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Wojo's (beyond)100 plays challenge comments (UPDATE: The Redhorn Gate - conclusion)

68 posts in this topic

Date:2012-07-12
Times Played: 2
Journey to Rhosgobel -Lore/Leadership deck led by Bilbo, Beravor and Gloin
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[Local] I've had a lot of hopes for this scenario. I was looking forward to finally completely changing my deck in order to heal the eagle and for the first time I was disappointed in the scenario. Most of the lore healing cards can not be used to help the eagle, you need a decent questing power as your patient is receiving wounds very fast … and you need ton of luck to find "the cure". After my two plays I was about to say that my previous deck would deal with this scenario better than the new one despite the lack of healing cards. Luckily after some careful consideration I am convinced that I need lore to win this scenario with a decent regularity.
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[Global] I am starting to see weakness in the card pool/scenario design of this game. Namely Spirit sphere seams to be almost a must have in solo plays. I would like to see other spheres becoming more appealing (don't even get me started on Tactics and solo) or scenarios that require you to use strengths of other spheres. This is why I think Journey to Rhosgobel was a disappointment as in my mind it was promising just that and delivered it only partially. Anyway I will still play this scenario few times before writing it off.

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Date: 2012-07-28 

Times Played: 4
A Journey to Rhosgobel 
Win twice lost twice. Lore/Spirit deck led by Denethor, Glorfindel and Eowyn
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[Local] After my initial disappointment with the quest I decided to change my heroes, deck and strategy. I decided to try to complete the quest as fast as possible hoping to pickup just enough (two) good cards from my hands (Lore of Imladris) or from encounter deck (Athelas). I decided to exchange heroes with card drawing capabilities (Bilbo, Berevor) for cards providing it (Lorien's Wealth, Ancient Mathom + Erebor Hammersmith, Gleowine). Now my heroes had better stats and other useful abilities (especially Denethor's encounter deck control was useful at the beginning). I liked the quest much better this time as 
- I discovered that lore is an interesting (and powerful) sphere
- Without leadership (and its resource generation abilities) choices of which cards to play are more interesting
- Same thing with the increased number of cards in hand (due to card drawing abilities) 
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[Global] I like how the change of spheres, changes the way the game plays. Although I still think that this scenario is not perfect for forcing you into different path/play style (as it seems that again you are forced into choosing Spirit) it is interesting change from other scenarios.
 

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 Date: 2012-07-23
Times Played: 5
A Journey to Rhosgobel
Win three times, lost twice. Lore/Spirit deck led by Denethor, Glorfindel and Eowyn
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[Local] Through out my plays I adjusted the deck a bit (added one lore ranged character as I was plagued with bats and crows in one of the games and added Hasty Stroke as shadow effects in this scenario tend to be brutal - those two replaced some rarely used cards). In one of the attempts I decided to try to finish step one in one turn but the actual cost of this move (or its risk in general) was to high and I finally failed. Out of all games I mostly enjoyed the one in which I got highest score (but still managed to win) - it was exciting battle on the verge of loosing (I actually lost Glorfindel) with some creative plays and risky maneuvers.
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[Global] Fantasy Flight prepared a list of players archetypes for this game at some point. They've given them some LOTR names but in short those are:
- Flavour player - builds his deck according to LOTR reality (e.g. will never use Frodo as he was not active/alive during official period of time).
- Combo player - enjoys finding synergies between the cards
- Must win player - enjoys winning and this is most important for him (or goes for the lowest score even at the risk of several losses before getting it).
I find my self in between those categories. I am not a hardcore lotr fan and I do not care if cards are in accordance to book timeline but I do enjoy the stories that this game tells. I like to find combos and synergies and I am usually quite impressed with them but I do not actively seek/invent them and test them out - I am more of one card at the time guy who is often pleasantly surprised when two cards work in concert. Finally I do construct decks to win but I am more for consistency (high percentage) of wins then about high score or 100% even success rate.

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Date: 2012-09-01  

Times Played 2 
The Hills of Emyn Muil
Played twice with Spirit/Leadership deck (Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred) - won once, lost once.
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[Local] Finally I broke a dry spell that kept me away from LOTR:LCG for more then a month (mainly caused by our summer holidays) and went to journey to the hills of Emyn Muil. From various sources (my first play was around the time this expansion was released so I was still listening/reading comments back then) I knew that this scenario is location heavy so I prepared a team/deck ready for it. It worked quite well in my first attempt and I beat the scenario by round 8 (I had 19 VPs on turn 5 and needed 3 more to find the final one). I deemed the quest fairly easy at this point but decided that I want to see some more of it and tried again. It started even better then before but then boom … around round four I drew an avalanche (Treachery - all characters committed to the quest receive 2 wounds) followed by (as there were no locations in the staging area) by necromancer reach (1 wound to each exhausted character). This killed Eowyn and almost all allies (except Faramir who was waiting to boost will power). I was sure that I am dead at this point but decided to press on. Surely enough next turn proved me right - I had to reveal 3 cards from the encounter deck (second one had surge) revealing two enemies and another Necromancer's Reach - with Theodred dead and two enemies that would destroy my remaining forces fast I concluded the game. I am planing to play the scenario few more times as I haven't seen many cards at all yet. I am also considering swaping Leadership for some healing from Lore as I need more ways than just the Test of Will to counter nasty treacheries or their effects. This quest is not so great but mainly due to the fact that is very similar to Hunt for Gollum (there you were hunting for clues here you are looking for additional victory points). 
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[Global] I am a bit disappointed with this quest and I am bit afraid of the game interest in the long run if this trend continues - mainly due to the fact that puts pressure on you not in some interesting way but using blunt force (it seems that some cards should have written on them - kill your characters unless you play test of will). On the other hand I was quick to write of the A Journey to Rhosgobel so maybe the fault is in my deck design - maybe I should add heroes with more hit points instead of relaying on countering bad draws from encounter deck. This is will be interesting to see. Anyway let me continue with my original thought - I really hope that in subsequent scenarios FFG will find creative ways to make them hard instead of hitting you with harder and harder instant (almost) kill cards as this makes tactical part of the game a bit dull and frustrating. I would much rather see some impending doom slowly approaching and thinking hard on how to avoid it - instead of drawing "BOOM YOU ARE DEAD" cards.
 

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two points for you to note

1.emyn muil is the most llinear quest you will find, so do not fear, it is an idea ffg do not repeat on

and

2. these instant kill cards are rare in future packs however i warn you in dwarrowdelf there are certainly a couple that make emyn muil treacheries look like cake…..these are often complained about by players so im sure ffg will take this into account in future design

rich

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 This thread is super awesome. I am tempted to try my own 100 game marathon. I'd have to trick it up somehow, so as not to simply copy the great, fun work that you are doing here. 

I could make it all two player games with my friend Zack. See if our friendship survives. Perhaps play through the quests in chronological order, only advance to the next one after beating the one before. See how far we can get before the 100 game "timer" runs out. The same quest 100 times? That's just madness. 

Perhaps put some aspect of the game to a vote: let people pick one of the heroes to play and build the deck around it? Maybe vote how many different quests I'd be allowed to run in the 100 plays (1 quest 100 times, 2 quests 50 times, 4 quests 25 times, etc). 

Anyway, keep up the great work. 

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Rich - thanks for your comment …it got me thinking about this quest and you can read my thoughts in my next post. Also thanks for the heads up that I might still see some of the instant kill treacheries in the future.

DrNate, thanks for taiking the time to read my thoughts and commenting. As for one hundred plays - here are some random thoughts:
- it is not so hard to do with this game. I frankly believe that you can do it with just a core set (and maybe some custom scenarios for BGG). I think I played Journey down the Anduin around 40 or 50 times.
- I like your idea with having 100 attempts and see how far one could go while going to the next quest only after beating the previous one.
- playing solo is a bit more restrictive in that you usually can't play with every possible combination of spheres as often times you need a very very good deck and/or excellent combination just to have a decent shot at winning.

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Date: 2012-09-06
Scenario: The Hills of Emyn Muil
Heroes/Spheres: Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (Spirit/Leadership)
Played: 4 times
Results: 3 won and 1 lost

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[Local] I decided to play few more times with my already constructed deck just to see how it will do. As expected I did fairly well on most of my attempts although I did loose once and did not menage to beat my score (although each time I was closer to it). At times it was a bit frustrating that I was missing one or two victory points and for several turns I was just waiting for them to show up. As a side note: On Polish LOTR:LCG forum I saw a comment from one of the user claiming that he always play the game while listening to the soundtrack of the Peter Jackson movies. I decided to do the same (I own an audio casette with soundtrack from the first movie :)! ) and I have to say it did increase my enjoyment of the game especially when "a danger music" was playing when I was drawing from the encounter deck! 
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[General] In his comment FFG's forum user richsabre called this scenario the most linear one and that got me thinking about it some more. From what I saw so far from the game I agree totally with his assessment. I would even go so far as to say that this scenario lacks any story arc and or progressions. In other adventure packs when you flip the scenario card you are often faced with a tempo change, need for change of strategy and so on. This gives you the feel that you are indeed on a journey and you arrived at the turning point. In "The Hills of Emyn Muil" you have none of that - you do not get see the story in your actions - you are randomly traveling from one location to the next hoping to visit just enough of them to "win". It is just not that satisfying or interesting as it does not tell a story.  
 
NOTE: Milestone reached - I now played this game 100 times … I still have almost 40 commented plays to go but we are getting there. 
 

 

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Date: 2012-09-09
Scenario: The Hills of Emyn Muil
Heroes/Spheres: Eowyn, Frodo, Dunhere (Mono Spirit)
Played: 4 times
Results: 2 won and 2 lost
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[Local] After playing 6 times with my Spirit Leadership deck I knew that it would do fairly well against this scenario so I decided to change my deck in order to explore new grounds. Instinct told me that Spirit/Lore combo would do even better here but I saw an opportunity that I did not explore for a long time - playing with a mono sphere deck. In this scenario spirit was an obvious choice so I went with it. I enjoyed this scenario with this deck even more despite the fact that it was less efficient then my previous deck. In fact I saw much more interesting decisions this time around and if fact I could have avoided one of my losses with an optimal play. I enjoyed the first attempt the most when I managed to win despite the fact that Eowyn was killed fairly early on. In another notable game I was overrun by enemies in the staging area (despite the fact that encounter deck in this game is very enemy light).
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[General] As mentioned before this scenario lacks a lot in terms of telling a story but sometimes the encounter deck will make up for it. I think that still designers/developers could have done better with this scenario but it can be engaging with a bit of help from Lady (Un)Luck and the encounter deck. That is why it is good to play each scenario several times even if you don't like it so much on your first tries.

 

NOTE: Sorry for the triple post but I did not have time to post my plays and comments directly after playing the game so I am forced to do it all at once now.

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Date Played:2012-09-16
Scenario: Dead Marches
Heroes(spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (Spirit/Leadership)
Played once - won.
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[Local] I very much like decisions that this quest forces you to make - which characters you will hold back and which will be send to quest. Those though and delicious dilemmas make this scenario great fun as you constantly need to balance the two risks (fail to quest vs fail to prevent from running away) and sometimes the threat deck will add an additional risk in front of you - now you are almost sure that you will fail at something. I praised the mechanic of this quest enough and I definitely recommend it but at the same time I have to say that in my first play those mechanics definitely made the theme take the back seat. I hope that once I play it few more times then the "cat and mouse chase" with Gollum will be more apparent to me.
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[General] This was the first quest that I played without any prior knowledge on what to expect. This is definitely the way to play them as you get surprised by the challenges and you get a fun "I don't know what's coming next" felling. On the other hand I am strangely disappointed that I manged to beat it on first try. It would be so much more exciting to rebuild my deck after initial fail (especially because that I was "flying blind"). I guess my complaint is that I would like the scenarios to force me to rebuild my deck and change my approach every time. I of course understand that some people will try to play through all scenarios with one deck, so maybe this is just an expectations issue but still this is where I stand so far.

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Scenario played: The Dead Marches
Date: 21,22,23 Sep 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 9 times and won all of them
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[Local] This was a nice and pleasant weekend in The Dead Marches. I've spent the most time playing the game since my initial excitement just after getting it and it was really fun. I've played the scenario with the same deck as before twice and found out that two or three cards do not get played so often. I was shocked to discover that Sneak Attack was one of them but after moment of reflection I've swapped it for some more allies. All attempts after that were played with this improved deck. Here are some random thoughts:
- I am still learning how to play my cards well. As an example: at first I was playing unexpected courage on Thedored thinking he will quest (generate a resource) and then attack. Next game I was playing it on Frodo thinking I first need to be able to defend against a monster before I will attack it. Finally after few more games I realized that Eowyn is the best target for unexpected courage - she can both quest and guard/track Gollum at the same time and Frodo and Theodred can both be ready for combat if needed. Now it seems so obvious but I am glad that I am still improving in this game.
- Games with high score were the most exciting ones. My deck was not totally ready for dealing with two (or more) low engagement cost enemies at the very beginning (before fielding tons of allies) and it required clever tactics and hue threat gain at start which made every further step dangerous.
- As I said before playing this scenario is fun because it forces you to make though choices (as you will almost surely fail some escape tests).
- Consistent wins are nice change of pace. In this scenario I got 10/10 win ratio. In other case I thought that win percentage above 60% is great here it was fun hopping for winning all attempts.
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[General] After a longer period during which I played the game a bit less I am glad to be back in a full swing. LOTR:LCG is hugely dependent on the quality of scenarios prepared by FFG - boring one can limit your enjoyment and even make you less excited about the game in general and great one … suffice to say I got my copy of Khazad-dûm today. Of course I understand that one's enjoyment depends on the personal preference and what gets me excited might be most boring to others so FFG is in a difficult spot here but in general as far as I can see they do a fairly good job at "keeping all those balls in the air".
I also would like to stress that part of what keeps me playing the game after so many sessions is the fact that I am still learning it. I am forced to question my choices of the cards (like removing sneak attack) and my tactical strategies of playing cards. This is one of the reasons (next to its expandable nature) that this game has such an amazing re-playability.

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 Scenario played: Return to Mirkwood

Date: 25 Sep 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 5 times - first two losses and then 3 wins
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[Local] Great experience continues! When I saw a rating difficulty 7 on this scenario I first thought that after great success with The Dead Marches nothing will stop me. I adjusted my deck a bit (to be more universal since I didn't knew what to expect) and prepared the encounter cards. BAAAM second card threat goes up 8 points, turn later great 8 attack spiders engage me … I am dead before going to stage 3 as threat skyrockets once I need to defend the spiders with Frodo). "Oh no!" - my killer deck defeated so easily? This can't be! Bring it on again! This time I fare much better though the constant threat rise is though. This time I go to the stage three and can't believe my eyes - I am not allowed to play cards! Soon I am swamped with enemies and locations in the staging area … I am barely keeping up with opposing threat and the progress on the quest is just too slow. The main spider from Passage through Mirkwood appears - threat goes up - enemies go down from staging … I am dead. WOW! I am desperate at this point … is this another escape from Dol Guldur experience? Luckily before putting the cards to the box I examine my hand and cards in front of me … why do I keep so many Dunedain warnings and marks? Those are close to useless. Back to the deck drawing board. Remove those cards and few others, more allies in. Next three tries and all won! Great tense games with tension rising all the way … well read next time when I will write some more about the quest (spoiler: it is brilliant!!!).
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[General] Discussing the game on Polish message boards I discovered that I was counting my points wrong (starting with round 1 instead of zero and according to the rules you are supposed to tally a round only at its end). I was pretty sure that at this point I had all the rules down and I still discovered something. This is not a big deal as it only affects scoring which is not that important but … it makes me think. What else am I missing or playing wrong? This is a major drawback of solo game (or if you only play games in the same group) - there is no one to correct you. In other games (CCGs/LCGs especially) you have tournaments, fairly regular plays with different people and that soon enough allows you to discover if you play something incorrectly. There is nothing like that in this game (at least for me) so I am left to hope spotting my mistakes during some discussions at the forums. Mind you I am not interested in the tourneys and even playing this game with others (well I would like to do the former but I don't see me finding time for that) but I think that getting all rules right for this game is important to get the difficulty level planned by the designer. On the positive note - my games are preatty though in most cases so I am satisfied with difficulty anyway even if I am slightly off at some things :)
 

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Scenario played: Return to Mirkwood

Date: 27 Sep 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 3 times - all wins
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[Local] RtM become my favorite scenario just beating out The Journey Down the Anduin (which is harder for me so in the long run it might regain its spot as a favorite). So what do I like about it do much:
- Pacing, pacing and once more pacing - This scenario forces you to sprint (not run but sprint) there is no time to wait and build up your "fellowship". Crazy fast threat rise fells like an avalanche running down just at your heels. You are out of breath and still need to accelerate.
- What is even better that you are running towards the most difficult stage (stage 3 - no cards can be played) and here you just wish you have stayed in the previous stage a bit longer to be more prepared but a glance at your threat dial proves that you didn't have time to do that.  
- As you can gather from the above the quest feels so thematic - enemies are just behind you, Gollum does his share to slow your progress and puts you in even more danger - you are out of breath from running and still have to face enemies and if Attercop, Attercop appears - your allies will have to stay behind and die just to allow others to escape towards safety. 
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[General] I am usually mechanics over theme (but I need both to enjoy a game) person but when both of them come together then there is a great chance for me to find gaming gems. This scenario proved to me LOTR:LCG can raise to that with a right scenario. With the previous one (The Dead Marches) was great in terms of mechanics and though decisions you were forced to make but lacked a bit in the theme. In Return to Mirkwood mechanics are a bit weaker but give you the excellent theme of running away from a pursuit while guarding an unwilling prisoner and in all it succeeded in delivering (not much but still) better gaming experience. For the future I am hoping for both kinds (better mechanics or stronger theme) of good scenarios though and from time to time this gem kind to top it off.

 

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Scenario played: Return to Mirkwood
Date: 30 Sep 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 2 times - 1 loss and 1 win
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[Local] After my several wins in a row I got cocky. I decided to let two undefended attacks go to Gollum (bringing him down to 1 HP) instead of slowing my progress and sure enough it costed me the game (bats engaged me and killed Gollum with forced effect). This was a reminder that despite my very good deck this scenario is hard and it punishes bad decisions severely. I was more cautious next time and despite though times manged to win my 10th attempt. I still love this scenario but just to try to be objective I will try to point few of its weaker points in this comment:
- Solo vs Muti-player - I am almost exclusively solo player (official rules) and I see that this scenario is easier at some points (stage two has no effect) and harder at other (there is no possibility to "share" the threat that Gollum generates, stage 3 is brutal solo). In general I think it is much harder solo which might make this scenario far less exciting with more players.
- Using "tournament legal deck rules" the treacheries that forces you to discard 10 cards are almost good (give you more options for dwarven tomb). If playing with more optimal deck (say 30 cards) those might be more dangerous.
- As usual I fell that you have to play spirit in solo games of it (threat reduction gives you more time, you need to quest fast and hard, test of will is really really good). This is if you read my comments on regular basis a constant complaint from my part - it might just mean that I am too attached to this sphere, I do not try to beat scenarios with other combinations and so on … but still if you want consistent wins against this scenario it is almost a must which is disappointing.
- Last step of the scenario seems a bit anticlimactic. Yeah, on paper it looks dangerous - all enemies engage you. In my experience though there are rarely any enemies in the staging area at this point and the step is so short that you finish it in the next round so even if some monsters do appear in next staging step they do not have a chance to attack you as the game is done before that.
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[General] I am curious what other people think but I am starting to think that most of the player cards we get in adventure packs are pretty weak (or in case of some frankly useless). This becomes even more of an issue if you are restricted to solo gaming as I am. This is not a huge issue for me as I am more into the new scenarios but still I would like some more interesting cards for underutilized spheres (lore and tactics in my case). I understand that part of an issue comes form the fact that I am only looking to build a single deck that is efficient against a scenario during multiple attempts. Some other players might be more interested just exploring the interactions between their cards and have tons of fun trying various possible combos even if those work only every now and then. Now after typing that I think that maybe the current model is ideal - cards for me (new scenario) and cards for combo players (say that each card means at least one attempt gives 9 attempts which is roughly the same as I am doing). Still I found some post by people that were so disappointed with quality and quantity of new player cards that they've quit playing the game (Khazad Dum contents was a deal breaker for many it seems).

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Scenario played: Massing at Osgiliath
Date: 1 Oct 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 3 times - lost twice and won once
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[Local] So after my exciting attempts against the Return to Mirkwood scenario I was ready to face my next challenge - POD scenario: Massing at Osgiliath. I've heard that this was very difficult scenario but after great success with previous one I was pretty confident. First game started quite well first stage was quickly conquered, in the second one I was moving at much slower speed. Finally I was able to go to the third - discard a hero (I have not been lucky enough to encounter the ranger) to be able to quest!? I was not sure what is waiting in stage three but I was certain that the Witchking will show up but decided to discard Theodred (as he is not as crucial later in the quest). I was kind of hoping for a short last stage but when 15 quest progress requirement was raveled I knew I was doomed. Threat counter reached 50 next turn. I've decided to play with this deck again just to see if it was its inefficiencies that got me killed or is this scenario is just this hard. This time I've progressed throgh the first stage even faster. I felt that I am in a good shape - quite a few resources (steward of Gondor), had an unexpected courage. The next stage halted me though - I was cut off (discard allays from hand - bye bye Gandalf ready to be summoned twice with quick strike) so all my resources were growing but I've had no cards to spend them on. I was able to go a bit further but staging area quickly was growing dangerous (I've had many enemies sitting there and no way to deal with them). Things snowballed from there and again threat killed me as I've entered stage 3. This was a sign that I need to redesign my deck. Few more stronger allies, few more dunedain attachments, few less events. That all helped I think … but what really allowed me to win was to finally see that I do not need to go quickly through this scenario. This strategy was necessary before but this time … I've taken my sweet time in the first stage of the quest, fielding my allies. I was very much ready when I've went to the second stage. This time also payed off because Ranger of Ithilien showed up and I knew that I was ready for stage three. With so many allies in play and relatively low threat I optionally engaged Witchking and was able to pay "his threat due" to keep him engaged. Three allies had to die to defend his attacks but in the end … I've escaped and won the scenario. In some sense like this scenario very much and in some sense I am disappointed. The strategy for it is the same as for Conflict at the Carrock. Build up in the first stage and just than proceed to the following stages - this feature I do not like especially because it feels a bit anti-thematic. Your heroes spotted a large force of enemies but they are staying behind taking their time, preparing equipment, finding allies etc and just then the mad pursuit begins only after they are ready. So that is bad … but luckily there is good as well. This mad pursuit is great and very very thematic. You are laving men behind just to buy time, you need to leave someone to buy you time to get through the river and then with dwindling force you are running towards the safety of the white city.
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[General] I do not know if this intentional. This scenario in some sense feels like an much improved version of Conflict at the Carrock. Of course it only fells like this in an approach you have to take to beat it but still there is a strong connection here for me. This in one sense a good thing because you should improve on good concepts and create even better experiences for the players. Nevertheless like with all things improved version sometimes gives you the "been there, done that" felling - yeah it is better … but it is not new. I try not fall into this trap of considering those improvements inferior due to not bringing anything revolutionary - because we need improvements on existing things (and games) to achieve greatness. I will try harder next time when I sit down to play Massing at Osgiliath because at the end of the day as it stands this scenario is amazing on its own.

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I enjoy your posts. Keep it up! Looking forward to your thoughts on The Hobbit!

 

 

…you play alot more than I do, by the way…

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 Glad to hear that you enjoy my post. As for hobbit I still have a long way to go as I will be playing the game in order it was released. Unfortunately this last two weeks I had little time to play the game as my schedule was very crazy but I am hoping that next week I will be back with more thoughts about the game.

Plan for next few posts is:
- Reach 10 plays of Massing
- Return to Core Set - see can I have a better luck against Escape From Dul Guldur with more player cards and experience
- Into the Khazad-dum

As a side notes:
- I just bought 3 first adventure packs from the second cycle. This were the first ones that I got new.
- I am really excited about Heirs of Númenor as I am impressed by the elegant way in which sieges and battles were implemented into the LOTR:LCG system.

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Scenario played: Massing at Osgiliath
Date: 11 Oct 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 2 times - lost once and won once
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[Local] After my first successful attempt last time against the Massing at Osgiliath I wanted to check if the new modification of my standard deck and discovered strategy will be able to beat the scenario on a regular basis. First try was showing exactly that: I had quite a few allies, tons of resources (Eowyn had Steward of Gondor and Song of Kings) and I was even able to draw quite lot of cards. The only worry I had was threat I could not draw Galdaiers greeting for the life of me and some unlucky shadow cards (removing defender from combat) meant that Fordo had to convert tons of damage into threat. I was in the last stage of the quest and had 4 threat left before defeat. I could not afford to keep Whichking engaged but with all those allies and Faramir in play I was quite sure that I will manage to win. I made decent progress, Witchking engaged me, Snowburnt Scout was the designated defender … shadow card … remove defender from combat. I was devastated 6 damage to threat through Frodo meant I lost. EXCEPT later when going to sleep I realized that I could have sacrificed Frodo or Theodred and would be able to win next turn. This scenario does not leave much room for mistakes. Next time despite quite a bad draw at the begging I was able to win it was a struggle at least as the game length goes (17 turns, I've managed to go through all of the encounter cards) - although I was not able to field large army of allies I was quite luck as far as threat reduction goes. I also would have killed the Witchking (he had 8 damage on him) same turn as I completed the quest. Fun times.
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[General] I like how the scenario showed me that if I get careless and stop thinking it will punish me. I wonder now how many of the defeats I suffered could have been avoided if I just be more concentrated and saw a way out. This time I "paid the price" by playing according with the assumption - you can never allow your heroes to die. I am glad in fact that I realized that this is not the case - there are some very interesting (and thematic) plays available if you trow this assumption away. I still believe that if you loose a hero (I am talking about solo) at the start a game you will likely loose but … towards the end of scenarios it is not so. I am glad that the game forces me to question my strategic assumptions after so many plays.

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Scenario played: Massing at Osgiliath
Date: 14 Oct 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 1 times - won
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[Local] Short comment this time. The scenario wanted me to reinforce the lesson from last time - sometimes you need to sacrifice a hero in order to win. What is funny - I almost missed it this time again and was about to admit to a defeat through reaching 50 threat (using Frodo ability to soak damage).
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[General] Recently I bought FFGs card boxes (more on this some other time) this allowed me to get the game with me "on the road" (ussing one box and 4 small containers for counters). I used to do it a lot in the beginning but soon my card pool extended so much that it did not make sense any more. Now I can do it again and it is very convenient especially if I already decided on the deck and scenario I will play.

NOTE: I played the game 3 times yesterday - I hope to log those plays today as well.

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 Scenario played: Massing at Osgiliath
Date: 16 Oct 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 3 times - lost once, won twice
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[Local] Few observations:
- In my first attempt I decided I want to see if I can kill Witchking (and would it made scenario easier) and in fact I almost accomplished it. But while attempting this I got too many enemies engaged with me and despite killing the big bad I was was stomped by smaller guys. They were able to kill my allies and my hope to run away and finish the scenario was buried by Pelenor Field ("auto travel" location with 7 progress tokens requirements).
- Next time was a nail baiter. I had a quite bad card draw at the beginning (actually the draw was decent but I was cut off soon and lost nice allies). It took me long time to build a decent team and moving no further. Threat was a real danger through out, despite a decent progress made once I started moving. I was sure that I will be killed again but few good draws (especially Eomyr? - the guy who reduces threat increase from encounter cards while he is ready) allowed me to win with a terrible score - 209 but a great feeling of just making it - threat 49.
- In this attempt my deck showed what it can do if I am lucky with draws. First time ever I had 3 Sneak Attacks and 2 Gandalfs near the end of stage 3. I could have played my cards better (score wise) but I went and killed Witchking :). Final score 133.
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[General] One thing that is great in replaying single scenario several times is that you get "some feeling" towards certain cards. For example you learn to hate Witchking, love some treacheries that are not so devastating. This enhances play experience as you are rooting for certain cards to appear, cursing others when they show up. This increases excitement and ultimately gives you better experience. Of course there is a breaking point here - you can burn out on a scenario if played too many times in a row. So far I found that 10 attempts is just right for me. I am just curious when I will get around to replaying scenarios again. With so many new waiting for my I am afraid that it will not be as soon as I would like but we shall see.

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wojo said:

 and finish the scenario was buried by Pelenor Field ("auto travel" location with 7 progress tokens requirements).

Didn't have enough in the threat bank to take the hit instead of travelling?

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 Hmmm good point … I do not remember at this point but I actually forgot that you can opt not to travel to Pelenor Fields by paying threat. Would love to be able to recreate this situation and check … it would be great (in a sense :) ) to know that I lost due to my own mistake. 

Anyway thanks for reminding me about this option on Pelenor Fields - this is my fault sometimes I tend to play without rereading cards often enough so it sometimes mean that I forget about less used options. 

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Scenario played: Massing at Osgiliath
Date: 17 Oct 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 2 times - lost once, won once
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[Local] In my first attempt I was as unlucky as I was lucky in my previous game (the one with 3 sneak attacks on Gandalf). My ally count was very low in initial hand (despite using mulligan) and I was swamped with enemies in the staging area. I was kind of hoping to get many cards from two Ancient Mathom but I simply did not have enough questing power to put any progress on active location. I died on turn 4. In the second try it was much better. I had a decent draw and early Ranger of Ithilien allowed me to move to stages 2, 3 and 4 much earlier then usual, I was able to achieve my second best score of 143 despite the fact that I did not have a spectacular draw as before.
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[General] It is time to present my final thoughts about this scenario. In short I liked it very much - I am sure that it is in my top 3 favorite ones for now. At first I was a bit surprised why people rate it so highly but as I was playing it more and more I came to similar conclusion. I have only two knocks against it as far as its design goes:
- Idea of putting good cards into the encounter deck is great and very exciting but it makes it a bit more random then usual scenario. If you draw them early you will have much easier time if you do not see them at all. I think it might be more interesting of you had some sub quest that you would have to sacrifice something (time, resources, progress tokens) to get them under your control.
- The initial step where you almost have to stay behind to prepare for later assault does not work thematically. I know, it would be enough to change flavor text on the first card a bit to make it work … but for some reason it bothers me.
There are many positive points so I will mention just one of them that seem to be a bit less obvious:
- 40 card encounter deck that you almost go through works much better in delivering consistent play experience then the regular larger ones (composed of cards from the core set and scenario). In the second case you often get easy plays (example drawing only core cards as encounter cards) or hard ones (only scenario ones drawn).
In short other positive points:
- Pacing, excellent stage 3 and 4, very good climax, nice thematic distinction between locations (west vs east bank), high reply value.

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Scenario played: Escape from DG
Date: 29 Oct 2012
Heroes (spheres): Eowyn, Frodo, Theodred (spirit/leadership)
Played 5 times (even more but I do not count games that lasted shorter than 2-3 turns) - Lost all of them (as expected :) )
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[Local] Finally I decided to try my battle (MatO) tested deck against the bane of all solo players - Escape from DG. Come on, the old core set scenario, how hard it can be? Well as you can see from my results despite the fact that my pool of cards was greatly enhanced since first attempts it is still pretty much un-winnable :). I lost two or three games on setup (say two enemies amd caught in the web guarding objectives). In few others I was not able to move past the first stage of the quest. The most interesting attempts were the first one and the last one.
During the first one I got a decent hand and average encounter deck draws (some terrible some easy ones). I was able to move past stage one, have a prisoner rescued and was able to balance the threat from the staging area for several turns that allowed me to draw two sneak attacks and Gandalf. I was ready to announce that I will do it! Then I got a treachery that forced me to discard all events from my hands … after that few enemies appeared back to back in the staging area and slowly I was overwhelmed.
Last attempt was even more successful. I was able to move past stage two and I even was ready to take the Nazgul down. Threat was very high at this point unfortunately and enemies plus shadow effects soon took me above 50. I decided to play just to see how much over I would have to go … I was able "to win" with threat dial showing 58.
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[General] My thoughts on Escape from Dul Guldur are not settled yet - I like the challenge on one hand but I am cursing the ridiculous difficulty on the other. I will try to make my mind about it latter as I decided to see if further player cards will make this beatable. Into the Khazad Dum next!

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With those plays I completed the original 100 commented plays challenge. It took me 5 months to do it which averages 20 plays a month or 5 plays per week throughout. I am glad that I did it as it not only gave me an additional push to play the game more but it forced me to think about it much more and see its particular elements in more analytic light. That in turn also greatly enhanced my enjoyment.

So what now? I will continue playing LOTR:LCG and continue writing my thoughts down as long as it is still fun. I am still planning to write my "great LOTR:LCG review" but the scope I decided on seems so great that it will take a while.

Thank you for all people on FFG forums that commented on my posts it gave me much joy and additional motivation to continue.

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