Month in Review: June 2020

Between the stay at home orders, anti-COVID and BLM protests, heavy rainfall and intense heatwaves just here in the Netherlands, June has been a strange month. It is during these times that I am happy to be able to devote some time to this game, especially now that things in my family aren’t going well either. With all this stress, it is nice to be able to put it into a few blog articles each month, just to give something back to the community. I know that together we can all get through this, though the world and its institutions will have to make some big changes to get along with the times.

June has also been a month in which the blog has been busy with various updates. I have personally gone back to a dozen articles and have updated them to include cards and combos from the Ered Mithrin and the Vengeance of Mordor cycles. Several trait articles still need to be updated, especially those that received a ton of updates in the latest cycle. Because of this work, I haven’t been able to devote much time to writing other articles for the blog, and co-writers have been busy with their lives as well. But let’s look back at the past month, and look forwards to the summer, to see what that will bring.

June

At the very end of the month, we got some news out of FFG again, announcing the final AP of the Vengeance of Mordor cycle. This also allowed us to finally discuss some of the cards in the pack, without spoiling it to everybody. This was the first real news since February, so we got a taste of what the hiatus is going to feel like. The lack of news surrounding the Fellowship event is understandable, though I do hope that LGSs can get their copies soon, so that they can at least sell them to us. We could then try and organise our own events, taking precautions in mind. The one development in the community this month is that the Under the Ash Mountains pack is slowly finding its way in the hands of US and Canadian players, and I look forward to seeing the rants appear in the community on how tough that quest is. But let’s turn to the blog, and see what developments have occured in June there.

Scenario analyses

There haven’t been any new scenario analyses this month, as I have been busy with other things. However, we expect to finish the Haradrim cycle next month, and are currently working on the second half of the Ered Mithrin cycle. If I get over my fear of Ghost of Framsburg taking forever, then I’ll hopefully have the time to complete that analysis in July as well. Mount Gundabad is coming along nicely, meaning that we will be close to finishing the eighth cycle by the end of next month.

Nightmare analyses

While no new Nightmare analyses have been made, I did get my hands on four new Nightmare packs from the Dreamchaser cycle. I’ll have to play some of them before I can make up my mind on whether or not I want to discuss them myself, but they do look like a lot of fun. I am also in discussion with several authors on how I can complete the Nightmare analyses on the blog in the future, and hopefully some other authors can help out now that the regular scenario analyses are coming to a close.

Traits and Staples

For me, this has been my focus for the past month. Not only have I updated a dozen articles to include cards from recent cycles, but I have also updated the same articles with some changes to increase the quality of the articles. This includes suggestions on what packs to get first to spec into an archetype, and what the archetype is missing in my opinion. Besides the updates, I have also written two new archetype analyses for the page to cover 2 archetypes that recently got developed. The Master trait got developed in the current cycle, and now that we know all of the cards, I could make an article on what the archetype is all about and what the risks are. I also added a Pipe article, since that one gets some development in the upcoming Land of Sorrow AP. Since this opens up more Pipe decks, I figured I might as well write an article on the trait with the cards we know of.

For the month of July, I hope to continue to update the traits I haven’t gotten to just yet. These include some of the larger ones that got developed in the Vengeance of Mordor cycle, like the Valour deck. I will also wait with the updates on certain archetypes until FFG officially announces the Fortress of Nurn AP, so that I don’t spoil the cards in an article prematurely.

The staple series didn’t get an update this month, but that might change over the course of the summer. I have no idea on what to cover next, so suggestions about certain card mechanics to cover in that series are welcome. Remember that I don’t cover specific archetypes in those, but instead mechanics in the game that go beyond the boundries of traits or spheres.

Encounter set analyses

The encounter set analyses got two updates this month, with both the Journey Along the Anduin and the Sauron’s Reach encounter sets now covered. The series will slow down a little as Silblade tries to conclude the player card reviews of the Dwarrowdelf cycle next month. But the individual encounter set reviews will continue in the future.

Deckbuilding series

After a long break, Roka has returned to the blog to continue his Deckbuilding series with the Angmar Awakened cycle. His first article of the cycle covered the Intruders in Chetwood scenario, and he will continue to produce similar articles in chronological order covering the rest of the cycle. This may take some time though, as some scenarios will take a long time to beat properly, but we will share the results in article form with you all when the results are in!

Additional articles

There were no additional articles scheduled for this month, as I was busy with other tasks and was running out of inspiration. So if anyone has a topic in mind that should be covered on the blog, feel free to reach out. I have been approached by a member of the community who will send some very cool 3D printed tokens to me in exchange for an article on the blog, so I will work on that once those tokens arrive. I do not have a timeframe on this yet, so it might take place after July.

The Future

At this point, there is no saying what the future will hold for certain, as 2020 has been a continuous series of weird events that came seemingly out of nowhere (eventhough some problems were just below the surface, waiting to unfold). So looking ahead at the summer, there isn’t much I can promise in terms of content. I do hope to continue to update the traits, as the improvements have been well received. There are still a couple of archetypes that are outdated, and so I will do my best to update them as we go along. With the announcement of the Fortress of Nurn AP, I can now cover some more archetypes, and work can begin on the First Impressions article for that AP.

I also hope to receive the Land of Sorrow AP soon, and will be posting my first impressions shortly after. I have already written the impressions for the player cards, but will want to play the quest before releasing the article, as I was a bit off with Under the Ash Mountains, and needed to redo the article’s quest section after it proved to be quite the challenge. Land of Sorrow promises the same, so I’d like to experience it for myself. Shops are continuing to delay the pack though, with the current date set for the first week of August, but hopefully I can get a copy of the AP through other channels sooner.

Since GenCon has been cancelled this summer as well, the community lost one of its largest yearly get-togethers. To make sure that we can still enjoy each other’s company from a safe distance, a part of the community has joined forces with the communities of Arkham Horror and Marvel Champions to organize a convention this summer over Discord. Playing games with people live, and learning about the other games is something that I am looking forward to, and if the timezones overlap, then I should be able to participate in a couple of events. More info on this will come in the coming month, as I expect to release a news article on it, detailing what events will be held when.

As for Con of the Rings, it is still on, and I hope I can still attend. The COVID situation in the US isn’t yet at the level I’d be comfortable with, and travel restrictions are still preventing me to buy a planeticket to the convention. But as the situation develops, I will keep you all updated. The convention is in October, and a lot can happen in 3 months, so I won’t make any decisions on whether or not I can go. If I will be forced into quarantine upon arrival, I won’t be able to make it, as I cannot afford 2 weeks of quarantine in the US while I still have work to do. But if the restrictions are lifted by September, then there is a good chance that you’ll see me in October at the FFG center. I do have some emergency plans at the ready concerning the loot if I cannot attend, but I hope that I can give most of the loot to people in person at the convention. Current rumours from the ambassy are that the borders between the US and Europe for recreational purposes will remain closed until the end of the year, so it will be very difficult for me to attend if that remains the case next month. If that is the case, then I will cancel my ticket and make sure that I will send everyone their loot during the same time period.

The loot itself will also have to be made on a very short notice, as I expect to receive the equipment at the end of next month. That does give me 2 months of testing and production, so it shouldn’t be impossible, but it is going to be tight. I have received a shipping label though, so at least the equipment is expected to be received by DHL. Too bad it has taken this long, but I’ll try and make the most of it!

~Aa’menealla nauva calen ar-malta~

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