Tuesday, December 07, 2004

One Scary Spider

Haven't had a chance to update the blog in quite some time. Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!

This post's subject is probably one of the most valuable minions there is (though many people wouldn't think it). If you haven't guessed yet, I'm speaking of course of Shelob! Or to be more precise: Shelob, Her Ladyship.

Try and ignore the ugliness of this beast and concentrate on her game text. With a card as simple to get on the table as Gollum, you suddenly have the ability to make any of your opponents characters essentially useless. Not to mention that enduring, fierce minion bit.

This advantage is undeniably huge against any fellowship as there will never be a single game in which eliminating a companion isn't a good thing. Suddenly your opponent's Defender +3 Aragorn or 15 strength against Nazgul Arwen has to sit on the sidelines as Shelob and your minions tear up the weaker of the fellowship.

Though hard to work into all decks, Shelob and Gollum should never be ignored as a strongly viable addition to any shadow side!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Leader and the King

Yesterday I got my first real taste of Shadows when I attended a local sealed deck tournament. I won't go into the murky details of how I had my butt handed to me in the two games I played. Instead I wanted to focus on one of the starter decks that Shadows offers.

Shadows is the first set of the Lord of the Rings TCG that has four starter decks (each prior set had two). This is great in terms of sealed deck play, because it provides a wide range of deck diversity and means your tournament won't be the same game over and over. Unfortunately, as with any sealed deck product, there is a high probability that there will be an unbalance of power between decks. This is the case with the Shadows sealed decks where the Gandalf, Leader of the Company starter reigns unquestionably supreme.

For those still new to the game, the basis of each deck is a Free People's side and a Shadow side. In sealed deck play, you are given a set theme for each of these sides. The theme for the Shadow side of the Gandalf deck is Nazgul, which have always been a very powerful group of minions, albeit expensive.

In sealed deck play, this culture becomes all the more potent due to the lack of defense available for the Free People's side. Thus, when Player A has the Wringwraith culture against Player B's fellowship, Player B will invariably be at a disadvantage. Take for example The Witch King, Captain of the Nine Riders.

Though he doesn't come in any of the starters, he is the prime example of the power of the Nazgul. Once the fellowship moves in to region 2, chances are they will be giving the eight twilight this beast costs. And once he hits, the table, you can start kissing your companions goodbye. At strength 14, he instantly overwhelms any companion you can assign to him except for Gandalf and Aragorn (unless you have the extra defenses such as weapons and events that sealed deck lacks as previously mentioned).

As his title suggests, The Witch King is accompanied by eight other deadly Nazgul. Coupled with a powerful Gandalf, who is your best bet when it comes to protecting your fellowship, it's easy to see why the Gandalf starter is the grandest choice in sealed deck play!

Friday, November 12, 2004

From Four to Free

Time to get into some strategy! Though this blog is still getting started and mostly for beginners to the game, I thought it would be nice to look at one of the new tactics that is available with the release of Shadows. In particular, the introduction of an all new version of Aragorn: Strider.

What makes Strider so special you ask? Look closer at that twilight cost. That's not Aragorn's typical cost of four, it's a one! For the low price of an extra twilight each time you move, you now have a Ranger that can easily fit into any starting fellowship. Even better, start Strider with Faramir, Captain of Gondor and you now have a FREE Aragorn.

Add on Boromir, Bearer of Council as your ring-bearer and then Denethor, Lord of Minas Tirith to your starting fellowship and your Noble Leaders are instantly set up. You can even use Denethor to pull Noble Leaders out as soon as you reach site 3. If you've got an artifact in your hand (or extra vitality on Denethor) you can also pull Elendil, the Tall and go for your jump to site 6.

With a consistent way to get to site 6 in each of your games, it's hard to not cheer 'FOR GONDOR!'

Monday, November 08, 2004

Shadows Released!

The latest expansion set for Lord of the Rings TCG was released last week. This set should shake things up nicely for the game. The biggest change (and best in my opinion) is the introduction of an all new adventure path. Now, instead of having a set of Site 1s, a set of Site 2s, etc., you simply have an adventure deck and get to choose which site your opponent moves to! This adds a whole new strategy to your way of playing that you never had control over before and should give your adventure deck choices a much greater impact.

A downside to the new set is the introduction of several new minion cultures. To me, this seems like a cheap way to get around extensive playtesting of new cards (not having to worry about how powerful new cards make the old cards). The artwork is also underwhelming.

I'll be buying cards from this set to get access to the new site path as well as some of the amazing cards, such as the beautiful Arwen, Staunch Defender:

Hope to see everyone out at the Shadows Release Tournaments!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Tournament Report 10/25/04

I went to my first tournament in months if not years last night. It didn't sanction with only 4 people showing up, which was fine by me as I was only curious to see what the Meta had changed to since I'd been gone.

I was playing a Dwarf/Besiegers deck with Bearer of Grudges, Gandalf, Leader of Men and two Dwarf Guards in my starting fellowship so that I could play Saved from the Fire to grab my Reflections Dwarves and their rings. It worked out all right, but I think a Bearer of Grudges with another of the dwarves and Durin III start would be more effective. Durin III is a beast.

I played twice against the nasty Elven/Gollum deck that won Worlds. That deck is absolutely horrendous; it's hard to think of a single down-side to playing that deck. I really hope that the Shadows set does somethign to curb it's power. I lost to it both times, by being corrupted of all things (Gimil's low resistance is such a crutch).

I also played against a fairly new player who had a Wraith/Wounding Nazgul deck. I beat it pretty quickly with my besiegers (he couldn't get his wraiths out fast enough).

I'm off to another tournament this Wednesday. I probably won't make too many changes to my deck due to time constraints, but I would like to make a Moria Archer deck to try and take down the elves. Keep on gaming!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Welcome to my Lord of the Rings TCG Blog!

Welcome to my blog everybody! I thought this would be a fun and original way to do something related to one of my favorite card games of all time: Decipher's Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game (http://www.decipher.com/).

A little about myself - My name is Ray Liu, many of the players from back in the day may recognize me from various conventions as well as my internship at Decipher during the summer of 2002. I'm also Psy-Jedi on sorcery.net's #lotrtcg chatroom.

I've been playing card games most of my life beginning with Magic back when I was in the 7th grade. I was introduced to Decipher CCGs for the first time with Star Trek CCG at the same time. I didn't enjoy the intricacies of that game as much as Magic at the time, so I sold my cards and faded away from card games for a while.

Then in the summer of 1999, I was at the San Diego ComiCon when I walked by the Decipher booth and was drawn in by their latest CCG, Young Jedi. Though simple, I really enjoyed the game play. I was also a huge Star Wars fan at the time so the game was a perfect fit for me. After dropping gobs of money into the game, I got back in to Star Trek CCG, and then into Star Wars CCG.

One November night, a month before Fellowship of the Ring had hit theaters, I was at a Star Trek tournament and thought to myself, “Liv Tyler is hot, I’m going to buy some packs of this new Lord of the Rings game and get her card.” Amazingly enough, I ended up pulling Gwemegil out of my first 3 packs. From that point on I was hooked.

I met a whole force of great people during my college years playing Decipher’s games (especially during my internship between my junior and senior years). During my senior year, I started to move away from gaming and took up poker (and other various college activities).

Now, I’m one of those responsible adult types with a job and I don’t have as much time to sit around and think of deck types as I used to. But I’m sure going to try. This blog will be a chronicle of my journey back into TCGs. Shoot me an email at psyjedi@gmail.com if you want to get in touch. See you at the next tourney!
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