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I’ve (re) started playing this game. I play with my gaming group and solo. But solo is sometimes so difficult that I’m losing the fun in playing.

Now I’ve heard that people play solo with two decks. How do you play solo? What are the advantages/disadvantages?

Thanks

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True solo is generally more difficult both in deck building and in game decision. Two hands is easy to play ( in the sense that you don't have to track and remember tons of thing like playing solo with 3 or 4 hands) and open to more freedom in deck building and play style.  It enables keyword like range and sentinel that are meaningless in pure solo. I play both and generally find two hands more fun and less challenging.  Try yourself and decide.

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Controlling two decks is a great way to open up deckbuilding options, and I’d say most quests are slightly harder with one deck than two. The downside would be it’s harder to keep track of stuff than in pure solo.

How? Use two player decks, reveal two encounter cards per turn, all the rules are the same as in a normal two player game, except you’re playing as if you were player one and player two. So you control both decks.

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I definitely prefer 2-handed, and would never go back to 1-handed. 

If each hand uses 2 spheres, you have access to all 4 spheres, which means you never need to worry about "missing" any cards.

Also, playing 2-handed means you have twice as many opportunities to boost not just one hand's cards but *both* hands' cards.  (For example, Dain boosts all dwarves in play, not just the dwarves belonging to Dain's hand/"player").

Playing 2-handed might require a little more overhead, but it's not much, and the benefits will likely quickly overshadow the extra work.  At least, they did for me.

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23 hours ago, tripecac said:

I definitely prefer 2-handed, and would never go back to 1-handed. 

If each hand uses 2 spheres, you have access to all 4 spheres, which means you never need to worry about "missing" any cards.

Also, playing 2-handed means you have twice as many opportunities to boost not just one hand's cards but *both* hands' cards.  (For example, Dain boosts all dwarves in play, not just the dwarves belonging to Dain's hand/"player").

I've always played "pure" one handed solo.  Never seriously considered doing otherwise, I've enjoyed the challenge of playing one handed.  You make a good argument though.  Each sphere has certain valuable attributes, and if you're playing one handed you're just going to have to do without some of them.  And that can be a pretty noticeable gap.  Also, I've been playing some solo "Journeys in Middle-Earth", and you essentially play two handed in that, since you control two characters.

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Chalk me up for solo one-handed only. I just find it War simpler and faster to play. If you want options play tri-sphere with Grima and sword Thain the missing sphere haha. Or find heroes that have two spheres naturally or play Sagas where you have an extra hero. 

 

Now all that being said a great way to play when getting started is start with an extra resource on each hero as a harder version of easy mode. 

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I've played both and intend to continue playing both.  The player count affects both the utility of decks and the difficulty of the quest -- when I was starting out using Beorn's Path-derived decks, I'd play with both decks together if both the individual decks failed to take the quest down.  And I like to try all the heroes, while exclusively playing one-hand or two-hand would make certain heroes near-worthless.

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I was one-handed for a while, but just finished Heirs of Numenor and Khazad-dum two-handed. I intend to go into Angmar Awakened two-handed (one Noldor quest deck and one dunedain combat deck). After that, I may switch back to one-handed. When I re-play the campaign, I'll almost certainly do one-handed.

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I play one-handed solo exclusively. Not tried 2 handed yet. Multiplayer isn't really an option for me as I don't know anybody else who would be interested in playing.

I have all the cards but playing through progression style (up to the Heirs of Numenor cycle).

In my opnion, there is no "better" way to play solo, it's about finding what works for you. 

As I see it with one-handed:
- scenarios on the whole are a bit tougher
- miss out on using some card traits (sentinal and ranged)
- miss out on the greater synergy playing with 2 decks would bring
- each scenario usually requires deck building
- having multi scenario decks (i.e. one deck to rule them all) will be easier once I have access to more cards I guess
- relatively quick to set up a game (this is quite important one for me, as finding time to play is usually tough)
- less cards/combinations to manage in your head as you play
- I find I don't use Tactics cards much

Apart from the odd quest (i.e. Escape from Dol Guldur, Return to Mirkwood) I've found them all to be enjoyable as a solo player so far.

I'm planning to go back to some quests after finishing progression and playing two-handed. I quite like the idea that once I've played through all the quests I will still have this whole two-handed approach to look forward to (which in theory should prolong the life-span of the game).

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You could always try the 'Fellowship' rules which combine 2 hands into one. The advantage of this is that the bookkeeping is easier, but you still get the benefits of two hands. I used this variant for about 2 years when I first got into the game. I copy my own variant on this system below:

DRJ VARIANT - LORD OF THE RINGS – MODIFIED FELLOWSHIP RULES

ADAPTED FROM "SIMBO SMITH"

These rules are for solo players who want to play with 6 heroes all at once in one group, rather than split across two hands. How to play this variant and the rules changes are shown below:

GAME SETUP

Have one player deck of 50 cards as per normal. Draw 8 cards as your starting hand. You may mulligan. 

Choose more than 3 heroes (usually 6) and lay them side by side all in one hand.

When calculating your threat, use 2 threat trackers. When you add up your heroes' starting threat you divide it in half and you put each half on one threat tracker. So if your starting threat is 60, you'd put 30 on each tracker. If it’s 61, you'd put 31 on one and 30 on the other.

RESOURCE PHASE

Draw 2 cards from your deck into your hand.

Each hero gains one resource as per normal. 

PLANNING PHASE

There are no changes to this

QUEST PHASE

This is exactly the same as per normal, but play two cards from the encounter deck into the staging area. 

TRAVEL PHASE

There are no changes to this

ENCOUNTER PHASE

There are no changes to this

COMBAT PHASE

There are no changes to this

REFRESH PHASE

You add 1 threat to each threat tracker at the end of the round. 

CARD EFFECTS

When it comes to any card effect that talks about the number of players, you always use 2 but you play the game as if you were 1 person. There is no 'first' player

When you have to add threat to your tracker due to a card effect or failed quest resolution, you always add it to the lowest one (if they are both the same then obviously it doesn't matter which one you choose). You are not allowed to split the cost up and put half on each tracker - you always have to add the whole lot to the lowest one.

When you have to work out what your threat is during the game, you always take the highest one. So if your threat trackers were showing 35 and 33, your threat is 35, enemies will engage the entire group at 35. 

All the other rules stay the same.

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21 hours ago, GILLIES291 said:

Chalk me up for solo one-handed only. I just find it War simpler and faster to play. If you want options play tri-sphere with Grima and sword Thain the missing sphere haha. Or find heroes that have two spheres naturally or play Sagas where you have an extra hero. 

Whoa, you get an extra hero in Saga?  I haven't got to the Sagas yet, but I had assumed the game mechanics were the same, except there are some campaign-like features.

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I’ve played both 2-handed and pure solo a good deal, and I massively prefer 2-handed. I stopped playing pure solo almost entirely; sometimes I do so on OCTGN only, to test a deck meant to be self-sufficient, but I haven’t played pure solo with physical cards in years. I just prefer the deckbuilding flexibility that comes with 2-handed, and I think many quests balance better with 2 players.

I’ll say this for pure solo though: I think more people pay attention to your deck on RingsDb if it’s meant for 1-handed play ;)

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19 minutes ago, Vince79 said:

Whoa, you get an extra hero in Saga?  I haven't got to the Sagas yet, but I had assumed the game mechanics were the same, except there are some campaign-like features.

Yes it's pretty cool you get Bilbo (for the Hobbit), Frodo (for missions where he is the focus) or Aragorn (for his great battles). It's pretty cool and definitely helps against the harder difficulty of those scenarios. And you get cool boon cards that are upgrades or special weapons that stay with you.

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On 8/15/2019 at 7:54 AM, GILLIES291 said:

Yes it's pretty cool you get Bilbo (for the Hobbit), Frodo (for missions where he is the focus) or Aragorn (for his great battles). It's pretty cool and definitely helps against the harder difficulty of those scenarios. And you get cool boon cards that are upgrades or special weapons that stay with you.

Having Bilbo or Frodo join your Hobbit deck is a great boon and increases its flexibility

The only downside would be that you loose the use of (Spirit) Frodo and (Tactics)  Bilbo, who are two of my favorite heroes for a Hobbit deck

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I've only played solo or three-player and I can tell you from experience that multiplayer can be really hard as well. You can start chain pulls of encounter cards with surge in certain quests that basically wreck you from the start. However, you do get extra copies of certain cards that can be played that can really help like A Test of Will or Hasty Stroke. Speaking of A Test of Will, my playgroup has started making A Test of Will neutral as well as spirit so all of us don't have to play a spirit hero. If you play it neutral however it costs two resources to play. Enjoy the game!

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If you're into OCTGN, here are tips on playing 2-handed in OCTGN:

https://talesfromthecards.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/a-quick-guide-to-octgn-two-handed/

I almost always play with OCTGN rather than physical cards, mostly because in building and resetting virtual decks is a lot faster.  But OCTGN lacks the tactile appeal of board/card games, so I can see why many people prefer playing with the real cards.

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One thing that no one seems to have mentioned is that it’s quite rare to get location locked in one handed. There are only 12 location cards with surge (not counting nightmare cards) in the whole game, so you are pretty reliably going to get max 1 location per turn. That means you can clear it each turn without any location control. The more hands you add, the more location control cards become essential. 

For example, I have a Silvan deck which stomps in one handed, but because it has no location control cards it HAS to be paired with a deck that does in multiplayer or it gets stuck pretty consistently.

So there are other things besides sentinel and ranged which only really show their value in 2+ handed. 

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15 hours ago, Schrodinger's Hat said:

...

So there are other things besides sentinel and ranged which only really show their value in 2+ handed. 

That's a really good point and a really good example. Some mechanics that don't scale with added players (e.g., you can only choose to travel to one location per round) do change the game and impact deck building with the move from 1-handed to 2-handed.

Edited by eliodoloro

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I like to mix it up and go back and forth. There is something satisfying about taking a difficult quest and beating it solo. There's also something satisfying about making two decks intended to complement each other and then seeing them come together to beat the same difficult scenario.

In general I like to go for the impossible; I like to make decks that can hold their own solo but then contribute a definite strength when paired with another deck. For example I made an Elven deck designed to play solo (Elrond, Galadrial, sp-Glorfindel) and it does have a general specialty but I try to keep it ready for anything. When I took the deck to GenCon and played the "competitive" mode I paired with a guy who had built a pure combat deck. So I became the quest workhouse while he fought whatever he could and I helped out there only if needed.

I will say that sometimes when I'm playing solo I just want a quick quest or a challenge I'm familiar with. Call me a simpleton (and I'll accept it) but sometimes I just like sitting back and taking a deck through Passage Through Mirkwood. I've played it dozens of times and I like how it can still surprise me if the cards draw right. If I'm in the mood to challenge a deck I'll take it through Journey Down the Anduin or Hunt for Gollum. However if I'm in the mood to progress or try new quests I will most likely do them two-handed solo or at that point not play solo and involve someone else.

I think when it all comes down to it I love all the different ways that the game can be played. It increases longevity for the game. I  recently became aware of people who regularly play the game 4-player and that blows my mind. I would love to try that out sometime. Does anyone play 4-handed solo for that matter? So many possibilities!

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Wow, 4 handed solo...  That's a lot of OCTGN instances!  Can it even be done?

I can imagine it would hurt the brain.  And not to mention the morale when you draw 4 encounter cards each turn, some of which are surges... sheesh!

Some of the scenarios use the encounter deck as a timer (e.g., Hobbit Saga trolls).  So playing 4 handed means you have 1/4 as many turns to finish the quest as 1-handed. 

Interesting idea, though...

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I have tried 4-handed solo once or twice. It's an incredible mental load, and I don't think I'd recommend it. It was a lot of OCTGN instances, also, and that can be taxing on the machine.

It was enjoyable, though - just for me it sometimes passed the line between "a lot to keep track of" and "this is just too much, it's actually cutting in to my ability to have fun."

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