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Crusaderlord

Effects of LOTR LCG on Arkham LCG

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A question i am currently grappling with is whether my long term enjoyment of LOTR LCG is stopping me from fully loving Arkham at the moment. I am a solo player of both games and dont dual play with either.

I have bought Arkham core, Dunwich and Rougarou and have played the core set and one of the Dunwich scenarios but i am finding it much harder to get enthusiastic enough to set up the next Arkham game. I was really excited by Arkham initially upon purchase as it should have provided me the ultimate solo experience, but after a few plays of the core set i cant help but feel a little downbeat about the game. In comparative terms it is still one of better games i own but i am deciding whether to drop out now and just focus again on LOTR.

  • Arkham set up seems a bit more fiddly. I know it really is not that much different at all, but i liked the simplicity of grabbing a set of encounter cards and getting going. Setting up locations with the right places attached is a bit more effort. Also i know LOTR player cards so well that the deck building is not overly task heavy, i currently dont know Arkham cards well so it takes a bit of effort to work out which ones i need - this is temporary of course.
  • Mechanics. I do prefer the way LOTR uses all its mechanics within its card decks, i am already becoming a little tired keeping pulling counters from a bag to pass or fail. I do like that you can tailor the difficulty this way but it isnt as smooth running as LOTR.
  • Battles with monsters just feel slightly flat with Arkham at the moment, whereas in LOTR you feel you are building up during the game to take on the largest enemy. Mostly i find taking on the big boss in Arkham or having multiple enemies overly hard to manage and then often you can just run away or quit. I now realising how good the shadow effect mechanic is and how it always holds that unknown trigger to make you breathe a sigh of relief or cry in despair which is much more engaging to deal with.
  • The RPG aspect may not suit me, i largely prefer one off battles against a certain scenario - if i understand right, in order to play a one off against a later cycle pack scenario in Arkham i have to work through the results of a load of previous scenarios first to see what my character is first. This is an elaborate set up requirement for sure.
  • I am just getting too old - it could just come down to this, LOTR was enough for my brain to take on and enjoy and trying to layer in another similar game with its own rules system and i think more to remember in terms of triggers (i always forget the enemy response attack thing) just has become a bit too much. I have found this before occasionally - i sold Mage Knight eventually for this reason.

I suppose i was just interested to see what others who have both games thought. I am certainly of the opinion that Arkham is good, but i am worried that i cant cope with two LCG games in tandem. I am undecided at the moment but thinking of just dropping Arkham and going with Sands of Harad and that cycle instead.   

 

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Setup in Arkham is indeed a bit more fiddly, but it is a price for a more deep and polished narrative, and I freaking enjoy that.

Arkham Horror had to make the result of it's various interactions unclear, and the way I see it, their only viable alternative were dice. Chaos bag is a more creative and customize-able solution which I whole-heartedly approve of.

They're flat in both games, but unlike LotR LCG, Arkham allows you to elude your enemies by dodging them. You can argue that LotR has similar thing in form of staging area and engagement cost, but the thing is that in Arkham both fighting and evading are core mechanics, while in LotR "evading" is fully manipulated by card effects, and if you're out of them and your threat is high enough - enemy will simply come down and start pounding at you, and there'll be nothing you'll be able to do about it but take the pounding and pound back. As for the shadow cards, that tension is replaced, once again, by a CHAOS bag during an attack. Just like in LotR you have no uncertainty during attacking enemies, in Arkham there is no uncertainty when enemies attack you.

I believe there are proper rules for setting up a stand-alone scenario regardless of how deep in campaign it is situated. I might be wrong, as I've never played standalones aside from the very first one to introduce peps into the game.

Enemies attack in response only if you fail an attack against them and they have a Retaliate keyword. LotR has plenty of keywords of his own, if you manage to forget retaliate, you must be forgetting many of the LotR's forced triggers too, right?

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I like both games, I have been thinking about them a lot lately.

+  The way the narrative unfolds in Arkham is superior.   Anything from having flavortext on the locations, to parts of the story on the Act and Agenda cards, it really helps the story flow.  LotR does this a bit with quest cards, but it's much more pronounced in AH.  That being said, I do really very much enjoy the Saga LotR campaign, and I feel that it is at least equal if not better than AH where story is concerned.  Also, once you've played each AH mission a few times, the storytelling gets a little less important and you want some solid gameplay to back it up.

+  The Chaos Bag.   Ugh.   I dunno about this one.  Most games you have to have some element of luck.  In LotR it is what cards you draw from your deck, and how the encounter deck flips.  In AH it's both of those things plus the Chaos Bag.   I don't know which I hate more, the fact that you can auto-fail a check when you are 8 points over the difficulty, or that it's certain to be used as a substitute for good scenario design.  Scenario too easy?   Oh, well just add more bad tokens to the chaos bag!  Too hard?  Put it on easy mode!   I'm not saying every LotR scenario is spot on in terms of difficulty, but it seems to me that rather than learning the lessons of LotR and trying to really write every scenario at a certain difficulty, they just decided that investigators could randomly suck more and that would due for a difficulty mechanic.

+  Player interaction.   I was sorely disappointed in AH in terms of player interaction.   Now, there is some, but for succeeding a game like LotR which is so robust with player interaction, it feels a bit muted.   You can't trade items without a special card (even then it's a bit of a flop),  you don't have hardly any control over who an enemy engages.  Although you can contribute edge cards to other players if you are in the same location, that's about as much help as you can do.   I really miss the dynamics of Ranged and Sentinel keywords, and being able to play your cards on other players characters.

+Deckbuilding.   I think I give AH the win in the deckbuilding area.   I really enjoy LotR deckbuilding, but AH deckbuilding is a lot more thematic.  As someone who always tries to  make thematic lotR decks, I like the fact that AH decks have a bit more guidance.  I like each card belonging to a certain class which associates with certain characters.  I like the system of cards costing experience points, and leveling up.    It gives the AH campaign the Saga feel, only it's the whole game, not just the Saga boxes.  Currently there aren't a whole lot of options for AH, but thats because the game is so new.  I really look forward to AH deckbuilding once we have a few more cards.  

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3 hours ago, John Constantine said:

 

Enemies attack in response only if you fail an attack against them and they have a Retaliate keyword. LotR has plenty of keywords of his own, if you manage to forget retaliate, you must be forgetting many of the LotR's forced triggers too, right?

I believe he/she means the attacks of opportunity.

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As I've said elsewhere, I like everything about Arkham Horror except playing it.  It's not even just all the setup.  I would have a game ready to go on my card table and it would sit there for days.  AH really doesn't play nice with single handed solo in my opinion, there is just so much you need to do in a game and only so many actions you are allowed to take.

I've got my complete collection up for sale now.  (2 core, Dunwich, Curse & Carnevale). It was such a relief getting everything back in the boxes.  I'm not afraid for LotR, but even if it were to stop I wouldn't regret my decision.  ( Sorry Feonix)

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I've been enjoying both.  Arkham does a great job with locations and the whole campaign aspect.  I love the multiple resolutions and the fact that your campaign continues even if you don't "win" the scenario.  I've also been pleasantly surprised with the deck building.  I thought it would be far inferior to LotR, but IMO it is only mildly inferior.

One thing I have noticed is that, like Bullroarer said, one-handed solo just isn't very good.  All it takes is one nasty enemy and either a weakness or no weapon/shriveling and you are bogged down completely.  Many investigators just don't work in solo.  I'm not a huge fan of solo LotR either, but I will still play that way every once in a while.  After two solo runs through the core campaign, I have lost all desire to play solo.  I haven't figured out why I dislike it so much.  Even though there is limited direct player interaction in multiplayer, I feel like there are still a lot of group decisions to be made and discussions to have.

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2 hours ago, Bullroarer Took said:

As I've said elsewhere, I like everything about Arkham Horror except playing it.  It's not even just all the setup.  I would have a game ready to go on my card table and it would sit there for days.  AH really doesn't play nice with single handed solo in my opinion, there is just so much you need to do in a game and only so many actions you are allowed to take.

I've got my complete collection up for sale now.  (2 core, Dunwich, Curse & Carnevale). It was such a relief getting everything back in the boxes.  I'm not afraid for LotR, but even if it were to stop I wouldn't regret my decision.  ( Sorry Feonix)

Opportunities find the one who seeks them. Just as playing single handed solo LotR, you need a well-rounded hero to succeed in solo. Yet, I had success with different kind of characters outfiddeted to achieve their goals in different ways. Game definetely gives you various opportunities, if you are willing to explore them - that is up to you.

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Oh yes I meant the attacks of opportunities in my first post. I often forget about those.

Well it seems I am not totally alone in the way Arkham is coming across - I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet. I may just be finding Arkham a little over bearing to keep on top of, so will give it another go when I feel ready. However I have a hunch that my mind doesn't want to mix up two LCG games at once and try to keep on top of all the different deck building of each so I may well decide to stay with LOTR only. I think the next few games of Arkham will be critical ones to decide on my future purchases. Note I don't always find LOTR a joy to solo play, but I do find I have the stamina and desire to keep coming back to many scenarios and have another go. I just haven't felt this with Arkham yet and it isn't the theme, I think its the mechanics the game uses.

Just had a thought - the one element of LOTR I really didn't take to was the time mechanic in some of the Isengard scenarios - maybe I am feeling too much of this in Arkham - being rushed to complete a quest before the next card moves on or else I quit to escape is not really how I like to play these games or that satisfying, I prefer ones where I build a position up or defend solidly until I get an opening. Maybe this is a key factor alongside the drawing of tokens - which in concept I don't mind - but the reality of repeatedly digging into the bag over and over just grates a bit.  

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On 31/1/2017 at 5:03 AM, Crusaderlord said:

I suppose i was just interested to see what others who have both games thought. I am certainly of the opinion that Arkham is good, but i am worried that i cant cope with two LCG games in tandem. I am undecided at the moment but thinking of just dropping Arkham and going with Sands of Harad and that cycle instead.

I'm in a similar situation than you. I was ready to support a third LCG and since I love the theme and LotR I was really hyped about AH. However, after reading all the preview articles I got seriously worried that the game might not be for me.

Despite that, I got a core set and tried the game for myself. Didn't ejoy the limited number of actions that restrict what cards can I play and when each turn, but I could get used to (and after the card grows, the release of more fast cards will help with that).

But what I absolutelly hated is how the randomness works in this game. Neither the chaos bag or the encounter deck worked for me. The first because it introudeces a push your luck mechanic without no means to mitigate the outcome (as of right now). You can overcommitt all your deck cards into a test and still fail due to the autofail token. It wouldn't be so much if it was not THE only game mechanic. You want to investigate? TEST. You want to fight? TEST. You want to evade? TEST. Look a NPE character appeared! TEST. Draw an encounter card? 50% = TEST. It got tiresome pretty fast. I ended up using an app as a substitute for the chaos bag and my enjoyment of the game improved a little, but still, it just bothers me too much.

And as for the ecnounter deck, I never got the impresion it gelled well with how the game worked. While in LotR is an excellent way of introducing a worthy and challanging oponent, and the shadow system is a elegant way to capture the feeling of surprise only a real oponent can give you when he plays an event in the worst time possible; the encounter deck in AH never gave me that. It just a way to add extra randomisation, but most of the time is the agenda/act and locations the ones that carry all the surprises and interesting challanges.

It doesn't help that the timing is right after you get new cards in the upkeep phase but before you can actually play them in the investigator's phase. It really annoys me that I can't get to play my new cards before I have to deal with what the encounter deck spawns. "Me: Look, I draw my weapon!" "Encounter deck: Too bad, you either take an attack to your face first (attack of opportunity) or deal with the monster I just decided to throw at you barehanded first". "Me: Look I got the only card in my deck that can help me improve my willpower to deal with those pesky encounter deck cards!" "Encounter deck: Sorry to hear that! Better make you do that test now then!". 

It all makes me feel disattatched to my deck and most of the time not caring for it or even not wanting to draw due to the weaknesses having a high chance to screw everything up.

I'm now trying the cheating variant to see if I can make the committing system work for me (because I tend to WANT to play my cards for their text, and not for some icon in a random test), and I might make some extra rules on how the encounter deck works to see if I enjoy the game more. But for now, I won't buy anything else for the game.

 

On 31/1/2017 at 7:04 AM, awp832 said:

+Deckbuilding.   I think I give AH the win in the deckbuilding area.   I really enjoy LotR deckbuilding, but AH deckbuilding is a lot more thematic.  As someone who always tries to  make thematic lotR decks, I like the fact that AH decks have a bit more guidance.  I like each card belonging to a certain class which associates with certain characters.  I like the system of cards costing experience points, and leveling up.    It gives the AH campaign the Saga feel, only it's the whole game, not just the Saga boxes.  Currently there aren't a whole lot of options for AH, but thats because the game is so new.  I really look forward to AH deckbuilding once we have a few more cards.  

I completelly agree with the first 3 points but not with the deckbuilding aspect. I know that with only one core set there's no deckbuilding options at all, but so far, I haven't been excited by any of the new cards (or the old ones) to want to try and build a deck around them. I just look at them and think "meh" almost everytime.

 

On 31/1/2017 at 6:14 AM, John Constantine said:

Setup in Arkham is indeed a bit more fiddly, but it is a price for a more deep and polished narrative, and I freaking enjoy that.

I found out that while the more deep and polished narrative is something I liked about AH, after replaying each scenario, I couldn't care less about it. I was just looking at the mechanics and ignoring everything else. 

 

Quote

I believe there are proper rules for setting up a stand-alone scenario regardless of how deep in campaign it is situated. I might be wrong, as I've never played standalones aside from the very first one to introduce peps into the game.

No, there aren't. That was the first thing I checked after I got the game, because I'm not a fan of the campaign system and everyone (devs included) said that the game would be able to be played as standalone with no problem when I raised my concerns during the preview articles.

After reading the rules, I knew that was just not the case. If you want to play standalone a new chapter you just got you need to go through all the previous chapters on the campaign reading the resolutions of everyone of them and choosing the one you like the most/prefer. So basically, you need to either buy everything prior to the chapter you got or go online searching for the campaign book (which so far haven't been done for the Dunwich Legacy). I don't know how are they planning on doing that, but if they don't release the previous campaign book when the new chapter is released, then playing the new chapter as a standalone would be impossible. 

 

On 31/1/2017 at 0:03 PM, Teamjimby said:

One thing I have noticed is that, like Bullroarer said, one-handed solo just isn't very good.  All it takes is one nasty enemy and either a weakness or no weapon/shriveling and you are bogged down completely.  Many investigators just don't work in solo.  I'm not a huge fan of solo LotR either, but I will still play that way every once in a while.  After two solo runs through the core campaign, I have lost all desire to play solo.  I haven't figured out why I dislike it so much.  Even though there is limited direct player interaction in multiplayer, I feel like there are still a lot of group decisions to be made and discussions to have.

I had a similar experience. I thought this game would work true solo, but after a couple of runs with different investigators I knew that I would end up playing dual handed. Basically, what made me decide that is the exploration part of the game (moving to new locations to flip them and get more clues), which is what I enjoy the most. I feel that with only one player my exploration was seriously handicapped by the limited number of action. Playing with 2 investigators allows me to cover more ground, visiting more locations and further developing the story.

 

On 31/1/2017 at 4:49 PM, Bullroarer Took said:

One of the things I dislike about the saga campaigns is having to keep track of the burdens and boons etc. As well as the feeling that I didn't "succeed" if I didn't get all of the available boons.

This is built into arkham.

Like you I don't like the campaign system either. However, I found out that redoing the scenario until I achieve the outcome I want has been working for me. It's easier to keep track of all the burdens/boons/story assets I get and allows me to try new levelled up options if the first ones didn't convinced me without having to restart the campaign.

Edited by xchan

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Bcause those desicions usually come with some penalties attached. If you decide you want Lita in your deck for the third core scenario, you need to also take a Horror traume with her. You can only know that by reading the resolution of the previous scenarios. That's how they have been balancing the scenarios and what the standalone rules ask you to do. It's a lot less flexible than LotR for example, where you can play any scenario, even from a campaign, right after you got it without too much hassle

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I may try the app then and see if that helps my own view of the mechanism. I am getting tired of pulling from a bag all the time, its not even that i dislike the random aspect, its the mechanic of constantly getting the tokens out breaking up the flow of the card side of the game. Going to give it another play through this weekend with Dunwich and then make a decision on the game in general.

At moment i am feeling like selling and re-investing in LOTR LCG where i still have much more to buy (Numenor & Cycle / Grey Havens & Cycle / Sands of Harad & Cycle). I thought i would want an alternative game rather than even more of LOTR but i am now reconsidering this. Also i felt LOTR was getting consistently hard to solo play but i really am not finding Arkham an easier beast at all.

Edited by Crusaderlord

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A few more plays of Arkham and i decided to sell and re-invest into Sands of Harad which i have just received and wow the artwork on these cards is amazing. In the end i feel i just want to own one LCG game to solo play and just dig as deep into it as i can. I had to realise that my spare time is limited enough not to warrant having two games to decide over. I just find LOTR much smoother to play and the fights are much more interesting. I am really looking forward to playing the Sands of Harad quests. 

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I definitely agree that the combat is WAY more satisfying in LotR but I do like the variances allowed in AH to evade enemies.  I sometimes wish my Spirit deck could do that more reliably, but then again we have 'sentinel' and 'ranged' to deal with that.

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I just went through a couple of scenarios of AH LCG in actual stealth - I evaded most of the enemies, and backstabbed/sneak attacked the essential ones. It felt very different from my first fight playthroughs, and unnaturally satisfying. I simply can't disagree more on the matter of combat.

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I'm still on the fence about continuing with AH. I mean, I like the game, but maybe not enough to collect next to LotR? I don't know.

Some times a play-through feels great, and sometimes I'm like...meh... I can't put my finger on it yet really on what's off.

Maybe it's just still too early in the lifespan of the game and it needs to flesh out. We know LotR needed that.

For instance, the encounter decks are not quite there yet. They are just too small and full of bland triggers & tests. Bit boring after a few games, as you get hit with the same cards over and over. They need to get bigger c.q. with more variety. LotR encounter sets seem to breathe more for now.

One thing I dislike: the auto fail token. Sucks. It's just no fun. I do use it, but when I draw it I just sigh or go bleh.

 

Like others stated, the game is not really great for solo. I quickly started playing 2 or even 3 handed. Worked way better and a lot more fun.

Anyway, I might just try your Wendy way John, sounds like a different take; and I need to give Wendy another go as I only played her once as she's my least favorite.

Edited by Noccus

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10 minutes ago, Noccus said:

For instance, the encounter decks are not quite there yet. They are just too small and full of bland triggers & tests. Bit boring after a few games, as you get hit with the same cards over and over. They need to get bigger c.q. more variety. LotR encounter sets seem the breathe more for now.

One thing I dislike: the auto fail token. Sucks. It's just no fun. I do use it, but when I draw it I just sigh or go bleh.

I don't think this is a fair assessment. As far as encounter decks go, yes strictly speaking, AH has smaller decks -25-30, on average, compared to (a rough glance at Hall of Beorn) 35-50 for LOTR. However, the difference is variety. LOTR might have more cards, but 5 of those will be Goblin Swordsmen, or Underworld Dissident, or Savage Trollspawn. I don't think AH has an encounter card that's more than a 3x in a single deck. But this makes the game harder. As any card gamer knows, a tighter deck means easier combos. Think of the encounter deck not as random Orcs thrown in your way, but a simulated AI. He gets to bring a well-constructed deck, and a small deck means those annoying combos go off easier. It might seem repetitive, but it does heighten the tension of each card draw. You also cycle through LOTR encounter decks faster with the shadow cards, so it makes sense you need to have more cards so you don't shuffle every two or three rounds.

As for the autofail, that's really no different than cards like The Nine Are Abroad, Biting Wind, or Sleeping Sentry, or Sudden Pitfall, which can basically be autofail. However, instead of just losing one test, these are cards that can quite literally cost you the entire game. Or shadow effects like "If the defending character is an ally, discard it from play", or "Until the end of the round, this enemy cannot take damage". I think the randomness is just as annoying in both games, and also not fair to see the tentacle token as "no fun" but insta-death LOTR encounter cards as OK.

Here's the important difference: In Arkham, if I autofail a critical test, I just sigh but look for other options. You can resign, you can fight well enough to earn some XP regardless, you can find alternative paths to resolution. You don't need to "win". You still get to move on. However, in LOTR where each scenario is played as a standalone, if on turn 2 I get a card like one of the ones above and it's impossible to win..... I have no options. There's no "well you didn't win but you did well enough!" resolution to work towards. There's no point in continuing an LOTR game that's become a lost cause, except maybe for personal benefit and experience.

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