About a week ago, I took up playing the Lord of the Rings card game again. A game released by Fantasy Flight Games, it is unusual in that it is a co-operative collectible card game, albeit the packs are non-random. The deck-building of the classic CCGs remains, however. Each new expansion presents a new scenario to play against. The early ones are moderately easy, but as the game progresses, some of the scenarios are particularly difficult. The game is probably at its best when played with two players, but I very much enjoy playing games solitaire. Some of the scenarios are actually easier that way. Some are harder, and The Steward’s Fear, the first of the Against the Shadow cycle is particularly difficult for a solo player.
I was pretty pleased when I finished the Siege of Cair Andros last week, which required me to build a deck I’d never built before – a pure tactics deck. Looking at The Steward’s Fear, I felt that it called for a more traditional sort of deck, one good at questing and dealing with enemies. This isn’t actually the case. What I actually need is a deck that is very good at location control and is also brilliant at dealing with enemies, especially the sort that have horrible, horrible effects when they engage you. I can deal with “When revealed” effects. I can deal with the Shadow card combat effects, but a card that damages all allies when it engages you? That I can’t deal with.
The scenario is actually pretty nasty to your allies. One treachery card actually does what the card-type implies: it turns one of your allies into a traitor, who attacks you and then is discarded. High-attack characters, such as Gandalf or Beorn, can be a decided liability here!
I played one game against the scenario with my Siege of Cair Andros tactics deck, and died very, very quickly as I was unable to explore the locations fast enough. I then built a Spirit/Leadership deck, only to find myself being overwhelmed by threats. I’ve currently got a Spirit/Lore deck, and it’s not faring much better. I’ve had a few games that I’ve looked in control, and then everything goes wrong.
The major twist on how this scenario works is that there’s an Underworld deck which puts threats into play when you explore certain locations. In a two-player game, that’s only (normally) a 50% increase over what you normally face. In a solitaire game, that’s a 100% increase, and it could be even more if a difficult plot card comes up.
If I could trust my allies, then everything would be fine, but the scenario is very good at stripping away my support structure.
I think the most recent version of my deck has actually gone backwards – it’s less effective than it was before! I’m about to go to Lore/Lore/Spirit and see what happens there, with more traps to stop the monsters from attacking…
Heroes: Glorfindel (spirit), Eleanor, Glorfindel
Allies: Zigil Miner, Arwen Undomiel, Miner of the Iron Hills, Lorien Guide, Gandalf, The Riddermark’s Finest, Warden of Healing
Attachments: Light of Valinor, Unexpected Courage, A Burning Brand, Asfaloth
Events: The Galadhrim’s Greeting, Will of the West, A Test of Will, Elrond’s Counsel, Stand and Fight, Hasty Stroke, Daeron’s Runes
I’m not looking for help with the scenario, as the very point of playing the game is to come up with my own solution. I’m just venting, as the scenario is certainly causing me some grief!