Trolling Gandalf -- A LoTR:LCG AAR

Excellent! Hope you enjoy it!

Aw, fuck. I had no idea. That’s what happens when you play solo! Anyway, I hope that doesn’t totally spoil the AAR.


Eh, don’t worry about the mistake, it happens. The cloning of Faramir shall go down as a great and momentous turning point in history!

Haha, you played two Faramirs…

If you think Necromancer’s Pass is bad, say hello to Gladden Marshlands (same quest but Nightmare mode)

Day Nine: The Spy Among Us

“What roads would any dare to tread, what safety would there be in quiet lands, or in the homes of simple men at night, if the Dunedain were asleep, or were all gone into the grave?”
Aragorn, The Fellowship of the Ring

Threat Level 37

The ninth day of our hero’s journey finds both Theodred and Beravor tending to their wounds; they each have two. Eowyn has none. We have three allies in the party, Faramir (healthy); his cousin Faramir II (one wound) and the healthy Henamarth.

The Wargs, who attacked last turn, have fled back to the staging area. The current location is Necromancer’s Pass, which we hope to close this turn.


In the biggest picture, we seem to be at the halfway point – we have 7 progress tokens on the current stage (the second of three) out of 16 needed to complete it.

In our hand is a healthy set of cards: Sneak Attack, Hasty Stroke, Lore of Imladris, Galadhrim’s Greeting, A Test of Will, and the ally Erabor Hammersmith.

Resource Phase The resources are piling in: Eowyn and Theodred now have five each, and Beowyn has four. Money is no object. We draw another ally:


Planning Phase. Eowyn pays two to summon the Miner, whose “Response” effect is moot. Eowyn also pays two to summon Erabor Hammersmith, whose’ “Response” effect is a good one:.


So we pull out the attachment Forest Snare from the discard pile and it goes back to our hand. This could come in handy later.

Quest Phase
The quest decision – who to commit to questing versus leaving ready for combat – is more complicated on this day due to the size of our party, now totaling eight. We have three heroes, one of which (Beravor) can be used for both thanks to her Unexpected Courage attachment. Then we also have five – count 'em – five allies in the party. The possibilities here are many.

Next, we turn to the spy among our allies, Henamarth-Riversong, whose special ability allows us to peak at the encounter deck:


Riversong reveals the top card to be a treachery:


While the effect of this could be harmful, at least we know it does not add to the threat level. So with that knowledge, we opt to commit all three heroes to questing, for a total willpower of 7.

Quest Resolution:
So we draw two encounter cards, the first being The Necromancers Reach. Ah, but wait! We have a trick up our sleeves:


We apply this to Necromancer’s Reach, canceling out the damage to our heroes. The treachery is discarded without effect, and our party breathes a sigh of relief.

The second encounter card, though, proves also to be a treachery: Despair!


Sadly, the progress on our quest is forced to drop from 7 down to 3; 16 are needed to complete it. Our party is dejected by this setback.

However, we have another trick at the ready. Before calculating the quest resolution, we invoke the action ability of Faramir’s cousin Faramir:


This means that our three questing heroes get one extra willpower each, taking us from a total of 7 to 10. Subtracting the threat of the Wargs (2) we get a whopping eight progress. Two are applied to the current location, the Necromancer’s Pass, to close it, and then six are applied the quest card, taking us to 9 out of 16. A satisfying result.

Combat Phase:

Here, we choose to engage with the Wargs, as we did last time. Remember, though, that unless a shadow effect appears, the Wargs can scurry back to the staging area before we can attack. Hopefully our luck will be better than the previous attempt on Day Eight.

We defend with the first Faramir, who has no wounds. The shadow card drawn is the Gladden Fields, a location which has no shadow effect. The Wargs’ attack leaves him, like his cousin yesterday, with one damage out of three. And, as feared, the Wargs flee out of combat before our other allies can retaliate. A very unsatisfying result.

Before the day ends, we carry out one minor action: we tap Beravor’s attachment Unexpected Courage to ready her. Then we play the event Galadhrim’s Greeting to reduce our party’s threat level by six. The cost of the event comes out of Beravor’s resources, taking her from four to one.

Threat Level 31

And with that, the party settles into camp, sleeping a bit easier, and resolved to make more progress – and take out the Wargs – in the coming day.

I have not run out and purchased a copy, but your AAR has put this on my radar.

If anyone wants to go in from the start but grab more than the core set, I spotted this newer Collector’s Edition that will set you back $100.

I’m considering it even though I already have the core set, because of this unboxing video:

Man, those alternate art cards are almost convincing me I need to get this before it sells out.

Unfortunately, I haven’t heard very good things about the digital version, and it seems like half the purchase price is going to that stuff.

I picked it up. As noted upthread, I bought the physical card game thanks to @tylertoo’s AAR and the first thing that fell out of the box was an ad for the Digital version on Steam. I figured it would be easier to play online than messing with the cards so I picked up the Digital version.

I’ve put in 9 hours playing the Online version so far and have enjoyed it quite a bit.

I think the main thing to be aware of is that it’s not the same as the physical version. The mechanics are simplified. Off hand some of the differences I’ve noticed are:

  1. Resource tokens are not per hero, they’re a collective pool. Because of this they are not gated by sphere’s of influence. Each hero still has a sphere of influence and the spheres of your heroes determine which cards you can put in your deck. You just don’t have to worry if you have 2 Leadership tokens and 1 Tactics token left and you’re trying to activate a 2 Tactics cost card. Instead you just have 3 resource tokens undifferentiated by sphere that can be used for any card.
  2. There’s no defence strength on cards, instead you take the full amount of an enemy’s attack – to compensate everyone has a much larger amount of hit points.
  3. The gameplay sequence is simplified. In particular you don’t decide in advance and commit characters. Instead you just go back and forth between you and Sauron and each time you can choose to either pick a character for resolving a quest or using them for combat.
  4. The whole shadow effect on top of normal damage has gotten tossed out.

The game is still in early access and they’ve apparently dinked quite a bit with the economy. It was original intended to be F2P, but they tossed that out at the end of October based on Early Access Feedback. AFAICT it’s now intended to earn money by customers paying cash for each expansion. There is an internal economy where you earn in game currency and can buy cards (you choose specific cards to buy, not some sort of random loot box scheme). That may need to be further tuned, since the original complaint was it was to slow unlocking cards in an attempt to get people to buy in game cash. But I expect that should get sorted out now, since it’s no longer supposed to be F2P.

Anyway, I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit. So far I’ve only been able to get through 3 of the 5 quest stages for the included on Campaign on the easiest setting, although I’ve got some ideas on what I need to do to beat stage 4. There’s also a single stage “Encounter” which is supposed to be very hard, which I haven’t tried. There’s supposed to be a new expansion coming out next Wednesday which will include a new Campaign and four new heroes (bringing the total heroes to 12).

Holy crap, those changes decimate the game, particularly not having to declare who is questing beforehand. As I’ve said in the AAR, that decision to me is the crucial moment in each turn. Losing that changes the game entirely.

Day Ten: Ambush on the Shore

“If there is only one way, then I must take it. What comes after must come.”
-Frodo Baggins, The Two Towers

Threat Level 32

Our large party of intrepid adventurers rises at dawn. Beravor and Theodred still nurse two wounds each; Eowyn remains healthy. Among our five allies, the two cousins Faramir have one wound each, while the other three – Miner of the Iron Hills, Erebor Hammersmith and the spy Henamarth Riversong – are all healthy.

In the staging area await only the Wargs. There is no current location, and we have 9 progress tokens out of 16 on the current quest. The party is not currently engaged with any enemies. In our hand – only four cards: Sneak Attack, Hasty Stroke, Lore of Imladris, and Forest Snare.

Resource Phase

Adding resources to our heroes leaves Eowyn with just one, Theodred with eight after tapping his Steward of Gondor attachment, and Beravor with two. We draw a card – another Steward of Gondor, which is nice but not the sort of help we need at this point in the adventure.

Since we are relatively low in cards in our hand, we exhaust Beravor to draw two more cards, bringing us another ally and an event:

image image

Planning Phase.
Theodred pays two to place the second Steward on Eowyn. We immediately tap the Steward to give Eowyn two more resource tokens, to be used for future events. Beravor spends her two to summon Gleowine as a sixth ally in our party.

Before questing, we exhaust the spy Henamarth to look at the top card in the encounter deck. The news is bad:


Yikes! This card has a threat level of five, meaning the threat level in the quest phase will be at least seven (adding in the Wargs’ two). We must proceed with caution.

Quest Phase
First, we tap Beravor’s Unexpected Courage attachment to ready her. We then commit a whopping five party members to the questing: our three heroes, along with Faramir I and Erebor Hammersmith. We then tap the second Faramir to add one willpower to each of the five:

Eowyn= 4+1
Theodred= 1+1
Beravor= 2+1
Faramir I= 2+1
Hammersmith= 1+1

…for a total of 15 willpower. We are thus more likely to make progress despite the strong threat level we know we’ll face.

After committing we draw the two required cards: the Brown Lands and another location: East Bight, with a threat of only one.


Quest Resolution:

The math is in our favor: 15 willpower minus 8 total threat gives us 7 progress – enough to close the current quest, Anduin Passage. We immediately move to the third and final quest stage in this journey, “Ambush on the Shore”:

The ongoing harassment from your enemies has forced your raft to the shore, and you must now confront their ambush head on. If you survive this attack, the path to the Golden Wood should be open before you…

Like the previous stage, this third stage changes the rules slightly:

Reveal 2 encounter cards per player, and add them to the staging area.
Skip the staging step of the quest phase for the remainder of the game.
Once there are no enemies in play, the players have won the game.

Following these instructions, we draw the two final encounter cards:

image image

Note – Wolf Rider has the surge effect, which forces us to draw a third encounter card:


Because this treachery appeared now, rather than prior to questing, its ‘When Revealed’ effect is moot, and we happily discard it.

Where does all this leave us? The end of the Journey Down the Anduin is in sight, our party is large, but we have two heroes with serious wounds and three difficult enemies to defeat.

Travel Phase:
We have two locations in the staging area, but the East Bight requires us to travel there first.

Combat Phase:
Again, we have no choice, we must engage with the Wargs (sigh) and the Wolf Riders. We could choose to engage with the fearsome Goblin Sniper, but there is no reason to rush things. The Sniper will remain in the staging area.

But we used five party members for questing. We tapped the special powers of a Faramir and the spy Henamarth. That leaves only Miner of the Iron Hills and Gleowine. Alas, as you can see above, Gleowine has no attack or defense, leaving her useless for battle.

In the first battle, we defend against the Wargs with the redshirted Miner. The shadow card is drawn:


The MMG’s shadow effect is moot, as we fortunately have just started the third quest stage and have no progress on it. Thus, the Wargs kill the Miner but scurry back to the staging area for the third straight day.

Alas, the fate of redshirts.

In the second battle, we opted not to sacrifice Gleowine (no redshirt he). Instead, the attack is undefended. The shadow card is another Misty Mountain Goblin, its effect is again moot.

And so, ouch. The two damage dealt by the Wolf Riders is applied to the sole hero who thus far has no wounds: Eowyn.

But wait: more damage is to come: note the ‘Forced’ language on the Goblin Sniper:

Forced: If Goblin Sniper is in the staging area at the end of the combat phase, each player deals 1 point of damage to 1 character he controls

So we deal one point of damage on Theodred, whose hit points are down to just one out of four.

And thus, the 10th day comes to a close with all three heroes facing serious wounds. The end is in sight, but it is possible not all will survive to see the conclusion of this most dangerous journey.


I am happy to tell you the Warg does NOT return to the staging area from getting Misty Mountain Goblins as a shadow card. The shadow card is simply the card and if it has a shadow effect on it, regardless if it does anything, it still counts.

Warg reads shadow card with no effect. It would need to read “shadow effect with no effect”…yeah.

I believe there is no functionality in the game in the event a shadow effect fizzles…

Mr. Frog is correct. If a shadow card is dealt and it has a Shadow effect on it, doesn’t matter if it hits or not, or if you Feint it or Forest Snare it or whatever…it counts as a Shadow effect.

Well, you don’t say!

Thanks for the clarification, gentlemen. Unfortunately, too late for this turn… the Wargs are back in their lair, or whatever Wargs sleep in.

Well it is kinda moot anyways since you are on a quest card that skips staging…so you don’t have to quest so the threat in the staging area means nothing…

Just a clarification on my previous statement about Feint and Forest Snare: in fact the Shadow effect doesn’t count, but because the attack is interrupted, the Shadow card is discarded face down. Thus the Forced effect never resolves and the Wargs stay engaged.

LOTR LCG rules are such a post-facto kludge, but I guess that’s every complicated card game with tons of interlocking effects.

Yeah that is right. I probably should have quoted Caleb’s entire response to the Warg questions.

Just a little rules lawyering for future play, but Steward of Gondor is a unique card (look at the little black circle design at the cards title) and so can only have one of these out. I know this was pointed out earlier for Faramir, but cards besides characters can be unique.

The one and only time I won this scenario, I jumped up and pumped my fist… then noticed that unique symbol on my 3 Stewards of Gondor in play and was a little crestfallen.

Fortunately, and unlike the cloned Faramir, this mistake has no bearing on the outcome of the game. But thanks for catching. It’s a rule that I clearly have been ignoring for some time!

Speaking of which, I have only ever played this game solo. How well does it play with others?