Michael
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Overview

Foundations of Stone is the fifth expansion pack of the Dwarrowdelf Cycle of the Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. The Core Set and Khazad-dum expansion are required to play this scenario. Foundations of Stone is listed with a difficulty of 6.



The Hero

This pack's hero is one of the mighty elf lords. Glorfindel's achievements during the war of the ring were replaced by Arwen for the movie version of the Lord of the Rings, but Tolkien nerds will know the true story. Glorfindel is also known to have defeated a balrog in single combat. If you are not familiar with Tolkien but love the game, you'll likely remember having read the name before. If you go through your core set, you will find Glorfindel in its previous version. Although powerful, players seemed to shy him for his high threat cost. Enter Glorfindel in his Spirit version. A threat cost of 5 is amazing with regards to his stats - despite the drawback and lack of special ability. Glorfindel may enable Secrecy decks and has two cards at his service (both in this expansion) that bring the true power of this elf lord to the surface.



Drawback? What drawback?

While Glorfindel will likely find his way into many decks, I am disappointed by this early inclusion of an alternative version.

Other Player Cards

The previously shown cards are obviously (almost) as good on any other elvish hero seen so far. Other than that, there is yet more card drawing power for Lore (at no cost), an amazing Spirit ally (particularly if you have Elrond) and the offensive equivalent to the previously seen Watcher of the Bruinen. Path of Need (Leadership) seems incredibly useful for locations that are not immune to card effects and that stay around for longer (Durin's Doors - Watcher in the Water expansion or Dark Pit - Shadow and Flame - come to mind). At this stage of the game, I love to have situationally useful cards. If you only buy an expansion every once in a while, you might find this pack lacking. Path of Need is only once example. The dwarf ally (Leadership) will be useful in location-heavy scenarios but a burden in others. Tactics get one ally that requires some deck-building to cater for the resources necessary to keep him around as well as an event restricted to attacking dwarves.

Here is an overview of many player cards: http://www.cardgamedb.com/index.php/lotr/lord-of-the-rings-c...

The Scenario

The scenario starts with the heroes in the deepest places of Moria where they investigate the source of increased orc activity. The set up starts with three Encounter Decks from Khazad-dum: Goblins of the Deep, Hazards of the Pit and Twists and Turns. The Foundations of Stone Encounter Deck is set aside initially. The quest has 5 stages and stars off in a standard fashion.


Better be quick...

After passing through stage 2, the scenario takes a twist. SPOILER WARNING: The following image and paragraphs will take away the suspense when playing Foundations of Stone for the first time. If you like to avoid the quest spoiler, don't look into detail at the next two images and skip to the part highlighted GREEN. If you to avoid all spoilers (including encounter cards), skip to My Verdict.

Suddenly, your heroes fall through the cracks and are washed away by a strong underground current. At this stage, your items are lost in the turbulent waters and your torches are snuffed out. However, your skills and conditions remain. I really like the thematic feel to this and would have been annoyed by a "discard all your attachments" text. Naturally, you will be prepared the second time you play the scenario and keep your important items on hand until you pass this stage.

The final stage includes some difficult questing - more on that later.


Stages 3 and 5

After you are washed away, you have to draw your Stage 4 at random from four choices. The fun bit in a multiplayer game is that the players are completely separated: no attachments for the other player from your hand, no healing, no bonuses, no nothing. You will be reunited after one player passes his/ her stage (at least in a two-player game), but doing so can be tough. The four stages differ significantly from another and may feature horrendous questing or tough battles. A Tactics-heavy deck facing the prospect of 17 progress to advance to sage 5 or a Spirit/ Lore deck facing four enemies in the Old One Lair will have a tough time in Moria. So of course this involves luck in drawing the "right" scenario for your personal deck, but it also encourages you to build a deck suited for all conditions.


Pick your poison...wait, it is picked for you.

This nice twist does not apply in solo play, of course. Nevertheless, your game will be different each time you play, and you have to be prepared for all that may come. In general, you want to finish Stage 2 as quickly as possible to avoid losing more precious cards from your deck. At the same time, overextension through exhaustion of too many enemies may cause you to face multiple enemies at once if you draw an unfavourable scenario, making this quest a fine act of balance.

The encounter cards feature the nameless things, monsters of the deep that are unpredictable for you. Whenever they engage, you deal them two cards from your deck, and the printed cost of your cards determines the enemies' strength. If you happen to have Gandalf and Beorn on top of your deck, you will join Durin, Balin, Ori and co. very soon. This scenario screams to include some low-cost cards in your deck.


Don't draw Gandalf, don't draw Gandalf.

One particularly nasty card is Lost and Alone. Considering that Foundations of Stone includes the dreaded "Sudden Pitfall" card, you may lose the game in the most unsatisfying way. For instance, I lost Glorfindel through Sudden Pitfall in Stage 1. The card (and all other Treachery and Enemy cards) get reshuffled in Stage 3. There, my wife lost Beorn through the same card before Frodo and Aragorn were lost. At least Lost and Alone can make for a dramatic finish. The job and thrill of flipping up one of your cards only to rediscover your lost hero is great and infuses you with some much needed hope.



One set of cards I am very fond of are those related to Durin. You could previously discover his greaves in "The Long Dark" expansion. Here, you have a chance to find his helm and axe. I love that the designers gave bonuses to dwarf characters, but - given my preference for dwarves - I am biased in saying this. It was however, a great thematic experience to recover Durin's artefacts with Dain, Nori and Bifur.


King Durin I of Khazad-dum. Goosebumps for dwarves and their players.

My Verdict

Theme
I love Moria, but just running through the dark tunnels yet again feels repetitive.


Artwork
Locations top, Objectives amazing, monsters good.


Hero
Very useful with two cards to boost. But repetition of hero too early for my taste.


Other Player Cards

Very situational. Add a star if you possess most expansions, take one off if you are looking for your first or second expansion.


Scenario
Fantastic the first time you play it, although not as good solo. Some cards tend to be unfair rather than challenging.


Overall
A good expansion with a fun quest and a useful hero.


Edited to add empty stars in verdict.
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No No No Sheep
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Re: A light in the darkest deep of Moria
Thanks zwerg, cant wait for your Long Dark review in a few days
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Michael
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Re: A light in the darkest deep of Moria
dprijadi wrote:
Thanks zwerg, cant wait for your Long Dark review in a few days


It'll be more than a few days, unfortunately. I don't have that pack and don't know when I'm going to get it.
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Jason K
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Re: A light in the darkest deep of Moria
Zwerg,

I appreciate all the work!!

The reviews look good, follow a sensible pattern, and are quite insightful.

When I make purchases for this system, I now immediately look for your reviews.

 
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Michael
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Re: A light in the darkest deep of Moria
GreatDebate wrote:
Zwerg,

I appreciate all the work!!

The reviews look good, follow a sensible pattern, and are quite insightful.

When I make purchases for this system, I now immediately look for your reviews.



Thank you! Glad they are helpful to you. My next review should be up within a week or two (The Redhorn Gate). Need a few more multiplayer games in that scenario.
 
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No No No Sheep
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Re: A light in the darkest deep of Moria
Zwerg wrote:
GreatDebate wrote:
Zwerg,

I appreciate all the work!!

The reviews look good, follow a sensible pattern, and are quite insightful.

When I make purchases for this system, I now immediately look for your reviews.



Thank you! Glad they are helpful to you. My next review should be up within a week or two (The Redhorn Gate). Need a few more multiplayer games in that scenario.


cant wait for your numenor and hobbit saga part 2 reviews later
 
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