The fall is a busy time for a bear, what with preparing for hibernation and all, but I’ve finally had a chance to poke my head up and do some housecleaning around the hall. Our last poll asked players about their preferred play styles and the results where enlightening. Let’s dive into the numbers, and I can mumble my ursine mumblings afterwards.
|Whatever Seastan is playing||26||7%|
|RingsDB home page||6||1%|
When I think about my own answers to this poll, it’s a fascinating reflection of changes in the metagame as well as my own evolving preferences in play style. Whether it was Secrecy, or just low threat decks featuring Spirit Glorfindel hero, the Dwarrowdelf cycle provided a multitude of tools for control play styles. In particular, low cost cards like Daeron’s Runes and Elrond’s Counsel made it much easier for players to slow the game down and control their engagement and quest progress. Location control, another fundament pillar of control style decks, practically came into being with the release of Asfaloth (with apologies to Northern Tracker).
Among other seismic shifts, the Heirs of Númenor and its accompanying cycle were a boon to the Tactics sphere. Encounter cards ushered in an upswing in the Aggro play style, with iconic quests like Into Ithilien forcing players to play at a quicker pace and more aggressive engagement and combat strategies. The Voice of Isengard brought with it powerful effects to punish ally swarms and players who hoarded too many cards in their hands. In particular, heroes like Celeborn and Éomer paired with quests like The Dunland Trap to support a “tempo” play style where allies are continually cycled in an out of play. This provided an interesting contrast to the traditional ally-swarm decks that dated back to Dain Ironfoot.
It’s gratifying to find the hidden gems among player cards, abilities which form surprising combinations or solve previously intractable problems. Of all the play styles, combo can be the most troublesome when it comes to game balance. Still, when it hits that sweet spot of being different enough without making the game too easy, it is one of my favorite styles. Using Círdan and Emery to super-charge my (pre-errata) Caldara deck was a particular delight. Some combo decks, like Rouxxor’s ingenious first turn win are fascinating as a thought experiment and design challenge, but not something I would ever play.
A benefit of a maturing card pool is the diversity of these and other play styles and deck archetypes. As with any game, once you become familiar with the mechanics and core strategies, it’s nice to spice thing up. If I grow tired of crushing orcs under the boots of two dozen dwarves, I can try my paw at a tricksy Silvan deck, where I only ever have three or four allies in play at a time, but I make maximal use of timing and player action windows. Likewise, I’ve found that a combo deck or “jank”-style that isn’t quite top tier can be a blast to take against one of the less difficult quests. The achievement of winning a quest with a sub-optimal but enjoyable deck can be as sweet for me as hyper-optimizing against the hardest saga quests. It also keeps the game fresh, which is important after all of these years.
Thanks to all who participated in this poll, and feel free to expound upon your preferred play styles in the comments below. The latest poll asks a question which is near and dear to many hearts: where should the game go now? We know that Caleb will make a “big announcement” about the game in a few weeks, and I’ve got my own fuzzy thoughts, but I’m curious to hear what other players want that announcement to be. Have happy and safe holidays, everyone!