The Fatty Project

Not a name possibility rejected very early on by Weight Watchers, the Fatty project is an interesting new twist in the Lord of the Rings LCG.

prison-cellThe most recent adventure pack, escape from Mount Gram, is a fun one, and also one that presents a unique challenge: you start with only a single hero who just broken out of a goblin’s prison: all they have with which to face the perils of the quest are a 3-card hand, and no items, mounts or allies in their deck (these go in a separate “capture” deck). As you break out of prison, you gradually have the chance to liberate the remainder of your deck, including the other two heroes, before making a last, late, charge for freedom.

To help you in your bid to take on the dungeons solo, the locations and enemies in this quest are noticeably less brutal than many we’ve seen – although this is balanced by the need to have a single character deal with questing, attack and defence, at least to begin with.

Secrecy-decks are good for this, as is anything which gives you action advantage. I’ve managed this one starting out With Rossiel and with Spirit Glorfindel (Light of Valinor is a must) but Core Set Aragorn would be another good option, due to his built-in readying.

Some folk out there though, has decided that this quest is a bit on the easy side, and this has prompted Ian of Tales From the Cards to set a challenge- to escape from Mount Gram using Fatty Bolger as your starting hero!

Fatty-BolgerFor those who have forgotten him (probably most of you) Fatty Bolger is a Hobbit hero in the spirit sphere, who came in Black Riders. He has the thematically brilliant, yet mechanically useless ability to raise your threat by the threat of an enemy in the staging area, in order to ignore that enemy’s threat for resolving questing this round. He has a highish number of hits points for a Hobbit (3) but his stats are otherwise underwhelming. He can only quest for 1, attack for 1, and defend for 2: this means that he is exceedingly unlikely to be making much quest progress unless you can get some assistance out for him.

There are essentially 2 ways to approach the Fatty challenge –either build a deck that has him in it, but relies on swiftly rescuing one of the other heroes and dies repeatedly until it does so, or else go for a deck that actually keys in to some of Fatty’s abilities.

In regard to the first option, there are a fair number of options out there – but it does make Fatty nothing more than a placeholder, and avoids the spirit of the challenge, even if it meets the technical requirement.

The other option- a deck in which Fatty actually has a meaningful role to play – is far trickier. When building a tri-sphere Hobbit Deck, Spirit has typically been the sphere I neglected, as the most vital cards for the deck all appear in the other three spheres: Lore for Fast-Hitch (Hobbit-Readying), Leadership for Bill the Pony and Hobbit Cloak (hit points and defence), and Tactics for Halfling Determination and Dagger of Westernesse (general stat boosts, and extra attack). The hobbit-specific cards in Spirit are limited to the pony (late questing), and the pipe/smoke rings combination which can lower your threat (surely the least of the problems faced by a deck that starts with only Fatty.)

It is possible, of course, to get round issues of sphere matching with cards like Songs or Good Harvest, but with only 3 cards in your starting hand, the chances of having both this AND a card to play with it are low.

Courage-AwakenedA couple of cards for this deck pick themselves – 3 copies of Resourceful (for ANY deck with a starting threat in single figures) and Courage Awakened, a card I re-discovered when doing this scenario with Glorfindel, which can provide a powerful willpower acceleration in secrecy mode, especially if you can get a Leaf Brooch out. Favour of the Lady is expensive, but when you’re dependent upon a 1-willpower character for all your questing, something more ongoing is valuable.

From there, it was trickier – a tri-sphere deck in this quest is very vulnerable to rescuing heroes in a particular order. Mono-spirit would guarantee that I could play all the cards I drew (eventually) but would be unlikely to do a lot besides questing, cancellation, and threat management. Lore seemed like the best bet, offering me action advantage for the hobbits, plenty of card draw, and a few tricks up my sleeve for dealing with enemies – I was quite pleased to discover that Traps were immune to this quest’s deck-stripping (although not sure thematically of the logic of being able to carry a spiked pit into a prison with you…)

My wife refuses to play with Disco Bilbo, the hair is just too off-putting...

My wife refuses to play with Disco Bilbo, the hair is just too off-putting…

In the end, I decided to go full-hobbit – Bilbo and Pippin. This ensures plenty of card draw, and reduces the likelihood of having to engage things, whilst Ranger Spikes will hopefully allow me to continue making quest progress whilst leaving those enemies in the staging area, although I’ll be adding Noiseless Movement as well in case there’s anything out I can’t handle this round. I’ll throw in high-willpower allies, like the Ethir Swordsman, and some chunkier characters like the Northern Tracker, who are still amongst the best fighters in Spirit, as well as being good at dealing with location-lock. If I can rescue enough cards from my capture deck, questing should be ok, but combat is going to be the challenge, especially on stage 3, when I shuffle in the extra encounter set of orcs, so I’ll bring Ride Them Down as well. Gandalf basically goes into every deck, so he makes the list 3 times. With Lore and Card-Draw, Protector of Lorien is an obvious choice, boosting questing, or even making Fatty into a passable defender.

GandalfA possible twist on this deck which I didn’t get round to trying is to add Under Hill and Over Hill Gandalf – obviously, he is a powerful figure, but he does put your threat up rapidly, even from a starting-point of 7 – So any deck with him in would need to be much more aggressive to balance that out. I considered add some copies of Elrond’s Counsel to go with Arwen and Elrond, but decided it was too many working pieces to put together.

Final Decklist:

Fatty Bolger (starting hero)
Pippin (Black Riders)
Bilbo Baggins

Allies:
Arwen Undomiel x2
Bofur (Redhorn Gate)
Defender of the Naith x2
Elrond
Gandalf (Core)
Gleowine
Haldir of Lorien
Hennamarth Riversong
Northern Tracker x2
Quickbeam
Treebeard

Attachments:
Elf Stone
Fast Hitch x3
Favour of the Lady x2
Protector of Lorien x2
Resourceful x2
Unexpected Courage

Events:
A Test of Will x3
Courage Awakened x3
Hasty Stroke x2
Noiseless Movement x2
Ride them Down x2
Stand and Fight

That "Forced" effect is just hideous

That “Forced” effect is just hideous

Overall this worked well – I managed to beat the quest on 2 out of 4 attempts. I think killing Jailor Gornakh the round he arrives is key to this quest, which meant stalling on stage 2 for as long as possible, until you’ve got all your heroes, and a good spread of allies into play – Courage Awakened was brilliant for this as, when your threat is less than 20, and you’ve got a leaf-brooch on Fatty, it becomes a free +2 willpower that you can add after staging each round.

I never actually used Fatty’s ability, but there were points in the game when he had 2 damage on him, so at least his hit-points/defence came in handy, putting him above Spirit Pippin in the utility stakes. Frodo might have been a safer option, but even starting on 7, there’s enough forced threat gain in this scenario that it might have been a problem.

Overall, whilst I don’t buy the initial suggestion that this quest is too easy, this was a fun activity to do as something a bit different. Will anyone else take on the Fatty Challenge?

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4 thoughts on “The Fatty Project

  1. Gwaihir the Windord

    Interesting! Poor Fatty Bolger was always a neglected Hobbit – but with the introduction of the Fatty Challenge, perhaps he might prove his worth. I might have to start calling him Fredegar again. I’m glad to see that this Hobbit hasn’t been completely tossed out of the loop, and mayhap I’ll try this as soon as I finally beat Nightmare Conflict at the Carrock . . . whenever that may be.

    Reply
  2. Mathom

    I love the idea and the theme you’ve woven into your solution to this challenge. Since the release of Spirit Merry, I’ve wondered if a mono-spirit Hobbit deck could be made viable. You have Frodo for defense and damage management, Spirit Pippin for enemy management, and Spirit Merry for recurring threat reduction. I’m not sure if Fatty would have a place in such a deck, but it is something to think about.

    Reply
  3. Steven A

    I object to your claim that Fatty’s ability is useless. I’ll grant that it’s not very useful if he’s your only hero though. But in general, beign able to raise your threat to make more quest progress can be really helpful sometimes.

    Reply
    1. Dor Cuarthol Post author

      Ok, so “useless” may be over-stating it, but I still don’t think Fatty is a hero that’s ever really worth the effort – sure, you CAN build a deck that keys off of his ability, but at what cost?
      Say you have Fatty soaking threat, and someone like Spirit Merry to reduce that threat again – you need a hero of at least 4 threat before it becomes a saving on just using them to quest in the first place – and that number gets even bigger if you consider swapping Fatty out for a better quester.
      Maybe you use Fatty’s ability and don’t have something to cancel the threat gain – is the extra 2 or 3 progress better than having Frodo able to avoid damage, or Boromir make an extra couple of attacks.
      As I say “useless” may be too far, and obviously if people enjoy playing a Fatty deck, that’s great, but even within the group “Spirit Hobbit Heroes” I don’t think he makes the top 2.

      Reply

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