Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - Nightmare Expansion

More info on FFG's site here:

http://fantasyflightgames.com/edge_news.asp?eidn=3792


UPDATE: and for some exlusive card previews, check out my blog link here:

http://ratdorg.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/lord-of-rings-nightmare-expansion-card.html


   


FFG recently very kindly blessed us with the opportunity to try the forthcoming Lord of the Rings Nightmare scenarios.  These are the scenarios from the original Lord of the Rings: The Living Card Game core set, but with a difference.  Designer Nate French gave an analogy of them being ‘like an old friend’ – and this analysis was bang on the money!  Everything was familiar but very different.

I mean, when was the last time you heard any veteran LOTR player say this: "We got our arses stomped by Passage Through Mirkwood"??  Well, that's what happened to us!  The LOTR Nightmare scenarios breathe new life into the original three scenarios by introducing new cards and mechanics which will test inveterate players’ toughest decks to their limits.  The following is a session report/review based on the new Nightmare experience...

We took in our ‘Dwarf synergy’ decks led by Dain Ironfoot from many victories over Khazad Dum and got thoroughly pummelled in the first four turns of meandering the Passage Through Mirkwood.  The new shadow effects are seriously nasty.  We also had collective heart attacks when the new Glade of the Spawn location turned up and repeatedly entangled our heroes in its endless webs!  We eventually carefully negotiated our way through it only to discover an Abandoned Camp.  I'm loving the agonising choices posed by cards like this - it's a really interesting mechanic to be able to redistribute or mitigate danger using a card’s text, and without spoiling anything this is a Location that you’ll actually think about just leaving in the Staging Area instead of exploring.

We quested like crazy to get to stage 3, which is still pretty easy given that stage 2 of PTM has only 2 quest points. But then we pulled the brand new and revamped horrific Ungoliant's Spawn and its friends, and we had to kill it to win. With my bloodied and pissed off Gimli we came really close to beating it down but a shadow effect wiped me out of the game completely and after that it was just carnage.  A loss at Passage Through Mirkwood after all this time?  Noooooo!  A pride bonfire was had by all…..

Recovering from our shock, we reloaded our decks and added some much needed Treachery cancelling cards then set off once more. This time we concentrated purely on questing and raced through to the end. Pulling the Beorn's Path which requires 10 quest points we prayed that Ungoliant's Spawn would not turn up. As spiders raced at us and clawed all our characters down to their last few hit points we smashed through the woods and won the game before Ungoliant’s new Spawn could turn up and rear its ugly-ass head.  What a relief that we were able to reclaim some dignity at last!

Which brought us to the Anduin Journey.  Given how tricky the Mirkwood Passage had been we were very dubious about our chances of survival.  We even drew a Marsh Adder straight away to keep the Hill Troll company.  Great start.  Building up our forces on stage 1 we quested carefully and fought valiantly against the marauding troll and his numerous new Troll Spawn friends.  These guys are nasty!  At one point we became dangerously overwhelmed by locations but managed to pull back from the brink by using a timely horsey Spirit ally to explore the Brown Lands in the staging area.
Our journey then led us into the Gladden Marshlands, a jaw dropping new Location that has 10 Threat and 10 Quest points! Luckily we negotiated it down to 0 Threat by distributing a massive 10 damage amongst our heroes – yet another new agonising decision to manage and mitigate Threat from the new Locations.

Not being able to snare trolls is a new rule for the Nightmare Anduin Journey scenario, and this makes it very difficult indeed - so we snared the Marsh Adder instead and killed it.  Then I braved the hill troll, sacrificed a chump and took the troll's threat hit to set an angry Gimli on it.  As Gimli and his Battle Master ally brought down the hill troll we all rejoiced and prepared for stage 2.  Only to draw Pursuit On The Shore – a new treachery which brings the highest health enemy in the victory display back into play!  As the hill troll came back down into play I braved fighting it again, sacrificing yet another ally and taking another threat hit to allow a powered up Gimli and his pals to eventually bring it down once again.

We hit Stage 2 running and quested as fast as we could.  Some pesky wargs kept jumping at us and then jumping back into the staging area because they weren't getting shadow effects dealt to them. Take note that we had no Gandalf because of our decks’ setup and we were relying on other strong cards instead (Steward, Unexpected Courage, etc.) so we had no way to get rid of the wargs from the staging area either.

Despite this we ploughed through stage 2 and landed on the shore and drew our 2 encounter cards per player.  Enemy after enemy after enemy turned up and we groaned with disappointment at the sheer amount of surging baddies.  The staging area was full and we had to move all our player cards to fit all the incoming enemies and locations on the table and make room!  Luckily there would be no more staging, but it almost looked like too much to deal with.

As the battle began we tried to keep our allies alive for as long as possible and the Song of Durin which gives dwarves +1 HP was absolutely crucial to our survival.  We were swamped by the new Brown Water Rats – an enemy you will love to hate!  They are so irritating because you can't kill them but you still have to defend against them or let them through whilst you concentrate on other enemies.  And whenever the wargs were dealt effective shadow cards we focussed on them over more powerful enemies just to clear them out for good.

Soon we were almost swapping allies for enemies as the battle progressed and after a couple of turns of token attempts at questing to keep our threats managed whilst fighting desperately, we managed to clear down the staging area and our brutalised heroes overcame the last shadows of resistance.  After which the horrible rats fled.   A victory then, but a costly and close one!

And finally onto the all new Escape From Dol Guldur.  We were pretty nihilistic at this point, given how Nightmarish the Nightmare scenarios had been so far.  And sure enough we died in just four turns.  I had the prisoner, I lost another hero on the second turn from a forced-undefended attack, and then whilst questing with Thalin his damage effect killed the new Crazed Captive when he was revealed from the encounter deck, meaning our threat levels shot up by 7 – this is no enemy after all, just some poor crazy man.  And if you make the mistake of running him through, then be it on your conscience, for soon you will be doing the dirty work of the Dark Lord himself.  As it turned out it wasn't long before the big enemies turned up and wiped the floor with us.

Tired but determined, and thoroughly addicted, we gave EfDG one final shot and powered through as quickly as we could.  We built up our forces, negotiated carefully over who got to bring in the one single ally each turn, played attachments across the table on each other more often to evoke the best possible strategies, and slowly but surely accrued all our objective cards.  When we finally freed the prisoner the Nazgul swooped.  We Feinted him twice and set a battered Gimli on him to defeat him as quickly as we could.

In claiming the objectives our threat was rocketing up and with Thalin's continued insistence on killing more Crazed Captives and boosting our Threat further each time, we came to within one turn of dying from Threat overload.  But we were able to quest our way out of the caverns and past all the awaiting orcs and spiders to freedom and victory.  It was a long, hard fought battle but well worth it.

Overall impressions: overwhelmingly positive!  These reversions are great fun and I wouldn’t change anything, the new cards work beautifully, some are horrific, the new Ungolian’ts Spawn as a shadow effect can be a game killer and you need to prepare yourself accordingly, but that's what a Nightmare mode should be all about.

Great job to all who worked on these scenarios, it was great to be a part of it all. :) 

2 comments:

Ian said...

Thanks for the very thorough run-down. Now I have a good idea of what the Nightmare scenarios are like and they sound exciting, especially the thought of a 10 threat location!

Ninjadorg said...

Yeah, I think you'll enjoy this one Ian - it's nice to go back to the core set (or a horrific version of it!) with the now hugely expanded card pool.