A Mind @ Play

random thoughts to oil the mind

Month: February 2013

Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum

The Hunt for Gollum

The Hunt for Gollum

The Hunt for Gollum is the first adventure pack in the Shadows of Mirkwood series for the base game The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. As with all of these adventure packs, it includes a new hero, extra player cards and a new scenario replete with enemies, locations and treachery cards for the players to face.

The scenario is a fairly decent one, albeit not one of the best. Rated difficulty 4, it’s comparable to the “Journey Down The Anduin” scenario from the core set. Where this adventure improves on those in the core set, is that it does a decent job of adjusting itself to the number of players, with a lot of cards relying on the number of players or allies in the game. In general, the enemy deck is fairly location heavy, which means there is relatively little fighting here, and no particularly large enemies to face.

As to the player cards, unfortunately this aspect of this adventure pack is fairly weak. The hero card, Bilbo Baggins, is fairly ‘expensive’ for his ability, although he suits players who like to play the game solo. There is the first of many ‘song’ cards here, which allow players to cheaply earn specific resources, as well as the first of a number of ‘mark’ cards, which adjust heroes’ stats. However, there are also a couple of cards here which only show their true worth once you’ve bought some more of the adventure packs. If you aren’t set on playing these adventures in the order in which they were released, it might make sense to take one of the later releases first, or at least to buy more than one at once.

Overall if you enjoyed the main game and want to breath some new life into it, this is a reasonable little adventure, not too challenging, yet satisfying at the same time. It’s not one of the most exciting scenarios, but it scales well, so makes playing solo or with 4 players equally challenging. Unfortunately, some of the player cards only prove their worth later, so if it doesn’t bother you to play out of order, and you only want to buy one, it would be worth picking up one of the later adventure packs first.

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game

Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game

Dieser Eintrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar.

If you’re interested in cooperative games, Lord of the Rings: LCG is an involving card-based game designed for 2 players, but also playable solo or with up to four. This core set includes all you need for two players to get started, with three adventures of increasing difficulty for the players to overcome. The term ‘living card game’ basically means that the story continues in various expansion sets, so this game has plenty of longevity if you enjoy it.

For those not familiar with this type of game, the fundamentals are fairly simple. Each player chooses up to 3 heroes to play with from a selection, and builds themselves a deck out of the appropriate cards (preset decks are suggested for the first time out). During the game, the heroes generate ‘resources’ with which to pay for bringing cards from their decks into the game, such as extra allies to fight with, weapons and armour for their heroes, or beneficial event cards. Meanwhile, the adventure also comprises a deck of cards, which contains enemies for the heroes to fight, locations for them to explore, and nasty events which can bring tears to their eyes. In each round, players may gain resources, pay for cards from their hands, tackle the adventure, travel to a new location, parry attacks from enemies, and retaliate.

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Der Herr der Ringe: Das Kartenspiel

Der Herr der Ringe: Das Kartenspiel

Der Herr der Ringe: Das Kartenspiel

This post is also available in English.

Wenn man sich für kooperative Spiele interessiert, bietet das kartenbasierte Der Herr der Ringe: Das Kartenspiel ein bestechendes Erlebnis für zwei Spieler, welches sich auch allein oder zu viert spielen lässt. Im diesem Grundspiel findet man alles nötige, um sich zu zweit durch drei Abenteuer steigender Schwierigkeiten durchkämpfen zu können. Im Grunde genommen heißt die Bezeichnung „Living Card Game“, dass die Geschichte durch eine Vielzahl an Erweiterungspaketen fortgeführt wird, und somit bietet das Spiel einen anhaltenden Spielspaß.

Auch für die, die mit dieser Art von Spiel nicht vertraut sind, bleiben die Grundlagen relativ einfach. Jeder Spieler wählt von einer Auswahl bis zu drei Helden aus, und stellt sich aus den dazugehörigen Karten ein Deck zusammen, mit dem er spielen möchte. Eine Anzahl vorgefertigter Decks sind für das erste Spiel empfohlen. Während des Spiels erzeugen die Helden Ressourcen, anhand von denen man die weiteren Karten ins Spiel bringen kann. Diese bestehen aus Kampfeinheiten, Waffen und Ausrüstungsteilen für die Helden, sowie nützliche Ereigniskarten. Dagegen verfügt das Abenteuer selbst über ein eigenes Deck, welches die Hindernisse und Gefahren für die Spieler darstellen: Feindliche Truppen zu bekämpfen, Ortschaften zu erkunden, sowie fiese Ereigniskarten, die den Spielern teilweise Tränen in die Augen treiben. Jede Runde darf der Spieler Ressourcen erzeugen, damit Karten aus seiner Hand ausspielen, sich dem Abenteuer stellen, zu einem neuen Ort reisen, die Angriffe des Feindes wehren und deren Truppen auch selber angreifen.

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Spring Cleaning

Hmm… it’s been some time since I posted with any regularity here. In fact, it was something of a resolution of mine for 2012 that went rather pear-shaped, but better late than never.

Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany

exorcisinghitlerThe period in German history following the Second World War is probably one of the most neglected in terms of popular history, far overshadowed by the war itself and frequently overlooked as a mere footnote to the origins of the Cold War. Yet the fascinating question remains as to why the peace following the First World War contributed to the beginnings of the Second, whilst the policies following the latter led to one of the longest periods of peace on the continent.

How the victors handled their policy of ‘unconditional surrender’, and what this entailed for occupied Germany, is the subject of Frederick Taylor’s book. His book covers the final stages of the war, as the Allied and Soviet forces prepared to attack and occupy Germany proper. Military actions only play a background role in the narrative, Taylor focussing only on interactions with the civilians, including the atrocities most severely carried out on the Eastern Front, as well as retaliatory attacks by Nazi fanatics and so called ‘Werwolf’ units.

Where this book shines is in Taylor’s ability to compare and contrast the widely differing policies and practices of the occupying forces. Despite the complexity of the subject, the book highlights the differences between those directing policy and those governing forces on the ground, between those espousing punitive policies and those wishing to see a rapidly rehabilitated Germany, and between the Soviet, American, British and French zones. It becomes clear just how much of a challenge the question of denazification posed to the victors, which ostensibly remained an inflexible goal of all parties. The totalitarian nature of the Nazi Party meant that virtually no one had remained completely aloof of the system, leaving policy planners the major task of separating hardline Nazis from ‘career Nazis’, ‘muss Nazis’ or fellow travellers. Taylor treats each of the occupying zones separately, and looks at the systems put in place and measures their successes and failures, not just in terms of raw numbers weeding out devout Nazis, but also the impact of these policies on the German population, and to what extent these changes were lasting.

Unfortunately, this book has one major failing, and that lies in its title. Subtitled “The Occupation and Denazification of Germany”, there feels to be rather too much of the former and not enough of the latter to justify the name. Taylor does spend a lot of time dealing with the occupiers’ attempts to remove Nazis themselves from positions of influence in German society, but there is little to nothing on their own and subsequent German policies as regards dealing with Nazism as an ideology. There is surprisingly little on areas such as education, the media and law, or even such mundane things as the renaming of streets or the treatment of the swastika are left out. Even the Psychological Warfare Division responsible for Allied propaganda goes unmentioned in the index (albeit some of their actions are covered). Aside from this, it is also disappointing that there are virtually no comparisons to occupation and denazification policies in other countries after the Second World War, e.g. Austria or France, or similar ‘purification’ actions during other periods (Taylor mentions the de-Ba’athification policy of the Iraq War a few times, without making any direct allusions). However given the scope of the book, the omission can be understood. Finally as another commenter pointed out, it seems that someone working for the publisher decided that the book would sell better with HITLER written in large letters across the front, which is at once no doubt true, but all the same bitterly depressing.

For all this, Exorcising Hitler is an extremely well-written and well-researched account of immediate post-war Germany. No apologist, Taylor points out appalling conditions in Western POW camps, engineered through pure legal sophistry, the mass rapes and atrocities in the East, and the sufferings of refugees and ‘displaced persons’ driven from their territories and turned back from others. A potentially bewildering subject, Taylor takes the issue of denazification apart and analyses each policy and practical element in turn, comparing and contrasting the different approaches, and examining the successes and failures of the post-war occupation. The book’s epilogue ties the whole together with an excellent summary of the reactions to and effects of these policies in post-war Germany right through to the present day.

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