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First Two Days of Gen Con

by on August 16, 2013

The first two days of Gen Con have passed by in a flash, and there has been so much to experience for an LOTR LCG fan. I will try to pick out the most important highlights below, but keep in mind that these are quick bites that I will flesh out more when I return:

Stone of Erech: This was my first opportunity to play one of the Gen Con quests at Gen Con, and it was definitely a unique experience to try out a scenario for the first time surrounded by others doing the same thing. The quest itself is challenging yet beatable. It features enemies with a new Spectral keyword, which requires you to use willpower instead of attack to defeat them (similar to the final stage of The Druadan Forest).

One of the aspects of this quest that I enjoyed the most was that it actually gets harder as over time, rather than starting off massively difficult and becoming easier as players gather more power. This is facilitated by two main aspects: a cool, new time mechanic and a nasty third stage. There are three “time of day” cards: eventide, dusk, and midnight. At the end of each round, you put progress on the current time of day card, with it rolling to the next one after four tokens. Why this is important is that encounter card effects get nastier depending on the time of day, becoming positively brutal once you hit midnight. This is an innovative way to increase difficulty over the course of a quest, and feels highly thematic as well. The third quest stage also ramps up the difficulty at the end of the game, as a host of enemies leap out and you have to deal with a “battle” keyword.

Overall, I would say that this is the most beatable at the outset of all the Gen Con quests, although this is not to say that it is a cakewalk. My partner and I lost in the third stage due to threat, but with a few tweaks, victory can be achieved. I would recommend picking it up when it hits print on demand in a month or two.

Blood of Gondor: The Blood of Gondor pack was surprisingly available at Gen Con. To be honest, I haven’t looked at the quest at all with my attention focused on so many other things. There are some interesting player cards and a hero that looks like a dud at first glance, but I need some time to ponder.

Voice of Isengard: The next Deluxe Expansion, the Voice of Isengard, was announced at FFG’s In-Flight Report, and it is due for a Christmas release (thanks to Cardboard of the Rings/Progression Series folks for the info). The Deluxe Expansion itself looks to have a heavy focus on Saruman, based both on the title and cover art. Eomer has also partially been spoiled as a Tactics hero. The next cycle will be called the Ring Maker cycle, which seems to be a clear reference to Saruman’s aspirations to be a ring maker like Sauron (Gandalf notices that Saruman is wearing a ring during their encounter). I speculate that the cycle will focus on Saruman’s quest for power and the heroes’ attempts to sabotage his designs. We should see a heavy dose of Rohan, although perhaps more of the Tactics variety this time. Then again, the current cycle has not brought a ton of Gondor support, so we shall see. For now, I am definitely excited, as I am looking forward to seeing the martial side of Rohan. Also on top of my wish list is an AP featuring Ents and some kind of corruption mechanic to represent Saruman’s ability to sway others, especially with his voice.

Black Riders: I had the opportunity to play through the first two quests of the Black Riders Saga Expansion. My first thoughts are that this box definitely provides a challenging experience, while encouraging strategic thinking on many fronts. I obviously haven’t had a chance to really dig into it, but this seems to be a really well-designed set of quests. Travel decisions become quite meaningful and new mechanics add another layer of depth. As a tidbit, I’ll say that staging for the Saga Expansions has each player take turns drawing a card during staging, and certain cards that say “you” affect the particular player who drew that card. Definitely be prepared to fight more Nazguls than you can shake a stick at! I’m excited to share my new Hobbit deck with you all when I get back from Gen Con.

That wraps up my recounting of days One and Two of Gen Con. Look out for more soon!

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  1. Samwise Gamgee killed the Witch-King! Let this be a lesson to all Nazgul, do not wake the gardener’s wrath. That was definitely one of the highlights of GenCon for me so far. I really like how well your Hobbit deck has played in the first two scenarios. It’s fun to see a new archetype take shape before my eyes. All the more impressive because you spent all of 15 minutes today building it.

  2. Earcarax permalink

    “In the Lord of the rings – The Voice of Isengard players enter the service of Saruman in three new scenario’s” (quote from the back of the box)
    So we as the players will help Saruman and then fight him in the cycle afterwards? As all the material outside the Saga Expansions is taking place before the Lord of the Rings events, I rather think that we’re helping the Saruman that is still ‘good’.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      It’s hard to know exactly where they’ll go with it. Obviously, according to lore, Saruman’s treason wasn’t detected until the events of LOTR, but they’ve kind of played it loose in the past (like with the heroes fighting Durin’s Bane). I imagine the heroes will start off in Saruman’s service, and then gradually discover that someone is behind the forces attacking Rohan as the cycle proceeds. Whether they discover that “someone” is Saruman or not is an open question, but I personally would relish the thought of being able to battle Saruman, even if it doesn’t quite fit the lore.

  3. legolas18 permalink

    Oh man! So exciting. So jealous I’m not there. What does Fatty Bolger do??? I’m dying to know!

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      You can exhaust Fatty Bolger to cancel the threat of an enemy. Then you raise your threat by that amount.

      • I want to like Fatty. Please help me understand why this ability is not completely useless. Is it just to spare you from failing questing, especially when it can be so nasty in certain scenarios?

        Otherwise, you could eat the threat anyway and still have an unexhausted hero.

      • Nevermind. As always, the answer is on the COTR Facebook page, this time compliments of Matthew J:

        “It’s an altruistic sacrifice you are making to your team in a multiplayer game. If there is a risk that the team will not quest successfully, you take the heat instead of everyone. As the spirit player, hopefully your threat is lower than everyone else and you are better poised to quickly reduce it.

        Even in a single player game, if you are poised to break even or need more quest progress, Fatty let’s you make that progress in exchange for threat.”

        Still not my favorite card, but that helps clarify.

  4. Jakub permalink

    Fatty’s ability can be a game-winner. It is certainly situational, but it can be very, very useful at certain situations. Like endgame, you need to finish off a quest, a (non-immune) 4+ enemy is revealed, of course it is better to add that much threat – as you should be able to afford it with Spirit rather than face the onslaught of the enemies.

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      One way I’ve been trying to conceptualize Fatty’s ability is as a straight swap of threat for progress tokens on the active location or quest. Like, as a player, would you be willing to take on 3 threat in exchange for 3 progress for example? In some situations no, some situations yes, but that way of thinking about Fatty’s ability helped me see his value a bit more.

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