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The Road Goes Ever On - an LOTR:LCG Marathon/Blog


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#1
dragoncymru

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Happy New 2017 to everyone!

I thought it was the right time to start off on an LCG blog/session report/variant/experiment - yes, I'm not sure what exactly to call this right now, but here's the background...

I have been playing the game on and off since it came out and have a fair collection of expansions and packs to go with my Core game - everything through 'Shadows of Mirkwood', 'Khazad-dum' and then patchy from there - a few deluxe boxes (Isengard, Heroes of Numenor, Lost Realm), some Saga boxes (the first Hobbit and Black Riders) and some adventure packs here and there.

So, a fair few cards...

I'm also almost exclusively a solo player that likes to build theme into decks and quests.

So what I'm proposing on my (rather unexpected) journey is going way back to the start and trying each Quest solo with just the card pool that was available at the time.

But because I have a bit of experience with the game, then I know that this would be very frustrating doing it as it stands and without a bit of 'customisation' on my part.

I've been playing around with various solo tweaks over the last 2 weeks and think I've probably got most of the game balance issues right for me.

So this is how I'm going to do it and playing solo 1 handed with 3 Heroes:

1) 1 Core Set only - no multiple power cards like 'Unexpected Courage' I'm afraid.

2) Playing with just the cards that were available at the time (not sure what I'm going to do with the Saga cards just yet - I'll cross that bridge when I get to it - lets hope it's more a Brandywine bridge than Moria!!)

3) Playing in Easy Mode - so reduced encounter card pool and 2 Resources per Hero at the start. I'm also drawing 6 cards, allowing a single Mulligan and then choosing a card from the remaining deck to be my 7th card - the first card drawn on the first round.

4) Making decks that areas thematic as possible that fit within the quests - no Eagles in Moria for example - although the Hero gene pool might get a bit mixed up if Tolkien fans look too hard!

5) I'm making a few concessions to the solo player as I feel that, certainly initially, the game was never a balanced solo experience.

So my additions are going to be:

a) Ranged and Sentinel - yes, those old favourites! I'm going with:

Ranged: Exhaust a Character with Ranged to resolve their Attack (before Step 1 of Combat Phase begins but after Shadow card is dealt) when you optionally engage an Enemy.

Sentinel: Exhaust a Character with Sentinel to add that Character's Defence to another Character.

B)  Starting Boons - I'm going to create 8 Boons - all Neutral cards (but with Sphere bonuses)and a player chooses 1 Boon for each Hero at the start of the game. The Boons are all 'one shots' ie discard the Boon to get the bonus. There are no duplicated Boons either, so 3 different ones in play:

Boons:
1. Lucky Strike (Tactics) - gain +2 Attack until end of phase (+3 Attack if attached to a Tactics Hero)
2. Dodge (Tactics) - gain +2 Defence until end of phase (+3 Defence if attached to a Tactics Hero)
3. Far Sight (Spirit) - gain +2 Willpower until end of phase (+3 Willpower if attached to a Spirit Hero)
4. Hidden (Spirit) - reduce your Threat by 2 (3 if attached to a Spirit Hero)
5. Healing Balm (Lore) - Heal 2 Hit points on 1 Character (3 if attached to a Lore Hero).
6. Wisdom (Lore) - Draw 2 cards (3 if attached to a Lore Hero)
7. Inspiration (Leadership) - gain 2 Resources (3 if attached to a Leadership Hero)
8. Resolve (Leadership) - ready any 2 Heroes (3 if attached to a Leadership Hero).

It's up to a player what Boons he chooses so he could give his Tactics Hero extra Attack/Defence, although I think it would be better for a solo player, to 'fill in the gaps' of his party, so if I was playing without Lore, I might want to choose Inspiration or Resolve as these are what Lore does naturally. Similarly, if I had no Spirit Hero then I would choose Far Sight or Hidden.

c) Havens - Here I'm riffing on 2 ideas that others have already had - Havens and Gifts.

Now apologies to Banania and his excellent 'Tales of Years' campaign, but I think a 'Gift' card is something I buy my other half in a store! I would have said 'Free Peoples' cards as a thematic 'race' boost, but what I'm trying to do here with my Haven cards is combine the 2 and give a flavour of a Middle Earth Haven (like Rivendell for example) as well as the peoples that dwell there.

So I'll nick some of Gizlivadi's ideas on Havens and Banania's ideas on Gifts smile.gif Thanks to both of you - your work is excellent!

I'd like these to be released as if they were included in the release of the game and, again, be thematic in their release - so there will be 2 Havens available to me from the 'Core Set' - Thranduil's Halls and Lothlorien - as these both tie into the themes of the initial 3 Quests included in the Core Set.

As I travel through the Quests, then more Havens will be released...

 

I want ‘Havens’ as a card type to reflect the time when they would have been released and the card pool at the time but also with a bit of foresight too – so the Sylvan mechanic of returning an ally to your hand or the Noldor mechanic of discarding cards to the discard pile etc – to get a theme of the Free peoples of Middle Earth.

So, all Havens have a number on the Haven card which is the maximum number of Allies that can reside there at one time. Allies are always played to a Haven at -1 cost and are considered Neutral in Sphere if played there – so you can have Allies enter play that don’t have to match a Hero’s Sphere. I think this would have been very important in the early life of the game where the card pool is small and trying to build a thematic deck would have been very difficult. For example, in my first card below, the only Sylvan Hero available was Legolas, a Tactics Hero. But the Sylvan Allies available were Silverlode Archer (Leadership) and Daughter of Nimrodel (Lore). By playing these Allies to Thranduil’s Halls as Neutral Allies, we get around this problem.

Whilst at a Haven, an Ally cannot Quest, Attack, Defend or use keywords such as Ranged or Sentinel. They can use abilities however.

Your Allies at a Haven can get to your party by Travelling. Exhaust the Ally in the Travel phase to simulate them travelling (through the ‘Wilderness’) and then they can be used in your party in the next round.

You also get X+1 'Haven Resources' at the start of the game and played on the Haven card that can be used to trigger effects on the Havens. X is the number of players in the game, so in my solo games, each Haven will have 2 Haven Resources.

So, my first Haven, since the first quest ‘Passage through Mirkwood’ starts there, is

‘Thranduil’s Halls’ (3) Woodland Realm, City.
A player must control a Sylvan Hero to play this Haven. Sylvan allies only.
Action: Pay 1 Hero Resource to return a Sylvan ally at this Haven to your hand (Limit once per round).
Action: Pay 1 Haven Resource to give a Sylvan Character you control Ranged until the end of the round.

And since ‘Escape from Dol Goldur’ starts in Lothlorien, my other Core Set Haven is:

‘Lorien’ (4) Forest.
A player must control a Sylvan Hero and a Noldor Hero to play this Haven. Sylvan and Noldor allies only.
Action: Exhaust 2 allies here to choose an ally in the wilderness. Add that ally’s Attack, Defence and Willpower to 1 Hero until the end of the round.
Action: Pay 1 Haven Resource to search the top 5 cards of your deck for a card and add it to your hand. Shuffle the rest back into your deck. Then, discard a random card from your hand.

So my new, 'improved' Core Set contains an extra 10 cards in all - 8 Boons and 2 Havens...

 

BTW - if anyone would like to make these Boon or Haven cards a physical reality - I'm rubbish with Photoshop and just am an ideas man - then I'd welcome your help!!

As always, thoughts and opinions are welcomed... 

 

I'm really looking forward to embarking on this journey of rediscovery and seeing where it takes me!

'The Road Goes ever On...'



#2
dragoncymru

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Why not come along with me as well?

I plan to do 1 Quest per week, then report back the following weekend with how the game went, any things I might have tweaked for the solo gamer etc.

The 'rules' for the quests that I'll be undertaking are set out above, but to restate them:

1) 1 Core Set and use only cards available at the time of release.

2) Easy Mode, with a Mulligan allowed and then 1 card chosen from your deck

3) 40 card decks for the Core Set, then moving onto 50 cards once we get past it.

4) Choice of 3 Starter Boons (see above) plus a Haven (again, see above) if you wish and are able.

5) As thematic a deck as I can build!

6) Using my Ranged and Sentinel mods (see above) for solo gaming

So this week, I'm off for a, hopefully, easy stroll as we do 'Passage through Mirkwood'...



#3
dragoncymru

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As I’m getting ready for my adventure this week and getting my deck together, I’m struck by the weirdness of Restricted attachments.

I can see the reason behind it, but the wording is very clumsy and leaves the system open to abuse and very unthematic - I’m referring of course to the 2 Citadel Plates you put on Gimli to make him a killing powerhouse!

I’m not in any doubt that’s what the designers intended of course (especially in the early life of the game), but as the game developed with more Armour, Weapons and then Mounts, it can get very silly!

So for my adventures, I’m going to restrict myself to theme and allow only 1 Armour Attachment, although I will allow a Shield or Helm too. In addition, only 1 Weapon unless the second would be a Bow/Ranged Weapon. Lastly only 1 Mount per Character!

(Another example, in my view, of early ‘untheme’ (is that a word??) is the need in the Core Set by the designers to have a really good questing Hero. This then becomes Eowyn, who is undoubtedly the best Hero in the Core Set by miles and virtually a staple of a shed-load of decks for a good few years. )

Eowyn is a great character in the lore of Middle Earth, but 4 Willpower? Really?? That’s as much as Gandalf! I think I would have preferred her to be 3 Willpower (with corresponding 1 less Threat) but there you go!

In the confines of my adventures, I’m going to stick to cards ‘as printed’ (unless they have official errata of course) EXCEPT if they are exclusively ‘multi-player’ cards that I need to convert to my solo play.

Which brings me to the only card in the Core Set that needs the tweak:

Wandering Took – to give the little fellow some use of his ability in a solo game, I’m going with the following – the rationale that he is a loud little devil that draws attention.

“Forced: When Wandering Took enters play, raise your threat by 1. At the end of a round, shuffle Wandering Took back into your draw deck and reduce your threat by 2.

So if you get rid of him, it’s a lot quieter!
 



#4
dragoncymru

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Nearly packed and ready for my first adventure re-living the delights of Middle Earth through the LCG!
 
I made myself 8 ‘proxy’ Boon tokens for my starting Boons from old MECCG cards, got 2 lashed up Haven cards to test out my Havens idea and I’ll be out the door soon!
 
I’ll be testing a Spirit/Lore deck again first with Eowyn and Dunhere teaming up with Beravor. For this team I can’t use either of my Haven cards (which was my intention), but I can, of course, choose my Boons.
 
I’m going to opt for ‘Lucky Strike’ for Dunhere, ‘Leadership’ for Beravor and ‘Resolve’ for Eowyn . No matching Spheres so straightforward discard effects but again, this is what I want to test – whether ‘filling in the gaps’ is more important than ‘enhancing what you have’.
 
Why not join me on my adventure and have a go as well?
 
‘The Road Goes Ever On...’


#5
dragoncymru

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Passage through Mirkwood’

 

My first deck was a Spirit/Lore deck with Eowyn and Dunhere teaming up with Beravor.  My starting Boons were ‘Lucky Strike’ for Dunhere, ‘Leadership’ for Beravor and ‘Resolve’ for Eowyn .

 

I had a reasonable first hand so didn’t Mulligan and picked ‘Henamarth Riversong’ as my 7th card – always a great card for solo!

 

Unfortunately, on  my first attempt, ‘Ungoliant’s Spawn’ came up on the second turn and this, coupled with lots of Locations raised my Threat so high that then all the enemies that had come out swarmed down and did me in! So I tried again with the same Heroes and this time it went very smoothly, no sign of a nasty big spider, I got to travel down Beorn’s path and all the heroes escaped Mirkwood!

 

For fun, I then had an attempt and changed 2 of the Heroes, so Legolas and Glorfindel join up with Beravor for a Tactics/Lore deck this time. For Boons, I’ve gone for ‘Farsight’ for Glorfindel, ‘Hidden’ for Beravor and ‘Resolve’ for Legolas.

 

Since I have Legolas, I can test my ‘Ranged’ mod for solo play and can also use ‘Thranduil’s Halls’ as my Haven for the quest – and even though the Actions won’t be much useable here (although my ‘Daughters of Nimrodel’ can now shoot arrows!’), since Allies are Neutral if played there, I’ve put 2 ‘Silverlode Archers’ in my deck to represent the soldiers of the Woodland Realm and buddies of Legolas!

 

This time, my starting hand had ‘Riversong’ already so I didn’t Mulligan and chose ‘Blade of Gondolin’ as my 7th card knowing that my questing power was lower than before so putting this on Legolas is a good thing.

 

The game went really smoothly and I got to test all my mods for solo play – Boons, Havens and Ranged. Again, all my Boons saw play and weren’t overpowered. It was fun to put some Allies at Thranduil’s Halls –including a ‘Silverlode archer’ which I paid for with Tactics Resources as I had a hand full of Lore!

 

Ranged came into play twice in the game as enemies engaged me, and again, this didn’t feel overpowered or unthematic. In fact, to keep the theme, I didn’t add my +1 Attack bonus from ‘Blade of Gondolin’ when Legolas made a Ranged attack against an ‘East Bight Patrol’! Getting ‘Self Preservation’ on Beravor was a real bonus and this time I chose to take the ’wrong’ path and end the game with ‘Ungoliant’s Spawn’ coming out to play! But fortunately I could get Gandalf out just at the right time and squished it!

 

​A fun, although easy quest to start my journey!

 

So, a week down and next week my journey continues along the Anduin river...

 

 ‘The Road Goes ever On...’



#6
dragoncymru

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‘Journey Down the Anduin’

A big step upwards in terms of difficulty this one and a quest I had to play to death before I finally beat it.

 

I started with a return to my Spirit/Lore deck (my favourite type at the moment) as Threat reduction and questing is so important early on, and then I need a ‘Forest Snare’ for that lovely Troll! So my Heroes were again – Eowyn, Dunhere and Beravor (my absolute favourite Hero from Core).
 
My starting Boons were ‘Lucky Strike’ for Dunhere, ‘Dodge’ for Beravor and ‘Resolve’ for Eowyn . Since my starting hand contained ‘Galadrim Greeting’ which is a ‘must-have’ card for this quest, I didn’t Mulligan, but again chose ‘Riversong’ as my 7th card.
 
Since my threat was low to start, I managed to build up forces gradually, getting ‘Self Preservation’ on Beravor and keeping the Hill Troll at bay until a Forest Snare popped into my hand. Beravor could then dodge the blow with a Defence of 4, taking 2 Wounds which were then healed with the ‘Self Preservation’! And although when I did succeed, it was a slog, but I got there fairly smoothly with some nice locations like ‘Banks of the Anduin’ keeping the enemy count low.
 
This is definitely a quest that you need to tune your deck to beat I think – threat management with good questing and a way to beat the troll all have to be included!
 
I did think of changing the deck and trying with my Legolas, Glorfindel and Beravor deck, but that would be a non-starter with Threat 31 to begin and an angry troll on the first turn....!
 
So 2 quests down, and my party has reached Lorien. Talking with the Lady Galadriel, she wants us to take a look at the fell hill of sorcery – Dol Goldur. I can’t help thinking that things might take a turn for the worse...
 
“The Road Goes Ever on...”


#7
dragoncymru

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I've updated my Haven rules to make them a bit more balanced:

Haven Rules

Havens are cards that represent the famous locations in Middle Earth where the heroes gain equipment, rest and allies. Havens include places such as Rivendell, Lothlorien, The Shire etc. Each player may choose a Haven at the start of the game and then raise their starting Threat by the Cost of that Haven. Note that many Havens have restrictions on when they can be played depending on the player’s Heroes.

All Havens an Ally number on the Haven card which is the maximum number of Allies that can reside there at one time. Allies are always played to a Haven at -1 cost and are considered Neutral in Sphere if played there – so you can have Allies enter play that don’t match a Hero’s Sphere.

Whilst at a Haven, an Ally cannot Quest, Attack, Defend or use keywords such as Ranged or Sentinel. They can use abilities however. Allies at a Haven can get to your party by Travelling. Exhaust the Ally in the Travel phase to simulate them travelling (through the ‘Wilderness’) and place a token on them. When there are tokens equal to the Quest card number currently in play, remove all tokens and place the ally with your party at the start of the next round. This simulates the ally having to travel further from the Haven as you progress with your quest.

Havens also start with a number of Haven Resources that are placed on the Haven card. These can be used to trigger effects on the Havens. Haven Resources cannot be used as normally generated Resources.
Note that ALL Actions or Responses on a Haven card have an inherent ‘limit once per round’ on them.

Optional: A player may also place a Hero at a Haven at the start of the game. Whilst at the Haven the Hero is under the same restrictions as an Ally there (such as not being able to quest, attack or defend etc), but also does not contribute their threat to the starting total. A Hero may travel to join the party as normal but adds his threat if as soon as he leaves the Haven (to go into the ‘Wilderness’).

The two Havens that would have been included in the Core Set would be:

‘Thranduil’s Halls’ Cost: 2. Allies: 3. Resources: 2. Woodland Realm, City.
A player must control a Silvan Hero and no Dwarf Hero to play this Haven. Silvan allies only.
Action: Pay 1 Resource to return a Silvan ally at this Haven to your hand.
Action: Pay 1 Haven Resource to give a Silvan Character you control Ranged until the end of the round.
"At the far end were gates before the mouth of a huge cave that ran into the side of a steep slope covered in trees.”


‘Lorien’ Cost: 2. Allies: 4. Resources: 3. Forest.
A player must control a Silvan Hero and a Noldor Hero to play this Haven. Silvan and Noldor allies only.
Action: Exhaust 2 allies here to choose an ally in the wilderness. Add that ally’s Attack, Defence and Willpower to 1 Hero until the end of the round.
Action: Pay 1 Haven Resource to search the top 5 cards of your deck for a card and add it to your hand. Shuffle the rest back into your deck. Then, discard a random card from your hand.
“There are no trees like the trees of that land. For in autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold.”

Thoughts and opinions are welcomed as always...



#8
dragoncymru

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Getting ready to ‘Escape from Dol Goldur’

This quest is just nuts solo!

Even with 2 players it’s so difficult and with the Core set cards only solo, nigh on impossible! I don’t think FFG should have put this in the Core set as it stands, so for my game, I tweaked this one so it is more like the lore of Quest card 1A and now an ally is captured rather than a Hero.

Quest card 1B ‘The Necromancer’s Tower’ now reads:

“When Revealed: Select 1 unique ally card from your deck and place it facedown next to the Quest deck. Remove all copies of that ally from your deck and place them out of play. The ally is now considered a "prisoner", cannot be used or be damaged until it is "rescued" (as instructed by card effects) later in this quest. The players, as a group, cannot play more than 1 ally card each round. Players cannot advance to the next stage of this quest unless they have at least 1 objective card.”

Now you could say I just nerfed the whole quest by doing this, but from bitter previous experience, it’s just not a good quest for solo, and endless defeats time after time in the core set doesn’t sit well with me. To try and balance this then I’ve tweaked Quest 2B too so that you need to keep the captive alive until the end of the game (otherwise it was all a waste of time anyway!).

Quest card 2B ‘Through the Caverns’ now reads:

“Response: After placing any number of progress tokens on this card, put the "prisoner" ally card into play with 1 damage token on it. The ally has been "rescued" and may now be used normally. If the rescued ally is killed at any time, the players instantly lose the game. The players, as a group, cannot play more than 1 ally card each round. Players cannot advance to the next stage of the quest unless they have rescued the prisoner and have all 3 "Escape from Dol Guldur" objective cards.”

I’m also ruling that the ‘player card’ Orc guards from ‘Tower Gate’ location and Quest card 3B do have the ‘Orc’ trait!

Have a go at my version – I’m sure it’s still tough, but more enjoyable for the more casual, thematic player!

“The Road Goes Ever on...”
 



#9
dragoncymru

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‘Escape from Dol Goldur’ (2)

My adventure continues and the initial Heroes and Boons I chose for this quest were an experimental mix of 3 Spheres with Beravor (with Dodge), Eowyn (with Far Sight) and Legolas (with Resolve). I chose Gleowine as my captured ally. With Legolas as a Hero, I can have a bit of help from ‘Thranduil’s Halls’ too.

When I was constructing my deck, because I had 3 Spheres, I made sure that as many cards as possible were low cost so that they could be afforded easily. My initial hand contained both ‘Unexpected Courage’ and ‘Blade of Gondolin’, so once again, I went for ‘Riversong’ as my 7th card.

I had to have a few goes, but I BEAT the quest! This was the first time I’ve done this, so using my rules and mods (along with Easy mode) seems to have relaxed the difficulty. It’s quite a fiddly quest actually with a lot of things to remember like the Nazgul, the Objective cards, the orc guards etc. When I did beat it, on my third attempt, I think I just got lucky with how both the player deck and the encounter deck played out.

One hero and combo I think you must have in this quest is Legolas with a ‘Blade of Gondolin’ as he hacked up all the Orc guards and made great progress. My ‘Ranged’ buff also really helped here as Legolas took them all out as they came down on me (even though I didn’t add the +1 Attack from the Blade).

I think the best tactic is to get the Map first and shove it on your Questing Hero (Eowyn obviously) as it does little effect. Then try and engage the Nazgul on Quest 2B if you can – before picking up the Key and the Torch. This means that you can quest through 2B and then 3B with less problems and as quick as possible. I made sure I got ‘Self Preservation’ onto Beravor before she picked up the Key too.

Even doing this it can be tough going against the Nazgul without a few allies he can gobble up! I did play the official errata though and didn’t try to ‘Forest Snare’ him as with the errata you can’t play attachments on the Nazgul. ‘Feint’ plus a Gandalf or 2 were the way to go.

Having another, more thematic, attempt, I swapped out Eowyn for Glorfindel (with Far Sight) and did a Tactics/Lore deck - again with Beravor (having Dodge) and Legolas (Resolve). Poor old Gleowine was still my captured ally! Since I had both a Silvan and a Noldor hero, I thought I would use ‘Lorien’ as a thematic starting Haven!
And I got beaten up soundly!

With an increased starting threat, little way to reduce that threat, as well as reduced questing power meant that it rocketed up before I could get going. Spirit as a Sphere seems crucial in this quest and although I could remove my Tactics cards to just do a Spirit/Lore deck again, Legolas with his Blade is also so crucial, so I think my initial 3 Sphere deck was a good choice!

I was very pleased with my success through the quest –a very enjoyable experience.

And that’s it for the Core Set! I have to say that my tweaks have made it a more accessible and pleasurable game without being too easy or too fiddly.

I’m very excited to be adding new cards to my card pool and making up a 50-card deck with them as I start hunting for that sneaky and tricksy Gollum...

“The Road Goes Ever on...”



#10
dragoncymru

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Preparing for ‘The Hunt for Gollum’

 

It’s so great to have new player cards to add to decks. With the first expansion deck released, each Sphere gains 2 new cards with 3 copies each and we get a new Neutral card too with the ‘Song of Kings’. With the addition of expansion cards, I’m going to increase my deck size now to 50 cards.

 

 And so to our new Hero –Bilbo!  As much as I am thrilled to have a new Hero to use in quests, and a great Hero for solo play too, I still can’t see how his threat is SO high. I can only think that back in the early life of the game that designers thought that the extra card draw was so powerful, they ramped the threat up accordingly. But even now with a load of available Heroes we have never seen this kind of inflation again. I think that if they could go back in time, and change it they would. So even though I said I wouldn’t alter card texts, here I am going with:

 

Bilbo- Threat 7

 

Another card that is not really for solo play, as far as I can see, is ‘Campfire Tales’. Since I thought telling stories is better with a bigger audience, I’ll go for:

 

Campfire Tales – Each player draws a card. If the number of Characters controlled by a player is greater than 5, that player draws 2 cards.

 

And it’s time I included a new Haven too. I want to put a new Haven in every other adventure pack and want to try to be thematic and link the Haven into the quest in some way. Since I know that the Carrock is around the corner, I’m adding:

Beorn’s House  Cost: 1. Allies: 2. Resources: 2. Refuge

Beorning and Woodmen allies only. Beorn plays at -1 Cost here. If a Beorning is discarded from play, place a Haven Resource here.

Action: Exhaust an ally here to choose an ally in the wilderness. Until the end of the phase, each enemy engaged with you has –X Attack where X is the cost of the ally in the wilderness.

Action: Exhaust an ally here and pay 1 Haven Resource to heal 2 Damage on each of your Heroes.

 “They soon came to a wooden gate, high and broad, beyond which they could see gardens and a cluster of low wooden buildings.”

 

I think a thematic group of Heroes looking for Gollum would include Aragorn, as Gandalf would have naturally turned to his ranger friend, so I’m looking to develop some Leadership cards into a deck...

 

“The Road Goes Ever on...”



#11
dragoncymru

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The Hunt for Gollum

 
I initially went for another tri-Sphere deck with Aragorn, Legolas and Beravor, and starting Boons of ‘Leadership’, ‘Hidden’ and ‘Far Sight’ respectively. For theme, I added ‘Beorn’s House’ as a starting Haven, even though I only had 1 copy of the big man in my deck and currently no other allies could play there! I’m also trying to stick to theme, so even though I’ve included Leadership cards in my deck, since my deck is not ‘Gondor-themed’ I have not included (gasp!) ‘Steward of Gondor’ at all!
 
I have to say though that his is a fairly easy quest – almost as easy as ‘Passage through Mirkwood’ - and my Heroes easily completed it on the first two attempts. The only things to watch out for were a few nasty Treachery cards, the new ‘Hunters of Mordor’ and lots of locations – so good questing ability was vital.
 
Beravor and Legolas continue to be great Heroes but Aragorn is really good too and fills a multitude of roles. I think if I have Lore in my deck then ‘Riversong’ is always going to be my choice card to start, but if I draw it in an opening hand, there’s always another which will be key. In this deck it was (a single copy of) ‘Celebrian’s Stone’ which is just terrific on Aragorn. I put a few Spirit cards in my (bigger) 50 card deck such as ‘Northern Tracker’, ‘Test of Will’, ‘Hasty Stroke’ and ‘Unexpected Courage’, so getting the Stone was crucial if I wanted to play them! I also made a point of trying to include some cards from this new expansion too so had a bit of a splash of most of them and it was nice to see some new cards enter play.
 
Can you smell troll??
 
"The Road Goes Ever on...”


#12
dragoncymru

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Haven Update

A few more tweaks to my Haven rules, and I think I’m pretty locked down on these now. I’ve tweaked the rules about Heroes and Haven Resources and Allies played there being Neutral.

So the rules for Havens now are:

Haven Rules

Havens are cards that represent the famous locations in Middle Earth where the heroes gain equipment, rest and allies. Havens include places such as Rivendell, Lothlorien, The Shire etc. Each player may choose a Haven at the start of the game and then raise their starting Threat by the Cost of that Haven. Note that many Havens have restrictions on when they can be played depending on the player’s Heroes.

All Havens an Ally number on the Haven card which is the maximum number of Allies that can reside there at one time. Allies are always played to a Haven at -1 cost.

Whilst at a Haven, an Ally cannot Quest, Attack, Defend or use keywords such as Ranged or Sentinel. They can use abilities however. Allies at a Haven can get to your party by Travelling. Exhaust the Ally in the Travel phase to simulate them travelling (through the ‘Wilderness’) and place a token on them. When there are tokens equal to the Quest card number currently in play, remove all tokens and place the ally with your party at the start of the next round. This simulates the ally having to travel further from the Haven as you progress with your quest.

Havens also start with a number of Haven Resources that are placed on the Haven card. These can be used to trigger effects on the Havens. Haven Resources cannot be used as normal Resources but can be used to pay for Allies played at the Haven. Haven Resources are considered Neutral and can be used to pay for Allies from any Spheres –so you can have a few allies from a Sphere that does not match a Hero in play.
Note that ALL Actions or Responses on a Haven card have an inherent ‘limit once per round’ on them.

Optional: A player may also place a Hero at a Haven at the start of the game. Whilst at the Haven the Hero instead generates Haven Resources each turn instead of normal Resources and is under the same rules as an Ally there (not being able to quest, attack or defend etc), but also does not contribute their threat to the starting total. A Hero may travel to join the party as normal but adds his threat (and starts to generate normal Resources) as soon as he joins the party. Whist in the ‘Wilderness’, a Hero generates NO Resources.

Working with fellow players and their generous time-giving (not to mention excellent photoshop skills and syntax questions!) has meant that I am trying to do some more with my new Havens and have decided to make a support card for each Haven. These will all be unique, Neutral attachments with the idea that these would be released alongside the Haven cards if they were in the Core set or deluxe expansions and then alternately with a new Haven in Adventure Packs. This means 2 support cards in the Core set or a Deluxe expansion then 1 every other Adventure Pack. Since ‘Hunt for Gollum’ would have had ‘Beorn’s House’, then ‘Conflict at the Carrock’ gets the support card ‘Beorn’s Ponies’ and so on.

So my first 3 Havens in the Core Set and the first 2 Adventure Packs with their respective support cards are:

‘Thranduil’s Halls’ Cost: 2. Allies: 3. Resources: 2. Woodland Realm, City.
You must control a Silvan Hero and no Dwarf Hero to play this Haven. Silvan allies only.
Action: Pay 1 Resource to return a Silvan ally at this Haven to your hand.
Action: Pay 1 Haven Resource to give a Silvan Character you control Ranged until the end of the round.
"At the far end were gates before the mouth of a huge cave that ran into the side of a steep slope covered in trees.”

Defenders of the Realm’. Cost 1. Unique. Attach to Thranduil’s Halls.
Response: After Defenders of the Realm enters play add 2 Haven resources to Thranduil’s Halls.
Planning Action: If the active Location is a Forest, discard Defenders of the Realm to play a Silvan ally from your hand at -2 Cost.
“They dwelt most often at the edges of the woods, from which they could escape at times to hunt.’

‘Lorien’ Cost: 2. Allies: 4. Resources: 3. Forest.
You must control a Silvan Hero and a Noldor Hero to play this Haven. Silvan and Noldor allies only.
Action: Exhaust 2 allies here to add the (Attack), (Defence) and (Willpower) of an ally in the wilderness to 1 Hero until the end of the round.
Action: Pay 1 Haven Resource to search the top 5 cards of your deck, add 1 to your hand, shuffle the rest back into the deck then discard a random card from hand.
“There are no trees like the trees of that land. For in autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold.”

‘Elves of the Golden Wood’. Cost 1. Unique. Attach to Lorien.
Response: After Elves of the Golden Wood enters play add 2 Haven resources to Lorien.
Action: if you control a Silvan or Noldor character, discard Elves of the Golden Wood to reduce your Threat by 2
“They heard nearby Elvish voices singing and knew that they were making songs of lamentations for his fall.’

‘Beorn’s House’. Cost: 1. Allies: 2. Resources: 2. Refuge
Beorning and Woodmen allies only. Beorn plays at -1 Cost here.
Action: Exhaust an ally here to choose an ally in the wilderness. Until the end of the phase, each enemy engaged with you has –X Attack where X is the cost of the wilderness ally.
Action: Exhaust an ally here and pay 1 Haven Resource to heal 2 Damage on each of your Heroes.
“They soon came to a wooden gate, high and broad, beyond which they could see gardens and a cluster of low wooden buildings.”

‘Beorn's Ponies’. Cost 1. Unique. Attach to Beorn's House.
Response: After a Beorning is discarded from play, add 1 Haven resource to Beorn’s House.
Travel Action: Discard Beorn's Ponies to travel to a non-Underground location without resolving its Travel effect.
“He would provide ponies for each of them, and a horse for Gandalf.”



#13
dragoncymru

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Preparing for a ‘Conflict at the Carrock’

The next Hero to join the ranks is another Hobbit, this time from the Spirit Sphere – Frodo. Frodo has a really good ability in being able to soak up damage and is much better costed than his uncle Bilbo! With a limited card pool at this stage in the life of the game, a Hobbit-themed deck is not yet possible, but I’m looking forward to trying to make one!

The rest of the cards in the expansion are a mixed bunch, although the star has to be the excellent ‘Burning Brand’ which went straight into my deck. Since I’m also trying to be thematic, I’ve included copies of the rather pricey ‘Beorning Beekeeper’ too. None of the player cards are ‘non-solo’, but since I’m doing some card-pool revision, there has to be an obligatory card tweak. I’ve already done Lore (Bilbo), Spirit (Wandering Took) and Leadership (Camp Fire Tales) cards, so I looked at the Tactics Sphere this time. It was almost the ‘Beorning Beekeeper’ but I managed to increase the use of that card in my Haven rules and new support cards, so I decided on just a tiny change to the other Tactics card to give some card synergy, so:

Born Aloft – gains keyword ‘Eagle’.

“The Road Goes Ever on...”



#14
dragoncymru

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Some lovely Havens:

 

http://imgur.com/a/VKgaA

 

http://imgur.com/a/KHOEd

 

Huge thanks to Gizlivadi



#15
dragoncymru

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‘Conflict at the Carrock’

For my starting company I decided to do tri-Sphere again and keep my 3 favourites Heroes of Aragorn, Legolas and Beravor, for Leadership, Tactics and Lore, thinking that questing wasn’t so important in this quest so I could leave out Spirit. You have to have Leadership cards to ally Grimbeorn and I think ‘Forest Snare’ would be handy for those trolls so Lore is a must! It would be good to have a way of reducing your threat though, so I’m going with ‘Leadership’, ‘Hidden’ and ‘Dodge’ as my starting Boons.

I’ll also start with ‘Beorn’s House’ as a Haven as Beorn is in my deck plus his beekeepers! I have also included my new Haven support card ‘Beorn’s Ponies’ for more thematic play. I am taking a big risk however as my starting threat is therefore 32 – far too close to those nasty trolls, so perhaps I need to play ‘Hidden’ straight away!
My starting hand contained both Beorn and Gandalf, plus a Forest Snare, so I decided not to Mulligan and chose, as ever, ‘Riversong’ as my 7th card.

It didn’t go well!

Even with Grimbeorn coming out on the first turn, my lack of questing power meant that locations in the staging area overwhelmed me and my Threat just shot up and I lost the game. Never one to give up with a deck, I tried again with the same deck and I got a bit further and to encounter the trolls this time - and got soundly beaten up as they all descended on me!

Third time out with the same deck and I got so close! The trick I think is to keep your threat low and pick off the trolls one by one – so I used all my Gandalfs not to draw cards or damage enemies but to reduce threat and then quest. Take things very slowly during the first Quest phase to build up Resources, get some allies (including Grimbeorn), then once you get to the second phase, quest quickly to clear ‘the Carrock’ out from being the active location and lose the troll bonus attack and defence.

It was fourth time lucky and what a final battle! I managed to get Grimbeorn, Beorn in the party and the Beekeepers at my Haven, along with my 2 Forest Snares to pick off those trolls. I was lucky with my card draw this time and the other troll in the deck (the Hill troll from the Core set) didn’t make an appearance either. It matters what order you go for the trolls too with – I went for Stuart, Morris, Rupert and definitely Louis last!

A fantastic quest – but I’m glad I used my Easy Mode plus Havens otherwise with the early card pool that is thematically played (remember – no ‘Steward of Gondor!’) I’d have no chance!

But, what's that falling from the sky.....?

“The Road Goes Ever on...”
 



#16
dragoncymru

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Preparing for a ‘Journey to Rhosgobel’

 

I’m looking forward to this quest, as it’s a lovely ‘side quest’ in saving a giant eagle (I’m very fond of the eagles) so I’m going to be as thematic as possible and put Radagast into my deck with as many Eagle cards as I can. I’ve got a new Haven to play with in this quest too, the very thematic ‘Eagles Eyrie’:

 

Eagles Eyrie Cost: 0 Allies: 2. Resources: 0. Mountain

Eagle allies only. When an ally is played to this Haven, add 1 Haven resource.

Travel Action: Exhaust an ally here and pay 1 Haven Resource to Travel to a non-Underground Location without resolving its Travel effect.  Return any active location to the staging area.

Response: After your ally is destroyed, exhaust an ally here and pay 1 Haven Resource to put that ally into your hand.

“There was no path down to it, save by flying; and no path down off it except by jumping over a precipice.”

 

The new cards released for this quest are again a mixed bunch. The new Leadership Hero is ‘Prince Imrahil’, who seems like a bit of a cut-price Aragorn. He does have a nice ability to ‘ready’ that would work well with weaker soldier allies and has nice stats however. I’ve never played him but will need to test him out with a Gondor deck.

 

Other new cards include the allies of Haldir (Lore), Landroval (Tactics) and Radagast (Neutral). Haldir is a great ‘all rounder’ to put in a deck, Landroval is an excellent ally but hugely expensive and you would have to have a lot of Tactics resources (or something like a Song or Haven....) to justify putting him in a deck. Radagast is very expensive too, and not half as good as his Istari mate Gandalf for the same cost (something I tried to address in my upcoming ‘Rhosgobel’ Haven card.

 

I don’t really need a card tweak for solo play in this quest, but just for more eagle synergy:

 

To the Eyrie - Gains the keyword ‘Eagle

 

Now I need to sit down and work out who I’m going to choose for my Heroes...

 

“The Road Goes Ever on...”



#17
dragoncymru

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‘Journey to Rhosgobel’

In the end, I stuck to my dream team of Aragorn, Legolas and Beravor with starting Boons of ‘Leadership’, ‘Hidden’ and ‘Far Sight’ respectively and started off with my new ‘Eagles Eyrie’ Haven. I reduced the number of Leadership/Spirit cards, took out any Beornings and put a lot of Eagles in my Tactics cards. Lore stayed pretty much the same but with added ‘Haldir’ and I added Radagast and the Song of Wisdom to my Neutral cards. With great luck I had ‘Celebrian’s Stone’ in my opening hand and could get ‘Riversong’ as my 7th card.

The first time out went really smoothly and even though I saw no sign of any eagles (apart from poor Wilyador), Radagast or Haldir, and thus my Haven saw no action at all, I still beat the quest with no real problems. I think the encounter deck was really kind with no nasty enemies such as ‘Ungoliant’s Spawn’ appearing and a few early copies of Athelas that were guarded by nice locations. I also pulled out a ‘Lore of Imladris’ quickly so could heal a bit of Wilyador as I entered the second stage of the quest and only needed to find 2 Athelas to win. Getting out Gandalf to help me quest meant that stage 2 went by easily too and stage 3 is just a non-event.

Playing it a second time, I swapped the Leadership Boon onto Legolas figuring that I would need some more Tactics resources. This time the starting hand was poor, but I did get some eagles in and got the Eyrie up and running and Landroval entered the game. Radagast made a fairly early appearance too so could heal Wilyador as I went through stage 2 of the quest. Still no sign of Haldir though! Another lucky ‘Lore of Imladris’ came out, so this time, again with a gentle encounter deck, I only needed to find 1 Athelas to heal the wounded eagle.

One of the easier quests for me then, but enjoyable and very thematic to boot!

 

Now I think I'd better get my walking boots on....

“The Road Goes Ever on...”



#18
dragoncymru

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Marathon Update

Boons
I’ve tweaked these a little with them losing their Sphere bonuses which I think with hindsight was a little overpowered. They now all give straight bonuses of 2. I also changed some of the names so when I made proxy cards I can use existing Boon cards and just change the text. So ‘Far Sight’ became ‘Go Ever on’ and uses ‘Mr Underhill’ from ‘The Black Riders’ (and is also a nice wink to the name of this blog!). So the current list is:

1. Bold Strike (Valiant Warrior) – discard to gain +2 Attack until end of the phase.
2. Warned (Forewarned) – discard to gain +2 Defence until end of the phase.
3. Go Ever On (Mr. Underhill) – discard to gain +2 Willpower until end of the phase.
4. Hidden (Tireless Ranger) - discard to reduce your Threat by 2.
5. Healing Balm (Hans of a Healer) – discard to heal up to 2 damage on 1 Character.
6. Wisdom (Noble Hero) – discard to draw 2 cards.
7. Inspiration (Intimidation) – discard to add 2 resources to attached hero’s resource pool.
8. Resolve (Beyond All Hope)– discard to ready 2 heroes.

Havens
I’m really enjoying playing with Havens but as I’m playing through the quests I’m not sure if, as the card pool expands, that having the -1 Cost rule of allies played to a Haven is now balanced (yes, people who said that can say ‘I told you so’!!).
I made that rule to make Havens viable for allies to play there, but since we now put Haven Resources on them at the start (and possibly more being put on through the Support cards) it could be too much of a good thing! This is particularly true as when you put an eagle in the Eyrie, you generate a Haven resource so a ‘Winged Guardian’ was effectively zero cost! I have been playing a few games now without the -1 Cost and it doesn’t seem to make it underpowered so I think I’m going to remove the -1 rule.

I’m also thinking of allowing characters to return to Havens in the middle of a Quest (a bit like a generic player side quest). If you exhaust a character X times during the Travel phase (where X equals to the current Quest card number) then he may return to a Haven. A character in a Haven removes 1 damage token at the start of each Refresh phase. There may be some quests, or part of quests, where this won’t be allowed such as ‘Escape from Dol Goldur’ where thematically it makes no sense at all (‘Excuse me Gandalf, I’m just nipping back to Lorien’)!

A Short Rest
I’m also thinking of introducing a rule that if a character is not exhausted in the Refresh phase (so they have not quested, attacked, defended or used an ability that caused them to exhaust) then they may remove 1 damage token. This simulates them ‘camping down’.

I’d appreciate people’s thoughts on those 2 tweaks?

Playing the Quests
My current play mode (as of ‘Hills of Emyn Muil’) is to play each quest 4 times. If I succeed with the quest, I notch up the difficulty for the next play. The first ‘notch’ is to remove the Boons, the second ‘notch’ is to replace the Boons but put back all the removed cards from the Encounter deck for ‘Easy’ Mode, and the third ‘notch’, (if I EVER get this far!!) is to remove the Boons and play all the cards in the Encounter deck!

We’ll see how I get on!!
 



#19
dragoncymru

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Preparing for a trek through ‘The Hills of Emyn Muil’

A new adventure pack and new cards to play with! As the card pool grows, it’s great to see themes start to come together and deck possibilities start to coalesce. The new Hero is from the Tactics Sphere: ‘Brand, son of Bain’ and although he has fine stats, he’s a bit high-Threat and limited with an ability that is useless in solo play. For sake of solo balance, I’ll tweak his ability for my games so it reads:

Brand, Son of Bain –After Brand, son of Bain attacks and defeats an enemy with a Ranged attack, choose and ready a Hero you control (limit once per round).

Other cards in the set are again a mixed bunch, with the very expensive Lore ally ‘Gildor Inglorion’, the fairly useless Leadership ally ‘Keen Eyed Took’, another Tactics eagle with ‘Descendant of Thorondor’ and our first Horse (although the ‘Mount’ keyword has yet to be introduced) with ‘The Riddermark’s Finest’. The events are pretty small league in this pack, but for my solo games, I’m going to tweak another 2 cards from this pack:

Gildor’s Counsel – remove the (to a minimum of 1).
Meneldor’s Flight – Gains the keyword ‘Eagle’

I also have a new Haven support card to be introduced for last week’s ‘Eagles Eyrie’:

pic3418112_t.jpg


“The Road Goes Ever on...”
 



#20
dragoncymru

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The Hills of Emyn Muil’

This quest was a Location monster so I’m glad I put some Northern Trackers in to get rid of some of them clogging up the staging area. The problem is that I wanted to keep my tri-sphere deck with my usual heroes of Aragorn, Legolas and Beravor and thus Leadership/Tactics/Lore. Looks like I can put in a few handy ‘Song of Travel’s to get those Spirit Resources! My chosen Boons were Go Ever On, Inspiration (on Legolas to afford those Tactics eagles) and Resolve. As ever, if I didn’t get Riversong in my opening hand, I would choose him as my 7th card, and if I did get him in my hand then it would be ‘Celebrian’s Stone’ for Aragorn.

It’s a fairly boring quest isn’t it? It’s very thematic though as it does seem like you’re trudging through the endless wastes and hills of Emyn Muil, the Treachery cards with rockfalls and chasms are a nice touch, but not a lot actually happens! I did like the art of the new Location cards however.

The quest actually did beat me twice with all those Locations forcing my Threat up and up. It’s rare that I ever get to 50 Threat and lose the game – if I lose, it’s usually because I get killed! The key card, of course, is ‘Northern Tracker’. In fact, unless you were playing a full-on Spirit deck, I think it comes down to ‘if you get ‘Northern Tracker’ out on the table’, you win, and if you don’t, you lose!

My dream team did win through though after 3 fails! It was all a matter of getting a way for Spirit cards to enter play –either from ’Song of Travel’ or from ‘Celebrian’s Stone’. I did manage some nice Eagle synergy with the Eyrie Haven and the Haven support card ‘Messengers’ of Manwe’ and Havens are still performing well even though I have now removed the -1 Cost.  I’m happier that these are a bit more balanced.

I also started ramping up the difficulty if I do win a quest and thus played 1 game here without the starting Boons. I think this is a fairly easy quest though so even without the Boons I still won this one.  

I must say though that I’m getting far too reliant on ‘Riversong!  It will be a real loss when I lose him from the deck (which I will force myself to do when we go underground or go down to Gondor...).

Now as for my trip, that ground looks a little marshy and there’s a nasty smell too...

“The Road Goes Ever on...”