'Conflict at the Carrock' arrived from Maelstrom Games last night. Anyone who has ordered this from them along with at least one other item will want to split their order as it is their policy to send out everything at once. For me this meant I’d apparently have to wait FIVE months before they sent me any of the LOTR expansion packs. Good job I phoned them.
Or was it?
All in all this one makes for a very disappointing solo experience. That’s solo with a single deck by the way. I will probably only play this solo with two decks from now on.
First of all, as discussed elsewhere there are apparently only two stages in the scenario, the second stage just forgets to tell you that it’s over when you’ve won. Those of us who wanted a narrative resolution to the scenarios will be even more disappointed with this sense of “Was that it? Did I win?”
Secondly, some of the hero cards are perplexingly rubbish. “Great, this attachment gives me the ‘Rohan’ trait. Now what?” What’s next – an attachment with the ‘Boring’ trait?
“Cool ‘Born Aloft’ – now I can, um, give one of my enemies an... undefended attack...” Okay I'm being facetious here, and there are a couple of decent cards too to be fair. The Songs and Dunedain cards continue to provide their uses and Burning Brand makes Denethor redonculously tough.
As a huge fan of the art in this game so far I have to say I'm slightly less impressed with some of this set. The Bee locations are a bit garish and the trolls themselves look a bit lame, sort of cartoonish and unthreatening.
Then there’s Frodo. Well, to be honest I’m ambivalent about him. He’s not exactly rubbish, but he doesn’t seem to fill a role well because his damage absorption ability is only useful if you have major threat reduction on tap.
And finally, there’s the solo experience of the scenario itself...
I purposefully didn't look at any of the encounter cards to keep the "surprise" element going, which may or may not have been a mistake. So I set up the game, prepped my deck (Leadership/Lore/Spirit - Aragorn, Denethor, Eowyn) and started out. I built up my forces fairly slowly in stage 1, and even get Old Grimbeorn on my side, which was quite exciting in itself - like bagging one of the Rangers in Massing at Osgiliath only even more awesomer. Once I had a good force going I went into stage 2 with 38 Threat...
In stage 2, four trolls are placed in the staging area and they engage with you at Threat level 34 or higher. One of the troll's card effects is "Raise your threat by 3 for each Troll you are engaged with."
So instant death for me and game over in a flash. Boo hoo, whatever, I set up again and learnt from my mistake – I should have read the cards.
Next game I stayed on stage 1 building my forces up. And then the semi- ridiculous 'Banks of Anduin' Location came in (goes to top of encounter deck “when it leaves play”). And with Denthor and Henemarth in play, since I knew what was coming every turn I'd just commit Eowyn to quest and build and build and build. Got my entire deck into play, with 3 Galadrim Greetings, 3 Sneak Attacks on Gandalf, 3 Stand and Fights on Gandalf, and 3 actual Gandalfs for massive threat reduction, and a threat level of about 14 when I finally moved on to stage 2.... The docile trolls didn’t stand a chance as I chopped them all to bits one by one.
Some might call that a perfect storm of cards or just good luck, I have to say it was really quite boring and it took a long time to play out, which I was determined to do even with the foregone conclusion that the game could not stop me from the moment the ‘Banks’ turned up.
Banks of Anduin is a suspicious card in solo play.
I already had to remove Will of the West from my games due to it being hugely over-powered. Now do I have to remove Gandalfs, Greetings, S&F, and Sneak Attacks too? Then would it swing the other way and become unwinnable??
Now, this was only a solo single deck play through, and the game already falters in catering for just one deck (see Dol Guldur) so hopefully I’ll get to see the scenario really shine with two or more players - particularly since the Banks card serves its purpose more readily in multiplayer games.
The idea of a ruck with 4 trolls seems like great fun and [i]I really want to enjoy this scenario[/i], particularly in light of how easy Hunt for Gollum turned out to be. Luckily I have a multiplayer session lined up soon so fingers crossed I can report back later with better news...