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.
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:
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 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...'