Friday, July 8, 2016

Nightmare Run Episode 16 - Into the Pit (2p)

Matt and Chris take some Dwarves into a dark pit.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sidetrack - BGG Spring 2016

I just got back from Dallas (editor's note- a week ago, at the point at which I finally got to post), where I attended the second annual BGG Spring convention, formerly know as BGG FAM.  Last year, I was shocked at how small the convention was compared to BGG.CON in November, but still had a lot of fun.  This year was no different.  Still smaller than its fall counterpart, BGG Spring was bigger this year than last.  For most conventions, I volunteer for Stronghold Games.  Stephen is a good dude, and getting free games in exchange for demoing isn't bad either.  This time, however, I decided to take it easy and just focus on playing games.  I got 28 game plays over the two days I was there, and I thought I'd talk about them.

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - 4 Plays

This probably doesn't come as a surprise, but I don't typically get a chance to play LOTR at cons.  I got to teach it to two of my friends, and these four games are me teaching them, and coming back for more!  We played two games each of Journey along the Anduin and Encounter at Amon Din.  I had built three decks for the event: A Leadership/Spirit deck with Aragorn/Arwen/Frodo, an Ent Deck with Treebeard/Merry/Pippin, and a Silvan deck with Celeborn/Legolas/Haldir.

Bear Valley - 2 Plays

This was one of the various games which I played and immediately bought.  New from Stronghold Games, Bear Valley is a press your luck "card game" from Carl Chudyk.  It's a card game, simply in the sense that it uses cards, but they could just as easily be tiles. In the game, you start on one end of a river, and you are trying to get to the other end before your other players.  That, and not get eaten by a bear in the process.  It's a pretty easy game to teach, especially since most features don't need to be explained until they show up on the table.  Very light, very simple, but a fun little game, none the less.

Codenames - 2 Plays

A classic late night game, since I first played it at Gen Con last year.  If you don't know Codenames, it's basically a team game, where one player on each team is giving clues to help the rest figure out their "codewords" while avoiding the other team's words, and the dreaded "assassin" word, which will end the game.  I imagine that I will be hard pressed to not play this game at cons, or other social settings for that matter.  Last Thanksgiving, this was in heavy rotation, even though the relatives are typically more of the "Five Crowns" crowd.

The Grizzled - 2 Plays

Another cooperative game that I love.  It is incredibly difficult, and while simple, takes a lot of team work to be successful.  I have only beat this game once,  these two plays weren't one of them.

Mafia de Cuba - 2 Plays

If you've played The Resistance, I recommend you try Mafia de Cuba.  Similar in the aspect of hidden roles, but different in that you get to choose your role.  One player is the Godfather, and he passes around his cigar box, which is the actual box for the game.  In the box are the boss' diamonds, as well as role chips, such as drivers, loyal hechmen, and federal agents.  The Godfather has to find all of his missing diamonds, while not making too many wrong accusations or revealing one of the feds,

Simon's Cat: The Card Game - 2 Plays

I have a friend who works for Steve Jackson Games.  When I first met up with him at the con, he was demoing this game.  A very simple game based on a YouTube series, which I have never seen, but basically you are playing cards to get other to take tricks.  Whoever takes the most tricks gets a "blame card", and whoever is first to get three blame cards loses.  

World's Fair 1893 - 2 Plays

I really dug this game.  My first game was a demo, then I checked it out from the BGG library and taught it to some friends.  Each section has cards next to it, and on your turn, you place a cube next to a section, take the cards from said section, refill and pass turn.  Whoever has the most cubes in a given section gets to submit invention ideas for points, most points wins.

Animals on Board - 1 Play

My second "demo then immediately buy" game, Animal on Board has the players filling the role off the Ark owners who were left out of the bible.  The basic mechanic is splitting lots, which seems basic, but has significant strategic potential.  You have room in your Ark for 10 animals, and the more of a single type, the more points you get.  Watch out for only having a pair of animals, though, because Noah will grab them.  I guess history is written by winners.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Boardgame - 1 Play

Another upcaming game from Steve Jackson Games that my friend showed me.  This one is a programmed movement game.  You move your phone booth around based on the directions on cards played, trying to pick up historical figures.  The trick is, though, that as you pick up historical figures, they add their own required movements that you have to take into consideration.  Pretty neat, and it's something I may have to pick up when it comes out.

Blood Rage - 1 Play

Colosseum - 1 Play

This is up there as far as favorite board games.  I own the original Days of Wonders edition, and while I don't plan to get the Tasty Minstrel edition, I am excited it's going back in print.  There are so many interesting aspects to this game that make me love it.  It really rewards learning the game, as you need to plan from the start what you want to do on your last turn.  In addition, I love that your score through the game is a strategic element as well.  

The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game - 1 Play

First off, I know nothing about The Dresden Files books or TV series.  I say that, because I really enjoyed playing this game, and it had nothing to do with the source material.  Very different than other cooperative card games, you see all of your threats from the start and unless you can get some card draw, you're stuck with your opening hand.  I have reached out to the publishers, Evil Hat Productions, and I hope to dig into this game further.

Master Thieves - 1 Play

This is a must play if you go to BGG.  Master Thieves is all about spacial memory.  You have a pile of diamonds that you are trying to launder through this very impressive box.  You've got to experience it to fully appreciate it.

Of Dungeons Deep! (Second Edition) - 1 Play

This game was originally a Kickstarter project by Jason Glover.  I discovered it while browsing the vendor area.  One of the vendors, Bob's Weekend Wonders, a non-brick and mortar FLGS, had their own lending library for people to check out.  In addition, checking games out entered you into a drawing for the game at the end of the con.  I played this with a random guy, who ended being the dude who made Captain N: The Game Master (for those who remember that cartoon).  It was an interesting dungeon crawling card game.  It reminded me of Cutthroat Caverns, where you work with the other players to kill the monsters, but you only get rewards if you do the most damage, but you can also set it up so your opponents get hurt by the monsters.  Not a bad game, especially considering I ended up winning it in the drawing!  Definitely worth the price.

Quadropolis - 1 Play

This is one I had come into the con wanting to play.  A game built around tile placement, but with a spacial element involved in the drafting of tiles.  It's interesting to have to balance which tile you want, plus having to make sure you have an "architect" that can grab that tile, plus having the space available to play said architect.  I really enjoyed it and expect to eventually pick this up.

Qwirkle Cubes - 1 Play

Qwirkle is one of those games which are easy to sit down and play.  Qwirkle Cubes is a version of the classic game, but with cubes (shocker!).  Each cube is a certain color, and the sides of the cube have the different shapes.  Each turn, you get to reroll the cubes to see if you can get the shape you need.

Taluva Deluxe - 1 Play

This was a Kickstarter I remember seeing last year.  I had never played the original, but the the pretty factor of the deluxe intrigued me.  A very interesting game where you are trying to layout tiles to make an island, meanwhile trying to put out your hut pieces.  Each type of piece you have has their own rules for placement, and if you ever can't place a piece, you're out of the game.  If you are able to place all of two types of pieces, you win the game.  I didn't win this, but it was really close.

Trajan - 1 Play

This was the last game I played at BGG Spring, and I'm still impressed I was able to teach, play, and win a Stefan Feld game after midnight.  For those unfamiliar, it has a mancala mechanic for choosing actions taken.  Like other Feld games, efficiency is 

Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game - 1 Play

Last, and unfortunately least, was this game.  Probably the biggest disappointment of the con.  I played the tutorial scenario, and had no desire to play any further.  The game play was really simplistic, but in such a way that I wasn't motivated to keep going.  Obviously, the scenarios past the tutorial are more complex, but unless someone really wanted to play with me, I'd pass.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Nightmare Run Episode 14 - Return to Mirkwood (2p, Take 2)

Matthew and I once again attempt to return the creature Gollum.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Dori and Bilbo.. Good Heroes?

If you haven't gotten to chance to play with mndela on OCTGN, you should look for him. He posted this deck:

Now, most people mock Dori and Bilbo as less than great cards, but his deck sung when paired with my questing deck. It was rad!

(note- I accidentally exported the wrong cards for Arwen & Treebeard)

Friday, February 26, 2016

What do I buy? Mirkwood Runner Buying Guide

It doesn't matter what forum you frequent, any where that discusses LOTR, the same question comes up.  "What should I buy next?"  Ian, over at Tales from the Cards, has done at great job keeping up with the new expansions in his buying guide.  What my intention is to not give as much of an in depth look at each individual expansion, but to look at them at a higher level and give you advice as to what to buy next.

Not all players are created equally, and as such, I do not expect one buying guide to handle all.  To that end, I have come up with a few player types, and in each, axioms which I will use to build their guide.  My hope is that you will find a player type that fits your interest in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game and will be helpful when making your purchasing decisions.

Slave to Theme

The Slave to Theme players are fans of the books, first and foremost.  They are looking to recreate the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings through the card game.  Because of this, the majority of quests will be those which come in the saga expansions, but other expansions are purchased for the cards which fit thematically.  Not only does Ian make a great buying guide, but I also recommend his custom expansion, First Age, to be able to play through the events of The Silmarillion.

  • Gameplay must be focused on the events from the books.
  • Utilizes cards that are thematically accurate to the books.
Purchasing Order

In this list, I took care to focus on the saga expansions, and also add in other expansions to add characters that were central to the part of the books represented by that particular saga expansion.  All these expansions are optional, as their quests do not tie into the events of the books, but the player cards included do.
  • Core Set
  • The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill Saga Expansion
  • Khazad-Dum Deluxe Expansion
  • Across the Ettenmoors Adventure Pack
  • The Hobbit: On the Doorstep Saga Expansion
  • Return to Mirkwood Adventure Pack
  • The Battle of Lake-town Print on Demand Expansion
  • The Black Riders Saga Expansion
  • The Wastes of Eriador Adventure Pack
  • The Old Forest Saga Expansion
  • Fog on the Barrow-downs Saga Expansion
  • The Road Darkens Saga Expansion
  • The Dead Marshes Adventure Pack
  • The Watcher in the Water Adventure Pack
  • The Treason of Saruman Saga Expansion
  • The Voice of Isengard Deluxe Expansion
  • The Land of Shadow Saga Expansion
LCG Enthusiast

With the variety of living card games, such as Android Netrunner and Warhammer Conquest, and even non-FFG games which follow a similar game model, such as AEG's Doomtown Reloaded or Plaid Hat Games' Ashes, some people will find their whole gaming life consumed by them.  Lord of the Rings is a great addition to the LCG collector, as it fits a specific niche not held by others.  To the best of my knowledge, LOTR is the only LCG that is cooperative.  Because of this, it's easy to fit into the collection, without having to worry about keeping up with the meta like you have to in competitive LCG's.  This type of player is personified in The Tenth Nazgul's Progression Series.  Unfortunately, Mitch has moved on to cover Conquest, but another member of the community has taken up the task in the form of The Warden of Arnor's Line Unbroken Series.

  • Buys multiple LCGs
  • Interested in deck building and how the game has evolved
Purchasing Order

This is the simplest purchasing order of the group.  For the player interested in experiencing how the game has changed since its inception, simply buy it in the order of release.  Ian's buying guide is organized by order in which things were released.  I would also recommend Nightmare decks as you feel comfortable with the respective quest, and are ready to kick up the difficulty.  Extra core sets can also be added as you see the need for extra copies of the 1-of and 2-of cards.

Deck Builder

The deck builder player is similar to the LCG enthusiast, and may also collect other LCG's, but this player is interested in building the strongest decks first.


  • Wants the best decks as quickly as possible.
  • Quest variety is secondary to getting the best cards.

Purchasing Order

  • Core Set x3
  • The Dunland Trap Adventure Pack
  • Trouble in Tharbad Adventure Pack
  • The Antlered Crown Adventure Pack
  • Celebrimbor's Secret Adventure Pack
  • The Black Riders Saga Expansion
  • The Road Darkens Saga Expansion
  • Return to Mirkwood Adventure Pack
  • Khazad-Dum Deluxe Expansion
  • The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill Saga Expansion
  • The Hobbit: On the Doorstep Saga Expansion
  • Foundations of Stone Adventure Pack
  • The Watcher in the Water Adventure Pack
  • Shadow and Flame Adventure Pack
  • Heirs of Numenor Deluxe Expansion
Cost Conscious

I try not to think about how much money I've spent on this one game.  Between three core sets, every expansion, sleeves, etc, the total is high at this point.  For someone just getting into the game, this can be fairly daunting, regardless of their gaming budget.  This list is intended to help get the player in and maximize the utility of their purchases.

  • Get the most "bang for their buck"
  • If you can't fully utilize the expansion, save it for later.
Purchasing Order
  • Core Set
  • Return to Mirkwood Adventure Pack
  • Khazad-Dum Deluxe Expansion
  • The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill Saga Expansion
  • The Hobbit: On the Doorstep Saga Expansion
  • The Watcher in the Water Adventure Pack
  • Foundations of Stone Adventure Pack
  • Heirs of Numenor Deluxe Expansion
  • The Steward's Fear Adventure Pack
  • The Voice of Isengard Deluxe Expansion
  • The Lost Realm Deluxe Expansion
  • The Grey Havens Deluxe Expansion
  • The Black Riders Saga Expansion
  • The Road Darkens Saga Expansion
  • The Treason of Saruman Saga Expansion
  • The Land of Shadow Saga Expansion
In this list, you are given two main archetypes to play with: Dwarves and Outland.  Both are very strong, and give you good decks with minimum investment.  The deluxe expansions give  you a  view into the various types of decks you can build.  If a certain trait catches your eye, I recommend Ian's guide to find the adventure packs that are associated with those traits.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of player types, but a start.  Do you have other ideas for player types?  Feel free to let me know your thoughts and look forward to new player types, and decks to fit the types.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Taking Back the Questing Crown - Community Deck Contruction

When we bought our core sets, we were handed four decks of 30 cards, and had to figure out what to do with them.  When I got to that blue deck, I looked at the four willpower of Eowyn, plus her discard ability, I assumed that Spirit was deck for questing.  As time has gone on, looking at cards such as Sword that was Broken, Visionary Leadership, and the ability to get a bunch of allies on the board, Leadership has become the superior choice in many cases.

My intention is to build a strong questing deck with only Spirit heroes.  I started added all the cards I wanted, and got up to over 90 cards!  I started to think how I could trim it down, but instead, I thought I'd throw it out to community to take over from here.

My thought in putting this together is that this deck will handle the majority of questing, but also be able to handle a bit of combat.  Defense is handled either by Gandalf or using White Tower Watchmen to tank undefended attacks.  Attacking back can be handled a variety of ways.  I have Herugrim to bolster Eowyn's attack, or Fair and Perilous to make Cirdan a threat.  If all the pieces fell together, I'd love to Eowyn, with Herugrim and Elf-friend attached, use her discard ability, then using Fair and Perilous and/or Nenya to boost her attack to ridiculous levels.  This combo could be expanded.  Protector of Lorien and Lay of Nimrodel are both included to help with questing or continue to boost the aforementioned Eowyn or Cirdan combos.  I take advantage of Nenya and Narya giving their wielders Lore and Leadership, respectively, by including various attachments and events, such as Steward of Gondor, which I would expect to best go on Galadriel

With that said, I hand this over to the Lord of the Rings LCG community.  What are your thoughts on the deck?  The first thing I'd like to do is see what we feel needs to be trimmed off.  Because of Cirdan cycling through cards, and the other card draw opportunities, I don't think it's necessary to get down to exactly 50, but the deck size is a little silly right now.  Feel free to reply on Twitter, leave a comment on Facebook, or any other way you wish to respond.  I want to start more of a conversation between myself and the greater LOTR crew, so I encourage anyone who wants, to respond in their own blogs, or record a video or an audio clip.  If you do, I will share it so everyone can check it out.

Total Cards: (96)

Hero: (3)
Círdan the Shipwright (The Grey Havens)
Eowyn (Core Set)
Galadriel (Celebrimbor's Secret)

Ally: (28)
3x Arwen Undomiel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Curious Brandybuck (The Wastes of Eriador)
3x Escort from Edoras (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Ethir Swordsman (The Steward's Fear)
3x Galadriel’s Handmaiden (Celebrimbor's Secret)
3x Pelargir Shipwright (Assault on Osgiliath)
2x Gandalf (Over Hill and Under Hill)
2x Treebeard (The Antlered Crown)
3x White Tower Watchman (The Drúadan Forest)
3x Envoy of Pelargir (Heirs of Numenor)

Attachment: (37)
3x Herugrim (The Treason of Saruman)
3x Light of Valinor (Foundations of Stone)
3x Map of Earnil (Assault on Osgiliath)
3x Mirror of Galadriel (Celebrimbor's Secret)
3x Snowmane (The Land of Shadow)
3x Silver Harp (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x The Favor of the Lady (Core Set)
1x Elf-friend (The Treachery of Rhudaur)
3x Narya (The Grey Havens)
3x Nenya (Celebrimbor's Secret)
1x Celebrian's Stone (Core Set)
3x Protector of Lorien (Core Set)
2x Steward of Gondor (Core Set)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event: (31)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Elrond's Counsel (The Watcher in the Water)
3x Lay of Nimrodel (The Morgul Vale)
3x The Galadhrim's Greeting (Core Set)
1x Will of the West (Core Set)
3x Fair and Perilous (Across the Ettenmoors)
3x Daeron's Runes (Foundations of Stone)
3x Deep Knowledge (The Voice of Isengard)
3x Word of Command (The Long Dark)
3x Elwing’s Flight (The Grey Havens)
3x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Newest Hobbit

My first blog post was made from a hospital room, so I figured this would be appropriate. Meet Matthew Oliver. Born 2/16 at 12:35 pm. He has two other hobbits waiting for him at home, ready to make mischief.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

COTR New Years Eve Mega-Stream!

I missed them posting the video since it didn't go through their standard YouTube channel.  I was on the COTR New Years Eve stream.  We chatted, had a trivia contest, and then I helped Brandon pilot his deck.  A very challenging task when you have to deal with stream delay.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Nightmare Black Riders Contest Winner!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the contest.  Out of the 17 who entered, either on Facebook or Twitter, the winner was Thomas Vos, from the Netherlands.  Congrats to him, and I will be sending the cards out as soon as possible.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Temple of the Decieved - I'm the Map!

FFG has announced the third adventure pack in the Dream-chaser cycle, Temple of the Deceived.  In this adventure, we see a new take on locations, by using them to make a map of an uncharted island.  I am very excited by this news, as location lock has been a concern since the beginning of the game.  Instead of drawing these locations, they start out in play, in such a way that they make a map you move around and explore.  Only adjacent locations to your active location are considered in the staging area, and thus you have a better idea of what to expect, and not get bogged down by locations.

In addition to this news, we got some previews regarding the scout trait, with three different cards.  If these three cards are an example of things to come, I'm very interested to play around with the trait.