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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

There and Back Again, an LotR LCG Tale - Part 1

This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost his neighbors' respect, but he gained, well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end. - The Hobbit, An Unexpected Party

Welcome to There and Back Again, a tale of my attempt to solo-quest through the 6 (possibly 7) saga quests covering The Hobbit. With the final installment of the movie trilogy due out soon (at time of writing) I recently re-read the book and was inspired to try and get through all of the quests. The main roadblock that had held me back up to this point was the lack of interest in any of the thematic deck-builds for The Hobbit sagas. I simply don't enjoy playing Dwarf decks. So what changed?

Love the card art!

Yes, the introduction of the Grey Pilgrim in hero form. Not only does this allow me to build a non-traditional dwarf deck that is still thematic, but it also gives me access to a powerful hero that can help against some very difficult quests. He'll be joined by Balin, who was my favorite of the Dwarves in the book (with Bombur a close second) and Nori, whose ability can help me manage my threat.

Stay strong, Bombur

The first quest to tackle is "We Must Away, Ere Break of Day." I should say that I have never played any of these quests before, so I have no idea what's in store for me.

Bilbo was sadly reflecting that adventures are not all pony-rides in May sunshine, when Balin, who was always their lookout man, said: "There's a light over there!" - The Hobbit, Roast Mutton

On the first play-through of this quest I was slaughtered in 3 turns. The treachery "Roast 'Em or Boil 'Em?" wiped out several allies, and killed my Stargazer-Zigil Miner resource generation combo.

Then because of my high threat I was engaged by two trolls at once against a limited build-up, and just couldn't handle it.

For my second attempt I decided to go with the tried-and-true method against previous quests that feature trolls: the slow-burn. I would quest slowly, even taking an occasional threat-hit if I had to, and then only once I had an army built up would I progress to fight the trolls. By that point I should also have Gandalf fully-equipped to kick some ass. You might say that I was playing for time *wink wink* (if you don't get it then read the book or watch the movie).

In the second game I had the Steward of Gondor and the Wizard Pipe in my opening hand, which is basically the jackpot. This jump-started my early moves, and allowed me to get some dwarf allies out early which helped keep my threat under control. This was my army on turn 5:

As you can see I have a great resource engine going, with the Steward of Gondor and the Stargazer-Miner combination working very well. Later on the treachery "Wind Whipped Rain" nearly undid all of my efforts, but I was able to cancel it thanks to a Test of Will that I had been saving.

Thanks to Nori and two Galadhrim Greetings I was able to lower my threat to 23, which meant that I could engage one troll at a time.

When I decided to make the push

I had been careful to leave Troll Camp in the staging area, that way Bilbo's resources could be used to offset the nasty "sacked" effects that had aso contributed to my game 1 loss.

Bert was the first to feel Gandalf's wrath:

 Imagine Gondorian Fire as more of a magic spell...

Bert took Fili down with him (for campaign purposes we'll say that he was just incapacitated). Tom was next on the chopping block...

And, finally, the showdown with William (link included because of the nasty card art):

Dawn take you all! And be stone to you! - The Hobbit, Roast Mutton

Interestingly, during the fight against the trolls I hadn't been questing very hard, and I actually failed to make the single point of progress needed to win the game. So at the start of turn 10 I played my last Galadhrim's Greeting, and quested hard enough to make the necessary progress. Final threat: 25, and I had nearly drawn through my entire deck.

Conclusion: this deck fits right into my play style. I generally prefer to go aggro on one of my heroes, whether it be Eomer, Boromir, or Gandalf in this case. Gandalf is super strong, and with a little bit of action advantage becomes a monster hero. Overall I think this quest is solid, but there really aren't enough enemies to trip-up a solo gameplay. 

On the downside: because I was playing solo I didn't draw through enough of the encounter deck to find the cards necessary to grant me any boons! No Sting! No Orcrist! No Glamdring! Oh my!

***Hardly any of our LotR articles are created without the help of the excellent Hall of Beorn Card Search

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