Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) is known for popularizing the Living Card Game (LCG) format. With this, instead of the endless buying and collecting of cards to make your playing decks up to date, players now choose to buy a stable release of cards that are not randomized. You buy the same pack as someone else, you both have exactly the same cards, no rare cards to chase.
One of the first series in this format was Lord of the Rings (LotR) based on the books by JRR Tolkien. What set this LCG apart is that it was the first and I think only co-operative LCG. You do not compete against your fellow player(s), instead by yourself or with others try to defeat a “Villain” deck. If you cannot tell, I am a huge fan of this game. I think you would be to if you like high fantasy, cooperative games, card games in general and don’t mind buying a product 6-8 times a year to keep up with new content.
Speaking of content, FFG initially decided to have Organized Play for this co-op game which would reward participants with a “Nightmare” mode version of previously released content. This idea became very popular and so they used their in-house printer to produce Print on Demand (POD) Nightmare decks that you could directly buy from their site (and some retailers). Well, the Organized Play did not last, because this is a co-op game, but the releasing of Nightmare decks for older content still thrives.
On their website, FFG has just announced that the last 3 adventure packs for their third cycle of content called Against the Shadow now have Nightmare forms available. As for every Nightmare deck, owning the original pack is required because the Nightmare deck will instruct the player which cards to take out of the original pack and which to replace with Nightmare cards to make the experience both new and much more challanging.
Each cycle of six adventure packs has an ongoing theme. The Against the Shadow cycle has your Heroes delving into the intrigue and treachery prevalent in Gondor in the timeperiod of the LCG which is in-between Gandalf leaving Frodo and the Shire behind after Bilbo’s party and exit but before the Ringwraiths leave to find the Ring. After securing Minas Tirith, it is now time to go deeper in to Modor itself with these last three decks of the cycle:
1) Assault on Osgilath
In the original release, players must secure all locations (a type of “Villain” card) in play and hold each during the course of the game. In Nightmare mode, a new location is added that can only be traveled to under very specific conditions. On top of that new Enemy cards have been added that are much tougher to defeat than the original counterparts. It took many tries for me to defeat this Adventure the first time around, I can only imagine how challenging now. But, see this is ok because my player decks have improved over time with newer products, so I think I am prepared for the challenge!
2)The Blood of Gondor
The “trick” to this Adventure pack originally were these “hidden” cards that were revealed when certain conditions were met. This unknown threat really made you second guess your long term strategy because you had to take into account this randomness. Every Adventure pack brings its own challenge. Now in Nightmare mode, some of the cards are even more powerful if flipped over as a hidden card then when encountered normally. The amount you need to prepare for this unknown will be even greater, so the need to be smart with your resources will be even greater. Think of it as being forced to prepare for an ambush, you know it is coming, you just don’t know when and how hard.
3)The Morgul Vale
I really liked playing this scenario the first go around. This time you had to defeat three distinct Captain enemies (each with their own tactics to defeat) on you way to rescue Faramir. A sense of urgency really came out in this one. Nightmare mode will have these Captains harder, mostly by making it take more time to defeat them which allows the “timer” more time to run out, i.e. the time it takes Faramir’s captors to make it to the Dark Lord. If that isn’t enough, the location themselves have been beefed up as well. Maybe Faramir will appreciate my efforts even more this time around!
Remember, if you are interested in the Lord of the Rings LCG, you must start with the core box. I hope you do, with these Nightmares on the loose, sounds like the good guys need as much help as they can get!