My outline for the scenario calls for a 30-card resource deck and a hazard deck at least as big (more hazards are probably better for greater variety). The scenario uses a five-card hero hand, with hazards being drawn one by one and resolved or discarded until either the hazard limit is reached or a number of hazard cards are drawn equal to twice the number on the destination site plus two (so for a site showing three cards drawn, the actual number would be eight). It follows the theme and rules in the above document, with the following alterations:
- Declaring victory requires 25 Under-deeps Marshalling Points (UdMP), and occurs when your Wizard's company enters Moria after your resource deck has been exhausted once. Corruption checks are required. Defeat occurs if your Wizard is eliminated or you've exhausted your resource deck twice.
- Marshalling points that aren't UdMP aren't considered for any reason.
- Long-events last two turns.
- Defeated unique hazard creatures are removed from the hazard deck, but aren't worth any UdMP. All other hazards are discarded after their effects take place, and once the hazard deck is empty, the discarded cards are shuffled and flipped to create a new hazard deck. There is no limit to the amount of times the hazard deck may be exhausted.
- The second automatic-attack of an under-deeps site is played from the hazard deck - draw up to two cards, playing the first hazard creature that meets the requirement. If none do, the cards are discarded and there is no second automatic-attack.
The scenario is still a work in progress, but I've played three or four games, winning the last one:
I have a couple of observations that will drive how I modify my deck and the rules going forward:
- I played a single character on the first turn and never again. (Boromir was in my starting company but died early on.) It doesn't seem worth it to play more, as characters can only be played at Moria, and I spent so much time away from there that they'd either be stranded (and getting beaten up each turn), or stuck in my hand when I could be holding something better. A four character party, counting the wizard, seemed to be the sweet spot, especially once they're all geared up.
- I initially used Gandalf for his corruption modifier and his ability to test rings, but ultimately I axed a ring strategy (too many cards for too few UdMP) and brought in Pallando instead, since his extra card in hand ability is incredibly useful in a solo game, particularly one with so much time spent travelling rather than playing resources.
- On that note, it seems to take an awful lot of effort to chase down some of the quests. Going for Dragon-Helm, The Iron Crown, or Aiglos is a chore (Moria -> Under-gates -> Under-leas -> Under-vaults -> Mount Gram to get Dragon-Helm, with similar distances for the other two), and because you can play a second regular item at Under-deeps sites (rather than just a minor item), you quickly run out of non-quest resources worth playing after the first or second successful looting.
- Heaven forbid any of your characters get wounded. The ability of your wizard to tap to heal your company is nice, but a turn with a tapped company is a rough one. And of course, the only way to heal your wizard is to backtrack all the way to Moria.
- With only three site types in play (Ruins, Shadow-holds, Dark-holds), there isn't a lot of variety in hazard creatures, so most of the ones that make sense to include can attack whenever they come up. If your hazard limit is five, you'll probably get hit with four or five creature attacks each time you move.
- Creature UdMP seems fairly hard to come by. Moria was too remote for me to bother visiting it that often, and two of the three times I did, I rolled Watcher in the Water (not unique, so no UdMP). The third and final time, when I entered to call the Free Council, the genre-savvy Balrog popped up, but I sent him away with Torque of Hues. I only visited two other locations with a potential UdMP-giving attack (Gem-deeps and Sulfur-deeps), and both times missed the 1 in 6 roll for the creature to appear.
- The likely reason for the above is a heavily skewed Moria encounter table. Because of how rolling two dice works, different results have different probabilities. You'll get a 7 one in six times, but a 2 only one in thirty-six times. This means that while at a glance, Anarin is just as likely to come up as Umagaur (rolling a 2 versus rolling an 8 ), in reality it's a 1:36 chance for Anarin and about a 1:7 chance for Umagaur. Perhaps the table should be modified, or 1D12 should be rolled instead?
- Perhaps most significantly, the game was essentially over once I recovered Aiglos. I was only halfway to the UdMP I needed to claim victory, but my company already had enough weapons to render most attacks ineffective. What remained was tedious travel underground from one side of Middle-Earth to the other (Barad-Dur to Mount Gram), with me usually tapping my whole company against the first attack and letting them easily tank the remaining attacks and strikes. (Tapped Glorfindel with Aiglos, for example, still has a base prowess of 9, making his total prowess at least 11). Really, the most bothersome "enemy" was the Long-event The Black Enemy's Wrath, which created an uncancellable automatic-attack that ignored weapons and forced a -5 prowess penalty for not tapping. Everything else I had an answer for, but I still needed to go through the motions.
But the big thing that needs an overhaul is probably the victory conditions. I want to try a game or two according to the original White Mithril rules: 25 total MP, with at least half of those coming from UdMP (rather than 25UdMP, ignoring normal MP). Of course, the concern then is that not only will I be nowhere near to exhausting my deck, but I'd also only need a good run in one direction to collect everything I need for victory, which doesn't feel quite right.
Anyway, I'm rambling now, so I'll wrap it up. Thanks for reading, and definitely let me know any thoughts you've got.