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About Rob_Oz

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  1. The answer lies in playing the "Passing of the Grey Company" quest. Edit - answer provided above.
  2. To add some approximate dates to this information, I received my copy of The Black Riders courtesy of a friend who purchased it for me at GenCon 2013. I had it in my hands in late August 2013 and had played through the three scenarios by October 2013. Hard to believe that's 3+ years ago, now.
  3. Yes, we will visit Dale. Maybe in a PoD, maybe in a cycle. If it's a cycle, it will take us time to get there. Why? Because through the Deluxe cycles the designers have established that we are taking a "Tour of Middle Earth", with the four most recent cycles showing a deliberate geographic course. The first three cycles did not seem to fit into a directional pattern, but all three cycles took place in different areas of Middle Earth: 1) Shadows Over Mirkwood - Mirkwood/Anduin/Rhovanion 2) Dwarrowdelf - Misty Mountains, more or less 3) Against the Shadow - Gondor The latest four cycles seem to show a course the designers have laid out intentionally: 4) Ringmaker - Rohan/Dunland/Southern Eriador 5) Angmar Awakened - Eriador. At this point, we've continued northwest from southern Eriador into the rest of Eriador. 6) Dawnchaser - Grey Havens/ west into Belegaer (The Great Sea), we then sail south on the Great Sea to the Bay of Belfalas and Umbar. 7) Haradrim - picking up directly after the end of the Dawnchaser cycle, we start in Umbar and then head east into the desert of Far Harad. Again, keep in mind that the stories in the Deluxe boxes and APs specifically mention the heroes moving from Rohan to Rivendell (Eriador) to the Grey Havens and then ending/starting in Umbar. This is clearly an intentional route established by the designers. This course suggests that the following cycles after Haradrim will be Khand/Rhun or possibly Mordor. To my knowledge, little to zero textual material exists for Khand and Rhun, so who knows what the designers might create for those regions. Perhaps nothing, since essentially nothing exists. Mordor is, of course, highly developed, so a cycle here seems very likely to my mind. It may be saved for the last cycle of product, however, as it would seemingly be a climatic series of quests. This would then leave the Iron Hills, Erebor, the Withered Heath and Dale as areas for one other cycle. So again, yes, we will visit Dale, though it may not be extensively. With the directional precedent set by the last four cycles, I'd be very surprised if the designers set the next cycle anywhere but Khand/Rhun/Mordor or possibly the Iron Hills. Could they break from this pattern? Sure. But that would be a significant departure from the route we've traveled the past four years (last four cycles). TL; DR - We are doing a tour of Middle Earth. Dale is a prominent enough to earn a stop on the tour.
  4. I could see Asfaloth as a supplementary location control card without Glorfindel, but not as the primary means of location control. I wonder if the 11 decks running ally Glorfindel in dalestephenson's Rings DB check realized they don't get the full benefit of Asfaloth. Or perhaps they include Sword Thain for Glorfindel + Asfaloth to make it work.
  5. Site appears to be down. I was also getting error messages when trying to access it last night.
  6. Greatly enjoyed the box. Quick thoughts: Escape from Umbar: Managed to win this quest on the first try, but suspect this is the most difficult in the box. Desert Crossing: Thought it was one of the more successful wilderness travel quests in the game. Long Arm of Mordor: Most difficult of the three quests for me personally, but probably not as hard as Escape from Umbar. Agree with Seastan's assessment that it's the best of the the three prisoner quests (Escape from Dol Guldor, Escape from Mount Gram), particularly because it doesn't totally hamstring the player(s). I thought Mount Gram was also a solid prisoner quest, but this quest is not nearly as finicky to set up. I also found the rescuing mechanic to be well-executed. It's challenging to deal with, but simple to understand. The "first card played each phase does not require a resource match" was also well done, as it provides the players options despite missing their heroes. Also really liked the Objective heroes. They definitely felt more interesting to use than Objective allies. I thought the box did a solid job of providing us three engaging quests without a lot of overhead to manage. The busiest quest to me was the first, as a large amount of enemies can make it onto the board. The other two were pretty easy to work with from a board management/clutter standpoint. Additionally, I enjoyed the encounter side quests because there were fewer of them and they were not nearly as brutal as the Lost Realm cycle. To me, that provided for more variable and interesting game play. While I liked the Lost Realm encounter side quests, I thought many of them were so overwhelming as to be mandatory. Finally, I enjoyed the story presented in the quests and the rules insert, particularly as it fed into the final quest and its conclusion. I am definitely excited to play the first AP!
  7. Glad you are enjoying Eldahir. I was really dubious at first, but after using him for a bit I really grew to like him. In a Leadership/Lore deck having the ability to confirm a shadow card and then potentially have a 4 defense/Sentinel ally to defend with is really, really strong (Sentinel is obviously not relevant in solo, which I think you tend to play). In many cases, there's often only really one enemy I fear when making multiple blocks. Confirming whether that enemy has a shadow card, and if so, what it does is often enough information for me to set up my entire defense. Eldahir provides that confirmation. Heck, since he's Leadership, you could even go really crazy and try to Sword Thain him since he's unique. If you have resource laundering available, you could then use that extra resource he's generating to pay for his ability.
  8. Asking for input on the following card interactions: Mordor Warg (from the Mordor Orcs encounter set in Sands of Harad) Enemy, Creature 2 Threat 2 Attack 2 Defense 2 Hit Points Card text: When Revealed: Attach to an Orc enemy and return that enemy to the staging area. Limit 1 per enemy (Counts as Mount attachment with the text: "Attached enemy gets +2 Threat, +2 Attack, +2 Defense, and +2 hit points. Forced: When attached enemy leaves play, add Mordor Warg to the staging area"). Assume a player later engages the enemy it attached to and then plays Revealed in Wrath (blanks an enemy card's text box for a phase) on Mordor Warg during the combat phase, what happens to Mordor Warg? Does it immediately detach from the enemy it was attached to, as its text box is now blank? Or does it stay attached to the enemy it attached to since that occurred in staging as a "When Revealed" effect. If the former, I assume it then reverts to an enemy engaged with the player that played Revealed in Wrath on it. If the later, and the player who blanked it with RiW then kills the enemy it was attached to, does MW then become an enemy engaged with that player?
  9. Maybe Narvi's Belt and/or Captain's Wisdom for resource smoothing/acceleration? Belt would go onto Gimli, of course, while Captain's Wisdom could be used by all three Heroes. Legolas and Gimli's abilities could probably provide readying tricks in conjunction with CW. Dwarven Shield seems like it would be a good fit also. Also consider swapping out A Good Harvest for A Very Good Tale which works very, very well with Sneak Attack/Gandalf shenanigans. I'll also play devil's advocate and say that Eldahir IS good in a Leadership/Lore deck with resource acceleration. I'm using 1 copy in my Denethor/Erestor/Loragorn deck and he can be quite solid, as I typically have resources to spare. I'll use his ability against one enemy to reveal a shadow card. If there's no shadow effect, then that typically allows Denethor with Armored Destrier to block, take little to no damage, ready, discard another enemy's shadow card, and then block that enemy. That's two enemy attacks I just neutered. If Eldahir's ability does reveal a shadow effect and it's +damage, then I can block with him at a 4 defense and then let Denethor do his thing with the Destrier against 1-2 other enemies. Sure, some shadow effects might still screw me even with Eldahir revealing it, but paying 1 Lore resource to confirm a shadow card should never be dismissed out of hand. A few other points to consider with Eldahir. 1) Getting him into play via Sneak Attack/Gandalf/A Very Good Tale shenanigans is absolutely viable. Sneak Gandalf into play, let Gandalf do his thing and then A Very Good Tale out Eldahir for defense. 2) Eldahir's ability reads Action: Spend 1 Lore resource to look at a facedown shadow card dealt to an engaged enemy. Note that's not "an enemy engaged with you", that's "an engaged enemy". That allows the ability to be used on a shadow card on any enemy, not just one engaged with you. Since Eldahir has Sentinel, he can then potentially block for another player. 3) Eldahir is not obligated to block the enemy he used his ability on. Nor does he exhaust when he uses it. And any player can pay for the ability. Is he expensive? Yes. Is he a suitable fit in a wide array of decks? No. But in the right deck he is a very worthy addition. My guess is that, like many cards, most players just looked at him and said he's way too expensive and he's unique. Conclusion, not worth it, not playable, not trying him. And therefore never gained experience actually using the card.
  10. Had a chance to play quest #2, Desert Crossing. The quest is exactly what it says it is; a classic desert trek. Think Dune or Athas (if you're familiar with the Dungeons and Dragons Dark Sun setting). Players must deal with the Temperature mechanic (as revealed in an earlier preview article), desert creatures, desert features (locations) and weather treacheries that play off the desert setting and the Temperature mechanic. Thematically, the heat, thirst, weather conditions, and marauding desert beasts slowly wear away the heroes' stamina over the course of the quest. I managed a win with the same two decks I played against the first scenario, a Trap/Dunedain deck and a Doomed/Beefy ally deck. I quested through with exactly enough willpower to complete the last stage, thanks to Sword that was Broken + a double Faramir boost off of Grim Resolve. I avoided the smattering of encounter side quests in my play-through of Desert Crossing. Hitting one or more of these side quests would have really screwed me up. On the surface, the quest doesn't seem too hard, but it has numerous minor card effects that I think make it deceptively hard. Need to play it a few more times to get a better handle on it. For those who are interested, difficulties are: Escape from Umbar: DL 5 Desert Crossing: DL 6 The Long Arm of Mordor: DL 7 (haven't played this yet). FFG difficulty levels are notoriously unreliable, but I'd say the ratings for the first two quests are in the ball-park, though I think I'd bump the first quest up to a 6.
  11. Agree with Bullroarer. I think the theme is quite solid. As he indicated, the quest begins immediately after the conclusion of City of the Corsairs. Narrow Alleyway was one of my favorite cards in the encounter deck. It grants a previously unseen positive effect for a location which later has a drawback. Furthermore, the card is not plentiful, so you have to decide whether you want to use it quickly or save it for an enemy you deem worse. The location cards generally operate on the chase theme when they become the active location - some sort of mechanic will trigger that forces you to engage enemies or remove progress from the main quest. One of the encounter side quests has some new tricks to it as well. Thankfully, I managed to avoid it in the two games I played. The quest concludes with the heroes fleeing out the gates of Umbar and into the desert. That scene segues right into the second quest, which I have not played yet. I usually try to win about 3 games against a non-brutal quest, so I'll likely try Escape from Umbar a couple more times before moving on to Desert Crossing (Quest #2). I did glimpse briefly at the encounter cards for Desert Crossing; the desert-themed artwork looked great! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was oddly ambivalent about the Harad cycle despite being tolerant of the designers forays into material that could be deemed un-thematic or not holding true to Middle Earth lore. But as I sifted through the encounter cards for Sands, I found myself feeling pretty motivated to play the quests. Just glanced very briefly at The Long Arm of Mordor. It seems to continue the escape/travel theme by having the heroes make their way toward a jungle. I could see this cycle being the reverse of Dream-chaser. In that cycle we were the pursuers. In this, we appear to be the pursued. I got the distinct sense that Matt and Caleb have decided to more strongly connect the narrative for the Deluxe cycles (as we saw at the end of Angmar Awakened and beginning of Dream-chaser). The beginning of Sands certainly seems to continue this approach. I like it.
  12. The first quest is almost entirely about enemy management. Indeed, you cannot progress to stage 2 without all players being entirely free of engaged enemies. The same is true for the final stage - victory cannot occur until all players are free of engaged enemies. The quest stages do not permit over-questing; that is to say they are capped, so you can't stockpile a reserve of progress tokens. Furthermore, the quest has numerous ways of removing progress tokens. Losing progress tokens combined with having to be entirely free of engaged enemies can make completing a stage tricky. If you read the most recent preview article, you also know that the Objective card, Seize Them, will cause you to auto-lose the game if no progress has been placed on the main quest during a round. There are some encounter side quests to contend with as well. As Bullroarer mentioned above, Archery is abundant. I played 2 handed against the quest with a Dunedain/Trap deck (Haldir/Damrod/Amartheul) and a Doomed/Beefy Ally deck (Denethor/Erestor/Loragorn). I went into the quest entirely blind, but found those decks to be relatively effective against it. Hitting Valor via the Doomed deck (Legacy of Numenor and Deep Knowledge) can allow the Dunedain deck to sweep the board free of enemies in one turn via a Valorous Hour of Wrath. Amartheul blocks with Protector of Lorien and Destrier to aid against shadow cards. Boosted Haldir (Ranger Spear, Dunedain Mark, Rivendell Blade) and Amartheul can often kill all the enemies in one fell swoop. I've played the quest twice so far. I believe I won the first time, but may have overlooked some card effects, so I played it again tonight and won via Hour of Wrath. The quest is fun; it does a good job of creating a chase scene as the encounter deck has numerous ways of forcing you to engage enemies (Locations play a part in evoking a chase-like feel as well). The art and mechanics of the Harad (Southrons) is quite reminiscent of Into Ithilien, which I just happened to play within the last week. Enjoying the box so far!
  13. Hour of Wrath may be of use against the first scenario.
  14. Long time Tolkien and LOTR:LCG fan here. Generally have enjoyed the designers' decisions to take the game in new directions, even if they don't always feel quite true to the lore. For example, I really enjoyed the last cycle even though little written material exists regarding maritime exploration of Middle Earth (yes, there is some, but it's fairly general in nature). For some reason I didn't feel that much excitement about Sands. Indeed, I felt rather ambivalent and a bit uncertain. Just picked up my copy of Sands this afternoon and after quickly assembling the first quest and encounter decks, I now find myself feeling really, really amped up to experience Harad!
  15. Epic victory against "Siege" today at our Fellowship Event in the VA/MD/DC area. Multiple New Age Outlands decks (1 Outlands was straight mono-leadership/Gondor [Denethor, Leadership Imrahil, Hirluin], the other Erestor-based [Erestor, Denethor, Hirluin]) and two Dwarf decks did the heavy lifting. Outland decks were supported by an Elrond deck each for healing and utility (Thror's Map, cancellation, card draw/deck search). Dwarves were all in their own staging area (E). Two players only at each stage also certainly helped reduce the amount of Encounter deck awfulness coming out.
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