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richsabre

Do You Still Struggle? / The Game's Increasing Difficulty

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this is a topic i have wanted to discuss for some time. those of us here from the game's release will remember the early days…days when the win rate, especially for solo play, was quite bad. infact i seem to remember it being so hard that i have seen at least 6-7 people turn up on the forum asking if you could really play it solo then dissapear.

now we dont know if these people just left the forum or game itself, but i think it just shows how hard it really was. now fast forward to today, and with a greater difference in card pool and experience per player (those old/ new and with just core set / all packs etc.) there is a wide range of win rates.

i am interested to know what these win rates are and if you consider this game difficult. try to be honest burla

so please, what are your win rates and how long have you been playing the game? which quests can you beat consistently? are there any you hardly ever beat?

you dont need to be exact, just an estimate

i have to admit that the most recent packs have been too difficult for me to win consistently at all - i am still trying to win numenor 2/3 and hobbit pack 2 quests 2/3

interestingly all the quests previous to that i can consistently win.

rich

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Well sorry I dont have all the expansions so I won't really be able to tell you much but I'll say what I can. complice  I have one core set,  2-4 of Mirkwood and 2,3,5 of Dwarrowdelf and KD.  So yeah that's 12 quests.  I think that of all those Into the Pit is one of the hardest.  Umm I'm not really sure of Dol Guldur because I played it once ever solo and I beat it pretty easy actually.  I even checked over all the rules many times to make sure I didnt do anything wrong but I did it right….  So yeah since I guess its usually a really hard quest solo I cant tell you about that one.  Another one that I've found hard is, of course, Rhosgobel.  So other than that I can beat all the other quests I have pretty consistantly.  

Sorry if this isn't the information you wanted,

Khamul 

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At the beginning I remember me and my girlfriend struggling a lot to get through the core set, then we bought a second and a third copy, and everything went better (we still lost a lot though, especially in Dol Guldur).

With the APs and expansions everything got a bit easier for the core set, but not for the packs (I find return to mirkwood still one of the hardest scenarios, hard core if you play solo without a spirit based deck). Khazad-dum and Dwarrowdelf improved the card pool while not really changing the game (so the previos cycle got a bit easier while some of the Dwarrowdelf quests were a bit tough). Now we have HoN that has changed the game completely. I used to do a whole playthrough with a deck (swapping only a few cards to adjust my deck for each scenario) but now this is impossible if you build a "tacticsless" deck, because in Hon you need it (at least to win consistently).

So yes, the game has changed, and yes, sometimes I (we when I play with my girlfriend), struggle but I guess it depends on how one approaches the game. Most of the times I try to build funny and thematic decks (I seldom build all-winners because I find them boring). All in all I think the game is scaling pretty well, old scenarios are easier (some a lot, some not very much), but most of them are still fun to play and can still beat you.

My conclusion is that if you build a different deck for every scenario, then yes, they're much easier, but if you play with one deck, trying to improve the theme or the strenght of the deck then only some of them are easier, some other may even be more difficult (for exemple playing shadows of mirkwood with a rohan deck is much easier than playing it with a gondor deck).

Some specific cards are helpful everywhere or almost (Hands upon the Bow) some other cards might be very helpful in a few scenarios but wasted slots in other scenarios (Ever my Heart Rises), and others can be game changers in many situations but still pretty useles in others (like Erebor Battle Master, awsome in Shadow and Flame but wasted in, say, the Hills of Emyn Muil or even the Dead Marshes or a Journey to Rhosgobel). Up to now I don't think there's been a card that, when released, has broken an older scenario. On the contrary it helped making that scenario more viable for spheres that were weaker in that specific scenario (like how Glorfindel made Spirit better at fighting, or Hands upon the Bow made Tactics better at questing, though not by adding willpower, or even how Elrond made elves playable)

As for how much I get to beat a scenario let's say that, with the average deck I build I get to win like 3 out of 3 when playing Hunt for Gollum, The Dead Marshes, The Hills of Emyn Muil and other easy scenarios like Road to Rivendell, 2/3 when playing those like Rhosgobel, The Watcher in the Water and so on (which are a bit harder in my opinion), 1/2 against tougher ones like the massing at osgiliath (even though lately the massing has become quite easy if your threat is low enough) and maybe 1/3 (sometimes 1/2) in the newer and harder scenarios…these data are purely to explain how I feel about scenarios and how consistently I get to beat them…but they may vary greatly though…because I even got a 3/3 in the siege of cair andros with an eagle/gondor deck once (at my best) or (at my worst) I got beaten hardly by easy-peasy scenarios when the encounter deck played tricks on me XD….The Hobbit scenarios are a bit different because deckbuilding for them is a bit frustrating at times (especially in scenario 3 of the first box and scenario 2 of the second box)…still I get to beat them quite easily, except for the battle of five armies which is tougher (and much much better then the other scenarios in the hobbit)

 

hope I didn't write too much XD

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thanks for replying khamul

i think the problem though is that the quests take a huge turn upwards in difficulty after the dwarrowdelf ends….and i mean a really big turn upwards….perhaps thats just me….i guess thats the point of this thread

@devastazione- thanks for replying. my win rates for your 3/3 is pretty much the same as mine….though id probably lower it to a 8/10 score. rtr is a pain without more than 3 test of wills. but hfg, redhorn, emyn, marshes, pretty much all of dwarrowdelf…even osgilliath and return to mirkwood i can beat around 8/10 times with my best decks

i think the problem is i like to keep decks

rich

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When you said you guys beat all those quests 8-10 or 3/3 or whatever, how many players was that?  If solo, RtM 3/3 eh? I thought that was supposed to be really hard solo….  Thats the kind of thing I'm talking about in my other topic.  All quests are now so easy if you have complete cardpool.  I like to always win a quest about 30% of the time.  

Khamul

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I think the difficulty in HoN is just about perfect. However, that's just my personal preference, and I fully understand why many players are growing frustrated with the challenge level. I expect we'll see some easier scenarios in the Against the Shadow cycle, so hopefully those will provide a welcome reprieve for those players who fell like HoN is impossible (early word on TSF seems to suggest that it's a notch below HoN).

Also, I expect the HoN scenarios will appear considerably less formidable by the conclusion of this AP cycle. Remember when The Massing at Osgiliath seemed like an absurdly difficult quest? It took me FOREVER to beat it with my solo deck; now, I crush that scenario probably 90% of the time. That's partly a result of more playing experience but mostly a product of the expanding player card pool. Just hang in there--these quests will all get easier as time goes on.

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I have found all of the HoN quests to be difficult, but the only one that I have found enjoyable is Peril in Pelargir. I have beaten Into Ithilien once or twice playing double fisted, and have only played Siege of Cair Andros once (which, on my first turn, saw Glorfindel get obliterated by 10-15 shadow cards). I don't mind difficulty if it is a struggle to the last round, but if I am beating a scenario because a particular card isn't being revealed from the encounter deck (looking at you, Blocking Wargs), I feel like I am winning more out of luck than skill. I like to see syneregy from the encounter deck, but I don't think that adding Surge to almost every card is the most effective way of adding it.

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@Rich, well my "average" deck does that (because I like to keep things thematic) but if I build a very good one (like the new eagle deck I'm trying right now, or the Hama, Legolas, Glorfindel low threat tactics recycle I've been playing for a while ) then things get a bit easier and my win rate goes up (like 2/3 or 3/3 on most scenarios).

@ Khamul, we're talking about most of the scenarios but RtM…that is one of the hardest in my opinion due to the fact that it's supposed to be multiplayer only (quite evidently). All the cards that help the players lower their threat and so on work only on the player not guarding gollum (who's not there if you play solo), plus getting an early treachery, like raise your threat by 8, deal 4 damage to a hero or an early Attercop, you're almost surely done…

I agree with the general Idea that HoN raised the difficulty level of the game, but I'm also glad it did it because it feels like a new beginning and now we realy need new cards to improve our decks in order to beat these scenarios consistently. Also when I beat them with my average deck I'm quite satisfied I did it XD

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@khamul - the RTM i can win consistently with 2 handed, certainly not solo. in all of the quests i mentioned my high win rates are for 2/3 handed, solo i can win most quests perhaps 6/10, apart from guldur/ rtm.

@everyone. thanks for the thoughts, im happy im not the only one who struggles with HoN. it appears sometimes from the general forum talk that they are easy…perhaps im just selectively reading :)

rich

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I haven't really enjoyed the newer quests much (post-Dwarrowdelf). They feel much harder and unforgiving of poor starts - for example, in a recent two-player (HoN) game, we had 10 threat in the staging area on turn 1, and that was before revealing encounter cards for questing!  I was then attacked by an enemy which inflicted 8 damage on the hero who blocked it.  Not much fun. 

I haven't bought HoN and don't thnk I will be buying any more expansions. It feels like you have to build great decks, play them well and be lucky to succeed now, and that's not what I want out of LotR.

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Rich: I am still one of those original players who looks back on the older quests and sighs. I wish the new quests were even half as beatable than the older ones. I find that the quests have been steadily on the difficulty rise and it doesn't seem to be on it's way out. What happened to enemies with either 0 or 1 defense? I mean really, every flipping enemy has at least 2 shields these days, and that's usually on top of an average of 3 attack, 3 hit points, 3 threat and a nasty ability. The new quests kind of annoy me in their difficulty. I threw the "difficulty rating" scores that FF prints no the rules sheets out a long time ago. Now, I don't buy this game to win it anymore; I buy it for the art.

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hey joseph,

thats interesting points….i agree to an extent, though its the surge/treachery cards that are my biggest bane. perhaps when there is more treachery cancellation (which i made a post about recently) then it will even out.

 

what i find hard to understand….is how some players can walk some quests that others find impossible. now given the same card pool, can experience really be that big of a game changer?

take me for instance…i have the whole card pool and 2 years gaming experience…but this is my first and only lcg game. so are players who player games such as the decipher and mtg really got that big an advantage over me? or am i just really bad?

i do not consider my self a weak player. as i say i can walk the quests before HoN so that is why i think my self fairly competant.

rich

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Great topic Richard.

My (very) little gaming group has not struggled so much from the start, since we hardly ever played solo then, and we owned several core sets. It is actually interesting to see that the decks have improved (or tried to) with every single adventure pack (we own them all so far) but still, sometimes when I come back to the old quests (solo or double-handed) I can struggle. The consistency and theme (of some decks) have improved, of course.

For me, the game took a twist with Shadow and Flame and the consequent releases. Up till the Shadow I could make a deck and win them all 85% of the time perhaps - and of course, I still can - safe Dol Guldur solo. But the battles and sieges, and the very specific Hobbit scenarios made the One Deck to Rule them All much harder, though perhaps Outlands will have something to say about that.

And I do struggle with Ithilien (and I have barely played Cair Andros since I don't like the quest very much), unless I make a specific deck to beat it. And I find some of the Hobbit quests very difficult when the cards don't go my way, even with the best of decks out there.

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Just wanted to throw in my opinion.  My 13 y/o son and I have owned this game since release in early 2011.  Our first experience with it was at a gaming convention.  I read the rules, we played two-player and got so obliterated after three tries that we shelved the core set for about a year.  The main reason for this was the rules stating you could play with 1-3 heroes per player, which is absurd.  We were only running two heroes each - never 3 - and that was what led to not playing this wonderful game for a whole year. 

Once we got the itch to try it one more time, we maximized our heroes and our decks and went to town, never looking back.  We have everything that has been released but have not attempted every quest yet.   Every quest up to Heirs of Numenor we have beaten.  He runs leadership/tactics dwarf, and I usually run spirit/lore with various different combinations.  Very seldom does he have to change heroes.  I have to do it much more frequently, as the formula for success beyond SoM cycle is much more dynamic.  So, HoN expansion is really no different to what we have been experiencing.  We tried Perils at Pelargir with the deck we used from Shadow and Flame and it went horribly.  We both had to recreate our player deck and I had to do a full swap of heroes.  I went to an exclusively Gondor/Dwarf ally deck and we won pretty handily.  Our threat was close at the end, but we didn't feel overwhelmed like we did with our old decks. 

So, on one hand I like trying different cards and hero combinations.  But, on the other, I don't like being forced to do it, because I don't have X, Y, and Z cards or heroes.  I know we would both agree that this game is our all-time favorite game, and we both have played many, many games over the years. 

Oh, one other thing.  I just wanted to share our strategy for approaching quests.  Once we determine what quest cards are in the encounter deck, we break each type of card into piles (i.e., enemies, treachery, and locations).  We look at the size of each pile side by side.  Then we go through and evaluate all the encounter cards.  For example, if there a bunch of 1 or 2 health enemies, we almost always sport Thalin.  If there is a large stack of treachery, we definitely bring out our Spirit cards and maybe even sport Eleanor.  For lots of enemies, we run tons of low cost allies.  Little things like that in initial prep can really help out.  When we have tried just simply going from quest to quest without deck changes, it has been less fruitful.

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richsabre said:

what i find hard to understand….is how some players can walk some quests that others find impossible. now given the same card pool, can experience really be that big of a game changer?

take me for instance…i have the whole card pool and 2 years gaming experience…but this is my first and only lcg game. so are players who player games such as the decipher and mtg really got that big an advantage over me? or am i just really bad?

i do not consider my self a weak player. as i say i can walk the quests before HoN so that is why i think my self fairly competant.

rich

So much of it has to do with deck matchups. Most of the scenarios are like puzzles; they are going to be fairly challenging until you figure out the correct series of operations (i.e. hero lineup, which treacheries you NEED to counter, etc.). The players who waltz through scenarios and the players who struggle with those quests are generally separated by both deck composition and how quickly they've been able to figure out the key elements of the scenario. I don't know that experience has a lot to do with it, apart from the possible advantage of being able to more quickly analyze what kinds of strategies a given scenario requires. I definitely don't think a background in MtG or other similar games really helps you in LotR. Beyond understanding that drawing cards is important and that resource acceleration is a good thing (things most new LotR players realize pretty quickly), it's difficult to apply any lessons from most other card games. LotR is just a completely different animal. 

I don't think struggling with HoN is indicative of any lack of skill on your part. They're just difficult quests that punish even the most experienced players. They kicked my butt for a while until I figured out that, for instance, OHaUH Gandalf is AMAZING in all three scenarios. Even now, I still get blown out more often than not in Cair Andros. 

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Gah, forum software just ate a longer post. Essentially, I agree with starhawk: HoN really encourages certain builds. I've found archery decks that snipe out enemies can pull their weight in a big way. This ain't so much the case for Gollum era quests, I've found.

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I struggle. And expect to continue to do so in the future. I'm solo player.

During the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, and after correctly learning to play, I'd say my win rate was around 1/3 or 1/2. Now I raised those scenarios win rate to 6/10 or 7/10 using a card pool limited to the cycle. Using the complete card pool I win almost always. The exception is A Journey to Rhosgobel, which requires some luck, and Escape from Dol Guldur, where I've won only twice with complete card pool. I haven't played so much other quests, but I'd say win rate is around 1/2. I've played Heirs of Numenor quests once, all with loses.

And I also agree with "LotR is just a completely different animal."

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I've been playing since the start, and I still struggle!

I only play solo, I only play with one deck, and that deck is usually built for theme rather than as a calculated response to the scenario deck. So I essentially know why I struggle. For a while after The Watcher in the Water I actually gave up on this game. I kept buying the expansion packs, but I'd play them possibly once, then lose heart again. There was a very rough time last August when the first Hobbit box came out, where the game was just not worth the set-up time, as I'd lose after one or two rounds. The fun of wandering the Hills of Emyn Muil just wasn't there for me anymore. Then a couple of months back I decided to try the Hobbit 2 box, and somehow the magic was back - albeit in a bit of a guarded sense. There are still lots of quests I haven't yet tried, largely because I feel there may be a Shadow and Flame-esque experience, but slowly I think I'm getting back into it. 

Oddly, though, this game has never left the #1 slot for me. I think because I enjoyed the Mirkwood cycle so much it still retains its excellence. Another odd thing is that I don't consider myself to be starting over since I've come back to it after such a break. Because I've been buying the packs all along, so I've been keeping abreast of what's going on, I suppose it's always been there in my mind. Well, anyway.

So. My success rate with the Mirkwood quests, very roughly speaking, I would put at about 75%. Sometimes this is a calculated fail though, as I play with a deck that I expect to have no chance, and am not disappointed. At least 20% of the fail rate comes from Return to Mirkwood and/or Journey to Rhosgobel. But that's another issue. 

Khazad-dum is probably about 45% success. I don't even try the third quest anymore, and the second only if I'm feeling like a change. 

The Dwarrowdelf cycle I probably have the same, maybe 50% success. I'm speaking about the cycle as a whole, now - the unmitigated disaster of Shadow and Flame is offset by The Long Dark, for instance :P 

Hobbit 1 I have never completed a single quest. I find it too difficult, and am too annoyed by the whole situation to even try. Hobbit 2 I find better, though I've only played the first two scenarios. Both I have completed, so I suppose technically my success rate here is 100%. 

Heirs of Numenor I've only tried the first scenario, and again have completed it, so it's another artificial 100% success rate. I didn't find the scenario that difficult to be honest. It is slightly annoying, the low-engagement-high-stat brigands that keep coming out, but even so. 

I've never completed Massing at Osgiliath, though when I used to play this game more consistently I was improving with it. I have never played Lake-town, so both the PoD scenarios I'm at 0% success there. 

I've been really unhappy with the way the difficult has spiralled in this game certainly last summer, but I'm hoping that with the new cycle we see more of a return to story-driven quests than merely an excuse to kill stuff indiscriminately. The variable difficulty modes look like a welcome addition, too!

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I'm reluctant to mention it, but one significant factor that may be impacting perceived difficulty is the simple fact that not all players are playing by the same rules.

In a competitive game, there is always the opponent there to keep you honest.  In a solo game, there isn't, and even in a cooperative game you can get away with a lot more than in a competitive format.  As such, I suspect there are any number of "house rules" being implemented that significantly shift the difficulty curve.  (I also suspect that there are a certain number of players who studiously avoid errata and official rulings and just play the cards the way they think they should be played, rather than be unhappily surprised that Zigil Miner has been nerfed into the ground.)

To take a specific instance, it's been admitted on these forums that a certain number of players take a very expansive view of the mulligan rule.  Taking more than one mulligan may not seem like a big deal, but given how critical certain cards are in certain decks, I think it is.

I won't claim innocence on this one - I will confess that I've done the old "whoops I didn't mean to do that let me just undo my last action", which in a competitive game I likely would not be able to get away with.  But I wish I could be confident that the players who are going on about high win rates and how winnable the game is if only the rest of us knew how to play would confirm that they were playing strictly "by the book" - but I'm not confident that that is always the case.

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I think that the games difficulty has got harder and harder as the game has gone along. This has meant that I haven't really played since the release of HoN as I have just got fed up of it.

As a mainly solo player I want a game where I feel I have a fair chance of victory and I'm not getting that. It has got to a point where I am seriously considering working out a decent set of house rules to make the game better (not overly impressed with the new easy level from FFG).

Multiplayer has stopped locally for the same reason. No one wants to play a game that is so difficult.

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I've been playing since the start, got all cards, good decks, a lot of card game experience and I still struggle!

@ Rich: The short answer: Unless (players like) you have a 9 /10 win ratio even before adapting your deck to a certain scenario you can expect the average player with average card pool and average decks to be struggling. If people like you are struggling, it get's critical.

The longer answer: I think there are many variables. What does "struggle" mean for you? How much challenge is ok for you - what win ratio? How big is your card pool? How much time do you put into research and deck building? What are your criteria for deck building (pure effectivness, or story, or something in between)? Do you build tailored decks for each scenario? Do you play the rules strictly correct?

This can make a huge difference and reduces comparability greatly. For example I build general purpose decks that are not targeted towards any particular scenario. With many quests I know what kind of deck could beat it, but building new decks each and every time is just not an option for me.

The problem with LotR are the conditions FFG seems to be balancing/playtesting. To me it is clear that they don't playtest for an average player to have a real chance. They balance more like this: tailored decks & main gaming focus on LotR/many hours of research on strategy & all cards available & perfect gameplay & luck = 20% chance of success.

To sum it up, I think that the games difficulty has gotten harder and harder as the game has gone along - and it has already been hard at the beginning. At times I was so annoyed by the difficulty of the new quests that I wanted to stop playing the game - like all of my friends have by now. Actually I haven't bought HoN and my decision stands to buy no more expansions. FFG and it's playtesters can keep them for themselves.

@ Runix: We often undo stuff. If a player wants something to be undone and it can be undone correctly, we do it. If we wouldn't do that occasionally, our win ratio would propably be halved. Do I feel guilty. Not in the slightest.

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I've been playing solo from the beginning and prior to HoN had about a 33% win rate, and have won all of the quests except for Escape from Dol Guldor and the 2 PODs.  I generally build decks specific for each quest.  With HoN I was able to win Peril in Pelargir once after about a dozen tries and have yet to win either of the other 2 (came within 1 progress token of winning Cair Andros).  However, I like the HoN quests and the fact that the designers are trying to introduce new mechanics and make the quests all unique.  I like a challenge and would be bored if the quests were all easy to win.

I suspect the HoN quests will be much easier once all of the cards from the AtS cycle are available.  It's my guess they do most of the playtesting using all of the cards available in the deluxe expansion and associated cycle of APs and then figure out a way to split up the player cards across the packs.  I think the difficulty numbers are set based on having the full pool of cards available.

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