2020: A year in numbers

Now don’t worry, we won’t be talking about spreadsheets of active cases in your area or anything, this article will only contain graphs and spreadsheets that are relevant to the blog and my personal games that I have played this year. I do this every year, so I can compare statistics between years and see whether or not I’ve gotten better at the game. To see our stats for previous years, click on 2018 and 2019.

In this article, I will share my yearly stats for the blog and Patreon, after which I will show my list of games that I’ve played this year. We’ll find out together whether or not the pandemic has increased the number of games I’ve managed to play, or if my new job made sure that spare time was kept at a much lower level than last year. But first, the blog!

Blog

This year has been great for the blog, as I started noticing in January that the views were steadily increasing. Then when the first lockdowns began, a serious spike could be seen, where I was easily getting 1000+ views per day on the blog, compared to the goal of 350 that I set for myself in 2019. Part of this is because people had more time to browse the site, but I’m sure that some part is also due to some exciting new articles that got published during that time.

In the bar graph below, you can see the total amount of views and visitors that the blog has received this year. Hopefully we can continue this trend with my views more than doubling each year, that way we will hit 1 million views on the blog within no time at all!

In total, 2020 saw 54.306 visitors come to the blog, who are responsible for a total of 291.765 views, around 5.37 views per visitor. This is a major increase from the 4.4 from last year, and I believe that this is due to better linking between articles, and more new players finding the game (and the blog) and reading all about it.

2021 looks so small compared to 2020. Lot of catching up to do still.

Likes and Comments

Likes on articles over the years.

Interaction with the blog is always nice, and the various likes and comments are very much appreciated. I often respond to comments myself within a few hours, and likes just help me gain more confidence that people really liked the article.

In total, the blog received 181 likes on its articles and pages, which is slightly less than 2018, but more than 2019. 2018 was more of a fluke as the blog just started in that year. We did get really close to the 190 likes of 2018 though, so I hope that this trend will continue in the years to come.

Upwards trend in comments.

Comments do not include any of the spam comments, those get filtered out rather quickly. These are only the comments from those that took the time to point out something I missed, share their own experiences, or post questions about the topic at the bottom of the article. In total, we received 106 comments in 2020. This solidifies the upward trend that was observed last year. With more new people joining the game and posting their questions on the blog, it was only natural that more comments followed. I am very happy to have interacted with those 106 comments, and am looking forward to the constructive criticism and helpful feedback in 2021!

Stats per month

While the numbers of 2020 as a whole show a positive trend, it is nice to look at the stats a little more in detail by zooming in per month. Previous records per month were around 16k, with averages at 11k views per month. Again, those numbers have doubled this year, thanks to the pandemic, new players joining the game, and more articles released. The bar graph below will show that since November 2019, the number of views steadily increased, with April and May seeing spikes towards the 30k views per month. That’s about 1000 views per day, which is amazing compared to the stats of 2019 and earlier. In one month I nearly got as many views as all of 2018 did, which is a great sign of growth for the blog. Over the summer, people started to go outside some more, but the views and visitors numbers remained between 20k and 30k. When new lockdowns were announced towards November 2020, the numbers reached that 30k threshold again. I expect the first few months of 2021 to be about the same level, and then slowly die down again towards 20k. But hey, maybe I’m wrong and some amazing articles will draw a huge crowd. Who knows?

Articles

In total, the blog created 99 articles in 2020. Had I known this beforehand, I would have probably released this article a little earlier, just to round it up to 100. Still, 99 articles is impressive to publish in a year, meaning that on average, every 3.7 days a new article is released. This is not as much as I have published in the past, but lack of time thanks to my new job is mostly to blame. I have also taken more time to extend some articles, which takes some more time as well.

In terms of views, these articles are the top 5 of the articles that were released in 2020:

  1. Messenger of the King (5208)
  2. Solo player quests (1773)
  3. Thorongil (1466)
  4. Testing quests (1210)
  5. First Impressions: Under the Ash Mountains (1125)

So eh, looks like my co-authors did pretty well, since they sweep the podium and even fourth place. Looks like you guys don’t mind me writing a little less this past year, which is good to know. That means that if I can’t write that much in the new year, my co-authors can carry the blog with their articles as well!

And this is the top 5 articles that were released prior to this year, but still received a lot of views:

  1. “Best” LOTR packs to buy (10201)
  2. Silvan (2807)
  3. Fan-made content: Game modes and quests (2519)
  4. Dwarves (2317)
  5. Noldor (2272)

The traits are still very popular, so I might need to get my act together and start updating the final ones in February. That month is usually trait/archetype month for me, so updating the articles to include the latest cycle of cards will be a good investment of time.

Countries

It is always fun to see where people are coming from and where the game is still played. While some countries might be on the list accidentally or because of a VPN, most of the higher ranked countries should have at least some players of the game. And while the majority of viewers come from native-English speaking countries, a host of countries that speak other languages also rank high upon the list. Here is an overview of all countries that have been on the site at least once. This is followed by the top 20 countries of the past year.

Referrers

It is important to know where people are coming from in order for me to know where to promote new articles. While WordPress doesn’t track all of the websites that people come from, it does make a list of where people come to the blog from. External applications like Discord are sadly not counted, though I would suppose that it would rank pretty high.

Based on these results, it looks like a decent part of the community from Reddit finds the blog through people recommending artilces there. I am very grateful for that, as I myself am not on Reddit. I suppose that next year, this split will look a little different, as the FFG community forums are shutting down. I would imagine that Reddit and facebook will take over its role as forum.

Within the search engine catagory, these were the most popular ways to get to the blog:

Clicks

The following links were clicked on the most in this past year. Obviously Hall of Beorn takes the top spot here, as it is by far the most linked site on the blog. I try to link all cards I come across in the articles to Beorn’s card search engine, so we are bound to see a large number of clicks from that. RingsDB and youtube are also very frequent links that I add to the articles, and I am not surprised to see them rank high as well. This list is not complete, as there are a lot of single clicks on some links, but the top 30 or so are listed below.

The following Hall of Beorn entries were the most popular this year:

  1. Straight Shot (265 times)
  2. Out of the Wild (257 times)
  3. Visionary Leadership (255 times)
  4. Heirs of Earendil (233 times)
  5. Rally the West (220 times)

Top encounter card was well below that, Sleeping Senty at 132 views. I suppose people had to double check that card to see that it is as bad as I said it was.

Authors

Of course, I am not the only one who has written for the blog this past year. Never before did I have to rely on my co-authors as much now that I had less time to spend on the blog thanks to work. In total, the co-authors posted a total of 36 articles, over a third of all articles published this year! The following ranking includes all the views that each author has received in 2020. Some authors will have had more views as they have more articles to their name, and some who just joined the crew will have a lower ranking for now, but will hopefully make up for it in 2021.

Not counting my views, the next best author has been Silblade, who has done a ton of articles this past year covering the player card reviews of the first 2 cycles and started his encounter deck analysis in the second half of the year. Next up is Brinx, who hasn’t released any new articles in 2020. However, he has done a lot of hard work on the Saga analyses in previous years, and those articles remain popular to this day. I hope that one day we can finish that series.

Several other frequent creators have scored well within the thousands of views. I really appreciate the hard work that they have put into their articles so far. Those that fall short of the 1k views have either only done a single article on the blog, or were guest hosts on the blog. My thanks go out to them as well, and the invitation for more articles still stand.

Patreon

In order to keep the blog going, I have started a Patreon service a few years back. With the money collected through Patreon, I am able to pay for my hosting costs, as well as being able to produce some awesome loot for the game. This past year I have been able to buy a laser engraver to make custom wooden cards with. I also had some money left over to make some cool playmats with, which turned out amazing.

Patreon support has really increased in 2020, more than doubling the support I have gotten this time last year. This has allowed me to finally make back any money I invested into the project early, and at the end of the year I had $40 left over to bring into 2021 with me. I am really happy with the 29 supporters so far, and hope that many more will join the Palantir Guard in the coming years. We did see some patrons step away from the game, and thus lost their support, but hopefully the game and blog will continue to inspire people in the new year.

Nice upward trend, thanks everyone!!

Personal Statistics

With the blog and Patreon now covered, I would like to take this part of the article to talk about the personal statistics that I have tracked during this year. As explained in the article of last year, I track my playthroughs and win-ratio, and I hope I am not the only one. So I am looking forward to comparing my statistics with those of you all from 2020.

Playthroughs

Like last year, I have written down each game of LOTR LCG that I have played this year. This has helped me to see what quests I play a lot, and which ones I haven’t touched all year. It also helps to find you win-rate against the quests, and some other fun statistics. I am working on a system to help other players track their playthroughs as well, which will be a project that comes to you all in 2021.

The first interesting stat is the X value for my playthroughs. X is the number of times I have played X quests. This gets more difficult to maintain the higher you go, but I count losses as playthroughs, so sometimes some quests can get a lot of playthroughs in rapid succession. Last year, my X value was was 5, but I said last year that I would have liked that number to be a little higher for 2020. So I played a larger selection of quests more often, and got a final score of X = 7 for 2020. That means that at least 7 quests have been played 7 times. I got relatively close to 8, as I have 5 scenarios that I played at least 8 times. But I was not going to push myself in the final week of the year to play some quests extra.

The 7 quests that I played at least 7 times are:

  • Passage through Mirkwood (13 plays, 11 wins)
  • Journey along the Anduin (8 plays, 5 wins)
  • Into the Pit (11 plays, 9 wins)
  • The Seventh Level (7 plays, 5 wins)
  • The Fords of Isen (8 plays, 4 wins)
  • Trouble in Tharbad (8 plays, 3 wins)
  • Under the Ash Mountains (7 plays, 1 win)

For the overal number of games I’ve played, and the win ratio of those games, I simply took the percentage of wins against the number of attempts. Last year, the win ratio of my games was 56%, which was quite decent. I could have pushed this up by only playing easy scenarios this year, but this game isn’t fun if you keep on winning. In total, I played 196 games of LOTR LCG in 2020. Of those games, I won 115 times, which brings my win-rate at 59%. A small improvement over last year, but it is a nice sign that I am still getting better at the game. The new decks and their strength might have helped, but I find this quite balanced, even going back to the older scenarios. I hope that with more online conventions planned for 2021, I can increase the number of games I play next year, though work might burn me out a little.

To see how many quests I have played in 2020, I mark each quest in the spreadsheet green the moment I have attempted it. I don’t have to beat it, just to have it on the table. The following overview shows what cycles got to the table more often over others. The image may be a little blurry thanks to it being quite zoomed out on the spreadsheet.

I have managed to play 2 complete cycles, the Shadows of Mirkwood cycle was played during the LCG convention, where we had to complete all the quests that weekend and I made a decent effort for the first 2 cycles on the first day. I have also completely played the Vengeance of Mordor cycle, though there are some quests there that I have not yet beaten. The Dwarrowdelf cycle and Ered Mithrin cycle almost got completed, but I missed one or two scenarios from those. The Haradrim cycle is the one that I played the least. I don’t really have an explanation for why that is, but those quests don’t seem that appealing to me for a pickup game, with the exception for those that I did play last year.

What may surprise some of you (myself included to be honest) is the lack of Saga games that I have played last year. I believe I did play some random games of The Ring Goes South, but forgot to log it, so I can’t really put it on the list. Aside from that, both saga series have remained unplayed by me in 2020, but I hope to make an effort in changing that for the new year. I might finally muster the courage to do a campaign playthrough of the LOTR saga, and might dust off the Hobbit quests again.

The Nightmare scenarios are also pretty underplayed, but that is mostly due to the fact that I didn’t own the majority of them in 2020. Only in the final months did the NM collection grow to include over half of the scenarios on the list. I know that I will have to start playing some more NM quests in 2021 for the blog, as I have several of the quests lined up for articles relatively soon. I hope that it will help me to expand the list of played scenarios this time next year.

I also tried to track the number of multiplayer games I’ve gotten this year. Out of all 196 games, 121 of them were true solo games. 5 were me attempting to do a quest two-handed, 42 included a second player. I only got 19 three player games in, 13 four player games, and a single Epic Multiplayer game in December against Hunt for the Dreadnaught. I hope to increase the number of multiplayer games in the new year as well. Hopefully attending more (online) conventions can help with this. A big shout-out to the many people I have played with over the last year, and I am looking forward to playing some more games with folks in 2021.

Collection

Aside from the games I’ve played this year, I also keep track of my collection in a sheet so that I do not have to worry about buying duplicate packs. The spreadsheet itself was made by me and is available to patrons, though I would advise people to make their own version of the collection sheet in order to track their own collection. I go pretty in depth in mine, including playmats and deckboxes officially released for this game as well. So if you are inspired by this overview, go and make yourself a sheet and start tracking your progress.

In 2020, I finished collecting all the regular expansions and collected the final POD packs as well. I also started to collect more Nightmare packs, as the packs I owned this time last year were mainly bought/won during conventions. The Nightmare packs have been my main focus during the second half of the year, as fewer expansions were released for the game. I’m not the only one though, as many players are trying hard to find the correct packs to finish their collection with. This year I did complete the Shadows of Mirkwood and the Dream-chaser cycle of Nightmare packs, and made good progress towards the other cycles. I am still missing a few packs, so if you want to do me a huge favor and have extra copies of the packs I’m missing, be sure to reach out! Won’t be willing to spend too much above MSRP, but we can work something out.

Current state of my collection. Not that many red boxes left

The rest of the collection is coming along nicely. I am still missing a few playmats (2 of which I actually care about (Hands upon the Bow and Khazad-Dum)) and am missing 2 alt art cards (Celeborn and Gimli, like so many others are missing). I also still do not have the 2-player starter set from the collector’s edition, because I am not willing to pay double for it to cover shipping. Still, it would be nice to one day have all the quests available to me, and to be able to play with all of the alt art heroes and playmats. Oh well, a man can dream!


That concludes the overview of 2020. It has been a weird year in so many ways, but I hope most of you have come out in one piece. While I don’t think 2021 will suddenly be great, I do hope that by the second half of the year, some restrictions are lifted and that we can attend some events again. We also have some fun fan-made projects to keep us busy, as we move into year 1 of the game’s hiatus. Let’s see how long that will last, and keep the community alive during that time!

Have a happy new year, and I hope to write to you all again in 2021!

PS: I am currently already hard at work for the 2021 loot for the blog. This will help people track their games even more efficiently. More info on this will come pretty soon. Might sell the loot this year, but Patreon supporters get it for free.

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