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


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#1 wojo

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:19 PM

First of all let me start by saying 'hello' to all the forum readers as this is my first post here and let me say that I am a gamer from Poland so please excuse many mistakes that I will make in my posts.

My (analog) gaming background:
- Gamed a lot in my childhood (Chess, Checkers, Polish Monopoly clones, Talisman, Fury of Dracula etc.) mainly with my brother
- Had a long brake in table top gaming as I went to high school and to collage/university
- Got back into it while staying in the Netherlands (mostly eurogames but also A Game of Thrones, Warrior Knights)
- I came back to Poland and expanded my collection, started my own gaming group (which is still meeting bi-weakly and is highly competitive)

My LOTR:LCG experiences and collection:
- Played LOTR: LCG with a friend at the end of 2011 and was intrigued
- In May 2012 got my own core set and played it  50 times already. Later I traded for the second core set and two expansions. 
- In June 2012 I bought (again second hand) the rest of Mirkwood cycle and Massing at Osgiliath
- In September 2012 I got Khazad-Dum expansion (second hand)
- In October 2012 I got first 3 APs from the second cycle (new)

About the 100 play challenge:
I saw a geeklist on BGG (http://www.boardgame...f-deeper-explor) that asked for players to pledge to play a game 100 times and write down thoughts/comments about each play and the chosen game in general. I decided to join the fun with LOTR:LCG as my game of choice.

I am fully aware that many people here played this many more than 100 times but I think that it might still be interesting to read (semi-)thoughtful comments from a beginner like me.

Throughout my plays I will try to answer the following questions:
- How the increased pool of cards changes the game experience?
- Is it necessary to buy more stuff in order to enjoy the game for a longer time? - ANSWER: No!
- Are the new scenarios bringing something really new to the game experience?

It is also interesting how some new questions (about strategy and tactics) appear as I am making progress on the challenge and how will my view of the game change after completing it. For now I expect my plays to continue beyond 100 and I also expect occasional 2 (and more) player games. I will post my thought here as well as they might be more interesting for readers here then for general BGG reader.

Now that the original challenge of playing the game 100 times and commenting them is completed I decided to count all plays here. Will update it irregularly:
Plays: 196



#2 wojo

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:27 PM

Date:2012-05-29
Times Played:1
What: Second scenario. Solo play with Lore/Leadership deck. WIN!
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[Local] This time I decided not to play tournament legal deck an instead went for constructed 30 card deck. It was actually quite difficult to reduce the number of the cards to 30. The game went for a long time (23 turns) which yielded a pretty bad score of 259. Two times I was almost put to stop by the encounter deck - I was saved by mine own deck (which was depleted round before the end) each time pulling the right/powerful card. I ended up with tone of resources on my heroes - this means that the deck was not optimal - I could have included more powerful and costly allies
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[General] While playing only with cards from the core set one is extremely limited in deck construction part of the game if using two sphere tournament deck of 50 cards. Almost all available cards need to be used which means that quite a few of not so good cards will end up in your hand throughout the quest. Since in this game most of the time the encounter deck will pound on you very hard every card needs to work to its highest potential and those not so good cards will be your undoing.
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Note to all people playing with only one core set: Use 30 (35?) card constructed decks in order to increase your enjoyment of the game.

Note to self: try to use three sphere deck - my gut feeling is that resource generation will be major problem. I do not see it working with cards from CS.



#3 wojo

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:29 PM

 Date:2012-05-30
Times Plated:4
Tried the second scenario again (with Lore/Leadership deck). Lost all 4 attempts - but almost won the last one.
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[Local]This time I went with four most threat costly heroes to see how it works in such configuration. I also updated the deck since yesterday's play and I think it was even stronger now. Nevertheless high starting threat is a terrible idea in this scenario as you don't get any time to field your alies before the troll starts swinging at you. In such case even heroes with formidable stats do not stand the chance (I killed the troll 3 out 4 times but heroes were so damaged and without any support that the river easily eliminated me). When I was already convinced that for this (any?) scenario you need at least two or 3 rounds before engaging the troll the last try was almost successful. I arrived at the last part of the quest only with one weak enemy in the staging area. But then the events together with two surges killed all allies and wounded heroes.
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[General] Threat is an excellent mechanic in this game introducing very hard and interesting choices. Do you go for better heros that will be able to do a lot of cool things latter … the trade off is that enemies will start pounding at you from the turn one and will most of the time overwhelm you by killing your allies and wounding heroes. Then you are so weakened that treacheries will slowly kill you off unless you are very lucky. On the other hand … if you choose only weak heroes you will have time to prepare but will lack the strength to take care of the stronger enemies. Of course it all depends on the scenario but as a general observation it seems to be correct.



#4 wojo

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:31 PM

 Date:2012-05-31
Times Played4
Second scenario from CS. Leadership/Lore deck - win, 2xloss, win
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[Local]This time I decided to go for three heroes with lowest threat to try the opposite strategy from the previous plays. Initially I used the same deck as before. The first win was just a shear luck (encounter deck was VERY merciful) and following two loses proved that I was not prepared to face the challenge. I almost jumped to conclusion that all "weak" heroes are as bad as three "strong" ones but I mad a small observation - heroes that I choose were generating resources really fast and I didn't have cards to spend them on. I re-tweaked the deck and achieved a victory and this time I am fairly confident that it was not just by accident (won despite the fact that encounter deck was attacking me a quite strong cards).
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[General]You need to build your deck not only with a scenario in mind but also take into account the strengths and weakness of your chosen heroes. It is sometimes hard to see what those are just from the cards and you might need to play a game once or twice to see them.

"Weak" (low initial threat) heroes seem to be vulnerable to encounter deck streaks (constantly getting only enemies or only locations) as then without heavy hitters (fight or quest wise) is hard to contain the staging area.



#5 Budgernaut

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 10:20 PM

 Welcome to the forums! This challenge sounds interesting and I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and impressions. I probably won't be able to do this challenge. With an average of 3 games per week, it'd take me about 33 weeks to finish it!


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#6 richsabre

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 11:15 PM

hi this seems very interesting- i wonder how long it will take….i believe after a year of obsessive playing i am on my 300+ game….

edit : never mind seen you have two core sets and waiting for 2 expansions

my answers to your initial 3 questions

1.the card pool changes this game alot….mainly it gets alot easier for the early scenarios (which would be expected)

2.defintaly not- but it certianly adds enjoyment to the game

3.yes they do - they each have their own theme and feel when playing

 

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#7 wojo

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 11:43 PM

 Budgernaut - 3 times per week is a very good frequency. I am hoping to be able to settle around that once my initial fascination with the game will die out.

 
richsabre - Thanks for your answers. So far my gut feeling tells me that my answers will be similar to yours. As for my estimate how long it will take me to do the challenge … I hope to complete it by the end of the year. 
 
One observation for people that are 'late' to the game - you should be able to obtain it at a very decent price if you don't mind getting used:
I paid 80 PLN (which is around 20 USD) for the first core set and traded my used copy of Ghost Stories for another (used) core set and two adventure packs so it was quite reasonable so far. From now on I will need to buy things new though (unless I am extremely lucky) so it will not be that nice any more. 


#8 wojo

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 08:50 PM

 Date:2012-06-02
Times Played: 4 (more then that but I only am counting plays that lasted more then 5 minutes)
Third scenario from CS. Lore/Leadership deck - lost all of them
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[Local]I attempted the third scenario (escape from Dol Guldur) again trying to apply what I have learned throughout my plays of Journey down the Anduin and was trounced by the scenario. It is very badly suited for solo play as you get 3 cards from the encounter deck right from the get go and only if you are very very lucky you have a chance to start to progress (if you start with two enemies or two locations then you are pretty much toasted). Once you get going (by clearing the staging area) then the things are looking better but … you soon discover that you are running out of cards. Then the Nazgul comes and eats you allies faster then you can field them (especially if supported by other enemies attacking you).
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[General]This scenario should be in the core set despite the fact I think it is unbeatable with the cards from the base game (unless you will get 1-in-a-million lucky). It intrigues, it forces you to tweak your deck tons and tons of times. At the same time I understand why it lowers the value of the base game for many people. They will see it as unbeatable (solo) and claim that the game comes with only two playable scenario. I think that FFG would do much better by including fourth scenario with a difficulty close to Journey down Anduin.

I feel that I am nearing the point that I played core set enough. I can attempt the last scenario few more times and I have few deck ideas for Jounrey down the Anduin and I will be done with it. So say that reasonable amount of plays you can get is around 50. One remark to this estimate - if you can find the second player you could easily add another 25 or so plays to it.



#9 lleimmoen

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 09:19 PM

In my opinion, there should have been something different done for Dol Guldur solo, like having 1 objective only, or not attaching encounters to the objectives, it would be hard enough still. As it is it is madness.



#10 wojo

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 10:16 PM

 I don't mind the harshness of the Escape scenario for the solo player - it really keeps you playing and trying all sorts of thighs. It definitely has its place in core set. Having said that I do think the setup should be less random (objects could be guarded by specified cards - say one location, one enemy and one treachery - of those none should have threat higher then 2). I also think (note: this total conjecture as I have not played it two player) that it is comparatively too easy with two players (although the restriction on playing only one ally will hurt two players much more then solo-ers).

In my mind this scenario is an ultimate finale to Mirkwood Cycle. Equipped with cards/heroes from all of its adventure packs you should be able to create decks that will have a reasonable chance beating it. With that … I do miss one more hard (a bit harder then Journey down the Anduin) but beatable scenario in the core set. I think this did hurt the game as people where discouraged from exploring it further and labeled it broken/too random based on their experience with the Escape …



#11 richsabre

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 10:21 PM

i actually dont think there is a 'in between' anduin and dol guldur yet in the mirkwood cycle- i think into the pit (khazad dum difficulty 5) is probably the quest your looking for


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#12 wojo

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 11:02 PM

 Date:2012-06-05
Times Played: 1
Third scenario from CS. Lore/Leadership deck - lost
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[Local] Since I had scenario ready to go I decided to try it one more time before diving into the second core set I received (see bellow). No new thoughts concerning Dul Guldur - it is (near)impossible with just the base cards.
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[General] As mentioned above I got my second core set and I would like to share few random thoughts about it:

- I started with merging two sets into a "tournament playable" pool of cards 3 copies of player cards. With two CS I am missing around 12 player (3 or 4 per sphere) cards to complete it. It was nice to obtain more copies of some of my favorite cards (feint, sneak attack come to mind). I felt pretty good getting the game "again" at this point.

- I packed all of the surplus cards, tokens and rules in one of the boxes in order to store them at the bottom of my closet. When I was closing the lid on this second box I saw so many components that I will not get to use and to tell the truth felt disappointed that so many things will be pretty much useless.

- Then the newly constructed card pool went into a "transport" deck box (it should hold close to 200 sleeved cards) followed by encounter cards and tokens (with d10s replacing threat counters). To my great disappointment I discovered that there is no space left in the box. I realized that now my game will not be as portable as it used to be with a single core set and the adventure packs will make it even worse. I am afraid that this will impact amount of plays. I will be hesitant to carry a huge box of cards with me just in case I have some free time to play it (so far it yielded +10 plays so not bad at all).

To sum up I have mixed feelings about the second core set - on one hand I am glad that my card poll increased as it makes deck building more interesting. On the other hand I feel that there is a great waste of space, cards and value here. This solves the problem of the third core set - I will not be getting it.



#13 wojo

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 11:00 PM

Date: 2012-06-07 and 2012-06-08
Times Played: 6
Hunt for Gollum scenario. 5 wins and 1 loss. Leadership/Spirit deck (cards from two core sets but not from the AP).
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[Local] I will not discuss the details of the scenario not to spoil it for others instead here are few random observations:
- Hunt for Gollum is an interesting scenario with a distinct flavor then the ones found in core set. Great addition to the game.
- This scenario seems to scale best from the ones that I tried. It will be equally hard for different number of players (note: this is based on my feel as I only tried it solo)
- I like the flow of the scenario it is paced extremely well.
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[General]
- This time I discovered that at times it is hard to keep all the rules/effects straight (your own cards, staging area, quest cards) - this affects mostly solo players. Despite the fact I tried to concentrate on all those thighs I am sure missed one or two effects.

- I have not tried the players cards from Hunt for Gollum but based on the scenario alone I am recommending it to all players.

- Using cards from two core sets gives your ("tournament legal") deck a huge boost.



#14 richsabre

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 05:46 AM

yes it does- i dont have two core sets- but i can imaging what having 2/3 copies of unexpected courage is like


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#15 wojo

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 01:04 AM

Date:2012-05-29
Times Played:5
What: First scenario with cards from two core sets. Leadership/Spirit deck. 3 wins and 2 losses.

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[Local] Only one little observation here - despite its low difficulty you can lose this scenario if encounter deck throws enemies (or locations) at you constantly and you do not draw player cards (allies) to combat them.
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[General] I went into this scenario just to show how powerful the deck built from two core sets and my first play got me a great score … but … I lost next to attempts. I went back into the deck drawing board and adjusted it for this particular challenge (I started with a deck designed for The Hunt for Gollum) and got more consistent (winning) results.

- Let me reiterate: you need to design your deck and choose heroes for a particular scenario. I do not expect one single deck to perform extremely well in all scenarios. I do think that it is possible to build a deck that will complete many scenarios but I would not expect it to beat the specialized decks as far as the scores goes.

- Two core sets give huge boost to your deck building options but just because you have three copies of most of the cards (and two of the rest) will not give you a guaranteed win even on easier scenarios. Optimal deck building is required for more consistent results.



#16 wojo

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 04:14 AM

 Date:2012-06-15
Times Played:3
Journey down the Anduin scenario with Spirit/Tactics deck 3 losses
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[Local] I was trounced all three times despite the fact that I was able to go all the way to the third stage once or twice. Tactics is a really specialized sphere and as far as I can see it is to weak for this scenario. I am still willing to say taha luck of the draw or poor deck construction was the source of my fails but three tries with no success … it suggests that something is going on here (see bellow)
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[Global] When choosing heroes/spheres for playing you really need to choose ones that will help you reasonably well with several aspects of the game. The test above showed me that tactics is probably the weakest sphere in solo playing - it is solely oriented on fighting (if you disregard Legolas and Balde of Gondolin) and this is usually not enough to succeed (on regular basis) in more difficult quests. I am not ready to say that it useless in solo play but for now I am marking as the weakest or too specialized.



#17 wojo

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 04:15 AM

 Date: 2012-06-16
Times Played: 3
Journey Down the Anduin scenario with Spirit/Leadership deck 1 loss and two wins
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[Local] Nothing really new here. I failed the first time, re-tweeked my deck and was able to win two times in a row with similar score each time. One interesting observation bellow and here I will provide example: So far I considered Dwarven Tomb card a fairly weak card … what a mistake. It is very strong as virtually increases the number of times you can play the most useful cards in your deck - with the added beauty that you only need to decide what is mots useful at the right moment.
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[Global] Cards "on paper" might look weaker/stronger then they actually are in a particular deck. Need to try several cards that I consider bad/not worthed and see if they are actually that bad or am I not seeing their full potential.



#18 wojo

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 04:16 AM

 Date:2012-06-17
Times Played: 1
Passasge through Mirkwood 2 player with my wife. Mono Spirit and Mono Tactics. Won
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[Local] My wife likes to play games with me but she is not a "gamer". I didn't have high hopes that she will like this game as she prefers economic games (euro) and she does not care about the theme so much. Add to this that she is not big on co-operative games and you get the picture. She was a good sport and gave the game a go. As far as rules go she was mostly ok but was very confused what is the difference between enemy attacking a player and a player attacking enemy. I might have chosen wrong scenario (she would enjoy the more challenging scenario more) but I went for a short one and I did not think that it would make much difference. Overal she did not like it much and was quite courious why I like it and we had a nice conversation about it (and games in general)
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[General] In general teaching rules to LOTR LCG is quite easy (as the rules are fairly straightforward) but of course the devil is in the details as there are plenty of rules on the cards them self and it can be quite hard to manage/understand them all at the same time. Now after teaching my wife the game I also understand why so many people were not impressed with this game as much as I am. Two points:
1. Without deck building you loose very fun strategic part of the game and you are left with a tactical game (that you might or might not enjoy enough to like the game as a whole)
2. If you play the game only to win each scenario once (instead of trying to build the deck that will beat it consistently) its life will be very limited



#19 benhanses

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 01:13 PM

richsabre said:

yes it does- i dont have two core sets- but i can imaging what having 2/3 copies of unexpected courage is like

 

Finally used that card (2 copies) last night when I switched my deck up a bit…  was able to get it out early on Bervor (and then Theodred).  That solved any card-draw/resource issues I may have had… lol.  Don't know why I was so late "getting to the party" on using that gem…  It's almost tempting to pick up a third core set cheap somewhere to try and get a third… lol


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#20 wojo

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 04:02 AM

 Date: 2012-06-19
Times Played: 4
Journey down the Anduin, Spirit/Leadership deck Win, 2xLoss, Win
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[Local] I wanted to add a third victory in a row to my previous plays so I went again against the good old JdtA quest. To tell the truth I was almost sure that I will loose as soon as I saw two trolls at the beginning. I decided to go ahead any way and was amazed how well my deck was suppling me with cards at the right moment (I got Gandalf for example having threat at 49). Despite the fact that I was few step from loosing most of the game I was still able to win and I declared my deck invincible for this scenario (come on … can you get much worse start than 2 trolls?). Since I had some time left and the game was already set up I decided to play once more just for fun to see how well I will do. This time despite the fact that the encounter deck was (a bit, but still) kinder to me I never seamed to draw cards that I needed (just the opposite from the previous try). I lost to threat. I declared this play unlucky and decided to go again. This time was trounced again (encounter deck first raised my threat by 8 when I was ready to kill the troll and then slowly the trecheries killed my huge ally army) and I was doomed. That pissed me off! I tweked my deck by swapping some of the cards with those from the hunt for Gollum adventure pack (for the first time). This time I won again …
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[General] So far Journey down the Anduin is by far the best quest for solo players. Passage through Mirkwood is a bit on the easy side and it is fairly repetitive as far as quest stages go. Escape for Dul Guldur is just too hard solo (although I will try to play it again soon). I like the Hunt for Gollum but once you know how it plays it's ending seems a bit anti-climactic. JdtA starts with an earthquake (troll), it tension rises (as more and more things flood the staging area), to reach excellent finale (when you try to time going to last stage with as few enemies as possible in the staging area)






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