Last summer (NZ summer) I played a lot of LotR LCG because I had a nice playing surface available every lunch time. I didn't have anyone to play with, so I just played solo (1 hand). I created 2 decks, so that I could use all 4 spheres. I then started tacking the quests, in order. I played with deck A until I beat the quest at least once, and then shifted to deck B. Gradually I progressed through the quests, eventually reaching Rhosgobel. Unfortunately at that point, we had to move, and my new office didn't have a nice playing surface, so several months passed before I picked up the game again.
A couple months ago, I began my second "push" through the quests. Since I felt a bit rusty, I decided to start over again with Passage through Mirkwood, but didn't restrict myself to the Core set. The idea was that since I now had more cards available to me, and was more experienced with the game, I should be able to quickly progress through the quests until I reach Rhosgobel again, and then finally enter terra incognita.
Well, that was the theory at least.
The reality is that I feel am stalled. And I think the problem is that is it hard to gain momentum, due in part to decision paralysis.
After playing once or twice a week for the past couple months, I am still on Passage through Mirkwood, and am still nowhere close to feeling satisfied that I have "finished" it and am ready to progress to the Anduin. Why am I stuck? Well, let's see how I have spent my time: (Note that the days are based on memory and therefore an approximation):
Day 1: I sorted my cards. They were in whatever state I left them last summer. Since I no longer felt connected with those decks, I wanted a clean slate. I therefore sorted them all out again, replacing the card sleeves that had ripped. This took my entire lunch break.
Day 2: I built a Leadership/Spirit deck. I felt overwhelmed with options. It took me forever to whittle down to about 80 cards. If I had only been playing with the Core Set, it would have been easier, but I hadn't separated the Core Set from the expansion packs I had opened. It took the entire day just to construct a deck.
Day 3: I built a Tactics/Lore deck. The Leadership/Spirit deck would be my "A" deck. and this would be my "B" deck. It took the entire lunch break to decide which cards to use, and I still had too many.
Day 4: I finally got to play. I played the Leadership/Spirit deck, and won. It felt too easy. I was slow because of having to re-learn the rules and look up errata, so the single game took the entire break. I had too many cards, so wanted to get rid of some of them. However, I didn't know which to get rid of, so decided to play the same deck the next day.
Day 5: I played Leadership/Spirit deck again, and this time lost. I think I got stuck with too many event cards. I got rid of a bunch of them, and tried again, and won. I still wasn't convinced I had "mastered" the scenerio with Leadership/Spirit, so I decided to give it a final shot the next day.
Day 6: I played Leadership/Spririt again and won. I was now relatively happy with my deck. although I knew it still had too many cards. I was ready to tackle the dreaded Tactics deck (assisted by Lore) on the next day.
Day 7: I played and lost Tactics/Lore. It was painful. I didn't feel like I was drawing bad cards or that luck was a factor; it was just that this deck really stunk as questing and threat management. And if I was having trouble on Passage through Mirkwood, which is the easiest quest, then this deck had no chance with the other quests. I knew that I would dread playing with it each time. So I decided to forget the Tactics/Lore idea, and instead pair Tactics with Spirit, so that Eowyn could help the Tactics
morons heroes quest.
Day 8: Since I decided to switch to Tactics/Spirit, this meant I had to pair Leadership with Lore. So today I built a Leadership/Lore deck. This meant I had to disassemble both of my decks first, before building the two new ones: Leadership/Lore (the new "A") and Tactics/Spirit (the new "B").
Day 9: Today I played the new Leadership/Lore deck, and loved it. Leadership cranked out resources, and Lore cranked out cards. What a natural combination! The only downside is that Bilbo died. I was playing with him in order to force myself to learn some of the non-Core heroes. I think it's the Hummerhorns that took him out. We really didn't need him, once Aragorn got a song of lore and the Steward of Gondor. Bilbo, schmilbo.
Day 10: I enjoyed the Leadership/Lore deck so much yesterday, but wanted to see if I could keep Bilbo alive, so I played it again, and won easily, but again, Bilbo died, about midway through. Hummerhorns again, I think. It didn't matter, though, thanks again to the Song of Lore and the Steward of Gondor, a great combo.
Day 11: I played Leadership/Lore a third time, and was determined to keep Bilbo alive this time. Somehow I managed. So, finally, I was satisfied with this deck, although I knew its threat management wasn't that great. The only way to reduce threat was via Gandalf, and because I was using lots of cards (for disposable allies), the relative frequence of Gandalf was pretty low. The only way to fix this would be to either play with a smaller deck or add some Spirit cards, which I could use if I put a Celebrian's Stone on Aragorn. I didn't feel comfortable mixing 3 sphere, however, and wanted to save the threat-reducing Spirit cards for the "B" deck, so I decided to stick with the existing deck.
Day 12?: I *think* I played Tactics/Spirit, but I do not remember….
…This is because now began a long series of interruptions. Family visiting, traveling, Christmas, and then getting ready to move to a new house. The cards got packed pretty early in the process (since I didn't anticipate playing much), and now we're on the road again, so I don't even have access to them.
I do, however, have LackeyCCG and OCTGN, and have installed the LotR LCG plugins for both. I've built a Leadership/Lore deck (core set only) and played through a game on each system. OCTGN feels smoother, but LackeyCCG lets me save. Testing these two systems took an additional 4 lunch breaks.
So I have spent 16 days with Lotr LCG in this second phase, and am still not done with Passage Through Mirkwood. I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel either, because I still need to decide what to do next:
a) build a Tactics/Spirit deck on LackeyCCG and/or OCTGN with Core cards only
b) build a Tactics/Spirit deck on LackeyCCG and/or OCTGN with cards through Rhosgobel (so that it is better practice when I get access to real cards)
c) expand my LackeyCCG and/or OCTGN Leadership/Lore deck to include cards through Rhosgobel
d) take my existing LackeyCCG and/or OCTGN Leadership/Lore deck to the next quest (Journey Down the Anduin)
e) spend time learning or rebinding the LackeyCCG and/or OCTGN commands so that I can play more efficiently
… and once I get access to my cards again, I will need to decide whether to:
f) find a way to improve threat reduction in my Leadership/Lore deck
g) take Tactics/Spirit through Passage through Mirkwood
h) try playing "2 handed" (with both decks at once) - the primary motivation here would be to reduce the number of times I have to win a quest before feeling like I am ready to continue to the next one; the side effect is that this might make some quests easier, which means I can progress faster
i) reduce my decks to just the core set - I like the idea of using cards which are "contemporary" with each quest (such as Passage through Mirkwood); the downside is that since I am playing solo, I might be making things harder for myself.
j) create a 3rd and 4th deck using heroes and cards I didn't use in decks A and B - this would let me use *all* the cards; it seems a shame to have some cards going completely unused
k) watch some more video tutorials, to see what other people are using for decks and strategies - this might help me reach the "good enough" point faster, so that I can progress through the quests
l) post my issue on the forum
m) go play something else, where I don't have to think as much
As you can see, there are lots of options for what to do next, and since I am playing alone, I don't have anyone pushing me one way or the other; there is no external pressure to "get on with it". Also, since this is my second playthrough, and since I know there is a lot of work to get from here to Rhosgobel, there is more pressure to do things "right" on this early quest, so that I set a precedence that will carry me swiftly and enjoyably through the other quests.
Thus, the decision paralysis.
I'm sure some of you think this over-analysis and over-documenting is a silly waste of time, but others of you might feel (or have felt) the same way. It's from the latter bunch that I'm curious to hear your thoughts.