The Hunt for Gollum: Refresh

Four-and-a-bit rounds into recording my escapades in The Hunt for Gollum, I was pondering the value of this whole enterprise. A previous effort with the same combination of decks had seen me whip the encounter deck in three rounds. What was the point if all I was proving was that some of the earlier quests were easy if you have the card-pool from a couple of future cycles in your arsenal?

Then Evil Storm came out at the most inopportune moment imaginable and I thought that the concept wasn’t so bad after all.

For narrative purposes I’m going to persist with the notion that the deck I assemble in each Planning post is the first one I built for the quest, except when I reference failed efforts like I’m going to do now. I’ll probably fail to persist with this in every quest. Yeah, I built a two-Leadership-heroes deck which looked good in the planning but proved to be unable to survive contact with the Enemy, a reality that anyone who just reads the Planning and Quest posts will be blissfully unaware. However, the parts in the Quest post where I foresaw the potential dangers of not having A Test of Will were not retcons. So while galling at the time, it was satisfying how it unfolded. At least, it was after I had managed to rescue the situation so smoothly, despite burdening myself with having to start 2B from scratch with no progress.

The quest is encapsulated by a single word in a comment on BGG: swingy. Continue reading “The Hunt for Gollum: Refresh”

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The Hunt for Gollum: Planning

Card pool at the time of writing

It’s rather poignant, in a first-world-problems kind of way, trying to imagine the frenzy that must have been created among the user base by the arrival of The Hunt for Gollum on the scene. You only have to hear the whoop of delight from Brandon and Andrew at the start of episode six – “episode six!“- of Cardboard of the Rings, having spun their wheels on content for the preceding episodes, to know that this was a big deal.

Then you play the quest and wonder how the game made it to the next deluxe, let alone seven of them.

I exaggerate for comic effect, but not by much. It’s a quest only memorable by dint of its place in history, and I bet a large section of the user base, having defeated the quest, promptly reached for the Core Set scenarios and incorporated the cards into multiple plays of those.

To illustrate the point…before we go on, a point about illustrations. I have played the game hundreds of times, beaten 17 different quests in Normal mode and written tens of thousands of words about the Core Set scenarios. I’m sure you know that last bit having read them all, right? Yet it was only having broken out the quest cards for The Hunt for Gollum that I noticed that the artwork on xA is a desaturated version of xB. How did I go all this time without noticing this? With doziness like that, fare thee well relying on the strategies contained within this blog. But I digress…

Continue reading “The Hunt for Gollum: Planning”

Escape from Dol Guldur: Refresh

And with a single bound he was free! In something that is going to become a habit, I refer once again to durinsfather’s description of this quest:

Escape from Dol Guldur is one of the quests that I have beaten once, after many attempts, and never looked back at.

Amen, father.

Now, anyone who has read the Planning post for this quest (with emphasis on the ‘one’) might reasonably note that it’s not the quest’s fault that I made a complete hash of constructing decks for it and persisted with these decks long past the point where it should have been obvious that it wasn’t working. It would certainly be fair to note that a lot of the angst was down to the situation I was in and a reluctance to proceed with making notes unless I was convinced that I could win, an attitude that if I intend to carry into every quest should make me stop right now before I get to the Mountain of Fire. Considering I won with my very first attempt with the cobbled-together decks, it’s likely you will win more often if you simply reset early and/or cheat the appropriate prisoner into captivity.

All reasonable and fair, but that would be to ignore the overall context of this quest.  Continue reading “Escape from Dol Guldur: Refresh”

Escape from Dol Guldur: Planning

Card pool at the time of writing

If Journey Down the Anduin is the most played scenario in the history of the game, based purely on the fact that everyone who bought the game will have played it, Escape from Dol Guldur might well be, if you could measure such a thing, the most reviled. I opined in the previous post that locations were either introduced early on in the development of the game and forgotten about until the last minute, or introduced at the last minute. I wouldn’t put money on the truth of this theory, but I would be far more comfortable gambling on the idea that Escape from Dol Guldur was put in the game to ‘encourage’ the player to buy more cards, just so they can have a chance with this quest.

It’s not just the paucity of options in the card pool that make this quest hard. The most popular thread on the game’s BGG forum, in terms of upvotes, is ‘a killer deck using only cards from a single Core set‘. I’ve only ever glanced at the thread as I prefer to make my own mistakes (just as well, sez you), but the popularity of the thread demonstrates both its efficacy, i.e. that it’s possible to build a deck for this quest, and how much of a demand there is for such a thing. The other problem with the quest is that nothing in the first two quests prepares you for what it throws at you. Losing one random hero at the start of the game is bad enough in a two-player/handed game. Losing one in solo, as Jeff Hannes admits in his preamble about his killer deck, is calamitous. Trying to learn by doing is hamstrung from the off by the unpredictability of that variable. Reluctant to start writing about a quest with little hope of finishing it, I quickly assembled a pair of decks to see how I would get on. And guess what? Continue reading “Escape from Dol Guldur: Planning”

The Last Debate

I can’t Escape from Dol Guldur. Oh, I can gin up a win every now and again, but not reliably enough to be able to start comprehensively recording the outcome for posterity and I’d rather not start writing about a quest with little prospect of finishing it successfully. Even a 50% win rate would be nice, and while I think I have a pair of decks that is capable of that I have to play it a few more times before I can be confident. A diversion is welcome, and it has come in the form of a tremendous review of the game on BoardGameGeek.

It’s not the review itself that has inspired this post, but the discussion it generated on a burning topic: in what direction do you turn your cards to exhaust them? To which my Jesuitical answer is –  Continue reading “The Last Debate”