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Star Lord

Question about buying this game as a new player with a budget

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I was a longtime CCG player who had quit for a long time, but decided to return recently with LCG, starting with Warhammer 40K Conquest. LOTR is another franchise that I love, and I've been thinking about getting into LOTR the Card Game as well. However, after spending money purchasing Conquest's Core sets plus Wolf Packs, my money is limited and I can't keep spending when I have a family to take care of. I see that for LOTR, they have Core set, Deluxe expansions, Saga expansions, and Cycles. If I only buy the Core sets and the expansions (but no Cycles), the expense would shoot up to over $200. 

 

So for a guy who wants to buy this game but doesn't want to spend over $200, what expansions should I get aside from the Core set? And is one Core set enough, or should I buy more than one (like Conquest)? Thanks.

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So first off: helpful new player's buying guide here at Tales from the Cards.  Gives some descriptions of the packs and recommendations about what to by based on the kind of play experience you are looking for.

 

You can absolutely get by with one core set, but if you are a power gamer and like to have *the best* decks you need 2 core sets, and some people even buy 3.  Why?  You can include up to 3 copies of a given card in your deck; there are only 1 or 2 copies of certain 'power cards' included in the core set.  But certainly you should start with 1 core set and only buy another if you know you want it.  I've been playing for year and only have 1 core set, and have no desire for another.

 

Then for what expansions to buy: many people suggest going in order of release, and I agree, but with a limited budget you might not want to do that.  You might find it fun to buy the core set and then start picking up the Saga expansions, either jump right into the LotR saga with the Black Riders expansion, or you can go with The Hobbit's Over Hill and Under Hill.  Understand, though, that either of these would make for a fairly challenging play experience coming straight out of the core set without more of a card pool, but they also come with some good player cards and get you set up to make a pretty good dwarf or hobbit deck.  

 

If you want to pick up any of the little Adventure Packs, you will need the corresponding Deluxe Expansion first (if you want to play the AP's included quest--you can use the player cards regardless).  If you want a particular hero, you can always pick up that particular AP and forget about the quest if you don't have the corresponding Deluxe Expansion.  

 

Do yourself a favor and don't start with the later Deluxes, especially Heirs of Numenor, as they will be severely challenging with only a core set!

 

That's all I've got for, hopefully gives you some food for thought.  It's a great game, if you decide to take the plunge you won't be disappointed!

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One great thing about this game is that there is not the need to buy things as there is in a competitive game. With Warhammer, Star Wars, NetRunner, etc., if you play in tournaments, there are going to be certain cards that playskill alone cannot overcome; you either own them, or you're not going to win. 

 

LOTR is nice because the game can grow and evolve at whatever pace you want it to. I got it on day one, and so had the core set for a while and had a lot of fun with it. The core set scenarios can be tough with only one core set, ironically. 

 

A blog called Tales from the Cards has some good buying guides:
https://talesfromthecards.wordpress.com/new-player-guides/

 

My advice is to play the game in the order that the cards were originally released. But, I am biased, because I started playing right away, I love the game, and that was my experience. There has been some power creep in terms of both the encounter deck and the player cards, but the developers for this game are amazing and it shouldn't be a major concern. That said, if you only have cards from the core set and the first cycle, and you try to play the newest scenarios and expansions, you're going to have a rough time. 

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that LOTR players should love losing! The encounter deck is our only opponent; how boring to beat a new scenario on the first play through! Think of the scenarios like puzzles to be solved. Go in blind, let the encounter deck surprise you, and then possibly adjust your deck slightly. You do not need to build a new deck for each scenario. But, some scenarios, I have noticed, will get me to "sideboard" (to steal a MTG term) a little.

 

You'll love the game!

Edited by divinityofnumber

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I don't agree with buying them in order, particularly because this can get costly all at once and might even take you through some quests that, in hindsight, aren't as good as later releases. The big point of this game is enjoying the challenge, maybe with a team, and finding ways to beat the quest. You can jump in anywhere; the designers normally do a great job of giving player cards that help tackle the challenges at hand. I suggest finding a theme you enjoy most, such as Gondor, Elves, Rohan, Dwarves, and dig into quests that work with that race. Khazad-Dum and the cycle that uses that expansion has a lot of favorite cards and quests, and the most recent voice of isengard and the ringmaker cycle has some superbly designed quests. Any deluxe expansion and the 6 relevant adventures in the cycle will give tons of customizability and variety in quests.

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Thanks everyone's helpful suggestions. It seems very daunting for a new player to get into this game, and the blog Tales From The Cards helped a lot in explaining what a new player should get to start playing from the beginning. Buying a Core set plus the Shadows of Mirkwood Cycle seems reasonable in terms of cost for me, but I'm unsure whether to buy more Core sets. I do wish I know where I can buy aside from Amazon for the best deal, though. 

Edited by Star Lord

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I only had one core set for a long, long time. Eventually, I saw that CoolStuffInc.com had them on sale for $19.99 and I ordered two more. eBay is another option; I have seen some core sets sell for reasonably low prices there. 

 

Thanks, maybe I'll just get one Core set then. Can you tell me what are the Nightmare Decks for this game? Are they needed to play the game?

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My advice:

  • Buy just 1 Core Set. 40$ for ~20 cards is just too much for solo players, and is expensive for 2 players too. Consider that you won't ever need half the cards (the Encounter and Hero cards) of the extra Core Sets. I have everything published, and extra Core Sets are not needed to enjoy the game. Consider it only for 3 or more players. In the long run, 1 collection is enough for 4 players.
  • First buy deluxe boxes. They give you 3 quests for the price of 2 Adventure Packs. Also, this will let you pick adventure packs on quest/player card basis. As said before, there is not competitive environment, and you can expand your colletion anyway you want.
  • Forget about the Nightmare packs until you have a big card library.

To summarize: Buy and play the Core Set. If you want to buy something else because of the shipping cost or whatever, get Khazad-dum too. Don't buy more until you comprehend the game and you are sure that you wan't more. I know people who play competitive card games but don't like this game.

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First buy deluxe boxes. They give you 3 quests for the price of 2 Adventure Packs. Also, this will let you pick adventure packs on quest/player card basis. As said before, there is not competitive environment, and you can expand your colletion anyway you want.

Not sure I agree with this. I'd advice him to go for a specific deluxe accompanied by the following cycle for player card and story consistency, and especially if he's curious about a specific race or theme. So e.g: as a reasonably experienced player (I have played for about two years now), after the core set I'd go for The Black Riders and Khazad-Dûm + the Dwarrowdelf packs. Not only does that provide you with dwarf and hobbit cards, but there are all kinds of powerful cards in Dwarrowdelf. After that I'd look at Shadows of Mirkwood and see what's in the individual packs to decide which ones to buy, if any - and after that, tackle Númenor or Isengard.

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One problem is that the community here all love the game, we all bought into it in different ways, and each have a bias toward our own good experiences.

I wouldn't worry too much or overthink it. Get a core set and play it to death: learn the rules thoroughly; use all four of the core set decks; experiment building your own decks; try playing with different numbers of players, etc.

Then, after you feel that you have totally exhausted the core set, branch out and get some more stuff. As I mentioned initially, the game can grow at whatever pace you choose. If you choose to buy one new adventure pack each month, it is cheap.

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Right now I'm planning to buy one Core set, plus Khazad-dum deluxe expansion, Dwarrowelf Cycle, and the Black Riders saga expansion. I plan to buy the Shadows of Mirkwood Cycle and The Road Darkens saga expansion later on. Is this a good idea?

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Right now I'm planning to buy one Core set, plus Khazad-dum deluxe expansion, Dwarrowelf Cycle, and the Black Riders saga expansion. I plan to buy the Shadows of Mirkwood Cycle and The Road Darkens saga expansion later on. Is this a good idea?

Good plan. Khazadum, dwarrodelf and black riders are, for me, some of the most fun I've had with the game. The mirkwood cycle felt like the designers were still finding their feet, and from khazadum onwards they started nailing it. Later cycles get harder, so the dwarrodelf cycle seems like the best balance of play experience and theme for a limited budget. And Black Riders is fantastic.

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That's great! I think I'll go for it. Question: when you construct a deck, do they put constraints on the cards you can put in there for thematic reasons? Seems like you have to adhere to particular rules of deck construction depending on the campaign, or can we put whatever cards we have regardless of campaign?

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I haven't played much campaign mode, but as far as I can remember there are no restrictions on theme. Though there is undoubtedly synergy within the races (Dain boosts all Dwarf characters, Celeborn all Silvan elves etc). I think you can use any player cards regardless of scenario, as long as two unique cards with the same name aren't in play at the same time (hero Faramir, ally Faramir and objective-ally Faramir, for instance). But you can bring Galadriel and Thorin to Moria, or Sam and Theodred to Erebor.

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That's great! I think I'll go for it. Question: when you construct a deck, do they put constraints on the cards you can put in there for thematic reasons? Seems like you have to adhere to particular rules of deck construction depending on the campaign, or can we put whatever cards we have regardless of campaign?

 

nope, no thematic restrictions. It is only up to you to.

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https://talesfromthecards.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/new-player-buying-guide/

 

I'm looking at the guide for new players who can't spend too much, and the blogger gives this buying guide for people with a budget:

 

Postscript: Ok, ok, thanks for the buying guide, but I only have around $45-$60 to spend. Just tell me what to buy!

If you are looking for strong cards and like Dwarves then… buy The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill and Return to Mirkwood. Then when you have enough, buy Khazad-Dum.

If you are looking for strong cards and like Noldor Elves then… buy Khazad Dum, Foundations of Stone, and Shadow and Flame.

If you are looking for strong cards and like Silvan Elvens then… buy Voice of Isengard, The Dunland Trap, and Trouble in Tharbad.

If you are looking for strong cards and like Rohan then… buy Voice of Isengard, The Dunland Trap, and one of the Shadows of Mirkwood Adventure Packs

If you are looking for strong cards and like Gondor/Outlands then… buy Heirs of Numenor, The Steward’s Fear, and possibly Assault on Osgiliath.

If you are looking for strong cards and like Hobbits then… buy The Black Riders and The Dead Marshes.

If you are looking for fun quests to play then… buy Khazad Dum, The Watcher in the Water, and Foundations of Stone. Alternatively, buy the two Hobbit boxes or The Black Riders and The Road Darkens.

 

So if I follow this guide and only buy selective expansions based on power cards and faction staples, would that help me get most of the cards we need for competitive decks without buying all the expansions and cycles? And since I'm interested in Nightmare Decks, will the cards I get from this buying guide help me make decks that can survive Nightmare campaigns?

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You can build some decent decks if you just selectively buy for power. You may not have the optimal decks for every quest, but you should at least be able to be competitive. If you really want to be able to tackle Nightmare, then your best bet is to focus on Dwarves, Outlands (basically The Steward's Fear pack), and/or the Noldor Elves line up there, which gives you access to Glorfindel and Elrond. Also, be aware that Nightmare quests themselves can vary wildly in difficulty. I have a separate Nightmare Buying Guide on the site that can give you a little bit of an idea of which Nightmare packs are more manageable and which are just brutal (of course, this can be subjective). If you really want to dive into Nightmare, I suggest just buying maybe one or two and seeing how the difficulty is before diving into more.

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You can build some decent decks if you just selectively buy for power. You may not have the optimal decks for every quest, but you should at least be able to be competitive. If you really want to be able to tackle Nightmare, then your best bet is to focus on Dwarves, Outlands (basically The Steward's Fear pack), and/or the Noldor Elves line up there, which gives you access to Glorfindel and Elrond. Also, be aware that Nightmare quests themselves can vary wildly in difficulty. I have a separate Nightmare Buying Guide on the site that can give you a little bit of an idea of which Nightmare packs are more manageable and which are just brutal (of course, this can be subjective). If you really want to dive into Nightmare, I suggest just buying maybe one or two and seeing how the difficulty is before diving into more.

Thanks for the info. First of all, I just want to say that I enjoyed reading your blog very much. For someone like me who still has a lot to learn about this game, I felt like I found out many things about this game just by reading your thoughts and analysis regarding each expansion. Since I can't buy everything due to a limited budget, I'm just gonna get the ones you recommended to buy for power cards and for factions. I do wonder if I will be able to make several thematic decks based on race (like hobbits, Gandalf, Elves, etc), or will there be many cards that have to be shared between the decks.

Edited by Star Lord

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I'm playing for a while now and I really enjoyed the deck building part of it, so I started with some Deluxe expansions before getting to the smal AP since there are more heroes and player cards inside these packs.

 

1. Core (12 heroes)

2. Black Riders (4 heroes, +1)

3. Khazad Dum (2 heroes)

 

From here on I just got to the quests that seemed fun to me. I don't have a very big budget either (but I spread the cost over years now.....)

 

AP's that have very strong heroes:

- Foundations of Stone

- Shadows and Flame

- Return from Mirkwood

- The Dead Marshes

- Celebrimbor's Secret

 

AP's with very fun heroes:

- Conflict at the Carrock

- Hills of Emyn Muill (If you own Black Riders)

- Trouble in Tharbad

 

AP's with very fun quests:

- Steward's Fear

- Watcher in the Water

- Morgul Vale

 

If I'd had to advice anything I would definitely get The Black Riders (low threat decks), and be very careful in 3th/4th cycle. Since from then on quest will start to become very tough! Especially with only a small card pool it is most likely you will get butchered in 70% of all tries, and lose the other 30%. Since you only have a small budget, probably start with Core, some 1'st cycle AP (Conflict at the Carrock is a must have I think for starters) and a saga expansion (Black Riders). The advantage of these saga expansions is you are not forced to get a Deluxe expansion which is the case in all AP outside the first cycle.

Core 40$, Conflict at the Carrock,15$, Black Riders 30$. 

 

That would be my purchase if I had to restart.

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