Hall of Beorn now includes the Digital Card Game

As we approach the anniversary of Hall of Beorn Card Search, it is hard to believe that it has been almost five years since I built that site as a side project. With the digital version of The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game in early release on Steam, I’ve gone ahead and added support for that game as well. I’m pleased to announce that Hall of Beorn Digital Card Search now includes all of the cards released to date for the digital game. In the near future, I will be adding categories and a JSON API which other tools like online deck-builders are free to use.

Work continues on the Hall of Beorn Card Search to add new features for the original game, so have no fear that the bear is abandoning one game for another. I have two paws, after all, so I can certainly work on both sites. As traffic on the new site ramps up, so do my hosting costs see a commensurate increase. I would appeal to any and all players who enjoy the search engines, or the intermittent ramblings I post here, to head on over to my Patreon page and pledge your support. Every small donation is greatly appreciated, and makes a difference to offset the cost of maintaining these community tools.

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Posted in Community, Digital LotR, Hall of Beorn Card Search, Patreon, Thanks, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Deck: Shire Yard Sale


While the new power cards from the Dale archetype were joining the party, amid much fanfare, a group of less-heralded cards were slinking around the back of the house, to smoke pipes and specifically avoid their more gregarious companions. Silvan, and to a lesser extent Rohan decks built around Gamling, introduced the concept of bouncing allies into and out of play. While the Silvan deck take advantage of responses to their allies entering play, Rohan is more about assembling a toolbox of inexpensive allies, which can be discarded for useful effects. Gamling then returns these discarded allies to your hand, and Santa Théoden allows you to play them again at a discount.

The Silvan variant of this strategy tends to be more consistent, as the allies are more potent thanks to a global boost from Celeborn, and their beneficial effects trigger immediately, rather than on discard like Rohan allies. Also, the Rohan approach can be expensive. The errata to Horn of Gondor makes the prospect of paying for multiple allies difficult, unless you concede the point and just use Steward of Gondor. As a bear who plays more multiplayer than solo, I see Steward of Gondor as a last resort and try to limit its use to more thematic Gondor or Outlands decks.

Ally bounce has existed in home form or another since the first cycle, there has never been an equivalent strategy for attachments – until now. Certainly, there are shenanigans around Second Breakfast and the Record attachments, but this doesn’t exactly qualify as “attachment bounce” as the attachments were never returned to your hand. Bard Son of Brand now allows players to return ally attachments to their hands, when that ally leaves play. This ability might at first seem odd, but it is important to incentivize players for investing so many resources and cards to boost their allies. Still, even the younger Bard’s ability is not a reliable form of “attachment bounce” as long as you are using allies which are designed to stay in play. It remains to be seen if some hybrid Dale/Rohan deck is feasible, where attachments are added to Rohan allies before they leave play. Since the discardable Rohan allies have feeble stat lines and possess little to no attachment synergy, I am skeptical of this approach.

The card which immediately piqued my interest, and well and truly makes “attachment bounce” a viable strategy, is Bartering. As a bear who greatly enjoys creative deck-building challenges, this card is like finding a bonus honey cake that you forgot in the pantry. While there are many ways to take advantage of Bartering, this deck goes with the tried and true approach of using a record attachment.

This deck starts the game with three Lore Hobbit heroes – each with a well-defined role. Folco Boffin lowers our starting threat into Secrecy range, giving us a round of two to play Resourceful at a discount. Pippin helps us to avoid enemy engagement in the early game, while we get our Ent army mustered. Once we have viable combat allies, he provides supplemental card draw via Hobbit-style optional engagement. Good old Mr. Bilbo Baggins provides consistent card draw, even in the two player games for which this deck is best-suited.

Anyone who has played a Secrecy deck can attest to just how critical it is to play your secrecy cards in the first two rounds. The abundance of card draw obviously helps to make this deck more consistent. At 4 cost, Resourceful is an expensive card to draw when you are sitting at 21 threat thanks to an ill-timed treachery. This is where Bartering and Scroll of Isildur get to shine. The Scroll only costs 1 resource to play from hand, as long as Folco hasn’t wandered off into the woods. Between the discount to Scroll of Isildur and the bonus card from Mithrandir’s Advice, this might be one of the few Folco decks which doesn’t necessarily want to immediately feed Folco to the abyss.

By returning our discounted Scroll of Isildur to our hand, Bartering then allows us to play a Resourceful for free – even when we are no longer in Secrecy. To be fair, the Scroll is not solely included for Bartering trickery. In a deck chalk-full of powerful Lore events, the Scroll can be quite useful in its own right. The goal is to get two copies of Resourceful (or one copy and a Necklace of Girion) as quickly as possible. Ent allies are relatively inexpensive, and Treebeard ally helps us pay for them – especially useful for playing Tactics Ent allies before we’ve found our Song of Battle. Still, this deck relies heavily on Ents for both questing and combat, so it’s essential to avail ourselves of the strategic pillars of resource acceleration and card draw, to muster our ally army.

This deck has more to offer than just haggling with the Sackville Baggins over spoons. Like most Ent decks, it has an inherent tempo to its power curve. Put another way, there will be rounds where you are vulnerable because your Ents come into play exhausted. This is where encounter control cards like The Hidden Way (proxied with The Evening Star in the RingsDB version of this deck) and Gildor’s Counsel are invaluable. As previously mentioned, this deck is designed for multiplayer games. Hobbits are squishy heroes under the best of circumstances, and while Ents are more than capable of protecting their halfling friends, this deck can start slowly. The ability to reduce the number of encounter cards revealed is critically important for a deck which is trying to shepard a lumbering army of tree-herders.

This strategy represents just one way to take advantage of Bartering. I have no doubt that intrepid deck builders in the community will identify and exploit many other fun and powerful combinations with this card. It’s a testament to the quality of the player cards in The Wilds of Rhovanion that when you look past the obviously powerful cards you continue to find hidden gems. It’s fair to say that this set is deep with interesting and effective cards. From the looks of the The Withered Heath, this trend will only continue with the Ered Mithrin cycle. Check out the RingsDB version of this deck (remember that The Evening Star is a proxy for The Hidden Way)

Shire Yard Sale

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Bilbo Baggins (The Hunt for Gollum)
Folco Boffin (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
Pippin (The Black Riders)

Ally (20)
1x Barliman Butterbur (The Black Riders)
1x Beechbone (The Battle of Carn Dûm)
2x Booming Ent (The Antlered Crown)
3x Derndingle Warrior (Escape from Mount Gram)
1x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Leaflock (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
1x Quickbeam (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Skinbark (The Land of Shadow)
3x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
3x Wandering Ent (Celebrimbor’s Secret)
3x Wellinghall Preserver (Across the Ettenmoors)

Attachment (10)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Resourceful (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Scroll of Isildur (The Morgul Vale)
2x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)

Event (20)
3x Bartering (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
3x Daeron’s Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Entmoot (The Treason of Saruman)
2x Gildor’s Counsel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Mithrandir’s Advice (The Steward’s Fear)
3x Peace, and Thought (Shadow and Flame)
3x The Evening Star (a proxy for The Hidden Way – from The Withered Heath)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards

Cards up to The Withered Heath

Sideboard

Hero (1)
Merry (The Black Riders)

Ally (6)
1x Elrond (The Road Darkens)
1x Ioreth (A Storm on Cobas Haven)
1x Rivendell Minstrel (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Warden of Healing (The Long Dark)

Attachment (4)
2x Ent Draught (The Treason of Saruman)
1x Song of Battle (The Dead Marshes)
1x Sword-thain (The Dread Realm)

Event (5)
1x Gildor’s Counsel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Heed the Dream (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x The Dam Bursts (The Crossings of Poros)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Posted in Deck Building, Deck Lists, Discussion, Encounter Deck Control, Fun, Location Control, Lore, Mono-Sphere, Staging Area Control, Tempo, Theme | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Half Dozen Deliveries Destined for Dale

Bear on the Docks

The Wilds of Rhovanion marks the inception the Dale archetype, distinguished among deck styles in its focus on attachment-heavy decks and allies pulling serious weight while the heroes provide support. Dale has aspects in common with previous archetypes – for example, some Vilya builds were attachment heavy. Still, this is the first time in the game’s history when the focus of player card attachments shifts from heroes to allies. To help with deck-building, Hall of Beorn Card Search has a new category for ally attachments. In addition, I’ve found the time to wrap my massive paws around a pen and ramble some musings about cards which may see new relevance – or increased usage – with the Dale archetypes.

Galadriel (Ally)

For obvious reasons, this version of the lady of the Golden Wood is overshadowed by the hero. To be clear, building a multiplayer deck around this card is a recipe for frustration. With the power of hero Galadriel, including in some of the popular Dale builds, there is a good chance your ally will never hit the table. All hope is not lost, however. Assuming you can get the ally into play, she can be an incredibly effective solution for finding your critical attachment and getting it into play quickly.

I made excellent use of ally Galadriel in my Leading Dale to Glory deck; she helps get King of Dale up and running as quickly as possible. Full disclosure, that deck was more of a proof of concept to see if I could use Lord of Morthond outside of an Outlands deck. It should not by any means be considered standard for the archetype. On the contrary, there are several more consistent and thematically appropriate versions of the Dale deck which should be considered before my fanciful ursine thought experiments.

All that said, Leadership is essentially a requirement in all Dale decks – because of the potency of Brand Son of Bain. Any deck with Leadership is going to have resource acceleration, at which point a three cost ally that drops amazing attachments into play for free starts to look pretty appealing. The fact that she quests for three and then soaks archery for a round is what I would call a nice bonus. With the draw power of Leadership Brand son of Bain, being able to stack the top of your deck even becomes useful. You can put the other attachments on top to give yourself maximal card draw.

Raiment of War

I’ve been a proponent of this card from the moment it was first spoiled. While filling up both restricted slots might at first seem a steep price, the stat boost that this card gives for only two resources makes it one of the most efficient attachments in the game. Besides, once the attached character has become effectively invincible, your wont often need a second attachment for them anyway.

The bonus defense and hit points make this a natural fit for characters who spend most of their time on the defensive end of combat. However, don’t ignore the value it can bring to offensive allies. On characters like Warrior of Dale, the Weapon trait provides a net +2 attack bonus and Ranged. Also, his 5 total hit points make him an worthy archery soak.

At first glance, having the requirement of attaching to a Warrior character might seem like a serious limitation. While this might be true in other archetypes, a Dale deck’s best targets for Raiment have the Warrior trait, so this is not at all an issue. Having Item, Weapon and Armor traits gives it the ultimate versatility. The most consistent decks feature cards which solve multiple problems.

Many of the game’s best weapons cost only a single resource. At twice the cost, Raiment carries the risk that you won’t have the ideal target in play, since Dale mostly wants to equip allies over heroes. Then we face a dilemma, attach it to a less ideal target or wait until we draw our Redwater Sentry. Thankfully, Dale lets you have your cake and eat it too. Long Lake Trader allows us to move a Raiment from character to another. I like to think of this as a Trader literally taking the shirt off some poor lookout’s back, only to hand the sweaty garment to an incredulous sentry, who looks on in disgust.

Spare Hood and Cloak

Spare Hood and Cloak

Just when we become set in our ways, thinking the metagame has gone stale and all that is left is polishing around the edges – a new deluxe expansion comes and turns our world upside down again. Like a squad of football hooligans trashing an Ikea, The Wilds of Rhovanion overturned the status quo and broke our assumptions. Outside of a few purpose-built questing powerhouses, which used it to take maximum advance of ally Faramir’s ability, Spare Hood and Cloak hasn’t seen much play in recent decks. Even with a recent uptick in usage from Dale decks, it still sits at 2 rings out of 5 based on RingsDB usage.

Thanks to the strength of everyone’s new favorite Spirit ally, I have little doubt that Spare Hood and Cloak’s days as an over-looked card in the past. While he lacks the combat prowess of his brethren the Sentry and Warrior, North Realm Lookout has solid stats and excellent action advantage. My favorite attachment for the Lookout is Spare Hood and Cloak. Assuming you are running the new Brand Son of Bain, the Lookout with a Cloak will quest for 3 without exhausting. Once the quest phase is over, you can use him to help out with a counter attack – or even chump block in a pinch. Best of all, you have him ready with a cloak to help another character ready.

When you have your Redwater Sentry girded with Raiment of War he becomes a most effective defender. More than one round of combat has been saved by exhausting a Lookout and passing his Spare Hood and Cloak to a Sentry, who can then defend another attack. Likewise, there are times in multiplayer when another player just needs one more ready character to finish off an engaged enemy or perform some other action. Being in a position to provide that aid makes Dale an wonderful support deck. Remember, as long as you are passing the cloak between your own characters it will never get stuck, because you can always use a Long Lake Trader to move it back to your Lookout on the next turn.

Master of the Forge

This choice should come as a surprise to no one. Long before the Dale archetype was even a twinkle in Caleb’s eye, Master of the Forge was one of the best repeatable search actions available. Any deck with attachments and access to Lore should seriously consider this paragon support ally. As if Master of the Forge wasn’t effective enough already, Dale had made him even stronger.

Not to beat the same drum, but Brand son of Bain’s card draw effect is critical to the Dale archetype. By fetching your best attachments each round, Master of the Forge essentially super-changes this already potent engine. The fact that there is no limit to the sphere, cost, or traits of the attachment fetched by Master of the Forge makes him perfect for Dale decks. On the rare instances when his effect fails to find an attachment (this should be rare in attachment-heavy Dale decks), you at least get to shuffle your deck to reset for the next round.

In the early game, while you are still scrambling to get setup, you can use Master to search for 0 cost attachments. The first of these which you attach to each character will allow you to draw another card. By the mid-game,  you should have a better established board presence, including some form of resource acceleration or cost reduction. At that point, you can use the Master to search for specific attachments to handle whatever challenge the quest is posing.

A nasty condition attachment might mean you search for an Athelas. Perhaps the threat of location lock in the staging area requires location control like Arod, Thror’s Key, or Mariner’s Compass. An excess of archery or direct damage treacheries might necessitate Dunedain Remedy, Self Preservation, or Magic Ring. Last, but certainly not least, the mid and late game often bring boss enemies. These larger enemies often require extra armor and weapon attachments to support overmatched characters. The Master of the Forge is equally adept at retrieving the these weapons and attachments.

Narya

At the risk of sounding facetious, Narya is an excellent fit in any deck with at least two allies. Like all rings of power, Narya’s potency comes at a cost. Only Círdan the Shipwright and Gandalf can wield this ring, which immediately eliminates this card as an option for many Dale decks. However, the repeatable ally readying provided by this card should seriously be considered for the Dale archetype – such is the potential for total board dominance.

As a fan of multiplayer, it is worth pointing out that a “pure” Dale deck can always be paired with another deck which features the power of Narya, sitting across the table. One of the lesser acknowledged aspects of this ring is the granting of access to the Leadership sphere. Círdan is the natural target for Narya in multiplayer, unless you want to be Gandalf guy. With his access to the Spirit sphere, you have the foundation of a deck with access to Leadership and Spirit – the two most important spheres for many Dale decks.

The stat boost provided by Narya is clearly intended for the combat phase (barring less common out-of-phase attacks). However, the readying effect should not be underestimated. The card pool is brimming with support allies like Lake Tower Trader, Master of the Forge, Imladris Stargazer, Warden of Healing and Errand Rider. Some rounds, you might have combat well in hand, but direct damage might have your allies on death’s door. Getting an extra use out of a Warden of Healing might be the key to your allies’ survival. Another favorite support ally which I like readying is Honour Guard. Because his ability is a response just make sure that you ready him between two different attacks – then he can reduce damage from each of them.

Open the Armory

Open the ArmoryAn equipped Dale ally is a force to be reckoned with. Even if they fall to the enemy Bard son of Brand can return their attachments to your hand, sparing you from a serious tempo hit. The key here is getting the attachments into play, on your Dale allies, as quickly as possible. Redwater Sentry and Warrior of Dale are impressive allies when they have their respective armor and weapons attachments. Without this equipment, they’re fairly mediocre in their intended roles.

Before I heap further praise, I must voice my skepticism of the Valour Action on this card. On its face, a free Weapon or Armor from the top 5 cards of your deck is clearly powerful. However, the Galadriel ally that I highlighted above can perform this same effect on turn one, with fewer limitations. Obviously this card does not have the cost of Galadriel, but I would expect to have resource acceleration online by the late game so the cost difference is moot.

The chimeric nature of Valour cards remains illusory to me. My decks feature many card with Valour effects, but I typically either use the main effect throughout the game, or I wait until the late game for the payoff of the Valour Effect. I don’t typically use both effects on the same “Valour” card. In the case of Open the Armory, this is not a problem. The ability to pull the most important Weapon or Armor from the top 10 cards of your deck, especially in the critical early rounds, is what makes this card so useful. For those who have read this far, it should come as no surprise that my favorite target for this card is Raiment of War. As a bear who does not require clothing, I appreciate the irony that battle clothing is my favorite attachment.

Posted in Card Lists, Combo, Deck Building, Opinion, Strategy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Journey up the Anduin and into Mirkwood

We had a special guest at the Austin LotR group tonight! Dan M., author of the Unfinished Trails blog, joined Terence and I for some epic three player games against The Wilds of Rhovanion. After a false start where my Dale deck refused to draw attachments, we switched out decks and were able to survive our Journey Up the Anduin and find our way after getting Lost in Mirkwood.

After a couple of failed multiplayer attempts last week, against Journey Up the Anduin, I went ahead and designed a deck specifically for that quest. Caleb did a masterful job of making Journey 2.0 a well-balanced quest. Like its Core Set twin, Journey Up the Anduin attacks decks from multiple angles. Survival requires decks which can quest and hold their own in combat, along with bringing timely support tricks. This is easier said than done, because a variety of crippling encounter effects are actively undermining the most common deck strategies.

The Evil Creatures deck features familiar enemies like Goblin Sniper, Hill Troll, and the always obnoxious Wargs. Brutal treacheries bring direct damage, attachment discard, and can make you discard every card from your hand. Lastly, Hills of the Wilderland is an absolutely devastating counter to ally swarm decks. This last card is so powerful that I specifically brought 3 copies of Thror’s Key, just to counter it.

I needed power questing, location control, readying, threat reduction, along with treachery and shadow cancellation. There aren’t many decks which feature all of these categories, so I went back to an archetype I haven’t played in a while. The steep demands of this quest provided my first opportunity to design a post-errata Caldara deck. At first glance, it looks like most typical Caldara decks (now that Fortune or Fate is useless), but there are a few notable differences.

As mentioned above, Thror’s Key is essential for mitigating the terrible threat of Hills of Wilderland. In addition, Weighed Down can quickly wreck any strategy which relies on heroes with multiple powerful attachments. Many modern decks rely on hero attachments, including this incarnation of Caldara with Cirdan and Light of Valinor + Narya. Dan’s Dale deck is also at risk to be Weighed Down, with the aim being to load Brand Son of Bain with King of Dale and a host of low-cost attachments. As a safeguard, I added two copies of Power of Orthanc.

Dan’s Dale deck performed admirably. The Redwater Sentry, loaded with Raiment of War and a Hauberk of Mail, is an excellent ally for multiplayer games. Terence ran a Rohan staging area attack which featured Fastred and Dúnhere and complimented the other two decks well. In one notable round during while we were Lost in Mirkwood, the Lord of Dunharrow used two Spears of the Mark and an Unseen Strike to mow down a Mirkwood Patrol.

Eliminating the larger, high engagement cost-enemies from the safety of the staging area makes the rest of combat much more manageable in multiplayer. This becomes especially important when the quest keeps finding ways to flood the staging area with enemies. The Dale archetype is impressive, so far. As long as you can draw King of Dale, the deck can field several powerful allies, for all facets of the game. As a bonus, it makes  excellent use of previously under-used attachments like Spare Hood and Cloak. We had a blast playing the first two quests of The Wilds of Rhovanion, and I look forward to meeting up with Dan again in the future.

Posted in Austin LotR Group, Community, Deck Lists, Fun, Live Play, Mono-Sphere, Multiplayer, Photo, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Con of the Rings

Certain ideas a so splendid that you can’t help but wonder why they didn’t happen sooner. Four fine members of the community, known collectively as the Free Men of the North (Fishbaugh, Loophole, McDog3, and PeaceAndThought) have taken it upon themselves to coordinate a Lord of the Rings convention this year! It will take place at the FFG Games Center in Roseville Minnesota, on October 12th through 14th. I encourage all players who are interested to go check out their Kickstarter page.

Mrs. Beorn and I will be traveling to Europe in the Fall, but we will be back just in time for the convention. While GenCon has long since become too crowded for this old bear, I am excited by the prospect of a convention exclusively for The Lord of the Rings LCG. This is far and away the best community I’ve ever had the privilege of membership.

I am happy to say that I will be traveling to Minnesota for the convention! For any who have a chance to go, I cannot emphasize enough just how fun it is to hang out with all of the fine people of this community. Given the location, it seems likely that we will have a chance to chat with the Caleb and others at FFG who have helped to make the game what it is. Even if you can’t go, contributing to the Kickstarter campaign is a nice way to show your support.

The official announcement should answer any questions you might have:

Introducing Con of the Rings 2018, a fan-driven convention for LotR: LCG to be held at Fantasy Flight Games Center in Roseville, MN on October 12-14, 2018. Come join us as we take on a large-scale saga campaign, where groups will play their own part in the larger “fellowship” beating all the saga quests. Other organized play events include the Bear Draft (cube draft format) and the new competitive format introduced in The Wizard’s Quest. But wait, there’s more! There will be daily raffles for FFG gift cards, exclusive con swag, and a special, live recording of Cardboard of the Rings!

Any comments, questions, or concerns can be directed towards conoftherings@gmail.com or join us on the Cardboard of the Rings Discord and post in the #con-of-the-rings channel, which we will be monitoring.

 

Posted in Cardboard of the Rings, Community, Con of the Rings, Fun, Live Play, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

¡Viva Las Chingonas!

Na'asiyah Art

I finally had a chance tonight to try out my Las Chingonas deck, and the setting could not have been more appropriate. My friend Stephen and I sailed our ships against the Raider Flagship in A Storm on Cobas Haven. I am a fan of most all of the Dream-chaser cycle, but this particular quest es un favorito especial. It is all the more appropriate that my first time using the game’s only Corsair hero would be in such a nautically themed adventure.

Sea-ward TowerAt the heart of this quest is a set of powerful Objectives, of which the players choose one to start in play. They represent different locations in Dol Amroth, guarded by the enemy but of great benefit to the players once freed. Since neither of our decks features much healing, we chose to start with Tower of the Heron in play. Never one to miss an opportunity for irony, the quest decided that our anti-archery objective would be guarded by a Siege Ship.

Until we killed that ship, it’s archery would keep chipping away at our characters. Once killed, the tower would protect us from the archery of future ships? I guess? Anyone who plays this game for long knows that the best laid plans are theoretical once they meet the fickle hand of fate – the encounter deck. With the help of a Feint and a timely visit to Cobas Haven (the location), we were able to rid ourselves of the Siege Ship without too much trouble.

After a false start and a bit of turtling, Mirror of Galadriel helped me grab a copy of Resourceful. Along with a lucky draw of my Magic Ring, Na’asiyah finally had the resource acceleration upon which she thrives. As an added bonus, those extra resources allowed me to pay the exorbitant fees demanded by Dol Amroth Warship. As long as we kept ourselves on course, those warships were potent weapons against the seemingly endless swarms of enemy ships.

All things considered, I was quite happy with how the deck fared. The highlight of the night was when Na’asiyah single-handedly sunk a Corsair Skirmisher. There is something so satisfying about being able to pay resources for exactly the attack strength necessary to defeat a foe. The moment feels all the more epic when that enemy happens to be a ship filled to the gills with blood-thirsty Corsairs.

While the deck is by no means a powerhouse, it worked quite well once it had a few rounds to setup. Thanks to Na’asiyah’s efficiency and the might of Éowyn with Herugrim, this hero lineup can actually handle itself admirably in combat. It also provided much needed early game questing while Stephen’s Dwarving digging deck was locating it’s pipes and pick-axes.

I will continue to tweak around the edges, but the heart of this deck is solid. I need to craft a sideboard for multiplayer, but overall I am quite pleased with how it performed. It’s a sign of a healthy card pool when you can have success using a deck which lacks the more obvious power-hero choices. Las chingonas no tienen miedo!

Posted in Alternate-Art, Austin LotR Group, Community, Control, Deck Lists, Fun, Live Play, Photo, Playtesting, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Poll Results: Where Should the Game Go?

The announcement of a digital variant of the game came as a fascinating surprise. It’s not often that my day job as a programming bear is directly relevant to the game, but I have many years of experience with complex software projects. I empathize with the developers who are attempting to translate a mature and complex card game like this one into a more streamlined digital form. As the streams have elucidated, the digital game will not be a direct translation of the card game.

An apt comparison would be the way that Philip K. Dick’s classic “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” inspired a very different film called Blade Runner. Both were excellent creations, but in very different ways for very different reasons. This translation comes as little surprise, given the usability and complexity constraints of a digital platform which simply do not exist with physical cards on a table. Still, I suspect some players will have a bit of an adjustment period adapting to what in truth is a distinct game with a deceptively familiar name.

The poll has been open for months now, with several hundred votes tallied, so it well past time to close it up and take a look at the community consensus. With 139 votes and 20% of the total responses, many players wanted the game to continue with deluxe boxes, cycles, and nightmare releases just as it has up to this point. With the announcement of the Wilds of Rhovanion and its accompanying Ered Mithrin cycle, it looks like many players will be getting exactly what they wanted.

The resurgence of Beornings in the game will not go without a comment from the hall. Not only is Grimbeorn the Old one of the most exciting heroes to be spoiled in quite some time. Moreover, the archetype hinted at from cards like Beorn’s Rage looks both interesting and effective.

Outside of Bard the Bowman, Rivendell Blade, and a few seldom-used cards, reducing enemy stats is not something that has seen much use in the game. As a huge fan of Beorn hero, I especially like the way these effects do not target the player’s characters. Because they target the enemies instead, they remain effective when the defending or attacking character might be immune to any kind of stat boosting effect. When supplemented with cards like Horn’s Cry and Keep Watch, this nascent archetype already shows promise.

The rest of the voting reflects considerable interest in adaptions of the appendices and the Silmarillion. We can only hope that recent negotiations between Amazon and those with controlling interest of Tolkien’s works are a more general reflection of a loosening of licensing constraints. As a huge fan of the Silmarillion, The Lost Tales, and most especially The Children of Húrin, I appreciate Ian’s fantastic work on his First Age custom expansion. Unfortunately, many players won’t play custom scenarios which are not released through official channels. Ideally, FFG acquires permission to adapt this material and Caleb can work with Ian on making these wonderful stories official.

Thanks to all who participated, and please be sure to take a look at the latest poll. Hopefully, within the next month we will have the new deluxe expansion in our furry paws. Happy travels in Rhovanion!

Future Option Votes Percentage
More Cycles and Nightmare (no major changes) 139 20%
Appendix-based Sets (Scouring of the Shire, Battle of Dale, etc.) 131 19%
Compatible Silmarillion (some existing cards, e.g. Galadriel, can be used) 95 14%
Saga-Cycle POD (Campaign, encounter and quest cards added to existing cycles to provide a narrative) 87 13%
Revised Core Set (some different cards mixed with old cards, errata included, all using existing rules) 76 11%
Core Set 1.5 (new rules and new cards, some old cards are banned, but most existing cards are compatible with new rules) 55 8%
Player Card-only POD (Thematic player card PODs packs with new player cards and possibly alt art, NO quest or encounter cards) 31 4%
Core Set 2.0 (new rules and new cards, not backward compatible with existing rules) 30 4%
Stand-alone Silmarillion (not compatible with existing cards) 26 4%
Nightmare 2.0 POD (Same rules, but even more difficult cards to challenge the Seastanians) 5 1%
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