Crusaders Games

Lord of the Rings LCG Expansions

This living card adventure game now offers over 100 different quest scenarios, providing superb storytelling and tactical game challenges. So far i have explored all the Core set & Mirkwood cycle, Khazad-dum & Dwarrowdelf, Isengard & Ringmaker, and from the saga series the two Hobbit boxes, Black Riders and Flame of the West. I have become more selective in buying cycle packs within Lost Realms & Angmar, Grey Havens & Dreamchaser, Sands of Harad & Haradrim. I only play this game solo with one support deck, so this influences my view of which quests i like best, and I prefer scenarios that provide a themed adventure, rather than remembering complex mechanics.  My ongoing thoughts may help steer newcomers around some of the expansion choices to be made.

Here are my favourite adventure quests of the 75 i own (with 66 played so far), from a solo one deck play perspective and also combining together adventure themes from within the expansions.

1. Woodland Realm (Gencon) / Passage to Mirkwood (Core Set) & Beneath the Sands (Haradrim Cycle) – Mirkwood is an excellent introductory quest with a spiders theme, which is relatively easy to beat, and worth customizing for variety and difficulty by adding in alternative cards from the nightmare deck. The Woodland Realm has built on that original quest, and now includes a choices of encounters with options to build your own challenges. It is an amazing and versatile addition to the game. In Beneath the Sands heroes search caverns to destroy a brood mother. A tough solo test which switches your journey from being off track, when you need to search tunnels for the correct path, and being on track when the spider menace increases. This encounter deck has many tricks up its sleeve, and progress is slowed as you can’t always apply success to the main quest. I sometimes ease the difficulty by playing without adding the extra forced on track card to the staging area. Return to Mirkwood (Mirkwood Cycle) has a great alternative spider encounter deck with a tough Attercop boss. It requires you to look after Gollum, who causes rising threat each round (which in solo play i add every other round to compensate for only one player), and it is another really enjoyable spider adventure. Flies & Spiders (Hobbit On The Doorstep) is a venom themed encounter with more great artwork and a mid game twist as the spiders capture the heroes. I really enjoy fighting spiders.

2. Seventh Level (Khazad-Dum) & Long Dark (Dwarrowdelf Cycle) – are thematic quests in the goblin mines, where enemies attack you thick and fast , and if you are unlucky a troll emerges from the dark tunnels to make things even more difficult.  The Long Dark has an added theme of being lost in the dark tunnels and does have changeable difficulty levels dependent on encounter card draw. Also in the Khazad-Dum box Flight from Moria has you search frantically for your way out of the mines against more location and treachery driven encounters, and Into the Pit focuses on a torch mechanic and is location heavy. All these scenarios are really atmospheric and capture the feeling of being over-run by goblins, who should be dispatched easily enough, but you will need to keep the numbers under control. Whilst tricky, these are very beatable with a solo deck, and are best thematically played using Dwarves.

3. Redhorn Gate (Dwarrowdelf Cycle) – is an escort quest crossing the icy mountains, where snow drifts, blizzards and biting cold will hamper your progress and wargs are a constant threat. This is a great scenario, not overly hard to beat with a decent deck, but is one that constantly meddles with your best plans. The wargs, snow trolls and goblins provide varied enemies and they will be trouble if you let the mountain locations pile up. You will be escorting Arwen Undomiel, who provides helpful questing ability and resources, which helps ease the difficulty. The theme and artwork is excellent, and really feels like an adventure with the snowy weather playing a key role. I enjoyed this quest enough to purchase the nightmare cards to add variety and difficulty. The escort continues with Road to Rivendell (Dwarrowdelf Cycle) moving into goblin territory where enemy ambush is a threat. It is a good adventure, less weather dependent, and is more difficult due to tricky treachery and shadow effects. These two scenarios fit together as a great mini set, and works well with Elrohir and Elladan as heroes.

4. Temple of the Deceived & Drowned Ruins (Dreamchaser Cycle) – are connected lost island adventures featuring hidden locations and undead. Fate of Numenor (Grey Havens) introduces the lost island exploration, where locations only reveal themselves when activated. This provides great tension and is developed further in Temple of the Deceived where you begin with a full map laid out, and you must find the gate key to open the entrance to a grotto. Its unique location set up really works well, and you start aided by a corsair captain and a raider, which makes solo play a little more friendly.  Drowned Ruins continues the story searching submerged ruins for a sunken shrine, and featuring sea creatures. You will need to decide when to dive underwater to reveal hidden areas, but cannot then add allies or attachments until you resurface. I really enjoyed all these quests, as they have an excellent story theme, and make the adventure the most important part of the experience.

5. Wastes of Eriador (Angmar Cycle) – you are hunted by a pack of wargs as you roam the hills of Armor with Amarthiul. This is a tricky quest, as you move from day to night which changes the encounter effects in play. During the day you must quest hard and enemies will remain distant, however when night falls your threat will rise and the wargs close in as a pack. It is a brilliant idea, and the warg artwork is excellent and well themed too. Now this is very tough to beat solo with the extra night encounter triggering, so i often reduce this to every other night (to compensate for only one player). Across the Ettenmoors (Angmar Cycle) continues the Amarthiul hunted theme, where you seek out safe locations to hide from roaming trollspawn and giants, is a decent quest, but fairly tricky to remember all the event triggers in play.

6. Watcher in the Water (Dwarrowdelf Cycle) – is a memorable monster fight encounter with the watcher creature from the lake. You have two ways to defeat this quest, by opening the doors of Durin to escape, or defeating the monster itself. Huge tentacles emerge from the lake to attack your characters, and this battle requires patience as many times the monster will defeat you. The watcher, once fully emerged, will pick off your heroes and allies each round, regardless of whether you have engaged him or not. The secret doors require you to discard precious cards and hope that you unlock the hidden code. This quest gives you some tense endings, and if you want the ultimate challenge then try to both defeat the watcher and open the doors as well. An alternative boss fight is found in Shadows and Flame (Dwarrowdelf Cycle) where you take on the immense Balrog in the mines, an even tougher scenario which requires quite specific deck assistance to beat it and ends up more a puzzle than an adventure, although it is very thematic. Thing in the Depths (Dreamchaser Cycle) offers an alternative deep sea monster take on the Watcher quest, but i have not played it yet.

7. Treachery of Rhudaur (Angmar Cycle) & Deadman’s Dike (Lost Realms) – where you enter ancient ruins to fight the undead in atmospheric locations, and featuring Thaurdir as the main wraith boss. In Deadman’s Dike the undead will be draining away your life force by discarding your player deck, and you will lose the game if it runs out, and this clever design technique works thematically well. Treachery of Rhudaur is even better and continues the story, but this time you are assisted by an ally called Amarthiul, and must try to uncover a series of clues by way of completing side quests, which if obtained add a bonus to your core statistics. You eventually face a deadly pursuit by Thaurdir who will be quickly picking you off as you try to escape. Both quests are tough but are beatable solo, and have a similar theme to play together. Another slightly easier but excellent solo undead quest is Passing of the Grey Company (Flame of the West) with a small encounter deck focused on escalating threat, where phantom enemies initially increase threat rather than dealing damage, and your starting card hand is depleted, taking time to rebuild. There are many undead quests around with two more are found in the Angmar cycle, The Dread Realm and Battle of Carn Dum but both of these are known to be particularly hard and i have not yet been brave enough to purchase them.

8. Ruins of Belegost (Gencon) & Foundations of Stone (Dwarrowdelf Cycle) – are dungeon crawl style quests for usable treasures. Belegost is the half sunken ruins of a dwarf city, where you will be threatened by a dragon and other sinister creatures. Whilst seemingly impossible to solo with one deck as originally written, i tweak the rules using ‘Stalking the Ruins’ as time counter which after three resource tokens brings Naurlhug into play for one round, before disappearing under the water out of play at the refresh stage, resetting the resource counters. This acts as a time keyword as the dragon still picks off your allies, but without remaining to destroy games early on. Adjusting the additional hazard card when using the discover keyword is also possible (as this often overloads the staging area for one player). Foundations of Stone is set beneath the goblin mines and has alternative paths each time you play, and you won’t be sure where you will end up after being swept away. These are really tough solo quests but extremely rewarding if adjusted.

9. Massing at Osgiliath (Gencon) & Into Ithilien (Heirs of Numenor) – both feature ranger allies that can emerge from the encounter deck to help you. Osgiliath finds you being chased through the ruins and across a river with scout enemies bearing down on you, before you face a showdown with the Witch King. This is a great adventure that always feels pretty finely balanced and plays out quite quickly as it is somewhat time critical. Into Ithilien is a battle with harad enemies as you journey through the trees, featuring a choice of path, and is a tough but really enjoyable scenario. I just find the prospect of rangers appearing one of the best ideas in the game for solo play.

10. Journey along the Anduin (Core Set) & Nin-In-Eilph (Ringmaker Cycle) – offer wilderness & swampland adventuring with creatures to fight such as snakes and wargs. Anduin is another great core box quest, opening with a tough hill troll battle you must prepare for, and then features a more leisurely journey down the river. While you travel, goblins may try to shoot you, and enemies will accumulate on the river banks waiting for you to finally land, and resulting in a final battle on the shore. The swampland quest Nin-In-Eilph is extremely difficult but has become a challenge i really enjoy. You trek through bogs and marshes with various creatures attacking you, and locations shifting around. It has a straightforward adventuring style and a neat boss creature ending. I really like the artwork and theme of both quests and it is relatively easy to switch in alternative creature encounter cards to tweak the difficulty level. More snakes and scorpions are found in Desert Crossing (Sands of Harad), a quicker to play arid scenario, and the jungle themed The Mumakil (Haradrim Cycle) complete with tigers and apes, in which you must capture one of the huge creatures.

11. Escape From Mount Gram (Angmar Cycle) – is a dungeon escape where you start with just one hero, and you must first find and then free the others. You begin with two player decks, with one holding all the captured allies and attachments, and you will have to recover these gradually as you search through the prison cells. The goblins encounter deck initially features guards, jailors and torturers, but eventually when you near the end of the quest the Angmar Orcs will join in to hunt you down as you flee. This is a very story driven scenario, has really nice artwork with a slightly different style and is a lovely quest to play. It has an easier difficulty level than most quests, and is one i bought the nightmare cards for. Another dungeon escape quest is Escape from Dol Guldur (Core Box) but here for the solo player it has one of the highest difficulty levels, and is largely a frustrating experience. The Long Arm of Mordor (Sands of Harad) is an orc encampment rescue and escape scenario, and Dungeons of Cirith Gurat (Haradrim Cycle) is another dungeon jail rescue and escape quest, which i have not yet purchased.

12. Escape from Umbar (Sands of Harad) – provides a city escape where you are pursued by guards, soldiers and archers through the streets, and it feels like a chase scene. It requires a balance of questing and fighting, and the number of enemies appearing will be critical, and it is really fun. Trouble in Tharbad (Ringmaker Cycle) is another great city escape scenario where spies are searching for a dwarf you are protecting. This is very threat focused, where you sneak around the city streets and inns, and climb onto the rooftops. Once the chief spy sends in orcs to track you down, your threat will rise quickly, so you must act fast to reach the crossing. Peril in Pelargir (Heirs of Numenor) features a city tavern brawl where you are given a scroll to deliver, but it is painfully hard to solo play with very nasty shadow effects, and i did not find it enjoyable.

13. Battle of Five Armies (Hobbit On The Doorstep) – a thematic large scale battle that requires you to build a more varied deck, as you will be questing at times with your attack and defence powers across three battleground locations. Five armies features goblin forces and is very playable solo, with a Bilbo hero and supporting eagles appearing from the encounter deck to assist you. A similar siege battle theme is found in Siege of Cair Andros (Heirs of Numenor) where orcs fight you across three locations, and this is a much more of a relentless challenge, with really tough enemies and tricky treachery always in play. I enjoy the solo challenge but usually i need to remove a couple of encounter cards to beat it. Bring some healing for this one.

14. Druadan Forest (Against the Shadow) – features a battle through the forest with wose enemies who prowl and continually remove your resources, while archers shoot at you. As a solo quest this is relatively easy, and the forest locations and enemies are very cool. The final stage really mixes up the challenge as you will be under siege and turn to persuasion rather than fighting. Often i increase the difficulty by adding an extra wose enemy to staging at the start of a new quest stage. Other forest quests include Into Fanghorn (Voice of Isengard), a slightly unexciting journey to recapture an orc, and where the trees themselves provide the main threat, with changes to the combat mechanic, and The Old Forest (Gencon) is one i have not yet been able find at a reasonable price to play.

15. Intruders in Chetwood (Lost Realms) – where you must stop raiding orcs in the dark woods. This quest initially looks straightforward, being a one card scenario, but with side quests constantly diverting your attention, it becomes more tricky to complete than expected. The orc enemies and treachery can play havoc at times, and it results in one of the best orc scenarios. Weather Hills sees you hunting down these same orcs, and you will track your kills while dealing with severe weather. This is equally tough to solo as treachery events and orcs trigger extra encounters, and some healing support in your deck is advised. More orc chasing is found in Celebrimor’s Secret (Ringmaker Cycle) where you search for a secret chamber before the orcs can find it, and is tough solo as it has a scour effect constantly bringing in additional staging cards.  To Catch an Orc (Voice of Isengard) sees you trying to capture an orc leader, and is another really difficult quest with harsh forced conditions. The orc repeatedly escapes your clutches, and it is a bit repetitive and not one of my preferred quests.

16. Journey to Rhosgobel (Mirkwood Cycle) – is an enjoyable and uniquely different quest where you are on a rescue mission to save a wounded eagle. You must find different ways to protect and heal the eagle as you journey to safety, and it offers up a nice new objective, which needs a specially planned support deck. You will not be sure if you succeed until the end of the adventure. This quest has not really been replicated in a similar way since.

17. Knife in the Dark (Black Riders) – finds you trying to escape the clutches of the Witch King and his ringwraith guardians, and builds up as you aim to keep out of trouble early on, only to find yourself surrounded by wraiths in a final showdown, for if you get too many wraiths in your encounter deck then you will be unlikely to survive. This is the middle quest of the expansion set between Shadows of the Past a slightly fiddly hiding adventure, and Flight to the Ford a fast quest which is treachery heavy, with Frodo injured you face a race against time to get him to safety as his life trickles away. These quests are most thematically played with Hobbit heroes.

18. The Steward’s Fear (Against The Shadow) – sees you uncovering a corruption plot deep within the city of Gondor, fighting brigands in the streets in underworld locations. It has a variable set up each game, encountering a different mix of three plots and three villains being pursued, which keeps changing the challenge faced. The Three Trials (Ringmaker Cycle) similarly has you take on three different guardians of three keys in three different barrow locations, and comes with some of the best enemy artwork.  Both are excellent quest designs, but as the challenge changes each time, beating them solo is particularly hard, and they arguably rank even stronger multiplayer, where extra decks can cope better. However you can of course pick your scenario combination if you wish.

19. Battle of Pelennor Fields (Flame of the West) – is an epic five stage battle to defend the city of Minas Tirith from the witch king’s army. It has some extremely tough cards such as siege towers, but may require toning down as a solo challenge (the witch king forced effect i reduce to every other round to compensate for one player). It is an epic and long battle but one that does not revert to using battle and siege rules, so willpower will remain essential. There are a lot of event triggers to track in this quest which is a downside, but it is a noteworthy challenge.

20. Voyage of Belegaer (Grey Havens) – you are on a journey sailing the seas with ship allies and enemies doing battle, while your characters fend off boarding raiders. Locations represent varying sea conditions including fog and storms, as you navigate to try and stay on course. This is not a hard quest, and nicely changes up the gameplay, being a fun solo quest.  Raid on Grey Havens also in the same box features a corsair attack, where elven ships are being set ablaze, and Siege of Gondor (Flame of the West) has a small encounter deck and sees you attacking corsairs on a fleet of ships, and needs to be played as fast as possible as the fleet strength escalates every round. The Dreamchaser cycle continues on with these sailing themes in the weather driven Storm on Cobas Haven and a battle in City of Corsairs, neither of which i have played yet.

21. Race across Harad (Haradrim Cycle) – is a chase scenario across the desert, with orcs riding on warg mounts hunting you down. This operates by setting up a second staging and quest area, and your heroes must quest through their locations quicker than the enemy does theirs. This race to safety is a very tough solo quest, where in solo play i tend to ignore the chiefs extra attack rules until the final stage is reached. Flight of the Stormcaller (Dreamchaser Cycle) operates with a similar second staging area, but this time though you are chasing a ship, while your characters fend off boarding raiders. Locations represent varying sea conditions including fog and storms, as you also must navigate to try and stay on course. These quests can feel more fiddly with the extra staging area coming in and out of play with your own during the game, but do also push the clever design boundaries.

22. Fords of Isen (Voice Of Isengard) – features a battle against the dunlendings boar tribe with encounter cards throwing up tricky forced events, often requiring you to get rid of cards from your hand as soon as possible. The dunlendings storyline theme continues in Dunland Trap (Ringmaker Cycle) where you must survive the boar clan chieftain and the trap he has set, and Antlered Crown (Ringmaker Cycle) featuring a final battle with the raven clan. All these linked quests are tough, contain time critical progress and require you track loads of card triggers.

23. Over The Misty Mountains Grim (Over Hill & Under Hill) – is an easier journey adventure with a two separate decks to play against, featuring giants & goblins. You start in the mountain pass where stone giants are your biggest threat, before journeying down into a goblin town, where the great goblin and his minions await your arrival. This is a more relaxing challenge, with the goblins rarely relying on trickery to beat you. Hills of Emyn Muir (Mirkwood Cycle) is another easier location led adventure and for me is underrated, journeying across nice locations against orc enemies. They enable you to play even with more limited player card choices available.

Nightmare Versions – generally i find the original quests hard enough to play solo and nightmare decks are not something i need, preferring new expansions instead. However where a quest is particularly enjoyable and thematic and i feel the need for some additional variety or difficulty then i may add it. So far i have 12 nightmare packs : Passage to Mirkwood and Return to Mirkwood as these enable me to customise my Mirkwood adventures. Redhorn Gate is a unique icy adventure which can definitely take some extra difficulty, and Khazad-Dum (3 quest pack) plus The Long Dark are great mines adventures, although they don’t really need to be too much harder. Nin-in-Eilph, Wastes of Eriador, Escape from Mount Gram, Temple of the Deceived and Drowned Ruins were added as they have great quest themes and artwork.

Further thoughts by grouping quests into the deluxe boxes and the cycles can be seen here > box expansions