John Paul Messerly
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LOTR:LCG Return to Mirkwood

I've decided to play through all my favorite solitaire storytelling games over the next two days and write up my thoughts on each. I've never really taken the time to play them one after the other and compare the experiences.

Mission- Escort Gollum through Mirkwood so he can be interrogated at King Thranduil's palace.
Hero's: Frodo, Bilbo, and Prince Imrahil

---


As we enter Mirkwood we were surprised by how bright and pleasant the forest is this morning. Even Gollum, bound to the back of one of the Rohan Scouts horses, sits quietly brooding. Suddenly I realized what is troubling me, It 's unnaturally quiet!

The silence is broken by a violent fit of cursing. Bilbo has somehow managed to wander into a massive web and the more he curses and thrashes about the more he becomes entangled. Frodo clutches the elven amulet beneath his cloak and feels the warmth as it begins to glow. He glances over at Gollum and meets the creatures malevolent stare. The Prince cuts Bilbo down and throws the tangled mass of hobbit and spiderwebs onto his pony.

The party soon reaches a clearing were brilliant light falls across a trickling stream. The Prince decides to dip Bilbo in the stream in the hopes of loosening the webs binding him. A skittering in the trees draws all eyes to the dark shadows of the treetops. The tension is broken by the thundering of hooves. The Rohan scouts return with news of a cabin downstream that would make a perfect campsite for the night. The night is quiet and uneventful but Frodo's Dreams are haunted by memories of his meeting with the elves and their softly spoken words fill him with a renewed strength...

Frodo is shaken awake by Bilbo, Gollums Gone! There is nothing for them to do but sit and wait while the Prince and the Rohan scouts search on their fast horses. After two hours the hobbits loose hope and find solace in a large helping of breakfast and a few puffs on Bilbo's pipe. The drumming of hooves announces the return of the riders, They did it! Thanks to the astonishing speed of their mounts they were able to cut off Gollums escape! They tighten Gollums bonds and break camp.

By mid day they reach another clearing, but this one has rolling waves of webs that ebb and flow in the wind like waves against the shore. As they admire its strange beauty a swarm off bats attack the rider guarding Gollum. As the party attempts to drive away the bats a spider the size of a small fortress emerges from the sea of webs and bites the other Rohan scout in half. Bilbo shouts, Attercop! Attercop! at the top of his lungs and rushes forward on his pony. He cuts a section of the flowing web and tries to trap the monstrosity by riding circles around it till its legs are entangled in its own webbing... but Bilbo fails to see the swarm of Hummerhorns approaching. They rip him from his pony's back and their stingers piece his chest. The Prince strikes down several Hummerhorns but there are too many and they flee with the lifeless form of the brave hobbit. Bilbo's bravery paid off in that the Attercop is now immobilized in his own web. A Silvan scout known as a "Mirkwood runner" for its ability to run through the treetops lands atop the crazed Attercop and begins slashing at its exposed eyes. Prince Imrahil finally drives off the last of the bats attacking gollums guard and the mirkwook runner continues his deadly dance atop the Attercop. Frodo drops to his knees overwhelmed by the sudden loss of his dear friend.

Gollum begins thrashing and screaming as if possessed. Screeching as if to call every dark thing in the Mirkwood to their location. At that moment the sea of webs parts and the lanky form of a sorcerer steps into their midst. It looks down at Gollum and smiles. Terror spreads across Gollum's twisted face and his screams turn to sad whimpers. There is a thundering crash as the Attercop falls lifelessly to the ground and the Mirkwood runner lands softly on the mossy soil beside Gandalf, bowing politely. Gandalf's mighty demeanor softens as he sees the weeping form of Frodo, holding all that remained of his dear Bilbo Baggins... a well worn pipe.



---

thoughts-
I had to read the Quest rules before starting to see what was new and I had to read the setup instructions again because I'm always confused about what happens in the setup and what happens in the first turn.
I only ran into one major rules question. Unfortunately it happened at the final seconds of gameplay so the interpretation of the rules in question would truly decide whether the hero's won or lost. On the final turn my threat was 42. during the quest I pulled a treachery card that increased the threat by 8 (Gollum's Anguish) , I responded by bringing Gandalf into play using sneak attack to lower the threat by 5 BUT I'm not sure if this is a legal move or if the instant the treachery comes into play (making my threat 50) the game ends? I think I played it right but I always find the timing in this game confusing.


Showdown: Ranger vs LOTR:LCG


setup- I play LOTR's at least once a month so I'm always surprised that I always have to reread the setup rules. The setup is really quite simple but for some reason I always feel uncertain. Ranger Is definitely quicker and easier to setup but LOTR is more consistent in the drama of its storytelling.
story- Ranger excels in creating tension. Often there is no payoff for the tension. It attempts to tell the story of a type of quest where perfect execution results in no conflict whatsoever. LOTR's is dedicated to recreating the classic three act story structure with rising tension and a big payoff at the end. Both succeed in creating riveting stories but the results of each are dramatically different. I find I want both types of storytelling in my gaming life.
loss- Both games are good at making you care about your characters and really feel for their loss. When Bilbo died I definitely felt loss. Its hard to see a character die that you have spent your entire life with and know its your fault. From a mechanics standpoint the loss is also felt strongly in that about half the cards in my hand became useless as soon as Bilbo died because I no longer had access to his "influence" color. Ranger is different in that you are the squad/platoon leader and your responsible for your mens lives. I always imagine having to write the soldiers family and explain how he died after a mission goes wrong. Ranger is a very unique game in that you actually feel happy and relieved (if you are in the squad leader mindset) when nothing eventful or exciting happens in the mission.
creative input- The creative aspects of both games (merging the random events onto a cohesive story) work smoothly because the process happens naturally as you play. In other solitaire story games I feel that the experience is too abstract while playing and the real story emerges after the game is finished and I try to piece it all together in my mind.

Round 1 - Link http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/741616/solitaire-showdown-ro...
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Rauli Kettunen
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mermuse wrote:
I only ran into one major rules question. Unfortunately it happened at the final seconds of gameplay so the interpretation of the rules in question would truly decide whether the hero's won or lost. On the final turn my threat was 42. during the quest I pulled a treachery card that increased the threat by 8 (Gollum's Anguish) , I responded by bringing Gandalf into play using sneak attack to lower the threat by 5 BUT I'm not sure if this is a legal move or if the instant the treachery comes into play (making my threat 50) the game ends? I think I played it right but I always find the timing in this game confusing.


Sneak Attack is an Action, you can't use that as a response, no LIFO stacks in LotR. If you had had Eleanor or A Test of Will, you could've used those, they are a Response, but your threat hit 50 and you were eliminated before you had a chance to use SN + G.
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John Paul Messerly
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Thanks. I've been worried that I was doing that wrong... too many game systems in my head it's hard to keep them all straight. I'm glad I posted this or I might never have learned my mistake.

Thanks again
 
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Mike Welker
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Nifty... does make me think that if I am ever in the low 40s with threat with Gandalf nearby, it is wise to use the card for the threat reduction!
 
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Alphonso De la Red
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Nice session report !

Though I have to admit, I'm a little surprised by your choice of heroes and of playing 3 sphere. Imrahil is great, but Frodo's ability only brings your threat up (one thing that you can't afford in this scenario) and Bilbo's a little too fragile for this one, in my opinion.
Anyway, bravo !

Edit : By the way, I had exactly the same experience today : was at 42 in the last round and pulled Gollum's anguish, bringing it to 50. Unfortunately I didn't have any test of will to do anything about it. So that was kind of dramatic.
 
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