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Okay. I have some thoughts to share on Heirs of Numenor, that hopefully some of you will find helpful or at least entertaining if you get through my wall of text. (sorry in advance) :)

Since release, Heirs of Numenor (HoN for here on out) has been heralded as the standard for LotR LCG brutality. Players constantly talk about how difficult it was, new players were sometimes encouraged to skip it, and all three quests essentially never saw play due to how hard they were. When players had success against HoN's quests, it often came from specifically tailored, fine-tuned decks, and these made and piloted by experienced vets. When I recently opened my own copy of HoN, I was braced for the worst.

After playing each quest multiple times, I was somewhat disappointed. I have a bold statement to make: HEIRS OF NUMENOR IS NOT THAT HARD! I concede that it's three quests are much harder than most others that I've played, but they are nowhere near as difficult as I gathered from the general consensus.  Let me break it down quest-by-quest

Peril in Pelargir is the hardest of the bunch for me personally. Its encounter cards aren't as devastating as those from the other two quests, but the puzzle nature sets it apart from its rather straightforward siblings. I've yet to run away with a clear win against this one, always finishing with a high threat and damage all over the place. But all you need to win this one is a really strong early game from a heavy-duty combat squad. As long as you don't depend on allies too much (thanks to the Zealous Traitors), the only thing standing in your way is the ability to build up a board than can suddenly shift to willpower questing quickly; before the encounter deck outlasts you.

Now, let me take a deep breath here, because this next sentence is close to blasphemy.       Okay.     Into Ithilien is not hard to win. I know, know, but I'm serious! I've played it six times now, with the only loss coming from a Mumakil and a Southron Company engaging me on the first round. I've beaten it multiple times each route (stage two and three). Yes, two wins were with a Dwarf deck that also took down Assault on Dol Guldur, but all you really need is a decent combat deck. On the first round, seek to blow out the Ithilien Road. Build up your board while you let Celador take hits until he's gone (trust me, it's for a good cause :ph34r:). You should be able to defeat stage two and four with minimal resistance. Those Blocking Wargs can cause problems, but you should be fine as long as you don't threat out.

As for Siege of Cair Andros, I honestly don't know how anyone who knows what they're doing could possibly lose this one, barring some (reasonably possible, I grant you) bad luck. A deck that starts with two strong defenders and a strong attacker and stuffed with allies and tactics good stuff  consistently does the trick (Beregond/Legolas/Gimli and Beregond/Elladan/Elrohir are great hero lineups). Quest like a madman until you can clear the Banks, otherwise stage two will kill you. You should be able to take an undefended attack or two on the approach, but it's a high priority to explore that one too; removing stage three from the deck. Letting the Citadel fall to attacks is a crucial step to success though, as counter-intuitive as that may be. This will keep your Victory Point total low enough to keep stage five in siege mode, meaning you can siege-quest the entire game.

Any thoughts? Do you agree? Is it just me? Or did I just mis-perceive how our fine community looks at this expansion? Whatever the case, I hope I don't sound like I'm just boasting. I recognize that's quite likely, but I assure you; that was not my intent. There are many members of this community that probably have much better records against these quests than I.

Anyway, my main reason for this post is to just let my thoughts out in a way other than voicing my opinions to myself. To anyone that read any of this rambling, thank you. :)

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Are you playing progression Style?

Playing this quest with modern decks, they're like fine wine, they are just fun and can represent a challenge. Like wine, in the way they've aged

If you play these progression style, or when they came out, they are absolutely brutal. If you are playing progression style and it found them easy, then I commend you on your play! But for me, into ithilien and Siege of caire andros are two of the most difficult quests I've ever played. 

Progression Style, ruins of belegost, dunland trap, to catch an orc, Battle of carn Dum, raid on the gray Havens, and the druedain forest are the only other quests to give me so much trouble, after a quick look through

It is interesting to see, given the length and breadth of the game oh, what different people find difficult, with different people find not difficult, what people prefer, and what people don't like, in terms of quests. Everyone is unique in their tastes, and what they find challenging

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I started out following Beorn's Path through the first cycle, and continued through subsequent cycles with the same hero lineup, modifying the deck as new cards came online.  And honestly the hero lineup wasn't *that* bad for the cycle, only Morgul Vale was beyond terrible.  Still, I think the same thing happens to a lot of players -- they have a lineup and deck that work well, hit Heirs of Numenor, and the deck doesn't work *nearly* as well, because they just aren't set up for battle questing out of the gate.  In the first two cycles you can bring attack online slowly -- in Heirs you can't.

So consider Siege of Cair Andros.  If you run tactics heavy with strong attacking/defending heroes, yes it can be an easy quest to siege your way to victory.  But there aren't a lot of either of those in the first two cycle, and you're running your tried-and-true Theodred-Beravor-Eowyn deck, questing is going to *struggle* out of the gate.  Especially if an Orc Vanguard is in the staging area.  Or Master of Malice comes out and you can't cancel it.  Or the non-cancellable Power of Mordor comes out and sweeps those battleground locations away, forcing you to go through all the stages.  This is a *dang* tough quest if you haven't built your deck *and chosen your heroes* specifically for this quest.

That's actually my main beef with those encounter sets in Heirs/Shadow, really.  I don't like having the quest pick my heroes for me, if I want to have a respectable chance of winning.

I think there's two different ways to look at quest difficulty -- what the winning percentage would be against a deck specifically optimized for that quest, and what the winning percentage would be against a set of unoptimized decks.  Someday I'd like to take my tribal Stereotypical decks through all the cycles and see how many tokens they require to win (using Grace of Valar variant for speed and a guaranteed win), I think that might give a more nuanced picture on how challenging certain quests are (though my skill in piloting each deck is unfortunately not a constant). 

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I remember my experience with Hon...

I play progression stile only when facing a quest the first time.

Peril in pelagir was not difficult to beat. I found other earlier quest much more troublesome ( return mirkwood for example).

Into Ithlien was Nightmarish.  Full stop. I never had the same wall with later quest. In part it may be due to me becoming better as a player.  Don't know. But it was brutal.

Cair Andros was difficult but not so much. Actually was the one I enjoyed the most playing at the time. It was a strong combat quest but "fair" in the way it hit at players. 

With modern card pool Hon is not that hard. But in progression we have yet to see another deluxe box so challenging.

Edited by Halberto

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If we ever get another similar challenging deluxe box in progression, it will be equally hard for a modern card pool, as the modern pool is equal to a progression one. But I highly doubt, this will be the case, because it would only drive customers away. Brutal scenarios are more likely to be released as nightmare decks or PoD.

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@player1683311 All of the wins and strategies I discussed actually came from progression style play. ;)

17 hours ago, dalestephenson said:

I think there's two different ways to look at quest difficulty -- what the winning percentage would be against a deck specifically optimized for that quest, and what the winning percentage would be against a set of unoptimized decks.

This is a very important point, so thank you for making it. I know many players don't have the time, incentive, or enjoyment for crafting decks for specific quests.

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I'd also like to point out that when many of us first played HoN, it was before Blocking Wargs had been errataed. Blocking wargs with recurring surges in Into Ithilien were pretty brutal. And as I recall, there was another card in Peril in Pelargir that could generate chains of nasty and potentially game ending surge combo effects (I think it was a Treachery called "Local Trouble" or something like that, don't have time to look it up). 

I definitely remember enjoying Siege of Cair Andros more than Peril and Ithilien.

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1 hour ago, TwiceBorn said:

I'd also like to point out that when many of us first played HoN, it was before Blocking Wargs had been errataed. Blocking wargs with recurring surges in Into Ithilien were pretty brutal. And as I recall, there was another card in Peril in Pelargir that could generate chains of nasty and potentially game ending surge combo effects (I think it was a Treachery called "Local Trouble" or something like that, don't have time to look it up). 

I definitely remember enjoying Siege of Cair Andros more than Peril and Ithilien.

Collateral damage could known you out in one go. Local trouble is another treachery in there that raises your threat (condition attachment)

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6 hours ago, TwiceBorn said:

I'd also like to point out that when many of us first played HoN, it was before Blocking Wargs had been errataed. Blocking wargs with recurring surges in Into Ithilien were pretty brutal. And as I recall, there was another card in Peril in Pelargir that could generate chains of nasty and potentially game ending surge combo effects (I think it was a Treachery called "Local Trouble" or something like that, don't have time to look it up). 

I definitely remember enjoying Siege of Cair Andros more than Peril and Ithilien.

True. At the wrong time, non errata Bloking wargs  could crush even decks built with full card pool. It was so unfair and unmanageable that the designers felt the obligation to need it. Probably the first time they had to totally downgrade an encounter cards....

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5 hours ago, player1683311 said:

Collateral damage could known you out in one go. Local trouble is another treachery in there that raises your threat (condition attachment)

Ah yes, Collateral Damage was the one I had in mind. 

Edited by TwiceBorn

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I play solo one deck, i do of course tweak my deck for a quest but i am not overly keen on having to specifically build a whole deck again to beat a scenario. Heirs of Numenor did not end up as one of my more favoured box sets overall, but it was better than i expected and i only bought it last year.

Peril in Pelargir - well, i decided in the end that this is one of my least favourite quests of all time. I just got frustrated trying to win, and every time i felt like i was getting somewhere another nightmare card would undo me. Also the theme was a little boring to me. I can certainly see why this one is considered too hard.

Into Ithilien - the easiest one in the box to me, tough yes but i was able to build a deck to cope ok and beat it from time to time. The rangers popping up is one of my favourite mechanics in the game. So an A+ from me as i like this quest a lot.

Siege of Cair Andros - came across to me as a similar but harder Battle of Five Armies with Orcs instead of Goblins, which thematically makes sense for it to be harder. I enjoy it, but it is a quest i beat rarely.

I generally do not mind losing multiple times if i genuinely feel i do have a chance for it all to come together soon in a great victory.  I never got that feeling from Peril but i did for the other two. In the end i judge less by difficulty and more by did i enjoy the story, theme and did i want to keep trying the same quest over again > My box set views.

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On 1/28/2019 at 3:47 PM, Wandalf the Gizzard said:

I think the errata to Blocking Wargs was to prevent a broken situation (Blocking Wargs could continue looping if multiple copies of that card were the only ones left in the encounter deck), not to nerf its power.

Correct. Meaning it was actually "nerfed" in a way. Now the blocking wages chain is not possible anymore both in the form of infinite loop nor in the form of multiples hits in subsequent rounds.

The effect is still the same but the impact on the game is totally decreased vs original version. 

Not so different from the nerf we received on players cards such as poor master of lore or Ta-boromir where the effect of their ability is not changed but the impact on actual games did (Boromir is still very good obviously).

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This sadly sometimes happens with erratas. One example is the errata to Master of Lore, which didn't solve the problem. Horn of Gondor ended up being errata'd as well, dismantling the combo with Erebor Hammersmith and Borne Aloft, but the damage was done.

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Probably Horn was errataed because of Silvan synergy .

In combo with o Loren it would have created a loop too favourable to players.

Pay 1 for a Silvan ally, trigger it's entering ability, Quest, attack and trigger a return to hand event for benefiting of its effect AND get back the resources paid in the planning phase. Rinse and repeat. 

Too OP  to be let happen

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I think it's likely that the infinite cards/resources combo fueled by Horn of Gondor was the reason it was errata-ed.  Are Silvans the reason why it was changed to unlimited when destroyed instead of exhausted leave from play?  It's possible, but I don't think there's anything OP about Horn of Gondor generating 1 resource per turn in a Silvan deck.  If you're running O Lorien in a Silvan deck you have access to Steward of Gondor, which gives you unconditional 2 resources per turn in any deck, without taking a restricted slot to use it.  Besides, they could've cut Silvans out of the loop by having it be "when discarded or destroyed" instead of leaves play, which would at least let Horn of Gondor serve its first-cycle purpose of supporting the earliest tribes of Rohan and Eagles.

But I've complained about the errata before, and I'll likely complain again the next time they do it.  Prior to the last round of errata, while some of the errata was badly done IMO (Master of Lore, Horn of Gondor), they at least addressed some sort of degenerate deck that could exploit an unlimited ability.  The only errata I think that was purely to prevent OP is limiting Beravor's card draw to once per round, which is a sensible limit.  But the last round nerfed Boromir, Caldara, and Hama out of pure OP concerns, and damaged a lot of published decks in the process.  I hope they aren't looking for other heroes to nerf.

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Dori is a missed opportunity.  With an Action ability instead of a response it would have made a solid multiplayer card. 

Even as a response it would still be good if targetting allies in addition to heroes.  

As he is, his ability is so limited to put him well below the avg bar for heroes. 

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