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Author Topic: Fan Made Formats - Book Formats  (Read 134 times)
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ArtificerAlf
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« on: September 11, 2019, 10:53:15 AM »

I realize that I can play the game with friends however I choose. However, I'm looking to inject some freshness into the game, as many people tend to say things like "this is how Fellowship Block decks work, etc". My proposal: add some existing cards to formats to allow payoffs for book fans while creating some new metas. Not sure how much merit it will have, but it's something I've wanted to discuss/try.

The easiest example of low-hanging fruit is Reflections. There's a number of cards that originally came into the story during the Fellowship of the Ring. Merry's Dagger, Pippin's Dagger, Strands of Elven Hair all have their place in that story. Tom Bombadil, Goldberry, and Glorfindel too. Not sure how much these would affect the Fellowship meta, but why not?

Additionally, I think The Binding Ring and the other rings could be included too, mostly due the prologue standpoint, and I would like to see what the decks do with my friends if we are building around different Rings instead of the default rare Ring for each block.

Thoughts?
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ket_the_jet
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2019, 11:51:30 AM »

I know some groups have allowed Reflections in various blocks that predate the set's availability. I'd personally like to see what movie block would look like with the removal of Reflections--Dwarves certainly, but also Dunland, Elves, and Gondor would be a bit hamstrung.

If you are specifically looking to use applicable Reflections cards in Fellowship block, I would find Glorfindel to be game-breaking, personally. Last Alliance decks don't really need the help. The Knife of the Galadhrim would likely not get much more play than Flaming Brand. Galadriel, Boromir, and Gimli appear in the set, but let's remove the alternate ring-bearers from conversation. I would be open to Gollum, Dark as Darkness in Fellowship block as the lone Gollum card.

Stacking Isengard Orcs came about in set 2, but I think Library of Orthanc would be interesting in Fellowship block. That said, Sack of the Shire introduces a mechanic (site control) that precedes the rules of the time. Would Host of Moria, Legion of the Underdeeps be appropriate? I kind of think not, but I haven't thought about the implications of its addition.

I don't think the game would be ready for any of the rings of power, personally. So we're really just talking about adding the cards you suggested, Knife of the Galadhrim, Library of Orthanc, and possibly Dark as Darkness.

Or am I forgetting anything?
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ArtificerAlf
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2019, 01:09:29 PM »

In essence, I'm trying to shake up some metas a bit by creating a format that rewards the book lovers - the films themselves did things a little bit differently in some situations (Shelob, I'm looking at you and having to wait an entire year after TTT for that fun), and the "Book Format" would essentially kind of rectify some of those things.

This is all experimental, and the intent is a healthy debate. I'm sure I will personally be allowing some things and maintaining lists, just to encourage some fun. Maybe others will enjoy the idea, and it will kind of grow like the MtG formats of Commander, Oathbreaker, and Pauper.

I'll start with analyzing the Fellowship Block, since I have the most experience with it. If you look back at the tournament winning decks, they all involve Isengard. So, here's my Shadow thoughts:

Moria - Would Host of Moria, Legion of the Underdeep affect much? I don't know. I've seen the Moria swarm, I've built the archer Moria deck, and I've also seen some builds that involve the Cave Troll and heavy hitters. I would love to see the Watcher in the Water get some support, but I'm not sure that's entirely possible without Evil-Smelling Fens or the like.

Sauron - While not from Reflections, I've considered that Eye of Barad-Dur could definitely see an inclusion in Fellowship Book Block. The Eye certainly played a role in the books, and this could compliment No Business of Ours and Throw Yourself in Next Time.

Ringwraith - I see Twilight Nazguls the most, or a few Nazgul sprinkled throughout other decks. Would the Reflections Ringwraith rings give them a bit of a boost?

The intent is to "break" a format, but to try and develop a way to throw some additions to the game that is thematic from the books, and shake things up a bit. Not sure how much we will see that.

Additionally, how much is The Binding Ring played? My other thought was that each format seems to only ever run the rare Ring - it would be cool to have some other options.
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ket_the_jet
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2019, 03:19:27 PM »

Ringwraith - I see Twilight Nazguls the most, or a few Nazgul sprinkled throughout other decks. Would the Reflections Ringwraith rings give them a bit of a boost?
If twilight 'guls are your meta, that's the meta I want to be in. Twilight Nazgul are often pushovers in Fellowship block.

If you were experimenting with "book" formats, would you introduce Boromir to Towers Block? After all, he doesn't "depart" the fellowship until the first chapter of book three.

I think the most interesting change to Fellowship block, specifically, would be to find ways to weaken choke decks. Aragorn, Heir to the White City and Gimli, Dwarf of the Mountain Race cannot be replaced, necessarily, by different versions as they are the only Frodo signet versions of their characters (Elessar Telcontar does not feel like he is in the spirit of the block). If you wanted to emulate the books, would you include Anduril, Flame of the West and Anduril, King's Blade? Are we even limiting to other movie block cards? Or can we reach forward to cards from Shadows and beyond?

This is a fun exercise. I'm interested in hearing your parameters.
-wtk
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ArtificerAlf
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2019, 02:03:31 AM »


This is a fun exercise. I'm interested in hearing your parameters.
-wtk

Thanks! This is just one mad hobbit's ideas about a player-driven format. I appreciate your excitement to discuss, no matter how silly it may seem.

The overall goal of the Book Blocks is to reward the fans who have read and re-read J.R.R Tolkien's masterpiece numerous times. Though we all realize the movies are their own works of art and were made with an immense love and dedication from Peter Jackson, there are certain aspects about how the films were released that caused the TCG formats to play out a little differently. Book Block seeks to adjust the card pools in the hopes of creating new strategies and recreation of various book events and things that existed within them. As such, Fellowship Book exists to pull later released cards into a format using the Fellowship Adventure Path, while Towers Book pulls later released cards for the Tower Adventure Path. King Book is really only to pull Reflections cards into the format.

It sounds obvious, but the Adventure Path is one of the major parts of the game, yet looking at other formats, it is an aspect of the game that always moves forward and never looks back. Once the three Fellowship sets are complete, everybody plays with the Towers Adventure Path. It makes sense, though some of the designs don't work backwards - Black Steed is discarded at underground sites, but Shadowfax is not. I don't see this as a huge issue, as the majority of the mounts are only allowed in later blocks (though I do throw a little debate about Shadowfax being in Fellowship Book below), however, there are definitely other cards that never got a chance to shine in older Adventure Paths, or could even open up new strategies with Adventure Path choices. A clear example in Fellowship Block is that most decks start with The Prancing Pony for an easy Aragorn pull. A question I'm asking with Fellowship Book Block is, are there cards that could be added to the format to create a wider variety of Site 1 choices? Don't get me wrong, paying a burden for Aragorn is a pretty awesome play (especially if you're using Sam to remove those burdens), but maybe there's other fun to unlock.

Reading through all the designer articles also gave me some insight into some of the challenges the designers felt during the game, and how they also found new ways to solve those problems. In some instances, those were added in new cultures, but some of the other cards completely feel like they could have been printed in previous Blocks. I started this above (and reference it again below), but imagine if Eye of Barad-dur was printed in Fellowship of the Ring. Would Sting have become so crazy? Who knows. Any deck can run the Eye, adding those burdens.

A few starting points and personal ideas before I dive into the Cultures.

The One Ring: Despite my initial idea about including The One Ring, the Binding Ring into other formats, I'm actually more inclined to allow all Movie block versions of the One Ring into the various Book formats, mostly because I want to see decks test a variety of Rings. Not sure if this would drastically alter anything, but it would allow more choices, which is something I want to encourage. As such, the following rings are legal in every individual Book Block (though I'm not sure anybody ever plays the Ruling Ring – a shame if you ask me, as I don't like seeing card choices being invalidated):
The One Ring, Isildur's Bane
The One Ring, Answer to All Riddles
The One Ring, Such a Weight to Carry
The One Ring, The Binding Ring
The One Ring, The Ruling Ring

Signets: I really want to pull some cards into Fellowship Book that could help Frodo and Gandalf signets shine a bit. I'm probably biased against Gandalf, the Grey Wizard, but that's also because it was one of the first preview cards Decipher released, and the Gandalf Fellowship starter was my first ever purchase of the LOTR TCG on release day. Nostalgia plays a powerful factor. Also, playing the Grey Wizard in a Fellowship based format feels more "proper" than waiting until other blocks and utilizing him. Again, one of the main goals of the Book Formats. As I write this, I am working on a Grey Wizard Fellowship Book Block deck to test out.

Second Age Cards: I'm still struggling with where cards like Gil-Galad, Durin III, and Sauron, Lord of the Rings would exist in Book format. Sauron, with his twilight cost reduction via threats, makes me lean more towards King Book, but overall, adding these characters seems more awkward to try to accomplish. I say this, but I like the idea of all the other dwarven lords being added, and I really want the other rings added to allow The Binding Ring to be an option. I may be contradicting my first goal. Narsil and Aiglos are super cool, but I'm not sure they have a place. Granted, the writings of all these characters exist in the Appendices of RotK, so they could always default to King Book.

Alternate Ring-bearers: As this is a book-based format, alternate ring-bearers are not legal. It's not really an alternate rules set I ever embraced to begin with, and focusing on the books means it's not something I've considered. As Gandalf says to Frodo in the Shadow of the Past, "But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have".

Post Mount Doom cards: I never dove in to the later sets, as changing all the Shadow cultures was something that didn't sit right with me at all. I've glanced at some other cards from the classic cultures, and I find there are some slight temptations to utilizing some of them, but for the most part, I've ignored it. I don't want to embrace any of the later keywords like Muster and such. Nothing personal against it, but it's just not the LOTR TCG that I have the nostalgic memories for.

With that being said, let's look at some things I would want to add for the various cultures:

Dunland (Towers Book)
Freca, Hungry Savage (Reflections) – I think he becomes an auto-include for a lot of Dunland strategies, much like Hides. Not sure how much more power he adds for Dunland, but I think it makes it easier for them to start controlling sites and getting the bonuses they are looking for.

Dwarven (Fellowship & Towers Book)
Gimli, Counter of Foes (Siege of Gondor) – Since I'm looking to add more Signet support, does this Gimli even make sense? Can it compete with Son of Gloin?
Linnar, Dwarven Lord (Reflections)
Ring of Accretion (Reflections)
Ring of Fury (Reflections)
Ring of Guile (Reflections)
Ring of Retribution (Reflections)
Sindri, Dwarven Lord (Reflections)
Uri, Dwarven Lord (Reflections)
Without any playtesting, I just like the idea of expanding the Dwarven culture. As stated above, the rings also support The Binding Ring.

Elven (Fellowship Book)
Glorfindel, Revealed in Wrath (Reflections) – Definitely a powerful companion, and it was stated before that he just gives Last Alliance decks more power, but he is the guide to the Ford in Fellowship. He may need some other cards added from later blocks to help offset him.
Knife of the Galadhrim (Reflections) – A gift of Galadriel. These are auto-includes from a story perspective.
Merry's Dagger (Reflections) – See Knife of the Galadhrim
Narya, Ring of Fire (Reflections) – more ring support
Nenya, Ring of Adamant (Reflections) – more ring support
Pippin's Dagger (Reflections) – My wants for this card in Fellowship are actually a bit different than the other two gifts – I want to see Pippin be a little more than a speed bump. There's always debates and writings about which companions are the best, and a small goal about book Block is trying to add cards that give various versions of the companions more options to consider. The dagger can help boost Pippin, though it wants him in an elf-based deck
Strands of Elven Hair (Reflections) – another Gift of Galadriel
Vilya, Ring of Air (Reflections) – more ring support

Elven (Towers Book) – same as above list, with the following inclusions
Elven Rope (Reflections) – this is a Gift of Galadriel, though it doesn't come into play until Towers. If Gollum is added to Fellowship book, I could see it becoming an inclusion in Fellowship Book as well, but there aren't a lot of Strength 6 minions that would make it that effective, although it might be able to assist against Moria Swarm. Something to consider.

Gandalf (Fellowship Book)
Radagast, the Brown (Reflections) – Gandalf met him as he was trying to find Frodo, so it fits as part of the book. Not too many cards reference Wizards in the Movie blocks, as they tend to be more Gandalf specific.
Keep Your Forked Tongue (Two Towers) – It could go against the books, but it definitely is a nice reward for playing Gandalf signet companions.
Down From the Hills (Helm's Deep) – This seems like something against my intent following the books, but one could argue it represents Gandalf taking Shadowfax after escaping from Isengard before the Council of Elrond.
Let Us Not Tarry (Siege of Gondor) – I can easily flavor this as the help Gandalf has given throughout Middle-earth's history.
I debated about including Shadowfax in Fellowship Book, since Gandalf the Grey met and rode him when escaping from Isengard and showing up in Rohan. My biggest issue is that Shadowfax stays in play even when moving underground, unlike all other mounts in the Fellowship Block. Any insight would be appreciated!

Gandalf (Towers Book)
Ent Draught (Reflections) – A huge story moment for Merry and Pippin, as it gives them some extra strength and is later remarked about how tall they are when they go to lead hobbits in the Scouring of the Shire. I love the condition, as it fits the theme, and increases vitality, so this is a natural inclusion. Not sure how effective it is in the Towers block, as Merry and Pippin are being discarded and replayed, but I still feel like it fits.
Huorn (Reflections) – Another companion for Ent decks. Not an Ent, but a tree, it gets some nice bonuses for its cost. I had thrown together a Towers Standard deck with a few of my Book block thoughts, and I would fetch this guy with A Wizard is Never Late to start with a little extra power in an Ent deck.
Sent Back (Reflections) – Literally based on a quote about Gandalf the White returning. Auto-include.
Treebeard, Keeper of the Watchwood - So, playing this in King block is impossible, as there aren't 3 Gandalf companions to play. Also, Isengard was destroyed at the end of book 3 of The Two Towers, so, once again, it makes sense to allow him to be a possibility in Towers Book. I think all 4 versions of Treebeard have enough differences, and this one is only needs an Ent-based deck (as the only other non-Ent Gandalf companions are Gandalf and Radagast) that I think this is a good addition.

Gollum (Fellowship Book)
Gollum, Dark as Darkness (Reflections) – Aside from the image being when Gollum was in the Misty Mountains, I do feel like Gollum should be included in the Fellowship Book format, as he is tracking the Fellowship and specifically answering the call of the Ring. Not entirely sure how many Gollums should be allowed in the format, as I would like some surprises. Perhaps Gollum, Stinker and Gollum, Nasty Treacherous Creature?
Slippery as Fishes (Reflections) – I like this inclusion, as many of the site types referenced are a big part of the Fellowship Adventure Path. Lots of rivers.
Evil-smelling Fens (Helm's Deep) – I like this for a number of a reasons, and one is to help boost the possibility of The Watcher in the Water, Keeper of Westgate
Overall, I think Fellowship Book Gollum should focus on adding burdens and playing up the corruption aspect. In the Fellowship of the Ring, Gollum is an elusive creature, having escaped from Mordor and from the elves of Mirkwood. He is tracking the Fellowship. I also like the idea of Gollum adding burdens to help counteract Sam, Son of Hamfast, setting up the conflict between Smeagol and Sam when they meet and journey together in TTT (a part of the story I was amazed occurred when first reading the books). Including cards like Look At Him could help with Twilight Choke. We Must Have It could be another inclusion, and I'm sure there are other Gollum cards to discuss and add as well.

Gollum (Towers Book)
Shelob (Siege of Gondor, Mount Doom) – Shelob was one of the big scenes I was super bummed to see cut from TTT. I had to wait another year! Adding her back is thematic, but it needs some work.
Larder (Siege of Gondor) – I love how this works with orcs too, which gives it the option to work with Isengard and Sauron.
Spider Poison (Siege of Gondor) – This references threats, so while it still works in a threatless format, I'm not entirely sure how much it suffers. It should be included though, since it specifically ties to Shelob and gives a nice Blade Tip like condition for the Free Peoples player to deal with.
Web (Siege of Gondor) – Another thematic Shelob card

Gondor (Fellowship Book)
Scroll of Isildur (Reflections) – While Gandalf uses this scouring the archives for information on the One Ring, I want to make sure it has enough merit to warrant an inclusion in Fellowship Book. Obviously we would want a few Gondorian artifacts. Currently it's just the Shards of Narsil off the top of my head. I do like that it is a Tale, since Tale support seems strongest in Fellowship Block.

Gondor (Towers Book)
Boromir – As mentioned, Boromir died at the beginning of TTT, when Aragorn found him after defending the Hobbits. Boromir is able to be played in Towers Standard, so talking about his impact there could be discussed, though adding him with a focus on Towers cards could definitely shift things up. He isn't considered Ring Bound, and despite seeing the arguments for it, I'm not sure I want to create an actual rules errata list for the format either. It's enough that we may have some giant lists about what cards are allowed in the Book Formats.
Seeing Stone of Orthanc (Reflections) – In the books, the end of Book 3 involved Pippin looking into the stone and starting his journey to Minas Tirith. This card utilizes threats, a concept not introduced until King Block, but maybe involving them earlier in Towers without ways to remove them could make their inclusion a very real trade off.

Gondor (King Book)
Seeing Stone of Minas Anor (Reflections) – Ah, the source of Denethor's madness. Natural inclusion here.

Isengard (Fellowship Book)
Library of Orthanc (Reflections) – I like the inclusion of this, as it's another stacking card. Would the inclusion of this look to add some more stacking Isengard orcs to Fellowship Book to try and make Isengard orcs a viable alternative? I'm leery to include anything to boost uruks, though my next point may make you question my thoughts.
Tracker Uruks (from TTT) – I would love see a huge Tracker theme play out more in Fellowship Book, as one of the major themes of the books is the One Ring being pursued, first from the Nazgul, then pursuit through Moria, and then with Saruman's forces. The trick would be to figure out what tracker uruks should be added that would encourage some thematic building, without allowing the known uruk decks of the Fellowship meta to dive even further into "Isengard Uruk Goodstuff". With the tracker uruks being fierce, it could possibly downplay Saruman, Keeper of Isengard, but I'm not sure. The inclusion of Tracker Uruks also makes me want to include more Search cards, a keyword I want to play a larger role – Rest While You Can, Many Riddles, and What Did You Discover? spring to mind as other adds.

Isengard (Towers Book)
Sack of the Shire (Reflections) – Since this is from a vision, I'm ok with adding it when appropriate, since it is concerned with Site Control.
Suffered Much Loss (Mount Doom) – I love seeing older cultures get a few throwbacks in later sets, though this card has no place in King Block. Pulling it back into Towers introduces Initiative to Towers, which might be a good thing, since Rohan runs around playing tons of possessions. Not really sure, and I could be wrong.

Moria (Fellowship Book)
The Balrog, Terror of Flame and Shadow (Ents of Fangorn) – This Balrog could totally shake up the format, helping prevent the infamous "assign hobbit, cancel skirmish" issue that is well known, as well as Pippin, Hobbit Speed Bump. Too strong? Maybe, but I like the idea of playing up the sacrifice at the bridge.
Host of Moria, Legion of the Underdeeps (Reflections) – I like seeing more Moria minions with higher vitality, since you can exert them to Moria card effects. There's Moria cards I would love to play, but can't due to all the 1 vitality minions. The Host encourages some larger, beefier minions to try and play around with in Moria. Arming this guy with a Moria Axe seems like a lot of fun too.

Ringwraith (Fellowship Book)
Ring of Asperity, Ring of Ire, Ring of Rancor – Despite Gandalf's suspicions that Sauron reclaimed these Rings, I like the idea of them being used to give a few extra toys to Ringwraiths to try and play around with. The history of the game seems to focus more on Isengard Uruk Beatdown, so I just want to try to allow some other archetypes to emerge. Including Gollum and his corruption helping cards might give some new synergies.

Rohan (King Book)
The Red Arrow, Horn of the Mark – both artifacts used in RotK, so a natural inclusion.

Sauron (Fellowship, Towers & King Book)
Ithil Stone (Reflections) – I like that this can be utilized by Nazgul, and since Sauron has been in possession of it, I think it's a nice advantage to give to Sauron/Nazgul players, especially as a 0 cost condition. Hopefully the card draw can give a little extra gas to get that extra edge.
Eye of Barad-dur (Helm's Deep) - Punishes Sting in the Sauron culture, since Isengard and Moria get assistance.
Trackers (Helm's Deep) - Not sure if Sauron needs more of these, but it seems like it could help one of the Fellowship Block themes for Sauron.

Shire (Fellowship Book)
Goldberry, River Daughter & Tom Bombadil, the Master (Reflections) – All from Book 1 of the Fellowship. If only we had a Shadow card for Old Man Willow and more Twilight minions with the Barrow-wights.
Sam, Frodo's Gardener & Sam's Pack (The Two Towers) – Again, looking at more Frodo signet support, but not sure this will push anybody to want to run Frodo, Son of Drogo. No clue if Sam, Resolute Halfling would have any impact either. I realize that most people stick with Sam, Son of Hamfast.

Shire (Towers & King Book)
Everyone Knows (Reflections) – Including this with the entire concept of the Ent Draught. Since I'm concerned that Towers Merry & Pippin won't want to run this, including it in King represents their continued growth into warriors.

Hope this gives you some insight into what I am thinking and themes to explore. Thanks for reading the write up.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 05:25:43 PM by ArtificerAlf » Logged

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