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New playing mode: deck championship

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Let me start off by saying that I am not a native speaker, so I apology since some parts will be hard to read especially as I have to write this down rather quickly

I really love this game, but I was thinking recently in how I can keep the game interesting after I have beaten all scenarios (while I own all packs, I have not advance past the 5th cycle). I was contemplating that it would be nice to have something like an overarching goal. Besides that I always pondered over the question which fraction or which decks are the strongest against a variety of quests and be able to have something like an objective criteria.

So I came up with the idea of a deck championship. The idea in itself is pretty simple: select a number of quests that are to be played, think in some kind of algorithm to measure performance with and ad some rule to restrain deck customization between scenarios. Now, as I have stated, while I have been a player since year 1 and 2 and plays made sure to buy the packs in advances, I was not always able to actually play a lot of games and there are a lot players on this board who are more experienced than I am. So I invite you to help me iron out the rulebook so to speak and improve the experience. In the best case scenario that I have in my head, we might afterwards maybe make a form game where each person interested submits a deck and we play a scenario each 2 week. But obviously this is still a far way off and I have quit a lot of questions. So I will start off with the more obvious stuff:

1.Playing format:

I was thinking that the championship would consist of about 20 to 25 quests of differing focus and difficulty level, so that decks are tested in different ways. I would not necessarily include the most punishing ones, but more on that later.

A competing deck would play a best-of-5 series against each quest. But I would add a little twist: While such a series would stop at three wins, it would not necessarily stop at 3 loses. The player might voluntarily decide to play more games up until the total of games played caps off at 5. So (s)he gets a chance to improve the record, but this comes with the risk of cumulating more loses.

At first I was also toying with building the championship like a golf course with the idea that each deck plays a quest until it wins two games (with a limit of games played in total obviously), but I think the best-of-5 works better.

I honestly like this rather simple structure and would not like to stray too far away from it. Later I will get back to the number of quests, etc.

2.Rating of player performance

It is needless to say that a simple Win-Loss record would not do this game any justice. A win against Carn Dum should be worth more than 3 wins against Fangorn. I think I am not alone when I assess the official difficulty rating as not being adequate. Therefore I would use the difficulty rating from hall of beorn as the foundation. While this is not perfect (naturally earlier quests have been rated a lot more often), I would consider it as an improvement.

I thought off three distinct ways to calculate a score for the performance against a quest. Each has its pro and cons, I guess, so I am really interested in feedback about this. In the following x denominates the difficulty rating of a quest divided by 10, W the numer of wins and L the number of loses against a quest:

Option 1: x*W – min(1-x; 0.01)*N

This is pretty straight forward in that each win and loss is weighted by the difficulty of the quest, so that losses against “easy” quests can be quite punishing while Wins against the heavy hitters make a hugh difference. I use the minimum function so that losses even against the hardes quests don’t go unpunished.

Option 2: (0.5 +0.5*x)*S – (0.5 + 0.5* min(1-x; 0.01))*N

The difference here is that I also weighted the difficulty weighting of the wins/losses. The idea is that wins and a loss should always have meaning and not be too dependent off the difficulty of the quest. If this added weighting parameters are 0.5/0.5 or be distributed differently would be up for discussion.

Option 3: max(x*S – min(1 – x , 0.01)*N; 0)

For those of you not familiar with the max/min function: This option is basically like Option 1 with the difference that you could never dip below 0 on the rating. This means that you should probably always play the full 5 games when you are losing. I think it takes away from strategic decisions, so it would not be my favorite.


I am aware that a lot of ways to do it differently and I would be have if someone might have a better idea. So it could be one of the options or a new idea.

3.Deck construction rules:

This will probably provoke the most discussion. Here are my thoughts about rules:

a. 3 heroes + 2 reserve heroes

question: should be 1 reserve hero only

b. deck size: 50 – 55 cards (special Erestor rule: 50 -70 cards but than Erestor may never go to the “bench”) + 7 sideboard cards.

Between plays the player may vary the number of copies of cards in his deck, but he may only take out a card of his “core deck” completely if he subs in a set of side board card (1-3 copies) in its place. A set of sideboard cards can only replace 1 set from the core deck (so for example if a player takes out 3 1-off cards from his core deck, he cannot replace it with 3 copies of 1 sideboard-card, instead he must sub in 3 sideboardcards (1-3 copies each)). A player might add a sideboard card without taking out a “core card” but he must be aware of the deck cap of 55.

Question: how many sideboard cards should there be? I was considering 5, 7 and 10. In the end I considered 10 to be too much as it would take away from the challenge of feeling restriction when constructing the deck.


Theme mode:

Now, I love to build theme decks, so I had to add a theme mode in building more restriction if one chose to play this way. In this mode there would be the following addition rules:

c. Of the 5 (or 4) heroes only one might be of a different tribe/fraction

d. the deck might at any time only include 3 sets of cards from another tribe/fraction (“thematic concession”). In total (core deck and sideboard cards) only 6 sets of such cards are allowed.

When does a card belong to a fraction/tribe?

In some cases this is quiet easy (when it is more or less printed on the card) in others it is not that easy. For example: I would say that rohan warhorse belongs to the rohan fraction even though the card is not restricted to the rohan trait. I also think such a rule applies to all named horses, all the dunedain signs I would consider belonging to the dunedain tribe. Galadriels greeting I would not consider belonging to a fraction, but I am not so sure about Elronds Counsel. I think here is much discussion to be had.

e. Main factions are:

Gondor, Rohan, Noldor, Silva, Dwarf, Hobbit, Dunedain, Dale (hope I have not forgotten anyone)

f. special rules for small factions:

A deck might be constructed with two fractions, but then at least one of these fractions must be: Ent, Eagles, Outlands, Harad, Beoring, Woodmen, Creatures( & Radagast), Isengard (& Saruman). Such decks may only at any moment include one set of cards of thematic concession and 2 of such total.

g. Deck of the free people: all heroes must be of different tribes and no more than 3 sets of allies may be of the same tribe (in total)

h. Special rulings:
Galadriel is not a “thematic concession” in silvan decks

Elladan and Elrohir are not thematic concessions in dunedain decks

Ally Gandalf does not count towards the thematic concession cap but hero Gandalf does

Imrahil is not a thematic concession in an Outland deck


I guess some of you are more familiar with the lore might come up with more special rulings.


4.Season structure:

My idea is the following: There is a pre-season in which you can fine tune your deck: This pre-season are the first 2 quests of the core set (passage through mirkwood and journey down (?) the Anduin). You might play them as often as you like.

After that the season starts. I was thinking that 20 quests might be a good idea, but 15 or 25 might work even better. As mentioned before I have only played through 5 cycles. I came up with the following list. I did not consider saga quests, mind you:

Quest 1: Hunt for Gollom  à An easy start to get going

Quest 2: Massing at Osgiliath à I really like the balance of this quest, but since not everybody has this, it can be replaced

Quest 3: The seventh level

Quest 4:The Redhorn gate

Quest 5: Foundation of stone

Quest 6: Into Ithilien

Quest 7: The steward’s fear

Quest 8: The Morgul Vale

Quest 9: The Fords of Isen

Quest 10: The Dunland Trap

Quest 11: The Three Trials

Quest 12: Trouble in Tharbad

Quest 13: The weather hills

Quest 14: Dadmen’s dike

Quest 15: Escape from Mount Gram

Quest 16: The Dream Realm

Quest 17-20: ?

What quests would you consider?

The beauty of this is, that it is like creating a golf course and you can make it really hard or a bit softer (if you plan a “league” for weaker, very thematic decks).


Anyways that’s it for now. I would really appreciate your feedback.

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This sounds like a great idea to me. Too bad I’ll never have the time to try it out.

I have one suggestion regarding quest difficulty ratings. I don’t know what method hall of beorn uses, but if it’s based off the randomly drawn official difficulty ratings, it’s most likely flawed. I frequently use the LotR Quest Companion to measure a quest’s difficulty. Each one is decided solely by voting from players, which makes it a very accurate method.

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I agree with the others that getting a lot of people to play a lot of quests would be a difficult proposition.  If you look at the monthly solo league, our participation is low even with a modest three quest requirement.  But the very first league (using Mirkwood, so accessible to the largest number) had by far the highest participation -- and also had a lot of people who didn't take any tokens at all and defeated the quests, something I didn't expect with single decks taking on Return to Mirkwood.

Indeed, one objection to the format of the solo league is that if someone is dedicated to winning the league, they can beat practically every non-nightmare quest by subbing a mandatory hero in the Theodred/Beravor/SpEowyn lineup and subbing cycle cards into a core-heavy standard deck for zero outside cards (the first tiebreaker).  Skilled players + powerful archtypes take down most normal quests reliably.  So for instance, if Rouxxor took his optimized archtype decks (he has a lot of them) and played them against 15-25 normal quests, he'd probably end up with zero losses with any of the decks, and then where does the playoff stand?

However, I've contemplated how to best do a playoff myself.  I've produced a fair number of Stereotypical Decks for given archtypes based on ringsdb decks, and when the hiatus comes I'll have a complete set of cards to do semi-final updates of them.  Eventually I'll have 32 of them, I'm sure, and that calls for a playoff.  These aren't optimized decks, and I'm not an especially skilled player, so I wouldn't be able to steamroll *everything* like Rouxxor could, but most decks will still beat the majority of quests with zero tokens and then what?  I could use score, but I don't like score at all.  I could repeat quests, but that not only adds a lot of time, there's no guarantee it will distinguish outcome.  So how to break ties?  One possibility I'm thinking about is using a zero-token tie to toss the quest from further consideration, so the easier quests get weeded out during the tournament.

Another possibility is to use the build-your-own competitive print-on-demand to set up head-to-head conflicts, using random encounter sets and a pre-defined algorithm for "enemy choose" effects.  That format is specifically designed to produce a head-to-head winner, although it rewards speed over reliability.  It also doesn't tell us anything about what particular quests are good at.

I think the easiest way to get semi-useful strength statistics is if logging plays for specific decks becomes popular at ringsdb -- if that happens, then the site could calculate the record of a deck with a given hero or even card against a specific quest, without obliging any particular individuals to play them all.

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