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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

LotR: LCG - Getting the Most Out of Solo-Play

One of the reasons that a lot of us got into the Lord of the Rings LCG was the fact that the game can be played solo. A weird work/family schedule means that I often have trouble getting a questing group together, so I play a lot of solo LotR. Grappling with a tough quest all on my own still provides a unique and satisfying experience, even though I generally prefer multiplayer.

However, recently I had been struggling to keep solo gaming fresh, and began to look for new ways to breathe life into solo questing. What follows are some ideas that I used to help reinvigorate lonely questing, and hopefully these ideas can help enliven your solo experience.

"Fine, I'll do it myself!"

Take on Quests that Originally Put You Off - Let's face it, there are some quests that simply aren't optimal for solo play. This mostly happens because the quests turn out to be so difficult with one player that beating it becomes a chore, but sometimes it happens because playing solo doesn't give the encounter deck a chance to function as intended (revealing only one card per encounter phase can prevent an encounter deck from developing).

Solo-ing some quests will take courage

However, lately I've taken to embracing the challenge of the more difficult solo quests. For instance, I set a personal challenge to beat the Siege of Cair Andros solo. I know other players have done it, but I wanted to see if I could make it happen. So far it hasn't happened but I'm well on my way!

One of the bigger drawbacks of doing this has been the need to forgo thematic decks. Beating the most difficult quests in the game sometimes requires that you throw theme out the window and focus completely on the gameplay value that cards bring to the table. Is it thematic to have Galadhon Archers in a Rohan or Gondor deck? Hell no, but they're a tremendous value and a great tactics ally.

So give those maddening quests another try! And give yourself a high-five when you solo through Nightmare Into Ithilien!

And an extra high-five if you kill a Nazgul

Plus, forgoing theme can lead to some interesting combos...

Create Some Crazy Decks with Rarely-Used Heroes - I'm not saying that you have to go ahead and bust out Caldara, but maybe take a look at some of the heroes that you don't use that often and build a deck around them. In this instance our challenge isn't coming from the quest, but rather from our ability to build weird yet functional decks.

Not every deck you build is going to be a winner and define the meta for years to come, but with the ease of gameplay on OCTGN it just makes sense to build a stupid deck and see if it works every once and a while.

See if you can make Theoden work

Turn a Series of Quests into a Campaign - Just because there isn't an official campaign mode for the normal release cycles doesn't mean that you can't develop a campaign of your own. One of the true pleasures of the Ring Maker Cycle for me has been the chance to solo through with an Eowyn-Eomer-Theodred deck. While there have been some setbacks, so far I've been able to beat each of the quests with this combination of heroes.

How strict you make your campaign is up to you. For example, if a hero dies during a quest you can choose to continue on without him, or keep the hero but maybe take a self-imposed penalty for the next quest, like a penalty to your starting threat.

Full disclosure: I'm just inserting art that looks cool

The point is that giving your gameplay a narrative structure can add to the playing experience. Obviously this is true for both multi-player and solo, but I've found that it helps raise the stakes of solo play to an enjoyable level. Speaking of narratives...

Truly Earn Your Nerd-Card and Write About Your Questing - I love to write...err...type, I guess... What I'm saying is that I enjoy completing these articles and writing fiction. So what I'll do to keep my writing skills sharp is create fiction based on certain scenarios, especially if I have some sort of epic play-through. Generally this fiction isn't shared with anyone, because I'm a rational human being with an accurate gauge of how much people enjoy a stranger's fan-fiction. But it serves as practice for when I do commit to writing stories for submission.

Fuck yeah

Aside from keeping my writing skills up to par, creating fiction based on a quest can give you an outlet for some artistic expression that is otherwise lacking in the card-gaming hobby. I come from the world of miniature gaming, and painting models used to be a good outlet for my artistic impulses. With the decline of miniature gaming in my area I've had to find other outlets, and writing has filled in nicely, for now.

That just about wraps up my main thoughts on this subject. If you have anything you'd like to share regarding solo questing you can reach out to me @PIflamesofwar. Thanks for reading! And good luck going alone into the wilds of Middle Earth!
Are you a solo-player? Please sound off in the comments below, or let us know on our forum!

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