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Rank the cycles (quest and story)

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I'm surprised that you've all played through all those cycles.  I find the game very time consuming, what with tweaking decks and strategies for each quest.  I've been playing for a year and a half and I've only played through three cycles and the Hobbit saga.  

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I generally do not rebuild decks for specific quests and am annoyed when I am forced to do so.  I like to build a couple decks and take them through an entire cycle (either separately or together) with only swapping in a few sideboard cards like condition removal when necessary.

But the other aspect is that it's way easier for me to create a deck than test it, because I have ringsdb at my computer but play with physical cards.  I've got dozens of decks I've created that are still waiting to be played.

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3 hours ago, dalestephenson said:

I generally do not rebuild decks for specific quests and am annoyed when I am forced to do so.  I like to build a couple decks and take them through an entire cycle (either separately or together) with only swapping in a few sideboard cards like condition removal when necessary.

I've heard this complaint before about building decks for specific quests.  I've also heard some people say that you should be able to build one master deck that will get you through all scenarios.  That latter bit seems a little far-fetched to me, but people can approach the game however they want, I guess.  I notice that for the most part, the right deck will get you through the entire cycle, maybe with the exception of one quest here and there.  Each cycle appears to demand its own themed deck to me.

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7 hours ago, Vince79 said:

I've heard this complaint before about building decks for specific quests.  I've also heard some people say that you should be able to build one master deck that will get you through all scenarios.  That latter bit seems a little far-fetched to me, but people can approach the game however they want, I guess. 

That's surely just one way of playing the game, valid as many many others, but I can attest that's definitely doable, me and my wife made four mono-sphere decks (tweaked with new cards whenever we got them) and took them through all the quests of the game. It took us 1 year and a half, but it was quite worth it. Still we found ourselves (well mainly me) wanting to try and play many other different decks. I was able to scratch that particular itch at last year Lure of Middle Earth, where I played at least six or seven different decks.

Edited by Alonewolf87

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17 minutes ago, Alonewolf87 said:

That's surely just one way of playing the game, valid as many many others, but I can attest that's definitely doable, me and my wife made four mono-sphere decks (tweaked with new cards whenever we got them) and took them through all the quests of the game.


Did you play 4-Handed, so to speak?  Each of you running two of the decks, such that you had all four spheres covered in each quest?  Congrats either way!

 

8 hours ago, Vince79 said:

 I've also heard some people say that you should be able to build one master deck that will get you through all scenarios. 


This is certainly how I prefer to play, since custom-building a deck to handle a particular quest just sort of feels like "gaming the system" to me, in addition to being a bit tedious.  Which means I prefer the challenge of trying to find a toolbox sort of deck that has a few answers for a variety of challenges, meaning it can't just laser in on min-maxing one particular gimmick.  Of course, there will always be greater hurdles than others (e.g. trying to do Journey to Rhosgobel without any Ranged/Eagles or trying to solo Return to Mirkwood without any threat reduction).

That said, for those who really enjoy deck-building, I'm sure tech-ing against a particular quest is a satisfying exercise that puts a much greater variety of cards onto the table (e.g. like silver bullet cards that trigger off of Forest or Underground locations), which is nice since otherwise a lot of those cards never get touched.

I think there's a plurality of ways to experience and enjoy the game, and that's one of it's greatest strengths.  Sometimes my playgroup and I adopt thematic limitations just for new challenges, like "we're going to run through the Mirkwood cycle in 4 Player, but we all have to use only Gondor heroes/allies."  The build constraint allows for (read: requires) building entirely new decks.  And some cards that are pretty lackluster can become pretty awesome in such a four-handed cycle-run (e.g. Leadership Boromir or For Gondor! or Gondorian Discipline).

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2 hours ago, AllWingsStandyingBy said:

Did you play 4-Handed, so to speak?  Each of you running two of the decks, such that you had all four spheres covered in each quest?  Congrats either way!

Yes, exactly.

2 hours ago, AllWingsStandyingBy said:

I think there's a plurality of ways to experience and enjoy the game, and that's one of it's greatest strengths.  Sometimes my playgroup and I adopt thematic limitations just for new challenges, like "we're going to run through the Mirkwood cycle in 4 Player, but we all have to use only Gondor heroes/allies."  The build constraint allows for (read: requires) building entirely new decks.  And some cards that are pretty lackluster can become pretty awesome in such a four-handed cycle-run (e.g. Leadership Boromir or For Gondor! or Gondorian Discipline).

Indeed, the very high replayability of the quest and of the card pool are one of the main attractions of the game for me. And LeBoromir (especially with Visionary Leadership) was one of the lynchpins of our decks, since we built the Fellowship around a Gondor swarm of sort.

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I've only played through Mirkwood, Dwarrowdelf, and the first bit of Against the Shadow.  

I think Dwarrowdelf is my favorite thus far, as it really feels claustrophobic and the goblin swarms and Balrog present neat combat situations.  I think Foundation of Stone is my favorite quest of the 21 I have played so far, but I would also wager that Road to Rivendell is my least favorite, since it has a variety of "you lose" treacheries / shadow effects that basically require you to have cancel cards or lose, which is the kind of design I hate because it necessitates that you either spam Spirit (my least favorite sphere) or pray to the Gods of Staging that you just avoid the cards.  As bad as Sleeping Sentry is, I still remember the first time my group played that quest 3 Player when back-to-back Orc Ambushes put 14 goblin enemies into staging from the discard and then had them immediately engage Player 1.  That said, Journey to Rhosgobel (Exhausition, Swarming Insects) and Return to Mirkwood (Gollum's tantrum +8 Threat treachery) aren't much better.  Even then, I really like the theme of those three quests, and they certainly do a great job of evoking the feel and struggle of those situations very well. 

The idea of having to sled a wounded Eagle to Rhosgobel and then hunt for healing herbs is quite possibly even my favorite narrative from any of the first 21 quests, but it's absurdly difficult for 1-Handed (since you don't stage enough cards to find enough Athelas) and even with more players it's very dependent on Staging luck, especially if you're not scouting+setting the Encounter deck with lots of scrye cards (since the clock of treachery-damage and Wilyador's bleeding runs so quickly--maybe you'll flip some early Athelas and maybe you won't...), and enemies are such that you cannot even fight them unless you bring Ranged and Eagles, which encourages tailoring your deck against it, or else helplessly sitting there as birds and bats peck and nip your heroes to death,  aaaaaand as insult to injury it's the only quest in the first two cycles that has anything objective-related for healers and healing cards to finally offer, yet it so utterly penalizes them (discarded after one heal) that they're basically wasted resources even in the context of a quest that is all about healing.

Nevertheless, even despite these annoyances, I have really enjoyed the feel and the function of all of the quests I've played so far, and I happily replay all of them. 

I finally built my first Gray Wanderer deck this past week, and tested it by running it solo 1-Handed through the entire Mirkwood Cycle (save Dol Goldur, for obvious reasons...) and it went 7 for 8, only losing Rhosgobel (I didn't stage any Athelas or the locations that fish it).  Return to Mirkwood was dicey, but terribly exciting, finishing three threat shy of being eliminated despite starting at such low single-hero threat.  I appreciate even the hard/painful/semi-random quests (in moderation), and I think the card pool is rich enough nowadays that it's not unreasonable to expect that a single deck can be built to be versatile enough to at least have a chance at handling most situations.  I'm looking forward to trying to take the Gray Wanderer 1-Handed through Dwarrowdelf next, and time will tell if it can stomach the brutality of Road to Rivendell.

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This is actually pretty hard, I felt that the game really hit its stride with the against the shadows block and has generally become more and more innovative while also smoothing out game mechanics. 

While nothing to write home about, the story has also certainly improved, going from feeling fairly disjointed, to pretty generic(against the shadows), to having an interesting overall concept in ring-maker, to having a main antagonist in Angmar Awakened, with Dream-Chaser being the clear MVP when played sequentially... Speaking of which:

1. Dream-Chaser: I love that they were willing to go crazy with this block and think it really paid off. Sailing is very innovative, and I really like that the boats have different abilities that you can mix and match between your decks, or even build around. The difficulty was a very nice spread when played sequentially. A couple of the quests were a little on the easy side, but served as fun interludes(and I'm sure on nightmare will be a treat). It is usually anticlimactic when the final quest of a block is too easy but that was very much not the case here, with the climactic challenge of Sahir being one of the most epic and satisfying showdowns. 

While the actual story of the LCG isn't impressive, they hit the nail on the head here, with Sahir going from foe, to ally, to traitor. The more the designers weave characters and storytelling into the quests themselves the better- Since reading about Sahir wouldn't have been nearly as effective as you yourself dueling him, trucing with him to fight a Kraken, only to be betrayed by him alongside his ally. Thraudir in the previous cycle was a good start for this kind of design, but here they perfected it. 

2. Angmar Awakened: In terms of both storytelling(mainly giving points for having a boss you want to put down) and gameplay this is number 2 for me. If I had to raise a complaint it would be that the quests tended to either be too easy or very challenging, at least as memory serves, as opposed to the near perfect spread that Dream-Chaser was. The second to last quest was also one of the only normal mode encounters I feel was overtuned in terms of difficulty(mainly because the sorcery trigger really should have only happened once per round, but I digress), and made the final quest which otherwise would have been a perfect way to close out the cycle, feel a little anticlimactic. 

3. Against the shadow(Nightmare): So this is where my list gets a little weird, since I played from the first set up through this one on nightmare mode exclusively so my experience will have varied from others. I did play the big box on both normal and hard and can say that the nightmare decks drastically improved it, with them even removing some of the nonsense/unfun cards from the encounter decks. The "story" is a disjointed and generic mess, but the individual quests were pretty awesome, with The Steward's Fear being where I think their creativity started to kick into high gear. 

4. Ring Maker- The story was light here but I thought it worked decently, I do love the idea of ignorantly helping Saruman. The quests here were really good, though especially for the ones I played solo mode, a couple of the quests were so easy I couldn't fully appreciate the mechanics, while others were breakneck in terms of difficulty(Dunland trap and Nin-in-Eilph I'm looking at you). The dwarf ally was truly atrocious and has some nicknames in my house I won't repeat in polite company. A few of the quests here I'm really eager to play on nightmare mode and see how they fleshed them out. The final quest was reasonably challenging/climactic. 

5. Haradrim- I really enjoyed the Haradrim block, though for some reason I can't place my finger on it doesn't stand out in my mind compared to the top contenders. I usually groan when a quest is going to steal your heroes, but really, really liked the approach here of giving you unique units to help free them. What I will say is there was no low point here and this was one of the most consistent blocks of content.

6. Dwarrowdelf(Nightmare)- I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have cared for this block playing it on normal, however nightmare elevated a few of the quests. While the story is a disjointed fever dream of Moria related things, I really liked the watcher quest on nightmare, thought the Balrog rematch was pretty cool, as well as the red horn gate/contending with Lovecraftian terrors in the deep. I think this is another one nightmare mode enhanced, both by removing some crude elements, while enhancing overall difficulty.

 7.  Shadows of Mirkwood(nightmare and normal)- Really not much to say here, while the content is an ideal starting point for players, I've been so spoiled by memorable quests that these ones barely register and on normal mode are a cakewalk. 

8 Hobbit Saga- I played this as a solo puzzle on nightmare mode and while I can see why it gets hate, when played this way its really not too bad. It is the polar opposite of the kind of content you'd want to sit down and tackle with some friends though, with the exception of the battle of the five armies which is simply a stellar quest. 

The LOTR Saga I haven't finished yet, but from what I've seen so far on normal mode, I've been a huge fan. 

I've reviewed every quest I've played here: 

Though its missing a few of my most current quests.

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16 hours ago, AllWingsStandyingBy said:

That said, for those who really enjoy deck-building, I'm sure tech-ing against a particular quest is a satisfying exercise that puts a much greater variety of cards onto the table (e.g. like silver bullet cards that trigger off of Forest or Underground locations), which is nice since otherwise a lot of those cards never get touched.

Well, I play one handed solo, so that might have something to do with it.  If you play two handed, you could probably get away more with having the one-size-fits-all deck.  Some quests just really call for a specific deck to my mind.  Like you mentioned, Journey to Rhosgobel is kind of a unique scenario, I can't imagine playing it without giving some mind to the goal you're trying to accomplish.

Then if you consider all the expansions and adventure packs there are, that's a pretty big expense to outlay if you're only going to use 40 or 50 cards out of the whole bunch.  By trying lots of different decks, I get to use cards and approaches I probably wouldn't otherwise see.  Like there's the "horde of allies" approach opposed to the "Few allies, buff all the heroes to the max with attachments" approach.

Then the different cycles seem to call for different cards thematically.  I can't imagine playing Dwarrowdelf without dwarves, it's what the whole cycle is about.

Wow, the Hobbit cycle is not getting much love here, is it?

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On 2/8/2020 at 7:45 PM, Vince79 said:

I'm surprised that you've all played through all those cycles.  I find the game very time consuming, what with tweaking decks and strategies for each quest.  I've been playing for a year and a half and I've only played through three cycles and the Hobbit saga.  

Well, the game has been out for 9 years, so some of the people responding here may have played the game for six times as long as you have.
Also, some people play faster or deckbuild faster than others, and some people play more often than others.

On 2/10/2020 at 1:57 AM, Vince79 said:

Well, I play one handed solo, so that might have something to do with it.  If you play two handed, you could probably get away more with having the one-size-fits-all deck.  Some quests just really call for a specific deck to my mind.  Like you mentioned, Journey to Rhosgobel is kind of a unique scenario, I can't imagine playing it without giving some mind to the goal you're trying to accomplish.

Actually I'd say the vast majority of players looking for the One Deck to Rule Them All are solo players. But then a lot of such decks may end up as more just One Deck to Rule Most of Them because of quests like Journey to Rhosgobel. Even Seastan's infamous One Deck, which has actually beaten every quest released at the time he built it, took an excessive number of attempts to score a win against Mount Doom due to being very ill-suited to the particular demands of that quest, and against Nightmare Escape from Dol Guldur because Nightmare Escape from Dol Guldur is ridiculous especially in solo.

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13 hours ago, PocketWraith said:

Even Seastan's infamous One Deck, which has actually beaten every quest released at the time he built it, took an excessive number of attempts to score a win against Mount Doom due to being very ill-suited to the particular demands of that quest, and against Nightmare Escape from Dol Guldur because Nightmare Escape from Dol Guldur is ridiculous especially in solo.


What happens here with Redhorn Gate and Road to Rivendell?  Because a third of Dwarrowdelf starts with objective-ally Arwen in play, did Sestan just kept his Arwen Hero in play (basically playing with two Arwens on the board), or did he actually discard his Arwen hero and play with only two heroes?  Those quests are "easy" enough and Arwen absurdly powerful enough that it might be worth tackling those two quests down a hero just to have Arwen as an option for the other 90+ quests in the run.  The alternative would be to look for a One To Rule Them All deck that has no heroes that appear as objective allies/heroes, which excludes a handful of folks.

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11 minutes ago, EBerling said:


What happens here with Redhorn Gate and Road to Rivendell?  Because a third of Dwarrowdelf starts with objective-ally Arwen in play, did Sestan just kept his Arwen Hero in play (basically playing with two Arwens on the board), or did he actually discard his Arwen hero and play with only two heroes?  Those quests are "easy" enough and Arwen absurdly powerful enough that it might be worth tackling those two quests down a hero just to have Arwen as an option for the other 90+ quests in the run.  The alternative would be to look for a One To Rule Them All deck that has no heroes that appear as objective allies/heroes, which excludes a handful of folks.

he kept arwen but it's possible with discarding her

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16 hours ago, PocketWraith said:

Actually I'd say the vast majority of players looking for the One Deck to Rule Them All are solo players. 

That's interesting, because I've been thinking they must be playing in groups, so if they're lacking something maybe the other players can provide it.  Because I play true solo, and I can't imagine only ever playing one deck.  As you say, a lot of quests seem to call for a specially built deck.  I can barely go from one scenario to another without thinking "Hmm, I should throw this card in here and take that one out.  This quest calls for a lot of healing.  There are condition attachments in this one, I better add Miner of the Iron Hills", that sort of thing.  There are so many different challenges I don't understand how one deck could possibly be built to deal with them all.  I mean people do it, so it must work, but on some scenarios their win percentage must drop pretty low.  But maybe that's part of the fun and challenge for them.

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I think Seastan's deck is highly unusual, perhaps unique, in that it *actually beat* all the quests.  It's the only deck that *could* beat all quests, but with so many quests it would get extremely boring.

Most One Deck makers, I think, enjoy the process of building a deck *capable* of defeating all quests, but aren't particularly interested in *actually* defeating all decks.  In the case of errata-prompting decks that are actually broken, proving that deck *can* beat most quests on the first turn is sufficient -- actually playing it out would be pointless.  Seastan has published 235 decks at ringsdb, even if some are revisions of the same deck it's pretty clear he hasn't been looking for a single deck he can just keep playing forever.

The question of how many quests to play with a given general-purpose decks is all about personal enjoyment.  When I first started playing Dori fellowships, I'd play only a couple quests and then move on to the next one -- but I felt like I didn't have enough time to really enjoy them with so few plays, so now I've been playing an entire cycle with the same pair of decks (sometimes modifying it mid-cycle not in response to a particular quest, but to make it better in general).  I've enjoyed that, but the flip side is that I have assorted Dori fellowships created and never played.  I have *far* more decks to try than I have time to try them!

What about the specific requirements of a quest?  *Most* quests don't require extremely specific deckbuilding, and it annoys me (Riddles) when it does.  I try to cope with things like conditions with a modest number of sideboard cards I can add in -- the most common being location-management, condition-removal, healing, threat reduction, and shadow protection.  I rarely bother taking cards out -- if I need more healing, I just drop in a few cards I think will help and just let the card count rise.

There are quests that are sufficiently tough that my deck(s) and skills just aren't good enough to beat it without extreme luck; but as far as I'm concerned the Grace of the Valar variant is an adequate way to deal with such quests.  Not every solo deck needs to be capable of taking down Carn Dum without help.

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Having one deck to rule them all would presumably be taking shape over time, as the card pool increases.  So just how much of a "one" deck is it really?  Eventually it will reach a point where it is done (when the game is finished, most likely).  But it can't be considered a "progressive" style deck if you go back and play all the quests - not that it matters.  

Seems like if you just stick to one deck of 50 cards (or whatever size it might be), you're missing out on a lot of different cards and styles you could be playing.  But I guess just because you have "one deck", that doesn't mean you have to play it all the time.  It just means you have it.

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I think "One Deck to Rule Them All" necessitates having access to "them all".  Those are decks constructed from the entire card pool, with the intent that they can beat the whole corpus of quests.  It's possible for a deck iterated slowly as you go through the entire progression to become such a deck at the end, but it must be very rare.  I myself took the Beorn's Path decks progression-style through Dreamchaser/Land of Shadow, but LeAragorn/Theodred/LoDenethor and SpEowyn/Thalin/Gimli likely aren't ideal heroes for One Deck status.  Nor, during progression did they beat all the quests without sometimes working together, and/or dropping to semi-easy/easy mode.  And I figured a win by *either* deck was enough to keep progressing.

But I haven't played either deck in a while, since I lost my campaign notes for what boons/burdens they'd selected and didn't feel like repeating the first twelve saga quests.  I have so many decks to play that I don't know when I'll revisit my old friends, and so many heroes I've never even tried.

Progression-style players play a lot of different ways.  Someone like me may take the same heroes and just tweak his deck from pack to pack, somebody else may build a new deck or decks from scratch when opening a new pack.  Some may do both.  There's no right or wrong, and I have no idea what style of play is most common.

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