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Into Ithilien: the first broken scenario?


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#41 GrandSpleen

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 11:16 AM

As it the case with most things, the truth is probably on neither end of the spectrum being discussed.  The scenario is not totally broken (with the designer-acknowledged exception of the Blocking Wargs infinite loop, an admitted oversight).  Neither is it aptly-described as simply a challenging scenario which rewards players for thoughtfully constructing their decks.  That description fails to capture the heavily luck-dependent path to victory of any successful attempt at this scenario.  

I think at present, even the perfect deck will fail at this scenario more than 50% of the time.  Can anyone claim better performance?  Or even a 50% win rate?  There are some very smart players on this board (many who are pleased with this scenario, I will add).  However, even with their insights, there has not yet arisen a strategy for tackling this scenario that does not depend on optimal draw from both the player deck and the encounter deck.  Therefore we can only describe Into Ithilien as a challenging scenario which requires both advanced tactics and a lot of luck.  And honestly I think if you sit down and play 7 games in a row, winning only 1 of them, you cannot credit yourself with great tactics or deck construction for the win.  You have to credit beating the odds and pulling just the right cards, which is little testament to the skill of the player.  However, that skill has to -- has to! -- be present for the perfect victory conditions to ever present themselves in the first place.

I like what Valryian Steel said over in this thread: "Every card in this scenario is just brutal and there is absolutely no breathing room."  Very succintly put.



#42 Alex6222

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:09 PM

Yeah i think that the only way to beat this scenario right now is getting the right cards at the right moment and hoping the encounter deck shows a little mercy. I think that if there were 2 blocking wargs instead of 4 it would be more doable because generally you want to cancel blocking wargs but there are other treacheries that can really ruin your day.



#43 GrandSpleen

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:39 PM

I didn't say so above, but I don't really have any problem with this scenario.  It's super hard, and that caters to people who like super hard scenarios.  Good for FFG!  I'm not really in that crowd, but I will certainly play this scenario until I beat it at least once :) 

I don't think the difficulty rating of "4" is even a valid talking point, really.  Obviously FFG's system for determining difficulty is busted in a big way.  No one in this thread is arguing that it deserves the rating it got.  I would really love to see a "making of" segment from FFG and to hear how they determined this rating -- for this scenario, specifically.  Anyway, I'm happy to consider it a typo.

But yeah… hard scenario.  Stupid elephant!!



#44 Mattr0polis

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 02:40 PM

I agree with Narsil0420, we have some tools to deal with real bad treachery cards, and there's bad ones in a lot of quests. I will say, if anything, I wouldn't mind just a couple more cards to deal with treacheries for the other spheres though.

GrandSpleen said:

I think at present, even the perfect deck will fail at this scenario more than 50% of the time.  Can anyone claim better performance?  Or even a 50% win rate?  There are some very smart players on this board (many who are pleased with this scenario, I will add).  However, even with their insights, there has not yet arisen a strategy for tackling this scenario that does not depend on optimal draw from both the player deck and the encounter deck.

You will EASILY beat this quest over 50% of the time with the Erebor Hammersmith loop deck. But I don't think we want to count that. ^_^



#45 Pharmboys2013

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 04:11 PM

attempted the scenario 3 more times today with 3 players…got steamrolled each time.  Blocking wargs into blocking wargs.  We succesfully cleared ithlian road first turn too each time.  rough stuff


"His life is charmed, or fate spares him for some other end."

 

 

 


#46 GrandSpleen

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 04:59 PM

@Mattr0polis -- no way.  Impossible to set up that 5-card combo in this quest!  And, if it didn't happen in at least 2 separate games, it's an accident of fate! :)  Seriously though, I really doubt you could achieve the Erebor Hammersmith loop in even 50% of Into Ithilien attempts.  



#47 bollywongaloid

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 02:17 AM

I haven't posted on here for an age, but I feel like sticking my two oars in on this topic.  I attempted Into Ithlien 6 times in a 2P game and we got beat in every game.  We won on the seventh attempt but I don't think either of us got any satisfaction out of it because this quest simply isn't about tactics or strategy.  We won because we were lucky to avoid all the crap cards.

Now I'm not one of these who believe this is a game of pure luck.  But thinking back to some of the difficult older scenarios, especially the likes of some in the Khazad-dum pack and following expansions, I remember having a lot of trouble at times but I felt that when I finally beat the scenario, it was because I'd adopted a winning strategy with a well built deck, and thereafter could consistently beat it more often than not.

I didn't get this feeling at all with Into Ithilien, and my partner agreed.  So we were dreading cair andros naturally… but after a few defeats and adjusting our decks and strategy… we won and can now consistently win and that nice fuzzy feeling of satisfaction is back because I know that it was us that beat the scenario and not Lady Luck.

Into Ithilien is simply an ill-designed scenario, and it baffles me how lots of players (mostly the old-timers, 'experienced' players, funnily enough) refuse to accept this.  Is it denial? I dont know, but I do know  FFG can't always get it right which is to be expected.  They've done some brilliant scenarios and some duff ones, and this is the latter.  But if anybody claims to be able to beat this scenario more than 50% of the time in a 2P game, please post me your decks and let me know what I'm doing wrong sonreir  



#48 Mattr0polis

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:26 AM

GrandSpleen said:

 

@Mattr0polis -- no way.  Impossible to set up that 5-card combo in this quest!  And, if it didn't happen in at least 2 separate games, it's an accident of fate! :)  Seriously though, I really doubt you could achieve the Erebor Hammersmith loop in even 50% of Into Ithilien attempts.  

 

 

Heh, you underestimate those decks. I urge you to try them. We've still yet to have a game where I got the combo out later than turn 3. And Blocking Wargs barely hurts me because usually only Thalin I'll send questing here. There's some brutal enemies that will kill some of my friend's heroes but as long as, in that timeframe, they don't lose all 3 heroes and get fully knocked out of the game we can come all the way back.

That deck is stupid.



#49 Hauptmann

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 02:17 PM

I'm with you on this one, Stenun. The new lead designer has me questioning whether or not I want to continue with LotR. I play multiplayer in a three or four-man group and the quality of the scenarios has taken a noticible turn ever since the designer switch. It's not the difficulty that bothers me. Everybody likes a challenge to break the tedium. The new designs greatly favor one, maybe two players. The mechanics used are simply not fun. Stamping Surge and Doom on more cards certainly adds difficulty but nothing dynamic or interesting. Archery is new but all it does is unavoidable damage. Battle and Siege are interesting changes that we were excited about until we played the last scenario of EoN in which you have enemy cards that can one-shot the best defenders currently available and make questing during a Seige laughably difficult, especially if you have a seven encounter card (even after a cancel) Surge cascade in a three player game.

 

I'm all for difficulty. However, I'm much more for balance and playtesting. I remember remarking to one of the FFG employees at Gencon that the Laketown scenario we were playing was flawed because the Tactics sphere had absolutely no use at all. The employee didn't seem phased and I don't blame him, there are plenty of trolls out there that don't offer much in the way of constructive criticism but I was disappointed that something as major as that slipped right by and into a printed scenario. Going to stick with the game for now but I really don't want to hear, "So, is anybody having fun with this?" asked at the table again. It was very disheartening.



#50 Ellareth

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 05:27 PM

Hauptmann said:

I'm all for difficulty. However, I'm much more for balance and playtesting. I remember remarking to one of the FFG employees at Gencon that the Laketown scenario we were playing was flawed because the Tactics sphere had absolutely no use at all. The employee didn't seem phased and I don't blame him, there are plenty of trolls out there that don't offer much in the way of constructive criticism but I was disappointed that something as major as that slipped right by and into a printed scenario. Going to stick with the game for now but I really don't want to hear, "So, is anybody having fun with this?" asked at the table again. It was very disheartening.

I know this is off-topic but I couldn't help but comment on this.

I never actually noticed this problem because I treated Tactics like it didin't exist until Heirs of Numenor expansion.
But how ironic is it that the sphere that represent Battle-Strength is absolutely useless in slaying the last firebreathing dragon.



#51 starhawk77

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:47 PM

Ellareth said:

Hauptmann said:

 

I'm all for difficulty. However, I'm much more for balance and playtesting. I remember remarking to one of the FFG employees at Gencon that the Laketown scenario we were playing was flawed because the Tactics sphere had absolutely no use at all. The employee didn't seem phased and I don't blame him, there are plenty of trolls out there that don't offer much in the way of constructive criticism but I was disappointed that something as major as that slipped right by and into a printed scenario. Going to stick with the game for now but I really don't want to hear, "So, is anybody having fun with this?" asked at the table again. It was very disheartening.

 

 

I know this is off-topic but I couldn't help but comment on this.

I never actually noticed this problem because I treated Tactics like it didin't exist until Heirs of Numenor expansion.
But how ironic is it that the sphere that represent Battle-Strength is absolutely useless in slaying the last firebreathing dragon.

It's not. You need boatloads of attack to take down Smaug. Tactics is very good at that.

I don't understand the assertion that Tactics is useless in Battle for Lake-town. That's simply untrue.



#52 Hauptmann

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:24 PM

"It's not. You need boatloads of attack to take down Smaug. Tactics is very good at that.

I don't understand the assertion that Tactics is useless in Battle for Lake-town. That's simply untrue."

 

I'll settle on saying that if you use Tactics for Laketown, you are shooting yourself in the foot. With a very large calibre bullet. Every version of Smaug is immune to player card effects. That eliminates the all-powerful Feint and any and all direct damage effects from attachments and events. Smaug has a maximum ammount of damage he can take per quest phase, 6,12, and dead, respectively. There's no point in piling up Tactics allies as you're going to be racing to get to the last phase of the quest to kill him and the average 0-1 they're kicking in just doesn't cut it. Utilize solid questing characters and healers to manage burn damage and use attachments from other spheres, primarily leadership, to overcome Smaug's large numbers. Honestly, Tactics would add very little outside of waiting until phase three to have the chance to do its job properly. Even The Old Thrush works off of a discard mechanic, so you'll want card draw which Tactics has little outside of Foe-Hammer and that requires you to kill an enemy, who in this scenario is simply Smaug.

 

Now, I'll admit, the first time we ran through the scenario, I was playing Tactics/Leadership and had the delightful experience of realizing that the majority of my deck may as well have been blank. Switching back to Spirit/Lore at least gave me the satisfaction of pulling my weight and helping move the scenario forward. Please keep in mind, I'm speaking from a multiplayer perspective. Perhaps Tactics is the way to go for solo play.

 

If you find a Tactics strategy that works for you, go for it. I'm not saying its impossible. It may even be an interesting challenge to try it out some time. It just doesn't remove the fact that "Immune to player card effects," greatly limits what cards out of your collection you can effectively use and that's exactly the kind of game design that I feel greatly reduces a lot of the strategic creativity for players. Once options begin drying up and it is required to purchase more cards to fit the most effective cookie-cutter build in order to defeat a quest that was designed with increased static difficulty at the cost of unique/interesting/fun mechanics, I'm going to have to either take up designing scenarios as a hobby or move on to a different game.

 

Now a little off-topic: Anybody know the designer for Foundations of Stone? That's still my favorite and I want to give the guy a big, uncomfortable man-hug if I happen to run into him at a convention.



#53 Mattr0polis

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:37 AM

starhawk77 said:

I don't understand the assertion that Tactics is useless in Battle for Lake-town. That's simply untrue.

This.

You know that stuff that adds to your own characters don't fall under the 'immune to player cards' thing, right? So you can still boost up your character's own attack/defense values for example.

If you are smart on this quest, you won't want to do much (or any) damage to Smaug most likely until the end stage, since there's stuff that will move damage from Smaug to Lake-town. So once you hit that last stage, you're going to need to do some major hits to take him down in a turn or two. This is EASIEST with Tactics because of their attack boosting & good ranged Heroes and allies like Vassals to join an attack from someone else. Not to mention all of the blocking you also need to do throughout the scenario because of some of the different Smaugs and treacheries. Beregond with Citadel Plate and certain other things like Winged Guardians are a godsend here in multiplayer.

There's certainly other ways to try and defeat the scenario but Tactics is FAR from useless or "shooting yourself in the foot".



#54 Ellareth

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:37 AM

Oh dear, here I go using the wrong word to poorly say what I meant to say.

"Useless" isn't the word I should've said, because as many mentioned you could boost your character's attack and defence.

However, boosting your attack is only useful in the final stage of the quest, and boosting your defence is only useful against one trechery card that makes you unable to declare allies as defender.

You need lore through out the quest because of deal 2 damage to all character trechery and card draw, spirit due to all those locations and nasty trecheries and shadows, and leadership has great selection of event and allies for chumpblocking (sneak attack + 6 x 1 cost allies), some resource boost and some shadow cancel.

While Tactics isn't completely "useless" (I'm sorry for my poor choice of word), it certainly isn't as useful as what some of the other sphere offers. Especially with cards like "For Gondor" that let's you do one big attack without having tactics sphere invovled (which is Tactics sphere's major, if not only, contribution to this specific quest)

Don't get me wrong, making Smaug immune to player card effect was a good choice, or else we would have another Shadow and Flame where we would just Feint -> Hama -> Feint -> Hama loop it for easy win, and Battle for Laketown is an entertaining challenging quest that I have no problem with. Just thought it was funny how unessential tactics was with dragonslaying.

 



#55 Hauptmann

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:38 AM

Well-aware of that fact. Why I used the term "direct damage" as in Dwarrowdelf Axes, Spears of the Citadel, Gondorian Spearmen, etc. Nine to twelve marks on a ranged attacker goes a long way and is cheap and effective on top of allowing you to load up a sentinel hero with enough warnings to not run the risk of any damage piling up. I'm more focused on the fact that Tactics would only be effective on the last stage of the quest as Smaug the Magnificent takes three damage from Smaug and puts it on Laketown every time it is revealed and there is a lack of any other enemy cards to attack. Dain and Hardy Leadership make all of your allies more effective at questing, attacking, and surviving the mass burn damage cards in the event deck. Unless you house-rule out Dunedain attachments and dwarves, Tactics is still the weakest of the spheres for the scenario by a long shot.

#56 Hauptmann

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:55 AM

Don't blame yourself for the "useless" fiasco, Ellareth. That is entirely my fault. You bring up an excellent point about Hama and Feint which makes complete sense. It's just a shame that an entire sphere was marginalized by the scenario sticking so closely to the lore. Though it's fun to play out events that occur in the stories of Middle Earth, I believe the designers have more wiggle room to create more balanced and inclusive quests when they pen their own narratives.

#57 Glaurung

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:08 PM

Actually my dwarfs Dain/Thorin/Ori deck beat this quest withour any trouble. Also Pelargir. The bigest problem is last quest in the box. But i laos won coulple of times already. So even with old type decks is possible.


Wizard is never late.......

 

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#58 GrandSpleen

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 02:24 AM

Glaurung said:

Actually my dwarfs Dain/Thorin/Ori deck beat this quest withour any trouble. Also Pelargir. The bigest problem is last quest in the box. But i laos won coulple of times already. So even with old type decks is possible.

You've changed your tune!



#59 Glaurung

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 03:51 AM

GrandSpleen said:

Glaurung said:

 

Actually my dwarfs Dain/Thorin/Ori deck beat this quest withour any trouble. Also Pelargir. The bigest problem is last quest in the box. But i laos won coulple of times already. So even with old type decks is possible.

 

 

You've changed your tune!

GrandSpleen said:

Glaurung said:

 

Actually my dwarfs Dain/Thorin/Ori deck beat this quest withour any trouble. Also Pelargir. The bigest problem is last quest in the box. But i laos won coulple of times already. So even with old type decks is possible.

 

 

You've changed your tune!

I understand the idea of the new quest and change my strategy without change or tune my decks. So for solo now i can win almost every time when i play agianst Pelargir and Into Ithilien. But last one no! Very difficult!!!

Dwarves rules! Only one problem for them is siege. Dwarves in my deck didn have high defense.


Wizard is never late.......

 

Glaurung playtrough LOTR LCG on youtube :

http://www.youtube.com/user/olegyd   


#60 GrandSpleen

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 04:52 AM

Glaurung said:

 

I understand the idea of the new quest and change my strategy without change or tune my decks. So for solo now i can win almost every time when i play agianst Pelargir and Into Ithilien. But last one no! Very difficult!!!

Dwarves rules! Only one problem for them is siege. Dwarves in my deck didn have high defense.

 


 

 

I mean you changed what you are saying about Into Ithilien.  Earlier in this thread you were saying it was crazy difficult and that you were losing repeatedly (and loving it!).  Now you're saying that you are winning consistently without any trouble.  I wasn't able to come up with a strategy or a deck that could take this quest on without depending heavily on luck with the encounter deck.  Would you mind sharing your strategy?  I'd love to learn how to approach this thing, as it's still incredibly difficult for me to win!






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