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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My Four Player Campaign – From the Shire through Isengard – Part I

by Grant "pfcamygrant" Ellis

One of the more exciting and thematic approaches to the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game is the ability to write your own adventure through your individual experience of the traditional narrative. You can craft a campaign that emphasizes the iconic elements from Tolkien’s written word, while exploring alternative scenarios in which other character combinations take part in the quest to destroy the One Ring and break the Shadow.

Currently, four of us are trekking across the land of Middle-Earth, experiencing loss and treachery; feeling the weight of the Ring and increasing burdens upon us. We have reached the gates of Moria, and have entered the mines. In preparation for the coming expansion (which by the time of publication will be in my hands) we are attempting to press through the next two scenarios and make way for Isengard.  This week I will bring you up to speed as to where we are at in our current campaign card pool: Who Are We Playing, Who Has Fallen, and What Burdens and Boons We Have Earned along the Road.

The Back Story and The Build-Up

The adventure began with Frodo being led by a group of Dwarves, some Riders of Rohan, several small Hobbits, and the high elves Elrond and Glorfindel, traveling with a lone Dunedain Warden. While evading the Nazgul and making their way toward Bree, the odds grew against them, as fortune forsook the dwarves. Left to face the Witchking and the Nazgul at Weathertop, we saw the mightiest sons of Durin fall in combat. Their departure led to the advent of Aragorn, Gimli, Son of Gloin, and Legolas join the Fellowship. After reaching Rivendell, Elrond joined the Hobbits as an ally and Gandalf the Grey claimed Glamdring and his Staff to lead the company to Mordor.

The company has reached the West-gate and opened the Doors of Durin… a Journey in the Dark is set to begin.

The Decks – Hero Selection, Earned Boons, and Earned Burdens

Fallen Heroes

Three heroes have fallen.

Thalin, Thorin Oakenshield, and Dain Ironfoot all met their ends in The Lord of the Rings Part 2 - A Knife in the Dark. Thus a permanent +3 to each players starting threat is added at the start of each Campaign Quest.

Earned Burdens:

Over the course of the current campaign, we have earned the following Burden cards:
Gandalf's Delay
Fear of Discovery
Weight of the Ring
Lust for the Ring

Hero Selection:
When examining our  current decks, it is important to give a brief synopsis of each player and their experience level in the game:

The Three Hunters

Brandon – Brandon is an independent game developer who I’ve worked with on a variety of endeavors over the course of six years. Brandon enjoys the idea behind Gizmo Decks that have complex systems, provided those systems can come online quickly.He also celebrates theme, so he appreciates a deck that is consistent with Tolkien's vision. Brandon is a very giving player, often sacrificing for the good of the team (hence his dwarves falling upon weathertop.) Brandon has currently assigned Aragorn the Skilled Healer Boon and is running a Mono-Tactics Three Hunters Deck, swapping Leadership Aragorn for his Tactics counterpart. With the Treason of Saruman upon us, Brandon is working on what thematic deck he will conceive next in order to continue the campaign.

 See this deck on CardGameDB.

Key Cards: Blade of Gondolin, Rohan Warhorse, Khazad Khazad, Dwarven Axe, Secret Vigil, Rivendell Blade, Straight Shot

Ride of the Rohirrim

Chloe – Brandon’s wife Chloe is a game enthusiast who enjoys the cooperative aspects of the Lord of the Rings LCG. She has played the least amount of sessions, being pulled into the campaign fairly quickly, but is rapidly developing as the powerhouse of the group. She is running a duo-sphere Spirit/Tactics deck with a Rohan theme. Led by Eowyn, Eomer, and Dunhere, her Rohirrim are fearless and effective. She has added the Tireless Ranger Boon to Eomer and last adventure gave him Anduril (combo’d with Firefoot) so we saw the deadly results of his elevated defense. The advent of Herugrim, from The Treason of Saruman, will take this deck up a notch.

Key Cards: Eomund, Firefoot, Spear of the Mark, Steed of the Mark

A Hobbit Walking Party

Eden – My wife Eden has a deep background in both console games and exposure to a wide variety of card and board games. Being that she values friendship and cheer above hoarding gold and treasure, it is fitting that she run a Hobbit deck. Pippin, Merry, and Sam join forces in a combined effort of ruthless efficiency and low threat cost.  Eden has elected to attach Valiant Warrior to Merry and typically plays Sting on Sam.

Key Cards: Hobbit Cloak, Bill the Pony, Barliman Butterbur, Dagger of Westernesse, Fast Hitch

Return of the Queen?

Grant – I am the writer of this blog, the record keeper, and drift between Gollum-like obsession for the game and the steadfast dedication of some of the other more respectable characters. In fact, I’m the probably the Boromir of the group, if anything. I am currently running a Willpower-heavy trio built around Gandalf, Spirit Glorfindel, and Idraen. The emphasis is on breaking locations, getting as many progress tokens on them as possible, and to eventually set Gandalf up for a triumphant return Beyond All Hope as we approach Isengard.
 See this deck on CardGameDB

Key Cards: Gandalf's Staff, Asfaloth, Light of Valinor, Northern Tracker, Greyflood Wanderer,


Campaign modes are exciting, challenging, and thought-provoking. As the card pool continues to expand, the decks exist in a state of constant flux, with the possibilities and variations increasing exponentially every year. We’ve experienced thrilling highs and humbling lows as we’ve entered the West-gate. Part 2 will chronicle our playthrough and experiences within the Mines.

Want to join the conversation? Please sound off in the comments below, or let us know on our forum!

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