Quote

"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark." - Aragorn,The Two Towers

Friday, December 15, 2017

The End (for now?)

I find myself in a position where several "lifestyle" games are fighting for my limited time & attention. And I want to enjoy each one at it's own pace, without any sense of rush or just getting to a point of completion. A few of those games are experiencing a bit of a downsizing in my life to allow me to enjoy them in more of a focused manner. For Lord of the Rings: the Card Game, that means ending this blog for the foreseeable future.

This game takes a long time for me to play. I'm not sure what it is, but my mental processor slows to a snail's pace while deckbuilding. Then I attempt a quest, fail horribly, and build again. That by itself takes long enough. Blogging about it (as short and mistake ridden as the posts are) adds another huge chunk to the time commitment.

Have I moved on from the game? Nope. My monthly (ha) subscription is still active and I am biting at the chomp to get Folco Boffin to the table. I am simply taking another long, indeterminate pause in chronicling my experiences with the game.

Lord of the Rings: the Card Game is a blast. We have a fun, challenging game with beautiful artwork and a creative design team. I look forward to the continued adventures in paper and digital mediums over the upcoming years.

See you around the community!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Saga Quest 15: The Road to Isengard

Victory on the fifth attempt!

The Recap

Finally! The third quest of the third box is done, bringing me to the halfway point of the saga quests (halfway, due to the print on demand quests?). And I continued the pattern of taking a small eternity to get the final quest of each box knocked off.

This one took a bit for me to figure out, then in hindsight I wonder why it did. It requires power in the questing department (no real way to get around that) and the ability to take some punches. That still leaves a nice selection of archetypes that I would enjoy taking down this round. 


The Journey

The Road to Isengard was a reminder of the drastic difference the right type of deck can make. I began with a Tactics Boromir/Gimli/Legolas build that, for all of Legolas' help in progressing through locations, ultimately threated out shy of victory. Attempts 2-3 mixed up the sphere but continued to try this hero line up with unfavorable results. The idea was in my mind to switch Tactics Boromir out for Tactics Eowyn, but I really did not want to take yet another permanent threat increase in my campaign (even though Eowyn would actually bring me to a net -1 threat until her attack is triggered). I played with the idea of backing up to Helm's Deep and re-trying with Eowyn (even though Boromir was a life saver there). But consistent willpower was a real need and I rarely needed Boromir's readying ability for combat. I finally bit the bullet, took the threat, and in Eowyn went! This resulted in a victory on attempt 4, but not a clean one. I had neglected to reveal an extra card with Orthanc's ability (which actually may have helped me, since locations were a bit lacking during stage 2). I re-set, re-loaded, and took attempt 5 to victory.

The first goal was to get two copies of Ent of Fangorn on my side. This went down successfully over two rounds on attempt 4. This time, I was able to get one Ent and a few resources on another. Now for the tough choice: Better to move on and be thankful for what I have or try one more round of attempts and add a third encounter card to the staging area? The decision was to move on, but it was not a comfortable decision. Two ents really did a lot of work during the fourth attempt and I was feeling the pain of not having that benefit this time around.

An early Anduril and Captain of Gondor on Aragorn helped make combat fairly easy. He eventually had The Sword that was Broken and Banner of Elendill, making this pretty much a voltron Aragorn deck more than anything else. This combined with Light of Valinor on Legolas gave me a bonus of seven willpower with no actions needed (five for most of the game, since The Sword that was Broken did not come out until a bit later). Eowyn's 4-6 (depending on the stage in the game) made questing a relative breeze and I was thankful for the extra three points she gave me.

Damage was plentiful and neither copy of Dunedain Remedy made a showing. There was at least one point where heroes would have to start dying if certain encounter cards were revealed, but an ally or two would come out beforehand for the sacrifice. This quest is challenging even with a decent deck.

Eventually my band of heroes made it to the final stage at the beginning of the quest phase. Enough progress was placed the following round to travel onto Orthanc and take out the many-coloured wizard (and Eowyn never even had to attack).

Final Scoring
8 Completed Rounds x10: 80
Ending Threat: 43
Total Damage on Heroes: 10 (Gimli: 3, Legolas: 3, Eowyn: 2, Aragorn: 2)
Threat of Defeated Heroes: 0
Victory Display: -1 
Total Score:132
 
Campaign Resolutions
+1 starting threat
Palantir of Orthanc added to campaign pool


Previous Campaign Resolutions
+1 starting threat
Boon: Ho! Tom Bombadil! (added to starting hand)
Boon: Sting
Boon: Mithril Shirt
Boon: Glamdring
Boon: Anduril
Boon: Beyond All Hope attached to Sam Gamgee
Burden: Shadow of Fear added to campaign pool
Burden: Ill Fate added to campaign pool


The Deck

The first question for any relevant deck: Who does Steward of Gondor go on? If you get Narvi's Belt early, Gimli all the way. That would be plan A, but is a bit fragile with only one copy of the belt. If Steward takes a while to appear and you have Sword that was Broken in hand (or already on Aragorn), then you could consider Aragorn as a viable option. I wouldn't put it on Aragorn over Gimli if you only have Celebrian's stone. Whoever it is should likely also get Shield of Gondor.

You have a few artifacts to get onto Aragorn and three copies of Light of Valinor to put on Legolas. This should give you 3-7 willpower for "free," while still having some good defense & attack power. Eowyn will always be questing, popping up to attack a big baddy when needed. Gimli will main be on defense, but he has the quest power if you have the coin cards.

Voltron-up your heroes a bit, get a few utility allies down, and get 'er done.

Take No Hobbits

Heroes
Gimli (Sands of Harad)
Legolas (Sands of Harad)
Eowyn (The Flame of the West)
Aragorn (The Flame of the West)

Allies
Errand-rider x1
Arwen Undomiel (Watcher in the Water) x2
Skinbark x1
Envoy of Pelargir x2
Gandalf (Core) x3
Ranger of Cardolan x2
Treebeard (The Antlered Crown) x1

Attachments

Celebrian's Stone x1
Dunedain Remedy x2
Dunedain Warning x1
King Under the Mountain x1
Narvi's Belt x1
Steward of Gondor x3
Sword that was Broken x1
Light of Valinor x3
Mirkwood Long-knife x1
Captain of Gondor x1
Gondorian Shield x1
Rivendell Blade x2
Banner of Elendil x2
Anduril x1
Glamdring (The Road Darkens) x1

Events
Captain's Wisdom x2
Sneak Attack x3
Unlikely Friendship x3
Tides of Fate x3
Goblin-cleaver x3
Hands Upon the Bow x3

RingsDB Link

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Blog Clean Up

Time for a few house-keeping notes!

Formatting

I've noticed some major formatting errors in some posts (looking at you, The City of Corsairs). Just wanted to acknowledge that I've been seeing these and will work on going back and doing a little clean up in the near future. I may also take this time to add historic decks to RingsDB. TBD on that.

Community

Several months ago I saw that the links I had to various members of the community were gone. I likely clicked delete on that section without noticing it while doing a Stats update. The section is back and is starting to fill out more. Know some great resources I'm missing? Have a Lord of the Rings: LCG blog you run or are a fan of? Let me know and we'll get it on there!

Currently Tackling

Sometimes my updates come pretty rapidly. Other times not so much. This will give a quick description of what I'm currently working on in regards to LotR (or will serve as a general update venue).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Re-Do: Quests 22-25

It was in early 2014 that I decided to get back into the game.

I had been on an extended break. After a decided drop off in the frequency Lord of the Rings was hitting my table, I had heard about the difficulty of Heirs of Numenor. This seemed like a good a time as any to cancel my subscription and stop playing. LotR was bought as a co-op game for my wife and I, but spending significant time to deck build, set up, and get crushed was not proving to be the casual & relaxing game night we had hoped. Fortunately I learned something from my previous times liquidating card games and decided to just shelve this one in case my interest was peaked in the future. As Against the Shadow came out, the word on the street was still that the difficulty had increased and I was glad to be out. Fast forward a bit and I'm in Thailand when the bug to try the game out again hits me. A visiting friend kindly brings over my collection as well as a large order I put in for everything I was missing up to that point. Latter in the year is when this blog began (only three years ago?).

The blog set out to document my solo play-throughs, but I still wanted to give the game a crack at also being a co-op experience for my wife and I. The first two quests of the Against the Shadow Cycle, The Steward's Fear and The Druadan Forest, were beaten with my wife well before I knew I even wanted to do a blog. I wrote up what I could remember of them and figured I would re-attempt them some day. Well now is that day! It would be great get caught up with the Haradrim Cycle releases and realize I am truly caught up with the non-saga quests. The third and fourth quests of Against the Shadow, Encounter at Amon Din and Assault on Osgiliath, will also be getting solo redos.

The Steward's Fear

Victory on the twelfth attempt!
Victory on the fifteenth attempt!

I forgot how truly hard this quest is! I'm pretty sure I beat it solo after a few attempts, but then failed attempt after attempt as I sought two decks that could consistently conquer this one. My goal was to find the perfect decks first and then invite my wife for an enjoyable, relaxed game. Pro tip: Relaxed + The Steward's Fear probably don't mix well! In any case, we eventually beat it together. Yet, despite knowing how many attempts I spend on The Steward's Fear, I still didn't quite remember the brutality this quest brings (at least for me). There are very few reveals from the quest deck that you are thankful to see.

After a failed attempt at a mono-leadership Gondor family build (Denethor, Faramir, Boromir), I went for a Lore/Leadership Denethor/Elrond/Glorfindel build that had a slight chance but was not looking good before I was called away and had to end the game. Then Libro Rojo posted about his newest creation, The Calephon's Dream, and I wanted to give it a shot. The deck rocked!

This final attempt did not feature the worst of the encounter deck and did feature pretty good draws from the player deck. There were not super-closed moments, but neither were there rounds where I felt the encounter deck didn't have a chance.

Notable moment:Playing A Test of Will to cancel the when reveled effect of Lurking in Shadows, banking on the fact that I could complete the quest the next round. I did beat it, but with one more threat in the staging area would have cost me the game.

Final Scoring
8 Completed Rounds x10: 80
Ending Threat:47
Total Damage on Heroes: 0
Threat of Defeated Heroes: 0
Victory Display: 0
Total Score: 127

Original Post

The Druadan Forest

Victory on the first attempt!
Victory on the second attempt!

Man I love the switch-up is at the end! Needing to use your entire stat line in fairly rapid succession is an awesome twist. Once again, felt like I had just the right amount of power to make it but I was never fully out of the woods until I was fully out of the woods.

Final Scoring
8 Completed Rounds x10: 80
Ending Threat: 39
Total Damage on Heroes: 3 (Cirdan: 2, Denethor: 1)
Threat of Defeated Heroes: 0
Victory Display: 0
Total Score: 127

Original Post

Encounter at Amon Din

Victory on the second attempt!
Victory on the third attempt!

As many have found out, this one feels like it should be a lot tougher than it ends up being. In this case, I did end up with an ally swarm that overwhelmed the encounter deck. Getting a bit cocky lead to more dead villagers than should probably have been allowed, but I was still within plenty of margin for the win.

Final Scoring
6 Completed Rounds x10: 60
Ending Threat: 32
Total Damage on Heroes: 0
Threat of Defeated Heroes: 0
Victory Display: -5 (Gulat: 2, Secluded Farmhouse: 1, Gondorian Hamlet: 1, Burning Farmhouse: 1)
Total Score: 87
Rescued Villagers: 12
Dead Villagers: 5


Original Post


Assault on Osgiliath

Victory on the second attempt!
Victory on the third attempt!

Thought I would blow through this in two rounds, then my second staging step revealed a Ruined Tower. Round after round went by without something I could make active before the tower. A good number of strong enemies came out and right on their heal was Beorn to knock them off their rockers.

Had a good ally army starting to build, then The Master's Malice made short work of that. Nasty card. The choice came down to saving most of my allies or Denethor. Denethor won the day. Fortunately two Dunedain Remedy's came out to help Imrahil and Cirdan heal up.

Final Scoring
8 Completed Rounds x10: 80
Ending Threat: 45
Total Damage on Heroes: 0
Threat of Defeated Heroes: 0
Victory Display: 0
Total Score: 125

Original Post


The Deck 

After failing twice to come up with good deck for the Stewards Fear, I saw a post in the Facebook group about a deck that had ripped its way through the Against the Shadow Cycle. Libro Rojo had come up with a Cirdan/Denethor/Prince Imrahil deck he was really enjoying (for non-Spanish speakers, Google Translate does a decent job with his blog). A version of Denethor was in both decks I had tried so far and Cirdan is in a few of my favorite decks. But most importantly, I have really been wanting to try out a Tactics Prince Imrahil build.

There's a lot to love about this deck. You're questing big, able to defend decently (very decently once you get a Gondorian Shield on Denethor) and popping allies in and out. It was such a blast to play, and handled the quests so well, that I may tackle the remaining Against the Shadow quests this next week just for the fun of it.

The Calphon's Dreams - Los Suenos De Calphone v.3

Heroes
Cirdan the Shipwright
Denethor (Flight of the Stormcaller)
Prince Imrahil (The City of Corsairs)

Allies
Arwen Undomiel (Watcher in the Water) x2
Glorfindel (The Flight of the Stormcaller) x2
Hama (The Treason of Saruman) x3
Jubayr x1
West Road Traveller x2
Knight of the White Tower x2
Beorn (Core) x2
Boromir (The Road Darkens) x2
Defender of Cair Andros x2
Deorwine x1
Legolas (The Treason of Saruman) x2
Marksman of Lorien x2

Attachments
Light of Valinor x2
Unexpected Courage x2
Dunedain Remedy x2
Heir of Mardil x2
Steward of Gondor x3
Gondorian Shield x2
The Red Arrow x1
Narya x3

Events
A Test of Will x3
Elrond's Counsel x3
A Very Good Tale x2
Feint x3

Sideboard
Galadriel's Handmaiden x2
Stand and Fight x2
Knight of the White Tower x1
Dunedain Remedy x1
Marksman of Lorien x1

RingsDB Link

Libro Rojo's Blog

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Looking Back: The Sands of Harad

Like The Grey Havens before it, Sands of Harad took the core fundamentals of the game and accentuated them with just enough thematic elements to place the player in the heart of the theme. Also like the last cycle, the new mechanic (temperature) was featured in the deluxe box but not excessively so.

Another feature I appreciated was the tendency of the encounter deck to have just the right answers for me, but not to the level where any style of deck was full prohibited (well, maybe a low will power, low ally deck for the final quest). I felt like I was playing against a competent player who new the meta and adjusted accordingly.

From a purely scenario mindset, The Sands of Harad is where I would point players to as the second box to attempt after the core. 

Pro-tip: Make Dune references on your blog and the next day you'll find a motherload of Dune books at your local thrift store. Works for me 100% of the time!

Quest 57: The Long Arm of Mordor

Victory on the second attempt!


The Deck


The original build for this deck was eagle-heavy, which switched to ally good stuff prior to my first attempt. Combat was no issue and my heroes were handling questing just fine. But once I became location locked in stage 3, I realized I had almost no allies who could help out with the questing. The focus this time around was to blend the first two iterations of the deck with high-questing allies. Bofur is an odd inclusion, due to the lack of weapons, but two willpower for three cost in Tactics is value in and of itself. Mablung was the original third hero, but money was no issue during my second attempt so I went with Merry to get a little bit of a threat decrease and the addition of Halfling Determination to help even more with the willpower issue.

Red Menace

Heroes
Eowyn (The Flame of the West)
Hirgon
Merry (The Black Riders)

Allies
Beechbone x1
Bofur (Over Hill and Under Hill) x2
Defender of Rammas x3
Descendant of Thorondor x3
Eagles of the Misty Mountains x3
Grimbold x2
Gwaihir x2
Legolas (The Treason of Saruman) x1
Marksman of Lorien x2
Rumil x2
Soldier of Dol Amroth x3
Vassal of the Windlord x3
Winged Guardian x3
Yazan x2

Attachments
Book of Eldacar x3

Events
Close Call x2
Feint x3
Halfling Determination x3
The Eagles Are Coming! x3
The Hammer-stroke x1
Wait no longer x3

RingsDB Link

The deck performed as expected, with no card feeling wasted in my hand. Location lock was not a problem and all enemies were dispatched ASAP.


The Journey

Focusing on willpower-heavy allies pared with the already attack-heavy Tactics sphere made a big difference this time around.


Set Up and Round 1

I pick Firyal as my objective hero. The opening hand has two Soldiers of Dol Amroth, a Vassal of the Windlord, Eagles of the Misty Mountains, and Halfling Determination. A solid start! I play Marksman of Lorien, planning to take an undefended attack from the Sauron's Enforcers in the staging area and finishing it off. Enemy lock is another trap I do not want to fall into. Southron Boma hits the staging area, bringing me to two threat which still allows me to get a progress on stage 1B and get Eowyn back. I do take that undefended attack from the Enforcers, placing the damage on Hirgon, then take him out with the Marksman and move on.

Round 2
I put a Vassal of the Windlord down just to get more of an ally presence. I could have played a Soldier of Dol Amroth, then a Vassal for free, but I need a resource to travel to the Sothron Boma. Questing for 7, I reveal another Boma and get 3 progress on stage 2B. Not quite enough yet. I spend my spare resource to travel to one of the Bomas.

Round 3
Using Firyal's peeking ability, I see a Uruk of Mordor on top of the encounter deck and choose to discard it. No allies with two willpower to defend against it right now. A Mordor Warg is revealed, so some combat will be necessary. Three progress goes on the active Southron Boma. I engage the Warg and chump with the Vassal, revealing Overrun by Orcs and splitting two damage between the Marksman and Eowyn. The Marksman gets one damage on the Warg and I move on.

Round 4
I lay down a Soldier of Dol Amroth followed by a second Marksman of Lorien. No resources to travel to the Southron Boma in the staging area, but I prefer the increased ally support for now. I quest for 7 and let a Forest Clearing resolve. The final progress is placed on the active Southron Boma and another progress on stage 2 (4/5). Forest Clearing becomes the active location. The Warge attacks the soldier, doing one damage to him, and is defeated by a Marksman.

Round 5
The Eagles Are Coming! nets me Vassal of the Windlord + The Eagles Are Coming!, which gets me Gwalhir. Another Soldier of Dol Amroth goes down, followed by a free Vassal.  I quest with Fryal and Eowyn, seeing an Uruk of Mordor and deciding to discard it. Village Hut comes out. I have enough willpower to clear the Forest Clearining and stage 2, getting Hirgon back. Sauron's Enforces is selected to guard Merry. Traveling to the Village Hut gets me a Winged Guardian. The enforcers are taken out by two Marskman and a Soldier (after destroying another Soldier). The Savage Attack shadow effect puts an Uruk Warg-Rider into the staging area.

Round 6-10
Now it is just stalling and building my army. I try to guesstimate just enough questing to clear locations & keep my threat from increasing, while aiming low enough to stay at stage 3.

Round 11
I've kept the staging area clear enough that questing with a modest 9 is enough to launch me into the final stage. I could have quested with left, but I try to always quest with Hirgon to get is discount. Yazan comes in play thanks to that discount this round! Now I have a Sauron's Enforcers and the Uruk Chieftan to deal with. It's not a question of if I can, but how I want to do it. I sacrifice a Vassal to the Chieftan (adding that Vassal to my pump-up Eagles of the Misty Mountains) and a Soldier of Dol Amroth to the Enforcers, then take out the Enforcers with Yazan and Legolas and the Chieftan with two Marksmen (but isn't it a woman?) of Lorien, a Vassal (which will be added to the mega-Eagle) and Bofur.

Round 12
Now time to super-quest! I play Wait No Longer, hoping not to wiff, and pull out a Sauron's Enforcers. Knowing exactly what I have to deal with, I put everyone into questing and blow past stage 4. Victory!

Final Scoring
11 Completed Rounds x10: 110
Ending Threat: 32
Total Damage on Heroes: 2 (Hirgon: 2, Eowyn: 1)
Threat of Defeated Heroes: 0
Victory Display: 0
Total Score: 144



The Recap 

One hero. 3 resources.  1 threat already in the staging area. Two men mixture of men/women/creatures enter, one man or woman or creature leaves.

There is quite a disadvantage at the start of this scenario, with a 3 willpower hero at most trying to quest past the Enforcers to get that first progress on the stage. While it never happened to me, I bet there have been quite a few negative play experiences where all hope was lost after that first quest phase (perusing forums proves that to be true). Since I never had that experience, this was actually enjoyable for me. I liked slowly building my forces up, both ally and hero. The end was just tough enough the first round (one copy of Wait No Longer or Hammer Stroke in hand would have put victory in my lap). The second attempt was a push-over, but I don't know if there would be a way to account for that without some other demoralizing inclusion. This quest felt tough, balanced, and enjoyable.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Quest 56: Desert Crossing

Victory on the second attempt!

The Deck

I am an Outlands fan. I know; I'm a terrible person. But extreme synergy appeals to me. This preference has made the Haradrim deck one I have really wanted to try out, even though the deck is not "complete" yet (with two more packs still to be released as of this writing).

Unlike the ally swarm of Outlands, the goal here is to simply have a few very strong allies pared with action advantage. Elrond was a no-brainer hero of choice, allowing me to pair with Kahliel to get Harad allies out much faster. This also allowed me to throw in Ally Arwen to beef up Jubayr's defense of three. Faramir was included to increase the action advantage of my allies.

Then we have Core Gandalf, Daeron's Runes, and Heed the Dream for card advantage. A huge strength of the Harad deck is having a use for duplicate unique cards in hand, which are usually dead cards you can only hope to get rid of with Daeron's Runes or a Noldor discard outlet. Now you have action advantage!


Strong Allies for Strong Heroes

Heroes
Elrond (Shadow and Flame)
Faramir (The Land of Shadow)
Kahliel

Allies
Firyal x3
Henamarth Riversong x2
Ioreth x1
Kahliel's Tribesman x3
Arwen Undomiel (Watcher in the Water) x2
Jubayr x3
Yazan x3
Southron Refugee x3


Attachments
Celebrian's Stone x1
Dunedain Remedy x2
Haradrim Spear x3
Steward of Gondor x3
Kahliel's Headdress x3
Vilya x3

Events
Daeron's Runes x3
Heed the Dream x2 A Very Good Tale x3
Captain's Wisdom x2
Sneak Attack x3

RingsDB Link

I held onto the Headdress for a few rounds, focusing on getting allies down, and loved it once it hit the table. One possibility for a future version of this deck is switching out Faramir and adding in Leadership Aragorn + Sword that was Broken for ridiculous willpower.

Dunedain Remedy never hit the table and would have been more desirable in hindsight than Ioreth. I would remove her and add a third remedy. I would also cut down Vilya to at least a two-of, maybe even a one of. Additional copies of Captain's Wisdom and Gandalf would be likely inclusions, although Ever Vigilant may have a place here.


The Journey


My first attempt began on a terrible foot. I thought I had the encounter deck licked at the start with with two Sneak Attacks, two A Very Good Tales, and Jubayr + another ally in my opening hand. Except I whiffed on A Very Good Tale two times in a row, only getting a Kahliel's Tribesman to the table and ruining my early advantage. Now low on resources and cards to spend them on, I gave the quest a team try but was quickly overwhelmed by enemies that I did not have the means to deal with.

Attempt #2 was more cautious. When I began whiffing with Vilya, I shut down that strategy and focused my efforts elsewhere. Sneak attacks where held in hand to get Jubayr where he was truly needed: defending (until I had enough stored up to pay for him). Once I had the Big Three down (Firyal, Jubayr, Yazan), the encounter deck still stood a chance but was at a significant disadvantage.


Final Scoring
5 Completed Rounds x10: 50
Ending Threat: 39
Total Damage on Heroes: 4 (Faramir)
Threat of Defeated Heroes: 0
Victory Display: 0
Total Score: 93

The spice must flow!


The Recap

Once again, it was the small thematic elements that sold this quest for me: Temperatures rising, desert creatures that felt well balanced, locations that were often punishing but still needed to be passed through. I truly felt like my heroes were traveling across the deadly lands of Arrakis. And there was an interesting variety in the various stages: Increasingly hot weather was always detrimental, but in unique ways. I look forward to undertaking this deadly journey again.