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Subject: Challenge Decks - how well do they play? rss

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Have faith
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For newbie players, it seems the Challenge Decks are one of the best ways to get started these days, since Wizards set starter/fixed decks are harder to come by.

But how well do these Challenge Decks play? Are they merely mediocre? How would you rate them on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being tournament-winning decks.
 
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Greg Zuschlag
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Mark,

First, thanks for your newfound interest in MECCG. You raise an interesting question here on several levels; which mean, in short, there is no easy answer to it.

One of the reasons is that there are at least three types of decks (not counting sealed tournaments or other variants): (1) Challenge Decks, (2) Playgroup Decks (more causal thematically influenced), and (3) Tournament Decks (designed to win tournaments and mechanically driven).

In some sense there is no way to compare the Challenge Decks (CD), ICE pre-constructed intramural decks, to individually constructed tournament decks of any variety.

Subjectively speaking, some of the CD's I would rate an 8 and others a 5, but none less than that. (Yet for newcomers, I would rate them 10!) Most Playgroup Decks rate from 6 to 10. However, I would rate very few tournament decks a 10, except for mechancial brilliance which is not the single most important trait in gameplay, IMHO. If you don't believe me, check out Chris Farrell's comments from his blog: http://homepage.mac.com/c_farrell/iblog/C2097221587/E1223941....
So tournament winning decks are not 10's by default.

Thus, I would say that for the newcomer, in terms of investment of time and money and overall learning and playing experience, the Challenge Decks are the best way to go, bar none. And while some may criticize them for this flaw or that (e.g. the 3 rares per deck restriction), they may be the single best product ICE put out for MECCG for they cull their cards from all the MECCG sets! They just don't have the "power" rares which are not essential for excellent gameplay,which is the point, no?

Even the experience of playing the the "weakest" CD vs. another CD, is still a better one than playing two mis-matched individually constructed decks. The reason is that the CD are designed for *balance* of play vs. one another. Though they may not always succeed, at least that is the goal of their design.

But how to the CD's compare to tournament style decks, you ask? Well, there is a case that they can even "stand" up to individually tournament constructed decks at times. But this is besides the point. For they really shine when played vs. one another. And frankly, I've rarely seen the same CD perform the same way twice, even vs. the same CD.

So, even if there were only the CD's in MECCG, it would still make it a great stand-alone game that can be had for under $40. You tell me, what other game can you play (theorectically) at least 90 times(10x9--one deck playing each other deck once)for that price?

Good luck and have fun!

BTW, the insturctions in the CD's are not that great (one of ICE's weakspots in general)You need to mine the various websites for clearing instructions, e.g. "Ichabod Rewrites the Rules" at http://www.meccg.net/netherlands/meccg/ under "Downloads." If you can get someone to tutor you on GCCG, using voip/Skype, that is even better.

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Chris Farrell
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All I would add is that the Adunaphel Minion deck is pretty tough to play. If there is one Challenge Deck that could be considered weak, that one is it. Some players I used to play with thought it was unplayable; I wouldn't go nearly that far, as an Adunaphel deck won the Origins challenge deck tournament that year. But I do think it's tough to play.

They are not tournament-winning decks, but they are well-constructed and generally fun to play. I think a Challenge Deck will easily beat the first 10 decks almost anyone will contruct, and will remain competitive against all but the highest-power combo decks (to be more competitive, the sideboards would need to be upgraded with more specific counters).
 
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Ava Jarvis
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Hi Mark!

The Challege decks are a lot of fun---though I've only ever played the Wizard decks, never the Minions. Each one is a great example of particular strategies and deck archetypes for both hero/resource and hazard, and each shows off a particular Wizard's strong points (Saruman's spell-recycling capabilities, for instance, and how well he combos with palantirs). The minion decks have hazard portions that would not go untoward for a Wizard deck, either, since the CDs tend to leave out hazards that are too minion-specific for the sideboard.
 
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Mike NZ
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I noticed the # of players is 1-5 for this game. (really?)

Can Challenged Decks be played by one player?

I've found Challenge Decks are available on ebay...but sellers not willing to sell to me here...I'm in LOTR country here...way down in New Zealand...postage gets major costly...and I was wanting to play a solo ccg game of this subect but so far found nothing untill I read the Middle Earth raves.

If ME using the CD's is playable solo and is a great play how many cards would I need?

OTHERWISE:
Any other card games playable solo in this wonderfully rich environment?

THANKS!
 
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Bart Rachemoss
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Mike,

I just ordered a box of challenge decks from http://www.dacardworld.com but it appears it was the last box they had.

After October 26th, you could try to order some challenge decks from Patrick at http://www.treebeard.com/ (he's on vacation now). He also has a $30 special for beginners (which I bought). The special contains "The Wizards Companion" book and also an 11" x 17" map and burning eye dice. The book has been extremely useful (includes solitaire rules and at least one themed solitaire scenario). Some, most, or all of the content is probably available on line if you poke around.

Patrick can probably give you advice on what to buy. He seems to be genuinely interested in introducing people to this game. If you're willing to pay the shipping, I think he would be willing to ship to you.



 
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