What a month it has been. Where I hoped last month that things would clear up in April, the reality is that the world will have to stay in lockdown for a little longer. I would be fine to keep things the way they are now for a little while longer, but even an introvert like me needs some social interaction every now and then. Despite the stay-at-home orders being maintained throughout April, the community has supported itself with plenty of initiatives like more online games and even two Epic Multiplayer events that were organized. This blog has been busy too. With several authors now having time to write for the blog, content has been coming out at a constant rate. This has led to this month being the one with the highest number of visitors and views for the blog since the beginning. This spike in interest in the game is also noticeable when looking at other parts of the community, where new members are joining each day. Hopefully this trend will continue and will be enough to bridge the gap in content we will experience after the summer.
With FFG also being hit hard by COVID-19 and delaying many products, not a lot of news has come out of them since. Only the fourth AP of the Vengeance of Mordor cycle, Under the Ash Mountains, has been released to Europe this month, while rumour has it that the pack will be delayed until June for other regions. The other packs will likely be delayed as well, meaning that the hiatus will start later than anticipated. Hopefully next month will see FFG release an article on the final AP, and perhaps give some clarity to the Fellowship events that should have been organized around this time. The blog on the other hand, has been very busy this month, producing several articles this month to keep you all entertained. Let’s walk through some series that received an update this month and see how we plan to expand the series in the near future.
The blog continued its coverage of the Ered Mithrin cycle this month. With The Withered heath being released, and both Roam Across Rhovanion and Fire in the Night currently being in development, we are making good time to finish this cycle before the Vengeance of Mordor cycle has been concluded. If this is the case, then we will wait with our reviews until after the cycle has been concluded and the full cardpool is known. We can then have a complete analysis of each quest, keeping all cards in mind. We are also still working on our Beneath the Sands article, which will hopefully come out soon, concluding the Haradrim cycle. Should we finish Ered Mithrin before Vengeance of Mordor has been completed, then we will focus on other articles, and we might even return to some older articles, as those are not up to the standard I have for the current articles.
We actually got an update on the saga’s again, thanks to Dave Walsh providing us with the write-up for Flies and Spiders. We will hopefully complete the Hobbit Saga soon, allowing everyone to read through tips concerning that campaign. The LOTR saga is still on a break in both Normal and Nightmare mode. I will push to get these articles out eventually, but for now you will have to do with just the Hobbit saga.
I hope you all enjoyed the somewhat sarcastic tone of the NM Escape from Dol Guldur analysis. It was a lot of fun to write, but not to play through. Luckily, with Dol Guldur and Return to Mirkwood both completed recently, the most troublesome of the Mirkwood Nightmare scenarios are now behind us. I will do my best to complete the cycle with Rhosgobel and Carrock soon, so that we can move on to the other NM scenarios. I do not yet own many others, so I might do some random scenarios in NM mode, before trying to get my hands on the Dwarrowdelf packs. If anyone reading this wants to try and do the analysis of a Nightmare scenario that they like, then feel free to step forward.
Traits and Staples
No work has been done on these series during April, but I intend to do another wave of Trait article updates once we know all the player cards. We are also working on doing the contract analyses, but those also depend a little on the cards still being released. Would be a shame to have to update the Three Hunters article if the final pack has a great new Restricted attachment, when the time could be spent working on other articles. The Staple series will also probably need an update, and I would like to make some on different topics once the full cardpool is known.
Player Card Reviews
Due to the schedule, the next player card review hasn’t been uploaded this month, but will hopefully be published early May.
Encounter Set Reviews
The encounter set review for this month did get published, as we got to enjoy a write-up on the Spiders of Mirkwood encounter set. There are just a few more Core Set encounter sets remaining, after which we will move on to the scenario-specific encounter sets from the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle.
While many players in the US and Canada haven’t yet received their copies of Under the Ash Mountains, we Europeans got lucky. The pack dropped early this month, which has given me time to analyse the cards and the quest for the First Impressions article. Besides this, RedSpiderr has also given us a list of quests that you can easily play in solo. During these quarantaine times, it helps to keep you occupied on your own. Plans are in the making for creating more articles like this in the near future, so stay tuned for those.
While I had hoped to bring you the news that you can all go outside and lick doorknobs again, the reality is that we should still stay inside for the majority of the time for the forseeable future. The community has been great in supporting everyone through this crisis, and has offered plenty of distractions. I hope to play some more multiplayer games in May now that I have improved my setup with a new microphone.
Having worked the entire month now, I am getting a decent picture on how much time my job will take away from working on the blog. While this crisis might change that perspective a little since I’m working from home half of the time, it does look like I have some time inbetween tasks to work on some content or to review the work of my co-authors. This means that should the Patreon goal of $75 be reached again soon, I can scale up my writing to meet the demand.
This month also marks a new milestone, as it is the first month ever in the history of this blog that we surpassed the 20k views per month. This is huge to me, as it shows the continuous growth of the community’s interest in the articles on the blog. With new players joining the game, and some extra promotion from the Reddit moderators, this has been the best month yet, scoring 40% of all of 2018’s views in a single month. I hope this trend will continue as you all enjoy the content that we write for you all.
A huge thanks to all of the authors that have agreed to work on some more articles during this period. I have been in contact with many of you and am eagerly looking forward to seeing your series continue, and watching the community appreciate the work. Your efforts will be rewarded soon, as I am currently very close to starting the work on the yearly swag. The equipment should arrive soon, and I’ll have plenty of time to work on the designs and prototypes now that we have to stay at home.
Another thing that I have started to notice is that there is a shift happening in my Patreon ranks. Some people are dropping out since they either need the money for this crisis, or are dropping the game. In the meantime, a host of new players has been flooding the community, and several have opted to support the blog through patreon. This is much appreciated, and will also be rewarded with the swag once I feel like it is finished. We are getting close to being where we were before some people left, so hopefully we can keep this positive trend going! This will mean better loot for next year, and more articles per month. If you are already a supporter of the blog, then feel free to drop me a message whenever you think of a fun topic related to the game. I can use the inspiration, and if you have questions about a topic, I’m sure many others will have that question as well, allowing me to anwser it.
And with that, I’m signing off for this month. Stay safe during the month of May, and I hope to bring you all some good news and fun articles during next month!
~Aa’menealla nauva calen ar-malta~
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3 thoughts on “Month in Review: April 2020”
I’m not sure if I have to be a Patreon Supporter to suggest this topic, but I was toying with the idea of having Objective Allies outside of their assigned Scenarios. It could be a way to ease the brutality of certain Quests without resorting to Easy Mode. An entire article on this would be appreciated, a full breakdown of implementation, excluded scenarios, and the pros and cons. If this happens, thank you in advance.
It is indeed true that Patreon supporters can request topics, but suggestions are always nice to receive. With that said, the suggestion to include some objective allies in certain scenarios might end up breaking a few of the allies, as they are quite powerful if left unchecked by the encounter deck of their scenario. Examples are Tiny, who will still raise the player’s threat, but you get an insane ally in return that doesn’t turn on you during the final stage. Poros Garrison, Host of Lorien, Ent of Fangorn, Grimbeorn the Old, and Tamed Mumak are also too powerful outside of their own scenarios. It would help perhaps a little too much in the early game to start with such a big ally, but perhaps you could counter it by swapping it for a hero instead. A better way to make a game a little easier without having to resort to easy mode would be to go into Sleazy mode, where you start with an extra resource on each hero at the start of the game, but don’t remove any of the gold-border encounter cards. That way, you can get set up easier, helping in the early game without impacting the rest of the game too much. Thanks for the suggestion though, I’ll have a look if it can somehow get balanced for the future, just to spice the scenarios up a little
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P.S. It could help out with the Fellowship Contract Card. Just a little starter for the analysis.