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The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Is It Possible to Get to a Point Where You Can Win with Any Deck? rss

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Rick Bateman
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I saw a post in another thread that I thought really typified a serious problem I'm starting to see in this game:

jkayati wrote:

Sadly, for me, I lost interest and sold my copy. In the end, I've found this to be a puzzle type game. Figure out the deck that works, and the scenarios are fairly easy to overcome. Until you do, bang your head in frustration as you lose again and again.


It seems like, for the harder scenarios, people win by one of two methods:
A) They build a deck specifically fine-tuned to the threats and challenges of that individual scenario.
B) They build one deck that's powerful but balanced, so that this one deck can take on pretty much any scenario.
This is all well and good as far as "skill gaming" and overcoming a challenge, but that's not what I'm looking for. Maybe it's just that I haven't read enough strategy articles, but I never seem to hear people say "I really liked the grouping of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in the movies, so I put the three of them together and figured out a way to make a deck where they could have a decent chance of winning most scenarios." It seems like there are some groupings of heroes (or just an upper limit of starting threat level) that just never has a chance in higher-difficulty scenarios. And even with really good, fine-tuned decks, scenarios that have significant starting enemies (like JdtA) require a lot of luck in getting just the right cards at the beginning if your threat level isn't very low. So it doesn't really seem like any amount of playing skill (that is, being able to pick up any deck and use it significantly better than a less experienced player would) will make up for the liability of a poorly constructed deck or even moderate amounts of bad luck.

That doesn't work for me. I play games with a role-playing sensibility; my main reason for playing any given game is to immerse myself in the theme and enjoy the experience of spending a little time in that world. I DON'T play games for the thrill of defeating overly difficult challenges and figuring out clever ways to beat the system. Now, I'm not saying I want it to be easy, or I just want everything handed to me. I'm more than willing to put in the hours gaining play experience so that I can increase my skill and understanding of the game, giving me the ability to overcome obstacles of a higher difficulty, but only for the end goal of having a more enriching thematic experience. Like, basically what I was envisioning as an eventual status quo was that at some point I could say, "Okay, now I know the ropes. I really like Aragorn, so I'm gonna take him and two other heroes that he might possibly have been questing with at that point in Middle Earth history, and just follow the three of them as they engage in imaginative adventures (in which they don't get beaten 95% of the time)." I don't mind playing some more min/maxed decks along the way, if that helps me to understand how the game works so that I can eventually reach that end goal. But as I read more strategy threads, I'm starting to feel like that ideal is just not within the parameters of the game's framework.

Granted, I haven't been playing (and reading threads) for very long, so maybe I'm just rushing to judgment. But I don't think I will be playing the game for very much longer if all it's about is just putting together combinations of cards that have purely arbitrary references to LotR characters and concepts, and no real sense of theme. That's really something that I hate about CCG's in general; most of them, when you get right down to it, are really just gameplay mechanics and card combos with a theme tacked on. I had hoped this game was different, because the scenario mechanic seemed a lot more thematic than the usual "my deck versus your deck, and whoever gets five VP's first wins" type of CCG. But now, I'm really starting to get the sense that theme is just as irrelevant here as any of the others.

Please tell me I'm wrong; I really want to be wrong about this, because I really like LotR, and I do still like the scenario style (and how many scenarios there already are available), but if most of the scenarios are impossible to beat without a min-maxed deck, then the value of the narrative is nullified.
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Rob Jennings
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You certainly cannot beat any quest with any deck, it's too easy to construct a really awful deck. Still, you probably can find a way to win most quests with most combinations of heroes. You'll just need to build a deck around their strengths.

For instance, if you make a deck with Leolas, Gimli and Aragorn, you're going to be pretty good at killing things right from the start, but you're going to have limited questing abilities and no way to counter treacheries. Unfortunately, your main sphere is tactics, so you don't have any easy counters to those, so there's a good change you're going to want to put some songs in your deck to make Legolas or Gimli able to supplement Aragorn's Leadership (or lore if you use that version of Aragorn).

If you go with Lore, there are a fair number of elves and dwarves that make some thematic sense to add to your deck, and they'll really shore up your weak points. Leadership will give you access to a lot of dunedain attachments and allies that also make sense with your trio. Either way, you're on your way to making a reasonable deck.

Long story short, if you construct a deck from the point of view of telling a story, you may not be able to beat the hardest missions consistently, but you can still make a good deck. There's a lot more discussion on this forum of how to make a deck that just rips through quests than there is on how to make a deck that tells a story, but that doesn't mean that the latter is impossible.
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Rick Bateman
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That is somewhat encouraging. I guess you're right, that what I'm trying to get to is more about being able to win with any combination of Heroes than literally with any deck. And I do think the Songs really go a long way in opening up the flexibility of which heroes can use which cards.

Are there any tips you can offer about how to improve playing skill (as opposed to deck-building skill) other than just playing a lot of games?

EDIT: For this purpose, do you think it would be better to learn and work my up by playing harder scenarios with easier decks (to get more familiar with the game and the card combos, etc) or by player easier scenarios with more thematic heroes, to get used to dealing with that handicap?
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Richard Morris
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Rookiebatman wrote:
That is somewhat encouraging. I guess you're right, that what I'm trying to get to is more about being able to win with any combination of Heroes than literally with any deck. And I do think the Songs really go a long way in opening up the flexibility of which heroes can use which cards.

Are there any tips you can offer about how to improve playing skill (as opposed to deck-building skill) other than just playing a lot of games?

EDIT: For this purpose, do you think it would be better to learn and work my up by playing harder scenarios with easier decks (to get more familiar with the game and the card combos, etc) or by player easier scenarios with more thematic heroes, to get used to dealing with that handicap?


I'm not convinced that playing more games is the way to improve playing skill. What you need to do is to ensure that you understand all the timing issues for doing things, and the tricks and clever ideas that can improve your game. Playing more will help in some things, but probably not those things. For those, try reading strategy posts on forums, or read session reports that go into the detail. You will probably get some 'aha' moments, and perhaps several "I didn't know you could do that" moments too.
 
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Dmitry Vensko
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Quote:
I saw a post in another thread that I thought really typified a serious problem I'm starting to see in this game:


This topic shows that 80% of players do not care about win or lose: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/855047/poll-how-do-you-typic...

So it is not a problem of the game.

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Rick Bateman
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VDmitry wrote:
Quote:
I saw a post in another thread that I thought really typified a serious problem I'm starting to see in this game:


This topic shows that 80% of players do not care about win or lose: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/855047/poll-how-do-you-typic...

So it is not a problem of the game.



That's not true. People saying that they'll play a deck on various scenarios, win or lose, doesn't mean that problem doesn't exist. It just means that those people are willing to run a greater risk of losing that scenario (that they could beat more easily with a deck fine-tuned specifically for it) so that they can use the deck they prefer. The poll question is essentially based on the premise that your chances of beating a scenario dramatically increase if you specifically customize a deck for that scenario. So in fact, rather than contradicting the earlier quoted statement, it rather indicates that the problem DOES exist, or else the question would never need to have been asked in the first place.
 
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John Davis
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You mentioned that your background is role-playing games. Well, most role-playing games reward players who
1. Build characters that are effective in the rules of the game
2. Play with groups of characters with complementary abilities

You don't have to do these, but in most RPGs you will be at a disadvantage (and more likely to lose) if you don't.

LOTR is very much the same. Playing a deck with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli is like deciding to play D&D with a party of two fighters and a ranger. Sure it's possible, but there are a lot of adventures where you will wish you had a cleric or a wizard along too. This is not a weakness of the D&D design and it's not a weakness of the LOTR design - it's intentional in both cases and makes the games better.

If thematic decks are your thing, why not choose a couple of heroes for theme, and then think about who else they would bring with them to help them on a particular quest, someone who complements their abilities?
For example, you decide to build a hobbit deck based on Frodo and Bilbo (Spirit and Lore). Who would they invite along to help - obviously a strong leader and/or fighter, maybe someone like Gimli or Legolas (Tactics) or Aragorn (Leadership). And these heroes would bring their own followers - perhaps more dwarves (Gimil) or elves (Legolas) or Dunedain (Aragorn). This approack should build decks that have a strong theme and still be capable of succeeding against all but the toughest quests, at least some of the time!
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Rookiebatman wrote:
That is somewhat encouraging. I guess you're right, that what I'm trying to get to is more about being able to win with any combination of Heroes than literally with any deck. And I do think the Songs really go a long way in opening up the flexibility of which heroes can use which cards.


Remember that this is an LCG, which means continuous influx of cards, some of which will be very powerful. One would expect, after enough adventure packs and expansions are released, to do exactly what you're suggesting, be able to win with (almost) any combination of Heroes.
 
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Brother Leon
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If you tried to build a deck around Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn and found the game to be lacking that would be understandable.

These are the three characters i tried to build on when i first got the game. The starting threat is just way to high for the vast majority of quests. You have two killers and a quester/killer/defender.

what you really need (to over-simplify) is a quester (e.g. Eowyn) defender (e.g. frodo) and a killer with a special skill (e.g. legolas/hama)

Now taking out a human woman, a hobbit and an elven prince on a hunt for gollum may make absolutely no sense from a tolkien-lore perspective, however, in terms of this game you have a good starting point for a pretty strong deck 2/3rds sprit + 1/3 tactics will complement low threat enemy avoidance + questing power with the combat abilities of the tactics sphere.

At the moment it is difficult (for me) to find a nice balance between a strong deck and a thematically satsifying deck - but as others have said, the game is constantly developing.

Playing with more than 1 player will also give you more freedom to make thematic decks, with a reduction in effectiveness, that can be mopped up by the other player.

If you target some expansions you may be able to make more effective thematic decks, Ellodan and Elrohir are quite strong together, plus Dain+virtually any combination of dwarves is very strong. This is deliberate to fit in with the Dwarrowdelf/Hobbit cycle.

Keep playing/experimenting to see what comes up.

But, yeah, Aragorn legolas gimli is a waste of time i'm afraid!
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Thanee
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You can make themed decks, but in some instances, you will have to include a few cards that do not quite fit into the theme (purely for their game effect).

But you definitely can build successful decks that are also very thematic.

Bye
Thanee
 
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Allan Clements
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Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas will do just fine, though it is more challenging without a 3+ willpower hero.

Depends more on your opening hand, always remember to mulligan if you don't get your decks key cards.
 
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Rick Bateman
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jrd23 wrote:

If thematic decks are your thing, why not choose a couple of heroes for theme, and then think about who else they would bring with them to help them on a particular quest, someone who complements their abilities?
For example, you decide to build a hobbit deck based on Frodo and Bilbo (Spirit and Lore). Who would they invite along to help - obviously a strong leader and/or fighter, maybe someone like Gimli or Legolas (Tactics) or Aragorn (Leadership). And these heroes would bring their own followers - perhaps more dwarves (Gimil) or elves (Legolas) or Dunedain (Aragorn). This approack should build decks that have a strong theme and still be capable of succeeding against all but the toughest quests, at least some of the time!


I think this is definitely worth remembering, thank you.

nssxxx wrote:
If you tried to build a deck around Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn and found the game to be lacking that would be understandable.

These are the three characters i tried to build on when i first got the game. The starting threat is just way to high for the vast majority of quests. You have two killers and a quester/killer/defender.


I didn't actually try using those three heroes myself (I had enough awareness of the game going in that I already knew that would never work), I was just using them as an example of three characters that were grouped together throughout the vast majority of the real story, but would be absolutely untenable in the game. On a thematic level, that's very frustrating to me.

nssxxx wrote:
what you really need (to over-simplify) is a quester (e.g. Eowyn) defender (e.g. frodo) and a killer with a special skill (e.g. legolas/hama)

Now taking out a human woman, a hobbit and an elven prince on a hunt for gollum may make absolutely no sense from a tolkien-lore perspective, however, in terms of this game you have a good starting point for a pretty strong deck 2/3rds sprit + 1/3 tactics will complement low threat enemy avoidance + questing power with the combat abilities of the tactics sphere.

At the moment it is difficult (for me) to find a nice balance between a strong deck and a thematically satsifying deck - but as others have said, the game is constantly developing.


Yeah, that's basically what I was trying to say; it seems like if you want to build a really competitive deck in this game, you kinda just have to let theme go. I don't like that.

nssxxx wrote:
If you target some expansions you may be able to make more effective thematic decks, Ellodan and Elrohir are quite strong together, plus Dain+virtually any combination of dwarves is very strong. This is deliberate to fit in with the Dwarrowdelf/Hobbit cycle.


I'm definitely looking forward to that for the future (I've already started to conceptualize a Noldor/Dwarf Spirit/Lore deck that seems to have a lot of good synergy, at least on paper), but I do think that the Core Set has a lot to offer, and I've barely even scratched the surface of that. Right now, I feel like I'm at the decision point where I'm either going to figure out the way to play this game that works for me, or just move on to something else. Until I've resolved that, I don't want to spend more money on the expansions that might go to waste. But right now, it actually look pretty likely that I'll keep playing, even if it means I have to fiddle with the difficulty a little bit.
 
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Kamakaze wrote:
Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas will do just fine, though it is more challenging without a 3+ willpower hero.

Depends more on your opening hand, always remember to mulligan if you don't get your decks key cards.


Have you tried it? Play them against Journey down the Anduin and let me know how many attempts it takes you to win. Use whichever Aragorn you want. I see that quest as a good benchmark of overall playability. I guarantee your success rate will be south of 10%.

Virtually the whole mirkwood cycle is destined to failure with these three heroes.

KD is OK though.

If you can make them work i'd be very interested to know how.
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Brother Leon
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The other downside is - the Dwarrowdelf cycle is a better cycle, but if you skip out the mirkwood cycle, you will miss a lot of player cards (i.e. songs, eagles, rohan)

I am a big fan of this game but it does have some drawbacks
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Howdy howdy, first time post from a long time lurker.

I picked up the core set three weeks ago, no expansions yet. I built an Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas deck in attempt to beat "Anduin" and have beaten it 3/6. Being a proud noob, I wrote down the last winning game's deck and tactics but am at work now :/

Long story short, high starting threat, and high questing. This deck relies heavily on a good starting hand.

Quest ASAP followed by full offense on engaged troll. Let Gimli soak up a little damage possibly equip Dwarven ax/citadel plate. 1-2 cost lead/tactics events for control. Sneak attack plus whoever, Gandalf if you have him to reduce threat.

On river. Legolas + blade of Gondolin and Sylvan archer keeps banks free.

On bank. Hopefully bank is clear-ish. Full offense, Gimli + ax + citadel plate + accrued damage = quick finish. (EPIC from a thematic standpoint!)

Unfortunately this deck gets spanked on Escape from Dol Guldur and struggles in Mirkwood X)

Sorry for the length. I can give more details elsewhere if desired.
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Rick Bateman
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gbrown001 wrote:

Quest ASAP followed by full offense on engaged troll. Let Gimli soak up a little damage...


I'm confused. Are you saying you do this all in the same turn? I don't see how you'd be able to fit that all in, since each hero can only do one thing each turn (well, Aragorn, I suppose, can quest and do something else). I'd be very interested to hear a more detailed session report, turn-by-turn if you can remember it. That might help me wrap my head around how you organized your actions each turn.
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gbrown001 wrote:
On river. Legolas + blade of Gondolin and Sylvan archer keeps banks free.


Note, that you cannot attack enemies in the staging area with ranged attacks.

Quote:
Unfortunately this deck gets spanked on Escape from Dol Guldur ...


Every deck does. It's a nightmare scenario for solo play.

Bye
Thanee
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nssxxx wrote:
If you can make them work i'd be very interested to know how.


Well, for starters, with Aragorn you have the option to get the Blade that was Broken and the Celebrian's Star to really boost your questing ability. The Star also allows you to use Spirit cards, so some of the really powerful key cards can be used in such a deck (i.e. Unexpected Courage, Northern Tracker, Hasty Stroke, The Galadhrim's Greeting, maybe others).

If you use the Lore Aragorn with Songs for Leadership (since you don't need many cards from Leadership, mostly Steward of Gonder and Sneak Attack in addition to the above-mentioned, and Faramir is also cool) you also have Lore for card-draw-optimization (Master of the Forge with lots of great Attachments) and healing.

I'm rather sure that such a deck would beat Anduin without much trouble.

Well, the one thing that makes it tough is, that you have to beat the troll right from the beginning, due to high starting Threat. So a good starting hand is probably still required. The deck should contain lots of cheap allies that you can play during the first round already, for example.

Bye
Thanee
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Rick Bateman
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Thanee wrote:

Well, the one thing that makes it tough is, that you have to beat the troll right from the beginning, due to high starting Threat. So a good starting hand is probably still required.


Yeah, I think was the main point of difficulty with using three high-priced heroes for a scenario like that. At the very least, it forces you to depend on a great deal of luck at the beginning, and even if you do get allies to soak off the hits, the excess damage is still going to raise the threat level, probably very high.
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Brother Leon
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I am thinking of moving to playing two-handed - one hand with Aragorn legolas and gimli (or perhaps Beorn) and the other hand with Frodo, Bilbo and perhaps Gloin.

I think I've worn out the solo game, regardless of what quest it is.
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Rick Bateman
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Gosh, it must be nice to have time to play it that often. I've only been averaging a few games a week.
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Thanee
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Too many games. Too little time.

Bye
Thanee
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Thanks for the tips Thanee! Can't wait for Lore Aragorn and songs.... I suppose the only question now is, why keep waiting?
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gbrown001 wrote:
Thanks for the tips Thanee! Can't wait for Lore Aragorn and songs.... I suppose the only question now is, why keep waiting?
*cough, cough* proxy *cough, cough*
 
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Rookiebatman wrote:
...and even if you do get allies to soak off the hits, the excess damage is still going to raise the threat level, probably very high.


That's where the Lore Aragorn comes in.

Bye
Thanee
 
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