really* don't want to travel to if you can avoid it.
 
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Well, I'm not gonna defend the Beorn's inclusion to the death. Haha. But one may try and see. It may not always work. It may not be a great idea in general, not sure really. But I have played over 50 games with Beorn in the deck without a Tactics hero and he's been very useful. He can kill the freaking adder in a single blow, that is awesome. And to kill the chieftain you only need one more point of attack strength. And with Ever Vigilant he can also block all of these pains in the arse. It has been super-powerful. And there were even times when I rather sneaked Beorn rather than Gandalf and played Gandalf normally the next turn. With Steward of Gondor and Theodred it is not such a big deal. I can say that I played him perhaps in 67% of the games when I got both him and Sneak Attack. There are games when Gandalf does not come. And games when you get 2 Sneak Attacks. Probabilities are quite simple. So when you have 3 Sneak Attacks (which is mandatory with more than one core set), you'd be happy to have something to sneak. And beside's Gandalf and Beorn, there are few that are worth it. Son of Arnor perhaps at certain times. Maybe Northern Tracker in dire need to make progress, or Faramir from the same reasons. The difference is that I, when need be, can also play Beorn using Stand and Fight.

My co-player has strongly doubted Beorn's inclusion at first, and he has been proven otherwise many times since.

However, it does not have to work always. And perhaps much less so in a solo game.
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