A Tribute to the First Age of Cardboard of the Rings

This post isn’t really about the game, rather it’s about the community of the game since a significant change is occurring therein.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the news emanating from Cardboard of the Rings, the big occurrence is the end of the ‘First Age’ of CotR, marked by the departure of three of the hosts. As Cardboard of the Rings has actually been running since slightly before the game was even released and has been pretty central to a lot of the online community for as long as I’ve been aware of it, this is a momentous occasion which deserves to be marked. And as I write a blog about the game, I unlike so many other people have an easy means by which to broadcast my thoughts on it to more of the community.
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The Questions of Deck Testing

I talk a fair bit about testing my decks, and indeed deck testing accounts for a significant proportion of my time playing this game, but I’ve never before really detailed how I test decks, which it strikes me as a fruitful line of discussion. Now I should mention at this point that I don’t think there is a definitively correct way to test your decks. You do whatever works for you regardless of what other people might prefer. But there are definitely worthwhile insights to be found by examining the question.
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The Line Unbroken – N17: Nightmare Foundations of Stone

Well here we are at Foundations of Stone. This was my favourite quest from the Dwarrowdelf cycle originally so naturally I’m very pleased to have come to it in Nightmare. This was always a quest with a bunch of interesting ideas, and the Nightmare deck is well realised to (mostly) focus on those interesting ideas, and as a result the quest probably remains my favourite from the cycle.
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Deck: Paths Little Known and Seldom Trodden

The ability to cancel threat in the staging area has been an interesting province of the Lore sphere ever since the Core Set. Back then it often tended to be Lore’s primary contribution to questing. The selection of cards able to do it has gradually expanded to the point where it’s definitely possible at this point to build a whole deck around the concept, and so I decided to do so.
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The Line Unbroken – N16: Nightmare The Long Dark

The Long Dark is a quest I was pretty negative about in standard mode, being as it is based around a mechanic I felt was rather poorly implemented. So it should come as no real surprise that the Nightmare version is also one I don’t like much, since it mostly focuses on that central mechanic without altering the basic broken nature of it. Though much as with Journey to Rhosgobel in the first cycle, the Nightmare cards are mostly well designed, just let down by the quality of the mechanics they had to work with – there are maybe a couple of ridiculous bits in there, but there’s still a greater quantity of really unbalanced encounter cards coming from the original quest rather than the Nightmare deck.
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The Line Unbroken – N15: Nightmare Watcher in the Water

Watcher in the Water is an odd quest for me. The first several times I played it I didn’t use the most effective strategy for it, that being scrying. I have since tried using scrying against the quest and now I can’t think how I managed so well without it.
The Nightmare deck of course further accentuates how good scrying can be against this quest by making the Doors of Durin compulsory and putting in even more Tentacles. On the other hand this also makes the quest that much more focused.
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What Might Have Been: Escape from Dol Guldur

This is an idea for an article series which I’ve been toying with for a while. I’ve talked a fair amount on this blog about how I don’t like the design of certain quests for a variety of reasons, and that line of thought inevitably leads into considering how those quests could be ‘fixed’ (in my view). I’m not planning to come up with fully fleshed out reimaginings of quests, nor to do this for every quest I’ve ever criticised, but for some quests the ideas present themselves very strongly and I think I can put together at least a decent broad strokes idea of what I might have liked to see as opposed to what we actually got. In general I’m likely to look more at Nightmare quests than Standard mode, because in addition to the increased difficulty the Nightmare tend to be the more focused and refined versions.
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The Line Unbroken – N14: Nightmare Road to Rivendell

Road to Rivendell is a quest I have an interesting relationship with. Actually that’s a lie, I don’t have much of a relationship with Road to Rivendell to speak of, but the reasons for that are kind of interesting. As I think I’ve noted elsewhere, Road to Rivendell is a quest where I actually really like the quest mechanics, but hate the encounter deck. As such, it’s a quest which plausibly could have been rehabilitated by the conversion to Nightmare if the designers were willing to go with a significant overhaul of the quest. That was never very likely though because as stupidly randomly punishing as it is, Sleeping Sentry is kind of a defining feature of the quest, so of course it’s still here.
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Design Debates: Encounter-based Deckbuilding Encouragement

I’ve had this particular Design Debates post in mind for quite a while, and one of the biggest obstacles to me actually writing it was just that I couldn’t come up with a good summation of the subject for the title. I considered just naming it ‘Design Debates – Thalin’, but while Thalin is I think the biggest and most prominent example of this, he’s far from the only case worthy of consideration. To explain what it is I’m talking about, it’s the various cases where the makeup of the encounter deck in some way encourages the players towards certain deckbuilding choices – such as 1 hit point enemies encouraging the use of Thalin. It’s an interesting tool in the designers’ arsenal but one which can definitely be done wrongly.
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The Line Unbroken – N13: Nightmare The Redhorn Gate

While this is definitely going a bit out of sequence, I’m continuing through the Nightmare Dwarrowdelf before going back to the Nightmare Hobbit Saga quests. My card pool for Nightmare Dwarrowdelf will be everything up to Trouble in Tharbad.
The Redhorn Gate is an interesting case in looking at Nightmare decks, as the Nightmare version really isn’t that much more difficult than the regular version – albeit it certainly is more focused on its primary mechanics and there’s one really horrible Nightmare card, which shares with examples like Terror of the North in Carn Dum the dubious honour of being a card where my inclination is to simply reset the game if it’s revealed in the first round.
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