Something big was announced last week that has forced me to put out an article explaining my cause of action for the foreseeable future. I came prepared with a strategy I dubbed Project Heat Death, as I didn’t expect the game being down until the end of time. Turns out I was wrong.
Last week during a Fantasy Flight AMA, the head of studio Andrew Navarro confirmed what doom-sayers have been screaming ever since the game got a second cycle: “The Game is Dying”. Well, not exactly. I mistook the comments as FFG burying the game indefinitely, but in fact, the future of the game is far brighter than some people may have you believe. The game will continue this cycle in regular fashion, and should come to an end in Q3 2020. After that, the game will be put on hold for a while, with no new content being worked on. This is likely to lower the workload on the team working on the other LCGs now that Marvel will need some development time. We wouldn’t want our beloved developers burning out at work for working on so many products at once.
Andrew did confirm that after the break, there will be new content for the game which is not a second edition to the game. This means it will likely be compatible with the expansions we have already, but perhaps with some new mechanics thrown into the mix. My theory is that there will be some sort of tie-in with the Second Age thanks to the popularity that LOTR will get thanks to the Amazon series, but it is just speculation. Things like that will need some time to be worked out, and could explain the hiatus of the game as well. This does mean that the game is NOT dead, it is just resting.
But where does that put this blog and the community? Well, right where it is actually. We still have a year’s worth of content ahead of us, so any plans for the future can be worked on in that time. We still have 6 adventure packs ahead of us, and perhaps even another POD set of scenarios if we are lucky. This also means that reprints will still hit stores whenever they get off the boat, and older content is still available in stores and online. It will likely mean that we either don’t get Nightmare packs anymore, or we might only get the Haradrim cycle and/or the Flame of the West saga box in Nightmare mode. I do not expect this to happen, but would be pleasantly surprised if new Nightmare content is announced.
As for the community, I have no doubt that those people that enjoy the game will stick with the community through the break. This game can still draw in new players who may have trouble collecting everything, but the hivemind will remain strong. This game is still a co-op game and a solo game, so there will always be an active group of players. Conventions like GenCon, Lure of Middle Earth, and Con of the Rings are mostly created by fans of the game (except for GenCon, but that has fan-made gatherings and events). Because of that, I hope they will stick around and will offer a place for the community to gather and enjoy the game. There aren’t FFG organized tournaments for this game like they had with Netrunner, so when the game died, a large portion of the community vanished as well.
Other stakeholders with this change are the content creators. While I can’t speak for everyone, I do think that most blogs, podcasts, and video channels will live on. Not only do we have another year’s worth of content ahead of us, but there is also a lot to talk about outside of new content and news from FFG. While frequency of some outlets may decrease, I don’t think many people will abandon their projects of passion, in which they have sunk so many hours of their life in. Not while there is still hope for the game to get more content in the future.
Project Heat Death
This brings me to the plans ahead for Vision of the Palantir. I have constructed several projects when I first started the blog over 1.5 years ago. Some have been started a while ago, like Project Midnight (analysis of Nightmare scenarios), and others will likely never take off, like Project Aurellius (which I will keep secret as I would otherwise be peer-pressured into doing it). One of these projects was Project Heat Death, a contingency plan for when the game would finally end (which I hoped was near the Heat Death of the universe). In this plan, I laid out the plans for the blog to keep putting out content for the game long after its death. While the game might not officially be dead, we did not get a timeframe on when the game would return. So this project will treat the game as if it were dead, and will try to keep putting out content to bridge the gap in product that lies ahead of us.
Project Heat Death consists of several phases of which the first will start as of the release of this article. The length of the project depends really on my speed in writing these articles, but should buy the blog several years of content. The progression of these phases depends on how long the break in content will end up being. If product starts rolling in after a while, I will focus on that, and leave the rest of the phase for a later time.
Phase One: “Move along, nothing to see here”
Phase one has started right now, and will treat the game as if it were alive. There is no reason to worry, as there is still plenty of content to cover. This includes reviews and impressions of new content, trait analyses, and quest analyses of scenarios I have not yet covered (at this time: Harad cycle, Ered Mithrin cycle, Vengance of Mordor cycle). This content will last a good year before it is all finished, which should coincide nicely with the end of products put out by FFG. I will likely wait with Vengance of Mordor until after the final AP, so that all player cards can be included in the quest analyses for that cycle. The blog won’t change much in this time, and I will just keep doing what I love. I expect this phase to be over during Q1 2021 when the final AP of Vengance of Mordor has been covered, along with the remaining other scenarios.
Because let us not forget, we still have a lot of expansions to cover here. The POD quests can easily take a month each to cover, and the Sagas aren’t finished either. This means we still have plenty of quests to cover, which means a lot more content for you all to enjoy. Only when the final quest has been analyzed and the final trait article is over, will we move on to phase two.
Phase Two: “There is always room for improvement”
There is no such thing as a perfect analysis of this game, I should know. But looking back at some ofthe earlier articles I have made, I really want to revisit some of them. Passage through Mirkwood was only a tenth the length of Helm’s Deep, and while that quest may be easy enough, there is a lot more to cover there than what I did when the blog went live. Especially the first cycle will have to be redone, but I might go back and redo every article ever made with the full extend of the cardpool. Since the start of the quest analyses, we have received 2 new cycles of player cards, some of which are really good in some quests. While I have been updating articles here and there, I have yet to fully revisit them with the full cardpool in mind.
There is no telling how long this process will last. Revisiting articles should take up less time then starting them from scratch, but there are things I want to add to each article as well. One of these things is Shadow Card analyses. As you may have noticed, I haven’t really been talking about shadow effects on encounter cards that much. I plan to do this in a full review of the scenario. This will make the article even more in-depth, and will provide players with a full guide to the quest. In this phase, I would also put a complete redo of the trait analyses and the staple series, as those will need an update too. There is no telling how long this phase will take, but I am aiming at another 2 years, putting us at around Q1 2023.
Phase Three: Project Midnight
If even that doesn’t cover the break by FFG, then the blog will continue project Midnight in earnest. By this, I mean fully focussing on Nightmare scenario analyses with a full cardpool in mind. This will provide some more niche content, but will completely cover the final expansions of the game. These will take some time to complete, as there are at least 5 cycles and sagas to cover when I arrive at this phase (seeing how I will likely have completed at least 1 cycle of NM scenarios already). This phase will perhaps overlap somewhat with phases one and two, as some NM articles will appear on the blog every now and then when I or a fellow author feel like it.
Project Midnight is expected to take up well over a year, and perhaps even 2 years, although without other content, it might only take 1.5 years to complete. This will make a full list of Nightmare scenarios for everyone to read when attempting such difficult quests.
Phase Four: The Dying Light
After even the Nightmare scenarios have been covered, not much remains. I and my co-authors will look to conclude their series, and I will try to focus more on individual articles covering whatever. There is no saying as to how long this phase will last, but at this point, content will be slowing down as the blog moves on to the final conclusion.
Phase Five: Heat Death
Let’s hope it doesn’t get to this point, but if the break is still not over at this time, the fifth phase will lay the blog to rest. Phase five will see no more content for the blog, but will keep the blog online for as long as I can. Hopefully this doesn’t mean forever, and I hope that the content at the end of the break will see the blog restored if it ever gets to this point. Remember that this phase doesn’t come into play until at least the start of 2025, which is far off yet. But if the worst comes to happen, then this is the phase where the blog will sail into the west, and leave behind this site on the internet for people to find if they pickup a collection at a flea market.
Phase Six: Rebirth
This wasn’t in the original project, but since the game hasn’t been pronounced dead officially, there is still hope for the new content to matter to the game we are playing right now. As such, when FFG starts rolling out new content, the blog will likely be kicked back into gear. This phase can happen as early as the end of phase one, but can also take place 20 years after phase 5 started. There is still too much unknown about the future of the game after the break, but rest assured that I will be there when the game is revived.
I hope this article has given you enough motivation to keep playing the game and keep supporting the great community that comes with it. Together we will survive this break, and I hope to see many of you on the other side of it with the new content. This article should inform you that I am not going anywhere, but nothing can be said for certain. There is nothing that can change so quickly as life, and I might have other obstacles on my way that could either accelerate this process, or make it drag far beyond the dates I have given in the article. I will end on this though:
THE GAME IS NOT DEAD
It has never been more alive!