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 have recently become more selective in buying cycle packs within the later releases based on their theme. 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 in 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 of the 82 i own/pre-ordered (with 74 played so far), from a solo one deck play perspective, and then also combining together similar adventure themes from within the other expansions.

1. Lost in Mirkwood (Wilds of Rhovanion) & Return to Mirkwood (Mirkwood Cycle) – the original Passage to Mirkwood (Core Set) is an excellent introductory quest with a spiders & orcs theme, which is comparatively easy to beat, and really worth customizing 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 quests in the game, and feels different 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 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 the Mirkwood theme.

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 whilst relatively easy, it 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. They are best thematically played using Dwarves. Also in the mines is a boss fight in Shadows and Flame (Dwarrowdelf Cycle) against the mighty Balrog, a really tough scenario requiring specific deck assistance to beat it, and is more a puzzle than an adventure, although it is very thematic.

3. The King’s Quest (Wilds of Rhovanion) – an underground cave adventure to defeat a fire drake. In some ways this feels like an easier ‘Belegost’ quest but without proper treasure objectives, although you can find an artifact in the dragons horde. It features one of my favourite encounter decks in the game, with themed dark cave locations that really have a memorable location effect, some are beneficial to find and some are not, enemies will include bats, giant spiders and stone trolls. It does have a dungeon crawl feel to it, and there are clever moments such as the forked passage and the hobgoblin with variable difficulty and rewards. The dragon also comes with its own treachery attachments, and it is quite a tough quest, but works well on easy level with a decent deck, and on full level with a more tailored one. An alternative 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.

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 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) – 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, a clever design technique which 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 make a good companion set. 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. Stone of Erech (Gencon) is another good quest with time pressures as midnight falls, and an undead spectral aspect where willpower is the best way to defeat them. The Dread Realm (Angmar Cycle) is a more miss-able quest, spawning zombie like re-animations from your player deck, but is too overwhelming to enjoy and who wants to fight the back of a card ?

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. Thing in the Depths (Dreamchaser Cycle) offers an alternative deep sea monster take on the Watcher quest complete with tentacle attacks, although i do not own this one yet.

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. 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. It also has lost treasures to find and use. These are really tough solo quests but extremely rewarding.

8. 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 adventuring an important part of the experience.

9. 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 great 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 hunting Amarthiul theme, where you seek out safe locations to hide from roaming trollspawn and giants, is a decent enough quest, but fairly tricky to remember all the event triggers in play.

10. Massing at Osgiliath (Gencon) & Into Ithilien (Heirs of Numenor) – both feature ranger allies that can emerge from the encounter deck to help you out. 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.

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 is 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 the scenario without adding the extra forced on track card to the staging area.

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 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 this 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. 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 defense 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 very playable solo. 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 as you will be shot by arrows. Battle of Carn Dum (Angmar Cycle) features another battleground with orcs and an undead leader and loads of shadow cards being dealt, but it is another overwhelmingly hard one for a solo player.

14. 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, and you will have to recover these gradually as you search through the prison cells. Initially you encounter goblin guards, jailors and torturers, but eventually when you near escape the Angmar Orcs will join in to hunt you down as you flee. This is story driven, has nice artwork with a slightly different style, 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 Box) with a high difficulty level, but with a deeper deck pool can become a fun challenge. The Uruk-hai (Treason of Saruman) is shorter pursuit scenario which also starts features a captured hero. 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.

15. 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 really fun 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. 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.

16. 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 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. A good choice if you do not want to invest too much in the game and like the core set, and are not going to get into Wilds of Rhovanion.

17. Journey along the Anduin (Core Set) – is a great core set wilderness adventure, opening with a tough hill troll battle you must prepare for, before a more leisurely journey down the river. While you travel, 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 final battle on the shore.  Hills of Emyn Muir (Mirkwood Cycle) is another easier location led adventure and for me is underrated, journeying across wild hill locations against orc enemies. These quests enable you to play even with more limited player card choices available.  Journey up the Anduin (Wilds of Rhovanion) revisits the original quest and regularly spawns core set attacking creatures at your party, but seems overly tough on a solo player (i generally play an easier variant without making all the additional creature quest card triggers).

18. 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.

19. 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 support deck with a bit of planning. You will also not be sure if you succeed until right at the end of the adventure. This quest is not always a favourite with players, but i like it and it has not really been replicated in a similar way since.

20. 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. 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 really want but have not yet been able find at a reasonable price.

21. 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. It is a highly regarded quest, and there are a lot of event triggers to track which is a downside, but overall it is a noteworthy challenge.

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) 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, randomly encountering a different mix of three plots and three villains being pursued, which in particular makes any solo game preparation really tricky. However you can of course pick your scenario combination in advance if you wish.

23. 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.

24. 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, 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.

25. 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 with your own during the game, but do also push the clever design boundaries.

26. 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.

27. Over Misty Mountains Grim (Over Hill & Under Hill) – is an easier adventure with two separate decks to play against, and 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 leader and his minions await your arrival. This is a more relaxing challenge overall with two distinct gameplay phases. Dungeons Deep & Caverns Dim also features two decks with Gollum and a riddle deck, but feels 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