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

Subject: Mono-sphere Lore decks are back on the map!!! rss

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Matt Duckworth
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Earlier this week I asked the question of whether mono-sphere decks were once again viable. Not only has the card pool expanded greatly since the early days, but HoN and the upcoming Against the Shadow seem to imply an agenda of return to mono-sphere decks since the pre-constructed days of the core set.


Tonight I answered my own question, a resounding YES!


The previous thread had come to the conclusion that tactics and (especially) spirit probably were viable, with leadership possible and lore a big question.


I set out to create a lore deck for solo play, as lore was my favorite in the early days. I decided on a general theme of encounter deck control, which seems interesting and fun but previously under-played given the BGG forum barometer. I grabbed the obvious choice of Denethor [exhaust, look at top encounter, may move to bottom of the deck], Aragorn for threat control and attack, and dusted off Beravor as a well rounded third with her signature card draw. Since I was playing “Flies and Spiders” I also grabbed Mr. Baggins, some treasure cards (having previously completed UHaOH saga).


I focused on encounter deck control to test it’s effectiveness, complimentary with staging area control and scrying. I tossed in a bit of healing, a bit of location control, and a hodge podge of several other elements (any lore monosphere deck is going to be a gaggle of various themes).


I set down with my hastily constructed lore deck to begin my first (full) playthrough of “Flies and Spiders” ever.. though I will admit to looking at the quest cards before hand. I expected several replays of tweaking the deck and just learning to play a fairly complex deck against a fairly complex scenario.


There was no need, I CRUSHED flies and spiders on the first play through. I even had several unexpected setbacks such as getting surprised by “Lazy Lob” [1 poison to all questers] while actively exploring “The Great Web” [-1 all attributes to all poisoned] in the early game, and a nasty shadow effect poisoning my chump blocker unconscious, causing undefended damage, killing Denethor late-mid game. I will now report my observations of why I was able to manhandle this scenario.


First I would like to state an irony, I never saw a single one of my scrying cards and never played any encounter deck manipulation cards the entire game, largely due to poison tokens ripping up my play deck. Secondly, I would like to point out that I played solo, where I believe lore is strong. Also, lore is probably the most flexible sphere for “splashing” other spheres with cards like Rivendell Minstrels and Bifur. I however DID NOT do this, as I wanted to have a “vanilla” lore deck with of course the Baggins sphere, Gandalfs (Gandalves?), and Shadows of the Past. With these exceptions, it was lore all the way. Now on to the analysis.


1. Resources – this was truly the key to victory. The strongest advantage of monosphere is being able to play any card in your deck up to cost 3 on the first turn! Also, with no splashing, every card you draw can be paid for by every hero right from the start. This is a bigger deal than you might realize, and I think with the influx of some mono-sphere friendly cards, people are going to start realizing how great this is. I never felt behind the power curve the entire game. It also helps that lore cards tend to be on the cheaper end a lot of times. What this also allows you to do is play the expensive lore cards you would never dream of including in a multi-sphere deck… another overlooked bonus of mono-sphere.


2. Master of Lore – I did play up to 1.4 errata, and can say I now feel better about this card being nerfed. This card is AMAZING in mono-sphere lore, it’s almost like having a more variable and indirect "poor man's" Steward of Gondor. I could see that if left with vanilla card text, this card could get WAY out of hand fast, to the point of being nearly broken. It’s still a must include for lore mono-sphere after FAQ 1.4. I managed to get three of these guys early in the game and was playing “0 cost” lore cards left and right..exhaust 3 of them and play a 3 cost lore card of your choice for free. What this does is cover one of the great chinks in Lore’s armor by giving it something it’s never had before… resource acceleration. If I had been playing without errata, I may as well have quit bothering paying for cards with resources. You’d be surprised how much even one of these guys helps out.. especially if you get them early. These were essential for me generating enough resources quick enough to achieve my victory.


3. Dwarven Mapmaker - This guy is a heavy hitter in a mono lore deck, especially with Master of Lore making freeing up more resources. He converts lore resources into quest progress, and this is what carried through the quest stages and won me the game. He was far more useful to me in this deck than he has ever been in any of my previous dwarf decks. I never would have had a prayer getting out of the Spider’s Glade alive without the mapmaker finding the way and (new) Gandalf leading the trail. A couple of my turns he was putting up willpower that would make Eowyn blush with shame. And with 1 defense and 3 hp, he’s even sturdy against foul treacheries and can defend in a pinch. Also don’t forget about Protector of Lorien, Lore’s other questing solution that pairs wonderfully with Beravor’s card draw..though I primarily used it for defense this game.


4. Threat – 1 word. Aragorn. I happily watched Bilbo abuse the one ring right up to 48 threat in the late game before resetting it back to 30. Aragorn reduced my threat by 18!!! Without even having to exhaust or pay a resource… what a stud. This also covers another chink in the Lore armor… threat management.


5. Combat – Lore is still fairly weak on the attack. I had no problem this quest with Aragorn packing Glamdring AND Orcrist (which was unnecessary really but still cool). However, in most scenarios, lore
is not going to be swinging for the fences. However, Mirkwood Runners are some of my favorite cards in the game, and being able to negate defense is only getting more powerful with sturdier enemies showing up in the latest scenarios. Lore attacks are about chipping away at enemies rather than batting it out of the park. The new Gandalf also goes a long way filling the void with 4 attack (which he can regularly do since he doesn’t exhaust to quest). With Aragorn at the helm, the extra 2 threat a turn is generally not a big worry… in fact it is a great synergy that helps cover up another of Lore’s weaknesses.


Where Lore doesn’t win any awards for offense, it’s a great defensive sphere. The heroes tend to be fairly sturdy (Denethor 3 base defense!!), and there are even some hardy characters like the Mapmaker and Ori that can soak up damage. Pair this with the shadow card blocking torch cards (best in game IMHO) and Protector of Lorien+card draw and this sphere has no problems defending…sometimes I think better than tactics. The nerfing of Protector of Lorien doesn’t bother me at all… +3 defense will cover your bases in the majority of situations.


The above discussion is the main theme of one game, as you can see I didn’t even get around to the actual focus of the deck. I am still looking forward to testing encounter deck/staging area management… though I did catch a fat spider in Ranger Spikes, which was both mechanically and thematically satisfying! Since it’s threat is 2, it was completely neutered by the spikes and hung out in the staging area to no effect the rest of the game.


I think the general theme is that mono-sphere decks appear to be quite viable. You will notice that I was able to mitigate many of Lore’s weaknesses with the current card pool, not even requiring splashes of other spheres. I could cover most of my weaknesses and have plentiful resources (and cards drawn). I was able to create a balanced deck on the fly that almost steamrolled FaS. I didn’t have much issue with treacheries, simply because I was able to use Denethor to avoid a couple bad ones… kind of like a poor man’s test of will or Eleanor. Perhaps this is one of the easier scenarios recently released? If so, I am very confident in the ability of mono-sphere decks now. I can’t wait to run this deck against the original Mirkwood just to see the slaughter. I think we have reached a milestone in the evolution of this game, which is probably why FFG is showing an interest in encouraging monosphere in the next series.


I will continue to post updates on my mono-sphere play experience with this sphere and others… as I feel like I have discovered a diamond in the rough. I had fun playing cards I don't usually have room for in decks and probably had the easiest time ever playing a scenario the first time. If you havn't already, give mono-sphere a shot, as it refreshingly feels like re-discovering LOTR:LCG and vastly increases re-playability.
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jakub praibis
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You might have missed the parentheses on Master of Lore, the minimum cost is still 1. I think they could have dropped that when they downgraded the rest but since you still have to pay at least 1 resource, the card is good in mono-Lore but hardly passable otherwise (safe Lore-major Bifur deck perhaps).

Otherwise, I am too very excited about the mono decks but we still need quite a few cards to make them more sound. The capacity is surely there however, especially if combined together (for coop).
 
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Matt Duckworth
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You are correct.

However, it would have made little difference I think. The key part is saving resources. So it doesn't work on 1 cost cards like I had thought. However, the majority of time I was able to play 2 and 3 cost lore cards for cheaper. I think I only used it wrongly to put a protector of lorien in to play for free and 3 at once to bring mapmaker and mirkwood runner in. In those situations I could have still used them differently to still save resources on cards.

It is still a very powerful card and wouldn't have made much difference in this game, as I had 6-8 extra lore resources than I needed on map maker to explore spider's glade and complete final quest stage. I would underestimate it, especially when you have multiples in play.
 
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Mr. D
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Great job!

One note:
Quote:
I set out to create a lore deck .... Since I was playing “Flies and Spiders” I also grabbed Mr. Baggins, some treasure cards (having previously completed UHaOH saga).


It sounds like you are creating this hero combo for the first time...in which case you don't get the treasures.
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Matt Duckworth
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Yeah..... I just kind of blow that one off like everyone else. It's kind of like their "nightmare variant" in the core set... just plain silly.

We must away is difficult enough, and they make the treasures so hard to get, that the only way you can expect to take down both saga sets with one deck is to use the Dain/dwarf deck.... which defeats the purpose of having treasure to boost you in the first place since these decks are powerful enough for it to be irrelevant.

Sorry FFG, beating "We Must Away" with a non-uber deck and getting the treasure was hard enough. I feel like I've earned the right to use it.
 
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Philip B
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At first I thought their treasure restriction required you to have the same deck, but since it's just the same hero combo, I find it's not too restrictive. You can tailor your deck towards "We Must Away"'s challenges, maybe splashing in some spirit for threat reduction. Getting the treasures is definitely a challenge, but knowing what you're up against (like the fact that almost no shadow effects boost the trolls' attack) helps. You just have get the treasures once with those heroes to be able to use them in the later quests with another deck.
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Matt Duckworth
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Yeah, I hear you... I just get bored playing the same heroes over and over again. Part of my agenda with marching through the saga sets was to try to experience a wide variety of the new heroes and cards... including the treasure cards themselves. I was also playing We Must Away before I had read the FAQ, so it was even HARDER than!

I'm generally one to insist on strict adherence to the rules and no variances, but I make exception for this one little thing. Besides, even the Cardboard of the Rings guys admitted to it, so I don't feel too bad about it!
 
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Ian Martin
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Welcome to the lore fan club! I used to be a tactics man but lore is my sphere of choice. Running mono lore has worked very well for me, though I generally play it two-handed with another mono-sphere deck. It does work well solo as well though. The encounter manipulation cards are often underrated but can easily help you win a game if played at the right times. Generally lore doesn't get a lot of love but I try to shout out the glories of the green sphere as much as possible.
 
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Matt Duckworth
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Raven1015 wrote:
Welcome to the lore fan club! I used to be a tactics man but lore is my sphere of choice. Running mono lore has worked very well for me, though I generally play it two-handed with another mono-sphere deck. It does work well solo as well though. The encounter manipulation cards are often underrated but can easily help you win a game if played at the right times. Generally lore doesn't get a lot of love but I try to shout out the glories of the green sphere as much as possible.


Good to find an ally. I agree, I think mono-sphere decks in general are underrated because nobody has really played them yet. Up until now the card pool has been too restrictive.

I'm finding this game to feel fresh, original, and be a whole lot of fun again (kind of like the first days of playing) by playing mono-sphere decks. Emphasizing the strength of each sphere and mitigating the weaknesses are part of the fun. Not every deck has to be perfectly balanced to handle every aspect of the game.
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Charles Lasky
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That sounds awesome! I've been trying my hand at a full lore deck, as it houses one of my favorite new Lore Allies (Ilthillian Tracker) and with the new Steward's Fear Lore card, I think things will only get better for the sphere! I would love to see the decklist though. Do you think you could divulge it?
 
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Matt Duckworth
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I dissolved that deck a long time ago.. I suppose I should start keeping lists. Right now I'm on to Leadership mono-sphere Outlands/Gondor deck with of course a splashing of Outland cars from other spheres...(through Hirluin, no songs.)
 
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Michael
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Nice write-up, Matt! Lore is my favourite sphere - mainly due to my two most commonly used heroes, Aragorn and Elrond. The problem lies in finding a third hero who doesn't make my threat explode.

I'm looking forward to see what monosphere cards we will see over the next five adventure packs!
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John Doe
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I must be missing something with Master of Lore, but to me it seems like it would only benefit event cards.

* You can only play allies and attachments during the planning phase
* You can only take actions after you've played the allies and attachment
* Master of Lore only reduces the cost until the end of the phase

Edit: I've since I made this post found out that it is possible to play cards at a lot more times than I had first thought
 
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Matt Duckworth
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I thought you could play actions before and after playing cards in the planning phase.
 
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Joe Field
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Has anyone tried this with Mirlonde? I'm interested in building a mono-Lore deck for some true solo play, which I haven't done since HoN.
 
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