Beorn’s Path

Beorn’s Path is a series of articles that will help introduce new players to the Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. Starting with the core set, we will cover deck building and basic play strategies. With our decks designed and built, we will be traveling through the scenarios of the core set, chapter packs and deluxe expansions, in the order of their release. For each scenario that we play, we will only be including cards in our decks that were in print at the time of that scenario’s release. Lists for each of the decks that we build will be included on the Decks page of this site. Each installment will introduce new concepts and build on the work of previous articles, so the series is intended to be read in order. More experienced players, or those interested in play-through reports of a particular scenario, can feel free to skip to a specific article.

bear print

Part 1 – Core Set Deck Building (Leadership/Lore)
Part 2 – Playtesting (Passage Through Mirkwood)
Part 3 – Deck Tuning (Journey Along the Anduin)
Part 4 – Playtesting (Journey Along the Anduin)
Part 5 – Building a Second Core Set Deck (Tactics/Spirit)
Part 6 – Playtesting (Escape from Dol Guldur)
Part 7 – Deck Tuning (The Hunt For Gollum)
Part 8 – Playtesting (The Hunt For Gollum)
Part 9 – Conflict at the Carrock
Part 10 – A Journey to Rhosgobel
Part 11 – The Hills of Emyn Muil
Part 12 – The Dead Marshes
Part 13 – Return to Mirkwood
Part 14 – Into the Pit
Part 15 – The Seventh Level
Part 16 – Flight from Moria

80 Responses to Beorn’s Path

  1. hendersondayton says:

    Great idea to split these out. I would remove them from the Decks page (if that is possible)…and add “Playtesting” to the Part 4 title. So that people see a natural progression of what you are doing. Build a Deck, Test It, Tune it, test it, tune it, etc. Now that you have your second deck built I can see the Test then Tune as the process from here on out.

    • Beorn says:

      Good suggestion! I just edited to the titles to make the progression a bit more obvious. I’m torn about whether or not to remove the core set decks from the Decks page, as I really want that to be a place readers can go to find all of the decks that I’ve built. Maybe what I will end up doing, is also including links to the decks here, next to the appropriate deck building article.

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  3. Sojo2600 says:

    Just wanted to let you know that your articles were a fantastic introduction to the LOTR LCG. Thank you!

    • Beorn says:

      Greetings Sojo2600! I’m glad that you are enjoying the blog! I’m a lot busier lately, so I have less time to update, but I should have the next article in this series up in the near future. Thanks for the kind words.

    • Couldn’t agree more! Ive played through a few times solo as a noob with mono decks (having my ass handed to me by spiders and orcs) and your articles are causing all kinds of ideas to click into place. Thanks!

    • Sojo2600 says:

      Still loving the series, Beorn. I’d like to put in a request for the Black Riders Saga if you find time to make any more. Thanks again!

  4. hendersondayton says:

    Hey Dan. Any chance you are planning to play HFG using the deck you built for it soon?

    • Beorn says:

      Yes, I am. Sorry that this has taken so long. I have been very busy with a new job and play reports are time consuming. I will do my best to have this up by the weekend.

  5. hendersondayton says:

    No rush man. Life happens. Just curious. I am still trying to beat Dol Guldor with the decks you built. 5 tries, no wins. I am going to attempt it with the rules i found from a link you posted here…(“lotrquester”) the one where you only reveal one encounter card per player at the start…hate to “cheat” but even two players is rough.

  6. hendersondayton says:

    P.S. a good idea would be, perhaps, to use OCTGN and record the game on video…this would fit into your new “meta” direction…LOL…it would also alleviate the lines you have to type up for each thing that happens. We see it as you see it.

  7. menastin says:

    As a brand new player to the game this is exactly what I need.

    Looking forward to the next part!

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  11. Dave says:

    As a new player to the game and playing it solo I have found these articles very informative. I’m following along using the core set and the Shadows of Mirkwood Cycle so I’m making the same decks you are using and it helps a lot. I first play a scenario using the easy rules from Fantasy Flight Games. When I’m comfortable I switch to normal or regular difficulty before switching the scenario.
    I have a question on the deck list for Hunt for Gollum. The main Leadership/Lore deck list shows three copies of Gandalf but it is listed as the Gandalf card from the Hobbit Saga expansion. Should it be the core Gandalf? Thanks and keep up the great work! I hope to one day read how you destroyed The One Ring. 🙂

    • Beorn says:

      Yes, the Gandalf in these decks should Core Set Gandalf. My apologies for the misunderstanding. Originally, I had links to for all of these decks, but they changed the site so that all of my links are dead. I am in the process of cleaning this up, but I haven’t had a chance to complete work. In the mean time, just know that any card that I mention in the deck lists for Beorn’s Path is a card that was released as of that expansion. So the deck list for Hunt For Gollum will only include Core Set cards and cards in The Hunt For Gollum Adventure Pack.

      I’m glad that you are enjoying the articles – it’s always nice to hear that a new player finds this series useful!

  12. Pingback: Nazgûl of Dol Guldur | Master of Lore

  13. Dave says:

    I’ve only read the first two, for fear of spoiling myself on the other scenarios, but for my wife and I these articles were a great help. After playing the 1st scenario once we felt like we had an okay handle on the rules, but the first couple posts here really did a lot for my understanding of the mechanics. Thanks!

    • Beorn says:

      Thanks Dave, I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying the article. If you have questions about the decisions I made in the play throughs, or any rules that don’t make sense, feel free to post them here.

      Good luck!

  14. darkdaysdawn says:

    The walk-through of Core Set deck building and wining strategies for the Core Set scenarios were great. I had already beaten the first two using a Tactics/Spirit deck built from Core (+ a couple from HoN), but it was not easy (and no shadow cards!). Your Leadership/Lore deck was much better. Still played solo on the published Easy Mode, but I won by a landslide.

    But reading through the series of articles led me to wonder, do you look at the quest cards for an upcoming scenario and then design your deck? It felt like that in the walk-through, but it could also be that you just know those scenarios via trial and error so knew what to expect. So the question is, do LotR LCG players build “the best deck they can for everything that could happen”, or is it typical to build for each scenario? And if so, doesn’t the new Campaign mode kind of make that process impossible?

    Great blog. Thanks for helping us, the new players, on our quest.

    • Beorn says:

      Greeting darkdaysdawn, and welcome to the Hall of Beorn.

      For later quests, particularly the more difficult ones, I definitely design a deck specifically to address the challenges of that quest. I find that with the more unique quests (Siege at Cair Andros from HoN is a great example) you really need to do this or you risk having a deck which is totally unprepared.

      However, in the case of Beorn’s Path the focus is more on designing a deck that was well-balanced. Being limited to only cards from the core set, there are fewer choices to make. Regardless, I try to design all of my decks with as many solutions to the common challenges as their particular spheres (and theme) will allow. The designers of the game included player cards in the core set that are often useful for the core set encounters, so that helps to make decks with some effective strategies.

      As for campaign mode, it will be interesting to see how that plays out as more saga expansions are released. I have a pair of decks that I used to beat The Black Riders scenarios, but it remains to be seen whether or not those decks will work for subsequent scenarios. The good news is that you can change your decks in campaign mode, you just cannot change your heroes.

      I am glad that you are enjoying the blog. Good luck!

  15. darkdaysdawn says:

    So then the question is, do you read through the scenario cards and look at the encounter deck before you try it even once? Or, do you guess what you might encounter based on knowledge of the setting/expansion/description, thus retaining the most of the surprise element of the encounter deck and scenarios instructions?

    • Beorn says:

      It depends on how much time I have available. If I have time to play a scenario multiple times in succession, I prefer to play it without looking at the quest cards or through the encounter deck. If I am pressed for time and I will only be able to play a limited number of game (GenCon was a great example of this), I will look at the quest cards to get an idea of how the scenario needs to be played. I then might make minor tweaks to an existing deck to help it better deal with the scenario at hand.

      The mystery of going in blind is fun, but if I’m only going to play one game before other responsibilities come calling, I find I would rather sacrifice mystery for a chance at actually completing the scenario. This is just my preference, I totally respect that there are players who prefer to go into each new scenario fresh, without any foreknowledge.

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  17. not sure if you’re still checking comments on here, but if you are then I just have to say “well done” on this whole series, I know it took a lot of time to record everything so thanks for the effort, makes our lives as beginners easier. I have been using the Dunhere “crutch” for a while but now I think I’ve got the tools and planning to branch out, Thanks!

    • Beorn says:

      I check comments everywhere in the Hall. I’m glad to hear that you have benefitted from Beorn’s Path. Don’t feel bad about using a “crutch” to help become more familiar with the game. There is a reason why training wheels exist on bicycles. The game has quite a learning curve – once you feel comfortable it is easy to ramp up the difficulty. Don’t get discouraged if your first forays into deck building are met with some early failures. One of the best things about this game is how it rewards paying attention and learning from mistakes. Being able to take what I’ve learned from one deck and scenario and apply it to new decks and new situations is a big part of why I like this game. Best of luck!

  18. Ben says:

    Really love this part of your blog, really helpful, thank you !
    Hope you will find enough time to continue with Khazad dum 🙂

    • Beorn says:

      Thanks Ben, I’m glad you are enjoying Beorn’s Path. It takes quite a bit of time to write up these play reports, so I don’t know that I will be able to continue this series any time soon. Hopefully things will settle down in the summer and I can start this up again.

      • Ben says:

        That would be great !

        Just wondering: How many times did you adjust the deck and playtest a scenario before you wrote it up ? I played the first scenario about 10 times before I could even win it.

        • Beorn says:

          The only adjustments I made to the decks are the ones that I wrote about in each article. I played each scenario at least twice, sometimes three times, to get a sense for how the deck was performing and what strategy would work best. That’s too bad that it took you 10 attempts to beat Passage Through Mirkwood with the deck. Were you having bad luck with treacheries? If you quest with Aragorn and Théodred and ready Aragon, you should be able to use Denethor as a defender and Aragorn as an attacker. Once you get more allies out, that frees Denethor for scrying at the end of the round, which should help a great deal with treacheries. Good luck!

  19. Ben says:

    I started with a tactic solo deck but without (a lot of) succes, after I read your article I tried the scenario with a combination of Leadership and Lore and suddenly everything made sense. Finished both first two scenarios on the first attempt with this deck 🙂

  20. Brian says:

    Hi Beorn, will there be a continuation on the path of beorn (beorn goes to moria?..). i really enjoyed reading and following the development of your decks in this way, and would really like to read more. i Currently own the mirkwood cycle, kazad-dum and dwarrow cycle, and could do with some more inspiration on building decks, with the cards i now own. (some times 3-4 players)

    med vänliga hälsningar Brian Nielsen, Sweden

    • Beorn says:

      Hello Brian, and welcome to The Hall of Beorn. Yes, I do plan on resuming Beorn’s Path by playing through the Khazad-dûm scenarios. How soon I am able to play these scenarios and write the articles all depends on how much free time I am able to find. Life has been too busy lately to write much on this blog – hopefully things will slow down soon. Thanks for your interest!

      • Brian says:

        Hi again Beorn.

        I understand. I don’t get to play much myself, and when i do play, we are often 3 players. I did try a new concept, restarting from the core set, and playing the scenarios solo in “campaign mode”. Only played the first two scenarios, and i am going to try my luck tonight with “escape from dol guldur”.

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  22. Nimral says:

    Hey O Beorn the Great, and thank you for the wonderful series you’ve created with your mighty paws. Since LotR:tCG is my first card game of this volume, I was quite overwhelmed even by the cardpool of the core set and when I bought a few APs, I just didn’t know what to do. And to be honest, I still don’t. So far I’ve only copied your furry work and when I tried to create something of my own, it simply didn’t work. Do you think there is a simple advice you could give me without waking from your summer slumber?
    Even if there isn’t, I’m still thankful for this introduction.

    • Beorn says:

      Greetings, Nimral, and welcome to The Hall of Beorn. My best advice for deck-building is to just look at the decks posted here, over at Tales from the Cards and elsewhere online. If you have specific questions or need advice about deck-building for a particular scenario, feel free to leave a comment here and I will respond as quickly as I am able. Good luck!

      • Nimral says:

        Once again I am bound to say my thanks since the link leading to Tales from the Cards helped quite a bit. I made my first deck (an Eagle one) but I am struggling against the Hunt for Gollum scenario. I either fail to get the right cards at the right time or I just can’t control the staging area. But those are not the problems I want to trouble your bear ears with; I just wonder: can I leave attack 3 undefended and use Frodo Baggins’ ability to cancel it (even though the damage would kill him otherwise)? Thank you for the previous and any future replies!

        • Beorn says:

          Yes, Frodo’s ability can be used to cancel the damage from an undefended attack. This works because it is a response and by canceling the damage, it prevents him from dying. Good luck!

  23. a invaluable resource to love this game. personally, i nominated like best 2014 web page. thanks a lot for the this incredible work. kind regards

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  25. Scott says:

    I love fresh honey but hate being stung by bees. What should I do?

    • Beorn says:

      Oddly enough, fresh honey is an excellent remedy for alleviating the pain of bee stings (assuming you are not allergic to bees – in which case consult immediately with your nearest Wizard or Elf).

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  28. Khamul says:

    Are you going to continue this or is it just too time consuming? I remember trying to do a detailed game report like this myself and I only lasted 5 rounds and I couldn’t do it anymore. haha

    • Beorn says:

      I have play reports for The Seventh Level and Flight From Moria, but I need to type them up. To be honest, it takes hours of work to create one of these posts, and as much as I know that people do appreciate them, at this point I just cannot spare the time. If only I could write a blog professionally and not need a day job… 🙂

  29. Nate says:

    Hey, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate these articles. This is my first deck building game and I had stopped playing due to a combination of a lack of time to invest in understanding the deck building process and the resultant frustration from repeated losses. These articles are great. With this deck I’ve won two straight, which is quite the turnaround from my previous plays. Anyway, thanks for getting me to a place where I can enjoy this game.

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  31. Kevin Kelley says:

    Dunhere – still not sure we are playing him right – basically his special ability – what step and phase does it take place in ?
    Its an attack so is is not using the option to engage in staging area ? He must wait till the attacking enemies part of Phase 6 combat ? Assuming he is not exhausted …. and there is example goblin sniper is in staging area … he can declare an attack ? Does the object of his attack in the staging area get a shadow card ? Is this attack that players one allowed attack or since the target is not engaged this is an extra attack ?

    • Beorn says:

      Dúnhere attacks at the same time as other heroes do, before the end of the combat phase (unless you use cards like Quick Strike to allow him to attack at another time). If he attacks alone, he can choose an enemy in the staging area as his target, instead of one engaged with you. Enemies in the staging area do not get dealt shadow cards – only engaged enemies or ones that attack due to an encounter or quest card effect are dealt shadow cards. I hope this answers your questions, let me know if there is anything else about him that you need explained.

  32. Carcho says:

    Thanks so much for the series! I previously had troubles with solo deck building, as we usually play the game with my girlfriend… But after going through the first quests with your decks, and grasping the basics, I’m now doing much better! I have still not finished the Mirkwood cycle, but I’m doing the quests with my own decks (although your posts are still very useful)!
    I have to say that this has greatly helped me to get into the solo game 🙂

  33. Daniela says:

    Thank you so much for your effort! A couple of years ago I traded my first copy of the core set away because the game was so frustrating, difficult, no idea how to built a deck -it just didn’t work for me. Last week I felt like giving it another chance and bought a new copy. I found your blog and suddenly it clicked. WOW – I had so much fun. “Beorn’s Path” really helped me to enjoy the game.

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  35. Chane the Guard of the Cited says:

    I loved playing LOTR LCG but I had to stop for several months because of work. I recently wanted to play again and I knew that these articles would help me get the gears moving. I’m reading the rest of your blog to catch back up, I’ve missed a lot!

  36. Bruno Baetens says:

    Hello Beorn,
    I have a question in trying your
    Part 6 – Playtesting (Escape from Dol Guldur)
    Round 4: Stage 2B (5 of 15 progress)
    It says “The shadow card revealed for Chieftan Ufthak is Under the Shadow, which has no effect so Denethor again takes no damage”
    But this “Under the Shadow” does have a shadow effect: Shadow Text:
    Shadow: Defending player raises his threat by the number of enemies with which he is engaged.
    Am i wrong, or did I forget something?
    ps: this site is by far the best. Thanks

    • Beorn says:

      Good catch. It must have been Caught in a Web, or some other treachery without a shadow effects. I have in my notes, no shadow effect – so I probably just wrote down the wrong card. Then again, it has been a while, so maybe I forget that Under the Shadow has a shadow effect.

  37. Usedspacesuits says:

    I may have missed if you mentioned it, but what application are using to play the game in some of the later “Path” series?

  38. Pingback: Quest Profile 003: Escape from Dol Guldur | Master of Lore

  39. BenStark says:


    Thanks so much for these articles. I’m really appreciating reading these!

    Your Canine Cousin,

  40. Andrew says:

    These articles are great! However, there’s a problem for today’s new player that I haven’t seen addressed anywhere: older expansions and adventures are very expensive — if they’re available at all.

    My local game shop has a section dedicated to LOTR LCG, but it’s mostly filled with the most recent sets and Nightmare decks and a few misc. adventure packs from the game’s lifespan. For example, I’m all for picking up Sands of Harad and going forward from there, but I hear that these quests are *tough*, even with access to the majority of player cards. I have 2x Core, Khazad-Dum, and both Hobbit sagas, and I have a suspicion that I’d get wrecked by Sands.

    Is product availability a big problem for new players? Is it possible to dive in this late? Would that even be fun?

    • Beorn says:

      This is an excellent point, Andrew. It is a challenge for all LCGs that players who join later in the game’s life are at a disadvantage. New quests need to be challenging and interesting for long-time players with most if-not-all of the card pool. This leaves new players at a serious disadvantage. As for finding older expansions and APs, have you tried shopping online. You can often find older products on Amazon, CoolStuffInc and Miniature Market. It takes a bit of work, but they reprint older product fairly regularly, so you should be able to expand your card pool as desired. Good luck, and thanks for the feedback!

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  43. ceahorse says:

    I sent you an email a little while ago. Might have found it’s way into a Spam.
    This is what it included.

    Hello Beorn.

    I have started to play this LCG with my son. We picked up the core, a couple of the mirkwood cycle, and Kazad-dum. We can’t complete all the quests, but some are doable.

    I am considering how to expand further. Completing the Mirkwood cycle is quite ludicrous as people are asking way too much for these individual packs.

    I see that there is a fair amount of newer expansions available but I worry that they will be too far of a step up from where we currently stand. In your exp, can we easily enough pick and choose through the stocked packs and look for good deals, or should we really be trying to follow the line as it was released?

    I’m not interested in digital versions as the whole point of playing these games is to keep him away from the devices.


    • Beorn says:

      Hello Ceazor,

      I’m glad that you are enjoying the game. The older cycles are consistently being reprinted, so you should not have to overpay to find them on eBay or other re-sellers. I don’t know if you are based in the US or overseas, but if you let me know where you are, I might be able to provide advice on where to find older cycles. As far as the difficulty of newer cycles, I think that Grey Havens + Dream-chaser and the Sands of Harad + Haradrim are both doable with a more limited card pool. On the other hand, Heirs of Numenor + Against the Shadow or Lost Realm + Angmar Awakened might be more difficult without a larger card pool and/or more experience. I quite enjoyed this last cycle, so the Sands of Harad might be a good place to start if you are still having trouble finding older sets. Best of luck in your adventures!

  44. ceahorse says:

    Actually, I am in Taiwan. But I usually import things from USA quite often so I am able to receive at my US address. I sometimes seek purchases from the Noble Knight, but usually avoid eBay because of their high fees.

    • ceahorse says:

      Also, how about the Voice Of Isengard + Ring maker.. Orcs. are just fun, assuming their are plenty.

  45. Widgin says:

    Just wanted to give a shout out to you with a big thank you for this great resource! I have been getting into this game big time, and the info you have here is extremely helpful.

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