Deck Progression in Arkham Horror LCG

Hey everybody,
Today’s topic is something that I’ve been thinking about off-and-on for quite a while now, but it wasn’t until my recent run-through of the Dunwich Legacy campaign that I began to think about it properly. Arkham Horror LCG is quite unique among the LCGs that I have experience with, for having the mini-RPG feel of levelling up your deck as you go through the game. Throughout each campaign, you’ll earn experience equal to the victory total among cards in the display, so whenever you defeat a big bad, or you fully investigate a difficult location, you could earn any amount of experience. This is then used as a currency between games to level-up cards in your deck. Cards in Arkham Horror LCG have “pips” underneath their resource cost, from 0 to 5, which denotes how much experience is needed to buy them for your deck. When you build a deck to start a game, you can only use level 0 cards, but as time goes on, you can grow it in all kinds of ways.

Sounds amazing, and like it should lead to a truly immersive experience as you go through a campaign. However, I find myself really struggling to find cards to spend that XP on, most of the time. So I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and I’ve been doing some research, and thought I’d present to you all the fruits of these labours. I’m by no means an expert in this, of course! But hopefully it’ll be useful. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m not going to talk about using experience to play standalone scenarios, which is another use of XP; this post is simply going to look at upgrading your deck as you play through the campaign.

Arkham Horror LCG

First of all, and perhaps the easiest way to use experience points, is to directly upgrade copies of existing cards in your deck, for their higher-cost equivalents. That’s a higher cost in terms of the experience, not resources cost to play the card in-game. So the level 0 talent Hyperawareness costs 2 resources to play, and allows you to spend a resource to boost an attribute as a free action; the level 2 equivalent costs 0 resources to play, for the same effect. It also includes twice as many icons on the left hand side, so if you choose to commit it to a skill test instead, it’s giving you twice as much value. The level 4 version actually gives you the resources you need to trigger the effect, as well. It’s a good example of the principle, and provides the clearest target for your experience to upgrade the card, especially as it’s a much better version of an effect that you already had in the deck. With each class having a couple of these talent cards, it’s an excellent starting point.

There are a number of similar instances as well, where you’ll get weapons which may cost less in their upgraded cost, or with better effects, and so on. With the card pool where it is now, there are plenty of cards which can be straight-upgraded, although back in the day these options were of course more limited. In this respect, then, upgrading your deck becomes easier with more releases for the game, because the designers will still go back and provide upgrades (or downgrades) of older cards. It makes it easy, because you don’t really have to think about which cards to cut from your deck in favour of the fancier cards, I guess!

The way you approach deck progression can actually depend on whether you’re playing super-thematically, or whether you’re simply trying to make your deck the best it can be. I must admit, for all that I love the narrative of games (especially this game), I tend towards the latter, as I want to have the best options available to me when I go through my games. However, many cards exist as multiple points on the experience “tree”, so there will be a stepped approach to including them in your deck. Being able to upgrade a card to a level 1 or 2 version, then upgrade that same card again to a level 3 or 4 version, does have a thematic sense, especially if it is a skill that you can imagine your investigator learning, and getting better at applying to the traumatic events unfolding. 

Working this way makes sense, naturally, but it has taken my writing this blog now to realise that the best way to spend experience is actually when you get it, unless you’re saving for something specific. While playing through the Dunwich Legacy campaign recently, I played through four scenarios without upgrading my deck once, meaning I had accrued 13 experience points with nothing to spend it on. However, making small adjustments after each game is perhaps a much better way to go about things, as I think it could lead to some better games with potentially stronger synergies over time. It also fits into the more narrative method of playing, as you’re slowly getting better after each encounter with the Void, rather than having it all in one hit.

But I suppose that’s just symptomatic of the fact I don’t really have a plan!

I think my biggest confusion with it all arises when you’re going for a completely different card, though. So you might be looking to swap in a level 5 weapon and find that your best swap out is a level 0 event, or something. There’s something of a disconnect for me, when you build the initial level 0 deck almost as a placeholder for some of the better, higher-level cards. It’s almost like you include some chaff to then purposefully upgrade later on. Or, and this is how I usually end up building a deck, I try to get it as best I can with the level 0 cards and, when I start to gain the experience, I find that the deck is working fine for me so I don’t have many viable targets for upgrade. Yes, there will be the standard straight-upgrades for better higher-level cards, but not all level 0 cards have a level 5 version (some don’t have any upgraded version, at all). In fact, there are some very useful – even some very powerful – level 0 effects that just don’t need upgrading. It seems perhaps odd, but I truly believe you could play through an entire campaign without upgrading your deck, if you built it well from the off. I know that the choice of investigators must be key, being balanced for each other and for the scenario, but even so, my getting through so much of the recent Dunwich visit without upgrading once is perhaps proof of that – I only started to spend the XP because I felt as though I had to!

In this case, I suppose it works best to have some kind of blend of the two approaches, so that you’re trying to build a good deck, that will see you through the first few games, but that has a clear trajectory for upgrade through the campaign. When building the deck, then, it might make sense to look at the level 5 cards first, to see where you might want to aim for, and then work backwards to see what sort of path you could take to get there.

Arkham Horror LCG

For example, I’ve recently played through the Innsmouth Conspiracy campaign with Zoey Samaras, and had decided from the off that she would be built into a sort of “holy warrior” character, going for blessed effects, willpower buffs and hitting like a brick wall in combat. I definitely wanted that level 5 spear in the future, but more importantly, I wanted to build out thematically. There’s more to say on this in the upcoming blog on my Innsmouth experience, which is coming next week, but this approach to deck building was new for me, and required a lot more work than I’m used to, but I actually found it really rewarding!

Going off-topic slightly, I think I have also come undone at times by simply not really knowing the investigator class all that well. I think Guardian is perhaps the most straightforward, although there are nuances there that I like, and Seeker and Mystic are quite clear in what they are all about. Indeed, trying to build a Mystic deck can sometimes be an exercise in restraint, because there are too many good options to take account of. In contrast, Rogue and Survivor are perhaps the classes that I am least familiar with, although I have attempted to remedy that as regards Survivor in previous games. Rogue is still a class that often eludes me how to best play it, however, which is why I paired Zoey with Finn Edwards in my recent Innsmouth visit. Again, there’s more to say on his deck as well, but you’ll have to wait for the next blog for that!

Being able to make sense of what you’re trying to do is probably key, though, as it will allow you to make that decision for whether you want to swap out certain cards, or which level 0 cards you could keep in your deck. It’s all tied into having that trajectory, of course, and knowing how you want to progress your investigator through the campaign.

Arkham Horror LCG

The other thing to bear in mind through all of this, though, is what your investigator is actually trying to do, of course. Marie, above, wants cards with doom on them so that she can take extra turns with her spells, so you need to make sure there are such cards to give you benefits of the investigator’s ability. As you go through the process of upgrading a deck, you need to bear these things in mind, rather than going ahead to get straight-up better cards. It’s a case of upgrading spells with spells, and so on. That said, we could be back in the realms of having chaff cards in the starting deck, with an eye to upgrade for some more powerful cards later on, which will feed in to the investigator’s ability. This can happen where the lower level card is either too expensive to consider for a starting deck, or a lower level card doesn’t exist.

A lot of this missive has talked about upgrading to higher level cards, but there is equally the option of side-grades, where you trade out cards of the same level. Doing this will cost one XP, as the minimum spend is 1, but it does mean that you can try out other stuff if your upgraded card isn’t working out for you. I have sometimes done something similar with level 0 Mystic cards, as there are so many good ones, it can sometimes be hard to know which ones to use. I know some folks like to allow a limited number of swap outs for level 0 cards after the first game in a campaign, to keep the XP gained but to guard against a dud card in your deck, which is a good idea, but I do like the fact you can keep on using different level 0 cards throughout a campaign, regardless.

The more I’ve looked into it, and the more I’m writing this, it’s making me realise that my usual approach of just levelling up at random, picking the higher-level versions of cards already in my deck (because I don’t know what else to get!) is not really working for me. After Dunwich, I chose Innsmouth for my next campaign, because of the campaigns I own, that’s the only one I hadn’t at the time played through fully (I’d started, but was defeated before the end). So I came up with a bit of a checklist for how to approach this next game, in terms of what I wanted from it, and where I was going with my investigators!

All in all, thematic deck progression feels the best, and most correct way to play this game. I have pretty much always enjoyed playing Arkham Horror LCG, but upgrading my deck was always something of a necessity, and seemed to get in the way of the game. I’d often approach it as an exercise is getting the biggest gameplay buffs to help me win in the end. But by building slowly, levelling up as often as I could, I was able to develop a narrative for the investigator over the course of the campaign. Zoey went from a fairly decent bruiser-type into quite the holy warrior that I had envisioned at the start, with a number of tricks up her sleeves, but she never used guns, and always had a focus on faith as she moved through, even so far as taking Brother Xavier down into the depths for the final scenario!

That’s also an important point to mention, here. Deck progression in this thematic manner isn’t simply a case of going from level 0 to level 5 by the time we get to the last scenario. I’d upgraded a couple of Zoey’s cards before the finale, including Brother Xavier who is s level 1 ally. It seemed as good a time as any to involve him, but by having the plan in place, and focusing on those key upgrades where possible, it was actually nice to have the ability to use some of the leftover XP to get some less-important stuff later in the campaign. It’s not all about building to the flashy cards, and indeed, some of the lower or mid-level cards are just as good and important to a deck as the top level stuff. But as I said before, you’ll still find a strong use for level 0 cards even by scenario 8, so it’s not like a deck building game where you’ll wish you could get rid of your basic cards after buying the flashier ones!

I hope this post has been of some interest for you, and if you’ve made it this far, fully heal your stamina, for sure! Look out for my next Arkham blog, which I hope to write up next week, where I’ll be putting all of this into practice as I take Zoey and Finn on a trip to the seaside…

Goodbye to Dunwich

Hey everybody,
The Dunwich Legacy continues apace, after a very slow start. Last week, I played my way through the bulk of the campaign, I think, getting into Dunwich village itself and then rescuing some of the innocent bystanders from this whole affair. After putting Silas Bishop out of his misery, I’ve then been running around Dunwich countryside trying to chase down the spawn of Yog Sothoth. Undimensioned and Unseen is a really interesting scenario, I think I’ve mentioned this a while back on the blog when I was last playing the game. There are six locations in play, again all classic Dunwich Horror locations like Cold Spring Glen and the Whateley Ruins. There will be a pre-determined number of these spawn creatures roaming the countryside, and each location will allow you to manipulate the number of clues that can be put on them. This becomes important because you can’t attack them until you advance the act, which in turn will give the investigators the power to make attacks, which use willpower instead of fight, and you get +2 bonus for each clue on the spawn.

Arkham Horror LCG

So there’s a lot going on that might not be immediately clear to you – it really gives the feeling that you’re an investigator, trying to piece together the clues.

Arkham Horror LCG

The next scenario, Where Doom Awaits, sees us climb Sentinel Hill once more to finally remove the stain of Yog Sothoth from the world. Along the way, we are beset by cultists and the like, and the path isn’t exactly clear at first, due to a strange mist barring our progress. It’s quite a thematic scenario, once more – when we do get to the summit, we find Seth Bishop there trying to call down the cataclysm, and we need to stop him!

Arkham Horror LCG

Now, I do enjoy this campaign, as I have immense affection for the source material as well as the board game. However, part of me can’t help but feel like it’s just been a bit of a slog to actually play it. Part of this might be down to my choice of investigators, of course, as well – they have been interesting to play, but I don’t think I’ve been particularly attached to either of them. As I think I mentioned in my previous Dunwich blog, I’ve been feeling a bit annoyed with my deckbuilding for them, particularly in regards to the experience that I have built up, but seem to have no inclination to spend.

So, I’ve resigned from the campaign, poised as I was on the brink!

Tony and Mandy have been put away for a rest, after their ordeal, and soon I think I’ll be choosing my new investigators ready for the next campaign. I am about 90% sure I’ll be trying to make my way through the Innsmouth campaign, having resigned from that one when my poor investigator choice led to some un-fun games, but I have also been considering perhaps going to Carcosa or Circle Undone once again. There is so much to enjoy about the game, I feel spoiled for choice!

It has made me think a bit differently about this game, though. I’d put Arkham Horror LCG on my 10×10 list at the start of the year, mainly because I’d been really enjoying my time with the Dream-Eaters before Christmas, and I suppose the thought that a campaign would be 8 games, so it would make things quite easy in that regard! However, given the fact I had such a long gap between games at the start of this one, I think that has shown that my heart wasn’t really in it. I was just playing the game for the sake of it, really, and while it has been fun at times, I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed it overall. I certainly wasn’t looking forward to playing it for the sake of playing, as evidenced by the four month gap between games two and three! There’s also the fact that the investigators were built with no specific campaign in mind, but rather just to have some decks ready to go for the next campaign, whatever that may have been. I have been thinking a lot about deckbuilding for this game lately, and I want to try to change up my approach to this for the next one. There’s a lot more to be said about this, however, so stand by for another post in the not-too-distant future!

At any rate, I’m ending my stint in Dunwich for the time being. I’ll have to have a think about which campaign will be coming next, and also which investigators will be along for the ride, and then take it from there. Of course, I’ll be rambling all about it here, when the time comes!

Getting back to Dunwich

Hey everybody,
Thankfully it hasn’t been quite so long since the last game this time, but I have made some more progress with my ongoing Dunwich Legacy play-through. It’s the third time I’m playing through this campaign, as I’ve said already, and I’m playing as Tony Morgan and Mandy Thompson, who I am not convinced are the best partners for this one! Though I suppose I played through the Carcosa campaign with Daisy and Ashcan Pete, so it’s not like I haven’t played with mis-matched pairs before now!

Arkham Horror LCG

After escaping from the Miskatonic Museum with the Necronomicon, I’m on the train to Dunwich. I had definitely forgotten just how much fun the Essex County Express is, though. In my mind, I think I was writing it off as being a bit of a road block to us getting to Dunwich, but in reality, I really enjoyed the mechanics of the scenario, as the end carriages of the train were sucked into the void and we had to make our tortured progress onwards towards the engine. At least Tony had much more to do this time, with there being more enemies for him to gun down. There are plenty of Cultists on the train, one of my favourite encounter sets for the game that sees them enter play with a doom token, and there are numerous other ways to play around with this mechanic. I am using the alternative encounter cards from the Return To box as well, Resurgent Evils and the like, which is nice to help this run through feel a bit different. It isn’t a proper Return To… campaign per se, although I have begun to think maybe I could start to sub in those cards as well, and get more of a flavour of how that goes.

Arkham Horror LCG

After playing the Essex County Express, I finally went through to use all of that experience and level up my decks, as I had a total of 13 xp from the campaign so far, and I suppose I am at the half-way point! In my head, they were using their time on the train to ready themselves for what will be facing them when they get to Dunwich!

Arkham Horror LCG

The next scenario, Blood on the Altar, has us racing around Dunwich itself as we try to find out why the townsfolk have been disappearing. It’s all very wonderful, as I do enjoy these sorts of quests where the old boardgame is recreated for us. I was able to rescue all but one of the townspeople, anyway, so have now got a bunch of assistance as we go forward into the campaign. Indeed, this scenario is then followed by another interlude, which has the flavour of a re-set about it – no matter how badly we’ve been doing up to this point, we have another opportunity to rescue the folks who we should have already got while still in Arkham in the earlier quests, and indeed, we have two ways to get the Powder of Ibn-Ghazi, which I think becomes critical in the next scenario. It’s all very useful, though, and I have another 4 XP to add to the bank, so I can’t complain! I think I’ll need another pitstop to upgrade some more before I carry on, anyway.

However, deck-progression (as opposed to deck-building) in Arkham Horror LCG is definitely something that I feel I’m not good at, as I often get into these situations with a lot of XP and no idea what to do with it! I might write up some thoughts on that at some point. As it stands, I’ve just made some fairly basic swaps for stuff at a higher level, and I’ll see how I get on with them. Oddly, though, I’ve found myself wanting to deckbuild for some new investigators, so I can try out some different things! 

So, after having taken my time so far this year to get moving with this campaign, I am now well and truly in the thick of it, with just three more scenarios to go before I see if I can indeed save the world. Fingers crossed…

My week with Marvel Champions

Hey everybody,
It feels like a while since I’ve had a game with Marvel Champions, certainly since I’ve done one of these round-up style blogs. Today, though, I thought I’d have a bit of a rambling talk about some of the games that I’ve been playing, all of which have involved Justice and Protection decks, although that was a completely unplanned theme. I’ve finally gotten round to playing with Ghost Spider and Miles Morales, despite having had the box since Christmas, and I’ve had a game with some of the newer X-Men heroes, as well!

Marvel Champions

Sinister Motives is the box that I have played the least, in part because I’m not really that big a Spidey fan. He’s fine, and all, but I’m just not really that into his whole universe of goings-on. However. This has started to change recently when my eldest has started to get into Spidey and his Amazing Friends on Disney+. I think it started from a boy in her preschool class being into Marvel, and she’s taken an interest in daddy’s game ever since. Anyway! After a few weeks of seeing the adventures of Spider-Man, Ghost Spider & Miles Morales (who is called Spin, apparently?) I thought I could take them out for a game against Mysterio – who I’ve gone up against a few times already.

It was pretty good, I must say. Mysterio’s thing is Illusions, cards going into player decks. It can be really annoying, as when you draw these cards they’re dealt to you as encounter cards. Now, you do get to draw a card back, but I had this happen when Gwen ran out of deck, so she ended up with about 4 encounters to deal with! To some extent, it was lucky because she seems to be one of these heroes who wants to play during the Villain phase, but even so!

Marvel Champions

Miles Morales is a curious deck. I really liked his hero cards, and how they can work together to get some pretty impressive turns – especially using the Peter Parker ally card to ready him, which was very nice at times! He comes with a Justice deck that has a very defined SHIELD sub theme running through it. This is all well and good, but it doesn’t seem to fit with him and his deck, really. I have the feeling they included these cards because the campaign system is based around SHIELD upgrade cards, but who knows.

I do really enjoy playing the precon decks, but I have decided to change up the Miles deck as I found it just wasn’t working for me in the way I’d like. I’ve kept him as Justice, but have swapped out all of the SHIELD cards (which is pretty much everything else!) for an alternative build. I’ve since taken this new deck out for a spin alongside Captain Marvel, going up against Crossbones.

Marvel Champions

This game was actually a whole lot of fun, although Miles was actually defeated due to the Full Auto card dealing him precisely the amount of damage that he had left. Everything seemed to go wrong at this point, because while Captain Marvel was able to defeat the first villain stage, he brought out his Machine Gun as well as the next experimental weapon, and on his activation I had to somehow absorb 6 points of damage while she only had 6 hit points left. Fortunately, I had the Cosmic Flight card that could ignore three of those points of damage, so on her turn she was able to trigger first the Energy Channel upgrade, which dealt a full 10 damage to the villain, then she had a Photonic Blast to finish him off. In a way, it was fortunate that Miles was eliminated before the first stage was flipped, because he only had 14 hit points thanks to there being only one hero left!

Marvel Champions

Even though I hadn’t got to play with a lot of the deck, as a result, I did enjoy seeing the new Miles Morales – having cards like Concussive Blow and Clear the Area meant that I was actually doing things with the Justice cards in the deck, and Concussive Blow in particular led to some very good turns, as I was able to Confuse Crossbones with that one, then Captain Marvel played a Tackle to Stun him also, which meant when Miles played Arachnobatics, he was able to deal the full 8 damage as a result. I do think it still needs a bit of work doing to it, of course, but I’m much happier with the deck this time around than I had been earlier.

Marvel Champions

I’ve also finally picked up the Rogue precon, which gives me all of the X-Men to date and, for now I think, all of the hero packs that I want. There are still the four heroes from the Sinister Motives cycle that I have yet to add to the collection. While initially I hadn’t really fancied picking these up, I can see myself getting these before too long! I suppose it’s more for the cards, to allow for more deck building options, than for the heroes themselves.

At any rate, after getting Rogue, I’ve taken both her and Gambit out for a game against Ebon Maw from the Thanos campaign.

I have no real clue about Gambit as a hero, although I know he’s very popular in the fandom. I think this is possibly because I had come to X-Men through the Bryan Singer movies rather than the comics. Rogue, of course, I know about, given the fact she’s pretty front and centre in those films. In game terms, Gambit has a Justice deck and is, I believe, the first hero who can thwart while in alter-ego mode, thanks to his ability to remove threat by discarding cards from the top of the encounter deck. He has an effect with charge counters while in hero form, where he can get +1 to attacks for removing these counters. It can lead to some very punchy turns, and I think I was really enjoying how his deck was working until I had taken my eye off the ball and he ended up being eliminated!

Marvel Champions

Elimination proved to be a disturbing theme of these recent games!

Rogue comes with a Protection deck, and her main thing is around moving the Touched card around. It represents the fact Rogue can absorb the abilities of other mutants, so if this card goes on a villain, a minion, a hero or an ally, she gains different things like Retaliate 1, or Aerial. Her suite of cards is somewhat kitted for this as well, gaining additional bonuses depending on what she’s Touching. Once I kinda got the hang of that, I think the deck played pretty nicely, and I did find myself playing a lot of the aspect cards as well, which often doesn’t happen with some of these pre-con decks on the first outing.

Rogue was actually eliminated not long after Gambit as well, unfortunately, so that ended in a fiasco, but even so, it was an enjoyable game!

Lord of the Rings: mission accomplished

Hey everybody,
Much like my post from a couple of months ago, I’m here today to celebrate having made it to 10 games of Lord of the Rings LCG, marking the second of my 10×10 goals as complete. I think I’d almost made it with this game for a while, but just couldn’t seem to bring myself to play the game. However, I’ve now clocked up my tenth play, and so thought I’d share with you some rambling thoughts, as per usual!

Lord of the Rings

Trouble in Tharbad

Following on from the last game in the Ringmaker cycle, The Three Trials, I think I was growing weary of this game once more, because of the preponderance of “gotcha!” moments. I know I’ve probably had this whinge before, but the game is no fun if there is simply no chance of beating it. If I know I’m unable to win from the get-go, why would I ever waste my time? Even when you know something awful is coming, the forced effects throughout the scenarios can mean there is very little you can do to plan ahead, as you’re just swept up in the torment of it all.

However, Trouble in Tharbad is a bit different. The Time X mechanic is still front and centre, but this scenario takes the very intriguing idea of playing with your threat level; instead of placing progress on the quest, instead you lower your threat. The Time counters do reduce your threat elimination level by 10, however, meaning you need to make sure you quest like the wind before you’re eliminated at 40 rather than the usual 50.

It’s a bit like many other scenarios, in that you’re basically trying to race away from an enemy mob at your back, and in this instance you’re trying to make it to the river crossing in time. This is represented by a location card that needs an unholy amount of progress, and can only be attempted once the quest has been achieved – the upside here, though, is that your threat will be starting from 0, albeit with plenty of effects that will raise that. It’s a really interesting quest that I would tentatively say I’d play again! I think it’s just a very interesting mechanic, playing with the threat like that, and one that I thought was very intriguing to see work.

For my next game, I’m going straight to the last cycle of the game! It’s been almost a year since I first played the Shadow in the East quests, and at least one of the decks I was using for those games has now morphed into something else, but I thought it would still be fun to see how I get on as I take a look at the final scenarios for the game.

Lord of the Rings

Wrath and Ruin

I really like this one. After learning the terrible truth about the mastermind behind the goings-on during our time in the profane temple to Sauron, the heroes have returned to Dorwinion to regroup, only to be pursued there by Thane Ulchor and his Easterlings! What follows is a scenario reminiscent of earlier quests, with the heroes battling to control locations in order to advance. The basic premise of this quest is therefore quite simple – as a location leaves play as explored, it comes to the players instead of going into the encounter deck. If there are more locations under the players’ control than there are in the staging area, then the players are winning.

However, so much is layered on top of this, with cards that can bring locations back into the staging area, or cards (like Ulchor himself) who can add more locations to the staging area as soon as a location leaves play. It really is quite representative of that tug-of-war style of play. We have the Easterling Raiders encounter set in here once again, which I really like in principle, but is tough to play against as it adds treachery cards to enemies as attachments, buffing those enemies (who are no pushover, to begin with!) 

Locations are also immune to player card effects, meaning that no amount of trickery is going to help here. The only thing that I felt gave me a bit of an edge was Legolas’ ability to add progress to the quest when he successfully slays an enemy – and there are plenty of them here! There was no early-game Light of Valinor to get double duty out of Glorfindel, either, so I was basically playing this as properly as it comes! Still, I was able to scratch a victory and so the next game will see me heading off to the City of Ulfast. 

I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep playing this game throughout the year. If nothing else, I’m mid-way through three cycle playthroughs, as well as possibly still playing the Fellowship Saga. I doubt if I’m going to clock up as many miles with this as I have with Marvel Champions, though, which is interesting in some respects because I do generally think of Lord of the Rings as “my favourite game”. I think the issue I have with it is just how difficult it got to play – especially if you don’t start to house-rule things to make it more palatable. I know I could deck-build for each scenario and play through it possibly quite well, but I like to have a deck ready to go for the whole event, and don’t really have the time for deck-building as much as I used to!

I think I currently have six decks built for Lord of the Rings, and I have been thinking I might disassemble everything when I’ve finished playing through these cycles, and have a fresh start. Some of those decks had been built years ago, and while they work really well, they have hampered subsequent decks because a lot of the good cards were already taken, etc. So I am pondering whether to just wipe the slate clean. I definitely want to keep going with Angmar Awakened, and I think I want to do the same with the Ringmaker, so I suppose it makes sense to just plod along for now.

Anyway, I’m rambling, so it’s time to shut up! There’s plenty more Lord of the Rings blogs on their way as the year goes ever on, though!

Dunwich, once more

Tuesday is always game day here at, even if I don’t always get to post each and every time. Today, I’m heading back to Dunwich, for the third playthrough of the Dunwich Legacy campaign. This has been a bit of a dicey one for me so far – I set up some decks while riding high after the Dream-Eaters campaign at Christmas, but it took me almost a month to decide what to play, before I settled on Dunwich again. But after playing the first two scenarios at the end of January, I haven’t actually touched the game until the end of last week, when I went in for The Miskatonic Museum.

Dunwich Legacy

Despite having played this campaign the most, it never fails to surprise me how little I remember of the details, which of course means the replay value of this game is, for me, outstanding. As a story-driven game, it’s crucial that you can ‘forge your own path’ and so on, as if there is nothing really to be gained from playing the same story over and over. Having these kinds of branching paths is great, as you can make different choices to lead to different outcomes. For example, in the Museum scenario, you need to find a copy of the Necronomicon – when you do, you have a choice, whether to destroy it or to keep it safe. I’m fairly sure that in previous games, I’ve chosen to destroy the book, but this time, I’m going to keep it safe. Well, we shall see how that turns out!!

Dunwich Legacy

The investigators that I’m playing are quite interesting, both from the Dream-Eaters (coincidentally!) with some interesting abilities. Tony Morgan, the bounty hunter, has the ‘bounty contracts’ effect that allows him to put bounties on enemies as they are revealed and, when that enemy is defeated, claim said bounty as a resource. Playing a scenario with only one enemy in the whole deck is a bit of a waste, however, though when that enemy did show up, he was in his element! Mandy Thompson, the researcher, is a clue-gathering powerhouse, and has the ability to dig deeper when searching her deck, meaning I built her with a lot of ‘search your deck’ cards, but so far I don’t really think that has come up in games. Still, she’s able to just hoover up the clues, and I like that!

Excitingly, I have 11xp to spend, as I haven’t yet upgraded the decks this campaign. I think I might do that at the weekend, then maybe play some more.

Also excitingly, I was playing with some of the ‘new’ cards from the Return To box. In case you don’t know, each of the Return To boxes had additional player cards, and additional encounters for each of the scenarios of the cycle it revisits, though they also included alternate encounter sets for some of the commonly used sets from the core, like Ancient Evils and Creeping Cold. In theory, I could play this scenario with just this campaign, and not have to resort to core set standards. So that was nice! I think I’m going to try, as much as possible, to use these variant encounter sets during this campaign, anyway.

I’m sort of disappointed in myself, really, that I have been taking so long to get round to the game. It is, after all, a really good game! I suppose there’s a possibility that I’ve played this scenario too often to be that invested in the overall game, as I do know where we’re going ultimately, but hopefully I can still enjoy the ride during each game! And, hopefully, it will be a lot sooner than once every three or four months that I’ll be playing!

Happy Birthday to me

I’m 9 today! I didn’t realise it was coming up, somehow – clearly, gone are the days when I would celebrate with a whole Birthday Week!! How remiss of me.

Well, I’ve had a bit of a mini-celebration, all the same, playing some Marvel Champions with a new acquisition, the Scarlet Witch deck.

Marvel Champions

Of course, for the first outing it was a toss-up between Vision and Quicksilver, but I went for the latter as so much of those decks appears designed to work together. I was really impressed with how they both played – Quicksilver I’ve played before, of course, but I do enjoy how he’s able to just do so much, thanks to being able to ready himself so often. Scarlet Witch, on the other hand, is pretty good at throwing damage around thanks to the Chaos Magic effects of using the boost icons of the encounter deck to her advantage. It’s really quite something, I have to say. She’s also quite efficient in how she can draw and discard cards to find the right cards.

I’d definitely like to play both of them again, though I can see ways in which I could potentially tinker with them both. I definitely need to try and rein myself in on that front, as I really do enjoy playing with the precon decks, after all!

So. 2024 marks a full decade of blogging here. I wonder what I could do to mark that milestone…

Throwback Thursday: When Netrunner ruled the world

I don’t write enough #throwbackThursday posts. Is that conceited of me, to think my past content is worth bringing to the fore again? Well, possibly. I do sometimes read over some of my older posts, often because I want to link back to something that is relevant to the current post, though sometimes I’ll stroll through the list of published blogs and be surprised by something, having no memory of having written it.

Anyway, enough with the preamble. I’ve recently had a max hankering after the Android Netrunner LCG that was published by Fantasy Flight between 2012-18. It was without a doubt one of my favourite games to own, let alone to play, and I would often spend hours building decks that, sadly, I had very little chance to play. Indeed, I think it was my enthusiasm, coupled with the lack of an outlet, that eventually drove me away from anything beyond solo/coop games because they were proving to be just a waste of money.


I love the game, and I love the idea of the game, and I’ve been looking at buying it again, which is such a fool’s errand when you think how long it’s been dead for. There’s a brand new, still-sealed core set on eBay right now for £80, and if I had any fair chance of playing it I would absolutely snap it up. But there really isn’t that fair chance, so I’ve just had to step away.

Maybe one day, it will get a new version, and I can try to seduce either my other half or, if they’re old enough by then, the kids into playing it with me. Until then, let’s just bask in how wonderful and amazing this beautiful game was!

Marvel Champions: Storm vs Cyclops

Hey everybody,
I thought I’d ramble on about Marvel Champions today, because it’s what I seem to do these days, and I love the game so much! Today’s blog is going to look at two of the recent X-Men heroes, Storm and Cyclops, both of whom come with a Leadership pre-con deck. I recently played these two together against Sabretooth, and it was an absolute nightmare – I’m still not 100% sure why, though at the time I put it down to having two heroes in the same aspect, trying effectively to do the same thing, and not getting very far. However, I think it might be a slightly different issue at play, so thought it would be interesting to explore this here.

I won’t be talking much about the hero cards in these decks, as hero cards generally tend to be all-rounders to allow the heroes to work in any aspect. Instead, then, this will be looking principally at the aspect cards included in these decks.

Marvel Champions

Storm controls the weather, as we all know, and to represent this in the game, she has a four-card weather deck, support cards with universal effects to boost the whole table (including the villains). As a Leadership hero, her focus is unsurprisingly on allies, and she has a number of cards within her deck to work off having allies out. Uncanny X-Men is a team card which gives each X-Men ally +1 hit point, and if each of your characters has the X-Men trait, X-Men allies cost 1 less resource. This is an important distinction for the X-Men heroes, as in alter-ego form they only have the Mutant trait, and so Storm would need to be in hero form to gain the reduced cost benefit. “To Me, My X-Men!” is a card that lets you search the top five cards of your deck for an X-Men ally and put it into play, then if it’s still in play at the end of the round, the ally goes to your hand. Very useful for picking up allies and building the team, but of course you need to have an ally in the top five cards of your deck for it to work! Effective Leadership is the new resource card for Leadership, and when you use it to play an ally, it gives +1THW and +1ATK to that ally. Leadership Skill is an upgrade that comes into play with three counters, and you can remove one to give an ally +1THW or +1ATK for an activation. Additionally, she has a copy of X-Mansion, which lets you heal one damage from a Mutant or X-Men character when in alter-ego mode; the X-Jet generates a wild resource, and Utopia increases the ally limit by 1 as well as letting you ready an X-Men character when an X-Men ally enters play.

So what are we doing with all of these ally benefits? Storm comes with five allies: Havok, Mirage, Gentle, Pixie and Forge. They’re all fairly decent, and it seems to be the right sort of number when you compare it with other Leadership heroes like Captain America and Ant-Man, but so far I’ve found the deck in a bit of a weird place for having almost too much of a focus on allies, and not really able to do much else. Without those allies in place, Storm is still pretty effective thanks to her hero cards and weather deck, but it does feel like there is almost an over-reliance on having the allies, when even if cards like “To Me, My X-Men!” aren’t searching enough of the deck to guarantee they come out. Storm doesn’t have any hero-specific ally in the same way other hero decks do, either, which is a little surprising. Possibly because she needed more cards to work with her weather deck? Who knows, but I do find that she needs a couple more allies to guarantee she’s getting the maximum benefit from all of those ally boosts.

Marvel Champions

Interestingly, Cyclops also has an ally focus, but he seems to do more with his allies as well. The only crossovers with Storm are Effective Leadership and Utopia, all of the other cards in his deck do different stuff. He has Teamwork, which allows you to add an ally’s stat to your hero’s basic THW or ATK, which is a good way to use the ally without taking consequential damage. Danger Room Training is an upgrade that gives the attached ally +1THW, +1ATK and +1 hit point, which pairs well with Game Time, which readies an ally with a training attachment and heals 1 damage from it. The Danger Room support card allows you to exhaust it when an ally enters play and search your deck for a training attachment and attach it to that ally. Coordinated Attack attaches to a minion and lets an ally take -1 consequential damage when attacking that minion. This last card also feeds into the theme of Cyclops’ hero cards, where he has several attachments that go on enemies and soften them up for the team in different ways.

For me, Cyclops is definitely the better Leadership hero. He plays around with the established Leadership tactics much better, and much more interestingly, than Storm, who has almost a textbook Leadership deck that kinda suffers for it. I think, of all the X-Men heroes that we have had up to this point, she is the one who almost needs her deck tinkering with, if only to reduce some of the team-style cards and introduce some different things for her to do because, without allies, she can have turn after turn of just doing very little. Don’t get me wrong, her hero deck is very good, but the aspect cards that she has are a bit of a let-down.

Marvel Champions

Not that I want to get into conspiracy time here, but I’ve heard that there are licensing issues around the X-Men that are causing the release of all-mutant waves that we’re currently getting, plus why we’re getting reprints with X-Men artwork (something we didn’t have with the Guardians, for instance). It seems possible, therefore, that Storm was thrown together as “we need X Leadership cards for the Mutants, let’s just put them all in Storm’s deck and let the players figure it out”. I have tinkered a little with Cyclops’ deck, albeit only in terms of the allies he comes with, but it has made the deck much more enjoyable to play as a result. He pairs very well with Shadowcat as well, who seemed to be the first hero opportunity for getting additional training upgrade cards into a deck. It’s great to see a team work well like this, I think, with other heroes playing training upgrades on their own allies, and then Cyclops comes along with a global effect to boost the entire team.

I think it’s a bit disappointing, as well, that there aren’t many options for a purely X-Men Leadership Storm right now, either. So far, we’ve had two additional Leadership cards come in the hero packs, one of which needs your hero to have the Psionic trait so is no use. Med Lab from the Rogue hero deck is good for healing allies and recurring them, though. The other stand-out card to try, I think, is X-Men Instruction from Gambit’s pack, which lets you shuffle two X-Men allies from your discard pile back into your deck, then if you have the X-Mansion in play, you can draw a card. It’s a good way to get around the problems that sometimes arise if you draw too many allies and have to use one as resources to play another. Otherwise, aside from adding in the Longshot ally from Wolverine’s pack to get even more allies in the deck, there isn’t a great deal that Storm can benefit from if you’re looking at purely X-Men themed cards.

We’re due another campaign box soon though, and given that Mutant Genesis had protection and aggression heroes, it’s nice to see that the next box will bring leadership and justice heroes, though I suppose it will remain to be seen how useful the new X-Force leadership cards will be for X-Men heroes. You never know, though!

NeXt Evolution

The next big box expansion for Marvel Champions has been announced, and it seems the Facebook groups I’m in have gone into meltdown over it! Cable and Domino are heading up the X-Force themed wave of expansions, which will include 4 more hero packs.

I’m very rusty on my X-Men lore, so I’m even worse when it comes to the subsidiary teams. Seems we’re almost certain to see Deadpool though, more’s the pity.

We’re going up against the Morlocks, Juggernaut and Mister Sinister though, all of whom sound like they should be great, if tough. I still haven’t finished playing through Mutant Genesis yet, of course, but there’s a long time before this one comes out in August.

The really interesting thing about this expansion, though, is the player side schemes that are coming. Representing side quests that the heroes undertake to better help them defeat the villains, they’re basically side quests from Lord of the Rings, and I’m kinda surprised it’s taken this long for them to arrive in the game. I’m very interested in seeing how far this card type is supported, as it could be really good to have this kind of option open – though I’m not sure they’d want to flood the game with them.

I’m very excited, at any rate, because I’m always looking forward to more content to play for this game!