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Subject: Need help making this game appealing for my wife. rss

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Jason Cline
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My wife is a casual gamer. She plays M:tG casually, loves cooperative board games like Pandemic, Forbidden Island. Several other games, as well, Agricola's 2 player mini-game, Sentinels of the Multiverse. She plays Arkham Horror with us, though it's not her favorite. She loves Descent 2.0. She also loves Lord of the Rings (the setting).

Ok, that said, this game doesn't click for her. We've played a few times, once at an FFG demo table at GenCon, and a couple of times since then. She can't get into it. She finds it too fiddly, with too much recordkeeping. Her exact quote is, "There's too much going on and not enough going on, at the same time." It seems like every time we play, we're either besieged, with no hope for survival, or we run into nothing for a long time, build up a force, and then suddenly something goes terribly wrong.

I enjoy the game a lot. I know there's a lot to keep track of, and I don't mind that. I play the game solo, and with a few other friends. I'd like to find a way to make the game appealing to her, and I'm really not sure how to do that.

Any suggestions would be welcome. I have 2 copies of the base game, The Hunt for Gollum, Khazad Dum, Over Hill and Under Hill, and one random expansion from after Khazad Dum.
 
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Dave E

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Having some cheat sheets or reminders may help, just like the turn sequence, and where/how to calculate certain things. I guess the real trick is to figure out what part of the bookkeeping is the most annoying to keep track of, and find a way to make it easier to remember so it just becomes natural.

In the end, this is a bit heavier than some casual gamers may like/find enjoyable.
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Maya
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I wish I had good suggestions for you, but it really sounds like she knows what games she likes and this one just doesn't do it for her. It's not that she's uninformed, or that she hasn't given it a shot - she's played it and just doesn't like it much. This happens. The most you can do is come to an agreement to alternate games of LOTR with the other games she likes more.

You have enough expansions that she certainly has a decent pool of cards to play with. A few more APs might help, but they might just be money down the drain. I sense that if she doesn't like it by now, she's just not going to.

The complaints she has about the game are certainly valid points. "Something suddenly goes horribly wrong" is definitely a familiar plot point in my LOTR games! Some of us don't mind that randomness, and live for the times when everything does work according to plan. To some it's a massive turnoff.

At least she's gaming with you. Lots of spouses won't even give it a shot. My wife will go for games like Catan or Munchkin, but flat out refuses to touch LOTR, despite being a huge fan of the movies.
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Noel Llopis
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A few random thoughts:
- Stick to the core set for now, and work on the first scenario until it becomes easier.
- Skip dealing out shadow cards to make it easier and cut complexity
- Let her play a Spirit/Lore game from the core set. That means you'll be doing most of the fighting with a Tactics/Leadership one (which is the most fiddly thing in my opinion).

Good luck with it. My wife loves this game to pieces, but one of her favorite games is Arkham Horror, so she's not afraid of rules complexity :-)


--Noel
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Andrei Ivanesei
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These things worked on my girlfriend:
- have a deck or two ready for her. Yeah, it "ruins" half the fun, but if she doesn't like working on a new deck, this will get you into the game almost instantly. Just try and do two different themes, based on what you know she likes: combat, support, questing...
- set up one or two of the easier quests until she gets the hang of the game (learns the steps, how things work). You can find a list here on the geek.
- let her be the hero that saves the day, even if you dont necessarily need her help.
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Nehima
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Zerofaith wrote:
Having some cheat sheets or reminders may help, just like the turn sequence, and where/how to calculate certain things. I guess the real trick is to figure out what part of the bookkeeping is the most annoying to keep track of, and find a way to make it easier to remember so it just becomes natural.

In the end, this is a bit heavier than some casual gamers may like/find enjoyable.


Cheat sheets really help to keep track of things. There are a bunch of them in the file database here.

Another idea to reduce the bookkeeping:

What about a playmat/sheet with a score and tokens to simplify the calculations for the questing phase?
Here's a picture of such a playmat from a fellow LotR player.
(Link to the file threat where I found the image)
 
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Jason Cline
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nehima wrote:
Another idea to reduce the bookkeeping:

What about a playmat/sheet with a score and tokens to simplify the calculations for the questing phase?
Here's a picture of such a playmat from a fellow LotR player.
(Link to the file threat where I found the image)


I was looking at a similar playmat shortly after posting my question. Even if I don't manage to make the game fun for her, I will probably implement that, just cause it looks so good

Definitely watching the suggestions here, thanks to everyone who's posted so far.
 
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Jan Probst
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Do most recordkeepy stuff yourself, handle the encounter deck, narrate whats happening behind the game mechanics, thus turning it into an RPGish feel for the co-player? Might appeal more.
(It's basically solo with company that way, but eh)
 
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Jason Cline
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Weltenreiter wrote:
Do most recordkeepy stuff yourself, handle the encounter deck, narrate whats happening behind the game mechanics, thus turning it into an RPGish feel for the co-player? Might appeal more.
(It's basically solo with company that way, but eh)


Sadly, that's all standard operating procedure. I may just have to resign myself to "It doesn't click for her" but I'm still hopeful
 
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secoAce -
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I pretty much agree with what everyone else is suggesting.
Basically, it looks like this game is too much "work" and I do agree, the game does require a bit of study to really make the most of the game.

Start by building decks for her. I'd suggest a Leadership+Tactics deck as I found these 2 spheres to be the most straight-forward to play. Tactics' strength is in combat; Leadership is in bringing out other Allies. They are utilize more natural mechanics that are easier to grasp than Lore & Spirit, even though these 2 Sphere combos can be quite powerful. Give her time to get used to the cards in her deck before trying to change her deck around. A big part of enjoyment of a game is that you're familiar enough with it to think you're doing well.

The advantage to this game being a cooperative game is that you can then take the leadership role in planning moves together and in doing all the bookkeeping for both you and your wife. Sure, it's a lot more work for you, but I'll assume that part of your effort in asking here is that you want to be able to enjoy some game time with your wife, which I applaud you for. And maybe after she gets more comfortable with the game, she may want to take over some of the management of her part in the game.

 
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Matt Duckworth
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I have found something that really helps ease of remembering details is using dice. Dice work great for this game. I keep a small collection of D6s that I use to keep track of questing willpower and staging threat. Allows you to take your mind off of the numbers and concentrate on other things during questing phase. Dice are so great because you just lay a few of them out and flip them as you adjust your questing willpower during the phase.

I also keep 4s, 12s, and 20s around for various items. I often use the D4 as a token (say to represent a defense boost from a committed Arwen Undomiel) or to keep track of card discard boosts on a character with protector of Lorien attachment. D12s are good for cards like Erebor battlemaster to keep track of attack boost as dwarves leave and enter play. I use the d20 to track really high hit point monsters like Durin's Bane.

This has really done marvels to allow me to spend less time on accounting and tracking numbers and more energy for thinking of strategies. They literally pictorially track everything on your board position. They are kind of fun too... it's sort of rewarding to keep flipping that d12 higher as my battlemasters get boosted!
 
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mjd83 wrote:
I have found something that really helps ease of remembering details is using dice. Dice work great for this game. I keep a small collection of D6s that I use to keep track of questing willpower and staging threat. Allows you to take your mind off of the numbers and concentrate on other things during questing phase. Dice are so great because you just lay a few of them out and flip them as you adjust your questing willpower during the phase.

I also keep 4s, 12s, and 20s around for various items. I often use the D4 as a token (say to represent a defense boost from a committed Arwen Undomiel) or to keep track of card discard boosts on a character with protector of Lorien attachment. D12s are good for cards like Erebor battlemaster to keep track of attack boost as dwarves leave and enter play. I use the d20 to track really high hit point monsters like Durin's Bane.

This has really done marvels to allow me to spend less time on accounting and tracking numbers and more energy for thinking of strategies. They literally pictorially track everything on your board position. They are kind of fun too... it's sort of rewarding to keep flipping that d12 higher as my battlemasters get boosted!


Yup I've been doing the same for my quest deck, which has so many way to boost willpower, it was becoming a chore to keep track of everything
 
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Jan Probst
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For now I only got matching D10 and D6 (for 10er digit)in black to keep track of pre-staging threat (and adjust for post- once drawn) to help planning quest commitments (which is tracked with similar white dice).

I'm debating switching ressources to D6 entirely, but would like slightly above average size, neat clear pipped ones in hero colors. Not unsurmountable, but purple for Ld heroes has been a bottleneck, so haven't started on that. Besides, I kinda like the ressource tokens.

Dice for various boosts like Battlemaster sounds good, will probably steal. For Arwen I'd rather make a custom counter, but am lazy.

Low HP monster (and ally) damage I think I'll stick to provided counters, dice seem to get cluttery. Maybe one of those 3x3x4 small dice boxes in red. Hmmm need to look into.

Progress I'm pretty sure I'll keep progress tokens though, the footsteps are cool.
 
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John R
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If you've got Legos in the house, I'd use a Lego shield to represent Arwen's boost to another character.
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Matt Duckworth
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Weltenreiter wrote:
For now I only got matching D10 and D6 (for 10er digit)in black to keep track of pre-staging threat (and adjust for post- once drawn) to help planning quest commitments (which is tracked with similar white dice).

I'm debating switching ressources to D6 entirely, but would like slightly above average size, neat clear pipped ones in hero colors. Not unsurmountable, but purple for Ld heroes has been a bottleneck, so haven't started on that. Besides, I kinda like the ressource tokens.

Dice for various boosts like Battlemaster sounds good, will probably steal. For Arwen I'd rather make a custom counter, but am lazy.

Low HP monster (and ally) damage I think I'll stick to provided counters, dice seem to get cluttery. Maybe one of those 3x3x4 small dice boxes in red. Hmmm need to look into.

Progress I'm pretty sure I'll keep progress tokens though, the footsteps are cool.


Hmmm, never thought of tracking resources with dice, but now that you mention it, that sounds like a good idea. I'm in agreement with the low hp monsters, I very rarely use dice for hit points. The only examples I can think of off the top of my head are the Balrog and Smaug... and perhaps the occasional "boss enemy" of an encounter deck that is hard to kill and hangs around a while.
 
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Jan Probst
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BeatGuy wrote:
If you've got Legos in the house, I'd use a Lego shield to represent Arwen's boost to another character.

First thought: "screw LEGO shield, use Lego Arwen." We use dual sword LEGOlas for general table entertainment already anyway.

Then I thought "Dammit, LEGO Arwen probably doesn't exist. Initiate Exterminatus on this unworthy ball of dirt."

*Then* I googled and found this, apparently coming out in 2013? Call off that strike fleet.

THEN I thought "dammit, they have those LEGO Friends chassises, why don't they use them", but figured I shouldn't complain. Token situation cleared, now it's just a race if she or german Doorstep/Shadows Cycle hits first. whistle
 
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Nikos II
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Weltenreiter wrote:
I kinda like the resource tokens.

Progress I'm pretty sure I'll keep progress tokens though, the footsteps are cool.

The problem with the tokens is that they are bad at representing larger numbers. A pile of tokens, even if they are stacked, make it difficult to quickly understand the numbers present.

Try this link ... http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/82965/custom-stickers-...

A fellow BGGer created labels for the tokens so that 5 and 10 can be easily represented.

As for dice use, I have two d20s; white for Willpower and black for Threat tracking.
 
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