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Battle of the Spheres


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#1 lleimmoen

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 02:48 AM

To ride the wave of the recent discussion, I make this little thread. The title is mostly missleading, I guess, but I would like to ask opinions about what other players think about the next development of the mono-sphere decks, their differences, etc. There are already two sets of cards spoilt, one completely devoted to mono-sphere decks, the other much depending on it.

I am talking about Trained for War and Against the Shadow (Tactics and Spirit events respectivelly). It has been confirmed there will be similar events for all four spheres. This is my first question, what might these do? Trained for War focuses on questing (using Attack instead of Willpower, as for Battle). Against the Shadow replaces Defence values with Willpower. These are meant to cover the weaknesses of the two spheres: lack of willpower and low defence, respectively. But what are the weaknesses of Leadership and Lore? The strengths are surely resource acceleration and card draw, respectively again. Could we see the Leadership event "buying" cards and the Lore discarding them for "money"?

The other set is the recently previewed and partly discussed attachments Tome of Atanator (made up character apparently) and Scroll of Isildur. The cost is four but is reduced for each hero with the printed icon belonging to the card's sphere. The effect lets you recycle events from the discard pile. Between these two I see much greater potential in the Leadership attachment as recycling Sneak Attack for Gandalf (or others) may be some of the strongest play; where Lore events tend to be rather weaker, in my opinion. Also, best Spirit events tend to be responses, thus not applicable here. Certainly an intriguing design though.

I am among those that hope each sphere will keep its uniqueness. And I have strong faith that it will be so even if the trial to make them playable on their own is undergone. There is the advantage of Spirit being the only sphere able to cancel when revealed effects. Compared with shadow effects, we get cancelation in each Spirit, Lore and Leadership, with Tactics possessing direct damage or out-of-turn attacks that can prevent shadow from happening also. As for treacheries, however, there is just Eleanor and A Test of Will. Given when revealed effects can often be found on about one third of the encounter deck cards (often not just treacheries but enemies and locations also), this advantage seems hard to mitigate unless other sphere get some sort of access. Given, Lore can do encounter control, it may be enough, though it is much more viable in solo play. But what about Tactics and Leadership? Will their strength only lie in swiftness, being able to sweep aside quests before running short due treachery?

Finally, I wonder about the Gondor and Outlands traits. Right now it seems Gondor is really taking hold of the Leadership sphere. We have Boromir and Imrahil and if my calculations are correct, Faramir may enter as another Leadership hero (hopefully with a lower threat cost). And we can already (partly) glance at Visionary Leader, a Leadership attachment giving a global Gondor boost. Will it be that Leadership Gondor deck becomes the next best thing? Can they do it without support of the Spirit? I myself hate to splash songs in decks without Lore (to fetch them with Master of the Forge and Rivendell Minstrel). What do you think?



#2 lleimmoen

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 06:59 PM

I am proud to observe my thread could easily contest the annual Award for the Least Exciting Post.



#3 danpoage

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 07:16 PM

I agree, I hope that they keep the spheres unique from each other. Too much overlap between spheres will make all decks seem more or less the same. I also hope they provide a lot more support to the Gondor theme. I have tried a couple of Gondor decks against Heirs of Numenor. Beregond is very good, as is Spear of the Citadel. Defender of Rammas is, for its cost, one of the best allies in the game. Even so, Gondor is not yet a top tier deck archetype, which is a necessity for the more difficult scenarios like HoN. I look forward to seeing what new strategies and archetypes Against the Shadow introduces.


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#4 lleimmoen

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:13 AM

You are right, Gondor is as of yet not good enough to stand a good chance against the majority of quests. It is sort of obvious since their heroes have willpower of 1, and Imrahil 2; and even the Heirs of Numenor quests need willpower at some point. Now, I think Gondor is getting much help in that area in the near future, and especially such decks that can incorporate Outlands. My biggest wonder is whether we shall see new way(s) to counter treachery, since they seem to be getting more and more lethal and there are basically no new ways to avoid them.



#5 richsabre

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 07:58 AM

yeah we need more treachery handling cards….not in the 'pay 1 to cancel last treachery effect' type but the subtle types like encounter deck control. i know we already have several (rumour from the earth/ denethor/ risk some light and so on) but i do think it has seen the least attention of all the card types and as you say, they are indeed getting more lethal.

(im proud that i managed to write all that without once referring to sleeping sentry…..oh crap, just did….)

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#6 Gizlivadi

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 11:23 AM

It's not that the OP was unexciting, it's just that I don't really have anything to say about it. I agree completely on all your points, and so I honestly don't have anything to add.


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#7 richsabre

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 12:08 PM

Gizlivadi said:

It's not that the OP was unexciting, it's just that I don't really have anything to say about it. I agree completely on all your points, and so I honestly don't have anything to add.

a great statement is one you cant add anything to….. :)

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#8 DevastazioneH88

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 01:32 PM

lleimmoen said:

 

The other set is the recently previewed and partly discussed attachments Tome of Atanator (made up character apparently) and Scroll of Isildur.

 

 

Atanator was an ancient King of Gondor



#9 Rapier

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:27 PM

Personally I don't feel that the spheres necessarily need strong themes intrinsic to them.

I feel that the themes of the game come through in things like the hero selection and the traits (dwarfs, Gondor). I don't really know if the different spheres really add that much.

 

When leadership got +1 attack (for 1 resource, and with the ability to move it around) a lot of people said that was leadership stepping on tactic's toes. But I haven't really noticed it effected the game that much. Equally I don't think reduced threat necessarily has to be kept in spirit for the feel of the game to be preserved.

I don't object to the spheres having certian play styles but I don't think they need to be as clear cut as rock paper scissors. Having more spirit cards that reduce threat, or deal with treachery still preserves the feel of the different decks. 

I think a bigger issue would be that I wanted the different races to feel more distinct, I want traits to matter more than they do. More cards that only work with certain traits, I want Gondor, Silvan, Nolder, Rohan, Dwarfs, Eagles, Hobbits, Beornings, Outlanders to all have emergent styles of play that make them different decks because the cards with those sub-types interact differently. (Good examples would be things like the silvan unit that makes elves heal when they exhaust, totally unique effect, also basically irrelivent currently, but you can see how silvan might work based on that effect).

For me the sphere distinctions serve more as an added factor to influence card selection (a deck building game without enough factors would be quite stale). I think the massive amount of Dwarf based cards has really hurt the game. Dwarfs work accross all spheres, and have multiple styles of play that means that deck building with dwarfs lets you do lots of things.

Eagles by contrast are basically just tactics, they always play like tactics. Functionally choosing tactics and choosing eagles (to be the core theme of your deck) play the same. 

 



#10 Gizlivadi

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 04:34 PM

Rapier said:

 

Personally I don't feel that the spheres necessarily need strong themes intrinsic to them.

I feel that the themes of the game come through in things like the hero selection and the traits (dwarfs, Gondor). I don't really know if the different spheres really add that much.

 

When leadership got +1 attack (for 1 resource, and with the ability to move it around) a lot of people said that was leadership stepping on tactic's toes. But I haven't really noticed it effected the game that much. Equally I don't think reduced threat necessarily has to be kept in spirit for the feel of the game to be preserved.

I don't object to the spheres having certian play styles but I don't think they need to be as clear cut as rock paper scissors. Having more spirit cards that reduce threat, or deal with treachery still preserves the feel of the different decks. 

I think a bigger issue would be that I wanted the different races to feel more distinct, I want traits to matter more than they do. More cards that only work with certain traits, I want Gondor, Silvan, Nolder, Rohan, Dwarfs, Eagles, Hobbits, Beornings, Outlanders to all have emergent styles of play that make them different decks because the cards with those sub-types interact differently. (Good examples would be things like the silvan unit that makes elves heal when they exhaust, totally unique effect, also basically irrelivent currently, but you can see how silvan might work based on that effect).

For me the sphere distinctions serve more as an added factor to influence card selection (a deck building game without enough factors would be quite stale). I think the massive amount of Dwarf based cards has really hurt the game. Dwarfs work accross all spheres, and have multiple styles of play that means that deck building with dwarfs lets you do lots of things.

Eagles by contrast are basically just tactics, they always play like tactics. Functionally choosing tactics and choosing eagles (to be the core theme of your deck) play the same. 

 

 

 

 

Well yeah, I agree a 100% with you here Rapier. In fact, that's exactly how I wish this game was, and that's exactly what I loved about the Lotr tcg (the one based on the movies), the cards were in fact divided by culture, so it was really easy right from the start to make Elven decks, Dwarven decks, Gondor decks, etc, and consistent combinations of these, very much unlike this game.

The problem is, if you're already dividing your cards and your resource/cost system on spheres and you also want to focus on traits/races, then what's the point of even having spheres in the first place? In fact, when you look at the Demo cards for this game, you can actually see they tried to go in that route (there were trait icons on each character), but ultimately desisted on it, because dividing cards by sphere and trait would be just too much, and made the whole concept of sphere rather pointless.

Do I wish they had gone for the Trait route? Yes, it would have made everything just so much cleaner, much more elegant, instead of scattering traits, characters and events among spheres that, while with a cool concept for each of them, are not really consistent on their own. (After all, what in the Seven Hells do Eagles have to do with Boromir?)

But yeah, I think all we can do is just wait for more cards to come. After a few expansions and cycles, we'll eventually be able to build good decks based on cultures/traits/certain parts of the book, etc. There are just so few player cards in each AP and Expansion that we'll have to wait a looong while, I think.


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#11 Emrad

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 04:10 AM

danpoage said:

 I have tried a couple of Gondor decks against Heirs of Numenor. […] Gondor is not yet a top tier deck archetype, which is a necessity for the more difficult scenarios like HoN. I look forward to seeing what new strategies and archetypes Against the Shadow introduces.

I have to disagree with this; I found the Gondor cards of Heir of Numenor surprisingly strong. The new scenarios mainly need to be handled with a large number of allies, and this is exactly what the Gondor provides.

I still keep getting destroyed during most of my attemps, so I guess I kind of agree that there's still room for enhancement. This reminds me much of the early days of Khazad Dûm during which every scenario seemed impossible and is now merely a cute picnic.



#12 Rapier

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 04:35 AM

Gizlivadi said:

Well yeah, I agree a 100% with you here Rapier. In fact, that's exactly how I wish this game was, and that's exactly what I loved about the Lotr tcg (the one based on the movies), the cards were in fact divided by culture, so it was really easy right from the start to make Elven decks, Dwarven decks, Gondor decks, etc, and consistent combinations of these, very much unlike this game.

The problem is, if you're already dividing your cards and your resource/cost system on spheres and you also want to focus on traits/races, then what's the point of even having spheres in the first place? In fact, when you look at the Demo cards for this game, you can actually see they tried to go in that route (there were trait icons on each character), but ultimately desisted on it, because dividing cards by sphere and trait would be just too much, and made the whole concept of sphere rather pointless.

Do I wish they had gone for the Trait route? Yes, it would have made everything just so much cleaner, much more elegant, instead of scattering traits, characters and events among spheres that, while with a cool concept for each of them, are not really consistent on their own. (After all, what in the Seven Hells do Eagles have to do with Boromir?)

But yeah, I think all we can do is just wait for more cards to come. After a few expansions and cycles, we'll eventually be able to build good decks based on cultures/traits/certain parts of the book, etc. There are just so few player cards in each AP and Expansion that we'll have to wait a looong while, I think.

 

I'm not sure that dropping speheres entirely would be a good idea. A good deck building games needs multiple levels of complexity, or esentially restrictions on the card pool to make deck building challanaging and interresting.

 

For example: Having gondor heroes and cards that are tactics or leadership now presents you with questions in deck building. Do you want to mix the two spheres (which means more complicated resource management is necesary), alternatively if the card pool was large enough you could do gondor in tactics or gondor in leadership (which hopefully would play similarly because of the use of the gondor trait, but would feel different because of tactics or leadership as the emphassis).

Initially I think that having the spheres be distinct (no overlap of abilities between them) was necessary because the traits just can't be dealt with adequately in the limited card pool of the core set (and even the first cycle). However I feel that as we get more support for traits and start to see how they play differently (eagles are mainly short term rewards and sacrifies, Noldor have the best weapons and items but their allies are expensive to keep in play), then the need to keep the spheres 100% distinct is no longer as crucial.

Really I see the spheres as being broad catagories, and the traits are about specific details. I think the traits need to be very distinct (so that choosing gondor or dwarfs is a truely meaningful choice) but Leadership dwarfs and tactics dwarfs should be different flavours of the same play style.

(I actually started to write a more in depth article on the levels of complexity in this game at some point, I might finish it up and post it).



#13 lleimmoen

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 07:10 AM

DevastazioneH88 said:

lleimmoen said:

 

 

The other set is the recently previewed and partly discussed attachments Tome of Atanator (made up character apparently) and Scroll of Isildur.

 

 

 

 

Atanator was an ancient King of Gondor

I would have thought as much but Encyclopedia of Arda does not have this entry, and I think they are very credible. Would you provide a link?



#14 richsabre

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 07:32 AM

lleimmoen said:

DevastazioneH88 said:

 

lleimmoen said:

 

 

The other set is the recently previewed and partly discussed attachments Tome of Atanator (made up character apparently) and Scroll of Isildur.

 

 

 

 

Atanator was an ancient King of Gondor

 

 

I would have thought as much but Encyclopedia of Arda does not have this entry, and I think they are very credible. Would you provide a link?

looking in the trilogy appenidices there was an atanatar who was king of gondor……..


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#15 lleimmoen

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 07:43 AM

While I care very much about the traits - I really want to make thematic decks - and thematic decks only in the future, I also very much enjoy the idea of sphere. I am very much looking forward to one day building a Noldor Spirit deck or Silvan Lore deck, but that day is probably not very near (though time seems to fly more and more speedily).

And to get a full Beorning deck would be a bliss, but I have to be sceptical about such great prospect.

Thanks to you all for the responses. I know this was done a bit ahead of its time, it is just that the anticipation sometimes trumps wisdom. Let us all resume the talk when more previews appear.



#16 lleimmoen

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 08:23 AM

ps: I found the note about Atanator in the Tale of the Years, strange the name did not make it into the Encyclopedia; it was even hard to find much about the character on the internet - barely mentioned beside this thread, haha.



#17 richsabre

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:52 PM

lleimmoen said:

ps: I found the note about Atanator in the Tale of the Years, strange the name did not make it into the Encyclopedia; it was even hard to find much about the character on the internet - barely mentioned beside this thread, haha.

this is driving my curiosity mad….is there actually an atanator in existance, or are we dealing with a typo from the king atanatar? i checked again in the lines of kings of gondor but couldnt find anything other than atanatar

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#18 lleimmoen

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 12:00 AM

That's what it looks like. There was a typo and ffg just went with it, I guess. I don't want to be wrong again but I find it now almost a certainty.



#19 klaymen_sk

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 03:50 AM

Typos are quite normal in FFG products, so I am not surprised at all.


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#20 richsabre

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 03:57 AM

ah i see…..it was just driving me mad that there may have been some tolkien lore that i had missed out on haha

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