On Timelessness (Or Not)

Having obtained three out of the six expansions for the Voice of Isengard cycle (I know, I know, I’m extremely slow), I have fought my fair share of Dunlandings. I have found the card draw hate interesting and have, for the most part, enjoyed it. However, this Time mechanic deal…

Maybe a little boring?

Maybe a little boring?

I know I’m late (very late) to the Time discussion and forgive me if I repeat what someone else has already said, but I have found the Time mechanic experience to be rather lacking. It makes the game lose something. The quests in which Dunlandings pop up when the last Time counter is removed can get repetitive and seem very linear. Basically, it’s a mechanical mechanic.

Quests that are diverse, flavorful and unpredictable are the ones that are the most enjoyable and memorable (the Foundations of Stone being one of those). Unfortunatly, the Time mechanic does not necessarily make a quest diverse or flavorful. There are some quests in which it works well such as Trouble in Tharbad. There are quests in which deciding which location to travel to takes on a new meaning thanks to it. However, many quests fall flat while trying to let the Time mechanic carry the theme. The Time mechanic does better as a side device as opposed to being the main distinguisher of the quest.

Not so boring

Not so boring.

I can only imagine how hard it is to sublty insert a mechanic into a quest. Nevertheless, I believe that the Time mechanic would work better this way. Taking a time counter off every round seems a little forced (no pun intended). Of course, I have no idea how to do it better. I’m just musing here. I do think the designer’s of the game have done a great job so far. There are bound to highs and lows in that kind of job. Thankfully, for this game, I think the highs far outweigh the lows.

.

There and Back Again

landscapes forest path deer fantasy art artwork pathway 1500x1050 wallpaper_www.artwallpaperhi.com_467 months. That was a long time ago. What happened? Well, there was summer and….well, summer. Now one would think that summer would be the time for blogs and the like. Not so here. I got so comfortable doing nothing that I did just that (well, you know, not nothing literally). OK, maybe I did get sidetracked by Edge of the Empire RPG for a bit, and maybe I did get a little more busy after summer. However, that did not stop me from gravitating back towards The Lord of the Rings LCG. There is something about this game…

How many expansions did I buy while on hiatus? I am ashamed to say only two: The Antlered Crown and The Nin-In-Eilph. I’m woefully behind. I haven’t even gotten to the Lost Realm. Mea maxima culpa.

Back with a vengeance? Hardly, but hopefully it won’t be 7 months until my next post.

 

Post Scriptum

Having read through some of my previous posts, I noticed that I made a huge mistake in my Journey Through Mirkwood play-through. It appears that I misread the text on the card Strider’s Path. Instead of picking a location in the staging area to travel to, you have to travel to the location just revealed from the encounter deck. That would probably screw up the play-through. What does this teach us though? Pay attention to details.

Obviously, Strider, that shortcut did go wrong.

 

Character Comparison: Gandalf

 Mark Lone

“And last came one who seemed the least, and grey-clad, and leaning on a staff. But Cirdan from their first meeting at the Grey Havens divined in him the greatest spirit and wisest; and he welcomed him with reverence.”  Unfinished Tales

After spending some time with Hobbits, it is time to turn to one of the best (in my humble opinion) characters of The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf the Grey/White. May I venture to suggest that he may be The best character in the Trilogy? If he is not, he should be in the top five.

When writing this post I realized that Gandalf’s back-story is rather, well, long. After writing a bit, the post got to be a little long as well. And that was just history! So I decided to trim it down. You can go read Gandalf’s back-story at Tolkien Gateway. Basically, Gandalf sparred with Sauron, dabbled in politics, and did some humanitarian work (such as helping the hobbits during the Hard Winter). And for all those with political aspirations, Gandalf is a great example of a good politician: a non-politician. Continue reading

Darkspot: The Haradrim

MumakIt was not all rainbows and pink fluffy bunnies for the heroes of Middle-Earth. Neither is it in The Lord of the Rings Card Game. It can be quite a brutal slog at times with hordes of orcs charging at you, heart-wrenching deaths and depressing condition attachments (not to mention those evil, evil, evil treachery cards). Thus, I shall discuss one of my favorite enemy types: the Haradrim.

Yes, indeed, I have a love-hate relationship with those Southrons. Every since I have gotten The Heirs of Numenor, they have been the cause of numerous deaths, wipeouts, and near misses. I have been ten feet away from Cair Andros and then suddenly trampled to death by that big beast of a Mumak. I have had the Battle of Cair Andros practically won when I have been cut down, in the prime of my life, by Haradrim arrows. Continue reading

Character Comparison: The Ivy Bush League

In this Character Comparison, we shall leave Bag End and Mr. Baggins and stroll down to the Ivy Bush, “a small inn on the Bywater road.” Inside we find a lively conversation going with the venerable Gaffer at its center. Since the subject is the 111th birthday of the aforesaid Bilbo Baggins and since the Gaffer has tended the gardens of Bag End for some time, he is considered a leading authority on Mr. Baggins’ so-called oddities. Continue reading

Play-through: Passage Through Mirkwood

MirkwoodA while back I recorded a play-through, and I thought I would post it. I played through Passage Through Mirkwood since I wanted to be reasonably sure I would win (I know, I know, not very enterprising) However, if I have a craving for playing this game I can come here and not expect to get smashed 90% of the time by endless swarms of orcs and Haradrim. Plus, who doesn’t like beating up spiders?

For this quest I used the awesome Hobbit deck composed of Sam Gamgee, Merry, and Pippin. Despite the rather flimsy hit points, these hobbits have great synergy and can really dish it out.  One thing I did not have in this deck was Fast Hitch (due to the fact that I don’t have The Dead Marshes), but I survived without it.

So, without further ado, let us begin our journey through Mirkwood. Continue reading

Character Comparison: Bilbo Baggins

Character Comparison is a group of articles about the people one meets in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Starting with The Fellowship of the Ring and ending with the Return of the King, we will go through each major (and many minor) characters as they appear. We will compare the book character with their movie and LCG counterparts and possibly discuss some lore along the way. With a story as long as The Lord of the Rings, it is quite possible that I might skip a character by accident a few times. Hopefully, that will scarcely happen, but, if it does, please correct me and I will remedy it.

The first character that we meet in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End. This hobbit sets the wheels of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in motion with the finding of the One Ring. It is appropriate that he should have the first article in this series.

 We first meet this hobbit of unimpeachable reputation (as Gandalf put it) as a rather stodgy middle-aged bachelor. Quite comfortable with no adventures, he is suddenly swept up into one against his wishes by that meddlesome busybody Gandalf the Grey. Having tangled with trolls, run from goblins, found a magic ring and stung some spiders, this stay-at-home hobbit becomes an intrepid adventurer. Finally, he creeps into the Lonely Mountain to beard the dragon in its lair and, having his hair singed instead, must fight (or whatever) in a terrible battle that kills many of his friends. Since he helped his friends retake their treasure and homeland he is rewarded and returns home.

He spends most of the rest of his long life at Bag End. Unfortunately the ring that he found happens to be the One Ring and he must give it to his nephew before he goes into retirement at Rivendale. He spends the rest of his days translating ancient manuscripts, writing poetry, and sleeping. He finally goes over the sea with his nephew and dies in bliss.

Movie Match-up

BilboThe actors that portrayed Bilbo Baggins in the movies did an excellent job. I may actually like Martin Freeman’s Bilbo more than the book’s. I feel kind of disgusted with myself because of it. Am I not being faithful to the book? Maybe I should go and read The Hobbit again. Anyway, even if the Hobbit Trilogy fell somewhat flat, one can be comforted by the fact that they got Bilbo right. Of course, you don’t have to agree with me. You many even think I’m totally nuts (I might even agree with you). Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and if you think that the Bilbo Baggins of the book can beat Martin Freeman’s portrayal standing on one foot, one hand tied behind his back, and covered with spiderwebs then don’t hesitate to comment.

The Lord of the Rings LCG

To date, we have four different versions of Bilbo Baggins to play around with and three of them are hero cards. Of course, two of those hero cards are…um…not. Kind of. They technically are, but they can only be play with the Hobbit expansions.

The intrepid adventurer

The intrepid adventurer

The stodgy iddle-aged one

The stodgy middle-aged one

 The Bilbo to the left is the picture of comfort and contentment while the Bilbo to the right is the Barrel-Rider, the Luckwearer, and the Ringwinner. The other hero version of Mr. Baggins, however, is the lore master. With a book and quill in hand, he is scrounging up ancient tid-bits which translates into an extra card during the refresh phase. Or, if you want him to be a bit younger, he could be resourceful and lucky which also translates into an extra card. Of course, he is not as useful as the other Hobbit heroes. His high starting threat compared to his stats is rather pitiful. Threat-wise he is on par with, say, Legolas and Gloin who are *ahem* superior to my mind.

Bilbo-Baggins

The latest Bilbo we have gotten is the ally version. This ally is essential if you want to build a pipe deck. I rather like this Bilbo myself. I don’t really know why (Maybe it’s the purple sweater).

As far as I can remember, Bilbo Baggins is the only character who can claim to have four cards all to himself. Aragorn will catch up, though, as soon as The Treason of Saruman and The Lost Realm hits the stores. Frodo, with his three versions of himself, comes close.

Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed this first Character Comparison article. Not all of them will be this long. It all depends on the character’s importance to the story and whether they were featured in the movies or card game. Bilbo Baggins was a very important character to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and he merited this article. May the hair on his toes never fall out!

A New Year and a New Blog

Rivendale

 

Yes, Indeed. A new blog about Middle-Earth, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game, etc. There are many blogs dedicated to the topics mentioned above, and even if no one reads this one, I’ll still be having fun writing it. I hope you enjoy it as well.