Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
John Constantine

Beneath the Sands

Recommended Posts

Psychorocka, I enjoyed your post and it's a fair point that the fellowship's racial mix was essentially unique in the history we have, and that some combination of peoples are thematic while others are not.

 

OTOH, the nested post where you said that a Steward of Gondor, Rohan Warrior, and Dunedain Ranger made for a "mega unthematic" grouping I do disagree with.  All three were involved in the Siege of Minas Tirith, and though they did not meet due to Denethor's self-immolation, they certainly could have -- and *would* have if Denethor had made different choices.  It might be unthematic for the Hobbit saga, but I think it's actually a very thematic lineup for Flame of the West.

 

There's actually precedent between the Hobbit and the LOTR for Dunedain among the fighters of Rohan and Gondor.  Aragorn served in both realms in disguise, and since the non-saga game is set between the two, in theory a Denethor/Aragorn [Thorongil]/Theoden grouping may have occurred in the historical timeline.  Theoden was born in Gondor and the speech of Gondor was used in Thengel's house, it's no stretch to think young Theoden may have spent time at Mundburg serving Ecthelion, who himself sought out "all men of worth from near or far to enter his service".

 

Balin and Bard are only provided in the Hobbit saga, but of the 76 years between the two sagas, Bard lived for 35 of them and Balin for 52 -- that would make them available for quests that *could* be produced in the game period, though so far the cycles hint or state a period close to the beginning of LOTR.  (If they are intended to all be in chronological order, and we place Dead Marshes/Return to Mirkwood in 3017 to coincide with the actual capture of Gollum, that leaves only one year for all the quests to be done before the saga quests start -- which in itself seems highly implausible.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think there are 2 different interpretations of "theme" here. One being that the game expresses general themes of the book (like different peoples banding together), and the other being a more rigid interpretation of the specific characters and races ever interacting within the universe. I am much more interested in the former myself, so I am super happy about where this cycle is going.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

Not as crazy about the neutral event... 9 traits is actually quite a lot.... 

Even if all three heroes you run are different races lets say Noldor, Dwarf and Dunedain thats only three so far.

Lets say one of them is noble thats 4. Even if one is a ranger and another is a warrior thats still only 6. You may think it would be fairly easy to then get up to 9 with allies but the thing is the vast majority of allies are going to be the same trait as the heroes in a deck so for this example I've already given you would need something like a Rohan, Gondor and Ent ally in play alongside those heroes with the 6 traits. In the example FFG gave just Denethor and Elfhelm alone give you 6 traits but both of them have 3 each and there are not that many heroes that have 3 each the vast majority only have one or two. 

Any Dunedain Ranger bumps you up to 8, which means you need just 1 more trait from the beginning to go.

 

That's a good point. Mega unthematic deck though.... Gondorian Steward, Rohan warrior and a Dunedain ranger from the north.

 

 

You know the cardgame took a wrong turn when building a deck around the *actual* fellowship of the ring is considered unthematic. Which the designers obviously are trying to remedy in this cycle. We've already seen a couple of cross-trait cards and I'm getting the feeling that they'll try to push players out of the single-trait deckbuilding.

 

It's interesting that originally the game was designed around spheres and the idea that, like the book, different people would come together to stand against the darkness. Ever since we've had the Dwarves though, fans have requested all traits to be viable. I still think it's sad that 'thematic' is a term used to describe single-trait decks and 'unthematic' is used for cross-trait decks. Especially since a big part of the Lotr story is about characters from all walks of life overcoming their inward view and learning to respect each other and work together.

 

No matter how hard Caleb is going to try, the most thematic pairing in the game is Zigil Miner and Imladris Stargazer. These two interact in a way that feels exactly like Gimli and Legolas did in the books: they don't *need*  each other to work, yet together they achieve amazing things. #bestlovestoryinlotrlcg

 

 

While I don't necessarily disagree with this (a Three Hunters deck IMO is indeed one of the pinnacles of thematic decks in this game), I am really bugged when people bring this up over and over again. Why? Because by this reasoning every build and combination is thematic. Which is ALSO true, because this is a thematic game in a general sense. Everything about it is designed to be thematic in the first place, so it feels like a tautology when people say "but the theme of LOTR is different cultures coming together so any combination of traits is thematic". Well, yeah, but that's a characteristic of the entire game. It's not like we're gonna see lightsabers or Sauron-aligned player cards or something actually unthematic in a general sense. So why state the obvious? When people say thematic or unthematic it's because they wanna differentiate between decks that grab characters all over Middle Earth and decks that keep characters that belong to the same  realm or might have known each other. Sure, thematic is not the word to call it, but it seems you're forgetting that, by your definition, pretty much everything (except maybe Eagles in Moria, etc) is designed to be thematic because that's the whole point of the game; there are no "unthematic" possible lineups in this game by your definition just like there are no unthematic possible business-related outcomes in Monopoly. So, the word is useless, either change the definition or don't use it at all.

Edited by Gizlivadi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So why state the obvious? When people say thematic or unthematic it's because they wanna differentiate between decks that grab characters all over Middle Earth and decks that keep characters that belong to the same  realm or might have known each other. Sure, thematic is not the word to call it, but it seems you're forgetting that, by your definition, pretty much everything (except maybe Eagles in Moria, etc) is designed to be thematic because that's the whole point of the game; there are no "unthematic" possible lineups in this game by your definition just like there are no unthematic possible business-related outcomes in Monopoly. So, the word is useless, either change the definition or don't use it at all.

Your point is a good one, but I think what that segment of the community is saying is that "thematic" should indeed be abolished as a synonym for "trait-sharing" or whatnot. That many have settled on using it that way doesn't by itself make it right to do so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I agree with that. I don't say thematic myself when talking about trait-focused decks. I think though that it's weird people act as if the game being thematic and pointing it out was something new, when it's been staring at you right from the beginning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So why state the obvious? When people say thematic or unthematic it's because they wanna differentiate between decks that grab characters all over Middle Earth and decks that keep characters that belong to the same  realm or might have known each other. Sure, thematic is not the word to call it, but it seems you're forgetting that, by your definition, pretty much everything (except maybe Eagles in Moria, etc) is designed to be thematic because that's the whole point of the game; there are no "unthematic" possible lineups in this game by your definition just like there are no unthematic possible business-related outcomes in Monopoly. So, the word is useless, either change the definition or don't use it at all.

Your point is a good one, but I think what that segment of the community is saying is that "thematic" should indeed be abolished as a synonym for "trait-sharing" or whatnot. That many have settled on using it that way doesn't by itself make it right to do so.

i do think some people use the term really loosely though.

i saw a deck someone posted once with Treebeard and Elrond with the title of the deck including the words HIGHLY THEMATIC in all caps, which made me think 'oh yeah... that time Elrond went into Fangorn to get help from the ents...'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a bit confused about the confusion here. To me the term "thematic" in terms of deck-building is a term used for decks that follow certain theme, like Silvan or Rangers, in contrast to decks which do not follow a theme and just try to win. I do not see any problem in that terminology. But of course, one can have more than just a single culture deck and call it thematic. For ages, I have been running this sort of "Free Peoples" deck with representatives of different cultures coming together, calling it Council of Elrond. And naturally, you can find many themes, like Gondor joining with Rohan (as in the books) or Noldor joining with Dwarves (as not in these books). To restrain from the logical terminology seems absurd, but there are conflicting ideas about everything.

Edited by Fingolfin Fate

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think thematic is a terribly useful term, because it means different things to different people.  For trait-based deckbuilding, I think "tribal" is a better word than thematic, and there's a distinction between a thematic deck, a thematic hero lineup, and a thematic adventure.  Grima/Arwen/Cirdan isn't a thematic hero lineup, but could certainly be coupled with nothing but Noldor allies and a wealth of Noldor-restricted events and attachments.  Elrond/Elladan/Elrohir is a thematic lineup, but if it's filled with a polyglot mess of allies for Elrond to pop into play with Vilya, the deck isn't very thematic.  Treebeard/LoPippin/TaMerry is a thematic lineup, and can be coupled with a very thematic mass of ents and hobbit/ent boosting cards -- but sending that very thematic deck through Moria isn't a very thematic adventure.  Hardly any players are devoted to 100% purely thematic situations, as it would be rather limiting (and difficult) to only play Return to Mirkwood with one hero (Aragorn) and no allies.

 

So what's left?  There's at least thematic choices.  When I see deck notes describe a build as "thematic", I think that's code for "I know this deck would be better with card X, but I'm leaving it out for a weaker card with a better thematic fit."  The classic example of this would be the powerful and ubiquitous Steward of Gondor.  Providing extra resources out the wazoo *is* a thematic role for the Steward of Gondor, but putting it on anyone but Denethor or his sons gives no thematic to thrill to me.  Theme isn't the only reason to leave SoG out of a leadership deck -- you could just be bored with it, or not want to conflict with somebody else in a multiplayer setting, or you may intentionally want to have the power level of the deck weaker for a more challenging game -- but sometimes it is kept out *purely to avoid a thematic disconnect*, and a player making that choice is IMO a thematic player, even if his hero grouping or ally mix would never have happened in Middle Earth.

 

In short, there are thematic *choices* that can be made.  They may affect hero lineup, they may affect what's in the deck, they may affect what's *not* in the deck.  Thematic isn't a binary on/off switch, it's just a consideration that may affect any part of the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hardly any players are devoted to 100% purely thematic situations

 

I don't quite qualify, but for the Saga expansions (and associated PoD quests), my dream is to recreate the book as closely as possible. I was pretty successful at doing that for the Hobbit quests. You can read my playthroughs with accompanying thematic descriptions at http://talesfromthecards.wordpress.com/author/esteledain/; I didn't do full write-ups for The Battle of Lake-town or The Battle of Five Armies, but you can find my decks for them on ringsdb: http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/715/bard-s-black-arrow-a-thematic-solo-lake-town-deck-1.0 and http://ringsdb.com/decklist/view/716/three-armies-eagles-and-a-giant-bear-a-thematic-bo5a-deck-1.0 (starring Ravenhill Scout!). I'm pleased that I got Bard to one-shot Smaug (with the help of The Old Thrush and other avian support), and that The Battle of Five Armies had a minor eucatastrophic moment when the Eagles finally arrived.

 

For The Lord of the Rings saga campaign, the player card pool doesn't yet have all the tools I need to build the decks I want to build. In A Shadow of the Past, for example, I don't want to include Merry (since he wasn't present until they reached Buckleberry Ferry), and I want to avoid (or at least minimize) combat with the Black Riders. Spirit Pippin, Out of Sight, Hobbit Sense, and A Elbereth! Githoniel! are how I want to deal with them,  but I need a great deal of willpower to pass hide tests (until I can get set up, and then engage the Black Riders and power quest while avoiding combat with OoS/H-s). I don't want many allies, since that makes Hide tests more difficult, so I want a few cheap high willpower allies (preferably Elves or Dúnedain, though hobbits and even dwarves could be thematic) and willpower-boosting attachments. A Spirit Sam hero (which seems likely to arrive at some point) would help, since then I would start with two Spirit resources, allowing me to immediately play a 2 willpower ally.

 

This is just one example, but there are many cards that I'm waiting for so that my player decks can stay close to the book and have a chance at beating the quests (such as ally versions of Merry and Pippin for The Road Darkens). As the card pool grows, new options arise. Spirit Legolas should enable a Three Hunters deck that has enough willpower for The Uruk-hai (especially as we get better Rohan allies, like Rider of Rohan). The quests from the fourth and sixth boxes will be challenging, since (with the exception of Journey to the Cross-roads) I want to play them with Sam, Galadriel, and Fellowship Frodo as my heroes, and no permanent allies (Elrond and core set Gandalf are fine). Even there, though, Strider and Vanish from Sight help (using the designer-approved house rule that you can play them if you control fewer than three non-Baggins/Fellowship heroes). As the card pool continues to grow, I'm patiently hoping for the cards that will let me recreate the book.

Edited by Estel Edain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Estel Edain, that's really cool.  I think trying to construct the perfectly thematic deck for a quest is a great idea, and as the deck pool grows it becomes more and more feasible.  I used the example of a lone Aragorn deck trying to beat Return to Mirkwood -- but the Strider attachment makes that dream *way more possible* than it was before.  As the pool grows, perfectly thematic adventures becomes viable against an increasing number of quests.

 

But at the same time, playing *exclusively* perfectly thematic adventures would be very, very limiting and I doubt anyone does it.  I could be wrong, since outside saga quests, the Gollum quests in the first cycle, and the trips to Moria in the second cycle (not thematic if you win), there's a wider variety of heroes/allies that plausibly *could* have done the task.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...