Monday, June 13, 2011

I'm playing Solo

The usual questions a gamer asks is, how can I get my partner to play or what games can I play with my kids. These are usually because gamers want to game and a weekly or monthly meet just isn't enough.

There are a few games that can be played solo, but I have had mixed results with them. Deathwing was ok, while Runequest just seemed to go on and on.

I recently picked up the new Lord of the Rings Living Card Game. It's a co-op/solo card game set before the LotR films. As its one of the LCG range the cards you get are fixed, this cuts out the booster addiction of trade able card games but does make things expensive if you want to build your deck with multiple copies of the same cards. As of now there are no expansions for the game, but I expect there to be new cards coming out every month.

The game itself is very good, the player cards are divided into 4 decks. Each deck is completely built up of cards from its theme or power. So there is a very strong "tactics" deck with lots of combat cards another, the spirit deck is very strong on quest completion.

Playing the game is relatively straight forward, although there are quite a number of steps to each round. You or the players are trying to complete a quest. This is made up of 3 separate card locations with each requiring a number of quest tokens played on it. Once there are enough tokens you move onto the next card. So each round you have to put some of your characters forward to help fulfill the quest. To counter this cards are drawn from the encounter deck and values are compared. If you have more than the enemy you put some tokens down if not your threat level increases.
Threat is measured on a spinny dial thing. If you ever reach 50 then its game over! After you have quested you get the choice to travel, this enables you to take out a card location from the encountered area making questing easier in the future. Although quest tokens are now placed on this card as opposed to the main quest cards. In effect acting as a buffer from you completing the quest.

The next couple of parts of the round deal with combat. You have to compare your threat level with the enemies in the encounter area. If your threat is higher then they will attack you. Combat is pretty simple, you first have to declare defenders to stop the incoming attacks. Then declare attackers to fight back. There never seem to be enough characters on your side of the table, but cards can be played to help.

Played cards cost resource tokens, you get one of these for each character at the start of the round as well as a new card to add to your hand. Add the end of the round your threat counter increases by 1, in effect acting as a clock and pushing you forward.

The base set comes with 3 quests, I have played the first quest 3 times now and still haven't completed it. the first time I made some mistakes with the rules while the last 2 have been very close. Games are taking around 30 minutes to play which is really good. I can get a quick game in while the wife is watching something on TV without ruining a whole evening. With more cards on the horizon I think there will be more quests available and a greater selection of cards. I might even start changing decks around to see if I can build on things.

Overall the Lord of the Rings LCG is a really good package. The cards and bits are of really good quality, something Fantasy Flight are always good at. The rules seem a little daunting at first but give them a couple of reads and watch the online rules trainer and it should all fall into place.
Due to the short play time and the four starting decks this game is going to be picked up quite a bit in the future.