Crusaders Games

Lord of the Rings LCG Expansions

This living card adventure game now offers over 100 different quest scenarios, providing great storytelling with tactical game challenges. I continue to expand my collection and explore the series, but I only play this game solo with one support deck, so this influences my view of which quests i prefer. I enjoy scenarios that provide a themed adventure, rather than those with complex triggers or mechanics, and my ongoing thoughts by grouping expansion themes may help steer newcomers around some of the many choices to be made.

Here is a rank list of my favourite adventure quests (with some joint nominations) of the 91 i own (with 84 played so far), from a solo one deck play perspective, and then linking together similar adventure themes from within other expansions.

1. Lost in Mirkwood (Wilds of Rhovanion) & Return to Mirkwood (Mirkwood Cycle) – the original Passage to Mirkwood (Core) is an excellent introductory quest with Mirkwood spiders & orcs, which is comparatively easy to beat, and really worth customising for extra variety and difficulty by adding in alternative cards from the nightmare deck. Lost in Mirkwood further develops this quest, re-using core set cards and adding more branching story paths with objective locations to find. You will fight spiders and orcs while searching for a way out of the forest, becoming one of my favourite adventure story scenarios, and changing paths adding variety each time you play. Return to Mirkwood (Mirkwood Cycle) is another really enjoyable spider adventure in the forest which has a great 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 sometimes add every other round to compensate for only one player). 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 Mirkwood adventures.

2. The King’s Quest (Wilds of Rhovanion) & The Withered Heath (Ered Mithrin) – are dragon hunting quests both featuring one of my favourite encounter decks in the game, with a themed dark cave deck that really has memorable location effects, some being beneficial to find and some not, and enemies will include bats, giant spiders and trolls. King’s Quest is an underground cave dungeon crawl to defeat a fire drake, an easier ‘Belegost’ style quest without varied treasure objectives, although you can find an artifact in the dragons horde. There are really clever moments such as the forked passage and the hobgoblin, with variable difficulty and rewards available. The fire dragon comes with treachery attachments, and whilst a tough quest it works well on easy level with a decent deck, and on full level with a more tailored one. Withered Heath has you hunting a cold drake in the icy mountains, looking to uncover clues using the same cave deck, and has dragon hatchlings to fight alongside the larger dragon.  A longer quest generally, the theme and adventure is excellent and you will fight the ice drake twice before finally defeating it. An alternative underground dragon quest is The Lonely Mountain (Hobbit On The Doorstep) which has you stealing treasure from Smaug, but it is not very exploration based and has frustrating wipe-outs from the fire breath triggers.

3. Seventh Level (Khazad-Dum) & Journey in the Dark (The Road Darkens) – are thematic quests set within the goblin mines. Seventh Level is a more straightforward quest where goblin enemies attack you in numbers, but if you are unlucky a troll may emerge from the tunnels to make things more difficult. It has great balance between theme and ease of play. 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 is location heavy and focuses on keeping a torch lit. The Long Dark (Dwarrowdelf Cycle) is more exploration based with a theme of being lost in the dark, and I really like this one, and whilst relatively easy it has changeable difficulty levels dependent on encounter card draw. Then there is the thematic boss fight in Shadows and Flame (Dwarrowdelf Cycle) against the mighty Balrog, a really tough scenario requiring specific deck assistance to beat it, and more a puzzle than an adventure. Journey in the Dark manages to bring all these story elements together into one quest, with tunnel searching, a chamber battle, bridge crossing and a Balrog encounter and is one of best written quests in the game, although is really hard to solo play (i prefer removing the extra Balrog doom card attack trigger to make it more manageable).

4. 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 solo 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.

5. Treachery of Rhudaur (Angmar Cycle) & Deadman’s Dike (Lost Realms) – you enter ancient ruins to fight the undead in atmospheric locations, featuring Thaurdir as the wraith boss. In Deadman’s Dike the undead will be draining away your life force by discarding your player deck, and you will lose if it runs out, it is a clever design technique which works thematically well. Treachery of Rhudaur is even better and continues the story, assisted by Amarthiul you 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 make a good companion set. An easier but also 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. More undead quests include Fog on Barrow Downs (Gencon) a great quest best played with Hobbits as you try to escape the wight barrows, Stone of Erech (Gencon) with time pressures as midnight falls, and a spectral aspect where willpower becomes the best way to defeat them, and The Dread Realm (Angmar Cycle) which is a more miss-able quest, spawning zombie like re-animations from your player deck which is too overwhelming to enjoy really, and fighting the back of a player card is a weak mechanism.

6. The Ring Goes South (The Road Darkens) & Wastes of Eriador (Angmar Cycle) – In Eriador you are being 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 wargs close in as a pack, which is a great idea. This is very tough to beat solo with the extra night encounter triggering (i often reduce this to every other night to compensate for only one player). Wargs will also hunt you in The Ring Goes South, another really great adventure as you are chased to the Doors of Durin, with locations triggering harsh effects if you leave them active too long, and featuring a short encounter with the Watcher. The hounds are definitely the main feature in this quest, which is notable for another of my favourite encounter decks. I really enjoy the warg artwork, with the wolf pack mechanism well executed again.

7. 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. It has potential to be my favourite ever quest, however it is marked down slightly as being impossible to solo with one deck as originally written. I now amend the rules using ‘Stalking the Ruins’ as time keyword 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 means 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. It also has lost treasures to find and use during the adventure. These are really tough solo quests but extremely rewarding to play.

8. Watcher in the Water (Dwarrowdelf Cycle) – is a memorable monster fight encounter with the tentacles of 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 creature. 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. 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. Thing in the Depths (Dreamchaser Cycle) offers an interesting alternative deep sea monster battle complete with its own tentacle attacks, although it is a tough solo game where the early game fighting raiders requires many solo resets to get to the creature.

9. 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 helps make solo play seem 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 this quest trilogy, as they tell an excellent story, and make the adventuring an important part of the experience.

10. Battle of Five Armies (Hobbit On The Doorstep) – large scale battle that requires you to think differently about your deck, as you will be questing at times with your attack and defence powers across three battleground locations. You are joined by Bilbo as a hero to fight goblin forces, with supporting eagles appearing from the encounter deck to assist you,  and it is a great quest and very playable solo. A similar siege battle theme 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, raining down arrows and with really tough enemies and tricky treachery. I enjoy the solo challenge but usually i need to remove a couple of encounter cards to beat it. Battle of Carn Dum (Angmar Cycle) features another battleground with orcs and an undead leader with loads of extra shadow cards being dealt out, but it is an overwhelmingly hard one for a solo player and not one i like to replay. The Road to Isengard (Treason of Saruman) is a very like-able quest where you recruit ent allies and attack Orthanc to fight Saruman, it is a slightly easier battle given the allies that support you and is a good excuse to build an ent deck.

11. Beneath the Sands (Haradrim Cycle) – a spider adventure set outside Mirkwood in the desert, as heroes search caverns to destroy a brood mother. This adventure 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. It is a tough solo test where I may ease the difficulty by playing the scenario without adding the extra forced on track card to the staging area. Shelob’s Lair (Land of Shadow) is another spider adventure which i have not managed to play yet.

12. Nin-In-Eilph (Ringmaker Cycle) – is a location themed journey fighting wild creatures such as snakes and wargs. This swampland quest is extremely difficult and receives mixed opinions, but has become a challenge i really enjoy. Trekking through dangerous marshes, with locations shifting around, it has a straightforward adventuring style and a neat boss creature ending. I really like the artwork and theme of the quest and it is possible to switch in alternative creature encounter cards to tweak the difficulty level. Desert Crossing (Sands of Harad) is a quicker to play temperature driven arid scenario, where snakes and scorpions feature. A jungle themed adventure is The Mumakil (Haradrim Cycle) which includes tigers and apes, where you must capture one of the huge Mumakil creatures.

13. Escape From Mount Gram (Angmar Cycle) – is a dungeon escape where you start with one hero and must find and free the others. You begin with two player decks, with one holding all the captured allies and attachments, which you have to recover as you search through the prison cells. Initially you encounter goblin guards, jailors and torturers, but eventually when you near escape Orcs will also hunt you down as you flee. This is story driven, has slightly different style art, and an easier difficulty level than most quests (one i bought the nightmare cards for). Another dungeon escape quest with a captured hero is Escape from Dol Guldur (Core) with a high difficulty level, although with a deeper deck pool i found it can become a fun challenge. The Uruk-hai (Treason of Saruman) is shorter pursuit scenario which also starts with a captured hero, and The Long Arm of Mordor (Sands of Harad) is really hard and has you break into an orc encampment to rescue all your captive heroes and escape. Dungeons of Cirith Gurat (Haradrim Cycle) is yet another dungeon jail rescue and escape quest, which i have not yet purchased.

14. Helm’s Deep (Treason of Saruman) & Battle of Pelennor Fields (Flame of the West) – Helm’s Deep is a highly regarded slightly shorter quest where you must defend the fortress against an orc army. Questing is flipped on its head as a defensive stance, while enemies threaten to add progress and defeat your locations. You must survive long enough to take the final battle to the remaining orcs. This quest feels very different and is a great experience with the right heroes. Pelennor Fields is an epic five stage battle to defend the city Minas Tirith from the witch king’s army. It has some extremely tough siege cards, and 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 a long battle but like Helm’s Deep does not revert to using battle and siege rules, so willpower will remain essential. Again a highly regarded quest, there are a lot of event triggers to track, but overall it is a noteworthy challenge. These two quests really show what alternative quest designs can do to simulate a battle experience.

15. Roam Across Rhovanion (Ered Mithrin) – is an exploration across the moors helping an orc to find his treasures, featuring giants & trolls alongside other wild creatures. This questing style adventure is great, and lost items can be used, although Durin’s key often brings more problems than benefits. Treachery in this deck are pretty tough to deal with, but the quest overall is relatively solo playable, and eagles allies may help you from the encounter deck too if you set up for it. It is a really enjoyable adventure. Across the Ettenmoors (Angmar Cycle) features giants & trollspawn hunting you, where you seek out safe locations to hide on the moors, and is a decent quest, but can be tricky to remember all the event triggers in play. Conflict at Carrock (Mirkwood Cycle) is a full on battle against 3 trolls, which becomes more a puzzle to solve than an adventure. Over Misty Mountains Grim (Over Hill & Under Hill) is an easier giants adventure with two separate decks to play against, starting in the mountain pass where stone giants are your biggest threat, before journeying down into a goblin town, where the great goblin leader and his minions await your arrival. This is a more relaxing challenge overall with two distinct gameplay phases.

16. Massing at Osgiliath (Gencon) & Into Ithilien (Heirs of Numenor) – both feature ranger allies that can emerge from the encounter deck to help you out during the adventure. 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 forest battle with harad enemies as you journey through the trees, featuring a choice of questing path, and is a tough but really enjoyable scenario. I find the prospect of helpful rangers suddenly appearing one of the best ideas in the game for solo play.

17. Escape from Umbar (Sands of Harad) – a city escape where you are pursued by guards, soldiers and archers through the streets, and it really 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 a really fun adventure to play. 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.

18. Intruders in Chetwood (Lost Realms) – is a quest that initially looks straightforward being a one card scenario, but has side quests constantly diverting your attention. You must stop raiding orcs in the dark woods, and treachery plays havoc at times, it is one of the best orc scenarios. Weather Hills sees you hunting down the orcs, tracking your kills while dealing with severe weather. This is tough as extra encounters are triggered, and some healing support in your deck is advised. More orc themed quests include Celebrimor’s Secret (Ringmaker Cycle) where you search for a secret chamber before the orcs find it, with a nasty new scour effect bringing in additional staging cards or other surprises.  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, but as the orc repeatedly escapes your clutches it becomes repetitive and unenjoyable. Hills of Emyn Muir (Mirkwood Cycle) is an easier location led adventure which i feel is underrated, journeying across wild hill locations against orc enemies, this quest enables you to play with more limited player card choices available.

19. Journey to Rhosgobel (Mirkwood Cycle) – is a really 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, for which will need you to develop a planned support deck. You will also not be sure if you succeed until right at the end of the adventure. This quest seems to have a love or hate review from players, but i really do enjoy it, and its theme has not really been replicated in a similar way since.

20. Breaking of the Fellowship (The Road Darkens) &  Journey along the Anduin (Core) Fellowship is a river journey that uses locations as guide points, and where orc enemies will shoot you with arrows, and then lie in wait for you to land. Players will end up with their own stages and choice of quest, which is all less complex in solo play (i play with a random stage 3 quest). Journey along the Anduin is a great core quest which opens with a tough hill troll battle you must prepare for. While you journey down the river, goblins may try to shoot you, and creatures or enemies will accumulate on the river banks waiting for you to finally land, resulting in a battle on the shore.  Journey up the Anduin (Wilds of Rhovanion) revisits this original quest and regularly spawns core set attacking creatures at your party, but eventually seems overly tough on a solo player (i generally solo play without making an additional creature quest card trigger).

21. 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 seafaring nicely changes up the gameplay, becoming a fun solo quest.  Raid on Grey Havens also in the same box features a corsair attack, a quicker quest 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.

22. The Three Trials (Ringmaker Cycle) – has you take on three different guardians of three keys in three different barrow locations, and comes with some of my favourite enemy artwork.  It is really tough for solo play, with three boss fights and an end game that usually sees them all return (i usually only reveal one random guardian for the showdown to reflect the player count). The Stewards Fear (Against the Shadow Cycle) also has a variable set up each game, randomly encountering a different mix of three plots and three villains being pursued, which in particular makes any solo game preparation really tricky. You are uncovering a corruption plot deep within the city of Gondor, fighting brigands in the streets in underworld locations. However you can of course pick your scenario combination in advance if you wish.

23. 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. A more relaxing adventure, i often increase the difficulty by adding an extra wose enemy to staging at the start of a new quest stage.

24. 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 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 during the game, but do also push the clever design boundaries.

25. 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.

26. Murder at the Prancing Pony (Fellowship) – you are investigating a murder at the inn, with 5 suspects in 5 potential hideout locations. By questing successfully across various village buildings you will be able to reveal clues to slowly narrow down the choices until you are ready to make your accusation. If you are right, you will then take on the hideout and suspect yourself to apprehend them in a final showdown, however guess unsuccessfully and you will bring even more trouble down upon yourself. This is a very different quest which is interesting to play, but tough to beat solo and you need a good balance of threat control, willpower and enemy defence as the brigands and outlaws hit quite hard. It is a nice alternative style quest and worth trying out. 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 particularly enjoyable or engaging.

27. Woodland Realm (Fellowship) / Wizard’s Quest (Gencon) – these two unique expansions revisit the early core set locations of Mirkwood, Dol Goldur & Rhosgobel, heavily featuring spiders & orcs.  Artwork will be familiar, re-used from other quests, but card triggers have often been altered, and you can build your own quest challenges from a choice of locations and encounters using some easy balancing rules. Cards can also be interchanged between either of these two expansions sets. This is a really versatile addition to the core game, and whilst i do not play competitively, i enjoy revisiting these locations and creating my own adventures to overcome. These packs are a great choice if you do not want to invest too much in the game and really like the core set themes to build on. The quest cards may feel a little generic compared to other specifically written scenarios, but it remains a nice alternative way to play.

28. The Old Forest (Gencon) – is a journey through an alive forest where the trees themselves become the main threat, and you must add explored locations to the victory display, while the forest locations throw frequent main quest changes at you. An important feature of the original storyline, it manages to theme being lost in the deadly forest well, and has a showdown with old man willow.  Into Fanghorn (Voice of Isengard), is another forest quest to capture an orc, where the trees again provide the main threat and with changes to the combat mechanic, although this overall is less exciting as a scenario to play through.

29. 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.

30. Dead Marshes (Mirkwood Cycle) – a number of adventures feature gollum as a key scenario component either by searching for him, escorting him or fighting him. In Dead Marshes you are escorting him, although he turns on you and escape back into the encounter deck meaning you have to keep searching cards to find him again, which can be frustrating. Hunt for Gollum (Mirkwood Cycle) is an easier quest where you are looking for clues to find him rather than actually encountering him directly. Dungeons Deep & Caverns Dim (Over Hill & Under Hill) features the first encounter with two separate decks, one being a riddle deck which sounds great but it feels rather fiddly, and can be overly zealous on adding cards to the staging area.

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