Kris and I have been playing Fantasy Flight’s excellent Lord of the Rings LCG (Living Card Game) for some time now. We really enjoy it for its strategic requirements along with the great flavor from the Middle Earth.
We’d fallen a bit behind in our play as we tried other pursuits like Awakening the Bear and various Eurogames, but we we anxious to play the first two expansion packs in the series The Hunt for Gollum and Conflict at the Carrock.
In the end we found them both enjoyable to play, but we seriously under estimated the difficulty in Conflict at the Carrock.
The Hunt is On! – In The Hunt for Gollum, the Heroes are tasked with beginning their search for the elusive Gollum and looking for clues on his whereabouts. In terms of game mechanics, certain cards represents these clues and can be found as they are revealed in the Encounter Deck. Upon successful questing, the heroes may capture a clue.
Kris was playing a Spirit/Leadership deck with Eowyn, Theodread, and Aragorn. I was playing with Tactics heroes Legolas and Boromir along with Lore hero Denethor. Interestingly, my deck had about 1/3 Spirit cards even though I had no Spirit heroes. I heard about the heavy questing in The Hunt for Gollum and I planned to supplement my heroes with Songs of Travel to give them Spirit characteristics. It was a risk, but we were planning for fun and I wanted to try it out.
Section 1B of the quest seemed to take an amazingly long time to play out. At every turn, our questing was countered by the game’s mechanics. We saw losses or times in questing with 14, 17, even 21 Willpower. It wasn’t until Kris got Northern Tracker on the table that we saw a breakthrough.
In the end it took us 7 turns to get though 1B!
Imagine our surprise then when we cruised through 2B and 3B in one turn each! By the time that 2B rolled around, we were quoting fiends, Kris had all three clues on his characters and nothing really stood in our way.
At 3B I had quite a few allies out and there were no enemies in sight. Our final questing tally for 3B was 28 to 7. Game over.
We really enjoyed this scenario but only wished that the latter stages were as challenging as the first.
Final Score (using the revised scoring system): 165
Kris: 37 Final Treat + 0 Threat of Dead Heroes + 1 Damage Tokens on Remaining Heroes = 38 Player Subtotal
Ty: 41 Final Treat + 0 Threat of Dead Heroes + 2 Damage Tokens on Remaining Heroes = 43 Player Subtotal
– 6 Victory Points
+ 9 x 10 point per round = 165
Conflict at the Carrock – Are you kidding me?! – Since we finished The Hunt for Gollum relatively early in the evening, our attention turned to Conflict at the Carrock. Since we didn’t have time to truly prepare, we build our decks on the fly.
Knowing that the scenario would be Troll heavy, I prepared for some series battle. I swapped out Legolas for Gimili. I also wanted to try an Eagle deck and thought this would be a good occasion to try given this was kind of a throwaway game in a sense. Compared to my Hunt for Gollum deck, I had swapped out my Spirit cards for Eagle cards and a few more combat events.
We were ready to roll.
The first part of the scenario played much like early Hunt for Gollum; We had good total Willpower for our questing, but we really weren’t making progress. Most quest phases resulted in a slight loss or tie. Our threat levels were heading up albeit slowly.
Once we started to make some progress, we were hit with a Frightened Beast treachery. Fortunately, playing an Eagle-heavy deck I had some Creatures to discard. Kris wasn’t for fortunate and hi threat level jumped by ten up in the mid-40s. I was around 36 myself.
This was our downfall as anyone who has played the scenario before could guess. Shortly after surviving the Frightened Beast, we moved on to the next stage of the scenario moving on to the Carrock itself. We picked up Grimbeorn along the way.
Low and behold, there were the four named Tolls appeared, all with an engagement level of 34. We were screwed. I was pretty well prepared to defend against three maybe four or the Trolls .I had Grimbeorn who doesn’t exhaust against Trolls, an Eagle with four defense, and Denethor beefed with in defense through some attachments.
The problem was, with Louis who causes each Troll to carry a “Forced: After this enemy attacks, the defending player must raise his threat by 3.” Since we were each engaged with two Trolls each, our Threat was going up by 6 per turn!
The other Trolls had similar nasty effects. We were overwhelmed!
So this was basically the end of the game. We played it out, did some damage against one of the Trolls but that was about it.
Clearly, we need some threat management strategies to more selectively engage the Trolls. I’m not sure my Tactics and Lore cards can help me too much with that. I’ll have to looking into bringing some Spirit back into my deck again. Or perhaps reach out to the community.
In the end, this was a great session of Lord of the Rings LCG. It was great to play for an extended period of time. I think this session also highlights the considerable amount of time it must take to prepare some of these expansion scenarios. Making them challenging enough to require a considered approach to deck building.
It is probably that quality that will keep me playing Lord of the Rings LCG for a long time.