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Custom Scenario: Into Fangorn Preview Part 2

by on January 11, 2013

With the weekend approaching, I am looking forward to putting the finishing touches (hopefully) on the custom scenario I have been working on over the course of the past few weeks. I explained the overall story of the scenario last time, as well as revealed two key cards (Ent Guardian and Anger of the Forest), so feel free to click back to refresh your memory (or read it for the first time). Designing my own custom scenario, featuring its own unique encounter card set, has really given me a fresh appreciation for what the designers of LOTR LCG have to deal with when tackling this task. In the latter half of this post, I will share some of the insights I gained. First, though, I want to show off a couple more of the cards that you can look forward to if you choose to download and play this scenario.

Black-Hearted-Huorn-Front-Face

First, let’s take a look at one of the tough enemies that can be found in the dark places of Fangorn Forest: the Black-Hearted Huorn. For those needing a bit of a brush-up on their Fangorn lore, a Huorn is, in the simplest terms, a tree gone “Entish”. While we often think of Ents themselves being trees, they are in fact their own separate species. Huorns, however, are actual trees that have “woken” up. Many can talk or walk. Old Man Willow, featured in the Old Forest section of the Fellowship of the Ring (the book, not the movie) was a Huorn. A Huorn is not necessarily evil or ill-tempered, however they often can be wild or have a mistrust for two-legged beings who tend to carelessly chop down trees. However, as Treebeard explains to Pippin and Merry, there are Huorns with truly black hearts, filled with malice and a desire to inflict harm. The Black-Hearted Huorn included in my Into Fangorn scenario is an example of this. I felt it did not make thematic sense for a giant tree to be caught in a snare of fall into a pit of spikes, so I made the Black-Hearted Huorn immune to all attachments. His “When Revealed” effect is designed to reflect the ability to distract and lead characters astray from the quest and the correct path (as Old Man Willow did with Frodo and his companions).

Secondly, it is time to reveal Amroth himself, the main villain and the final enemy you will face. In a realm filled Amroth-Front-Facewith giant enemies, it is hard to imagine that a lone elf could be the most dangerous being you could encounter. However, Amroth is a Noldor, with thousands of years of combat experience. He is a expert ranger and warrior, and I tried to design some effects that would reflect his skills. I really wanted to make a quest that finished with an epic boss-battle. This is something that we haven’t seen too much of in LOTR LCG, with the exception of the Watcher, Durin’s Bane, and Smaug. Being the big baddie, I didn’t want Amroth being easily neutered with a Forest Snare or Hama-Feint recycling tricks. Thus, he is immune to player card effects, as well as attachments. He is able to attack twice to reflect his speed, and the expertise of his swordsmanship. Finally, being the resourceful ranger that he is, he has fashioned poison from some of the plants in Fangorn, and used it to coat his blades. This means that when any character is damaged by Amroth, it takes an additional 1 damage every time it readies (I thought about making it take effect at the end of each round, but wanted to up the challenge as readying effects now come at a price if the character is suffering from this poison). As a side note, I’m pleased to see that poison effects are being implemented in one of the Hobbit: On the Doorstep quests. I’m interested to see how they will implement that mechanic, and how it will be different from what I designed here.

As mentioned earlier, I have a bit more play-testing and final design tweaks to make, and then I will hopefully have this custom scenario out for people to download within the next two weeks. Unfortunately, I’ve run into some design hiccups due to using a Mac, but I’m rolling with the punches. I’d like to take this moment to direct newer players who might not be aware of some of the available resources out there to a couple of places:

* The first is the LOTR LCG custom cards plug-in, which allows you to create your own custom cards and scenarios, as I have done here, using the Strange Eons application. Here’s the link.

* Second, on that same thread you will find a link to templates for every kind of encounter or player card, created by GeckoTH.

* Third, there are quite a few fantastic custom scenarios already out there created by a variety of players. Tabletop Geeks has them assembled nicely here (as well as access to other great resources as well). I encourage you to download some and try them out. Even better, one player uploaded most of the custom scenarios to artscow, so you can actually order printed copies of the cards, if you rather not assemble them yourself. While custom scenarios are not everyone’s cup of tea, they are a way to add to your enjoyment of the game.

To wrap up, as promised, here a few things I learned from designing Into Fangorn:

1) Balancing difficulty for this game is a challenge. It is not as easy as it looks to design encounter card effects and a whole scenario while taking into account variable numbers of players, deck types, etc. It is easy to pile on the difficulty or make it easy, but achieving a perfect balance is elusive. What is the right balance anyway when you have players with different levels of experience, access to the card pool, etc?

2) While the design and basic structure of the game is pretty simple overall, it actually allows for quite a bit of creativity and new mechanics to be constantly introduced. I think it will be a loooong time before FFG runs out of new stuff to do with it. Just the existence of objectives alone allowed me to create the Anger of the Forest card, which was a means of simulating and tracking the wrath of the forest itself in a way that wasn’t possible through other means.

3) Designing for the game is an absolute blast. It makes you look back through the lore, and get creative. I advise everyone to try it out at some point.

 

That’s all for now, enjoy whatever journeys you take this weekend, whether in real life or with the cards, and I’ll meet you at the Prancing Pony to hear your tales.

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3 Comments
  1. This looks awesome! I can’t wait to try it out.

  2. Glaurung permalink

    Yes sounds very promising….most of the time i dont pay attention for custom quest cose they are unbalanced and boring but this one look cool +good tolkien lore. Cannot wait!

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