Design Debates: Debatable Traits

This is going to be a bit of an oddity as far as my Design Debates series goes – usually I’m doing a general analysis of an aspect of the game before shifting the focus over to more specific examples of where the application is more questionable. In this case, I have little to say about the generality of traits in this game, but there are a fair few examples of their application being arguably a bit weird and they are thus worthy of comment.
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The Line Unbroken – N27: Nightmare Siege of Cair Andros

Heirs of Numenor is once again rounded out by Siege of Cair Andros, but of course this time in Nightmare mode. This quest I feel is a great example of the other aspect of the improved Nightmare design from this point – no rebalancing like the removal of Collateral Damage and Watcher in the Wood (though the Nightmare deck does remove the absolutely game-breaking Power of Mordor), but more of a refocusing around the mechanics. I suppose that was already somewhat of a thing with earlier Nightmares, but I think from HoN they started doing more of it.
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The Line Unbroken – N26: Nightmare Into Ithilien

While I highlighted the improvement of Nightmare decks beginning at Peril in Pelargir, Into Ithilien is the quest which really cemented that feeling for me; since in general they took a very difficult and sometimes unfair quest and transformed it into a more difficult but fairer one, and in specific the Nightmare deck actually removes my most hated card from the encounter deck.

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The Line Unbroken – N25: Nightmare Peril in Pelargir

With the Hobbit sagas done, my journey through the Nightmare quests comes to Heirs of Numenor and the Against the Shadow cycle. In my opinion this point marks a definite improvement in the Nightmare design. It was at this point the Nightmare versions of the quests started featuring some more significant mechanical alterations which are always interesting, and they also started making changes to the encounter decks more along the lines of rebalancing than just increasing the difficulty, sometimes actually removing particularly punishing cards which skew the balance and difficulty of the quest (i.e. the kind of cards I tend to complain about).
At this point the Nightmare decks were coming quite close together, so the only new additions to my Progression-style card pool are The Road Darkens and The Nin-in-Eilph.
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Deck – Galdor’s Fall

As you may recall, some time ago I built a couple of decks based on the principle of using The Fall of Gil-Galad to turn a three hero deck into a two hero Secrecy deck after receiving some sort of benefit from starting with a third hero. Of course, recently, this idea has been kind of expanded on and made easier by the creation of Folco Boffin – but I still think there’s some value in doing it the more complicated way with Fall of Gil-Galad. Folco works for the basic idea but all you get out of him is the extra resources and his stats until you discard him, whereas if you use Fall of Gil-Galad to get more or less the same effect you can use any hero and gain the benefits of their particular abilities, at the cost of Fall of Gil-Galad being obviously tough to find in the deck. So I came back to the concept to polish up one of these I’d been meaning to do since the first two, with the hero intended to die being Galdor.

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Archetype Analysis: Dunedain

The next archetype I want to take a look at for Archetype Analysis is the Dunedain archetype as developed in the Angmar Awakened cycle. In story terms I’ve always liked the Dunedain, so as soon as they started getting developed I was excited by the prospect. They proved not perhaps the easiest type of deck to figure out, but very powerful if you do all the right things, which continued to endear the trait to me. So let’s take a look at what makes Dunedain decks tick.
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Design Debates – Other Scaling

In the last Design Debates I got rather negative about many of the ways encounter cards scale up to be more punishing at higher player-counts than lower ones. However I also acknowledged that there was a valid argument there that the encounter deck kind of needs a way of catching up to the players – with the only real way to do this being those overly punishing encounter card effects. Additionally I mentioned that there are other, more palatable forms of scaling but didn’t go into detail because it was kind of a tangent and the post was already long. So now this is my follow-up on other means of scaling and how they compare.
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The Line Unbroken – Nightmare Hobbit Wrap-Up

Alright, I’m done with the Nightmare versions of the Hobbit Saga quests. It’s been an… interesting journey through. Where in the Dwarrowdelf cycle I was mostly indifferent to the quests, in the Hobbit Saga I actively disliked half of them going in, and playing the Nightmare versions mostly made me like them less, including the ones I thought I liked beforehand. And that’s not just a dislike for the Nightmare decks, I’ve soured somewhat on the original versions of those quests as well, because while there are some ridiculous Nightmare cards, they’re all playing around things which were already in the initial design of those quests. Ultimately I think I liked them more before because in standard difficulty the encounter decks are less consistent and so the stuff I dislike is less prevalent, but it’s still there.
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The Line Unbroken – N24: Nightmare Battle of Five Armies

Almost done with The Hobbit Nightmares. Battle of Five Armies is a quest a lot of people like a lot, but personally I’m not that big a fan, and my feelings become more negative in the transition to the Nightmare version. Between the streamlining and the Nightmare deck there are too many potentially game-ending cards in my opinion – to the point where this post was somewhat delayed by me repeatedly failing and eventually deciding I needed to rebuild my decks to stand a better chance.
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Deck: Last and Proudest

A little while back I came to the realisation that I had yet to build a deck with actual physical cards that made use of Tactics Imrahil, which I definitely wanted to rectify since he’s an incredibly fun hero to use. So I threw this together (more or less) for a three player game and was very pleased with it. OK, I have tweaked it ever so slightly since but the core is still the same.
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