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Difficulty Poll Results

by on January 29, 2013

While far from a scientific analysis or statistical home-run, the poll I’ve been running on the difficulty of the game had some pretty decisive results. A clear majority, about 57% of those who participated in the poll, felt that the game was “fairly difficult”. Close to 37% of respondents said that the game difficulty was “just right”. Out of a total of 79 people who voted, only 4 selected “too difficult”, while only 1 chose “fairly easy”. Again, this is by no means a random sampling of players, since most people who come to this blog are either devoted to the game or like it enough to want to read additional material about it, so that skews thing a bit. Still, it shows that among that group, most feel that the game is a bit on the difficult side, but not too hard. I would agree with this assessment overall. Heirs of Numenor has raised the question of difficulty once again for players, as some have been vocal about feeling that the stakes have been raised a bit too high for comfort. I will be addressing this whole issue in a future post.

Thanks to those who voted. A new poll will be up by the time you read this.

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From → Poll Results

11 Comments
  1. shipprekk permalink

    Good deal!

    There was a nice discussion on this on the latest COTR podcast. I think it’s something FFG really need to think about and address, because their player-base is probably not as hardcore as other games. First, it’s cooperative and not competitive and so that is generally going to attract a more casual bunch. Second, it’s The Lord of the Rings, which is an IP that is appealing enough to get people into something they’d never otherwise try. Lord knows I’d never heard of an LCG before this game and had no intention of getting into any such thing in my life post-Magic.

    It’s the same with LOTRO (the LOTR online game); many of the players have never played nor had an interest in MMORPGs, they just like the books or the movies. Caleb and the gang should hopefully be aware of this and find a way to increase immersion, decrease the power creep, and cater to us n00bs as well as the power gamers.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Yeah, I definitely agree, I’ve heard from quite a few players that they are new to these types of games or even new to gaming in general, but they were drawn in by the theme. To me, that means this game has tremendous potential to appeal to a pretty broad range of people. So far the designers have done a good job of making sure that the hardcore players are entertained, with the difficulty of the Heirs of Numenor box and the introduction of Nightmare Packs. Now, they need to make some moves to address the needs of newer players and players who are more interested in the theme and the story aspect than anything else.

  2. I wouldn’t call the game difficult, I would call it mercilessly overpowered. Not even ‘unforgiving’, because there can be no mistakes on player’s part, you can have deck geared towards dealing with particular quest, maximise your chances by making the only right choices every turn and still get smashed. With good starting draw.

    Instead of using its unique characteristics, the game is pointlessly held by its designers between competetive and narrative aspects of fantasy board/card games. Those are two different worlds. LotR LCG should apparently be story focused and co-operative, yet gets way too many clues more from MtG, especially in deck-building department.

    The more I play it, the more sure I am that we NEED to have at least two modes (difficulty options if you will) to choose for different groups of players:
    – basic, narrative one, when you just want to enjoy the game, immerse yourself. This should be one where with a bit of thinking you can win most of the scenarios most of the time with pretty much any deck. You want pure Rohan deck to trample all enemies in KD and HoN? You should be able to.
    – hardcore, for people who know how to effectively build decks, like a challenge and are ready to take constant beating before they figure out what they were doing wrong.

    As far as I am (Core Set + few APs) I think the game is currently pretty much in the second mode. I have years of experience with MtG, I use a card pool available to me to full extent and still lose at least half of games.

    I know every player is different etc. but too many people are complaining about this. I know that from marketing standpoint, probably most of players who still buy the game are those hardcore ones, and FFG understandably wants to satisfy them. Still, even I’m tired and most of the time would just prefer an easier, but more story/theme focused game. If I wanted deadly serious, I would go back to playing MtG tournaments.

    My solution? Small rule changes can be written on those inserts put into every AP. FFG doesn’t have to even put anything on the cards, that would probably make them less clear.

    We can have less enemies revealed during setup, some enemies and treacheries taken out of the encounter deck, less quest points to advance to next stages, less threat generated by enemies and locations in staging area. One or two resources more at the start of each game. And please, put more flavor text somewhere, anywhere, even on those inserts. A bit of reading during adventure wouldn’t hurt and could really expand the experience.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Me personally, I find the difficulty “just right”, but I am not egocentric enough to think that my experience speaks for everyone. Absurd, I have heard the same things you have said from many people in various forums, and to me that speaks to this being a real issue that the designers need to address. I really love this game, and I want other people to love it too and not just for it to end up as a niche for “hardcore” gamers only, as you described. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. I’ve seen lots of great suggestions out there, including your own, and I hope that FFG takes these seriously and starts implementing some of them. Having two difficulty modes makes sense. When I play electronic RPG’s, I’m the kind of gamer who likes to play it on “casual” or “normal” mode because I’m in it just to experience the story, for the most part. Other more “hardcore” gamers might laugh at me for that, but people play games for different reasons. And this is no less true for a card game than a video game. In my opinion, one of the things that needs to be done as well is inject some more story into the game, things like “campaign modes”, more flavor text as you mentioned, etc. I play Arkham Horror, which can be a difficult cooperative experience too, but there is enough storytelling in the game that even if you lose, you at least went on a ride.

      • I don’t find this game difficult, I would also say it’s “just about right” for me. But now I feel I need to elaborate.

        First of all, this game really made me think about what does difficulty even mean, especially with this kind of game. On its basic level, with quests available to me (Core Set + few APs) the challenge of LotR LCG lies in figuring out for example:
        – how much threat can jump out on you during staging step and so, how much willpower you need to commit;
        – how many enemies are, or can appear, in the staging area so you have to think who to defend with and who will attack.
        On top of this come shadow effects and countless number of different little factors.

        Now, with years of playing Magic the Gathering, building casual and tournament decks etc. I feel right at home when I need to analyse a situation on LotR’s playing field. I figure out the most effective choices I can make (sometimes take some risks for fun, which too often result in death of my heroes 😉 and reveal a new card.

        So it’s all about compexity and how proficient player is at reading a situation, spotting interactions between various parts, assessing risks etc. Probably similar thing can be said even about difficulty of video games like StarCraft or Call of Duty or real-life sports.

        With this game though, often the final outcome doesn’t necessarily depend on my choices but what the encounter deck’s throwing at me. In short – it’s random.

        When someone tries to beat the Core Set’s Anduin quest with pure, basic Tactics deck, they can’t fault themselves for losing, because they had little chance from the start. If, during same quest, second Hill Troll appears and after it another big monster comes in and you “lost”, then the game didn’t give you chance to set any defences. Not your fault and the game wasn’t “difficult”, but forced you to reshuffle and waste a bit of time. And its all completely fine. We may never get a system that works better in a co-op card game that’s played against random set of enemy cards.

        Fun comes (at least for me) from figuring those constantly changing factors, enemies jumping in and out of battleground, treacheries forcing you to make choices. So the only thing that matters and should matter is “the ride”. How it felt to go through that adventure, regardless of whether I “won” or “lost.”

        I don’t even count those first or second turn wipeouts as loses, because there was no competition, no chance to react. I’m no longer sure that you can even “lose” playing this game. Still, it would be better if chances of passing those quests were a bit higher. Not many people like their team to be constantly killed and nobody likes to feel powerless. I like the game and maybe one day I will even love it to pieces. It just could be designed better, more complexity/difficulty options could be given to various types of players.

        This game was built with intention of being MtG/WH Invasion’s co-op counterpart. Then a bit of flavor has been thrown onto quest cards. First I thought it’s my silly idea, but the more I think about it, the more I’m sure FFG should go towards making LotR LCG to be a bit (just a bit) more like, for example, Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Edition. The roleplaying game. With more flavor text, as I said before, and storytelling opportunities.

        I would love to see scripted campaigns, where we have famous characters showing up in a middle of a quest and we can even read a bit of dialogue for example. Or we can travel to distant parts of Middle-Earth and designers can tell their own tales. There are just so many possibilities, but we probably won’t see them until card games’ tropes are abandoned and creators embrace the uniqueness of this game as much as possible.

      • TalesfromtheCards permalink

        I definitely hear what you are saying. There’s a difference between losing and feeling like you “earned” that loss and losing because you were unlucky and there was nothing you could do about it. The more the latter can be minimized, the better, but I suppose there will always be a bit of random destruction because of the very nature of how the game works. I love the idea of scripted campaigns, and I would like to see allies and items that carry on between multiple quests, to lend that feeling of a connected adventure. One of my favorite things is when they introduce objective allies, like Grimbeorn in Conflict at the Carrock, Arwen in the first two Dwarrowdelf packs or the rangers in Massing at Osgiliath. Including more of these objectives and objective allies is a small way to add a lot of favor to quests, and can help modify the difficulty a bit as well.

      • Exactly! So many people said (me amongst them) that they like Carrock quest because of Grimbeorn (and funny troll names).

        Now example of how I find the need for some sort of campaign important:

        I decided to buy APs in order they were being released and still have half of Mirkwood cycle to get, but I bought The Watcher in the Water early because I quickly recognised it has many great cards that I will like to put into my decks at some point. Now the thing is I promised myself I will not to use Arwen Undomiel in any deck until I escort her successfully in The Redhorn Gate and Road to Rivendell quests.

      • karagh permalink

        Absurd said:
        “With this game though, often the final outcome doesn’t necessarily depend on my choices but what the encounter deck’s throwing at me. In short – it’s random.”
        Well, is exactly the same in Magic:TG. The only difference is that is your opponent’s luck who you’re playing against, instead of the Encounter deck.

  3. Timothy permalink

    I recently watched three videos by a gentleman on BGG.com who is listed as Oleg volobujev
    and goes by the username, (Glaurung2). He mostly plays solo, and he has developed a deck that overcomes Heirs of Numenor at a 50% rate.

    That seems very impressive to me.

    I’m new to LotR: The Card Game and am very happy to have found this website. It’s very well done.

    I actually didn’t find this website, I made a comment on a Cardboard of the Rings podcast on BGG.com and they directed me here. Cool, huh?

    Very excited to immersive myself in this game, deck-building and exploring the various powers ad combos available.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Welcome to the game and the blog as well! I have found it a very addicting experience, as have many others, and I’m sure you will as well. It’s always nice to hear about others directing people here, and thanks for the kind words about the blog, it’s definitely a work of love. There’s a wealth of resources that have emerged in just the past couple of months, so now is a great time to be getting into this game.

  4. To summarise – the form is limiting, but it can be overcome. 🙂

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