Unlike other months, where I would host the poll in the side-bar of the blog, I made a tournament bracket pitting all 102 quests that had been released up to the start of December against each other. Through direct head-to-head battles, we tried to derive what quest would end up being the community’s favourite. As the tournament closed in the final seconds of 2018, here are the results of the tournament. I will discuss the top 16 in detail and then talk about some of the interesting matches and the interesting quests that got far.
I was pleased to see a big turn up for all stages, with over 50 votes at each stage. I was a bit nervous about hosting the tournament on an external site, but this proved to work just fine. I will go back to regular polls next month on the site, though I might do some more of these tournaments next year. The heroes that have been released during the previous years could compete in a tournament as well, so maybe that is something for next year.
But without further ado, here are the top 16 quests of 2018, with shared 5th and 6th places to those quests that didn’t get past the fourth or fifth round.
In 6th place we can find a couple of community favourite quests like Into Ithilien and Across the Ettenmoors. But we also see some new quests that made it this far. Journey Up the Anduin had a tough battle against the Journey Along the Anduin quest and stranded in 6th. I still think this is a great feat for a quest that hasn’t been out for a year yet. When comparing it to the other quests at this stage, JUTA can be proud to have made it this far. This is also the last time we will see a POD quest, making Ruins of Belegost the community’s favourite one. The other quests are quarterfinals, with some personal favourites as well. But these quests couldn’t stand up to those in 5th place.
Now we get to some of the more popular quests. Journey Along the Anduin is the oldest quest to have made it this far, hearkening back to the Core Set days. I like how it is still a classic among players old and new in the community. This is in stark contrast to Mount Doom, which is one of the newer quests that wasn’t in the 2016 tournament. The conclusive Saga quest has left quite an impression on players, pushing the quest all the way to the quarterfinals. Foundations of Stone is also still a classic quest that is just so fun to play with any number of players. It is nice to see this quest making it so far. A Knife in the Dark surprisingly lost to Flight of the Stormcaller, preventing an all Saga top bracket. The quest is highly thematic and each stage really has its own feel to it. It gets overshadowed by Shadow of the Past a lot, but I really enjoy AKitD for its mechanics. Unfortunately, these four quests couldn’t win against the top 4, some being beaten severely with a 97-3 split. So let’s move on to the final top 4.
Falling just short of the podium, we have the Flight of the Stormcaller. This is the only non-Saga quest to have made it this far, which makes me wonder whether or not this quest would win if the tournament would exclude Saga’s. Flight of the Stormcaller is a favourite of mine as well, as you try to catch up to the enemy. This strategy gets turned on its head in Race Across Harad, where the hunters become the hunted, but I find Race to be a bit more difficult and less enjoyable because of it. Mumaks are cool, but Elven ships are a lot better in my opinion. I will be covering this scenario soon on the blog, as we delve into the Dream-chaser cycle at the start of the new year.
Coming in at third place, we have Journey in the Dark. Not only does this quest have one of the most epic final bosses in the game, but it also lives up to the theme. If you keep quiet and manage to rush through the scenario, you can avoid the Balrog. Staying too long or engaging too many enemies will see you face off the demon of the ancient world at the last stage. The way you defeat the Balrog has become a highlight in many campaigns, as players decide who to toss off the bridge. This quest really deserves to be this high on the list, but there are just 2 other scenarios with epic large-scale battles that outclassed it.
Though it was a close call, with a 63/37 split, but the second place goes to Helm’s Deep. This was the winner of the 2016 poll as well, so it has maintained its favourite status, though having to step down one place in the overall rankings. Helm’s Deep is so loved not only because of the part of the story, but also the fact that the game gets put on its head in that scenario. The encounter deck is trying to make progress, while you keep throwing up walls and killing enemies to prevent it. If you can manage to hold on long enough, you will eventually get to ride the enemy down and win, but it is a close call most of the time, making it such a memorable quest. In the end, this quest was a worthy contender for the top spot, but failed in the final moments to a quest that one-ups the epic battle feeling in my opinion.
There can only be one ultimate favourite quest, and out of all 102 quests and 1 month of polling, we have a victor: The Battle of the Pelennor Fields. This quest took a shared fifth place during the 2016 tournament, but it was a relatively new quest at that point. Given 2 years extra, Pelennor Fields have earned enough respect from the community to be crowned the most favourite quest of the community at this point. The battle is just on a whole other level compared to other quests, luring you into a false sense of security when you get free rounds of planning, only to pile on the hurt once stage 3 arrives. In campaign mode, this quest is even more difficult, as your decisions in The Siege of Gondor and Journey to the Cross-Roads have an impact on this quest as well. But the sound of the horns of Rohan swing the struggle, and if you manage to ride the enemy down successfully, you can clutch the victory in the end. It is certainly a long quest, but with a lot of swings in pace and a lot of different triggers to keep track of. A worthy winner and it will be the first quest I attempt in 2019…oh boy.
And there you have it: the community’s favourite quests. I will be playing through these quests some more during the new year, and I will be thinking of new tournaments like this for December 2019. A few changes will be made to the format to level the playing field. I am looking to put the Saga quests in a league of their own, excluding them from the main bracket. These Saga quests have an advantage as people will remember the quest from the books or films, plus each of the quests have a very strange quirk to them. So I might make another bracket with only regular scenarios and POD scenarios in the future. I also noticed how some fan-favourites got stuck with tough opponents, like how the first stage had Steward’s Fear versus Helm’s Deep. In the future, I might switch to a different format if that yield more fair competitions.
I hope you enjoyed this tournament and will vote for the next poll on the blog as well. I will be continuing the regular polls with one poll per month right here on the blog itself. I hope to bring you some more interesting questions in the future. For January, we will be looking at what ally with a 2/2/2/X statline is the best in your opinion. You can vote now via the side-bar on the blog.