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Wojo's (beyond)100 plays challenge comments (UPDATE: The Redhorn Gate - conclusion)


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#61 wojo

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:47 PM

Scenario played: Flight from Moria
Date: 20 Nov 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Gimli, Thalin (tactics/spirit)
Played 8 times - won 4, lost 4
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[Session Report] I will be brief this time as I played it so many times that the details of each play are a bit hazy.
- First play was an excellent experience (probably the best with this scenario). I didn't look through the cards earlier and assumed that I need to collect several victory points before finding an exit. This approach lead to enormous threat from Nameless Fear. Slowly though I was progressing forward (many due to several spirit allies) and finally found one possible exit (prisoned by shadow) but I didn't like the risk of being eliminated with just one card flip so I decided to carry on. Next quest card called for tools (that I found nearly at the start). At this time the troll showed up and killing him required all the attention from Gimli (he was carrying the tools). Next three threat from the staging area was too much (especially that Gimli had to stay ready to dig). Soon enough I died because of threat overdose.
- In second play I knew what to expect. I started to bypass quest cards (but not all yet as I wasn't sure if I saw all of them). This time it took me too much time to find the tools and in the mean time got location locked.
- First win after that assured me that only complete avoidance of stage completion is a key in this scenario.
- Another win was more interesting as I was able to do it despite Thalin falling down due to shadow effect that discarded an ally defender. Unexpected Courage on Gimli worked miracles.
- Lost again, very quickly. Troll plus nasty treacheries killed my by turn 4 or so.
- Won. Had a bit of bad luck with treachery making me to reshuffle the quest cards when I had tolls and was on the last stage digging. Unexpected courage on Gimli with tools made the end stage fairly easy when I got to it again.
- Lost swamped by the enemies this time. Shadow effects are much less frequent here then in The 7th level but if you are unlucky it is possible to get a string of enemies spawning new ones faster than you can deal with them. That is what happened to me this time.
- Won with an excellent score. Fairly quickly found tools and Gimli with an unexpected courage was able to smash through a wall in no time.
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[General thoughts] Oh man … after first play I was about to say that this is the best scenario ever. It is very good but I am disappointed by the missed opportunity to make it outstanding. So what went wrong in my opinion:
- There is absolutely no reason to gain victory points in this scenario - in fact you are severely punished for doing that. Ok, you need to bypass completing quest cards but you were unlucky enough to face Giant Troll Cave and killed it … guess what nameless fear is 3 points more powerful.
- The second possibility to win (blocked by shadow) is so totally random (especially solo) with flipping the card to check if you are eliminated that I personally will never use it. At the same time if you are lucky you can finish the scenario in two turns easily if its the first Stage 2 card to appear and you just go for it for fun. Yeah it might be interesting as a last ditch effort, all or nothing type of option with hearos almost dead but as it stands it does not work this way.

Looking at those two drawbacks it is so easy to see other option that would make this scenario more thematic and interesting. How about requiring the player to have at least 6VPs to be able to use blocked by shadow exit instead of a card flip (you traveled far and long so you luckily found an exit finally) this mechanic would introduce two strategies against the scenario - either avoid VPs totally and go for tools or collect VPs and try to survive increasing threat from Nameless Fear to somehow sneak by it and escape. I am afraid that this scenario was slight underdeveloped towards the end of its design.

I will write some more about good things about the scenario next time.



#62 wojo

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 08:21 PM

Scenario played: Flight from Moria
Date: 21 Nov 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Gimli, Thalin (tactics/spirit)
Played 2 times, won both.
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[Session Report] Both wins were quite easy with no real danger of loosing in any of them.
- During first play I was severely slowed down by two Shadows of Fear treacheries coming up one after the other. First one hurt a little bit (consumed 3 resources) but the second one costed me three turns as I had to put it on Gimli that was carrying the tools.
- Second started as one of the luckiest one (tools came as a first card from the encounter deck) and soon I was able to find Escape from Darkness right after this. I was not able to beat my high score though as digging without unexpected courage is much slower (although it was worse only by two points in the end due to Gandalf showing up twice and reducing the threat quite a bit).
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[General thoughts] So last time I complained that Flight from Moria missed opportunities to become one of the best scenario out there but still claimed to like it. So let me iterate why:

- Thematic feel. I love turning the next quest stage at the beginning of quest phase. Yeah it is random, you can't plan for it but the thematic feel makes up for it big time. You are running away from the mines. You do not have time to scout you just press on and change the way on the fly if needed.
- How many of the  treacheries work well in the story context. I saw some of them before but now they are not only more dangerous (like removing progress tokens from a quest card that you were digging through for the past 3 turns) but make sense (you caused the ceiling to collapse with your tools and need to start over).
- The increasing threat from the staging area is an excellent idea. Nameless Fear is slowly approaching reaching its full deadly potential with every turn.
- The fact that you do not fight Nameless fear just trying to get away from it makes sense and its thrilling (although I doesn't feel as much as frantic run in Return to Mirkwood.
- Love the idea that tools will appear not only from the encounter deck but that stage cards brings them in - gives the search more intense and interesting feel that random draw as per athelas in A Journey to Rosghobel.
- Like the idea of bypassing quest cards as an option (although it would be great to loose some benefit by doing that for now in most cases it is a trivial decision in most cases).
- Its drawbacks sparked an interest in me to fix it. My custom redesign creative juices are flowing we shall see if I can come up with something good here.

I am really eager to check the first scenario from Dwarrowdelf cycle but I am tempted to prepare my own variant for Flight from Moria so we shall see what session reports will bring next time.



#63 wojo

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:58 PM

Scenario played: modified Flight from Moria
Date: 24&25 Nov 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Gimli, Thalin (tactics/spirit)
Played 2 (won and lost)
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[Rule changes]
Players are now forced to face some of the mine dangers or explore them before they can try to escape. I also wanted to make a decision whether to bypass a stage card harder and I wanted Nameless Fear to become a more of a threat so I introduced the following :
- Each time you bypass a quest stage after the combat phase - put a progress token on Nameless Fear.
- Each time you use tools on Escape from Darkness stage put a progress token on Nameless Fear.
- When Nameless Fear has two progress tokens on him, he attacks first player (deal him a shadow card). A player is allowed to declare a defender. Note that Nameless Fear does not engage a player in order to attack and players do not get to strike back.
- Both quest card's that allow you to win (Blocked by Shadow and Escape from Darkness) now require you to have certain number of VPs (after tests I decided on 5). If you do not fulfill this requirement once you reveal this card you are forced to put it at the bottom of the quest deck and reveal a new one instead (note this is not treated as bypassing a location).
- Blocked by Shadow looses his effect that allows player to choose to draw cards to see if they are eliminated or replacing it.
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[Session Report] I have to say that the scenario plays much better with those changes. It requires you to collect VPs which makes questing hard. Bypassing stages is a tough choice and you need to have some allies ready to absorb attacks from Nameless Fear. I won my first attempt although it was fund and tense. In the second one I would be destroyed few times but decided to carry on and see how it will play out- finished with 53 threat.
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[General thoughts] Creating scenarios (or modifying in my case) is fun and creative but I do not know what it is but I get much more joy from playing official ones (even if they are weaker). I think it all comes down to components - in FFG's quest you have everything on the cards, game runs smoothly. In case of custom scenarios the components are sub standard (proxies etc) or you have to keep additional rules in your head (in my case).

NOTE: If you are interested in my version of Flight From Moria please fell free to try it out and let me know how do you like it (what works, what does not). You can also modify it as much as you want (eg.: you can make it harder by increasing VP requirement I introduced above, but I do not recommend going over 7VP - total # you can get from quest cards).



#64 wojo

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 09:29 PM

Scenario played: Redhorn Gate
Date: 25 Nov 2012 
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Gimli, Thalin (tactics/spirit)
Played 1 time, lost. 
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NOTE: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THIS SCENARIO! SPOILERS AHEAD. 
[Session Report] I opened the new pack and went with my Moria tested deck, here is their story:

Trusty warriors supported by strong willed allies started the climb fast dispatching enemies left and right. Great smile of Arwen was inspiring heroes that gathered help and were able to enlist new member at almost every step. Things started to changes at it started to snow in the higher part of the mountains - slowly freezing cold was weighting down heroes but the support of allies was strong enough to get them close to the top. 

Here the mountains unleashed their fury, howl of snow storm sounded as if Saouron him self descended on them. Veteran warrior heroes and allies stopped, unable to carry on (they were ready to fight the mightiest trolls but not the nature itself) and soon froze to death. It takes a lot to brake the will of the dwarves but Gimli and Thalin gave in. Eowyn and remnants of the party made little progress but decided to press on hoping to pass the cursed Caradhras, counting on easier path later on. Then Eowyn was struck by Freezing Cold and knew it was all over but there was no way down for them. Few moments latter howling snow storm threw precious Arwen of the cliff … only Eowyn through her half frozen eyes witnessed her death as the rest of the party was killed by the snow assault at the same time. No one lived to tell the tale as the enemy approached to kill the lone daughter of Rohan. 
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[General thoughts]

Talk about thematic experience. My team was moving fast first. Then slowly the cold started to take its toll, slowing me down. Then the real storm hit and whipped me out (together with stage 3 effect). I really, really recommend playing scenarios blind - so far the most thematic experiences I got were when playing like this. DO not read scenario spoilers, do not read discussions like this. Go in and experience it, you will not regret. Once you know the encounter deck at least a bit the feeling changes, you still get the great surprises in the way the cards come up but some sense of living through the great adventure is lost as you know what to expect. Here the tactical and strategic game begins but those moments of terror or surprise are not as powerful anymore. Do not devoid yourself of this first play marvel - this is something that is so unique to this game (so far I think only RPGs can create that in a long run). Now onto the game - I need to build the deck that can scale those mountains - and I have quite few ideas on how to do it. 



#65 wojo

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 12:36 AM

Scenario played: Redhorn Gate
Date: 28 Nov 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Denathor (spirit/lore)
Played 2 times - won both
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[Session Report] So after epic (and fantastic) failure of my Tactics/Spirit deck against Redhorn Gate I've needed new team that would be able to deal with the hazards of escorting Arwen through the Misty Mountains. I knew that I need more spirit allies in my team so I went with two heroes from this sphere I was fairly sure that I wanted at least two will power on my heroes so that made my choice limited to basically Eowyn and Frodo. The more interesting question which sphere to choose to support them. I decided against mono sphere and went with Lore just to see some more cards (I played Spirit Leadership a lot at the beginning). This choice was reinforced by the fact that Arwen's ability guaranteed a nice resource generation effectively replacing the need for Theodred. I was really debating taking the Lore Glorfindel (another strong quester) but decided to go with Denathor. His job (besides generating resources) would be to stand back, defend or peek at the cards and get rid the real nasties by putting them on the bottom of the deck. My real worries was the attacking ability of my team - defending was easy and heroes could take care of it but slaying even those wimpy enemies might be hard to kill but I decided to see that in practice.

First try started quite hard - Mountain Warg was drawn at setup and I knew killing him would be very hard with him returning to the staging area. For now though my threat was low enough so I let him sit in the staging area. I was happy to see Unexpected Courage in my starting hand and soon it went on Denathor (so he can look ahead and protect me from troubles). This was a blessing, in fact I soon had another copy of this card on Denathor and he often had to use his ability 3 times to get rid of powerful enemies and/or nasty treacheries. My progress was very slow but I also had Northern Tracker and was planing on getting rid of Caradhras from the staging area using his ability. It took a long time (and Gandalf had to kill the Warg) but I did it. I expected easy victory at that point. Just to be sure I've red the text on quest 2B and realized that the mountain had to be scaled again (the quest effect forced to put it in play again). Denathor had his hands full to keep the dangers at bay, Gandalf had to help with questing and slowly but surely I was able to traverse the Caradhras. Final score was almost 200 and my threat was above 40 but the team manged to get to the other side of the Mountains.

In the second attempt my deck was less generous (at least with Unexpected Courage although I had Rumors of the Earth and Riversong allay to save Denathor's ability for crucial things). I lingered at the base of the mountain and was able to draw a very decent hand of cards and had quite few allies in play. My plan was to put several progress tokens (Northern Tracker again) on Cardahas, go the 3 stage and finish it off next turn. It was foiled by a treachery that was unable to postpone with Denathor (after he got rid of a Warg) and all progress tokens in play were removed. After that I decided to finish the game without any tricks. Progress was decent although still several turns were still ahead of me. I decided to let a mountain goblin to appear thinking that now that several allies do not quest I can dispatch him easily. I need two turns to kill him. First attack was deflected but I had to burn Hasty Stokre to cancel shadow effect. Next time he attacked shadow effect discarded Denathor from play. I've thought that this is it. My hand was full of Lore cards (only Test of Will and two Dwarven tombs were playable). I wanted to see how far I could go still, River song was used to check what to expect, I was using lore cards to fuel Eowyn ability. I used test of will 3 times (redrawing it with Dwarven Tomb). Although the troll appeared in the staging area I knew I had two or three allies that I could use to block him while I was racing to finish. Canceling treacheries gave my just enough easy turns and I managed to win. In the end my score was not much better than previously.
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[General thoughts] Since reports were long this time I will only say that I enjoy this scenario very much. One note here that plays here are on the longer sitde (close to 1h per play) so I will not finish it as fast as Moria scenarios. 



#66 wojo

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 10:22 PM

Date: 1 Dec 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Denathor (spirit/lore)
Played 3 times - lost once, won twice
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[Session Report] I decided to test my deck further to see if it really that good against the Gate.
- I lost my first try but in a sense in solidify my assumption that the deck is quite good. Enemies were my doom this time. They started attacking a bit to early and once Denathor was wounded I had to start using Frodo to convert wounds to threat. Slowly I was able to take control of the satiation but the threat was too high already (few untimely shadow effects increased the threat by quite a lot - I made a mistake of not using the Forest Snare early enough as I preferred more allies). After that the slow increase of threat pushed me over 50 before I was able to get to stage 3. I was glad that I could deal with enemies nevertheless as fighting is a weak spot of my deck.
- Second try was interesting as I almost become location locked. Timely Escort from Edoras followed by Gandalf questing broke me free (together with Denathor control over encounter deck) and I was able to finish the quest with a decent score.
- Third try was an easiest so far. I lingered at the base of the mountains through (using Northern Tracker to put 7 progress tokens on Caradhras). This resulted in a similar score to the one during second try.
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[General thoughts] The deck I am playing is weak! How can I say that after reporting 4th win with it? Well it is build strictly for this scenario an it relies heavily on Arwen generating tons of additional Lore resources. Without her my hand would be overflown with expensive, unplayable lore cards. I have a great admiration for people that are able to construct one deck to rule them all - I am more of a deck against a scenario kind of player.

 

NOTE: I am in the process of transfering my session reports and comments to a BGG blog. I've realized that thread format here is quite cumbersome and not very relevant. I am planning to update this thread for a little longer (say two weeks) before officialy announcing its retireement. If you are interested in reading my comments feel free to check my LOTR:LCG blog on BGG (there is also some new content there) - you can find it here: http://www.boardgame...rts-and-general



#67 wojo

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 09:15 PM

Scenario played: Redhorn Gate
Date: Dec 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Denathor (spirit/lore)
Played 1 time - won
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[Session Report] I was disappointed seeing Mountain Troll as a setup card. Fortunately my starting threat is low (24) and my staring hand contained West Road Traveller and she would be able to balance troll generated threat. Denethor got rid of Warg and I've drawn Celebdil. It is a bit annoying as an active location with its progress removal ability but I could not afford to let it sit in stagging. Progress was slow but with two unexpected courages coming out of my deck Denethor ability allowed me to control encounter deck and avoid location lock. Enemies were also less dangerous once I had burning brand on him. Finally I had to engage troll and I was forced to let one ally die to stop his attack - what a disaster - a shadow that discarded two lore resources that were saved up to play forest snare next turn. Next attack had to be stopped using Frodo ability and my threat went up into 40's. After that the troll was snared and ceased to be dangerous. Slowly but surely I finished the quest after that.
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[General thoughts] One interesting side effect of Denethor put it on the bottom of the encounter deck ability - if the game last long enough this accumulated terrible cards will start showing up again - and even two unexpected courage on him might not save you from that. Luckily there is a shift of focus between start of the game and towards the end - many of the encounter cards that are deadly at the start of the game (and hence go on the bottom of the deck) are not that dangerous once your fellowship is stronger and/or staging area is clear.



#68 wojo

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:12 PM

 

Scenario played: The Redhorn Gate
Date: 7 Dec 2012 
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Denathor (spirit/lore)
Played 3 times - won 3
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[Session Report] I will not be able to provide full session report this time as it took me few days to post it and I forgot most of the details by now. I won all of the attempts
- One time I was assaulted by enemies and almost got overwhelmed (Frodo's ability to convert damage to threat was essential to my survival). Once I got things under control it was much better. 
- I finally encountered the location that puts all locations back into encounter deck and provided that you traveled far enough it reduces your threat by 11. It was fun and annoying at the same time. Would love to see more of this in the deck with an option of exploring it via threat rise (ala Zigil Shaft). Would make decision to travel there interesting one.
- I finally had to dig through the encounter deck to find enough VPs to win. So far I always seemed to find VP peaks early in the game so it was interesting change (I was using Denethor just to speed up the process).  
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[General thoughts] So let me sum up my opinions of The Redhorn Gate. The first attempt was epic, tense failure - going blind into this scenario is the way to go. The tale of freezing cold, un-traversable peaks and dread of weather was so strong that I almost could feel the chill myself. Scenario stayed strong after that but my choice of heroes (Denethor) softened the blows like a good coat that isolates you from the cold. 
 
Strength of the scenario comes from its increasing difficulty. It starts fairly easy (although the Caradhras looming over your head can be though), then the wind picks up and at first it just seems to slow you down. Only when you enter the third stage it turns deadly. The only gripe I have with it is that once you explore Caradhras it gets much easier. It does tell the story right (as once you go over the pass, slowly the road gets easier) but looses a bit of it climatic edge. 
 
After all I like it very much, with the strong points being that narrative feel, hat great stories of group of adventures fighting against the wrath of mountains. At this point I it is in my top 5:
1. Journey down the Anduin
2. Return to Mirkwood
3. Massing at Osgiliath
4. The Redhorn Gate 
5. A Journey to Rhosgobel
 





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