Month: August 2014

Theme, Flavour and Mechanics

In boardgames, there are (for me) three main aspects that determine how much I like a game. These are Theme, Flavour and Mechanics.

The Theme is the overall story or setting of the game. It could be a Star Wars game or a Cthulhu game, a Sci-Fi space exploration game or a Sword and Sorcery D&D game. I am less likely to play a game if I am not fond of the theme. I don’t want to run a farm, for example, or sell textiles in medieval Florence. I want to shoot stormtroopers, or fight dragons, or try and stop the world being eaten by oceanic elder gods. You get the idea.

Let us suppose (correctly) that I am interested in any game that has anything to do with Cthulhu. What makes a good Cthulhu game?

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The Steward’s Fear Adventure Pack

I got the ‘The Steward’s Fear’, the first adventure pack in the ‘Against the Shadow’ cycle. This concentrates more on the city of Minas Tirith and the armies of Gondor.

The reviews say this pack has a very good scenario, all about conspiracies and mysteries to be solved. It also has some nice new cards for my decks.

A standout card for me is the Gondorian Shield, which would be great to give to Elrohir in my Elf deck.

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Drums, drums in the deep

“Gimli!” shouts Dain, “Gimli!”

“This axe is ruined,” says Gimli, “That last goblin was wearing a helmet tougher than the others.” He picks at a notch in the blade.

“Gimli, we must use stealth,” says Dain, “You cannot attack every enemy you see.”

Bifur is by the inner door of the chamber. “They will have been alerted to our presence,” he says, pushing the door closed.

“Quite,” says Dain, “We must regroup. Let us return to the East-Gate and begin our journey again.”

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Small people are not a race. This isn’t Game of Thrones!

An interesting fact is that Tolkein took the names of the thirteen dwarves in The Hobbit (and most of the other dwarves in The Lord of the Rings) from the Old Norse Eddaic poem Völuspá, which has a section called the Dvergatal, which means ‘Catalogue of Dwarves’.

This list of names contains Thorin, Dwalin, Gloin, Fili, Kili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur. The only two of the thirteen not directly from the poem are Balin and Oin.

Gandalf is also in this list, so he was originally a Norse dwarf!

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Take me to the river

The Elf-Lord Glorfindel stands gazing south along the river. His golden hair blows slightly in the breeze and his eyes are bright and distant.

The Anduin weaves, broad and slow, between the banks that separate the borders of Mirkwood from the foothills of the Misty Mountains. The Company has escaped from Mirkwood, but the journey to Lorien will take them along its borders and within the territory of the goblins that lurk in the hills.

Glorfindel turns his head and watches the twin Elf-princes Elladan and Elrohir stride up the bank to where he awaits at the forest edge. Their ranger cloaks are damp and weariness shows on their faces.

“We have been several leagues up and down the river,” says Elladan.

“There are Orc tracks and trails of Wargs,” says Elrohir.

“Also one large footprint, and a set of smaller prints, ones we did not recognise,” adds Elladan.

“We saw no marks of spiders,” finishes Elrohir.

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Flies and Spiders

My new Lord of the Rings Card Game deck with the three Elves smashed some serious spider face.

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The little Fellowship has been tasked with couriering a message from the King of the Wood Elves to Lady Galadriel far south in Lorien. (Lady Galadriel was Cate Blanchett in the movies). The first stage of the journey is through the gloomy forest of Mirkwood.

A previous group of messengers had left some days earlier and had never been heard from again.

Old Forest RoadAs the three Elf Lords, Elrohir, Elladan and Glorfindel, lead the band down the Old Forest Road and the gnarled trees begin to loom over their heads, they can hear rustling among the foliage.

One of the spearmen curses as his pike becomes entangled in a web spread high above the path.

The rustling stops.

Elladan glances at his twin brother Elrohir and silently draws his sword. Glorfindel signals to the rest of the company and they fall into a defensive formation.

There is silence. Water drips onto moss. Metal scrapes on metal as someone shifts their stance. The eerie silence continues.

Glorfindel, listening, raises his hand to give the sign to continue.

Then the spiders attack.

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Mirkwood

Filling out my Fellowship

I am looking for good filler cards to make up the rest of my new Lord of the Rings Card Game deck.

I now have a fighty Tactics hero to help take out the Mirkwood spiders, but this means I am without a Lore hero, and so I am missing healing and card drawing.

What I need to do is go through all the sets and see what is available to do this sort of thing from the three spheres I do have.

While I am at it I will list all the abilities, not just healing and drawing. This should come in handy in the future as a reference.

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Supporting my heroes

I am building a new deck for The Lord of the Rings Card Game.

My heroes are to be Elrohir, Elladan and Glorfindel. They are from the Leadership, Tactics and Spirit spheres respectively.

The main focus of my deck is Tactics and combat, so I can fight off the annoying spiders in Mirkwood. What are some good Tactics cards?

Rivendell Blade

This Elf-only weapon allows me to punch through tough enemies’ armour

  • Bofur – allows you look in your deck for a weapon
  • Gondoran Spearman – does damage directly to an enemy
  • Vassal of the Windlord – cheap attacker
  • Watcher of the Bruinen – defender who can also attack
  • Winged Guardian – very tough defender
  • Blade of Gondolin – good against Orcs and helps with quests
  • Rivendell Blade – gets past enemies armour (I get to use this because all my heroes are Elves)
  • Foe-hammer – allows you to draw more cards after winning a fight
  • Feint – stops an enemy attacking for a turn
  • Goblin-cleaver – does damage directly to an enemy

How about Leadership?

  • Steward of Gondor – gives me more resources to pay for stuff
  • Sneak Attack – puts Gandalf into play cheaply and gets him back again (Gandalf is uber-powerful)
  • Snowbound Scout – helps with quests and can chump block (chump block means to take a hit and die on behalf of a hero)
  • Dunedain Watcher – can cancel bad fight cards
  • A Very Good Tale – can play ally cards cheaply
  • Celebrian’s Stone – boosts a hero’s ability to quest
  • Dunedain Mark – boosts a hero’s attack
  • Dunedain Warning – boosts a hero’s defence

and Spirit?

Arwen

Arwen has two willpower which makes her good in quests, plus she boosts one of my fighters’ defence

  • Arwen Undomiel – good on quests and boosts defence
  • Escort from Edoras – good at quests
  • Imladris Stargazer – can look at top few cards in your deck and reorder them
  • Northern Tracker – great at making progress in quests
  • Westfold Horse-Breaker – can allow a hero to do another thing in a turn
  • Unexpected Courage – allows a hero to do another thing every turn (awesome)
  • Light of Valinor – allows a hero to do something else after going on a quest
  • Ancient Mathom – allows you to draw cards after a successful quest
  • Miruvor – does several useful things
  • A Test of Will – cancels bad cards when questing

I do need to be careful since with three separate spheres, each has only one hero to pay for playing cards. I should avoid expensive stuff unless it is particularly good.

Based on the above lists, here is the start of my deck, focusing on cheaper cards:

IMG_5826

Gandalf has a four in every stat which is great, and he does something really useful when he turns up, but he never stays long.

  • 3 x Gandalf (he is great at everything, but only hangs around for one turn before buggering off on some wizardly errand or other)
  • 2 x Gondoran Spearman
  • 3 x Vassal of the Windlord
  • 2 x Veteran Axehand
  • 3 x Rivendell Blade
  • 3 x Feint
  • 2 x Goblin-Cleaver
  • 1 x Blade of Gondolin
  • 3 x Sneak Attack
  • 3 x Snowbourn Scout
  • 3 x Steward of Gondor
  • 2 x Arwen Undomiel
  • 2 x Unexpected Courage
  • 2 x Light of Valinor

This isn’t a full 50-card deck. It needs to be filled out with cards that will compensate for having no access to the Lore sphere, which is mainly healing and drawing.

I shall go through all the sets I have and create some lists of what cards in each sphere provide the various effects.