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A distinct lack of energy in December was followed by a busy Christmastime. I managed only to find time to try some more Lord of the Rings Living Card Game, and quite a few (demo) games of Battlefront’s (not them!) Combat Mission: Fortress Italy computer game.
Both games are great for the solo gamer. Strategy and tactics and a bit of luck have their place. I tried out several decks at the LotR game against the starter mission “Journey down the Anduin” and then had several goes trying to crack the “Elephants and Tigers” scenario in the CMFI game (Fallschirmjager really rule the roost in that one!)
A month ago I had not really heard of this game, but after watching some of the videos of games played and reviews on the http://www.outpostzero.net website I was a bit hooked. I picked up the base game from a local games store and started playing the game straight away (it has a solo mode that is basically the full game minus others to help).
There is a review here and plenty more on the net as the game has been around for a while so I wont bore you with another full review. A LCG (living card game) gives you everything you need for a game in one box or pack rather than a collectible game (like the old Magic the Gathering game I played many, many moons ago). Each expansion that comes out has enough (with the base game) to play it without having to buy endless packs of cards to get the best deck you can buy. I like this idea as it places it firmly back on the “board game” area but without a static board to play on. You just use the desk space in front of you to play the cards on. Its kind of like “Hobbit Solitaire” but far more fun.
Solo games that engage are not that common IMO so this turned out to be what I expected. Engaging, tactical and frustrating. Trying to beat the first set of quests turned out to be hard enough. The starter game has a lot of cards, but not quite enough to make a really good custom deck. I decided to keep on with the Mirkwood theme and over the next couple of weeks I got five of the six Mirkwood cycle expansion decks. The last one is OOP at the moment and looks pretty tough anyway.
It took nine goes with various decks to get the hang of the first set of Quests (“Flies and Spiders” quests going through Mirkwood with a message and meeting spiders and orcs!). The second one, a “Journey down the Anduin”, is much tougher. You can take four types of Hero’s and they event and ally cards, but as a solo player you can only have three Heroes which makes selection very crucial. You don’t have the advantage of various players choosing the best from each area of skill : Leadership, Tactics, Lore and Spirit.
I found that a couple of Tactics characters and one Leadership served quite well, but as soon as I got to a Quest that needed speed and a low profile, it suffered for lack of Willpower to Quest with. Getting the balance is hard, and you will probably want to use two or three decks to tackle each new Quest with. If deck building is your thing you will really like this game.
When you look at the cost of the base game and the other expansions, you get a lot of play for your money out of this game. The artwork on the cards is excellent. I am going to give it a solid 8 out of 10 as a Solo game for its theme, engagement, replayability and fun. I would like to try it multiplayer as I think that would offer up a whole new set of challenges!
Thanks for reading!