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Rank the cycles (quest and story)

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So I'm trying to figure out where to go back into the game after a break. I'm halfway through Harad, but so far the story and quests haven't really appealed to me. So, how do you rank the cycles you've played? Ignoring the player cards entirely. I have enough player cards to try out new decks, but I'm looking for the best quests in the game.

 

Here's my list:

1. Angmar Awakened (Favorite part of the lore, likeable allies, fun diverse quests, satisfying bossfight)

2. Dream-chaser (Innovative sailing mechanics, pirates themed, dissapointing reveal of the mystery)

3. Khazad-Dum (Feels very much like Moria, very close to the books, repeats the same story within the cycle, bs treachery's)

4 Against the shadow (Some really cool quests, some boring ones, annoying mono-sphere treachery's)

5 Haradrim (I'm only up to the second AP, nothing stoot out for me so far, does it get better?)

6 Shadows of Mirkwood (Early development questionable design but also fun and memorable, Anduin still holds up as one of the best)

7 Ring Maker (Story didn't grap me as cool as helping Saruman is, SO MANY COUNTERS AND TRIGGERS, such a mental chore to play)

8 Hobbit Saga (Thematic at the cost of fun quest design, too gimicky)

 

Unranked:

LotR saga, Ered Mithril, Vengance of Mordor

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Hmm, I've only played four of those, but I'll rank what I know:

1.  Dwarrowdelf Cycle (You got the name wrong lol.  This was the highlight of the game for me, fun, thematic, all those dwarf cards).

2.  Shadows of Mirkwood (Yeah, there's some flaws but the game hadn't gotten too fiddly yet).

3.  Hobbit Saga (I agree too gimmicky but I liked the treasures and using Bilbo, I thought it was fun playing the stories from the book).

4.  Against the Shadow (A little too fiddly for my taste, but the main reason I put this last is I felt like I was banging my head against a wall for almost the whole cycle.  Only one or two places to take a breather.  Others may like it for just that reason though).

 

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I think you've provided some good summaries there. Here are my thoughts:

 

1. Lord of the Rings Saga – Almost all of the quests I consider good or great. Perfect realisation of theme without compromising on mechanics. Love the boons/burdens and fallen heroes, just wish there was even more of the campaign aspect.

2. Dwarrowdelf – Much nostalgia for this cycle, even if there are some weaknesses in quest mechanics – and the general wrongness of investigating Moria before the LotR. But it does feel like Moria with its good use of locations, and if you have the Nightmare packs it holds up especially well.

3. Angmar Awakened – Would rank this lower if I wanted to avoid teeth-gnashing, but overall the cycle's a win for showing us Arnor in all its darkness and throwing up formidable challenges. Escape from Mount Gram is the only loser for me in this one.

4. Ered Mithrin – Varied quests with the right amount of difficulty. One thing I really dislike is the story; thought the refugee plot should have ended in Gondor, and the whole rehashing of/homage to The Hobbit did not work for me. But I'd been clamouring for dragons and treasure and dwarf-ruins in the NE for years and the game delivered, so not going to complain much.

5. Dream-chaser – Enjoyed the ships and sailing, didn't care for the pirate-ish stuff (too Hollywood does 18th c Caribbean for me). Always happy to play this one through though. Pursuing a Corsair fleet and exploring Numenorean ruins are both thematic wins.

6. Shadows of Mirkwood – Bit of an odd one, as a number of quests have not aged well or were always weak. Really benefits from the Nightmare treatment. Big points for capturing and expanding a great piece of lore and getting the general feel of the region. Journey Down the Anduin and Conflict at the Carrock are always fun, and thematically Hunt for Gollum and Return to Mirkwood are perfect.

7. Against the Shadow – I may still be slightly biased for how punishing it was when it first came out (and how many times I had to play the bloody Morgul Vale), but now appreciate the almost puzzle-like nature of the first couple rounds of Peril in Pelargir and Ambush in Ithilien. And Steward's Fear will likely always make my top ten. Thematically it's okay, but nothing that creative.

8. Ring-maker – This was my least favourite cycle for a long while, but has climbed a bit due to its premise of unwittingly doing tasks for Saruman. I like how it sets up the Isengard situation we see in LotR and there's a really good variety in the quests when it comes to where you go and what you're doing. Downsides are all the tokens/counters, general fiddliness, and punishment for card draw.

9. Haradrim – Quite a few mechanically solid quests, but this cycle was a real dud on theme. Way too samey overall; I did not want to see more spiders, wargs and orcs here, and fighting apes and tigers was just odd (though I did enjoy capturing the oliphants). A missed opportunity to explore Umbar in any sort of depth.

10. Hobbit Saga – As you said. Appreciate the experimentation to represent theme (which is harder to do than with LotR) but it didn't work for the most part. Glad they learned their lesson. I do like Battle of Five Armies.

Edited by Will Anderson

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Fun excercise. 

1. Ered Mithrin- Wilds is when I rejoined the game and was current with.  I also enjoyed the story and setting and quests and player cards easily my favourite.

2. Angmar Awakened

3. A Shadow in the East my second current cycle and enjoyable challenge 

4 Harad enjoyed this cycle

5 Dream Chaser was so much fun

6 Mirkwood love the setting and nostalgia to my first round of playing this game 

8 Hobbit Saga really enjoyed it

9 Dwarrowdelf petty good cycle

10 Heirs of Numenor definitely liked this cycle just don’t remember it all that well now

11 ring maker this cycle had to of my least favourite quests 

not ranked LoTR saga as I still haven’t played those boxes yet

Edited by Ywingscum

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Leaving out the current cycle since it isn't finished.

Story:

1. LOTR -- it's not an original story to the designers, but it's the best story, and the quests invoke the events of the trilogy well.

2. Hobbit -- again benefits from being invented by Tolkien directly, but the designers did a great job of invoking the elements of the story

3. Ringmaker -- of the original stories, I like this one the best by far.  The amount of damage the heroes do in good faith while working for Saruman is truly impressive.

4. Harad -- while this lacks anything like the deep implications of Ringmaker, I like the story of good people in a land dominated by Sauron, resisting evil against hopeless odds out of love for their family and friends.

5. Angmar -- long connected story with dire consequences at stake in an iconic but unexplored area of the map.

6. Heirs -- yes, the end surprised me.

7. Dreamchaser -- I like the story, Na'asiyah, and exploring the oceans, but the artifact at stake doesn't impress me with as much menace as the cycles listed above.  I also take off points for ending the cycle in a cliffhanger!

8.  Core/Mirkwood -- ostensibly following the canonical search for gollum, there's not enough Gollum in it.

9.  Ered Mithrin -- for the most part I love the dragon-hunting story, but the treatment of Urdug in Roam Across Rhovanion was horrifying.

10. Dwarrowdelf -- the story is well told and the setting of the Mines of Moria is probably my favorite in the game.  The problem is that by completing the cycle you learn both Balin's fate and that there's a Balrog in Moria, meaning you *have* to lose in order to avoid upsetting the canonical timeline.

Quest design:

1. Dreamchaser -- my favorite for quest design, I think all the quests are good.

2. Harad -- I don't think it's as innovative as Dreamchaser, but I again think the quests are all solid

3. Mithrin -- mostly well designed, but Ghost of Framsburg can take *forever* to defeat.

4. Angmar -- well designed, but the brutality of the shadows makes it not as fun as the  top three.

5. LOTR -- for the most part exceptional, but the very end of the saga boosts into nightmare status and punishes ally-heavy decks you may have used all through the saga.  Campaign boon/burden is great, but permanent boons give you an incentive to use same heroes for all quests in campaign rather than alternating between Aragorn-path and Frodo-path quests after the breaking of the fellowship.

6. Ringmaker -- Nin-in-Eleph is terrible, but I enjoyed the other quests despite the card draw hate.  It is the fiddliest of the cycles, though.

7.  Dwarrowdelf -- for the most part enjoyable, but I have a hard time forgiving Sleeping Sentry and Sudden Pitfall for existing.

8. Core/Mirkwood -- most of the quests are a little rough, Escape is ridiculously unbalanced against one-deck play, Emyn Muil takes forever.  It's early and it shows.

9. Hobbit -- while the quests are highly thematic, the mechanisms can be highly annoying.  The riddle quest practically forces a deck remake, and having to stall to get the Troll treasures is incredibly annoying.

10. Heirs/ATS -- Battle/Siege questing were innovative and praiseworthy, but too many enemies are actively un-fun (Zealous Traitor, anyone), and too many cards punish you for not playing tactics mono-sphere.  But The Power of Mordor is the biggest reason I put this cycle last, it has the potential to ruin every quest it appears in.

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I'm making my judgements entirely on the basis of quest design and disregarding the story:

1. Ered Mithrin
2. Angmar Awakened
3. Dreamchaser
4. LotR Saga
5. Haradrim
6. Against the Shadow
7. Ringmaker
8. Dwarrowdelf
9. Shadows of Mirkwood
10. Hobbit Saga

My top 3 are fairly interchangeable to me honestly, but I put them in the order I did on the basis of consistency - in particular comparing Angmar to Dreamchaser I'd say the best quests are better in the latter, but the worst quests are also worse. Ered Mithrin in turn has even less bad points which come to mind (though it may also be benefitting from being still fresh and newish) and reaches comparable highs to my favourites from Dreamchaser.
A similar point applies to 4 and 5 but in reverse - I'd say the Haradrim cycle is more consistent, but the highs of quests like Pelennor Fields are enough for me to give the saga the nod.
The lower half of my list I'm honestly just not that fond of in general, compared to the upper half. There are some good quests in there, but there are also some very bad ones, and there are problems all over the place, including in the better quests. This game had some definite growing pains in its quest design in my opinion.

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In my opinion, as a mix of mechanics, theme and fun I would rank them as such:

1) Ered Mithrin
2) LOTR Saga
3) Dreamchaser
4) Angmar Awakened
5) Harad
6) Ringmaker
7) Shadows of Mirkwood
8 ) Dwarrovdelf
9) Against the Shadow
10) Hobbit Saga

Keeping in mind that we always played them as a 4 players group.

In general I feel confident in saying that the overall quality (both mechanical and narrative) of the quests has only been increasing lately, as Caleb's grasp of the game and quality of writing improved over the years. That's why I have very high expectations for Vengeance of Mordor (I still have to get Wrath and Ruin 😢)

 

Edited by Alonewolf87

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Thank you for all the responses. It's interesting to see so much diversity in the top 3. Ered Mithrin seems to score higher than Haradrim and the LOTR on most lists, so I think I'll skip ahead to that cycle. The Middle Earth ccg left me with a fondness for the dwarven rings, so some lore in that area would be fun.

On 2/4/2020 at 2:28 AM, Will Anderson said:

2. Dwarrowdelf – Much nostalgia for this cycle, even if there are some weaknesses in quest mechanics – and the general wrongness of investigating Moria before the LotR. But it does feel like Moria with its good use of locations, and if you have the Nightmare packs it holds up especially well.

I guess technically both Aragorn and Gandalf entered Moria during the timeframe of the game at some point and left again. But they didn't find Balin's tomb or directly encounter the Balrog so 7th level and Shadow and Flame are the only quests truly non-canon.

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True, nothing wrong with going into Moria per se - just so long as the nature of the Balrog and the fate of the colony remain mysteries. And I see why they included those aspects at the time. Great cycle regardless.

Ered Mithrin will satisfy some desire for dwarf-lore, though I do wish the game would have touched more on the history of the dwarven rings and other dwarves beside Durin's Folk. Since you like the CCG, The Ghost of Framsburg should also have some enjoyable resonance.

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It's a pity IMO that the timeframe of the game wasn't set betwen the end of the Hobbit and Frodo leaving the shire, rather than confining it to the narrow window between the Party and Frodo's departure.  That would've allowed passage through Moria before Balin arrived, as both Aragorn and Gandalf are known to have done.  It also would've allowed more characters active in that period to become allies and/or heroes.

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Caveat -- I don't know exactly when Aragorn and Gandalf passed through, but I think it's *highly* unlikely that it was after Balin entered Moria.  For Aragorn we at least know he was in proximity to Moria in 2980 when he met Arwen, this was nine years before Balin entered Moria.  2980 is listed as the end year for Aragorn's "great journeys and errantries", 2957 being the start year.

Gandalf arrived "maybe a thousand years" after the third age started, and the Istari are mentioned in the Tale of Years c. 1100.  At that point the dwarves were still *in* Moria, the Balrog didn't show up and ruin things until 1980-1.  Wandering about for nearly a thousand years it would be strange if Gandalf *hadn't* passed through Moria before the fall, especially since he spent enough time with dwarves to get his own name.   But from the text it seems that extending the timeframe of the game wouldn't cover Gandalf's last visit, "I sought there long for Thrain son of Thror after he was lost."  That places it before his visit to Dol Goldur in 2850.

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1. Dreamchaser -Ships, Pirates, best quests and FFG story in the game. It's the Elven blood in me but I'm called to the Sea!
2. Ered Mithrin - Dragon battles are sweet! Also cool throwback to the core set.
3. LOTR Saga - best story obviously haha, and solid thematic quests, it only loses a couple spots because of how absurdly hard and unfun the final quest is and the amount of deck rebuilding it takes to pass it through.
4. Angmar Awakened - super hard but awesome theme and story
5. Haradrim - great continuation to Dreamchaser and some new settings mixed in with great quest design.
6. Against the Shadow - excellent Gondorian storyline, arguably my second favourite story but some savagely hard quests haha
7. Ringmaker - great story, time mechanic is a love it or hate thing.
8. Dwarrowdelf -kind of a mish-mash of quests it feels like with not much story, some really savage treachery cards but great deluxe set quests and also best boss battles in the game
9. Shadows of Mirkwood - not the most exciting and almost zero story to speak of but it is nostalgia and some great theme that all future cycles built on so it deserves its respect.
10. Hobbit Saga -great theme but sheesh half of these quests are hard (looking at you Trolls, Gollum and Smaug!) and the unofficial associated POD Battle of Laketown is the perhaps one of the hardest quests in the game. 

Edited by General_Grievous

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Harad and Ered Mithrin are not in the list because I havent played them.

1)Dreamchaser --> I like every quest in this cycle, where others always have a quest I don't want to play a second time

2)Darrowdelf --> I really like the moria theme

3)Angmar --> some great quest (Escape from Mount Gram), it could be number 1 or 2 if it hasn't the horrible Battle of Carn Durm (one of the impossible quests in this game)

4)Against the shadow --> second nearly impossible quest with Cair Andros, but others are ok. And it's the only cycle where you can play mono tactic most of the time

5)Shadow of mirkwood --> first cycle of the game, so the quests are not really great, but I like most of them (there is 3 quests I don't like, I let you guess which one)

6)LOTR saga --> The first box is really great, but the more I progress through other boxes the worst it become. I really don't like the last one, where Mount Doom is another impossible quest and The black gate open is not fun at all

7)Hobbit saga --> I don't know why, but I haven't a good memory of this saga. And Battle of the five armies is one of the quests I have never completed

8)Ringmaker --> I REALLY don't like that ******** ever-present time mechanic

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1) Against the Shadow: first real narrative of the game, and quite plausible, I like all quests, even with the Battle/SIege questing which is not too annoying with a modern day cardpool.

2) Angmar Awaneked: both the narrative and the quests are close to perfection. I rank it behind Against the Shadow because I'm a Gondor fanboy, but if I were a bit more impartial, this would be first.

3) Ered Mithrin: Fram+Beowulf narrative is really good but a few quests were a bit of a let down for me (Ghost of Framsburg, Roam Across Rhovanion)

4) The LOTR Saga: nuff said. It's only 4th because a few quest are kinda "meh" (Road to Isengard, all the Land of Shadow box, the Siege of Gondor). if it were just for the Black Riders augmented with Fog on the Barrow Downs and The Old Forest, I would rank it even the Angmar Awakened cycle.

5) Shadows of Mirkwood: following Aragorn's chase in the appendix was a clever idea, but the game was too young to really make it shine like it could have. The Nightmare version helps a bit bettering the cycle.

6) Dream-Chaser: really cool narrative even if on a weird stance with the jungles, grottos and all those undeads, but all quests are really fun, innovative and well balanced

7) Haradrim: unmemorable narrative in my opinion, ok quests

8 ) The Hobbit: first quests designed by Caleb, so they're not perfect, but I like them, especially the second box

9) Ring-Maker: those Time tokens and mechanics were just dead annoying. Too bad because the narrative covers so many things about Saruman pre-LOTR (forging of its ring, designing the uruk-hai and aligning the Dunlendings)

 

==> this concludes the first part of my list. Obviously it's too early to rate Vengeance of the Mordor cycle, but it would probably be on par with Ered Mithrin cycle. Anything below rank 3) was actually hard to rank, so that's why I'm taking a pause here. Because, yes Ring-Maker is 9, and Dwarrowdelf is 10, but Ring-Maker is infinitely better. So I will be finishing with:

 

10) Dwarrowdelf: non-sensical narrative (contradicting heavily with lore) that gets repeated twice (the saga scenario "Journey in the Dark" is more than enough to cover Moria, thanks). Most quests have a poor design and an overly thick encounter deck. Probably the worst batch of player cards. Both the two-powerful-ones that unbalanced the game for years (Glorfindel+LoV+Asfaloth) and the actual worst one is from this cycle (The End Comes). Oh, and Sleeping Sentry. Dumbest card in the game. Worst player card and encounter card of the game.

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When Dain Ironfoot looked into Moria after the Battle of Azanulbizar, he saw Durin's Bane and fortold, the time to reclaim Moria had not come yet. Would he not have told someone (Lothlórien is nearby, Gandalf had contact to the dwarves), what is hiding in Moria?

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He *did* tell Thrain immediately after the battle of Azanulbizar, in the presence of witnesses.  He identified it as "Durin's Bane", and when the fellowship first saw the Balrog, Gimli immediately recognized it as Durin's Bane.

The Balrog slew two dwarvish kings in different years, and Moria was abandoned by survivors -- it seems unlikely to me that none of them were eyewitnesses to Durin's Bane at that time.  Gandalf was already in Middle Earth and we know spent enough time with the dwarves to acquire a Dwarvish name.  He surely had some information.  OTOH, none of the dwarves would ever have seen a Balrog during the first age; Legolas is the first character to see it who was possibly in middle-earth at that time, and Thranduil's realm played no role AFAIK in the wars of the first age.

OTOH, it may very well be that the wise guessed that Durin's Bane could be a Balrog.  Gandalf doesn't seem surprised that Durin's Bane is one, he just understood why he had such a struggle.  Celeborn and Galadriel had "long feared that under Caradhras a terror slept," and Celeborn's reaction is not to it existing, but "that the Dwarves had stirred up this evil in Moria again."

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11 hours ago, Miceldars said:

3)Angmar --> some great quest (Escape from Mount Gram), it could be number 1 or 2 if it hasn't the horrible Battle of Carn Durm (one of the impossible quests in this game)

If you're playing Battle of Carn Dum solo, house-rule it and add ally Amarthiul to your start. Kinda makes sense for him to be there and helps with the brutal battle questing turn 1 so your deck can get rolling.

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On 2/6/2020 at 7:06 PM, dalestephenson said:

He *did* tell Thrain immediately after the battle of Azanulbizar, in the presence of witnesses.  He identified it as "Durin's Bane", and when the fellowship first saw the Balrog, Gimli immediately recognized it as Durin's Bane.

And yet he, the King under the Mountain, allowed Balin to establish a colony in Moria, even though he foresaw another power must come first. As Glóin says "Dáin did not give leave willingly".

Quote

The Balrog slew two dwarvish kings in different years, and Moria was abandoned by survivors -- it seems unlikely to me that none of them were eyewitnesses to Durin's Bane at that time.  Gandalf was already in Middle Earth and we know spent enough time with the dwarves to acquire a Dwarvish name.  He surely had some information.  OTOH, none of the dwarves would ever have seen a Balrog during the first age; Legolas is the first character to see it who was possibly in middle-earth at that time, and Thranduil's realm played no role AFAIK in the wars of the first age.

OTOH, it may very well be that the wise guessed that Durin's Bane could be a Balrog.  Gandalf doesn't seem surprised that Durin's Bane is one, he just understood why he had such a struggle.  Celeborn and Galadriel had "long feared that under Caradhras a terror slept," and Celeborn's reaction is not to it existing, but "that the Dwarves had stirred up this evil in Moria again."

I have reread The Ring Goes South and Journey In The Dark yesterday. Gandalf only mentions Durin's Bane when he explains Mithril to Sam, though he does not specify, what it could be. Both the Wizard and Aragorn do not want to enter the mines because of Goblin presence and their bad experience from this place, but they are forced in to avoid detection by Saruman through his crebain and by Sauron through his hounds. Aragorn clearly is worried about possible Orc encounters in the mine. As he says "The Warg that one hears is worse than the Orc that one fears". At least he should have feared the Balrog, if he knew one was in there.

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Gandalf seems foolishly optimistic when describing Moria, saying that "if there are Orcs there, it may prove ill for us, that is true.  But most of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains were scattered or destroyed in the Battle of the Five Armies.  The Eagles report that the Orcs are gathering again from afar; but there is a hope that Moria is still free.  There is even a chance that Dwarves are there..."

It's a curious statement, though at this point he's trying to convince the Fellowship to go through Moria -- unsuccessfully, until they hear the wolves.  There's a greater chance that it is orc-free than that some remnant of Balin's company survived?

And Aragorn has *certainly* been through Moria since the Battle of Five Armies, and "the memory is very evil".  He knows full well it is not orc-free, though he doesn't contradict Gandalf on that point.  He also curiously warns Gandalf that he is *personally* at risk from entering Moria, even though he guarantees the others (after they enter) that Gandalf will make sure the rest of them get out alive.  Gandalf "sought there long" *before* the Battle of Five Armies, and this time they would just be passing through.  Does he know something he's not sharing?

Dain allowed Balin to establish a dwarf colony -- though it's clear he was unwilling and it's *not* clear he could have prevented it. Balin probably heard the interchange between Thrain and Dain, he was four years older than Dain and both lost their fathers at Nanduhirion.  Given that Dain had seen Durin's bane in 2799 and it had slain Durin VI in 1980 and Nain I in 1981, it's not reasonable to suppose that Durin's Bane had died of old age between 2799 and 2989.

I suppose it's possible that despite Dain telling Thrain about seeing Durin's bane there were dwarves who were unaware of the interchange.  Dwarves seem particularly bad at communication.  Gimli doubts that Balin *ever* came to Moria as they passed through and found no sign, despite the fact that Balin sent messages they had entered Moria and "for a while we had news".  Did he think that Balin actually thought better of entering Moria, went to relax on a beach somewhere and had forgotten to write for the last 24 years?  Gloing actually tells Frodo that "It is largely on account of Balin that I have come to ask the advice of those that dwell in Rivendell."  A little late, Gloin!

And despite Dain's warning, Balin actually survived five years in Moria without running across Durin's Bane, and when he died it was from an unexpected ambush, not part of the war of extermination that followed.  Even then, the Dwarvish account taking us right to the end of the colony without the readable parts even mentioning Durin's Bane -- after finishing the account in the Book there's no indication that anything besides orcs and the Watcher in the Water were involved.  The Balrog apparently kept a low profile, and Gandalf was able to seek *long* in Moria for Thrain without running across him.  The fellowship was horrendously unlucky to attracted its attention in just a few days in Moria -- unless it wasn't an accident and the Balrog, like the Watcher, may have been attracted by Sauron's ring.

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2 hours ago, dalestephenson said:

Given that Dain had seen Durin's bane in 2799 and it had slain Durin VI in 1980 and Nain I in 1981, it's not reasonable to suppose that Durin's Bane had died of old age between 2799 and 2989.

It's not stated that Dain directly saw Durin's Bane (or understood exactly what it was) only that "when he came down from the Gate he looked grey in the face, as one who has felt great fear". He later tells to Thrain "Only I have looked through the shadow of the Gate. Beyond the shadow it waits for you still: Durin's Bane". It seems more like it felt an evil and fearful presence in Moria, without discerning its exact nature nor coming actually close to seeing it.

2 hours ago, dalestephenson said:

Gandalf seems foolishly optimistic when describing Moria, saying that "if there are Orcs there, it may prove ill for us, that is true.  But most of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains were scattered or destroyed in the Battle of the Five Armies.  The Eagles report that the Orcs are gathering again from afar; but there is a hope that Moria is still free.  There is even a chance that Dwarves are there..."

It's a curious statement, though at this point he's trying to convince the Fellowship to go through Moria -- unsuccessfully, until they hear the wolves.  There's a greater chance that it is orc-free than that some remnant of Balin's company survived?

I always credited that "error" on Gandalf part as a way to persuade the others to take a road that was indeed risky, but still possibly less dangerous than the other options.

2 hours ago, dalestephenson said:

And Aragorn has *certainly* been through Moria since the Battle of Five Armies, and "the memory is very evil".  He knows full well it is not orc-free, though he doesn't contradict Gandalf on that point.  He also curiously warns Gandalf that he is *personally* at risk from entering Moria, even though he guarantees the others (after they enter) that Gandalf will make sure the rest of them get out alive.  Gandalf "sought there long" *before* the Battle of Five Armies, and this time they would just be passing through.  Does he know something he's not sharing?

 

On 2/6/2020 at 7:06 PM, dalestephenson said:

OTOH, it may very well be that the wise guessed that Durin's Bane could be a Balrog.

I am also of this opinion and that explains Aragorn warning to Gandalf, knowing that if they ever got to face the Balrog he was the only one who could fight with it, and still at great personal peril.

2 hours ago, dalestephenson said:

The Balrog apparently kept a low profile, and Gandalf was able to seek *long* in Moria for Thrain without running across him.  The fellowship was horrendously unlucky to attracted its attention in just a few days in Moria -- unless it wasn't an accident and the Balrog, like the Watcher, may have been attracted by Sauron's ring.

That's my opinion too, both the Balrog low profile (he must have learned quite well to conceal itself after escaping the War of Wrath) and the Ring attraction of evil beings....though everyone knows who the real evil mastermind is in all that

4a1164c113590d990987832ddb6c61db.gif

 

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1- Cycle 5: Angmar Awakened. Mechanically speaking it is the best cycle, it is even a no-match. A vast variety of quest, there is no 2 quest that look alike in the cycle and each is highly replayable. I realize how good it was when the nightmare come to spice up all that. My only regret is that 1nightmare failed to make the The Battle of Carn-Dûm one of the hardest scenario in the game.
2- Cycle 4: Ringmaker. The only story that is consider to be really good. Time counters are not popular but I found them really interesting: they introduced a rhythm in the game that was really missing in the beginning of the game. There is some memorable quest, especially with nightmare.
3- Cycle 3: Against the Shadows. To me the real start of our actual game: a story, some quests that require a good deckbuilding. They are not as good as they where, and I probably rate it too high only because it has nightmare when many cycles haven't. The story was okay.
4- Cycle 9: Mordor. The temple of mordor is a blast, and the average of the quest is quite good. So even without knowing the last I still put it high.
5- Saga Sda. It is quite odd to class it among cycle who have 2 times less quests. The average of a saga Sda quest is quite low, but it also have the best scenario (not only for me, it is also the result of the last poll): battle of pelenor fields. And I like the last 2, even if they aren't fit for the end of the campaign.
6- Cycle 6: Dreamchaser. The boat idea was fun, but making 5 or 6 quest using it was way too much! And all the scenario with a map are not very good, not really replayable. I still like raid of the grey havens, a things in the depths and a storm in the cobas haven, but the cycle is quite irregular.
7- Cycle 7: Haradrim. I Really like some of the quest (race accros harad and crossing of poros) and the average of scenario is okay.
8- Cycle 8: Ered Mithrin. Not a large diversity, only one scenario who raise up (fire in the night)
9- Cycle 1: Shadow over Mirkwood. The beginning of the game. Many design errors, scenario who are quite easily when you understand how to handle them. Quite hard to play them now, even in nightmare. I still like escape from Dol Guldur, still the harder quest in the game thank to the hardest nightmare.
10- Hobbit Saga. Battle of the five armies is one of my favorite scenario but the rest is quite trash.
11- Cycle 2: Dwarrodelf. Worst scenario. Worst design (nothing happens, then an effect kill you unless you have a counter, that you can keep for this card since the rest of effects are almost blank), a story that doesn't work. The end of the cycle with foundations of the stone and shadow and flame is quite better than the rest, but it still have some mark of the flues of the beginning of the cycle.

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14 hours ago, dalestephenson said:

Gandalf seems foolishly optimistic when describing Moria, saying that "if there are Orcs there, it may prove ill for us, that is true.  But most of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains were scattered or destroyed in the Battle of the Five Armies.  The Eagles report that the Orcs are gathering again from afar; but there is a hope that Moria is still free.  There is even a chance that Dwarves are there..."

It's a curious statement, though at this point he's trying to convince the Fellowship to go through Moria -- unsuccessfully, until they hear the wolves.  There's a greater chance that it is orc-free than that some remnant of Balin's company survived?

This only makes sense, if Gandalf tries to convinve the fellowship to go through Moria. And as Aragorn is against it, they try to climb the mountains. Gandalf obviously sees Saruman as a greater threat than Orcs in Moria.

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And Aragorn has *certainly* been through Moria since the Battle of Five Armies, and "the memory is very evil".  He knows full well it is not orc-free, though he doesn't contradict Gandalf on that point.  He also curiously warns Gandalf that he is *personally* at risk from entering Moria, even though he guarantees the others (after they enter) that Gandalf will make sure the rest of them get out alive.  Gandalf "sought there long" *before* the Battle of Five Armies, and this time they would just be passing through.  Does he know something he's not sharing?

The warning for Gandalf to me feels more like a prediction than actual knowledge.

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Dain allowed Balin to establish a dwarf colony -- though it's clear he was unwilling and it's *not* clear he could have prevented it. Balin probably heard the interchange between Thrain and Dain, he was four years older than Dain and both lost their fathers at Nanduhirion.  Given that Dain had seen Durin's bane in 2799 and it had slain Durin VI in 1980 and Nain I in 1981, it's not reasonable to suppose that Durin's Bane had died of old age between 2799 and 2989.

 

There is no reason to believe that Balin would openly defy his king. If Glóin says, that Dáin gave leave unwillingly, he would also have had to power to prevent Balin from going there. Balin and Glóin both were in Thráin's following after the Battle, so they probably participated in it, too.

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I suppose it's possible that despite Dain telling Thrain about seeing Durin's bane there were dwarves who were unaware of the interchange.  Dwarves seem particularly bad at communication.  Gimli doubts that Balin *ever* came to Moria as they passed through and found no sign, despite the fact that Balin sent messages they had entered Moria and "for a while we had news".  Did he think that Balin actually thought better of entering Moria, went to relax on a beach somewhere and had forgotten to write for the last 24 years?  Gloing actually tells Frodo that "It is largely on account of Balin that I have come to ask the advice of those that dwell in Rivendell."  A little late, Gloin!

 

It is strange indeed that Glóin would warn Bilbo of Sauron's messenger in the same year, but waited 24 years to check Balin's whereabouts.

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And despite Dain's warning, Balin actually survived five years in Moria without running across Durin's Bane, and when he died it was from an unexpected ambush, not part of the war of extermination that followed.  Even then, the Dwarvish account taking us right to the end of the colony without the readable parts even mentioning Durin's Bane -- after finishing the account in the Book there's no indication that anything besides orcs and the Watcher in the Water were involved.  The Balrog apparently kept a low profile, and Gandalf was able to seek *long* in Moria for Thrain without running across him.  The fellowship was horrendously unlucky to attracted its attention in just a few days in Moria -- unless it wasn't an accident and the Balrog, like the Watcher, may have been attracted by Sauron's ring.

This all leads to my assumption of a plothole, as there are just too many things to not make sense.

11 hours ago, Alonewolf87 said:

It's not stated that Dain directly saw Durin's Bane (or understood exactly what it was) only that "when he came down from the Gate he looked grey in the face, as one who has felt great fear". He later tells to Thrain "Only I have looked through the shadow of the Gate. Beyond the shadow it waits for you still: Durin's Bane". It seems more like it felt an evil and fearful presence in Moria, without discerning its exact nature nor coming actually close to seeing it.

But why then would he call it Durin's Bane, if he has not seen it but only felt an evil presence? It just as well could have been a Nazgûl or something entirely different. Remember, even the Black Pool in front of the Door's of Durin had a sense of gloom in it.

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I always credited that "error" on Gandalf part as a way to persuade the others to take a road that was indeed risky, but still possibly less dangerous than the other options.

That makes the most sense.

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I am also of this opinion and that explains Aragorn warning to Gandalf, knowing that if they ever got to face the Balrog he was the only one who could fight with it, and still at great personal peril.

This assumes, that Aragorn knows about the Balrog, which I doubt. He is only talking about Orcs in Moria. And why would he be certain, that everyone else would be able to leave? The Balrog is powerful enough to kill them all. They just were lucky, that the demon came from behind. If it dad blocked the way over the Bridge of Khazâd-dûm, noone would have survived. And what if Gandalf had chosen to break the bridge and flee? He surely would not have had to stand directly on it, especially if he sees, that the Balrog wields a whip.

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That's my opinion too, both the Balrog low profile (he must have learned quite well to conceal itself after escaping the War of Wrath) and the Ring attraction of evil beings....though everyone knows who the real evil mastermind is in all that

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Why would the Balrog keep a low profile in a dark mine for over a thousand years after killing Durin VI? I am not sure whether the Orcs in Moria were in league with him, but they could have told him, that the Valar have not been to Middle-earth for more than one and a half ages.

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I agree that Gloin and Balin are present at the battle, and also after the battle when Thrain said to the survivors "Good! We have the victory. Khazad-dum is ours!".  Durin's Folk openly rejected the idea of taking it, and his kinsman Dain said "You are the father of our Folk, and we have bled for you, and will again.  But we will not enter Khazad-dum."  Being Durin's hour does not confer absolute power, Dain (and Durin's Folk collectively) felt free to reject Thrain's desires after the battle and Balin was free to reject Dain's disapproval.  Surely Dain would not have prevented Balin from leaving by force.

But my main point is that although Dain knew that Durin's Bane was still active at the time of the battle, he revealed that information immediately after.  There's no reason to think that Balin did not witness the interchange then, nor that Dain failed to remind Balin that it's probably still around.  There's nothing in the text IMO that suggests Balin *didn't know* that Durin's Bane was a possible problem, despite the fact that he went anyways.  If there's one person in the text who provably contributed to the disaster by keeping his mouth shut, it is Gandalf.  Gloin revealed in Elrond's Council that it was partly in hopes of finding the Ring of Thror that Balin went to Moria; Gandalf knew better.

I think an assumption of a plothole is the last resort, only to be resorted to when the text is irreconcilable.  Characters in the text not behaving as we might expect don't rise to that level IMO, especially when the character in question is a Balrog!  The text shows that the Balrog *did* keep a low profile.  Once released/discovered he drove the dwarves out *the following year*, not exactly Smaug-speed in dwarf killing.  And he must have done it with allies, because we also read in the tale of years "Many of the Silvan Elves of Lorien flee south.  Amroth and Nimrodel are lost."  And the text has him not (visibly) interfering with Balin for five years, nor interfering with Gandalf's search or preventing Aragorn from passing through.  Does that make it a plothole when he clamps down on the Fellowship in a few days?

Low-probability events are not plotholes, they should be expected to be happened at low probability.  But where the Ring is concerned, low probability events happen at *high* probability and do so from the time Bilbo discovers the ring down to the time where Gollum unluckily slips in Sammath Naur.  The Ring itself of course is an actor in these things, no one thinks it remarkable that Gollum finds the company in the vastness of Moria (nor even notes that he somehow managed to get across the bridge before them) due to the draw of the ring.  But is Gollum the only being of evil that the ring draws?  The Watcher took Frodo amongst all the company, and neither the storm on Caradhras nor the behavior of the wolves was normal.  The Ring may well have called the Balrog.  It may not be a coincidence that the Balrog showed up in the very year that the Witch-King gathered the Nazgul to Mordor.

Valar are not the only possible enemy to a Balrog, as it learned to its cost.  Besides the Istari, Glorfindel is back and in reasonable proximity.  He clearly has a finely-developed sense of preservation, abandoning Morgoth to save himself.  He kept hiding when Sauron was next door learning ring-lore, he kept hiding when Sauron submitted to the might of Numenor, he kept hiding when open war between Mordor and the Last Alliance was going on, he kept hiding while the realm of the North endured -- and he surfaces five years after the Witch-King vanishes, in the year when the Witch-King establishes himself well south.  Either he has no interest in serving Sauron, or he's just totally unaware of current events.  The last is certainly possible if the Dwarves released him from a trapped condition, but even *after* emerging he's still low key, staying in the shadows and letting the Orcs do his dirty work.  Is he hiding from Glorfindel, or is he really hiding from Sauron?  One thing I feel confident about -- if he can wield a whip and a sword, he could also wield The Ring.

And if so, why would Gandalf consent to ever bring the company into Moria?  Did it never occur to him that Durin's Bane might still be in existence, or that it might be a Balrog, or that it might be attracted by the ring?  Why would he even consider Moria before the trip over Caradhras fails?  Well, as he says "However it may prove, one must tread the path that need chooses."  Boromir said "The wolf that one hears is worse than the orc that one fears", and that applies to more dangerous beings at well.  With Sauron and Saruman both actively on the hunt for them and seemingly having them spotted, trying to sneak past Durin's Bane to throw them off their trail may have seemed the best choice.

Gandalf's all about chasing low-probability outcomes.  He bet the fate of Middle Earth on Frodo's ability to throw the ring into the fire at Mount Doom, even when Frodo had *already proven* he lacked the will to throw the ring in his own harmless fire.

"You see?  Already you too, Frodo cannot easily let it go, nor will to damage it.  And I could not 'make' you, except by force, which would break your mind."

By any sane reckoning, that should have made the entire quest an exercise in futility, with no chance of success.  But Gandalf believes in miracles.

"Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker.  I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was *meant* to find the Ring, and *not* by its maker.  In which case you also were *meant* to have it.  And that may be an encouraging thought."

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4 hours ago, Amicus Draconis said:

But why then would he call it Durin's Bane, if he has not seen it but only felt an evil presence? It just as well could have been a Nazgûl or something entirely different. Remember, even the Black Pool in front of the Door's of Durin had a sense of gloom in it.

There could have been stories passed down through the Dwarves of the great fear and shadow which was called Durin's Bane, so Dain might have made the connection.

4 hours ago, Amicus Draconis said:

Why would the Balrog keep a low profile in a dark mine for over a thousand years after killing Durin VI? I am not sure whether the Orcs in Moria were in league with him, but they could have told him, that the Valar have not been to Middle-earth for more than one and a half ages.

There were still some great powers in Middle-Earth during the Second and Third Age, from Elrond and Glorfindel to Celeborn and Galadriel that might have proven dangerous for the Balrog if they knew it still lived hidden in the mines and shafts of Khazad-Dum.

4 hours ago, Amicus Draconis said:

This assumes, that Aragorn knows about the Balrog, which I doubt. He is only talking about Orcs in Moria. And why would he be certain, that everyone else would be able to leave? The Balrog is powerful enough to kill them all. They just were lucky, that the demon came from behind. If it dad blocked the way over the Bridge of Khazâd-dûm, noone would have survived. And what if Gandalf had chosen to break the bridge and flee? He surely would not have had to stand directly on it, especially if he sees, that the Balrog wields a whip.

There sure might have been some pre-science at hand, it would not have been the first time something like that happened. Aragorn might not have known it was specifically a Balrog, but it might have understood that something more dire than some Orcs was living in Moria and thought that Gandalf would have been the only one to possibily have the skill and power to face whatever was infesting the mines.

But, as much as I enjoy this kind of talks,  I fear we are straying a bit from the argument of the topic :D

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