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TftC Mailbag: Deck Building #5

by on January 31, 2014

bilbo mail

It’s been another fun, productive week at TftC, as the community entertains itself until the Voice of Isengard hits stores. I’ve really noticed an influx of new players to the LOTR LCG in the last few months (probably thanks to the holidays), and this development can only be a good thing for the game. I’m happy to have this blog serve as a resource new players, so once again I’ll dip into the mailbag on this lovely Friday. As a reminder, the idea behind these articles is to share reader issues and my responses in the hopes that this will help players with similar questions.

I have really really enjoyed your blog and have found it very useful! I got this game when it first came out. I played solo for a long time and kept getting beat badly by the encounter deck so I gave up for a long time. Recently, I pulled out my core set and started solo questing with help from your site and beorns hall and I am in love with the game! I was actual able to play with a friend for the first time recently and it was even more fun two player.

As a player who is just starting out again and not super familiar with deck building where do you suggest I go from here as far as expanding my collection with Ap and expansions? I am a huge Tolkien fan so I see myself ultimately collecting everything Lotr lcg has to offer because I could see myself wanting to create very thematic decks. But, I do not want to buy too much too soon or try and do too much too soon…

This is the natural question for players to ask, as there are now so many expansions available for the game that it becomes a bit overwhelming to decide what to buy next. This is why I created the New Players Buyers Guide, but here’s the specific advice I gave:

I’m glad you enjoy the blog, and I’m glad it was helpful in getting to grips with the game. It definitely has a steep learning curve, but I’m glad you gave it another chance! As I see it, there are three main ways you could go as far as expanding your collection (of course, there are more ways than that, but these are the best ones, in my opinion):
1) You can simply start collecting everything in order, starting with The Hunt for Gollum. The plus side is that you know you will have all the cards you need to beat a given scenario, and you’ll experience the card pool developing. The downside is that you’ll have to wait for certain packs to be reprinted.
2) You can buy the Saga Expansions, starting with The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill. The plus is that you get a bunch of cards, three new quests, and four new heroes all at once. It’s great value for money, and the quests are fun and thematic. The negative is that the quests may be a bit difficult, although they were playtested with just Core Set/Hobbit cards, and there are suggested deck lists in the box. Another plus is you get some strong Dwarf cards that will be helpful for many quests.
3) You can buy Khazad Dum + a pack like The Watcher in the Water or Foundations of Stone. This gives you strong cards, one of the strongest heroes around (Spirit Glorfindel in Foundations or Lore Aragorn in Watcher), and enjoyable quests.
Which one you choose is up to you. If you put a gun to my head, I’d say you can’t go wrong with #2. Let me know how it goes, and feel free to ask me any other questions. Have fun!

This particular player had a few more follow-up questions, many of which I know are common for players getting to grips with the game: 

I skimmed over the deck building advice on your site and Beron Hall and I think both will really help me get started…
If I wanted to introduce some friends to the game and have a 3-4 player game and I only have one core pack is that going to be a huge problem? I figured we could use other tokens for damage, money and pen paper for threats….but if I had custom built decks I would need to put heroes and allies back and we would all probably need to play with core decks right? Are there other reasons to own multiple core packs besides getting some of those extra cards like Gandalf etc? 
…any accessories or extras that you has that have helped your gaming experience? 
FFG states that new players require 2 Core Sets to set up a 3-4 player game, but of course this is not strictly necessary. There also are some accessories that help with the game experience:
You don’t absolutely need another Core Set to play a 3 or 4 player game. The only thing you will get is those extra threat counters and tokens, but, as you mentioned, you can easily replace those with pen and paper and dice. Other than that, you will get extra copies of cards, but I don’t think that’s really necessary. An easy way to get a 3 or 4 player game going with the Core Set is to give everyone of the mono-sphere decks, and then people can get going right away to learn the spheres and learn the game. Later on, everyone can try building some custom decks from the Core Set, but you might run low on certain cards.
As far as accessories go, I’m a big fan of little accessories for the game, but none of them are truly necessary. The main thing has been storage items (binders, card containers), but you only really need those when you start really expanding your collection. One big thing I’ve found to be helpful is something to count the total threat and total willpower during questing (this is really important for 3 or 4 player games when the numbers get quite big). This saves you the trouble of having to constantly calculate and recalculate. I personally use two 20-sided dice to track willpower and threat, but you could use pen and paper, someone’s phone, or something else you come up with.

This reader then had one last set of questions:

A few quick questions, I hope you don’t mind. I drew unexpected courage and I couldn’t tell by the cards “condition” label is it a one time use attachment or does it stay on the hero (until death)? Also, if I have Celebrian’s Stone on Leadership Aragorn am I able to place unexpected courage on him? …And then, if I commit the hero that unexpected courage (or other attachments to) to a quest or to defend etc and that attachment has an action, does that attachment also exhaust or am I able to use that attachments ability even when my hero is exhausted? Does that make sense?
And here’s my response:
– Unexpected Courage stays in play permanently (unless something removes it). It also can be placed on any hero. They don’t have to be Spirit or have a Spirit icon to use it.
– Attachments exhaust independently from the characters they are attached to. So the only time you exhaust an attachment is if it specifically requires you to do so as part of its action and you use that action. So, for example, if you quest with Aragorn who has Steward of Gondor attached, you only exhaust the Aragorn card. Whenever you choose to use the Steward’s action, then you exhaust it, which means you can’t use it again until it readies during the refresh phase.

I hope today’s installment of TftC has been useful. As always, feel free to share your own responses to these questions in the comments below. If you have questions of your own, click on the Contact TftC! button above, and you might be featured in the next TftC mailbag. Enjoy your weekend!



From → TftC Mailbag

  1. We use a Gandalf miniature (Games Workshop) to mark the first player. Last time I didn’t have it with me, but we were lucky, we had Gandalf, the LEGO version. It’s much nicer than the simple token in the box. 🙂

    Also we use trays (ceramic ones, bought from IKEA, very cheap) to keep tokens in place. They are useful and help us organize the play well.

    I plan on purchasing some nice dark green textil to use as cover mat for the game. 🙂

    • TalesfromtheCards permalink

      Awesome suggestions! I’ve been planning on upgrading to some kind of custom first player token for awhile now, but haven’t been able to decide on anything. The miniature idea is a solid one. I may have to investigate further…

  2. SgtWinters permalink

    Those are some really good – and common – questions. It sounds like this player is going to be around for a while! Your answers were great; nice and clear.

  3. Joey permalink

    Incredibly helpful and very patient with all the questions!

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