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 72 i own (with 63 played so far), from a solo one deck play perspective and combining together adventure themes from within the expansions.

1. 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 is worth customizing for variety and difficulty by adding in alternative cards from the nightmare deck. 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 tunnels to make things even more difficult. Goblins should generally be dispatched easily enough, but you need to control them, so allies are essential, but you will also need some condition and shadow help. 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. Both these scenarios capture the feeling of being over-run by goblins, and whilst being tricky, are very playable with a solo deck. Also in Khazad-Dum is another good mines quest Flight From Moria where you search frantically for your way out against a more location and treachery driven encounter deck, and the opening quest Into The Pit focuses on a torch mechanic and is location heavy, but is not quite as exciting as the high standards set by others. Overall Khazad-Dum is not too tough and is my favourite deluxe box expansion set, with the mines 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 in this quest is excellent, and it 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 favourite mini set, and works well with Elrohir and Elladan as heroes.

4. Temple of the Deceived & Drowned Ruins (Dreamchaser Cycle) – are connected adventures featuring hidden locations and undead. Fate of Numenor (Grey Havens) introduces a great lost island exploration, where locations only reveal themselves when activated. This 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 as you start aided by a corsair captain and a raider, it makes solo feel more friendly than most. 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 enjoyed all these quests hugely, 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 with an ally Amarthiul helping you, as you roam the hills of Armor. 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 will 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) or maybe add in alternative warg cards. Across the Ettenmoors (Angmar Cycle) continues the Amarthiul story and hunting theme with trollspawn searching for you, and roaming giants and large trolls being a constant threat. You will be seeking out safe locations to hide from the numerous enemies that come after you and whilst it is a decent quest, it is 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 arguably 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 off your party as you try to escape. Both quests are tough but are beatable solo, and have a similar theme to play together. A 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 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. Escape From Mount Gram (Angmar Cycle) – is a dungeon escape quest 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.  Dungeons of Cirith Gurat (Haradrim Cycle) is a rescue and escape dungeon jail quest, which i have not yet purchased.

9. 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. The artwork and theme of both quests are excellent and it is relatively easy to switch in alternative creature encounter cards to tweak the difficulty level. A jungle themed adventure in which you must capture a creature is The Mumakil (Haradrim Cycle) complete with tigers and apes.

10. Ruins Of Belegost (Gencon) – are the half sunken ruins of the dwarf city, and has the feel of being a dungeon crawl. Search locations for usable treasures, while being 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 3 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 and causes damage, but without remaining to destroy games early on. I also optionally tweak the additional hazard card when using the discover keyword (as this often overloads the staging area for one player). The artwork and theme here is excellent and with amended rules it can become one of the most enjoyable solo quests. Celebrimor’s Secret (Ringmaker Cycle) searches for a secret chamber in an older ruined city before the orcs find it, and adds a scour effect constantly bringing in additional staging cards.

11. Into Ithilien (Heirs of Numenor) – features forest rangers battling against the harad as you journey through a forest. The adventure features a choice of path, and the ranger allies may emerge from the encounter deck to help you. This is a tough scenario but really enjoyable, and the idea where the encounter deck helps you at times is one I really enjoyed. Another forest themed quest Into Fanghorn (Voice of Isengard) is a slightly unexciting forest journey to recapture the orc Mugash, and where the trees themselves provide the main threat, with a change to the combat mechanic, and the art is very nice. The Old Forest (Gencon) is one i have not yet been able find and play.

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 at all 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 will be your oppressor 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. 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 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. Chasing down orcs is also found in To Catch An Orc (Voice of Isengard), which sees you trying to capture Mugash, and is a really difficult quest with harsh forced conditions, and where the orc repeatedly escapes, and is not one of preferred quests to play.

15. 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.

16. Foundations of Stone (Dwarrowdelf Cycle) – is a highly regarded quest with an alternative path each time you play. It is an underground quest using the torch which features split routes, and you won’t be sure where you will end up after being swept away. It has two encounter decks that change half way through, but the initial encounter deck can be slightly repetitive early on. It is tough and not all parts of the design will fully impact on solo players, but it really has an adventure feel to it.

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 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 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 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 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 its only real downside.

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) 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. It is a quick race quest with a small encounter deck. The Dreamchaser cycle continues on with these sailing themes in a Flight of the Stormcaller chase before hitting the weather driven Storm on Cobas Haven and a battle in City of Corsairs, none of which i have played yet.

21. Fords of Isen (Voice Of Isengard) – features battles 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. This 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 require you track loads of card triggers.

22. Over The Misty Mountains Grim (Over Hill & Under Hill) – is a quest 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 an easier quest and a more relaxing adventure, with the goblins offer a fair fight without relying on trickery to beat you. Hills of Emyn Muir (Mirkwood Cycle) is another easier adventure which for me is underrated and journeys across some nice locations against orc enemies.

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