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Stenun

Into Ithilien: the first broken scenario?

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It was bound to happen eventually; with so many scenarios being produced for this game it was inevitable that sooner or later one would slip through the net and be grossly over-powered, and indeed I am beginning to suspect that Into Ithilien is not just over-powered but even broken.

Once you've placed the starting location and starting objective in play, there remains 35 cards in the deck.  Out of those 35, 16 of them are enemies and 8(!) of them have surge on the first quest card while 2 of them make you search the Encounter deck/discards for a number of enemies equal to the number of players.  So that's 26 cards that are either an enemy or make you draw again, thus giving you another chance to draw an enemy.  That's three-quarters of the deck (for the pedantic among you, it's 74.286% sonreir).

 

Now in of itself, that's not so unusual for this game.  But let's continue with our examination …

If you're on the first Scenario Card, Southron Company get +2 attack for a final attack of 5.  Meaning that the average attack of the enemies in the deck is 3.7.

So in other words, you have a 75% chance of each card draw resulting in an enemy with attack 3.7.  And that's on the first turn of the game.

 

How many Heores and Allies can stand up to an attack that high?  Not many …

 

I haven't even touched on the text of the cards, yet.

Blocking Wargs:  Surge.  When Revealed: Deal 1 damage to each character commited to the quest.  (If the current quest has the battle or siege keyword, shuffle this card back into the encounter deck.)

There are four copies of this card.  So a 1 in 9 chance that every questing character will take one wound and then you shuffle the card back into the deck and draw another one.  And what exactly are you supposed to do if you find the last two cards in the encounter are both copies of Blocking Wargs?  The game enters an infinite loop in which you keep drawing them over and over until they kill off every single questing character and then keep drawing them … game over.

 

And as for Scenario Card 3B … "Enemies do not make engagement checks and cannot be opitionally engaged."  … what??  So every enemy drawn just sits there?  Slowly building and building in number with their Archery keywords and you not able to do anything to hurt them?  Until suddenly you get to 4B which pushes up your threat by an additional two per round meaning chances are that as soon as you get there, all the enemies are going to pile on you with their average 3.7 attack.

 

And this is supposed to be a Difficulty 4 scenario????

I'm sorry but this is absurd.  There is no way this is a Difficulty 4.  The only way you can hope to beat it is with extreme luck.  Not just luck in the way the opening of the Encounter deck plays out but also in your opening hand.  You have to either kill the starting active location on the first turn or every player gets an attack 5 enemy with additional enemies at a probability of 75% for each player.

 

FFG have seriously messed up with this one.  I genuinelly believe this scenario is the first broken one in the game.

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I dont think is broken. Hard? yes. Difficult? yes. Almost imbossible solo? yes. But that what make a game interesing. Players card was already so powerful before HON, players can win every current quest solo. So if you can win solo nin 2 player game with 2 powerful deck players win very easy. My last games was boring and only Battle in Lake- town still provide any challenge. But now  with HON we come back to real game. Now you must to build up 2 deck which should really cooperate and working together. Most of us play tnis game for 1 year already, so players need some challenge.

Today i play with my friend 2 player game agaisnt Peril in Pelargir. We play 2,5 hours and we lost! My friend very good player and mostly we win. But this time we lose.And we must to real think make a lot of hard decision and diffcult predict what ahppen next. Location and travel now is really important also.

The game in my opinion make very big step forward with HON. Now this is really cool game. So real game is just only begin.

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I can only comment on Peril in Pelargir, have not had a chance with Ithilien. But I have been playing Pelargir over and over and I find it the best quest since Osgiliath, if not the best ever. I think core set did a great job with Dol Guldur for 2 player game but since there were few quests I would want to repeat many times, especially Khazad and Dwarrodelf were real downers for me. Pelargir feels very new and it is so unpredictable that I do not think it will get old soon.

On the other hand, the OP must have a point. I know how this game can get annoying. Especially when the odds are against you, you can bet something will always go wrong. I am only guessing here but it may also be that us who have been playing this game from the start are used to certain strategies that are placed upside down with HoN. I was certainly shocked in the first few games in Pelargir but it was not impossible to find a way to improve the dekcs, and some cards I had barely considered before suddenly found way into our decks.

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I have played Into Ithilien five times now, solo with one deck. Won once, and came really close (within 3 tokens of victory) on two other occasions. So no, I don't consider this quest to be broken.

It's essential to clear Ithilien Road on turn 1, so there is probably a limited number of decks that can handle this quest. But since these options will almost all include Tactics, that's not a bad thing as Tactics has long been a distant fourth in the solo sphere rankings.

 

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I commented over on BGG, so I'll add something different here.  This quest is hard! I think it requires us to reevaluate every card in our deck to make sure things really are balanced. Before, I was able to slap a lot of quest strength into a deck, ignoring the other two traits, and be pretty much ready to go with a decent chance. I think these quests are here to end that, harshly.

Either way, I would say the quest is more of a seven or eight personally, but might lower once I get an even better grasp on deck construction with the new battle and siege keywords in mind. 

-Paul 

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It's very hard, but it's not broken. My deck that crushes most scenarios is sub-.500 vs. this quest, but I've won several times. It can be done. 

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The quest seems hard now, but wait until we get all the new cards from the six adventure packs. I'd be willing to bet that we're going to get some cards that will make this quest a LOT easier by the time the AP cycle is finished. Look at the Khazad-dum cycle. By the end of it, those 3 expansion quests were quite simple with the tools you got from the AP's.

I'd be willing to bet that this is part of FFG's marketing strategy. Raise the bar really high with tricky quests then sell people the specific tools needed to overcome the challenge. It worked on me, I bought every one of the AP's so far!

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I beat this on the first attempt, solo, and haven't gone back to it (been having way to much fun with Seige of Cair Andros). From reading your analysis, I'm thinking I may have got a lucky draw, so I think i'm going to have to go replay it a few times to see how difficult it really is…cos my first impression was that it was easier than the other two quests in Heirs.

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Play 3 session with 2 payers against this quest. All we lost. Was very cool! Really need to tail your decks to win……. We love it. Now is really intersting play coop. Really feel power of enemies and start to scare them! this is very ok with Tolkien lore! Still need to think about our decks….

In solo game i got better results and almost win but every time lose by the threat. My starting threat is to high 31.

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Definitely a tough scenario, and I like how you broke it down statistically. However, I need to play with it a bit more in order to truly say my thoughts on whether it is broken or not, most likely it is just way more difficult than advertised. The two wargs left in the deck scenario is interesting. That may indeed need some errata, as I double-checked and the surge effect triggers after the when revealed (which would shuffled it back into the deck). I do want to say that I really enjoy how many new mechanics FFG has introduced in this expansion compared to Khazad Dum (battles, sieges, more use of objectives, new kinds of treacheries, etc.). They are really trying to bring something new and it definitely helps the replay value.

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This thing is still giving me nightmares. I ran all three scenarios (co-op) three times and here is the progress:

Peril in Pelagrir - won 2 of 3 games. Only loss came on stage 1 due to getting two enemies from the active location mechanic on the first time and being unable to recover

Into Ithilien - won 0 of 3. Best game was 8 progress on stage 1.

Seige of Cair Andros - won 1 of 3. First loss was due to a turn 1 Mumak and the second due to battlegrounds getting blasted apart just before I was able to complete them.

One would think that if you are able to be competitive with Cair Andros then you should be able to take on Into Ithilien with at minimum similar success. I won't go into too many specifics since I've posted about my general deck make-up on another thread, but I've made some positive tweaks to what I posted to be more competitive in HoN without losing the ability to play against every quest. I'm not saying this quest is broken, but I think it requires a very tuned deck similar to AJtR which is kind of irksome to play with my style. 

We managed to start the last game in great shape last night with 10 progress due to an early For Gondor and had everything cleared out of the staging area except one location and had a single enemy engaged. Next turn everything goes to hell, enemies attacking from the staging area, two shadow cards in a row removing 3 progress each, and all of a sudden it's insurmountable. Oh well, I guess I'll continue having fun with the much better made Seige of Cair Andros which provides a challenge, is amazingly fun to play, and feels winable most games.  

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I too am still struggling with this one, looking for my first win after several playthroughs. I haven't had this much trouble with a scenario since the first days of the Core Set. Usually, I find myself one-shotting most scenarios, so I actually appreciate this difficulty and am enjoying it immensely. Don't get me wrong, I've had my moments of rage, when I've drawn four Blocking Wargs in a row! (I'm not exaggerating) The farthers I've gotten is stage 3, only about 2 progress away from the last round, but the staging area just got swamped with too many enemies because I couldn't engage them and I didn't have enough willpower to move quickly enough. So I've been retooling the deck to be a bit more balanced. After several playthroughs, I can say that it is not broken (other than the possible infinite wargs loop), just extremely difficult. You need to tailor your deck very carefully.

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I beat this scenario on the first attempt whereas I struggle with the first and have yet to beat the siege of cair andros.  I played with one other friend, I used a deck of Elrond, Legolas, and Glorfindel whereas my friend used a Gondor themed deck of new Boromir, Prince Imrahil, and Beregond.  

I think our main sucess came from being able to quest for a lot and keeping Celador in play.  Vassel of the Windlord came out early and the pump to Gondor allies from Boromir allowed us to clear stages in 2 turns max.  Beregond was also able to absorb the big hitters from the encounter deck while I assisted with ranged attacks from Legolas and healing from Lore gondor healer ally.  

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Finally got a victory against this scenario once I went back to using some (mostly) Dwarf decks. Dain/Loragorn/Bifur on one side and Frodo/Gimli/Thalin on the other. The Dain Dwarf strategy is super useful on this quest because you get a boost to attack and willpower, which helps with both battles and the regular quest, only the sieges are a bit hairy. I was able to beat the quest in about four turns total. Despite the amount of enemies in this quest, it was actually the treacheries and threat increases that were consistently beating me. The cards that were most key to such a quick victory were: Ranger Spikes, Gildor's Counsel, Radagast's Cunning, Test of Will. I've traditionally been a Tactics man, but Lore is quickly becoming my new favorite. Bring on Cair Andros (I played through once so far….ouch!)

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Well, having now – finally – beaten the Scenario, I’m still not happy.
I was determined to keep trying it until I beat it purely to maintain the fact that I have beaten every scenario (including both the print on demand scenarios) but this is not one I will be returning to often – if at all.
My friend and I were playing 2 player games and it was quite common to have 13 threat in the staging area during the first turn’s questing. Even with the Battle keyword on Stage 1, how many decks can you think of that can stand up to 13 threat on the first bloody turn??
On the first turn of one particular game, we had our threat raised by five, every questing character took 2 damage and we ended with 14 threat in the staging area. We didn’t even bother going on to the combat, we just stopped and started the whole game again.
In the end, the way we finally beat it came down to pure luck. We used Spirit-half-Rohan and Tactics-half-Eagles. The Spirit deck ran all the cancellation cards and cards to add tokens to sites while Tactics concentrated on high attack with the Eagles and lots of events.
And even then we lost two heroes purely because of Blocking Wargs which constantly wounds all questing characters. Having cancellation cards is all very well but you only have so many and it only takes one Blocking Warg to trigger to get it shuffled back in your deck to come up again later – 3 copies were cancelled, 3 triggered.

If that’s what it takes to beat this scenario, it doesn’t exactly sit high on the “replayability” score line.

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I still think we're going to be seeing some cards come out in the AP that will make this scenario much easier. I played Journey to Rhosgobel the other day, the first time in a long time, and it was an absolute cake walk using the cards available since the release of that AP. When this AP came out I must have tried it 5 or 6 times before I got a victory. Now it's almost a joke.

I think the strategy from FFG is to keep the difficulty really high on release knowing full well they will get easier over time.

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Very true, and I like it better that way. Too easy right off the bat, and we'd all get bored very quickly. I'm looking forward to there being a "surge killer" card eventually. Man do I hate surge.

 

 

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Raven1015 said:

Very true, and I like it better that way. Too easy right off the bat, and we'd all get bored very quickly. I'm looking forward to there being a "surge killer" card eventually. Man do I hate surge.

 

 

id not like anything too powerful…..far from it. cards that make older quests easy are doing more damage to the replayability than having them easy to begin with

rich

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Making quests harder in newer products hurts non-hardcore gamers like myself.

I was looking forward to heirs, but quickly cooled off after hearing how difficult the quests are, considering that I only have the core and 2 AP's. Making me buy lots of other products to have a decent chance of winning the quests sucks.
Don't like dwarves so KD is not for me, HoN is too difiicult, so basically the next product I can buy is either the SAGA or in 2014?
I hope that the saga part 2 is good, otherwise I have no more interest in releases for this game.

The nightmare packs are a much better way to cater to those who want very difficult quests.

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I think that you should give HoN a chance. I suspect that a lot of the talk about the difficultly of the HoN quests is coming from people who tried to shoehorn existing decks into these scenarios. I firmly believe that you can make effective decks for these scenarios with a more limited card pool (especially if you include Beregond as one of your heroes). Sure, if you don't like tactics you're going to be hard-pressed to field a deck that beats the HoN scenarios with any sort of consistency, but I do not think that you need every LotR card ever printed to make a workable deck.

Solo is a different matter, but assuming you are playing with two players, and the other deck includes Spirit/Lore for cancel/healing, you can make a very effective tactics/leadership deck that will serve as your questing and combat deck for the HoN scenarios.

 

This deck is off the top of my head, but it only requires 1 core set, 3 chapter packs (2 of which you may already have) and HoN:

Heroes:

Beregond (HoN)

Gimli

Gloin

 

Allies: 24

Errand Rider (HoN) x3

Gondorian Spearman x3

Defender of Rammas (HoN) x3

Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes AP) x3

Winged Guardian (The Hunt For Gollum AP) x3

Veteran Axehand x3

Gandalf x3

Beorning Beekeeper (Conflict at the Carrock AP) x2

Beorn x1

 

Attachments: 14

Citadel Plate x2

Citadel Spear (HoN) x2

Dwarven Axe x2

Horn of Gondor x1

Steward of Gondor x2

Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes AP) x1

Dunedain Mark (The Hunt for Gollum AP) x2

Dunedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock AP) x2

 

Events: 12

Feint x2

Swift Strike x1

Sneak Attack x2

Thicket of Spears x1

Behind Strong Walls (HoN) x3

Campfire Tales (The Hunt for Gollum AP) x3

 

I'm not claiming that this deck is automatic against the HoN scenarios, but assuming you play it with a support deck that can cancel some treacheries, quest during the few "normal" stages, and heal Gimli and Gloin when needed, this can be a very effective deck. I think it's a myth that you have to have all of the cards to make effective decks; certainly, it makes it easier, but there are some very good cards in the core set.

Ultimately, we all have our own preferences of the level of difficulty that we prefer. Personally, I really enjoy the challenge of the new scenarios, particularly the way that Battle and Siege quests have forced me to reexamine tactics cards that I previously may have dismissed. I encourage you to keep an open mind, and consider that even without buying other AP's or Expansions, Heirs of Numenor is something that you might enjoy.

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In my opinion they should not make the quests that much more difficult.

1.  It discourages new players and the more people playing the game the longer we can expect it to last.

2.  It restricts play style.

3.  "Nightmare mode" play packs are already in the works and these can ramp up the quest difficulty for the more experienced masochists among us.

I don't like the arguement that the quests will become easier with new card packs.  After I played Khazad Dum a few times I adjusted and was able to beat those quests using the tools at hand.  I didn't even have to change my heros, just my strategy.

This begs the question though:  what is a reasonable win percentage for a quest for an experienced player using a good deck?

Easy - 90% ?

Mid - 50% ?

Hard - 10% ?

(I am avoiding using FFG's numbering system since it seems completely arbitrary.)

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danpoage said:

This deck is off the top of my head, but it only requires 1 core set, 3 chapter packs (2 of which you may already have) and HoN:

Heroes:

Beregond (HoN)

Gimli

Gloin

 

Allies: 24

Errand Rider (HoN) x3

Gondorian Spearman x3

Defender of Rammas (HoN) x3

Vassal of the Windlord (The Dead Marshes AP) x3

Winged Guardian (The Hunt For Gollum AP) x3

Veteran Axehand x3

Gandalf x3

Beorning Beekeeper (Conflict at the Carrock AP) x2

Beorn x1

 

Attachments: 14

Citadel Plate x2

Citadel Spear (HoN) x2

Dwarven Axe x2

Horn of Gondor x1

Steward of Gondor x2

Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes AP) x1

Dunedain Mark (The Hunt for Gollum AP) x2

Dunedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock AP) x2

 

Events: 12

Feint x2

Swift Strike x1

Sneak Attack x2

Thicket of Spears x1

Behind Strong Walls (HoN) x3

Campfire Tales (The Hunt for Gollum AP) x3

 

Unless you are EXTREMELY lucky, Blocking Wargs will rip this deck apart.

Remember; it does 1 damage to every questing character, is normally shuffled back into the deck AND has Surge.  And there are four copies of it in the deck.  And you don't seem to have any defence against it at all.

Unless all four copies come up as Shadow Cards, I don't believe this deck can beat Into Ithilien.  Sorry.

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Stenun said:

Unless you are EXTREMELY lucky, Blocking Wargs will rip this deck apart.

Remember; it does 1 damage to every questing character, is normally shuffled back into the deck AND has Surge.  And there are four copies of it in the deck.  And you don't seem to have any defence against it at all.

Unless all four copies come up as Shadow Cards, I don't believe this deck can beat Into Ithilien.  Sorry.

I agree, blocking Wargs will rip this deck apart. Having played, and beaten Into Ithilien with a few different decks now, Blocking Wargs rips every deck apart, unless you can cancel it when it comes up or you get enough of an ally presence out and have healing on hand. In my experience, Blocking Wargs is *the* reason why Into Ithilien will always have a fair amount of luck involved, moreso, I would argue than most other scenarios in the game.

As I mentioned above, this deck needs to be played in a two player game alongside a Spirit/Lore support deck. I'm not saying that this is the ideal deck for Into Ithilien, I was simply providing an example of a deck that could be effective (with support) against HoN quests with a limited card pool. Yes, you will need to get some luck, as, in my experience, does every deck against that scenario. Even with two highly tuned decks using all available cards, a handful of games that we played were lost within the first two rounds simply because of bad draws from the encounter deck. There is no magic bullet solution to that, but I do believe that this deck, with support, could be effective against Into Ithilien. It's a matter of expectation, there is no way with this card pool that you are going to make a pair of decks that beat Into Ithilien even 50% of the time, but you would be hard pressed to make two decks that meet that criteria using every card currently available.

Since I just came up with this deck off the top of my head and haven't had a chance to play with it, it may very well be entirely ineffective against Into Ithilien. The only way to know for sure is to try it out. I actually quite enjoy the challenge of deck-building with (admittedly arbitrary) constraints so I am going to take this as a goal, and an experiment:

Is it possible to build two decks that have at least a 20% chance of beating Into Ithilien using only the following:

1 Core Set

3 Chapter Packs (The Hunt for Gollum, The Dead Marshes, Conflict at the Carrock)

1 Heirs of Numenor

Having played Into Ithilien several times, and having had to tune decks specifically to deal with it (particularly Blocking Wargs), I suspect that you may be right. This, or a deck like it using the above card pool, may be impossibly overmatched by this scenario. In any case, I am now very curious to try this out. I will work on a Spirit/Lore support decking using this same card pool and see if can't make two decks with even a modicum of a chance.

I'm going to try this expirment and let everyone kwow how it goes.

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Here is the Lore/Spirit support deck that I will pair with the Tactics/Leadership deck above to see if it is possible to make effective decks for Into Ithilien using a limited card pool.

 

Spirit/Lore Support Deck (with limited card pool)

 

Heroes:

Eleanor

Denethor

Glorfindel (Core)

 

Allies: 22

Henemarth Riversong x1

Gleowine x2

Erebor Hammersmith x2

Silvan Tracker (Dead Marshes AP) x3

Mirkwood Runner (Return to Mirkwood AP) x3

Miner of the Iron Hills x2

Ithilien Tracker (HoN) x3

Master of Lore (HoN) x3

Daugther of Nimrodel x1

Hunter of Lamedon (HoN) x2

 

Attachments: 12

Unexpected Courage x1

A Burning Brand (Conflict at Carrock AP) x3

Protector of Lorien x2

Self Preservation x1

Ranger Spikes (HoN) x3

Blood of Numenor (HoN) x2

 

Events: 16

A Test of Will x2

Hasty Stroke x2

Galadhrim's Greeting x2

Dwarven Tomb x1

Stand and Fight x2

Lorien's Wealth x1

Radagast's Cunning x3

Secret Paths x3

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