I played LotR LCG a lot earlier this year, but in April I moved and no longer had room for a table in my office (which is the only toddler-free zone in the house). This week I rearranged my office so that finally I have space to play. And yesterday I played my first game in more than 7 months!
I decided to start over, with the first core quest, instead of resuming where I left off before, which was Rhosgobel. Below is a run-down of my experience, with lots of questions that pop
I picked two spheres at random: Leadership and Spirit. I don't remember if they complement each other well or not.
Question: What would be a better mate for Leadership?
While sorting my cards, I noticed two heroes I didn't remember trying before: Prince Imrahil and Frodo. I decide to play with both of them, to add some challenge to the easy first quest. Imrahil was almost as expensive (in terms of threat) as Aragorn, but his ability (untap when character leaves play) seemed lame, since in terms of questing Aragorn could do the same for free. Frodo looked interesting (redirect damage to threat), but was still somewhat expensive. So I had to choose a cheap third heroes and decided on Eowyn. My plan was to quest with her, and then use a combination of Frodo, Imrahil, and cannon fodder for defense, allowing the ally to die so that Imrahil could then attack.
Question: Is that a pretty standard strategy for Imrahil?
I picked the obvious favorites, like Gandalf, Sneak Attack, Northern Tracker, etc. The number of cards available to me now was a bit overwhelming compared to when I just had the core set. So I picked somewhat randomly, remembering at the last minute to throw in some cheap allies (since that was the whole point of Imrahil). I used 3 of each card, for simplicity. I ended up with around 80-100 cards, which shows just how indecisive/sloppy I was. My plan was to play with this deck, and then, if I lost, refine it.
Question: Is using 3 of each card a typical strategy, or are there cards where it's best to use only 1 or 2?
First draw was a mess, so I mulligan'ed. Second was almost as bad. It didn't really matter, though. Eowyn's questing was enough to match the two cards in the staging plus the location card I drew, although I think I had to discard a card to match. Either way, we traveled to one of the locations, leaving just the Forest Spider to fight. Since it attacked for 2 + 1 first turn, I let it attack Frodo, and then wounded it with Imrahil.
The next turn I was able to bring out an ally. The wounded Forest Spider was joined by a King Spider. I let the Forest Spider attack Imhahil (no damage) and the King Spider ate the ally. Imrahil then used his ability to untap and attack the Forest Spider, finishing it off.
Question: Is that the standard way to use Imrahil?
The game continued in much the same fashion. I brought out cheap allies, and let them get killed off so that Imrahil could both defend and attack. I used Frodo to defend a couple times, but mostly he just helped in the attacks. A Gandalf + Sneak Attack combo during the defense round helped lower my threat and also knocked out a King Spider. Gandalf went back in my hand, so Imrahil untapped, and was able to attack during the attack round.
Question: Did I do that right? Or should Gandalf have stayed until the end of the attack round as well, in which case Imrahil would not have been able to untap and attack?
Eowyn got a willpower buff, so her questing was able to progress us through the locations. We got to the 3B where we can pick a spider out of the deck, so I picked Ungoliant's Spawn. I then brought out Gandalf, who zapped the spawn for four damage and then defended against it. Imrahil and Frodo bashed the spawn for another couple damage, putting her at 6.
The next turn, I put out a cheap ally. A Forest Spider engaged us. I had Imrahil defend against the Forest Spider while the spawn ate the ally. Imrahil then untapped and he and Frodo bashed the spawn for another 2 damage, for a total of 8 (out of 9).
On the next (and final) turn, I didn't have any more allies to play. I though about having Eowyn quest, Imrahil defend against the Forest Spider, and then have Ungoliant's spawn kill off Frodo so that Imrahil could untap and finish off the spawn. However, it didn't seem "right" to let Frodo die. So I skipped the questing, and luckily drew another location card. Our threat went up, but it didn't matter. I let the Forest Spider attack Eowyn (who survived), and Ungoliant's spawn attacked Frodo, who rose the threat even more. Imrahil didn't defend, so was able to bash the spawn for the final point. End of game.
So, I "won", but it didn't feel like a very clean victory. For one thing, I wasn't sure about the Gandalf Sneak Attack issue (see my question above); possibly my sequencing was off on that one.
Also, I felt like if anything had prevented Imrahil from attacking (can any shadow effect in the first quest do that?) we would never have been able to recover, since our threat would have been so high that the other monsters in the staging area would overwhelm us.
It seems like the "safer" choice would have been to defend against the Forest Spider with Imrahil, let the spawn kill off Frodo, and then let Imrahil finish off the spawn. Eowyn would quest to keep the threat down "just in case".
Question: So what do you think? Does sacrificing Frodo seem like the safer strategy?
So now what? I didn't expect to win with such a sloppily constructed deck. Part of me wants to try again, this time with much fewer cards. But there's not as much incentive to do so, since I didn't lose. The Imrahil + "red shirt" strategy seems pretty solid. Perhaps I could get rid of Northern Tracker (too expensive, hard to willingly sacrifice) and Ancient Mathom (didn't ever draw it, so certainly didn't depend on it). Or maybe I should just play the same deck again and see how it goes?
Question: How many times do you usually win/lose with a deck before you feel you know how to tweak it?
How do you take "lucky" or "unlucky" streaks into account?
I suppose I could keep score. My threat was pretty high at the end of this one, so I bet my score wasn't great. But I am so used to losing that I normally don't consider there being different "degrees" of winning. To me, any win is good enough, or at least it has been up until this game.
For those of you returning to the game after a long time off, how did you get back into the "swing of things"? Did you start all over like I did, or did you try to pick up where you left off, with the more challenging scenarios? Did you keep your old decks, or create new ones from scratch? Did you try to pick heroes and cards you never used before, or did you stick with the "tried and trusted"? What was your general philosophy when revisiting the game?