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

Subject: Logic in the game... rss

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dennis -son
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I've played the game, solo, with the core set a fair lot of times now and sometimes I find it quite amusing and fun. However, I haven't been able to manage to finish the second stage "Journey down the Anduin" without going a round or 2 over 50 on the threat counter.

I have been reading about advices and strategies of other players on forums saying that "this card solves this and that card solves that". Thing is, this card might solve that problem and the other card that other problem. But those problems might not come up the next time i play and i have those cards at hand.
Others gives advices that forces me to purchase expansions, which, by the feeling i have of the game, i don't plan on doing. And my thoughts is that you shouldn't have to buy expansions to enjoy a basic game.

Basically, I've come to the conclusion that this game is a 50/50 game of strategy and luck (maybe obvious to some of you and maybe totally ludacrous for others).
Don't get me wrong, i do enjoy a challenge with games and i can't seem to not like this game even if it can be frustrating sometimes when the encounter deck just won't give you a break.

The other thing I've concluded is that this game misses logic. Especially in the scenario "Journey Down the Anduin";
So, you get to the stashed raft as you are encountered with an annoying Hill Troll. After you've killed it you set out on the river on the raft as you're being chased by monsters which you can choose to encounter as you wish.

So far so good (logically)...

Then, as you are questing, you see different areas/locations as you go down the Big River (which in the game prevents you with annoying threat points).

so here is, why on earth, if you are chased by monsters down a river, would you go ashore to explore a location to rid of its threat when you, logically, can just kill the monsters chasing you and scurry along down the Anduin until, as the last stage in the scenario claims, you're enemies force(!) you ashore and you are left no choice but to kill them? And by forcing me, indicates that I really don't want to go ashore, i simply want to get down south as quickly as possible.

And one other thing, the game specify that you cannot use 2 unique cards at the same time (have them "in play"). This makes sense. However, the encounter deck doesn't have that limitation. So the location named "The Brown Lands" (THE(!) brown lands) can be in the staging area at the same time. How can a location that is specifically named THE(!) Brown lands, which indicates that its one location, be 2 locations?
That would be like having 2 Gandalfs in play..

So, if you don't look at the details, which i really like to do to get a more "in-feeling" in playing, it's a good challenging game. But FFG could've done more specific rules to the solo game.
Personally, i think that they did it pretty easy for themselves making one change for the solo game (at questing just add 1 card to staging area)

All in all, I wouldn't recommend this game to players that plan on playing mostly on their own.

p.s this is not a review, i posted it to start a discussion about what other people think about this and put their thoughts here. I'm not planning on argue with anyone about this game.
This is just how I feel and if someone feel different, i'm more than interested in reading their thoughts on the matter.

Looking forward to see responses!
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Paul Osborne
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I am thinking randomness of the draw is a big issue with this game. I just spent an hour wandering round a Passage through Mirkwood to end up with 5 locations in the staging area and no way I could raise enough Will to avoid getting damage as part of the Quest stage. The cards it seems were a bit well shuffled...

Must go - the forest and the spiders await me.
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Vladimir Lehotai
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Mr_dulu wrote:

And one other thing, the game specify that you cannot use 2 unique cards at the same time (have them "in play"). This makes sense. However, the encounter deck doesn't have that limitation. So the location named "The Brown Lands" (THE(!) brown lands) can be in the staging area at the same time. How can a location that is specifically named THE(!) Brown lands, which indicates that its one location, be 2 locations?
That would be like having 2 Gandalfs in play..


Well, one can argue that a location is large, hence it is represented by a few cards. A few exploration tokens may be enough for exploring a part of the location, but not for the whole area. On the other hand, you cannot explain how would three (or six if 2-player game) Aragorns form a group and go quest together.

Anyways, if you want to go into details, you may find many other illogical examples. Let's say that Denethor (who rules Gondor for now) hooks up with Elrond and some unnamed Hobbit (Frodo - since this game's events are some time before the War of the Ring, Frodo is still nobody. Or one of Bilbo's family members at best) and they decide to kill a balrog (quest Shadow and Flame). But that is just nitpicking for nitpicking's sake.

Don't look too much into it and it will be fine.
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Wow so many things to answer. I will try my best

Mr_dulu wrote:
Basically, I've come to the conclusion that this game is a 50/50 game of strategy and luck (maybe obvious to some of you and maybe totally ludacrous for others).
Don't get me wrong, i do enjoy a challenge with games and i can't seem to not like this game even if it can be frustrating sometimes when the encounter deck just won't give you a break.


2 things I have to say about this.

First, I don't think the core set is enough all by itself. Core set + Mirkwood cycle is imho the actual game. That's because core set don't give enough cards to build your decks, and don't give you enough quests to enjoy it very long (the first one is too easy, the last one is too hard).
That's unfortunate, but really if I had to recommend this game to a friend, I would tell him he needs the Mirkwood cycle. I would understand if he told me that makes the game too expensive, but that's the truth.

Second, though I agree there is some luck involved in the game, it's not 50/50. It's more like 20%. The thing is, the more powerful your deck is, the less you will rely on luck. Once again, with only the core set, your deck isn't good enough to mitigate the luck of the game, hence your impression that it's too much luck-based

Quote:
The other thing I've concluded is that this game misses logic.


LOTR LCG is not the most thematic game out there. If you start to delve into every single mechanic of the game, you will find lot of stuff that don't make sense. I won't even try to justify them. I would say it's a matter of players taste.
I'm a player who cares more about mechanics than theme, so I'm ok with it and like the game. I have a friend who likes a good theme in his game, but doesn't need every single thing to makes sense. He likes reading the quest cards, and feels like he is exploring the Moria, but he doesn't need to explain every single thing that happens in that game. That's why he likes it like I do.
I know other people who just can't get over "illogical" facts such as heroes gaining ressources, allies appearing out of nowhere, and people having 3 swords and 2 armors. This game is just not for them.

Quote:
So, if you don't look at the details, which i really like to do to get a more "in-feeling" in playing, it's a good challenging game. But FFG could've done more specific rules to the solo game.
Personally, i think that they did it pretty easy for themselves making one change for the solo game (at questing just add 1 card to staging area)


Ok, this here is where I disagree the most with you.

I recently did a poll that showed that most people (55%) play the game solo, with only one deck. So FFG would be pretty stupid to simply ignore them.

And the fact is that they didn't. You just don't know the game enough :
- there are quests that are directly affected by the number of players. Dol Guldur specifies that, among all players, you can only play one ally per turn. Try to do that with 4 players, and see what happens.
- there are also lot of players cards whose strength is affected by the number of players.
A simple example, the Northern Tracker can affect multiple locations at the same time. He is stronger for each player you add to the game (because there are more encounters cards and hence more locations to handle).
It's so important, that I always think about "with whom I'm gonna play this" before building a deck.
- there are also lot of enemies cards that is affected by the number of players. The first Gollum quest for the Mirkwood cycle is full of them and is a lot harder for each player you add to the game.

Actually, there are so much things that change for each player you add or substract, that I'm still not sure whether on average it's easier or harder to play solo, 2 players, 3 players or 4 players.
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Matthew Roskam
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The Anduin scenario is one of the most difficult- a troll right out of the gate is a tough thing to deal with.

Most people play with lower initial threat characters so they can build up with attachments and reaction cards before trying to take it on.

This game rewards careful deck building and trying different approaches. Even a great deck can be taken apart by a bad string of cards, but that element of the unknown is what makes the game fun for many. Countering the luck factor is what deck building is all about.

Solo play doesn't mean you have to play one deck- two decks is a great way to play solo, especially on scenarios like Anduin. Just play the 2 player rules, and give it a go.

There is also a huge community around this game, and lots of help building decks can be found.

If you don't enjoy deck building, this will not be the game for you. I agree that the core set could have used a true medium difficulty scenario. But if you are willing to grab a few expansion cards, this game can actually be very engrossing. If you don't want to do that, then you probably already have your answer as to whether this is a game for you or not.

As far as theme issues, I can imagine the heroes wanting to scout locations along the river to determine the threat along the banks. After all, often it is the enemy you don't see that is the most dangerous. Think of it as a reconnaissance. The whole idea of exploring an unknown location is to make sure no additional threats are there. Assuming the adventure taking several days, you would think they would need to do so in order to sleep at night as well. Putting in to fight enemies you are aware of seems logical. The heroes would not know that they would be forced into combat at the end, so this would be a logical thing for them to do (fog of war).

Beating a really difficult scenario is a great feeling, so don't give up just yet! Buy a few expansions to get your deck really humming, and see what you can do.

PS: welcome to BGG- hope you enjoy the community here!
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Ben Hawks
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Unfortunately, the LoTR LCG doesn't work very well without expansions, at least for solo play. If you want to get the full experience out of the game, you should pick up at least the entire Mirkwood cycle. Once you have more cards, Journey Down the Anduin becomes one of the most challenging and fun quests in the game.

If you're not willing to buy more cards, I suggest you trade the game away.
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Ed T
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Mr_dulu wrote:
Basically, I've come to the conclusion that this game is a 50/50 game of strategy and luck (maybe obvious to some of you and maybe totally ludacrous for others).


I find this absolutely not true, given a larger card base and proper deck building. Last night I beat Journey to Rhosgobel - cited around here by some as one of the more frustratingly random of the scenarios - solo, one deck, solidly 4 times in a row (I've been working through the Mirkwood scenarios in order, with the same deck (with minor modifications as necessary for the scenario), not moving on until I can beat it multiple times in a row, after I finally cracked Anduin).

As someone else mentioned, there are things you can do deck building and gameplay wise to mitigate and compensate for the randomness of the encounter deck - that's part of the strategy of the game.

I find this game to be an unbelievably fun and addictive metagaming (with the deck building) and solo game playing experience, with the caveat that the game doesn't really shine that way with just the core set alone, and that's really too bad. I haven't been this hooked on a card or board game since I played Magic: The Gathering all the time with a group of friends back in high school and college.
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secoAce -
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First, is the Lord of the Rings the Card Game playable with only a single core set?
Yes, but only as an introduction.

Many fault this for the game saying a game is not worth investing in if it requires you to buy expansions. I generally agree with this statement, except that the reality is that I don't know of ANY CCG/TCG where you are NOT expected to expand your card pool with expansions. Core boxes, which more appropriately called Starter Sets, in true CCG games, are just introductions to the game. The LotR follows a different distribution model with fixed card packs in stead of random boosters, but the fact is the game is still a CCG at its core. The mistake some people make is expecting a card game to follow a true board game's distribution model. It's fine if that is enough of a deterent to steer you away from the game, but you have to approach the game accepting this about card games.

There are other characteristics of CCGs that manifest in the LotR, which proves that at its core, it's just a card game, such as increasing card combination complexities with increasing card pools, which in turn leads to even more "illogical" thematic plays.

If you haven't had a chance to play the third scenario of the core set, I won't spoil it, but I had an encounter combination with locations in this scenario that completely defied logically flow even worse than your Anduin example. It took me a few moments to work it out in my head how it could possibly make sense story-wise. But in the end, it didn't really matter and I played through it. I recently got into board games, so I don't have a wide experience of other games to compare LotR, but I find this game very immersively thematic.

As for randomness in the game, again, this is another factor generic to card games with a draw mechanic. I too get frustrated when the random Encounter card draw seems so unfair against possible bad card draws from my player deck. But then, it can work the other way too, and I'll take the luck when it swings my way since the game can be very hard playing solo. Could the designers have done a better job of including only effects and flavor that adhere to a very strict storyline. Probably. But then, I wouldn't want the game scripted so tightly to the point where I'm just walking through a fixed story instead of actually playing a game.

Plus, I don't know how else you would create a solo-playable card game without the random encounter draw. LotR is a very playable game for solo players, and it's a big reason I, and many others, bought this game.

I'm not trying to make excuses for the issues you've brought up, but just give a different perspective. I do not deny these issues can be considered by some as faults in the game, and this doesn't sound like your type of game. But they are not major enough to turn me away from the game because in the end, I have fun with the game. And isn't that the most important factor in deciding if game is worth playing?

Answering this question reminds me of this guy I knew who was a music major but hated going to concerts, especially classical performances. When I asked him why, he said because he automatically starts focusing on fingering techniques and evaluating playing styles. He can't just sit and enjoy the music.

The more I get more into card/board games, the more I'm paying attention to game design and mechanics. I'm beginning to notice what works and what I don't like. But I hope to never get to that point where I'm constantly evaluating game mechanics and design, and not be able to enjoy just playing a game as designed.
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dennis -son
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So, interesting reading for me here and i thank all of you for your perspectives and pointers!

When i first got this game I knew about the expansions and about it being a deck building game. Though i thought that you actually could enjoy it solo with the core set. Thinking like that i decided to give it a go and if it got me hooked i would buy more expansions.
It got me hooked, i'm just not certain that i'm hooked enough.

Reading your replies, seeing some agreeing and some disagreeing. A lot of you pushing me to give it a chance and buy expansions (with tips of which expansions). Some are suggesting that maybe deck building isn't for me (which i can confirm to some degree).
But I've actually decided to give the Mirkwood cycle a go. Buying one at a time just in case.
I guess i have you to thank (or maybe curse afterward ) for that!

secoAce wrote:
Answering this question reminds me of this guy I knew who was a music major but hated going to concerts, especially classical performances. When I asked him why, he said because he automatically starts focusing on fingering techniques and evaluating playing styles. He can't just sit and enjoy the music.

The more I get more into card/board games, the more I'm paying attention to game design and mechanics. I'm beginning to notice what works and what I don't like. But I hope to never get to that point where I'm constantly evaluating game mechanics and design, and not be able to enjoy just playing a game as designed.


I'm a musician as well (not a major though) but i can relate to his issue on a lower level (I don't have the same concert issues). As with the games sometimes, i tend to go too much into details. Maybe there's something wrong with me

Anyway, thanks for all the replies! And if there is anyone else wanting to give a piece of their mind about this, your more than welcome. I will be reading.

and..

Mwroskam wrote:
PS: welcome to BGG- hope you enjoy the community here!


Thank you! I'm certain i'll enjoy it

I'll be returning with my views after i've played some out of the Mirkwood cycle.
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Maya
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Mr_dulu wrote:
So here is, why on earth, if you are chased by monsters down a river, would you go ashore to explore a location to rid of its threat when you, logically, can just kill the monsters chasing you and scurry along down the Anduin until, as the last stage in the scenario claims, you're enemies force(!) you ashore and you are left no choice but to kill them?


Maybe the river narrows at certain points, or its banks rise up so that the group is under threat of ambush? If they just cruise down the river they get riddled with Orc arrows. So, they disembark to scout out the location and fight any possible enemies from the rear instead of waltzing into the ambush. Quite logical in my opinion.

Quote:
And by forcing me, indicates that I really don't want to go ashore, i simply want to get down south as quickly as possible.


Again, this is a river, with currents and rapids and twists and turns and bottlenecks. If Orcs are harassing you from one side of the river, you may try to steer over to the other side and inadvertently ground your raft, at which point you HAVE to fight the enemies that were waiting on the other side.

Personally, my feeling was that the enemies are simply swarming the raft until it capsizes, so that the heroes have to swim ashore if they want any chance of surviving. But the other scenario works just as logically.

Quote:
And one other thing, the game specify that you cannot use 2 unique cards at the same time (have them "in play"). This makes sense. However, the encounter deck doesn't have that limitation. So the location named "The Brown Lands" (THE(!) brown lands) can be in the staging area at the same time. How can a location that is specifically named THE(!) Brown lands, which indicates that its one location, be 2 locations?


The river meanders. You are floating down the river, and see the Brown Lands on your left. Then the river curves to the right, taking you past a peninsula of nondescript mud and brush. Shortly afterwards, it curves to the left again, taking you past the Brown Lands from the other side of the peninsula. I don't know Middle-Earth geography well enough to say if the Anduin is actually supposed to have this many S-curves, but it's quite possible in real-world geography, and it's not so big a point that it would ruin my suspension of disbelief.

All in all, you have to take it as an abstraction of the adventure, not a story that's accurate down to the last detail. If you let the little details bog you down, you're not going to have much fun.
 
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Matt Duckworth
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I'm a theme player myself, which is why I rarely use the Steward of Gondor card.

I struggled for a long time about how to make sense of locations. What I came up with is the opposite of what is mentioned above. When you draw a location card in the staging area, threat is a heavily abstracted concept to "funnel" you into locations. It might represent danger that forces you to travel to that dark forest in order to "escape" threat. It could mean there is an abstracted quest objective within that location that needs to be done in order to avoid the greater danger of the threat. The staging area is composed of threat and sometimes you have to travel to locations to minimize your danger.

Once you think about it that way, locations make a lot more thematic sense.
 
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