Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
FrogTrigger

Key difference between Arkham and LOTR LCG's?

Recommended Posts

I was really into LOTR LCG for a while, loved the game play, but I couldn't find the scenarios I wanted in the order I wanted them due to the game being so old, so I stopped playing. This game has me intrigued though as it is from what I can tell a similar system by the same company, and brand new so everything should be available. 

My question, what are the key differences/similarities between Arkham LCG and LOTR? I generally lean towards the fantasy/sci-fi genre mainly, but I also play MoM 2nd and very much enjoy it, but that is the only Arkham title I have tried.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Despite some obvious design inspiration and the fact that they're both cooperative LCGs, there's really not much similarity in the games themselves.  Arkham touts its RPG-ish style, and it's very much the case.

If I had to call out a few key differences, they would be:

1.  Tests.  Everything in Arkham is a test, and there's always a chance to fail (almost) anything you do.
2.  Timer.  Unlike LOTR where you can often stall the scenario, Doom Marches On.  Always.  Which matters a lot, because you have...
3.  Limited actions.  Rather than playing everything you've got, you have a very Netrunner-ish limited number of things you can do in a turn.  This applies to things in play as well - you have one ally slot, two hand slots, etc.  It's like most of your tools have some form of Restricted.
4.  Locations.  Whereas LOTR locations are abstracts to be overcome, locations in AH build a map, and characters/enemies/effects are at, and move between, those locations.
5.  Campaign play.  This is probably the biggest - LOTR dabbles in this with the Saga, but it's really only a few minor limitations and window dressing.  It's a very key element of Arkham, to the extent that the core experience is to play a full campaign.

Overall I think Arkham is more grounded, whereas LOTR is more abstract.  You don't travel to one location after another, and the locations don't stop you from progressing, you walk from your Hallway into the Parlor.

Honestly, your best bet would be to watch a few playthrough videos and tutorials, or find a demo.  I personally like it more than LOTR (although I do still enjoy it as well), but YMMV.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I play them both.  Here is what I see are the differences to Ark LCG

LOTR is more of a tactical war game.  You control multiple characters, and typically need armies of allies in the deck to confront the forces you will face.  The deck is very flexible between quests, and needs to be - some quests are nearly impossible without building OP or building specific to that quest.  While the quests do chain together, they each play much more as a stand alone scenario.  There is always a conflict between the thematic and the mechanics.  This is a great game for people who love challenging adventures but aren't married to any theme or character set, or people who aren't shy for spoilers.

Arkham is more a role playing card game.  You control 1 character and the deck is fixed from when you first play them.  Your deck builds as you play through multiple quests, you cannot just change out cards.  The missions have much more carrying over between them building a more narrative experience.  You can play without spoilers effectively, allowing you to pick a character you WANT to play, rather than need to play (although the group should cover all the bases).  This game is great for people who love challenge, but want a more character focused experience, with the freedom to play how they want.

I love both games - but find I typically enjoy LOTR LCG alone more than I do with friends, as the game is played largely in deck building and not everyone I play with would invest the time to learn all of the player cards.  Arkham is very good to pull out when you have 2-4 players who are decently experienced with card games, but they don't need to be deeply invested in the game to understand what they need to do.  It is also a much more thematic experience. 

Edited by shosuko

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In LOTR you control a team of 3 heros, in AH you control a single investigator.

The base size of a deck is only 30 cards.

In LOTR you almost have to build a deck for each scenario, in AH you build 1 deck and use it for 8+ scenarios in a campaign with only minor tweaks between games.

Characters level up in AH, there are cards that cost different amounts of xp, and characters get more powerful (or die) as the campaign progresses.

LOTR uses nightmare decks to increase the difficulty, AH comes with 4 difficulty levels built in to the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow interesting, great points thanks for the advice. I always felt FFG really nailed the thematic side of LOTR from the settings and scenario goals to the way the cards interact with each other. But I can see how building a deck of Rohan figures to assault a dwarven mine would be anti-thematic. 

I am intrigued that they are that much different as it allows for a full new experience. If it was just LOTR LCG with a new skin I would be less likely to buy it.. I do agree about the LOTR being more fun with a single player experience or like minded players as you really need synergy between your decks. 

I was trying to avoid play through videos to avoid spoilers, but I could at least watch a tutorial I suppose to get a peak at the gameplay.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you have already played LOTR LCG - I would say you do not need spoilers for Arkham, or to watch any "let's play."  Arkham LCG will not only feel natural to you as a LOTR LCG vet, but will likely feel simplified in the best way (one that makes sense consistently)  In fact - I would strongly advise buying the core set and trying the first missions completely blind with 1 friend.  Having played LOTR I think you'd really enjoy being able to play completely blind into the game without all of the spoilers and deck building from LOTR.  It's something you can only get once, I fully recommend taking this game blind.

It really is a different experience compared to LOTR.  The terms and some mechanics may feel familiar, but the game feels entirely different when playing through it.

Best of all - in LOTR there was a common problem with the OP decks in that 1 player could take over a 4 player game.  In Arkham everyone is needed, and no one really takes over.

Edited by shosuko

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wait - is Arkham up to 4 players with 1 core? OR is it like LOTR where each core can supply up to 2 players?

Edit: Ahh nm ok just read the product page, 1-2 per core, but you can match up with other cores for more players?

Edited by FrogTrigger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first scenario plays like a tutorial and is the one frequently shown in the how to play videos, you don't miss out on a lot by watching this first.

The game doesn't start off with a core + cycle like in LOTR. the core set has 3 scenarios but the first campaign starts with a deluxe expansion.

Choices in one scenario can impact the following scenarios, e.g. if you are forced to flee from a boss instead of killing him then he may turn up in later scenarios. If you choose to burn down a building it may be unavailable as a location at a later point in the campaign.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, FrogTrigger said:

Wait - is Arkham up to 4 players with 1 core? OR is it like LOTR where each core can supply up to 2 players?

There are 5 classes in AH. The investigators in the core set can use cards from 2 classes and you take all the level 0 cards from two classes plus a few neutrals to make your deck.

So from 1 core you can make 2 decks, with 2 cores you can play with 4 investigators.

Non-neutral player cards are all x1 and you are limited to x2 of a card, so only 2 cores needed for a playset.

Core + deluxe May also allow more than 2 players.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, shosuko said:

If you have already played LOTR LCG - I would say you do not need spoilers for Arkham, or to watch any "let's play."  Arkham LCG will not only feel natural to you as a LOTR LCG vet, but will likely feel simplified in the best way (one that makes sense consistently)

I'll agree with trying it blind if you're willing to take the plunge, or can find a demo, but I'd offer a word of caution here...  There are a decent number of similarities between the games which can make the transition natural, but it can also create a sort of uncanny valley.  It's very easy to confuse rules between the two, or to have LOTR too locked into your head.  This isn't unique to LOTR players by any means - a lot of Netrunner players try to apply a action=resource=card economy math to Arkham, which almost-but-not-quite works.

Best example I have of this is that it took us a few sessions to figure out that you can't play assets or many events on other players.  This is very different from LOTR, and is the key point of dislike of Arkham for at least one of our LOTR players.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Buhallin said:

Best example I have of this is that it took us a few sessions to figure out that you can't play assets or many events on other players.  This is very different from LOTR, and is the key point of dislike of Arkham for at least one of our LOTR players.

The guardian class specializes in helping other investigators, amongst other things, and has a lot of cards that can be used on other investigators.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, mulletcheese said:

The guardian class specializes in helping other investigators, amongst other things, and has a lot of cards that can be used on other investigators.

I might quibble with the definition of "a lot" (I think it lands around 25% of total Guardian cards), but it doesn't necessarily change the key point.  In LOTR the vast majority of cards can be freely used on other players - Legolas rocking Support of the Eagles?  Here, have my Unexpected Courage, and this Sword of Gondolin too.  It's very open.  Arkham is far more restricted.  Some of that makes sense in the RPG approach, some of it doesn't ("No, you can't have it, it's my very favoritest Flashlight in the whole world, and I've booby-trapped it with a genetic passcode!").  But even within Guardians, it's much, MUCH more restrictive than LOTR.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, FrogTrigger said:

This game has me intrigued though as it is from what I can tell a similar system by the same company, and brand new so everything should be available. 

On this point, they are similar. Everything is not always available. Arkham is so popular and FFG so bad at anticipating sell that packs are often sold out the day they release it. If you are the kind of player that want to pick up a scenario when it please you, you will have the same problem you had with LOTR.

Edited by vilainn6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Buhallin said:

I might quibble with the definition of "a lot" (I think it lands around 25% of total Guardian cards), but it doesn't necessarily change the key point.  In LOTR the vast majority of cards can be freely used on other players - Legolas rocking Support of the Eagles?  Here, have my Unexpected Courage, and this Sword of Gondolin too.  It's very open.  Arkham is far more restricted.  Some of that makes sense in the RPG approach, some of it doesn't ("No, you can't have it, it's my very favoritest Flashlight in the whole world, and I've booby-trapped it with a genetic passcode!").  But even within Guardians, it's much, MUCH more restrictive than LOTR.

This is something I also find quite discouraging. The interaction between decks and players is a lot less than it is in LoTR. There's no Ranged or Sentinel keywords, there's no shared equipment, there's no helping someone out with bad draws/resource managment, etc. All you can do is to commit cards to their challanges and that's only if you share a location with them, which I find quite underwhelming.

From my experience, in AH players work individually towards a common goal, while in LotR players work together towards it. Sure, Guardians are getting some tools to expand on player interaction, but those are equally restricted, and force you to play one class.

I'm also not a fun of the chaos bag system. Like Buhallin said, everything in the game is a test, and each test is like a dice roll. You can get lucky and hit the 20 awesome Crit roll or unlucky and roll a 1 when you most needed it (and die because of it). There's almost no luck mitigation cards outside some Survivor ones. The commiting cards system is just the standard way to help you out with tests, but at it's core it's pure gambling with your roll odds. Sometimes it pays of, others doesn't. That makes the game feel to random and less strategic to me. In LotR winning a scenario was like a puzzle. Part of it was resolved in the deckbuilding stage and the other part I figured out by repeating the scenario over and over. Each loss teach me some new stuff about the encounter deck and show what mystakes I made and what could I do to prepeare for them. In AH, most of the loses end up being because of bad pulls during tests. There's nothing more frustrating than getting killed due to bad luck, knowing there was nothing you could have done differently that would have altered the outcome. It's uterly thematic though, but it annoys the crap out of me.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, xchan said:

That makes the game feel to random and less strategic to me.... There's nothing more frustrating than getting killed due to bad luck, knowing there was nothing you could have done differently that would have altered the outcome.

I know this one has been debated a lot already, but I still have to disagree with it :)

The potential for failure being random does not make it less strategic, just less deterministic.  You still have to manage your resources to work towards a goal, there's just a greater level of risk to it.  Which I think is the opposite of less strategic - because the tests are nondeterministic your strategy has to be broader and more flexible to account for the unexpected.

I also think that there's no such thing as "nothing you could have done differently that would have altered the outcome".  No single test in Arkham will kill your character or make you fail the scenario all by itself, so if you're in that do-or-die situation it's because a lot of previous choices have led you there.  Did you burn an extra skill card on a low-priority test?  Did you waste actions and resources building unnecessary board state? (I see this a lot, especially with signature cards - Daisy playing her tote bag while she's only got one hand slot, for instance)  Did you burn two actions and a Shortcut getting the Guardian in position to fight something, rather than just evading it?  Arkham makes use of a lot more expendable resources than LOTR does, which makes the impact of your decisions snowball a lot more.  Just like "We keep getting wrecked by treacheries" means you need to go add some cancels to your deck, the decisions which actually cause you to fail often happen well in advance of the failure itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Buhallin said:

No single test in Arkham will kill your character or make you fail the scenario all by itself, so if you're in that do-or-die situation it's because a lot of previous choices have led you there.

Failing to deal with an enemy (either by evading or fighting it) can snowball fast if you draw a second one next turn. You can't play recently acquired cards that would help you deal with them without eating the damage, and you will have to dedicate 2 of your 3 actions to deal with them, which another fail can mean game over.

I think once the number of "fast" cards is big and diverse enough, that will stop being a problem; but right now, it's something that can happen and you have little power over it.

2 minutes ago, Buhallin said:

Did you burn an extra skill card on a low-priority test? Did you waste actions and resources building unnecessary board state? Did you burn two actions and a Shortcut getting the Guardian in position to fight something, rather than just evading it? Because the tests are nondeterministic your strategy has to be broader and more flexible to account for the unexpected.

- Did I burn an extra skill card on a low priority test?
I don't know. Since the game is not deterministic, I can't know if that test was low priority and the card I was commiting would end up being burned. Maybe failing that test would have had other consecuences down the road that would have made me lose the game faster. Or maybe saving that card for a high-priority test would have ended up equally wasted as I would have pulled the autofail on that one.

-  Did you waste actions and resources building unnecessary board state?
How can I determine what is unnecessary board state? Since the game is not deterministic, I have no way of knowing if that asset is going to help me win the next test or be useless.

- Did you burn two actions and a Shortcut getting the Guardian in position to fight something, rather than just evading it?
And what makes you so sure your attempt at evading it would have been more successful? Maybe you end up wasting 2 actions trying to evade the enemy and failing. Then you would have asked if evading was the right call and not using two actions and a Shortcut to move the Guardian.

Like you say, because the tests are not deterministic, there's little to learn from a previous experience. You can analyse your gameplay and "conclude" that wasting said resource/action/card on that turn was a bad idea and what made you lose the game. However, you could replay the same scenario and do exactly the same thing and succeed when previously you failed due to passing more tests.

The same concept of "low/high-priority" tests that you use show that there are some tests you need to pass. The existance of the autofail alone can just disrupt that no matter how well prepeared you think you are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

None of those were strictly intended as "This is the right choice" examples.  Several of them were geared to show how I think players often think about Arkham wrong.

By "Low Priority Test" I mean tests that it would be OK to fail.  Burning skill cards on an investigate for a single clue is rarely worthwhile.  Avoiding damage from Rotting Remains seems super-important at the time, but maybe you can handle 2 horror OK and it would be better to save that Unexpected Courage.

You can't always know whether that asset might be critical next Mythos phase, but you can know if Daisy's Tote is needed, or if a Flashlight on Zoey is the best use of her actions.  This is mostly about action efficiency, which players from LOTR are very unaccustomed to worrying about.  You may not be able to FULLY know if that asset will make the difference, but you can gauge risk.

The point with the Guardian moving to kill vs. just evading wasn't about success or failure, it was about whether you can just evade and ignore - if it's not Hunter, you can probably leave it alone, but many players just think KILL!  If Wendy can reliably evade an enemy for 1 action a turn, vs. the Guardian spending 5 to move and kill, that's a win.  Even at that, the potential to fail the evade becomes something to consider strategically - perhaps you go first to try and evade, so that the Guardian can come kill it as a backup plan.

None of these stop impacting the rest of the game just because you can't guarantee their success.  It just means you have to have backup plans.  It means more strategic considerations.

47 minutes ago, xchan said:

The same concept of "low/high-priority" tests that you use show that there are some tests you need to pass. The existance of the autofail alone can just disrupt that no matter how well prepeared you think you are.

Of course it can, but that's not really any different than any other limited resource choice.  If you Test of Will a nasty card in LOTR, can you guarantee the next one won't be nastier?  Shadow cards can ruin games in an instant, which of those two enemies do you discard the Shadow from?  Do you spend your resource on another ally to block if an enemy shows up, or save it for a cancellation event?  The only real difference is that LOTR will, in some cases, allow you to reduce the risk to zero.  I happen to think that's actually a negative for the game, but I can certainly understand the other viewpoint.  All I'm saying is that it's a difference of degree only, and a fairly minor one at that.

 

Edit: Not trying to be argumentative here, truly :)  I do think people overblow the randomness of Arkham without looking at the larger picture of that randomness, but that doesn't mean you have to like it - everyone's threshold for that will be personal.

Edited by Buhallin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@xchan - I feel you on that.  Arkham totally isolates players when they aren't in the same location.  I think this is fitting for the game type, and more a difference in strategic play than a positive / negative about either game.  This is a good point to note that I may have overlooked.  Arkham allows cooperation primarily in the form of committing cards to tests for players at your location.  There are other ways to interact with players but they will always require you be at the same location.  Most of the teamwork is about each player specializing in their role, in attacking, tanking (evading), grabbing clues, utility.  Each player should also include some cards that can help if they are confronted with tasks their investigator isn't so great with.  I've found it is typical for players to be able to converge at important points to group up though.

LOTR is definitely more of a puzzle.  Deckbuilding is as involved in tough quests as actually playing the game is, and you can expect to play the same quest multiple times before you feel you really have a good understanding of the quest and have a good deck for it.  Meanwhile Arkham is less a puzzle, and more a play experience.  You are almost always at odds with the Chaos bag, and should become familiar with +how much you need to be on a skill check to have reliable success, and always need to be ready for the auto-fail token...  BUT Arkham is more lenient.  Failing a test can snowball, but most characters can take a hit or two and still continue through the missions.  I've had several missions where I've ended only 1`-2 health / sanity away from my character failing.

LOTR has a stiffer penalty if a character falls though.  In LOTR I played through some quests with my buddy, and I had 2 heroes fall in the last few quests.  By the rules of LOTR for campaign play when a character dies they are dead.  I had to refit my deck with a different character shoe-horned in to try to make it work.  In Arkham we had a character at 3 mental trauma, once from The Gathering R1, and twice from going insane before a mission ended... but we still completed the scenarios.  It was a great joke around the table how Zoey was becoming mentally unhinged (or was she really just talking to god more?).

My point being - in LOTR failure is more final.  If you miss a few key tests early that could be the game as you are overwhelmed by a relentless treachery deck, where Arkham handles you rough but you are better suited to take a few failures and still complete the mission.

Edited by shosuko

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, shosuko said:

LOTR has a stiffer penalty if a character falls though.  In LOTR I played through some quests with my buddy, and I had 2 heroes fall in the last few quests.  By the rules of LOTR for campaign play when a character dies they are dead.

We've found the opposite in our Saga game.  Since you can choose to pick whether to keep the result or replay, a dead hero just becomes a failed mission and we replay.  The penalties for moving forward - especially if you have a fairly specialized deck - are simply too severe.  I run a nicely thematic Hobbit deck.  You kill Sam and Pippin and it's all over.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

idk I mean of course you could just re-play, but I'd rather take a victory with a penalty than replay just to get it perfect.  If LOTR LCG would just let me start with 1 damage on Sam instead of swapping him out I'd have had more fun, but instead I had to change up most of my deck to go with Hirluin for the next mission.  This is a big part of the appeal Arkham LCG has - there are multiple "good" and "bad" options and it can be fun to explore the challenge of a non-perfect continuation.  If every character died I would probably replay or re-start, but having 1 character pass out for health / sanity and gaining the trauma is part of the fun ^_^ 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Buhallin said:

Edit: Not trying to be argumentative here, truly :)  I do think people overblow the randomness of Arkham without looking at the larger picture of that randomness, but that doesn't mean you have to like it - everyone's threshold for that will be personal.

True. My threshold for randomness is probably lower than most. I don't mind the swinginess of drawing shadow, encounter and player cards; tt's what makes card decks replayable. But adding the chaos bag was too much for me. It feels completelly gratuitious, more because failing sometimes has no meaninful impact besides losing your action or stalling your progress.

I ended up house ruling how the commiting cards to a test work to make the game more enjoyable to me. But I know I'm on the minority here. I really can't wait for the card pool to be big enough so I can build a deck that allows me to complete the story without having to waste my actions on random tests. Just playing cards to deal with enemies and clues in a more reliable way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, shosuko said:

idk I mean of course you could just re-play, but I'd rather take a victory with a penalty than replay just to get it perfect.

If we did this, we'd probably have a starting threat around 48 and I'd be trying to figure out how to get Bombur and Lorefindel to work together :)  I think the difficulty level of LOTR just doesn't support this - as you say, Arkham is obviously designed to make failure less punishing, so it's possible to take it without crippling you.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, xchan said:

True. My threshold for randomness is probably lower than most. I don't mind the swinginess of drawing shadow, encounter and player cards; tt's what makes card decks replayable. But adding the chaos bag was too much for me. It feels completelly gratuitious, more because failing sometimes has no meaninful impact besides losing your action or stalling your progress.

I ended up house ruling how the commiting cards to a test work to make the game more enjoyable to me. But I know I'm on the minority here. I really can't wait for the card pool to be big enough so I can build a deck that allows me to complete the story without having to waste my actions on random tests. Just playing cards to deal with enemies and clues in a more reliable way.

You can just use a lower difficulty on the Chaos Token bag - The default bag gives you about 20-35% chance to pass a test you are equal to, and about 60-80% chance to pass a test when you are +2 on the test, but the symbol tokens really effect this, often Skulls are a 0, but the tablet and totem icons can be -4 or worse.  The lower difficulty level changes this so that you have about a 35-50% chance to pass a test you are even with, and 75-95% chance to pass a test you are +2 on.  I can't stress how important it is to consider how + you need to be to reliably pass a test, but also not to over-commit for a test that is less essential.

Also - I strongly recommend using a Chaos Bag App instead of actually drawing tokens.  I found the randomness of really drawing from a bag was quesationable with these cheap cardboard tokens.

There is nothing wrong with creating house rules, but I would recommend using the lower difficulty chaos bag rather than change rules, as you can transition back more easily as you become accustom to the game.  I think that it is definitely a change from what you are used to, but compared to games these days that include blank sides on dice, this game is a lot more forgiving and less random than you may believe.

It may seem like a bold statement but I doubt any player of LOTR LCG finds randomness so problematic - considering the Shadow cards in LOTR could be any of many extremely punishing options in the deck.  The times I've thought "There are two of such a shadow effect, and 3 of this other shadow effect.  If it's either of those I'm screwed, if it's not then I'm fine."  Well this is basically the same way.  In LOTR you could count cards to see which ones you may deal with, but in this game there are more finite options in better balance with more benign penalties so simply having enough + on a skill check can make you extremely confident in your success.

Edited by shosuko

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...