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The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Khazad-dûm» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Narrow Escape from Moria review rss

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Matt Duckworth
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SYNOPSIS:
The Flight from Moria is the third and final adventure scenario in the Khazad Dum deluxe expansion. After discovering the fate of Balin’s Lost colony on the seventh level, and finding it crawling with goblins and the occasional cave troll, you make haste to leave Moria. Unfortunately, your wanderings have also attracted the attention of an ancient evil which now stands between your heroes and the way out the East Gate. It is now on you to desperately find a way out while the flaming shadow approaches you and orcs muster in the deeps.

I feel the timing of this review is fortunate, as the spiritual successor to this scenario, Shadow and Flame, may very well be released close to the time I am writing this.

This scenario not only employs new mechanics, it literally changes the way you play the game! My initial reaction to it was "what the nine hells is going on here?". Instead of the typical linear progression through quest phases by making progress, there is now a whole deck of quest phase cards that you randomly turn over (after committing to the quest btw, which is interesting because you don’t know what you are committing towards), and have the option of either completing or cycling to the bottom of the deck at the end of the combat phase... at which point you will reveal the next quest card after committing on the following turn. This mechanic really threw me for a loop like no other, and needless to say, it took me several plays to get used to it.

Once you get past the confusion, you learn there are several quest cards but only two real ways out; either take a horrible chance and try to slip past the Nameless Fear (I believe it is just over 50% chance of instant loss) or tunnel your way out of a weak patch of mountain wall, each of which are quest cards you have to draw. In order to tunnel out, you have to either randomly stumble on some mining tools out of the encounter deck or more likely complete another special quest card(again, randomly drawn) that allows you to find them. One thing that is really interesting about this mechanic, and something that I’m not sure I totally understand the depth of yet, is the interesting decision to either complete a particular quest card or cycle it to the bottom of the quest deck. If you complete it, you remove it to the victory display and it pumps up the Nameless Threat’s stats, and if you choose to cycle it at the end of the combat phase, it goes to the bottom of the quest deck to be possibly drawn again. The catch about this is that the Nameless Fear can completely scramble the active quest and quest deck, forcing a shuffle, and redraw through the "A new Devilry" treachery card. What this means is that your odds of finding the quest card you want is greater if you have removed other cards, and that you also may not have to see quest cards like "wrong turn" again. So basically, this creates an interesting decision every turn based on the situation, which is awesome. Ironically, "A New Devilry" can actually work to your advantage and be a positive thing occasionally, if you don’t like your current active card, have completed several others already that are in the victory display, and now have a, say, 1 in 4 chance of getting the one you want that is still in the deck. This almost counterbalances the drawback of getting this card when you have "Escape from Shadow" and are one progress token from tunneling out! I don’t think I have ever seen another encounter card with such a love/hate relationship!

My very last game of this scenario may well have been the most epic experience I have had in LOTR: LCG yet. I virtually went through about 12 allies, and managed to kill a great cave troll (yes those exist!), just to smack into another great cave troll at the end that began mowing through my allies as the Nameless Fear (who was at about 7/7/7 stats at that point) was closing in. He even lashed away one of my heroes (with "A Foe Beyond") while I was playing every trick I know to hold them at bay and get Dain to furiously tunnel through to the exit. Through use of "Lure of Moria" (nice thematic close), I managed to untap Dain to exhaust again and put up the very last progress token on the escape card. I simultaneously sacrificed allies to the Troll while playing Durin’s song to strengthen and embolden the rest of my remaining dwarves to counter the growing threat of the Nameless Fear. Dain finally struck his way out, allowing a battered Bifur and 3 remaining badly beaten allies to rush into daylight, leaving a massive raging troll, several goblins, and Durin’s Bane roaring behind in the darkness. It took everything I had to hold my threat to 48. I was that close to being consumed by flame and shadow, and would have been toast with one more turn! I think my heart was actually pumping and I don’t believe I have ever had such a great, cinematic ending like this before. This proves that this scenario, contrary to my original opinion, is fully capable of delivering a powerful, climactic ending to the Khazad Dum experience.

RATINGS:



MECHANICS:I mentioned above, the built in questing mechanic of this scenario brought a completely fresh and original feel to this game. This might be the most uniquely designed scenario yet, or atleast up to it’s release date, as I have not played Dwarrowdelf yet. There were all kinds of gems in the game design here. In the thematic sense, I really like how the treachery cards seemed to reflect the Nameless Fear using it’s sorcerous power to confound and trap you, and the Nameless Fear itself growing in strength and power as it drew nearer. On a more subtle note, I also noticed this encounter deck is very well balanced as far as staging threat generation and combat power. The design also allows for quite a bit of variation as far as pace and the ending, which some may see as a drawback but I have always thought of as a strength. RATING: A good solid A


FUN:When I started playing this scenario, I hated it. I was actually prepared to give it a fun rating down there with Hills of Emyn Muil. After playing it a few more times to get the mechanics under my belt, I began to feel intrigued by the decisions, possibilities, and general feel of play. By the time I had completed my last play, this scenario had generated one of the most epic gaming experiences I have had, certainly the best in solo play. This scenario is confusing at first, but can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of the new mechanics and their flow, and can offer a lot of re-playability due to the variation incorporated as well as a strong thematic feel. I felt like I had really accomplished something when I finally broke free out of Moria. RATING: A-


DIFFICULTY: To be completely honest, I really thought that this may well have been the EASIEST Khazad Dum quest, despite it being rated as the toughest. I base this assertion on the fact that I used the EXACT SAME Dwarf deck for all three Khazad Dum scenarios, and I had the best win ratio against this particular quest. I feel like the Khazad Dum Difficulty should look more like this: Into the Pit > The 7th Level > Flight from Moria. With that said, I also played a few games where the cards fell poorly and it ended up being insanely difficult. What this tells me is that this scenario probably has a considerable deal of swing factor; especially given that it is the one scenario in the system that I am aware of that can be won on turn 2 with the right stroke of luck! RATING: Slightly Easy to Slightly Difficult

Having journeyed through the decaying halls of Moria, I can now say that Khazad Dum as an expansion has definitely upped the ante on what has already been done in the Shadows of Mirkwood Cycle. I can see the game is starting to mature and the scenario designers are starting to hit their stride in creating unique, fun, thematic, and balanced scenarios. It is a encouraging to see an already radical fun game get better with age. I now eagerly anticipate returning to Moria in the Dwarrodelf cycle.

Next Stop, The Redhorn Gate and through the High Pass.




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Rauli Kettunen
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Of course, Boromir is a mining-machine!
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Alter Ego
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Hi

can you share the composition of your playing deck?

Thanks!
 
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Neil L

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mjd83 wrote:
MECHANICS:I mentioned above, the built in questing mechanic of this scenario brought a completely fresh and original feel to this game.


I really like this mechanic as well-- it gives the feeling twisty and dark subterranean paths quite well. You experience dread about what's around that next corner, and the feeling of "wasn't I just here?".
 
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Matt Duckworth
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anto wrote:
Hi

can you share the composition of your playing deck?

Thanks!


I guess I need to start writing these down, this is the second time I've been asked deck composition on a review.

I really don't remember beyond the heroes being Dain, Bifur, and Thalin. I apologize and will try to remember to write down my decks for the future. Dain obviously is the dwarf deck staple plussing up everyone's stats. Bifur is great for bringing in those much needed lore resources to power record keepers and mapmakers, and is a good quester and surprisingly useful defender in a pinch. Thalin was essential to soften up the goblins being revealed so that a "naked" axehand who was plussed up by Dain can 1 hit them. His ability to take out those super pesky goblin archers was a great benefit as well.

It was a pretty standard lore/tactics/leadership dwarf deck,with Mirkwood Runners tossed in because they are such great goblin killers in Moria.I made pretty liberal use of Erebor Record Keepers' ability to ready dwarves, and always tried to have longbeard mapmakers on hand to generate extra questing power. Since these required a lot of lore resources, Bifur is great, and is amazing when you slap a Steward of Gondor on him. I think I had Bifur grabbing resources from somebody every turn. Erebor Battlemasters can take down about anything with this deck, and veteran axehands with dwarrowdelf axes were able to clean up by 1 stroking most goblins. One card that I hesitated to include, and found that it was AMAZING when playing it was Daeron's Runes. Card draw for 0 cost is just ridiculous, and I was never unhappy to see that in my hand.
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No No No Sheep
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what dwarven deck you use to solo these dark places
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