Ryan Hanson
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I have a blog post covering what we know and don't know so far:

Bullet summary:

So let’s look real quick at what we know. This “Saga” expansion will feature:

- FIVE new heroes, including a new “bonus” hero, Bilbo Baggins, who will function as a 4th hero for the 1st player and who has no additional threat cost. He belongs to his own new sphere, the “Baggins” sphere which is symbolized by a gold circle and a pipe. The expansion will come with cards specifically from this sphere while Baggins resources will also be used for other quest mechanics. Bilbo cannot generate additional resources due to player card effects so the Baggins resources will have an enforced scarcity. If the Bilbo hero is killed the players immediately lose the game.

- 3 new quests that follow the first half of the “The Hobbit” storyline and have a high degree of continuity.

- New epic item cards that can be discovered as part of quest mechanics and then added to the player decks for use in the later quest(s) in the same play-through. These have very unique art to set them apart.

- A second Saga expansion will be released later in 2012 to complement the first and complete the Hobbit storyline.

What we don’t know

Here are the questions I have initially, we’ll have to wait and see if some of these are answered before release:

- Does this replace the next planned deluxe expansion? Fantasy Flight had already sort of committed to a sustained release schedule of 1 deluxe expansion followed by 6 adventure packs all sharing a common theme. It’s unknown at this time whether the Saga expansions will be in addition to the schedule, sort of similar to the “Massing at Osgiliath” print on demand adventure, or whether these two announced Saga expansions simply take the place of the next couple deluxe expansions. I would of course prefer that we get the Saga expansions in addition to the deluxe expansions myself and am hoping this is the case. If the Saga Expansion does in fact take the place of a deluxe expansion it will cause all sorts of problems with encounter cards in the next adventure pack cycle, so it’s very difficult to imagine this is the case; Fantasy Flight would have to design the entire next cycle around the encounter cards from Over Hill and Under Hill and this is difficult to imagine. I also don’t see them forcing players to buy this in order to make use of the next cycle of adventure packs since it represents a pretty major departure from what we got with Khazad Dum. But who knows, this whole business model is blazing new ground already.

- Will the Saga Expansion be the same scale as a deluxe expansion, i.e. 165 new cards? It is very likely that regardless of whether the Saga expansion replaces the deluxe expansion or not, it will probably be identically sized in terms of card count and packaging so I would guess yes.

- Will the Saga Expansion have any dependency on prior encounter sets? It would seem the answer to this is no, as the bottom of this page states that only the core set is required to play. This would indicate the expansion will include 3 full complete encounter decks making each adventure 100% unique OR there may be small subsets of encounter cards re-used between adventures.

- From a spread of player cards visible here it looks like there will also be standard player cards included, but who knows what the ratio will be. If there are three full encounter sets of a minimum of 40 cards each, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of extra room in a 165 card set for player cards that are in addition to the obligatory Baggins hero and cards. However, there are at least 2 Lore player cards visible on the product page and we know all player cards will come with 3 copies each so that might indicate up to 24 new standard player cards. Presumably there will not be any additional heroes aside from the Bilbo Baggins.

Some Other Thoughts

- The use of this new “yellow sphere” to provide player cards that can only be used with specific adventures may be used similarly in the future if they do eventually release Saga expansions covering the main trilogy.

- This expansion will represent the first time we have seen an identically named hero card re-released with different stats/text/sphere, something Fantasy Flight has stated they intend to do (and already do extensively in the Game of Thrones Living Card Game). Though I suppose this also sort of happened with Arwen who is going to be available as both an ally and an objective card in specific quests. (EDIT: The new Aragorn hero card with Watcher in the Water is also a character re-release).

- Even if they do eventually release a series of Saga Expansions covering the main trilogy, I’m curious how much mileage they can really get out of the lore. If they follow the same pattern and use 2 expansions per book, they would only ever release 8 Saga Expansions… that may be 4 years or so worth of expansions, however, so perhaps that’s an acceptable amount. They don’t have a license for any of the Silmarillion content unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint).

- The different time period of the Saga Expansion gives them an excuse to release characters who wouldn’t otherwise be available in the timeline that the main game technically falls into. This would include dwarves such as Fili and Kili along with Thorin Oakenshield himself. Although Fantasy Flight’s original core set timeline hasn’t been adhered to very strictly anyways, since all sorts of characters are out questing when they probably shouldn’t be according to the lore.

Discuss.
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Jeff Overweg
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Quote:
New epic item cards from the encounter decks that can be discovered as part of quest mechanics and then added to the player decks for use in the later quest(s) in the same play-through. These have very unique art to set them apart.

I think "from the encounter decks" might not be 100% accurate, that would cause issues with the different card backs. I am looking forward to getting more info on this though.
Quote:
Does this replace the next planned deluxe expansion?

This is what I am most curious about. It is looking like the current cycle will wrap up in July, and I am somewhat doubtful that they will release this before the current cycle is complete. That would put the release of this in August, maybe at GenCon. That leaves a 3 month window for the second set to come out and still be in 2012. I can see things playing out one of two ways. The first would be that a separate deluxe expansion will be released along side this followed closely by the next cycle, in this case I would expect to hear something about it within the next month. The other option would be that they wait until early 2013 to release the next deluxe expansion and cycle, but I hope that's not the case.
Quote:
Presumably there will not be any additional heroes aside from the Bilbo Baggins.

The announcement said there would be 5 new heroes!
So in addition to Bilbo, Thorin Oakenshield seems guaranteed, and I would also think Balin. I would guess the other 2 will be other dwarves.
This may also hint that this expansion will be slightly larger than KD which only had 2 heroes.
Quote:
This expansion will represent the first time we have seen an identically named hero card re-released with different stats/text/sphere, something Fantasy Flight has stated they intend to do (and already do extensively in the Game of Thrones Living Card Game).

You must not have seen yesterday's preview of the Watcher in the Water.

That all said I am looking forward to learning more about and eventually playing this set.
 
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Dudley Albrecht
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Sacramento
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I think most of us were expecting the LOTR Card game to expand to "The Hobbit" because of a certain movie that is coming out in November...

ANd I would say, Yeah, it probably will delay the next deluxe LOTR exapnsion by a few months.
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Matt Elias
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I agree with dudalb, I don't think there will be another deluxe expansion this year. The real question, for me, is what the next Adventure pack cycle will be. Will it be Hobbit related or continue with the main timeline? I hope we'll find out at the beginning of May
 
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Boghog
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Depending on how far into the story of the book this first saga expansion goes they could reuse a lot of the base set encounter cards and so they don't need to have 100% of each scenario in this box (Wilderlands, Spiders, Anduin, Mirkwood and, of course, Orcs).

As for the next cycle: Couldn't it be a string of adventures revolving around a) Bilbo traveling home or b) the dwarves cleaning up after the battle or c) the Wizards' Council moving in on Dol Guldur (which will apparently feature a lot more in the movie than it did in the novel)? Thus the Hobbit set would become the base set for the new cycle.
 
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Hansolo88 wrote:
- Will the Saga Expansion be the same scale as a deluxe expansion, i.e. 165 new cards?


The "About" page on the FFG website says 4 packs of sleeves will be needed, so the card count is somewhere between 151 and 200. 165 makes sense.
 
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Mark Griffiths
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boghog wrote:
Depending on how far into the story of the book this first saga expansion goes they could reuse a lot of the base set encounter cards and so they don't need to have 100% of each scenario in this box (Wilderlands, Spiders, Anduin, Mirkwood and, of course, Orcs).

As for the next cycle: Couldn't it be a string of adventures revolving around a) Bilbo traveling home or b) the dwarves cleaning up after the battle or c) the Wizards' Council moving in on Dol Guldur (which will apparently feature a lot more in the movie than it did in the novel)? Thus the Hobbit set would become the base set for the new cycle.


While it wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility to include a lot of the core set encounters in this one, I really hope they don't make these saga expansions the basis of the next cycle. It strikes me as being something of a standalone event within the game, with them deviating from the norm, not the basis of an ongoing thing like Khazad-dum was.

From all that has been said though, I strongly believe the film may as well not exist as far as this game is concerned. They're going to adapt the book themselves, possibly including whatever material from the Appendices of RotK as they see fit, and leave New Line Cinema to do whatever they're doing. So just because it's in the film has no bearing on whether we'll see it here.

Such are my thoughts!
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